Several years ago, we experienced a crash in the housing market. It was the perfect storm or rising interest rates, a sluggish economy, and low cost construction. I remember my friend’s neighborhood most vividly. As you drove through it, there were many incomplete houses in varying stages of construction scattered throughout. For years they sat there incomplete. They were a constant reminder of the recession we were in.
As I drive through, I couldn’t help but think how each of those houses represented someone’s broken dream and unfulfilled plan. People had gone through the process of buying a lot, designing a house, choosing elevations, selecting tile, picking out paint colors, and imagining what it was going to be like. Now it sat there incomplete with no hope of fulfilling its purpose. Where others saw incomplete houses, I saw unfulfilled dreams.
I’ve always imagined that you and I were a lot like houses under construction. God has a great blueprint for each one of us that He’s designed specifically based on who He created us to be. Unfortunately, many of us feel incomplete and that God has stopped working on us or in us. The truth is that God is always at work in our lives trying to help us fulfill our calling. No matter what mistakes we make, God doesn’t walk away from the construction site or leave a house unfinished.
Philippians 2:-13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT). God has not given up on what He started in your life. He hadn’t walked away from you, leaving you like an abandoned construction site. He is still working in you, helping you and putting the desire in you to want to fulfill your purpose. You are still under construction and God still has an amazing blueprint for your life. He will complete what He started in you.
Several years ago, I took my first trip to Haiti with coreluv.org. One of the things we did was to go to a very poor part of town to feed some children whose parents didn’t have enough money to feed them. I’ll never forget this little girl who couldn’t have been more than five years old. She had her baby brother with her who was around a year old. She took her food and began to feed him. This plate, with a small mixture of rice, beans, and pasta, was all she would get to eat until the next day. Instead of scarfing it down, she took care of her baby brother first.
I have worked with kids my whole life, and I cant think of any other kid who acted so selflessly. Her mom wasn’t standing there telling her what to do. She did it out of love while starving. I was broken in that moment. I grabbed another plate, put a couple of spoons of rice on it, and grabbed her brother to feed him so she could eat as much as she wanted. After her brother ate, he fell asleep in my arms, and I began to reflect on what I witnessed.
In Philippians 2, Paul starts out asking if God’s love has made a difference in our lives. He then says, in verses 3-4, that if it has, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT). This little girl in Haiti exemplified who we are supposed to be as Christians.
If you and I could act as selflessly as this little girl, the world would stop and take notice. I’ve read many stories where Christians have acted selflessly and won entire villages and towns to Christ. If we are going to be called by His name, we should be trying to have His attitude in our lives. Do something today that puts someone else’s needs above your own. Bless them selflessly, putting their needs ahead of yours, and then tell them God loves them. We become more like Jesus one selfless act of love at a time.
This is the brother as he fell asleep. The sister is right beside me.
I love the candy bar Snickers, and I especially love their ad campaign. Their slogan is simply, “Snickers satisfies.” Their commercials right now have one person in a group as a celebrity with a problem. The others get upset at the celebrity, then finally offer them a Snickers. After taking a bite, the person turns back into themselves and the other person asks, “Are you better?” Then a voice over comes on and says, “You are not you when you’re hungry.” Genius!
I can tell you that you are not you when you’re spiritually hungry either. Inside each one of us is a deep hunger to who we are, why we are here, and how we got here. Many people search a lifetime for those answers. I’ve found that God satisfies them in me, and wants to do the same in others. He not only gives us good things, but He’s created each one of us with a purpose that only we can fulfill. If you’re looking for spiritual satisfaction, quit trying religion and look for a relationship with God.
Here are some Bible verses about how God satisfies.
1. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry.
Isaiah 58:11 GNT
2. For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Psalms 107:9 ESV
3. For I [fully] satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person.
JEREMIAH 31:25 AMP
4. Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
Matthew 5:6 GNT
5. And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
ISAIAH 58:11 AMP
One of the lessons my son is having the hardest time with is learning to wait when he has a question. My wife and I will be in a conversation, and he will walk up, interrupt us, and ask a question. We will tell him we will answer when we are done talking, but that’s often difficult for him when he has a question. I’m teaching him to walk up and just put his hand on mine when he has a question. I told him that when he does that, I’ll acknowledge him and then answer him when I can.
I wish I could say that works all the time, but it doesn’t. It’s as hard for him to wait for an answer as it is for us as adults to wait for one. When we have a pressing need or question, we’ll bombard God with questions and demand an answer immediately. We call it faith when we pray that way, but I wonder what God calls it. One of the hardest lessons any one of us has to learn is how to approach God and to ask for what it is that we want or need, especially when we feel we need it urgently.
They say that patience is a virtue, but we often lack it in waiting for God to answer our prayers. In Psalm 69:13, David prayed a tough, but wise prayer. He said, “But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord; answer me, God, at a time you choose” (GNT). He was telling God that he wasn’t expecting Him to operate on his timetable. He was willing to wait for God to answer on His. That’s a hard thing to pray and to do.
This verse challenges me because I’m not there yet. In my prayers, I’m like my son trying to get an answer. I don’t want to wait for God to finish what He’s doing. I want my answers right now. If David was a man after God’s own heart, and he had the ability to pray this way, i believe it’s something we all can learn to do. Instead of trying to force God in our timeline, we can start asking God to give us the answers to our prayers in His. I’ll just need a little help learning to wait.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
If I’m honest, I’d rather be a person who helps others than a person who receives help from others. It’s hard for me to accept help even when I need it. There have been times in my life though when I’ve needed help because I was unable to do what needed to be done. When others tried to help, I tried to push them away. Then one day, a person who was trying to help me said, “You’re robbing me of my blessing if you don’t let me help!” I had never thought of it like that.
I had forgotten that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I was definitely blessed by their giving, but I didn’t think about the blessing on the other side. I know they weren’t doing it for the blessing, but in my refusal, I was robbing them of what they would have received from God for helping me. Every act of service gets two blessings. By declining my blessing (them helping me), I was denying them theirs. So why do we reject help?
For me, I grew up in a family that needed the help of others often. God was always faithful to us and people showed up at the right times. I’ll never forget one family that helped me in particular. As they gave me a tremendous gift, I asked how I could repay them. They said, “One day when you’re able, do the same for others.” I decided then and there that I wanted to be a person who helped others rather than a person who needed help. So when I need help, it takes me back to that time and the feelings of being the poor kid back.
In Matthew 10, Jesus was sending out the disciples to preach all over Israel. He told them not to take any money, which meant they would be dependent on other’s help. He knew that if we needed help, it would also keep us humble. In verse 41 He spoke a life changing truth when He said, “Accepting help is as good as giving help” (MSG). By accepting help from others, you are actually helping them. They get a blessing from your acceptance. Don’t deny or rob others of blessings because of your pride. Look at it as your way of helping them when you have nothing else to give. Don’t be a blessing thief.
I work in an industry where for years we gave our customers free equipment in exchange for a contract. The problem that arose was that our customers didn’t treat the equipment very well. After losing it or breaking it, they would come back and say, “Can you give me another one?” When I would tell them this time they had to purchase it, they would get upset and say, “Just give me another free one.”
I learned during that period that people rarely value what they get for free. I remember valuing my first pair of shoes I paid for. I worked for weeks to earn enough to buy them. I was at an out of town tournament playing basketball with them. One night, someone decided to pull the fire alarm at the hotel. The first thing I grabbed to take with me outside was my shoes. I didn’t care if I lost everything else, I didn’t want to lose those.
Because of this tendency of our human nature, it’s difficult for us to value God’s grace. It is a free gift that affords us salvation. Our minds can’t comprehend how something so valuable could be free, so we often try to earn our salvation by doing things instead of trusting God’s grace. In several of his letters, Paul warns against this kind of thinking. He also warns of the mentality that says, “Since its free, I’ll just do what I want and ask for more.”
I love how in Galatians 2:21, Paul strongly says, “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless” (NLT). I believe you and I have to fight every day against our minds to not treat God’s grace as meaningless. It’s something we should value highly. The cost was high even though you and I didn’t have to pay it. To treat it as meaningless or to try to earn our salvation is to devalue what Jesus did on the cross. May we ever be grateful for God’s amazing grace and treat it with the value it is worth.