Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” (Jer. 29:11)

I have written about this scripture before, but now that I am working a minimum amount in my profession, I have really given much thought to the direction that God wants me to go from this point. Many times in my life He has opened doors that I never imagined. The important thing is not to limit Him. When He has a plan for us He can give us the physical strength, mental ability, stamina, or whatever skill is necessary to complete it.

There are many instances in scripture of people overcoming when all odds were against them (David, Nehemiah, Esther, Gideon…) The doubts come from the enemy who causes us to think that we can’t possibly be of any value to God when in fact, that’s when God works best. In my weakness, the power of Christ can work through me.

Lord, give me the strength to avoid making excuses. Just because I think that I can’t, I know that You can.

 

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Greater Love

Greater love has no man that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

We often hear bout heroic men who throw themselves on mines or grenades in order to save their brothers. Although most of us are not faced with situations that require a life-terminating decision, we can give our lives for others in other ways. Loving parents come to mind as they often sacrifice materially, and sometimes dreams and ambitions, for the greater good of their children.

Of course, the greatest love was shown by Christ Jesus when He allowed Himself to be unjustly accused, physically put to death, and worst of all, painfully separated from the Father as He bore the sins of both His friends and enemies as the perfect sacrifice of atonement. The Good Shepard gave His life for His sheep.

By this we know what love is.

Self-Examination

Each one should test his own actions then he can take pride in himself alone, without comparing himself to someone else (Gal.6:4).

Since this was written about 60 A.D. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who compares myself to others. Whether I’m better or worse than anyone else is so very meaningless. Both the vanity or the self-condemnation—totally meaningless.

We are told a number of times in scripture to examine ourselves, not to compare ourselves with others, but to examine ourselves by God’s standards. Where is my heart? What are my motives? Am I seeking to do God’s will? Am I trusting Him? Am I living and moving in the faith in Christ whom I profess?

Should we fall short (not if, but when), we still have the assurance of salvation as a safety net. But also what joy comes at times when we examine ourselves and know that we are on track.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Vicki for suggesting practical applications

Recognizing God’s Presence

The Lord, your God, goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut 31:6b).

Did you notice that you have more Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in the year than your wedding, birthdays (thank goodness), graduation, and Christmas? Our God is faithful. He promised not to abandon or reject us in the special times, in the joyful times, in the tough times, or in the “beige” times (He’s here, too).

This verse is actually repeated three times in scripture—twice in the Old Testament where we are told to be strong, courageous and unafraid; and once in the New Testament where we are told to be content with what we have because God is here, too.

He promises believers that He will supply all our NEEDS (as defined by Him in His infinite wisdom). So whether we need courage or peace and contentment, His presence will never be withdrawn.

Compelled

 

For when I preach the gospel I cannot boast since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corin 9:16).

I really, really dislike the feeling of being “obligated” to do things. If I do something, or give something, or say something, I would like it to be from the heart, not because of guilt or duty. The flip side is also true. If something is good, I really, really enjoy sharing it, especially with those I love.

When I am walking closely with the Lord, it’s impossible to keep quiet about God’s activity in my life. The word “compelled” in this verse tells us that Paul’s heart was so full of joy and the understanding of the full meaning of the gospel that it spilled out of him.

In the words of Jesus, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Let my heart be filled with your Spirit, Lord, so that no bitterness, but only love , flows out.

 

In Due Time

 

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up (Gal.6:9).

At times the “well-doing” seems so mundane and fruitless. Yet over and over again, I’ve seen both in scripture and in my own experience, that God’s timing is perfect. Sometimes we get to experience the joy of seeing our work rewarded. We may see fruits immediately, decades later, or we may never see the harvest on this side of Heaven. Then we must rely on our continual growing relationship with the Lord and being obedient whenever He nudges us.

One Bible scholar refers this present time as “seed time.” In a grass seed mixture, the one type of seed that takes the longest to grow is the one that is rooted the deepest; it’s the one that endures year after year.

If we don’t get weary, and certainly not give up, we can take God at His word and expect a harvest in due time.