Live Loved

The LORD’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning.

~ LAMENTATIONS 3:22–23

New Every Morning

You messed up yesterday. You said the wrong words, took the wrong turn, loved the wrong person, reacted the wrong way. You spoke when you should have listened, walked when you should have waited, judged when you should have trusted, indulged when you should have resisted.

You messed up yesterday. But you’ll mess up more if you let yesterday’s mistakes sabotage today’s attitude. God’s mercies are new every morning. Receive them. Learn a lesson from the Cascade forests of Washington State. Some of its trees are hundreds of years old, far surpassing the typical life span of fifty to sixty years. One leaf-laden patriarch dates back seven centuries! What makes the difference? Daily drenching rains. Deluges keep the ground moist, the trees wet, and the lightning impotent.

Lightning strikes you as well. Thunderbolts of regret can ignite and consume you. Counteract them with downpours of God’s grace, daily washings of forgiveness. Once a year won’t do. Once a month is insufficient. Weekly showers leave you dry. Sporadic mistings leave you combustible. You need a solid soaking every day. “The LORD’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23 NCV).

~ EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE

Mighty God, your loyal love is our hope. When we mess up, your tender kindness covers us with acceptance and forgiveness. No matter how often we disappoint you, we can trust ourselves to your mercy and know we will find your love. You will never turn away from us when we fail. You set our feet back on the right path and guide us in the way to go. We need a solid soaking of your grace and mercy every day, amen.

Praise the LORD! . . . for His merciful kindness is great toward us.
~ PSALM 117:1–2 

My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. 
~ ISAIAH 61:10 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 
~  PSALM 23:6

Live Loved

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
~ 1 JOHN 1:9
 

Loved with a Merciful Love

“God’s well of grace must have a bottom to it,” we reason. “A person can request forgiveness only so many times,” contends our common sense. “Cash in too many mercy checks, and sooner or later one is going to bounce!” The devil loves this line of logic. If he can convince us that God’s grace has limited funds, we’ll draw the logical conclusion. The account is empty. God has locked the door to his throne room. Pound all you want; pray all you want. No access to God.

“No access to God” unleashes a beehive of concerns. We are orphans, unprotected and exposed. Heaven, if there is such a place, has been removed from the itinerary. Vulnerable in this life and doomed in the next. The fear of disappointing God has teeth. . . . 

Nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy. May I speak candidly? If you haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness, you are doomed to fear. Nothing can deliver you from the gnawing realization that you have disregarded your Maker and disobeyed his instruction. No pill, pep talk, psychiatrist, or possession can set the sinner’s heart at ease. You may deaden the fear, but you can’t remove it. Only God’s grace can.

Have you accepted the forgiveness of Christ? If not, do so. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Your prayer can be as simple as this: Dear Father, I need forgiveness. I admit that I have turned away from you. Please forgive me. I place my soul in your hands and my trust in your grace. Through Jesus I pray, amen. Having received God’s forgiveness, live forgiven! . . . When Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed. 

~ FEARLESS

How amazing, precious Lord, is your forgiveness. No matter how many times we fail, we will confess our sin and accept your faithful mercy. Lord, you are always listening to our prayers, and there is no limit to your amazing power. Your love never quits or gives up. We awaken each day to your magnificent love, amen.

I will glorify Your name forevermore. For great is Your mercy toward me.

~ PSALM 86:12–13

I will praise You, for You have . . . become my salvation.

~ PSALM 118:21

You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

~ PSALM 86:5

Live Loved

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul, knows very well. 
~PSALM 139:14 

 You Are God’s Idea

Fashion designers tell us, “You’ll be somebody if you wear our jeans. Stick our name on your rear end, and insignificance will vanish.” So we do. And for a while . . . fashion redeems us from the world of littleness and nothingness, and we are something else.

Why? Because we spent half a paycheck on a pair of Italian jeans.

But then, horror of horrors, the styles change, the fad passes, the trend shifts from tight to baggy, faded to dark, and we’re left wearing yesterday’s jeans, feeling like yesterday’s news.

Fear of insignificance creates the result it dreads, arrives at the destination it tries to avoid, facilitates the scenario it disdains. If a basketball player stands at the foul line repeating, “I’ll never make the shot, I’ll never make the shot,” guess what? He’ll never make the shot. If you pass your days mumbling, “I’ll never make a difference; I’m not worth anything,” guess what? You will be sentencing yourself to a life of gloom without parole

Even more, you are disagreeing with God. Questioning his judgment. Second-guessing his taste. According to him you were “skillfully wrought” (Psalm 139:15). You were “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v. 14). He can’t stop thinking about you! If you could count his thoughts of you, “they would be more in number than the sand” (v. 18).

Why does he love you so much? The same reason the artist loves his paintings or the boat builder loves his vessels. You are his idea. And God has only good ideas. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

—FEARLESS

Thank you, Father, that we are your masterpieces. You sculpted us from nothing into something. Thank you for the careful details you poured into creating our lives. Your thoughts about your children are more than the sands of the sea, and you have engraved our names on the palm of your hand. May we never make the foolish mistake of thinking we are not significant by worldly standards. We belong to you, amen.

Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes. I have made him.
~ ISAIAH 43:7

We are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.
~ ISAIAH 64:8

Live Loved

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

~ PSALM 84:11

Worry or God’s Word?

God says: “Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:28 MSG).

Worry takes a look at catastrophes and groans, “It’s all coming unraveled.” God’s Word says, “[God has] done it all and done it well”
(Mark 7:37 MSG).

Worry disagrees: “The world has gone crazy.” God’s Word calls God “the blessed controller of all things”
(1 Timothy 6:15 PHILLIPS).

Worry wonders if anyone is in control. God’s Word declares, “God will take care of everything you need”
(Philippians 4:19 MSG). 

Worry whispers this lie: “God doesn’t know what you need.” God’s Word reasons: “You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”
(Matthew 7:11 MSG).

Worry discounts and replies, “You’re on your own. It’s you against the world.” Worry wages war on your faith.

—EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE

O Lord, your Word declares your power to provide and your might to move on our behalf. When it seems like the world has gone crazy, your Word assures that you are still in control. You know our needs even before we do. You are working every little detail in our lives into something good. So rather than look at the chaos and confusion of life with an attitude of worry and doubt, we honor you with an attitude of firm faith. We will face the future with confidence and peace, amen.

He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God.
~ PSALM 40:3 

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
~ JOHN 15:11 

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
~ JAMES 1:2–3

Live Loved

“Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 
~ LUKE 24:39 No Fear of Death

More than five hundred eyewitnesses saw the resurrected Christ. They saw him physically. 

They saw him factually. They didn’t see a phantom or experience a sentiment. Grave eulogies often include such phrases as “She’ll live on forever in my heart.” Jesus’ followers weren’t saying this. They saw Jesus “in the flesh.”

When he appeared to the disciples, he assured them, “It is I myself!” (Luke 24:39 NIV). The Emmaus-bound disciples saw nothing extraordinary about his body. His feet touched the ground. His hands touched the bread. They thought he was a fellow pilgrim until “their eyes were opened” (v. 31 NIV). Mary saw Jesus in the garden and called him “sir” (John 20:15 NIV). The disciples saw Jesus cooking fish on the shore. The resurrected Christ did physical deeds in a physical body. “I am not a ghost,” he informed (Luke 24:39 NLT). “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (v. 39).

Jesus experienced a physical and factual resurrection. And—here it is—because he did, we will too! “Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (1 Corinthians 15:23 NLT). . . .

Death is not to be feared. . . . Your last moment is not your worst. . . . Five hundred witnesses left a still-resounding testimony: it’s safe to die. 

So let’s die with faith. Let’s allow the resurrection to sink into the fibers of our hearts and define the way we look at the grave. Let it “free those who were like slaves all their lives because of their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15 NCV).

—FEARLESS 

 Loving Jesus, death is not something we need to fear. You have promised us eternal life with you. And your resurrection is a testimony to us that we too will rise again to live with you forever. You went to the grave and returned so we can do the same. This brings hope when we face the death of a loved one or our own death, amen.

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.”

~ REVELATION 3:21

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

~ HEBREWS 12:2

“Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

~ LUKE 10:20

Live Loved

“Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 
~ MATTHEW 11:29

Love that Values Every Creature

When Jesus says, “You are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31 NIV), trust him. He knows. He knows the value of every creature.

When Christ declares, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8 NASB), believe it. After all, “He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2 NASB).

Jesus claims to be not a top theologian, an accomplished theologian, or even the Supreme Theologian, but rather the Only Theologian. “No one really knows the Father except the Son.” He does not say, “No one really knows the Father like the Son” or “in the fashion of the Son.” But rather, “No one really knows the Father except the Son.”

Heaven’s door has one key, and Jesus holds it. . . .

Jesus knows the dimensions of God’s throne room, the fragrance of its incense, the favorite songs of the unceasing choir. He has a unique, one-of-a-kind, unrivaled knowledge of God and wants to share his knowledge with you. “No one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”

(Matthew 11:27 NLT).

Jesus doesn’t boast in his knowledge; he shares it. He doesn’t gloat; he gives. He doesn’t revel; he reveals. He reveals to us the secrets of eternity. 

And he shares them, not just with the top brass or purebred, but with the hungry and needy. In the very next line, Jesus invites: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

(vv. 28–29 NLT).

—3:16: THE NUMBERS OF HOPE                 

Blessed Savior, it is a joy to be reminded of your divine knowledge. No matter what problems are perplexing to us, we can bring them to you for solutions. You have the answers to our questions. We can rest assured that though the future is uncertain to us, it is well known to you. You care for the sparrows and you care even more for us, not just today but every day. Thank you for your love and your faithfulness, amen.

And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. . . . 
~ MATTHEW 16:19

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?
~ LUKE 12:24

Live Loved

God is kind to you so you will change your hearts and lives.
~ ROMANS 2:4

In the Image of Christ

Here’s God’s agenda for your day: to make you more like Jesus. “God…decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son” 

Do you see what God is doing? Shaping you “along the same lines as the life of his Son.”

Jesus felt no guilt; God wants you to feel no guilt. 
Jesus had no bad habits; God wants to do away with yours. 
Jesus faced fears with courage; God wants you to do the same. 
Jesus knew the difference between right and wrong; God wants us to know the same. Jesus served others and gave his life for the lost; we can do likewise. 
Jesus dealt with anxiety about death; you can too. God’s desire, his plan, his ultimate goal is to make you into the image of Christ.

—EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE 

Heavenly Father, thank you for shaping our lives to be like your Son, Jesus. May we become more like him each minute and hour of the day. As he had no bad habits, Father, do away with ours. As he served others, may we do the same. He faced fears with courage, and this is what we long to do. Weave the threads of our lives, Father, in such a way that the final tapestry will show the true image of Christ, amen.

We ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.
~ JOHN 4:42

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
~ PHILIPPIANS 2:8

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.
~ EPHESIANS 2:10