Live Loved

Not to us, O LORD, . . . but to Your name give glory because of your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.
[PSALM 115:1 NASB]

God Can Rescue Us

God has one goal: God. “I have my reputation to keep up”
[Isaiah 48:11 MSG].

Surprised? Isn’t such an attitude, dare we ask, self-centered? Don’t we deem this behavior “self-promotion”?

Why does God broadcast himself ? For the same reason the pilot of the lifeboat does. Think of it this way. You’re floundering neck-deep in a dark, cold sea. Ship sinking. Life jacket deflating. Strength waning. Through the inky night comes the voice of a lifeboat pilot. But you cannot see him. What do you want the driver of the lifeboat to do?

Be quiet? Say nothing? Stealth his way through the drowning passengers? By no means! You need volume! Amp it up, buddy! In biblical jargon, you want him to show his glory. You need to hear him say, “I am here. I am strong. I have room for you. I can save you!” Drowning passengers want the pilot to reveal his preeminence.

Don’t we want God to do the same? Look around. People thrash about in seas of guilt, anger, despair. Life isn’t working. We are going down fast. But God can rescue us. And only one message matters. His! We need to see God’s glory.

Make no mistake. God has no ego problem. He does not reveal his glory for his good. We need to witness it for ours. We need a strong hand to pull us into a safe boat. And once aboard, what becomes our priority?

Simple. Promote God. We declare his preeminence. “Hey! Strong boat over here! Able pilot! He can pull you out!”

[It’s Not About Me]

Father God, we gladly choose to make you the priority in our lives. We want to make you and your message preeminent. We are grateful that you reached out through the fog of life with your saving message and gave us the opportunity to let you pull us to safety. The salvation you offer is the safety net of life and we gladly accept your offer. May we be eager to tell others of your saving love. May we promote your glory so others will find safety in you, amen.

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.
[PSALM 37:25]

As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.
[PSALM 103:13]

I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid?
[ISAIAH 51:12]

Live Loved

God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
[2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NLT]

The Bread of Life

Would you consider the offer of Jesus? “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again” (John 6:35 NLT).

The grain-to-bread process is a demanding one. The seed must be planted before it can grow. When the grain is ripe, it must be cut down and ground into flour. Before it can become bread, it must pass through the oven. Bread is the end result of planting, harvesting, and heating.

Jesus endured an identical process. He was born into this world. He was cut down, bruised, and beaten on the threshing floor of Calvary. He passed through the fire of God’s wrath, for our sake. He “suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18 MSG).

Bread of Life? Jesus lived up to the title. But an unopened loaf does a person no good. Have you received the bread? Have you received God’s forgiveness? . . .

God does not give us what we deserve. He has drenched his world in grace. It has no end. It knows no limits. It empowers this life and enables us to live the next. God offers second chances, like a soup kitchen offers meals to everyone who asks. And that includes you. Make sure you receive the bread.

[OUTLIVE YOUR LIFE]

Dear Lord, thank you for being the bread of life. You offer to us the sustenance we need for our spiritual lives. As bread feeds our physical bodies, so your Word and your wisdom provide food for our spirits. Your gift of salvation brings us to God and enables us to live for him. You offer this gift freely to all who will accept it. We gladly receive this bread of life, and we praise you for drenching this world in grace and giving us what we did not deserve, amen.

Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD, “and not a God afar off?”

[JEREMIAH 23:23]

With God nothing will be impossible.

[LUKE 1:37]

God . . . does great things which we cannot comprehend.

[JOB 37:5]

Live Loved

The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

[1 JOHN 2:17]

Heaven Is a Perfect Place

In heaven you will be you at your best forever. Even now you have your good moments. Occasional glimpses of your heavenly self. When you change your baby’s diaper, forgive your boss’s temper, tolerate your spouse’s moodiness, you display traces of saintliness. It’s the other moments that sour life. Tongue, sharp as a razor. Moods as unpredictable as Mount Saint Helens. This part wearies you.

But God impounds imperfections at his gate. His light silences the wolf man within. “Nothing that is impure will enter the city” (Revelation 21:27 TEV). Pause and let this promise drench you. Can you envision your sinless existence?

You will be you at your best forever!

And you’ll enjoy everyone else at their prime! As it is, one of us is always a step behind. Bad moods infect the best of families. Complaints shadow the clearest days. Bad apples spoil bunches of us, but rotten fruit doesn’t qualify for the produce section of heaven. Christ will have completed his redemptive work. All gossip excised and jealousy extracted. He will suction the last drop of orneriness from the most remote corners of our souls. You’ll love the result. No one will doubt your word, question your motives, or speak evil behind your back. God’s sin purging discontinues all strife.

Heaven is a perfect place of perfected people with our perfect Lord. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

[3:16: THE NUMBERS OF HOPE]

Loving Father, what a precious day it will be when we stand in your presence, perfect and whole. What relief it will be to finally be just like Jesus. Thank you for preparing a heavenly home for us, and thank you for preparing us for that heavenly home. Father, we want to please you and know that on the day we stand before your throne, you will have purged all the sin from our lives. What a glorious day that will be! Amen.

I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it.

[ECCLESIASTES 3:14]

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

[EPHESIANS 1:3]

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

[PSALM 37:4]

Jesus Lives

ABIDING IN HIM

I delight in your desire to live steadfastly in My Presence, as if you were a tree planted close to Me. However, unlike a tree that cannot move from the place where it is planted, each moment you can choose to stay near Me—or not. Though I never leave you, you can “leave” Me by forgetting I am with you. When that happens, you start looking for ways to bolster your own resources. You also tend to run away from challenges I have placed in your life.

My Spirit, who lives in you, will not leave you in this compromised condition. He helps you remember who you are and Whose you are. You belong to Me! Returning to Me is not an arduous task. Simply affirm your trust in My unfailing Love. As you thus reconnect with Me, My Love washes over you—cleansing, refreshing, and filling you. No matter how many times you forget Me, My Love for you will never fail. Grow strong in this constant, nourishing Love.

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

[Psalm 52:8]

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

[Deuteronomy 31:6]

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

[Romans 8:26]

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

[Ephesians 3:19]

Live Loved

HIS LOVE

Nothing can separate you from My Love. When you trusted Me as Savior, I united Myself to you in eternal matrimony. Many things threaten to rip apart this holy bond—principalities and powers, controlling people, dire circumstances—but nothing can succeed, not even death. In fact, dying opens the way to ecstatic enjoyment of Me: exponentially better than your best moment on earth!

I embody not only perfect Love but all the fullness of the Deity as well. In Me you have everything you could ever need. Feelings of emptiness can serve as signals—reminding you to turn back toward Me. No matter what you are doing, I can be a co-participant with you. As you invite Me into more and more aspects of your life, you will discover a growing contentment within you. In times of adversity you can lean on Me for support; in joyous times you can celebrate with Me. I am as near as a whispered prayer—even nearer. My banner over you is Love.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[Romans 8:38–39]

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

[Psalm 145:18]

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.

[Colossians 2:9]

He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

[Song of Songs 2:4]

Live Loved

Let’s Talk to Jesus

What do you do when you run out of gas? You don’t exhaust your petroleum perhaps, but all of us run out of something. You need kindness, but the gauge is on empty. You need hope, but the needle is in the red. You want five gallons of solutions but can only muster a few drops. When you run out of steam before you run out of day, what do you do? Stare at the gauge? Blame your upbringing? Deny the problem?

No. Pity won’t start the car. Complaints don’t fuel an engine. Denial doesn’t bump the needle. In the case of an empty tank, we’ve learned: get the car to a gas pump ASAP.

My first thought when I run out of fuel is, How can I get this car to a gas pump? Your first thought when you have a problem should be, How can I get this problem to Jesus?

Let’s get practical. You and your spouse are about to battle it out again. The thunderstorm looms on the horizon. The temperature is dropping, and lightning bolts are flashing. Both of you need patience, but both tanks are empty. What if one of you calls, “Time-out”? What if one of you says, “Let’s talk to Jesus before we talk to each other. In fact, let’s talk to Jesus until we can talk to each other”? Couldn’t hurt. After all, he broke down the walls of Jericho. Perhaps he could do the same for yours.

[EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE]

Lord, you are the answer to our questions and the solution to our problems. We don’t have the wisdom to work through the storms of life, but you do. In your presence we find help and hope and healing, amen.

Thus says the LORD, the God of David. . . . : “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears.”

[ISAIAH 38:5]

I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.

[PSALM 116:1]

They cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.

[PSALM 107:19]

Live Loved

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

[PROVERBS 3:6]

Prayer Is This Simple

My father let me climb onto his lap . . . when he drove! He’d be arrested for doing so today. But half a century ago, no one cared. Especially on a flat-as-a-skillet West Texas oil field, where rabbits outnumber people. . . .

I loved it. Did it matter that I couldn’t see over the dash? That my feet stopped two feet shy of the brake and accelerator? That I didn’t know a radio from a carburetor? By no means. I helped my dad drive his truck.

Did I fear driving into the ditch? Overturning the curve? Running the tire into a rut? By no means. Dad’s hands were next to mine, his eyes keener than mine. Consequently, I was fearless! Anyone can drive a car from the lap of a father.

And anyone can pray from the same perspective.

Prayer is the practice of sitting calmly in God’s lap and placing our hands on his steering wheel. He handles the speed and hard curves and ensures safe arrival. And we offer our requests; we ask God to “take this cup away.” (Mark 14:36) This cup of disease, betrayal, financial collapse, joblessness, conflict, or senility. Prayer is this simple.

Be specific about your fears. . . . Putting your worries into words disrobes them. They look silly standing there naked.

Thank you, gracious God, for the privilege of prayer. How amazing that we can talk to you anywhere, anytime. What a relief to share our burdens and blessings with you, dear Father. What a delight to know that you hear and answer every prayer, amen.

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

[JOHN 14:13]

I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.

[1 SAMUEL 1:27]

I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

[PSALM 34:4]