The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
(Psalm 32:8 NLT)
A few days ago, I was driving down the road in peace when all of a sudden, my sister, who was sitting beside me, leaned over and tried to steer the car away because she could see how close the car on our right was getting. Thankfully, the person in the other car stayed in their own lane and no one got hurt.
My sister trying to steer us away from danger reminded me of what God does for us every day. So often there are dangers we don’t see coming and He is there, watching over us and protecting us. Even when we’re in the midst of making important decisions, He is there guiding us on the right path. I don’t know about you, but moments like this give me a glimpse of God’s love and care. He really has got the wheel!
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’”
(Jeremiah 30:17 NIV)
This particular Scripture has come up a lot lately. I know it’s a Word from the Saviour. It’s especially fitting during a time when many around us are hurting – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Godly people who are wondering why they’re suffering through no fault of their own. People who haven’t warranted the mistreatment and sorrow they’ve endured. “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares,’” comes the promise from the Lord our Healer (Exodus 15:26).
And as I ponder on the suffering of those around me and in the world, I can’t help but wonder the purposes of God. Then He reminds me of the words from the chapter He led me to write in Rise Again, “But First Comes Death.” We’re not exempt from pain and suffering even after we choose to follow Jesus. It is He who reminds us that in this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). Suffering and death were part of the divine plan for Jesus, but so was the resurrection. Sometimes we will die metaphorically, but God will come and demonstrate the power of His resurrection in us and through us! He will restore our health and heal our wounds. In today’s verse, Israel was “called an outcast…for whom no one cares.” People single you out to hurt you, but God singles you out to bless you! When people reject you, God accepts you.
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends…” “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
(Luke 15: 28-29, 31-32 NIV)
Over the years, I’ve developed a positive attitude towards the welfare of others. When I pray for something and I hear that others have been blessed with it before me, I say, “They need it more.” Sadly, that was not the attitude of the older brother in the story of “The Lost Son.” When his younger brother returned home after squandering his father’s money on wild living, and his father threw a party to welcome him back, the older brother was resentful. He failed to realize what the father realized: they had to celebrate and be happy because the younger brother had come back home. Unlike the older son, who had always obeyed his father’s orders and didn’t need to be welcomed back into the family, the younger son did.
What’s your attitude towards those who seem to be more blessed than you? Do you, like the older brother in the story, resent the wonderful way God treats them because you don’t think they’re deserving of such treatment, or are you like the father, who realized his son’s need? Remember, God doesn’t prefer some people over others. If He is looking after the welfare of others more, it’s because they need it more.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~Jesus
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalm 34:8 NIV)
Have you ever tried something and discovered that it’s actually as good as it promises to be? How did you feel? What did you do about it? I’m sure you didn’t keep it a secret and told everyone you knew about it.
The psalmist in today’s passage exhorts us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Having experienced God’s goodness during a time of trouble, David assures us that those who take refuge in Him will not be disappointed. So we can trust David’s words. They’re tried and true.
But David isn’t the only one. Throughout Scripture and down through the ages, many others who have experienced God’s goodness have testified about it. Godly men and women don’t just quote the words of Scripture to sound wise or spiritual, they have actually experienced them for themselves and they tell us that they can be trusted. So “taste and see that the Lord is good”, so you too can experience this truth for yourself and share it with others.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
(Romans 12:18 NLT)
Even the great apostle realized that in a world of strife it’s not always easy to live at peace. Nevertheless, he encourages us to make it our goal. Jesus pronounced a blessing on peacemakers, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9 NIV), and the apostle James reminds us, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). I love that the Bible refers to Jesus as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV). With His help, we, too, can be peacemakers.
Try to live at peace with everyone.
LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.
(Psalm 16:5 NLT)
I believe that God has assigned each of us our portion in life and if we believe that we’ll lead contented lives. We’ll quit trying to be like someone else because we’d realize that we were each assigned a different portion. On a number of occasions, I’ve refused to do or pursue something just because that’s what someone else wanted for me. Perhaps it was what God intended for someone else, but it was clearly not what He wanted for me. Truly, our portion lies with God, and not us or what someone else would like for us. Therefore, we can be at peace knowing that we have nothing to gain or lose since our portion has already been assigned to us by God Himself.
Be content with your portion in life.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
(Malachi 3:10 NIV)
Did you know that God makes note of our offering? In the twenty-first chapter of Luke, we’re told that during His stay in the temple, Jesus looked at the way that people were tossing their gifts in the offering box. And while the rich put in more, Jesus commended a poor widow, who had “put in more than all the others,” because all the other “people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (vv.3-4). In Malachi chapter three, God also made note of the people’s offering, and noticed that they were actually robbing Him of the tithe that was His, so He challenged them to give, and watch Him bless them tremendously. He is still watching and willing to reward us when we obey Him and give.
We can never outgive God.
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
(Matthew 19:21-22 NLT)
I once heard of a young man who had everything he could possibly want except a loving relationship. He went through great depths to find it but the only thing preventing him was his great wealth. The young man in today’s passage faced a similar problem. After discovering the answer to his probing question of how to earn eternal life “he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” God blesses us with many good things, but they aren’t meant to replace Him. They’re also not meant to make us look down on everyone else or think that we don’t need God in our lives. We’ve been blessed to be a blessing. Use what you have been given to bless others.
We’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
Jacob spent most of his life competing with his twin brother, Esau. First, he wanted Esau’s birthright, then he wanted his blessing. And although Jacob got what he wanted through deception and lies, an encounter with God one night made him realize that the the true blessing, the only blessing that mattered, came from the source of all blessings – God Himself. So Jacob spent that whole night begging and wrestling for that blessing and God let him have it.
We can spend our entire lives trying to be like someone else and wanting what they have, but what God has in store for us far outweighs everything else we thought we wanted. And the moment we come to terms with the blessing God has for us, we won’t stop until we get it. Stop chasing the blessing God has for someone else and start fighting for your blessing.
As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.
(1 Samuel 3:19 NLT)
I also love the NIV translation of this verse, “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.” In Scripture, we’re told that the Word of our God stands forever, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NKJV). The words Samuel spoke proved reliable because they were the very words of God! He was a true prophet who spoke for God.
In the Bible, God has graciously given us the test of a true prophet, “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NIV). So the next time you find yourself questioning whether someone’s word is truly a word from God, wait and see if their word proves true.