Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.
(Psalm 139:14 NLT)
Today I can say this verse with confidence, but for years, the Enemy used to make me believe otherwise. Like many people, I wasn’t happy with my body image. I paid more attention to what people said about me than what God said. And when I did listen to what He had to say, I began to see myself the way He sees me–as someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s voice pervaded over the Enemy’s to the point that I could go out without a touch of makeup and feel good or hear a word of criticism and not be bothered by it. We’re His masterpiece. Now that’s something worth praising Him for.
As God’s masterpiece, we’re fearfully and wonderfully made.
What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?
(Matthew 16:26 CEV)
What if you could achieve or acquire all the things in this life, except a relationship with God? Is it worth it? Jesus asked and continues to ask His hearers today. The rich man in Luke chapter sixteen would tell you that it’s not. The man who led what would seem like a great life for many, spent eternity in the most dreaded place–hell. It was then that he sought God, but it was too late. He then begged Abraham to warn his brothers–who were still living–so that they wouldn’t make the same mistake he did. Let’s take a leaf from this man’s story and pursue what’s important and life-saving, rather than what’s temporary and self-gratifying.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].”
(Ecclesiastes 1:2 AMP)
I heard a story about a customer who had gone to a store to pick up a dress. Apparently, something didn’t seem good to them, so they spent some time arguing with the salesclerk. “It’s just a dress,” they were told. They missed the point. The occasion was more important than the dress.
Some things in life are just not worth our time and energy. We spend so much of it on things that are not important, that won’t matter in the long run. But sadly, the things that do matter, well, they’re the last thing on our mind. The writer of Ecclesiastes had it all. Yet it is he who tells us that life is meaningless without God. In fact, he emphasizes this point throughout the book. Learn to appreciate and focus on what’s more important in life because at the end of the day, a dress is just a dress.
Life without God no matter how seemingly valuable leads to emptiness. -Unknown
No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.
(Acts 5:13 NIV)
In Acts chapter 5, we learn that sometimes people won’t join your circle not because they don’t like you, but because they’re afraid of what a relationship with you will cost them. After Peter called out Ananias and Sapphira about lying to the Holy Spirit by pretending to be a generous couple, they both died on the same day. That’s a price no one was willing to pay. So although people admired the disciples, they were too scared to join them.
It’s interesting how people can admire your Christian lifestyle, but won’t dare to get close to you because the way you live your life calls them out on the way they’re living theirs apart from Christ. As my friend put it, “They like you from afar.” So the next time you find yourself admired by someone from a distance, it might just be that you’re doing something right and they’re afraid of the change they’ll be required to make if they got to know God better. Our actions speak louder than our words.
While people were crowding and pressing against Him, Jesus stopped and asked the question, “Who touched me?” (Luke 8:45). Then Peter jumped in with his two cents, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you” (v.45). But Jesus wasn’t referring to just any touch, so He explained, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me” (v.46). We later find that Jesus was touched by a woman’s faith. A woman who, after hearing of Him, came to Him saying to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed” (Matthew 9:21). And healed she was. After being subject to bleeding for twelve years with no help from the ones she had hoped would cure her, she finally received her healing. “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29). Jesus made sure she and the people watching knew that as well. “Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace”’ (Luke 8:48, emphasis mine). The woman could have easily given up and dismissed her case as a lost cause, but she didn’t. Instead of dwelling in self-pity, she chose to try one more time but this time, by touching the only One with the power to help her. This persistent woman got her miracle not because she had money (which she had already used up at this point), but because she had faith that she would be healed!
Today, our act of faith – no matter how small – still touches Jesus. And make no mistake, He will take note and He will act! Twelve years of struggle turned into a day of breakthrough. Don’t underestimate the power of God to change your life for the better, but will He be touched by your faith?
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
(Matthew 7:24-27 NLT)
In the children’s story, The Three Little Pigs, three grown-up pigs leave home and begin to build houses of their own. The first built his house out of straws, the second out of sticks and the third out of bricks. When the big, bad wolf came and blew their houses, he destroyed the first two and ate the pigs, but he couldn’t do the same to the third pig. He was the wise one. Jesus says that when we hear and obey His words, we’re like a wise person who built their house on the rock–a Biblical metaphor of God or Christ. No matter what life throws at us, we’ll remain steady. But those who don’t apply Jesus’ words to their lives will lose whatever foundation they may have.
Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you will bring in people instead of fish.”
(Luke 5:10 CEV)
Simon was a fisherman for a long time, so when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men, it wasn’t a concept that he wasn’t familiar with. I’m not sure what God is calling you to do but I do know that whatever it is, it’s something that He has already prepared you for. We find this consistent pattern in the Bible. For instance, prior to leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses was a shepherd, an experience that taught him how to be a leader. Your life experiences are not a coincidence. God is preparing you for what He wants you to do.
“Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.” (GW)
“Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB)
Being still means to come to Him, let go of whatever it is that’s weighing us down, relax and leave matters with Him. It’s not always easy for us to do this, but it can be done. It’s much better when we stop trying and allow Him to be in control. Only then will we be able to acknowledge that He is God with whom all things are possible and who can meet all our needs. Take His instruction to heart and be still today. You’ll be glad you did.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
(Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT)
God’s Word is powerful! I’m often reminded of this passage whenever I read the Bible or listen to a message. It tells me that whatever I’ve read or heard will have an impact on my life because that’s what God is saying in the verse–His word won’t return to Him empty, but it will accomplish what He desires. I may not see its impact right away, but just like the rain and snow that water the earth and make it bud and flourish, providing seed for the sower and bread for the hungry, God’s Word will also achieve His purpose in due time. It never returns to Him empty.
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
(Luke 6:38 NLT)
Over the years, I’ve come to realize how true this principle is. Whenever I’ve been generous, regardless of my circumstances, I’ve always been blessed in return, so that I could keep on giving. This is what the apostle Paul told the Corinthian Christians, who were contributing to the fund to help the Christians in Jerusalem. He said, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV). I encourage you to be generous and watch God bless you in return.