But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
(Genesis 8:1 NIV)
The Bible often speaks of God remembering people or things. This doesn’t mean that God had forgotten about them because He never forgets, it means that He was concerned about them and was about to do something for them. When God remembered Noah, every living thing, and all of the animals that were with him in the ark, God did something about it. The Bible tells us that God “sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” When people remember you, it might not change anything because they’re simply recalling you to mind, but when God remembers you, it changes everything because He is about to act on your behalf. Be encouraged knowing that He’ll remember you too.
When God remembers His children, He does so with favour.
A few years ago, my father began to experience some health problems. I sensed in my spirit that it was nothing serious, but we still had to get him checked out. For someone who has never gone for regular check ups, the doctor was quite impressed with my dad’s test results and he didn’t hesitate to point it out. There was only one explanation for all of this… It had to be God! As one doctor rightfully put it, “God does the healing. I charge the fee.” I watched as my father breathed a sigh of relief that day, but most importantly, I saw him draw closer to God during the difficult time and testify of His healing touch afterwards.
I’m thankful for the healing hands of God. I’m thankful that He heals us not only physically, but in all other areas of life too – emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As one songwriter put it, there’s “Never been a heart you couldn’t heal.” But like the Psalmist, I’ve discovered that with the healing comes a great responsibility – to declare the praises of our God, “Let me live that I may praise you.” It is to the living that God entrusts this responsibility. Every day that we wake up is another opportunity to praise God for what He has done and what He will do. Let’s not go through another day without letting the world know what our great God has done for us. Let’s live for Him and point others to Him.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the taxcollectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:46-48 NIV)
A family member couldn’t agree more. Her life motto is “If I repay evil with evil, then I’d be acting like most people.” She is an inspiration to the rest of us who often feel like treating others the way they treat us. But if we want to be recognized as God’s sons and daughters, we have to do what Jesus instructed us to do in Matthew 5:43-48 – love our enemies and pray for those who wrong us. It’s not easy, but with His help it’s doable. Only then will the world recognize us as sons and daughters of God, who “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (v. 45).
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:16-17 NIV)
How many times have you heard a well-intentioned person claim that something is the will of God when the evidence pointed in the opposite direction? I have heard it countless times. But I love the solution that James provides in his letter. He tells his readers that they shouldn’t be deceived because it’s easy to tell when something is or isn’t from God. As the giver of all that is good and perfect, the Father only has the best in store for us. So if God isn’t responsible for our misery, who is? Listen to James’ response. “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”’ (James 1:13-15). In other words, we’re responsible for our choices and we have to accept the consequences of our actions. Whenever we make bad choices in life and suffer the consequences, we have no one to blame but ourselves. However, the good news is that even when we mess up, we can still seek forgiveness and once again rediscover every good and perfect gift from the Father whose plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
As the giver of every good and perfect gift, God only has the best in store for us.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.”
(Matthew 23:8-10 NIV)
God isn’t against us having titles of honour, as much as He is against us seeking titles of honour to foster pride. That’s why in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others”’ (vv. 5-7). Therefore, in the verses that follow, Jesus advised the crowds and His disciples – and us – against doing the same. In fact, He is our example of someone who held many titles of honour, such as doctor, teacher, miracle worker, but who didn’t use them to foster pride, but to further the kingdom of God.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
(Psalm 139:13-14 MSG)
I know someone whose goal in life right now is to have a celeb-inspired body. “You do realize that they have a personal trainer and need to maintain that kind of body image for the public eye, right?” I asked. They nodded, but then wondered if I wanted to look like a certain celebrity. I find it interesting that people still aspire to look like one, even though it’s very unrealistic to me. “No,” I assured them, “because many of them have gone under the knife and I’m not going to do that.” They finally agreed and said that they wouldn’t do it either.
I’m reminded of a children song that I used to sing with the kids in Sunday school. The words of the song express exactly how David felt in today’s psalm:
God made me who I’m meant to be He loves me just the way I am God made me who I’m meant to be His dream for me is so amazing And for this simple reason I am happy to be me.
(Hillsong Kids, “Royalty”)
It takes time for some people to reach that point in their lives where they’re truly happy to be themselves, especially if they’ve never liked themselves to begin with. There’s definitely nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves and looking our best, but we need to remember that we’ll never look like someone else because each of us is remarkably and wonderfully made by God Himself. There will never be another me or you, so let’s follow David’s example and praise God for the way that we’ve been made and not try to be someone else. We’re God’s masterpiece!
A few years ago, I was sitting in the mall enjoying my freshly squeezed drink when something suddenly caught my attention and I was greatly disturbed. A young man passed by rolling an old man on a wheelchair. He rolled the wheelchair to the side of the bench and sat down to look at his phone without even once looking up to check on the old man or to speak to him. I don’t know if the young man was a caregiver or a relative, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the old man, who seemed to long for some social interaction. Even though outwardly he seemed to be well taken care of yet inwardly he was neglected.
But I’m so thankful that God is nothing like that young man. I love The Message paraphrase of Isaiah 46:4, “I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old. I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray. I’ve done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you.” Our heavenly Father promises to be with us and care for us even when we’re old and grey. The One who made us won’t abandon us. He will carry us and continue to speak to us. My grandmother, who is well looked after by everyone in every way, treasures the alone time she now has with the Lord and I’m sure He does too.
Her husband Elkanah wouldsay to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
(1 Samuel 1:8 NIV)
In the opening chapter of the book of First Samuel, we’re introduced to Hannah, the soon-to-be mother of the book’s main character, Samuel. For years, Penninah, Elkanah’s other wife, used to provoke Hannah for her infertility, especially when the family went up to God’s house to worship. This would upset Hannah and she wouldn’t eat. Elkanah, who loved Hannah more, would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” Oftentimes, we’re like Hannah. We’re too busy trying to meet people’s expectations that we overlook God’s great love for us. Hannah eventually had a son and it did silence Penninah, but Hannah missed on years of happiness because she let Penninah’s words get to her. Learn to enjoy God’s love regardless of your circumstances. His love is more than enough.
A heart filled with God’s love is a contented heart.
“‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”‘
(Luke 15:18-20 NIV)
The younger son was in a hurry to leave his father’s house. It wasn’t because of anything his father had done. The son just wanted to be free to explore the world around him. But it wasn’t long before he realized that there was nothing like the father’s house. It was the place where even the hired servants were treated well and where he was guaranteed the same, if his father didn’t take him back as a son, but as a servant. So he mustered up the courage to get up and return to his father, who, of course, took him back. Walking away from God, our Father, doesn’t make us free. It makes us miserable. Thankfully, He’s ready to take us back. So let’s get up and go to Him.
And every time I come knocking at Your door You make me feel like I’m the only one that You adore – Rachael Lampa, “Remedy”
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? No disciplineis enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
(Hebrews 12:7, 11 NLT)
I remember the discipline I received from my father as a child. It wasn’t pleasant, but it definitely paid off. As an adult, I’m still being disciplined, this time by my heavenly Father. Even though it’s not something that I look forward to, I must admit that when received submissively, it’s always been wholesome and beneficial. In fact, there are times when I really need it. Of course, I wish I could do without it but that wouldn’t help me become the person God wants me to be. I’m sure that my father didn’t like to discipline me, but if he hadn’t, I would have continued to misbehave. Similarly, if God doesn’t discipline me, I’ll continue to sin. Therefore, the best thing to do is to accept His discipline.
Like any loving father, God disciplines us for our good.