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I can only do my best with what I have in my hands right now. My resources are finite and limited. But God is unlimited and the definition of infinity and beyond! He is the beginning and the end and everything in between.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Thank you Apostle Paul for that reminder in Phillipians 4:19.
Point to ponder while you wander…A Father who loves me with infinite resources and everlasting love now that is something worth rejoicing in and being grateful for!
Today I am thankful that God is a God of restoration.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
Normally I’d dissect this verse and display all the treasure found in those 4 amazical things our God of all Grace will do for us. But today I’m focusing my gratitude on restoration. Today, for me, restoration looks like this…
For those of you who don’t know the story, here is my tale of woe: About 4 years ago, my Canon Rebel jumped out of my camera bag, rolled down the stairs, and crashed spectacularly at the bottom. I took it to get it repaired, and the guy told me that the good news is the lens is undamaged. The bad news is that mechanism inside the camera that actually captures the image is broken. It would be cheaper to buy a new camera. Yeah. Worst news ever for a photographer.
To say that I was devastated doesn’t begin to cover it. I had just paid that camera off, and a photographer without a camera is like a person missing an appendage. Sound tragic? It should! It was a tragedy to me! I grieved that loss deeply.
Don’t tell me it’s just a camera. Just a possession, a thing…I know that. But many of my dreams include photography, so no camera…no dreams coming true.
Fast forward 4 years to my women’s group having a discussion about dreams. I have a lot of dreams, BIG ONES. But I felt like I needed to talk about photography, the dream I felt had been shelved. I had forgotten how much photography meant to me, until I started telling them about my passion project with God. The one that stirs my heart and moves me to tears. The one that requires a whole lot of money and other people to pull off. The one that I don’t tell people about. Then this beautiful, amazing, generous friend looks at me and says, “I have a camera for you.”
And I cried.
I am still moved by the gravity and meaning of those 6 words. The extravagant seed she sowed into my dreams. It’s at times like this that I’m also grateful God is a rewarder. I cannot wait to see what she reaps for sowing into my dreams.
Something to ponder while you wander…God is the one who restores, but He usually chooses to work through people. Are you willing to let Him work through you? Are you willing to believe in and encourage others. Are you open to investing in others with your time, talent, and finances. You may be the one to change their life.
God believes people are worth investing in, shouldn’t we?
“We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.” John 1:16-18 MSG
Thank You, Jesus.
It is because of You we are reconnected and reconciled to The Father. You made a way. (John 14:6, 2 Corinthians 5:18 & Romans 5:11)
It is because of You we are all healed and made whole. (Luke 4:17-21, 6:19, 4:40 & 8:47, Acts 5:16, and Matthew 8:16 & 12:15)
It is because of You we are made free to choose abundant life. (John 10:10)
It is because of You that we have authority. (Luke 10:19)
It is because of You we have the peace that passes all understanding. (John 14:27)
It is because of You we know what real love looks like. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
Thank You, Jesus, it is because of You that we can do all things. (Philippians 4:19)
When someone gives you a gift, just accept it and say, “Thank you.” It’s really not a difficult concept. But when receiving from God, I still tend to struggle with this. I feel as though I need to clean up my own mess and earn God’s help. That is the definition of religion, people trying to impress God with what they do and to make themselves worthy of God’s notice.
Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this; God already loves you as much as He’s ever going to. Do you know why that is? Because He already loves you completely and unconditionally. What you do or not do doesn’t change the love He has for you. He’s a good God who wants to bless people and enjoys giving good gifts.
The story that kept popping up to me was the story of God giving Naaman a gift. It’s found in II Kings 5. Naaman was a great Aramean warrior, who was beloved by his king, and also happened to also to be a leper. Naaman’s wife had a maid from Israel, who told Naaman that she knew of a prophet who could heal him. So Naaman went to Elisha’s house. Here’s the story beginning in verse 9 and going through verse 16.
“So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.
But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused.”
Naaman’s pride said, “That’s it??? There must be more than simply bathing in a dirty river? This can’t be right. Shouldn’t there be some sort of ritual or cost involved.” But there wasn’t. God simply required Naaman to believe, then He healed him. Naaman was the leader of the army that had just defeated his people in battle. Yet still God loved him. Yet God healed him without expecting anything in return. That’s the goodness and giving nature of God.
This just blows my mind.
While I was reading Psalm 116 this morning, verse 12 jumped out at me. It asks “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?” It’s a good question. How do you repay someone who has given you something in excess of your ability to pay? How do you repay such a good God for being who He is?
When I read the next verse it seemed like it was changing topics because it was talking about lifting the cup of salvation. So I looked up lift, cup, and salvation in the Strong’s. Here’s what I found:
Lift (H5375) can mean to accept, take, lift…etc…
Cup (H3583) is from a root that means to hold together. It means container (cup). Figuratively it refers to a portion or lot.
Salvation (H3444) is Yeshûw’âh. It means the whole package of deliverance: deliverance, victory, prosperity, aid, help, health, salvation and welfare. It is everything that Jesus died to give us.
I added this all together…. Willingly accept the whole container of salvation is how you repay the Lord’s goodness. I pondered this because it doesn’t seem good enough to me.
So, I asked Him, “How do I repay Your goodness, Lord?”
His answer, “By accepting it.”
The truth is usually much simpler than we make it out to be.
God does not want us to live sad little lives, bearly squeaking by. He doesn’t want us to be beaten down by circumstances and our enemies. He wants us to enjoy our lives even when they are difficult. He wants us to have peace that passes all understanding and joy unspeakable. He knows that when we remain in peace and maintain our joy, we are stronger.
In Nehemiah 8, the leaders were reading the Book of the Law to the people. The people realized they had been living against God’s law and they were grieved. The realization that you need to change the way you are living is good, but God does not want you to stay there and beat yourself up. Staying there makes you weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. He wants you to be in a position of strength.
Ezra and Nehemiah wanted the people to understand that the Word of God should inspire celebration and hope. Not dread and fear. They told the people that the joy of the Lord was their strength.
“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” Nehemiah 8:9-12 NLT
The Bible is a love story. It is full of stories about hope and joy. The Old Testament shows that God never gave up on the Children of Israel. He kept pursuing them even when they ran amok. When the Children of Israel pursued God, He poured blessing on them. But even when they turned their backs on Him, He never abandoned them. Not one single day. Were there repercussions for their poor choices? Yes. But when they came back to Him, He always received them. He didn’t reject or abandon them. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the love God has for people. We were the joy set before Jesus, that made Him willing to go to the cross. And He is our hope.
Knowing that God will never leave or forsake me, fills me with joy! Knowing that despite my past choices and mistakes, I am loved, fills me with joy! Even though my present circumstances are difficult, I’m not going through it alone. I will not be swallowed up. This makes me smile in the face of unemployment and not enough money to pay my bills. I am rejoicing that God will turn everything around for my good. This joy in the face of hardship, is the joy of the Lord.
Find a reason to rejoice today. That joy will make you stronger.
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Proverbs 11:24-25 MSG
Real love is practical. It almost always wears work overalls. Do you want to be loved? Then love those around you. Here’s what that looks like…
Babysit for a single parent or give a date night to coupled parents so they can have a break. If you can do it for free, even better.
Do you feel like no one ever listens to you? Than give a listening ear to someone else.
Are you struggling to believe a promise from the Lord? Then pray for someone else to be strengthened and encourage them.
Do you have a need that is beyond what you can do? Then find someone else who has a need you can meet and bless them! Maybe give away nice clothes that don’t fit you, help clean or do yard work, pay an electric bill or drive someone to the store or pick them up for church.
Are you fighting depression or feeling miserable? Then find someone to compliment or encourage. Send a card or bring balloons or flowers. Call and tell someone you’re thinking about them.
Think about this…you can’t give a hug without getting one back.