Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
I have felt emotionally weak for some time now. I have been trying to pull myself up by my boot straps, but I haven’t been able to do it. Life has been hitting me with sick family members, my last child going off to college, and moving, just to name a few. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t pull it all together to be the happy, stable, focused person I had once been. Unfortunately, we live in a society where seeking help is often frowned upon and stigmatized. Fortunately, we are loved by a God who shows us community, fellowship, and support are fundamental needs.
Romans 15:1 says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failing of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us to “Encourage one another and build each other up.” Deuteronomy 31:8 encourages by reminding us that “It is the Lord, who goes before you. He will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
In the last few months I have been blessed to have asked for medical help, spiritual help, work help, and for respite. With Pearls of Promise, I have leaned heavily on my peers to help with the work load as I was healing, and I was able to travel to a friend’s house to fellowship and rest.
The lie the enemy wants to feed us is that we are weak if we need help. We should be able to handle life alone. If we can’t, then we are failures. Depression, anxiety, physical pain, and life altering changes are all to be endured alone. These are all lies. While we live our lives independently, it is important to remember the community that our Father has created for us. Lean on one another, bear each other’s burdens, and love one another.
My prayer for you all is that your reach out. Seek community. Seek help. There will be some who reject you, but the Father never will. He will provide people to come alongside of you and walk with you in this world. Keep seeking. Keep seeking HIM.
Truth #7: God loves you more than you can fathom.
It has taken me a long time to believe that God really loves me. When you don’t grow up with a father in your life, you don’t understand what a father’s love looks like. You ask questions like; “Does God really care about the intricate details of our life?” “Does He really want to be involved in my decision making?” “Why would He love me? I’ve made so many mistakes.”
But when we don’t believe that God loves and care for us as a good father cares for his children, it’s a lie. Your adversary wants you to feel unloved, unworthy, and undesirable. Don’t buy into the lie.
It is difficult to paint a picture of our heavenly Father’s love in this short blog, so today we will take one aspect of the type of love God has for us.
There are actual four different kinds of love mentioned in the Bible. There is “Phileo” Love, which is brotherly or sisterly love, “Eros,” or romantic love, and “Storge” love, which is family loyalty.
But the Greek word for the type of love that God has for us is “Agape” love. It is not of human origin and our heavenly Father has given us the capability, through Jesus, to return this type of love to Him and to others.
There’s a famous conversation in the Bible between Jesus and his disciple, Peter, about the difference between God’s “Agape” love and “Phileo” love. You can find it in John 21:15–21. It says:
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love (agapao) me more than these?’ Peter replied, ‘Yes, Lord,’ you know that I love (phileo) you.’” Translation: “Yes, Lord, you know you’re my pal!”
“Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’”
“Again Jesus said, ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly ‘agapao’ me?” He answered and I translate again, “Yes, Lord, you know that I am your buddy.”
“Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’”
Jesus obviously wasn’t getting the right answer from Peter so he asked him one more time.
“Simon, son of John, do you ‘agapeo’ me?” He is asking Peter, Do you love me with a sacrificial love, an unconditional love, the highest form of love that there is, just like I love you?”
Peter replied again, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” “Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’”
And I believe Jesus is asking that question of us as well. Do we “Agapeo” Him? Do we have a sacrificial love for God, one that is unconditional regardless of some of the trials we go through? Do we love God the way He loves us, with the highest form of love that there is? Because if we don’t love Him that way, and don’t believe we receive this type of love from Him, we can’t be used to feed God’s sheep, or to be God’s representatives of His love on this earth.
Romans 5:5 says, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love (agape) has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” When we receive God’s agape love, it’s supposed to overflow to others, even when we don’t feel like loving someone. 1 John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love (agape) does not know God, because God is love (agape).“
So why do we have so much trouble believing in, and receiving God’s love?
In Ephesians 3:17–19, the Apostle Paul says God’s love is beyond our comprehension. It takes faith to believe that God loves us so much that He truly wants the best for our lives and that he desires for us to have an intimate relationship with Him.
Isaiah 40:11 says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Who are the lambs? We are. Our loving Father carries us close to His heart. This is a beautiful image of the way our Abba Daddy cherishes us.
So today, will you choose to believe in God’s “Agape” love for you? It is a higher love than you can fathom. It is sacrificial and unconditional, and available to all who believe in Him.
Truth #6: God is your heavenly Father, not your earthly father.
This week I ministered to a couple of new friends in my life. One of them never knew her father. The other had an abrasive, mean father who she thought did not love her. As far as I could tell, neither had embraced a close, vibrant relationship with their heavenly Father, and who’s to blame them? Their earthly father figure image is not positive and it’s easy to transfer those non-appealing characteristics to Father God. But good or bad, we have to realize that God is not the same as our biological fathers, and when we place those attributes on our loving, good and holy heavenly father, we create a lie.
Here’s the truth: Dear sisters and brothers, God loves you with an incomprehensible love and desires to be the Father you never knew.
Your heavenly Father wants you to embrace His deep, unconditional love. The Bible says “nothing can separate us from the love of God”— nothing. If you are feeling unloved right now, it’s because the enemy of your soul is whispering that into your ear. Rebuke it!
On our own, we cannot put our minds around how much our heavenly Father loves us. In Ephesians 3:17 says that we cannot comprehend the width and depth of God’s love for us on our own. It takes God’s power to understand it. Paul wrote, “And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
When we give our lives to Him, like a proud Papa, God holds us close to His heart. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” We are those lambs!
Your heavenly Father desires to build you up, not tear you down. Through His Holy Spirit, He is our encourager and our advocate. Sometimes if we grew up with a critical father, we think God is critical. If we had a distant father, we think God is distant. If we had an angry father, we think God is angry with us. King David said, “Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go, give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71: 3). Our Father is a strong place of refuge and His arms are always waiting for us. He wants to be the first place we go, rather than the last, in an act of desperation.
Your heavenly Father’s love for you is unconditional and forever. No matter what mistakes you have made, or will make in the future, God’s love for you will never change. In Romans 8:38–39, the Apostle Paul said, “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
For the past four weeks, I have been teaching my new Bible study, Knowing the Father. Last week a woman shared that she grew up with a very difficult, angry dad and that it had always been hard to think of God as a loving Father, but she said that because of the study, she has experienced breakthrough and is beginning to look at her heavenly Father in a different light than ever before. Will you also be open? Ask God to reveal Himself to you in a way like never before, and today choose to believe He is a good and loving Father. It’s the truth.
Truth #5: You Have a Purpose by Lisa Burkhardt Worley
I met popular singer, Michael W. Smith, on a plane a couple of years ago. Because he was so nice I thought, I’ve got to go see him in concert. It took a while, but last night I enjoyed his “35 Years of Friends” show at Arlington Music Hall. As I listened to the beautiful songs he has produced over a three decade-plus span, what occurred to me is that this gifted musician found his God-given purpose. He is on this earth to write and sing songs that give glory to God and to entertain all over the world—and he’s great at it.
But we don’t have to be Michael W. Smith to walk in our purpose. We all have one, and if we are open, God will reveal His plan for our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Before you were born our Creator had your purpose wrapped up in a beautiful package waiting for you to open it. The Lord must be delighted when we finally realize why we’re on this Earth and then we walk in it.
But some never do. The lie is that many of us don’t believe we have a purpose. We wander through our days living in the status quo rather than being open to God’s calling that may be beyond what we could fathom on our own. Instead, we must live with an open mind and open heart to God’s purpose for our existence. We have to be willing to “walk on the water” and know that we may be called to do something far beyond our own capability.
Our heavenly Father doesn’t waste any of our secular training. I believe it’s all a part of our ultimate calling. When I left television, I said I’d never go back to the media. Never say never. I’ve been open, and now I produce and co-host an evangelical radio show, a Facebook Live/You Tube topical program and write books to help people overcome brokenness, all because I’ve been open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He’s taken my event-planning skills from my Public Relations days and for the past six years Pearls of Promise has staged life-changing conferences to provide healing tools for those who still struggle with past wounds. He’s given me opportunities to share about my childhood brokenness and to show how God can make something beautiful out of even the worst of situations.
I know I am walking in my purpose.
What about you? Do you know your purpose—a purpose that God prepared for you before time began? He wants you to participate in His plan for the world. Psalm 33:11 says, ‘But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” God’s purpose will be done, with or without us. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
Today, won’t you ask God to begin revealing His purpose for your life? Be open and don’t be afraid. It may take you places you never dreamed you’d go.
Truth #3: God really cares about the details of your life.
Because my father died before I was born and I did not have a father-daughter relationship, for years my image of God was a distant God who didn’t concern himself with the day-to-day of my life. I thought he’d only get close when He needed to issue some holy discipline to keep me in line—and that was a lot!
However, this thought process was a lie. As my relationship with my heavenly Father evolved, I realized that He cares more about the details of my life than I realized. In Luke 12:7, it says the hairs on our head are numbered and in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry because God will take care of our basic needs, just as He feeds the birds of the air. Our heavenly Father cares about the intricacies of our day-to-day and wants to provide the desires of our heart.
This weekend I spoke at a women’s retreat in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. The retreat was on a YMCA property like no YMCA I’ve ever seen before. Lots of cabins, hotel-quality lodges and bunkhouses were nestled in a beautiful mountainous setting.
The church I served was my college roommate Debbie’s congregation so I was in the car with her when we arrived at the YMCA property.
All day long, Debbie had been saying, “We’ll probably see some elk while we’re at Estes Park.” My eyes were peeled for elk because I’d never seen one up close, but on our drive up we never encountered any elk, and even after spending all day touring around Estes Park there were no elks making an appearance, except the manufactured ones in the stores. As we entered the YMCA encampment, I said with disappointment, “We’ve never seen the elk.”
Then we got really lost.
It’s a sprawling place.
We searched for our lodge with no luck.
After wandering aimlessly on the property, we ended up on one road where I some large animals off to the right. I asked, “Are those horses? Debbie exclaimed, “Those are elk!” Then we realized it wasn’t just a few elk, it was an entire herd of elk, and they were also in front of us blocking the road as they crossed.
Here’s what I believe. My loving heavenly Father heard this desire of my heart and allowed us to get lost so he could show off in a big way. If we’d gone straight to our lodge, we would have never seen the elk. Instead, he led us to an entire herd and we were given an up close view of another one of His beautiful creations.
I believe our Abba Daddy is like that. When we follow Him, He provides these loving gifts, both large and small, along the way because He cares about the details. I am so glad I no longer believe the lie that God is not concerned about me intimately. That is farthest from the truth. He desires intimacy with all of us and finds ways to show that He is with us, every step of the way.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).