Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
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).
“LIAR! LIAR!” by Dr. Lynnette Simm
For some reason, in addition to citing mountains of sports and car trivia, men enjoy quoting witty lines from movies. Quotes from The Godfather, Casablanca, and Forrest Gump are everywhere. One movie that my husband likes to quote is The Princess Bride (1987). I smile every time he says, “As You Wish!” – as a reference to his love and dedication to me. Because of my husband’s interest in the movie, I have watched it once or twice over the years.
One of my favorite quotes from the movie comes from Carol Kane, who plays the elderly wife to a wizard, played by Billy Crystal. The scene includes the wizard, Miracle Max, explaining that the main character, Wesley, was “mostly dead” and proceeds to ask the unconscious Wesley what is worth living for? Wesley exhales and groans the answer “true love”; but Miracle Max quickly covers up Wesley’s noble cause for living. At that moment, Carol Kane’s character, Max’s wife, bursts into the room to reinforce what Wesley said and screams, “LIAR! LIAR! LIAR! He said, ‘True Love.’”
Why am I talking about this particular cult classic? Because Carol Kane’s outburst reminds me of what Jesus says all the time. The enemy is a LIAR! LIAR! LIAR!We are not worthless! We are not ugly! We are not unwanted! WE HAVE TRUE LOVE, and HE IS WORTH LIVING FOR.
For years I listened to those lies. I diminished everything I did and every gift and talent God gave me. I wasn’t alone. So many of us fall for the lies the enemy dishes out through the media, society, and sometime through our family, or so called friends. But they are all LIES! Each and EVERY one of us is loved.We are so deeply loved that Jesus died for us.
You might ask: Me? Really? What if I have sinned? Walking towards love, I learned a truth. WE HAVE ALL SINNED! And what’s even more incredible is that God LOVES US ANYWAY! Romans 8:31-39 reminds us that there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God. That is the gift of unconditional love that God gave us ALL through His Son Jesus Christ.
I, no we, were born for love, by love, with love as our true identity. The Love of God is pure, honest, and trustworthy. The Love of God is life giving, joy producing, and filled with hope. David Benner said it best: “God loves each and every one of us with depth, persistence, and intensity beyond imagination.” So don’t listen to the LIAR! Listen to the ONE who shares Truth and Love.
Part 1: Counteracting the Lies We’ve Believed
What lies have you believed about yourself throughout the years? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to counteract some of those lies with truths found in Scripture. And when you inject enough truth into the lies, all they can do is explode! So today we start with our first truth, which may go against what’s been said to you in the past.
#1 You are beautiful. This past weekend I attended my college reunion at Texas Lutheran in Seguin. It’s been a number of decades since I was in college, and when you return it’s easy to revert back into some of the insecurities you felt in those years. I had great friends and dated some, but never thought I was particularly beautiful.
In my sophomore year, I cut off all my hair into a very short do. I entered college with long hair, almost down to my waist, but thought a shorter style would be easier to groom while playing basketball. It was, but it wasn’t what drew boyfriends. The guy I was dating at the time asked, “Why did you cut off your hair?” It wasn’t long after that he broke it off. So that caused some insecurity and a feeling that I was not pretty.
My hair now is longer than it was my last couple of years in college, so prior to our reunion, I went to a blow dry bar and had the stylist do what I struggle with, making my hair straight and smooth. When my hour in her chair was over, the frizz and wave were gone! While I felt better about the way I looked, the truth is, we don’t need perfect hair to be beautiful.
In 1 Samuel 16, when God was searching for a new king to replace King Saul in Israel, he sent the prophet Samuel to Jesse’s home because one of his sons would be the anointed king. Jesse paraded all but one of his boys in front of Samuel. While the candidates were physically attractive, they were not the one. Samuel asked Jesse, “Do you have any other sons?” Only the youngest, David, was left. David was called in from the sheep pen and ended up being chosen. Was he handsome? Scripture says he was fine looking, and healthy, but in the end, it wasn’t David’s physical appearance that was beautiful to God. It was David’s heart. God explained to Samuel, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” In other words, it’s not what other people have told you about your appearance. It’s not what the fashion magazines teach through their air-brushed images. It’s what’s inside that counts.
I don’t know what’s been said to you over the years, but the truth about how you look is found in the Word of God. He is the one we are trying to please, and he cares about our heart. In Galatians 1:10, Paul said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” I believe beauty from within overflows into your countenance, making you beautiful.
Each of us are also God’s great work of art. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. According to Genesis 1:27, we are created in God’s image. So if we are ugly, what does that make God? I don’t want to be the one to call Him “ugly” by ripping my appearance!
Today, I want you to believe that you are a beautiful creation of God. If you have to, tape Ephesians 2:10 on your mirror, or simply say the statement, “I am beautiful” every day until you believe it. What is more important, what others say about you, or how God sees you? It’s your decision, beautiful.
This last week, I had the pleasure of being with Jesus. I listened as Jesus explained how a wealthy man could get into heaven and I watched as John baptized Him.
How, may you ask, was I able to be with Jesus? I did it the same way anyone does when reflect on special moments with their loved ones. The Bible took me to these incredible moments with Christ when I read the scriptures, closed my eyes, and imagined I was right there. Hearing Jesus talk with such love and compassion for the wealthy man in Mark 10:17-22 melted my heart. Jesus so wanted the man to give up his wealth, his idol, and follow Him. But then I saw the man’s face fall with reluctance and he walked away. At first I could sympathize with the wealthy man. He built a life and security, of course he wouldn’t want to give it all away. Then I looked towards Jesus’s face. I saw His disappointment because the man didn’t comprehend that everything on earth will be gone. What Jesus was offering was “eternal life.”
As I sat there, staring at Jesus, I felt overwhelmed by the things in my life that I let come before HIM, but before I left I thanked Him for sharing with me the areas in my life I need to work on.
The next day, I sat by the Jorden and watched as He approached. I knew what was going to happen. Everyone knew that John was baptizing people in the name of God. Fascinated, I listened to the exchange between Jesus and John (Matt 3:13-17). John felt he wasn’t worthy to baptize Jesus. “But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him.”
Then it happened! The Holy Spirit showed up like a dove, and God told Him how pleased He was with Jesus and that HE was HIS beloved Son. It was AWESOME! As the tears silently slipped down my face, I felt the love of my Heavenly Father wrap around me like a heated, weighted blanket. Snuggled deep into my heart.
Unfortunately, I haven’t mastered the time management or meditation skills to spend everyday like this with Jesus, but I’m learning and I’m loving it.
You can have intimate time with Jesus too. Reading scripture shouldn’t be just reading the Bible then putting it away. Spend some quality time with Jesus. I like spending twenty to thirty minutes. Just Him and me.
Today I just want to say thank you.
When God does a mighty work in our lives and the lives of others it’s always important to return to His presence and praise Him for what was accomplished.
On Saturday, Pearls of Promise held its third annual Level-Up Conference and as I reflect on every aspect of the conference, I am in awe of how our Almighty Father acted on our behalf.
The décor was spectacular thanks to our team member Alma Jimenez Hall and her helpers, Sherri and Pat.
The worship time, provided by top inspiration country singer Mary James, was anointed. Every speaker was used of God to present one aspect of our focus this year: “Level-up the Light in You,” “Level-up the Beauty Within,” and “Level-down the Lies You’ve Believed.”
Our theme verse was: “For we are God’s masterpiece, he has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so he can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” We wanted every woman to know they were a beautiful work of art, created by the hands of our loving heavenly Father.
Thelma Wells was transparent about what she endured before and after the death of her husband George, who passed this year. She explained how she was able to see the light in a very dark time as she worked through the grieving, but was also open about the red tape that she experienced after losing a loved one.
Jenn Gotzon Chandler, a beautiful actress, explained why we are divinely beautiful—that beauty on the outside is not as important as beauty on the inside. Jenn was open about the insecurities she faced concerning her own appearance after her first husband divorced her.
I provided five truths to help counteract the lies we might have believed over a lifetime—lies like “I’m not beautiful,” “I have no value,” and “I have no purpose.” We carry these lies through our lives because of childhood programming and the only way to obliterate them is to inject them with truth, found in the Word of God.
Thanks to Sharon Hill for creating a sanctuary of a prayer room and for showing us we need to be intentional about prayer. I will not forget the great visual of your toolbox, filled with what we need to build a powerful personal quiet time.
Through Paula Abbott’s powerful testimony she taught us that God can take the most broken of women and make something beautiful out of them.
I appreciate Liz Morris for her enthusiasm and transparency, as she explained how we can have “transformational change” in our lives.
Thanks to Rosemary Legrand for her encouraging spirit and her “Word Inspiring Change.”
I am grateful for a long-term friendship with Aurora Ortega Geis and for her strategic leadership as we planned Level-up. Heartfelt thanks to Aurora for being my Barnabas when I got discouraged over the course of planning this event.
I am thankful for Marybeth Rosato for believing in this conference enough that she traveled from Virginia to attend and serve on the panel. She did an awesome job.
Donna Skell is a great friend and an excellent emcee. You did an incredible job of summarizing what we learned.
I am grateful for Mark Alvarez’ faithful Social Media posts. He is gifted at what he does.
Our other “behind the scenes” crew was amazing: my daughter-in-law, Bailey, Pamela, Kim, Debbie, Joy, Cathy, and Wanda. Also a special thank you to Andrea Gibson, Women’s Ministry Leader at Northview Baptist Church, for being a wonderful hostess and a great person to work with. We are so happy to be returning in 2020!
But most important of all, I want to thank God for the powerful work He did on Saturday. Bathed in prayer, this conference could not lose. We intentionally prayed and fasted forty days before the event and prayed over every name and every square inch of the sanctuary where we met. We did the preparation we had to do, dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, and on Saturday, we released it to the Lord to do as He wished. God showed up in a powerful way, raining down healing and His refreshing Spirit on all who attended. There was no doubt. His presence was in that place.
This morning, I was reading Psalm 113:5–6 that says, “Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.” The word “look” in the Hebrew also means “to become visible” “to appear” or “to show oneself.” I believe our loving heavenly Father cared enough about Level-Up that He stooped down to join us and appeared in all His glory. I am thankful many lives have been “lifted from the ash heap” and will never be the same because their brokenness has been mended.
It is our mission at Level-Up to help women overcome past and present wounds. That is the goal of Pearls of Promise as well. But only God can do that deep work in and through us. He alone heals and saves. He is the Master who created the masterpiece that this conference became. He also created another masterpiece—and that divine work of art… is you.