Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God has given each of us a plan for our lives. Some plans contain big dreams. Some smaller dreams, but many times, the desires we have to be world changers come from him.
Recently, I spent two hours with a woman named Susie Jennings, listening to her story about how her call to take blankets to the homeless of downtown Dallas evolved into a mammoth annual Christmas party for the homeless. God continued to expand Susie’s call. Now she also helps less fortunate children all over the world by providing them with shoes. She also finds funding to build Christian schools for them. She didn’t know how to get it done, but God did. Today, I’ll be attending a breakfast she is holding to unveil plans for reaching the children of Israel. This woman is a modern day Mother Theresa who was obedient to follow through with the plan God gave her.
It’s OK to dream big. We should never be overwhelmed by our dreams. We just need to trust that God will give us all the details of accomplishing those dreams and that he will provide whatever is needed to accomplish them.
God knows the plans he has for us. He will steer us as we maneuver through a God-sized dream. We can never accomplish it in our own power. Just hang on as God will take us and our dreams on the ride of our lives!
It happens. More than we’d like.
Whether it’s our husbands, our sisters, our brothers, our children, or our friends, love will disappoint at one time or another and we’ll want to run away.
But where do we run?
I’ve come to the conclusion there is no such thing as perfect love on this earth, because God doesn’t allow it. If all our desires were fulfilled by a human being, then we’d have no need for our Abba Father. He wants us to run to him when things go awry, and he doesn’t want anything or anyone to take his place.
It’s the Lord who fills the void left by others who walk away. He comforts us when the people closest to us pierce our hearts with angry words or rejection. He gives us hope when our expectations aren’t met. He desires for us to cling to him and his promises in the Word.
Psalm 36:7 says, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” When human love falters, perfect love is waiting for us with feathery arms.
In order to have peace and harmony in our relationships, we have to give human love a hall pass. It will never be perfect, and if we expect it to be flawless, we won’t be content. We’ll most likely live out our lives unhappy and bitter.
Instead, we have to love those around us as Jesus loved, unconditionally, without harboring resentment. Instead of a critical tone, we should compliment the positive. We have to forgive those who occasionally disappoint us.
When you are struggling to love reflect back on Luke 6:32-36: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
We all know that human love can be beautiful, but only God’s perfect love is divine. LBW
Today’s guest blogger is author Dana Arcuri. Dana is a captivating author, coach, and speaker who delivers a powerful message on persevering, overcoming adversity, and never losing sight of hope. Her e-book, Harvest of Hope: Living Victoriously Through Adversity, was published in December 2013 and her print book was published in February 2014. In addition, she’s a contributing author for Inspired Women Succeed, published May 2011.
As a freelance writer, her work has been published at TotallyHer, Write Where It Hurts, Christian Women Lifestyle xPress Online Magazine, and American Collegiate Poets, Fall Concours 1984. She is a member of Pittsburgh East Scribes, a local writing critique in Pittsburgh, PA and leads Writing Purposely Group Coaching for aspiring writers. When Dana’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, alternative health, and building her wellness business. You may visit her website at http://www.danaarcuri.com/ and her author Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DanaArcuri.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)
For those who don’t know me personally, you may not be aware that I don’t like to exercise. I think it all comes down to one simple pet peeve of mine; I dislike sweating. And bad hair days. Seriously, if physical fitness didn’t involve perspiration I think I’d enjoy it more. Despite my aversion for working up a sweat, I decided a treadmill may be a great way for me to exercise, while getting into shape. Whether the sun is shining or there’s a rainstorm, I’d have the convenience of increasing my physical activity right in the comfort of my home.
Once I began working out on my treadmill, I discovered it gave me the opportunity to connect to God one-on- one. So there I was listening to Mandisa singing “Overcomer,” when I realized Jesus was calling me to be an overcomer. To run the race He sets before me and stay in the fight, until the final round. Most importantly, to not give up hope no matter what unrelenting adversity I’m facing, but to keep on keeping on.
Instantly, this reminded me of tough times I’ve endured when I felt as if obstacles knocked me off my feet. When hardship, suffering, and pain were so unbearable that I didn’t think I could continue walking, let alone run the race. Yet when I shifted my attention from my harrowing trials to focus on my Heavenly Maker, the heavy weight was lifted and my burdens became lighter.
The Bible says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight, not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should not become disqualified.” 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)
Today, are you trying to carry a massive load, and struggling to stay on track? Do you feel as if the path you’re walking is too much to bear? If so, ask God to give you endurance and perseverance to reach the finish line. Keep your eyes on the prize to remain motivated to complete the race the Lord has set before you.
Lord, I need you, oh, I need you. Every hour I need you.”
The song by Matt Maher has been replaying in my head the past few days and it’s caused me to reflect on the ways I need God.
I need His direction. In the morning I surrender my day to Him. Today is a highly unusual day. No meetings. No lunches. No agenda. Just God’s agenda. It’s fun to give Him an empty slate to work with.
I need His protection. Easily distracted, I count on the Lord to put his protective hedges around me when I walk out the door. I wonder what would happen if I did not pray prayers of protection over my family? I don’t plan to find out.
I need His words. Because I made a living putting words together, I am never at a loss for words, but because words are powerful, I don’t want any to come out of my mouth that are not of God. I also don’t want too many to pour out. It’s important to listen more than speak.
I need His peace. Naturally high strung and a “Type A,” anxiety can overtake me at times. Meditating on God’s word is like Chamomile Tea. It soothes and calms the anxious soul.
I need His inspiration. I crave a word from God daily. I’m disappointed when I don’t hear from Him. When we get into His word, we make ourselves available for a direct revelation from our Father in Heaven.
I need his love. Sometimes, I don’t understand how God could love a sinner like me, but he does, just like he loves you. He loved me enough to pull me out of a difficult childhood to safety and continues to demonstrate his love to me daily. Every breath I take is a gift from a loving God.
I need His salvation. Where would I be without the hope I have? I can’t imagine a life without Christ or without an eternal future with Him. I would only have a dead end to look forward to and no reason to pursue holiness. What a mess I’d be without hope.
I don’t think I can really put my arms around how much I need the Lord., can you? It’s more than I know. Isaiah 64:4-5 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.”
We have no idea how much God is doing for us behind the scenes. How much he helps us in ways we never acknowledge or know about. God has our back! We need him more than we perceive.
What about you? Think about it. In what ways do you need Him?
Why was Jesus’ death and resurrection a surprise to his followers?
More than once, he described what was coming.
In Mark 8:31-32 it says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. Mark goes on to say Jesus spoke “plainly” about this. Again in Mark 9:31 he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”
Matthew 16:21 adds that once the disciples realized Jesus was the Messiah, “from that time on” Jesus began to talk about his future death and resurrection.
But despite the repeat messages, Jesus’ resurrection still caught people off guard.
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Salome were frightened when they encountered the two angels at the tomb and Jesus’ body was missing. The angels had to remind the women of what Jesus told them numerous times. On their way back to tell the disciples, the women encountered the risen Savior. What a joy to see him again! But when they ran back and told the disciples the good news, the eleven didn’t believe them.
Peter was the only one who gave it a second thought, and hurried to the tomb to see for himself. Probably aware of their disbelief, Jesus later appeared to the disciples as well, but they were “startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” Jesus had to show them his hands and feet and eat a piece of fish to prove he was real.
Why were Jesus’ followers surprised?
Will we be surprised when he comes back in all his glory?
He has prepared us for his second coming just like he prepared the disciples for his death and resurrection. He’s asks us to be ready. In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus gives us a snapshot of what to expect in the last days: there will be increased wars, famines and earthquakes. Sounds familiar. There will be false prophets and loveless people. In the meantime, he tells us to be good stewards of our time, to feed the hungry and clothe the poor, to keep watch and have our houses in order, because we don’t know when he’ll return.
Surely with all this advance notice, we won’t be caught off guard when we see Jesus in the clouds, but Scripture indicates we won’t be prepared.
Matthew 24:37 says it will be like the days of Noah before the flood. “People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” It took Noah about 99 years to build the ark, so his neighbors probably decided Noah was delusional and didn’t believe his story. They didn’t change the way they did things.
Do we believe Jesus is coming back? If so, are we following his teachings?
The Word says when Jesus appears again with power and great glory “all the peoples of the earth will mourn.” Why would we be sad if we believed what Jesus said and we did what he told us to do?
It’s apparent Jesus will catch us by surprise. Many continue to live their lives as if they were never warned.
It’s not to late to prepare. Read Matthew 24-25. Do what it says. There’s time to get a handle on what’s coming.
And then, when we witness the King of Kings’ return, there will be tears of joy, not tears of remorse. And we won’t be surprised.