God Can Lift You Up – Part 1
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
The Bible says, ‘Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.’ It works this way: when you try to exalt yourself, God brings you down, but when you humble yourself in His sight, He lifts you up. He does it because you’re His child and He loves you. You may feel like a nobody right now, but in God’s eyes you’re a somebody. Who but God could reach behind a hedge, find a Gypsy Smith and use him to win multitudes to Christ? Who but God could go to Old Comiskey Park in Chicago, find a baseball player called Billy Sunday and use him to impact the world? Who but God could look in a Galilean fishing boat and find Peter, call him, transform him and use him to build the church? God loves to do things like that. And since He ‘does not show favoritism’ (Romans 2:11) you’ve every right to believe He will do it for you too. The Bible says, ‘As he thinketh in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 23:7). When that little voice inside you whispers, ‘You’ve no talent and you’ll never amount to anything in life,’ that’s not God. It’s Satan—and the Bible says he’s a liar (John 8:44)! That’s why you need to tell him, ‘I don’t believe a word you’re saying. You can’t put me down because God is raising me up.’ God’s plan for you was established long before you were born, and He hasn’t changed His mind. So you need to discover His plan, then make sure your feelings, thoughts, actions and words line up with it.
Heavenly Father, humble me and use me Lord as You see fit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29
Studies show that many of us don’t like ourselves. A poll of college students confirmed that over 50 per cent suffered from low self-acceptance, with the majority citing their looks as the source of their unhappiness. ‘My nose is too long. My eyes are too small. I’m too fat here—too thin there. I’m too short—too tall. I’ve got freckles.’ And the beauty industry is more than willing to darken it, lighten it, accentuate it, lift it, tuck it and cover it up in an attempt to sell us a self-image we can accept. A little improvement might indeed be beneficial, but not as a basis for self-worth. Here’s how God sees the issue: ‘Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘‘How clumsy can you be?’’’ (Isaiah 45:9). You are God’s personal creation. And He makes no mistakes, overlooks no details and leaves nothing unfinished. You need to accept yourself because He created, redeemed and accepts you. In an age of media overload, we’re bombarded by images of perfect-looking people, with the inference that we need to look like them if we hope to amount to anything. But Paul says: ‘We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise’ (2 Corinthians 10:12). The God Who made you who you are has a plan for perfecting you. You’re perfectly acceptable, if not yet acceptably perfect. You’re ‘predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son’. So you’re a work in progress!
Heavenly Father, keep forming and molding me to be conformed into the image of Jesus – where outside looks were never even mentioned about Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Accepted By God!
to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:6
There’s no pain worse than rejection and no pleasure greater than acceptance, which helps explain the length some people go to in order to avoid rejection and earn acceptance. But the good news is, with God you’re already accepted. J.B. Phillips translates Ephesians 1:6 like this: ‘He…has made us welcome in the everlasting love He bears towards the Son.’ And that’s not limited to those who appear worthy because of their good deeds and a flawless moral record; it’s for every believing child of God, lock, stock and barrel! Cromwell once commissioned a self-portrait. The artist, courting Cromwell’s favor, portrayed him without his obvious imperfections. Cromwell was livid. ‘I said paint me, man—me, warts and all!’ You’re accepted by God, ‘warts and all’. But note: 1) God’s acceptance doesn’t equal His approval. He accepts sinners, but He can never accept our sin. Indeed, His free gift of acceptance is our greatest motivator to renounce our sin and live to please Him (Titus 2:11, 12). 2) God’s acceptance is unconditional. He doesn’t say, ‘You’re accepted if you clean up your act.’ In the words of Jeremiah, ‘Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil’ (Jeremiah 13:23). God’s acceptance has to be unconditional, because it’s impossible for us to merit it. 3) God’s acceptance is because of Jesus. You’re ‘accepted in the Beloved’. The doomed Mephibosheth was accepted because of David’s relationship to his beloved friend Jonathan (2 Samuel 9). And as long as God accepts Jesus, and you trust in Jesus, you’re accepted as well.
Heavenly Father, thank You for accepting me the way I am – and loving me enough to keep me that way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Seeking God – Part 2
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:11
Notice two more things about the wise men: 1) How God guided them.‘The star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was…And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him’ (vv. 9-11). Never limit God. And don’t lock Him into a personal experience you had in the past where He guided you in a certain way. If God can move a star, He can rearrange any circumstance in your favor. How did the wise men know about the birth of Christ? Maybe because of an alignment of the planets, or because they were students of Old Testament prophecy about the star. We don’t know. But one thing is certain: they were seeking God—and that’s the point at which we must all begin. 2) How God protected them. Herod wasn’t happy about the news these men brought. Indeed, he was downright enraged. Think: if he was willing to kill every Jewish baby boy under the age of two in order to get at Jesus, what were the chances that these men would get out of town alive? Not great—until God stepped in! ‘Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way’ (v. 12). The devil is real, but you don’t have to be afraid, because Jesus has already defeated him. The main thing is: when your heart is set on seeking God, He will guide you, protect you and reward you.
Heavenly Father, keep my personal compass on You in my journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Seeking God – Part 1
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
Notice two things about the wise men: 1) Who they were. Astrologers. Jews considered astrology to be a counterfeit to true prophecy. Be careful; there are people whose lifestyles you may disapprove of, who are honestly seeking God. So be gracious in your dealings with them. The Greek philosophers on Mars Hill had a pantheon of gods. Was Paul shocked or put off? No. He commended them for being willing to search for God, adding, ‘He is not far from each one of us’ (Acts 17:27). Don’t jump to conclusions and write people off. In God’s eyes every weed is a potential rose and every loser is a potential winner. And you should be glad about that! 2) How far they travelled. They left their families and the comforts of home to travel hundreds of miles in order to find God. Their round-trip journey took two years, and ended in a Jewish village where they were cultural outcasts. Meanwhile, leaders who had access to the prophecies of Christ’s birth wouldn’t expend the time and effort to check them out. We often quote Jeremiah chapter 29, verse 11: ‘“The plans I have for you,’’ says the Lord… “are plans for good…to give you a future and a hope.”’ But don’t stop there, read on: ‘When you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me’ (vv. 12-13). Poet Julie Carro wrote, ‘Now wise men still seek His face as they did in days of old; to give the Lord their hearts, more precious than silver and gold.’How far are you prepared to go in your search for God?
Heavenly Father, although You are not lost many times I am. Help me recognize and see You! No matter what the cost! In Jesus’ Name, Amen