He Leads the Way

It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.
Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 AMP

It is the Lord who goes before you. Think about this for a moment. It is the Lord who goes before you. He doesn’t just go behind you and cheer, “You can do this!” (Although this in itself is wonderful.) He doesn’t just hold your hand and walk with you saying, “We’ve got this!” (Although this in itself is incredible.)  But He also takes your hand, leads the way, and says “Follow Me.”

Awesome.

God has always been and always will be all we’ll ever need. All we’ll ever need. He’s our cheerleader, our coach, our friend, and our guide. He is all and is in all. Wherever we go, He’s already been there. He’s already walked the very path we’re traveling. And we’re on that path because God has found it to be the best one for our good and for His glory.

Why are mountainous roads so curvy? Because the engineers wanted us to get car sick? No. They are curvy because those who built the road found that particular path to  be the best way over the mountain. Sometimes a straight shot isn’t the best route. Sometimes we need sharp curves, steep slopes, and even long tunnels to get to the other side.

So today whether you’re climbing a mountain, descending into a valley, strolling through green pastures, or have seemingly lost your way–and whether the road is full of twists and turns or long, straight and narrow–know God has already gone before you.  Know that He has allowed you to take this path for a purpose: for His purpose.

God doesn’t promise us a pain free life.  But He does promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).  So remember this today.  God is on your side.  You will make it through.  For God not only says, “This is the way, walk in it.” He not only says, “I am with you wherever you go.” But He also says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear what may be. Do not fear the winding path before you. Do not fear. For I am not only with you; I am leading you in paths of righteousness for My namesake.”


As a side note, the following is a link to a story I wrote several years ago and posted almost a year ago to the day. It covers this same idea in short story form:  In His Steps

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Do Not Worry

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 AMP

 Worry. When we think of it, we tend to think of being nervous or concerned about a situation or someone. Many times we worry about what might be –what could happen–maybe even what we think should have happened.  Yet worry is like paying interest for something we haven’t even purchased or choking something before it ever has a chance to breathe.
We begin to worry when we think ahead to the possible future and all the potential scenarios;  we then begin to fear we cannot handle what may or may not come.
And in a way we’re right. We cannot handle the future yet, because it is not here yet. Our future is out of our reach because it’s out of our hands. So there’s no point in worrying about it.  After all, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25). No one. None of us can add a day to our lives by worrying. If anything, worry takes away the hours of our lives–whether through the physical side effects of stress or through the moments wasted worrying.
Worrying does nothing for our future, can never change the past, and sabotages our ability to enjoy the present. I once feared moving. I even let it negatively impact my outlook on my present circumstances. I missed out on some great moments because of my fear of the future. Yet once it came time to move, God gave me the grace for it. I needn’t have wasted a moment of my time worrying, because God met me where I needed Him to meet me exactly when I needed him to do so. If we spend time worrying about what may be, we miss the chance to discover God’s amazing grace within the now.
The following words can be found within the Merriam Webster online dictionary definition of worry: harrass, repeatedly, torment, persistent, afflict, choke, strangle. These words perfectly define worry, don’t they? Worry harrasses and afflicts our faith when we repeatedly and persistently wonder about those what ifs or what could have beens. Worry truly chokes and strangles the joy of the Lord right out of a believer.
God is a gracious God. He wants to fellowship with us in the good times and in the bad. He doesn’t promise a life free from trouble, but He does promise to never leave us nor forsake us. So whether you’re enjoying the good times or traveling through the valley, do not squander a single moment worrying about what might be or what once was. Don’t worry about getting sick, getting hurt, or if you’re sick, getting better. Live in the now. Yes, be wise in how you treat your body, but don’t be anxious about what might go wrong. Trust that God will give you the grace to handle whatever may come your way. And don’t fret about your job. Serve God through it. If something leads to a job change or job loss, trust God will give you the grace to walk that path. And certainly don’t worry about finances. Be wise with what God has given you, yet also know He who clothes the flowers of the fields and takes care of the little birds will also take care of you.
Whatever it is that may attempt to thwart your faith and cause you to worry, reject it. Cast down those foolish thoughts, arguments, and imaginations which try to take your eyes off the great I AM. Don’t set your sights on the fickle future. Don’t glance with apprehension at the past. Walk through the now with your eyes fixed on Jesus. Rest in His ability to hold the whole world in His hands. He knew you before you were born, He is with you now, and He’ll love you forever. So trust Him today. Trust He will direct your paths. Trust He will lead you in the way everlasting. And know He will “be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

You Are Free

“…they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison….and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Acts 5:18‭, ‬40 ESV

I know, I know–kind of an unusual set of verses to highlight, especially if you read the verses in between the above. Within those missing lines an angel frees the apostles, the high priest and council bring the apostles back and desire to kill them, but because of wise counsel they choose to “just” beat them before letting them go. And although the events of the verses not included are amazing and worthy of discussion, God spoke something to me through the other two verses. So I share.

When you think of prison, what do you envision? I think of a place of punishment, a place criminals go who are found guilty of a crime. After all, isn’t that how our justice system works? Someone is arrested, tried, and then depending on the verdict, sentenced to time in prison.

Yet in the time of Jesus and during the years of the emerging church, prison was not the end; it was part of a process. People didn’t land in prison: they passed through it.

Read with me a description I came across while researching prisons in Jesus’ time:

“…for most of human history, imprisonment has not been used as a way of punishing common criminals. Instead, prisons have served principally as holding tanks where offenders could be detained prior to trial or to the carrying out of the sentence of the court, such as execution, exile or enslavement, or until debts or fines had been paid…”(Download the entire article here.)

This means anyone who went to prison knew they’d eventually get out.  Sometimes the stay was short, like the case of the apostles above; sometimes it was longer, especially if politics played a part in the arrest. Paul spent much time in and out of prison during his lifetime. Jesus Himself spent time in prison prior to his crucifixion.

But I repeat, prison in Bible times was not a destination; it was part of the journey. Sometimes the journey led to freedom and acquittal; other times it led to punishment, even death.  Yet no one went to prison with the mindset of never getting out; they went in asking when, not if.  Prison was never intended to be anyone’s end–maybe part of the process–but never the end of it. No one was ever meant to live her entire life in prison. No one.

Not even you.

So I ask you today: Do you still feel like you’re in prison–bound by sin, addiction, or debt? Then I’ve got good news: you don’t have to stay there! Jesus already went to trial. He already paid the price for you, for me, and for the world. He set us–yes, all of us who believe–free from the sins that enslaved us when He died on the cross and rose again three days later.

You are free! God has opened the doors of the prison. He has defeated the guards keeping watch. He has proclaimed your liberty. You are free!

Don’t believe me? Then read with me Jesus’ own words spoken to those in the temple:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18‭-19‬)

You are free! So don’t remain imprisoned. Don’t hold onto the chains that God has loosed.  Be free. Walk out of the darkness and into the light knowing “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

You’ll be glad you did.

“For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1 ESV

God Will Sustain You

My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.

Psalms 7:10‭-‬11

Have you ever been falsely accused? Has someone ever been against you for seemingly no reason? Or have you ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time, thus giving someone the wrong impression? It hurts when we are falsely accused or judged wrongly. It often takes every ounce of self-control to keep ourselves from lashing out in return, or from emphatically pleading our innocence, doesn’t it?

In the above Psalm, David sings about a situation in which he was falsely accused. In doing so, he provides an incredible example of how to handle those times we face adversity for something we did not do.

First of all, David cries out to God. He takes refuge in his God (“O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge…” – vs 1). He doesn’t run to another friend. He doesn’t run to the one who accused him. He runs to God. Oh the drama that could be avoided if we ran first to God with our troubles instead of to people. Don’t get me wrong, we need people in our lives for support, but we also must be wise in how and why we seek the support. Even the most well meaning friends can make a situation worse if they take on our offense and pass judgment on our accusers. Job learned the hard way that friends do not always have the right answers.

Second, David examines his heart and asks God to do the same. It’s one thing to be falsely accused and another to be caught in a lie. In verses 3-5, David asks God to punish him if he is guilty. David is willing to take the blame if he deserves it. We too must assess our heart and motives when we find ourselves under the scrutiny of accusations. Denial does not mean innocence. We must be willing to face any wrongs we may have done and then accept the consequences for them.

Then, after calling out to God and asking God to search his heart–once David knew his hands were clean–he then asks God to do the judging. David does not take matters into his own hands; he places the situation in God’s hands. Verses 6-16 detail David’s trust in God’s righteousness and God’s protection of the upright in heart. David doesn’t bring the issue to God and then go out and defend himself. He takes cover under the shadow of God’s Almighty wings. Why? Because David knew that right standing with God is more important than right standing with man. Man’s judgment may appear to rule on the earth, but God’s judgment reigns forever. David knew that even if payback didn’t come during his lifetime, it would come in the one to come.

Knowing this–knowing God alone is the One and only righteous judge–enabled David to end his song with praise. He doesn’t praise God for rescuing him. He doesn’t praise God for defending him. He praises God for God’s righteousness and God’s authority.

Wow. If only every one of us would approach misunderstanding and false accusations in the same way. No drama. No whining. No pleading. No worry about what man may think. Instead, we go to God, seek Him, and then trust Him to glorify His name, even in an unlikely and untrue situation.

I’m not sure what you may be facing today, if anything, but I do know God is for you, not against you. When troubles come, when misunderstandings occur, or when false accusations arise, I encourage you to seek God first. Seek Him, allow Him to search you, and then let Him be the judge. He will take up your cause. The ones planning your demise will fall into their own trap. For God promises such. He promises to be with you always, even when the world seems against you–especially when the world seems against you! So wipe away those tears this morning and go forth today with a confidence that comes only from God.  Go forth knowing God “will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalms 55:22).

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

“Trust me!” My final words to a mom as I as a teenager drove off with her precious 8th grader to color her hair. Becca had blonde hair; I was going to make it strawberry blonde…

Or so I thought…

Do you know that some hair types (like mine) need a lot of color and some (like my friend’s) don’t? Well, at the time of the above scenario, I didn’t think about that. So a whole bottle of red later, my friend emerged with Ronald McDonald hair.  Oh yes, bright red hair. The color that should have washed out after 6-8 shampoos was still there months later.

Oops.

Looking back, I’m thinking “Trust me” is not something I should have said, or the mom should have believed. Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve fallen victim to trusting man many times. If we were to count, how many times have we put our trust in the words of man? How many times have we placed our hopes and our dreams in the hands of the people in our lives? How many times have we acted or not acted based on what man has said? We hear “trust me” from man and we mistakenly follow.

But the words of man will always fall short. I repeat: the words of man will always fall short. Even the most well meaning person will fail to measure up.

Because man is mortal.

God, however, is not. He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He knows all, controls all, and sees all. Trusting the Lord is way better than trusting in man, for “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5). Every word. Not just a few. Not just most of them. All of them. Every. Single. Word.

When God says, “Trust Me,” you can trust Him. Even if you don’t understand the when, where, why, or how of the situation, you can trust God does. He will direct your paths whether or not you understand them–if you trust Him.

So I encourage you today to trust in the Lord with all your heart. All of it. Not just some of it. Not just most of it. All of it. And if you’re having trouble trusting, then ask God to help you trust. He will. He promises to. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [Jesus]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Today, don’t place your hopes and dreams in things, people, or circumstances. For, things break, people fail, and circumstances change. But the Lord never fails. Never. So trust Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6).

Times of Refreshing

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”
Acts 3:19‭-‬20

When you think of refreshing, what do you envision? If I were to close my eyes and envision a refreshing, I’d picture relaxing in the sun with a good book and an iced green tea by my side. I would have nowhere to be and no one to be responsible for.

Yet as I read the above verses in Acts, I noticed a key phrase following the word “refreshing” that provides a different picture: from the presence of the Lord.

Times of refreshing in God’s kingdom may not match up to our human perceptions. The key to refreshing in God’s kingdom focuses on His presence, not on our circumstances.

Think about it for a moment. If you would have read my blog posts in 2015, you would have hardly called my circumstances as times of refreshing. My life was turned upside down. I embarked on a personal journey to healing which entailed spiritual and emotional open heart surgery. This surgery included an almost move to another state, the loss of a job I had held dear, and being forced to relive an adult version of a middle school trauma. Anyone looking from the outside in would not have viewed 2015 as a year of refreshing for me.

But I do. At least now I do. Yes, that year was horrible. It was heartbreaking and a struggle. But it changed me. It forever altered my relationship with God; it refreshed it. His presence was nearer to me than ever before as I walked that difficult journey. Through the temporary pain of hardship, I gained a closeness with God that will carry me through the rest of my life. I was refreshed through God’s presence despite of and I dare say because of the circumstances. The pain didn’t refresh me, but His presence did.

Times of refreshing don’t come from where we live, where we work, or who we know. Times of refreshing aren’t indicative of a life of ease. Oftentimes they are the result of struggles, of the need to press in to God. Refreshing comes from the Lord. More specifically, refreshing comes from His presence.

So I ask you, are you in times of refreshing today? Is God’s presence restoring your soul? Whether your life feels like a walk along the beach or a journey through a battlefield, God’s presence is more than able to refresh you. If you let Him. If you seek Him.

So seek God today. Spend time in His Word. Spend time in prayer. Spend time in worship. Fellowship with other believers. Allow God to fill you with His strength, His joy, and His presence. And you’ll find that whether you journey through a feast or a famine on this earth, God’s presence will not only be with you, His presence will refresh your soul.

“The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless), restoring and refreshing the soul…” 
Psalms 19:7

God’s Word is Forever

Help, Lord , for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
And the tongue that speaks proud things,
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own;
Who is Lord over us?”
“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the Lord ;
“I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O Lord ,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
The wicked prowl on every side,
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

Psalm 12 NKJV

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Have you ever heard this childhood comeback? Ever said it? Someone says something negative, someone mocks you in some way, someone calls you a not nice name–and you retort with the above.

Although I disagree that words cannot hurt, for words can go far deeper than any physical blow ever could, I thought about the above adage while reading Psalm 12. Yet instead of considering it as a comeback to a bully, I considered it as a promise. A promise that the words of man will never prevail against the Word of God.

In the above Psalm, David laments that the faithful have vanished while the boastful declare themselves invincible; the proud believe their words will prevail over all–including God. Yet David knew the error in their ways. David knew no man’s words are more powerful than the Lord’s. No man’s lips are his own.  Nothing and no one could ever harm the Word of God.

Man uses many words–words inconsistent and untamed. Sometimes with our words we build up; yet other times we tear down. At times we speak truth; at times we utter lies. Our words are often as idle and as fickle as we are.  But God.  God’s words are pure, undefiled, and eternal.  When He speaks, things happen.  When He promises, it comes to pass.  When God said He would arise and provide safety, then no amount of human pride and boasting could ever prevent His Word from becoming reality.

In essence, David’s psalm contrasts man’s sinful speech with God’s pure voice. David highlights the difference between the flattering lips of the unrighteous and God’s perfect, pure words of life and truth.  Unrighteous speech is replete with pride and flattery; it dishonors God. And it will not prevail. Yet God’s Word is righteous, perfect, and forever.

I believe  the most compelling line of the psalm occurs in verse 7:

“You shall keep them, O Lord
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.”

Depending on your translation, the “them” is written as you see above or as “us.” I personally love both versions. As “us” David is reminding us that regardless the state of the world, God will keep His children; there will always be a remnant to continue His work.  God will be victorious; no human words or actions could overpower God’s hand. “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but God preserves His children.”

As “them” David reminds us God’s Word will always remain. Amidst destruction and vileness and sin, God’s words are pure and preserved. No amount of impurity could taint what God has spoken. Even this generation could not undue the goodness of God’s words. He who promised is indeed faithful. In other words, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but God’s Word will last forever.”

So remember today that no matter what man may say or think or do, God is and always will be God. Our lips are not our own. Our lives are not our own. Our future is in His hands.  Yes, we have free will on earth, and yes, vileness and sin are rampant in today’s society, but no human boast could ever transcend God and His Word. God will be preserved. His children will be preserved. His Word will be preserved.  Forever.

“All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:6‭-‬8 ESV

One Language Under Heaven

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? …we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 
Acts 2:1‭-‬16 ESV

Have you ever read something several times only to see something brand new you’d never noticed before? It’s awesome when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to a new perspective.

The other day as I read the account of Pentecost, a passage I’ve read several times, God brought to mind an Old Testament narrative I had never connected with Pentecost before. They may not even be connected, but I did find some parallels that intrigued me enough to share here.

So what’s the Old Testament event?  The tower of Babel. I will explain more, but first read with me the account in Genesis:

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.  As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there….they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel–because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

In the account of the Tower of Babel, man united for the purpose of building a tower. They all spoke the same language and worked together on the tower in order to create a name for themselves. They wanted all the glory for themselves and wanted to remain united for unrighteous purposes. Obviously, God was not pleased with this arrogance and unrighteous unity, so He came down from heaven and confused their language. The people, unable to communicate, gave up and went their separate ways.

At the time of Pentecost, the disciples were all together in Jerusalem waiting as Jesus commanded them to do. While they were together, the Holy Spirit came down in power, and those present began speaking in other tongues. When curious devout men came to see what was going on, even though their native languages were not the same, each could understand the disciples. God then used this understanding to spread His message to all nations.  Over 3000 souls came to know Jesus that day (Acts 2:41). And that was just the beginning.

So what connection did I see?

Well, when God came down to the tower of Babel, He dispersed the people by confusing their language. Yet when the Holy Spirit came down in the midst of the disciples and those who sought Him, He drew  all the people unto Himself by unifying their language for the sake of the gospel. Men meeting together to glorify themselves and make themselves like God led to confusion and dispersion. Men meeting together in one place for the purpose of waiting for and seeking God resulted in one message of salvation heard by all.  In the Old Testament, one language led to pride and to sin; in the New Testament, God used one language–the language of the Spirit–to unite and to save.   The Holy Spirit helped unify what once was torn, because the Holy Spirit transcends every nation and every tongue.

Furthermore, before Jesus, people scattered because they could not understand each other.   They went out in confusion.  Yet after Jesus, people gathered because the Holy Spirit helped them to understand. They then went out with a new understanding and a new message: one Savior sent for all people, regardless of nation or tongue.

In general, Babel scattered, but Pentecost saved.  Pentecost also demonstrated God’s ability to prevail over all, even the language barrier caused by the sin of pride.

So what does this mean for us?  In what way can this knowledge draw us nearer to Christ?  Well, it can actually draw others to Christ.  God calls each of us to  “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).  Yet reaching every corner of a world replete with thousands of unique languages at first appears impossible.  And it is impossible…without the Holy Spirit, that is.

God sends His Spirit to dwell in each of us who choose Him; His Spriit is what unites us.  And the Holy Spirit has the power to speak to each of us in the way we will understand. Those men in Starbucks the other day whom I could not understand because they spoke Korean?  The Holy Spirit can reach them.  Those neighbors down the street who speak only Spanish? The Holy Spirit can reach them.  That grocery store clerk who has never stepped foot in church and doesn’t know the Christian lingo?  The Holy Spirit can reach her. If God can come down from heaven to scatter the unrighteous and then also come down and unite the nations, then He can certainly speak through each of us in a way that others will hear and understand.

Therefore I encourage you today to ask God to use you for His good purposes.  Gather together with other believers for the purpose of going out with the message of Christ. Whether He gives you the right “language” to reach your unsaved loved ones or the right “language” to reach the stranger you meet in the store, God can and will use a willing heart. The disciples had gathered together to obey and to seek their Savior.  And God used them to speak His truth to the masses and to begin spreading the Gospel over all the earth. So also will God use you–if you let Him.

Let God to use you today. Go into all the world knowing that the One who called you to go will equip you as well.

You Follow Me

Jesus said to him, “If I want him to stay alive until I come [again], what is that to you? You follow Me!”
JOHN 21:22 AMP

As we begin 2017, many of us have resolved to do things a little differently.  Some of us have vowed to eat better or to exercise more.  Others have resolved to spend more time with family and friends. Many Christians have set their sights on being more diligent with their quiet time, more generous with their finances, and more forgiving of their neighbors.

All of the above are respectable and honorable resolutions.  Yet as I read John 21 the other day, God showed me a resolution that, if we were to choose it, would more than encapsulate all the above. It would also change the world.

The resolution? Follow Jesus.

Even more, follow Jesus without worrying about the differences between the path He chooses for you and the paths He chooses for those around you.

You see, after the famous, “Simon, do you love me?” exchange, Jesus also told Simon by what way he would die.  Of course, as we humans tend to do, Simon immediately asked Jesus about someone else.  He asked the infamous, “But what about him?!”

Haven’t we all asked this very same question? What about her? Why does she get blessed so immensely while I suffer? What about him? Why doesn’t he get disciplined for his hypocrisy? What about them? Why do they have multiple children while I would love just one?

 What about her? What about him? That’s not fair! Such questions and declarations plague our faith walk and take our eyes off the Lord by placing our focus on ourselves and on other people instead of where it should be: on our Savior. When we begin to compare ourselves and our circumstances with those around us, we also hinder God’s ability to work in and through us effectively. God doesn’t want us to focus on what we think He should or should not allow in the lives of others; He wants us to focus on Him–and trust He’s capable of taking care of everyone else as well.

He wants us to trust His ability to be God.

For this reason I love Jesus’response to Peter’s question: “What’s that to you?”

What’s that to you? Ouch. I sure would have loved to have seen Peter’s face at that rebuke. It probably would have looked like mine if I had been the recipient of those words from my Lord: a combination of shock, disbelief, hurt, and recognition of the harsh reality of those words.

Truly, what is it to us how Jesus chooses to work in someone else’s life?  If God chooses to allow a friend to receive a different blessing than you, then so be it.  You follow Jesus. If God allows certain struggles to come your way while others appear to skirt the storms, what’s it to you? You follow Jesus. At the end of your life, God’s not going to judge you according to how you compared with others; He is going to judge how you followed Him. No one can walk the path God has planned for you except you. And you cannot and should not desire to walk anyone else’s path but your own.

Therefore, join me in making it our desire this year to follow Jesus. Follow Jesus–just Jesus–not anyone nor anything else. Let’s fix our eyes on Him and seek Him first. God promises never to leave us nor forsake us, so we must commit to follow Him wholeheartedly, even if the way He leads us is different and more difficult than the way He leads those around us.

Let us not waste time looking to the left or the right and wondering, “What about him?” No. Rather, let us redeem the time; let us look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith. Let us reach out our hands to Him as He reaches out to us declaring, “You follow Me.”.