One Plan: His Plan

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
Luke 2:36‭-‬37 ESV

The above verse was part of a Bible study I am currently reading. In the devotional content following the verse, the author discussed how our plans do not always work out the way we thought they would. We have a plan A, but then that fails so we start walking Plan B. The writer encourages us to make the best of the option that we would not have originally chosen knowing that God has plans for us that far exceed our own.

And this is a great perspective, but God was drawing me a bit further this morning, so I thought I would share. In 2015, I was living my Plan A, but then through circumstances beyond my control, Plan A was removed. I thus began walking Plan Z (yes Z, because it was not a plan I ever would have chosen!) Yet as I began walking this new plan, it became my Plan A. I began to cherish the season I once despised. Yet that season also ended, and a new one began, and then a new one after that, and God knows what season is next.

So here’s the perspective God’s been etching on my heart: instead of thinking of our lives as Plan A and Plan B (or C, D, or Z!), we need to take the perspective of our lives as simply (yet not so simply!) God’s plan. Proverbs 16:9 reads, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Our steps are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 39:23). God doesn’t have a plan B; He has a purpose. He has His plan. His ways are higher and greater than ours, which means that even when our life does not turn out the way we thought it would, we are still walking His plan.

None of our steps are a surprise to God. God’s not up there thinking to Himself, “Oh man! She took a left instead of a right! I thought for sure she’d take a right! Now I need to figure out Plan B!” No, God knew our every thought, word, and action before we were ever conceived. He foreordained every aspect of our lives before He ever fashioned us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139). God’s plan for our lives is THE plan, regardless of whether or not it matches our human expectations.

I know this isn’t an easy pill to swallow, and I understand as finite beings we will never fully comprehend the depths of God’s infinite wisdom, yet I also believe whether the path we are walking right now is smooth, bumpy, curvy, or downright treacherous–whether it’s a path we would have chosen on our own or run from if given the chance–it is the path we are on because God has ordained it. Therefore I encourage you to face today and every day with the following perspective: THIS is THE plan, God’s plan, and the one designed to bring Him the glory He deserves.

Yes, in human terms, life sucks sometimes. Plans change, people die, loved ones get sick. And in no way am I encouraging you not to mourn for those losses. Even Jesus mourned when He walked this Earth. Yet I am encouraging you to, when life throws an unexpected curve ball your way, mourn with hope. Weep for a time over what once was, but then get back up and continue walking forward. Continue walking out the path before you. It may not look the way you thought it would, but it looks exactly how God intended.

Trust in God’s sovereignty today. 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 ESV).

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It’s not the church

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:10-13

January 13, 1996–the day I chose to follow Jesus.  I was a junior in high school, and my life has never been the same.  As I reflected upon the anniversary of this amazing, life-changing moment yesterday, I chuckled at my eclectic denominational background.  I was raised up and confirmed in the Catholic church.   In high school I began attending a Presbyterian youth group, and then by the time I graduated high school, I was also attending that Presbyterian church on Sunday mornings. I went away to college–a Baptist college–yet during my sophomore year I began going to a non-denominational full gospel church.  If you are not familiar with the Full Gospel denomination, they believe all the gifts evident in Jesus’ time are still available today.  I remained in this church throughout college and until I got married.   After marriage my husband and I began attending the Baptist church affiliated with my alma mater.  We remained at that church until we moved to our current location.   And now we attend a Christian church while I teach at a Baptist school.

I guess you could call me a Cathobapteriancostal. 🙂

But I prefer Christ follower.

And this is the point I want to make.  At the end of days when we stand before the Father, He’s not going to ask, “Were you a good Catholic?” He’s not going to ask, “Were you a PCA Presbyterian or a PCUSA Presbyterian?” He’s not going to ask what we think about prophecy and speaking in tongues. He’s not going to care about any of the negotiables that separate denominations. 

Why? Because our denomination does not determine our salvation.

What we do with Jesus determines our salvation.

Romans 10:13 reminds us anyone (that means anyone from any denomination) who calls upon the Lord will be saved.  Catholic.  Baptist.  Presbyterian. Charismatic. FourSquare.  Whatever denomination you may attend, if you personally know Jesus–if you’ve believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth Jesus is Lord–then you are saved. You are His.

And no one can snatch you out of His hand.

I’ll say it again: denomination does not determine salvation. Each of those denominations I attended throughout my life pointed me to Jesus; they just did so uniquely.

Therefore, regardless the church you attend–regardless the denomination you currently ascribe to–join me today in celebrating all our fellow Christ followers. Befriend, converse with, pray for, and pray with all of them.

Let us unite as The Church. Let us link arms and go into battle together. Let us walk out Jesus’ prayer for each of us–a prayer for unity of mind and of purpose. For when we come together as one, the world will know we are His. And the world will never be the same.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
John 17:20‭-‬23 ESV

No Comparison

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV

A ruler is a measurement tool. When we want to hang a picture on a wall, we use a ruler to measure where to place it and a level to make sure it’s not crooked. When we are building a house, we use measuring tape to calculate the size of each piece of wood. When we draw, a ruler helps insure each line is of equal length.  If we don’t use a ruler, we cannot guarantee accuracy. The picture may not be centered. The lumber may not be of equal length. And the lines may not match up.

A standard is necessary to make things right.

Yet a standard is only helpful if it is the correct one. You wouldn’t weigh yourself with a ruler.  You wouldn’t measure length with a scale.  And you wouldn’t use a compass to measure distance.

Well, in the same way, we should not use people to measure our success.  When we measure ourselves using people, we will never get it right. We will always fall short in some way.  Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be stronger. Someone will always be better.

God must be our standard. God must be our measuring stick. No, we will never measure up to perfection, but we can measure up to His calling, for God has called each of us to something specific and something unique. No two of us have the same calling. Sure some callings may appear similar at first, but they are not. No two pastors are created to pastor in the same way.  No two writers are called to write the same way.  I am a writer (if you couldn’t tell by now), and I have friends who are writers. Although writing is what we have in common, God’s purpose for each of us is different. I’m not to measure my writing using the writings of those I know. I would fail, I would falter, and I would never measure up. I’m to gauge my writing on what God has called me to write–trusting that the One who called me will also equip me how He sees fit.

Read with me Paul’s encouragement from Romans 12:3-6:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.

Paul doesn’t tell us to use our gifts according to what others do. He says to use our gifts according to the grace God has given to us.  You’ll find a similar exhortation in 1 Corinthians 12:9: If all were a single member, where would the body be?

I have two children.  My love for them cannot be measured, for I love each one the same, yet I also love each one differently.  Each of them is unique and special in their own way. I wouldn’t want my son to try to measure up according to my daughter’s personality, and I wouldn’t want my daughter to try to measure up according to my son’s personality. Each of them is special because each is unique.

As God’s child, you are unique as well.  God has created you to be you for such a time as this.  Don’t spend time today or any day looking at those around you and telling yourself you’ll never be enough.  You will never be enough if you measure yourself using man.

You are enough; because God made you enough.  No one can take you away from you unless you let them, so hold on to your identity today.  Be proud of who you are. Embrace who you are.  For who you are is who God designed you to be.  And God never makes mistakes.

Hold On

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. — Romans 12:9 ASV

Have you ever had to wrestle a toy from a child who didn’t want to let go? Nearly impossible, isn’t it? Well, that’s an example of cleaving. When we cleave to someone or something, we go beyond simply holding on to it; we cling to it as if our lives depended on it. We hold on with no intention of letting go.

The passage above from Romans encourages us to abhor evil (which goes beyond hatred and onto utterly detestable) and cleave to what is good. We are to hold fast to good with no intention of letting go.

In a world where right living is relative, we are to cleave to what is good. We are to continue doing good even when those around us discourage it. We are to continue doing good even when those around us reject it (and quite possibly reject us, too).

We are to abhor evil; we are to cling to what is good.

Therefore, I encourage you to cling to what is good today. Hold fast to God’s righteousness. Do not allow the things of this world to rip goodness out of your hands. Be good. Do good. Cling to what is good. Hold fast to what is good. And never let go. I repeat: never let go. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 ASV).

 

Keep Pondering

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart….And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb….And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord….And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him….Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them….And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:19‭, ‬21‭-‬22‭, ‬33‭, ‬39‭-‬41‭, ‬51 ESV

It’s December 27th, two days after Christmas. All the presents have been unwrapped. The feasts have been eaten (and the weight has been gained). The family has come and in many cases has already gone. It’s pretty much back to normal. Some people have gone back to work; some people are still off work, but normalcy in general has begun to return. This year’s Christmas Day is already a memory.

Yet as we continue moving forward, I encourage you to follow the example of Mary and Joseph in the days following Jesus’ birth. Their son, the one God had promised would save the world, had been born in a manger behind an inn in a city that was not their home. Not exactly the birth of Mary’s dreams, I’m sure. Shortly after the birth, they had been visited by shepherds declaring angels had visited them to announce the birth of their precious son. But then the shepherds left, and Mary and Joseph were left to care for a newborn baby–and not just any baby–but the Son of God.

I know we tend to spiritualize the baby Jesus, but the baby Jesus was just like any other human baby. As an infant He required the same care an infant today would need–the diaper changes, the feedings, the nurturing.  I’m sure he looked similar to all infants as well. Sure, He was fully God and the promised Messiah, yet in the days following his birth, Jesus was just a boy. The angels didn’t continue to come, and the Magi had not yet come as we often depict. They would not come until weeks later, maybe even months or years seeing that the king put to death all those children who were under the age of 2. This means between the birth and the next “event” recorded spanned a decent length of time. In those days following the birth of our Savior, all Mary and Joseph had to go on for direction was a promise in their heart and the memories of the birth.

What was next, though? What were Mary and Joseph supposed to do with Jesus now that He was in the flesh as a precious newborn? What would they do each and every day?

Raise Him in the admonition of the Lord.

Yes, that’s it. But yet that’s everything. God chose Mary and Joseph to raise His son because He knew they’d raise Him according to the law. Sure, they did nothing spectacular according to the world’s standard, for they went on with daily life. They raised him as they felt God had led them to raise him in the same way we raise our own children. They did what the Lord required by circumcising him, dedicating him, and going to the temple as required. They fed him, clothed him, taught him a trade. Yes, every once in awhile something miraculous would occur to remind them who Jesus was: they met Simeon at the dedication, they met Anna the prophetess at the dedication, and the Magi came.

But those were events, not everyday occurrences. Mary and Joseph had to live day by day in faith that what God had promised, He was doing, even when things were “just normal.” They had to live in faith that God was in the diaper changes, the daily feedings, the laundry, the training, and every other mundane task that accompanied raising a little boy–even a little boy destined to save the world.

With this in mind, I want to encourage you today.  Continue to believe and to serve, even in the everyday moments of life. Christmas is over. Some gifts have already broken, some gifts have already been returned, the leftover Christmas decorations are on sale, and the reality of how much money we spent and food we ate is sinking in. Yet as you face the realities of everyday life again, do not face it with the same attitude. Mary and Joseph were never the same after Jesus. Sure, they went along with life. I’m sure those first few days and weeks of Jesus’ life, Mary was lost in the sleep deprived days of new motherhood. But in those days and weeks and years following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary lived the everyday events pondering the promises of God.

I’m not sure what God has promised you. I’m not sure the last time God brought someone or something into your life to give you that physical reminder of His promise. But whether it’s been awhile or just recently, I encourage you to keep living in faith what you know in your heart. Ponder what God has promised you while continuing to do what is before you. Serve God in the little things; serve God in the big. Serve God as you know how, remembering God will certainly perform His will in your life in His time, and for His good pleasure. God has not forgotten His promise, God has not forgotten you, and God will never let you go. Therefore, “…hold fast the confession of [your] hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23 ESV).

“I’m Possible”

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:36‭-‬38 NKJV

Her who is called barren. I can only imagine the joy Elizabeth must have felt as she experienced new life growing inside her once barren womb. I wonder how many years she had pined for the chance to bear new life? It must have been a long time since Luke reminds the reader both Elizabeth and Zecharias “were advanced in years” (Luke 1:7 ESV). I wonder how long it had been since she first heard the oppressive description “barren” used to describe her?  It must have been heart wrenching to hear, especially living in a society that equated loving God with having children.  Thankfully, Luke kindly makes it clear both Elizabeth and Zecharias were, “…righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6 ESV); this means being childless was not a result of sin–it was not because they didn’t deserve a child.  Some may say if anyone deserved a child, they did; they had faithfully served God day after day and year after year–despite the desire for children remaining an allusive dream.  I personally love how they did not allow the lack of children to deter them from serving God.  They had a dream. They had a desire, yet even though that dream appeared impossible, they still served. They still worshiped. They still walked blameless before the Lord.  What an inspiration and example to all of us who have dreams that appear to be beyond impossible.

In the case of Elizabeth and Zecharias,  God one day revealed that His plans for them included making the humanly impossible possible.  Yes, an impossibility became not only possible, not only probable, but present.  Awesome.

And in the 6th month, the angel visited Mary.  Can’t you almost see God smile as He explained to Mary what He was going to do for her and what He did for Elizabeth? Can you picture the glean in His eye as He revealed to Mary that impossible with man is more than possible with God?  Can you hear Him whisper in her ear,  “I’m possible!”?

Think about it. A virgin give birth? The impossible made possible.

The barren be with child?  Impossible made possible.

This is what we all must remember today:  The Great I Am Is Possible!

Elizabeth learned this; and Mary knew this as she responded joyfully to the angel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary knew that if God wanted to make the impossible a reality, then in no way was she going to stop Him.  Even more, she would serve Him and worship Him through it.

God is not man.  What is not possible with man is more than possible with God. Nothing is impossible with God. He who created the earth has power over all creation. He can make a donkey talk (ask Balaam). He can part the seas (ask Moses). He can use a fish to swallow a man (ask Jonah). God can do anything, anytime, anywhere–especially the impossible. God is not confined to human laws–nor to human understanding. His ways are so much higher than ours– more than we could ever grasp with our finite minds.

Therefore, I encourage you today, as you remember the birth of our Savior, as you celebrate the baby in the manger, listen for God’s still small voice whispering in your ear.  Listen as He whispers into your heart and into your dreams, “I’m possible!”

I AM IS POSSIBLE!

Whatever dreams, desires, prayers, and promises that appear allusive and out of reach to you right now, do not give up hope. Do not stop believing. Keep seeking, keep serving, and keep worshiping God for who He is.  Keep moving forward in your walk with God knowing nothing and no one is beyond His reach. What man declares impossible is God’s possible. I AM is possible because I AM is God.  And with God, all things are possible (Mathew 19:26).

 

Achor to Victory

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. – Hosea 2:14‭-‬15 ESV

God brought the above passage to mind as I read the account of the sin of Achan in Joshua 7. In Joshua 6 we read about the Israelites defeating Jericho. One of God’s stipulations in His promise of victory was that they take nothing for themselves. They were to take the gold and silver and precious things and devote them to God alone. We then read how Achan disobeyed that Commandment by taking some precious things for himself and hiding them in his tent. It was not until Joshua’s men attempted to defeat Ai that they realized there was sin in the camp. God through His sovereignty soon revealed Achan’s sin, and Achan was subsequently punished by death before all Israel; he was stoned and burned because of his blatant sin.

Now read with me verse 26: And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.  This means the Valley of Achor got its name from Achan, a man who blatantly sinned and was then punished for that sin. Even more, the first Valley of Achor was itself a door of hope, for it was through that death—the death of the sinful one–that God redeemed the Israelites.  And once God redeemed the Israelites, He sent them back into Ai–and they were victorious.

Through the death of sin, victory came.

Does this scenario sound familiar? It should. We are all like Achan: sinful, selfish, and disobedient. We’ve all disobeyed the Holy One numerous times. And although we deserved to be destroyed for our sin as Achan was, God sent His only son Jesus to take that place for us.  Jesus suffered our penalty in that Valley of Achor so that we would not have to.

Jesus Himself in John 10:9 declares the following:  “I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” This means Jesus IS the door of hope.  He is the way out of the valley.  No, we cannot avoid the Valley of Achor, for all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but when we look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we find hope–a door of hope.

And all who enter that door will be saved.

Sin separates.  Sin leads us into the valley–a valley full of weeping, of mourning, and of death. But God.  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5). God sent Jesus to be our door–our door of hope. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Today I encourage you with this:  allow Jesus to be your door of hope.  Allow the One who knew no sin to become sin for you.  No, it is not fair.  No, it does not seem right. But it is truth–God’s Truth.  God so loved you He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you.  All you need to do is believe–to open the door.  Open that door of hope.  He’s standing there waiting, knocking, praying for you to come unto Him (Revelation 3:20).

Sin can be the wall that keeps you separated from God, or it can become the avenue to Him. Allow it to be the avenue to Him.  Welcome Jesus into your heart and life today.  When you do–when you realize He has been alluring you this whole time–you will also realize that the very Valley of Achor that was destroying you has been transformed into the door of hope that has saved you.

Jesus loves you, my friend. Welcome Him into your heart today. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

His Will on Earth

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 ESV

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
Matthew 6:10 ASV

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 KJV

Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 CEV

May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 NLT

The model prayer. The “Our Father.” “The Lord’s Prayer.” This five verse prayer is well known by Christians and nonChristians alike. Even before I knew Jesus personally, I had memorized this prayer as part of my catechism.

Yet sometimes I feel we rush through it. The very prayer spoken by our Savior to teach us how to pray has become mere words spoken from memory. We say it because He told use to, but our hearts do not grasp its depth.

One verse I feel we tend to speak a little too quickly is Matthew 6:10. You will see by the various interpretations I listed above, the wording and punctuation differ slightly with each translation.

I’ve always read this verse as asking God to usher in His kingdom and asking that His will be done, not mine. In essence, I thought I was praying for His plans to come to pass, not my plans.

And while I don’t think that is wrong, the other day I read this passage in a little different light. I read it from the perspective of the CEV (shown above). What’s the difference? One asks God to orchestrate things according to His plan; the other asks God to grant us the ability to do His plan without question. One surrenders to His sovereignty; the other asks for the strength to submit to His sovereignty. Do you see the difference?

Let’s think about heaven for a minute. Heaven is lit by God’s presence–so it’s always light. We will dwell in His Presence continually thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And we will worship Him continually for eternity. In short, heaven is the place God always receives the glory and honor He deserves. Heaven is the place earth was intended to be before sin tainted it. There will be no sin, no tears, no grumbling, and no complaining in Heaven. Heaven is God’s will. Heaven is the place God always gets His way–and where everyone is happy about that.

Now look back to Matthew 6:10. When we pray God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, we are going beyond just asking that God does His will. We are going beyond surrender and onto submission. Surrender says, “Okay, have it your way.” Submission says, “As you will, my Lord.” Or in the words of Jesus, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV)

One way Jesus brought Heaven to Earth was by always doing God’s will on earth as God’s will is done in heaven: without question.  So when we pray as Jesus prayed, we too are praying that we will obey God’s voice in the same way all of Heaven obeys Him without question. When we pray God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, we are praying that we will do God’s will on earth in the same way we will do His will in heaven: immediately and with joy.

I am not sure what your life looks like today, but regardless of what it looks like, I pray that you will take the time to ask God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Whether you pray with surrendering faith, trusting that His will will be done even though you may not understand the reason for the way things are–or whether you pray it as a request that He give you the strength to do His will even when you do not understand and may not want to–please pray.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:9‭-‬13 ESV

 

See!

Now Jericho [a fortified city with high walls] was tightly closed because [of the people’s fear] of the sons of Israel; no one went out or came in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the mighty warriors.
JOSHUA 6:1‭-‬2 AMP

“See!” We usually say or hear this when something occurs according to what we or someone else predicted right after the prediction was questioned or ridiculed. We just “knew” that something was going to happen, so when it does, we look at those doubters and say, “See, I told you so!”

What I love about passages like the one above, however, is that God tells the listener, “See!” before the physical evidence matches the promise. Joshua was outside the highly fortified walls of Jericho when God told him, “See, I have given it to you.” God had already promised Joshua Jericho was his, and He had already shown Joshua through the report of the two spies that the men of Jericho were afraid. The only thing missing was the physical evidence to match the promise. But Joshua knew–and we  must remember–in God’s Kingdom, what God promises, God delivers. What God promises we can see in faith even if–and especially when–our physical eyes cannot.

Gideon was a man who seemed to love to question God. When God called him out of the winepress, he asked, “Are you sure?” When God told him to take Midian, he asked God for a sign. But when push came to shove, so to speak, Gideon went forth trusting in God’s “See!” He trusted it so much he told his 300 men (that’s 300 men about to attack an army “as countless as the locusts”), “Arise, for the Lord has given the camp of Midian into your hand”
Judges 7:15 AMP).

Yes, you read that correctly. Only 300 men against an army too numerous to count, yet Gideon saw the victory because God had promised the victory. And the victory he saw in faith soon became a victory in sight. Not because of anything Gideon did, but because of what God did through Gideon.

Second Corinthians 5:7 reminds us, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Although life would at first seem simple if we didn’t have to believe before seeing, our relationship with God would be shallow. A deeper relationship with God is not possible when our feet can still touch bottom. Faith comes when we can’t see or feel the bottom, but we know it’s there because God says it is.

So I ask you today, what has God promised you? If you are not sure, look in His word. His word is full of promises, and He is the Promise Keeper. If you do know what God has promised–whether it be the salvation of a family member, the health of a loved one, a new job, the purchase of a new home, or the selling of an old–whatever it is God has previously told you He would do–you can continue walking forward knowing He not only will do it, but also He has already done it. See, He has given it into your hands. Yes, see! What you see in faith you will soon see in sight. But don’t take my word for it; take His.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].
Hebrews 11:1 AMP

 

Good Came

Nathanael answered him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip replied, “Come and see.”

John 1:46

I’ve often read this verse as one which demeans Nazareth and denotes a sarcastic tone from Nathanael.  Yet after a little research, I found a different perspective–one that encourages me and I pray encourages you as well.

Instead of reading the above as Nathanael demeaning Nazareth, we should read it as Nathanael questioning God’s Anointed One being a Nazarene.   In other words, Nathanael was really asking, “Can the Messiah come from Nazareth?”  You see, everyone read the Scriptures and assumed Jesus would come from Bethlehem, and indeed He was born there, thus fulfilling the Scriptures.   Yet He was also a Nazarene, another prophecy that many Jews had not considered since it had only been spoken, not written (see Matthew 2:23).

So how is this encouraging? Well, Nazareth wasn’t an area of high regard.  It was considered lesser than the other areas of Galilee.  Yet God chose His Son to be a Nazarene.  The Savior of the world was raised in an overlooked area.  He wasn’t popular.  He wasn’t privileged.  He was a carpenter’s son living life in a small town.

So where do you live?  In a big city?  A little town?  A popular tourist destination? A town that rarely makes it on a map?   Well, regardless your location, God has a plan for your life.

Go ahead and place your town where it says Nazareth:  “Can anything good come out of _______?”

Can anything good come out of where you live?  Yes!  Yes it can.  Because if God can call His Son out of a detestable city, He can easily call you out of where you are. It’s not where you are that determines your future; it’s whose you are. And you, my friend, are a child of the King. Therefore God has not only called you, but God can and will use you. If you let Him.

The reputation of where you are from doesn’t determine where you will go. God doesn’t look at situations and circumstances; He looks at hearts. And a heart like His is a powerful tool.

Therefore let God use you today.  Allow His light to shine right where you are. And know that no matter where you are and where you are from, when Jesus shines through you, people will “...see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).