“(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3
Humility finds favor with God and man. Because of their trustworthy temperament, the spirit of the humble solicits trust and blessing. Like honey attracts a bee, so the Lord’s heart is drawn to the humble. It is a sweet exchange when the Holy Spirit fills a submissive soul. There is no downside in taking the road of authentic lowliness. It is the path less trodden, because its route encounters roadblocks, mix-ups—even ridicule.
However, our humble hearts are the hinges that swing open the door of God’s grace. Greater grace requires greater humility—especially in face of unfair criticism. The Holy Spirit is our defense attorney, retained on our behalf, by our heavenly Father. He will bring the truth to light and discredit the dishonest. The Lord lays bare man’s motives. Our humility is a prescription of choice to combat pride. It cleans our spiritual veins of vanity’s vestiges.
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b
Your humility is the product of the Holy Spirit’s deep work of grace. It is not squeezed out of hard human effort; rather it is the delicious juice that flows from an abiding faith in Jesus. So, as you cultivate a heart that harvests humility, you prayerfully ask the Lord: “Are my motives in line with Yours’?” “Are my affections focused on Jesus first?” “Do I, by faith, daily empty myself and invite in the Spirit’s fullness?” Humility is intentional.
Furthermore, will you remain humble as you experience the favor of God? The hounds of hell never stop soliciting you to take credit, where Christ is the only creditor. It takes extreme gratitude and generosity to ward off pride’s persistent assaults. Indeed, your consistent celebration of your salvation in Jesus and your dependence on God’s grace enhances humility. So, never forget where He’s brought you from and where He wants to take you. Your humble heart, in the eyes of the Lord, prepares you for His blessings.
“He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” Proverbs 3:34
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for humility to be the default for my heart’s desires.
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9
Humble listening is both science and art. Science, because there are common occurrences in effective communication. Eye contact, emotional engagement and comprehension all contribute to listeners who truly understand. Humble listening is an art as well, because people differ in their experiences, ability to communicate clearly, and limitations based upon their biased interpretation of their own feelings.
Therefore, as a humble listener we see ourselves as servants seeking to truly understand another’s heart and mind. We listen to their words for inflections of emotion. We may sense excitement in a high-pitched voice, or anger in a tone of defensiveness. Fear floods out of shaky speech and apathy is evident in monotone words with a deadpan face. Compassion comprehends these indicators of the heart. Yes, humility diagnoses emotions.
“I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave you my full attention.” Job 32:11-12a
A loving listening ear is a valuable gift you give to those the Lord puts in your path. Do you hear the hurt in your husband or wife’s heart? Are your ears engaged with empathy in prayerful patience, before suggesting solutions? As you listen well, you represent Christ well. As you listen well, you love well. As you listen well, you honor well. Humble listening waits patiently so as not to run ahead of hearing well—it gives space to the process.
Most of all, a servant of the Lord is sensitive to the voice of the Lord. We humbly submit to His speech expressed in Holy Scripture and confirmed by the Holy Spirit in prayer. Godly counsel also validates the voice of God. Lastly, people or institutions in authority over us are a mouthpiece for our Master Jesus. His established authorities are boundaries for our protection and progress. So, listen to and obey the law of the Lord and the law of the land. Indeed, humility is slow to speak, quick to listen and always ready to serve.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the grace, patience and discernment to listen well.
From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.
Family Christian: Can you give us a brief overview of your childhood? Where did Lecrae come from?
Lecrae: I was born in Houston, Texas to essentially a single parent household. We moved from Houston to Denver, and then, just because my mother was single and was just kind of struggling to make ends meet, I would stay with my grandmother quite often in San Diego, California. So between Texas, California, and Denver, those were the places I bounced around. I was just a sponge. I picked up so much in all that time. Obviously not having a strong male influence or role model, I gravitated to anyone who would pay attention. Most of the time those were terrible influences [who] influenced me to run in the wrong direction quite often. I grew up with a great sense of insecurity in figuring out what I was and where I belonged. Not growing up in church didn’t make it any easier. So I pretty much wrestled through that my whole life until my senior summer in high school. I got into a lot of trouble and [things] really exploded. I had to say “God, I need your help.” That’s really when I began to sense that God was drawing me and [I] later became a Christian after hearing the Gospel.
FC: What made you feel that impression that God was pursuing you?
Lecrae: I had gotten into trouble my senior summer. Financial trouble, trouble with other people, trouble with women – I was just running myself into a dead end. So I’m thinking, “I’m seventeen, let me do the mature, adult thing, and go to church.” Grandma was a Christian so the roots of the foundation I had established of the Christian God were through my grandmother. And that was where I needed to go. By grace, there was a young lady that I went to high school with that invited me to a Bible study. I went, and I had never seen Christians who dressed like me or talked like me, so I thought they were Martians from another planet! When I saw them, I said, “Oh you guys are human!” They loved me genuinely and that’s really what started it.
FC: Do you still live in Houston?
Lecrae: No, I’ve since moved from Texas to Memphis, and from Memphis to Atlanta. I’ve been in Atlanta for the last three years.
FC: You’re married?
Lecrae: I am, with three beautiful kids.
FC: So did you marry that lady from high school?
Lecrae: No, I actually met my wife at the same Bible study [though]. She was friends with the young lady who invited me. I met her there, and obviously I thought she was way too Christian for me, but I became a Christian and grew in the Lord and it worked out between us.
FC: How much was music or the arts part of your life growing up? Did you realize early on that there was some talent in your life, or did that come later?
Lecrae: Absolutely. I was a latchkey kid so I would sit at home for hours while my mother was at work. I had to use my imagination. I’d sit in front of the television so much. Sometimes she would allow me to watch television and she would come home to see if it was warm so I had to figure out what I could do with my time. It just became an outlet to start writing, experimenting, and just trying to be creative. I knew I had a passion for the arts, but we didn’t recognize it. It was one of my fifth-grade teachers who recognized it and suggested to my mother that I be put in a special class. That special class led me to audition for a special school so I actually went to a performing arts middle school for a couple years. That’s really where I started to hone my writing skills.
FC: Would you say that you’re trained in other forms of art beside hip hop?
Lecrae: I definitely wanted to be around artistic people all the time, [because] you pick up a lot. Acting and theatrics are my forte. I got a full scholarship for acting. I thought I was going to be an actor. I saw a movie with Bruce Willis in it and thought, “I want to do that.”
FC: So at what point did you decide that maybe there was something in hip hop for you? If you were leaning toward theater or acting, or at least had a desire for that, when did you decide “I want to do something with hip hop”?
Lecrae: Hip hop – it’s an art form but it’s a culture as well. You grow up in the culture and you never leave it. It’s a style of dress; it’s a way of thought. I always grew up in the culture, and it was part of who I was and I carried it into every world I was in. Even moving into the theater world, I would bring that element into it. What was unique about me and different about the world I traveled in, was I grew up watching cousins and uncles. They loved hip hop, listened to it constantly. As a little kid, you just listen to everything they listen to, they’d break dance in front yard and I was just exposed to this. From grabbing paint cans and trying to learn how to do graffiti to all those different elements. As I grew older I found that I really had a knack for rhyming and I pursued that. So by thirteen I got serious about using my writing and rhyming skills. I did it everywhere I could. I didn’t really have a lot of social currency in middle school or high school. I wasn’t the most popular kid. I’m super tall, but I started playing basketball late so it took me a while to catch up. My social currency was being able to rap and that’s what I would do in the cafeteria at lunchtime. That’s what really connected me to other peers.
FC: Did you feel forced to approach hip hop or lyrics differently after you became a Christian?
Lecrae: As a Christian I really did kind of wrestle with “How do I do this?” The things that really steered me away from Christianity [originally] was that I really did think it was about putting on airs and about rules and regulations. I liked baggy jeans and my urban style and I thought that Christians and that didn’t mix. And so going to the Bible study I saw individuals who did dressed like me and talked like me. [Up until that point] I didn’t know Christians wore their hats back and things along those lines, so that really intrigued me. I loved that I could be authentically hip hop, but authentically Christian. The things that God didn’t endorse, obviously I would have to let them go, but there were so many beautiful things that He did endorse and so many wonderful aspects within hip hop culture that just made me me that He could use for His own glory. I just began to walk in that and allow Him to change me.
FC: When you hear the term “Christian rap” or “Christian hip hop,” what do you think?
Lecrae: I think what people are trying to communicate is that there are redeemed individuals within hip hop culture. And I would say I’m one of them. I think that as a Christian, we’re to be a light in this world. I think it’s almost like saying “Christian American,” it doesn’t mean that I’m not American, it just means that I’m distinctly and authentically Christian as much as I am American. And so my Christianity is going to permeate throughout my American-ness. So when I think about Christian hip hop I think of an individual who is a Christian who is using hip hop to communicate things that God will endorse.
FC: What do you think of the Christian hip hop industry? Are we doing well? Are we competing, in a sense?
Lecrae: As an industry, there is definitely a lack of infrastructure. Simply because it’s definitely more of an organic art form, I think there’s definitely a lack of infrastructure. I think that’s been one of the passions that my friends at Reach Records have had; to bring some awareness to music and to really bring a different light and perspective. I’m really grateful to all of the different entities within the Christian music industry for embracing us and giving us a seat at the table. And I think that’s only helping more hip hop artists in positions to serve.
FC: What artists do you listen to personally, either hip hop or not?
Lecrae: I love listening to all the guys on my label: KB, Tedashii, Pro, Andy Mineo, Trip Lee. I love those guys. There’s another guy, Swoope, that I think is a phenomenal artist. They’re people that really inspire me and I think they’re just phenomenally talented at what they do.
FC: You’ve been busy with collaborations lately, appearing on Britt Nicole’s newest and also with Jimmy Needham. Who would be on your list of dream collaborations?
Lecrae: I’m a big fan of Brooke Fraser and Gungor, so I would love to work with them. You might see some Lecrae and Tenth Avenue North action happening as well... I definitely would say Hillsong United. I’m blown away at all that they do. I’ve been to Sydney and seen how incredibly passionate they are about what they do. I think that’s mind-blowing. I’ve been really fortunate. Not many artists can say they’ve done stuff with the Chris Tomlins and the Crowders. So that’s really been a blessing for me.
FC: Do you think you’d ever cross over into mainstream music? And what do you think about that type of responsibility?
Lecrae: There’s a saying that goes around that says “I you crossover make sure you bring the cross over.” That’s definitely my heart and my aim. I want to remain distinct and authentically Christian in whatever realm I’m in. I don’t want people to walk away saying, “Lecrae is a Christian because he said so. Lecrae is a Christian because they labeled him that.” But I want them to say, “Lecrae is a Christian because I can tell by his life that he values Jesus.” That’s really what my aim is, for people to see I truly treasure and value Jesus and His Word. If [crossing over] happens then, by God’s grace, let their lives be changed.
FC: So you’re not apprehensive of something like that happening? You’re just saying, “If that happens, God’s going to have to be the one to make it happen”?
Lecrae: Absolutely. I think as Christians, we all have the same calling, and that calling is to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and love others as ourselves and to glorify God in everything that we do. If I was an architect, who all of the sudden made it into one of the biggest architectural firms, I’m still going to have that same calling. As a musician, to be able to walk in mainstream realms, I still have that same calling. The Bible says, “Take heed, lest you fall,” but this has really been the story of my life. I’ve traveled into other realms in order to be a light and be a missionary. Some of them were very dangerous, and I don’t look at this as any different.
FC: What do you think of church culture today, here in the U.S.?
Lecrae: Obviously, I love the church, the church that God is establishing, that Jesus died for, so I’ll never have any negative things to say about His church. Even though she’s spotty and has issues, He’s perfecting her. Church culture, or what I’d call Christendom, is this kind of traditionalism that we’ve set in motion. It doesn’t necessarily have any validation in the Bible, and I think can be very dangerous—creating rules and regulations and putting ourselves in positions where we’re the final authority on things because this is the way it’s always been done. It’s dangerous and we can be Pharisees in that regard. I’m very optimistic that there are sincere believers out there that are okay with tradition but don’t want to endorse traditionalism for the sake of traditionalism but want to embrace tradition because it’s God-honoring. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
FC: Tell us a little bit about Man Up: what went into it conceptually and what you hope it accomplishes.
Lecrae: Yes, so Man Up was kind of us at Reach Records and Life Ministries surveying the culture, both the church and outside the church. There was a lack of understanding of what masculinity really looks like and what it is. Obviously, we believe the Bible is the authority on masculinity, and so we wanted to address that. Men, specifically in the West, have no rights of passage, no way to know when they become a man. Everywhere else in the world you gotta kill a lion or stab a shark, or go on some journey, and you come back and you’re a man. But here in the West, we’re really kind of clueless as to what makes us a man. So we’ve begun to make up our own definitions when Jesus has given us so many. He was the picture-perfect man. He was selfless, He was sacrificial, He was courageous, He was authoritative, and He loved his wife – the church – to the death. Those were some of the elements that we wanted to put out there and portray for those inside and for those outside the church, that they may say, “Ah, this is what manhood looks like. And it’s a goal that I’ve never attained in my own strength.” And so, one of the key factors in manhood is repentance. Ya know, you’ve got to man down to man up. Wave your white flag and say, “Jesus I can’t do this.” I think that’s the first step in being a man.
FC: And it has been well-received?
Lecrae: Incredibly well. So we did a campaign where there was an album, a short film, a tour, and a conference. The tour sold out, the album has been incredibly successful, the film is attached to the album so people have been watching it and being encouraged. And at the conference we anticipated about 1,000 people and 2,200 men showed up – three generations, the grandfathers, fathers, and sons. It was mind blowing. It was a powerful, powerful time.
FC: That is so valuable for men and fathers. Talk to us a little bit about Church Clothes: the mix tape, the video, the controversy.
Lecrae: I’ve always been a missionary and what people don’t know is that I’ve always taken some strategic and eyebrow-raising steps. So historically that’s been my M.O. I moved to one of the worst neighborhoods in Memphis, as a newly married man, which everybody said “That’s ridiculous, that’s insane, you’ve lost your mind.” From there, my wife and I went to Asia in ministry there and had to duck and hide and run from authorities and she agreed to go pregnant. Everyone thought we had lost our minds again. God showed us incredible fruit. I’ve always done music to push people to get them to get uncomfortable in their seat so they could wrestle with things. Not to become pew potatoes, just simply sitting there, growing fat with knowledge and not applying it. It’s a mixed tape that’s really aimed and geared toward hip hop culture. And one of the formats that is highly respectable within hip hop culture is a mix tape. Just talking about controversial issues that I don’t think people outside of the church wrestle with. Being an artist that’s well received in Christian circles, the majority of my fan-base is Christian, and are hearing it and seeing it, and have all these questions and issues. For me, it’s me saying to them, “Hey, this exists out here. This is what people are wresting with. We need to get out here and love on people and engage people and engage culture.”
FC: So you’ve encountered some controversy with your music. Do you think it’s because you take a bold approach?
Lecrae: I think some people don’t get it, but as we talked about I think there’s a Christian culture that wants everything to be comfortable and safe and they think that’s what Christianity is. It’s “Aaah, I’ve escaped the craziness of this world and now I’m safe.” And we would like to move into a safe environment and have, ya know, a Christian barber shop and a Christian swimming pool and not have to deal with the world anymore. But Jesus prayed that we would remain in the world but [be] protected. He also told us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church and for the gates to not prevail against His church and [for that to happen], it must mean we’re trying to storm them. So, I think there’s just a sub-sect that want to remain safe and tucked away and not engage the world for the glory of Jesus.
FC: Can you just stop rocking the boat for a while?
Lecrae: (laughing) I would love to, but I can’t.
FC: No don’t! Don’t stop rocking the boat. So, tell us about Gravity. What’s the theme of the record?
Lecrae:Gravity is loosely based on Ecclesiastes and I think what Solomon was trying to do was bring some weight to life and that’s really what I want to do, to paint some sober pictures. Honestly everything sober is not bad so I don’t want people to think that sober pictures are bad. You know, there is a sobering picture when you’re overwhelmed with all of the hurt and the pain in this world. There’s a sober picture of how it’s only for a short period of time, it’s short-lived, or that we still have Jesus. So that’s what I would call a weighty part, a gravitational pull to remind us of who we are in Jesus. So obviously, just wanting to paint hope, but also just giving the pictures of the realities of this life that we live, and how there’s no escaping it other than Jesus.
FC: I do have a couple of questions from our Twitter followers. They should be fairly easy. What was the hardest thing that the media has put you?
Lecrae: Ya know, I don’t know if it’s the media. I would say it’s probably social media. Social media is just constant, it never stops, 24 hours a day. And so there’s always someone who is very loud and very opinionated. I will say it’s strengthened my faith if anything, because it’s made me feel closer to Jesus, or relate to Him more. I’m sure He was constantly criticized, and constantly someone had an opinion about what He was doing. I’m not perfect like Him though so some opinions or critiques might be warranted (laughs).
FC: Who was your favorite artist growing up?
Lecrae: My favorite artist growing up would probably be Lauren Hill. She sings, she raps, she sings from her soul, and then she wasn’t afraid to articulate her faith once she started to embrace it. And I really appreciate that about her.
FC: She certainly wore her heart on her sleeve, that’s for sure. One more question, are there any guests on your new record?
Lecrae: Absolutely. It’s still in the works, but I would love to work with the likes of Brooke Fraser and Gungor. There are a few, but I don’t want to give them away until it’s signed, sealed and delivered.
To find out more about Lecrae's new album, Gravity, click here.
“Rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning” (Proverbs 9:8-9).
Wise people invite instruction. They understand correction and rebuke are necessary to grow in wisdom and righteous behavior. Without well-meaning instructors willing to get in our faces, we aspire to be average at best. However, an invitation to mettle into my affairs defines authentic accountability. Effective correction makes us uncomfortable at times, but we become wiser as a result. Indeed, conflict is inherent in accountability.
So, if your relationships are conflict free, you can bet you are not being held accountable in the truest sense. Wisdom comes in the form of raw relationships that reek with loving reproof and a willingness to change. It is out of a rebuke that you wake up and understand the realities you are facing. Your spouse is not nagging, just nudging you to act responsibly. Therefore, invite instruction, and you will increase in wisdom and understanding. There are no regrets from wise recipients of reproof.
“Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear” (Proverbs 25:12).
Furthermore, be willing to be the bearer of bad news. With love and grace, go to your friend who has asked for your counsel, and give him or her truth. Pray first; then deliver the unpleasant news. It is much better for others to see the error of their ways before they reach a point of no return. Talk to them, not about them. Pray for them privately, not publically with a pious prayer request.
Love motivates rebuke, then become a recipient of love. Your relationship will retreat in anger or rise to a higher level of respect through righteous rebuke. Take the time to prod another toward perfection because you care. Be respectful and instruct with patience. One day the student may exceed the wisdom of the teacher.
“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Prayer: Dear Lord, to whom do I need to listen and learn from their correction and rebuke?
“ Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king inawe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.” I Kings 3:27-28
Wise decision-making is not accidental, but intentional. There is a humble understanding of the need for the Lord’s insightful solutions to very serious issues. Wisdom comes over time to those whose priority is wisdom hunting. Like a patient outdoorsman who looks for the best time and place to bag game, so seekers of wisdom are always in search for scriptural trophies of truth. Wise-decision making works for humble seekers.
Wise-decision making is necessary for a life that leverages the Lord’s favor. The Almighty is on the look out for those who align themselves with His agenda. He is wisdom—He offers wisdom—He blesses wisdom. So, wise are we to daily look to God for His game plan. We especially need wisdom when we have conflicting conclusions to consider. Are you facing a dilemma that’s life or death? If so, ask Jesus, what’s the wise thing to do?
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18
What if someone decides for you? Will you decide to respond in humble determination or drift away as a victim? Sometimes the unwise choices of a boss or parent produces a crisis that is out of your control. It could be a compromise of character in a business deal or an addictive personality that produced severe problems. Wherever you find yourself, you can find wisdom to work through your turmoil. Or, if your options are outcomes from success, Holy Scripture can give you insight into excellent financial stewardship.
Furthermore, your best decisions are made when the emotional short-term pressures are submissive to the long-term objective realities. Hence, fear submits to faith. Greed submits to generosity. Discontentment submits to gratitude. Impulsiveness submits to patience. Are the choices you face today focused exclusively on your needs or are you motivated by something much bigger than yourself? Wisdom asks God for clarity.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
Prayer: Heavenly father, I seek You for wisdom and discernment to do Your will.
For the King trusts in the Lord, through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken. Psalm 21:7
Trust in God perseveres. It perseveres the higher it goes in responsibilities or the lower it goes in lost opportunities. Whether in the excitement of promotion or the discouragement of demotion it still trusts God. In fact, the more responsibility we gain, the more we need God. The more it seems we are capable, the more we realize we are incapable without Christ. Power may tempt us to lower our guard in trusting God, but the more responsibility and power we are entrusted with, the more we need to trust the Lord. Kings and Presidents need Christ as much as or more than paupers and priests. Trust is not contingent on our felt need. It is contingent on our having the ability to breathe. As long as we have breath in our lungs, we desperately need the Lord. Self-confidence is an obstacle to our holy confidence in Christ. He sees us through. Trust in Him perseveres.
Trust perseveres because it is buoyant in its belief in the unfailing love of God. The love of God stands secure in the face of suffering. The love of God licks the wounds of a lacerated soul. The love of God provides the grace to forgive and to forget. The love of God continues in the face of ugly odds because it is optimistic of what we can hope for in Christ. God’s love draws us into intimacy with Him. It is when God loves us that we feel safe. It is when God loves us that we feel secure. It is when God loves us that we feel support and encouragement. The love of God covers our sin of unbelief. It is a buttress for our belief. It is the love of the Most High that lifts us when we are at our lowest to continue trusting our sympathizing Savior. He is high and lifted up, so He can lift us up. He looks down on us with compassion. Because He is trustworthy, we trust.
No one is higher than Almighty God. He is the Most High. We have the privilege, the opportunity, and the obligation to go right to the top. The Holy Spirit is God’s gatekeeper. By faith we can trust Him to intercede on our behalf. Our faith may be faltering in our confusion, but Christ clarifies. Do not give up because of the complexities of your current situation. Go to the Most High to unravel the mess in which you find yourself. He is the decision maker. He is your maker. He knows how to guide you through this uncertain process. The Most High has the needed perspective to see you through. It is by faith that we do not completely falter. Trust Him to tell you what you need to know. Persevere.
The fruit of trust is perseverance. The lethal high winds of adversity may attempt to uproot your faith, but you will persevere. You will persevere in your marriage though our culture gives you a pass for divorce. You will persevere in your job even though you have been passed over by someone less qualified. You will persevere as a parent because this may be your time to mature and grow up. You will persevere as a leader because God is not finished spreading your influence. You will persevere as a Christian because you trust God. By God’s grace you will not be moved. Allow Him to grow your character. Stand strong. Allow Him to love you through this time of transition. Trust perseveres.
“ See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16
You are marked by God’s handprints; from head to toe He has identified you with Himself. His hands molded you and made you into who you are. His hands are so enormous that He has engraved everyone into His palm. Like a life-sized dye cast, He has shaped your soul. This is why you desperately need His tender touch. You need the hand of God to reshape you daily into His original design and purpose.
The hand of God never changes, but you do. You can lose the shape of our Savior and forget who you are: a child of the King, forgiven, guiltless, and grace-filled. You are free to forgive and are set loose to serve others. He has engraved your name into His hand, never to be removed or soiled. Indeed, His hand is your protector.
Satan and his schemes must pass through the hand of your heavenly Father to get to you. It doesn’t mean you are always shielded from Satan, but it does mean you still rest in the Lord’s care, even in the middle of chaos. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
Therefore, allow your heavenly Father to hold you with His caressing hands of compassion. There is nothing more reassuring than the loving embrace of the Lord. His hands will not crush you, but comfort you in your time of struggle. The hand of the Lord is an extension of His everlasting love. Peace and security are the residuals, which stay with you after God has handled you. His hands handle you so you can handle others.
Every day you meet people who are recipients of your handprints. You can extend open hands of acceptance or closed hands of rejection. You can embrace others with hands of understanding or distance yourself with hands of shallow assumption. You can offer a helping hand of service or expect other hands to serve you. Just as the hands of your heavenly Father mark you, so you mark others.
Your spouse and children are covered in your handprints. They can be healthy handprints, or handprints of emotional baggage and spiritual confusion. Hold them close, and help them feel your love and acceptance. Be vulnerable and truthful. Become open-handed about your dreams and your fears. A close-fisted life is insecure, distrusting, and distant. An open-handed life is secure, trusting, and intimate. Handle others as your heavenly Father handles you because you are a product of His grace. See the scars from the unjust nails in your Savior’s hands. See your undeserving self in your Savior’s hand. His hands are your salvation.
Taken from July 8th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE
Post/Tweet this today: Handle others as your heavenly Father handles you. #acceptance #care
“The Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" He said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid." Genesis 3:9,10
Fear accompanies the feeling of aloneness. Like a child attending a new school, people who are alone can be anxious and unsure. Aloneness attacks celebrities flush with fame and single parents reeling from a ravaged relationship. Indeed, isolation increases when someone choses to isolate themselves from relational risk. The downside of not venturing out to engage community can cause a crisis of faith. It is not good to be alone.
Ironically, a person can feel lonesome even while surrounded by people. Close proximity to a caring community does not guarantee the sense of belonging. Are you suffering from the feeling of insecurity in your aloneness? Have you drifted from connection to concerned confidants or deserted spiritual disciplines? Do you acknowledge the Lord’s pursuit of your affections? His desire is to flush out your fear and replace it with faith.
“Why do you pursue me as God does?” Job 19:22a
There may be loved ones that long to love you out of your secluded state of mind. If you are a spouse quietly suffering by yourself, take a risk and open up to your husband or wife. Don’t let the shame of your sticky situation bar you from bearing your soul. Men especially can hold in concerns for fear of being perceived as weak, or incapable of carrying out their responsibilities. But freedom comes by not concealing, but by revealing your feelings. So, don’t maintain a stoic image and miss intimate encounters with others.
Most of all let the Lord love you in and through your loneliness. There is no need to try to hide from His presence, because He is ever present. It is vain to run from His watchful eye, because He is always on the look out for you. Wise are we not to seclude ourselves from our Savior’s sensitive spirit. Stay enlisted in the Lord’s service—experience His miraculous works of grace. Invite into your life God’s love and feel His warm embrace. Christ followers are not alone—you are a part of His body, created for companionship.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to remain alone.” Genesis 2:18a
Prayer: Almighty God, by faith replace my feelings of aloneness with Your affection.
“You have put gladness in my heart,?more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.” Psalm 4:7 NKJV
There is a gladness God gives that cannot be generated by the world. His Spirit brings a smile to a face that faces fiery trials. Jesus gives joy in a job loss or the jettison of an opportunity. The Lord puts gladness in the heart of His children when they hurt or do not feel well. His wellspring of cheerfulness comes in a close relationship with Christ. Indeed, when mortality rubs shoulders with immortality there is an abiding enjoyment.
Happiness based on circumstances comes and goes based on the whims of the world, but God’s gladness is consistent. We can be sad at the state of our affairs and still be glad in God. Grief and joy coexist in Christ as He mourns and rejoices with us. A heart in touch with Jesus needs His truth and comfort. If we obsess over obstacles out of our control we strive in discontent; sad. When we leave the results to God we are content; glad.
“In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9
Furthermore, there is a great gladness that comes by simply and regularly celebrating your salvation in Jesus Christ. Is this old news to you or has your soul never gotten over its freedom from sin and hell and its liberty in the Lord? The good news of your eternal redemption and abundant life in Christ is cause for raucous celebration. Gratitude creates gladness. Appreciation to the Almighty is a recipe for genuine joy.
Lastly, the grace of God is at work in people and in ways we have yet to experience. The evidence of His amazing grace is all around us. Your children, family and friends who have remained true to the faith make you glad. Their smiles make you smile. Their laughs makes you laugh. Their happiness makes you happy. You invested in others spiritually, emotionally and financially—now you are blessed with a harvest of happiness. Above all else, because God has made you glad, your gladness is a gift you give for Him.
“When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” Acts 11:23
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of gladness, may I give it generously.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” Psalm 33:12
God blesses a nation because of its prayers, not its power. He blesses a nation because of its character, not its commerce. He blesses a nation because of its trust in Him, not its advanced technology. God blesses a nation because of its fear of the Lord, not its fear of man. God blesses a nation who loves God and expresses that love in caring for the impoverished and diseased. God blesses a nation because of His church, not the size of that nation’s economy.
Prosperity may be the result of a God-fearing nation, but it is not the cause. People believe in God when they get enough of themselves and realize there has to be more to this life than simply meeting their every need. God blesses a nation when individuals gather corporately in vibrant Christian worship; the church is God’s means to awaken a nation. Nations who try to control the church lose God’s blessing. God’s blessing cannot be governed.
Every time government intercedes to manage faith, the faithful become more marginalized. Countries that restrict church competition and rely on a state-church monopoly miss the mark. The church is meant to be released to restore the ravished character of culture. Christians are “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-14) in the midst of decayed and darkened nations. When believers gather together in a bond of love they create a thirst for righteousness and shed light on the ways of the Lord.
Wise nations encourage competition among churches. Freedom of religion feeds faithfulness in God. God expects His church to grow and engage with the culture. This is how He changes a nation. When countries have church choices, they can compare and choose what is best for their families. A church that drifts into irrelevance and isolation is of little concern to Satan. He wants religion to come across as ambiguous and antiquated. Churches that are alive and well serve a mighty and compassionate Christ.
These types of trusting institutions make a difference in their communities. A church that is alive and growing becomes a catalyst for good things. Indeed, God blesses nations where the church is allowed to compete. Stewardship trumps entitlement. Sick churches are not kept alive by outside funding. They either change or close. God blesses nations when His bride’s worship is alive, engaging, and relevant.
Therefore, avoid churches where membership is just a status symbol. Attend church where God is loved and feared, and worship where you see the Lord high and lifted up. Soak up the teachings of the Bible that transforms your life. Band together with a group of believers who are disciples and who disciple others in the faith. Choose a body of believers where the character lessons you teach your children at home converge with their small group lessons on Sunday. If church is not working for you, then pray to find one that works best in this season of life.
God blesses nations who humbly seek Him. “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Taken from July 4th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE
Post/Tweet this today: God blesses a nation because of its prayers, not its power. #prayer #power