"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children." Titus 2:3-4 (NIV)
Mothers-in-law are often the source of unflattering jokes. But my mother-in-law, Catherine, was the furthest thing from a punch line.
Catherine was a spiritual giant wrapped up in a tiny 4-foot-10-inch bundle of sunshine. Down-to-earth, kind, and unpretentious. She modeled the woman we are urged to be in Titus 2.
When you entered her home you were greeted with warm hugs and the aroma of her latest creation wafting from her tiny kitchen. She was one of the best cooks I ever met. Preparing food never seemed arduous or tedious for Catherine.
She took great pleasure in feeding her family, spending days preparing a sumptuous dinner just to have it consumed in moments. Empty plates and platters were her delight. Sending home leftovers were her bliss. Before the meal we all would bow our heads to hear her words of blessing and gratitude.
Catherine's spiritual life was a lot like those meals. It was satisfying and full of nourishment. She poured the Word of God into our lives as easily as she filled our glasses with sweet tea.
Toward the end of her life, she broke her wrist and needed personal care. It was my privilege to assist her with bathing and dressing each morning. After I feed her breakfast, I'd sit on the floor at her feet while she fed me from Scripture. My mother-in-law recited her favorite verses from memory and read to me from her daily devotion book. Her prayers were like honey, sweet with remembrances of God's goodness and faithfulness to her. Those prayers were infused with gratitude for His enduring strength and perfumed with her love for Jesus.
The angels surely paused long enough to add an amen!
I used to wonder how she managed to turn out delectable meals from her small kitchen and how she became a professional at serving up God's Word to her family.
She told me, "Honey, it all begins on your knees. If you spend enough time with my Jesus, He will teach you everything you need to know about feeding your family."
Not long after Catherine went to be with Jesus, I found this "recipe for life" in her belongings.
Begin with a case of Joy
Add a heaping spoonful of Gratitude
Fold in a large dollop of Kindness
Stir in a handful of Forgiveness
Sprinkle liberally with Love and cover with Peace
Always serve with a large side of Faith
Warm angel biscuits and sweet tea aren't the only things I miss about my mother-in-law. I miss the fresh servings of prayer she whispered while feeding her family and the filling scriptures she served in our conversations around her table.
Yes, her kitchen now sits quiet and dark, but her family is feasting on her spiritual legacy of love for God and His Word.
Dear Lord, help me to be a wife and mom who feeds her family from the kitchen and from Your Word. May I leave a legacy for those You've entrusted in my care. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Try the "saltshaker encouragement" over dinner tonight. Each member of the family takes a turn at holding the saltshaker. Every other person at the table should share one thing they will pray for the person holding the saltshaker.
1 Peter 2:2-3, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (NIV)
Then they asked him, “What did he [Jesus] do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too? John 9:26-27
Hearing does not guarantee listening. Eye contact and engaged body language can still lead to no heart comprehension. Someone can act like they are listening without really understanding. People who lack humility and empathy lack the ability to really listen well. Pride and ego run over another’s sentences before they finish. An unbridled intellect interrupts with solutions and new ideas before they truly listen to the heart of the one making conversation. Hubris is deaf.
So, there is skill involved in learning to listen with understanding. Good listeners lean into the one speaking and seek to know what the one speaking knows. They take in the spoken words, but simultaneously they process the emotional meaning behind the speech. Listeners hear without any preconceived notions or preemptive conclusions. We hear and listen well when we enter into the emotional world of the speaker. We learn to listen by asking clarifying questions.
After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:46
The Holy Spirit is also involved in illuminating true meaning and providing discernment to humble and wise hearts. So, we prayerfully listen beyond the logic of the spoken language to the unspoken promptings of God’s Spirit. A person’s words may say they want one thing, but in their heart of hearts, they know they need something different. The Lord’s Spirit working through your spirit will give you insight into what they need to consider. Listen for the Spirit’s quiet leading.
Most of all, be a hearer, listener, and a doer of God’s word. Scripture is like fertilizer for your faith. If the Bible is only revered on a bookshelf it is useless, but if it is spread over your life it makes things grow. Therefore, hear, listen and apply God’s Holy Word to your life. Once you listen and learn then allow His truth to transform your being. Wise listeners of Christ’s words integrate His principles into their behavior. They pray, “Speak Lord for I am listening for You.”
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:9
Prayer: Heavenly Father speak to my heart and I will truly listen to You and obey.
Related Readings: Deuteronomy 34:9; Job 38:1-3; 1 Corinthians 14:21; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 4:6
Post/Tweet today: Prayer listens beyond the logic of spoken language to the unspoken promptings of God’s Spirit. #listeningprayer
If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock. The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.
Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.
As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.
This year, Phil wrote a book (Happy, Happy, Happy) that shares about his journey, his faith and his family. I recently sat down with Phil to talk about those three things.
John: Phil, I'm wondering if maybe you can break down for us how you felt your sense of calling. I know in your life football is certainly part of your past. You have either served as a pastor, or certainly you have preached many times in your life, and yet you are also an avid hunter as well, and you have made a lifetime career out of that. How does one who is pursuing Christ identify a great calling?
Phil: Well, I think old Thomas Jefferson said it best, "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal, and they've been endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty..." and that third thing there really caught my attention way back, "...the pursuit of happiness.” So, we have a god-given right to pursue happiness.
In my case, you have to remember, John, it did my heart more good to get about 35 or 40 mallard ducks coming down through the trees in front of me, than it did to throw a touchdown pass. When I was playing ball over at Louisiana Tech, I said, "Bradshaw, you're a second-stringer and I'm ahead of you. I could play my last year and that would keep you back a year." I said, "What I'm gonna do is I'm going to start chasing ducks full-time when I leave Louisiana Tech here," and I said, "You can step up and go on to the NFL and let the good times roll." I said, "I'll be thinking about you down in the woods while them big bruisers are stomping you in the dirt, my man." He laughed and I laughed.
Amazingly, 44 years later I saw him the other day a couple of months ago, and he was … we met up, you know, after that little speech I gave him. He said, "Robertson, you've done pretty good chasing ducks, man, you know, you have a television show." I said, "Well, you've done pretty good yourself, my man." We reminisced a little bit, you know. The bottom line is both of us ended up happy, happy, happy there.
John: Phil, do you appreciate preaching? Is that something that you enjoy doing?
Phil: Well, you have to remember I'm not ordained, like a bona fide, certified, preacher. I'm just a guy that builds duck calls. I do love God and I love my neighbor. I was converted at 28 years old, and before that I had never heard the gospel of Jesus, that God became flesh 2,013 years and died on a cross for my sins, was buried and raised from the dead.
So I zoned in on all my rotten, filthy ways, all my sins being removed, and on top of that being raised from the dead. I looked at that and said, “You know what? I never had anything that I've ever studied or looked at that gave me the opportunity to have all my sins removed and forgotten and be guaranteed my dead body could be energized and raised from the dead.” It got my attention! I basically just went forth from there, from the time I was converted. Since I didn't know that until I was 28, I just tried to make sure that the people I come in contact with at least hear that story. I just go forth across America, amazingly even before the television show. Now, the audience is just far bigger.
I've been going around all across America. They invite me to come, so I get on a jet and I go. How they all started inviting me to come is kind of beyond me, but I just started going across the country and still am. Now, all my sons do the same thing. We're just trying to infuse a little good into our culture, you know. We just think we're better off because of loving God and loving our neighbor, for crying out loud. We think the country needs it. We love them; that's why we do it. That basically is the story, and that is what the book is about. Just a family structure. I am the head of the family structure, Miss Kay and I, you know, grandma, grandpa, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. We eat together, pray together, hunt together, and that is just one little glimpse of one American family, my man.
Phil: Basically, happy, happy, happy just describes the ultimate, rarest of commodities: peace of mind. That's what I meant by that phrase. I didn't know the little saying was going viral, John. You know what I'm saying?
John: Yes. I do know what you're saying.
Phil: You never know, man.
John: Basically, when you talk about the concept of the book, is that primarily looking at the family structure and how you guys have done things in your family?
Phil: Yeah. That, plus, you know, it's a family structure and a worldview. We just think society, our culture and our world would be better off if we just loved God and loved our neighbor and did what was right. You know, our founding fathers… you know, if you read, I have researched them carefully, and I'm on the same page as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson. They all were godly men. Someone told me one time, "Yeah, but they made mistakes." I said, "So have we. We've all made mistakes." I said, "But they founded the greatest nation on earth and we didn't, and that's the difference right there."
John: Yes. When you look at the church here in the west, when you look at the Christian culture, what is your thought? Are we okay? Are we doing good? Are we loving our families well enough? Are men standing up and leading their families well?
Phil: I think we need some help in that area. I think, my view is, we sort of got zoned in into going to church. That phrase, "going to church," is not even in the Bible. So you say, "I wonder why that wouldn't be in the Bible," because everyone you talk to, they say, well, “we're going to church, yeah, we're going to church, we're going to church.”
What's happened is we were so busy “going to church,” as we call it, the American model is you report in Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. You can be there every time the door is open, but, really, when you get to looking at 168 hours in a week, if you're in a spiritual setting only four or five of them—Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night—what's happened in my opinion, is we got so busy attending that our culture started disintegrating around us. And our family structures started being torn apart. We didn't infuse Christianity as much as we should have into our culture around us. The people we meet, where we work, where we play.
My idea is, when I was converted, I just go forth, and I reach out to my neighbor, and it's far more than just going to a church building two or three times a week. Do you see what I'm saying?
Phil: We need to be more light for our culture, more salt, more leavening, though, in whatever vocation you happen to be. I'm a duck horn builder, but I made sure that all the people that I came in contact with I did in a nice way. I didn't beat them over the head with it, but I just want to tell them the good news about Jesus. That went … man, did that ever get … now the audiences, John, are like, you know, tens and tens of thousands at a sitting. So it went way past anything I could have ever asked or imagined. It just seemed like God just kept … the doors just kept getting ... the crowds kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
What is amazing to me is that these large crowds now that we go to all started from just a little TV show with a prayer at the end of the show. You wouldn't think that would have that much impact on our culture but, man, there's probably 30 or 40 million every week that watch that. I'm having to put up a gate down here because there's hundreds of vehicles pulling up in my yard. I was dumb enough, I've never turned on a computer in my life. I do have a master's degree from Louisiana Tech in education, but I've never turned on a computer here in my 67 years, and I don't own a cell phone.
Someone says, "Well, Robertson, you're all over the Internet, you're all over the computer." I said, "Well, how did I get there?" They said, "That is a good question, but somebody's putting you on there." The bottom line is, it just went beyond anything I could ask. I've never seen anything like it, I tell you that. I'm not quite sure what it is except maybe the Almighty is working in it.
John: Phil, do you think your life, or your wife's life, or even your family's life has changed since the start of the show?
Phil: Well, you have to remember, with us, simplicity is sort of the key. In other words, Miss Kay and I, we raised our boys to love God, love their neighbor. They saw us interact with so many people who had marriage problems and drug problems and alcohol problems that we'd invite them in, and Miss Kay would feed them and I'd tell them the good news.
Well, my sons were standing around or sitting around listening to all that. The impact that we had on them, and we all gathered up as a family and thanked God for our food, we just kept life simple. Now that the fame has come, and the money... well, you got to remember, the way we operate, with the removal of sin from our lives, and on top of that being raised from the dead, trust me, my man, and this is one family group that believes that takes precedent over any kind of fame or money. Because money and fame can't raise you from the dead, my man. Only the Almighty can do that.
Phil: You just keep the first thing, the important things the important things. Do you see what I'm saying?
John: Absolutely. Ten years from now, what do you want this whole thing to be? Where do you see yourself? Where do you see your family from now?
Phil: Well, at the end of the day, all you have when it's all over is your name and what you stood for. I'm kind of like old Patrick Henry. He said, "The United States was not founded on religions but by Christians." He said, "The United States of America was founded on the gospel of Jesus." I'm just carrying the good news forth. At the end of the day, that's about the only legacy I would care about, that they say, you know… someone asked, I think it was Daniel Webster, "What's the greatest thought that you've ever had in your mind?" He said, "My accountability to God." That's basically where I am.
John: Phil, besides the founding fathers of our country, what other influencers do you have? Are you a book reader?
Phil: Only the Bible. Very seldom do I read books or commentaries. I just stick with the Bible itself, and I keep it within arm's reach. I have a set of encyclopedias and I have a dictionary from old Noah Webster, the father of public education. He's the one that came up with the dictionary, and it's still his heir, it's still here to this day. I have encyclopedias, a good dictionary, and my Bible within arm's length of myself. I always tell people, I said, "I'm just short-circuiting the computer world."
John: I love it. I love it. Would you share with me a little bit about what God has been bringing you through, maybe in the last week or month or so?
Phil: Oh, my goodness, what are you talking about? If someone had told me that at some point riches would come, fame would come, and the opportunity to go across the United States of America and proclaim the good news, I would have said, literally I would have said, "Impossible." So, man, look, I just look back at it. All I can tell you is the audiences are getting bigger and bigger. This weekend I'll be at David Lipscomb University, and there will be about … I have to give three speeches because the building wouldn't hold but 4,500 at the time. They got three sellouts.
First, they said do one. Then they called and said, "Mr. Robertson, we filled the building up again, can you do two?" I said, "Yeah." Then they called back and said, "How about three?" I said, "I'll do it." Basically, the opportunity is there. To answer your question, with all these things, we just are sort of like men with a mission.
The good news is Alan, my oldest boy, goes out and does the same thing, and Jason does the same thing. By the way, Jase and Al are great speakers. Old Willie, and even old Jep, and as shocking as it sounds, even Si. Most people don't realize Si, as nutty as he is, Si is a very godly man. I mean, he's one of the godliest people I know. I mean, that guy is straight as an arrow, but it's beyond my pay grade to understand why so many women want to marry Silas Roberston. I said, "What are y'all thinking?" I said, "It's scary, Si, I tell you." He said, "Well, boys, you know, I've always blown a little smoke," he said, "but I never had some fool come along and say he'd pay me money to do it." He said, "They want some smoke, I'll blow it for them." Si is a very godly man. Most people don't realize that, and he is happily married up there on the side of the road. It's been a hoot just kind of watching my brother, you know, and all my kids. We've had a big time with it.
It's just a good format for a family group, a functional family, which I think the United States needed to see.
Phil: Face it boys, it's been a while since America saw actually a functional family who just loves God or their neighbor and hunts ducks. I mean, give me a break. I just don't see the downside of it. Evidently, there are at least 30 or 40 million who feel the same way I do, so there is still hope for America, boys. We're just trying to infuse a little good into our culture.
John: Amen. Phil, how can we be praying for you and your family?
Phil: Pray that the Almighty will continue to protect us, because you remember the Bible says that the gospel has divine power that demolishes strongholds. Looking at the world all around us and all the murder, the mayhem, and the mischief and all the immorality and all that, just remember this particular little family group literally is going into the teeth of the tiger. I would pray, if I were you, I'd pray for the Robertson clan as they go forth for divine protection and strength and boldness as we go forth. That's what I would pray. I would appreciate it, too, my man.
It isn't often a person can live a dream, but Phil Robertson, aka The Duck Commander, has proven it is possible with vision, hard work, helping hands, and an unshakable faith in the Almighty. If you ever wind up at the end of Mouth of Cypress Road, sitting face to face with Phil Robertson, you will see that his enthusiasm and passion for duck hunting and the Lord is no act- it is truly who he is.
Tim Timmons, Reunion's newest artist, strives to invite believers about Jesus to become followers of Jesus through his own personal story. Tim's story is not living with an incurable cancer, but it is his perspective through it. That message is passionately put forth on his label debut, Cast My Cares, out June 4, 2013. It's a record filled with tender ballads and powerful anthems that speak profoundly to this generation. Timmons' earnest and compelling voice on the first single, "Starts With Me," spurs the intellect and moves the heart. Cast My Cares inspires an awakening within the church. Join the revolution.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Remember when you were younger, family and friends would ask, "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
My answer would change each school year.
In 3rd grade, I wanted to do puppeteering. My mom was my hero when she signed me up for the puppet class at the library! Fourth grade brought change. Sketch pads were filled with my amateur drawings of figures doing life together. As I grew, so did my aspirations of what I wanted to do as an adult.
While I enjoyed the attention the "growing up" question gave, I really wish someone had asked me a different question. Instead of emphasizing what I wanted to do, how powerful it would have been if grown ups had asked, "Who do you want to be?"
The great thing is, it's not too late to ask myself this question. And I'm old enough to know where to find the perfect answer.
Galatians 5:22-23 describes many characteristics of a godly woman: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Bible describes these as the "fruit of the Spirit." They start in seed form when God's Spirit enters our heart, and they grow and develop with care and attention to the things of the Lord.
They're cultivated by reading the Bible, praying and listening to the Lord, and living them out. The more I practice them, the more I become them—and the woman God wants me to be.
Now, I am no longer the one being asked, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" Instead, I have the opportunity to be the one asking. My daughters, ages 18 and 16, are just around the corner from living out their own adult lives. Posing the question to them, "Who do you want to be?" is so much more important than "What do you want to do?"
Do you want to be one who loves the least and the lost? What fruit of the Spirit do you want to be known for ... the girl with joy even in the struggles? The faithful friend who was loyal no matter what the cost?
By asking our kids these types of questions, we're teaching them to care more about their character than their career. When we do, we empower them that no matter what they do, they have developed a character they feel confident about.
Today, I'm going to ask my children: "Who do you want to be when you grow up?" If they can't come up with words on their own, I'll offer some help. The fruit of the Spirit is the perfect place to start: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, full of kindness and goodness, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.
Dear Lord, help me care more about my character than my career and to be more intentional about who I am rather than what I do. Give me words to teach Your wisdom on how to live a life that honors You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1-3)
Contentment is not concerned with matters out of its control. Anytime you try to manage circumstances out of your purview, you grow discontented. The world of discontentment is a dangerous place to live because it may lead you to make a hasty or unwise decision. Decisions made under the duress of discontentment are not always the best. Contentment, on the other hand, is patient and prayerful in decision-making. Most things do not have to be decided right away. You can wait and watch God unfold His will. It may be time to make a bold move, but execute your transition smoothly, not in a jagged fashion. Contentment does not try to change people. That’s God’s job. Contentment accepts the fact that some people are best left to themselves. God will deal with them in His way and in His timing.
Contented people do not have to be "in the know" about everything around them. Too much information can get you into trouble for you are responsible for what you know. It may be that you are not ready for that level of authority. Be content and trust God with those issues that exceed your capacity to understand or implement. There will come a day when you are prepared for that role of confidant, but for now, be content with where you are. Do the best in your current position and let opportunities come your way. The world of contentment is a great place to live in peace and quiet.
Contentment is found by placing your hope in God. Hope in the Lord can never be taken from you. All hell can break loose, but He is there. Hope in God is a perk for today. If you can trust Him with your soul for eternity, you can trust Him during this incredibly brief time on earth. Hope feeds contentment the way an appetizing meal feeds a hungry body. When you lose hope you grow discontented. Hope can be found in Jesus Christ, so don’t make it hard. He is not illusive or hiding; He is available for you. Contentment’s hope is in God.
If you place your hope in anything other than God, you set yourself up for major disappointment. Everything else in life is capable of letting you down, but not your heavenly Father. He is there for you, and His desire is contentment. He desires contentment because He knows that pure joy and happiness are nurtured and able to grow there. Sad are the discontented; glad are the content. Driven are the discontented; called are the content. Restless are the discontented; peaceful are the content. Addicted are the discontented; satisfied are the content. Pessimistic are the discontented; hopeful are the content. Be content and enjoy the outcome. Contentment’s concerns are few.
Post/Tweet: Decisions made under the duress of discontentment are not always the best. #becontent
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6a; “When he lies [the devil], he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44b
Truth flows from the “Truth”—Jesus. Lies flow from the “father” of lies—the devil. So, truth tellers side with the Lord and liars side with Satan. With whom do we align? We are quick to say Jesus, but in everyday life,if not careful,we drift into representing the dark side when tempted to speak untruth out of fear, instead of truth out of trust.
Lying is so short-term focused. We are afraid we will lose something if we don’t lie. We may lose someone’s respect, but when we are found out to be a liar, it is compounded into humiliation. We may lose money, but when indiscretions are exposed over time, we lose more in compromised creditability. Better to lose a little with honesty than a lot with lies.
The devil is an expert in luring us away from the Lord’s desires by offering a short-term solution,lying, which leads to long-term destructive consequences. Liars are unable to remember their inconsistencies, so when confronted they sheepishly say, “I don’t remember or I can’t recall what I said”. Children who chronically lie seem oblivious;they continue to fib until the pain of not telling the truth causes them to change.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6).
In paradise the first lie was presented by the serpent as he led Eve to believe she could be like God.Some things never change. Everyday we are tempted to promote ourselves as someone better than our real self. But instead, Spirit-led living looks to exalt Christ and others, not self. To be honest is to take responsibility for our actions and not to blame.
“The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12-13).
Are you honest with yourself about constant exposure to a compromising situation? Are you loose with the truth, or do you speak directly and include all the information? Take responsibility for wrong decisions and going forward seek sound advice fromfriends who will tell you the truth. Be totally honest with them so they can offer the best advice. Begin by coming clean with Christ.He already knows,then be totally open and real with others.
“Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning” (Jeremiah 9:5).
Prayer: What do I need to be honest about with God and myself? Who needs my complete honesty?
Related Readings: Proverbs 12:17, Jeremiah 9:3; Romans 1:25; 1 John 2:21
Post/Tweet today: Liars are unable to remember their inconsistencies until the pain of lying causes them to change.. #tellthetruth
"It's taken me some time to REALLY believe that when Jesus said 'It's done,' He MEANT it. There is such a default setting in me that wants to earn my way to being loved by God. There is also a default setting in me that thinks I can un-earn my way to being loved by Him. Both, by His grace need to constantly be re-set by the Gospel of Grace. He loves me. Now. Even while the 'old man' remains. He loves me. He loved my wretched heart to death.."
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (NIV 1984)
God, are You enough? It's a question my circumstances bring me to quite often.
Over a lifetime I've concluded not only is God enough, but He has to be enough.
It takes effort on my part to make sure my heart is staying in this truth.
As a young child, I didn't realize my need for God, but I did realize I had a need that was not fulfilled. I was sexually abused when I was seven years old. My dad left our family when I was eleven. Both circumstances left me devastated, and I didn't understand then how God could ever heal my broken heart. So I spent many years trying to heal myself and make myself feel better.
Nothing was enough to meet my needs. Nothing worked.
As I grew older, I moved from being a Christian who simply believed, to becoming a Christian actively seeking and following Jesus. That was when my life began to change.
Because I was having direct conversations with God through prayer and consistently reading His Word, my faith grew. I learned that when the hard knocks came, and they would, I needed to ask one question: "God, are You enough?"
When a friend betrays me, "God, are You enough?"
When I need to forgive what seems unforgivable, "God, are You enough?"
When my child has issues out of my control, "God, are You enough?"
When my marriage is on the brink of destruction, "God, are You enough?"
When my mom is dying of cancer, "God, are You enough?"
When others don't recognize my value, "God, are You enough?"
When I struggle professionally, "God, are You enough?"
When someone I love uses words to hurt me, "God, are You enough?"
When I am in debt and don't know how I'll pay my bills, "God, are You enough?"
When my past haunts me, "God, are You enough?"
When my health declines, "God, are You enough?"
When I am let down and disappointed in my life, "God, are You enough?"
Every time I asked "God, are You enough?" I opened my Bible and began reading, verse by verse. Though my doubts were strong in the beginning, God's Word started to silence the thoughts paralyzing me.
Through promises fulfilled and promises given in Scripture, I discovered the answer was always the same when I asked: "God, are You enough?"
Yes, He is.
Nothing here on earth is guaranteed, except for one thing: Jesus is with us always. And when we understand who He is, our doubts begin to disappear.
The Bible tells us Jesus is sufficient; He's enough. Philippians 4:19 says, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (NIV 1984). I discovered this to be true. Every need, every doubt, every inadequacy, every fear was met, answered and removed by Jesus.
If I lost everything, I'd be okay because no one can take away my Jesus. Whether I live in a mansion on a hill or in a tent on the side of a swamp, I have my Jesus. Whether the world is for me or against me, I have my Jesus. When I am knocked down, I get on my knees and find my Jesus.
When life becomes more than you think you can handle, don't quit. And certainly don't believe the lie God is not enough. Instead, ask yourself, "God, are You enough for me?" Then plant His Word deep in your heart so you'll always have the ready answer, that yes He is. He is enough for me, for you. Ours is the God who "... will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
Dear Lord, help me to realize and remember the secret to being content in all circumstances is You. Help me to be aware of Your presence in my life at all times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Honestly assess if God is enough in your life. Do you find yourself needing or wanting more? Remind yourself that God knows you inside and out. He loves you no matter what and He always will.
Is there a situation in your life you need to turn over to the Lord?
Psalm 33:4, " For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness." (ESV)
Isaiah 46:3b-4, "You whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (NIV)
Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
Actions born out of love speak like a megaphone of compassion to those in need. Words of concern are empty unless they are backed by involved behavior. A need does not necessitate a call, but Christ's love compels us to engage in another’s messy situation. Love does what is necessary to bring hope and healing to those who feel hopeless and hurt. Those moved from within by the Spirit initiate intimacy. They are a solution looking for a problem.
How is your capacity to love? Is it limited to your immediate family or does it overflow into acquaintances, even strangers? Ask the Lord to endow you with extravagant love from heaven for those on earth. Yes, you are a conduit for the enormous love of your Heavenly Father. After you sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer, you can’t wait to wash the feet of those who are soiled by sin. Serve in a way the world cannot explain. Hallelujah, love’s outcomes are outrageous!
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit beforeyou to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedyfor unjust gain. Ezekiel 33:31
I have to check my motivation to make sure I am not giving to someone expecting a favor in return. If my love is conditional then it is tainted by my personal agenda. However, pure love does not discriminate, it is determined to meet needs as they arise. Everyday encounters are seen as divine appointments to engage the Lord’s limitless resources with those in need. My attention to another is not a bother, but an opportunity to be Jesus to one distant from Jesus.
Lastly, look to the Lord Jesus as your example of "love does". Love those who are rejected by religious snobs by going into their homes and having dinner together. Rich or poor may feel isolated from the church because they don’t believe they measure up to right standards of conduct. Love those deeply hurt by sin by looking into their lost hearts with genuine compassion and mercy. Weep for the wounded and do good for those who do bad. Love does!
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heartand a good conscienceand a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to love unrestrained and unconditional for Your glory!
Related Readings: Levitucus 19:18; John 13:34; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:17
Post/Tweet today: We are a conduit for the enormous love of our Heavenly Father. #lovedoes