The Naked Truth

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

If we play it safe, no one gets saved. If He played it safe, we would not have been saved.

Scripture of the Day:

John 7:3

“So Jesus’ brothers advised him, “Leave here and go to Judea so your disciples may see your miracles that you are performing. 4 For no one who seeks to make a reputation for himself does anything in secret. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”

Provocative title, I know. So was the lavish demonstration of love shown by our God who came. Naked. To a people who would reject Him. Truth incarnate, the Word became flesh.

Why would He choose to reveal Himself in such a vulnerable way? He left Heaven and crossed every barrier to show Himself in such a raw, transparent way.

It’s tough to be transparent, much less to offer ourselves for others to potentially reject. When He was on the cusp of His ministry, He had to choose again to show Himself to the world. The world. Harsh, judgmental, sinful – why show Himself to an ungrateful people? To strangers?

The LORD asked me this question as I pondered how open I am supposed to be to the world – do I friend complete strangers on social media? What about enemies? Jesus did. He knew they were trying to kill Him and knew they spoke against Him. Still He went.

He gave Himself away, radically, dangerously – on a cross so that His people would be saved. How do we, too, radically demonstrate such a zeal for the lost to know this salvation?

The world does not want us to just tell them about Jesus. It wants – it needs – real people who share their real weaknesses of their flesh, and who demonstrate a radical love for their God and His people. But sometimes the rhythm of life itself or our fears keep us from the mission Christ started and asks us to finish.

We tend to create an environment of safety, impenetrable by those who would harm us. Christ chases such people. Safety is one of those things we need to be cognizant of in this crazy, sin-sick world, but safety can be an excuse that keeps us from the hurting. Sure, we need to walk in wisdom, but with so many people needing hope, do we cherish our comfort zone more than their souls? If we play it safe, no one gets saved. If He played it safe, we would not have been saved.

The Ruling Baby King

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, God conquered our hearts and saved us.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 9: 6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Don’t be fooled – this King baby will reign.  Despite the enemy’s attempts to destroy Him, God’s plan stood firm.  Despite a supposed defeat by ultimately being crucified, He rose from the dead and is coming again, only this time to reign.  For spectators of a movie, this story is difficult to watch – the injustice of the wicked seemingly destroying the Holy One and His plan; the Almighty God coming in perceived weakness.

The Jewish people were looking for their King to come and rule – now – not in the future. But God’s ways are not our ways. In His wisdom, God came as a babe so we could understand His salvation more than a God far away.  Instead of conquering us and ruling over us ruthlessly, He conquered our hearts and saved us.  He is our LORD, our Wonderful Counselor, to Whom we can come daily and moment by moment.  His rule is righteous and just.  His rule trumps every other ruler or government in this world.

In those moments when the wise men, shepherds and onlookers gazed upon God as a babe, how filled with wonder they must have been.  How humbled to see their Creator coming in such a form.  The most hardened heart was surely softened by such a gift.  May we have this same awe in reflecting on our Jesus, coming as a babe to rule our hearts.

Lord, You are all-wise, all-knowing, Almighty God!  Holy and humble, perfect One!  I worship You and thank You for ruling in my heart and opening my eyes to see.

The Gift of Acceptance from the Unbiased Baby Jesus

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:
We could never meet someone’s definition well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but we don’t have to.
Scripture of the Day:

1 My brothers and sistersdo not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the lawas violators.  

John 7:41

Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?
Deep in our heart of hearts we long for acceptance, to know we are cherished. The familiar feeling of rejection stings as we clamor to meet the constantly shifting standards in our relevant world. Or not. Those two words bring peace to my soul as I know I could never meet anyone’s standards well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but I don’t have to.
The only One who could set the standard for acceptance in all of life 
set it, fulfilled it and offered us acceptance that never ends.

With the current climate astir with racial accusations, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ entrance to this world filled my mind.  Christ confused those Who thought He would come to just a certain race in just a certain way.  Jesus is not a snob. No, He came as a poor infant Jew to Galilee and Nazareth and confounded the supposed wisdom of this world.  He gave value and spoke with women, even letting them discover His resurrection first.  He demonstrated compassion to those of a different race and treated all as equals.

So many prejudices exist and have since the world began.  Gender, age, financial status, education, color of skin, culture, anything that can define one as unique can also be fodder for bias.  Not so with God.  He loves how each one of us is different, and it is beautiful in His eyes.  Christ came to abolish our sickening racism, prejudice, and preferences to show us what it means to truly love unconditionally.  His unbiased acceptance is absolutely amazing when we consider He had every right to look down on us.

Ethnic purity is not a new term.  The Samaritans were persecuted for not being a pure race, yet Jesus viewed them no differently than any other race or people.  It is, in fact, laughable and ridiculous that we should view any race as superior to another when we all consider that we came from Adam.

Why are we still so ignorant?  We should be able to learn from the atrocities that history has to offer, but instead we reinvent the insipid racism in a new fashion and repeat the same sins as our predecessors.  Perhaps it is insecurity – each person, each family, each race wants to be the best?  In reality, we are all chief of sinners, in need of a desperate Savior. Or it could be jealousy.  God did choose the Jewish people as His own, but then He shared this salvation with all.

If we are honest, we will admit we have all had moments of prejudice in some fashion; pride in which we thought we were better than another.  There is still hope.  We can turn the tide where we live.  Jesus came to set us free from discrimination, too.  May we look to the infant Savior this Christmas and how He grew in wisdom, always demonstrating loving kindness to all.  The irony is that Christ was sometimes the hardest on the Pharisees – may we not think too highly of ourselves, our denomination, our color, our culture, or anything else that is a part of who we are – and may we simply accept others as we were accepted.

LORD, thank You for accepting all Who would call on Your Name for Salvation.  Help us, God, to stop labeling and judging one another and to love as You did.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 30 – Faith

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.”

In concluding 30 days of gratitude, I realize there is vastly too much to be grateful for that could never be fully expressed. But today I am grateful for the gift of faith. How is it that I came to believe? That God would have mercy on me? It was God alone Who opened my eyes to see and understand His amazing salvation and God alone Who overcame my unbelief. And I am grateful beyond words.

This faith is a conviction deep within our souls despite not seeing fully what we hope for. Though it is tested, the confirmation in our souls is not swayed by the storms of this life. The storms of this life only serve to strengthen our faith as it is built on Christ.

When God first opened my eyes to understand His salvation, people around me said it was a crutch. I was mocked and persecuted and it only made me believe all the more. This lost world mocks faith yet has a faith, as well – in the creation rather than in the Creator.

This false faith formed in manmade, dead religion, is based on fleshly pursuits and good works that a fallen people could never fully achieve. The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness by a God Who knew we could never be good enough to please a Holy God.

Each day God’s word is a love letter to His people, inviting them to go deeper with Him. Come be a “fool” alongside me and find the greatest joy of your life. Michael Card says it well in “God’s Own Fool” – Christ humbled Himself to reach His people with the message of the cross – foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Lord, thank You for the gift of faith and enabling us to know You – Our God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 24 – Family & Friends

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

No sorrow in a family is so great that God cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 2:10

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Psalm 68:5

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

What a good God Who would provide family. From the beginning He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so He provided a wife for Adam. The fruit of the union of man and wife is the greatest privilege man is given – to raise children for the LORD.

In His wise design, He provided people to surround us with love and counsel as we walk through the few days we are given in this life. To be loved by my husband has brought immense healing to my heart that seemed irreparably broken. Likewise, it has been the greatest joy to be able to love my children unconditionally and to show them the truth God has revealed to me. Watching them grow up and develop their own relationship with God brings this mom joy inexpressible.

But sometimes in the midst of God’s perfect plan, the institution of the family is attacked. Individual sin, death of loved ones or political agendas threaten to undo what God put in place for our joy and protection.

Families are an anchor for our souls as we travel through this world. They can be a source of the greatest acceptance and comfort or the source of the greatest agony and suffering. What God can do to a family yielded to Him is nothing short of miraculous. While no family is perfect, God’s plan will not be thwarted and ultimately we have a family that will last forever.

In a day and age where broken families are more the norm than families who have not experienced brokenness, there is a family that is never broken – the family of God. If you are alone this holiday, please know that you are not ever alone. Come and join the family. You are loved and accepted – just receive the free gift of a forever family that God has given to you. Join a Bible-believing church and watch how God makes strangers into brothers and sisters making up the body of Christ – a family of friends that reflects His glory.

Lord, I am so very grateful for your redemption and for the precious family that You have given me – in the flesh and in the Spirit. No sorrow in a family is so great that you cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place. I love, You, Lord. Thank You for being the Abba Father to all. I pray many more will come to accept Your invitation and know the peace of God we can have on this earth, no matter what family we come from.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 17 – Relationship

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Sometimes we can become hardened in a world of busyness that threatens to undo the essential need at the core of our humanity. Relationship. We were made to know and be known. Our value does not come from our accomplishments (which are really God’s) or from our function in this life. It comes from Being. In. Relationship. With. God. And. Others.

Yes, I know that last sentence is incorrect. But I, too, wanted to pause and soak those words in. I get busier than I should be and need the same reminder to be still before my God and to make time for people in my life.

Abiding is not an easy thing. The natural thing is to drift away from God and others and to allow sin to separate us.

We were not made to be isolated, not made to be an island. We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life. All too often relationships can be difficult as pride and self are on the throne more than people or honoring God in those relationships.

Christ exemplified perfect relationship with God the Father. He and the Father are one. He told us to be the same.

So how do we relate to a Holy God when we are unholy? By the mercy of God alone. How do we relate to people when we are different from one another? By God’s grace.

God has given us access to Himself though we did not deserve it. So often this access is not utilized and we can take this amazing reality for granted. God wants us to be in a relationship of dependence upon Him, where our needs are met by Him and we can enjoy His presence. He wants us to seek His will and understanding, constantly reading His love letter to us – His Word – and praying to Him. This is where we find our greatest peace, when we are living as God intended.

Religion is the complete opposite of this privilege of relationship we have with God in Christianity. Religion is man-made, dead, focusing on a performance mentality of doing good works. Sadly, for the one pursuing religion, they will never arrive at their goal or achieve real relationship.

In our relationship with God, it has all been done. This truth causes us to worship the One Who set us free so we could know Him. It also causes us to realize that we need to relate to one another in a way that God intended.

Do we see the people in our lives as precious gifts from God? Even the thorny relationships that bring us to our knees? How can we relate to one another in a humble, others-centered way? It might mean dying to our own agenda, building others up instead of ourselves, and pausing long enough to think, serve and pray for others.

In the end, relationships with people cause us to go deeper in our relationship with God. When relationships of this world fall short of our expectations, our God helps us to pick up the pieces and to be like Christ, Who laid down His life for others.

When Christ is at the center of our human relationships, it is a beautiful witness to the world of what it means to know God and one another and still be accepted and accepting.

Lord, thank You for drawing us near to You that we could know You – our God and Creator. Help us to never forsake this amazing privilege and to love others as You have loved us.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 16 – Protection

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Threats loom around every corner, but so does the grace and protection of our living God.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Thessalonians 3:2-3

“And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

“Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!”

We live in uncertain times, but perhaps every day in this world has been uncertain in the minds of men. Threats loom around every corner, but so does the grace and protection of our living God.

Nothing is hidden from God’s view, but man does not know what the future holds. This truth keeps us humbly in dependence upon our God for His protection and guidance. Trapped in this capsule of time and surrounded by unredeemed flesh can be a scary thing if it were not for God’s promises and purposes, which are never thwarted.

I delight in how good our God is. Perfect in all His ways, nothing escaping His notice, we who are in Christ truly have nothing to fear. This does not mean that sorrows and hardships might not visit us, but it does mean that the LORD Who is over all things knew it ahead of time and supplies the grace, strength and mercy needed in each waking moment.

God protects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. He surrounds us with His presence and gives us His favor. If. If we are in Him. If we are obedient and trusting in Him. His lavish protection guarding our minds, souls, our entire being – is one of the greatest benefits of being a child of God.

When I look back over the blessings and chaos in my past, I see the fingerprints of my God. Even in the most painful moments where I wondered where God’s protection was, I now see how very much He was present and guarding my heart and life. The times when I despaired because of the attack of men I now see as wasted time that I could have surrendered to God and trusted in His protection.

It has been said that we have no idea how very much God protects us on a daily basis. Near disasters avoided because of God’s protection or God orchestrating circumstances for His glory and our good – perhaps His overarching protection is undetected, but nonetheless every moment is held in God’s hands.

Lord, thank You for your constant protection and sovereignty in all of life. Our hope for safety is in vain if it is not surrendered to Your perfect will. Help us to fully trust You, for You are able and Almighty God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 14 – The Word of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

Scripture of the Day:

Matthew 4:4

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is precious to me and I am beyond grateful for the gift of Scripture, but it has not always been that way. Even as a Christian there were times in my walk where my Bible sat and gathered dust. It felt like a duty, void of relationship. Thank God that He has shown me the living treasure that His word is!

I can hardly read Scripture without being overwhelmed with the presence of God as truth washes over me. It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

This daily habit of reading God’s Word will have to be guarded and fought for tenaciously, as our flesh does not want it. When we apply God’s Word to our lives, our flesh dies. When the church lives according to God’s word, quarrels and fleshly pursuits go by the wayside.

His Word is a lamp to our feet, His precepts at the core of our salvation. He communicates His love and grace, commands and purposes to us through His Word. He gives wisdom to the simple, understanding to those who were once far off. His Word is alive and able to humble us with its piercing, loving truth. Amazingly, time and again the Holy Spirit applies our daily reading into the context of our daily lives.

Although the Bible is such an amazing gift from God, many neglect it and pursue religion instead of the relationship garnered through the study of Scripture. For the God of this world to communicate through pages carefully preserved is a miracle.

Don’t let fleshly excuses keep you from God’s Word – it is your very life. Don’t let the enemy keep you from it, as well. His Word is our daily bread – we get daily inspiration and empowerment to live for God when we bask in His Word. Who knows what God can accomplish through a people yielded to Him and abiding in His Word?

If reading the Bible is intimidating, try a reading plan. I choose from this website every year. In this relativistic world, it is so encouraging to know that God has not left us without instruction. His Word is absolute truth. This article discusses the authenticity of Scripture and how the amazing sovereignty of God worked to preserve His Word.

Oh God! I cannot thank You enough for Your precious Word! Open the eyes of all who might read this blog to see their need of consistent time in Scripture. Draw us nearer to You and may we rightly apply Your Word in our lives.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 13 – The Holy Spirit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 2:38-39 

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.'”

John 14:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

“And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)–when you believed in Christ–you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Job 32:8

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” 

Today I am grateful for the Holy Spirit and His activity in the life of all believers. In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

We are not merely one dimensional; not just fleshly beings. We were made for something so much more. We who are in Christ, who have been forgiven every single transgression, were also given the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us to live this life for God’s glory.

The Holy Spirit comforts and counsels us in our relationship with God, guides us and emboldens us to do the work of the LORD, reveals truth and convicts us of sin, fills us and produces beautiful fruit and character within us, just to name a few of the activities of the Holy Spirit within believers.

As we consider the many various denominations within the body of Christ today, God is LORD over them all and the Holy Spirit is evident in them all. He fills every person who has believed on Jesus Christ and accepted the gift of salvation. As we ache for the LORD’s return, we have not been left alone.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit and continual communion we have in Your presence because of Your amazing grace and atonement for our sins.

This article by author Frank Viola lists 50 things the Holy Spirit Does in the life of every believer.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 7: God’s Law

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The One Who made the laws of God is the only One Who can keep them.

Scriptures of the Day:

Romans 3:20

“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 5:20

“Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more.”

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

I am a rule follower by nature and cannot comprehend why someone would willingly choose to go against rules that are in place. That said, um, I have been known to speed on occasion and break diets faster than they were begun.

Despite all of our best intentions, we all break the law, most importantly the perfect laws of God. We are flesh and in desperate need of grace. God’s law is, in fact, grace. For in the moment that we became aware of His laws, we became aware of our ability to keep even one of them. How is this grace? Why make laws that we cannot fully keep?

Every single precept and command He has given are given for our good. Sin destroys us, but abiding by God’s laws preserves us. He could have left us in our sin, ignorant of our transgressions, but He loved us too much for that. We were made for SomeOne more than just living for our flesh and this world.

The One Who made the laws of God is the only One Who can keep them. This loving God showed us His Holy standard then bore all of our consequences for breaking His righteous decrees. What a gracious God Who would not leave us without a standard, but would help us meet that standard, too.

Oh, God! Thank You for Your perfect law and for fulfilling it on our behalf! Thank You for a righteous standard for us to live by.