What’s In a Promise, part 2

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The promises of God have purposes far beyond just getting what we want.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:4

“By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

The Purpose of Promises

Ever wonder why we have promises? Why do we need them? What is their purpose? Why couldn’t we just have all that we need?

When my children were little and really excited about something they could hardly wait for, they would sometimes look at me with their innocent, big eyes and ask, “promise?”. My kids knew that I would not say or promise something if I did not mean it. I wanted them to know that they could count on my being trustworthy in an uncertain world. They just wanted affirmation that it was going to happen.

Our Father is the same – only He has the means to fulfill all His promises where circumstances can throw our promises into a tailspin of delay.

The promises of man are often self-focused and materialistic in the pursuit of comfort. It is not evil to desire some comfort, but it can become a stumbling block if that is our desire above God’s purposes.

Faithfulness. God gives us His promises with a motivation much different than ours. He desires for us to be people of hope, living worthy lives yearning after His promises. When we look toward the fulfillment of His plan, we are not sitting idle, but become a faithful people. If every promise we ever had was already fulfilled, we would have nothing to look forward to and grow complacent.

Eternal Salvation. His goal is the pursuit of our souls with His promises. Drawing us near, He uses His promises for an eternal means. In trusting in His promises we do not waste time investing in temporary promises. Promises of the world are often formed in sin, but the promises of God are redeeming with purposes far beyond just getting what we want. His promises lead to the salvation of our souls.

Relationship. God wants us to trust in Him and to rely on Him, not ourselves. This is relationship. King Hezekiah demonstrates this relationship of trusting in God’s promises so well. The Bible says that there was none like him in his trust of God (2 Kings 18:5). Threatened by the king of Assyria who defeated everyone else, it would seem easy to fear and hard to trust, but Hezekiah staunchly placed his trust in God and the LORD was with Him. Even so, Hezekiah also had his moments of asking God to affirm His promises just like my children did (2 Kings 20). He was sick and going to die. Trusting God’s promise for healing was a real test in the face of such pain. So he asked for a sign. He did not ask with unbelief, but needed reassurance – God wants to give us His reassurance, too, as we wait eagerly on Him and walk in relationship with Him.

Sometimes a deep yearning of our hearts is never realized while other times promises are fulfilled that we never dreamed would happen. In both instances, we learn to trust our God is wise in all of His promises and the timing of the fulfillment of them.

It hurts while we wait and we can wonder what the purpose is of such pain. This is where faith comes in. Looking beyond the promises we hope for, we look to the One Who made them and His character –  then we understand. A God Who would leave the comforts of Heaven and choose suffering would ask us to do the same – set aside our purposes for His.

That God chose to patiently live a life on earth to achieve His purposes does not mean that God is not compassionate for our suffering and longing. He is growing our character and us into being a people after His own heart Who live worthy lives on purpose for His glory.

Lord, thank You for Your promises and for being a faithful God. Help us to be a people characterized by trust that is a witness to this world.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 22 – Our Unchanging God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our unchanging God maintains complete control over everything.

Scriptures of the Day:

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Malachi 3:6

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Change is constant in this fast-paced world. It is easy to feel lost in a sea of constant transformation, but there is peace and confidence when we consider that our unchanging God maintains complete control over it all.

From day to day people’s attitude toward us can change, but God’s never does. Our financial status on earth can fade, but our eternal inheritance is steadfast, immovable. Our faith can waver, but God’s faithfulness never does.

Circumstances might wreak havoc in our lives, but there is hope even in life’s storms, because the God who made the storms is also the One Who calms them. He is always good, always consistently loving us, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.

He has known all of our tomorrows before one ever came to be. This knowledge is comforting in that God’s grace is already there at the end, as well. Nothing that comes our way is allowed in without God’s foreknowledge.

Lord, I am so very grateful that You never change. Thank You for being our very firm foundation where our hope is never disappointed.

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.

Day 20: Uncovering the Goodness of God When Life Hurts

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are often unaware of all the good God is accomplishing while we are surrounded by troubles.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Romans 5:3-4

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Psalm 119:68

“You are good, and do good” 

In a barren wasteland covered in snow, we don’t often think there is life underneath. All seems lifeless, suffocated by the layers of ice and snow. But when the “Son” rises and shines on all of creation, everything underneath the surface is exposed and brought to life.

I don’t know where the errant theology slipped in that everything should be perfect in my life, but it did, almost unnoticed. I felt like I was owed a comfortable life because I was one of the King’s daughters who ordered my life in a way to please God. Yep, if I am honest I really thought that. Subconsciously perhaps, but the expectations of my heart came to the surface.

It feels like a slap in the face when circumstances reach a painful climax that leaves us stunned and disillusioned. It was not what we were expecting.

Suddenly in a landscape we did not anticipate, we are lost. We manage to remember the faith we profess, but our deceitful hearts silently question why and sometimes start to cover over hurt that we don’t dare expose.

In this crippled state, we feel engulfed by our emotions and the world feels blurry. Basic functioning is hard. But in the bittersweet place of brokenness there is a seed of hope that looks to our Creator. We want to believe Him, but we are afraid to have our “hopes” let down.

Confusion sets in as we try to understand what being “good” means when we consider the character of God. We live in a world that lives by the mantra, “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours”. “You be nice to me”, and vice versa. So when things happen that don’t feel “nice”, we cry “unfair”. But let’s consider what might be going on underneath the surface . . .

This God who allowed his people to be enslaved for 400 years also parted the sea and defeated their enemies. The slavery they bemoaned saved their lives from the famine in their own homeland. I am sure there were times where God’s people saw this, but the burdens they bore distracted them and made them forget.

This same God who gave His people over to Babylon also restored them. He destroyed all living creatures on the face of the earth, but kept a remnant alive on the ark of every beast of the earth along with Noah and his crew.

So often we have no idea all that God is doing behind the scenes. He is not surprised by our dilemma. He knew about it already and He wants to carry it for us. And maybe what we despise He actually has a divine purpose for allowing it in and it will ultimately bless us.

I don’t know why Job had to suffer so much. I don’t really get why satan was allowed to ask God to destroy poor Job. That’s because so often we tend to think from our flesh. It does not make sense that any suffering at all could be defined as “good”. Flesh cannot fully understand the ways of a Holy God.

Flipping our perspectives upside down, the Holy Spirit reveals what we really deserve and we accept the plan our Creator has for us. We belong to Him and He will heal all our pain and redeem it for His glory and our good.

The theme of discipline and redemption occurs many times in Scripture, and the discipline is not necessarily a lack of kindness. In His faithfulness, He disciplines those He loves. All hardship is to be endured as discipline by a loving Father. Discipline is a tough word. None of us like it if it is punitive.

We are often unaware of all the good God is accomplishing while we are surrounded by troubles. We wonder why we have to go through it all in the first place.

We do not have to be hypocritical and fake and pronounce when evil occurs in our lives that it is good. Of course it does not feel good. But in the Master’s hands, what was meant for evil will be turned into good. That is just Who He is.

Have we lost someone we cared about? Have we suffered a horrific trial in our lives? In every pain, there is One Who identifies with us and chose to walk that path first. It will not be wasted.

Like Job, who said, “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him”, may God help us to trust God at all times. A goal for a perfect life void of pain is a shallow goal focused on self. But when we consider that we were made for His pleasure, we find our greatest peace in surrendering to His plan even when it includes pain.

We hold firmly to God’s hope because of the character behind His promise. He cannot be unfaithful. It is impossible for Him to do so.

Lord, You are good all the time. Thank You for being our everpresent help in time of trouble.

Mundane Monday: Don’t give up!

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Fanning into flame the gifts of God might just start out as a sparkler, but God can do a lot more with a sparkler that is lit than one that isn’t.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Timothy 1:6-7

“Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

It’s Monday again, and the prospects of all that needs doing around here are booming. But I need to be still before Him, first. Reading this familiar passage this morning is such a perfect start to another Monday.

We are a people who need new beginnings. We make a mess of things and long for a fresh start. Each day we get one, for God’s mercies are new each and every day. But we also get a new beginning to every week, every month, every year, and so on.

What good news this is – we don’t have to be stuck in a rut. I can hear someone saying, “Yeah, but nothing ever changes. It is so hard to go against all the challenges against me”. Yes, but not impossible. Don’t give up.

Sure, there will be hurdles – some seemingly insurmountable, but if there were no effort, the accomplishment of our goals would not be as satisfying. Sometimes even Christians will come against our efforts. The disciples were guilty of this, too, when they questioned the motives of other believers who were also baptizing new believers. May God help us to all spur one another on just like Paul did to Timothy. We are all on the same team – some leaders, some followers – all important – all needed.

Sometimes we just need a reminder – of what God has done in us, what He has placed in us. But most importantly, we need to recall Who will complete the work He began in us. This supernatural component to our calling takes the pressure off of us to think that we have to produce the results. Don’t give up.

Faithfully stewarding our talents means we need to keep pressing toward our goals even when it seems we are not making progress. In Christ, no effort is wasted, even if the results aren’t what we had hoped for … don’t give up.

Timothy needed some encouragement and reminding, too. It might have been someone calling out a gifting in us, or it might have been a gentle whisper from God, placing a vision on our hearts. Either way, we must be faithful to the calling on our lives, making the most of every opportunity – for we never know which investment will produce the best results for God’s kingdom. Don’t give up.

Paul did not just encourage Timothy to work at the gift of God placed within Him – He also told him not to fear. Fear of failure, fear of man – so many fears that can limit and plague us, but God. It is in trusting God with the results of all our labor in the LORD that we are free to work at our gifts, knowing He is pleased and will do with our offering what He wills.

Don’t give up. Fanning into flame the gifts of God might just start out as a sparkler, but God can do a lot more with a sparkler that is lit than one that isn’t.

Lord, thank You for the talents you have given, that we might serve You and make You known. Help us to not grow weary in well doing. Be glorified in us, LORD!

 

Mundane Monday: Friend in High Places

In High Places

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Walking with God does not mean we will not suffer, but it does mean He has a purpose in that suffering and will cause us to ultimately overcome.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 20:10-12

10 “I hear many whispering words of intrigue against me. Those who would cause me terror are everywhere! They are saying, “Come on, let’s publicly denounce him!” All my so-called friends are just watching for something that would lead to my downfall. They say, “Perhaps he can be enticed into slipping up, so we can prevail over him and get our revenge on him. 11 But the LORD is with me to help me like an awe-inspiring warrior. Therefore those who persecute me will fail and will not prevail over me. They will be thoroughly disgraced because they did not succeed. Their disgrace will never be forgotten. 12 O LORD who rules over all, you test and prove the righteous. You see into people’s hearts and minds. Pay them back for what they have done because I trust you to vindicate my cause.” 

Jeremiah is such an encouragement to me. That might seem like an ironic statement. When someone was known as a “weeping prophet” and no one listened to His prophesies, it would seem his life was a failure. But God.

Jeremiah was faithful to what God called him to, relentless in adhering to the calling of God on his life, and pressed in when affliction besieged him. Jeremiah loved the people so much that he initially stayed behind in Judah instead of going into Exile where God promised blessing. Even though it meant he would suffer with them, Jeremiah had to be with His people. His reward? Persecution.

When He obeyed God and said a tough word, he was thrust in a cistern of mud to die. But God. When he was thrust in a dungeon, God saw. And when he was scourged because he spoke the truth, God had not forgotten him. Time and time again he was persecuted, but God. 

Form the life of Jeremiah we see that walking with God does not mean that we will not suffer, but it does mean He has a purpose in that suffering and will cause us to ultimately overcome.

Man thinks he has power. He thinks he can control people and positions, but ultimately God is the only One in full control. It might look like we are forgotten or like being righteous or following God leads us to suffering. But when the chips are down and it appears that defeat is looming over our lives, we can be like Jeremiah and look to God as our hero. Remembering God’s promises means we might lose some battles, but we will have the ultimate victory.

Lord, thank You that we can count on You at all times. Help us to trust in You and to be faithful even when our ministry of the Gospel is not well received.

 

Mundane Monday: The Struggle is Real

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 6:12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”


Spoken often in jest, we confess with our mouths about the struggle of living in a chaotic world, yet we are often unaware of the real struggle lying underneath. The Prince of the air is busy – constantly striving to steal, kill and destroy. Ignorance is not our friend, no, we perish for our lack of understanding.

Blaming a devil behind every evil is not the answer, but seeing the influence this evil is waging on us and those around us is paramount. This influence might not be as obvious as acts that we see which can be clearly understood. The power of the enemy can be borne out in our thoughts, attitude and behavior.

When we perceive that someone does not like us or we feel negatively toward another person ourselves, these pessimistic thoughts have but one source – the pit of hell. Judgment, shunning, gossip, deceit, superiority, self righteousness, unkind remarks – all have a common root of flesh affected by enveloping darkness. We who are in Christ are given a great gift of recognizing this evil and turning away from it.

Filtering our thoughts and actions through the Bible and prayer instructs us on how to live and how to discern things outside and inside of ourselves. True freedom comes from recognizing that our flesh does not desire conviction but then yielding that flesh to Jesus, anyway.

While we will never arrive on this earth, we can know that Jesus knew we would struggle and He loved us so much that He made a way out. We do not have to be imprisoned by the negative influence all around us, but can cry out to God for understanding and choose to obey Him, instead.

Even though the struggle is indeed real, whether or not we perceive it, we are not without hope. Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Jesus, thank You for opening our eyes to see sin in our own lives. When we see demonic influence in other people’s lives, help us to pray for them and not judge them. Help us to examine ourselves for worldly influence that we might be a faithful witness for You – testifying and living for Your glory alone!

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass – Seeing Deep Ministries – http://www.seeingdeep.com

 

Author | Singer/Songwriter | Worship Leader

Thoughtful Thursday: The Pity-less Party

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are more blessed than we deserve.

Scriptures:

Job 9:1-4 (ESV)

“Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?  If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.  He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?”

Proverbs 19:3 (NIV)

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”

Life is an amazing gift from God. Yet many people never really live the abundant life that Christ meant for us to have.  What keeps us from a full life?  Ourselves.

Life can be exhilarating and a bummer sometimes, if we are honest.  The roller coaster ride of flat tires at inconvenient times, an award for a job well done, terminal illnesses, healing, reckless accidents, miraculous protection, unemployment, a new job, unfaithfulness, loyalty, rebelliousness, obedience . . . and the list goes on and on . . . can be no fun at all for us less adventurous types.

To think that life would be great if we never experienced pain is flawed, however; for the pain is a vivid reminder of how blessed we were to have had moments without suffering in the first place.  When we made a mess of things all by ourselves, the consequences for our sin point us to our need for our Savior, which leads ultimately to that perfect, abundant, eternal life.

So how do we wreck abundant life in Christ if we did not cause our own demise?  Our response.  How we accept, deny, respond in anger or blame others or God – sets the course for whether or not we will walk in the joy that Christ has for those Who are His.

I get it, believe me, I do.  When other people’s sins cause immense pain and horrible consequences.  I have been there, done that, and still feel the effects.  There have been moments of horror, anguish, PTSD, shock, disbelief in my life – but at the end of the day the LORD would bring me to a singular truth that I could not argue with – I am doing better than I deserve.

Every time I try to argue with myself about that truth, when I somehow feel I have been unjustly treated (and it might be the case), I finally relent and realize it is folly to even attempt to play the self pity card when the truly Perfect One didn’t.  He did not deserve to suffer for my sin or anyone else’s, but He WANTED to.  This was not because he enjoyed suffering – no, He cried tears of blood in anxiety over His choice, but He chose it nonetheless, because comfort was not His God and the salvation of our souls was His mission which He did not falter from.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are tremendous burdens that seem completely unbearable, that make us lean into God hard.  When we see others hurting, we have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of God – not just to dismiss their suffering.  But in that comfort, it is in vain if we do not point them to the Healer Who is able to help us handle every let down.  But perhaps our expectations, when placed in reality, help us to take notice and be grateful when things go well.  Why is it that I did not get sick?  Why is it that I can see this amazing gift from God at all?  What an amazing grace is ours.  Such understanding this is that we can turn away from our behaviors that hurt the heart of God and thank Him instead.

Lord, forgive us when we get mad or disappointed when things don’t go our way.  Your ways really are the best.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.

Mundane Monday: Living Between a Vision and Its Fulfillment

Waiting for the Vision

Genesis 12:1-2

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.'”

The chasm between the calling God has placed on our lives and the ultimate fulfilling of that vision can be rife with challenges and doubts.  To our limited understanding, it would seem that the all-powerful God would call us, then fulfill what He had spoken without a lot of delay or consequences.

But in His omniscient wisdom,

the process is often more important

than the receiving of the promise itself.

God is surely capable to crush everything that stands in the way of accomplishing what He has called us to, but in this fallen world the enemy is busy trying to undo what God has already finished.  We are stuck in this space called time that God is already outside of, fully knowing how everything will turn out.  Mind blowing.

Often I question whether God has really given me a vision or if it is myself trying to achieve a calling on my own.  I get confused and feel I cannot pray for success because I do not want it to be for my own glory.  It is then that I realize that a vision that is of God and for God will be tested and that testing process will refine the character needed to accomplish the task placed on my heart.

I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God.  I just have to yield to Him in the process and continue to press on in the work He has called me to.  Back to Abram.

God told him to go – he went.  It does not say that he labored over it.  He just obeyed.  He then promised incredible blessings, which, although Abram would be blessed, the goal was not just for Abram – it was for all people and ultimately “to exemplify divine blessing”.  Abram’s response?  To worship – even though He had not yet received the blessing.

When people look in our lives and see God’s blessings, it is not so we will be comfortable, but so people can see what being in a relationship with God is like.  When we are in between a promise and a blessing and face trials of all kinds, our worship in the midst can inspire many to do the same.

Abram was not spared hardship – he faced famine right after He worshiped God for His promise.  How we respond during the famine will often determine how long we stay there.  When Abram doubted God’s ability to protect he and his wife, God was faithful and protected them, anyway.  The world will see us fail, but the righteous man will rise again and again and continue to walk until God’s purposes are fulfilled in him.

When God places a vision in our hearts, we do not know how we will get there and many obstacles will stand in our way.  Abram faced famine, quarelling, war, family problems – but through it all he worshiped the God of the promise.  In the end, Abram became Abraham; his name and his life changed forever because of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise.

In His faithfulness, God will remind us of His calling and His promises.  He did not promise us a pain-free life, but He did promise to carry us through the challenges we face and that all of it has meaning for those Who would trust in Him.  In the process, on the other side of our calling – our nature is changed, too, for we can never be the same when we encounter the living God.

Lord, help us to trust You when the road seems long and burdensome.  You are faithful and You will complete the work You have begun in us.  Praise Your Name!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 17 – Our Provider

God provides

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Philippians 4:19

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Genesis 22:13-14

“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”

God knows what we need when we need it – though sometimes our patience might be tested in the process.

When we accepted His gift of salvation, He gave us everything we needed right then and there, but we do not use every gift He gives us in that moment.  It is in the sanctification process we go through which causes us to access His grace when we need it.

Sometimes in the fire of life, we tend to forget that nothing happens to us apart from His will.  If He brings us to it, He will bring us through it.  But still we are tempted to stare at the waves instead of at the Creator of the waves.

Like the Israelites, we wonder if God will provide the Manna again that we need the next day.  This dependence on God tries our soul as we prefer to provide for ourselves, as if that seems more certain.

Everything that surrounds us belongs to Him – and He freely gives to us sovereignly what we need, not necessarily what we want.  This is where our trust in our relationship with God grows, that He knows what is best.

We have no earthly idea what might be around the next bend in this life, but God knows it all completely and knows what we will need, as well.  He is our Faithful Provider, lovingly giving and denying when He deems one course is better than the other.

Lord, thank You for being our faithful provider.  All that we have is Yours. Help us to steward the gifts of grace, nourishment and shelter that You lovingly bestow upon us and to seek ways to glorify You in providing for other’s needs, as well.