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.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 20 – Unconditional love

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

As we are rooted and established in God’s love, we cannot help but offer the same gracious love that we have been given.

Scriptures of the Day:

Deuteronomy 7:7

“The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.”

Romans 8:35

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ephesians 3:17-19

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the LORD’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The greatest and first commandment from God is that we would love the LORD our God with all our heart. The word “love” in this commandment from God is agapaō, which is the verb form of agapē. Agapē is the word the Bible uses to describe God’s love for us.

This love of God is not earthly, nor is it dependent upon reciprocation. It is not an emotion that ebbs and flows, but an act of God choosing to set His love on the object of His affection and devotion – His creation.

More than God setting His love on us, despite our lack of gratitude and righteousness, God promises that we can never be separated from this agapē love. Never. Separated. Think about that. As humans, we easily get offended and shun one another because our pride is hurt. That is not the agapē love that God gives and places on us and that He also calls us to demonstrate. We who are loved so greatly are called to love God and others in the same way.

We cannot say we are complying with the first commandment if we refuse to do the second. Unconditionally loving those around us who sometimes seem unlovely is hard for our flesh, but as we are rooted and established in God’s love, we cannot help but offer the same gracious love that we have been given.

Oh God, thank You so much for loving us and demonstrating what agapē love looks like. Help us to love as we have been loved and to never forget what we were when You chose to set Your love on us.

 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 9 – Salvation/Forgiveness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love for us all.

Scripture of the Day:

James 1:18

“By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

1 Peter 1:23

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

2 Timothy 1:9

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Created in the image of God, we lost our way and worshiped something less worthy – the creation itself. How it must have hurt the heart of our Creator that we would not see how much He loves us and choose to live as objects of wrath rather than as His children.

But God.

Stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love again, wooing us back to Himself. I am forever grateful that God would cover our sins with His own blood and restore us into a relationship with the One Who made us.

This lavish love and redemption from God fills us with 

Joy  –  affects our

Eternity    –  Leads to our

Salvation  –   Transforms the sin

Underneath – and makes us

Sons and daughters of the King of kings!

When we consider so great a salvation that He has given to us, we have to proclaim that He is Worthy of worship! My new song, “You are Worthy” depicts our need to worship one Who is greater than ourselves and the peace we find in so doing.

Lord, thank You for forgiving our sin and the guilt of our sin, setting us free to live for You! You are Worthy of worship!

Day 10: Facing Judgement

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope was never meant to come from man, for we were made for another world where hope never fades or disappoints.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 25:3

“No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.”

Distractions from our healing come from familiar places. Wanting to be accepted and feeling ashamed of our troubles only causes further devastation when wagging tongues share our hurt far and wide. Slander and libel only make matters worse. Multiply the devastation many times over for someone who naturally is a people pleaser. What is God’s purpose in this? God’s people know what it is like to be mischaracterized or misjudged.

Proverbs 19:22 says what a person desires is unfailing love, but so often a critical spirit is more plentiful. Just to be accepted for who we are – in all our quirks and individuality – is a deep desire God placed within us.

The longing to be “ok” is aggravated by an inconsistent world where normal doesn’t truly exist. While man still feels the need to compare and judge, God is calling out to our souls with a message of unconditional love and acceptance.

Whether we have suffered a traumatic event or not, our hope takes some bruises along the road of life. Probably one of the most painful aspects of recovering our hope is the people around us who keep us in a place of hopelessness by their judgment. We cannot stand up to judgment when it is not based in reality. The only way to overcome self-judgment and the judgment of others is to lay it down.

How? The Bible says an underserved curse falls right off our shoulder and that we ought not to let another man judge us (Colossians 2:16). The choice is ours. Sometimes we continue to pick it back up, punishing ourselves. If we are not careful, this judgement forms a deep shame within us that brings deep discouragement that seems irreparable.

When my children and I were thrust into our new reality, the one place where we should have felt safe – church – became a painful place. We felt less than, isolated and categorized in a group of “those” people. Sometimes people mean well, but don’t see that they are actually worsening the situation.

When people tread in the place of thinking they know another person’s heart they stand dangerously in a position of self-righteous pride. They cannot walk in another person’s shoes and certainly cannot be their Holy Spirit.

In those times when we feel misunderstood, our hope for acceptance can be laid on the altar and we can pick up Christ’s view of us, instead. Laying down the idol of the opinion of man, we start to see our hope was in the wrong place to begin with.

Reinvented hope does not need what it used to – it’s foundation is in a completely different place and it’s goal has shifted to being all for God’s glory.

Haughty stares and people gossiping behind our back can still bum us out, but now we know where our real hope comes from. Hope was never meant to come from man, for we were made for another world where hope never fades or disappoints.

Lord, thank You for covering our shame and exposing us to Your abiding hope, instead.

Mundane Monday: Prodigal Revisited

Photo Credits www.sharefaith.com

Photo Credits
http://www.sharefaith.com

Psalm 107:1, 8, 17, 28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His loyal love endures.  8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for His people.  17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins.  28  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles.”

In light of a fantastic sermon on the prodigal son at our church yesterday, called, “God is Not Co-Dependent”, I wanted to reblog a post I wrote on October 8, 2014, called, “The Prodigal’s Father”.  May God turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents. (Malachi 4:6).


The image of the prodigal son’s father anticipating his son’s return with open arms is such a picture of God’s heart toward His children. But what is often missed is that the rebellious child must return.  Parents can long for their children to return, but if the child is still rebellious, then it would not be a complete picture of sweet repentance and restoration.  Instead, it would become a dysfunctional relationship of enablement and abuse.

God is loyally loving His children when he permits consequences for their rebellious actions, but the child does not often recognize such love.  Discipline is viewed as unloving, when it is actually a kindness to not allow sin to go unchecked. Blame is cast on the parent who was unreasonable to expect basic obedience, whether doing chores, the expectation of telling the truth or not permitting the child to stay out all night.  But when the child comes to his senses, as in the case of the prodigal son, it is a wonderful picture of repentance and the story of the Gospel – how God is willing to forgive all wayward children.  Forgiveness hinges on that moment of confessing sins, though, and cannot be dished out just because the prodigal believes he or she deserves it.

Many in the next generation have revolted against authority and are embittered at the suggestion that they should be accountable to anyone.  It is not just this generation that has bred prodigals, though – we are all prodigals in our own right.  Forgiveness and acceptance are much more pleasurable than living in sin, so what hinders the prodigal from returning? Deception, pride and loving our victim status.  Bearing the outward attitude of rejection, despite leaving being our choice, we receive attention and pity.  The original deception becomes truth if we feed on the praises of the enablers surrounding and flattering us.  The only way out?  Cry out to God for understanding and admit our wrongdoings.  Don’t seek sympathy for something we deserve. Take responsibility for our actions – only then can the mind of Christ illuminate and reveal our true condition. Lastly, if we could for a moment contemplate how our actions have hurt our loving father, instead of how our actions have hurt ourselves, we would begin to walk in freedom.

Let us give thanks that God shows us our rebellious ways and punishes us – though He does not give us what our sins deserve.  Loyal love is a love that keeps the unconditional love “on”, but does not permit an abuse of that love.  For a child to accuse a parent because of consequences they must bear due to their own behavior is folly.  God does not fall for it, either – but He does offer the sweetest peace, joy and love for those who have truly repented and not made excuses for their sin.

Lord, thank you for Your loyal love, which endures forever!  You did not leave us in our sins, but made a way out, praise Your Name!  Help all of us prodigals to wake up and see we are blessed beyond measure because of Your faithful love!

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Singer | Speaker | Worship Leader

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Truthful Tuesday: Relying on our Reliable God

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Inspirational thought of the day:

Whether or not God give us what we want, His character and faithful promises testify to His reliability at all times.  

Scriptures of the day:

Isaiah 45:19

I have not spoken in secret, in some hidden place. I did not tell Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain!’ I am the LORD, the one who speaks honestly, who makes reliable announcements.

Isaiah 43:12

I have revealed and saved and proclaimed– I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.

The well-known game of “Trust” in which you close your eyes and blindly trust someone to catch you has been used many times as an illustration or object lesson to demonstrate surrender in a tangible way.

The thing is, people let us down and sometimes we trust only to have people break that trust. As time goes on, we learn to diligently guard our heart but can also begin to get a hard heart that does not let fallible man in.

Jesus did not entrust himself to man, yet He made Himself vulnerable to sinful man and died for him.  He chose the route of humility and unconditional love for a stubborn people who could never return such love on their own.

God has made it obvious that He keeps His word.  He went to extravagant measures to tell His people ahead of time what He was going to do. Every prophesy foretold – fulfilled. Radical deliverance from the parting of the sea to fire from the sky.  Yet His people still doubted.

As a parent, it would hurt deeply if my children did not trust me or my heart toward them. My desire is only for their good and blessing.  What must it do to the heart of God that the people He lavishly chose and called into relationship with himself do not trust Him, despite Him giving His Word and Holy Spirit?

When people promise us something they never fulfill, we have a choice to love and forgive like God did for us.  We fail God over and over again.  Yet He remains faithful.  His example and His Holy Spirit can enable us to be reliable to those around us and help us to rely on Him, as well.

Lord, help us to rely on You at all times instead of trying to find solutions to life’s problems on our own.  

Truthful Tuesday: Sacrificial Worship

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Real worship is not consumerism, but being consumed by God’s greatness.

Scripture:

Genesis 22:7

“Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?””

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

As a worship leader, I am constantly seeking ways to provoke myself to sincere, passionate worship.  This morning I was reading “Face Down” by Matt Redman and read his perspective on the discussion between Abraham and Isaac when they went to the region of Moria to sacrifice to God.  This same place is said to have been the place where Christ was ultimately crucified.  What a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s provision.

Abraham and Isaac were going to worship God.  Everything that was necessary for their act of worship was there, except for one thing – the sacrifice.  The son noticed the need and willingly provided himself.  God provided the Lamb.

When we come to worship God, whether it is in our homes or at church, where is our sacrifice?  The music is there, the stage is set, and we need to respond.

In an entertainment-saturated society, it can be easy to approach worship in a consumer-like fashion, but worship is not worship if it does not cost us something.

What does this sacrifice look like?  It will be different for everyone, but it begins with a contrite heart, provoked to in Holy fear to be in awe of the sacrifice that God made for us. Complacency is not on the altar, nor distracted sheep going through the motions.  No, just grateful hearts, spared death, alive in Christ, laying down their burdens and overcome with God’s amazing love.  Basking in His Word, afresh with new revelation, we lie prostrate before the King of kings.

Lord, we worship YOU!  You are Holy, perfect and beyond our comprehension.  Help us to worship You in spirit and truth.  Be glorified in our worship services and provoke our hearts to sincere worship. 

Thoughtful Thursday: Loving Discipline

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Job 5:17-27

17 “Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandages; he strikes, but his hands also heal. 19 He will deliver you from six calamities; yes, in seven no evil will touch you. 20 In time of famine he will redeem you from death, and in time of war from the power of the sword. 21 You will be protected from malicious gossip, and will not be afraid of the destruction when it comes. 22 You will laugh at destruction and famine and need not be afraid of the beasts of the earth. 23 For you will have a pact with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. 24 And you will know that your home will be secure, and when you inspect your domains, you will not be missing anything. 25 You will also know that your children will be numerous, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. 26 You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. 27 Look, we have investigated this, so it is true. Hear it, and apply it for your own good.”

Healing.  Deliverance.  Safety.  Provision.  Protection.  Confidence.  Peace.  Fruitful.  Long life.  What an amazing list of promises God has for those who would welcome His correction in their life.  We see this message also in Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12, the living word crying out to us that discipline, while not pleasant to receive, is actually a blessing for those who accept it and yield to the LORD in discipline.

The Word of God is pretty blunt; labeling as stupid those who don’t love discipline.  But when we consider the kindness of someone showing us when we are errant, it would be a fool who would prefer flattery which brings ultimate ruin.

We often think someone going through a hard time is disobedient and being punished, but the opposite is true.  Scripture tells us that we are to accept all hardship as discipline by a Father Who loves us.  Perhaps our view of discipline is wrong.  Instead of seeing troubles as burdens, seeing them as sculpting the inner man while the outer man or the flesh is capitulating to the will of God.

This does not mean we are filled with delight when we suffer, but it means we see that God uses it all for good and that a little sobriety in this life can cause us to live a life that pleases God instead of wasting our lives on futile matters.

When it seems like others are receiving blessings and we reap only trouble, it is in those times that we should not be offended by God, but rejoice that He lovingly has a unique plan for each one of us filled with blessings coming in one form or another; blessing or burden, all of it is useful in the hand of God in the lives of His children.

Lord, thank You for showing us our need of You and where we fall short.  When life seems challenging and we wonder if you see, help us to know that You are a loving Father carefully weaving it all for our good and Your glory.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Four: Love

Gift of Love

He loves me not, He loves me, He loves me not, He loves ME!  The exhilarating thrill of knowing we are loved is one of the greatest feelings we can experience.  Likewise, one of the most painful feelings in the world is when love is removed.

Christmas time is unique in that the greatest gift of love, expressed in the form of a baby was given to all mankind – no one was to be left out – as a radical expression of unconditional love.

Lost ones and lost loves are vivid reminders of our need for love at Christmastime.  We were made by God to relate and to love one another, and when that love is removed, our hearts ache.

We don’t by nature like change, nor when the constancy of one’s affection is removed, but in Christ, no matter what goes on around us, His love is always steadfast.

This gift of Love was wrapped in swaddling clothes, chose humble, harsh surroundings to get to YOU and me!

Lord, we can sometimes feel unloved, unwanted and forgotten.  Thank You that You never forget and never remove Your love from us.  Help us to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 7 – In Hot Pursuit

Luke 15:4

“”Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

Psalm 139:7-8

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.”

The heart cry of all of us is that we would be loved and accepted just as we are.  We long for our spouses to cherish us and be crazy about us.  At the root of that desire is a craving for an unconditional, secure love.

God is wild about us.  When we stray, He is jealous for us with a righteous jealousy and hunts us down.  When we hurt, He hurts.  He conveys this love a million times over in a million ways, yet we still often can miss it.

Perhaps because many of us have heard the salvation story so much we have forgotten how radical His expression of love was and is for us.  To suffer and die for someone who did not love Him back, out of a selfless, zealous, passionate love is the most amazing love found on this earth.

It is not a superficial temporary, fickle crush, but an eternal, lasting love that never gives up on us.  He defines Himself as a Shepherd who has a multitude of sheep surrounding Him, yet notices one that slips away.  Have we ever felt small, forgotten, in a sea of “more important” people?  God notices.  He is that awesome that He can see everything and everyone and not let even one go unattended to.

The security we have in Christ is unparalleled anywhere.  He calls us, saves us, but does not leave us there.  He sanctifies us through and through, pursuing us all the way to draw nearer to Him – the One our souls really need.

Lord, thank You for chasing after us when our first impulse is to wander.  Thank You for revealing and demonstrating Your amazing love to us so we could understand what it means to know our great God, Who is so much greater than ourselves, yet chooses to love us anyway.