Focus on what God says about you… not others.

Ever feel like you’re not good enough or you don’t matter? Read God’s Word and it will show you who you are in Him and you are valuable and worth more than you know to Him!! It can be so tempting to be discouraged in a critical spirit world. One that sometimes doesn’t forgive, is so quick to judge and will not receive, appreciate or love us in our differences. Even though we know we are all imperfect, people still seem graceless, rude and unwilling to listen to another side of things. There is so much pride in people and sometimes if you are humble, they view it as weakness instead of strength. When there is encouragement or people use their gifts to bless someone, sometimes it’s not received and it feels as though the world is rejecting who we are. These verses are deeply encouraging to me to not to give up and remember where to keep my focus. If you find yourself in a similar place, read these verses and I pray they renew your Spirit as well and help your light continue to shine.

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.” -Galatians 5:7-8 NLT

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”

All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” -2 Corinthians 4:6, 8, 13, 15-16, 18 NLT

“Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement.” -2 Corinthians 2:7 NLT

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” -Colossians 3:1-3 NLT

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” -2 Timothy 4:7 NLT

-LMM

 

 

Sharing Hard Truth

Paul obviously cared deeply about the Corinthians based on these scriptures. So much that he sent them a letter that hurt them but he didn’t regret it because they were brought to Godly sorrow that produced repentance. Repentance leads to proven innocence that only God’s merciful forgiveness can bring. Godly sorrow brought an earnestness, eagerness, concern, longing and readiness to clear themselves of wrong and see right done in their life. This takes humility and a teachable person willing to admit they are wrong.

Have you ever had a concerned “Paul” in your life who you know loves you and was real in speaking truth to you because maybe you were blinded by your situation or sin (possibly because you are so close to it or are ignorant because you have never been taught differently?) Remember that people in your life that share hard truths with you are risking their relationship with you. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not judging you, but humbly trying to help because they care and want you to succeed in your situation. Even if you prayerfully consider what they said and find it to not be true of your situation, value that friend who is not a yes man, and has your best interest at heart.

“Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!” -2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NLT

“Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone, nor led anyone astray, nor taken advantage of anyone. I’m not saying this to condemn you. I said before that you are in our hearts, and we live or die together with you. I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles.” -2 Corinthians 7:2-4 NLT

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged.” -2 Corinthians 7:8-13 NIV

-LMM

Clarity

God sustains, satisfies and fulfills!! I appreciate the honesty in this psalm. When I feel grieved, embittered (for whatever reason) causing me to become confused, senseless and ignorant, only God can bring clarity in my confusion, holding my hand and guiding me in His counsel. He helps me understand that there is nothing I desire but Him and all the foolishness of the world falls away. It reminds of what Paul said, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:10 NIV

Rejoicing in sorrow? Having nothing but possessing everything? This sounds so worldly illogical, but in God’s wisdom, it makes complete sense.

“So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.” -Psalms 73:16-17 NLT

“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” -Psalm 73:21-25, 28 NIV

-LMM

 

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Friendship

Even well intentioned friends can say the wrong things to someone suffering. We can learn from the beginning conversation between Job and his friends. How often when someone is suffering from something do we try to make sense of why God did it and try to apply truth or meaning to the situation when we really have no clue why it’s happening? (Is finding meaning to give us peace of mind or our friend who is suffering?) Or do we give unsolicited advice about what our friend should do (how to fix it) even though we really have no understanding to speak to context of why it is happening? Or do we judge them for why it is happening to them in our response? Do we simply not listen to our friends cry and empathize with, affirm them leaving them to feel unheard and misunderstood?

A friend judges Job’s reverence for God saying he encouraged others when they were weak but when trouble comes on him he loses heart and becomes terrified. Then he asks him, “Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope? Do innocent men die?” Probably not what Job wants to hear when he just stated he never wanted to be born. Another friend judges him for being corrected and to not despise God’s discipline. But we know God said of Job in 2:3, “He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” So, we know he’s not being disciplined. His friend also gives him advice to go to God because God “protects those who suffer”, but we know God sanctioned Satan to do all of this suffering in the first place so he’s not going to “frustrate the plans of the schemer.”

In Job’s response to them after they speak, it’s obvious he feels unheard, judged, criticized and unsupported by his friends who aren’t even trying to understand from his point of view.

Job:

“At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.

“Let the day of my birth be erased, and the night I was conceived.

Why is life given to those with no future, those God has surrounded with difficulties? -Job 3:23 NLT

What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes.” -Job 3:1, 3, 23, 25-26 NLT

Friends respond:

““In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak.

But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart. You are terrified when it touches you. Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope? “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed?” -Job 4:3, 5-7 NLT

“If I were you, I would go to God and present my case to him. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles. He gives rain for the earth and water for the fields. He gives prosperity to the poor and protects those who suffer. He frustrates the plans of schemers so the work of their hands will not succeed.” -Job 5:8-12 NLT

“But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.

He will save you from death in time of famine, from the power of the sword in time of war.” -Job 5:17, 20 NLT

Job responds:

“One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty. My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.” -Job 6:14-16 NLT

“Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation?

Look at me! Would I lie to your face? Stop assuming my guilt, for I have done no wrong. Do you think I am lying? Don’t I know the difference between right and wrong?” -Job 6:25-26, 28-30 NLT

-LMM

Prayer for Children

I pray these verses for my children, that they would choose to put their hope and trust in you Lord God. As they look back on their life, I pray they can see you working in them even from the very beginning. And that it would cause them to always praise you! Thank you God for caring for my little girl in the womb right now. Praising you today for your care and concern for her and how you are knitting her into a beautiful creation.

“O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!” -Psalms 71:5-6 NLT

Thank you God, that you that you have taught me about you when I was a child. Help me to not just teach in what I say but what I do, may it bring glory to you to the next generation. Let me proclaim to them all you have done, in good times and in bad. As I look back on the hard times, help me to share with my children how you were always there for me, restored me and comforted me.

“O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.” -Psalms 71:17-20 NLT

-LMM

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Health

This is a beautiful picture of how God can grow a healthy branch from an old root causing it to bear fruit. Imagine if we all worshipped God and He could bear the same fruit in our lives and how that would impact our community and our nation.

“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.

He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.

Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.” -Isaiah 11:1-3, 5, 9 NLT

-LMM

Photo by Min An from Pexels

Genuine Humility

Is it just me or is humility viewed as a sign of weakness to some people in our culture??? Some people are more eager to follow a prideful and arrogant leader than a humble one and I can’t understand it. Pride is often manifested by allowing our self serving emotions to rule over us whereas humility is self controlled and thinks to serve and care for the other person instead of ourself. It used to be if you responded in humility to a prideful person, it softened their heart, but within the last few years and especially 6 months I’ve noticed that people’s prideful hearts still stay hard even when you approach them with humility. Humility speaks volumes about our character and gives us peace in situations knowing that we are choosing to follow God rather than men.

“True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” -Proverbs 22:4 NLT

“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” -Proverbs 11:2 NLT

“All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. Common sense and success belong to me. Insight and strength are mine.” -Proverbs 8:13-14 NLT

-LMM

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

God’s Priorities

Do we have a tendency to put off God’s priorities for seemingly good reason, rationalization, sometimes fear or maybe we are just not seeking Him to know His priorities for our life? Do we really think our priorities are superior or more beneficial to us than His? Are you giving careful thought to your ways? Are you never satisfied (with your job, spouse, family/friends, finances, possessions?) Are you planting much (spending time and resources) but harvesting little? Are you not getting a return on anything you’ve invested in? Then it may be time or ask God if your priorities are in line with His for your life. Sometimes we think we are making a prudent decision when God is really moving us to faith and bring Him honor as we can learn from these verses in Haggai below. God gives them a clear directive of what to do and calls them at the end to be strong and work because God is with them. Pray for God to show you what to do and trust that when He tells you, He’s with you, then be strong and get to work!

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.’” Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” -Haggai 1:2-6 NLT

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” -Haggai 1:7-9 NIV

“But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” -Haggai 2:4 NLT

-LMM

 

Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

God’s Leadership in Zechariah

God always knows what type of leadership we need. In Zechariah, it’s like the Lord is taking a more forceful tone and saying enough is enough. There is less talk of if you turn from your ways and obey me like in some of the other Old Testament books, and more of a look, your forefathers disobeyed me and made me angry and now this is what is going to happen: I’m going to return to Jerusalem mercifully after 70 years of disobedience of God’s people, you are going to rebuild my temple and I’m going to prosper you. He explains that they will rebuild by the Spirits strength and not by their own might. He lays it out clearly in these verses what they are to do and how they are to behave with one another.

“Upon hearing this, the angel of the Lord prayed this prayer: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for seventy years now you have been angry with Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. How long until you again show mercy to them?” And the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

“‘Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I have returned to show mercy to Jerusalem. My Temple will be rebuilt, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and measurements will be taken for the reconstruction of Jerusalem. ‘“

“Say this also: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as his own.’”” -Zechariah 1:12-13, 16 -17 NLT

“Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” -Zechariah 4:6 NLT

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. “Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them. “Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” -Zechariah 7:9-13 NLT

“But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”” -Zechariah 8:16-17 NLT

-LMM