April 22, 2013
“He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree.” (Job 19:10 NIV)
Some of you just read that and are asking, “Where is the hope in that verse?” In fact, right now some of you may be feeling like the one who spoke those words. Read more
March 11, 2013
I had just read the familiar passage in Mark 10:46-52 where a blind beggar was calling out to Jesus on the outskirts of Jericho. The question Jesus asked the beggar suddenly became personal to me: “What do you want me to do for you?”
So I began this imaginary conversation with Jesus, as if He were asking me that question.
Notice the beggar’s simple but desperate plea: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And when Jesus asked him the above question, the blind man replied, “I want to see!”
My imaginary conversation with Jesus went something like this:
“What do you want me to do for you?
“What do you want me to do for You?”
“I asked you first.” Read more
January 28, 2013
I love to encourage my readers, so in today’s blog, I’m giving away a copy of the 2013 Mornings with Jesus Guideposts devotional book. All of us need to set aside time to connect with our faithful, living God–to refresh our spirits, strengthen our relationship, and nourish our souls. All of us need encouragement!
In the 2013 Mornings with Jesus devotional, I joined with nine other writers to share 365 fresh devotional insights from God’s Word that focus on the character and teachings of Jesus.
You can find out more about the Guideposts devotional here.
To enter the devotional giveaway, read through my blog to see what is required.
Here’s a sample devotion of mine about God, the One and Only, from the 2013 Mornings with Jesus devotional: Read more
January 21, 2013
I watched a movie trailer recently on my agent Steve Laube’s blog that inspired me to write a poem called “God, the Great Recycler.” This fascinating trailer is for an upcoming feature-length documentary called “Landfill Harmonic” – about a remarkable orchestra from a remote village in Paraguay, where its young musicians play with instruments made from trash.
Be sure you watch the trailer below. I love what is happening in this village. It convicted me that not only do I have too much, and that I throw away too much; but also that I need so little. After watching it, I simply applied a spiritual principle and wrote the poem. I hope the trailer–and the poem–both bless and encourage you. Read more
December 3, 2012
I received a copy of Dianne Neal Matthews’ newest devotional book recently. It’s a great “through the Bible” kind of devotional. Diane has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her new book.
I first “met” Dianne through the pages of Guideposts‘ new devotional: 2013 Mornings with Jesus: Daily Encouragement for Your Soul. Dianne and I were two of the ten writers for that devotional this year.
I’ll let her tell you more about her own new devotional Designed for Devotion in this interview: Read more
September 4, 2012
Fear of flying ranks high on the list of phobias in our country, no doubt partly because of 9-1-1. But what about the fear of flying “spiritually?” What makes Christians so chickenhearted about spreading their wings? And how can we overcome our fear and find the freedom God wants for all His children? Read more
August 13, 2012
When have you uttered those four words, “Life is not fair?” How do we respond when that happens? Today is a Guest Post by Sally Philbrick Smith. In the following devotion, she discusses that issue:
Life Is Not Fair
“Mother, you rocked my world when at age six you told me that life is not fair,” confided our adult daughter Carla. “That was the first life lesson that shocked me, and I’ve never forgotten it. Everything at our house was fair in my mind from the choice of cereals to chores.”
Every one of us could name a time when we felt that life has not been fair to us. My mother remembered to her deathbed the shame of being accused of cheating in front of her grade school class. I did not believe my mother was innocent just because she said that she was. I believed her because I knew my mother. I never saw her treat another person unkindly. If the check-out clerk gave her three cents too much, she would return it to the store. If I asked her to tell the person calling on the phone that I was not in, she refused. “I’m not lying for you, Sally. If you don’t want to talk to that person, you’d better run outside quickly.” I wish that I had a nickel today for every time that I was not “in” but ran “out” the door like blazes.
The Bible calls Job a “righteous” man. God’s favor was on every part of Job’s life…that is until his servant ran into his house breathlessly one day to tell him the bad news. Job lost all ten children, his crops, barns, animals and all other possessions in a huge storm. Not fair! Is this how God treats His own?
Joseph was chosen by God while still a child living at home. Before he was grown, his eleven jealous brothers sold him into slavery. While serving in Potiphar’s house, Joseph was wrongly accused of rape and spent the next thirteen years in prison. A fellow inmate told Joseph that when he got out, he would plead for Joseph’s release. But he forgot his pledge. Not fair!
Daniel was raised in a God-fearing family of nobility. He was handsome and showed aptitude for every kind of learning. The future looked promising for Daniel until the Babylonians with their fast horses and iron chariots roared into his city. After besieging Jerusalem, these idol-worshiping warriors kidnapped Daniel and other young men of his caliber. He was ripped from his family, home, school, country and everything that was familiar to him. Their goal was to remake Daniel and his friends into Babylonians and teach them to serve their king. He was forced to learn a new language, wear clothes unfamiliar to him and eat food too rich for a Jewish diet. Where is a loving God in all of this? Not fair!
Amy Carmichael left a comfortable life and set aside her own dreams to follow the Lord’s call to India as one of its earliest Christian missionaries. Soon after she arrived, an accident changed her life. She stepped in a hole and badly injured a foot. For the remainder of her life and ministry, this foot caused acute pain and discomfort with every step.
That’s not fair, Lord. She left all to share the wonderful news of the Savior with those who had never heard, and you allowed this to happen to her? What were you thinking?
The Decision We Must Make
When life is unfair, we each have a decision to make. We can say:
(1) I don’t see God or understand anything that is happening. If there is a God, he doesn’t care about me. He’s the ultimate absentee father. People in Malachi’s day thought the same thing: “You have said harsh things against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape’” (Malachi 3:13-14).
(2) Or, we can choose to stand on what we do know about God and proclaim:
I don’t understand where God is right now. Nor do I know yet His purpose in these circumstances.
What I do know is that He cares for me with a lavish love and wants what is best for my life. He will use this circumstance for my good in molding me into His image. I can’t see His hand right now, but I trust His heart completely.
Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is a righteous judge. This life is a training ground for the life to come.
The Betrayal Barrier
Dr. R. T. Kendall, the senior minister of Westminster Chapel in London, refers to this as the “betrayal barrier.” It is his opinion that 100 percent of all true believers will go through a period when God seems to let them down. This may be as a new Christian just starting out, or one in the middle or at end of life. Most people bail out or turn their back on God without giving Him the opportunity to “work everything together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Dr. Kendall believes over 90% of us fail to break through this feeling of betrayal and abandonment by God.
But what about those God-fearing believers who hang on all the tighter to God when things seem out of control? Joseph held fast to his faith and God used him to save the lives of a nation suffering a seven-year-drought. When Job refused the advice “to curse God and die,” the Lord God took note and restored to him over abundantly above all that he could ask or imagine. The Bible says in Job 42:12, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” Because Daniel remained faithful, King Darius issued a decree to his vast empire that all must fear, worship and reverence the living God of Daniel.
Close to Home
A close couple friend of ours received the devastating news that the wife had a very fast aggressive cancer. They called to tell us the diagnosis. Though their hearts were rupturing, they stated with quiet confidence: “No one knows what this year will bring. But one thing is for sure. He will be with us and He is enough.”
Another friend of ours was given a death sentence by her doctor. “Well, Lord, I guess I’ll see You sooner than I thought,” she said to herself. Ben, a seventeen-year-old relative is a scholar and athlete. He was looking forward to his last year of high school when cancer came from his blind side and knocked him down. Ben’s response? “I had planned to enter my senior year, but God has me on a different path now.”
How Will We Respond?
Every demand on me as a child of the Living God is a demand on the One who lives inside me. Our commitment to each other goes beyond any circumstances the world, the flesh or the devil can throw at me. Proverbs 24:10 says: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 tell us how to build our strength in the Lord. We are to send our roots down deep and wide to tap into the unending strength of the Lord. He will walk through the dark way with us and bring us out on the other side. We can claim with the prophet Nehemiah that ”The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
This life is not fair. But for us believers, the next life is totally fair.1
1(c) 2012, Sally Philbrick Smith, ”Come Alone with Me” 3, Used by permission. All Rights Reserved.
This is one of Sally’s longer devotionals, but I felt it had an important message we all need to hear often. Sally’s devotional book is available for $5.00. She has also written two others: “Come Alone with Me,”and ”Come Alone with Me” 2. Sally’s strong faith is exemplified in her personal stories and devotions. If you’d like to purchase one of her books, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
It’s Your Turn to Comment
What about you? How have you responded when life is not fair? What did God teach you about Himself during that time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Your words might encourage someone today! You will not be hounded, prodded, or automatically added to my mailing list if you do so. Feel free to email this Christian blog to someone or to re-post on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, using the buttons below. If you want to re-post any of my blogs on your own blog or website, please contact me for permission first. And if you’d like to, you can sign up for my blog/newsletter and updates at the top of this website page/sidebar. Your e-mail address will never be sold or given to anyone!
August 8, 2012
Have you been in a sheep pen? Most of us have, though maybe not a literal one. Some of us choose to stay there. Others move on. Read more
July 16, 2012
Are you in need of a miracle? Would you like a more intimate walk with God? Does the word impossible fill you with discouragement or hope? I believe Linda Shepherd’s new book will give you some solid biblical truths to help you ask–and believe–God for the impossible. Read more
July 2, 2012
Most of us celebrate our country’s birthday watching fireworks. But there’s something more we can do that will truly make a lasting difference in the lives of others. As you read this short inspirational piece, I hope it will encourage you to celebrate–and share–the Gift of true freedom and peace. Read more