James 1:17 NKJV – The Perfect and the Good (Part 2)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

I fully understand that this verse refers to the gift of Jesus Christ. That nature has varying magnitudes of light, but God is the ultimate author of light and in Him there are no changes of brightness or clarity. There is no fluctuation of His character. But I also use this verse to remind me of my next good gift. This is Part 2 of “The Perfect and the Good”.

Back in early August, I posted Part 1 of this devotion on the importance of protecting the relationships that we have in people God has brought to us by praying to God that the relationships would always be kept from harm and that no influence would ever change that. This is because God Himself has brought to us these people to be a part of our life and our walk with God.

Today, I want to spend some time talking about the next good gift God has given me. Her name is Nancy. I don’t intend to use this blog to embarrass Nancy, but rather to give God the glory and praise for what He gave to me.

The story of our relationship is a long one, but I will try to shorten it up for the purpose of this blog. The blog is on prayer. When I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior back in July of 1999, it took some time to get to know others in my church. I wanted Christian friends, but didn’t know where to start. God had that all worked out.

On one particular Sunday, a woman at our Hospitality Desk greeted me and I walked over to talk with her. She told me that I knew her husband. I was a little surprised since this church was new to me and that it was some distance away from where I lived. Genny said that I knew her husband Dale and then she told me her last name. She was right. I hadn’t talked or even thought about her husband for over 30 years. We knew each other right after we graduated from high school and we worked together. So Genny and Dale and I became friends and I would frequently visit them at their home on the weekends for some fellowship and fun. This is where Nancy comes in. Nancy and Genny are sisters. Well, over a period of time, we all saw each other many times and I got to know Nancy as a very good friend.

I was single at the time and not really ready to look to have any dating relationship with anyone, yet the more I saw Nancy and more happy I was. I sought Godly counsel with my Pastor and my best friend and they both assured me that they believed God did not expect me to live a life like the Apostle Paul. That it would be OK if I asked Nancy out for a date.   But it took me 6 months to do it. And God even had to intervene while I was driving to work. I’m slow to move at times.

One particular morning while driving to work, Nancy came into my mind and I began to get highly emotional. While driving, I began to weep. And I remember hearing in my spirit God saying to me, “It’s OK. I approve.” Well, I did ask her; Nancy agreed. The rest is history as they say. (I’ll let you in on a secret. Nancy even paid for our second date. We had Strawberry Shortcakes together. Yum!) Glory to God!!!

Where is the prayer in this story? It’s everywhere. When I got saved, I asked God to give me Christian friends to guide and disciple me. He did. I asked God to remove those friends from my life and my past that would be a hindrance to my relationship with Him. He did.

AND…

I found out from Nancy that she had been praying while she attended Bible College for God to send her HIS choice for her. Nancy told me that she remained single for that reason. God had not yet given her HIS choice. I continue to be overwhelmed, to this day, that I was God’s choice for her and that Nancy waited many years for me. We now have been married for 12 beautiful years.

This is a tribute to God who heard and answered our prayers. In some cases those prayers were heard and received many years ago. But God is faithful and Nancy remained steadfast in her belief that God would answer.

Take time each day and thank God for what He has given you. Remain steadfast in belief that God hears your prayers and He will answer them. Don’t give up. Keep praying.

Thank You Lord for the gifts You give to us. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. Thank You that You desire for us to be blessed beyond measure. Thank You Lord for Nancy. She makes my heart smile. Help me Lord to always remember where this gift came from and protect us as we walk together in love and service to You. Touch all of those reading this blog with a gift as glorious as mine. May our lives be a concert of praise to You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV – A troubleshooting plan

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

I love how this psalm starts out by saying, “Blessed is the man…”. Isn’t that just what we want from God? The word “Blessed” in this verse literally means “How very happy is the man”. The psalmist goes on to expound upon how this occurs. The writer intends to show that the person who devotes himself to living a godly and righteous life is the one who finds true happiness, while the one who lives without regard to God is the miserable person. The result is the ability to withstand challenging and difficult times. This makes me happy.

This psalm reminds me of a manual to life. Kind of “if I do this”, then “I can expect this.” It’s a troubleshooting plan in today’s language. I have needed to pull out the manual or the instructions/troubleshooting guide of various things I possess to try to figure out why it isn’t working as I thought it should. I’ve looked at the manual for our DVD player, our computers, my gas barbeque grill, certainly my lawn tractor. Usually at the back of the manual, right before you get to the alternate translation, you will find a “Table” called the “Troubleshooting Guide”. It lists various symptoms of failure and then gives you the most likely solution. For example: If my lawn tractor doesn’t start. The list of solutions may include:

  • Ensure there is enough fuel in the fuel tank
  • Ensure that the cables to the battery are fully connected
  • Ensure that the clutch is fully depressed
  • Ensure that the blades are disengaged

These are all helpful solutions. If any of these are not in the affirmative, then you need to fix the solution before your problem is fixed. The same here with this psalm.

The Problem: Wickedness

Solutions:

  • Ensure the advice you get is from the righteous and not the basis of bad advice. Really this means “advice of the ungodly”.
  • Ensure that your lifestyle matches the advice you have received.
  • Ensure that you abide in Christ.
  • Ensure that you delight in the Word of God.
  • Ensure time is set aside to meditate on the Word of God.

What remains is the “then I can expect this” part.

Result:

  • Refreshing nourishment to one’s self.
  • Strength and stability to continue on during the storms of life.
  • Encouragement to others.

So let me ask you, “What should we be praying for?” Well for starters, thank the Lord that we can receive the promises of His Word so that when He says, “Blessed is the man…” we can say, for Your Glory Lord. Next, ask God to lead you in the path of wisdom and to have godly council in your life. Pray that the Lord would reveal His Word to you in new and exciting ways and that He would open up your eyes to the truth within it. And finally, that you and God would dwell together in conversation and meditation each and every day.

This is just one chapter in God’s troubleshooting plan. There are many more within the Word of God. Each of these chapters is easily accessed if we choose to take the time. “How very happy is the man…”

Dear Lord, thank You that Your Word is filled with instructions that can answer and solve our many questions. Thank You that as we read and meditate on Your Word, we are fed, we are strengthened, and our walk with You can encourage others. Help us Lord when we try to fix problems on our own. Turn us, Lord, to Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Timothy 2:1 NKJV – We’re in this together

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.

The other day I began to think about the countless people God has placed in my life. It started out because God placed someone on my heart to pray for. I’ve done this before. I’ve prayed for a lot of folks God placed on my heart. But after the prayer, I began to meditate on all the other people that are in my life. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, my church family. Even the people at the auto repair shop that I know. I began to think why they were involved in some way with me. Then the revelation came.

The people that I encounter every day, whether I’m working, or in church, or getting my car fixed, or at the grocery store, have been placed in my life for a reason. I may not know that reason, but they were placed there by God. Before the beginning of time, God established a plan for my life and every single one of these people God specifically placed in my plan. I thought, “Wow”. Every one of these people no matter the level of impact or relationship, God knew and established our contact. Even those people that we may not like or who we keep at a distance. I then began to think of the impact my attitude and the way I live my life has on all of these people, and found myself in prayer again. Repentant prayer.

Well, the revelation continued. I began to realize not only were all of these people placed in my life as part of my plan, I was placed in their life as part of their plan. Whoa!!! Yup. It’s true. I was a part of the individual plan God established for them. I again began to think of the impact my attitude and the way I live my life has on them and returned again to prayer. This time a prayer of petition. Help me Lord.

You see, that’s why I say “We are in this together”. When God placed the individual on my heart at the beginning of this blog, to pray for, God had a reason. There was some need and God wanted me to be obedient to pray. I didn’t know the reason. God just wanted my obedience. God placed this friend in my plan and he in mine for a reason. To love each other. Even to love enough to stop and pray that day. These past few days, God has changed me. He has given me a new perspective of what my relationship is with every person I encounter. Even those I don’t like or keep at a distance. I now have a greater understanding of my responsibility to their lives. These people may not understand this whole encounter thing, and they may never understand that I am in their life because God placed me in their plan, but that’s ok. God has commanded me to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) And, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So, I am thankful for every single person I encounter because each of them, whether they know it or not, has been placed there by God Himself. And I am excited that God has placed me in their life. We are in this together!

Heavenly Father, thank You that You established a specific plan for my life and You have placed others in my life as a part of that plan. Help me Lord to walk in the ways of Jesus and to be a constant light to them. And Lord, to those I am a part of their plan, again, Lord, help me to be obedient when You call and to be open to share the love of Christ and the message of eternal life through Jesus. May Your mercy and grace abound in these encounters. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!