Nothing

​Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

There it was, in the song of a child in the church nursery. Reminding me of a time when I helped lead it in children’s ministry, complete with hand motions. 

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.


There it was, coming back in a devotional writing.  Reminding me that everything is under His power. 

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

There it was, God’s assurance to me as I reached out for a lifeline.

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. 

What is your “impossible” thing today? I have a few. I bet you do too. It might not be today that we see them become “nothing.” Really, we might have been waiting for years and feel like maybe this one thing is out of His purview. Well, I’m passing along this snippet to all of us.  today. I know I’ll be singing it all day long. 

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. 

Advertisements

Priorities.

“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.” Micah 6:8 (MSG)

Recently, my good friend Google alerted me that there was an accident ahead on my route to work. My daughter and I had to take an alternate route through a residential section.

She was marveling at the sizes of the houses we passed. (Probably because our own humble abode comes in at well under 1000 square feet). I told her that as adults, we have to decide how much house we NEED versus how much we WANT. We have to prioritize, and make sure we’re meeting the needs of ourselves and our family, without going overboard in an attempt to impress someone or fill a hole in our own selves.

Above all, I told her, our priorities need to line up with God’s.

He hasn’t made a mystery of what’s important to Him. In Micah 6:8, He says He wants us to be fair, be just, be compassionate, and be loyal. Oh yeah, and to be humble before the Lord, instead of thinking too highly of ourselves.

God makes it sound so simple, doesn’t He? Yet we constantly have to be reminded of His priorities, as the ones the world offers try to invade and take over.

Let’s reassess today. Let’s make sure that what we’re doing, for Him and for others, lines up with His words. Let’s set an example for our families and the world around us by the way that we order our lives.

Express delivery

“In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.”
John 6:16‭-‬21 MSG

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

We serve a God of suddenly. 

Sometimes, our deliverance takes awhile. God is waiting on us to “get it,” to work though a process, to grow to a certain point.

Other times, He shows up and shows out. He comes in and like a the supernatural being He is, saves the day in one fell swoop.

Now, I don’t know why He chooses to make us wait sometimes, and delivers instantaneously others. I don’t know why some people get miraculous healings that doctors can’t explain, and others get their healing on the other side of Glory. What I do know is that God not only has the totality of our lives in view, but everyone else’s as well.

I want all my prayers to be answered “jiffy quick” as my Pastor’s wife is fond of saying . I want Him to bend the laws of gravity, time, and space for me every single time. But I have to remember that He is in charge, not me. And whether He snatches me up out of my problem, or works His plan out through my waiting, He will give me whatever I need at that exact moment.

Shalom, shalom

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Is. 26:3

My daughter is a full-fledged teenager now, but her mouth somehow hasn’t gotten that memo. Her jaws are stubbornly holding on to four “baby” teeth, and the orthodontist said they had to go. This morning was Round 1.

Now, my daughter is no girly-girl. She’s not afraid of very much. She’s my partner at our weekly Krav Maga class, and she will straight up leave me black and blue. She’s half my size, but she’s thrown me to the ground on more than one occasion. But somehow, when it comes to medical procedures, she gets a little…antsy. Every time I’ve mentioned her dental work, she’s gotten sullen. Last night, she was trying to figure out if the dog had any germs to give her so she’d get sick and miss her appointment, and this morning she drug her feet, hoping to make us late.

But we’ve talked before about ways to keep her mind calm. She loves to listen to worship music, especially the songs they do each week at our youth service. So she’s downloaded some on her phone, and this morning she decided she’d listen to them on the way to the appointment.

We prayed this morning before we went in, and I specifically asked God to help her have those songs playing in her head during the procedure. When she came out a little later, she was the picture of calm. She said she had indeed had a private concert in her head, and that it had made a big difference in how she felt.

I told her that she’d unlocked a great tool: She’d done her part (by keeping her mind focused on God, and not her problems). And He’d done His part, by keeping her heart and mind grounded and peaceful.

In the Orthodox Jewish version of the scripture in Isaiah, the phrase “perfect peace” is “shalom shalom.” Any time the Word of God repeats a word, it means an extra measure. So “shalom shalom” means EXTRA peace. PERFECT in scripture doesn’t mean “without fault.” It means “lacking nothing.” So, meditating upon God and His word brings us peace that lacks NOTHING. An EXTRA MEASURE of peace. Peace that helps us navigate the world around us, and the storm within us.

So, our part is to learn about Him, to focus on Him, to keep His word in our hearts. And His part is to put our minds to rest, to calm our fears, to give us peace.

God’s peace, like every other aspect of His nature, is perfect – lacking nothing. Rest secure in that knowledge as you focus on Him today.

Seeing right through you

 “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I bet you look around you and see folks who “have it all together.” I bet that if you met me in real life, you might even think I have it all together! (Ok, maybe not, but humor me here.) You look at the people in the pulpit, on the stage, and even the greeters in the hallway with the big smiles on their faces and think, “Man, I bet they didn’t have to pull hen’s teeth to get their kids out the door this morning!”

Newsflash: They probably did. Or, they had a “discussion” with their spouse on the way in. Or, they had to mitigate a fight between their parents. Again. Or, they had to figure out which bill was getting paid this week, and which one would just have to wait until later. Don’t these bill collectors know you can’t get blood from a turnip?

But if the people you see around you aren’t transparent, how will YOU ever know they had to go through something just to make it to their pew today? If the people on stage don’t let you know that they’ve gone through the valley, how will you know that God can get you through too?

I’m not suggesting we tell all our business to everyone we meet. I am suggesting that the Bible clearly says that God brings us through trials so that we can reach back and help others. But if we pretend like we have it together all the time and never HAD any trials, how is that glorifying God and redeeming our struggles? How are those around us supposed to come to us for prayer, or point to us in faith, if they don’t know what we’ve been brought out of?

I know you’ve been through some mess. Because I have, too. And so have your pastor, and the praise team member, and the pianist, and the smiling face in the parking lot. And God has brought us all through it (or is still bringing us through). So ask Him who you need to share with today. And if you’re in the middle of it, ask Him to show you who will be that understanding shoulder or that monument of faith. Let the God of all comfort bring some comfort in or through you.

Can people see right through you?

Shut. Up.

“Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out.  God spoke to Joshua, “Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops.” Joshua 6:1-2

Joshua and the rest of his crew had just been told that their long national nightmare of wandering in the desert was over. Hooray! No more manna, man – milk, honey, and (I’m sure) beans and cornbread were now on the menu! Their lives were going from day after day of same old, same old, to finally getting started with what their forefathers had been promised.

But then – they hit a wall. Literally. They were getting the band back together to take over Canaan, and Jericho was the first stop on the tour. Their mojo was working, but it hit a snag made out of stone.

And we love to look at this story, and imagine the Israelites marching around that city for a week and then shouting the walls down on the last day. We sing songs about it and watch children’s videos with French peas taunting hapless vegetable Hebrews. But don’t skip over those first two verses. They’re the key to this whole thing.

“Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out.”

You know what I think? I think the Jericho-ians (or however they were known) were afraid. I think there were probably more Israelites outside that wall than there were of them inside, and I think word had reached their ears of all the great things God had done for His people. Remember Pharaoh losing a chunk of his soldiers and their gear? Remember supernatural provision? Remember divine judgement and so much quail they literally got sick?

They were afraid. They were under a self-imposed siege. They placed all their faith in the wall, and in the hopes that the Israelites would keep on truckin’.

But I think God put that fear into their hearts, so that their defeat would be certain and complete.

 God spoke to Joshua, “Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops.”

Their king couldn’t hide out in an undisclosed location. Their army couldn’t sneak out and come from behind in a surprise attack. Joshua was facing his first big test as Commander-in-Chief, and God had gift wrapped the city for them.

All they had to do was obey his (admittedly odd) instructions. All the people had to do was keep their mouths shut, and keep walking. And then, on the last day, they had to shout to the Lord for the victory.

That’s it. Obey God, watch the walls crumble, and take the first steps into fulfilling God’s call on their lives.

So here’s my question to you: What walls are you up against? Maybe they aren’t obstacles, so much as a gift box. Maybe instead of seeing them as your enemy, you need to see them as God’s way of making sure your victory is complete. Maybe God is going to give you some instructions, and when you follow them, you will have a whole new perspective.

I’m facing some walls. I’ll bet you are too. Let’s look beyond and see them as wrapping paper, instead of a stop sign.

Real help

I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!” Psalms 121:1-2
We can’t count on our mountaintop experiences when we’re going through the valley.
We want those high times, oh how we want them! We believe that if we just have something good happen to us, we can make it through the bad.
So where does that leave us placing our trust? Not in the God who promises to deliver us, but in the memories of better days – or wishful thinking for a brighter future. It isn’t a bad thing to remember God’s goodness in former days. Far from it! Even the Israelites built their worship around being reminded.
Nor is it terrible to hope for better days. We are supposed to have faith for our deliverance – but not faith in the faith, or faith in the power of hope. We’re to have faith in the One who makes the brighter future possible!
The Psalmist knew where his real help came from. Do we? Don’t place your faith in the high times – place it in the One who made the mountain in the first place.

Never wasted

 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke 15:22-24

Our worship leader was encouraging the congregation between songs.

“God can restore what has been lost!”

Amen

“God can restore what has been stolen!”

Preach!

“God can restore what has been squandered!”

Woah.

Do you know how much I have squandered in my life? How much time, how many relationships, how many resources, how many opportunities?

But my God can restore and redeem even what I was foolish with.

I was reminded of the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, and how a wise friend of mine once pointed out to me that the word “prodigal” doesn’t mean “lost.”

It means “wasteful.”

And it isn’t the inheritance that was wasted that makes this young man’s story so sad. It’s his potential. It’s his father’s love. It’s his rights as a son.

Whatever you’ve lost, had stolen, or squandered in your life. rest in the knowledge that God is in the restoration business. He can even redeem what we were wasteful with and restore us to our place in His family, just like the father in this parable did with the son.

The son just had to come humbly to the father and ask forgiveness. He didn’t even ask to be restored, just to be forgiven. But his father went above and beyond because of his love for the son, and our Father will do the same.

It’s a new year, folks. We have new opportunities and struggles ahead of us, and we serve a God who can and will restore what we left behind in the old one. Seek Him, and He will do more than you can even ask for.

Changed by Christmas

The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Luke 2:20 NLT

Christmas, my friends, is over. At my house, the stockings are empty. The tree skirt, devoid of presents, is once again visible. Instead of counting down the days to the celebration, we now wonder how long is customary to leave the decorations up.

But I’m left to wonder, how have I been changed by Christmas?

The shepherds faced a similar dilemma. The sheep didn’t start tending themselves after the birth of our Savior. Life went on with them, just as it does for us. They left the stable, but the stable didn’t leave them! They went on their way rejoicing, and you can bet some brand new evangelists were minted that night.

So Christmas changed the shepherds, even as they went back to their daily lives. Work didn’t magically get easier. They still lived in a country under Roman rule, and they still had to pay the tax which brought Mary and Joseph home to begin with! But they now had a different outlook on life than they did before. They now had a fresh, Heavenly perspective, and they would never be the same.

As you clean up the leftovers and pack away the ornaments, chances are your life hasn’t changed any. The issues you faced on December 23 will still be there on December 26. But this time, you can be different! You have heard the Good News of a newborn king, and you can have a new perspective on the daily grind of your earthly existence.

Carry that joy and wonder back to work with you, back into the hospital room of a loved one, back into your prayer closet where you wait for a prodigal’s return. Remember the good news of great joy that came for all people – me, you, and that crotchety neighbor next door. Dwell on promises kept and prayers answered so long ago in Bethlehem, and know that God will meet you right where you are today.

Let Christmas change you.

Where are YOU going?

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” Isaiah 46:10

A word from the Lord during a late-night comedy show?

Yes, indeed.

I was watching a comedy routine where a blind celebrity was joking about driving down the freeway. And the Spirit posed a question to me: Why is it not generally considered a good idea for blind people to drive cars?

And I answered back, “Well, duh.” (Yes, yes I did say that.) “Because they can’t see where they’re going.”

“So why do you think you can steer your life, when I’m the only one who can see where you’re headed?”

Touché.

I certainly can’t see where my life is headed next, and neither can you. When we try to manage our own lives, we’re literally blind folks taking the wheel. Talk about scary! There is little doubt as to where we’ll end up if we live that way!”

So, MY question to YOU today is this: Who is sitting in the driver’s seat of your life? Are you blindly going forward, hoping you won’t damage anything too expensive for your insurance to cover? Or are you letting the Lord be in control, leading you where He knows you need to be?

Oh, how silly of us to think we know what’s best! How wise of God to help us to know better!

Move over, Slick. The driver’s side is no place for a blind person.