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Friday, February 14, 2014

God's Valentines To You

“Cast all you anxiety on Him because He cares for you!”
1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Today I admit that many times in my life there have been days when I have been in the middle of a situation that consumed all of my thinking. At times I have had a heavy, dark cloud of dread that hung over my head. I confess that many times I have been worried and concerned for days and nights at a time. I have also experienced a heavy pain in my heart that would not leave. Today, what is that circumstance that leaves you feeling fearful, helpless and out of control? Is there something in your life that you wish would change or go away?
No matter what it is that is plaguing us today or any day, I Peter 5:7 is a reminder that we are not alone in our situation! As I read that I am to cast all of my anxiety on God, because He cares for me, I realize that I must choose to embrace this verse and take it into my heart! The Bible has many examples of how intimately God knows and cares for each one of us. God does not loose track of a single human being that He has created.
Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I want to share with you some of God’s Valentines that carry the message of his everlasting love.
Valentine 1 – Jesus, the Good Shepherd knows your name.
“The man who enters by the gate
is the shepherd of his sheep.
…and the sheep listen to his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
John 10:2-3b NIV

I am amazed that God knows my name and never forgets it! I can’t tell you how many people I have been introduced to and two minutes later I can’t remember their name. God knows my name and He knows yours too, and he will never forget it!

Valentine 2 – God has known all of your days even before you were born.

“My frame was not hidden from you when
I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:15-16 NIV

It astounds me that God knew me before I was even formed in my mother’s womb. Even before a single day came to be all of my days were ordered by God. When it comes to our lives, we are always surprised by what happens to us in this life, no matter if it is good or bad. However, God is never surprised by the events that unfold in each of our lives. That’s why it is so safe to trust him, because God is prepared for every circumstance even when we aren’t.
Valentine 3 – God knows the number of hairs on your head.
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Matthew 10:30 NIV

I don’t know about you but every time I brush my hair some of my hair falls out. But God keeps track of each hair on my head and counts them all over and over again. I for one, am amazed!

Valentine 4 – God watches you sleep.

 "He will not let your foot slip –
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed He who watches…
will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Psalm 121:3-4 NIV

 When was the last time you watched a precious little child sleep? When a little child is sleeping they are perfectly still. Sleeping children are precious! They are not fussing or doing a single thing that could get them into trouble. As we watch that child sleep our love for that child just flows from our heart. Imagine this…God watches YOU sleep. What a vision that is and what a comfort. Even with all of our flaws and shortcomings, God’s love pours out of his heart towards you and me as he watches us sleep. Do you still doubt that God loves and cares for you?
Valentine 5 – God stores your tears in a bottle.

 “You have taken account of my wanderings;
put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in your book?”
Psalm 56:8 NIV

 Our tears do not go unnoticed. God not only wipes away your tears He gathers them up and stores them in a bottle. What a loving reminder that God cares for us and never forgets our pain and sorrow.
Valentine 6 – God thinks precious thoughts of you.

 “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.”
Psalm 139:17-18 NIV

God’s thoughts of you outnumber the sand. That means throughout your entire life God will think trillions of thoughts regarding you. Even in your sinfulness and failures, God’s thoughts regarding you are still precious! He hates sin but always loves the sinner! God knows who he created each of us to be and he is pleased. We may not be there yet, but his precious thoughts of us are always in our best interest. God never forgets what he wants to accomplish in us and through us. That is why we need to trust him in all things.

1. Have you ever doubted that God cares for you?
2. Which of God’s Valentines to you do you love the most?

Dear God,
Today I thank you for these truly wonderful Valentines that express your love for me in an incredible way. Forgive me for ever doubting your love and care for me. Please write all of these verses on my heart so that I will always remember how very much you love me. I pray that these verses will become so much a part of my thoughts that they will enable me to fall into your trusting arms each and every time that I am feeling overwhelmed, fearful, discouraged, or unloved. Lord, forgive me when I fail to return my love to you. You lavish your love on me everyday. Help me not to miss your love! Lord, I want to fall so deeply in love with you that my obedience to you will be nothing short of joy because I love you so deeply.
In your son’s name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Promise With Two Parts

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Psalm 23: 6 AKJV

 Today as I am sitting in the garden, I am feeling a little sad. The life that Jesus Christ lived on earth was such an amazing example of the way that God wants us all to live our lives. I feel sad because I fall so short! I get caught off guard and my attitude is crummy, my words are not kind, and fear is often just a thought away. People upset me and my response is not always gracious. At times I find myself being intolerant of others who are not like me. Time after time the example that Jesus set for me is there, yet I get it right only occasionally. I know full well that Jesus was perfect and I am not, but God did send his son Jesus, as an example to mankind so that we would recognize what holy living looks like. Jesus’ example is the bull’s-eye that we aim for.
I don’t believe that God demands perfection but I do believe that he wants to see progress in the lives of his children. God desires to see each of us moving continually in the direction of holiness. I am faced with daily choices. I must learn to choose godliness over sinfulness, goodness over evil, and mercy over criticism. It helps me to remember that my first thought does not have to be my last. I can choose to respond differently. My mother used to say, “Just take a deep breath and count to ten.”
The Psalmist says that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. God’s goodness and mercy has followed me every day that I have been alive. God’s goodness and mercy follows both believers and non believers every day. All people experience good things from the hand of God, but it is the grateful believer that will acknowledge that all the goodness and mercy they experience in this life is from the hand of God alone.
The first promise found in Psalm 23:6 is true! God’s goodness and mercy does follow us around like a puppy dog! I am beginning to realize that God’s goodness is always followed by his mercy. God is so compassionate and merciful and those attributes are the very qualities that make his forgiveness possible. So if I am to be like Jesus then I must also make every effort to follow the example he modeled. Jesus always exhibited goodness and mercy, compassion and forgiveness. More times than not, I cannot do this in my own strength. But the Holy Spirit has promised to help us in our time of need. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV
I must admit that if I get upset with someone I often take a hike! I pack up my bag of goodness and mercy, leave the presence of the person that offended me and head for the nearest exit! As they observe my exit, I’m sure they are thinking, there she blows! How much better it would be if I could humbly reach up to the throne of grace and wrap myself in the blanket of God’s grace, goodness, and mercy. Then I would find that I am equipped to go back to that person with the understanding that they too are in need of Jesus’ goodness and mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5: 7 NIV   My prayer today is that God would enlarge my capacity to be both good and merciful.
The second promise in today’s scripture verse is “…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  What will the house of the Lord be like? It will be a safe place and it will be a place of love and welcome. It will be a place where goodness abounds. It will be a place of eternal REWARD.
Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, wants us to hang in there! He wants us to carry his banner of goodness and mercy high, as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death. I don’t want to be in a place that when others see me coming toward them they view me as an enemy. No, I want them to feel safe and loved. I want others to say, here comes Paula, and she is carrying in her arms goodness and mercy. I want them to be happy to see me.  If per chance I am actually able to do that, it is only by the grace of God and the example of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit that enables me to have good thoughts and holy responses.
This is a beautiful day for reflection. The garden is quiet. The sunshine feels warm. There is so much beauty it nearly takes my breath away. I am beginning to remember all of the lessons to be learned from the 23rd Psalm. What a marvelous Psalm! It is indeed a perfect pattern for living my life. It is God’s ideal plan for my spiritual growth and development. It is also a Psalm of amazing comfort. Only six little verses but what an impact they have made on my life.
Jesus Christ, my personal Shepherd, wants a RELATIONSHIP with me. When I put my trust in my Shepherd and enter into a personal relationship with him he begins the process of REDIRECTION. When I am sitting still before the Shepherd and I am free of distractions he begins to direct my life and lead me down a fresh new path of right living. As I listen to my Shepherd, he begins the process of RESTORATION. He begins to shape my life and restore it back to the way he intended it to be before sin entered our world. There is much in my life that is in need of change but the Shepherd REMAINS with me through all of the dark valleys I will ever encounter. My Shepherd is always waiting to provide me with the soothing oil of his Holy Spirit which gives me comfort and peace.  My Shepherd will constantly be close beside me for as long as it takes for me to be able to trust him. He wants me to RELINQUISH to him all that keeps me concerned and worried. He wants all my fears and all my anger. He wants my pain and my suffering. In the moments that we spend together in deep communication, my Shepherd REFRESHES my spirit. I eat from his bountiful table of blessings and drink from his refreshing living water. I accept his lavish love for me. My Shepherd follows me day in and day out with his goodness and mercy. The Shepherd has promised me that at the end of my journey here on earth he will give me my REWARD. The reward is heaven, the place where I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever and ever. What’s not to love about a Shepherd like this? 

  1. What are the seven “R” words that indicate the pattern God has for your spiritual growth and development? 
  2. What “R” word best describes what you need from the Shepherd this day?
  3. What are the two parts that are promised in Psalm 23:6?
  4. Which of the six verses of Psalm 23 is the most meaningful to you?

Dear Shepherd,
I am so thankful that you care for me in such a loving way. According to the words of this Psalm I will want for nothing. Not now, not ever! What a plan! A Relationship with my maker, Redirection for my sinful life, Restoration of my spirit during hard times, and God you  Remain  with me as you wait for me to Relinquish my needs and all of my difficult circumstances into your sovereign hands. God you Refresh me and you Reward me! You have cared for me from the beginning of my life and will be with me forever. Only a God like you could have orchestrated such a perfect plan. What a beautiful picture of you loving goodness and mercy. Thank you Jesus, you are an amazing Shepherd.
In Your Name I Pray. Amen.