Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Ps 23:4)
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, or from the mailbox with a handful of bills, or stare at my five-year plan with no idea what I should be doing — God is with me. His name is Emmanuel, God with us. His rod and staff are there to guide me, if I choose to be guided.
Everything we face on a daily basis can be managed with divine insight and help. God knows everything we’re up against. He knows the dark future you can’t see into. He’s there to help. Be humble and ask. Listen with your heart. Be obedient to what you know to be true.
You may make mistakes along the way, but don’t fret about it. God knows and He still has a great plan for you, and that includes your mistakes. Your valley of the shadow of death is just another path that you walk with God. When your eyes are on Him, you don’t see anything scary along the way. He makes every walk a delight.
Our Western culture is not used to the concept of praising God. It sounds like anyone who demands praise is ego-centric. It’s hard to wrap our heads around God asking us to do that. But not only is He justified, He is God after all, there are other reasons for doing it.
When we tell God how great He is, we are reminded of His power. Are there issues in your life that you need a miracle for? Your powerful God is able to be everything that you need. As we praise Him, we are filled with the awareness of His greatness, and suddenly our pressing need doesn’t sound very scary at all.
When we tell Go how beautiful and amazing He is, we begin to see His finger everywhere. We look at sunsets, flowers, a baby’s giggle and know that our amazing God has been at work. Everything that is beautiful is touched by Him.
Our praise to Him actually fills us with a greater understanding of Him. He promised to meet every need and give us joy. That comes from our awareness of who He is. The next time you are in a position to really praise God, pay attention to what He is giving back to you. It will make you praise Him more.
One way to grow in love and faith in God is to think about how amazing He is. Pick one aspect of God, maybe His kindness, and think about it. Give yourself an entire day to just think of all the ways that God has been kind to you. Look up scripture on His kindness. Ask Him to show Himself kind to you. Ask Him to help you show His kindness to other people.
It may be that as you dive into how kind God is, you begin to learn more about it. It may take you another day to keep learning more. Maybe a week. Maybe you just get into how kind God is and take as long as you want to explore it.
Then pick another aspect of God and concentrate on that. You could do that every single day for the rest of your life and never run out of amazing things to dwell on. Get to know God. Get to know how truly awesome He is. It will make you appreciate Him so much. And as you do, you’ll trust Him more because you know Him better. You may discover that He’s not exactly who you thought He was.
The Bible makes it very clear that everything we do should be done in love. 1 Corinthians 13 is the field guide for explaining that. Well, that’s all good and all, but how do you do it? Can you just decide to start acting in love?
To some extent, yes, but that won’t get you all the way. God has to help. You have to hand over your heart to Him and let Him fill you with His Spirit. He has all the love you need.
But there is another element that you need to be truly loving. You need to understand how much God loves you. Until we get to heaven, we may never have a full revelation of what that means, but the more we understand, the more it will change us. Ask God to show you how much He loves you. Ask Him for a real revelation of His love for you.
If you could get your head around God-sized love, enough to suffer and die for you, it will change your outlook on your love for Him and everyone else. And when you do get a picture of that, ask to understand more. His love is deep and you’ll never get to the bottom of it. You can keep learning more and more and never run out.
God wants us to understand His word. When Jesus met the two disciples walking to Emmaus, He explained it to them: And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27)When He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, … He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)
The only reason you may not understand the Bible is because you haven’t asked God to help you. He’s not going to force feed you or give you an instant download. It’s going to take daily reading and prayer and a willingness to hear Him. As you read, listen with your heart. Be ready to unlearn what you thought you knew about somethings. The traditions of men have become strong, so be open to letting God teach you His truth. The Bible is a fantastic revelation of God and will take you deep into His heart.
I love how we have a tidy ideal of what God does and how He acts. But it’s hard to hold onto that when we read the Bible. The Old Testaments prophets were told to do some strange things, like walk around naked or marry a prostitute. Jesus spit on a man to heal him.
I think that God has to go to some extremes with us just to get our attention. We have everything all worked out in our head and God’s trying to show us that He’s not in our plan. Then, when He does something outrageous, we get offended and say it can’t possibly be God, because He doesn’t act like that. But not according to the Bible.
God can act any way He wants, and without our permission. Once we decree what He will or will not do, we set ourselves up for some surprising reactions from heaven. We need to be careful judging what we see. We’re told to test the spirit. If the spirit of God is in the middle of it, then no matter how strange it looks, we’d best not judge it.
It’s always possible for God to do something so far outside the box that we don’t recognize Him. Let’s watch and pray so we don’t miss anything He does. Let’s not be left behind what ever He’s doing.
Everything you need in life is found in God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19) Not part, not some, ALL your needs. God is a God of abundance and riches. He has plenty to give you what ever you need, in every area. Business, relationship, family, goals, dreams — God has the answer.
And not only does God have the answer, He has the perfect answer, whether we chose to believe it or not. He sees what we cannot so His ways will differ from ours, but it will always be for our best. And He is God! His provision will be so much better than we could Micky Mouse together for ourselves.
Over and over again, we are told to fear not. If we put our trust in Him, in every single thing, He promises to take care of us. Will you try it? Will you obey Him? To not trust Him is disobedience. Don’t be like a child who refuses a parent’s help and turns away in stubbornness, only to end up hurting yourself.
Every area of your life can be blessed by God when you allow Him to do what He wants to do for you. Every single area. The thankful child of the King is greatly blessed.
God is such a good Father. He loves us far more than we know. Yes, He will discipline us, but He also wants to bless us. And not with random blessings that may or may not mean anything to us. He wants to bless us with what we really want.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)
He wants to give us those dreams that we hold in our hearts that we may not even tell other people. He sees them. He knows what they mean to us, and He wants to give them. And He will, the condition is that we love Him.
When we love God, we enjoy His company. We love everything about Him– His goodness and kindness and joy. When we delight in Him, He knows it’s safe to bless us with our desires. If we hand over a wish list and expect Him to fulfill it without honoring and loving Him, we treat Him like a vending machine.
Check your heart and see if you are truly loving God. He will be everything you need Him to be when you give Him your love, your heart, and you all. And then be ready to be blessed.
There is something absolutely beautiful about our sanctuary in God. It is a place where God dwells and a place of safety for us. In the old days, the sanctuary was a physical location, but after we receive salvation through Christ, it is our heart. When God lives in us, we become His sanctuary and He becomes our place of safety.
It sounds strange, that our hearts should be a place of safety. But God is in us and He promises to be our shield and protection. In Him there is peace. In Him we can fear not. He said to give no thought to what we eat or drink or wear. He knows all about that and has a plan. We’re responsible to trust Him so He can work it out.
Find that place of sanctuary. Find Him in your heart and feel His peace and His smile. He loves you so much and waits patiently for you to come hang out with Him. And the more you do, the stronger your connection with Him will grow. You’ll feel greater peace and trust Him even more.
Sanctuary is with you wherever you go. You are just a heartbeat away from safety, peace, and help. And there’s more there as well: wisdom, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control. Everything you need is right there waiting. Go find it.
When I was young, communion used to scare me. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (I Cor 11:27) I used to stress about confessing my sins so I would be worthy to take communion. I don’t know what I expected would happen if I wasn’t worthy, but I didn’t want to find out.
As I got older, I began to associate communion with the crucifixion. Any description of the torture of being crucified made me ill. I took communion with a heart full of guilt and pain that Jesus had to suffer that for me.
But today, I take communion with joy. I associate it with Christmas and Easter. It is the reminder of God’s great plan to unite me with Him for eternity. I know about the suffering, but I choose to not dwell on it. The bread and the juice (in my church it’s juice) are elements of salvation and life. It makes me happy because I know that my life in Christ is secure and I can actually have a relationship with God because of His sacrifice. It was not a sacrifice in vain. Because of it, I am reborn and full of destiny. Communion is an act of celebration and gratitude.