God loves you no less

man kneeling at a church pew

I had started a technology company and had a handful of employees. I had bootstrapped the company – no venture capital. At this point, the company was about four years old. I had expensive professional employees. Most held advanced degrees. 

We’d experienced steady growth. Never once during those four years had I missed a payroll. God always provided.

One day, close to a payroll, I went through the company’s financials. It looked grim. Even if I didn’t draw a paycheck, there just wasn’t nearly enough to do a partial payroll. All of my cash was tied up with “work-in-progress.” I was deeply concerned, but God had led me to start this business, and He’d never failed me.

On the morning of payday, my company’s cash flow was the worst I’d ever experienced. Realizing this was a watershed moment for the company, I rushed to my church’s office. I asked the pastor and everyone there to join me in prayer for God to overcome this moment that otherwise would harm my staff and crush the company. We prayed. God provided. The payroll was fully met that day.

God Loves You No Less

This crushing financial event in my life is why I relate so strongly to King Hezekiah’s actions when an invading force conspired to crush him and all of Judah. But God miraculously saved him and his people from destruction. 

Look at what King Hezekiah did when he heard the threat: Isaiah 37:1 (ESV), “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord

I didn’t tear my clothes or put on sackcloth, but I tore my heart and humbled myself before Father God, and I went to the house of the Lord. 

God loves you no less than me. When you are “hard pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8),” and all seems lost, tear your heart, run to your church, gather Godly people around you, and pray. God will hear, and you may see inexplicable events unfold, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).

Photo by Sam Rios on Unsplash

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You Need a Log

a small pond surrounded by trees

In the wilderness of Shur, the Israelites had no water. At Marah, they had water, but it was bitter (poisonous); so that they could not drink it. 

We find this account in Exodus 15:23-25 (ESV): When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

God Leads us to Bitter Waters

There’s a great lesson (probably several) in this brief passage of Scripture. God often leads us to “bitter water,” not to be cruel but to use us for change.

Moses and all of Israel arrived where God led them, but what they found was unsuitable for them or anyone. Immediately all of the Debbie Downers began complaining. Wow, if you’ve ever been in a leadership role of any kind, you know how “helpful” whining and complaining is to solving problems!

We’re There for a Reason

Nevertheless, God put His people there for a reason. And He will do the same for each of us. Why? Because God chooses to use His children to affect change; to transform bitter waters into sweet waters. We are well equipped for these assignments because the Holy Spirit lives within us, and He intends to use us to point people to Jesus.

No, we don’t walk around with blessed logs that we’re to through into bitter situations (there’s a lawsuit). What God does is show us the tool, the instrument of change, the “log” that He has prepared to transform situations, problems, people that are poisonous into something wholesome, healthy, and refreshing.

Don’t Panic

Don’t panic, don’t join the complainers but pray, seek God’s will, ask for the Holy Spirit to show you the “log” that is needed and then act in faith and watch God work. When once you’ve experienced this, you will desire God to lead you to the next crises; well, maybe not, but you’ll sure be ready!

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash 

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Children Running

Right at this moment, I hear children running, and screaming with glee. Today is the first day of school and this is their first recess of the year. There seems to be an imperative within kids that when exiting a school building and entering a playground that they must run and scream and burst forth with joy and that’s just fine with me.

Upon this first day of school, each child is a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit fuller of anticipation of what the future may hold for them. What joy this brings to both my wife and I. You see, we live behind a school. It is all an open field between us and the school. Over 200 yards of empty.

The kids of this school, like most schools, are full of hopes, dreams, social challenges, social victories, and all that comes with an environment built to affirm the value of each child.

For me, I’ve reached a point in life when birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and such have lost their excitement; not their joy but just their newness. In this process, I see within me the mechanics of what often happens as people age.

Shrinking World

So often, older people shrink their world, they become hesitant of change, they close their pockets, and close their minds. But I have determined that I will have none of that. Whatever I have, that is good or of value, has come from Jesus.

I have not forgotten who I really am. I am that young man, standing in the dark, outside a social gathering, hoping I could find someone to help me get a job because I had failed in all my efforts. That’s the real me. All else is the work of the Holy Spirit within me.

Anything good that can be found in me or from me is not of me or is mine. That which is of value or is just or right is what Jesus, my Lord and Savior, placed within me. Therefore, how can it be that I should allow myself to be stingy, withhold my help, or haphazardly pass judgement upon others. No!

I pray, oh my Father, in the Name above every name, that Name of Jesus of Nazareth, help me to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2 ESV) Oh God, I pray you would impregnate me with Psalms 112:5, which says:

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;    
who conducts his affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5 ESV

May I never deal harshly or haphazardly with anyone made in Your image, my God. Amen.

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It’s mine :-\

A friend and I were talking about Notre Dame and the French backlash to the large donations by some wealthy people and employers. He asked me, “Do you know the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution?” I said, “No?” He said, “The Americans didn’t want anyone to be a king while the French wanted everyone to be a king!”

It has amazed me to read about French protests against the people and employers that are contributing to the rebuilding of Notre Dame. PBS published an article about this.  I guess I shouldn’t be amazed since this is the natural, worldly response to acts of love. Just read Luke 12:3-5:

Luke 12: (NIV)
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”

That’s the same spirit we see today when someone gives something of great value. Instead of rejoicing, people in their greed say, “Give it to us, instead!” But when we read Christ’s parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) we see Jesus affirming the right of a person to give their money as they chose. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 20:13-15, “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

Praise be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33) and its ways. Through Jesus, we too overcome the world (1 John 5:4).

Zoom It, Henry!

The dream of almost every child in America is to have a chance to play in baseball’s World Series. In the 1993 movie, “Rookie of the Year,” the lead character, a young boy named Henry Rowengartner, gets that chance. It’s a favorite family movie of ours.

Throughout the movie, Henry’s coach called him every name in the book except Henry until the very end. Nevertheless, Coach always kept his eye on Henry and made sure he was cared for.

Likewise, we can rest in our walk with Christ. We read in Isaiah 41:13 (NIV), “ For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” and in Psalm 34:15 “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;

All the politics and opposing team’s tricks can’t thwart the will of God, and faith in God’s Son puts you right in the middle of where the action is! That’s the place to be and the place where you are the most protected. Remember, you’re in the big leagues! And, that’s good news.

Our path is no surprise to God

My dad was a child of the Great Depression and was in WWII. He knew hard times. As God began to guide Dad into his lifelong career of teaching, he had to earn his credentials. As was always the case for Dad, God cleared the way. He worked the night shift as an electrician at Allis-Chalmers while working on his Bachelor’s degree. The company decided to invest in Dad and agreed to pay his full salary while he finished. Then, the head office closed the plant, but Dad still got paid.

Dad started on his Masters and fed the family on the meager wages of a Graduate Assistant. With Mom and Dad, both being graduates of the Depression, we made it through. With his Master of Science degree in hand, Dad was hired as an assistant professor at Bradley University and quickly promoted to associate professor while working on his Doctorate in Higher Education. (He got it.)

Dad felt bad about not spending much time with me so when he went to the university each Saturday he brought me and turned me loose in the electricity and electronics labs. Most of the stuff was WWII surplus, but I had a ball. I was ten years old and wiring up 3 phase, 240 VAC motors, building tube amplifiers and learning the difference between the smell of a burnt resistor and the smell of a burnt transformer.

When Dad talked his doctoral committee into letting him learn the Fortran programming language instead of French, Dad decided to teach me Fortran since the best way to learn something is to teach it. By the end of being eleven, I was sitting in the university’s computer room writing programs.

For the next fifty years, I designed electronic products and wrote programs. Well, that was after my stupid years when I was going to be a musician. (I did grow up in the 60s.) But even during those years I was taking college electronics classes in high school and working the university’s TV production department. God was guiding, but not forcing.

My point is this: Way back during WWII, when Dad was transferred from the Manhatten Project to teach the new Teletype technology, God was continuing Dad on his path as a teacher, while also introducing him to Mom, his future bride, and crafting a fantastic life for Dad’s future daughter and laying the plans for Dad’s son to make his living building stuff. And, God has done the same kinds of things, and more, for you.

It doesn’t matter, at all, what your childhood was like. That can’t be changed. The trials and disappointments in your life hurt and took their toll. Nevertheless, you are here, now, and God knew you would be here, now, and He planned for that. Oh, you could have done other stuff. I could have gone to Califonia to be a musician, but God was gracious to the world and saved it from that. We are all free to chose our path, but our path is not a surprise to God. He loves you more than you can even comprehend.

So, take heart, look what your God said: However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

Photo: By waelder - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1962578

Comment: I wrote many Fortran programs using this exact model of punch card. It took 24 hours to get the results back so even the smallest syntax error would add a day to the completion time. Now we want web pages to load in less than 2 seconds. My how the world has changed!

God has a plan for you

Dad joke: I’m too poor to pay attention!

God doesn’t have a dream for you because He sees whom He intended you to be before you were ever born. Too often, we deny God because His intent for us is more significant than our trust in Him. Or, perhaps, we are just too distracted by the cares of life to notice the door God’s opened.

God picks individuals and gives them individual assignments. For us to get our assignment, we have to pay attention, and we must have our faith in Jesus, not our faith in our faith.

With great confidence, I can say that God has a great purpose for your life. Perhaps you are already living it. If so, praise God. If not, don’t surrender to “could’a, should’a, would’a”. God’s plan for you is still available. God is the God of second chances. But, it can only be acquired by faith in God. Answer God’s call. Walk with Jesus the next time He calls you, just like the disciples in Matthew 17:1: “…Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James…

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

Help!

I’m old enough that I watched the Beatles debut on the “Ed Sullivan Show”. My older sister actually lost her mind. She was on the phone with her best friend and they were crazy people. However, it was then that I became a fan of the Beatles’ music; not necessarily of the individuals. Nevertheless, their music gave a voice to good things and the problems young people were facing. For me, this was especially true with John Lennon’s self-referencing song “Help!”. 

The opening stanza says:

Help! I need somebody.
Help! Not just anybody.
Help! You know I need someone. Help!

We’ve all felt that way at one time or another. I fact, you may be feeling that right now. No doubt the prophet Jeremiah wanted to yell for help when he realized what God was asking of him. So, God said to him, “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” (Jeremiah 1:19)

Now that we are on the other side of the Cross, the good news is that Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans in this world. (John 14:18). We’re not down and out like B.B. King sang, “Even the air I breathe is used.” 

For Christians, Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. (John 14:15-18) So, when we cry out, “Help! You know I need someone.”, God is right there with us but we do need to ask. We need to pray continually.

We are not orphans in this world. (John 14:18) and Jesus is our mediator with God (1 Timothy 2:5). He intercedes on our behalf to God the Father, and we have God the Father, “Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”(Nicene Creed) caring for us. This is why, instead of yelling, “help! I need someone,” we can sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God, Almighty
Early in the morning, our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty
God in three persons,blessed Trinity

God Almighty is our hope and our Deliverer. So, today, I pray:
Father God, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, in the name of Your only begotten Son, Jesus, my Lord, and my Redeemer, I thank you that your mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and I am not without help “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:7). Therefore, I ask now, that you would extend your mercies and grace to the people and their families that join me in these devotionals as we take time to learn from You and to be changed, advanced in our relationship with you, our God. Amen.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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