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).

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Say Grace

Marines giving thanks before a meal

Many years ago, we were about to have breakfast with some friends when our four-year-old son announced, “We don’t pray over breakfast!” We’ve prayed over breakfast, and all of our meals since then.

The Bible documents several times when Jesus blessed the food before a meal. We see this when Jesus joined two of HIs disciples on the road to Emmaus on the day He arose from the dead. The Scripture states in Luke 24:30, “When He (Jesus) had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.” 

Paul, too, gave us an example of giving thanks before a meal in Acts 27:35 (ESV):  And when he (Paul) had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.

Before a Meal, I Pray

I spent a large part of my life traveling the world for my work. During those travels, I’ve eaten in some very sketchy places. So I sincerely pray before a meal. I have no doubt these prayers have saved me from significant discomfort. I believe this because of what the Scripture in 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NLT emphasis added) states, “Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Whether we “say grace” or “give thanks” or “ask God’s blessing” or “pray” before eating a meal, we are following the example that Jesus established. He set the precedent for us.

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Prayer Closet

Small shed with lights on

My wife and I have been building an office. We used a shed, had electrical installed, and are now working on the interior. It’s small but big for a prayer closet

I’ll be praying, studying, writing, and perhaps doing some technical stuff in this office. It’s healing to have a place where you can get alone with God – no interruptions!

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mathew 6:6 ESV)

You don’t need an office of your own to get alone with the God of Abrahm, Issac, and Jacob, but you do need a place where you can go to be alone with our God. Just ask Him and He will show you your prayer closet. You’ll never regret it.

Photo by my wife!

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Insurmountable Attacks

police dog practicing

Tumultuous voices come at us from every communication medium and social setting. At times it seems like our best option is to become a social and media recluse. But, of course, as Christians, that’s the exact opposite of our purpose in life. 

How do I stand a chance in a sea of people that would like nothing better than to see me fail? Well, you are in good company. The Bible is full of people that belonged to God and faced insurmountable attacks. It’s part of our job description.

If you want to commiserate with someone, choose Elijah. Read chapters 17-19 of 1 Kings. You’ll feel better.

Pick the Correct Battle

Behind all ungodly decisions are people. Jesus died for us while we were still in our sins (Romans 5:8), and He did the same for the people that are attacking you. We don’t know what God has planned for these people. They may receive Jesus on their deathbeds.

So what should we do? We learn in Ephesians 6:12 (ESV), “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

In the verse, above, “rulers” do not mean human rulers. This verse employs a poetical way for Paul to say “the prince of this world,” meaning Satan, as the Apostle John wrote in John 12:31.

So, what should you do? Pray – ask, ask, and ask again! Read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance – where God guides, He provides. And write or go to people that you would never expect to give you a minute of their time (knock). Remember, you have the promise that Jesus spoke, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 ESV) 

Back to Elijah

While you are in this spiritual battle, ask Father God for His strength. Jumping back to Elijah, the Scriptures state, “And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:46 ESV) 

Regarding the exceptional feat recorded in 1 Kings 18:46, Benson’s Commentary states, “God gave him more than natural strength, whereby he was enabled to outrun Ahab’s chariot for so many miles together.” I pray God will give you this same strength. Amen!

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Weak Hands and Feeble Knees

pic of horse with mountains in the background

Just in case you didn’t get the memo, growing old may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I used to hold the hymn book for my wife, but no longer. I always knelt for morning prayer, but that’s no longer the norm. Aging brings on weak hands and feeble knees. Let me hasten to add that I have no complaints, and I am thankful for this season of my life.

100 Miles Away

Chapter 35 of Isaiah contains amazingly clear statements about the work of Jesus. There’s also compression of time in this chapter. Often what God’s prophets see is what is similar to what we see when we see the Rocky Mountains. They look close, yet they are 100 miles away. Still, we find great comfort in the passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 35:3-4. 

Isaiah 35:3-4 (ESV)

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”

Claim These Words

These words of the prophet may correctly be connected with Hezekiah’s speech in 2 Chronicles 32:7, and may also telescope to the earthly ministry of Jesus. Nevertheless, these words of God go beyond those two historical events; these words apply to all reconciled through the blood of Christ to God. You can claim these, quote these back to God, take refuge in their promise, and be at peace for surely Almighty God hears you.

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A Cluttered Mind

A cluttered room full of books

My wife and I taught each of our kids how to clean up their rooms. So what, you may be thinking. Well, for some reason, each of our kids reached a breaking point when they were overwhelmed by the mess in their room. 

We would tell one of our kids to go clean their room. About 30 minutes later one of us would go into the bedroom and there our cherub would be, laying in their pile of stuff crying. The mess was so overwhelming that they had no clue where to begin.

Unfortunately, my wife and I have different approaches to room cleaning. They both work and kids easily understand both. I’ll give you my version since it’s the right one. 😉

Clutter, Clutter, Everywhere

I’d give our child time to compose himself or herself. I reassure our child, and then I’d have him/her gather everything that was part of the mess and throw it into the middle of their room. When the bed was cleared, all four walls accessible, and the closet door could be opened then I would sit in the middle of the mess. My munchkin was the goffer.

First, the trash went into a large garbage bag and was taken to our trash container. Next, we’d do the clothes and shoes. And that’s how it went. Category by category, we “filed” the stuff away until my child had a tidy, clean room. We both felt good once everything was where it belonged.

I learned about a cluttered mind from a wonderful pastor of our church when we lived on the west coast. He helped me understand the value of uncluttering my mind before I prayed. To this day I still try to do this, and every time I think of Pastor Dwayne. 

Sporadic Thoughts Shoot Thru Your Mind

A cluttered mind can be so wholly distracting that it becomes nearly impossible to pray. With a cluttered mind, as soon as you become quiet, then all these sporadic thoughts begin shooting through your brain. I don’t need to enumerate them, but you know. When you do finally reach the place where you can concentrate on prayer, you start thinking about praying instead of praying. 

When you start to pray, remind yourself that worry is worthless. Take time to honor the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob; the ancient of days. Of course, the best thing is not to let your mind become cluttered. That’s where Isaiah 26:3-4 comes in.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

The phrase “whose mind is stayed on you” is a key to an uncluttered mind. The Hebrew for “stayed” is simply “supported” (סמוּך sâmûk) – shored up, braced, carried. 

Shored up, Braced, and Carried by our God

If we keep our minds shored up, braced, and carried by our God, then we will have less of a mess to clean up during our prayer time. Trust Jesus. Trust the work He has done for you. Go to the Father in the name of Jesus with the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit, and pray!

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God Cares

Sparrows

Sundays seem to be busy days. Locating the shoes you only wear on Sundays, making sure you’re smartphone is charged, and finding your church Bible all see to be allotted for the last five minutes before heading to church. (Am I the only one that has a separate study Bible from my church Bible? My church Bible is also a substitute for a filing cabinet.) Anyway, Sunday mornings can be quite hectic, especially while you’re raising a family.

If you can, take a moment and rejoice in our Lord with me, from Psalms 36:6-7

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Our God Cares

I like what the Pulpit Commentary says about verse six: “The providential care of God for his creatures is another of his leading characteristics, and one especially deserving man’s attention and gratitude. It is a form of his loving-kindness.” And we find these words from Jesus in Luke 12:6: Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 

Our God cares. He cares about the really big things like the condition of this world which He crafted. And God cares about small things; He cares for all the creatures He created which includes my cat, Max. God is beyond our ability to comprehend but He is not beyond our reach. He is never more than a prayer away.

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Because God is Able

Young People Praying for a man

I still have a LinkedIn account. I enjoy it because it enables me to stay in communication with so many fine people with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. Of course some, like me, no longer work but we still try to stay in the loop with the careers in which we invested so much.

To help busy professionals, LinkedIn helps us (wink) write our quick thank-yous, congratulations, and so forth by guessing what we’d like to say and filling it in for us. I don’t remember the event but yesterday LinkedIn filled in for me, “Sending you good thoughts.” What does that even mean? That’s like saying, “I’ll keep you in my thoughts.”

Content-Free Messages

Sending them or keeping them, good thoughts are but a few of the terms I call “content free” messages. In our society content-free messaging is a necessity. We can no longer risk saying something meaningful for it will certainly be misinterpreted, misrepresented, or miserably received. Being in management I heard many presentations that were entirely content free. Those are valuable skills. 😉

Thankfully, I can talk with my Father without fear of a misunderstanding or a fear of reprisal. Yes, it’s true that”…the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6 ESV) However, these are signs of His love and care.

The thing that’s rolling around in my head is this: Isn’t it amazing what a prayer can do? As a Christian my new life began with a sinner’s prayer. From that prayer came a miracle which caused me to be reborn. And each day, as I pray, my trust in the God who answers prayer includes trust in the supernatural work of God for He has said:

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – 
 (Isaiah 55:11 ESV)

Prayer changes things because God is able

George Müller

There was a man named George Müller. He lived in England during the 1800’s and is remembered for living completely by faith in the one true God. During his life he cared for 10,024 orphans and built 117 schools, all accomplished by God, alone. 

Müller’s successes are well known. What isn’t so well known is that he prayed for the salvation of his life-long best friend but his friend never turned to Jesus. However, on the day Müller died his friend received Christ Jesus, not because of Müller’s death for the friend was unaware of Müller’s passing. It was just God answering prayers in miraculous ways.

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Just One of Those Days

A cup of coffee falling

Have you ever had a day where it seemed that you and the universe were out of sync with each other? From the very moment you got out of bed you could tell that it was going to be one of those days.

Your best intentions were met with disaster, confusion or fruitlessness. You got dressed and on the way out of the door you saw a stain or a snag so you ran back and changed your clothes. As you tie your shoes a shoestring breaks. And that’s the way your whole day goes. Why? 

Well, I don’t know why. But I have lived it and it’s not fun. So the next time you and the universe aren’t getting along pray out loud 2 Corinthians 9:8 [1]. Even better, memorize this verse so you’ve got it with you when your phone’s battery is dead.

To get you started, let’s all say this together and replace the word “you” with the word “me” or “I”!

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)

[1] This is only for people that have been reborn through Jesus Christ. 

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Divine Appointment

Appointment Calendar

Several times in my life, I have been out of work. My career was designing and manufacturing electronic / computer products which other companies marketed and sold. As you might guess, my skillset had a minimal market back when very few people even knew what a computer was. 

One of these times, when I had no work, I went to the State Employment office to apply for any job they had. I spent an hour or so waiting to speak with an employment agent. When I gave her my resume and told her what I did, I could tell she wanted to help me, but she couldn’t understand the words coming out of my mouth. IC’s and printed circuits and schematics and such. Finally, she said she would put my name on file. Then she politely ended my brief interview.

Doesn’t God Care?

I had prayed for several weeks, asking God to bring in or lead me to a new business opportunity. Nothing. Finally, I began praying for employment. I checked with some companies that I knew and came up dry. Finally, I surrendered my will; I stopped telling God what He needed to do. I asked Him to provide and promised I’d accept whatever that was. So, I was surprised when the employment agent didn’t find any job for which I could apply.

I remember walking down the stairs, opening the door and walking outside. I was confused. As I meandered toward the crosswalk, I heard a lady’s voice behind me. I stopped. Turning around, I was surprised to see the agent with whom I had just been talking.

She was running after me! A company just called in a job opening, and it sounded like it might be a fit for me. She handed me the name and phone number. Yes, I got the job and worked there for several years. I learned so much during that time. They even paid me to write an operating system which was a big deal back then.

Divine Appointment

During the increasingly desperate days that led up to my new job, Jesus was with me each day. The Holy Spirit was at work, creating a Divine appointment between the company that had a job opening and me.

Not a single day was a waste. Every person that attempted to make me give up hope was actually opening the ear of God to my plea, for I refused to speak faithless words. I determined to live what the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write in 1 Peter 3:10-12 (ESV):

For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

God’s Love For You Is Immeasurable

God loves you. If you are a child of His, then He is eager to answer your prayer. Proverbs 3:5-6 is still true:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths

If you have a need, trust Jesus. Lay down your burden and take the one He gives you. And, as God said in 1 Thessalonians 5  (MSG): Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

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