Scrolling through social media apps, what do you see? Pictures, always pictures. Pictures of the family, dog, scenery, parents, siblings, work, co-workers, the list goes on. All those pictures show the best of the best, but things aren’t always as they appear. If you look closely at the above picture, you see what appears to be a mother and daughter. A happy and healthy family is what you see. Let me explain what I see. I see an aunt who took it upon herself to protect her niece when her mother couldn’t. I see a niece that loves her aunt as a mother. I see a grieving sister. I see a growing child who was robbed of the opportunity to know her mom due to the selfishness of others. I see my daughter displaying the ultimate love for her sister by raising her child.
My girls fought. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was bad. They were each other’s biggest cheerleader but worst enemies. I’m grateful that they resolved their differences two days before the accident. I’m grateful that they had one another and I’m grateful that my granddaughter has her aunt.
Families are not always blood and they don’t have to be. Families fight for each other, love unapologetically and stand up for one another. Every family has a weird person. If you don’t know who that is, it’s probably you. But….it’s ok. You’re ok. Maybe you have an aunt that is now your mom. Maybe grandma is your mom. And maybe, like me, your cousin is your mom. We must love people where they are and no matter what the situation is.
My oldest daughter was pushed. She was pushed by her sister-in-law. Pushed into driving fast. Pushed into losing control of her car. Pushed into an accident. Those same people made a mockery of her death and funeral. Her sister and I were subjected to many episodes of bullying behavior. We were told that we should have died. We didn’t love her. She died hating you. We had no right being at the funeral. Every tear that you cried was fake, I was told. You are evil, I was told. You will never see your granddaughter again, I was told. BUT GOD…(vengeance does belong to God). He knew exactly what He was doing. In 424 days, I have realized His purpose and His plan to take my daughter. I’ve never been mad at God even though I have every right to be. His plan was for my granddaughter to be rescued and He used her aunt to make it happen. I miss my daughter incredibly. 424 days later, I still see Him working and I will see my daughter again.
‘Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.’
Paul challenged the Galatian church to stand firm in their faith and not to return to the bondage of the law. Deliverance from the curse that law pronounces on the sinners who has been striving unsuccessfully to achieve his own righteousness. Making a commitment to God mean that He demands your attention. Just like any relationship worth pursing, we must give attention, nurture and cultivate those relationships. Our relationship with God is no exception. He demands immediate obedience. When you are told to do something, you must listen and obey. God doesn’t give us suggestions but instead give us commands. It is a privilege for us to do His work. He doesn’t call just anyone to a particular place for a particular task. It is like being a member of a ball team and just standing on the court not playing. We will not be productive and we will not be showing God’s love just standing there in the middle of the court. It is an honor to know that God placed you in a particular place for a particular reason. Enjoy that thought. You were made for a reason. He had plans for you when you were created by Him. When we pray to Him, He promises that He will listen. He wants that conversation with us. There is nothing we can say to Him that He won’t understand. As David told his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9, ‘the Lord searches all hearts and understand all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you.’ Are we really seeking? Are we really committed? Do we really surrender all? If we are honest, you will probably admit that we surrender about a quarter of our lives. That means that we are only about a quarter full. Our cups do not run over. If our cups are dry, how can the love of God overflow onto others? Correct me I’m wrong but isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing here? Filled with Christ and the overflow from our worship fall onto others so that they see His love through us? You see, that is the definition of true freedom, being ‘full’ of God. Keeping the tank on F. Drinking in His spirit from the Living Water, Feeding on His Word. Finding rest in His Peace and becoming a light so that others can see a path directly to Him. Anything else we do in life is unimportant.
Let’s concentrate on the word steadfast. It is an interesting word. It is one of those words that the meaning could be misunderstood. Steadfast means unwavering, firmly fixed, constant, firmly loyal or totally dependent upon. Over 200 times the word steadfast is mentioned in the Bible.
Proverbs 4:26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. I’m reminded of the kid’s song that says, oh be careful little feet where you go. That is exactly what this verse tells us. Don’t go where you don’t belong and be firmly fixed in the ways of God.
Isaiah 54:10 ‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.’ His constant love shall never leave you. He moves mountains and removes hills. Climbing those mountains and hills are daunting. Allow Him to move them for you and you will never be alone.
Psalm 103:8 ‘The Lord is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. Constant – never changes, never stops. Unlike humans who leave us, forsake us and seek to destroy us; God never does. He is merciful and gracious to us always.
Grasp the full definition of steadfast. God is unwavering, He never changes. His is firmly fixed in His love for us. He is constant with His grace and mercy. He is firmly loyal and we can fully and totally depend on Him.
10 characteristics of God to encourage and strengthen you.
God can’t get tired.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.
God can’t take on a job he can’t handle.
Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.
God can’t be unholy.
And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
God can’t be prejudiced.
In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him.
God can’t break a promise.
My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.
God can’t remember sins he’s chosen to forget.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins.
God can’t make a loser.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.
—2 Corinthians 2:14
God can’t abandon you.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
God can’t stop thinking about you.
How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you.
God can’t stop loving you.
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Are you spiritually bankrupt? Have you gotten to the end of your rope only to find that the know is untied? Are you fighting an uphill battle with no end in sight? Here’s hope…. Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Our lives are like a car wreck. Sometimes we spin out of control. Our worlds are flipped upside down. We lose control of the wheel because we didn’t see another car coming. Sometimes the music is too loud that we cannot focus on the road. Stopping the spinning is what God does best. He can make sure the seat belt is tightened and readjust our focus. Sometimes we must have the wreck so that He can get our attention. We must rest in the promise that no matter what happens, God is still in control. He doesn’t want to be the co-pilot but rather the pilot. He doesn’t want us drifting around on the water but rather He wants us to anchor to Him. Once we stop and sit at His feet for a while, we can see the other car coming and we can focus on the path that we are on so that the distractions of life do not get in the way of our worship. Because of this, we can have hope in Him. We place our hope in many things. Our family (they will always disappoint us), our friends (some have their own agenda), our jobs (everyone is replaceable). What if we placed our hope in Someone who truly deserves it? Fire, earthquakes, famine, war…. after these take place, what is left? Put your faith and hope in God Almighty. Put your faith and hope in the One who truly deserves of our time and energy. He created us to worship Him. He created us to have hope in Him.
Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Contentment is being satisfied with who we are and where we are at this particular moment in time. We miss so much in the present because we are worried about tomorrow or looking back to yesterday. Luke 9:10-17 isn’t just a story about Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5000 but a story about teaching the disciples about being content. The journey had been long and weary. Jesus told the disciples to give the multitude something to eat but they only had 5 loaves and 2 fish. In their mind, the best solution might have been to send the people away. Jesus equipped the disciples, we are also equipped with everything we need to minister to others. Jeremiah 1:5 ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.’ 1 Peter 2:9 ‘ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ The power of God is inside of those who know Him. A content person will bless it, break it and it will multiply. Our journey can be weary but we are equipped and because we are equipped, we should be content. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to your circumstances and ask Him how you can use it to minister to others. If you feel there is no hope, read Luke 9:17, the leftover fragments were taken up by the multitude (12 baskets full, one for each disciple). Not only does God give exceedingly, abundantly above what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), He is always on time and will give us the peace that we need to be content.
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
Therefore, David blessed the Lord before all the assembly and David said: “Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness. The power and the glory, the victory and the majesty. For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.
David’s prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving, praise and a petition. He openly praised God. Not just praised Him in general but praised Him for power, glory, victory and majesty in all things. David exalted God above everything. He simply acknowledged that He is Lord of all and mortal man is nothing. His name is excellent in all the earth. Everything is the work of His hands. He created all things and we should praise Him with uplifted hands all day, every day. He is the refuge, strength of our lives, source of peace. He is mercy and justice. He is love, constant and hope.
I’ve learned a lot of things in my life but probably the most important are these:
- Hurt people hurt people. When we are hurt, something inside of us is damaged and we can harbor those feelings in our hearts. When we open our mouths, what is inside our heart comes out. If we harbor hurt, that is what comes out. Misery loves company. Are you ever jealous of someone who seems to have it all-together? People put the best of the best on social media. People put a smile on their faces and hide what is wrong inside. We use those posts and those smiles as a barometer for our lives. Everyone has hurts and everyone has disappointments. We must choose to use our words to uplift instead of tear down.
- The way people treat you is not a reflection of you but rather a reflection of themselves. Refer to number 1. When we are down, we lash out. When we are up, we uplift. Our goal in life is to find others who have been hurt (look to your left and to your right because they are everywhere), and use our experiences to be a positive influence in their lives. God gives us things and circumstances for a reason….to help others heal.
- Confident people will build you up and never tear you down. Confidence does not equal arrogance. A person can be confident and strong. Confident people want everyone to be loved and accepted.
- An encouraging word travels a long way. Our words are powerful. I’m reminded of the old rhyme, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. The truth is that words do hurt. Our words can cut to the core of our person. People are careless of the words they use. Ultimately, they can cause more damage than good if we aren’t careful.
- If you love someone, tell them…and show it. Our hearts are overjoyed when someone tells us that they love us; how about if we showed them? Small things make such a big difference.
- Random acts of kindness can change someone’s day, week or life. Random acts can be big or small. They can be as simple as buying a coffee or lunch for someone and as large as donating an organ. Random act today!
- Invest in others. Changing the trajectory of someone’s life…. our job! Jesus told us to love all people as ourselves. All people, not just the ones in our neighborhood. Not just the ones who have the same skin color as us or even the one who believes like we do. All people. When God sees us, He doesn’t see color, religion or even social status, we see those things. Challenge yourself to be more Christ like and look upon others the way He does. Invest in their lives. Show people that you care. Go the extra mile.