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The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

All great love stories seem to have the same general plot. You have the hero, the villain and the beautiful damsel in distress that needs to be rescued. The hero will often risk his own life in a battle to the end in order to win the love of his life. No one will stop the mighty man of valor from destroying the enemy in order to win the hand of the one he loves.

When I read Zephaniah 3:17 that’s what I think of, a love story like none other. The God of the universe loves me so much the he pursues me. He will not be denied. The villain is dastardly. It can be relational dysfunction. It can be addictions or worry or an unforgiving spirit. It can be bitterness or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Whatever it is that attacks me is no match for the power of this mighty warrior who refuses to let me fail.

In the midst of the battle I grow weary. I question whether I’m worth the fight. I see myself as weak and unattractive. I focus on my failures and my past mistakes. Sometimes I even willingly put myself in position for the enemy to attack!

He will not be thwarted. He will not allow me to fall victim to the strategy of the enemy. When I’m at my worst, the mighty warrior is at his best, staying by my side and taking great delight in me.

During those darkest nights. During those times when the battle seems too great and the enemy seems ready to claim the final victory over my soul, I hear music. I hear a beautiful love song in my ear. I listen and am surprised to hear that I am the subject of the love song! Imagine that! Even though I fail on daily basis, the God of heaven takes such great delight in me that he writes a song just for me. In the midst of the battle, that is what I want to remember. I want to hear the words of love and praise my Father in Heaven has for me. I am loved deeply. I’m worth the fight. My warrior will rescue me no matter what the enemy may say.

PRAYER: Father God, my mighty warrior. I’ve failed so many times. My past is strewn with lost battle after lost battle against the enemy. Still, you love me so much you take great delight in who I am. Such truth is too great for me to comprehend. Forgive me for those times I’ve rebelled and ignored your presence. Thank you for your forgiveness, your love and my very own love song. In Jesus name, Amen.


The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

Tragedy brings people together. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and the devastation of conflict or famine awaken a part of us that says, “I’ll help you”. Those motivate to help aren’t limited to social class, race or ethnic groups or religious orientation. In fact, sometimes those who are the most financially insecure are the ones who will give more (percentage-wise) than the wealthy.

All of that is good, but sometimes the biggest hurts people experience are the ones where they suffer alone. A broken heart doesn’t show itself in public. We’ve learned how to hide that behind a false smile, and various activities like drugs, new relationships, political and social action or even religion. Some people spend their entire lives doing ‘things’ to try to cure the pain of a broken heart.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with in relation to a broken heart is that we often suffer alone. Oh, we have friends and neighbors who bring food and comfort during times of mourning and illness. There’s often community and government help to rebuild houses and businesses destroyed by natural disaster. But while that may help soothe the pain, it doesn’t cure the pain.

All the food and all the human comfort and all the financial support in the world won’t heal a broken heart. That’s where Jesus comes in. Well meaning friends and compassionate governments can restore physical property, but only Jesus can come alongside you and completely understand your pain. He may not remove the obstacles in your life, but he can give strength to endure in the battle.

It was Jesus who stood beside the mom who’d lost her daughter. It was Jesus who wept over the death of a dear friend. It was Jesus who stood by the desperate father of a demon-possessed, seizure stricken little boy. It was Jesus who brought hope to the woman at the well, a victim of broken relationships, who’d not only had five husbands, but after five divorces she could no longer take the chance of failing again.  It was Jesus who provided the food for over 5,000 hungry men, women and children. He calmed storms, gave hope to the crippled and restored those victimized by religious intolerance.

What is your struggle today? What pain are you hiding because no one else understands? Jesus Christ promises to come along side you. He understands your pain like no one else. He alone can bring peace in the midst of your storm.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Although I’m smiling on the outside for the world to see, my soul aches today. No one understands how I feel. I’m afraid to share my true feelings with those around me for fear of being misunderstood. Thank you for understanding me. Comfort me in my distress. In your name I pray, Amen.


He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds Titus 2:14 (NLT)

Freedom. It’s something that every one of us wants to have. It means so many things to so many people. To the child freedom means ice cream for every meal and the absence of fruits and vegetables for every meal.

To the political activist freedom means rules and government involvement to a minimum. Religion defines freedom by a list of rules and dogmas that must be followed in order to, someday, attain freedom. Every war, every political party, every religion has freedom as a basic tenant.

As a human race we’ve never done well with freedom. From the first day, when Adam and Eve set foot in the garden God gave them freedom. “Do anything you want. Anything at all. Just don’t eat from that one single tree.” We failed to handle the complete freedom God gave us in the garden and have been struggling to regain it ever since.

The real tragedy in our quest for freedom is that in Jesus we already have it. God saw that man would never, in his own power, be able to be completely free. That’s why he sent Jesus. Jesus death and resurrection gives us the freedom to be everything we were created to be.

So what keeps you from living in that freedom? Is it addiction? Is it lust for the things you want in your old self, the flesh? Is it the daily reminders sent from the enemy that you are a failure and always will be? It is the exhaustion from trying to please a bunch of outdated religious rules? Is it the fatigue encountered by trying to please others or the futility of placing your value on the size of your bank account or the depth of a human relationship? Is it anger, hate or bitterness from being hurt?

Jesus tells each of us, “You don’t need to struggle anymore. Rest in me. I can take the guilt away. My only rule is to love me and get to know me more. Church won’t do that. Rules, relationship and resources won’t do that. Only faith in me will give you true freedom. His freedom gives you permission to be you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I want to be free. I want to be free of worry, hate, guilt, anger, my desire for things and a whole list of other things that have held me captive. Religion hasn’t done it for me. People have failed me. I’ve failed myself. Empower me by your Spirit to live in the freedom you came to give me. Give me wisdom to grow in relationship to you so that I know how that freedom looks in my life. In your name I pray, Amen.


A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

Christian author and speaker Charles Swindoll states, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Each of us chooses how we will react to life and all that comes with it.

When people encounter trials in life they may try to blame someone, an ex-spouse who cheated on them and left them for some other, younger prize, a boss that refused to trust them, abusive or non-existent parents, a tough childhood.

Other people blame God. “If God is a God of love and justice why did this happen? If He is so powerful why can’t He change this situation I’m in? He must not love me or He’s angry at me, or He’s too weak or too uninterested to act.”

Still other people blame themselves. “I’m no good. I’m a loser, I will never amount to anything.”

The problem with these kinds of attitudes is that they don’t only affect the person harboring these destructive thoughts, they affect everyone around them. Everyday people wake up and make a decision (consciously or unconsciously) about the day they will have. Chances are, the decision they make will come true. If today is going to be sunny and warm with flowers all around and birds chirping, then that is probably the way the day will go.

If they decide the day will be cold and stormy with frequent flashes of lightning and hail, then you’d best hope you aren’t in the path of the storm.

Just as a negative attitude is contagious, so is a positive one. But positive attitudes that will bring change to your world have to have a solid base. ‘Happy all the time’ emotions are shallow and flaky. People will see through them right away. But a heart that is at peace in all circumstances brings calm to a situation and can even bring joy.

Positive attitudes are a choice each of us must make. Real happiness is a choice we make based on our faith belief that God is bigger than any problem that comes our way. Positive attitudes based solely on human emotion are sure to fail because they are based on human strength which will never stand during the storms of life.

As you go about your day today, chances are you will run into crabby people along the way. Hopefully you aren’t one of them! Choose from the moment you get out of bed that today will be a good day. Show it to the crabby lady behind the convenience store counter with a kind word and a smile (no matter how bad her service is).

Show kindness to the sarcastic and demeaning policeman as he pulls you over for speeding, causing you to be late for work.

Show humility to your boss when you try to explain why you are late…again.

Show patience by not kicking the dog when you get home because it’s been one of those days!

The happiness you show others will brighten their day as well as yours, plus it brings glory to God. Don’t let your reactions to others be based on the fickle, shifting sands of human emotion. How you react to them will either make their day better or worse and it’s all under your control.

PRAYER: Father I ask that you would help me to be a source of happiness and joy to each person who crosses my path today. May my life shine in such a way that Your name is glorified and the pain of others is lessened just because they crossed my path. I pray these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, amen.


Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

I love big, juicy, red raspberries. One day I decided I would plant my very own raspberry patch. I took some apple seeds from an apple I’d just eaten and went into my yard. I found a place in my yard that would be nice and convenient for me, right under a large oak tree and close to the house. I threw the seeds down on the ground and went into the house. I made sure there was just enough rain and sunshine for my plants. A few days latter the seeds had begun to grow several nice raspberry plants and in a few weeks I went out to pick my own bucket of fresh, juicy red raspberries.

If you know anything about gardening you know that the story above is pure foolishness. You can’t grow raspberries from apple seeds; you can’t just throw seeds on hard, uncultivated ground and expect them to grow; and most importantly of all, you can’t control the rain or the sunshine.

In order to have a healthy crop of whatever I want to plant there are some basic rules that need to be followed. Rule number one: plant the right kind of seed. If I want raspberries, plant raspberry seeds! Rule number two: plant my seeds in ground that is prepared for them. Rule number three: wait patiently. Plants don’t mature overnight and fruit can take years to develop. Rule number four: All my preparing, planting and patience will do no good without divine help. God is the one that controls the rain and the sunshine.

The same four rules apply to life. If we want to see positive things in our lives we need to plant positive seeds. Planting seeds of understanding and compassion will eventually produce love. Planting seeds of forgiveness and acceptance will eventually produce trust. Planting seeds of humility will eventually produce respect. Planting seeds of discipline and accountability will eventually produce self-confidence.

Planting positive seeds not only produces good fruit, it keeps disease from attacking us. When we plant positive seeds anger, bitterness, loneliness and hate will have less of an impact on us.

Producing fruit isn’t painless. Imagine the pain the soil must feel when we churn it up and rip out all the dead roots and rocks to make it healthy. Imagine the loneliness of the seed as it lays in the darkness of the ground waiting for growth to begin. Imagine the frustration of the young plant as it anxiously awaits the first buds the signal the beginning of fruitful growth.

None of this will happen of course without rule number four. Healthy fruit in our lives begins with God and ends with God. He is the one that needs to be involved in showing us all the ugly stuff that needs to be removed from our lives for fruit to flourish. He is the one that gives us wisdom and patience in knowing where to plant, when to plant and how to plant positive seeds in the ones around us. He alone can bring fruit in the lives of others and us.

PRAYER: Father God. I want to make a difference in my world. I want to be fruitful in my own life as well as producing fruit in the lives of others. I ask that you would show me the things in my own life that need to be removed in order to produce fruit. Give me patience with others when they don’t ‘grow’ at the rate I was hoping for. Protect as I patiently cultivate the relationships in my life so that they may produce healthy fruit as well. In Jesus name, Amen.

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