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Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Colossians 1:15

mirror mirror 2.2.16Most people don’t like to look in the mirror. Looking in the mirror reveals all of our blemishes, at least in our own eyes. Usually, when we do look we look with a critical eye, wanting to make sure we look our very best. Mirrors don’t hide anything. When you see yourself in the mirror, you see exactly what everyone else sees.

One day, just before Jesus was brutally murdered by an angry mob, Philip, one of his disciples, made a very stunning request. Jesus had just announced that he would be leaving them. I can’t imagine how that made his followers feel. They had lived with him for three years. They had left all they had to follow him. Now he was going to leave. How could they possibly understand?

So, in the midst of this distress, Philip says, “Show us the Father and that will be enough.”

I don’t think we gentile believers can really grasp the significance of that statement. Jehovah God, YHWH, was revered, feared and distant to most Jewish believers. Many saw him as demanding and ready to show his wrath at the drop of a hat.

Jesus had shown them a different vision of the Father’s Kingdom. It was a Kingdom of grace and mercy; of healing and restoration; of forgiveness and hope. Still they didn’t completely understand.

When Philip made his request I envision Jesus turning to him and looking him square in the eyes. Maybe he placed his hands on Philip’s shoulders to make sure he had all his attention. Then he said (my paraphrase), “Philip. Look at me. When we look at me you see the Father”.

When he said that to Philip I can imagine Philip looking into Jesus’ eyes and seeing the woman caught in adultery who left pardoned rather than condemned; of him healing the blind man and delivering him from his spiritual and physical darkness; of him returning a now breathing young man to his mother, who celebrated his new life.

Some see God as being an angry task master intent on making our lives miserable. I don’t. I see a loving father who earnestly desires for us to come to him for healing, encouragement, guidance and protection. When I see God I see Jesus hanging on a cross for my sin. When I see God, I see an empty tomb and realize that everything I fear, even death, has been defeated.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I bow before you in awe at who you are. Thank you for revealing to me the great love and patience your Father has for me. Forgive me for the times I’ve doubted and rebelled. Help me to live and love the way you showed us to live and love. Amen.

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For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:14

understandsHave you ever felt like a complete and utter failure? Ever looked at what you are supposed to accomplish and realize that there I no way you’ll be able to fulfill the task before you?

A friend of mine told me about a situation he had to face at a new job he’d recently started. His responsibilities included marketing a particular event and although he did everything he could to promote it, the numbers didn’t look good. In fact they looked horrible.

“I remember losing sleep over the whole situation. Did I do enough? Would my boss see my efforts? Was my job in jeopardy? Those were the thoughts that plagued me throughout the night.”

The next morning my friend got a phone call from his boss. In the course of the conversation his boss told him several stories of his own failures as he started his business. “We’re going to stumble before we walk and walk before we run.”

My friend’s faith in himself and his job were restored that day because he realized that his boss understood what it was like to endure disappointment and failure.

That situation is an excellent example of God’s response to our own weakness. We fail on a daily basis. For some of us those failures are huge and cause destroyed relationships or consequences that will follow us for a lifetime. Some of us struggle with addictions that would embarrass us if they became public. Regardless of how hard we try to change, it’s impossible.

Not only do we struggle with weakness, a natural consequence of those weaknesses is the guilt, frustration and shame that go along with it.

When you look failure in the face for the hundredth time, remember this. You were created by the God of the universe. He knows how work inside and out. The Psalmist writes “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

Of all the reasons I believe God is good, this is perhaps the best one. He knows I’m weak. He knows how I work. I don’t need to explain myself. Even though my actions may surprise me they never surprise him. He understands me better than I understand myself.

God is good. He understands.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many ways in which I feel too weak to accomplish all I have to do. So many times I’ve failed you, others or myself. Thank you for understanding me in my weakest moments. In Jesus name, Amen.


He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the Eagle’s! Psalm 103:5

blessedShe sat in my office in tears. After telling her husband for weeks that something was wrong with the car, it finally broke down on her way to work. Her husband was out of town so he was unable to help her.

When she was able to compose herself, I gently asked her a few questions. I knew this marriage was in trouble and sometimes, in a strained relationship, the smallest things can be tinder for a bigger fire.

“Were the boys still with you?”

“No, I’d already dropped them off, so I was alone.”

“So, I offered, it’s a good thing they weren’t with you isn’t it?”

“Yes, a very good thing.”

“Where did the car stall?”

“Just after I crossed the highway.”

“Good thing you got across that road! If the transmission had failed as you crossed it could have been tragic.”

“True.” (You could see the wheels start to turn)

“How did you get the car to the shop?”

“I called a couple guys from work. They towed it to the shop for me and since they were very close it didn’t take long at all.”

“That’s good, isn’t it? I mean, a towing bill can be pretty expensive.”

“Yes, and the weather was warmer today than last week. I’d have hated for those guys to work on my car if it had been as cold as it has been.”

“And, you made it to work in time?”

The light finally broke through.

“True. You know, the whole situation was frustrating to be sure, but it could have been so much worse if it had been colder or the boys would have been with me, or I broke down further from home. God was definitely taking care of me wasn’t he?”

Her story wasn’t really any different than ours. So many times in life we come across situations that frustrate us, make us angry, or make us afraid. Sometimes, to be sure, they are serious things that could be life threatening, but many times they are just small annoyances in the journey of life.

God is good. He allows things to come in our lives to test us, but he promises to walk with us along the way. Most of the time we don’t see God’s goodness because we are focusing on the things we want and not seeing how he has provided the things we need.

I’m convinced, from life experiences and scripture, that God’s angels watch over us daily. Who knows how many car accidents we’ve been rescued from because of a slow driver or missing a light. Take time each day to thank God for the little blessings he’s provided throughout the day. Thank him as well for the things you don’t know he’s done to protect and guide you along the right path.

PRAYER: Father God. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve. Thank you for watching over me daily. I especially praise you for the many ways your hand has protected me from unseen dangers and turmoil. Amen.


Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Proverbs 2:3

“She’s leaving for home tomorrow. I don’t want her to go. I love her, but she says we’ll never work out. What can I do?”

Slide1That phone call happened over ten years ago but I still hear the panic in his voice. My friend Bill (not his real name) was several years younger than I was. He was just starting out in life and had finally met the girl of his dreams, although she may have referred to it as a nightmare, not a dream.

Bill had a heart of gold but his youthfulness often got him in trouble because he would often act first, think later (and rarely listen). The woman of his dreams had moved to the Midwest for the summer to stay with a friend and see if things could work with Bill. Obviously, things weren’t going well.

As Bill and I talked on the phone I gleaned a few more details about the situation. His girlfriend told him that the summer had been one of frustration and futility. She was going home because it was obvious things would never work out between them and she didn’t want to waste her time trying to get Bill to listen to her.

I’m no ‘Abigail Van Buren’ but I told Bill that if he really loved her he needed to sit her down, ask her to tell him what needed to happen to make things work, and keep his mouth SHUT. This was not an easy skill for Bill. He would often revert to making excuses, or defending himself or pointing out other people’s weaknesses. Silence and listening weren’t a skill he excelled at.

My advice must have worked. Ten years and three kids later Bill and his bride are happily married. I’d like to take credit, but my advice really wasn’t magic. Each of us need to learn the skill of listening in our relationships with each other and especially with God.

Proverbs 2:3 tells us to “Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.” If you are like me, my prayers are often a list of requests for myself or others. I pray for things and events, but not insight and understanding.

It’s interesting that Solomon would pen this proverb. He chose insight and understanding over power or wealth because he knew that with insight and understanding the rest would probably naturally fall into place.

Bill learned a valuable lesson each of us need to learn. We serve a God that is all-wise and all-knowing and his desire is to share with us what he knows so we can make wise choices in life. We will learn far more about God by listening to him than talking to him. Using his word as a foundation be deliberate and passionate about coming to him. Hebrews says we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, not timidity. (Hebrews 4:16)

PRAYER: Father God, life at times confuses me. Other times it scares me. Help me learn how to listen to you so that I can gain the wisdom I need to approach the issues I’m facing in life. Thank you for your passionate desire to help me through. Amen.

 

 

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