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I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2

I try to pride myself on how my yard looks. I like green grass, neatly trimmed shrubs and weed less flower gardens. It involves hours of work, but when I look out over the lawn a certain amount of pride sets in.

That’s one reason why I cringed as I was loading the fertilizer spreader one day in my garage. “Can I help you put fertilizer on today Daddy? I’ll be careful” I heard my six year-old say.

Instantaneously my mind thought of all sorts of reasons why this wouldn’t work. She was too short to walk and hold the spreader…well, no she wasn’t.

It was a big yard and a hard job…but I knew she’d only want to help for a little while and short attention spans in this case are your friend. Minutes, not hours. A hard lesson I learned long ago. A few minutes of inconvenience makes a world of difference in the life of a little one.

I knew the real reason of course. She wouldn’t walk straight. Some areas may be missed, some would get extra fertilizer. It may not look as green and as uniform as I wanted it.

So while I wanted to hear myself say, “Not today honey.” I heard myself say, “Of course sweetheart. I’ll help you.”

She stayed at it longer than I’d hoped. She missed some spots. She walked in wavy lines, not straight. She didn’t do it at all the way I would…and smiled all the way.

The modern translations of Psalm 16:1 don’t give us an entirely clear picture of what is being said according to some scholars. It may be better translated something like this: “All my work, all the things I have, all my striving is really worthless compared to what you can do.

We often take our work too seriously. Especially those of us in ministry circles. We want to protect our ministry. We point at the growth of our church, readership, book sales, salvations, baptisms and a whole list of other things.

Of course we’d never admit it, but we hold all these things out to the Lord as if to say, ‘Look what I’ve done for you! Look at the amazing things I’ve done in your name! See me!’

Our Heavenly Father smiles and says, nice job my child. The rows aren’t straight. You god too much fertilizer over here, you missed some opportunities over there, He doesn’t really say that of course, but compared to the work He can do our efforts are really pretty small and insignificant.

Do the best you can. Rely on the God of Heaven to strengthen you for the task ahead. Grow deep in your relationship with Jesus. But remember this; all that really matters in life is our walk with him. That doesn’t mean our work for him is meaningless or insignificant. We just need to remember who we are working for and why. When we see positive results, rejoice. But when we struggle in our walk, remember Psalm 16:1.

Our ‘work for the Lord’ may fall short of our expectations, but if we rely on him, it NEVER falls short of his expectations.

PRAYER: Lord God. I confess to you that I want to do great and mighty things for you. I confess this because I also realize that sometimes I put the effort ahead of the reason, I see myself as being more important than I should. Help me by your Spirit to strive for excellence, but rely on you. Amen.


Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Daniel 12:2 (NLT)

On a lonely hill just outside of town stand three crosses. As the sky grew dark a crowd gathered. Some gathered in disgust. The Roman form of execution was too painful, too degrading, to harsh.

Others gathered in mockery. They threw profanity at the trio. It was about time they got what they deserved. The world would be a better place if more criminals were treated this way. Great deterrent, that death penalty.

Some gathered in curiosity-A sort of Bible time gawkers. They had no opinion either way on crucifixion or the trio hanging naked as the darkness descended.

A few gathered in somber silence. Right or wrong, good or bad, these were their friends, their siblings, their children. The crowd gathered at the middle cross seemed somewhat larger, more emotional. In fact, it seems the form hanging in the middle was drawing most of the attention that day. Rumor has it that he was completely innocent of the trumped up charges the Jews leveled against him.

One of the trio began to mock this counterpart in the middle. Even in his dying moments he remained arrogant, loud and angry. Ignoring his own guilt he yelled obscenities at this stranger in the middle.

The other person hung silent for a moment. Watching. Listening. Replaying the episodes of his life that brought him to this point. Finally, he spoke. “Jesus, have mercy on me.” The figure in the middle raised his head and looked with compassion at him. Painstakingly he spoke, “Today you will be with me…” and grace was born.

How could a God of love allow Jesus, the man in the middle to die such a horrific death for crimes he didn’t commit? Rewind the story a few thousand years. A man and woman listen to the deceptive words of Satan. Their decision to disobey God destroyed the balance of divine nature as well as a relationship with the Creator God.

Hell was never created for men and women. Hell was never created for innocent children of abuse, catastrophe or illness. Hell was created as the home for Satan and all his demonic followers. But the sin of Adam and Eve made it impossible for mankind to enter heaven. A sacrifice had to be made and that sacrifice was made complete when Jesus died and rose again.

Our Heavenly Father has no choice when it comes to dealing with sin. He can’t, by his own nature overlook anything that isn’t perfect. God is fair and just. Grace is neither.

What can be fair about a prisoner going to heaven because his last words were begging forgiveness? What can be fair about someone struggling with addictions and constantly receiving forgiveness for the same sin, over and over again? Nothing. It’s not fair. But it wasn’t fair that Jesus died for me either. There was nothing I could do to deserve forgiveness, yet he forgave me anyway. That’s grace.

God would give everything he has to keep you from living eternity in the shame and disgrace of hell. In fact, he already did that day on the cross.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father I thank and praise you for the reminder that I am completely and freely forgiven of my sin because of Jesus. I deserve nothing that you’ve given me and yet you did it all so lovingly. Empower me to live for you and to show others the way to life in eternity with you. In Jesus name, Amen.


He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 1 Corinthians 1:8 (New Living Translation)

I’m not an artist at all. Not an artistic bone in my body. I’m not even good at doing paint by number projects! But, in spite of my inadequacy in the performance aspect of art, I’m an admirer of the talents other people have.

Those who do chalk art, or pencil art particularly amaze me. They start with a piece of paper (or canvas) and begin making a few strokes here and a few strokes there. Nothing seems to be coming together. I can’t make out a shape or any semblance of order to their work. Then, almost like magic a few more strokes and you see the scene develop. Simply amazing.

I have no idea what the ‘trick’ is to making drawings like that. My stick figures are even pretty indistinguishable to be honest. But I have learned one thing about watching such demonstrations. While standing off to the side and watching it’s important to wait until the picture is done before judging the quality of the work.

The same is true in our lives here on earth. We are the drawing pad for the master creator. His goal is to make a masterpiece and we are the subject. Could he, in all his power and wisdom, snap his fingers and make us a complete work of art? Perhaps. But he doesn’t choose to do it that way. Jesus prefers to take his time in making us the perfect masterpiece he’s envisioned.

The downside to this is that from the day of our birth until the day of our death we are a work in progress. That’s where we run into trouble. We expect perfection in our first steps and if we don’t expect perfection there will certainly be others around us expecting us to be perfect. We struggle to get things right. We get discouraged when things go wrong. We let the opinions of others dictate who we are.

Take another look at today’s verse. Whose strength do we rely on? Religion? Physical stamina? Financial resources? Nope. Jesus. It’s all about him. Now take another look. When will perfection come? To be blunt, when we’re dead. Does that mean I don’t even try to be perfect? Of course not. What it does mean is that if I decide to rely on me I’ll only run into frustration. Relying on Jesus is the only sure way to success.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’ve been struggling under this load of frustration and guilt and sin long enough. No more trying in my own power. From this day forward I’m asking you to empower me with your Spirit so that I can allow you to keep me pure until the day you come for me. In your name, Amen.


Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Ten reasons it’s better to follow God’s way instead of man’s way:

  1. God has my interests as the number one priority in His life. Even though there are billions of people in the world, God is big enough and powerful enough to give me His undivided attention. He wants me to succeed above all else!
  2. God is the only one that knows my true potential. Others may see me as a failure or measure me by standards they have set for themselves. I may have bought into that mentality as well, thinking I can never be financially strong, build strong relationships, be a good parent, and be a good spouse. God knows better. He made me just as I am. He knows what I can do if I let Him have complete control of my life.
  3. God understands my fears. Fear of failure is the biggest thing that keeps us from moving out of our comfort zone. Even our closest friends may not be able to understand how strong that fear is. God knows. He looks on my heart. Some people may try to dismiss our fears as unwarranted and silly. Our fears aren’t unwarranted to God. He understands and wants to build His confidence in me.
  4. God doesn’t change His mind. Isn’t it frustrating when you ask advice from people and act on it only to have them say “You know, I think you should go this direction instead”? God won’t do that. He has your life already planned out. All of your tomorrows are in His hands. If He leads you in a direction He won’t second-guess Himself.
  5. God isn’t ever wrong. NEVER! Nothing more needs to be said. If we believe God to be who we think He is we have to accept the fact that He knows better and is never wrong.
  6. God knows what works. Thomas Edison once said “The only people who have never failed are those who have never tried anything new”. Who better to bounce ideas and dreams off of than the creator of the universe? Because we are His number one desire He will never lead us into failure. Many times, if we look back, we will see that the things we thought were failures were really stepping stones God used for later success. He can even use our poor choices for His good if we turn to Him.
  7. God gives me the resources for success. God loves me. He wants me to succeed. He will never lead me into a situation where I don’t have the gifts to accomplish what He wants in my life.
  8. God isn’t unrealistic in His expectations. Since He has given me gifts to accomplish what He wants for me and knows my potential then I can know that the things He wants me to do are totally within the realm of possibility.
  9. God’s rules protect me, not Him. Sometimes we may feel God’s rules are confining. Others may say that they won’t follow God because there are too many rules. Belief in God isn’t about rules, it’s about relationship. The things God asks of us are for our own protection and our own good. As a loving Father He only wants His best for us.
  10. Following God leads to fulfillment NOT frustration. Following people is frustrating. Everyone has their own ideas of what works, what is right, how others should act or react. Trying to follow all those ‘ideas’ can lead to frustration. Turning our lives completely over to God allows Him to bring us a peace that passes all understanding.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many times when I’m swayed by the words of men and women. Sometimes, even though these people are well meaning they don’t understand me and how I work. I thank you that You understand me. You believe in me completely and want more than anything else to see me live a fulfilled life. Help me to grow in knowledge of you and to follow your ways. Amen.

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