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Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 1 Chronicles 17:16 (NLT)

It had been a long trip. Over 40 years since that day when the young shepherd boy had been called from the fields to meet the prophet. He still got goose-bumps, after all these years, as he remembered returning to the field and having the prophets words sink in. He would be king of Israel. He! David son of Jesse!

He remembered the adrenaline that flowed through him as the giant fell at his feet. He could still hear the cheers of the army behind him, the slaps on the back from his brothers and the other soldiers who’d been cowering in faithless fear.

Then there was the complicated situation with his very best friend in the whole world, Jonathan. The adventures those two shared together were amazing, yet bittersweet as David’s relationship with Jonathan’s father, Saul, grew increasingly volatile. A knot formed in his throat as he remembered when he heard the news that Jonathan had been killed in battle.

Now, he sat in his palace. His position as King solidified. His nation was at peace. His family content. The most important symbol of his God, the Ark of the Covenant, secure in a tent within the city. Life was good. Very good. In spite of all the adversity, pain and frustration, David could look back and say “I’ve made it. I accomplished everything I could ever have imagined and more.”

That’s when it hit him. Maybe you’ve had the feeling, maybe not. That feeling that says, “I’m so blessed, and I’m so unworthy.” Maybe you look back at years of addictive behavior and realize you haven’t had an urge in years. Maybe years in an abusive relationship have brought you into a relationship where you finally feel secure, loved, valued. Maybe you’ve worked hard your entire life and have seen career goals come and go, and now you can relax as a result of your labors.

When David got to that point in life he realized two things. One is that he was totally unworthy of all the blessings he was enjoying. The other thing he realized is that it was only because of his God that he was able to endure the trials of life

On the other hand, maybe you are still waiting to be sitting in your palace; still waiting to have that feeling of success, safety, value, appreciation. Life is hard. One crisis follows another. Hope is nothing more than a four-letter word reserved for the haves, and you’ve long ago realized you are a have-not.

David would tell you, if he were here, to keep on. Keep on trusting God for the little things and the big things. Keep on trusting God when you fail because he’s promised to forgive you. Keep on enduring the attacks because they just make you stronger. Keep on, and never forget that it’s God that will see you through.

PRAYER: Father God. I don’t have a palace. I’m not the ruler of some empire. I’m not famous. Yet, when I look at where I am today and where I deserve to be I can only say Thank You. Thank you for bringing me this far. Amen.

 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10

We’ve all been misunderstood from time to time. Our actions, while well-intentioned go awry, the outcomes we hoped to achieve fall short of expectations or even accomplish exactly the opposite of what we’d hoped.

Some of those actions can be real relationship breakers. In our homes we do what we think best of our kids only to realize we were way too harsh, or too easy. It happens at work when we make a business decision that, even when well thought out, and looking like it will benefit everyone, ends up hurting everyone instead. We try to help that person of the opposite sex and end up in a relationship that we never intended that destroys our reputation and shatters the faith and trust others had in us.

Great motives in no way guarantee great results.

So what do you do when you find yourself miles from where you’d hoped to be? When those who once stood by you and believed in you turn their backs on you. When the well intentioned decisions of your life have left your situation looking like a jig-saw puzzle scattered on the ground with no hope that all the pieces will be there or that you can ever put it together again.

You can ask for forgiveness. God will forgive instantly, people may never do so. Time heals lots of wounds so you can pick up where you left off and rebuild. Reality is, the consequences of your actions may change things forever.

But in the midst of your pain and struggle here’s a word of encouragement from the one that knows you better than you know yourself. Your heavenly Father knows. When others question your intentions, when others doubt your sincerity. He looks to the most inward parts of your soul, to the very depths of your heart and sees whether your motives are hypocritical or sincere. One author writes, “[the Lord sees] the most inward and remote parts, covered with fat, and out of sight: these are the seat of the affections; and the Lord tries these, whether they are towards him or not; and whether sincere or hypocritical.”

It works both ways of course. Eventually the lies and motives of those who have hurt you, or the hypocritical motives we’ve had, will come to light. But take comfort in the fact that even though your best intentioned plans may fail and the results accomplish the exact opposite of your intentions. Even when others refuse to believe you. Your Father knows. He knows you better than you know yourself and he’ll stand by you when others won’t. You can come to him for forgiveness and he’ll walk with you through the rebuilding that may be necessary.

PRAYER: Father, some days it seems like no matter what I try to do I’m misunderstood or mistrusted. Some of the things I’ve don have destroyed my relationship with others and damaged it with you. Forgive me for the time I’ve hurt you or others, Help me to rebuild where I can and learn from the rest. In your name, Amen.

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing. Ephesians 2:10 (NCV)

What motivates you to do good things for others? If you see someone drop something in the parking lot, what drives you to get their attention so they don’t lose it? When you are trying to get out of a packed parking lot why do you stop to let another frustrated motorist into the line? When you see a little child who is lost what moves you to help them to safety?

There are a lot of reasons people do good works. Some noble, some not so noble.

  • Sometimes we do good works because (in our eyes at least) they make us look powerful to those who are watching. We all like to look powerful, right?
  • Some do good things for praise. We seek the acknowledgement of a job well done because it gives us value. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel appreciated, but self-glory should never be the primary reason for our actions.
  • Some do good works for others because they think it takes everyone’s eyes off of them. (If I do this, people will forget the bad thing I did back there.)
  • Some people have a sort of messiah complex. They do good things for others because in their subconscious mind they HAVE to be the one to step in and make things better. Sometimes this type of person will ‘create a crisis’ in order to step in and save the day.
  • Some people do good works now in hopes of banking some favors for the future. (“Better keep them in my good graces if I ever hope to get something in return.”)
  • Sadly, for some, the actions they do for others are driven by the hope that God will smile kindly on them and usher them into heaven.

You may read through the list above and think, “I know someone like that, thank goodness I’m not in the list!” But the troubling thing is that the enemy can sneak into our actions and twist the true reasons we do things around so that they end up being self-seeking.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry on earth he taught us that the good things we do should be done for one reason and one reason alone, to glorify the Father. Even in his prayer in the garden Jesus prayed that his ultimate and final acts of doing good on earth (his death and resurrection) Would bring glory to the Father.

We were put here on earth, as God’s chosen vessels to do good works. We are God’s tools to change the lives of those around us so they can be brought into relationship with him.

Good works don’t get us to heaven, but doing good things for others can bring a little heaven into the lives of the weary. We do good works for one of two reasons, power for ourselves or to make people better. As a Christ-follower you can make a difference in your world for the glory of the Father. That’s what you are here for.

PRAYER: Father God, may the things I do for others be done to glorify you. Forgive me for the times I’ve caught myself seeking my own glory and power. Help me to make a difference for you. In your name I pray. Amen.

Then Jesus said, “I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 (NCV)

Contentment defined: The quality or state of being contented. (I love when they do that! Tell you a definition by telling you a different word you don’t know.)

Contented defined:  Feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.

Do a search of images that define contentment. You’ll find cute pictures of animals sleeping in odd positions, people smiling while walking with loved ones, or various pictures of people, clouds, the sun and water. Even the word conjures up peaceful surroundings, happiness and joy.

Contentment means that even though there may be things I’d change, few of those changes would be major. The things I see around me are good. My life is good. I’m content.

The picture of contentment that comes to my mind is far from the ones I found on the search engine. The picture of contentment I see is one of a bird snuggled down into her nest. A violent storm is tossing the branches of her tree back and forth. Lightning is flashing, thunder is crashing and the world around her is taking a thrashing. Still, there she sits, riding out the storm, satisfied with where she is at that given moment.

That’s the kind of contentment that Jesus talks about. The feelings of hunger affect every aspect of your being. You look at people differently; situations you encounter seem larger and harder to conquer. Hunger makes you weak and ineffective. Add thirst to hunger and the problems magnify. A person can live a few weeks without food and water, but their health is affected in just a matter of days.

Spiritually hunger has the same effect. There is, within each of us a desire for contentment. A longing to be satisfied with where we are and who we are and what we have. The only way you will find true contentment in life is to look beyond the external pleasures of life. True contentment begins in the heart. When you are satisfied on the inside nothing on the outside can take away the contentment you seek.

A crowd gathered around Jesus one day. They’d just witnessed an amazing miracle. Jesus had just made over 5,000 men content with a few loaves of bread and a couple small fish. Jesus said, “You’re still here with me because I gave you contentment with the externals of life. But I have so much more to give you. I can give you comfort in the wilderness, encouragement in the midst of the storm, courage in the face of danger.”

You won’t find contentment in relationships, or money, or status. Contentment isn’t measured by the size of your bank account, the number of friends you have on your social networking site, or the victories in your win column. Contentment can only come as you grow in relationship with the one who makes us content in the midst of the storm.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, right now I’m going through a storm in life. Some of it’s due to my own poor choices. Some is at the hands of evil people. No matter what I’m going through, I ask that you would help me be content because of your presence, love and protection. Amen.

Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who do not obey the Son will never have life. God’s anger stays on them.” John 3:36 (NCV)

“Ah, this is living.”

What would it take for you to say this? No bills? Lounging on the beach in Hawaii with no schedule, no responsibility and no sign of it coming to an end? Perhaps having a perfect spouse, three children in Medical School and a clean bill of health for you?

When we think of living, our first thoughts often turn to personal comfort and a bright prospectus for tomorrow. We all know people or have heard of people who have worked their entire lives preparing for retirement only to have something devastating happen to them just before or after they retire.

During the great depression hundreds of people jumped from buildings and bridges when the realized they’d ‘lost everything’. The real tragedy was in the lives of the women whose husbands didn’t come home or the children whose Daddies would never tuck them in again. Little boys were without their favorite person to play catch or shoot hoops. Little girls would never have ‘daddy’ to walk them down the aisle.

Jesus says (my paraphrase), “If you put your relationship with me in first place you will not only have the strength to make it through the battles of life here on earth, you will find that true living comes after you die! If on the other hand you put the things of earth (money, toys & pleasure) in first place, you will never experience life as I intended for you.”

Pursue the important things of life. The most important things in your life won’t show up in your checkbook, your garage or your family room. The will be etched on the very tablet of your heart. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve failed. It’s not important what you think you’ve lost here on earth. The important things like your faith in Christ and the power of his Spirit in your life are things no one can take from you.

Keeping your focus on what Christ has done for you makes all the other things less important. With Him as your guide, no matter what you are going through, you will be able to say that because of Jesus love, grace and forgiveness, “This is living!”

PRAYER: Jesus I confess to you that too much of my life is spent trying to make things work here on earth. I’ve neglected the important things like family, and most importantly my relationship with you. Empower me with your Spirit to build on the important things. I know in my heart that true living comes after I die. In your name, Amen.

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