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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.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

Why did Jesus die? Theologians will tell you that he needed to die as a perfect sacrifice of our sins, and that’s true. We all were lost, subject to our evil sin nature, and destined to eternity separated from God.

The only way to bridge that gap was to have some person who was sinless die on behalf of the world, and that person was, by his choice Jesus Christ. He died so we might live.

But tucked away in Hebrews we find another reason that Jesus died. This reason was, perhaps the motivation for why he died. Jesus died because he knew the pain he would endure on earth would be well worth the joy he’d receive when all things were accomplished.

Joy? You may say? What joy? Was the joy he was looking forward to the joy of living in heaven for eternity? I think not. After all, heaven was his home and the universe was his playground.

Was the joy he was looking forward to the joy of living with his father? Again, I think not. Why would he leave his father on his own will and suffer hardship so he could look forward to being with his father? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Jesus Christ left heaven, endured the shame, ridicule, loneliness, rejection, hate and anger because he was looking forward to the joy of living with you. Yep, you are his joy, his crown, the one he longs to spend time with.

Any of us can endure a little hardship and pain if we know that the end result is better than the present circumstances. Take exercise for example, there may be a few who really enjoy exercise, but for most of us we struggle to get ourselves onto the running path or into the gym. It’s much easier to say, “I’ll start tomorrow.”

But if we want to enjoy good health we exercise. Exercise is good for the heart, prevents or at least puts off some diseases, and can even deter the aging process. The end result is worth the present pain and discomfort.

Jesus knew before he left heaven the first time what life would be like for him on earth. He knew the pain he’d endure for you. Jesus knew, before he left heaven every single mistake you’d make. Every cross or profane word. Every affair. Every visit to the porn sight. Every time you’d mock him. Still, he looked forward to the day he could spend eternity with you. The joy far outweighed the pain.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me so much. Things here on earth get very painful. I don’t understand why I do what I do or have to go through what I am going through. Help me to endure all of this with the expectation I have of spending eternity with you. In your name, Amen.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, John 10:14 (NLT)

I’m not a farmer. I enjoy the country. I have several friends who are farmers. I live in great farm country. But I’m not a farmer. So I may be about to show some of my naivety but to me, all sheep look alike. I know, I know. I’ve been on farms where the sheep are named, some of the chickens are named, the cows are named. But to me they all look pretty much alike. Especially sheep.

Tradition says that in Jesus’ day shepherds would take their flocks into the hills to eat. At some times of the year they may gather flocks together for the night. This was a great idea. Multiple shepherds could keep the sheep safer from attack, allow the shepherds to take turns standing guard, and give them opportunity for company. Being alone in the hills can be mighty lonely.

In the morning the sheep were divided up. The shepherd knew his sheep (how I don’t know) and the sheep knew their shepherd (even more amazing to me since sheep aren’t known for their intelligence).

Imagine what it must have been like for a sheep to get up in the morning and try to figure out which one of the shepherds to follow. Their lives depended on the decision after all. The shepherd made sure they were fed well, led to quiet pastures, protected from thieves, natural calamity and wild animals. Shepherds that didn’t own the animals weren’t likely to take care of them very well.

When you think about it, life is a lot like that today. We have all sorts of voices telling us to follow this cause or that cause. Politicians telling us we need more programs and more taxes or less programs and less taxes. Religionists telling us we need to stand firm in our beliefs or that we need to be more tolerant of all beliefs. Back and forth it goes. Voices calling out to your heart to go this way or that way to find the relief you are looking for.

Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. What does a Good Shepherd look like?

  • A Good Shepherd will never compromise the wishes of the owner. He’ll not lead you in a way that is contrary to what God’s Word says. There are no ‘new revelations’ Does God still speak? Yes. But his words will never compromise the Holy Scriptures we already have.
  • A Good Shepherd will never compromise the safety of the sheep. There may be times when we go through dangerous times. Times when the enemy will be lurking, waiting to attack. But our Good Shepherd will never lead us there and leave us there. His protection lasts forever.
  • A Good Shepherd will never ask the sheep to compromise their Holiness. We are referred to as the sheep of his pasture. Temptations will come our way. There will be times when those things put before us seem like God’s leading, but are directly opposed to scripture. Holiness is based on God’s sinless plan for our lives. We will never be sinless this side of heaven, but we should always strive to do so.


Perhaps one of the most stunning things about our Good Shepherd is that he will go to extraordinary measures to draw us to himself. I heard a story once. I haven’t been able to verify it, but it goes something like this. If a lamb continued to stray from the flock, as a last resort the shepherd would gently break the leg of the wayward lamb and then set it. As the leg healed the lamb was carried by the Shepherd. The result? The healing of the lamb’s leg also caused a bond to the shepherd’s heart. That lamb, once healed, would never stray again.

The word picture is an amazing reminder that Jesus will do whatever needs to be done to draw us to his close, loving, gracious and merciful arms.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you that during these uncertain times I can know you will lead me in paths for my own good and God’s glory. Give me wisdom to discern your voice and strength to follow. Amen.

He took away your pride when he let you get hungry, and then he fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever seen. This was to teach you that a person does not live on bread alone, but by everything the Lord says. Deuteronomy 8:3 (NCV)

Imagine what it must have been like being ripped away from everything you’d ever known. Sure, it wasn’t a perfect situation. The environment was getting more hostile all the time, abuse and murder were becoming common. But at least you had great food, a warm bed to sleep in and a relatively good idea of what tomorrow would be like.

Now, every day is an adventure. Sure, the first few days were okay, even exciting. But the excitement has worn off, patience has worn thin and you can’t bear the thought of one more night in that tent! The beauty of your surroundings has been replaced by wilderness. Not just physically, spiritually too.

This was the plight of those leavingEgyptfor the Promised Land. They were yanked from a situation that was dangerous, yet predictable; secure, yet confining; familiar, although they were foreigners in a far off land.

The wilderness wanderings of God’s people are a beautiful love story of grace.  While inEgyptthey were not forgotten. The worse things got for them, the more they called out to a God they barely knew. The beauty of it all is that he heard their cries and delivered them from their enemy.

But deliverance never comes without struggle. Those who struggle with addictive behaviors; are trapped in abusive relationships; are struggling with illness or financial disaster will tell you that. Deliverance doesn’t mean you get to waltz gracefully from imprisonment to freedom without some struggle. The enemy doesn’t give up that easily.

Stuck away in the story of the wilderness wanderings is the story of manna. The story of God’s provision. The story of giving just what each person needs at the time it’s needed.  

Manna appeared daily on the floor of the wilderness. It was new every morning to remind the Israelites that God’s love was new every morning as well. Each day was a fresh start.

Manna taught God’s people that yesterday’s failures and victories were to be left behind. Each day was a new chance to see God’s work. In fact, if you tucked manna (your past) away for later use it turned rotten! Yesterday is gone. Today is a new day of God’s grace.

Manna met each persons need individually. Those who gathered too little found that the amount they gathered was just enough for the end of the day. Those who gathered much found that the excess was gone by the end of the day.

Manna, like grace, was personal. I get what I need from God. You get what you need from God. There were no rules, no discussion on who gets what or why. Manna was available to the ‘good, God fearing Israelite’ as well as the rebellious and struggling one. Just as grace through Jesus Christ is available to all regardless of their situation.

With Jesus there is no lack.

There was, of course, a downside to manna, just as there is grace. Not a flaw in grace itself, but a flaw in human thinking. God’s provision was essential for their survival. Yet, soon the Israelites were complaining about manna. They began to take God’s provision for granted. May we never take the grace he’s given for granted. May we never forget the price paid for our freedom: the death of Jesus for our sins.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the lesson of manna. Help me to see your new provision every day of my life. May your grace always inspire me to live with hope and expectation for what you have for me. Amen.

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