You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘understanding’ tag.

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.


“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his. Job 12:13

Jerry rarely missed a service. He was always early and, during the winter months, was more than willing to grab a shovel to clean up the sidewalks and walkways where the plow missed. He was a simple man and I use that as a compliment. Years of drug abuse mixed with mental health issues and a dysfunctional upbringing had taken its toll on Jerry. As a result he lived solely on his disability check. He was a prime example of surviving, but not really living.

One day I Jerry stopped by the church and I realized (quite to my shame) that I’d never really sat and talked with Jerry much. I was new to the church and had gotten taken up in many other things related to the ministry. That day was different. I pulled up a chair and sat down with Jerry to talk, or should I say, listen.

Our conversation turned to the ministry and I asked him, unaware of where it would lead, how he felt about how things were going at the church. That question was like a floodgate that opened to all sorts of ideas Jerry had about how we should ‘grow the worship services’ and ‘build the youth group.’ It didn’t stop there. I found out Jerry had ideas about virtually every aspect of the ministry.

But that wasn’t a surprise. Anyone in ministry knows that everyone has ideas about ‘how to do ministry.’ What caught me off guard is that many (if not all) of Jerry’s ideas were very good! This ‘simple man’ had loads of wisdom that no one chose to listen to.

When I asked him why he didn’t tell people his ideas, he bowed his head and said softly, ‘Aw, they don’t care. None of them listen to me. I’m just an old druggy.’

Jerry was an example of having wisdom but no power to act on his wisdom. Our churches are full of people like that. We tend to look past them because we are too busy fighting fires set by those who have the power but lack the wisdom. Wisdom without power is futility; power without wisdom is tyranny.

Job knew about those people. He knew all too well what it was like to be barraged with people who knew ‘just what to do’ but either plowed ahead recklessly leaving wounded lives in their wake and what it was like to see those people with great wisdom that weren’t listened to because of past poor choices.

What a blessing to realize our God had both the wisdom and the power to make things happen in our lives. When people fail you, remember that God has everything you need to succeed.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you that you have the power and the wisdom to help me make a difference. Give me courage to speak when I know your way and a listening ear for those who may not have the power but have wise words for me. Amen.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

When the Russian Cosmonauts went into space in the 1950s they reported there was no sign of a creator God and no evidence of creation.

It seems ironic that the very sky these men saw as proof of God’s ‘non-existence’ is the same sky that reminds me of the awesomeness of his creation! New advances in technology have given new evidence of a vast, uncharted universe. Planet earth is a tiny speck in the grand scheme of the universe and mankind an even smaller speck.

Still, there are people who echo the words of the cosmonauts. They don’t, of course, make their prognostications from a spaceship. They do it from a classroom, an easy chair in front of the TV, and on the street corner. They wonder about God’s presence in the hospital room, the disaster relief office and the courtroom.

When times are good our search for God isn’t usually a priority. But when the journey of life becomes full of potholes and boulders it’s different. During those times when we realize we can’t fix what we are facing, we look for someone who can.

Many have sought God, and frankly, have found him to be non-existent. Prayers have gone ‘unanswered’. The cancer has come back. The lost child has been found murdered. The divorce has become final. The accident victim dies. In all of this, the question screams out: “So, where is God now?”

I don’t mean to minimize the pain and agony life brings our way, nor do I intend to categorize all of our emotions into a one-size-fits-all approach. But in the midst of our crisis of faith we need to honestly ask ourselves a question.

Do we diligently seek God as he is or do we seek the God we want? Some view God as a Santa Clause type individual. The God they want sees them being good and brings toys to good girls and boys. Of course, this philosophy never allows for the naughty list. Santa loves everyone.

Others seek a vending machine God. This God is a little more pleasant to the senses. If you are good, he will reward. Save up your good acts. Be a moral person. Go to church. Follow the Ten Commandments. Help old ladies across the street. Be involved in your community. End result: Blessings of God.

A diligent seeking after the God who is requires our faith in a God that may not always be understood, but is always love. His actions are beyond comprehension, but his forgiveness is without requirement. He’s not about what you do, or have done. He’s about what Jesus has done and can do in your life. He’s not a tame God. He can’t be put in a box. But his thoughts, his actions, his desire is for you and you alone.

PRAYER: God, I’m having a hard time understanding how you work. So many times I’ve sought you without relief. I now realize I was looking for the God I want, not the God I need. Show yourself to me in a new and amazing way so that I can grow in a love relationship with you. Amen.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13

A friend is has been a nurse on the east coast for over 18 years. I have always admired her determination to serve mankind the way she does, but never more than after I heard her tell me her story of grace.

She had just come on duty and was looking over her case load. She noticed a new patient in room 406 (she still remembers the number). He was dying of aids and was openly gay. She, a believer, was opposed to and repulsed by that lifestyle. She finished checking her paper work and got up to make rounds. That’s when she noticed the light on for 406. She decided to go the other way.

For 45 minutes she played the game, ignoring the light, hoping someone else may see it and cover for her. It didn’t happen. Finally, she went in. The man had soiled himself and for nearly an hour was forced to sit in his own excrement. When she realized what she had done she was mortified. How could she do this to him? What kind of animal had she become? She helped clean him up and in the process found a new friend. A friend who turned out to be much more graceful and merciful than she.

That day changed her life. It didn’t change her theology or her sexual orientation. What it changed was her view of Jesus. In the days that followed it was as though Jesus was saying to her, every time she entered 406, this is me. I’m the one sitting in the bed. I’m the one you are ministering to. Six days later she wept as she held the hand of her new friend as he died. She wept at his passing harder than she’d wept for the hundreds who’d died on her watch before.

Jesus didn’t come to comfort the comfortable or encourage the successful. He didn’t come to cheer on the champion or strengthen the strong. Rather, he came for those who, for the third time this week ended up in a drunken stupor even though they promised themselves and their families they’d quit once and for all. He came for the adulteress who can’t leave a relationship they know is wrong and harmful. He came for the addict who promises he’ll quit after this ‘last high’.

It may be hard for some of us to accept, but if Jesus were to come back to earth today he would most likely NOT come to our churches on Sunday morning. He wouldn’t avoid them because they were/are ineffective. It’s just that he’d have other things to do. While we sit in our comfortable pews he’d be in a coffee shop sipping a latte’ with someone going through divorce. He’d be in a hospice somewhere holding a victim of aids, or comforting the parents of a fallen solder.

It’s not that he’d be opposed to the church-goer. He just has better things to do with his time. More pressing needs on his agenda. More sick people and sinners to bring back into relationship with his Father. If you are hurting today and have give up on this thing called Christianity, he’d seek you out and sit with you.

What about you? Who do you need to touch with your forgiveness today? Who needs to experience, first hand, the touch of grace and mercy from your hand? What body of pain is Jesus calling to you from? He didn’t come to comfort the comfortable.

PRAYER: My Jesus and lord. Forgive me for the callous attitude that I have towards those in pain. I’m mortified with the revelation of my own judgmental attitude. Empower me with the strength and compassion to reach out to those who need to experience your comfort through my touch. In your name, Amen.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

Will you be my friend? The term ‘friend’ has taken on a lot of meanings over the years. Today you can be someone’s ‘friend’ on a social network and never meet them. In fact, you can have ‘friends’ all over the world and never leave your home!

A friend can also be called an acquaintance. Someone you say ‘hi’ to on the street but never socialize with and know them only by name.

True friends are hard to find and should be treasured like a fine diamond. They are true gems. A true friend knows your deepest thoughts and hurts because they listen to you. A true friend supports you openly even if they don’t agree with your actions. A true friend is someone you know you can call on anytime for anything and there will be no hesitation. A true friend will never take offense at your blunders or open anger. A true friend will even give their life for you if necessary.

Jesus told his disciples that they were his friends. Imagine that! Those of us that follow Jesus are his friends. We can talk with him about anything. We can be assured that there is nothing we can do to push him away. He will never be surprised or offended by our actions. Why? Because he’s our friend!

Adam was God’s friend and they walked together each night to talk about the day. Abraham was God’s friend and God told him what was going to happen in the future. So, why don’t we feel that close to Jesus if he is our friend?

One reason is that we don’t know who Jesus is. We haven’t spent enough time with him. Another reason is that our view of Jesus has been tainted by years of religious dogma, our past and our guilt for mistakes made. The best way to get to know Jesus is still by reading his letter to us, the Holy Bible. Read the gospels as a true story of Jesus’ life. See how he treated people. See how much he loved you.

Then talk with him. Don’t pray. Don’t try to use fancy jargon. I’ve found it helpful to visualize him in a chair next to me. Jesus loves you. He wants to be the kind of friend you can know and depend on. He says ‘I have called you my friend’ and made no conditions to it. He’s your friend. All you have to do is accept his friendship.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I’m so unworthy to be called your friend because of the mistakes I’ve made. My view of you is so clouded by religious dogma I don’t really recognize you except by name. Help me to grow closer to you though your word, the Holy Bible and through prayer. Thank you for being a friend like no other. Amen.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,669 other followers

RSS Podcasts from Zion

  • Working for Jesus
    From our series, "This is Us – Unfortunately" When we live in the power of the Holy Spirit our work shows it through excellence whether we are the boss or the employee, we show Jesus!
  • Be the Parent
    From our series, "This is Us – Unfortunately" The relationship between children and parents should be marked by mutual respect shown through children by obedience and parents through leadership.
  • Leadership in the Home
    From our series, "This is Us – Unfortunately" The husband is a leader whose main focus is to bring glory to God through loving his wife as Jesus loved the church.
  • Men’s Brain v Women’s Brain
    From our series "This is Us – Unfortunately" An attitude of mutual submission between husband and wife focuses first on Jesus and then on building one another up through submission (wife) and leadership (husband).
  • Mutual Submission
    From our series, "This is Us – Unfortunately" The strength of any relationship is mutual submission empowered by the Holy Spirit.


Candle Lighter Award

Built With Grace


December 2018
« Nov    
Follow Built with Grace on
%d bloggers like this: