Everybody Has a Heart

Homeless

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 15

God has a solution for fighting poverty in verse 1, “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” I had to read that twice. Imagine if you got a do-over every 7 years? If you’re in bad shape, that could be a real blessing.

I took my family on a tour at our local homeless shelter this past Monday. I thought that serving together as a family,  especially serving meals to people less fortunate, might be a great way for our family to bond, bring perspective on how blessed we truly are and teach my children how rewarding it is to help others.

The people who occupy this shelter for their temporary living space are the poorest of community. For many of the residents this is an opportunity to get a fresh start; a do over. The staff helps them identify goals, provides guidance on how to find a job, interview and dress appropriately; they also teach organizational skills, basics for daily living (like how to manage finances) and basic hygiene.

Shortly after our tour my youngest daughter said to me, “Mom, why were some of those people were looking at us weird?” I responded with the kindest words I could muster, “Well sweetheart, those people don’t have homes… perhaps they were looking at us because they were ashamed to be there or maybe they think we’re ‘the rich people,’ we really are compared to them. We have a home.”

I wasn’t honestly sure what to say, you know how kids ask the most amazing questions that we, as parents, sometimes don’t know the answers to ourselves. My answer was intended to show compassion and help her per-adolescent mind that she didn’t have to be self-conscious of her image or take anything personally.

In verse 7, “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.” This is a basic human courtesy to be kind to the poor among us; it is not our social status that defines us.

My mom used to say, “Sarah, everybody has a heart!” What she meant was I am not better than anybody. I should not judge anyone, look down on them, act like I’m better than anyone nor be mean like a bully. Whether they have a physical disability, are poor, shop at 2nd hand stores vs. the trendy stores at the mall, don’t wear matching clothes, have body Oder, etc… My mom taught me an incredible life lesson in those words – to love everyone and recognize that everyone has feelings – Don’t judge.

Perhaps Deuteronomy 15 was God’s way of saying to the Israelites, “Everyone has a heart.” Give them a new beginning, a do-over every 7 years. Which leads me to note that Jesus gave us a HUGE do-over for dying on the cross for our sins. We are all poor in spirit and lost without Christ. He sacrificed everything for us to have eternal life. He didn’t discriminate on the basis of wealth, acts, right vs. wrongs…. he did it for those of us whose hearts have repented and accept his sacrifice. The result – a new birth.

You Are A Treasure

Treasure

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 14

Please excuse me while I get a little mushy today. Out of all the verses about food (what to eat, what not to eat and then a brief topic on tithing) I found one little verse that appears to be completely unrelated, but it jumps off the page and directly touches my heart. It’s Deuteronomy 14:2, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”

To whom is Moses referring to? Who has the LORD chosen as His treasured possession? – Answer: Believers!

A treasured possession. When is the last time someone told you that you are treasured. Hearing that we are loved is one thing, but treasured?…. that’s love at an entirely different level. Over the century people have died for things they treasured. Huh, could that be why Jesus died for us?

When I think of a treasure I think of value. I think of something that is desirable, unique, special, significant, important –  nothing else comparable. God calls us [believers] his treasured possession in verse 2 and throughout the bible. How do we wrap our minds around that idea with out letting it go to our heads, literally?

Then you have the word, possession. That is a possessive word that means selfish, unwilling to share, not willing to part with or in the words of a toddler, “Mine!” Put those two words together, “treasured possession” and WOW!

We can’t wrap our minds around it. We have to rest in it, have confidence in it, accept it and live it. I think there are so many truths in the bible that we simply can’t comprehend, but God wants us to take Him at His Word and know that He is God. (Isaiah 46:9)

So if you’re feeling insignificant today or perhaps you are carrying a burden of some sort, these are Words for your soul. They are for mine and I am grateful and feeling very blessed by this verse. Funny how God has a way of telling you exactly what you need to hear. Each phrase in this verse speaks powerfully to my heart. Let’s read it again and allow His Words to bring perspective for us today… “For YOU are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen YOU to be his treasured possession.

Walk with your head held high today Girlfriends. God loves you, you are His treasured possession.

Stand Up For Yourself

Walked on

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 13

I remember my parents used to say, “So if your friends jumped off of a bridge does that mean you will too?”

I don’t remember the context anymore, but I’m sure I did something wrong and justified my actions with, “…But my friends did it!”

As a finale, in the disapproval of this excuse, they would say, “Well why don’t you stand up for yourself, don’t let people walk all over you!”

Deuteronomy 13:3 has something to say about following others, namely prophets and dreamers. “You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

In his commentary, John MacArthur, says, “God, in His sovereignty, allowed the false prophets to entice the people toward apostasy to test the true disposition of the Israelites’ hearts. And while the temptation was dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love for God and obedience to His commandments.”

It’s a test. God is testing their hearts and if they have the courage to stand up for themselves, it strengthens their love for God and gives them confidence to be obedience to His commandments. I think this concept is incredible… hard to do, but incredible.

Just yesterday I found an article about Natalie Grant and posted it on our Godly Girlfriends Facebook Page last night. The article explains how she left the Grammy Awards – She took a stand. Not a belligerent, holier than thou, in-your-face-for-Christ type of stand. She left in a subtle way… she was guarding her heart and her mind (Philippians 4:7) and taking her thoughts captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5). She passed the test!

I had the privilege of meeting Natalie at a Women Of Faith Conference on my 40th Birthday and have always admired her singing talent. Now I admire her for her courage to model Jesus in an environment void of any morality. This leads me to ask the question, “Will I take a stand for Christ? Will God test me to find out if I love Him with all of my heart and soul?” Just like our Godly Girlfriend, Natalie, I hope we all have the courage to stand firm in our faith. (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Meeting Natalie

Thank you Natalie for being an example for us to follow.

Copy Cat Worshiper

Copy Cat

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 12

My take away from Deuteronomy chapter 12 is that God has no interest in letting anyone or anything distract us from knowing He is God and there is no other.

In verses 4-5, “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;” and the remainder of the book are a continuation of warnings, reminders and instructions.

We should not think we are immune to idolatry today; idols are all around us. Anything, anything that comes between our souls and God becomes an idol. Notice what Moses says in verses 4, “You must not worship the LORD your God in THEIR way.” What is their way?

Are you a copy cat worshiper or a monkey see – monkey do worshiper? In other words, we see that others have traditions, rituals or certain practices that make them seem more “spiritual.” One example is a cross necklace. Whenever I see someone wearing a cross necklace, I tend to “assume” that they have a relationship with Christ. Why else would someone where the cross of Jesus around their necks?

Or what about that cross that dangles from a rear view mirror? Is that person a Christian? Perhaps we assume people are more Holy or spiritual because of the church they attend, the frequency that they go to church, the volunteer work that they do or the bible verses that they have memorized. All signs of being good Christians, right?

Maybe not! What I read into these verses is that my relationship with God is my relationship with God and he is looking for authentic worshipers. We can copy cat other people, but if that is all we are doing and our hearts are going through the motions and there is no true heart connection – we’re wasting our time.

Blessing and a Curse

Blessing vs. Curse

Today’s Devotional: Deuteronomy 11

We have choices. We can chose to be blessed or we can chose to be cursed. I think we know the obvious desire when given those two options. That’s what Moses is saying in verse 26-28, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.”

Pretty straight forward if you ask me. So why would anyone disobey God? Who would be so stupid as to bring a curse upon themselves? Answer: Me.

Obedience is hard and I’m stubborn and selfish. I have blogged about Prosperity Preachers and how deceiving it is that they promote the gospel as if the Christian life is the ticket out of hardship, pain, and struggles – when the opposite is true. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) Non-believers are no threat to the devil, he has them right where he wants them. It’s the souls of the saved that are his target. Our salvation is Satan’s biggest threat, but nobody wants to sign up for a life of pain and strife.

You can argue that if we can’t get to heaven on works and good deeds, why would we have to struggle and endure pain and suffering to get to heaven? There are a lot of answers to that, but there are two I will highlight here:

1. Philippians 1:6-7, In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

2. Colossians 3:9-11, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

Why do Christians suffer? So God is glorified for what He has done for us and help us to grow (process of being sanctified) in the likeness of God.

Obedience isn’t easy, but the blessing is the reward. Living each day without a conscious and deliberate focus on living a life of obedience is far more pain-staking than any temporary trials.

God’s Got Your Back

Got Your Back

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 10

I remember a song we used to sing in Sunday School class when I was a young girl. It went like this, “King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s, Glory! Halleluiah.”

Verse 17 reminded me of that song, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”

Sometimes I read the bible and I’m looking for something that is tangible and applicable; where I can close the book and walk away with a verse or a thought that I can immediately apply to face life. Other times, like today, God seems to stop me in my tracks and provides me with one big, broad reminder and truth – He is God.

That’s what Deuteronomy 10 speaks to me; He is God of everything. Especially over those little gods like ice cream, i phones, money, jobs, hobbies, collections, children, husbands, etc… He is also the Lord over all the lords in our world like presidents, pastors, princes and kings, teachers or any other authority figure we may esteem to be our leaders. Verse 17 reminds me that He is a great God; mighty and awesome. That in itself is great, mighty and awesome.

Just for perspective today… meditate on that. “King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” When we take a pause and recognize just how magnificent He is we don’t need to worry, fear, be anxious, doubt, be depressed, care what others think, limit ourselves, cower, avoid, withdraw or retaliate.  God is the “Big Man”, He’s got your back.

Rehashing The Past

Punching Bag

Today’s Devotional: Deuteronomy 9

Have you ever been in a fight with someone who keeps circling back to the past; bringing up issues that should have been long gone, forgiven, over it – past! When that has happened to me I feel as if they aren’t even participating in the current argument and they just can’t seem to let go. It’s like I’m some kind of punching bag… I have no defense.

What if God did this? Remember the time when you took that box of pens from the office, rounded up the mileage on your expense reimbursement, told your parents you were home by curfew, but they were out of town so what’s a little white lie? What about the gossip you initiated about a ‘friend’, the cheat sheet you hid in your sleeve to pass your high school exam or the plagiarism used to write that college paper? That door ding you pretended not to carve into the door of that parked car, that tantrum you displayed when your checkbook didn’t balance or that time you turned your nose up on that homeless beggar who wanted some pocket change for food?

What if God rehashed our past?

Does the thought scare you? It does me. Maybe you don’t remember the time you got in late for curfew and lied to your parents. God would remember that. Can you imagine getting to heaven and all of a sudden God starting pulling out His list of your wrongs? This alone makes me pray out to God, “LORD, I am not worthy!”

BUT YOU ARE WORTHY! We are worthy through Christ. Deuteronomy chapter 9 is Moses reminding the Israelities how bad they were, but verse 6 says, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

It’s not because we are sinners God is giving us eternal life, it is because Christ is your LORD and savior and through His sacrifice of His blood, took our sins away – past, present and future. Thing is… it’s not just given automatically. We have to profess Him as LORD of our lives, believe in our hearts that Jesus did take our sins away, turn away from our selfish ways, and live for Him. I used to think it was a simple prayer…. Oh, it’s simple alright, but you have to mean it with your whole life.

If you can’t find the words, pray with me:

LORD Jesus, I need You. I want You to be my Savior and LORD. I accept Your death on the cross as the complete payment of my sins. Thank You for forgiving me and for giving me new life. Help me to grow in my understanding of Your Love and power so that my life will bring honor to You. Amen.