Life Isn’t Fair

Do you ever feel mistreated? Do you feel like the whole world is against you? Do you have a boss who seems to play favorites and you are not one of them? Are you in a situation right now where it feels like some form of authority figure is denying you what you believe you deserve?

We can say in no uncertain terms that this world is not fair. There are people in this world that take advantage of loopholes. We run across people who violate the law. We may have a boss who bends the rules to fit her or his own desires. We hear of people who take what they want with violence.

Jesus has experienced this as well. Don’t think so? Sure, we’ve heard that Jesus laid down His life for us willingly. Yet, we should not forget that it was taken violently by people who were used their authority to get their way, even if it meant breaking the law. Jesus was going up against people whose behavior was one of, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

When we are put in situations that are unfair, we can rest assured that Jesus understands. He knew that was going to happen when He told His followers to turn the other cheek and to go the extra mile. He knew ahead of time that we would face unfair circumstances.

Does this mean that we are to simply lay down and take it? Perhaps. I know, that’s a hard answer. It is situationally dependent. There will be situations when we can stand up for our rights, for what is right. There will also be situations when we just have to take it and trust that God will make it right in the end.

We can go through those tough situations when we trust God. We have the best example of all in Jesus. No, it’s not easy. Yet, we can do so in full confidence that God will take care of it. He has promised He will. It just may be at some point down the road that He does.

I pray we all trust God in those tough situations. I pray we turn over those unfair situations to God and ask Him to provide us the guidance we need. I pray we all listen for His guidance and follow it. Life isn’t fair. Trust God. Follow Jesus’ example. Listen for God’s guidance. Follow Him.

John 18:22-23 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

Grow Closer To God

Do you ever fast, other than prior to a medical procedure? Do you fast for spiritual reasons? Do you think that fasting only includes food? Are you willing to fast to become closer with God? Are you willing to fast to make your life better?

As we go through life, we sometimes must have various medical procedures performed to improve our lives. It may be a surgery, or it may be a wellness procedure to check on our health. Some of these procedures require us to fast beforehand. They may even require us to fast for up to 24 hours. We often will grumble about fasting, yet we will go through with it because we know it’s for our physical health.

If we are committed to fasting for our physical health, why won’t we fast for our spiritual health? In today’s Scripture, Jesus is being asked why His disciples weren’t fasting. His answer is sometimes taken in the wrong context, meaning people will use it to argue fasting is no longer required. Their reasoning is, Jesus is alive and with us. I don’t believe this was Jesus’ intent.

Jesus was with the disciples, physically, at the time of His explanation. If we reach into our memory banks, we remember that Jesus, Himself, fasted just prior to Satan tempting Him. No, I believe Jesus’ intent was that the disciples did not need to fast until He had gone through the crucifixion and resurrection.

So let’s bring this back to us, here in the present day and the question I posed to start the second paragraph. Why are we unwilling to fast for our spiritual health? I believe there are several reasons for it. First, we aren’t as committed to our spiritual health as we should be. Second, we haven’t put forth the effort and don’t have the experience of fasting for spiritual health. Third, we don’t really teach people how to fast, though we might mention it from time-to-time. Fourth, in our lack of experience and understanding, we don’t fully trust that we will be better following the fasting.

Having fasted on a few different occasions to seek God’s direction or simply to disciple myself to rely on God, I can attest to its benefits. I have gone through fasts ranging from 12 to 48 hours, specifically for spiritual reasons. Can it be tough? Yes. Yet seeking to be closer to God is more than worth it. Jesus did the same.

In this time of lent, many people will give up something. Unfortunately, some give up things out of rote behavior, not fully understanding, and not really for spiritual well-being. We can fast from many different things, including food. I would suggest, in today’s society, that fasting from social media for a couple days would be very healthy, providing you use the time to seek God.

I pray we all determine to fast to improve our spiritual health. I pray we all seek to grow closer to God. I pray each of us spend our fasting time in prayer and reading God’s Word. After all, eternity depends on it. Seek God in prayer and meditation. Read God’s Word to gain understanding. Trust that God is there. Fast to gain dependence on Him.

Matthew 9:14-15 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”

Praise Be To God

What is your reaction when something great happens in your life? How do you react to bad situations? What is your general attitude each and every day? Do you have an attitude of praise? Do you praise God in good times, bad times, and everywhere in between?

We may hear someone occasionally praise God. We certainly will if we are in church. Yet how often do we hear people outside of the church building praising God? Do we hear it in the workplace? Almost certainly not. We have become so worried about offending someone if we mention God that we dare not praise Him at work.

Do we hear people praise God in our schools? Again, almost certainly not. Again, we have become afraid of offending someone by mentioning God that we don’t mention Him in our schools either.

However, I have seen a growing trend, even if it is small and slow in its growth. I have heard it with my own ears and said it with my own mouth in, of all places, the checkout line in a store. It could be the grocery store, a home supply store, or a large department store. The trend is that some folks will say, “God bless you” or “have a blessed day.” I like this trend.

We are to praise God in all situations. That may be in conversation in the checkout line. Perhaps it’s something as simple as the clerk making a statement and we say we are thankful that God blessed us enough to purchase whatever it is we our buying.

You see, praising God isn’t only raising your hands and shouting praises to God. It can be that. But it can also be giving thanks for His blessings. It can be acknowledging Him in places that we may not normally think about. It can be a simple, “Praise the Lord” when you nearly miss being in an accident. We are to praise God in all situations for His many provisions, His loving care, His mighty power, His wisdom, and His sheer awesomeness.I pray that we all recognize and acknowledge God’s awesomeness. I pray we see His awesome wonder and can do nothing but praise Him. I pray each of us learn to praise Him in all situations. Look to God. Praise His name. Give thanks for His blessings. Praise Him in all situations, any place.

Psalm 113:1-3

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, you his servants;

praise the name of the Lord.

Let the name of the Lord be praised,

both now and forevermore.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Love Through Actions

How do you love? Who do you love? What form of love do you experience? What form of love do you exhibit? Do you realize there are different forms of love? Many in this world do not realize nor recognize the different forms of love.

The two most common forms of love in the New Testament are the Greek words phileo and agapaoPhileomeans to have affection to another. We might think of this as a person being in love with someone else. It is also used to refer to the relationship among friends or to love things.

Agapao is a verb. Yes, that means action is to take place. It is used to describe the Father’s love for Jesus, Jesus’ love for us, our love for God, and our love for other people. It is demonstrated through our actions to serve others. It is often described as unconditional, which means we love the person, even if we don’t like their actions.

We often see young people fall in love. This is the affectionate love. They will decide to get married and will live off of affection for a while. But if their love doesn’t transition to action love, their marriage won’t last. I suppose this is why Jesus uses the verb for love more than He uses affectionate love.

Jesus uses agapao love anytime He is speaking about loving God, loving Him, or loving others. Why is this important? He is telling us that we cannot simply say we love someone and do nothing. That would not be following His commands. That would be following other emotions, rather than following Jesus.

This brings up an important point and reminds me of a song from several years ago by Reba. The song is titled “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” In the song, Reba describes her Dad. He rarely, if ever, says “I love you.” Yet she knew her Dad loved her more than words could say by the actions he took to support her.

God does that for us as well. Sure, He has told us He loves us in His Word—His Word being Jesus Christ, who tells us explicitly that He loves us. Yet, we don’t hear God speak to us on a daily basis and often forget that He loves us. To see that He loves us, we simply need to look at all the things He has done and is doing for us.

I pray we all respond to the command to love others with actions. I pray each of us will show our love for God through our actions. I pray we love as Jesus loved. Show others you love them, don’t just say it. Show God you love Him, don’t just say it. Be a loving person through your actions and your words.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Blessed By God

Have you felt God’s arms around you? Do you feel like a child of God? Are you feeling blessed by God today? Will you run and jump into God’s open arms with joy and happiness? Are you willing to accept His blessings for you?

We see too much falseness in the world today. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the workplace, in our community, or in our churches. People put on façade’s and pretend everything is alright, even when they don’t feel that way. They want everyone around them to think they have it all together.

As we grow older, becoming adults, then seniors, we become more cynical. We start viewing life as a continuous set of challenges, setbacks, and occasional victories. We forget there is more to life than work. We stop seeing God as our Father, Brother, and Guide. We stop seeing the blessings He provides for us.

God blesses us every day. It’s become passé in some Christian circles to state that God blessed us by waking us each day. We hear of people thanking God for blessing them with a meal and roll our eyes. Our very demeanor, our haughtiness, betrays our internal thoughts and our feelings of being better than another.

Through all of this, God continues to bless us. He blesses us as His children. He takes on the bully (Satan) and defends us. He has defeated death and blesses us with eternal life in His presence. He has granted us His kingdom, both here on this earth and in heaven. I know, those things all sound grand and far away.

God also blesses us every day. He provides us with skills for jobs, knowledge to improve our skills, wisdom to make good decisions, and strength to carry us through tough times. He loves us and has blessed us with the ability to love others. He gave us the perfect example of who He is by coming into His creation in the person of Jesus Christ. God continues to reveal Himself to us by living in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure each of us can write down a long list of blessings if we were to take time to do so.

I pray each of us take a little time to recognize the blessings we have received from God. I pray we all run to God’s open arms as a child to his/her parent and accept His wonderful blessings. I pray we see His kingdom every day. Live as a child of God. Accept God’s blessings. Trust that He will continue to bless you.

Mark 10:14-16 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

God Is Love

Do you know God is love? Do you believe God is love? Do you believe that God loves you? Do you believe He will lift you up? Do understand that God loves you more than anyone can, other than God Himself?

We often hear that God is love. We hear that He loves us more than we can possibly understand. We have likely heard that His love for us was expressed in the sacrificing of His Son for us. All of this is true. Yet, how can we know God truly loves us?

This is a tough question for many of us. We have our doubts. Things go wrong and we question God’s love for us. A loved one passes away and we question how a loving God can allow that to happen. We lose a job and we ask why God allowed it. We get an injury just before a big game, meaning we can’t play in it, and wonder how God is at work in it.

There are many things in this world that God does not create. However, He does work all things to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). God, because He loves us, can and will use our choices and the choices of those around us to make us better than we were before.

Personally, I’m ecstatic to know that God loves me. Why wouldn’t I be? Knowing that God loves me gives me the comfort of knowing that He is working on my behalf, even when I don’t fully see what He is doing.

Think of it this way. As a parent, don’t we do good for our children? Do our children always fully understand what we are doing? Suppose our child points something out to us at the store and asks that we buy it for them. Depending on our plan, we may very well say “No” at that moment. Why? It could be the child is asking for a toy that they are not old enough to fully operate. We may decide to keep it in our mind to give it to the child when they are ready.

God loves us enough to give us the most important and best things. He gives us peace, comfort, and joy. He gives freely from His love for us. Yes, He sent His Son to be a perfect sacrifice for us. But He sends gifts our way every day out of His love for us.

I pray each of us rest easy knowing God loves us. I pray each of us experience His love every day. I pray we all can feel His loving arms around us. I pray we can understand a little more each day the enormity of God’s love for us. Find rest in God’s love for you. Experience His love each day. Be comforted by God’s loving hands.

1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Wants and Needs

What do you need today? What is it you want? What are you asking God to do for you? What are you depending on God to do that you can’t do yourself? Do you know that God knows what you need? Are you relying on Him to deliver?

We so often confuse our wants with our needs. This is especially true in today’s fast paced, got to have it now world. We look at a pretty dress and think we need it. We see the large screen TV and convince ourselves our old TV is about to go on the fritz, and we need to replace it with a new one. We look at the shiny new thing someone else just bought and decide we need one, too.

We fool ourselves in moments of weakness. We allow ourselves to be convinced by others. We often react without thinking through the situation to make a wise decision. It happens to all of us. We are all fallible and weak at times in our lives.

Yet when we look at Scripture, we see that God will provide for all our needs. So why do we get caught up in a plethora of wants? It’s really quite simple—we take our eyes off Jesus. We don’t trust that God will provide. Or, we desire something other than what God desires for us.

This is not to say it is bad to desire. However, it is not healthy to desire differently than God. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what is best for us and we typically don’t. We may think we do. Yet it is not until we stop and take a look back through time, that we see where God stopped us from having something we wanted and see that it was best we didn’t get it.

It is during these times that we have a great opportunity. If we trust God to provide, rely on Him to know best, our faith increases. We see God at work. We see him provide in ways we would never expect.

It’s tough when we go through these times. We don’t understand the delay or the negative answer. We can’t see the future and often get depressed or angry or distrustful or frustrated. When we have those types of feelings about something, that is the time to slow down and spend some quiet time with God. Ask Him why. Ask Him to reveal His plan. Ask for understanding.

I pray each of us will trust God to provide for us. I pray we all come to understand that God provides the best for us. I pray that God will reveal what He is doing in each of our lives. Trust God. Ask for His wisdom. Ask Him to provide for your needs—physical, emotional, and spiritual. God will provide.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

To Fear Or Not To Fear

What do you fear? What brings you anxiety? What causes you to worry? What troubles you when you hear that type of news? Could it be medical issues? Is it the loss of a job? Do you fear being alone? Are you afraid of something else?

The majority of us will wrestle with the fear of something during our lives. Many of us will wrestle with multiple fears. One of the biggest during current times is the fear of being diagnosed with cancer. That diagnosis results in a long, hard road of treatment and can be incurable.

Some of us wrestle with day-to-day fears. Some are very common, such as the fear of the dark or the fear of being alone or the fear of some type of animal or the fear certain types of plants. Others have less common fears and those may be considered to be irrational fears.

Yet Jesus tells us not to be afraid. He says that our Father has given us the kingdom. Jesus is telling us to rely on God in those situations when we feel fear welling up inside us. We know when it starts. We can feel it coming on. At that point we should pray and reach out to God’s power to remove the fear from us.

We should remember at all times that we have inherited a kingdom—the Kingdom of God. The kingdom and its Owner, God, is always available to us. He will get us through those fearful times. He will not allow us to be in a situation we cannot handle. No, we can’t always handle it on our own. But we can handle it with God’s help.

So, when we feel that fear coming to us, pray to God, asking Him to bring us peace during that time and remove the fear. Even before we feel that fear coming, we should ask God to remove the fear from us, so that we don’t have that fear at all when put in those situations. God can permanently remove our fears.

I pray that we all rely on God to remove our fears. I pray each of us will ask God every day to remove the fears we know we have. I pray we also ask God to keep from putting us in those situations until He has removed those fears. Pray to God to remove your fears. Pray that He removes them permanently. Trust God. He keeps His promises.

Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Loving God and Neighbor

Whom do you love? Do you love your parents and grandparents? Do you love your siblings? Do you love your spouse? Do you love your friends? Do you love your neighbor? Do you show your love? Do you love God? Do you show your love for Him?

We often say we love people. We also say we love God. But what does that love look like? Are we doing things that demonstrates that love to others? It is easy for us to say words. Sometimes our words hurt and at other times our words heal or lift others up.

To love God as Jesus wants us to love Him is to lift God up and show Him to others. This takes on many different forms. One of those forms is to love our neighbors, or those around us. In loving those around us and showing that love, we show we love God as well.

Does this mean we always have to agree? No. However, we are to disagree in love, which means without the anger, hatred, disrespect, and jealousy that often comes with disagreement and selfishness. Yes, selfishness is involved due to our desire to view ourselves as better than someone else or being in the right that is often the genesis of the disagreement.

How can we correct our behavior? First, we need to love God with all that we are. As we see in today’s passage, it means loving God with our heart, soul, strength, and mind. How can we do that? It is summed up in one word—submission. Submitting to God in everything we do, including our actions, thoughts, and words.

When we submit to God in love for Him, He changes us from the inside out. He changes our view of this world by changing our heart. He fills our soul with His Spirit. He gives us the strength, both physical and spiritual, to stay the course and show His love to others. God’s Spirit will fill our minds with His desire, His will.

So, if we truly love God with all we are, we will be changed. We need to be willing to change, change for the better. When we are willing to change, God goes work and we see our lives improve in diverse ways.

I pray we all decide to love God with our whole being. I pray we all submit to God and allow Him to change us into the person He wants us to be. Submit to God. Love God. Love your neighbor. Be changed.

Luke 10:27-28 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Honor

Who do you honor? Do you give honor to celebrities? Do you give honor to sports players? Do you honor your parents? Do you honor your children? Do you honor God? Who should you honor?

We honor so many people in this world. We often seek honor for ourselves. Don’t think so? Don’t we want people to notice us, notice something good we’ve done? We sometimes talk about people getting their “10 minutes of fame.”

We see a wide variety of people becoming famous for a multitude of reasons. Some for being on the TV, with some of them being caught on video doing some really crazy or dangerous things. Some become famous for their brilliant discoveries in science or medicine. Some fame is granted based on an achievement in music. And many of us bow down to honor those people with everyone else in this world. We hold them in high esteem.

I remember when I was young, playing on a grade school basketball team. We were going to play against a much larger school and the boys we were going to play against were taller than we were. Our coach saw that we were defeated, in our minds, before we stepped onto the court. He gave us a little pep talk. He said, “They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you do.” I don’t think I fully grasped his meaning at that time, but I do now. You see, we are all people and we all have the same needs and wants. Sure, there are some variations, but they are minor when you really think about it.

Where does that leave us? I believe it means we should certainly acknowledge accomplishments, but not to the degree that we put someone so high on a pedestal that we forget they are still human. They still have their needs and wants. We all live and die. We all eat and drink. We all sleep and wake. Who allows all of this to happen?

God is the One who deserves our true honor. He is our Creator. He is the one that puts the very breath in us. He is the One who can take that breath away at any moment. He is the One who provides us with jobs, homes, cars, talents, and everything we have. He provides us with children, parents, and grandparents. He sets our lives in motion and can stop them when He wishes. Shouldn’t we honor the One who has this power over us and who is our Creator?

I pray each of us honor God. I pray we show Him the respect and deference that He deserves. I pray we are in awe of His mighty works. Honor God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Be in awe of Him. Be appreciative of His works. Give Him thanks.

Matthew 15:8-9

“ ‘These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain;

their teachings are merely human rules.’ ”