Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Your Life Has Infinite Value

Your Life Has Infinite Value

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you made all things. Everything existed and was made, because you wanted it." ~Revelation 4:11 (NCV)

No matter where she lives our daughter always manages to find a chocolatier who can create tiny masterpieces out of chocolate, sugar and other delightful edibles.
Her most recent gift featured twelve of the most exquisite marvels of candy artistry that I have yet seen! Each piece was so beautiful, yet distinctly unique that I was tempted to paint their portrait.
Alas, my family was not so overcome by their beauty. “You better paint fast, Honey!” my husband said as he reached into the box.  My adult children were equally uninspired. “Yeah, take a photo, Mom,” they said as they hurried to devour the chocolate wonders.
As I gazed at the photos of the candy on the legend that came with the box describing each handmade piece, I thought about how similar we are to the candy in that box.

The chocolate artist had created each piece by hand after forming an idea in his mind of just what he wanted. Each one looked and tasted exactly the way he’d designed it.
From the oval chocolate peanut butter piece with tan stripes to the strawberry cream square with tiny fudge hearts, to the simple dark chocolate cherry round, each had the look and flavor that its creator wanted it to have.

There were a dozen different pieces of candy in that box and no two were exactly alike.
In the same way, our Creator is a God of infinite variety. Just as the chocolatier made each piece of candy in the box unique, God makes no two human beings exactly alike. Each of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in His holy image. (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14)

God created us for fellowship with Himself, just because He wanted to. (Revelation 4:11)
His word reveals that human beings are valuable because of who we are, not because of anything we do or don’t do. 
God loves us beyond measure. He proved that by going to the cross for us in the person of Jesus Christ. (John 3:16)

We are custom built, made to order beings with a for-ordained assignment to come to know God through Jesus Christ.  We are to glorify Him on this earth in our very own special way with the unique gifts and talents that God has programmed into us.  (John 17:3, Ephesians 1:12, 2:10)

Just as the chocolatier made each of his candies exactly the way he wanted them, God made each of us just the way He wanted us to look and be.
God gives each of us our own distinct DNA, a soul, spirit, and a body; these will never be reproduced anywhere at anytime in heaven or on this earth.
Our lives are God’s gift to us that we might live for Him to fulfill our holy assignment that He created us for. 

God does not want us to compare ourselves with other people or measure ourselves against impossible worldly standards. This lowers our self-esteem and hinders us from fulfilling our divine destiny.
Suppose I wanted a piece of chocolate peanut butter candy and I bit into what I thought was such and I got the strawberry cream instead?

How must our Creator feel when His creatures go around trying to be who they were not created to be? 
When they go pining to be like someone they perceive is better than they are because they don’t feel like they themselves are good enough at whatever it is they are trying to succeed at?
“However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.” ~2 Corinthians 10:12 (Amp)
God loves you just the way He created you!
He wants us to be satisfied with who we are.

 God says, You are precious to Him just the way He made you.
What you may perceive as flaws, God sees as beauty marks: things He’s equipped you with that perfectly suit you to the work He has created you to do for Him on this earth. 
If you erase them you may miss your calling. 

God prizes our uniqueness!
Suppose our box of chocolate masterpieces melted into one mass indistinct look and flavor?
In the same way, how could our Creator be pleased when we conform ourselves to any standard other than what is revealed in His word for us?
Romans 12:2 says: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
We are not to homogenize ourselves in any way so as to obliterate our personal uniqueness that He’s created in us. 

We shine best for God when we just be ourselves. And we can only be ourselves when we truly know Christ and abide in Him.
You are a holy masterpiece.  You are precious, valuable, and incomparable to any other person.
There will never be another you. And no one can be you better than you can.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me. Draw me closer to You and fill me with Your love. Please reveal to me Your purpose for my life. Help me not to compare myself in any way to others but to celebrate the unique person You created me to be. Help me to fulfill Your dream for me. I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

© 2012 Suzanne Davis Harden Unto The Least Of These  All Rights Reserved.
Scripture References: NKJV New King James Version © 1982 Thomas Nelson Inc.
The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All Things Work Together For Good

All Things Work Together For Good

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ~Romans 8:28

In the Bible, the first book of Samuel opens with the story of Hannah, one of the two wives of a man named Elkanah.
Hannah was bitterly discouraged for “God had closed her womb.” (1 Samuel 1:5) 

Barrenness for Hebrew women was a social stigma for it was important to produce an heir and perpetuate the name of her husband. 
The inability to have children isolated her from other women resulting in insecurity and shame.
Hannah’s problems were intensified by her husband’s second wife.  Penninah made life miserable for Hannah because she was childless. 

Every year the family would go to Shiloh to worship the Lord.
Elkanah would give Penninah and her children portions of the sacrifice, but to Hannah “he gave a double portion for he loved Hannah…” (1 Samuel 1:5)
Hannah was so distressed about being childless and so tormented year after year by Penninah that she couldn’t even eat. 

So she went to the tabernacle of the Lord and poured her heart out to God.
Hannah’s troubles finally motivated her to seek God to help her out of her difficulty, looking past her suffering to the Source of her Healing. As long as she kept focusing on her problem it just created more stress and anxiety.
After Hannah prayed to the One “who upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3), she experienced God’s peace. She was then able to eat and enjoy the feast with her family. (1 Samuel 1:18)

God remembered Hannah (v.19) and in time she bore a son whom she named Samuel, a name that means, “God hears.”
Not only did God answer Hannah’s need through prayer, Hannah answered God’s need for a prophet to teach His people Israel His word.

  For that day when Hannah had poured her heart out to God she, “vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life...” (1 Samuel 1:11)

Hannah kept her vow even though she had desperately wanted a child.
As soon as she’d weaned little Samuel, she “brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young.” (1 Samuel 1:24)
She told Eli the priest, “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to Him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:28)

For her faithfulness in keeping her vow to Him, God gave Hannah five more children; three sons and two daughters!

Little Samuel would grow up to become one of Israel’s greatest prophets. He would go on to anoint King David through whose lineage would come our Savior Jesus Christ.

The answer to Hannah’s prayer continues to echo down through multiple generations to bless every man, woman and child, indeed, all of creation today, through Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Isn’t that amazing to think about?

Thoughts for Meditation and Reflection:
Hannah’s need ended up glorifying God through her vow, her faithfulness, and her son Samuel.

Could my need somehow glorify God, if in faith, I lay it on His altar as Hannah did, trusting that He will work it all out for my good?  

When Hannah poured her heart out to God, surrendering everything to Him, she made herself available as a willing vessel.

We can’t out-give God. In “lending” Him her firstborn, God gave to Hannah five more children. God does indeed hear our prayers.

Our needs are opportunities to look to God and seek Him for His solutions. His answers will bless not only ourselves, but others through us.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that you are able to make all things work together for good to those who love You.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We Are God's Masterpiece


Have you ever felt like you were never going to measure up to some invisible standard in your mind, no matter how hard you tried?
And the feeling could hit you like a smothering blanket of damp, dismal fog no matter what you are doing affecting every part of who you are.

Such feelings cause us to feel shame about ourselves in the very core of our being; drive us to perfectionism, making us feel insecure in all our relationships, our work, and affect every area of our lives. 

And as sure as anything they are not from God for in the beginning after He finished creating everything, the Bible says, “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
God’s word says that we are “Fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Is that not a beautiful thought?

Of course, my sin is not beautiful. But Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil and to forgive and defeat the sin in my life.
This includes the negative thoughts about myself that the enemy throws my way to try and discourage me from fulfilling God’s wonderful plan for me. 
For that is the enemy’s purpose. To disparage and discourage the people created in God’s holy image; people that Jesus Christ died to redeem and set free from sin and death.

No good thing may live in our sinful nature, but in Christ, in the spirit we are made brand new creations! 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” ~(2 Corinthians 5:17)

We are beautiful to Christ. He no longer sees the sin. We are forgiven. He covers us with His robe of righteousness.
Jesus is not looking for things to condemn us for, but for the good in us.

We tend to criticize and condemn ourselves and each other.
But that is not the Spirit of God. 

Jesus said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
Jesus Christ is always looking to ENCOURAGE US!

The difference between the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of evil is that the devil wants to criticize and find fault, but God is looking for the positive. 
God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.

God is love. He is looking for the good. He does not gossip or bad mouth people or speak evil of His children. 
He does not contradict His nature and His nature is found in Jesus Christ and in His word.
This does not mean that God ignores evil where it exists. It means He is looking for the good. He knows how to discipline His children who go astray. 
He wants us to look for the good in others just as He does.

Everyone has at least SOME good points. 
And God is the only One who has the right to judge the human heart, not us.

(Philippians 4:8) “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
God is looking for these very qualities to build up and strengthen in each of us, to make us like Christ.

Wherever we focus, that is where our aim will be; wherever we put our thoughts, that is the direction our path will take us.

So if we keep focusing on negative things about ourselves, our circumstances, and other people, we will continue to be unhappy.
So let’s try to do what God’s word asks us to do: let’s see ourselves and others through God’s eyes; through the Philippians 4:8 lens.
I call that scripture my “God Glasses.”

Let’s apply this scripture to ourselves, our work, our country, our leaders, our work, our coworkers, our relatives, our neighbors and in all other things.
May we find things to thank God for.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us remember that we are Your workmanship and that You call everything You make good. Thank You for making us Your image-bearers, the crown of Your creation! Thank You for loving us more than we can ever imagine!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Christ, Our High Priest

                                     Christ Prays For Us

Jesus, Our High Priest © S.D. Harden 

There is one thing I can always count on. No matter who I am or what I have or haven’t done, God will always love me.
I can be totally friendless with no one in the world who seems to know who I am or care one bit about me. 
Yet there is Someone who is always watching over me. 
He cares very much about me. 
The Bible says that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God the Father praying for me.
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” 
~Romans 8:34

It is comforting to know that even if no one else knows my need, and no one is praying for me, I have a Friend in Heaven who is standing up for me. 
He is pleading my cause right now, whispering my name in His Father’s ear, to His Father’s heart, and He will never give up on me.
It does not matter what path I am on, for He knows right where I am at all times. 
Whatever my need is, He knows it before I can even pray it.
 He even knows the number of hairs on my head!
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30)
Jesus Christ will never give up on us. God wants to be our Friend.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Though we can’t see Him, we can feel Christ’s love when we invite Him into our hearts.
Only it must be done by faith and even this is a gift from God. For Jesus said, “…no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me.” ~John 6:44

 We love God because He first loved us and died to save us from our sins. He gives us the gift of faith to believe in Him. (*1 John 4:19)
Everything we have is from Him; a free gift of grace that we did not earn or deserve. Our God is a God of love and mercy.  (*Ephesians 2:4:10) 

Christ Knocking at the Door © S.D. Harden

Jesus is always only a prayer away.
He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” Revelation 3:20.
He is knocking at the door of every person’s heart.  


The ability to trust God is also a gift. We come to God with nothing but a willingness to accept His love and friendship. He supplies all the rest. All we have to do is open the door of our hearts to Him.



Developing the Gifts of Faith, Hope, and Trust in God

How does God develop these gifts of love, faith, and trust in Him? When we invite Him into our hearts, His Holy Spirit helps us by drawing us towards His word. 
As we read the scriptures our hearts will grow closer to 
God and we will get to know Him personally.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
We will actually feel His love growing inside of us through the presence and power of His Holy Spirit within us. We need never feel alone for His abiding presence will always be available to us.
The Scriptures call the Holy Spirit our “guarantee or foretaste of heaven.”  (*2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:14) We have been sealed with the very Spirit of the living God!


Christ, Our Living Bread

Think of Christ as giving each of His children a little piece of Himself to be inside our hearts.
One slice of a whole loaf of bread is just as wonderful as the whole loaf!
Now we each have our own “piece” of Jesus Christ and the Heavenly Father through the Presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit all to ourselves. (*John 14:16-17)
Our God can love each one of His children as if we were the only ones to love.
Each child of God is a sacred temple wherein dwells His holy presence. 
(*1 Cor.6:19-20)

Our Holy Friend

Within us we have a divine Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
When we are so overwhelmed by life we don’t even know how to pray, our Helper prays for us: “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
He will never leave or forsake me. He will never give up on me. He is in me, He is for me, He is with me, and He loves me like no one else ever will.
After all, He gave up His life for me.


 Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the comforting assurance that even if no one else is praying for me, You are always at the Father’s right hand and in my heart interceding for my every need and that Your prayers are always answered.

Encouraging Scriptures

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Romans 8:31 MSG

“Therefore (Jesus) is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)

“We love Him because He first loved us.” ~1John 4:19

Jesus said, “Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go.” ~John 6:37 MSG

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” ~John 14:16-17

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”~ 2Corinthians 1:21-22

“Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”~2 Corinthians 5:5

” Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  ~Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus said, “ I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20