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What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us Romans 8:31

There are times in life when we feel the whole world is against us. The alarm doesn’t go off and we’re late for an important meeting; the kids miss the school bus and sets our entire schedule for the day off by one hour; the doctor brings us a report that drives us to our knees; the phone call in the middle of the night and the following trip to the morgue. Life can be more than we can handle.

Even as an adult there are times when I long for the ability to just ‘let mom and dad take care of it’!

Sometimes people let us down and the relationship we thought would stay passionate forever turns cold and full of hate. We hurt someone deeply (and unintentionally) and not only do they refuse to forgive us, they spread the word to others of our thoughtless deed.

Where do you turn in times like that? Some turn to external comfort like drugs or alcohol. That usually leads to more problems. Others change relationships or jobs hoping that this time the disappointment and loneliness won’t come, or if it does, it won’t hurt so badly. We can spend our lives blaming others and building walls of anger and bitterness. We turn inside ourselves and become silent time bombs ready to explode at the next infraction in our lives.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had one person to stand beside you? One person who could stand with you against all the odds and support you in the good and the bad? Someone who loved you and understood that you are doing the best you can. Someone who wouldn’t seek revenge for your faults?

Here’s the good news. You have someone like that. Think for a moment on the four little words in today’s verse ‘God is for us’. Personalize it now, change just one small word.

God is for ME. Let that thought melt the calluses of your heart. Allow it to soften the pain of rejection and frustration. Let it be as soothing oil on the open wounds of your soul.

GOD IS FOR YOU. Regardless of how you got to the place you are in life-God is for you. Regardless of the failures you’ve done-God is for you. No matter how many people are against you-God is for you. Regardless of how many changes are occurring in your life (for the good or the bad)-God is for you.

And, if the God of the universe is for you. If he is the one holding your hand and walking by your side. Who or what can possibly keep us from being all we were meant to be.

PRAYER: Father God. There are days when life seems stacked against me. There are bills to pay, fires to fight and trials to endure. There are times when I am so happy with my accomplishments and no one takes the time to notice. Thank you that you are here with me. Thank you for being for me today as I go through all life has for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10

Growing up in a pastor’s family, our table always seemed to have at least one guest for every meal. Sometimes it was just one of our childhood friends, other times it was extended family or ‘special guests’ from the church.

Regardless of whom the extra plate belonged to at our table, one rule was supreme. Company first. Period. The reason for that rule was summed up in one word: honor. The honor we gave to our guests really had nothing to do with their status or social standing. It was a choice we made as a family (under the direction of our parents) to make sure that people who sat at our table were special. There were no signs, no special announcements, no expectations. In fact, most people probably didn’t give it a second thought, but we did. We kids learned a valuable lesson in honor and respect.

During Old Testament times God instituted many rules and regulations to direct worship. One of them was that the Israelites were to give the first part of the harvest to Him. In the culture of that day, first things held a tremendous amount of significance. The first-born son (sorry ladies) was given special privileges and a larger part of the inheritance. The first part of the harvest was also considered of special significance.

It’s no surprise then, that God required the people to set aside the most important part of their lives to Him. He was to hold first place in their lives. The harvest symbolized everything that was important in the life of the Jew.

Today, because of Jesus death and resurrection, we live in by Grace. The laws and regulations of the Old Testament have been fulfilled by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus! There are no more laws, no actions, no activities or rituals that will move God to give us special treatment. Because of Jesus we have all the honor, love and forgiveness God has to offer.

However, it’s still important to realize that we can, and should do things that will show honor to our Father in Heaven for all that He has done for us. Even though we may struggle with addictions, health issues or relational difficulties, we still have Jesus. We still have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We still have the promise of Heaven.

As a point of honor we should consider our giving to God an act of worship. Every penny we earn is really Gods’ anyway. Giving to Him first is one way we can proclaim that He is Lord of every aspect of our lives. It’s amazing how our giving with a right attitude can make the money go further.

Some people teach that everyone should tithe 10% of their earnings to God. While I believe there are some who can do that, and that God will bless us more as we give more, God looks more on the attitude of our giving more than the amount of our gift.

This may sound strange, but the next time you sit down to pay the bills, before you begin to worry be there won’t be enough money to cover the stack of papers before you, thank your Heavenly Father for what He has given you. Make the first check you write out a check to your local church or ministry you support. Remember, it’s the attitude behind the gift that is the most important. Then, trust the one who holds the wealth of the universe in His hands. Financial worries abound in our time. But our Father desires to show us His blessing as we honor Him.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for the fact that you know my needs better than anyone else. You know all about the debts I owe and the struggles I’m facing. I confess that some of this debt is my own desire to have things. Some of my struggles are beyond my control. I hereby offer this gift to You in order to show you the Honor you deserve. Empower me to trust you for my needs. In the name of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. Isaiah 43:25 (NLT)

From the very beginning of time, before the Creator-God formed the world from vast nothingness, He sought relationship. That’s why he created the world, so that he could enjoy the beauty of the trees and mountains and the pristine sea. He created man so that He could share His love with someone in His own image and together they could enjoy relationship. He created woman so that man would have an equal partner, a helper, a confidant, so they too would be able to enjoy-relationship.

Jehovah approaches the prophet Isaiah with a message to His people Israel. Because of their sin they had been forced into exile to endure the harsh rule of foreign kings. The land promised was desolate. The people were mistreated. Yet in the midst of their exile they still refused to change their ways.

In spite of their refusal, or inability to follow His commands Jehovah’s message to Israel, and to us, is this. Forget about the past mistakes. Forget about your poor decisions. Forget about the countless times you did what you knew you shouldn’t do. Come to me for forgiveness and I will forgive you.

He says to us,”I, yes I alone” because no one else is qualified to forgive us. Our sin is not against other people. Our sin is against Him. We sin against Him when we hurt other people (knowingly or not). We sin against Him when we ignore His commands or take the relationship He offers us for granted. Yet in the face of all our weakness and rebellion He offers us a clean slate.

This forgiveness isn’t a result of anything we did, or can do. His forgiveness isn’t even for our sake. This forgiveness is for His benefit so that He can once again enjoy the relationship He so much longs to have with us.

This forgiveness is not temporary of conditional. He states that He will ‘blot out your sins’. To blot out gives the image of a ledger book with a debt to be paid. A debt far too large to be resolved. A hopelessly large debt. Yet He takes, as it were, a huge rubberstamp and stamps the word “PAID” across the ledger in bold, blood red letters. Your sin will never more come to mind. He won’t as you travel the journey look back and say “You don’t learn do you? You did this five years, three months, two days and four hours ago too!” Nope. Won’t happen. It’s gone. Forgotten.

What a marvelous promise. What a wonderful hope. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. It’s all because of love. Don’t let sins of today or of the past tie you down. Ask Him to forgive you and let it go. Don’t let fears of the future keep you from pressing on to work towards your dreams. Refuse to allow others to keep you imprisoned by reminding you of your faults. Father God loves you and made you just the way you are. He wants to help you.

PRAYER: Father God, once again I must come to you. I confess to you that even though I’ve been here before, I am still struggling with sin in my life. I’ve ignored you, failed to walk in relationship with you and even doubted you exist at times. Yet I’m tired of the pain. Tired of the guilt. Tired of the anger I can’t control. Please forgive me for the sins that plague me and help me to move on because of your wonderful, undying grace. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Remember the story about the little engine that surprised himself and everyone else when he was able to carry the huge load over the mountain? The other ‘trains’ came up with all sorts of excuses for why the project couldn’t be done. Only the little blue engine considered trying to pull the long train over the mountain. He pulled and strained and worked with all the determination inside him, all the while saying “I think I can.” Finally, he DID!

That silly little children’s story carries a huge message to us as Christ-followers. Each of us faces struggles and trials that seem like huge mountains in our path. Some of those mountains are mountains of our own doing. We’ve dug ourselves in a hole in relationships or poor choices. We face mountains of debt either of our own doing or because of some economic disaster. We stand at the edge of a huge canyon filled with doubt, worry or regret.

As we stand and survey the problem there will be those who will say, “You may as well just learn to deal with it. You can’t change things.” Others will give all sorts of reasons why they can’t help or a whole list of reasons why you shouldn’t be in this position in the first place (like that will help with the solution).

All of these nay-Sayers offer no practical help, but in reality the biggest enemy to conquering the seemingly impossible is you! The little engine didn’t look at the size of the load. The little engine didn’t consider the words of the others who refused to help. It didn’t look at its own size. Rather than considering all the reasons why it couldn’t be done, the little engine decided within him that he ‘thought he could do it.’

As we face the challenges of daily living, whether that be debt, worry, shame, guilt, relational issues or any other obstacle, we have one thing the little engine didn’t have. We have the promise of our Heavenly Father that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is beside us, helping us all the way through. It’s not by our strength and determination that we’ll conquer the issues ahead of us. It is by our reliance on His strength that we’ll be able to overcome.

Whether the challenge you face is of your own doing, or the result of someone else’s greedy and abusive action. You can overcome with the strength Jesus will give you. Draw close to Him in relationship. Ignore those who doubt your ability to move on. Trust His strength to carry you through.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for your promise to stand with me in every situation. I’m looking a huge challenge in face today and I’m not sure how I’m going to succeed. Others haven’t given me much hope. My past and my own lack of self-confidence keeps me paralyzed with fear. I ask that you would help me to rely on your power and strength to move forward in confidence and strength. With you by my side I don’t just ‘think I can’, I KNOW WE CAN. Thank you for that promise. Amen.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39 (NLT)

What can separate us from God’s love? The Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from His love. The only thing that stands in the way of a love relationship with God is our sin. Sin separates us from God’s love because God can’t look at sin, not because He doesn’t love us. All of us, no matter who we are or what we believe are God’s creation. He made ALL men (mankind) in His image for the express purpose of having a passionate, fulfilling love relationship with us.

Jesus came to earth to give us a living example of God’s love. He died to pay the penalty for our sin. He rose so that even death would have no power over us. Today He is seated at the right hand of His father pleading our case and reminding the Father that He died for us. He works in us though the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, protect us and assure us of His love.

What can separate us from His love? If we believe that God is the creator of all things then He is also in control of all things created. He created all we see (the earth, universe, life) and the unseen (the spirit world, fear, doubt, etc.). Therefore He will not allow anything He has created to keep us from His love.

What can separate us from His love? Can our past? Can debt? Can illness? Can political agendas that are anti-God? Can present frustrations and disappointments? NO! The enemy uses these things to try to veil God’s love; to make us question His love, His existence and His forgiveness.

The enemy says, “He can’t forgive you this time. You’ve gone too far. You are nothing but a hypocrite.” The enemy says, “If God is a God of love why is there illness and disaster? If your God is alive and loving this would never happen”

But our Father in heaven has always warned us that in this world we will see adversity. We’ll see hatred and disaster and struggle. He’s told us we’ll struggle with sin and with those intent on destroying us. He’s even warned us that we will be unfaithful at times. But even these things will not separate us from God’s love.

Our attitudes towards God may affect our ability to sense His love for us but they will never affect how much He loves us!

What can separate us from God’s love? Nothing. Nothing you can see. Nothing that is hidden. Not the past, not the future. God loves you and He sent His own Son as proof. Your value comes because of God’s love for you and not because of anything  you can do to earn it.

PRAYER: Holy Father. I thank you today for the reminder that there is nothing that separates me from you. I get scared sometimes. I get frustrated with my own feelings of inadequacy to follow you the way I want. I’m angry sometimes at the evil and injustice around me. Even during these times I ask that you would help me to live in constant awareness of your undying, eternal and unending love for me. In the name of my Lord and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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September 2022
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