Understanding Value

Have you ever thought about what you value?

All of us know somebody who has spent what seems like an outrageous amount of money on something ridiculous. People buy boats, guns, art, historical pieces, custom made instruments, etc. because those items are of great value to them.  We would never spend what they spend on those things.  But we also don’t cherish and understand those things the way they do.  The worth of the UNDERSTANDING-VALUE-Father-Gave-Quote-photoobject comes from the value placed on it, and its value increases with love and understanding.

Our salvation and freedom was worth so much to our heavenly Father that He gave what was most valuable to Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

God loves us perfectly and understands our value, so He was willing to pay the highest price to save us.

This makes our freedom in Christ worth more than anything we could ever possess.  If we don’t understand that, we won’t value it.

It’s possible to receive salvation by the grace of God and then live as if it isn’t worth much.

That’s why our Father gave us His Holy Spirit and spoke through Paul in Ephesians chapter one:

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Ephesians 1:17-19a (NASB)

Look at the words in these verses: “the riches of the glory of the inheritance,” and “the surpassing greatness of His power.”  These phrases show that God places the highest of value on our salvation. He gave the greatest thing He could give, Jesus Christ, in order to pay for it.  Now that He’s given it to us as a free gift, He wants us to understand what it means.UNDERSTANDING-VALUE-Quote-photo

The only way we can fully know what it is to be free in Christ is through the revelation of His Word given to us by His Spirit.

Spending time reading, studying and adoring God’s Word is never a waste of time.  Listening to solid, biblical teaching will always take us to a new dimension of faith and relationship with Him.

Understanding will open our eyes to the riches of His glory and the surpassing greatness of His power. Learn to value your freedom and you’ll experience it like never before.

Unconditional Love

Our Father’s love is unconditional.

Unconditional-Love-Who-God-IsUnconditional love in no way depends on us. A.W. Tozer, a great preacher and writer, once said, “God absolutely is everything that He is.”.  That means since God is love, He is absolutely love.  His unconditional love is steadfast, sure and unchanging.

His love cannot be earned; in fact He refuses to let us earn it because God’s love is not something He pays us with, it’s who He is.

“Thus he shows for all time the tremendous generosity of the grace and kindness he has expressed towards us in Christ Jesus. It was nothing you could or did achieve—it was God’s gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God. The fact is that what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ, and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do,” (Ephesians 2:7-10 J.B. Phillips Translation).

To say that we’ve been given the love of God is to say that He has given us all of Himself.

He does not hold back in His love. He doesn’t require us to move up in the ranks in order to gain more and more of His love.

“Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us,” (Ephesians 5:1-2 Message Bible). Unconditional-Love-Gods-Love-Changed-Us-Quote

We could even say that God’s love isn’t just unconditional, but that it is contrary to our conditions. When we were in our most unlovable state, when we weren’t worthy of it, His absolute, unchanging love sought us out and made us worthy of His love. Our sinful condition didn’t change His love; His love changed our sinful condition.

This truth is by far the most essential for our walk with God.

We have to trust in His unconditional love in order to live the abundant life He’s made available to us. We can believe that God loves us, but also believe that His love is dependent on our good works, and this will cause us to continually fall short of His promises.

I encourage you to begin each day by thanking God for His perfect, unconditional love. Continually remind yourself that your Father loves you no matter your situation or your mindset. As you do this, you’ll find that it becomes more than a confession.  It will affect the way you live your entire life.

Understanding Grace

If we’re going to understand our Father and have a meaningful relationship with Him we need to understand grace.

Understanding Grace - Photo of Man standing on a rock overlooking oceanGrace is one of the cornerstones of God’s character. It’s His grace that saves us, that makes us new creations. It’s by His grace that we are adopted into His family.  His grace is what makes us righteous.

Grace is defined as, “That which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor or acceptance. A favor done without expectation of repayment. The free expression of the love of God to men finding its only motive in the benevolence of God.” To put it more simply, it is the unearned, unmerited favor of God.

When we don’t understand grace we will struggle to see God as our Father.

This is why many Christians stay far from God. They believe that God doesn’t love them or favor them. They don’t know that they live in the favor of God. So, they work to try to earn His love and favor, and exhaust themselves in the process.

It is God’s will that we be saved by grace through faith, but He does not want us to stop there. Understanding Grace - Photo or Rock and trees

Salvation by grace is not just a one-time experience that guarantees we will go to heaven when we leave this earth. We are to live our whole lives in and by His grace.

This shows us God’s fatherly nature. A good father doesn’t just want his child to be born and then leave him or her to face life alone. He protects, provides and leads his child in the best way possible. This is what God does for us by His grace. He does not raise us to new life and leave us helpless.

“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3).

Our Father has given us everything we need to succeed in life and our relationship with Him.

He shows us His love through providing for us by His grace.

I encourage you to go through the New Testament and read about God’s grace. Read the verses out loud. Speak them over yourself. I promise that you’ll move into a deeper relationship with God. You’ll no longer try to earn His love and acceptance because you’ll see that He’s already given them to you by grace. 

The Father Hears Your Prayer

Jesus had a full revelation of the power of prayer and knew without any doubt that His Father heard Him when He prayed. The-Father-Hears-Your-Prayer-Photo-of-Man-leaning-on-wall

“Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me,’” (John 11:41-42).

We can have this same confidence when we pray. We don’t need to pray simply wishing that God will somehow hear us and answer us. Praying to God is not like talking to people in today’s world. God is not pondering what emails He needs to answer, He is not constantly checking His cell phone for new text messages. Our Father is not distracted, He is listening intently to us.

God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His beloved, righteous children.

We have His undivided attention when we pray.

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous,” (Proverbs 15:29).

God hears our prayers the same way He heard Jesus’ prayers.

The-Father-Hears-Your-Prayer-Photo-of-Man-on-MountainHe will answer our prayers the same way, too. We just need to come to Him the way Jesus did; in faith.

Jesus knew that everything He needed was waiting for Him in God’s presence. Our Father is everything we truly need. He readily offers the relationship and acceptance we so deeply desire. He has the wisdom to guide us through any situation. Healing for any sickness or disease is in His presence. We just have to learn to receive from Him.

We need to know that God has made Himself accessible to us. He is not a cold and distant God. James chapter four tells us that He draws near to us when we draw near to Him. We should be confident that God hears us and meets our needs when we pray to Him.

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).

How To Please Our Heavenly Father

Please The Father - Photo of Child Looking UpAll children want to please their parents.

Not only do children want to please their parents, they want their love, approval and even their discipline. As children of God we want the same thing from Him. We desire to please God. His Word shows us that there is only one way to do this.

“You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him,” Hebrews 11:6 (TLB).

God is pleased by faith because God is a giver and faith is simply receiving from Him.

Please the Father - Boy with BibleFaith is how we receive everything we need from God. We receive His love by faith. Faith makes us righteous. The only way to properly receive His correction is by trusting that He only wants the best for us.

Worrying about not having enough faith to please God, is not necessary. Jesus is not only our example, but our provider of everything we need to please our Heavenly Father.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20 (KJV).

Please The Father - Photo of Outstretched HandThere are other translations of this verse that says we have “faith in the Son of God,” but this version shows us that we don’t simply have faith “in” Jesus, we have the faith “of” Jesus. We have the exact same faith that Jesus has. That means we are able to do all the things Jesus did when He was on earth. We can receive from God exactly as Jesus did. We can pray and receive from God the way Jesus did. You and I are just as pleasing to our Heavenly Father as Jesus was. We only need to receive by faith what God has already provided.

When we live by faith all of our days will be defined by God’s words to Jesus at His baptism:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased,” Matthew 3:17b (NASB).

Searching For…

searching-for-photo-of-magnifying-glass-on-bookEveryone is searching.

We are searching for love, acceptance and a myriad of other desires.  This is because everyone is born with a deep, inner longing for a relationship with God.  Sadly, many people don’t realize what the longing is for and try to satisfy it with other things.

We don’t realize that the desire of our heart is for our Father. Last week we learned that when we allow the pain we experienced from our earthly father to shape our view of God, we severely limit our relationship with Him.

Seeing our heavenly Father in the light of our negative experiences instead of the truth of His Word causes us to look for joy in the things of the world. We will never find joy apart from a relationship with our Father.

searching-for-photo-of-street-view-blurredWe are unable to find true, lasting satisfaction in the world because everything in it is only temporary.

Alcohol only numbs our pain for a short time. Drugs can make us forget for a night. The television shows we binge watch on Netflix will eventually come to an end. The distraction only lasts for a short time and we are left with our hearts still searching for something more. Until we find joy in our Father, we will take increasingly larger doses of the world in hopes of finding it there.

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever,” (1 John 2:15-17).

We should take note of these verses when they show us that if we love the world, then we do not have the love of the Father.

This does not mean that God does not love us.

searching-for-photo-of-hand-reaching-toward-blurred-windowIt means that we have not yet experienced the fullness and perfection of His love, because if we had, we would no longer need the fleeting pleasures of the world.

We should see this as a great encouragement, though. It’s a promise from God that His love will satisfy. It won’t just last for a moment, or a night, or a week. It will continue on forever. This will answer the cry of our heart. It will completely fill the void in us forever. He is the end to our desperate search for joy and satisfaction.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth,” (Psalm 73:25).

If you’re one of the people who is searching for love and joy, God is waiting to be your Father. He’s not just the God who answers your prayers. He’s the God who is the answer to your prayers.

Remove Bitterness Towards Father

We may struggle to see God as a Father because we’ve had a bad relationship with our earthly father creating a root of bitterness.

We can agree in our minds that God is a father, but bitterness causes our hearts to be hardened to accepting Him as our Father. This causes us to allow our experiences to drastically affect our relationship with God.  This limits our relationship with Him.

This is one of the devil’s most effective lies in holding us back from knowing the fullness of God’s love. He convinces us that God’s love is like man’s love: conditional, fleeting and driven by emotion. Satan attempts to take our bitterness toward our earthly father and turn it on our heavenly Father. He also tries to take the feelings of unworthiness we have experienced with our earthly father and convince us that God views us the same way.

bitterness-toward-father-photo-of-rootThe Bible teaches us that bitterness is the only emotion that has roots.

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many,” Hebrews 12:15 (NLT).

If we have bitterness toward our father, we need to ask God to uproot and remove it from our lives. Our part in removing bitterness is bitterness-toward-father-photo-of-manforgiving our father.  The pain we’ve experienced may be great and the wounds may be deep; but the hurt we’re carrying pales in comparison to the joy we’ll experience in knowing the depth of God’s love. If unforgiveness is the only thing holding us back, wouldn’t it be better to forgive and let go?  Wouldn’t it be better to move into the fullness of God’s love, rather than remain stuck in hurt and pride?

Our feelings of unworthiness did not originate with our earthly fathers. They were only perpetuated by them. Feeling unworthy or inadequate comes from being born into sin and nurturing a sin consciousness. The devil wants us to associate our assumed inadequacy with our earthly father with our relationship with God. He wants us to think that we are unlovable, so when we hear that God wants to be our Father we deem ourselves unworthy of that kind of love.

We should never look at ourselves that way, because God does not see us as unworthy and unlovable.

bitterness-toward-father-photo-of-boy-laughing“Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved,” Ephesians 1:5-6 (NKJV).

It gives God pleasure to adopt us into His family and call us His sons and daughters.  He loves to make us acceptable through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

No matter what any of us have experienced with our earthly fathers, the love of our Heavenly Father is able to heal our wounds and restore our souls. We have to let go of our bitterness and choose to live in the acceptance and love of our true Father.

Trust in God’s Timing

perfect timing 2Walking in God’s plan for our lives means that we have to trust in His timing. The key word here is “trust”.

Paul wrote it best in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The word “walk” in this verse doesn’t mean our physical walk. Paul is not telling us to walk around with physical eyes closed and have faith that we won’t stumble into oncoming traffic. No, our “walk” is our daily manner of living. It is the way we go about our lives. Paul is instructing us to make faith the norm in our lives.

So, to walk by faith and not by sight means that we no longer focus on the things of the world. Our focus is now set on Jesus.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,” (Hebrews 12:2).

The people of this world are focused on themselves and their circumstances. They are walking by sight. They don’t know about and don’t have access to the power of God, because they aren’t children of God. The only ability they have is the ability within themselves. So, when they are trying to solve a problem or figure out the next step in their lives, all they have is their own strength and wisdom.

That is why the world goes around stressed out and confused, because there is no true strength or wisdom outside of our Heavenly Father.

However, we are no longer like the people of this world. We, as Christians, have the amazing ability to trust God for everything in our lives.

When it seems like God is taking a long time to come through for us, we don’t need to be like the world. We don’t need to turn to our own power and wisdom in order to try and make something happen for ourselves.

We don’t have to wonder or worry about what God has planned for us or when it’s going to happen. We simply trust that God loves us and that His plans are always good. This is what it means to rest in the finished work of Christ.

If God has spoken to us about the plan for our lives, if He has promised us something, we don’t need to be concerned about when or how it will happen. We just need to have faith like we read about in Romans 4:21, “And being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

More than a Shallow Understanding

One of the simplest things we can do to follow the plan for our lives is to know and understand the One who created it.

If our relationship with our Heavenly Father is something we only think about on Sunday mornings, then we’re going to have a shallow understanding of His plan for us. However, the more time we spend getting to know Him, the more revelation we’ll have about His specific will for our lives.

More Than a Shallow Understanding - Photo of Stacked Rocks

Knowing, understanding and acting on God’s Word is the rock whereby we lay the foundation of our lives. If the foundation is small, we won’t step into the fullness of everything He has for us.

That’s why Jesus teaches us to build our lives on the rock of His word.

“Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built,” (Luke 6:47-48).  We need to be like the man in these verses.

We need to dig deep and lay the foundation of our lives on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.  We do this by renewing our minds to God’s word.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” (Romans 12:2)

Before Jesus saved us, our minds were formed and influenced by the ways of the world. We lived by the world’s standard and desired what the world told us was valuable.

We have to change our standard and our desires through reading and meditating on God’s Word. It’s not going to just magically happen. No one becomes like Jesus on accident. It is a conscious decision we make every single day to leave behind the old way and live by the wisdom that is available to us in God’s Word.

As we do this, we will find ourselves being made into the image of Jesus more and more every day. Reading, understanding and meditating on God’s Word literally changes us from the inside out.

The devil will attempt to downplay this fact in our lives, though.

He will try to convince us that our daily Bible reading and the time we spend in prayer is inconsequential; it isn’t. He’ll try to lie to us and tell us that we aren’t understanding what we are reading, making it impossible to change, that we still make the same mistakes and we’re still the person we were before we got saved; we aren’t. Don’t give in to the lies. Keep pressing forward.

Look at the verse from Romans 12 one more time. Our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds. When our minds are made new by God’s Word, our actions will follow. It’s a process; one that we must commit to if we’re going to walk in God’s plan for our lives.

So, I encourage you, dig deep to lay the foundation of your life upon the rock of Jesus Christ and He will reveal His specific plan for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a better understanding.  Be patient; God is more than capable to do what He has promised.

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Moving Beyond Yourself

starting block - Moving Beyond YourselfWhen we decide to follow God’s plan we need to know that it’s going to lead us to new places. We will no longer live or look like the world. The majority of people live in isolation. They are either alone or only concerned with their immediate family. God calls us to move beyond ourselves.

In order to move beyond ourselves, we have to realize that while our gifting and calling from God is ours, it is not for our benefit alone. He gives us talents and abilities, and opportunities to use them in order to bless others.

Read what the Bible has to say about moving beyond ourselves: “Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another as [is appropriate for] good stewards of God’s multi-faceted grace [faithfully using the diverse, varied gifts and abilities granted to Christians by God’s unmerited favor],” (1 Peter 4:10 Amplified).

This should be one of the most encouraging verses for those of us who don’t believe we have anything to offer. God has given each one of us a special gift. We’ve been empowered by the grace of God to change the world in a way only we can.

Don’t think that God has given us a gift just to hide it from us. He wants us to discover our talent and purpose.

Don’t listen to the voices of the past. Many of us have been discouraged by parents, teachers and those close to us. They told us that we aren’t talented or smart. A high GPA or income are not requirements to be used powerfully by God. God does not conform to the standards of the world, and neither should we.

If we don’t know what our gift is, we simply need to ask God.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking,” (James 1:5 NLT).

God is not going to be angry at us for wanting to know our gifting. He gave it to us. He doesn’t want us to spend our life frustrated and discontented because we never discovered our purpose.

It’s a beautiful thing to discover what God has called us to do. It opens up our world in a way that nothing else can. Once we know what it is we can start to work on it, develop it and allow it to stretch us as God takes us to new heights.

Our divine gift will put us in contact with new and different people; people that we never would have dreamed would be in our sphere of influence.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men,” (Proverbs 22:29).

God will exalt us as we seek to glorify Him and bless others with the gift He’s given us.

I encourage all of you to stop listening to the lies of the world and the devil that say you have nothing to offer. You are called an anointed by God to powerfully impact the world for His kingdom. Pray and ask God to show you what your gifting is, then get to work and watch your life move to new heights.