Present or Future

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

How does this verse sit with you? Or maybe a better question would be to ask which one is consuming you? Your future glory or your present sufferings?

For some of you, this pandemic and quarantine have been a good restart or a good change of pace. For others it has been devastating.And as it has dragged on, I’m sure that all have experienced some kind of suffering, if not at least a little inconvenience.

Paul, who wrote this had a pretty good history of suffering to draw from. He was stoned with rocks, beaten, imprisoned, starved, shipwrecked, chained up, and I’m sure that’s just the beginning of it; yet Paul was so consumed with his future glory that he endured all of these things like a champ.

What do you believe about the “glory that will be revealed in us?” Your answer to this question directly affects your ability to endure present sufferings. We have to know and believe that our true home awaits us in heaven and that any good thing we’ve experienced on earth or any redeeming quality will be magnified tenfold in our lives to come–the renewal of all things.

Spend some time with the Lord asking Him to show you where present sufferings have been consuming you. Surrender each one to the Lord. Then ask Him to open your eyes to catch a glimpse of the glory the He will reveal in you.

Your Heart

“So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23 TPT

I don’t know about you, but my heart has been through quite a bit over the course of of the last couple months. With so much uncertainty around me I have felt despair hovering around me. That is not the half of it, is it? Hatred and violence spewing all over the world; add on to it the daily assualts of normal life, and your heart seems to be doomed.

But there is hope. For those who are in Christ you have been given a new heart. Jesus lives there now, so you have every reason to be joyful.

However, the Bibles still tells us over and over to protect our hearts. How do we do that?

We have to make sure we are speaking the truth over ourselves everyday so much so that we can more easily recognize when the dangerous arrows of the enemy come to discourage us.

Thomas Kelly writes that, “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us to the intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself.”

This is certainly not a time to stay complacent about your heart. You’ve got to be diligent to protect it by reminding yourself of who you are and who He is.

Make sure your morning devotion is not just about grabbing a nugget or two about God, but make sure you set your heart right. Spend some time writing down ten things that are true about you in Christ. Here are a handful to get you started…

You have been bought with a price.

You are redeemed.

You are forgiven of all sin.

You cannot be separated from God’s love.

You are God’s masterpiece.

Careful Watch

“God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all––life healed and whole.” 1 Peter 1:5 TM

This should be a huge encouragement for those who are in Jesus. He is not going to leave you to fend for yourself in this world. The God of angel armies will shield you. You cannot have your salvation taken away from you, and you will not be overtaken by anything in this world or in the world to come. 

This will mean a lot more for those who are really going for it with their faith. When you stick your neck out for God, He is like a fortress for you. You might bend, but you will not break. 

If you have tasted any love, peace, joy, or encouragement in this life, this is but a small picture of what is to come. God is going to finish what He started in you. You will be completely healed and made whole in the coming life. All good things you receive now, however great they may be, are just a deposit of what is to come. For now, you are being made into who you were created to be, but when it’s all said and done, you will be made perfect, not lacking anything. 

Are you encouraged by this verse? If not, ask the Lord why that is. Perhaps the enemy is discouraging you; or perhaps God wants you to step out more in your faith, so He can come through for you.

Knocking

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

With all that’s been upended in our lives, have you sensed the Lord calling to you? As much as we’d like, Jesus doesn’t break in and force himself into our lives. He waits for us to decide if we will open the door to Him.

Maybe at one time you opened the door to Jesus and experienced His love and peace, but over time you’ve kind of let the door slowly close again. 

Do you hear Him knocking? What is keeping you from opening the door? Love, peace, and joy wait on the other side. 

In the Fire

“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” Peter 1:7 TM

Friends, let’s face it, these are refining times. Massive Pandemic, global economies crashing, racial tensions are through the roof, and domestic violence is up. Anger, hatred, fear and death are running rampant. But I believe God is up to something. What are you perceiving?

Most sane people knew the world was out of control before all this happened. It was almost like we needed a shock to the system to sober everyone up. What has changed for you? Has this been a refining time? Have you dug into your faith more or escaped into television, movies, social media and the internet?

Spend some time with Him. Don’t worry about the rest of the world for a minute, ask Him what He is up to in you, how He is trying to refine you.

Stars

“By faith Abraham’s wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise. So from this man, who was almost at death’s door, God brought forth descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as impossible to count as the sands of the shore.” Hebrews 11:11-12 TV

The odds were stacked against her to have a child, and the 90 year old Abraham for that matter, but Sarah had faith that God could do it. She also had faith that He would do it given His promise and she knew God always does what He promises, but it’s also worth noting that her first response was to laugh at God (Gen 18). The great people in the Bible were just that, people like us, and even they had their moments of unbelief. And yet many of them, after their first reaction, chose to believe in God’s ability and desire to provide for them. 

Maybe you’re in a situation where the odds are against you. Maybe you have a recurring sin that seems impossible to break. Maybe you mom or dad or good friend are not Christians, and it seems unlikely things will change. 

Push beyond your initial reaction of disbelief, and learn to trust in the One who is more than able to do it. 

How is your faith right now? Are you able to push beyond what you can see, and trust in the One, who you cannot see, to come through?

Tent Living

“Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith. He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise.His eyes of faith were set on the city with unshakable foundations, whose architect and builder is God himself.” Hebrews 11:8-10

The image of Abraham pitching tents all along his jouney makes me think of how much I love backpacking in the mountains. There’s something about being removed from anything resembling civilization and sleeping under the stars that purifies the soul; however, usually, after a few days of primitive tent camping, I find myself longing for my creature comforts like home, a shower, and some real food.  

Maybe Abraham was tempted to feel like I do, but he sure didn’t show it. He put his trust in the promise of God that he would inherit this new amazing land. He considered his current place temporary, dwelling in tents and putting his faith in what was to come.

We spend so much time creating permanent dwellings and comforts for ourself here on Earth. We fight hard for status or popularity. We’re miserable unless we have a girlfriend/boyfriend. We throw a fit if we don’t have a certain car or new gadget that just came out.

Learn to put your trust in the One who promises us a new world where there is no crying or problems and everything is made perfect. Put your hope in the world to come and you will find that the troubles and heartaches of this world will lose their grip on you and fade away. Maybe instead of pitching fits when we don’t get our way need to start pitching tents.

Spend some time today asking the Lord to show you where you are creating too much of a life for yourself here.

Different

“By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God. Hebrews 11:7 TM

Who builds a giant ship on dry land to house animals of every kind? If you didn’t know the story of Noah, then you would probably answer a crazy person. I’m sure to most people at the time, he was a lunatic. He didn’t build this giant vessel in a day or even a few days. He didn’t have modern technology with electric or cordless saws. He defintely had to convince many other people to build this seemingly foolish thing. Scholars estimate it took him around seventy years! I’m positive he had many onlookers and workers ridicule him for all that time as he built the ark.

It takes a different kind of person and a different kind of faith to believe in God they way Noah did. I’m lucky to be faithful for one day much less a year. Noah’s faithfulness spanned longer than most of our lifetimes. The only long-term project that compares to his is our very own lives.

Although God is not having you build a giant boat, He is having you build your life into something that matters. If you look at the entire project it can be overwhelming, but maybe if you just focus on the next board you’ll begin to see the progress of His work in you. One thing you can bet on is that you won’t be alone; He will be with you every step of the way and will bring people into your life to help.

Do you believe God is building something in you? Spend some time asking Him to show you what the next board will be. Maybe your faith will save your family.

Relationship?

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Notice the writer of Hebrews didn’t just stop at belief in the existence of God, for the demons even believe that much (James 2:19), but rather he emphasizes the belief that God rewards those who sincerely go after Him. And what is the reward? True relationship with God himself, or as Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message translation, “that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.”

It is nothing short of incredible that the God of the Universe not only wants to have a relationship with us, but that He also is pleased to do so.

Do you really believe God wants a relationship with you? If so, are you actively pursuing a relationship with Him? Are you earnestly seeking Him?

100

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100

In other news… we have reached 100 consecutive posts! Exactly 100 days ago I started this devotional to help people navigate through these tough times and to challenge them to spend more time with the Lord. I am blow away that, to date, Two Minutes with God has now reached just over 980,000 people in 253 different countries. I have been praying for revival ever since this pandemic hit, and I’m encouraged by the responses I’ve received. In light of this momentous day I would also like to let you know you can purchase my 40 day devotional book, Two Minutes With God, on Amazon, and all proceeds go toward furthering the Kingdom through this blog. Just click this link, and it will take you right to it. (I would appreciate as many book reviews as possible.) Special thanks to the 1,390 followers who have daily walked through this journey with me.