Now I know the term “special” or “You are special” has sank to the same level as participation trophies. But let’s look at what God has to say about your uncommonness. We are the work of God’s hands, (Isaiah 29:23) created and designed with unique abilities, capabilities, and capacities. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship…His exquisite craftsmanship lovingly displayed in each one of us…separate and alone. You are truly special to God…created for His glory, formed and made to be distinctively you.
You’d probably agree this past year has been especially challenging…filled with enduring hardships and persisting in spite of difficulties. We’ve all experienced suffering in one way or another…but the question is, how well have we done? In II Timothy, the Apostle Paul was exhorting the young Pastor Timothy that suffering for the sake of the Gospel was part of his job description, and that he was to ,”Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:3) No one wants to endure hardship, just as no one wants to suffer… it’s part of living in this broken world, but if we can hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, God is faithful. For as James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is the man who perseveres.” And we can also take great encouragement from Revelation 2:3 when it says, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My Name, and have not grown weary.”
If I asked you what you were afraid of today, what would you say? I’m not talking about things like spiders, snakes, or mice, but things that have your stomach tied up in a knot. For me it’s COVID 19 and everything related to it. It’s being fearful about my kids and grand-kids coming down with it, or my elderly Dad, or my health-compromised family-members succumbing to the virus. But II Timothy 1:7 tells me, “God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” Fear tells me that I can’t, while faith tells me it’s already been done. For Romans 8:15 says, “You didn’t receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of son-ship.” And this son-ship tells me that through Jesus Christ, God has adopted me and you as His son or daughter thus making us a heir to His promised salvation. Thus we have nothing to fear, for the fear of death is gone…and if you really think about it, fear of death is the origin of all other fears.
Colossians 3:15 tells us, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace…His Message called the Gospel of Peace, and as He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.” (John 14:27) The fruit of righteousness is peace, (Isaiah 32:17) and we can filled with it no matter how frenzied it is around us. How you ask? Peace is a divine promise of God that transcends all human understanding …for the Lord of peace Himself gives us peace at all times and in every way. (II Thessalonians 3:16)
I Corinthians 6:20, “You were bought at a price.” That’s what redemption means, and Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for you…that’s how precious you are in His sight. For we can’t redeem our own life, let alone the lives of others…for only in Him do we have redemption through His blood shed at the Cross on our behalf. (Ephesians 1:7) Today, you may think your life is of no value…you may not feel cherished or loved by anyone…But God doesn’t feel that way about you! For if you were the only person on the face of the earth, He would have still sent His Son, Jesus, to die for your sins…You are that precious to Him.
Within the Beatitudes we find this: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) And this is shown to be so true in Lamentations 3:22-23 when we read, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning.” We can show compassion to our fellow man because of God’s compassion continually being poured into us… anew and fresh every morning. So to be full of mercy is to exhibit the same grace and kindness that God daily extends to us.
Over the landscape of the Bible, God’s words echo over twenty times…”Be strong and courageous!” and “Take courage!” But like the Lost and Found Dept., our courage can become absent only to be obtained again. Psalm 107:26 says, “In their peril their courage melted away.” But in II Samuel 7:27 it tells us, “So Your servant has found courage.” Courage can momentarily wane in the face of tragedy and disaster, but it can readily be found again when we look to God, for it tells us in I Corinthians 16:13. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” And Hebrews 3:6 also reminds us, “Hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” You are strong and courageous…established and determined by the God who arms you with everything you need.
Psalm 139:13-14 ” For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful.” There is nothing else to say but miraculous at the birth of a baby, and all we can do is marvel at this extraordinary event of life, for there are no words to explain this miracle. So on the day you were born your uniqueness began. You are one of a kind and special to God who lovingly formed you and hid you away for those 9 months. In His eyes you are exceptional with gifts, talents, and passions only you possess…His plan and purpose for your life written for you alone and your unique qualities. There is no one like you…for in God’s eyes you are perfect!
Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Eight years ago today I started writing this Devotional. Eight years ago today I took a giant leap of faith and said yes to something God had been pressuring me to do for at least a year prior. What I thought may last maybe 6 months is now eight years old. What I figured could become fifty devotionals are now over 2,700. Has it been easy? Have I wondered many times if it’s worth it? The answer to both is yes. But the greatest lesson I’ve learned these eight years is waiting patiently for the Lord. Of learning to suffer well with hopeful expectation in faith and duty…which is entirely a learned quality of my mind…a gained understanding to bear up under things with a tranquil mind. And so I would encourage you today…waiting patiently for the Lord involves strength and courage…it develops your faith and perseverance as you wait on the Lord…for patience is a cultivated fruit of the Spirit.
Now before you start to dispute this idea, let me tell you a little story out of the Bible. Numbers 22:27-28 tells us about Balaam and his little donkey who came upon the angel of the Lord guarding the path they were traveling. Three times the donkey saw the angel with his sword and three times she veered off the path. Finally, she just laid down. And when Balaam became angry, the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and she spoke. So I ask you, if God can use a donkey, why in the world couldn’t He use you? And before you start with excuses why you can’t…let me tell you about a few well-known prophets from the Old Testament. Jeremiah argued with God that he was too young to be used…it says that Ezekiel was so sad and angry that God had to put His hand in the middle of his back and push him into service…Amos was a humble country-boy with no education when God called him…and then there was the reluctant missionary to Nineveh, Jonah, who ran far away from God’s call at first…and we all know where that landed him! We can all be used of God. For we all have been given gifts, talents, and passions that are unique to us. Couple this with our unique character traits, personalities, and bents and God has very special plans for each one of us. The only thing we have to do is be obedient.