5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
As a child, I had many questions because I was not raised by my biological parents. Therefore, I struggled with not feeling like I belonged for most of my childhood and was always surrounded by constant reminders. There was an unspoken distinction that lingered like an elephant in the room and it grew with time. My efforts to gain affection increased as well. I aimed to work hard in school and make good grades because I thought it would earn more love. Eventually, I came to realize that it didn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong my grandparents did the best they could and I am very grateful for all they have done for me. I know they love me and I love them without a shadow of a doubt. However, I needed verbal reassurance growing up. Although they provided for me, I needed to hear them say they wanted me there.
Naturally, parents don’t get to choose their children. However, they do in adoption. God chose us when He adopted us. The idea of being separated from us was too much for Him to bear. He was determined to make a way and seal the deal. Jesus was the remedy. Jesus was the way. Our adoption into God’s divine family is a reflection of His deep love for us. It’s the seal of our Father’s approval.
And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters”, says the Lord Almighty.
2 Cor. 6:18
I have come to know that there is no amount of hard work we can do to gain His affections or approval. As Ephesians 1:5 states, God wanted us and it gave Him pleasure to adopt us. We don’t have to wonder whether or not He loves us. His love is evident in every breath we take. It is in the beautiful majesty of His creation we behold each day we open our eyes. His love is in the gentle kiss of a spouse and child. He sings His love song to us throughout the day while encouraging our hearts with His truth and provision. Let us be fully persuaded that we are the most wanted part of the creation and nothing can separate us from His great love. (Rom. 8:38-39)
If you ever feel rejected or unloved, remind yourself that you are God’s choice and there is a place for you in His kingdom. All you have to do is accept His love and invitation into His divine family. When we walk in the full acceptance and awareness of His love, our lives are changed. We can change the lives of others by sharing His real love with them. Beloved, be sure to live every day with the confidence that you are WANTED and loved by the Almighty God.
For God SO loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Can you think of someone who wouldn’t hesitate to give their life for you? A dear loved one was probably the first to come to mind. Did you know someone loved you that much before you were even born?
If you traded an item, I’m sure you would want an even exchange. You would not want something of lesser value. That’s what God did when He gave Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners. He exchanged His beloved, sinless Son for the sinful. The real beauty of the story is that He knew our condition yet He was driven by His profound love for us. Our Father bridged the gap to bring us into fellowship with Him.
Dear Friends, I wrote this devotional for the YouVersion Bible app over a year ago and I wanted to share it with you over the next week. As you read it, I pray that you will be reminded of God’s great love for you and how his love is the core of His relentless pursuit to call you His own. I pray that you will feel His presence. I hope you will find comfort in knowing that you are intimately loved and adored by the Father. I pray that you will share it with others via the app and this blog. So, they too can be reminded of this truth because it changes everything.
Beloved, be blessed. Nia
We are born with an innate desire to love and be loved. Our desire for intimacy comes from the Father. The essence of His very existence is based upon the unity of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This unit was extended to earth via the birth of Jesus and furthered by the coming of the Holy Spirit after His ascension into Heaven. The Father desired direct fellowship with us. His heart was broken by the chasm created by the sin of the Garden. Therefore, He made a way to reconnect us to Him. Jesus was the way.
However, He didn’t just stop with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God intended for us to experience His great love through human relationships. Ultimately, He wanted us—imperfectly flawed beings—to walk in His perfect love. Unfortunately, we know that this isn’t always the case. The reality is that many of our relationships are just as flawed as we are. When we look for our identity in those we love and not in the one who is love, we are bound to fail in love. Failure can separate us and leave us with feelings of inadequacy. Nevertheless, God wants us to know that He wants us. He wants us even in the ugliness of our truth and at the apex of our greatness.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the things that I said to you.
In John 14, Jesus tells the disciples that the Father is going to send His Spirit to teach and help them. He wanted to assure them that in spite of His physical absence, provision had been made. He wanted them to know that the Father had covered all bases regarding them. When I think about the comprehensive plan of salvation, I can’t help but see the imprint of God’s great love all over it. He has every detail covered. Literally, He has left no stone unturned. The Father set everything in place to ensure us a victorious life.
Let us look a little closer. During Jesus’ time with them, they had the Living Word in front of them, the Word made flesh. He would soon ascend to heaven but they would not be abandoned. Neither are we. However, we often forget that we have eternal, supernatural help. The Spirit is here within us. He is God in us. He not only resides in us but He empowers us to walk uprightly as we yield to His direction.
In retrospect, I can recall how the Spirit has functioned as a teacher in my life. I didn’t grow up in the church. The Bible wasn’t taught to me as a child so I didn’t know a lot when I came to the Lord. As I surrendered to the will and power of God in my life, the Spirit began to “teach” me the word of God. My understanding was opened so I could receive instruction for my life. It is the Holy Spirit that brings revelation and life to God’s written word. He not only illuminates the meaning of the Word but enables us to obey . The scriptures are just mere words on a page without the power of the Holy Spirit.
Also, I’ve had times in my professional life when the Holy Spirit revealed a deeper understanding of the content I was teaching in class. I’ve found myself praising God during lessons many times because of His help. The Spirit is so powerful that He not only shines the light on spiritual but also natural nuggets of wisdom.
One of the things I love the most about the teaching of the Holy Spirit is His timeless essence. He faithfully reveals what we need from His Word for that particular point in time in our lives. That is why we can study the same scripture repeatedly and get an entirely new meaning from it each time it’s read. I’m sure you have witnessed this in your own life as well. Have you ever received a right now word? Weren’t you blessed by it?
Ultimately, it is not the Father’s desire that we walk in darkness under any circumstances. His truth is the light unto our paths. We would walk in darkness without the teaching power of the Spirit. He wants victory for us so much that His Spirit brings His word back to our remembrance to keep us aligned with His purpose. The Spirit is our internal GPS. I am a witness of His ability to give save spiritual routes that help us to avoid ” traffic jams” and pitfalls. However, we must be in tune with His frequency. This doesn’t happen when we treat the Spirit like Alexa and try to tell Him what to do. We must humbly submit ourselves and listen attentively. Then, we will walk in the purpose and power of the Lord.
My treasure lies on angel’s wings, Where His presence rests and cherubs sing. Not where moth and rust destroy, Or in the arms of a girl or boy.
My treasure lies upon a lamb slain, In an eternal place where the Son of Man reigns. Not in a bank stored up where thieves steal, Or in a lie that appears to be real.
My treasure lies in the Spirit realm, In He who calmed a ship at sea and arrested its helm. Not in the opinions of those who whisper and standby, Or on the lips of politicians who tell swift lies.
My treasure lies in the will of the one who hung on a tree, Whose blood was shed to save a wretched soul like me. Not in broken promises and deceptive cries, Or in those who would betray me in the blink of an eye.
My treasure lies where my true heart also rests, In the bosom of the Father who knows His children best. But in His purpose and His love, my vision is very clear, Because I’ve got work to do in His name and time is drawing near.
Let me be the first to say that I detest grocery shopping. From the lines, insufficient registers, and crowds, I could do without all of it. Let’s just say I try to avoid it at all means. I make every effort to get everything I think we may need every time I go because I hate to go back. It’s so bad that I smile when I see the checkout. I feel like an Olympian approaching the finish line and taking the gold. Last week as I stood in line, an elderly woman came and stood behind me. As the cashier began to check me out, the Lord laid it on my heart to pay for her groceries. I told the cashier to add her items to my tab. The lady looked at me and said, “No. You don’t have to do that”. I told her it was fine and that I wanted to. Then, I asked, “Is that all you have?”. She handed me her items. I paid for them. She thanked me and left the store. The cashier said, “That was nice”. I told her that people are always blessing me and that we all need each other. We need to help lighten each other’s load.
As I walked to my car, I thought about how the Father deals with us and lightens our loads. I could imagine Him standing with outstretched hands asking us, “Is that all you have?” Like the lady, we hesitate to give Him what’s in our hands because we are ashamed or think it may be too much. Yet, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He wants to take it all upon Himself. Isn’t that exactly what He did on the cross? Isaiah 53:4 states that Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He also bore the weight of our sins, pain, sickness, disease, disappointments, and everything we could experience in this life. Before He even hung on the cross, He felt every emotion we could feel. What are we saying when we fail to give it all to Him? Are we are saying that we don’t think what He has already done is enough?
So, I ask again. Is that all you have? Abuse. Is that all you have? Rejection. Is that all you have? Illness? Is that all you have? Heart-broken. Is that all you have? Debt. Is that all you have? Depression. Is that all you have? Pain. Is that all you have? Sexual sin. Is that you all have? No matter how heavy it is. Bring all of it. Whatever it is. He can handle it.
Fall is my favorite season. It is representative of the transition from the smoldering heat of summer to the cold of winter. Now, I am speaking from an ideal perspective. However, I live in Texas. So, it usually doesn’t happen that way. It is not unusual for Fall to have 90-degree weather but due to the change in scenery, no one can deny the arrival of Fall. One can’t help but notice the once green leaves turning into brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, and browns. Our lawns become a sea of leaves that add raking to our chore list. On the other hand, some trees keep their lush green leaves all year round and are called evergreens. Why? Because they are Ever-green. They tend to keep their foliage unless they become old and need to be replaced. Some common types of evergreens include firs, spruces, pines, magnolias, eucalypti, and many of the trees found in the rainforest. Unlike evergreens, deciduous trees shed their leaves during dryer seasons to prevent water loss. Types of common deciduous trees include maples, oaks, birches, aspens, and willows. While thinking about this from a scientific standpoint, I couldn’t help but meditate on it from a spiritual perspective.
What if these two words could be used as human characteristics? How would a spiritually evergreen individual differ from someone who is spiritually deciduous? The evergreen would be someone who appears to always have it together. One who is happy, perfect, and to be envied. One who has the outward appearance of godliness and gives others the perception of holiness. Naturally, evergreens trees are usually found in areas where there tends to be an abundance of sunshine and rainfall. Those that are spiritual evergreens tend to be comfortable because their needs are met and they don’t experience a lot of changes or fluctuations in their environment. Their perspective is formed and limited by their own personal experience. Sometimes, this makes it difficult for them to relate to others from different environments.
Now, let us take a look at the spiritually deciduous. A spiritually deciduous person is adaptable. They understand that change is essential to survival and growth. They know they must shed their leaves because seasons bring changes in resources. Therefore, they must adjust to prepare for new seasons. The deciduous is ever-changing and willing to let go of the old to embrace the new and even willing to evolve into something completely different to sustain themselves. They have no problem with letting go of things that no longer benefit them spiritually to reach their full potential in God.
The problem with being evergreen is that it causes people to have a false sense of who we are and robs us of our true identity. It can make us unrelatable and self-glorified. In nature, the kind of evergreen trees usually found in rainforests are so dense that they prevent the light from touching the ground. From a spiritual standpoint, this reminded me of how one can become a distraction or hindrance to others seeing the light of Christ by being so focused on shining and bringing attention to themselves. It can also lead to us being perceived in a way that gives others an unrealistic view of what being a follower of Christ looks like. 2 Timothy 3:5 warns us about having the form of godliness and lacking the power thereof. The truth is that life is full of ups and downs. In this life, there are seasons for everything as stated in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
3 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Being deciduous allows our potential in God to be the focus and doesn’t give the illusion that we have arrived. The “shedding of leaves” in our lives during trying seasons and times of purification allows others to recognize the hand of God actively at work in us. It is representative of His transformative power because we can look back at seasons past and measure the growth that has taken place. Also, it strengthens our testimony because we can share our “see where He brought me from” stories with others and show them that He can do the same for them. That’s where our power comes from. We are to make His word alive in a tangible way in the earth so He may be glorified.
When I think about all of the changes that I have experienced in my life, the “leaves” I have had to shed or let go of, the different seasons the Lord has brought me through, I can’t help but rejoice. Some of them have been sunshine-filled and others have been dark, cold, and lonely, but I count them all joy. When we try to be evergreen, we make the finished work on the cross more about us and less about Him. When we are deciduous, we place the spotlight on the power of His great love and grace during our journey. Regardless of what season we find ourselves in, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). Honestly, we will never become evergreen until we become surrounded by His glory in eternity. Until then, I plan to remain deciduous and “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you (me) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6-7). How about you?
We hear alot about being great. There is a saying,”They won’t let me be great” which has become quite cliche’. Great is defined as being above the norm or average, extraordinary, exceptional, significant. The world has its own view of greatness and it usually correlates with worldly gain, status, or success. However, God’s standard of greatness is measured quite differently. It is Christ centered and not self-centered. Kingdom greatness rests on how great of a foundation we establish by building God’s kingdom here on Earth.
Jesus eludes to this in Matthew 18:1-5 which reads,”At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”. The disciples had witnessed great demonstrations of Jesus’ power, helped perform miracles, and knew He was the Son of God. So, they were interested in what status they would have in Heaven. They were probably expecting Jesus to reply with a list of qualifications or tasks to complete but instead he answered by telling them to come humbly as children.
However, they were so caught up in what they were doing and what it would get them that they missed the entire point of his response. We often do the same. We get so caught up in performing works for recognition and notoriety that the focus is often shifted to self glorification and not God glorification. This is not an attribute of the humility Jesus described to the disciples. Instead, He wanted them to understand that it wasn’t about who was doing the work but moreso about the name the work was being done in. We need to examine our motives daily. What is the motivation behind all that we do? God has given us abilities and resources to build His kingdom and not our own. Yet, we continue to do so only to end our lives with very little of a legacy. Our goal should be to bring God glory and Him alone.
Being great in the God’s kingdom is not about privilege or popularity. It’s about sacrifice and denying ourselves. It’s about being responsible for bringing others into the kingdom by being the hands and feet of Christ. It’s about bringing light and love to a dark world.
If we examine the life of Jesus closely, he was very intentional in making everything He did point back to the Father. In John 6:38 Jesus said,”For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me“. This is also evident in John 5:19 which reads, “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise“. We are to follow Jesus’ example and reflect the Father in all we do.
Ultimately, the real definition of greatness is found in trusting and serving the only GREAT one. When we do, His name is exalted and we’ve made His name great.