Nothing Can Separate Us From God's Love

 Photo by  Eric Ward  on  Unsplash

Isn't it amazing how Satan can fill our minds with thoughts of both worthlessness and pride? Sometimes, he comes to us whispering how good we are and that we don't need to depend on anyone but ourselves. He fills our minds with powerful thoughts of pride, fame, and self-sufficiency, similar to the way he dealt with Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tells us we're fine on our own, and sadly, many times we believe him. 

Ironically, he is also the source of the worthlessness we often feel. He is the one who comes to us and tells us no one cares. He convinces us we're all alone and the reason for that loneliness is that we're unlovable. He parades our faults and failures before us as a reminder of how lowly we truly are. He persuades us that God, no matter how good and kind, could not possibly love us after all we've done. According to him, we're on our own. 

Well, which is it? It can't be both ways. We can't be too good and too bad at the same time. We must recognize this ploy for what it is—lies from the father of all lies. Think about it, what could be better for Satan than a proud or discouraged Christian? It's an attack. Nothing more. Nothing less. The question is, are we ready for it? When he comes knocking on our door, are we too distracted to notice the subtle darts he's firing at us? 

Here’s the truth: we need God. We’ve already discussed the fact that without Him, we can do nothing. We weren’t good enough to save ourselves from hell, and we’re not strong enough (on our own) to get ourselves through this life. We need God! We were never designed to walk through this life alone.

Sadly, we make many mistakes along the way. That’s part of living in a fallen world. We should strive to live a life that’s pleasing to God, but this flesh makes it nearly impossible. That being said, there is nothing we could ever do to make God love us any more or any less. His love is perfect, and we are never separated from it. When we mess up, we should confess our sin to God and renew a right relationship with Him, but we also need to remember that our failings don’t make us failures. Yes, we make mistakes, but God knew we would, and He still felt we were worth dying for.

We’re not perfect, but neither are we worthless. Whatever lies Satan throws at you today, throw them back and say, "I am loved, and nothing will ever change that!“ 

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39 

Questions, Questions - Part Two

Where is your faith?.png

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? - Mark 4:35-41

In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed the disciples’ question: “Lord, don’t you care?” In case you missed it, you can go back and read it here.

Today, I want to look at the double whammy of questions posed by Jesus to the disciples. Two questions back to back, never even giving time for the men to answer the first before uttering the second, which is probably best since the disciples didn’t seem to have an answer for either one—only more questions.

“Why are you so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” These are not tender inquiries. There is a rebuke in them. I detect a hint of frustration and accusation or perhaps sadness, especially in the latter question. In fact, that inquiry holds the weight of a dozen questions.  

Don’t you trust me?  

Don’t you know who I am?  

Don’t you know I control the wind and waves?  

Haven’t you seen what I can do?  

Did you think I would let you die?  

How could you even doubt that I care for you?

Didn’t I say we were going to the other side?

And on and on. . .

Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many times the Lord has spoken these questions to my heart. “Dana, why are you afraid? How is it that ye have no faith?” Honestly, like the disciples, I have no answers, only more questions. Why don’t I have more faith? Why am I afraid? Haven’t I seen God come through time and time again? Don’t I know that my life is in His hands and He is working all things for my good? Haven’t I meditated on His Words repeatedly? Aren’t they hidden in my heart, ready for every attack from the enemy? Then, why, oh why, do most storms have me running for cover while pointing an accusing finger at God and whining, “Don’t you care this is happening to me?”

Fortunately, the Lord does care. He cares enough to still my storm or to still me amid my storm. But more than that, He cares for me enough to ask the tough questions. Why? Because He knows I can be so much more than a scared little girl who jumps every time someone says “Boo!” And He loves me enough to bring my fear to the surface so I can examine it more closely and figure out the answer to His questions. Why am I afraid? Where is my faith? And, of course, He doesn’t simply pose the question and leave me to figure out the answer for myself. He leads and guides me. He gives me wisdom. And above all, He is patient with me. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I’m a slow learner.

What about you? How do you react to the storms in your life? Have you, too, been questioned by Jesus, “Why are you afraid? How is it you have no faith?” If so, do you have an answer or simply more questions?  

The good news is Jesus loves us. Nothing we say or do can make Him love us any less or any more. Even when we doubt, God loves us beyond measure. Even when we can’t understand why we’re afraid, He cares. And even when our spiritual life seems to be an endless game of Questions Only, the Lord helps us to grow in Him. He didn’t leave the doubting disciples on the wind-tossed seas because of their lack of faith, and He won’t leave us either. His promises are true. He will never leave us or forsake us. Never! Even when we’re full of questions.

A Modern-Day David and Goliath

How do you respondto giants?-2.png

As you probably know by now, I love finding spiritual lessons in everyday life. There is nothing sweeter than hearing my Heavenly Father whisper, “Are you seeing this? Do you understand?” Such an occurrence took place last week.

Barnabas and I were on our morning walk around the neighborhood. As usual, he was behaving like a perfect gentleman, and I was relishing in the months of training that finally paid off. Suddenly, I spotted a small white cat approaching us on the sidewalk ahead. At first, the feline seemed oblivious to our presence, so we continued, me being certain the cat would flee when he noticed us. I was wrong!

Not only did the cat remain on course, but he also gave no indication he saw us except that his eyes were fixed on us. No other reaction. No fluff. No hiss. No arched back. Nothing. The crazy thing didn’t even slow his pace but continued strolling toward us with confidence.

As I mentioned, Barnabas has come a long way in his training, and he usually does very well when it comes to passing by the temptation of a stray cat or running squirrel (though he is still wholly intrigued by groundhogs). His typical response is to watch and pass by without a second glance. But these were not ordinary circumstances. This was something new. I’ve never seen a cat act like this...and neither had Barnabas.  

When my mutt realized the cat’s bravery, he slowed his pace and lowered his head to glare at the cat. The feline remained calm and continued forward. At this, poor Barnabas turned and looked at me with the funniest look I’ve ever seen (and the dog can pull off some hilarious faces). He didn’t know what to think but more than that, he didn’t know what to do. I understood exactly how he felt.

Not willing to observe the showdown between my 90-pound pit bull and the 5-pound kitty, I pulled Barnabas over the ditch where we could safely pass by on the side of the road rather than the sidewalk. As the distance between the cat and us grew, Barnabas’ eyes never wavered. He watched the cat as the cat watched him, still unfazed by the giant coming his way. Then I noted in amazement as my huge dog nudged me in the opposite direction of the coming feline. As I inched further into the road, I realized Barnabas was no longer amused. He was afraid. He was ready to get away from that crazy cat who was now staring at us from the corner of his eye as we passed. With a final glance over his shoulder, Barnabas took off across the street, dragging me in his wake.

The entire ordeal only lasted a couple of minutes, but the whole time I was thinking about David and Goliath. Barnabas could definitely pass for a Goliath (though he is much sweeter), and the cat, well, as far as size is concerned, he was a David. Despite the difference in size, the cat seemed unafraid. He was unmoved by the giant before him and continued to press on. In the case of David and Goliath, the shepherd boy defeated the giant and chopped off his head. Lovely! In the case of dog versus cat, the cat also defeated the dog. Not with a sword, a sling, or a stone, but with courage. His boldness in the face of a giant so bewildered and confused my poor pup that Barnabas ended up being the one to run in fear. I’m guessing he figured if the cat could be that brave in his presence, then the cat must know something he didn’t. It was enough to shake the confidence of my curious canine.

The incident left me wondering how often we could defeat our enemies by simply being bold and courageous. How often could we send Satan and his minions scampering by merely holding fast to God’s promises and marching confidently no matter what giants we face? How many times would our giants fall because of our firm stance on the Word of God?  

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to find out. I’m tired of always being the one afraid. I’m sick of being the one to back off or run and hide. I’m fed up with allowing the enemy to get the best of me. It’s time for a change. It’s about time I stood up to my giants. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? No one! Not even a giant. Or a rather large pit bull.

Being a dog person, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I want to be like the white cat. I want to walk courageously, confident in the One who walks with me. I don’t want to flinch, balk, or turn away. I want to walk the path God has for me no matter what giants are lingering in my path. I want to have such an air of confidence and courage about me that the enemy runs the other way at my approach. “Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
— Isaiah 41:10