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The Turnaround - A Devotion

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Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the LORD holds them by the hand.

One day a young mother took her three young, rambunctious boys to the beach for a day of fun. She was a hardworking woman who was their sole provider so when given the opportunity to spend quality time with them gladly took it. It seemed like an ordinary Saturday. As the boys played, she relaxed a little not the natural for the burden that she carried. Her eyes scanned the water’s edge once, alarm gripped her heart a little rising to her feet. She could only see two of her little boys, but where was their brother. She told them to sit on the sand not moving until she came back. Running into the water, she saw him. The undertow current had taken hold of him and was dragging him out to see. He fought the surf and cried out for help. His mother reached him grabbing hold of his arm, but it was too late. Rescuers caught her just before she succumbed in her effort. She never let go of her son. Why do such things happen? I do not know. The woman in the story is my mother-in-love. The boy would have been my brother-in-love. I married his brother. Over the years, she has still served the Lord. One might think should would have been mad that the Lord did not spare her son and allow her the privilege of watching him grow into a man to have a family of his own. The story becomes even more tragic to learn that her mother passed away the next day from grief. How could this happen on top of everything else? I really don’t know. I wonder why cancer continues to attack our son the same way. Why? Four times now seemingly five. But to those who don’t know my Jesus, they will never understand the peace that I have when I just turnaround.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. Is that me? Could it be true that He delights in every detail of our life even when we fail Him, rebel or just walk away? Or are these tragedies we face part of our punishment? Is it a result of our sin? How can this equate to delight when it is nothing less than devastating? They stumble. There are many days that this is a description of my life. I become frustrated whether than faith full. I become react to the pressure rather than responding to His Presence. Have I brought any of this on myself? Is it my fault that my life is not perfect and pain just part of my process? They (I) will never fall because the Lord holds me by the hand. Do you want to know that He is with you today? Do you want to see His Presence? Do you need to know that His Grace is sufficient and that every detail is still being worked for our good? You will never know until you turnaround.

Isaiah 40:10-11 (NLT)
Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

This is a portrait of Jesus Christ. Yes, He had all of the authority and power of His Father God when He came yet rather than dealing harshly with the people. He chose to meet them right where they were. He did not come wielding a sword, lopping off heads and piercing their hearts. But rather He came to bring us a reward. Salvation that would allow us to reclaim our inheritance in God once and for all. He would feed us His Word. He would carry us gently as “lambs” and hold us “close to His Heart.” He wants to lead us to righteousness and every single promise that comprises God’s Plan and Purpose for our life. We have the freedom to choose because He laid down His Life for us. (Galatians 1:4) There is no greater love. (John 15:13) We are chosen and the Lord will never throw us away. (Isaiah 41:9-10) We are accepted whether we reject Him or not because He died for the sins of all mankind. The Lord holds us in His Hand for all to see. (Isaiah 62:1-4) We must see ourselves as His Priceless Treasure to understand that there is nothing we can ever do to separate us from the Love of God. There is no power or force that can ever take us from the Lord. It is up to us whether or not we receive the full potential of God’s Love. He is holding on tight even when we let go. He paid a high price for you. You are His Special Treasure. He is holding you close and will never abandon you even when you try to leave Him. (Psalm 27:7-10) What are the grounds for such commitment?

Romans 10:9-11 (NLT)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

I called on the Name of the Lord when I was just eleven years old. I believed in my heart. I knew that I was saved. I can remember the day vividly thirty six years later. I confessed with my mouth that He was my Savior and Lord and I was saved on that day with every intention to serve Jesus for the rest of my life. But that is not exactly how things turned out. For many years, I did serve the Lord especially through high school and college but then life did not turn out the way that I expected so I did what any normal human being would do – I rebelled. Now I had been taught that once you deviated from God’s Perfect Plan that was it. Game over. So when I came back to the Lord – I did not expect much to become of my past or the broken promises that I had made to God so long ago. Truthfully – I was just glad that He would have me as His Grace and Mercy covered me and restored peace in my battered and bruised heart. He blessed me. He blessed my marriage and our family. Thankful for His Grace, I began to seek the Lord wholeheartedly again. Never did I think that things from my past would begin to produce fruit, but that is what happens. God has a plan for our life that is good containing a future and hope. Our sin and rebellion does not change that because it was already incorporated into our plan. No the Lord did not tell you to sin, prescribe it, permit it or condone it. But God is not ignorant – He is all knowing. Therefore He can still make good on every single promise by His Grace. Grace gives us right standing with God through Jesus Christ. We will never deserve it – it is given. (Acts 15:11) All that His Plan requires is that “if you look for Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him.” (Jeremiah 29:13) It is misdirected zeal to believe that anything or anyone else can make us right with God other than Jesus even actions and attitudes. It is all about Jesus. (Romans 10:2-4) Now here is where it gets exciting… “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” (Romans 11:29) God knows it is human nature to rebel. He knows just how hard it is for His People. Jesus Christ bore our sins and weaknesses on the Cross. He knows our full potential either way in His Will or out of it. No matter what you do His Mercy allows us to have His Plan and Purpose no matter what. Why? Because even when you thought you let go of Christ, He never let go of you. He will hold you until the very end no matter how weak you are. If you confess that Jesus is Lord and mean it in your heart, you will try to love and serve Him. Some days you will be successful but even so you will still sin and fall short. His Mercy and Love covers you with His Grace. You don’t have to be perfect just personal with the Lord. Your relationship with Jesus Christ will not fail you even when you think you have fallen or failed Him. “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” His Grace is sufficient for you. When you become weak it is then that you see that He is all you need.

I Timothy 1:14-16 (NLT)
Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

Why you? Why not you? There are many hurting souls in the world saved and unsaved. Sin is savage and the perpetrator of lies relentless in trying to separate people from God. You were created with a measure of faith and the potential of eternity planted deep in your heart. God intends to make a connection. When that connection is made through Jesus Christ, Friend of Sinners, we have everything that we need to fulfill God’s Plan and Purpose for our life. But it is not a matter of what we do or say but rather what we believe. Do you believe that His Grace is enough? Then you focus more on what Jesus is doing inside of you than trying to do something for Him. When we focus on giving back to the Lord through human effort – it is called religion. He did not ask for sacrificial offerings but a broken heart ready to be filled with His Kindness, Goodness, Compassion and Love called mercy that permits His Favor to permeate our life. Bad things will still happen because we live in this world. God will work out every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) He is a generous God with gracious tendencies. My faith connects me to His Generosity and I am filled to completeness with His Mercy, Love and Grace. This is the connection that He is after – it is called a relationship. Even when we rebel, the Lord holds tight to us. It was His Plan from the beginning – He saved us to make it so. (2 Timothy 1:9-10) The Lord invites us into His Presence. But like the mama who held her baby tight to the very end in the violent current, He will never let you go. Even when you drift off course or lose your way, He is holding you tight according to His Word that says we will never be disgraced. He will never let the righteous fall. This is so important today. It is the moment of revelation that will turn your life around and learn to cling to the One who has been holding you all this time.

Psalm 73:21-26 (NLT)
Then I realized that my heart was bitter and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

You can make a better life. You can build a soft comfort zone. But when all hell breaks loose in your life and you are stripped of all that you hold sacred in this world, what will be your response? Three years ago, I never imagined how our life would turn out. Cancer has been the uninvited invader that has stripped us of comfort and drained our strength. Our son has been diagnosed four times with this horrible disease and God has delivered Him each time. Jesus Christ has healed his body. Now as the fifth diagnosis looms in the very near future (next week) it may be a blessing in disguise as now he can have lifesaving treatment that has a history of long-term remission. This has come at a high price. We have been rejected by the insurance company five times. We endured a lengthy appeal to his company for revision of underwriting that took four long weeks. We prayed. We pleaded. We prayed some more. The only reason that he was unable to enter the clinical trial before is because he did not have cancer. Over this time, his hip has hurt more and more. We were racing against the clock to beat a recurrence but in that time God knew his cancer would come back and had a better plan. I will not lie and say that I am not exhausted from this journey. There are many details that I have left out but have weighed heavy on our heart and flesh. But what I have determined in all this is that we belong to God and that He is holding us tightly. He does not want to hurt us but is making good on every promise, providing everything that we need, and lining up every step with His Grace and Glory that covers our life leading to His Goodness every single time. Yes my heart grows bitter from time to time and must be dealt with. But this does not stop the Lord from leading and guiding me according to His Plan. (Ezekiel 3:14) He is positioning us for His Perfection. (Psalm 138:8) When my understanding fails to comprehend what He is doing, His Word holds true in my life. (Psalm 33:4-5) The turnaround finally comes when rather than trying to help God or turn and runaway – I surrender to Him with arms wide open. When I stop asking for God to take this, or take me, or do this, or change that but say, “Jesus, you are all I need” deciding to cling to Jesus as tightly as He has been holding me. (Deuteronomy 11:22; Joshua 22:5)

Genesis 32:24-29 (NLT)
This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won. “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

The change comes when we refuse to let go. You will never cling to Jesus unless you believe by faith that He is who He said He was and will do all that He promised. It is never the Lord’s Intention to hold anything good back from you. (Psalm 84:10-11) When you fully embrace the Presence of the Lord in your life, spend time in the Word that leads to His Way and meditate on His Will empowered by His Spirit – it will change your heart and mind. It is in this place of stubborn obedience and relentless pursuit of the blessings of God that there is a turnaround. It is human nature to rebel so we must make up our mind that His Word is true and we will trust Him casting out fear, doubt and worry that will deteriorate faith and hope in God. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) The Law is not there to daily condemn us. Jesus came to save us and not lead to further condemnation. The law convicted us so that His Grace could cover us. (Romans 5:20-21) This grace is a gift to be received, opened and used in our life. It is abundant. It is all that I need but I will never know that until I reach the end of my own strength and my heart becomes weak but by faith I choose to continue to hold on to the Lord until He blesses me. I must cling to Him never letting go no matter how bad it hurts sometimes knowing, trusting and believing that He is always making good on His Promises. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) His Grace is all that I need but I will not know that until Jesus is all that I want. This is when everything changes when nothing in the natural does. This is when we experience the abundance of God’s Grace and the benefits of His Mercy (kindness, compassion and favor). It is the point when the world thinks you have nothing but in fact you have all that you need with more running over if you will just turnaround!

Psalm 63:5-8 (NLT)
You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

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