Read: Zephaniah 3:17

Today our youngest daughter will say “I do” to the love of her life. For the last 18 months, I have watched Zac and Katlyn grow in love. And it has been a beautiful progression to observe.

You see, Katlyn thrives in this relationship. She is the best version of herself. Her countenance is at rest, she relates with ease, she listens as Zac challenges her, he encourages her like no one I have ever seen. I am honored to share my daughter with him today.

But Zac also thrives in this relationship. He is energized to greet the day, he finds joy in being together, he can’t imagine spending his life with anyone else.

This love is only a shadow, a blurry image, of God’s love for you. Our reading today says he rejoices over you with his love. He delights in you and looks forward to spending time with you. There is no greater love than the Father for his children!

Take a moment to hear that song of love today and allow it to penetrate deep into your heart.

Recently, the company my husband works for sponsored a Keith Urban concert. In order to attend the concert, you had to know someone. There were no tickets to buy, no raffles to enter, you just had to be invited.

I attended the concert because I was invited. I didn’t bring anything, it didn’t cost me, I just came and received.

That’s how it is with God. He invites us to come and participate in his Kingdom. We can’t buy our way in, we can’t do good things to get in, we just come because we are invited. And we don’t need to bring anything. As a matter of fact, if we try to earn our way, it negates the invitation.

Read: Ephesians 2:8-10

The invitation is open to anyone willing to hear. Leave behind all your valuables, education, intelligence, accomplishments and just come! Enjoy relationship with your Creator!

Read: Psalm 139:13-18

While the words of this psalm are quite familiar to many, it bears reading again and again. Today when you read it, offer it as a prayer of thanksgiving to your Creator. He watched everything about how you were put together and he deemed it VERY GOOD!

Sometimes our world tells us we aren’t valuable. Remember, God’s measure of value is very different from our world. You are precious in his sight and his thoughts toward you are filled with delight!

It was during my time of healing. Well, really before I got serious about it. Preparing for a half marathon consumed my time and my thoughts. I was also finishing my undergrad degree, taking a fine art class. It happened to be ceramics.

In the midst of all this, in walked conflict. She came in the form of relationship difficulty. Really serious relationship difficulty. It was torturous. devastating. disappointing.

My daughter was also experiencing some difficulty at college. One morning as I drove the children to school, I shared with her how special she was, that she was perfect just the way she was. As I shared these truths with her, a dream I had the previous night came back to me.

In the dream:

A guide brought me to an observation area. All around me was black, but not the inky black of total darkness. Rather the grey black of lights put out for the beginning of a production. In front of me was an observation window and behind the window was an artisan.

He sat at a wooden bench with a single light bulb illuminating his work space. His gaze intent on the work in his hands, he meticulously shaped, formed, balanced his craft. His hands were large and gentle, wrapping around the object with loving care.

I watched in rapt attention. Never had I seen anyone work with such devotion, such obvious love of his craft. What was this person making? I couldn’t even begin to imagine the value of such a prized object.

I turned to my guide and asked about the artisan and his craft. He smiled wordlessly, and turned back toward the artisan. I looked back with curiosity to watch and then I knew. I knew! The artisan was Jesus and he was crafting me. I turned to the guide, the question hanging in the air. Smiling gently, he shook his head “yes” and turned back to the artisan.

For so many days I had struggled. If only I was…more this, less that…

This dream spoke volumes to my bruised and bleeding heart. I was exactly as I should be. I didn’t need to change one thing about myself. I am carefully and thoughtfully created to be precisely what my Father wants me to be. I am not an afterthought, a mistake, a prototype. I am the real deal.

And so are you! Your life is beautiful to Him. He loves exactly who you are and what you are about. You delight him and he sings songs of praise over you!

Maybe you are tenderhearted and quickly moved to tears. That’s exactly how God wants you to be! Perhaps you see things more logically and problem solve in practical ways. Excellent! God wants that. Musical? Great! Crafty? Wonderful! Analytical? Organized? Industrious? All great qualities in the hands of a loving Creator!

This week I look forward to sharing some special scriptures with you as well as some music that really speaks to my heart. My prayer is that you will know that you are deeply loved! Father has planned good things for you to do because he knows you need to be purposeful.

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

If I am chosen and I don’t bring anything to the table, what about doing good things? Does it matter what I do anymore? What about my skills, talents, aspirations, education, degrees, accomplishments?

None of those things commend me to God. He isn’t impressed with what I can do or what others think about what I do. But he does have a plan for me.

Read: Ephesians 2:8-10

The truth in these verses makes me giggle a little. First, I can’t take credit for salvation. And that means I can quit trying. Whew! What a relief!!

Secondly, I am his masterpiece. Years ago, my college roommate promised me a painting as a wedding gift. Her fiance’ was a fledgling artist. Fast forward 25 years. I meet up with my friend again and she reminds me that she never gave me the painting. I had forgotten so, obviously, I wasn’t holding a grudge. She insisted I come to their home and choose a painting as a belated wedding gift. But now her husband was a renowned painter in the state where they reside. Her gift to me was worth over $1000 rather than the early attempts of a struggling artist.

My friend gave me a masterpiece, a valuable work of art, a creation of love. And that is what I am to God. I am his masterpiece, his work of art.

Finally, he prepared good things for me to do a long time ago. He planned these things, not because he needs me to do them, but because he created me with the need to be purposeful.

Because he created me, he knows exactly what will give me joy and fulfillment. I can trust him to lead me in the right direction.

How about you? Are you struggling to find purpose? Do you wonder why you are here?

As you begin a new week, I hope it includes some form of community. You are chosen, loved, desired. There is nothing you can do or have done that separates you from the lavish grace of God!

Another observation regarding chosenness: you gotta live like you believe it.

There is a saying, “Fake it, ’til you make it.”

I don’t know where it came from or if its roots are admirable, but it applies here. After encountering the Lord, learning his thoughts toward you, you need to walk like it. No more rehearsing the lies. No more beating yourself up. No more impression management! This song says it the best!

Have a blest Saturday!

What have I observed about chosenness?

I learned that being chosen for relationship is superior to being chosen for a task. You see, when I sit down at the table Jesus set for me and I spend time with my Father, his Son and the Holy Spirit – I don’t bring anything. I just bring me.

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends for dinner. On the way to our house, the dessert ended up on my friend’s lap rather than on our table. She came empty-handed. But you see, I didn’t care. I invited them because they are friends and we wanted to spend time together. I didn’t invite her because she had something to offer.

Read: Psalm 23

This psalm is so familiar and yet so powerful. As I read it again, I am struck that there is nothing to do on my part. All of the blessings mentioned here are at the Father’s initiative and his choosing. I show up.

Walking with a chosen mentality requires a mental shift for most of us. It isn’t easy to change our thinking and remember the way he sees us. But it’s worth the effort knowing that relationship is his heart.

Why not take a few minutes and read Psalm 23 again. This time, picture yourself in this scene of tranquility and provision. Sit with the Father and listen for his words for you.

Read: Ephesians 1:3-14

It’s impossible to live beyond what we believe about ourselves.

Dr. Jay Shetler

The words we say to ourselves are extremely powerful. If I believe myself to be broken beyond repair, worthless to society and a waste of time, that is what I will experience in life.

We all have descriptive words running through our minds. Dirty, dumb, clumsy, trouble, loud, worthless, stupid, ugly, never amount to anything. These identifiers came to us early in our lives sometimes innocently, sometimes in mean-spirited ways.

Today I challenge you to sit and hear the words that run through your mind. What do you believe about yourself? If they aren’t backed by the truth of God’s love for you, then ask Jesus what he thinks about you. Ask him for a new identifier. Here is the catch in this assignment: the word(s) you hear from Jesus might sound very different from what you expect. It will take you off guard. It will be filled with love, adventure and delight. Write it down. Now bask in the light of this new reality.

Chosen.

What does it mean to be chosen?

Chosen for promotion means expectations and standards to meet.

Chosen for a production means memorizing and practicing and performing.

Chosen by God means relationship!

Last night Dave and I sat down to a simple dinner of shrimp gumbo and rice. It was a bowl and a spoon. And as I sat across from him, I was overwhelmed with LIKE. I know. You thought I was going to say love. But it was more than that. It was this deep well of really enjoying this person I am sitting across from in the simplest of circumstances with no expectation, no performing, no standards. Just relationship.

Your Creator chose you for relationship. He wants to sit with you and enjoy the humblest of fare. He doesn’t need a big party or fine food or fancy clothes. He doesn’t need you to perform for him or put on a show. He chose you because he loves you. Not because you have a skill, talent, degree, income – there is nothing he is looking for from you except your devotion.

Read: Ephesians 1:3-14

In these verses, Paul explains how God identifies us. We are chosen, holy, blameless, forgiven, redeemed, part of the family, set apart for him, lavished with love, grace and mercy. These are the words he sees when he thinks about you.

When you think about being chosen, what comes to your mind? What words do you use to identify yourself? Are you living in the truth of God’s thoughts towards you?