The last few days, I’ve been reading “Praying from the Heavenly Realms” during my morning devotions, feeling the weight of the Spirit and being injected with inspiration and faith for prayer. Almost every morning as I was reading, a spark of inspiration would strike and I would begin furiously typing my thoughts into my phone, pausing to search for Scriptures that came to mind, until I sensed the flurry winding to a close.
The devotions below are the very ones written during this time. I first published them on Facebook as individual posts, but I thought it would be fun to anchor them in a more permanent post and to share them with some of my friends who aren’t on Facebook. So, here they are:
If you need recommendations for recharging a stagnating faith-walk, check out the first mini-devotion below: 1. God is the Source
If you’re struggling to believe in God’s personal love for you, consider reading the second: 2. Nobody’s a Nobody.
If you’d like a meditation on Philippians 1:21 and on what it means to be dead to sin and alive to Christ, check out 3. To Live is Christ.
If you’d like a distinction between happiness and joy and how earthly treasures can never bring permanent satisfaction, skip to 4. Where Your Treasure Is. (This and the next one are geared toward writers, but just replace the word “writing” with “passion” and you’ll still likely find something to glean.)
Finally, the last mini-devotion (5. God Owns His Creation) is meant as a pep-talk for writers (and probably other creatives) who find themselves tempted to place their value in their writing (or art).
However much or little you read of these mini-devotionals, I pray you’ll be blessed.
1. God is the Source
I remember how I used to feel, reading John 3:16 and thinking, “Sure, God loves the world generically, but me, personally?” I wonder how hard it is for others to accept God’s personal, individual love for them as well.
God’s work in my life has filled me with an experiential knowledge of His perfect personal love for me. Not only that, it’s flooded my heart with love for Him, which is a total game-changer. When you really grasp the nail-pounded, blood-lashed, mocked-to-death love of Jesus for YOU, and when you can dwell in that beautiful place—in His loving presence—YOU. WILL. BE. CHANGED.
As one who lived so long in a wilderness of powerlessness, I’ve come to understand one very important thing: God is the Source. We can listen to worship songs and read our Bibles, but we can’t make ourselves feel God’s love. We can’t make ourselves love God. And we certainly can’t remake ourselves into the people He wants us to be.
So, if we ever feel stuck in our faith walk, the very VERY first step is to ask God to give us what we need, which could involve prayer, finding and confessing the promises He’s given in Scripture, or worshiping His sufficiency, goodness, power, and love.
When we can’t find the strength or inspiration, we need only lay the burden back on God, acknowledging that He is the Source of all good things and that we’re utterly helpless without Him. This is true in every moment, whether or not we feel it.
2. Nobody’s a Nobody
The Bible says of Jesus that “for the joy set before Him, [He] endured the cross” Hebrews 12:2.
And what was that joy spurring Him on? Only the privilege of being “seated at the right hand of the throne of God”? Somehow, I don’t think that’s the whole story.
Not for the man who would leave the 99 sheep safe and sound in their pen to go after the one (Matthew 18:12).
Jesus singled people out, like the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-26). He knew what was in their hearts (John 2:24-25) and loved them anyway (Matthew 23:37): “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
And He forgives them at their worst (Luke 23:34-43): “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” … Then one criminal said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I want to finish with a quote from a book I’ve been reading: “Praying from the Heavenly Realms” by Kevin Zadai:
“When Jesus was standing with me after I had died in the operating room during my heavenly visitation in 1992, I remember looking into His eyes and seeing something amazing. He remembered the day He thought of me and spoke me into existence and sent me to my mother’s womb. This is extremely important to understand because I could hear Jesus’s thoughts when I looked into His eyes. When He realized this He smiled. He saw that I had turned out just as He desired when He spoke me into existence. I had turned out the perfect way that He intended me to be…
“It is profound how much He loves people. God’s purpose is actually injected into us when we are created, along with the gifts and plans that He has for us. His purpose for His Kingdom has been placed inside of you, and this earthly life is just a journey of discovery. There is an unfolding of the gifts of God and the purpose of God for every person on the earth. He does not wish that any should perish.”
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29: 11-13).
3. To Live is Christ
I died. That’s what the Bible teaches. I died and now I’m only alive by this new work God’s doing in me. Whenever we die, we’re free from sin. I died with Christ and it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I died to sin and I’m free. But without Jesus’s sustaining power, I’d be nothing more than a walking zombie.
I’m already dead—already experiencing the gain of living in vital union with my Savior. Yet I haven’t been so blessed as to meet Him face to face. What a gain that would be! What a blissful reunion with the One who’s been helping and sustaining me. The longer I dwell in His presence, the more like Him I become, the more I like myself—perhaps because I’m thinking of myself less and Him more.
So many people live in fear of death, but what a beautiful moment that’ll be for those of us who have staked our lives on Jesus. Truly I long for that day when I’ll finally stand in the presence of the One who loves me most, with nothing between us.
4. Where Your Treasure Is
When I made writing my treasure, I swung uncontrollably between anxiety and depression… and elation. But the elation could never last. It was based on a worldly hope of success that could never be perfectly met in every instance. When circumstances favored that hope, I was happy. When they didn’t, I was devastated.
Had I been published during this time, I know in my heart that this emotional roller coaster would’ve persisted—in spite of any apparent success. When reviews were good, I would be up. When bad, my mood would swing down. And having been published, I would want to be published again, so that—in spite of achieving—I would never arrive in that happily ever after destination. Because… it’s a myth.
The very word “happiness” contains the root for chance, circumstance—happenstance. Happiness based on a particular worldly outcome is never a constant and unchanging thing, for we know “this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). Bestsellers are forgotten. Yesterday’s successes rarely satisfy on the morrow…
But when we “use the things of this world as if not dependent on them”? When we make Jesus our treasure? Then we’re taking the “hap” out of happiness in exchange for a lasting joy that can never fail. Then our “happiness” is guaranteed… Because our Savior is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
Jesus came that we would have and enjoy life to the full (John 10:10). He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13), who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23). One with the Father, He does not change like shifting shadows—and how quick we are to forget that He is the Source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Yet we miss the greatest gift of all—unspeakable joy in our intimate restoration to the only Father who could ever love us perfectly, and our beloved self-sacrificing big brother, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2)—for us!
When we put Jesus first, making Him our foremost treasure, only then can we truly enjoy all the other beautiful gifts He’s given. Praise God!
5. God Owns His Creation
Can I just say, your value as a person goes way, way beyond your abilities as a writer. God has shown me freedom in placing my identity in Him rather than anything we might do or accomplish on this earth. I suspect creatives are particularly susceptible to the lie that they’re only as good as their latest creation.
When we get negative feedback, aren’t we tempted to devalue ourselves? But think about this: You are God’s creation. Every time anyone has mocked you—your quirky personality, appearance, and unique if somewhat bizarre gifts—or anytime you’ve laughed or rolled your eyes at anyone else for that matter (no guilt here, just grace!), God doesn’t devalue Himself on account of those insults.
You are God’s creation. And He owns it—owns and claims YOU as His special creation. He absorbs the insults against you. He’s even got your name engraved in the palm of His hand like a picture in His wallet. You might be struggling (and I hesitate to use Job as an example), but God was bragging on him, wasn’t He? “Look at my son, would you? Just look at him! Is there anyone so grand?” And how about that prodigal dad, just waiting for His son’s return? That father gave the young man freedom to make mistakes in order to bring him home changed and ready to face the world because Love—always hoping and persevering—sees the potential in others.
The truth is, each one of us was fashioned with His special care and personal touch. Our names and even our future good deeds were planned out, and all our days inscribed in Heavenly books. God made you the way you are because He wanted YOU to exist. And He came down to earth and died because He didn’t want Heaven without you in it.