Best Friend Ever – Part 2

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:12-13, NIV)

I am thankful that God does not hide from us! He can and will be our friend, even our best friend. He is not holding back until we are perfect. He does not expect us to overcome all of our doubts first. If we genuinely pursue a friendship with Him, it will happen. He has promised!

Seeking God requires trust and humility. We may not understand everything in His Word, but we can trust it is true and desire to understand more. We may not have experienced everything He promises – in fact, it may seem we have experienced the opposite — but we can humbly accept His Word is true and His love for us is perfect. Seeking God means we want to see God clearly so we can make Him our best friend. Far more life seeks God in trust and humility.

In our sinful, human woundedness, sometimes we approach God from the wrong perspective. Instead of seeking Him, we test Him. Testing God starts from a place of doubt. We do not believe what His Word says because it has not felt true in our lives. We challenge God to give us experiences that disprove what we believe and prove the truth of His Word. Since we do not trust God, we put up barriers that prevent Him from being our best friend.

Some people we read about in the Bible were seeking God, but others were testing Him. It would be nice if the Bible clearly stated who fell into each camp, but it does not. However, as we study the Scriptures we can tell the difference.

The story of Gideon is recorded in Judges chapter 6 and 7. An angel — and later God — spoke to Gideon and told him amazing things God wanted to do through Him. Gideon did not accept the assignment until his doubts were addressed.

Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” (Judges 6:36-37, NLT)

God patiently and lovingly met Gideon where He was and fulfilled his request. He was not threatened by Gideon’s doubts and questions. Rather than recognizing God’s protection and provision, Gideon was angry or bitter about his circumstances. He was not seeing God clearly and, as a result, He tested God rather than pursuing Him as his best friend. God included Gideon in His plan and accomplished great things through him, but Gideon appears to have missed out on far more life.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, did the opposite. In Luke chapter 1, the angel brought incredible news: she was going to birth the Messiah. After asking how this would happen, Mary accepted the angels’ response.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38, NLT)

Later in this chapter and throughout the gospels, we catch glimpses of how Mary continued to trust God and better understand Him. Her life demonstrates that when we see God clearly, we make Him our best friend. She trusted Him — even when she did not understand His ways — and experienced far more life.

We have the opportunity to be best friends with the most powerful being in the universe! And we get to choose whether we will trust Him or test Him. Far more life is a desire to seek Him and a willingness to unearth the beliefs that tempt us to test Him. The next post in this series will look at some common distortions that keep us from making God our best friend ever. And keep us from enjoying far more life.

Sisters,
Think of a time you have wholeheartedly sought God. Did you find Him?
Think of a time when you have tested God. How did that turn out different from times you sought Him?
How have you experienced God’s protection, provision, and love?
When have you been frustrated because God did not do what you wanted or expected?
Talk to God about the times you have tested Him. Thank Him for the times you have seen Him clearly and sought Him. Embrace far more life in those moments!
-Shari

Joyful Thankfulness

In the United States, today is set aside for thankfulness. It was first celebrated at the conclusion of the first harvest the Pilgrims gathered. The feasting lasted three days and settlers and Native Americans both contributed and enjoyed the festivities.

But the idea of celebrating the harvest was not new. God commanded the Israelites to set aside seven days for this purpose:

Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (Deuteronomy 16:13-15, NIV)

When we collect the harvest at the end of the growing season, we are reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness. What a perfect time to stop and thank Him for His provision! We recognize far more life when we remember to stop and thank God. It changes our outlook on our situation and gives us hope for the future. The verse below offers a recipe for giving thanks:

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1, NIV)

Praise the Lord. Tell God which of His attributes are honorable, excellent, and worthy of praise. It is good to acknowledge God’s character and His noble purposes. We can do this anytime of the day or night. There is no special language required, just tell God what you notice and appreciate about Him, out loud or in your mind, whenever you think of it.

Give thanks to the Lord. Thank God for what He has done. This can be in the moment or later; He is always ready and willing to listen. Tell how you have experienced His blessing and provision. When my children were young, they would regularly thank God for air, trees, the sun, people, possessions, and other things they could see around them. Those simple prayers reminded me that each aspect of creation plays a role in making earth the perfect habitat for us. Whether large or small, common or rare, we can thank God for anything and everything. Far more life adopts an attitude of thankfulness for things we would otherwise take for granted.

For He is good. One reason we praise and thank God is because everything about Him is good. He deserves more thanks and praise than anyone else. Only He is perfect in motive, character, and behavior. Tell Him how you have witnessed His goodness. Recall what it looks like in action and how it positively impacted you. Focus on what that reveals about Him. Far more life embraces and proclaims God’s goodness.

His love endures forever. Although our day of thanksgiving will end, God’s love for us will not. Far more life offers thanks and praise every day because God demonstrates His love to His children every day. In fact, God is the essence of love every day. We can be confident that His love will carry us to our eternal home and provide for us there, too. Thankfully, we will never be separated from His love.

Try out joyful thankfulness today. You may decide to give thanks — and enjoy far more life — every day!

Sisters,
Why is the end of harvest a good time to stop and give thanks?
For what qualities will you praise God today?
For what blessings and experiences will you thank God today?
How have you witnessed and received God’s goodness?
How has His enduring love impacted you?
Walk in joyful thanksgiving today — walk in far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Best Friend Ever – Part 1

Those were the best days of my life. That’s when God’s friendship blessed my house. (Job 29:4, NIRV)

Have you ever met someone and thought, “That person seems great! I want to get to know them better”? Maybe you have that opportunity, maybe you do not. But you notice them and are drawn to them.

Do you remember feeling that interest and attraction toward God? Maybe as a young girl you could not wait to learn more Bible stories. Or perhaps during a challenging time, you were eager to gain His wisdom and perspective. Maybe your attraction to Him is brand new! Whenever it started, something about God caught your attention and drew you. You want to know more about Him. You want to know HIM.

As we get to know people, we find a mixture of good and bad. Traits we love, and habits or attitudes we do not. As the early infatuation fades, we either build a relationship or we drift apart. We go through a similar process as we get to know God. While He does not have any bad habits or attitudes, we do not always understand what He does or why. That can cause us to stop pursuing Him. But when we see God clearly, we make Him our best friend; this is the ultimate experience of far more life!

If God is not your best friend, do not feel ashamed. Shame is Satan’s tool to keep us away from God by tempting us to focus on our weaknesses and sin. When you see God clearly, you will naturally grow your friendship with Him. You will find far more life, just as Abraham did:

Abraham put his trust in God and he became right with God.” He was called the friend of God. (James 2:23, NLV)

Today I want to share four categories of friendships: those that have not started yet; those that are growing; those that are stagnant; and those that are dying.

The initial interest described above is typical for a friendship that has not started yet. You have learned about each other or been introduced, but you have not started building a relationship. This happens with God, too. We can learn about God, even attend church and pray, but we do not have a friendship with Him until we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:6-7, NIV)

Our friendship with God starts when we put our trust in Jesus and believe what He says. This is the first step toward making God your best friend.

The second category, a growing friendship, has mutual interests and shared experiences. You enjoy spending time together and are learning about each other. You both look forward to deepening the existing connections and making memories. Growing relationships are usually positive, although some are unhealthy.

We can have a growing friendship with God, too, as we learn about His character, His view of us, and His plan for our lives.

[Jesus said] I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15, NASB)

A stagnant friendship can be comfortable; you know what to expect and it is easy to be together. Or it can feel like a rut: rather than making new connections or sharing meaningful experiences, you are bored. Whether comfortable or in a rut, you probably are not putting much effort into this relationship…and you are okay with that. It could grow or die in the future.

Your friendship with God can be stagnant, too. Maybe you attend church and small group because it is the “right thing” to do. Maybe you pray before meals or when a serious need arises. But you do not share your heart with God on a regular basis. You do not read His word to hear from Him or learn more about Him. You do not feel His peace and joy in your heart as you go about your day. You are His friend, but You are not sharing your life with Him. The Bible admonishes us:

But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first…Turn from your sins and do what you did at first. (Revelation 2:4-5, GNT)

A dying friendship is disconnected. You are each pursuing other people or interests. Maybe there is negativity or an unresolved hurt between you. Or maybe one or both of you are simply focused on growing other friendships. Although your friendships with people can die, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you can rest assured that your relationship with God will never die!

Nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39, NIV)

What a relief! Even if you are in a stagnant place with God – no matter how long you have been there or how disconnected you feel – He still loves you! He is committed to His children and is waiting patiently for you to turn back to Him. He will never leave you or turn away from You. He will gladly resume a growing friendship anytime.

In a future post we will look at distorted views of God that cloud our vision and diminish our desire for a friendship with Him. Far more life — the best friend ever — is waiting!

Sisters,
What drew you to God?
Is God your best friend? If not, what about Him or you keeps you apart?
Which category best describes your friendship with God: not started yet, growing, or stagnant?
Thank God for the times you have experienced far more life. And ask Him to grow your desire for more of them!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Hopeful Waiting

I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope. (Psalm 130:5, NASB1995)

The past few months have been a roller coaster for my family. We have experienced some wonderful highs and some sobering lows. Celebration and difficulty have alternated throughout the year, and each episode has brought change. But through it all, we have turned to the Word of the Lord, the Bible, for hope. He and His Word have not disappointed us! We have rested in Him, waited for Him, trusted Him, and placed our hope in Him. He has filled us with far more life, providing the peace, joy, perspective, and support that we needed.

My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. (Psalm 130:6, NASB1995)

Can you think of a time when you have been eager for something to happen? Watchmen stood on guard duty through the night, protecting the city and its inhabitants as they slept. The darkness made it challenging to see potential threats, whether they were wild animals or attacking enemy troops. The morning brought not only safety, but clarity. The arrival of morning indicated they had successfully survived another night. But it also gave them time to assess danger, strengthen defenses, and rest. The darker the night, the more eager watchmen awaited the morning. During our time on earth we are surrounded by spiritual darkness. As we connect with God, our souls long for the “morning”, the time when His Son will return when His spiritual light will shine bright. The Psalmist urges us to long for the return of Jesus Christ with great anticipation, more than the night watchmen felt. Far more life does not revel in the darkness but eagerly awaits the time when God’s glory and purpose will be revealed.

O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption. (Psalm 130: 7, NASB1995)

We hope in the Lord because He is powerful. We hope in the Lord because He is all-knowing. We hope in the Lord because He is never-changing. We hope in the Lord because He is loving and kind. We hope in the Lord because He offers redemption, even abundant redemption. His grace covers all of our sin. He does not hold the cost — the life of His Son — over our heads. Instead, He showers us with far more life. He offers more than we deserve. He provides more than we expect. He is trustworthy and faithful and we praise Him for all these traits!

And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities. (Psalm 130:8, NASB1995)

Redemption involves paying a price to gain or regain something. God created us to have a relationship with Him. We chose to sin against Him, but He paid the price to regain that relationship. He redeemed not only the nation of Israel, but people from every tribe, language, people, and nation. The blood of Christ covered all of our sins so He could present us to God as His holy and blameless children. What a privilege! What a joyous moment it will be when we stand before Him! And we will never be separated from Him again! We have a taste of far more life now, but it will get better in Heaven and last for eternity.

We will wait for You, Lord. Our hope is in You. Thank You for redeeming us. Thank You for blessing us with Your goodness. Thank You for far more life!

Sisters,
Are you good or bad at waiting?
Where do you place your hope as you wait?
What makes you eager for Christ to return?
Which of God’s character qualities inspires you to hope in Him?
Thank God for redemption and the gift of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Praying the Word

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NASB);

Father God, it often seems like complaining comes more naturally to us than rejoicing. Thank You for saying it twice to make sure we know the importance of our attitude. Today we will rejoice in who You are. Today we will rejoice in what You do. Today we will rejoice because our hope is in You. Today we choose rejoicing over complaining.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. (Philippians 4:5a, NASB)

Gracious Lord, in this age of political division and social media, it is easy for “all men” to know our preferences, opinions, and thoughts. But do they know our gentle spirit? We are easily provoked to become argumentative or defensive. It is hard to be gentle or a peacemaker. It is hard to refrain from sharing our opinions that will offend and divide us from our brothers and sisters in You. As Your kindness led us to repentance (Romans 2:4), may our gentle spirit open doors for Your truth and grace — the objects of our hope — to be shared with gentleness and respect at the right time (I Peter 3:15).

The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5b, NASB)

Almighty God, thank You for remaining near Your children. We need You. Help us remember to turn to You. Help us to see You clearly so we value Your nearness. Thank You that nothing can separate us from You and Your love (Romans 8:38-39). We are glad that You will remain near us for all eternity (Revelation 21:3).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Revelation 4:6-7, NASB)

Loving Lord, what a privilege it is to be invited — instructed, actually — to share our troubles, concerns, and requests with You! There is no one in the universe better equipped to receive them. When we lay them at Your throne, we can be confident that You hear and act on them (Proverbs 15:29). Thank You for blessing us with peace as we await Your answer. Your peace is like a hug that enfolds us, warms us, steadies us, and strengthens us. Our hearts and minds can stand strong against anxiety and worry after we give You everything. You truly love us in wonderful and practical ways!

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8, NASB)

Holy God, thank You for telling us what to think about once our minds have been emptied of concerns and worries. Following Your instruction keeps us at peace. Thinking about these things helps us “rejoice always”. Focusing on these enables us to remain in the gentleness of Your Spirit. As our minds dwell on what is holy, our thoughts and actions remain holy. Thank you for graciously and lovingly guiding us in the way of righteousness!

…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:11-12, NASB)

Generous Provider, thank You for giving us contentment that supersedes our circumstances. Whether we have little or much, we will always have You. And that is what we need most. Help us focus on You, not what we have or do not have. Open our eyes to Your purpose for us, Your provision in every circumstance, and Your constant presence. Reveal Your secrets to us, so our hearts are filled even if other aspects of life are empty. Fill us up as only You can with what we truly need.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, NASB)

All-powerful God, thank you for equipping us to do all You call us to do. Thank you for being strong when we are weak. Thank You for empowering us to be Your representatives. Thank You that no righteous thought, action, or attitude is too difficult for us when we rely on You. Give us strength to be bold. Give us strength to be silent. Give us strength to act. Give us strength to wait on You. Give us strength to love You completely and share that love with others.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NASB)

Creator and Owner of all, thank You for generously sharing Your riches with us. We are grateful that You fill us with Your Spirit so we can have the peace, patience, joy, love, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control necessary for every moment of every day. You could have hoarded those or reserved them until heaven. But we are thankful that You have chosen to shower them on us so we can righteously follow and serve You.

Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:20, NASB)

Amen.

Sisters,
Which verse(s) resonate with you? Pray those words back to God, then share your thoughts about them. He loves to hear from you!
Thank Him for far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Glorious Destiny

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. (Psalm 73:22-24, NLT)

Father God, I admit my understanding is limited. You are all-knowing, but my finite mind cannot grasp the complexity of You or Your creation. Despite this, thank You for always being with Your children. Like a caring, protective parent, You hold us by the hand; You keep us on the right path, steady us when we slip, and are the best companion we could ever want. You share wise counsel that offers trustworthy guidance through both the calm and difficult terrains of life. And every step we take moves us closer to the fullness of Your glory. Holding Your hand through this life is wonderful, but being with You forever will be even better! Our glorious destiny will be the ultimate far more life experience.

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. (Psalm 73:25, NLT)

Most High God, I am eager to be with You. My eternal security is in You; it does not lie in angels, fate, karma, or any other spiritual being or idea. Your Son gave His life to purify me and bridge the gap between us, and you are preparing for my arrival in Heaven (John 14:2-3). Nothing in this life or on this earth is more attractive to me than a relationship with You. I may enjoy aspects of my life here, but I await the day I can leave it behind and see You face to face. I only find far more life in You. You are my future, my glorious destiny.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:26, NLT)

Glorious Creator, You made our bodies from dust, and sometimes that fragility shows. We suffer from illness and disease. We grow tired of the daily physical, emotional, and spiritual battles that confront us. But through good moments and bad, You strengthen our hearts. Your Spirit dwells within us to keep our peace, joy, hope, love, and more alive and thriving. Your Spirit will never fail or grow weak within us: what a glorious destiny! Far more life is always available to us, starting the moment Christ became our Savior and lasting forever. We only have to look to You for all we need.

Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. (Psalm 73:27-28, NLT)

God Who Sees, Your Word tells us that not everyone who claims to follow You is Your child; some will reveal the true condition of their heart by leaving You when they face adversity (Matthew 7:21, Luke 8:13). But those who have truly given their hearts to You want to be near You. With You as our shelter, we can weather any storm. You are our safe place when danger threatens. You are our stability when everything is shifting. Experiencing Your protection and provision proves Your character to us. Doubts about your reality, care, and involvement fade when we see You act in our lives. Far more life wants others to experience You, too! We share our story of You with others who seek a glorious destiny.

Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. (Psalm 73:1, NLT)

Righteous God, thank You for showing Your goodness to Your children. First, to the Israelites, then to all who have been made righteous through Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:11). You have purified our hearts (I Corinthians 1:30) and blessed us with far more life. A relationship with You is the best gift, but You have given us so much more. Thank You for Your generosity and our glorious destiny. Thank you for far more life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sisters,
How has God guided you, even when you were foolish and ignorant?
What competes with God for your attention and desire?
How has God strengthened your heart when your flesh and soul were weak?
When have you made God your shelter? What story can you tell?
Thank God for a pure heart, a glorious destiny, and far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jennifer Marsh

P.S. I would like to share your definitions of far more life — and Bible verses that remind you of far more life — in a future blog. If you are willing to share, send them to farmorelife@gmail.com.

Only One Thing

Sometimes life — or death — gets our attention. Unexpected happenings and encounters challenge the status quo and reveal what we really believe, think, feel, want, and expect. Many of us have been touched by a death that felt premature, whether the person we lost was in utero, 17, 49, or 87. I find comfort in God’s perspective of our time on earth:

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16, NIV)

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

Contrary to our feelings, no life is cut short. We each live exactly the number of days God intended for us. No one misses the best days of their life. We treasure certain milestones in this life because they are the only reality we know. But what awaits those who have a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ is immeasurably better than anything we have, do, or experience on earth. Consider this description of what lies ahead:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth” …I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  (Revelation 21:1-7, NIV)

When we are in Heaven, God will live with us, in visible form. We will be His people forever. He will be our God, our owner, our guardian, our blesser, our protector. We will see, hear, talk to, laugh with, and touch Him. He will gently wipe away our tears and no more will fall. We will never be separated from Him. We will have no reason to mourn, as we will not experience loss or pain. All we have known before will cease to exist. Something new, better and beyond our ability to imagine will become our reality. And nothing will threaten it…ever. Far more life — truly knowing Him and being with Him — will become the only thing we need.

In our limited lives on this earth, we can lose sight of far more life. We can instead focus on to do lists, accomplishments, appearances, and numbers. But it is not what we do in this life that is important. Only our relationship with God through Jesus is important. That is the key that gains us access to Heaven. That is the key to contentment throughout the unexpected and challenging situations we face on earth. That is the foundation of far more life.

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15, NIV)

Think of the most affectionate name you have for your father or father-figure and the feelings it evokes. According to HELPS Word-Studies, the Greek “Abba” is used as a term of tender endearment by a beloved child. Abba is the man who makes you feel cherished, protected, valued, and safe. Children adore, trust, and enjoy their Abba. This verse describes a relationship where there is no judgement, only unconditional love. It describes two people who enjoy being together, who love one another deeply, who value each other and their time together. This is the relationship God desires with us.

We do not have a business connection with God. He is not our employer who is taking notes for our next performance review. His goal is not that we increase productivity, work overtime, or sacrifice our health. We do not move up the spiritual ladder by proving ourselves to Him.

We also do not improve our status with God by avoiding sin. We do not earn points by going to church or being baptized. We cannot identify Christians based solely on what they do or do not do.

The Bible records a time two sisters, Martha and Mary, were hosting Jesus and his followers. Imagine the work of having 12 or more guests who were unable to call ahead. Guests who had traveled to reach you and would be staying for an undetermined amount of time. They had real needs. Martha was focused on meeting those needs and making their guests comfortable. But her sister Mary chose to sit with the guests and listen to Jesus as he taught them about spiritual matters. When Martha complained about Mary’s inaction, Jesus’ response is surprising to many:

Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42, NIV)

The only thing we truly need is a relationship with Jesus. The only thing we need to do is connect with Him so we can absorb His heart, words, and desires. All the rest will fall into place if we keep building a relationship with Him. Only one thing is needed for far more life: Jesus.

Sisters,
What unexpected life happening has challenged you?
What do you look forward to about Heaven?
How has God been Abba to you? What barriers do you face in considering Him as Abba?
Do you believe only one thing (Jesus) is needed? How do your thoughts and actions back up your belief?
Thank Jesus for giving you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso




Reborn This Way

“I was born this way” is a common phrase heard in defense of a trait or behavior others find undesirable in us. Is it a valid explanation for our quirks or an excuse for our sin? Of course, it can be either, depending on the context. God’s Word offers insight on who we were at birth and who we are now that may challenge our perspective.

Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb… (Ecclesiastes 5:15, NIV)

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18, NIV)

We came into this world exposed and vulnerable. We had nothing as we entered an unfamiliar environment, the physical world. We had much that we needed to survive, but also much that we relied on others to provide for us. Throughout life, we continue to walk the balance of independence and dependence. Far more life depends ultimately on God, remaining exposed and vulnerable to Him. It trusts His selection of “gold” that will hold its value eternally: character (Proverbs 31:30) and loving God and others (Matthew 22:36-39). He reveals the righteous thinking and actions that become our garments (Ephesians 4:23-24, Ephesians 6:11, Colossians 3:12-14). By remaining vulnerable to Him, we may be misunderstood, rejected, mistreated, and persecuted by some people (John 15:18). But we will also find people who accept, love, support and encourage us (John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10-21). We were born exposed and vulnerable. But far more life offers security through a relationship with Christ.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5, NIV)

All of us also lived…gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts…we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:3-5, NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

We entered the world as sinners. We were selfish and inconsiderate. We became angry when we experienced discomfort. We wanted our own way and did not consider the cost to anyone else. We can justify this behavior in babies as being necessary for their survival. They cry until their needs for food, a clean diaper, comfort, or pain relief is met. But as we grow, we continue to think of ourselves first. Many successful marketing campaigns boldly state what we already think: we are most important, we deserve whatever we want, our needs come first, it is good to obey our bodily desires. These mottos appeal to how we were born: physically alive but spiritually dead. Far more life has accepted Christ’s offer of spiritual life. It recognizes that, without His help, we cannot overcome our sin and selfishness. Far more life means we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) that is righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:23-24), Romans 3:22, Colossians 1:22). We were born sinful. But far more life makes us righteous before God and gives us the power to say no to sin.

Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3, NIV)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (I John 5:1, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (I Peter 1:3, NIV)

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5, NIV)

Born again. New birth. Born of water and the Spirit. In Christ, we have a second — spiritual — birth. This birth comes from believing Jesus Christ is the Messiah, God’s Son who, though himself sinless, took our sin on the cross and died in our place then rose back to life on the third day. He overcame physical death to offer us far more life, an eternal relationship and a renewed heart. While claiming “I was born this way” often highlights our sin nature, claiming “I was reborn this way” gives God glory for our redeemed nature!

…Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  (I John 4:7, NIV)

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. (I John 5:4, NIV)

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.  (I John 5:18, NIV)

When we are born again, we are different. We can love unconditionally and unselfishly. We have power over sin. Jesus keeps us safe from damage. Satan cannot cause us spiritual harm. We do not have to strive to live this way in order to please God. Far more life chooses love, righteousness and more out of gratitude for the second birth God has given us. If you have not been reborn, make today your rebirth day!

Sisters,
Do you often say, “I was born this way?” Is it usually an excuse for sin?
What are (or were) you like without Christ? How does (or did) sin define you?
What helped you see your need to be born again, to accept Christ’s offer to pay for your sin?
How is your reborn self different from your old self?
Experience far more life today by focusing on your forgiveness and righteousness. Praise God for being reborn this way!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Consequences

“Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink. ”So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.  (Numbers 20:8-11, NIV)

The Israelites were in a bad situation: they had no water. They angrily turned to their leaders, Moses and Aaron, demanding they provide. The leaders, unable to produce water from thin air, turned to God for help. He told them exactly what to do and they…did something different.

The Bible does not tell us why Moses disobeyed God. But, as fellow humans, we can think of several possibilities:

  • God had previously instructed Moses to strike a rock to produce water (Exodus 17:6). Since that worked before, maybe Moses thought it would work again.
  • Moses had already told God he wasn’t a good speaker (Exodus 4:10). Perhaps he did not think his voice and words would have any effect on the rock.
  • Maybe Moses thought it hitting the rock was a better demonstration of God’s power. He may have thought the spectacle would stick with the people longer and help them remember God’s provision the next time things got tough.

Whether it was one of these reasons or a different one, Moses disobeyed God. When we strip away everything else, the real reason for disobedience is pride. We trust our own judgment more than God’s. Or we think our way of doing things is better than His way. Maybe we doubt God’s character, wisdom, and instruction, but have confidence in our own. Pride is seeing God as less than He truly is and seeing ourselves as more than we truly are.

You may read this story and think, “But what Moses did worked. The people got the water they needed. So, is it really a big deal?” God did provide water. Why? I think it was because His reputation was at stake. The people needed water and were looking to God (through Moses) to provide it. So, God answered the people’s request despite Moses’ disobedience. But the disobedience was a big deal. The guilty — Moses and Aaron — were disciplined:

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”  (Numbers 20:12, NIV)

The instruction Moses and Aaron were given was private; the rest of the people did not know how God had told them to get the water. Accordingly, the consequences of their sin were communicated privately; they would not enter the Promised Land. Since their sin was not publicly exposed, it may seem they got away with disobeying God. But they did not. Neither do we.

For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. (Colossians 3:25, NIV)

Sometimes we think we got away with disobeying God because the consequences are not visible immediately. But nothing slips past God. He sees all and knows all, including our thoughts and motives. When people who have not accepted Christ disobey, they are adding to the tally of sins for which God will punish them. When those of us who have accepted Christ disobey, we forfeit some aspect of far more life. We will not be punished; Christ already took that punishment on our behalf. But we will experience consequences of our sin. Here are some examples:

  • When we disobey Him by worrying, we forfeit peace (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • When we pursue sin rather than righteousness, we forfeit satisfaction (Matthew 5:5).
  • When we engage in impurity, we forfeit seeing God’s presence and provision in our lives (Matthew 5:8).
  • When we are proud, we forfeit the grace of God and are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks (James 4:6-7).
  • When our focus is on gaining earthly treasure (wealth, power, recognition), we forfeit eternal treasure (Matthew 6:19-20).

If we want to have God’s best — far more life — we must obey God, even in areas no one else sees. When we cannot obey, it is good to ask why we trust ourself — our knowledge, our wisdom, our understanding of right and wrong, our perception of what is best — more than we trust God. We can also approach it from the other direction and ask what we are afraid will happen if we obey God when His ways disagree with what we want to do. Being honest with ourself and God, admitting we have been wrong, and changing our mindset and choices leads to a positive consequence — far more life.

Sisters,
When have you thought your way of doing something was better than what God has instructed?
What form does your pride most often take? Do you think too highly of yourself, too lowly of God, or both?
What have you forfeited as a result of your sin?
Choose far more life today by admitting your pride to God and finding the root so you can eagerly obey Him!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

The Way

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

This is a familiar verse to many of us. It is simple enough that a child can easily memorize it. Yet it is deep enough that we can come back to it time and again and take away more meaning.

I was recently reminded how this verse both unites and divides people of faith. It unites us by focusing on the central message of Jesus and stripping away all other interpretations and traditions. It divides us by focusing on the central message of Jesus and stripping away all other interpretations and traditions.

No one comes to the Father except through me. This is the exact opposite of conventional philosophy, which tells us that many paths lead to God. It is true that there are many spiritual paths we can follow. But they do not all lead to the same place. Far more life seeks the path which leads to the God of the Bible, who is also known as Yahweh, Jehovah, or the LORD. This path is laid out in the Bible, in this verse: through Jesus. There are many paths to Jesus, but He is the gatekeeper of the path that leads to Father God.

I am the way. Jesus does not claim to be one of many ways to the God of the Bible. He clearly states He is the only way. People pursuing paths apart from Jesus are pursuing a different god. Far more life embraces Jesus as the way to Father God.

I am the truth. Jesus does not offer His message as one possible truth. He boldly proclaims He is the human expression of God’s truth. He is the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies concerning the Messiah. All His words and actions are living demonstrations of the truth of the God of the Bible. People living according to any truth apart from Jesus are living for a different god. Far more life embraces Jesus as the truth of God manifested on earth.

I am the life. Life is translated from the Greek word zoe. It speaks of a present physical and future spiritual existence. It includes eternal vitality, animation, breath, and vigor. Jesus is the only source of eternal life the Bible offers to finite humans. People who define life as something separate from Jesus are describing something different than the life offered in the Bible. Far more life begins on earth and continues for all eternity in Heaven with the God of the Bible.

We have free will. We can choose the path we take. We can choose what we believe as truth and which sources we trust in determining what is true. We can define life in our own terms. But if we claim to be a Christian, then we need to follow Christ, on His path, accepting His truth, and embracing His perspective on life. If we are not willing to do that, we should be honest with ourselves and others about the path we are following and the destination toward which we are heading.

The Bible records other statements that help us determine whether we want to pursue its path.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

People joke that they wish they had an instruction book for life; they do! The Bible — God’s Word — reveals the principles, instructions, and perspectives that will allow us to find and follow God’s path.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

Light allows us to see both dangers and beauty. Jesus is our spiritual light. Following Him allows us to tell moral light from moral darkness, right from wrong. This light provides us with life: the vitality, animation, breath, and vigor to experience a satisfying connection to God and His best forever.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)

The prevailing belief is that most people are in good standing with God and will go to heaven. But God’s Word says otherwise. Jesus is the narrow gate that provides entrance to the road leading to life. Far more life adopts His way, embraces His truth, and revels in His life.

…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psam 23:6, NIV)

A wise friend of mine once pointed out that if we do not want to follow God and His ways now, it would be miserable to be stuck in Heaven with Him for eternity. If our desire is to be with God, we will happily go through Jesus to get to Him.

Sisters,
Do you believe Jesus is the only way to the God of the Bible? If not, what is the basis for your belief in a different path?
Do you believe all Jesus does and says is a demonstration of God’s truth? If not, how do you know which of His statements are trustworthy?
Do you believe Jesus alone offers us physical and spiritual life? If not, what life are you pursuing and what is its source?
You can step onto the way, accept the truth, and find far more life today. Just confess to Jesus that you have been following a different path but want to join Him instead. Share you decision with a friend who is also on Jesus’ path!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso