It’s not dead…

Written by Toby Hedgepeth
Photo by Andy Wang on Unsplash

Scripture: Luke 8:49-52 – While He (Jesus) was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble The Teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but He said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.”


Reflection: Sometimes the messages I get from God are obvious – other times not so much. Recently, I had one of those obvious moments. I was walking with a co-worker one Friday morning and as we were walking, through the halls of Duke, we came to an area that was floor to ceiling windows. It was a very beautiful day and our eyes were easily drawn outside. As we moved closer to the window, my co-worker said, “What’s that?” I saw it, it just looked like a ball of something laying on the ground but, at closer look, we realized it was a bird – laying on its back – and the bird appeared to be taking its last breath. First I thought a light wind was blowing the bird but then I thought maybe its chest was moving. But even if it wasn’t dead, I thought to myself it will be dead very soon!”

We guessed that the bird flew into the window. Google says that birds usually fly into windows because they see a reflection of the sky or trees, instead of a pane of glass; they think they have a clear flight path. And I learned, according to a 2014 study, that up to one billion birds die from window strikes each year. The odds were not in this bird’s favor. I knew it was too late for the bird to be saved – and I knew it would probably be dead when we came back from our walk.

Fast forward about 10 minutes later, as we started back around the windowed hall, out of the corner of my eye I saw a bird fly past, and it brought my mind back to the little bird. Then I noticed two gentlemen, who had also seen the bird laying on the ground, coming in from outside…and I noticed the bird was no longer on the ground. I looked up at one of the men and I asked, “Did the bird fly away”. His response was “Yes, I just had to turn it over.”

I immediately heard God speaking to me through those words!

I guess I could have turned the bird over – but I didn’t because I thought it was dead. I guess I could have gone outside and taken a closer look – but I didn’t because I thought it was dead.

Those men had the exact same view as I had – and yet, they saw something different. Where I saw death, they saw life. Where I saw the end, they saw a new beginning. And I ask myself this question…why did something with life still in it appear dead to me?

This also made me wonder how many times I’ve moved on from passions, dreams, callings, people – things I thought to be dead, but they just needed to be turned over. How many things have we abandoned in our lives, based on our perception of what life looks like – but we realize in the starting verses, that perception is not always the truth! The hunger just needed to be fed. The dream just needed to be re-imagined. The check engine light just needed to be…well, checked. But you get my point, right?

I want you to consider today – and throughout this week – those things you desire Jesus to bring back to life for you. What can be restored in your life – or the lives of those you love – what things have you called dead? Don’t let the enemy convince you that what you have worked so hard for is no more! Will you let Yahweh breathe upon those dead things, so they can live? Restoration is coming – and I dare you to start seeking and believing God for it? Don’t spend another moment crying over something that is merely sleeping! God has not changed – and He is able now – just as He was then – to show you His perfect power.


Prayer: God of my ancestors, thank You for seeing things as they truly are. Thank You for helping me to see those things that are not dead – only sleeping. Help me to see past my feelings and my own understanding, to see what You see. Even if there is a glimmer of life in something I am walking away from, reveal it to me so I can nurture it. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Trust God…

Written by Toby Hedgepeth
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Scripture: Judges 6:12-14 – The angel of the Lord appeared to him (Gideon) and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.” Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has cast us off and given us into the hand of Midian.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.”


Reflection: I really want you to go back and read this whole story in Judges; I love this story. The Lord raised up Gideon, as a “mighty man of valor” to use him to deliver His beloved Israel from those who were oppressing them. Gideon wasn’t expecting this visit! Just like many others called before him, he had concerns – because of the current situation they were in, he didn’t really think the Lord was with them.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he was a little confused. He said if the Lord is with us then why are we suffering? Why are we being oppressed by the Midianites? He said where is the truth of our ancestors’ words? They told us that God provides. They told us that God will take care of us. He said, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?”

Do you feel that way sometimes?

You’ve heard stories about how good God is. But here you are thinking if the Lord is with me then why am I always struggling? If the Lord is with me why can’t I find a good job? If the Lord is with me, why have I been dealt this hand? If the Lord is really with me, then why (please tell me) is this cross I bear so heavy? Where is this God who is good all the time?

But just like Gideon, there is a plan – and the word WILL come when you are least expecting it. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, to hide from the Midianites, when the Angel of the Lord appeared. This lets me know that God doesn’t care about where we are, or what we’re doing; the Lord comes to us in His time, not our own.

Even though Gideon had concerns, and he didn’t see how this was going to work, he trusted the word of God. His physical situation didn’t change, his trust did. The Israelites were still being oppressed by the Midianites, but Gideon now believed he was the warrior God told him he was!

When all else seems lost, will you still trust God? When nothing seems to be going your way, will you still trust God? When God shows up in your situation, to let you know that you are more than a conqueror, will you trust Him?

Spoiler alert!!! If you trust Him, you will win!


Prayer: God of my life – Commissioner of my soul – I am in awe of Your love for me. I know my situation is a little messy right now, but I trust in You. I believe You will do exactly as You promised in Your word. I am more than a conqueror, because You said so! In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Change

Written by Toby Hedgepeth
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Scripture: Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever.


Reflection: A few weeks ago, I decided to begin posting to my blog weekly. With the second semester of Seminary approaching, and the commitments of ministry, family and work, I wanted to be sure I had time to keep my word to God, myself and others. When I thought about changing from a daily schedule to a weekly one, I remembered my guiding word for 2019…REST.

Although my plan for rest is not a resolution, I often feel pained when I hear that about 36 percent of those who make resolutions don’t make it past January. So, now that we have made it to the second month of 2019, think about what promises you made to yourself, and to God, for the new year.

Where are you now? Are you still going strong? Are you still pulling through? If so, I applaud you. If not, come along with me and use this week as a time to reevaluate your plan. We shouldn’t stop when things get off track, we must reposition ourselves for excellence. 

I realized this morning, as my pastor was preaching from the book of Ruth, how she had to reposition herself to find love again. She never questioned the move, she just did it because she knew it was necessary.

I’m sure many of us have had to reposition our lives after the loss of a loved one. After the loss of a job. After our plans changed. Our desires changed. We should find solace in knowing that even when our lives change – and we are forced to do something different – God never changes. God is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Repositioning can be frightening but it’s necessary.

Jesus accepted the fate of the Cross to reposition us to receive His Grace.

What, in your life, needs to be shifted? It’s not too late – as a matter of fact, you’re right on time.


Prayer: My God. My Friend. My Gracious Redeemer. Thank You at this moment for helping me get my promises and priorities back on track. Thank You for being patient with me when things change in my life and I need to reposition myself to receive more of You. Thank You, that even when I change, You are ALWAYS the same. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

God’s Grace

Written by Toby Hedgepeth

Scripture: Romans 11:6 – But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.


Reflection: A few days ago I received something wonderful, and unexpected. When I learned of this gift I was receiving, I immediately thought to myself “I don’t deserve it.” Truth is I couldn’t even get excited about it because all I could think was that I was not worthy of what I had been given.

Fast forward a little while later, I was talking with a friend and telling her how I didn’t deserve this gift I just received, and I was feeling guilty for it. As I was going on and on, she stopped me and said “Toby, it’s God’s Grace.”

I had convinced myself that I didn’t deserve it, because I had not worked hard enough. I had not been as dedicated as I should have been. But if I would have first thought about God, and the unmerited grace I receive EVERYDAY, instead of trying to make sense of it, I would have realized it wasn’t about me.

Truth is we don’t deserve God’s grace. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace. It isn’t given to the hardest worker, or the one with the most money. Grace isn’t something that comes to us because we pray the loudest or stay in church the longest.

It’s unmerited. It has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with God.

Now, I must consider, how does God want me to use this gift? How do I use this gift, that I didn’t earn, to bring glory to God?

How do you use the gifts God has given you, by grace?

Use them wisely.


Prayer: Creator – Unmerited Gift Giver. Thank You for reminding me of Your grace. Thank You for reminding me that there is nothing I can ever do to earn Your love, or the gifts You give freely. Help me to remember that it is never about me and always about You. Help me to use the love and gifts, provided to me for free, for Your sake. To bring life to Your words, and not my own. Precious God help me to use my gifts wisely. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen.