Devotionals and Lessons

Shame

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I read once in a book that the Japanese make shame a tradition, part of who they are.

Now, when you read that, you probably think that they should change their ways, because shame is never a good thing, right?

Well, there are two kinds of shame.

The first kind of shame, the one that you probably think of when I mention it, is the crippling kind of shame, regret for something you’ve done, the feeling of dirtiness, of worthlessness. This shame is obviously not good, and this is the kind you want to avoid putting on yourself. Most of the time, this shame comes from doing a bad thing that you shouldn’t have chosen to do in the first place. What you have to realize is,if you’re a Christian, you can go to God and repent, and you’re forgiven. You need not be ashamed any longer.

The second kind of shame is actually beneficial: the feeling of embarrassment you get when you do something you shouldn’t, or cross boundaries you shouldn’t. The way you feel when you sweep the dust under the rug, or break something and hide it instead of confessing. Some might call it your conscience.

If a Japanese child asks someone a personal question (or simply too many questions), their parent will ask them something like, “Have you no shame?”

There are four children between the ages of 6 and 11 who live two houses down from mine. They play in our yard, even when none of us are outside with them, and they play with whatever toys they find on our property, without asking. I caught them once at the front door, knocking and knocking, then one of the boys lifted up one of the girls so she could attempt to peer through the peephole.

Can you guess what question I want to ask them? That’s right: Have you no shame?!

Let me finish by stating that you do not need to feel shame for anyone else’s actions. If your friend does something you’ve been trying to keep them from doing, you have no guilt in the matter, and therefore you should not feel ashamed. You are not responsible for their actions, as my friend Kaitlyn says.

Also, because I know a couple of you have gone through the same thing I did recently, I just want to put this out there: If being friends with someone is too much for you, and you absolutely cannot handle it, or it’s unhealthy for you, it’s okay to tell them so, and back away from the friendship. You do not need to feel any shame, even if that person tries to shame you for it. (Especially if that person is most likely clinically insane. Again, this is for the people who went through the same thing I did recently… if you don’t understand it, you’re not one of them.)

Have shame, but do not be ruled by shame.

4 In you our fathers trusted;

   they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried and were rescued;

   in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

-Psalm 22:4-5

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Fight the Lies

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I visited Life Point Church in Wilmington, NC on September 15.

Why was I there, you ask?

I spent September 1-14 in Myrtle Beach, SC with one of my very best friends, then took a bus to Wilmington, where my dad picked me up, we stayed overnight with some friends in town, and then attended their church the next morning before beginning the drive home.

The message that Sunday hit me hard, and I’d like to share what I learned from it with my dear readers, because everyone needs to know these resounding truths.

Everyone has been led to believe a lie before. I know I have. I’m not going to recount any of the lies I’ve been told or believed, but boy, have I been lied to in my life, just like you have.

I’m sure you’re not considering that I don’t necessarily mean people telling lies. They do, of course, but that’s not the subject of this post.

Who is the father of lies? The devil, Satan.

“`You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’”

That was Jesus speaking in John 8:44.

Satan’s very language is lies. And, being the father of lies, he is an expert at weaving them around us and making us believe them.

He whispers lies to us about ourselves, so subtly that we see them as truth, and we repeat them to ourselves until they’re ingrained in our hearts:

  • I’m worthless
  • I’m stupid
  • I’m ugly
  • I must please everyone

In the Bible, God speaks to us and dispels these lies. All we need to do is believe Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, not the father of all deceit who would have us angry, dissatisfied, and depressed because we believe his lies.

“For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:13-14

I have a very close friend who does not like herself at all, to say the least. She’s beautiful, self-sacrificing, and one of the kindest and most caring people who ever lived, but when she looks in the mirror, all she sees is an ugly thing who should not even be alive. She can’t see why people love her so much, or why people tell her how pretty she is, because she honestly can’t believe it. It’s sad, because she is amazing, and she is gorgeous, and she’s so important to so many, but she believes the lies that the devil has told her about herself.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

We were made to live for an audience of One: our Father, the one who created us, who loves us dearly, no matter what we do or how far we run from Him. We are called to live for Him, not to live to please the world, not to live for our own pleasure.

Satan whispers lies to us about the world, entwining them so expertly with shards of truth that we find it almost impossible to believe anything else:

  • I should have what they have
  • Life should be fair
  • I deserve this
  • My performance determines my worth

The reality is, we deserve nothing. We have a mindset of “I should have this, because I’m a hard worker,” or “Life is great for that guy; why does my life stink?”

Let me tell you something. A lot of the time, when you see someone whose life seems perfect, it’s really the furthest thing from perfect.

I have a friend who is always smiling, always enthusiastic, and loves to tell anyone who will listen about her Savior. Many people assume that she’s had a great life, that she’s never had true hardship, because she’s so optimistic and happy.

The reality is that her father committed suicide when she was younger, after years of abusing her in multiple ways,  and her cousin and best friend killed themselves as well. She was practically a mother to her siblings for a while, working three jobs to support her family, and going to school, and taking care of her brothers and sisters, all at the same time.

Yet when you see her, she will smile big as anything, and ask how you’re doing. She’ll let you know that she’s been praying for you. She’ll randomly break out in singing a hymn. Love for her Savior glows from her, making her radiant.

Let me tell you something else – something a bit more personal, about me.

Most of the time, I feel like doing anything but smiling and being happy. In my line of work, though, I have to smile and be in a good mood, so a lot of the time, I fake it. None of the customers I take care of at work know that I had been up until 6 in the morning talking one of my close friends out of suicide the night before. They don’t know that a customer being angry and cursing at me just a moment earlier threw me into an anxiety attack that I’m having to suppress just to continue providing quality customer service so I don’t lose my job. To my customers, I’m just a happy cashier who will probably go to the mall when she gets her paycheck, even though in reality my paycheck will be going to cover bills, and I’ll be lucky if I see twenty dollars of it in my savings jar.

Looks can be deceiving. Don’t look at another person and wonder why their life is perfect and yours isn’t, and get upset because it’s “not fair”. No one’s life is perfect.

Another fact is that the only thing we, as fallen humans, deserve is death and an eternity in hell. We are so very privileged to have what we have, even if it’s not much, even if we’re struggling to keep it, and even if we end up losing it.

The devil even dares to murmur lies to us about God:

  • I have to earn God’s love. Until I do enough good things, God can never love me.
  • God hates the sin and the sinner. If God knows everything I’ve ever done, how could He love me?
  • God can never use me.

These are the most blatant and disgusting lies that Satan dares to tell us.

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let that sink in. While we were still sinners – we, meaning everyone, all the murderers, adulterers, liars, addicts, thieves, and other sinners of this world – while we were still living in sin, He died for us. Before we loved Him, He bled for us.

God hates evil, it is true, but he doesn’t hate the person committing the evil act, no matter how wrong it is.

A mother still loves her child, even if the child breaks her favorite vase, or lies about taking an extra cookie out of the jar.

How much more perfect and all-encompassing is our holy Father’s love for us? It knows no bounds. He even loves those who nailed his beloved Son to the cross, who tortured him, spit on him, and made fun of him.

Satan says you’re worthless.

Well, if you want to know what something is worth, you have to look at what someone is willing to pay for it.

You, my friend, are worth the blood of God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ. God bought you with His child’s blood. If that doesn’t tell you that you’re worth anything and everything, that you’re priceless, valued, cherished, and treasured, then I don’t know what will.

No matter how broken you are, God is working on you. Even if you abandon Him, He will never abandon you.

Have you ever seen a mosaic? It’s art, beautiful art, that is made of many broken pieces of glass, stone, seashell, and many other things.

God takes our broken pieces, and He glues them together into an incredible masterpiece. While we’re stuck on looking at one broken shard of glass and wondering how it could ever be beautiful, He’s looking at the entire mosaic, every piece needed, every piece contributing to its overall beauty.

Fight The Lie

Elizabeth Altenbach

 

You’ll never be

You cannot see

These are the things that

Are whispered to me

I’m being bent

I’m going to break

I’m growing tired of

Struggling to stay

 

Fight the lie

Straight from inside

Raging and burning

You have to try

Hear the truth

Speak the proof

And know the sound of

What’s right and true

From deep inside

We’re fighting the lie

 

Memories drifting

Attacking me

I cannot fight them

And I cannot see

I’m being bent

I’m going to break

Why won’t this nightmare

Just go away?

 

Fight the lie

Straight from inside

Raging and burning

You have to try

Hear the truth

Speak the proof

And know the sound of

What’s right and true

From deep inside

We’re fighting the lie

 

Where is my fire?

I can’t find my desire

How much more of me

Will this require?

I’m aching and sore

Looking for more

And I find a spark burning

Deep in my core

Feeding the flame

I cry Your name

I’ll turn away from

All of my shame

Now I can see

What You’re doing in me

Won’t You come closer

And help me believe

 

Fight the lie

Straight from inside

Raging and burning

You have to try

Hear the truth

Speak the proof

Know the sound of

What’s right and true

From deep inside

We’re fighting the lie

 

Now I can see

What You’re doing in me

Won’t You come closer

And help me believe

Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 3 Comments

Confidence

Yesterday, a good friend of mine asked me for advice on confidence. I thought that what I told her could be useful to others, so here it is.

Confidence (noun)
1.
full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.
2.
belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.
3.
certitude; assurance: He described the situation with such confidence that the audience believed him completely.

Confidence is not being boastful, prideful, or arrogant. It’s not something you have to assure people that you have. If you’re confident, it shows.

A confident person is someone who doesn’t doubt their own abilities, but doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to them either. If something needs to be done, and you have the ability to do it, it’s not being arrogant to step up and say “I can do it.” (It may be arrogant if you stand there for ten minutes boasting your previous accomplishments.)

A confident person is someone who doesn’t put himself and his abilities down. Someone who knows his abilities, and tells of them only when necessary (when asked, or when trying to prove himself to someone), and not in an arrogant or boastful way.

It is hard to be confident without coming off as arrogant. (Funny fact: I used to think “arrogant” meant “loving to argue.”)
But contrary to what many people think, confidence is not always acting like you know everything, or can do everything. It’s knowing and trusting in your abilities, and not putting them down or acting like they’re nothing.

Now, to seem confident, even if you’re not…
The way I do it is, I put my shoulders back, put a little bounce in my stride, and keep my chin up (literally). You can fake having confidence – when I’m walking through the dark parking lot at work alone after a shift that ends at 11pm, I’m not too confident that nothing bad will happen, but I’ll keep my chin up, walk with pep, and maybe hum or sing a song.
If anyone is going to go after a girl to hurt her, they’re more likely to choose a girl with hunched-over shoulders and her face tilted toward the ground, who does not look confident, over someone who does, even if it seems they could easily overpower either of them.

Ever seen Lord of the Rings? Frodo never seemed confident, on the journey. He always looked so defeated, frightened even. The one time he showed confidence was on his last effort to climb up Mount Doom, although that would probably be better labeled as desperation.
Sam, however, was always one to step out and do whatever he could. He knew he could cook, so he did, and he didn’t put himself down, but he didn’t boast. The same with gardening. He was confident in his ability to protect Frodo, and in their ability to finish the quest, because he believed the entire time (except maybe when Frodo told him to go home) that it was possible (and it was).

Part of good confidence is being confident in other people as well. Of course, this is easy to do, or at least act like you do. If you have younger siblings, I’ll bet you do this kind of thing all the time with them. “Come on! You can do it!”
Confidence without arrogance is knowing that you’re not the only one who has an ability, and letting someone else step up to the plate if they have the same ability.

For example, if someone asked, “Can someone take this family photo for me?” I would probably jump up to do it for them, because I love photography, and I’m good at it. But if someone else volunteered as well, and didn’t immediately back down and let me without me having to ask them to, I would let them try if they wanted, and remain nearby in case they needed help. I wouldn’t hold a grudge against them for taking the opportunity away from me, because I know that I’m not the only person who knows how to use a camera.

Confidence is not boastful. Confidence is a quality that people can sense in you without you having to say that you’re confident (actually, if someone tried to convince me that they were confident, I would think otherwise).

I was at the bowling alley Friday night, with the boy I take care of. He’s part of a bowling group in his city for people with special needs (he’s autistic). I met this girl, Kristin, there. I don’t know what her special issue was – she definitely didn’t have autism or Down syndrome. I think she just had low IQ or a learning disorder – she said she was 29, and she acted like she was 12. She was sweet, and I enjoyed talking to her.
When it was her turn to bowl, she stepped right up with full confidence in her abilities, and rolled the ball. If she made a good score, she’d get excited and grin and exclaim, “Yesss!” But even if she didn’t get a good score, she’d just shrug it off and keep smiling.

That’s another attribute of true confidence – not being self-deprecating, and not being a sore loser.
It’s hard to lose with grace. But if you keep smiling and congratulate the winner, maybe joke that you’ll get ’em next time, that’s perfect. Even if the losing does make you angry or sad.

Confidence is probably the most important trait you can have, even if it’s pretend confidence, because it will better people’s opinions of you and bring you higher in their esteem, which will in turn boost your true confidence. You know, sometimes, if you fake it well enough, you can even fool your own brain into thinking that you’re more confident than you are.
Confidence is quick to smile, slow to be bitter. It is never boastful, and does not back down from a task unless said task proves impossible, in which case confidence would admit its failure without dwelling on it, and without letting it make it bitter, or being angry with the person who succeeds at the task.
Confidence understands its own abilities and doesn’t undermine them, nor does it puff them up and make them seem more than they truly are.

True confidence is hard to define – harder than I thought it’d be until I tried – but hopefully, I got the gist across. I hope this post was helpful to someone. 🙂

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In Which I Compare Joseph’s Life to Romans 8:28

Anyone who follows my blog probably knows about my favorite verse, Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

We see this verse played out in the lives of many Bible characters, but the one I’m going to discuss today is Joseph.

He had a pretty good life. Some sibling rivalry, but lots of kids have that. And he had a colorful, handsome coat, which lots of kids didn’t have.

Overall, life was pretty smooth – until the day his brothers sold him into slavery and faked his death.

Can you imagine that moment of utter betrayal Joseph must have felt when they threw him into the pit? Can you visualize his confusion, his shock, his sadness?

This was the first “thing,” like in the verse, that he experienced.

Then his brothers pulled him out… only to sell him. A second stab of betrayal. The second thing.

The people who bought him made him march to Egypt, where they sold him as a servant to Potiphar’s household. He was not only a stranger in a foreign land, he was a slave. Third thing.

This job was okay, until he was framed for sexual assault. He did nothing that even remotely resembled making a move on Potiphar’s wife, yet this upstanding woman testified against him, and therefore he was condemned without trial. Fourth thing.

So Joseph was thrown into a filthy, dirty prison. Fifth thing.

Now, lots of other people would give up at that point. Betrayed in the worst way by their own siblings, sold as a slave, then framed and thrown in jail… That seems pretty hopeless to me.

But look at what happened! If he hadn’t been thrown in jail, he wouldn’t have met the baker and cupbearer and interpreted their dreams. And some time after the cupbearer got out of jail, he told Pharaoh that Joseph could interpret his dream, and then Joseph was made second in command over all of Egypt!

As if that weren’t enough of a good thing, Joseph saved the lives of many Egyptians and Canaanites by storing up the food, rationing, and selling it. His family might well have died if he weren’t in that position of authority. And then finally, he made up with the brothers who tried to ruin his life.

All things work together for GOOD.

If Joseph hadn’t been sold, he would have never made it to Egypt.

If he hadn’t been framed, he would never have gone to jail.

If he’d never gone to jail, he wouldn’t have met the baker and cupbearer and interpreted their dreams.

If he’d never interpreted those dreams, he never would have been referenced to the Pharaoh and been fetched from jail to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream.

If he’d never interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream, he never would have been put in charge.

If he’d never been put in charge, he wouldn’t have been able to save so many lives.

So you see, all these horrible things that happened to Joseph worked out for good. For his good, his family’s good, the whole land’s good, and our good as well. He kept His eyes on God and never stopped trusting, even when his life was at its darkest. We need to follow his example and follow the Lord even when we can’t see the path.

All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 4 Comments

My Thoughts on Romans 8:18-39

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about my favorite Bible passage, Romans 8:18-39, and what it means to me.

This passage is about hope. Sure, it talks about other things too, but I think the main theme is hope; this theme reflects throughout the entire thing. Hope in salvation; hope in God’s love; hope of Him being with us here; hope of us being with Him in Heaven.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

This is saying that no matter what we’re going through here on earth, even the worst that can possibly happen, pales in comparison with the glory of God that we’ll see when we meet Him face-to-face.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The Lord knows our hearts; He knows what’s on our minds and what’s hurting us. Even when we can’t find the words, He knows how we feel and He knows our hurt. He knows. Isn’t that amazing? When we hurt too deeply to find the words to express it, He knows how we feel; He knows the words our souls are crying.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

This is one of my favorite parts.

Let’s look at verse 28 again:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

All things. Not some things, but all of them. Every wound, every heartache, every circumstance, no matter how horrible it is… all things work together for good. It’s not something you want to hear in the midst of something bad that’s happening, but it is true; It’s all working together for your good. God allows the trials we go through, in order to teach, mold, and shape us. It’s impossible for us to see how these things could possibly be for our benefit, but God knows what He is doing. He is sovereign, always. No matter how distant He seems, He is in control. He knows what you’re going through and why it’s happening to you. He also knows how it will change you, and how it will contribute to your growth as a follower of Christ.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He loves us. Enough to sacrifice His only Son. That in itself never ceases to amaze me. If you had one child, and you really, truly loved him more than anything, would you give him up to watch him be beaten and mutilated, then put to a slow, torturous death on a cross? All to save a bunch of sinful people? There’s a small chance that some might, but it wouldn’t matter anyway because your child is not perfect. God’s perfect Lamb had to be sacrificed, had to take all the sins of the entire world onto His sinless Self, in order to save us all. This, my friends, is perfect love.

Perfect love from which nothing can separate us. No matter what we do, what sins we commit, how unworthy we feel, we can always come back to the Lord and He will accept us as His children.

If you love Him, He is working all things together for your good.

He is perfect. He is sovereign. He is holy. He is just. He is loving. And in Him we have hope.

Hope in His purpose for our lives.

Hope of a life everlasting.

Hope in His unconditional love.

And hope that no matter how dark the night, no matter how long, there will always, always be a dawn.

What are some of your favorite Scripture passages? Why do they mean so much to you? 🙂

Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 7 Comments

Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

So what is the difference between happiness and joy?

hap·pi·ness [hap-ee-nis]

noun

1.

the quality or state of being happy.

joy [joi]

noun

1.

the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
This doesn’t really tell us much, does it?
Well, happiness is fleeting. We can be happy when we’re at the store and we find a shirt that fits just right, but that happiness often disappears when we see the price tag. We can be happy when someone gives us a gift, but when that gift breaks, when it no longer fits, we’re unhappy. When we meet a new friend, we’re happy. But that fades away after a while. You don’t stay eternally happy and smiley.
Joy, on the other hand, can last. Joy is something you can have in your heart that is beyond compare or comprehension. When a loved one dies in the Lord, we are sad and we grieve, but at the same time we have joy in the knowledge that they’re in Heaven with Jesus and we’ll see them again one day. When a friend moves to another country, we miss them, but we have joy because we got the chance to be with them, even if for a shorter while than we would like.
Joy is hard to feel sometimes. Hard to have. Because when all these bad things happen, when you don’t know how anything’s ever going to work out right again, and you can’t see the sun, everything looks hopeless. You don’t know what you can have joy in. But there is always something.
Joy in the knowledge that Jesus loves you.
Joy in the fact that you’re on your way to Heaven.
Joy in the fact that God is always with you.
Joy in the Lord’s promises.
Joy in the fact that God does nothing without a purpose. Your life has meaning.
I know it’s hard to remember these things, and even harder to find joy in them sometimes, but if you have Jesus, you can have true joy that lasts, persists, endures forever, even during the darkest times.
Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 7 Comments

Job, Broken Pieces and Sandpaper

My dear friends,

You are overwhelmed.You feel you are surrounded by sharp rocks that cut you, stab you whenever you move. But in reality they are only scratching you. God is there to provide a shield for you. The rocks won’t kill you. God says He never gives us trials that we cannot bear. He might let the rocks scratch you, and yes, it hurts, but He won’t let them kill you. He won’t let them hurt you beyond what you can take. God is giving you so much to handle because He knows exactly how very strong you are. It might not feel so, but it’s the truth.
It’s an honor that God knows you can handle so much.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

He knows exactly how much you can handle, and He allows you to go through trials and tribulations-but not more than you can take. You are not going to drown. You have God. It is hard, and you feel weak, yes, but you CAN get through this. Your Heavenly Father is ready and willing to take you into His arms and carry you. He won’t completely relieve your pain, but He will help you through it.

James 5:10-11
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Remember what happened to Job?
Job was a rich and blessed man; a friend of God.
The devil didn’t like this, and he came to God and asked if he could torment Job (imagine that! God is so powerful that even the most evil being in the world has to ask His permission!). The devil wanted Job to deny God. But God knew how strong Job was, and so he said yes to Satan.
Satan took everything Job had. And Job, sitting naked in the mud, scratching his sores with a broken shard of pottery, utterly destitute, weary, and in indescribable pain, only praised God.
God knew exactly how much Job could handle, and Job knew that whatever happened, however bad he felt, it was God’s will.

And look what came of it!

Job 42:10-17
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

I can’t stress this enough. God knows exactly how much you can handle. He may push you until you break, but He will always be there to put you back together again.

Psalm 37:39-40
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 40:1-5
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.

Brothers and sisters, I can’t claim to know what you’re going through, and I know that-I don’t pretend to understand. But I also know that God is there for you. If and when you break, He is there to pick up the pieces and put them back together again. He hears the cries of His children, and no matter how silent He is, He never turns His back on you. He lets you go through rough times to shape you into who He wants you to be.

It’s like sandpaper. Oh, how it must hurt for a block of rough, splintered wood to be sanded, but in the end, it is smooth, beautiful, the sharp edges gone.

The unspeakably hard things you’re going through are like God’s sandpaper. We are imperfect, fallen humans, and God must reshape us into what He wants us to be. It’s usually impossible to see for us small people, but there is a reason you break. You are in God’s hands. He catches the pieces and puts them back together again; He molds and sands you into who He wants you to be.

Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 10 Comments

Chatting on the Internet

Hello, few and faithful (?) readers.

I was just thinking about the fact that text, whether it be on the Internet, in a letter, or in a text message, is toneless and can be misinterpreted quite easily. I actually lost a friendship over it once. I’m not going to detail what happened, but the gist of it is, I said something, not meaning at all to be mean in any way, she took it the wrong way, and wouldn’t talk to me anymore. We even occasionally see each other-we have some mutual friends-but she refuses to speak to me. It’s really sad-we had a great friendship.

I almost lost a job once as well, because I sent a text message to my employer and she thought my text sounded cold and rude. I reminded her that text is toneless, though, and explained what I meant, and she apologized.

What I’m saying here is, read what you say before you click “Send,” as if you are the other person, the one reading it who doesn’t feel what you feel and isn’t thinking the same thing you’re thinking. This caution could save a lot of stress, or even a friendship.

Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 2 Comments

The Vending Machine

Everyone meets a person like this at least once. They are a great friend at first, but as time passes, they seem to only come to you when they need help with something, or want something from you. You help them, of course, but you are upset by the fact that they don’t talk to you to see how you’re doing-or if they do, they brush off your problems and don’t act like they care. They only come to dump all their sorrows on you, vent at you when they’re mad about something, or when they need a ride. They only call when something bad is happening. We’re always there for them, waiting to assist whenever they call, but they’re not really there for us.

I was thinking about this, and realized that we sometimes treat God this way. We’ll acknowledge that He exists, yes, but only when we want something from Him. When everything is going fine, we have a steady paycheck coming in, our families aren’t suffering any issues, our lives are basically great, we push God to the side. But when disaster strikes, when we get demoted or fired, an argument breaks out at home, we suddenly beg on our knees for God to be with us and fix everything. Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair to you? 

Instead, we should treat God as He treats us-like a true friend, who is always there for us no matter what, even when we treat Him like a vending machine. We should come to Him with our problems, yes, but also with our joys. We need to talk to Him about everything, instead of just begging Him for a new toy.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to ask God for things. But He wants us to talk to Him, converse with Him, be friends with Him. After all, what do you think “relationship” means?

Categories: Devotionals and Lessons | 4 Comments

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