God Understands our Disappointments

Disappointments in life are never easy to accept, but acceptance is where we find peace. As the old saying goes; “disappointments are God’s appointment”.

In other words, when we let go of what we think we need or want or hopeful for, and accept what God allows, it is an appointment to surrender to Him in faith and trust, even when we do not understand.

Be encouraged today friend, that God knows your disappointment and cares. He has something special awaiting you. Trust in Him with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

Read on…..
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy 4:7
Devotionals Daily

Disappointment: Jesus, I Tried So Hard!
from, Jesus, I Need You: Devotions from Your Heart to His

Dear Jesus,

I tried so hard to make it work, but I failed. This situation didn’t end the way that I had hoped and expected it would, and I am so disappointed.

I sought Your will, and I thought I knew what to do. I used great care moving forward toward the goal, and I stopped often to pray.

When obstacles got in my way, I asked for Your guidance, and I waited patiently for You to answer me. I was diligent in my work, never giving up. And then, with the finish line in sight, everything came crashing down. All of my work was for nothing!

I am like the runner who has trained for a marathon. I ran fast and hard and then, just a few yards from the finish line, I fell.

Why, Jesus? Why did You allow me to work so hard and get so close just so I would fail?

Keep the faith

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy 4:7

Disappointment makes us ask, “Why didn’t I? Why didn’t God?”

Sometimes the Lord allows disappointment in order to build our faith.

The apostle Paul is an example. Few worked harder than he, but all his hard work landed him in prison. Paul’s disappointment strengthened his faith and drew him nearer to the Lord. When disappointment strikes, keep the faith. Remember — Jesus loves you!

Excerpted with permission from Jesus, I Need You copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

Are you disappointed? Are you disappointed in God? Have life circumstances caused you to wonder if God even listened to your prayers, or if maybe He led you astray allowing your hopes and dreams to come to a screeching halt? Lean into His love for you today. Bring your worries, concerns, and even your disappointment and anger to Him. He isn’t surprised and He’s waiting to build you up and strengthen you. Join the conversation around today’s devotion on our blog! ~ Devotionals Daily

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God Understands. But He Won’t Leave You in that Depleted Place.

Sooner or later in our journey with God, we all come to a place of turning point: Do I hold on to the fear and the pain of the disappointment’s of life, or do I move forward to complete the life and ministry God has for me? It’s a significant crossroad and our loving Father is waiting for us to move toward Him. He knows the betrayal, the deep hurt, the loss, and the truth. And He understands it’s especially difficult to heal when God’s very own people are the Wounders.

God understands. But He won’t leave you in that depleted place.

Read on as Anne Graham Lotz shares her Turning point experience with us.

Healing Through Helping

by Anne Graham Lotz, Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals Our Hearts

Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. — Genesis 21:17-18

To be truthful, there are some wounds I have nursed. Sometimes it feels good to hurt bad. I can take a wicked pleasure in rehashing what others have said or done to inflict the wound, each time reaffirming my own innocence and giving in to self-pity. I derive a counterfeit comfort from extending to myself sympathy and consolation and understanding. After all, I deserve those tears! Yet, even though it is often appropriate to grieve, an attitude of entitlement about my wounds can keep me wandering in a spiritual wilderness, weeping under the scrub bush, getting nowhere with my life. At some point, I have to decide if the wounds are worth holding on to. The wounding is past. That was then; this is now.

2 Timothy 3:16

I believe Hagar had reached that turning point in her own journey. She had to decide if she was truly ready and willing to change. She had to stop her sobbing, stop fighting the wounders — mentally, emotionally, and spiritually — and just be still. She had to acknowledge the reality of her current position so she could get on with the rest of her life. Regardless of how she arrived where she was, she was there. I wonder if, in her weariness, she was just too tired to even take another step, think another thought, make any decisions at all.

God understands. Years later, another wounded child of His was running for his life through the desert (1 Kings 19:1-21). The prophet Elijah had just miraculously defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He then prayed, and the three-year drought that had plagued his nation ended with a pouring rain. But instead of being grateful for Elijah’s powerful ministry, the wicked queen was enraged and put out a warrant for his capture, dead or alive. And so Elijah ran.

When he finally collapsed under a broom tree, Elijah prayed that he might die. He was so exhausted and depleted that he fell asleep. He awoke to a gentle touch from the Angel of the Lord, who had brought him a jar of water and had fresh bread baking over a hot fire. Elijah ate, drank, then went back to sleep. For a second time, the Angel of the Lord touched him. With tenderness and compassion, He conveyed the sympathetic heart of the Father:

Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you. — 1 Kings 19:7

If God was sympathetic and compassionate with Elijah, and He was, why do you think He would blame you for your weakness and weariness and woundedness?

God understands. But He won’t leave you in that depleted place.

Elijah was so terrified for his life that, after sleeping and eating, he ran for another forty days. But he couldn’t outrun God, who met him at the end of his journey and gently asked,

What are you doing here, Elijah? — 1 Kings 19:9

In the remarkable encounter that followed, God brought Elijah to a turning point — he had to choose between living in terror or trusting God with his future. Elijah chose to leave behind his fears and sense of failure and move forward to complete the ministry God had for him.

Sometimes we need an extra push to get out of the miry pit in which we’ve been living. And that’s often when God shows up. He seems to wait, quietly and patiently, until He knows we’ve reached the turning point. Then He gives us that extra incentive, just as He did for Elijah — and Hagar.

God leaned out of heaven and spoke to Hagar. And the first good, healthy choice Hagar made was to listen to the voice of God. Just the sound of His voice revealed that she and Ishmael were not alone after all! She had felt panicked that they would die alone in the desert and she had been convinced there was no one nearby to help. But she couldn’t have been more mistaken. God was with her. In spite of her stubborn refusal to cry out to Him, He was calling out to her — by name. Hagar…

And His word spoke peace to her heart when He said,

Do not be afraid. — Genesis 21:17

Instantly, the turmoil in her heart was replaced by a deep, quiet calm. If Hagar was like me…

I have experienced the difference God’s Word makes when I’ve been caught in a whirlpool of grief and despair. I will never forget when my son’s first marriage ended in divorce after seven years. He was deeply wounded. As in any broken relationship, he was also a wounder. When I first became aware that his marriage was headed for destruction, his pain sent me into a wilderness of guilt. Every parenting mistake I had ever made came back to my mind like the replay of a horror movie in high-definition color. Like Hagar, I curled up into an emotional ball on the inside, blaming myself for all the things I had done wrong — as well as all the things I hadn’t done, should’ve done, could’ve done to prevent such a living death. Although I cried out to God, my self-flagellation drowned out anything He may have tried to say to me.

Finally, after an all-nighter of emotional turmoil, I was exhausted. As my spirit grew quiet, I slipped out of bed and opened my Bible. These verses fell off the page and into my heart:

O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will set your stones in antimony and your foundations I will lay in sapphires… your battlements of rubies… your gates of crystal… your entire wall of precious stones. [And] your… son will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your son will be great. — Isaiah 54:11-13 NASB (adapted).

(The noun son is plural in the original text. I took the liberty of hearing it in the singular, as God’s word of comfort and encouragement to me about my own son.)

Like Hagar, I was suddenly aware that God had been right there beside me all night. He knew I had been “storm-tossed” — tossed about by regrets, if-onlys, anger, frustration, grief, and fear. He had heard me sob into my pillow, begging Him to do something. The emotional pain had been so great I didn’t think I could catch the next breath.

When He addressed me as the afflicted one who could not be comforted, He reaffirmed that He knew me intimately, because I had revealed my agony to no one else. I knew His promises — of sapphire foundations, ruby battlements, crystal gates, and walls built with precious stones — spoke of Jerusalem, the home of God’s children. But I applied them to my home — that God would make it beautiful, a sparkling jewel-like display of His glory. Then deep peace flooded my heart when God reassured me that my son would be taught of the Lord through the experience of divorce, and in the long run, my son would not only survive, but grow into a stronger, more spiritually healthy person.

If you too are storm-tossed and not comforted, take a deep breath. Could it be that you have not been listening to God’s voice? Really listening, with your eyes on the pages of your Bible. I have no doubt that He is right there beside you. Maybe one reason He has allowed you to get sucked into this downward spiral of fearful desperation is to bring you to a turning point. Some people might describe it as the end of the rope. It’s that moment when you are so sick and tired of your misery, you are willing to change. If that’s where you are, I have good news: you are ready for the next step.

With peace in her heart and God’s reassuring words in her ears, Hagar was directed to

lift the boy up and take him by the hand. — Genesis 21:18

It was time for her to stop worrying and to start reaching out to her son. She needed to get her eyes off of herself, off of her circumstances, off of her past, and focus on the needs of another. She had to learn that it wasn’t all about her — or them.

The most poignant example of this antidote to emotional pain was given to us by Jesus Himself as He hung on the cross. Jesus — Lord of Glory, Bright and Morning Star, Son of God and Son of Man, Lion of Judah, the Creator of Life, the Light of the World, the Messiah — was hung naked from a cross at eye level beside the main road going into Jerusalem, with people walking by on their way to market as they were preparing for Passover. The ones who noticed Him mocked Him for the sign that hung over His head declaring Him King of the Jews. And how did Jesus handle such public humiliation and shame? He turned His attention to others: to His mother, who was lingering near the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27), and to the repentant thief, who was dying on the cross next to His (Luke 23:39-43).

Jesus’ example teaches a powerful lesson. He demonstrates that one way to overcome emotional pain is to focus on the needs of others — to reach out and help someone else who may also be suffering.

In some way we may not fully understand, helping to alleviate the suffering and pain of someone else actually helps to relieve our own.

The beautiful, tender, and specific instructions God gave to Hagar reveal the deep compassion of His father’s heart. Instead of telling Hagar to go get Ishmael some water, or to tell him to stop his bellyaching, or to tell him to get up because it was time to start traveling again, God told Hagar to “lift the boy up and take him by the hand.” God knew Ishmael needed the comfort of his mother’s physical touch. Sometimes enough has been said, and we just need to reach out and touch that other person. A hug, a hand on the shoulder, or a pat on the back often says more than words. The Lord understood that sometimes even a miracle isn’t enough; people need to be touched. And so…

He not only commanded that the leper be cleansed, He reached out and touched the untouchable (Matthew 8:3).

He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of fever when she lay in bed by touching her hand (Matthew 8:14-15).

He gave sight to two blind men, not only by telling them that their faith had made them whole, but by touching their eyes (Matthew 9:29).

He had compassion on His terrified disciples by coming to them and touching them when they had just seen Him transfigured in glory and had just heard His Father’s voice (Matthew 17:7).

Who needs your personal touch? Who is your Ishmael… someone who needs your helping hand to lift him or her up off the ground? We seem to be so quick to throw money at whomever it is, or call an agency to do something, or ask our church to get involved, or ignore the person completely. But maybe God has placed this person in your life because He knows that you yourself need the lift that comes from lifting someone else. Maybe the act of helping someone else will be the turning point for you.

Excerpted with permission from Wounded by God’s People by Anne Graham Lotz, copyright Zondervan.

* * *

Your Turn

Consider Anne’s questions in the last paragraph. If you need a turning point in your pain and are ready for healing, whom can you help today? Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you!

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Foreword by Beth Moore.

Tucked into Abraham’s biography is the story of Hagar, a young Egyptian slave with whom Abraham had a son named Ishmael. Hagar stood out because she was wounded—not physically, but in ways that were as emotionally and spiritually painful as any injury to a body would be. Some wounds were provoked by her own bad behavior, but others were inflicted by those who considered themselves God’s people.

Anne Graham Lotz too has been wounded by God’s people. Some wounds have been deeper than others, some have come out of nowhere, and still others have been provoked by her own behavior, but all of the wounds have been deeply painful. They seemed to hurt even more when the wounders wrapped their behavior in a semblance of religion or piety.

As Hagar’s story unfolds, you will discover that wounded people often become wounders themselves. While Anne identifies with the wounded, the unpleasant reality is that she also identifies with the wounders, because she has been one, too. She knows from experience that wounding is a cycle that needs to be broken. And by God’s grace, it can be.

Many have had similar experiences. And perhaps you are among those who have been so deeply hurt that you have confused God’s imperfect people with God. Maybe you have even run away from God as a result. Or perhaps you have been a wounder to the extent that you are living in a self-imposed exile, believing you are unworthy to be restored to a warm, loving relationship with God or with God’s people. Whatever your hurts may be, Wounded by God’s People helps you to begin a healing journey—one that enables you to reclaim the joy of God’s presence and all the blessings God has for you.

God loves the wounded. And the wounders.

Coming unglued, try some Grace.

We’ve all been there. We will probably be there again. We let our emotions take over in situations where the presence of God seems derailed by intensity and we overreact. Take some time today to regroup and talk to God about how you feel before you become unglued. Get his perspective and remember that regardless of what you’re facing, He is working something good from it.

Intentionally seek His perspective in your circumstance and remember that regardless of what you’re facing he is working something good from it. Approach His throne of grace and find guidance,comfort, encouragement, and wisdom. Read on as Lysa Terkeurst shares her heart.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:16
Pinches and Grace

by Lysa Terkeurst, Unglued Devotional

Thought for the Day: Today is a beautiful time for grace.

Today is Beautiful

I wanted to pinch the two girls sitting on the front row of our church service. Pinch them, I tell you. But they were five rows ahead of me, and my arm couldn’t quite reach. Since I couldn’t physically get their attention, I prepared my “look.” You know, the one that says a thousand corrective statements with just a cross expression and a raised eyebrow? Yes, that one.

The minute one of them stole a glance in my direction, they were gonna know exactly how I felt about their wiggling and obvious lack of attention during the service. Oh, and might I mention, these two girls belonged to me. Well, at least one of them did. The other was my daughter’s friend, who sometimes goes to church with us.

I don’t think anyone else really noticed them. They weren’t being disruptive to other people. But they weren’t acting the way I wanted them to. I wanted them sitting up straight, drinking in the message, and taking pages of notes. Thank you very much.

Suddenly, an annoying little thought started to tug at the corners of my mind. You want your children to act perfectly because it makes you look good. Let that go. They don’t need to be sitting up straight, furiously taking notes, to hear God’s message. This is a beautiful time for grace. And when you give grace . . . you won’t come unglued.

Ouch.

I don’t much like the Holy Spirit speaking to me the kind of truth that hurts. I was in the mood to pinch somebody. Two somebodies. Give grace? Now? It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed to do in that moment.

Soon my daughter’s friend peered back to look at me. Despite my feelings, I made the choice to smile, wink, and give her a little wave. Then this wiggly, usually not-very-affectionate middle schooler got out of her seat, walked back the aisle five rows, threw her arms around me, and gave me a hug that preached a thousand sermons right then and there.

Indeed, grace was exactly what was needed in that moment.

And that’s what makes this parenting thing so stinkin’ hard. There are really no textbook answers. Only God can prepare me with the wisdom and discernment necessary for each and every potentially unglued parenting moment.

It’s such a moment-by-moment balancing act of loving, shepherding, disciplining, extending grace, molding, modeling, loving some more, and maybe having to give a few pinches along the way too.

Prayer for Today

God, I pray that today You would give me the strength to stay close to You to experience Your grace and give Your grace. Open my eyes to the challenging situations around me that need a dusting of Your grace. Amen.

Oh, how we need God to give us grace

God is our Complete Deliverer.

“Nothing on earth is like fully engaging with God.”

Beth Moore, from Get Out of That Pit

Devotionals Daily

You can opt for God. Pitching every other plan, you can opt for God. Thanks-but-no-thanks to every other deliverer, you can opt for God. Without having a clue how it works, you can opt for God. Without knowing the Old Testament from the New, you can opt for God. Not just for His help, but for His entire Person! The whole of God.

Oh, the wonder of the One who comes as Three! You can opt for the Father who reigns as King over every intricate detail in the universe and can micromanage a complicated life like yours and mine. He who could halt the sun in the noon sky if that’s what your victory would take. He who could hurl a star like a stone at your enemy should he get in His way.

You can opt for the Son who paid your debt in full, not just to deliver you from earth to heaven when you die, but also from pit to pavement while you live. In Him, you have the full rights of sonship or daughtership, including the right to live wildly in victory. Do you hear what I’m saying to you? I don’t care what kind of addiction you’ve had or what kind of places you’ve been, you have as much right to flourish in Christ’s abundance as Billy Graham. He’d tell you the same thing.

No head hanging is necessary unless Christ has crowned you with so much love and compassion that the weight of it sometimes bows your head in joyful worship and gratitude.

You can opt for the Holy Spirit who first hovered over the Genesis waters and brought order out of chaos. The One who infuses any willing vessel with throne-spilled power from the inside out. The One who enables a people bereft of holiness to be holy by His very presence within them. The One who — at our invitation — seeps like water under every closed door of our souls, filling each empty place with Himself until the flood rises and the door is swept from its hinges… and we are utterly open before Him.

The beautiful thing about opting for God is that you are opting for everything He brings. Because He is infinite, you will never reach the end of all He offers of Himself.

Nothing on earth is like fully engaging with God.

Nothing. Once you taste what I’ve tasted, nothing in the physical realm can touch it. Yet everything in the physical realm takes on brilliant color because of it.

God will be your complete Deliverer

God’s love is better than life. No one compares.

If you’re willing to engage God as your deliverer from the pit, the full-throttle relationship you develop with Him will be the most glorious thing that has ever happened to you.

Far more glorious than the deliverance itself. If you will take God up on what He offers so that you can live in victory, you will find thankfulness in your heart for every person who let you down. For ultimately, their failure set you up for this most ecstatic relationship you will ever experience.

If you’re willing. Here comes the challenge. If you decide to take the challenge, beloved, you are on your way out of that pit. Here’s the deal:

God wants everything you’ve got.

Uncontested priority. Every egg in one basket. All your weight on one limb. This very moment He has His fingers gripped on your chin, saying, “Right here, Child. Look right here. Don’t look right or left. Stare straight into My face. I am your Deliverer. There is none like Me.”

God will be your complete Deliverer or nothing at all.

That’s the one rule of divine rescue. This I can tell you from both Scripture and experience:

God absolutely refuses to share His glory. Anyone who shares His position as deliverer in your life is sharing His glory.

God won’t stand for that. Sooner or later, someone’s going to back off, and you don’t want it to be God. He may use any number of people in your life — friends, a counselor, a family member, or fellow believer — to come alongside and encourage as part of His process. But He alone must deliver you… or you will never be free. How badly do you want out of that pit? And out of the cycle that draws you back into it? If you take on the tunnel-vision determination of Isaiah 50:7, you’re headed out.

Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Excerpted with permission from Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore, copyright Thomas Nelson.

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Your Turn

Are you ready to get out of your pit? Really ready? Are you willing to give God everything you’ve got? To choose Him above all else? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear your thoughts and your story! ~ Devotionals Daily

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Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

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From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free. This best-selling author and Bible teacher who has opened the riches of Scripture to millions longs for you to be free as well—to know the Love and Presence that are better than life and the power of God’s Word that defies all darkness.

Beth’s journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul, given by her Saviour and offered to you in Get Out of That Pit—friend to friend. This is Beth’s most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance, and complete and glorious freedom of God:

I waited patiently for the Lord

He turned to me and heard my cry

He lifted me out of the slimy pit

He set my feet on a rock

He put a new song in my mouth

It is a story, a song—a salvation—that you can know too.

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Have you Thanked God for Your Brokenness?

The Bible does not spin the flaws and weaknesses of its heroes. Abraham lied. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. Peter rebuked God! Noah got drunk. Jonah was a racist. Jacob lied. John Mark deserted Paul. Elijah burnt out. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Thomas doubt. Moses had a temper. Timothy had ulcers. Even David, one of God’s beloved friends, committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. Yet all these people teach us the same message: that every human being on earth, regardless of their gifts and strengths, is weak, vulnerable, and dependent on God and others.

The pressure to present an image of ourselves as strong and spiritually “together”hovers over most of us. We feel guilty for not measuring up, for not making the grade. We forget that all of us are human and frail. The apostle Paul struggled with God not answering his prayers and removing his “thorn in the flesh.” Nevertheless, he thanked  God for his brokenness, knowing that without it, he would have been an arrogant, “conceited “apostle. He learned as we all must, that Christ power is made perfect only when we are weak.

Thought for the day: How might brokenness or weakness in your life today present an opportunity for God’s power to be demonstrated?

Prayer: Father, The notion of admitting to myself and to others my weaknesses and failures is very difficult. Lord, I am weak. I am dependent on you. You are God, and I am not. Help me to embrace your work in me. And may I be able to say, like Paul,”when I am weak and broken, then I am strong.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devo by Peter Scazzero; Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

Too Injured to Help Ourselves is the Time for God’s Help and Healing Community.

Sooner or later we all hit the wall or land in the ditch. Sometimes through the hurts and losses in life were thrown there. Other times it’s through our own poor choices. Sometimes one leads to the other. Regardless of how we hit the wall or land in the ditch, were too injured to help ourselves, and we need someone who’s not afraid of our pain to usher in and help. God’s answer to this is through relationship with His Son Jesus Christ, and healing community. We need Him to carry us when we can’t walk. We need healing community to gird us up under the reality of our pain and circumstances, unafraid to step in and help carry our burdens. Read on as John Baker shares a time in his life when this was true. And remember the Lord recycled this painful time for him and through it birthed the Celebrate Recovery Ministry. Wow God!!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36:26
From Confession to Redemption

by John Baker, Celebrate Recovery Devotional

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36:26

Ezekiel 36:26

Our neighbor’s dog was a sweetheart, and everyone in the neighborhood loved her. But she had a talent for getting out of the yard. One day she managed to escape and was hit by a car, leaving her badly injured and lying in a ditch. We rushed to help her, but as so often happens with injured animals, she lashed out at us, growling, barking, and snapping. The dog’s owner wouldn’t take no for an answer, though. He pushed past her hostile response and took care of her because he loved her.

I have had times in my life when I was the one lying in the gutter, broken and hurting. God came to me there and pushed past my angry and hostile reactions because He loves me. In spite of my restless behavior and my foolish protests, He stuck with me, healing, restoring, and changing me.

God has big plans for me, too big to leave me lying in the gutter, licking my own wounds. He has a plan to get me back on my feet and make me productive for His kingdom. He’s given me a new heart and a new spirit, and He’ll never give up on me because He loves me.

Prayer

Father, thank You for picking me up and putting me back on my feet. Thank You for loving me so much that You helped me even when I fought against Your loving care. Amen.
Excerpted with permission from the Celebrate Recovery Daily Devotional by John Baker, Johnny Baker, and Mac Owen, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

Can you think of a time in your life when you lashed out at God and He didn’t give up on you? What happened? How did He put you back on your feet? Are there people you can think of who are lying in the gutter, licking their wounds? How can you push past their hostility and love them through?

Let The Story of You, be a Story of Redemption!

Hiding our struggles, weaknesses and sins only lead to shame ,fear and further pain. And pain that is not transformed, is transferred. But God has a better way. His plan is to bring it into His light for healing, not condemnation. This is why we confess our sins to God and other safe people. Not out of obligation or duty to God, but to clear our heart of the weight of sin, and experience the freedom of forgiveness. God has a plan for your life!  And your story of redemption is one He wants you to share. Read on for further encouragement as Pete Wilson shares his thoughts in this devotion.

“Let the story of you be a story of redemption.”

From Confession to Redemption
by Pete Wilson, Let Hope In

Wasting Away

Many of the Psalms are attributed to David. I believe he was paralyzed by the guilt of his past. However, somewhere along his journey he discovered the freedom that comes along with confession.

He wrote about this journey from confession to forgiveness in Psalm 32.

Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! — Psalm 32:1-2

But why do we need to confess sin in the first place?

David begins by saying confession is for our sake. Sometimes we think confession is for God’s sake, like our sins sort of annoy Him and some act of confession will appease Him. But David says, “No! Confession is for you.” There’s a blessing in this for you. There’s something God wants to give to you. This is about your quality of life.

Notice all the other blessings David just sort of skips over. He doesn’t talk about the blessing of wealth, or of power, or of reputation, all the things we would pursue. David is saying, “No! Those things can’t heal us.” We chase after them like they could, but they can’t heal us. David is saying, “The way to find blessing is by being forgiven.”

Because David understands that our most fundamental problem is actually a spiritual one.

He continues in Psalm 32:

When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. — Psalm 32:3-4

In essence, David is saying, When I kept silent, when I was hiding, when I wasn’t talking about it, when I was keeping it secret, I felt like I was dying inside. I imagine most of us can relate to this feeling in some way or another, because there are a lot of things in our lives we keep silent about. Things we feel ashamed of: family problems, compulsive habits, sexual addiction, to name a few. While silence in the moment might seem like the best, safest way to handle it, silence always leads to more pain and guilt and festering inside. It corrodes away our soul. It corrodes away our spirit. And it always, always, always begins to affect other parts of our lives.

It’s amazing how many of us are just stuck in the religious routine. We sing songs, serve in ministries, attend Bible studies, throw money into the offering plate. Week in and week out, we go through the same routine and nobody knows we’re dying inside. Nobody knows we have these secret sins that are keeping us from moving forward. No one knows about it.

No one knows about it — but you know about it. God knows about it.

We continue looking at Psalm 32 to see how David was finally able to let go of his guilt.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone. — Psalm 32:5

It almost seems too easy, doesn’t it? But there’s no process or ritual to go through, no promising anything or having to do something. In fact, confession isn’t doing something about our sin; rather, it means admitting that we can’t do anything about our sin.

There is something intrinsically broken and sinful in every human being. Merely human efforts (education, environment, therapy) cannot cure the sin problem. My brokenness, like yours, is very complex.

Jesus comes as the Great Physician. He comes for sick people who wrestle with sin, not for people who pretend they’re healthy.

If we want to heal, we need to be honest with God and ourselves and each other. Some of you are carrying around secrets that are killing you. Maybe it’s about your past, sexuality, impulses, bitterness, anger, finances, marriage, work, or whatever. But if you keep playing the game and keeping silent about your secrets, you can’t heal and move forward.

As David said in the Psalms, until he dealt with the problem of guilt and sin in his life, all this other stuff he was doing — including being the king of Israel — was really quite pointless. He was going about his life, and he was going about his duties, but his bones were wasting away. He was groaning all day long. He felt like God’s hand was heavy upon him, that his strength was sapped.

He needed to come clean.

Let the story of you be a story of redemption

Set Free

Now we can’t miss that David ends his prayer of confession not with despair, not with discouragement, not with depression, not with self-doubt. He ends with joy.

For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. — Psalm 32:7

This is a song of victory because he’s been forgiven. He has been set free.

You’ve been forgiven. You have been set free.

Your lying schemes, forgiven.

Your lustful acts, forgiven.

Your self-seeking manipulation, forgiven.

Your religious hypocrisy, forgiven.

All the guilt, all the shame, all the stuff you’ve been carrying maybe for years and years and years… you can be set free. God has come in the person of Jesus to set you free.

There is no story in the world like the story of redemption, and it can be your story.

Let the story of you be a story of redemption.

Excerpted with permission from the Let Hope In by Pete Wilson, copyright Thomas Nelson.

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Your Soul Needs You to Care for It!!

Remember the lyrics Rich Mullins use to sing;”Hold me Jesus, I’m shaken like a leaf. You have been my King of Glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace”.

Lord Jesus hold me today. I need you. My soul thrists for you. Nurture my soul today.     Heal my wounds and direct my perspective heavenward.

Read on as John Ortberg speaks more about soul care.

When we reach out to God, we are lifting our souls up to be nurtured and healed. —Your Soul Needs a Center by John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

A soul without a center is like a house built over a sinkhole.

“How collapsed you are my soul, and how you sigh over me.” On the other hand, the soul comes alive when it is centered on God. “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love… for to You I lift up my soul.”

A friend once told me how his three-year-old son, who is now a grown man in his thirties, used to approach him when he was tired or frightened or just needed to be held. The little guy would reach out with his arms and say, “Hodja, Daddy. Hodja,” his three-year-old version of “Hold me, Daddy.”

Years later, my friend recalled, his son came home from work and discovered his wife had left him for another man. He was devastated and called his dad and asked if he could come over. Of course he could, so he drove the five hours to his parents’ home, walked in the door, and collapsed into his father’s arms.

My friend told me, “I could almost hear him crying, ‘Hodja, Daddy. Hodja.’”

When we reach out to God, we are lifting our souls up to be nurtured and healed.

A soul centered in God always knows it has a heavenly Father who will hold its pain, its fear, its anxiety. This is spiritual life: to place the soul each moment in the presence and care of God. “My soul cleaves to You, Your right hand upholds me.”

It is much harder than it sounds to keep our souls centered on God. We hold on tightly, but often to the wrong things. But staying centered on God — His word, His ways — is the essence of life for the soul.

Thomas Kelly wrote, “We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all. And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed, and fearful we shall be shallow… We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center!.. We have seen and known some people who have found this deep Center of living, where the fretful calls of life are integrated, where No as well as Yes can be said with confidence.”

“My soul clings to You; your right hand upholds me.” When God seems distant, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Brother Lawrence called this “practicing the presence” of God, and the most important part of that practice lay in “renouncing, once and for all, whatever does not lead to God.”

A very simple way to guard your soul is to ask yourself, “Will this situation block my soul’s connection to God?”

As I begin living this question I find how little power the world has over my soul. What if I don’t get a promotion, or my boss doesn’t like me, or I have financial problems, or I have a bad hair day? Yes, these may cause disappointment, but do they have any power over my soul? Can they nudge my soul from its center, which is the very heart of God? When you think about it that way, you realize that external circumstances cannot keep you from being with God. If anything, they draw you closer to Him.

Your Turn

Do you feel your soul crying out ‘Hodja, Daddy’ to God during times of pain, fear, and anxiety? Does crisis draw you closer to Him? Join the conversation on our blog! Share how you are learning to cause your soul to cleave to the Father! ~

When is the last time you thought about the state of your soul?

The health of your soul isn’t just a matter of saved or unsaved. It’s the hinge on which the rest of your life hangs. It’s the difference between deep, satisfied spirituality and a restless, dispassionate faith.

In an age of materialism and consumerism that tries to buy its way to happiness, many souls are starved and unhealthy, unsatisfied by false promises of status and wealth. We’ve neglected this eternal part of ourselves focusing instead on the temporal concerns of the world—and not without consequences.

Take time today to care for your soul by connecting with God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let the peace of God rule in your heart and direct all you do and say.

Wounded By God’s People?

Have you been wounded by God’s people? Some wounds are deeper than others. Some come out of nowhere, and still others are the result of our own poor choices. No matter the cause, all wounds are painful. Wounds hurt even more when the wonders are from our church family, where behaviors are explained with religious talk that justify the hurtful actions made.

Truth is most wounders do not see their true motives. They are blinded by their agenda’s rooted in self exalting and self persevering choices.

We’ve all been both the wounded and the wounder. This is a cycle that needs to be broken, and only by God’s Grace can it be.

Do your part friend to break the cycle of wounding. Get honest with God about your pain, and let His grace teach you how to heal and respond, rather than react.

Read on as Anne Graham Lotz shares from her book; “God is in the darkness and God is in the wilderness.” –  from Wounded By God’s People.

A wilderness is defined as an uncultivated, uninhabited, inhospitable region. At least that’s the definition I was given when I googled it. I would also describe a wilderness as dry, barren, lonely, and rocky. And it was in a spiritual wilderness that I found myself several years ago. Because it was a time in my life that was dry… seemingly devoid of the rain of God’s blessing; barren… seemingly devoid of evidence of real fruit in my life; lonely… devoid of any conscious awareness of God’s presence; and it was rocky… littered with problems and obstacles and hard things.

If I could have pinpointed one particular trigger that launched me into my wilderness experience, it would have been my mother’s departure for heaven. Not only did my grief leave me with a feeling of emptiness and deep sadness, but there were many circumstances around the time of her death that seemed to drive me into a spiritually dry, barren, lonely, rocky place.

Life just seemed to close in on me.

Wounded By God’s People

One morning, I was especially conscious of the oppression and darkness that seemed to be crushing my spirit to the point I found breathing difficult. I slipped into the place where I meet the Lord early in the morning, intending to open my Bible to the verses on which I had been meditating the day before. But as divine providence would have it, I made a “mistake.” Instead of opening to the intended passage, I opened to a chapter that was several pages past where I had been. But before I could correct my mistake, my eye fell on this verse:

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

The verse seemed to be illuminated. It leaped up off the page as I heard God whispering to me through the words,

Anne, most people shy away from the wilderness. They don’t like the darkness of oppression, loneliness, dryness, barrenness. They don’t like to be in a hard place. If they think I’m going to lead them there, they resist, back off, and want no part of following Me. But, Anne, Moses approached the thick darkness. Because that’s where I was. And that’s where I still am, Anne. Embrace the darkness.

Before I could answer Him, before I could even pray, almost before I could even think, I found myself turning several pages back to where I was “supposed” to have been reading. The first verse of that reading was,

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

The desert is another name for the wilderness! That dry, barren, rocky, lonely place where I seemed to be. And I knew God was telling me,

Anne, I am here. Look closely. You will see My glory in the dark cloud.

I was not consciously aware of seeing His glory at that moment. All I knew is that God had spoken to me and told me He was there. And so I bowed my head, with tears slipping down my face, and whispered to Him in response, If You are truly in the darkness, then I embrace it. I want to be where You are.

God is in the darkness and God is in the wilderness.

I now know that by personal experience. But although Hagar had known God’s presence in her wilderness years earlier, she had forgotten. She did not know that now. So when she suddenly found herself thrust not only into a dry, barren, lonely, rocky physical place, she also found herself in a spiritual wilderness — alone for the first time in thirty years and burdened with the responsibility of providing for the physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and practical needs of a difficult teenage boy. Hagar desperately needed help. She knew she couldn’t go back, but she had no idea how to go forward. And so she wandered… through the desert of Beersheba and the wastelands of her own spiritual and emotional devastation.

You don’t necessarily have to be a single mother, thrust there by an untimely death or a nasty divorce, to find yourself in Hagar’s situation. Like me, maybe life has just crashed in on you. Wounds and rejection can pile up. Perhaps you feel you have no one to turn to, no one to talk to, no one to help you. If you and I are not careful, that aloneness can cause us to wander in our spirits also.

We want to get away from the darkness, to get out of the wilderness, but in our frantic effort we stumble from remorse to resentment, from self-pity to self-flagellation, from self-deception to depression, from brokenness to bitterness, from faith to agnosticism, from frustration to anger, from hurt to hardness, from hardness to helplessness.

May I ask you something I have asked myself?

Deep down in the hidden chambers of your soul, are you offended by God? Angry with Him, even? Are you wandering from God? You thought you knew Him, but now He seems remote at best.

The solemn conclusion I’ve come to is that if He is everywhere, that means He is also in the wilderness. And if I can’t turn to Him there, who can I turn to?

If you are wandering in the wilderness… that spiritually dry, barren, lonely, rocky place… would you remember that the God of Hagar is still there?
Excerpted with permission from the Wounded by God’s People by Anne Graham Lotz, copyright Thomas Nelson.

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Your Turn

Are you in a personal wilderness? Does it seem like God has turned His back on you? Are you angry with Him? Or confused? Hagar had an incredible encounter with the Living God in that barren desert and came out calling the Lord “You are the God who sees me”. Have you encountered God in your dark circumstances?

Tucked into Abraham’s biography is the story of Hagar, a young Egyptian slave with whom Abraham had a son named Ishmael. Hagar stood out because she was wounded—not physically, but in ways that were as emotionally and spiritually painful as any injury to a body would be. Some wounds were provoked by her own bad behavior, but others were inflicted by those who considered themselves God’s people. As Hagar’s story unfolds, you will discover that wounded people often become wounders themselves. While Anne identifies with the wounded, the unpleasant reality is that she also identifies with the wounders, because she has been one, too.

Many have had similar experiences. And perhaps you are among those who have been so deeply hurt that you have confused God’s imperfect people with God. Maybe you have even run away from God as a result. Or perhaps you have been a wounder to the extent that you are living in a self-imposed exile, believing you are unworthy to be restored to a warm, loving relationship with God or with God’s people. Whatever your hurts may be, Wounded by God’s People helps you to begin a healing journey—one that enables you to reclaim the joy of God’s presence and all the blessings God has for you.

God loves the wounded. And the wounders.

Lord heal our hearts today. Help us take responsibility for our feelings and to bring them to you for healing and restoration, rather than react and perpetuate the cycle of woundedness.

In Jesus Name

amen

What’s the Point?

Ok FB Friends…….  So what’s the point? The answer lies in the right starting place. It begins with a question. The question is not: How many people like you? Or, how much are you going to accomplish? Or, whether you can show results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God?

In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no revenge, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.

It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response. It is a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the heart of God who wants to offer comfort and hope.

A wise person once said that there are three kinds of givers in this world: the flint, the sponge, and the honeycomb. To get a flint to give, you have to hammer at it and then it only yields sparks. Sponges you must squeeze, or else you get nothing. But the honeycomb drips its own sweetness.  Excerpts from In the Name of Jesus by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus, May your love and graciousness drip from us like the honeycomb, filling up those around us today with a sweet aroma. Regardless of how people act around us, help us to response out of your love remembering that hurting people, hurt people. Draw them to you through our actions.                                    In Jesus Name. Amen