Comfort or Character, What Matters Most?

God’s ultimate goal for your life is not comfort, but character development.
Created to Become Like Christ
by Rick Warren, from The Purpose Driven Life

God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort

You were created to become like Christ.

From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like His Son, Jesus. This is your destiny and the third purpose of your life. God announced this intention at Creation:

Then God said, ‘Let Us make human beings in Our image and likeness’. – Genesis 1:26

In all of creation, only human beings are made “in God’s image.” This is a great privilege and gives us dignity. We don’t know all this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes:

Like God,

we are spiritual beings – our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies;
we are intellectual – we can think, reason, and solve problems;
Like God,

we are relational – we can give and receive real love;
and we have a moral consciousness – we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.
The Bible says that all people, not just believers, possess part of the image of God; that is why murder and abortion are wrong (see Genesis 9:6; Psalm 139:13-16; James 3:9). But the image is incomplete and has been damaged and distorted by sin.

So God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we have lost.

What does the full “image and likeness” of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ!

The Bible says Jesus is “the exact likeness of God,” “the visible image of the invisible God,” and “the exact representation of his being” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

People often use the phrase “like father, like son” to refer to family resemblance. When people see my likeness in my kids, it pleases me.

God wants His children to bear His image and likeness, too. The Bible says,

You were… created to be like God, truly righteous and holy. — Ephesians 4:24

Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God, or even a god. That prideful lie is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed his advice, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).

Many religions and New Age philosophies still promote this old lie that we are divine or can become gods. This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator.

God doesn’t want you to become a god; He wants you to become godly – taking on His values, attitudes, and character. The Bible says,

Take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you. – Ephesians 4:22-24

God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development.

He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so He certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.

God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:1-12), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), Paul’s great chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13), and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?

One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, earth is not heaven! Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” (John 10:10) to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer. In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect heaven on earth.

This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality.

Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa.

Why would God provide heaven on earth when He’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven.

* * *

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Excerpted with permission The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, copyright Zondervan.

Your Turn

Have you ever wondered, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” Have you ever prayed, “God, I think I have enough character now, thankYouverymuch”? It’s easy to forget that life is not about us. Join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about the strengthening of your character by God through difficult times! ~ Devotionals Daily

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The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

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Translated into over 50 languages, The Purpose Driven Life is far more than just a book; it is a guide to a spiritual journey that has transformed millions of lives. Once you take this journey, you’ll never be the same again.

This new, expanded edition of The Purpose Driven Life, created for a new generation of reader, includes:

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Living out the purpose you were created for moves you beyond mere survival and success to a life of significance—the life you were meant to live.

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The Question of Existence: Why am I alive?
The Question of Significance: Does my life matter?
The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?
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Authenic Christiainty In the Pain


God wants you to see Him as your only real hope. — Stephen Arterburn in The God of Second Chances
Devotionals Daily
Authentic Christianity in a Place of Pain
by Stephen Arterburn, from The God of Second Chances

Meet Stephen Arterburn

Change and struggle are necessary to the maturation process

What does it mean to have an authentic Christian faith? What does it require?

Some Christians act as though they have achieved a level of faith that places them above the tough realities of life. They lead us to believe they are “first-class” Christians who have found the secret to a near perfect life, devoid of pain. This concept is not only wrong; it is toxic.

The authentic Christian life doesn’t involve attaining perfection, and it doesn’t mean living free from struggle; instead, it deals head-on with the issue of pain.

Rather than trying to avoid pain, as authentic Christians we allow struggle to shape our hearts and our faith. We allow humility to draw us farther out of ourselves and closer to God. It is not an easy life, but it is a rich life, full of growth and tough moments that remind us of who we are and how far we have to go in our spiritual journey. In the face of pain and struggle, our faith will give us comfort, guidance, and hope.

The biblical view of life is that it often gets worse before it gets better. Salvation, the free gift of God, is sometimes painful.

Listen to the apostle Peter address the value of suffering:

Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:6-9

In Romans Paul also described this refining process of suffering:

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. — Romans 5:3-5

This, of course, does not mean we should act happy when we find out a leg has to be amputated or we have a terminal illness. It does mean that one day we will rejoice at the adversities we faced and the way Christ brought us through them.

In my life suffering has taught me some of the deepest lessons of faith. For seven years I waited for a child. I prayed and begged God, but nothing happened. For seven long years we did everything that the infertility doctors suggested, but nothing worked. With each passing month our despair grew as we realized we could never have children.

Finally, through circumstances only God could have arranged, we were able to adopt our daughter, Madeline. She has become the light of our lives. This child is even more precious to us because we know she is a direct gift from God. Nothing we could have done would have brought Madeline to us.

Although the suffering seemed unbearable at times, the ordeal taught lessons that could not have been learned otherwise.

Pain can be a powerful teacher because it forces us to understand that change and struggle are necessary to the maturation process.
The End of Self

Sometimes our lives seem to get worse because God wants to show us that He is our only hope. If we can control something on our own, we will never come to know the greater power of God. God loves to step in and prove His faithfulness to us. No matter what the circumstances, God is still in control and will act according to His eternal plan. Isaiah 30:18 tells us the Lord is a God of justice for those who wait on Him. He will not abandon us in our times of helplessness. We must trust that He is able to change the worst situation into a time of hope and joy.

Donna lived with her husband and two babies on the tiny pension he received from the navy. Their rent was more than half of their income. Needless to say, the money often ran out. One month, their financial situation was so bad that Donna literally had no money left to buy laundry soap to wash her babies’ dirty diapers.

Donna got on her knees in the kitchen and prayed, “God, I’ve never needed You like I need You now. I have nothing, and I need You to provide soap to wash these diapers.”

Hearing a noise at the front door, Donna got up and went to open it. Someone had left a sample of soap in a plastic bag on her doorstep. It was a promotional giveaway. But Donna knew better. In utter helplessness she had cried out to God for help. Some would call the provision a coincidence, but Donna knew it was an act of God.

God wants you to see Him as your only real hope.

Through the pain, God will act to show you that He cares for you personally and deeply. Rather than give up on Him, you must surrender faith in yourself so you can tap into God’s divine power.

When things appear to be most impossible, God can show us He is in control. Our trials can become landmarks on our spiritual journey.

We learn from Mark 10:27:

With man [it] is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.

Countless people in the Bible faced “impossible” situations, only to be delivered by a loving God. Gideon’s armies, greatly outnumbered, defeated their enemies. The Israelites, pinned against the Red Sea by a fierce Egyptian army, crossed to safety on dry land. Paul, imprisoned in a dark cell, was able to sing songs of praise. In our troubles we must find the courage to believe that nothing is impossible with God.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 11:39, which I like to paraphrase, “He stinketh.” If there is something in your life that stinks, just remember that Lazarus, four days dead, also reeked to high heaven. Even when all hope was gone, Jesus showed His remarkable power and love by resurrecting Lazarus. If He can do that, He can give you new life and hope.

* * *
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Excerpted with permission The God of Second Chances by Stephen Arterburn, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Your Turn

What stinks in your life? What feels hopeless? Lifeless? Impossible? In your place of pain, how is the Lord shaping and changing your heart? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you about authentic Christianity in the middle of struggle and suffering! ~ Devotionals Daily

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A second chance . . . all of us have needed one at some point in our lives.

As children, we beg our parents to give us “just one more chance.” As adults, we turn our pleadings to God for another opportunity, just to start over again.

In this revised and updated version of The God of Second Chances, author Stephen Arterburn takes us through his own journey of pleasure-seeking and ambition to a life-changing encounter with the reality of God’s grace. Arterburn is painfully honest, sharing his personal experiences with sexual immorality that culminated in the abortion of his child. It was then, desperate and at the end of himself, that Arterburn cried out to God for a second chance.

Through his willingness to share his struggles, Arterburn helps us to confront our failures and reach out for God’s restorative touch. He encourages us to look beyond ourselves and discover the joy in serving others and investing in the things that really matter. In doing so, we will learn what it is to be restored to God through unconditional surrender and receive healing from the scars left by our own mistakes.

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What’s the big deal about saying “I was Wrong”?

Why is it we would rather distance ourselves, blame others, put up walls, then admit when were wrong? The answer lies in fear. Fear of man and the need for man’s approval above God’s. This has created an entitlement problem. This human condition is cunning and baffling. It deceives us and breaksdown the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit’s conviction to confess and take personal responsibility for our actions. Instead we feel entitled. We demand our way even when it tears down community with others. We blame, become victims, devise schemes to victimize others, and gossip, instead of taking personal inventory and owning responsibility for ourselves. When the need to protect ourselves overrides admitting when we’re wrong, our actions become blinded by our own agenda’s and selfish heart. We can look around us and within us, and see the cancer of entitlement corrupting. It’s a heart issue, a mindset, and a style of relating and living rooted in original sin. It needs to die. This can only happen as each of us take responsibility for ourselves and surrender to the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts. Read on as one of my favorite Christian authors, John Townsend speaks from his new book, The Entitlement Cure.

Say “I Was Wrong”
by Dr. John Townsend, from The Entitlement Cure

You can fix what you confess

The Power of Confession

What’s the big deal about saying, “I was wrong”?

I have noticed a pattern in my work with people, a sharp contrast between successful individuals and those who stay stuck in life. It’s an inverse relationship: Successful people point to their failures, while failing individuals point to their successes. While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, the pattern is that the mega-achievers have no problem bringing up their massive screw-ups — in fact, they seem to enjoy it. I think their character is integrated, with lots of ambition, but with little shame and self-judgment. I had one high-performing leader tell me about a deal in which he’d made millions, and then he finished the story with, “And I found out later that the other side negotiated better than I did, and I could have done twice as well. But, oh well.” He didn’t seem embarrassed at all, nor did he speak as if he had an image to protect.

By contrast, with the second group, you can go through all sorts of contortions in a conversation with them, and it’s like trying to wrestle down a greased pig to get them to admit fault. They will describe how they were cheated, or how circumstances worked against them, or how bad the timing was.

This inverse relationship is no coincidence. The successful try things, make mistakes, look their mistakes in the eye, learn, and try again at a more informed and educated level. In this way, they’re likely to achieve even greater success over time. And the failures feel helpless, victimized, and unlucky. Sadly, they’re doomed to repeat their pasts over again — until they learn the value of “I was wrong,” followed by no buts.

When to Say, “I Was Wrong”

Life gives us multiple opportunities to practice saying, “I was wrong.” For instance, you could say, “I was wrong when I…

didn’t finish school and decided to play harder instead.”

slacked off at work and lost my job.”

made my marriage about me and not about serving my mate.”

thought I could live like I was nineteen when I was thirty-six.”

didn’t stand up for myself in a terrible relationship.”

rescued and enabled my adult kid and drained myself.”

None of these are fun things to say; instead, they’re all great things to say. Ultimately, it’s about confession. Basically, the statement “I was wrong” is a kind of confession, or an agreement that something unpleasant is true. We need to confess things all the time: I must confess that I didn’t answer the email soon enough. I have to confess that I overspent on the credit card. I need to confess that I haven’t been the person I should be. I should confess that I robbed the bank. (Okay, just kidding on that last one.)

You are simply saying, “Yes, I did it.” It’s not a pleasant or enjoyable thing to say. I say it all the time to my family, friends, and business associates, and it never feels fun. But “I was wrong” has unbelievable power to cure entitlement and to give you a launch into a great life.

You Can Fix What You Confess

And on the flip side, you can never fix what you don’t confess.

If a company asks me to consult with them, the first thing I do is spend a day with the management team. I interview people, look at reports and financials, and observe how they interact in a team meeting. At the end of the day, I give them a diagnosis: “Great organization, but you need more targeted marketing,” or “more seamless systems,” or “a healthier culture.” If they agree, they are confessing that something is wrong and needs improvement. In that case, we are on our way to making things better.

But if they say, “My department isn’t the problem — it’s the other guys,” and the other guys say the same thing, we have nowhere to go and nothing we can fix.

It is the same thing in relationships. When neither side “owns their stuff,” be it selfishness, withdrawal of love, control, judgmentalism, deception, or irresponsibility, the couple simply has nowhere to go and nothing they can fix. That is why, when I work with couples, I spend a lot of early time having people discover and take ownership of their own contributions to the connection problems. It’s hardly ever 50 – 50, and sometimes it’s 90 – 10. But I’ve yet to see a totally innocent partner in a relationship problem.

One of my rules is, “If you’re spending more energy focused on the issues of your partner than on your own, even if the person is an addict or a felon, you’re never going to be happy or healthy.”

Why not? Because until you do your own “I was wrong,” you won’t learn what inside of you keeps you rescuing, enabling, or putting up with bad behavior.

This is one of the main reasons it’s so difficult to become a Christian.

You can’t just join the club and start going to church. You have to tell God, “I’ve sinned.” In other words, “I was wrong.” What a humbling statement! And yet it’s a requirement for accepting Christ’s sacrifice for your sins. If there is no disease of sin to confess, there is no sense or logic in receiving the antidote of forgiveness. Listen to John:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:8-9

And yet look at the benefit from the spiritual side. You can fix, or God will fix, what you can confess. The problem of guilt and alienation from Him gets erased forever. The central reality of life has changed.

“I was wrong” is a very, very healing sentence.

Excerpted with permission from The Entitlement Cure by Dr. John Townsend, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

How good are you at saying “I was wrong”? Is confession something that you’ve made a practice or is it an area where you need to grow in? Come join us in talking about admitting when we’re wrong on our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts! Come share your answers on our blog! We want to hear from you!

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The Entitlement Cure by Dr. John Townsend
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What People Are Saying About The Entitlement Cure

“The growing entitlement mentality in this country is completely toxic, slowly eating away at our spirits like acid. I’ve said for years that if you want to win, you’ve got to take responsibility. You’ve got to leave the cave, kill something, and then you can drag it home! Personal responsibility may be the hard way, but it’s the only way.” – Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio show host

“Dr. John Townsend has written a helpful and encouraging book to help us deal with the issue of entitlement, whether we see it in others or in ourselves. Overcoming this mindset isn’t easy. It requires discipline, honesty, and responsibility. That’s the hard way, but it’s the only way worth taking.” – Jim Daly, President ― Focus on the Family

“There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth getting to. The Entitlement Cure is full of wisdom, truth, empowerment, and principles that will help you and those around you actually achieve success. I’ve been waiting for this book and could not put it down. It is a new word for our generation.” – Christine Caine, founder, The A21 Campaign

More About The Entitlement Cure

Today we live in a culture that says, “Life should be easy and work well.” This attitude, called entitlement, influences our most important institutions: family, business, church, and government. Its devastating effects contribute to relational problems, work ethic issues, and emotional struggles.

It comes down to this: People are not getting to where they want to go, because they don’t know how to do life the hard way. Entitlement keeps them from tackling challenges and finding success.

But whether readers are struggling with their own sense of entitlement or dealing with someone who acts entitled, The Entitlement Cure will equip them to turn away from a life of mediocrity to a life of engagement, satisfaction, and joy.

Drawing from his experience as a counselor and leadership consultant, renowned psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. John Townsend explores strategies for fighting entitlement, such as:

Take a meaningful risk every week
Find ways to minimize regret
Grasp the value of keeping inconvenient commitments
Understand why saying “I don’t know” is the first step toward success.
In a culture that encourages shortcuts and irresponsibility, The Entitlement Cure provides principles and skills to help you both navigate life with those around you who have an entitlement mindset and identify areas in your own life where you are stuck in “easy way” living. Dr. Townsend will show you how to become successful, resolve obstacles in life, and help those around you.

Ultimately, The Entitlement Cure provides practical tools for a life of success that works for anyone.

Learn about The Entitlement Cure – on sale for a limited time only!

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Abandoning the Approval of Others

Hears an important question for us to ask ourselves FB Friends! Do you want to be liked or do you want to actually do something significant with this life? Let pleasing God become bigger than pleasing people. – Jennie Allen

Abandoning the Approval of Others by Jeanne Allen, from Anything.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 118:6

It was pretty late. Most of the lights were out. I had gotten tied up with friends and packing and forgotten that my parents kept 10:00 p.m. bedtimes. But they were still up waiting for their oldest daughter, the first one to have left the nest — a freshman now at the University of Arkansas — to come home for the weekend.

This night I went into their room and sat on the corner of their bed, home from college with something important to talk about. I am sure that night I looked to them like their little girl who hadn’t really grown up that much, like I might be asking if I could go to a dance with a cute boy or spend the evening out with a friend.

But I wasn’t asking to go to a dance.

After the wooden crosses at camp, God kept getting bigger to me.

I was hearing Him and God was real and speaking and moving in me. I was hearing Him and obeying — but was I obeying Him in every way, no matter the cost?

Was I willing to do anything He asked?

When God began awakening in me, He started awakening me for the things of Him. I wanted to be about building His Kingdom, not only at the University of Arkansas but throughout the world. I was feeling led overseas. It was not clear where, but I could go for a year or two and serve through a ministry I was involved with in college.

As I sat on their bed I told them, “Mom and Dad, I feel like God is calling me to go overseas. I don’t know all the details, but I feel sure of this calling in me.”

I looked at them expectantly, waiting to hear what they had to say.

Every conscious person has thoughts, feelings, and passions streaming through him or her. These streams never stop, and they’re rarely filtered. They flood us with messages, and out of those thoughts we live, we make decisions, we create — we even regress as a direct result of these streams moving to and from our hearts and minds.

The obvious streams are our preoccupation with food or sex, or more likely, returning e-mails or building grocery lists. But the deeper streams, the ones that control our lives, those are where we doubt and dream and feel afraid or insecure. Typically we just leave them all there, streaming through us, controlling us.

God often speaks of the heart, or our souls. Nothing about me matters more than my heart, so why can’t I seem to control my heart or even locate it? For most of my life it seems to have had its own way, navigated by fear or desire. It moves and it ends up moving me.

I know my heart is tangibly real in this sense — I see evidence of its affections. But how does one control the heart?

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by the life of King David. He made so many terrible mistakes, and yet he bled God. He was passionate. Over and over again throughout his journaling through Psalms, he says variations of this phrase:

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 118:6

And his life flowed out of this mentality. Because he feared and adored God, he feared nothing else. No one else. What was different about my faith than David’s? Why did I live with this stream of fear of people?

The current running through my heart loved un-invisible was no little creek — it was a frantic river drowning out my God and controlling my heart and thus my life.

I loved God, but I loved un-invisible people more. I worshipped them. I bowed down for their gold stars, especially from the two people I found myself looking at that night on the corner of their bed.

I grew up knowing the facts about God, and one of those facts was that He wanted to possess my heart completely. That I would love the Lord, my God, with my all my heart, soul, mind… that all of me would love Him the most (Deuteronomy 6:5). But I couldn’t live it then. I was busy making most everyone in my life happy, and it was working for me — at least most of the time.

I’m lying. It wasn’t working. I was completely wrecked inside.

How does anyone ever make everyone happy?

I waited for my parents’ answer.

Was I the only one torn like this? In love with God and yet eagerly serving everybody but Him?

That night on my parents’ bed, as I told them I wanted to obey God by serving Him in another country, far from their categories and dreams, many streams flooded me. They were streams that, at the time, trumped the planet-building God.

My parents weren’t wrong to express their opinions. I was only eighteen, and I was their daughter. They never said I was forbidden to go. But I was intuitive. I could feel it. I could feel their disapproval.

So I didn’t go. I didn’t even think about going anymore.

In the decade that followed, as much as my love and understanding of God grew, this river of idolatry only rushed stronger and stronger, oftentimes making me anxious, even frantic. Since the invisible thoughts of people are not easily controlled, I would spin, longing to control them.

People had to shrink for me before God had me completely… but how?

When you close your eyes and everything gets scary quiet, you hear your heart. It’s always there, of course. But you never hear its streams and rivers moving through you until it gets uncomfortably quiet.

When I get still and hear the loudest thing in me, it is often that I am chasing everyone but God. And I fear if He gets too close, He’ll see it. But if I let Him close anyway, we sit together on days like that, looking over the frantic river that is wearing me out. He never says, I told you so. He could, but He never does.

Love is jealous… especially God’s love. He wants me, and I want everybody else.

God knows we all have this problem, loving everybody but Him. So He called a prophet to dedicate his days to answering the same question I ask: how do we stop chasing everybody else and come back to God?

God told His servant Hosea to go into town and take a prostitute as his wife. God saw Israel pursuing every idol but Him — similar to my ways — and this was His way of talking to Israel about it. Hosea obeyed and married the prostitute Gomer. Together they had several children, and though Hosea was a loving, gracious husband and provided all she needed, Gomer kept going back to other lovers who abused her and never loved her back. The streams of her heart were nearly drowning her.

As I started reading Hosea, though, I thought its purpose was to display God’s wrath — His anger with Israel… with me. He did start off pretty ticked. He said things like,

I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel… You are not my people and I am not your God. — Hosea 1:6, Hosea 1:9

But then, in the midst of this dramatic metaphor, God says about those of us chasing other loves,

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call Me “My Husband,” and no longer will you call Me “My Baal.” For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. — Hosea 2:14-17

Every time I sit by the banks of my sin and my other loves, right as I think He is about to wipe me out because my heart feels so out of control, He steps into the river and redirects it.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will. — Proverbs 21:1

It is only God who moves my heart. He chases me down and lures me back to Him; while I am running to everyone else, He runs after me. God brings me back to the place where it fares well with me, reminding me He is my Husband. There is no spinning, no fear, only perfect acceptance and peace.

I can let other people down. If God is for me… the God of the universe for me… who could be against me? Whom else do I fear?

When God became real to me in high school, I came home from the crosses at camp and gathered an assortment of younger girls so we could talk about Him. I don’t remember thinking I was supposed to do that. After I fell in love with God and was filled with His Spirit, I just did it. I started gushingly teaching everything I knew about Him. I’ve lived since then with a very clear sense of what He wants me to do, and usually it’s to talk about Him in some form.

His gifts in my life were never a secret to me or those who saw them used. As He did with every believer, He gave me something to make Him bigger. When I would speak or even write, I was on display — and being on display would at times make me physically ill.

I simply could not handle people’s invisible thoughts about me, or at times their very visible criticism. I dreaded it more than facing God and telling Him that I had sat on every gift He had given me. So I would teach, but I always held back. I always kept the pulse of how I was being received, and I agonized to the point of paralysis when it was negative. I was like a politician worried about the polls.

Rather than dying to my need for approval, I died to the clear callings God had put in my soul and the clear gifts and equipping He had given me.

I just wished it all away… it was costing too much. It was costing me my people, everyone’s approval, the thing I loved most. So I sat on it. The little portion of His work that God gave me to do for a few years before I see Him again, I sat on, praying it would go away. I was no different than Jonah running from God’s clear call to share Him with Nineveh. I was not going. I’m thankful He didn’t have me eaten by a whale.

I did wonder sometimes, when I closed my eyes and let it get scary quiet, if I was missing the best things, the things that matter most, because I was afraid.

He knows we keep chasing other loves until we love Him most. We keep spinning. We keep searching, restless. We keep missing all He has for us. He’ll always feel far away, drowned out by other louder rivers, until every other thing fades away and He becomes the only thing.

Watch the Video for Anything

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Excerpted with permission Anything by Jennie Allen, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Your Turn

Is God your only thing? Whose approval do you need to abandon to live fully for God alone? Share your thoughts and comments about abandoning approval of others on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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In the years since the initial release of Anything, God continued to stretch Jennie Allen and her faith because of the courageous prayer of surrender that she and her husband, Zac, prayed, “God, we will do anything. Anything.” Previously caught in the dizzying haze of worldly happiness and empty pursuits, Jennie went on to begin living out the adventure God had written for them—to include becoming the founder of IF: Gathering, an organization to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose.

Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move you to stop chasing things that just make you feel happy and start living a surrendered life that matters.

This newly revised edition is updated throughout to include a new introduction and an in-depth Bible study component for those who have been wanting to lead a study on this topic.

Join Jennie on an adventure to discover your anything, those things that actually mean nothing until you know the God truly worth giving it all up for. And when you do, that will change everything.

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What are you waiting for?

What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for. — John Ortberg in If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat
Devotionals Daily
Learning to Wait
by John Ortberg, from If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat

Meet John Ortberg

What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. — Matthew 14:32

Waiting is the hardest work of hope. ~ Lewis Smedes

Waiting patiently is not a strong suit in American society.

A woman’s car stalls in traffic. She looks in vain under the hood to identify the cause, while the driver behind her leans relentlessly on his horn. Finally she has had enough. She walks back to his car and offers sweetly, “I don’t know what the matter is with my car. But if you want to go look under the hood, I’ll be glad to stay here and honk for you.”

We are not a patient people. We tend to be in a horn-honking, microwaving, Fed-Ex mailing, fast-food eating, express-lane shopping hurry. People don’t like to wait in traffic, on the phone, in the store, or at the post office.

Robert Levine, in a wonderful book called A Geography of Time, suggests the creation of a new unit of time called the honko-second — “the time between when the light changes and the person behind you honks his horn.” He claims it is the smallest measure of time known to science.

Most of us do not like waiting very much, so we like the fact that Matthew shows Jesus to be the Lord of urgent action. Three times in just a few sentences Matthew uses the word immediately — always of Jesus: Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of Him “immediately.” When the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost and cried out in fear, Jesus answered them “immediately.” When Peter began to sink and cried out for help, Jesus “immediately” reached out his hand and caught him.

Jesus’ actions are swift, discerning, and decisive. He doesn’t waste a honko-second. And yet, this is also a story about waiting. Matthew tells us that Jesus comes to the disciples “during the fourth watch of the night.”

The Romans divided the night into four shifts: 6:00–9:00; 9:00-midnight; midnight–3:00; and 3:00–6:00. So Jesus came to the disciples sometime after 3 o’clock. But they had been in the boat since before sundown the previous day. Why the long delay? If I were one of the disciples, I think I would prefer Jesus to show up at the same time or even slightly ahead of the storm. I’d like Him there in a honko-second.

But Matthew has good reasons for noting the time. A. E. J. Rawlinson notes that early Christians suffering their own storm of persecution may have taken great comfort in this delay:

Faint hearts may even have begun to wonder whether the Lord Himself had not abandoned them to their fate, or to doubt the reality of Christ. They are to learn from this story that they are not forsaken, that the Lord watches over them unseen… [that] the Living One, Master of wind and waves, will surely come quickly for their salvation, even though it be in the “fourth watch of the night.”

Matthew wanted his readers to learn to wait.

Another moment of waiting involves Peter’s decision to leave the boat. He cannot do this on the strength of his own impulse; he must ask Jesus’ permission first, then wait for an answer — for the light to turn green. I wonder if another type of waiting was involved for Peter. What do you suppose his very first steps on the water looked like? I expect that Jesus was an accomplished water-walker. But for Peter, I wonder if there wasn’t a learning curve involved. Maybe, like the Bill Murray character in the movie What About Bob?, he had to start with baby steps.

Learning to walk always requires patience.

It was not until the whole episode was over that the disciples got what they wanted — “the wind died down.” Why couldn’t Jesus have made the wind die down “immediately” — as soon as He saw the disciples’ fear? It would have made Peter’s walk easier. But apparently Jesus felt they would gain something by waiting.

Consider the activity that Peter and the other disciples had to engage in right up to the very end: waiting.

Let’s say you decide to get out of the boat. You trust God. You take a step of faith — you courageously choose to leave a comfortable job to devote yourself to God’s calling; you will use a gift you believe God has given you even though you are scared to death; you will take relational risks even though you hate rejection; you will go back to school even though people tell you it makes no sense financially; you decide to trust God and get out of the boat. What happens next?

Well, maybe you will experience a tremendous, nonstop rush of excitement. Maybe there will be an immediate confirmation of your decision — circumstances will click, every risk will pay off, your efforts will be crowned with success, your spiritual life will thrive, your faith will double, and your friends will marvel, all in the space of a honko-second. Maybe. But not always. For good reasons, God does not always move at our frantic pace. We are too often double espresso followers of a decaf Sovereign.

Some forms of waiting — on expressways and in doctor’s offices — are fairly trivial in the overall scheme of things. But there are more serious and difficult kinds of waiting:

The waiting of a single person who hopes God might have marriage in store but is beginning to despair
The waiting of a childless couple who desperately want to start a family
The waiting of Nelson Mandela as he sits in a prison cell for twenty-seven years and wonders if he will ever be free or if his country will ever know justice
The waiting of someone who longs to have work that is meaningful and significant and yet cannot seem to find it
The waiting of a deeply depressed person for a morning when she will wake up wanting to live
The waiting of a child who feels awkward and clumsy and longs for the day when he gets picked first on the playground
The waiting of persons of color for the day when everyone’s children will be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”
The waiting of an elderly senior citizen in a nursing home — alone, seriously ill, just waiting to die
Every one of us, at some junctures of our lives, will have to learn to wait.

Waiting may be the hardest single thing we are called to do. So it is frustrating when we turn to the Bible and find that God Himself, who is all-powerful and all-wise, keeps saying to his people, Wait.

Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for Him… Wait for the LORD, and keep to His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.

God comes to Abraham when he is seventy-five and tells him he is going to be a father, the ancestor of a great nation. How long was it before that promise was fulfilled? Twenty-four years. Abraham had to wait.

God told the Israelites that they would leave their slavery in Egypt and become a nation. But the people had to wait four hundred years.

God told Moses he would lead the people to the Promised Land. But they had to wait forty years in the wilderness.

In the Bible, waiting is so closely associated with faith that sometimes the two words are used interchangeably. The great promise of the Old Testament was that a Messiah would come. But Israel had to wait — generation after generation, century after century. And when the Messiah came, He was recognized only by those who had their eyes fixed on his coming — like Simeon. He was an old man who “was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”

But even the arrival of Jesus did not mean that the waiting was over. Jesus lived, taught, was crucified, was resurrected, and was about to ascend when His friends asked Him, “Lord, will you restore the kingdom now?” That is, “Can we stop waiting?”

And Jesus had one more command:

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.

And the Holy Spirit came — but that still did not mean that the time of waiting was over.

Paul wrote,

We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Forty-three times in the Old Testament alone, the people are commanded,

Wait. Wait on the LORD.

The last words in the Bible are about waiting:

The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’

It may not seem like it, but in light of eternity, it is soon. Hang on. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” All right, we’ll hang on. But come! We’re waiting for You.

Why? Why does God make us wait? If He can do anything, why doesn’t He bring us relief and help and answers now?

At least in part, to paraphrase Ben Patterson, what God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.

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Excerpted with permission If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg, copyright Zondervan.

Your Turn

Who wants to wait? Who’s excited about a good, long wait… to be accepted into college, to meet your spouse, to find a job? Who is eager to wait in prayer such a long, long time for a positive pregnancy test? Or for a child who has wandered far from Jesus to return to faith in Him? Waiting can seem interminable. Waiting stretches our hearts until we may feel there’s no elasticity left! Yet, God tells us to wait, and to wait, and to wait. What are you waiting for today? Let’s join in prayer that we may wait well and not lose heart! Join the conversation on our blog! ~ Devotionals Daily

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You’re One Step Away from the Adventure of Your Life.

Deep within you lies the same faith and longing that sent Peter walking across the wind-swept Sea of Galilee toward Jesus.

In what ways is the Lord telling you, as he did Peter, “Come”?

John Ortberg invites you to consider the incredible potential that awaits you outside your comfort zone. Out on the risky waters of faith, Jesus is waiting to meet you in ways that will change you forever, deepening your character and your trust in God. The experience is terrifying. It’s thrilling beyond belief. It’s everything you’d expect of someone worthy to be called Lord.

The choice is yours to know him as only a water-walker can, aligning yourself with God’s purpose for your life in the process. There’s just one requirement: If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.

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Just as You Are

In need of spiritual refreshment today? Jesus is waiting. Come to me, just as you are, all who are tired and weary, and I will give you rest.

Charlotte Elliott was tired and angry. She had been in poor health for years and was feeling cheated and deprived of a happy life. She questioned God and His love for her. She believed she was being punished by God.

One day her pastor came to visit and in a moment of desperation she lashed out in violent words of anger. This outburst was a turning point for Charlotte as she realized he wasn’t afraid of her pain and seized the moment to minister to her heart. He embraced her right where she was; tired, angry, scared, and alone. “Come to God just as you are,” he gently directed. Charlotte did come just as she was, and her heart was softened. No longer did fear, anger, shame, pride, selfishness, and greed control her. Peace, gentleness, rest, and a gracious spirit began to define her as the Holy Spirit took over the hardened places.

In 1836 Charoltte penned the poem Just as I am, which later became the most famous invitational hymn in history. She lived to be 82 and wrote 150 hymns, despite her poor physical health. Take a moment FB Friends to read the words and lyrics of this poem and hymn. Let your heart be ministered to by another’s deep cry of the soul, and come to Jesus today, just as you are.

Just As I Am

Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, And that though bidst me come O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not, To rid my soul of one dark blot; To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am poor, wrenched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind, Yea, all I need, in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am,Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve, Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Come to Me All who are Weary and I will give you Rest.

Need a moment of spiritual refreshment today? Jesus is waiting. Come to Me, just as you are, all who are tired and weary, and I will give you rest.

Charlotte Elliott was tired and angry. She had been in poor health for years and was feeling cheated and deprived of a happy life. She questioned God and His love for her. She believed she was being punished by God.

One day her pastor came to visit and in a moment of desperation she lashed out in violent words of anger. This outburst was a turning point for Charlotte as she realized he wasn’t afraid of her pain and seized the moment to minister to her heart. He embraced her right where she was; tired, angry, scared, and alone. “Come to God just as you are,” he gently directed. Charlotte did come just as she was, and her heart was softened. No longer did fear, anger, shame, pride, selfishness, and greed control her. Peace, gentleness, rest, and a gracious spirit began to define her as the Holy Spirit took over the hardened places.

In 1836 Charoltte penned the poem Just as I am, which later became the Continue reading

Courageous Decision Making!

Struggling to make a big decision? Paul’s prayer reminds us that Jesus desires for us is to know knowledge and truth. Pray this scripture from your heart with whatever your facing today.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10.

Discerning what is best is something we are capable of doing as we learn to build into our lives, both Godly knowledge and insight. Knowledge is the wisdom that comes from acquiring the true things of God.  Insight is the wisdom that comes from living out the Truth He gives us through His Word. Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of the knowledge and the insight we’ve been given. Read on Facebook friends as Lysa TerKeurst encourages our decision-making process through the lens of Christ and ultimate Truth!

Courageous Yes — Confident No
Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

My husband was out of town recently when a box was delivered to my doorstep. It was rather large. Not the size of a dresser but definitely larger than the typical package. And it was heavy – too heavy for me to manage alone.

The UPS man graciously brought it inside since it looked like it might rain that afternoon. But I figured it might be a bit much for me to ask him to take it past the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the room my husband calls his man cave, which is where I like to put things I don’t know what else to do with. That would be a long haul, and I could sense this deliveryman’s graciousness ended at the foyer.

So there it sat, this mysterious, heavy box.

Deep inside, I knew this was nothing but some product one of my people had ordered. And I knew what to do with it. Open it. Identify the owner. Tell said owner to figure out a way to get it out of the foyer and into his or her room.

But I didn’t listen to that awareness deep inside. I ignored it and listened to my fears instead. You know you’ve watched one too many mystery TV shows when your first thought about a mysterious box sitting in your foyer is that a person with scary intentions could fit inside. Yes, a crazy person with weapons could mail himself right into your foyer and sit there all day, quietly waiting until you went to bed. And you can hear everyone later watching a reenactment of the unfolding tragedy screaming at you, “Don’t leave the box in your foyer! Get it out of the house!”

Ahem. I’m a completely rational person. Except when I’m the opposite of that sometimes.

So I kicked the side of the box to see if there was any kind of reflex action that might happen if there was a living thing inside of it. There wasn’t, of course. But then I decided just to be really sure, I would stand around the corner from the box to see if I could step out of its line of sight and possibly hear something: a cough, a slight sneeze, anything.

I was just being sure. Absolutely certain. I could leave no room for doubts, no room at all for any possible bad outcome from this box – a box that I eventually opened with a knife. Just in case. Only to discover a dorm-room refrigerator that one of my people had ordered. Oh, for the complicated love of Pete. I just wasted half my day worrying about a box that contained a dorm fridge.

But we do this sometimes. We do. We have a decision to make and we have that deep-down knowing. We know what to do. We know what the answer is. We do. But we don’t go with that knowing. We over-process the what-ifs and the but-thens and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze.

Good glory.

Now, it goes without saying, there are certainly some decisions that need to be processed. We will spend plenty of time in future chapters discussing how to process decisions that need to be made. But then there are other decisions we just simply need to say yes or no to and move on.

Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it. And move on without all the complication.

Do you know what I mean? Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, “Uh-huh, yes.” Or a simple, “No, not that.”

God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. – Philippians 1:9-10, emphasis added

Discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives. Read those verses again and see that gaining knowledge and depth of insight will allow us to develop a trustworthy discernment.

Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.

Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.

Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.

The Holy Spirit helps us remember that knowledge and insight so we can display it through good judgment in our everyday-life decisions. That’s the deep knowing I’m talking about.

Excerpted with permission from The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014.

* * *

Your Turn

Do you relate with being that *ahem* occasionally completely irrational person? Do you ever find yourself frozen in indecision even though you already know what you need to do? I may be a tiny bit familiar with that territory, so you’re not alone! What do you need to courageously start doing? What do you need to boldly say no to? Let’s start today! What Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you about depending upon the Holy Spirit for discernment about what is best! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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No Failure is Fatal!!

Do you believe that? Are you struggling with the consequences of poor choices? Do you identify with the guilt and shame of regret over mistakes, past and present? Church we’ve all been there. We have all sinned and fallen short.

Lord help us be a community of people that rises up and carries each other’s burdens when we’ve failed. Teach us to offer one another the grace we were shown and rally around our brothers and sisters in times of failure and disappointment. God wants to use our failures and defeats as we bring them to Him. He alone redeems it and brings healing and victory into the gaps of sin and failure of our lives. Don’t give up. Get up FB Friends and keep running the race. Fight the good fight of faith and let perseverance mature you and complete you and encourage another. Read on as Max Lucado speaks from his heart.

Failures are only fatal if we fail to learn from them.” — Max Lucado in Glory Days
Devotionals Daily

God uses failures

Joshua 8:1-29

I have a distinct memory from the 1991 Super Bowl. I’m not a football junkie. Nor do I have extraordinary recall. Truth is, I don’t remember anything about the ’91 football season except this one detail. A headline. An observation prompted by Scott Norwood’s kick.

He played for the Buffalo Bills. The city of Buffalo hadn’t won a major sports championship since 1965. But that night in Tampa Bay it appeared the ball would finally bounce the Bills’ way. They went back and forth with the New York Giants. With seconds to go they were a point down. They reached the Giants’ twenty-nine yard line.

There was time for only one more play. They turned to their kicker, Scott Norwood. All-Pro. Leading scorer of the team. As predictable as snow in Buffalo. One season he made thirty-two of thirty-seven attempts. He’d scored from this distance five times during the season. He needed to do it a sixth time.

The world watched as Norwood went through his pre-kick routine. He tuned out the crowd, selected a target line, got a feel for the timing, waited for the snap, and kicked the ball. He kept his head down and followed through. By the time he looked up, the ball was three quarters of the way to the goal. That’s when he realized he’d missed.

The wrong sideline erupted.

All of Buffalo groaned.

Norwood hung his head.

The headline would read “Wide and to the right: The kick that will forever haunt Scott Norwood.”

No do-overs. No second chance. No reprieve. He couldn’t rewind the tape and create a different result. He had to live with the consequences.

So did Joshua. He had suffered a humiliating loss. The people of Ai, though fewer in number, had proved greater in might. They had pounced on Joshua’s men, resulting in an unexpected defeat. One of the soldiers, it was learned, had disobeyed God’s earlier command.

The commander was left with the distasteful, unpleasant task of exposing and punishing the rebellion.

Joshua offered a prayer right out of The Wilderness Book of Common Complaint:

Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all — to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? — Joshua 7:7

Not one of his better days.

The guy had been making field goals his entire life. He showed courage as a spy for Moses. He assumed the mantle of leadership. He didn’t hesitate at the Jordan. He didn’t flinch at Jericho. But in the episode called “Achan’s Deceit and Ai’s Defeat”? He failed. In front of his army, in front of the enemy, in front of God… he failed.

Joshua dragged himself back to his tent. The entire camp was somber. They had buried thirty-six of their soldiers and witnessed the downfall of a countryman.

Joshua sensed the glares and stares of the people.

Joshua’s not a good leader.

He doesn’t have what it takes.

He’s let us down.

He knew what they thought. Worse still, he knew what he thought. His mind sloshed with self-doubt. What was I thinking when I took this job? I should’ve done better. It’s all my fault.

The voices — he heard them all.

So did you.

When you lost your job, flunked the exam, dropped out of school. When your marriage went south. When your business went broke. When you failed. The voices began to howl. Monkeys in a cage, they were, laughing at you. You heard them. And you joined them! You disqualified yourself, berated yourself, upbraided yourself. You sentenced yourself to a life of hard labor in the Leavenworth of poor self-worth.

Oh, the voices of failure.

Failure finds us all. Failure is so universal we have to wonder why more self-help gurus don’t address it. Bookstores overflow with volumes on how to succeed. But you’ll look a long time before you find a section called “How to Succeed at Failing.”

Maybe no one knows what to say. But God does. His book is written for failures. It is full of folks who were foul-ups and flops. David was a moral failure, yet God used him. Elijah was an emotional train wreck after Mount Carmel, but God blessed him. Jonah was in the belly of a fish when he prayed his most honest prayer, and God heard it.

Perfect people? No. Perfect messes? You bet. Yet God used them.

A surprising and welcome discovery of the Bible is this: God uses failures.

God used Joshua’s failure to show us what to do with ours. God quickly and urgently called Joshua to get on with life.

Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? — Joshua 7:10

Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. — Joshua 8:1

Failure is a form of quicksand. Take immediate action or you’ll be sucked under.

One stumble does not define or break a person. Though you failed, God’s love does not. Face your failures with faith in God’s goodness. He saw this collapse coming. When you stood on the eastern side of the Jordan, God could see the upcoming mishap of your Ai.

Still, He tells you what He told Joshua:

Arise, go… you and all this people, to the land which I am giving. — Joshua 1:2

There is no condition in that covenant. No fine print. No performance language. God’s Promised Land offer does not depend on your perfection. It depends on His.

In God’s hands no defeat is a crushing defeat.

The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with His hand. — Psalm 37:23-24

How essential it is that you understand this. Miss this truth and miss your Glory Days. You must believe that God’s grace is greater than your failures. Pitch your tent on promises like this one:

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. — Romans 8:1, Romans 8:4

Everyone stumbles. The difference is in the response. Some stumble into the pit of guilt. Others tumble into the arms of God.

Those who find grace do so because they “walk according . . . to the Spirit.” They hear God’s voice. They make a deliberate decision to stand up and lean into God’s grace.

As God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid, nor… dismayed; … arise, go…”

There ain’t no future in the past. You can’t change yesterday, but you can do something about tomorrow. Put God’s plan in place.

God told Joshua to revisit the place of failure.

Arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. — Joshua 8:1

In essence God told Joshua, “Let’s do it again. This time my way.”

Joshua didn’t need to be told twice. He and his men made an early morning march from Gilgal to Ai, a distance of about fifteen miles. He positioned a crack commando unit behind the town. Behind this contingent was a corps of five thousand men (Joshua 8:12).

Joshua then took another company of soldiers. They headed in the direction of the city. The plan was straight out of basic military tactics. Joshua would attack, then retreat, luring the soldiers of Ai away from their village. It worked.

The king of Ai, still strutting from victory number one, set out for victory number two. He marched toward Joshua, leaving the town unprotected. The elite squad charged in and set fire to the city. And Joshua reversed his course, catching the army of Ai in the middle.

The victory was complete.

Contrast this attack with the first one. In the first, Joshua consulted spies; in the second, he listened to God. In the first, he stayed home. In the second, he led the way. The first attack involved a small unit. His second involved many more men. The first attack involved no tactics. His second was strategic and sophisticated.

The point? God gave Joshua a new plan: Try again, my way. When he followed God’s strategy, victory happened.

Failures are fatal only if we fail to learn from them.

It’s time to rise up.

Don’t waste your failures by failing to learn from them. It’s time to wise up.

God has not forgotten you. Keep your head up. You never know what good awaits you.

Scott Norwood walked off the football field with his head down. For a couple of days thoughts of the missed kick never left him. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t find peace. He was still upset when the team returned to Buffalo. In spite of the loss the city hosted an event to honor the team. The turnout was huge — between twenty-five and thirty thousand people. Norwood attended and took his place on the platform with the other players.

He attempted to linger in the background, hidden behind the others. But the fans had something else in mind. In the middle of a civic leader’s speech, this chant began:

“We want Scott.”

The chant grew louder.

“We want Scott!”

Scott remained behind his teammates. After all, he didn’t know why the crowd wanted him.

The chant grew in volume until the speaker had to stop. Norwood’s teammates pushed him to the front of the stage. When the fans saw Scott, they gave him a rousing ovation. He missed the kick, but they made sure he knew he was still a part of their community.

The Bible says that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). Thousands upon thousands of saved saints are looking down on us. Abraham. Peter. David. Paul… and Joshua. Your grandma, uncle, neighbor, coach. They’ve seen God’s great grace, and they are all pulling for you.

Press your ear against the curtain of eternity and listen. Do you hear them? They are chanting your name. They are pulling for you to keep going.

“Don’t quit!”

“It’s worth it!”

“Try again!”

You may have missed a goal, but you’re still a part of God’s team.

Watch the Video for Glory Days

Watch the video

* * *
Forward to a Friend

Excerpted with permission Glory Days by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Your Turn

Are you stuck in a past failure? Have you blown it, made huge mistakes, flopped, or backslidden? Do you feel that that has defined you? Failures are fatal only if we fail to learn from them. It’s time to rise up. What is God calling you to do? What do you need to try again? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Comment
Pre-order and save on Max Lucado’s newest release – Glory Days

Take $2 off + get free shipping with coupon code GLORY. Launches nationwide September 15!

Glory Days by Max Lucado

Buy Now

The wilderness. Maybe you know it well.

The Israelites sure did. After all, they spent forty years wandering the desert. Victories were scarce. Progress was slow. They were free from Pharaoh but not free from fear. Saved but stuck.

Sounds a lot like midlife misery. Caught in a rut. Stalled out. Running on empty. Are you mired in the same?

You can name the day you became a Christian and escaped Egypt. But you can’t remember the last time you defeated a temptation or experienced an answered prayer. You’re fighting the same battles you fought the day you came to Christ. You’re out of Egypt, but Egypt’s not out of you.

Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be better than this?

Jesus offers abundant joy. Yet you live with oppressive grief. The epistles speak of grace. You shoulder guilt. You are more than a conqueror yet are commonly conquered by temptation or weaknesses.

But there’s good news. With God’s help you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. Like Joshua and the Israelites, you can move from a wilderness existence into a promised inheritance.

This is God’s vision for your life. You, at full throttle. You, as you were intended. You, as victor over the Jerichos and giants. You, minus the stumbles, hurts, and hate.

You and your Promised Land life.

New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado invites readers to leave the wilderness and discover a life defined by grace, refined by challenge, and aligned with a heavenly call. By studying the life of Joshua and the biblical book that bears his name, Lucado reveals God’s promises for every step and reminds readers that God still fights for them.

Pre-order and save $2 off + get free shipping with coupon code GLORY

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“Failures are only fatal if we fail to learn from them.” — Max Lucado in Glory Days
Devotionals Daily
No Failure Is Fatal
by Max Lucado, from Glory Days

Meet Max Lucado

God uses failures

Joshua 8:1-29

I have a distinct memory from the 1991 Super Bowl. I’m not a football junkie. Nor do I have extraordinary recall. Truth is, I don’t remember anything about the ’91 football season except this one detail. A headline. An observation prompted by Scott Norwood’s kick.

He played for the Buffalo Bills. The city of Buffalo hadn’t won a major sports championship since 1965. But that night in Tampa Bay it appeared the ball would finally bounce the Bills’ way. They went back and forth with the New York Giants. With seconds to go they were a point down. They reached the Giants’ twenty-nine yard line.

There was time for only one more play. They turned to their kicker, Scott Norwood. All-Pro. Leading scorer of the team. As predictable as snow in Buffalo. One season he made thirty-two of thirty-seven attempts. He’d scored from this distance five times during the season. He needed to do it a sixth time.

The world watched as Norwood went through his pre-kick routine. He tuned out the crowd, selected a target line, got a feel for the timing, waited for the snap, and kicked the ball. He kept his head down and followed through. By the time he looked up, the ball was three quarters of the way to the goal. That’s when he realized he’d missed.

The wrong sideline erupted.

All of Buffalo groaned.

Norwood hung his head.

The headline would read “Wide and to the right: The kick that will forever haunt Scott Norwood.”

No do-overs. No second chance. No reprieve. He couldn’t rewind the tape and create a different result. He had to live with the consequences.

So did Joshua. He had suffered a humiliating loss. The people of Ai, though fewer in number, had proved greater in might. They had pounced on Joshua’s men, resulting in an unexpected defeat. One of the soldiers, it was learned, had disobeyed God’s earlier command.

The commander was left with the distasteful, unpleasant task of exposing and punishing the rebellion.

Joshua offered a prayer right out of The Wilderness Book of Common Complaint:

Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all — to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? — Joshua 7:7

Not one of his better days.

The guy had been making field goals his entire life. He showed courage as a spy for Moses. He assumed the mantle of leadership. He didn’t hesitate at the Jordan. He didn’t flinch at Jericho. But in the episode called “Achan’s Deceit and Ai’s Defeat”? He failed. In front of his army, in front of the enemy, in front of God… he failed.

Joshua dragged himself back to his tent. The entire camp was somber. They had buried thirty-six of their soldiers and witnessed the downfall of a countryman.

Joshua sensed the glares and stares of the people.

Joshua’s not a good leader.

He doesn’t have what it takes.

He’s let us down.

He knew what they thought. Worse still, he knew what he thought. His mind sloshed with self-doubt. What was I thinking when I took this job? I should’ve done better. It’s all my fault.

The voices — he heard them all.

So did you.

When you lost your job, flunked the exam, dropped out of school. When your marriage went south. When your business went broke. When you failed. The voices began to howl. Monkeys in a cage, they were, laughing at you. You heard them. And you joined them! You disqualified yourself, berated yourself, upbraided yourself. You sentenced yourself to a life of hard labor in the Leavenworth of poor self-worth.

Oh, the voices of failure.

Failure finds us all. Failure is so universal we have to wonder why more self-help gurus don’t address it. Bookstores overflow with volumes on how to succeed. But you’ll look a long time before you find a section called “How to Succeed at Failing.”

Maybe no one knows what to say. But God does. His book is written for failures. It is full of folks who were foul-ups and flops. David was a moral failure, yet God used him. Elijah was an emotional train wreck after Mount Carmel, but God blessed him. Jonah was in the belly of a fish when he prayed his most honest prayer, and God heard it.

Perfect people? No. Perfect messes? You bet. Yet God used them.

A surprising and welcome discovery of the Bible is this: God uses failures.

God used Joshua’s failure to show us what to do with ours. God quickly and urgently called Joshua to get on with life.

Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? — Joshua 7:10

Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. — Joshua 8:1

Failure is a form of quicksand. Take immediate action or you’ll be sucked under.

One stumble does not define or break a person. Though you failed, God’s love does not. Face your failures with faith in God’s goodness. He saw this collapse coming. When you stood on the eastern side of the Jordan, God could see the upcoming mishap of your Ai.

Still, He tells you what He told Joshua:

Arise, go… you and all this people, to the land which I am giving. — Joshua 1:2

There is no condition in that covenant. No fine print. No performance language. God’s Promised Land offer does not depend on your perfection. It depends on His.

In God’s hands no defeat is a crushing defeat.

The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with His hand. — Psalm 37:23-24

How essential it is that you understand this. Miss this truth and miss your Glory Days. You must believe that God’s grace is greater than your failures. Pitch your tent on promises like this one:

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. — Romans 8:1, Romans 8:4

Everyone stumbles. The difference is in the response. Some stumble into the pit of guilt. Others tumble into the arms of God.

Those who find grace do so because they “walk according . . . to the Spirit.” They hear God’s voice. They make a deliberate decision to stand up and lean into God’s grace.

As God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid, nor… dismayed; … arise, go…”

There ain’t no future in the past. You can’t change yesterday, but you can do something about tomorrow. Put God’s plan in place.

God told Joshua to revisit the place of failure.

Arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. — Joshua 8:1

In essence God told Joshua, “Let’s do it again. This time my way.”

Joshua didn’t need to be told twice. He and his men made an early morning march from Gilgal to Ai, a distance of about fifteen miles. He positioned a crack commando unit behind the town. Behind this contingent was a corps of five thousand men (Joshua 8:12).

Joshua then took another company of soldiers. They headed in the direction of the city. The plan was straight out of basic military tactics. Joshua would attack, then retreat, luring the soldiers of Ai away from their village. It worked.

The king of Ai, still strutting from victory number one, set out for victory number two. He marched toward Joshua, leaving the town unprotected. The elite squad charged in and set fire to the city. And Joshua reversed his course, catching the army of Ai in the middle.

The victory was complete.

Contrast this attack with the first one. In the first, Joshua consulted spies; in the second, he listened to God. In the first, he stayed home. In the second, he led the way. The first attack involved a small unit. His second involved many more men. The first attack involved no tactics. His second was strategic and sophisticated.

The point? God gave Joshua a new plan: Try again, my way. When he followed God’s strategy, victory happened.

Failures are fatal only if we fail to learn from them.

It’s time to rise up.

Don’t waste your failures by failing to learn from them. It’s time to wise up.

God has not forgotten you. Keep your head up. You never know what good awaits you.

Scott Norwood walked off the football field with his head down. For a couple of days thoughts of the missed kick never left him. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t find peace. He was still upset when the team returned to Buffalo. In spite of the loss the city hosted an event to honor the team. The turnout was huge — between twenty-five and thirty thousand people. Norwood attended and took his place on the platform with the other players.

He attempted to linger in the background, hidden behind the others. But the fans had something else in mind. In the middle of a civic leader’s speech, this chant began:

“We want Scott.”

The chant grew louder.

“We want Scott!”

Scott remained behind his teammates. After all, he didn’t know why the crowd wanted him.

The chant grew in volume until the speaker had to stop. Norwood’s teammates pushed him to the front of the stage. When the fans saw Scott, they gave him a rousing ovation. He missed the kick, but they made sure he knew he was still a part of their community.

The Bible says that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). Thousands upon thousands of saved saints are looking down on us. Abraham. Peter. David. Paul… and Joshua. Your grandma, uncle, neighbor, coach. They’ve seen God’s great grace, and they are all pulling for you.

Press your ear against the curtain of eternity and listen. Do you hear them? They are chanting your name. They are pulling for you to keep going.

“Don’t quit!”

“It’s worth it!”

“Try again!”

You may have missed a goal, but you’re still a part of God’s team.

Watch the Video for Glory Days

Watch the video

* * *
Forward to a Friend

Excerpted with permission Glory Days by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Your Turn

Are you stuck in a past failure? Have you blown it, made huge mistakes, flopped, or backslidden? Do you feel that that has defined you? Failures are fatal only if we fail to learn from them. It’s time to rise up. What is God calling you to do? What do you need to try again? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Comment
Pre-order and save on Max Lucado’s newest release – Glory Days

Take $2 off + get free shipping with coupon code GLORY. Launches nationwide September 15!

Glory Days by Max Lucado

Buy Now

The wilderness. Maybe you know it well.

The Israelites sure did. After all, they spent forty years wandering the desert. Victories were scarce. Progress was slow. They were free from Pharaoh but not free from fear. Saved but stuck.

Sounds a lot like midlife misery. Caught in a rut. Stalled out. Running on empty. Are you mired in the same?

You can name the day you became a Christian and escaped Egypt. But you can’t remember the last time you defeated a temptation or experienced an answered prayer. You’re fighting the same battles you fought the day you came to Christ. You’re out of Egypt, but Egypt’s not out of you.

Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be better than this?

Jesus offers abundant joy. Yet you live with oppressive grief. The epistles speak of grace. You shoulder guilt. You are more than a conqueror yet are commonly conquered by temptation or weaknesses.

But there’s good news. With God’s help you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. Like Joshua and the Israelites, you can move from a wilderness existence into a promised inheritance.

This is God’s vision for your life. You, at full throttle. You, as you were intended. You, as victor over the Jerichos and giants. You, minus the stumbles, hurts, and hate.

You and your Promised Land life.

New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado invites readers to leave the wilderness and discover a life defined by grace, refined by challenge, and aligned with a heavenly call. By studying the life of Joshua and the biblical book that bears his name, Lucado reveals God’s promises for every step and reminds readers that God still fights for them.

Pre-order and save $2 off + get free shipping with coupon code GLORY

Inspired by today’s devotion? Share it with someone!
ForwardFacebook Share Tweet ThisPinterest
Devotionals Daily ~ our mission is to help you grow and share your faith.
Did you receive this from a friend? Sign up to start receiving the free daily devotions
Already a subscriber? Register for other newsletters, like Faith.Full for women or Bible Study of the Week, by clicking here.

Copyright © 2015 HarperCollins Christian Publishing, All Rights Reserved.
501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN, 37214 USA
Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy
Manage Your eMail Preferences or Unsubscribe