Need favor? Got that.

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The sting of rejection can impact our souls, but it no longer has a hold on us, because One higher than everyone and everything has given us favor.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 10:34

“Then Peter started speaking: ‘I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, 35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him.'”

I stood amongst the group of kids with a dread in my heart. As the team captains each took turns calling names, I knew I would be last. The lump in my throat would not go away, so I faked a smile and looked away in the distance, pretending I did not care. But I did.

That same feeling overcomes me in situations that arise where I am keenly aware that either someone wants my position or perhaps I am not wanted.

The sting of that rejection can still impact my soul, but it no longer has a hold on me, because One higher than everyone and everything has given me favor. Undeserved favor.I love the fact that our God does not show favoritism. He made and loves all people and His creation is beautiful. He does not look at our athletic build, our skin color, our external appearance at all. He is watching over our souls to see if any will look and see His worth, accept His salvation and live for Him.

Do you ever wish you could just make it to the top? Ever wonder why it is so hard to make progress? Or maybe you just want a level of acceptance that makes you feel like you belong. Favor from man is one of those things often coveted. We strive and we long for acceptance, but sometimes even more than that – to be the best.

Getting to the top of the mountain we are climbing seems impossible, but it would not be a worthy achievement if it were not for the rugged climb to get there. This competitive desire to be significant can become idolatry easily enough, but it can also become a catalyst to help us to live faithfully for God.

God chose us to be on His team, but the choice is up to us. We have the favor of God – if we fear Him and do what is right. This is not merit-based, but it is heart-based. We cannot fake living right – God sees it all. His favor does not mean we will not have any troubles. Living godly lives does not mean we will always get our way, either, but the favor of God upon us matters more than our wants.

Oh God! Who are we, that we should have Your favor? Help us to live in a way that honors and reveres You above all else. 

Healer of our Broken Hearts

jesus-came-to-take-away

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus came to free us from the burden of sin and to heal us from the effect of it, as well.

Scriptures of the Day:

Isaiah 53:4-5

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Psalm 147:3

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Psalm 41:2-3

“The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. 3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.”

Psalm 30:2

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.”

Life hurts sometimes. In our most painful moments we can hurt emotionally and physically and wonder if God sees. Broken, we come before our God and King Who is a Master at fixing broken people. He made us and knows more than anyone what we need to be whole again – Himself.

Healing is needed for many reasons. Some need God to touch them spiritually, some need help emotionally and others need a physical healing. In all of these, God sovereignly uses our infirmity for good, even though it might seem pointless at the time.

I know well what it means to be sick, diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases.  I also know what it is to be healed and what it is to not be.  In all these occasions, I praise His Name.  He is my Jehovah Rapha, (The Lord our Healer).  He heals our hearts from emotional pain, our bodies from physical pain, whether it be on this earth or ultimately in Heaven, and our souls from the pain of sin.

Healing is sometimes a difficult subject to discuss.  Some Christians believe that God always heals, some believe He does not.  Either way, all who are in Christ are healed spiritually for eternity, which is the most significant healing there could ever be.

We are all destined to perish on this earth, and sickness is often one of the vessels which might bring us to eternal bliss with our Creator.  Our bodies were not designed to live forever and our limit is 120 years.  This is not Heaven.  We cannot avoid the fact that we all have an end, but the sting has been removed!  Praise His Holy Name!

Sometimes the most difficult thing to heal is our broken hearts.  The effects of sin are profound and can leave one limping through life, but Jesus came to not only take away the burden of sin, but the effects of it, as well.  The scar of sin may long be remembered, but its crippling effect can be changed into a divine tool of healing instead.  That’s our gift this Christmas and for all of life – Christ our Healer.

Lord, thank You for healing us and for the hope of a complete healing in Heaven with You.  Help us to be content and worship You in whatever thorn you have permitted into our lives, knowing full well that our future hope with You is to be completely restored!

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

Thoughtful Thursday: Our Transcendent God

Photo Credits: lightandlifewomensbiblestudy.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
lightandlifewomensbiblestudy.blogspot.com

Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NET)

23 “Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the LORD asks.  24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the LORD asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the LORD asks.

Isaiah 55:8 (NET)

8 “Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds, 9 for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.”

Job 11:7 (ESV)

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?”

Romans 11:33-36 (NET)

33 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? 35 Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him? 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.

Psalm 113:5-6

Who can compare to the LORD our God, who sits on a high throne? 6 He bends down to look at the sky and the earth.”

John 8:23

“Jesus replied, “You people are from below; I am from above. You people are from this world; I am not from this world.””

How do I even begin to write about God’s greatness?  How is it that such grace has come to us that we can know Him? Today I am struck by how much higher His ways and thoughts are from ours.  We do not even recognize how small and needful we are, apart from His grace and the Holy Spirit revealing our soul’s heart cry for someone greater than ourselves.

Fans of movie stars are in awe at the sight of what they consider greatness, but those stars are merely creations. So many things in this world grab our attention and worship, but none of them are truly worth such devotion.  Only our living God is worthy of such respect.  We worship a God Who is greater than us – truly worthy of our worship.

All at once we are undone that God can see into our inmost soul – our thoughts before we conceive them, our motivations, our every action.  To be so known and yet accepted by a Holy God is too much too completely comprehend.

How do we know this awesome God, whose face we cannot behold, lest we perish?  Whose presence cannot be contained?  Whose Holiness is so foreign to our fleshly mortality?  Who is sovereign over all activity on earth?  Who, in His genius designed every aspect of creation down to the smallest particle?  Who is Omniscient, knowing all?  Who is outside time?  Who has always been?  Who would establish righteous laws and then fulfill them by choosing to come live among a corrupt, spiritually bankrupt people and lay His life down for them?

This mystery of God’s revelation of Himself to us is miraculous and not able to be fully understood.  Our eyes were blind to His supremacy and our need of Him until He drew us to Himself and caused us to understand.

How beyond words is the fact that we are invited, finite and poor, to fellowship with the Holy One, the Omnipresent and beyond the highest riches – our transcendent God.  But why does His transcendence matter?  Because we were made to worship and though we are easily fascinated with substitutes trying to fill that vacuum, our inmost being longs to worship Someone higher than ourselves.

When we consider a God that is not easily defined or understood, a sense of awe is pervasive within our souls.  To pause and seek what truly matters and to worship the One Who is, Who was, and Who is to come, we are worshiping the One Who is higher than any other entity on this earth for all eternity.  It is in worshiping the Almighty God, the Creator of this universe, that we are doing what we were made to do and find our greatest joy and sense of purpose.  Worshiping the Only One Who is awesome and far above us causes us to rise out of what is perceived as an ordinary life and see the spiritual realities all around us.  It is in worshiping our transcendent God that we are enabled to live in a way which glorifies our Maker and transcends ourselves beyond merely living for the here and now.

Lord, You are awesome, Holy, so much higher than us.  Thank You for drawing us to Yourself. Help us to know You more and to worship You with sincere hearts, lost in Your greatness and found by You.  Give us understanding about how great You are that we would never stray from You. 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Blessing of Rebuke

Job 5:8, 17-19

5:8But as for me, I would seek Godand to God I would set forth my case. 17Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandageshe strikes, but his hands also heal19 He will deliver you from six calamitiesyes, in seven no evil will touch you.”

Proverbs 15:32

“The one who refuses correction despises himself, but whoever hears reproof acquires understanding.”

Psalms 94:12

“How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O Lordthe one whom you teach from your law.”

Psalm 145:1

“May the godly strike me in love and correct me! May my head not refuse choice oil! Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.”

This morning I am praising and thanking God that He loves us enough to rebuke us.  That’s right.  Where would we be, if we were just left in our sin?  Some of you might be tempted to say – “free” – but enslavement to sin or poor character is not free at all.  I love how the Holy Spirit can speak to us right in the middle of a thought we are having.  At the doorway to our mind and heart are multiple thoughts, seemingly at the speed of light.  I daresay we allow some in without realizing the poison they are injecting.  It is in those moments that I am so grateful for God opening our eyes to recognize thoughts of pride, jealousy, anger, hatred that are astir in our minds.  We might not call our thoughts those names, but if we look at the root and give our sins the worst name, we are not deceived.

We all know that feeling you get when you’ve been caught – either by another person or the Holy Spirit within you.  Sort of like the child with their hand immersed into the proverbial cookie jar, there is no denying the rebuke you feel in your spirit. As much as that conviction might not be pleasant, what a gift it is!  Our response in the moments following being confronted with our shortcomings can produce beautiful fruit if we let it. Do we attempt to deny the allegations, become offended at someone else judging us, or do we consider the rebuke as an opportunity for reflection and ultimate blessing?

Perhaps a rebuke is errant – maybe it is not applicable at all.  Praise God!  But more times than not, if we are honest, we are culpable on some level to the charge being asserted.  The messenger might not have been godly in their correction – even more of an opportunity to glorify God by not taking it personally.  A poor messenger does not always mean the message is not valid.

Maybe there is truth in the rebuke, confirmed by the familiar conviction felt in our soul.  What then?  No despair or discouragement is necessary.  Isn’t that awesome?  Just recognition and surrender to God, then replacing those thoughts with His.  Feeling mistreated by someone?  Pray for them (not judgmentally, lol), sincerely and do not allow your thoughts to become presumptive.  Let it go.  Accept the rebuke and realize that it is not an end, but a beginning.

David was shocked to hear of the behavior that the prophet Nathan detailed about a wicked man who would take from someone less fortunate.  When he realized it was him being spoken about, that he was the adulterer and the murderer, he was undone.  He repented and acknowledged his guilt before God.  He had become deceived and yielded to the flesh, despite knowing God to be the one true God.  We in the New Testament can do the same thing, yet the standard is higher. Our thoughts condemn us as just as guilty as if we had committed the actions those thoughts represent.

So where is the blessing in rebuke?  The book of Job, chapter 5 lists numerous ways we are blessed by accepting God’s rebuke.  We are redeemed from death, famine, the power of the sword, protected from malicious gossip, no fear of destruction, unafraid, our home will be secure.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s the good news today – God never gives up on us.  He is a loving Father Who corrects His children, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.  Accepting His rebuke is accepting life.  Refusing rebuke or making excuses for it is death. Some may rebuke with the purpose of tearing down, but God is able to take even that and turn it around for our good. Amazing, awesome God.

Lord, thank you for teaching us through Your Holy Spirit and revealing sin, that we might gain forgiveness and fellowship with You.

Not Our Home

Photo Credits  jlhaughton.blogspot.com

Photo Credits jlhaughton.blogspot.com

Ephesians 4:1

“I, therefore, the prisoner for the LORD, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  22 You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires.  23 To be renewed in the spirit of your mind.  24  And to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.  Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.  27  Do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Ephesians 5:11, 15-17

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  15 Therefore be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise.  16 Taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the LORD’s will is.

Imagine walking out your door in the morning to find everyone speaking a language you don’t understand.  As you go about your day, you notice you do not have much in common with all those around you.  You have a choice to make: will you try to be like them, or choose to be different?  Such was a similar scene in the sci-fi thriller, “The Bodysnatchers” which terrified me as a child.  Every person’s souls were snatched away, one by one, replaced by look-alikes who had no soul, no god.  The panic was tangible – being the only one still with a soul, running into friends who were no longer who you thought they were.  So it is today.

The native tongue today is lies.  Flattery and white lies are uttered throughout the land.  Even more bold, outright falsehood and slander permeate our society.  If you speak the truth, it is not perceived or understood. Blinded by political correctness and dressed-up “truth”, we each swallow the daily dose and march to the drum we are told to march to – or not.  When I was first saved, my eyes were opened that I had been “bodysnatched” before, not really living at all.  Once I knew God and His truth, suddenly the world around me seemed odd.  Walking into a grocery store, I had never before been bothered by magazines with ungodly images, but now my heart felt differently.  I was a citizen here in the United States, but also simultaneously a citizen of Heaven.

Such talk might sound strange to the unredeemed, but to those who have tasted and seen that the LORD is good, there is nothing this world has to offer that could ever come close to what God has given.  Striving for self glorification is replaced with dying to self, serving others and glorifying God.  Talking about others is substituted with praying for others.  Former desires, which were once carnal and worldly, are now saturated with a desire to please God.

Oh, but if we could just stay there.  I fear that the bodysnatchers have returned to deceive the elect – if that were possible.  Once saved, we can begin to grow comfortable in our new culture and begin to adapt to a new blend – Christian hallmarks, with a touch of the world to be “relevant”.  Once we have been redeemed, we can’t forget the cost for that redemption.  We need to be vigilant to place reminders all around us, lest we grow lukewarm.  God help us to not acquiesce to the culture around us, slowly being numbed to the evil all around, which is sometimes dressed up to look righteous.

Lord, no one is good, no not one.  We all stumble in so many ways and each of us has gone astray.  Strengthen your bride, LORD.  Please help us to not compromise in this day and age and boldly live for You, no matter what the cost.  Our cost could never compare to Yours, LORD.  Thank You for paying the ultimate price for our salvation – may we cherish that sacrifice and live worthy of that payment!