Yes, God Loves Failures Like You and Me

I will never take my love away from him….(1 Chronicles 17:13).

There’s something about the love of God that I do not understand, or maybe its something that for the first time, I’m starting to understand.
Adam and Eve failed, but God still brought redemption. Abraham and Sarah failed, but God still gave them a child. Moses failed, but God still used him. David and Bathsheba failed, yet God still remained faithful to them. He never stopped loving them. There is something about the unconditional love of God that I am starting to understand and quite frankly, the thought of it is overwhelming. In my own mind, I deserve to be set aside and forgotten, because of my failures. Yet, God extends His chesed,  His enduring, faithful love to me. He still blesses my life. He still pours out His grace. He still redeems, restores and makes all things new. He still pursues me. Wow, what an amazing God.
This enduring love does not give us the liberty to sin. Truly, it should compel us to run from it. You see, God does not shame us into faithful obedience. Instead, He extends love and grace that changes our hearts as we reach out to Him in thankfulness.
We cannot imagine life any other way, because living in God’s unconditional love is really the best kind of way to live. My heart stops at the doorway of sin and considers the love of God, instead of the pleasures of fleeting sin. God does not use anger to coerce me into following Him. I am compelled and drawn to Him, because of His enduring, faithful love. The enemy of our souls wishes to only speak words of discouragement into our lives, words like, “God could never use a failure like you!” “You deserve punishment.” “Look at all the bad that’s happening in your life, you’ll never be able to crawl out from under it!” “You’ll never be able to overcome this. You’ll carry this shame and bad name with you for the rest of your life.”
The enemy wishes to define us by our failures and try to convince us that God cannot go on loving a sinner like us. He could never use someone like us who just can’t seem to get it right. Yet, I see nothing in the Scriptures that would tell me this is true. I see a faithful, steadfast, immovable, loving God who does not give up on sinners like you and me. I see a love that draws people in, not to shackles and shame, but to freedom and deliverance. Truly, it is love that sets people free and it is God’s enduring love that reminds me that I am not who I used to be, but I am being made into His image and He’s sticking with me through the process.
Lord, I am amazed at your love. I cannot believe it. You love me. What a simple, amazing and astounding truth. Sometimes, I feel like a total failure. A failure whose life is not worthy of being redeemed, but that’s because I start believing the lies. I start living in shame. Today, I want to walk instead in your enduring, faithful love. I want to live in it, to lean back into it so that I might be changed. Thank you for loving a sinner like me, and seeing not my sin, but instead, seeing the beauty of your son in me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Clothed by the Lamb

the lambs will provide you with clothing…. (Pr 27:26).

Have you ever told God what He gave you wasn’t good enough? I have. Have you ever looked at something initially as a blessing, but soon after saw it as a curse from God? Yep, that’s been me too.
During this Christmas season, as I was receiving gifts I even felt this tug in my heart to be discontent in what the gift giver was giving me. I couldn’t believe the selfishness that was filling my heart. Instead of thankfulness, discontentment sought to fill my heart and mind instead.
Sometimes I don’t like what Jesus is giving me, because, at the moment, it’s giving me more pain than I want. Yet, God uses every moment, every circumstance, every word, to shape and form us into new people if we’d be willing to lay it all down at His mercy.
The place where we receive grace for a brand new day and for a brand new heart. Don’t you see, that is the beauty of the lamb. He wishes to robe us in white. To cloth us with HIs grace, but we don’t understand that part of the Christian journey, as we are being transformed is the burning away of the old self. Now that is painful, but trust me, it is very purposeful. Someday, your Father will clothe you in white. Until that day, don’t give up on the journey, but allow the lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, to clothe you with His mercies that are new every morning.
Lord, thank you. You are making me new. I can rejoice in knowing that you are working out great things in my life for an even greater purpose. That purpose is so that I might know you, and be found in your grace. Yes, Lord, let the greatest joy and delight of my heart be Jesus. That I would become like Him and grow to love, honor and serve Him all of my days. Take my life, Abba, daddy, and clothe me with the mercies of the lamb, in Jesus name, Amen.

But, That Person Hurt Me….

to the place he had prepared for it…(1 Chronicles 15:3).

There are days when my mind enters into the room of all my accusers. The place where people have hurt me with their words or actions. The place where, if I am not careful, their words will start to define me and carry me into places of discouragement, doubt, and unbelief.
It is true that we can forgive someone, but the hurt of what has happened carries on with us as we continue to grow and heal. Maybe some words were never said, but actions spoke louder than words and now here we are once again, back in the room. The room where we’re not good enough. The room where we can’t seem to do anything right.
This room has been orchestrated by pure forces of evil who wish only to kill, steal and destroy the good work of healing, restoring and redemption God wants to do in our lives.
A lot of people are trying to mask pain, so they cover it with pride and accomplishments. They enter into the room of their accusers too and so in an attempt to transcend it, they lower others to elevate themselves.
Maybe you’ve been there too, when, out of your pain you spoke a word or did something that was hurtful to someone else. I have found, at least for me, when I have hurt others, its because I came in thinking I had all the right answers. I didn’t consider that maybe I was simply just supposed to listen and understand their pain instead of dismissing it so I could go on with my busy life.
Pride is a terrible quality to nurture. Yet, I have held pride as a comfort in my own heart. A jewel of my own fashioning in the room of my own destructive thoughts. With the hopes of masking something in my heart or maybe even someone that I hurt. I start to play the thoughts over and over again in my head of how they hurt me, so I see little need to consider the ways in which I fell short. Oh, how foolish I have been in my own heart to not consider the depth of my own sin before others!
God has a place for our hearts and minds to go. It is a place well prepared for us. A place full of mercy and grace. A place where we can release our pain and our need for control. A place where we don’t have to keep going back to our pain or our need for justice because we can trust the one who is just. The one who is good. The one who wants to care for us in the places of our own need. It’s in this place, of God’s rest and delight that we can, indeed, pray for those who have persecuted us. We can bless them from our hearts because we have learned the joy of releasing them to the Lord Jesus. Not with the hopes of their destruction, but with the hopes of their own personal restoration.
Lord, I let it all go. The hurt, the pain, the disapproval. I release every wound to you. Every spoken or unspoken word and I speak blessing over those who have hurt me. Lord, please also forgive me for how I have hurt others. I am so sorry for the things I did out of my own immaturity and pride. Please God, give me the courage to go and ask for forgiveness if I need to. Give me the favor as I go and pour out your grace upon me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Social Media Has an Unhealthy Attachment to My Heart

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets… (Matt 6:2).

Social media creates a bit of a problem for us, doesn’t it? At least, it does in my own heart. It provides an opportunity for us to be praised by others more often than what’s good for our own personal egos. The likes and comments can feed the soul in ways that become unhealthy. In fact, there are many days when I value the worth of something I’ve done based on how many views, likes or comments it received.
There is very little of our lives that is done in secret without a picture or something being posted highlighting all the good things we do so we can be praised by others.
Jesus reminds His listeners in Matthew 6 time and time again to not practice their good deeds and righteousness before others, but instead to do it in secret so their Heavenly Father may reward them. I wonder how many times I miss out on being rewarded by my Heavenly Father because I posted it on social media to be praised by others instead.
I understand there’s nothing wrong with sharing in the accomplishments and joys of others. I enjoy seeing the good things my friends are doing and the accomplishments they’re making. We need to be careful, though, that we don’t do it so often we start seeking approval from it.
If we could all be honest, we seek too much approval from people as it is. I know I do. I want to be well-liked. I want people to miss me, show appreciation for me and value me. However, what I am learning in life, is that instead of being the person that seeks all of this, I need to be the person that gives this out freely to other people. Therefore, today, on this day, I’m going to purpose in my heart to die to myself so I can raise someone else up and speak joy into their life.
I also want to seek first my Heavenly Father’s approval so that my heart can be showered with His grace. I constantly feel that pull in my heart to find my worth in people’s words, so I understand if that’s where you’re at too. For me, it is a moment by moment dying to myself and taking up God’s banner of love for me instead of the need for praise and adoration from others. Our hearts, our really spinning out of control if we do not find our worth value and identity in God’s great love for us. Truly, He longs to reward us in the secret places of His love.
Abba, I love you. I know you love me too. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in caring too much about what people think of me. In fact, this probably happens multiple times a day. Father, forgive me for finding too much worth in that. Instead, God, I want to be showered with your approval. Truly, that is enough for me. Be my joy, delight, hope, and peace, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Frown, Our Hope When Life Gets Difficult​, and the Light of Christ

it gives light to everyone in the house…(Matt 5:15).
I find myself frowning a lot at work. Mostly because its very hard work and things don’t often go as I would hope. It makes it difficult to maintain and keep a positive attitude when things go awry, making life more challenging. I often wonder what kind of light for Christ I am being in those moments.
I’m not saying we should always be buzzing with a smile, living in overwhelming joy, but what I am saying is that we should be doing it more often. My experiences at work parallel what many of us experience in life on a daily basis. Things don’t go right or as we would have hoped and so instead of living with the joy and peace of Christ, we go about our days frowning in discouragement.
Our circumstances will always be changing, but our joy remains immovable and steadfast if we know the beauty of the Lord Jesus. If we have embraced Him fully, then, we can live in the hope of His name, knowing that no matter what life throws at us we can trust in HIs goodness. We need not frown in discouragement wearing the weight of this present world on our shoulders, but instead, we can freely give up our troubles to take up His joy. We can exchange our frowns for His hope. We can become new people as we persevere in His love.
Light is what draws people in. It invites them into your life to see what lays inside of you -the hope of the gospel. Until we turn that frown upside down and live with the joy of the risen Savior there will be little opportunity to show people what we hold inside. He is a good, faithful Savior. For that, we can be glad. Because of Him, we can rejoice, knowing that yes, we are indeed His light to a world living in darkness.
Lord, I want to shower your love on other people. Sometimes I let my circumstances snuff my light out because I’m stubborn and afraid. I get bogged down by troubles and I forget to smile. I allow my heart to be filled with the worries of this life instead of casting them at your feet. Lord, I want to live in your freedom. I long to be your light unto the world. Use my life to draw people towards the love of God, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

What To Do When People Have Let You Down

Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you….(Proverbs 20:22).

I’m not very good at waiting. In fact, I have a tendency to move very quickly from one thing to the next, dashing about, multi-tasking, and always being on the go. Waiting is not an attribute that comes naturally for me. Waiting is something that I often fight with the Lord against. Especially if I feel like HIs timing doesn’t match up with mine. Even more so if I want His vengeance and it’s not happening the way I would like it to.
I constantly feel, in my heart, this need to release things and let them go. I find myself wishing and wanting things to be different because if I was God, I wouldn’t have done it that way. Quite frankly, I would have removed the pain from all of it. I would have changed the story to reflect a more pristine and comfortable outcome. I would have taken the story and re-written it with a happy, fairytale ending.
Thankfully, God is always at work, writing our story. The problem is that we must allow Him to hold the pen. We must be OK with whatever story He chooses to write for our lives. With every stroke of His pen is the depth of His love for us. Our story isn’t written to ruin us, truly, it is written to renew us.
This has been my usual conversation with God recently, “Ok, what about now God? Ok, how about you do things this way? God, can you please make this thing happen for me?”
Can I be really honest, that I have lost a lot of hope in people, but I have not lost hope in my God. We were never supposed to hope in people, to begin with. People will always disappoint us. I’ll disappoint people too. I’m no superwoman, I’m just a human being who desperately wants to be like Jesus, but doesn’t always get it right. So if you’re hoping that so and so is going to make things happen for you, get you to where you want to be or fill the deep longing of your heart, I would encourage you to take that person or person’s off of that pedestal you’ve placed them on and put your hope and trust in God.
This doesn’t mean we should resent people or lose all of our hope in humanity. It just means we don’t believe that people run the world. God is truly the King of the Universe. When I believe this, it releases a lot of pain in my heart over how I’ve been disappointed by people.
Whatever you’re dealing with today that wants to pull you into a pit, let it go. Remember, God is always writing your story, stop trying to take the pen from His hands and trust Him to make something beautiful out of your life. He is faithful. He is loving and He is kind. He is good.
Lord, I trust you. I have so many things to be thankful for in my life. You hold the pen of my life in your hands. Lord, write a beautiful story. I trust you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Letting Go of My Own Treasure To Receive His

Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh…. (Matt 2:11).

When the Magi came to visit the Christ child they did not come seeking Him for a blessing, but instead, they simply came to worship Him. Offering up their treasures to Him. Can I be really honest? Sometimes, I want to hold onto my treasures or I want Jesus to fill my life with more of them. I don’t like the idea of giving up my treasures to Jesus. I want Him to fill my hands instead.
Yet, the Magi remind us that offering up our treasures to Jesus allows us to receive Him for all He is. It keeps us from holding on too tightly to things that we set up in our hearts as treasures that are too important for our lives.
Jesus is truly the greatest treasure, but its really hard for me to believe that sometimes. Honestly, I want what He can give me more than I long for His presence. I don’t like letting go, because I want more. Yet, God is teaching me that empty hands are hands ready to simply receive His love. His sustaining, life-giving peace and His love that brings gladness and joy to the heart.
This Christmas season, offer up your treasures to Jesus. They all belong to Him anyway. There’s no reason to hold onto them. Truly, He has better treasures to give us if we’d just let go of the ones we’re clinging to so tightly.
Jesus, you are the greatest treasure and you deserve my worship. You deserve full residency in my heart. Yet, there are idols there. There are doubt and fear. There are anger and unbelief. Forgive me for following the foolish ways of my heart and holding onto my treasures too tightly. Reshape and reform those treasures today God. I have your love. Redeem all those things I have given to you and restore them fully. Lord, I am thankful that as I offer my treasures to you that I can have the greatest treasure returned to me, which is your love. Thank you, you are so good, in Jesus name, Amen.

Your Story Isn’t Over Yet

do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife… (Matt 1:20).
What did it mean for Joseph to take Mary home as his wife? It meant public ridicule and judgment. It meant that Joseph’s integrity as a man would be called into question. Yet, Joseph put his reputation on the line to follow God in obedience.
Can I be really honest? Sometimes I care too much about what people think of me. Especially when my life gets hard or things start happening that are out of my control.
In our own minds, we think that following God should come without hardship, but the story of Joseph and Mary prove to us that before new birth comes, we must learn to die to ourselves, and our need to be praised by man.
God is always trying to conceive something in us. Something brand new for our hearts. Something glorious if we’d be willing to allow Him to lead us down paths that bring us to true and genuine humility.
Two young people in the tiny town of Nazareth said yes to God, even though, for a time, it made their life harder. Thanks to their obedience, you and I are blessed because the Christ child was born to two poor nobodies from Nazareth. Two nobodies became somebody in God’s story because they said yes to God when it meant their life would get harder.
This past year of my life has proved to be my own story of God’s humbling. A time where I said yes to God, making my life much harder. Yet, I know that in my obedience, God is and will continue to pour out His blessing. I want my part in God’s story to be one where I made myself small so that He could make Himself mighty. Sometimes I wrestle with God against this though. I don’t like the dying part. I’d much rather sit on the mountaintop than trudge with God through the valley.
I’m not sure what journey you’re walking right now, but if you’ve been following Jesus for any length of time you have your own story of meeting Jesus at the crossroads where He called you out into deeper waters. The place where He asked you to let go of something or to be made small in the eyes of the world so that others could see Christ in you instead.
I know its painful, trust me, I understand that, but with each story of pain comes a greater purpose and with each purpose comes one of God’s greatest gifts to us in our hardship- His grace. His daily grace for our lives. The sustaining power of HIs love that holds us up and carries into the spacious place of HIs presence that dances over us as we sit with Him in His comfort and delight.
Don’t lose heart today. Know that your story isn’t over yet. It might feel like it, but God is always redeeming and writing a new story for us. It may look much different than it did before you said yes to Him, but it will be the best yes because it’s leading you down the path of His mercy. Thank Him today that He is always redeeming your story. Thank Him that truly, He makes all things, including you, brand new.
Lord, you are so good. May my life be lived in such a way that I would become nothing so that you could become everything. Jesus, be my lasting joy. Be my victory and my delight. Jesus, fill me with your love. I don’t want to fight against you in this present season. It’s just that sometimes I struggle with the waiting. Forgive me for my impatient, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Your Thoughts Run Your Life and Ruin Relationships

 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,… (Proverbs 18:12).
While having an argument in the kitchen one day with my husband, I blurted out, “Grow up.” Immediately, after the words left my mouth I was hit with deep conviction and wished I could go back and undo what I just said. How foolish I was to blurt out such disrespect. But, if I could be quite honest, it’s what I said, because it was something I had been storing up in my heart and mind for far too long.
That’s how sin goes. It ravels around our hearts over time, until it just starts leaking out. This is why it is paramount that we, “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” There are other times when I start to suppress thoughts, thinking, “Ah, it’s not that big of a deal.” Quite honestly, the only reason I’m suppressing it is that I’m trying to avoid having a conversation with someone about it. This isn’t helpful either.
Therefore, I’m learning that as I grow, so should my mouth and my willingness to have hard, but loving conversations with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The devil always fills the silence and he’ll start filling you with a myriad of thoughts that are sent only to steal, kill and destroy unity between you and others. I’m totally there right now, in that place of temptation to give into the thoughts of the devil. Yet, I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and I have the mind of Christ. Therefore, through the resurrection power of Jesus, I can walk in freedom, knowing that I wear the victors crown and instead of believing the lies, I can walk in the light of truth.
In order for us to walk in truth, we must replace negative thoughts, with praise and the beauty of God’s word. Praise to our heavenly Father thanking Him that even though life doesn’t make sense and it’s hard, we trust Him and believe that He is good. The truth that is found in knowing and applying His word to our lives. This is what I love about God, that in an instant I can carry my thoughts into another room, His throne room, where He purifies them and makes them good.
So today, I’m choosing praise. I’m also making a decision to go and have that hard conversation. Even though, part of me doesn’t want to. Yet, I realize that without it, the devil will keep filling in the details, so it’s time to go and let God fill that silence instead. Don’t be surprised though that if and when you go, you’re not well received. Give it to God. Go with confidence knowing you’ve done all you can before Him, but don’t cower in fear, be bold and let your heart be full of love as you go to have a conversation to restore unity between you and others.
Lord, I want to store up good things in my heart. I don’t always do this. Forgive me, God, when my sin starts to leak out. Abba, I embrace all that you have for me because I know that it is good. Thank you, God, for loving me. Thank you for giving me a new heart and mind, in Jesus name, Amen.

Suffering: Part of Our Destiny

he had in mind to divorce her quietly….(Matt 1:19).
It is so much easier to give up on things when they get hard and start over on life. I’ve been there. Trust me, I understand and know the struggle of wanting to wipe away the present pain, push it away and be free from it all. I know you’ve probably walked a similar journey too.
My sister always says she believes that suffering is part of our destiny. She would be someone who would know. Having heart open surgery at 11 years old, a pacemaker at 27, a miscarriage, and debilitating health problems for over two years, she would understand.
My sister inspires me to not give up, but instead, to persevere in my suffering. I’ve seen her come forth and now she’s shining like a new woman who has been refined through the fire. Her life isn’t perfect, no, but her heart is glowing with the sustaining love of Jesus.
It was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago whom God protected in the fire. It was David that God kept from the hand of Saul and it was Jesus whom God resurrected even after He was wrongfully murdered. Why then do we think God will leave us in our suffering if we really let go and entrust it all to Him? Why do we think that He won’t protect us or that He won’t pull through? I’ve had those feelings, the ones that creep in and make you believe that life just feels too long and is one disappointment after another. It’s a longing for heaven, but not in a way that brings glory to God, so much as it is a mental escape from my present pain.
Every painful thing we walk through has a redemptive purpose. That’s just how God operates. The loss, wrong treatment, abuse, and devastating circumstances can all serve a redemptive purpose in our lives if we’d be willing to look not at our present pain, but towards the redemption of the cross. When we fix our eyes on the cross we see that there is something made more beautiful in us as we die. Truly, there on the cross was the most beautiful demonstration of love. There are people watching in our lives to see if God is real, therefore, we must look to the cross and endure pain and suffering, knowing that resurrection is coming.
Loss, grief, sadness, pain, abuse, unjust treatment and abandonment were all things that Jesus walked through and they’ve been part of my story too. Yet, I want to be like my Savior who endured with hope. I want to come forth as gold. Like one who has been refined through the fire. Knowing that it is truly part of our destiny to suffer. Don’t lose heart dear friend, God is working all things together for our good if we would believe with all hope and walk forward in faith.
Lord, you see all and know all. I can trust you. You have seen what was done and what happened. You are redeeming it and have been. I am believing with all hope that you will take that which the devil tried to use to destroy to bring forth hope, healing, and deliverance for so many. Use my story God to bring hope to the hurting. Use my life to be one of transparency that shares your grace with others, in Jesus name, Amen.