Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51:6
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.Isaiah 29:13
We see what we want to see. We are masters at looking for what fits our agenda and disregarding everything else. We use our mind to either find truth or hide truth. If one believes the glass is half empty, then everywhere they turn they will see a world that always hands them lemons. When one tunes into a political debate, everything they encounter will be viewed through the lens of their party affiliation meaning they can dismiss everything the other political pundit is saying. If you watch a movie knowing the surprise twist at end, you begin to notice clues that went unseen during your first viewing.
The lens we use to view the world shapes our response to it. This principle holds true when it comes to our understanding of God and our view of His authority. If we reason God can’t be trusted, we will more than likely pinpoint the places where, from our perception, He let us down. If we feel there isn’t enough evidence to believe in God, our eyes will search for everything to confirm this point. If we can convince ourselves God is not real, we will always have a reason why we can disobey Him.
We pretend that we are unsure and claim there isn’t enough evidence to submit. But, the truth is, we don’t want to submit in the first place. We want God’s ways, but on our terms. We desire God’s vision just as long as it lines up with our perspective. We all establish a standard by which we measure truth. More often than not, the standard we use is ourselves. What implications does this truth have on me? What is God asking me to do and am I willing to do it? Rather than pursuing God’s truth, our tendency is to spend our energy protecting our own truth so we can be the one calling the shots. When we find truth but don’t like it’s implications, we disregard and dismiss it.
On the flip side, we can obey out of obligation. “Grin and bear it” defines this type of obedience. There is no joy to be found, only duty. Obedience doesn’t automatically equal a heart that is in step with God. When we go through the motions, we remain in neutral and there is no pursuit of God’s heart. Instead, just like the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, our hearts can be far from God and we can be more concerned with how others perceive us than with how God sees us.
All of this speaks to the importance of testing our motives. The one thing God wants from us is the very thing we can hide from everybody else- our motives. These drivers influence everything about us, including our perspective and response to authority. It could be very easy to say that we are the only ones who know what drives our behavior but that is giving us too much credit. We don’t tend to look beneath and explore our hearts. We fail to ask important questions like: What drives our behavior? What do we really want? What is it that we truly desire?
God desires truth in our innermost being. This entails testing our motives and coming face to face with what drives our behavior. In order for our hearts to be captured, they must be available. When God captures our heart, His commands become irrelevant. Obedience becomes an expression of the work taking place inside our hearts. It’s through the renewal of our mind that our heart gets transformed.
- We want God, but on our terms. In what places are you ignoring the implications of God’s Truth in order to protect your own? How are your motives influencing your response to what you see in this situation?
God, I often stay at the surface and fail to explore the depths of my heart. Expose where my motives are off base and not honoring You. As difficult as it might be, may I encounter Your Truth and let it transform my heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:15-18
What we see affects the condition of our heart. Our heart is forged by what we encounter. For better or worse, our lives are always expressing what is inside. Yet, very few of us stop long enough to consider where our eyes are set. If we did, we’d notice that our gaze is constantly moving and doesn’t stay in any spot for very long.
In our search for fulfillment, freedom and purpose, we move from one thing to another. Even though we are chronically disappointed, we continue this futile search in hopes that this time will be different. The sad reality is that most of our lives are spent responding to the things that catch our eyes. There is a big difference between what catches our eye and what has the power to capture our heart.
Freedom is found when we focus on who we are and let the One who defines us define our days. Freedom comes from discipline and endurance so when the time comes we will be free to respond in obedience naturally. Obedience from the heart takes time. As our hearts are changed, we are free to live out as we were made. Restrictions are liberating because they help us see what we truly want and desire.
God’s commands serve as placeholders to help us do what we want to do until we want to do it. Our heart always follows our obedience. We are only free to the point we are willing to submit to God’s authority. This requires trust on our part. Trust stems from the confidence we have in the authority of God. When our picture of God grows clearer, our obedience becomes more consistent.
It also involves understanding how God sees us. We are His children. We are worth the life of His son. We are image bearers. We are His ambassadors in this world. When we view ourselves in this way, we begin to see the purpose behind the restrictions and commands God put in place. They are not there to oppress but to liberate.
God cared about our freedom so much that He gave us the Holy Spirit to serve as our advocate and guide. When we look intently into the law, the Holy Spirit prompts us to respond in ways we could not do relying on our own strength. He opens our eyes to places where we resist obedience. He cuts to the heart of our motives not to condemn but to convict. He is always pointing us towards the way of freedom.
- Where do you need to create a placeholder for your heart to catch up to your obedience?
God, instead of looking to lesser things for freedom, let set my eyes on Your heart. You desire what is best for me. You want me to walk in freedom and security. This only comes when I am willing to submit to Your ways. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Psalm 51:6
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. Psalm 119:160
Our words and our minds have the power to create realities that shape how we view the world and our part in it. Sadly, we are prone to remain stuck within them. Why? Because they require little effort on our part and we are able to avoid the hard work required of seeking out what is true. These false realities influence the way we interact or label others. They fool us into believing that what we are seeing, feeling and thinking is true. They confirm our biases, viewpoints and limited perspective.
These strongholds reside nowhere close to freedom and peace. Not only do they leave us divided as a person, but they enable division to take root in our communities. A world without truth isn’t wrong, it’s insane.
Because we can want wrong things and believe wrong things, we can’t depend on them to lead us to life. So, what else do we have? How can we experience the security and purpose we crave? It comes only when we are willing to mine for truth and wisdom. We have to put our agenda to the side and be willing to seek out truth in a way that sets us free.The truth provides us a foundation that is strong enough to support the weight of our desires.
Understanding truth establishes the essence of reality. Not only that, but it gives us purpose. We were made for life with God and life for God. We were created in the image of God’s compelling beauty and greatness and were made to display that beauty and greatness in everything we do. The way of Jesus is the redemption of that image and the power by which we actually live in a way that reflects His glory.
Scripture speaks of the tongue having the power of death and life. When our words are disconnected from the truth, we create false realities. Knowledge is designed to connect our souls to the truth while language was designed to express our soul’s desire for freedom. Language doesn’t simply communicate, it expresses. It helps us understand and articulate truth.
Unfortunately, we have the tendency to use our words to conceal and avoid the truth. We play word games in order to avoid looking inside of our heart. Yet, God desires truth in our innermost being. Truth is discovered as it is revealed.
The knowledge we seek must reach beyond what we want or hope to be true and instead be anchored to the truth. The ways of Jesus is very different then the ways of this world, which are filled with shortened truths and diminished realities. Together, as a community, we can bring a force of sanity into our culture by being a place of grace and truth.
- What issues are you gathering information about to buttress your own beliefs rather than seeking understanding and encountering truth? What does the Gospel do to this issue?
God, help me to seek Your truth and not my way. Give me eyes to see where I’ve created false realities that go against the truth of who You are, how You love me, and the purposes You’ve given me. Let me seek wisdom that guides my steps, influences my speech, and grounds my actions in love and grace. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
Knowledge is more than what we know in our heads. It is more than a compilation of facts. Knowledge is also an experience. As we come to know more about the character of God, we also experience the joy of His love for us. It is personal, intimate and life-giving. In the same way, knowledge transcends the abstract of ideas to the actual, lived experience of the heart.
Generally speaking, the more we know about someone, the more likely we will love them. I have heard it said there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.
In our digital age, we have more information at our fingertips than any other time in history. As we watch our televisions or scroll through the news, we learn about the pressing issues of the day and we gain knowledge about the ins and outs of them. It seems like everywhere we turn, we have people telling us how we should think or feel about things. We may believe that we are free thinking beings; slowly but surely, however, we end up seeing people (and groups of people) as soundbites. People are more than issues and soundbites. Solely depending on FOX, CNN, newspapers or talk radio to form opinions about things does humanity a great disservice and prevents us from truly loving “the other.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself” Jesus tells us. Human relationships are powerful. They are powerful because through our interactions with another, we begin to see the world a little differently. Relationships allow us to experience a kind of knowledge that facts never can. The more we come to know people and the more we take the time to listen to their stories and learn from their experiences, the more we will begin to see the “issues” with empathetic eyes.
Issues are really just people. At a time in our culture when groups of people seem really angry at each other, I think it’s important to remember that the things that pull us apart are not greater than the things than bind us together.
Listening is a simple and practical way that we can love our neighbors. As we navigate the issues of our day, it is crucial to form relationships and listen to people who have a different perspective than our own. Otherwise, we end up validating our feelings as we surround ourselves with people who think and feel just like we do. Anne Lamott says, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Culture teaches us that we are the center of the world but God teaches us that we are part of a body and this body is part of a larger community. Like it or not, we are connected to each other. Love compels us to grow and stretch and be willing to see the world and people in new ways while fear wants us to remain exactly as we are. Fear wants us to stay unchallenged and comfortable. Fear wants to keep us suspicious of people. Fear wants us to shun those who are different than us. Fear desires us to be judgmental and condemning. Fear wants to keep us isolated and segregated. But fear is the opposite of love.
Love longs for us to ‘listen to learn’ not ‘listen to respond.’ Love cares for us too much to let us stay exactly as we are. Love asks us to love others even when we don’t understand them. Love’s desire is not to keep us comfortable but to conform us into the image of His son.
- Is there a particular group of people that you find yourself easily condemning? If so, confess your sin and ask God to forgive you. Ask Him to help you see them with new eyes. Be brave and strike up a relationship with someone that you know is different than you.
Father, thank you that You are love. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Help me to love others in the same way. Help me to seek peace with those I disagree with instead of judging or condemning them. Help me to walk in a manner worthy of the calling You have for me. In Jesus name, Amen.
PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3
Whether we realize or not, everyone has a view of God, regardless of where one is in his or her faith journey. It’s a picture that defines what we believe about God’s heart, what He values and how He interacts with humanity. With that said, what does your picture of God look like? How does this snapshot influence the way you approach Him and how you believe He approaches you? These questions are critical because they shape us at our core. Regarded theologian A.W. Tozer goes as far as saying that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Sadly, our initial pictures of God reveal how much we misunderstand the heart of God. Often, the first things that comes to mind for many of us when we think about God are rules, guidelines, and restrictions. This view drives us into a work-based agreement rather than a caring relationship. The Bible instantly becomes a dry instruction manual that needs to be followed in order to have a relationship with Him. We often translate this into the assumption that we’ve got to act better in order for God to accept and love us. If we just stay in the guidelines, then we will be in His good graces.
The strangest thing about this assumption, this idea that God loves and accepts us based on our behavior, is that it didn’t come from God at all. In fact, God’s message is just the opposite. God’s message is that you will never find acceptance with Him through your behavior. When sin entered into the world, there was nothing that “we” could do to atone for this condition.
God sent the clearest message possible about His heart when He sent His son, Jesus Christ. It is a message of unconditional love. When you understand the heart behind the one making the rules, you will begin to see those boundaries and guidelines in a different way. You will begin to see the “why” behind God giving them to us in the first place. God’s rules or guidelines are not conditions of a relationship with Him; they are confirmation of a relationship. God’s rules or guidelines are not conditions of His love; they are confirmation of His love.
The problem is we tend to compartmentalize God so that He becomes something we can manage. We give Him access to some areas of our lives but restrict His access to others.
Sadly, we also do this with our relationships. We keep people at arm’s distance. We might show a few cards, but keep an ace up our sleeve. We dictate who we let in, how much they know and what remains off limits. We yearn for control in all of our relationships, both with God and with others.
By forcing Him into a little box, we feel more comfortable ignoring His voice as He speaks to those past hurts, sins, failures, and regrets. By settling for self-preservation in our relationships, we don’t have others around us speaking into our life. God knows that while this is our tendency, this is not what a relationship with Him or others should look like. Yet, He still offers us something that no one else can offer: unconditional love.
There are no gimmicks, hooks, baits, or switches with God. He literally gives to us unconditional, no strings attached love. We have the option to accept it or reject it. And what is hard for our brains to wrap around is that if we reject God, it still does not change how He feels about us. He is in a continual pursuit for our hearts. His LOVE never ends.
When we replace God and His Love with the grasping for control, our life deteriorates. When we cut off love within our family, friends, and marriage, our relationships and our lives are capable of spinning out of control. This is not how God has designed us to live. God knows that while this is our tendency, this is not what relationship with Him looks like. God wants to be the center of every decision, the One you go to for everything, the One you depend on, the One you respond to. He also wants others around you to encourage and spur you on to reflecting His heart.
- What areas of your life are off-limits? Why do you restrict letting God and others into these areas?
- How do you try to control your relationships, including your one with God? How does this grasping for control influence these relationships?
God, thank You for loving me in the midst of my brokenness. Thank You for seeing all the junk that is in my heart and still loving me. May I reflect Your love to others through my actions and my words. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown. Proverbs 4:6-9
One of my greatest regrets in life is not taking school seriously. For the most part, I mailed it in by going through the motions and resting on my laurels. My parents told me I was too smart for my own good and I think they were right. Friends who pulled all-nighters cramming for a test would often be livid at me for barely cracking open a textbook and getting a better score than them on an exam. Those good grades only reinforced my lack of effort and living my life doing the bare minimum.
I bring this up not to brag, but rather as a lament mourning all those opportunities I squandered. More often than not, as soon as the last question on the test was answered or the term paper was handed in, my brain would do an Alt-Right-Delete and reboot with that information gone forever. My approach to learning was all wrong. I only cared about the grade, looking good to others and feeding my ego.
Over the years I’ve noticed how, if I’m not careful, this mindset can creep into my walk with Christ and my pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. My quest for His truth isn’t always about understanding His heart and furthering our relationship, but rather mere head knowledge that makes me look “super spiritual” to my friends and family.
Just like my schooling, I can fool people very easily and hide my motives like a magician’s sleight of hand trick. The outside appearance of knowledge can very easily come across as spiritual maturity, wise understanding, and uncompromising integrity. Looks can be deceiving.
Because of this, I have to make it a point to pause, reflect and ask God to expose my motives for pursuing His truth. God wants me to be honest with Him about the one thing I can hide from everybody else – my motives. Sometimes I don’t enjoy what He exposes, but this process is needed.
Left to my own devices I can use truth for my own gain. I’m confident that I can’t be the only one on the planet who struggles in this way. If I wrestle with my pursuit of truth and having pure motives, chances are good so do you.
Take a moment and reflect on what drives your own pursuit of wisdom. Are you pursuing truth to further your agenda? Are you searching Scriptures to know God’s heart or to build your argument and prove your point against someone else? Are you more concerned with understanding God’s character or appearing wise in the eyes of others? Would you describe your search for wisdom as going through the motions and out of obligation? Has all the knowledge and insight you’ve gained made the short trip from your head to your heart? What do you “know” but aren’t acting upon or living out?
Those questions aren’t meant to discourage you or leave you feeling condemned. Remember, we’re in the same boat and guilt never leads to transformation. Instead, let this time of reflection serve as a jumping off point and an opportunity for transparency and honesty.
- How would you describe what motivates you to pursue wisdom and God’s truth? Why is this the driver?
God, may I pursue Your truth with right motives and a pure heart. Instead of gaining wisdom to boast and bring attention to myself, may I seek Your truth in order to better reflect Your heart. I desire to gain wisdom so that I can point others to the hope only You provide. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
There are so many reasons to be fearful. There are so many reasons to run away and hide. But the most precious truth is that all of those reasons don’t matter to the King of Kings. There is only His love that casts out all fear. Christ is King. He has washed away our sins in perfect love so that is all there is. Who am I to dwell in the fear and the struggle? God is good and He has called me precious in His sight. He has called me His child. He has called me to build His Kingdom. So why do I let the anxiety and the doubt creep in?
God loves me. He loves me. I am His. I know these things are true.
When I let the fear grip my thoughts, it feels like He is squishing me under His thumb—like He has put me in impossible circumstances with no way out; but when I let His love fully in, I feel the freedom of His power shaping me and building my endurance to run the race set out before me full of His strength and grace. Why would I ever choose to focus on the fear, then?
It is so easy to slip. It is so easy to stumble. It is so easy to live out of the knowledge of good and evil. It is so easy to feel like I am a disappointment or that I am not worthy or that I am cast aside. But none of these things are true.
God’s plan and provision and truth are perfect. I am exactly where He intends for me to be in this season. I am crossing paths with exactly whom He intends for me to cross paths with. I am struggling in the exact areas He knew I would struggle in. He planned it all; He created me. Now it’s my choice. Will I trust Him in each of these things? Will I surrender control to the Lord in each of these places?
If I grip the control with white-knuckled fists I will drive myself straight into the dirt. But—if I choose to trust and hold all that I have with open hands and a believing heart then I can gracefully step forward into what the Lord has called for me. I can soar on the wings of eagles. I can run and not grow weary. The Lord will continue to renew my strength. There are so many reasons to pour out God’s love. When I look to Him as my source daily, that love will keep bursting out.
- Where are you reacting fearful and anxious to the circumstances you face?
- What truth do you need to cling to in order to provide perspective on your situation?
Lord, keep my eyes on you. Keep Your truth in my thoughts and Your grace in my heart. Help me to turn away from the fear and to focus on Your truth. Amen.
PC3 writer Kayla Daughtridge wrote today’s devotional.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:5
It is possible for one to have all the answers, yet still not be free. “Going deeper” is dangerous waters when one finds themselves drowning in the shallow end of a faith not lived out. Knowledge that remains stuck in our brain but never sees the light of day is not truly understood. We might comprehend these bits of truth in theory, but knowing truth is only developed through experiencing truth. Truth is discovered by faith.
We open up God’s Word and are bombarded with wisdom and insight. We nod our head when we come across Scripture that tells us it is better to give than receive, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, to not lean on our understanding, to pray continually, to store up treasures in Heaven. We can memorize these verses, post them to our Facebook wall or even share them with our friends and family.
In our minds, we believe we understand and comprehend these passages. This insight might be lodged in our heart, but unless we put that knowledge into practice; all we have is information. The Scriptures were not given as evidence of faith, but rather serve as a calling to faith. Unfortunately, we typically search for information to free us from faith and create a certainty we can control, navigate and solve.
We don’t know how dangerous this mindset is in terms of crippling the intimacy and knowledge we have of God. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt but certainty. We foolishly believe that freedom is found by holding on when true freedom can only be experienced when we let go and trust. Our trustful obedience opens us up and avails us to being known by God. We show our love for God by making Him the first person we come to when we can’t figure things out on our own.
- Truth is revealed one step of faith at a time. What has God been revealing to you about His character and your heart lately? What are you learning through your steps of obedience?
God, as you reveal to me more of Your heart and Your character, may I walk in obedience and faith. I desire to display courage and boldness as I search for Your truth. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3 (KJV)
When our kids were little they were afraid of the dark, so bedtime was often a challenge. They were masters at procrastinating…they’d find every excuse to get out of bed once we’d tucked them in. “I need to go to the bathroom. I need a sip of water. I think I left something in the living room. I’m hungry.” If those things wouldn’t work, they’d play the ‘God Card’, “I just remembered a prayer request.” After exhausting their bank of excuses to avoid bedtime they’d finally ask the inevitable question, “Would you come and lay with me till I fall asleep?” Eventually we’d give in. We’d go and lay down with them and then slip out of the room with cat-like ninja skills hoping not to wake them as the floor creaked and door squeaked.
I must confess, I would get extremely frustrated with my kids during the bedtime process. Their mom would always gently remind me that they were little kids, and they just needed comfort because they were afraid. Being a man, I wanted to ‘fix the problem’. So one day we bought nightlights. We put one in each of their bedrooms and in their bathroom. The nightlights definitely helped a lot, but periodically they’d still ask, “Can you come and lay with me till I fall asleep?”
Truth be told, I was the same way when I was a little kid, too. I’d go through the same back and forth routine with my mom before bedtime, and eventually I’d ask her to come and lay down with me. But she never bought me a nightlight-she did something different. She’d tell me, “Danny, you don’t have to be afraid because the Lord is with you. All you have to do is call on him.” And then she’d pray over me and quote Psalm 56:3 repeatedly, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” She would say it over and over and ask me to say it with her until I fell asleep. Letting God’s Word be my nightlight always seemed to work. Eventually, I passed this on to my own kids-hopefully one day they’ll share it with their children, too.
No matter how old I get, I still deal with fear on a regular basis. Only now when I lay awake in bed at night it’s not fear of the dark that haunts me…it’s fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of letting go, fear of self-image, fear of trying new things, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of what the future holds, fear of not having enough money, fear of not making enough time for my wife and kids, fear of the world that my kids are growing up in…fear, fear, fear. The enemy tries to plant the earworm of fear like a melody in my head. It plays loudly like the chorus of a Taylor Swift song that you just can’t get out of your head, “Are we out of the woods yet…”. But it rarely lasts because the melody of God’s word in Psalm 56:3 plays even louder. It’s like a timeless U2 anthem that makes you want to stand and sing along at the top of your lungs in a stadium of 10,000 people, “In the Name of Love…”
How about you? Does the melody of fear play loudly in your head? What fears do you take to bed with you and how do you handle them? Over and over God’s Word tells us that we don’t have to be afraid because He is with us. Check out the words of the Prophet Isaiah that served as God’s nightlight for the Nation of Israel during their time of fear and uncertainty as they wandered and waited on God to lead them into the Promised Land:
“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1-3
God wanted the Nation of Israel to trust him and not be paralyzed by their fears and uncertainties. He reassured them that He made them, He saved them, and He was with them no matter what because they were His children. Perhaps that’s what God wants us to remember when we are plagued by the melody of fear. No matter how rough the waters are, how high the waves appear, or how hot the flames may seem, we are his children, ransomed and rescued by His Son Jesus, and He is with us no matter what.
What’s the song of fear that plays loudly, over and over in your head? Where do you turn for comfort when you are afraid? God’s word is like a nightlight for our soul. It’s a melody of assurance that He is with us, He will never abandon us, and He can be trusted no matter what. Take a moment and memorize Psalm 56:3 so that in times of fear you can be reminded that you are not alone-the Lord is with you. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
- What’s the song of fear that plays loudly, over and over in your head?
- Where do you turn for comfort when you are afraid?
God, I will trust in You when I am afraid. In the midst of the darkness, Your light is always there to guide me and comfort me. I do not have to fear for You are with me. Thank you for never leaving my side. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Danny Rogers, Campus Pastor of PC3 New Bern, wrote today’s devotional.
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13
A routine doctor checkup leads to a grim prognosis.
A once happy marriage crumbles beyond the point of repair.
A lost daughter continues to disengage and spiral out of control.
A rejection letter from the college of your dreams arrives in the mailbox.
A terrible storm wrecks havoc on your home.
A call into your boss’s office leads to a pink slip.
A pile of unpaid bills clutters your desk.
A wedding invite from a friend reminds you of the unanswered prayers for a spouse.
A person’s hurtful words or actions hurt you and led you to shame.
These are just a few of life’s interruptions. Maybe your painful experience isn’t on the list above. But, each one of us will encounter a time when our once perfect world shatters and we’re left picking up the jagged pieces. This is one of the few certainties that come with living in the brokenness of humanity.
And when life’s interruptions do make an appearance on our doorstep, what comes flooding into our hearts?
Pain. Hurt. Disappointment.
Grief. Discomfort. Sadness.
Sorrow. Confusion. Agony.
We wonder if God is there. And if God is a reality, does He even care about what is taking place in our lives?
But, the more challenging questions we wrestle with are these: “Okay, so let’s say God exists, and even cares, then why doesn’t He do anything to change it? Why doesn’t He rescue me from my pit? Why doesn’t He fight on my behalf? If He is all powerful, why doesn’t He display His power and fix my situation?”
In the midst of the pain, it is a challenge to feel His presence. Confusion overcomes clarity and comfort. When you hurt, you question if healing is possible. Sorrow overpowers sanity.
Sometimes the pain makes us forget about the unshakable truths regarding the character and heart of God. Instead we let our circumstances dictate our beliefs. Exodus 34:6 says, “the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God.” The Hebrew word for compassionate is RACHUVM and comes from the same origin as the word they used for “womb.” Compassion is at the center of who God is.
We forget that at one time God was a man who walked this earth. Jesus experienced the same hurt, pain, ridicule and suffering we do. It isn’t just lip service to say that God knows exactly how we feel.
Everywhere He went people were clamoring for His attention. What was Jesus’ response to the brokenness of humanity? COMPASSION. In Matthew 9, Jesus is healing the sick and the hurting. For a moment He pauses and gazes at the crowd and compassion overtakes Him. Jesus sees they are harassed and helpless.
Doesn’t that also describe how many of us feel in the midst of life’s many interruptions? Isn’t that how we feel when we encounter the reality that no matter how much we fight to control our circumstances it is a losing battle?
The Greek word for compassion is SPLAGCHNIZOMAI. When you examine the origin of this word you notice it means, “to be moved as to one’s bowels.” In that time, the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity. So, when Jesus noticed how helpless the crowd was He felt the pain in His gut. The same compassion seen in Exodus to describe God’s character, is displayed in the life of Christ.
God isn’t unaffected by our pain. When we suffer, He not only notices, but also has compassion. He feels our pain at His core. Isaiah 49:13 reassures us that God comforts us in our pain. It is these truths we must rely on when we are hurting, lost and in pain. You are not alone. God is present in our pain.
- How do you let your circumstances dictate your faith and perspective of God?
God, in the midst of suffering, I often question whether You care. When I’m confused and hurt, it feels like I’m trying to walk through the darkness alone. Remind me that You have not left me. Instead You are right by my side. Knowing You are concerned with my desperation makes the dark times less gray. Thank you that Your presence provides me comfort. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.