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What the Pain Says


1 John 3

I don’t like pain. Who does? It hurts. It’s inconvenient. It puts in me in a bad mood. It slows me down. Pain changes the way I interact with others. It causes me to focus on myself rather than see the needs of the people around me.

People in pain don’t react the same as healthy people.

But there are different kinds of pain. Are you listening? Pain speaks. What does it tell you?

Some pain is good. When I workout, the next day I feel the effects. My muscles are tighter. My endurance is stronger. My strength, greater. And I can feel it. The pain speaks. It tells me I’ve accomplished something. It motivates me to try again. It shows me the limits of my abilities and reminds me I’m capable of more than I imagine.

There’s also the pain that tells you the pot is hot, don’t touch, the pain that reminds you that your body wasn’t designed to do that, and the pain that warns you not to trust that person. Pain speaks. What it says is worth listening to.

You’ve experienced unhealthy pain too. The pain of sickness that indicates your body is failing. The pain of guilt that brings condemnation. The pain inflicted on you because of someone else’s bad decisions. The pain you cause others. The pain that is the consequence of your sinful choices.

The say elephant’s never forget. You’ve heard the story about the baby elephant with the chain around his leg. As a young calf he struggles against the chain. He rubs his leg raw trying to break free. The shackle cuts deep. Eventually he stops fighting. The pain is too great. As the elephant becomes an adult he grows strong enough to break the chain, yet he never tries. Eventually his keeper removes the chain altogether, not to free him, but because the memory of the pain is enough to control him. The elephant doesn’t move. He remains submissive. The shadow of the pain keeps him locked in the prison of his own memory.

God uses pain in our lives to motivate and to move. People use pain to restrict and control.

1 John 3:20-21 says, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.”

The pain of guilt deceives us into believe God doesn’t care. The pain of circumstances tricks us into choosing the easy way rather than the right way. The pain caused by people convinces us to withdraw, mistrust, manipulate and leave love behind.

But we don’t have to feel this way. God is greater than our feelings. He’s bigger than the guilt, greater than the pain. Because he has forgiven, because he has saved, we can come to God with bold confidence.

Are you listening? Your pain speaks and so does the pain of others. What truth does your pain motive and move you to live? What lies do you believe because of the pain of your past? Is there someone in your life you need to give an extra measure of grace to today because of the pain they’ve been through?

Pain speaks – and God is greater.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the pain that leads to repentance. Thank you for the pain that shows me the limits of my abilities and that reminds me that I’m capable of more than I imagine. Overcome the pain of guilt in my life. Because of the forgiveness I’ve received through your son I can approach you with confidence, confidence that you love me, want the best for me and that you are greater than my feelings. Today, help me listen. Give me an ear for the pain of others. Show me how I can relieve that pain. Help me give grace to those who need it. Allow me to demonstrate your loving-kindness. As you are greater than the pain of guilt help my love for others be greater than the offenses they can throw my way. Help me love them and serve them in spite of insults or injury. Help me love people the way you do.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

A Prayer for One Another


Colossians

Colossians 1:9-14 is a prayer Paul prayed for the people in the church at Colosse. It’s a great prayer for us to pray for one another.

“This is why I have never stopped praying for you since I heard about you. I ask God that you may know what He wants you to do. I ask God to fill you with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives. Then your lives will please the Lord. You will do every kind of good work, and you will know more about God. I pray that God’s great power will make you strong, and that you will have joy as you wait and do not give up. I pray that you will be giving thanks to the Father. He has made it so you could share the good things given to those who belong to Christ who are in the light. God took us out of a life of darkness. He has put us in the holy nation of His much-loved Son. We have been bought by His blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Him.” – Colossians 1:9-14

Let’s break it down.

  • Never stopped praying – it’s a constant conversation between Paul and God on behalf of the church at Colosse.
  • That you may know what He wants you to do – You can’t live God’s will if you don’t know God’s will. Knowing his will starts with knowing him, his word and his people.
  • Fill you with wisdom and understanding – wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know. Understanding is the confident recognition of the effect and outcome of our choices. The Holy Spirit provides this kind of insight.
  • Lives will please the Lord, every good work, know more about God – a life that pleases God is a life of action. It’s a life of choices. It’s not doing one good thing. It’s doing every good work. I can’t do this on my own, but the more I learn about God, the greater capacity I have to make choices his way.
  • Strength, joy, patience, endurance, thanks – These are gifts from God. Something God produces in you and through you to help you follow him and bless others. Strength to choose right. Joy from choosing right. Patience to give our right choices time to achieve their full effect. Endurance to stand even when making the right choice leads to harder circumstances and not easier. And finally thanks that God would choose us, involve us in his plan and give us what we need to succeed.
  • He has made it so you could share the good things – In 7 days God created the world and every step of the way he declared it good. All the good things God has created he’s made available to his children.
  • Took us out of darkness – Now we can see. We don’t have to be afraid.
  • Put us in the nation of his much-love son – We are citizens of heaven. This world is not our home. Like an Ambassador from another country, we have diplomatic immunity from the laws of this world. In other words, we don’t have to live by the world’s rules anymore.
  • We have been bought by his blood and made free – we once were slaves. Now we’re free. The price for our lives paid by the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Our sins are forgiven – you have been made right with God.

Let’s pray Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse for one another today.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the other Believer’s you’ve placed in my life and the way they love, encourage and challenge me. I won’t stop praying for these people. I pray that you will let them know what you want them to do. I pray that you will fill them with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives so their lives will please the Lord and they will do every kind of good work, and know more about God. I pray that your great power will make them strong, and that they will have joy as they wait and do not give up. I pray that they will give thanks to you. You have made it so they could share the good things given to those who belong to Christ who are in the light. You took us out of a life of darkness. You have put us in the holy nation of your much-loved Son. We have been bought by your blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Jesus. This is our prayer for one another. Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Promises from God I Could Live Without


I love the promises of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “All the promises of God have their ‘yes’ in Christ Jesus.” It means God keeps his word. He proved it through Jesus. I like that. It’s comforting to know that when God says, “I forgive you,” he means it and won’t take it back.  When I’m afraid, anxious, or worried I can trust that he is with me and working all things for my good because in his Word he says so. But there are some promises from God I could live without.

2 Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” That’s a promise I’m not too thrilled about. There’s another like it, “In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). I don’t need trouble. I prefer the other thing! How about John 15:19, “…because…I chose you out of the world, the world will hate you.” Isn’t it nice to be in the ‘popular’ crowd? What about 2 Timothy 3:12? “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” These are all promises I can live without.

I don’t like the idea that evil people and impostors will flourish. I hate to be lied to. I don’t like to see the people I care about conned by self-deception or by the clever half-truths of others. My sense of justice comes out. It bothers me to think that with pure motives and good choices I could do all the right things and still be disliked, hated or even persecuted for it. Shouldn’t doing the right thing make things easier? If it doesn’t make life easier or better, why bother?

But there’s a difference between God’s promise of salvation and this promise of persecution. The former comes from God’s overwhelming desire for you and me. It’s an active promise initiated and paid for by God through Jesus. He made the promise and has moved heaven and earth to keep that promise. The promise of persecution isn’t about a word to keep, but a fact to recognize. Like the laws of nature, there’s no active promise here, just the unwavering confidence that what goes up must come down. Gravity’s effect will always keep you down to earth even if your head is in the clouds.

The promise of persecution isn’t God’s way of punishing or provoking. It’s a simple statement of fact. “This will happen. Get ready, watch out, plan your response, trust me.”

It’s an old cliché, but it’s true, “When you’re squeezed, what’s in you is what comes out.” God warns us of persecution, he tries to communicate to us a reasonable expectation for how people will react to Him and His people. He doesn’t candy-coat it. He doesn’t oversell it. He simply says, “This will happen.”

As difficult as living through that kind of pressure may be God doesn’t stop there. He makes deeper promises. John 16:33 ends, “…be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” 1 John 4:4 reminds us, “…greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” The end of 2 Timothy 3 outlines the tools God has given to help us remain faithful. He’s given us his Word. We have one another. We can remain faithful, we can hold on, even when holding on is hard or painful. I’ve always thought that faithfulness gives us a front row seat to all the promises of God. It’s through the pain and persecution that God writes the epic story of salvation in you and me.

When you face the promise of persecution will you trust God to keep His word? Hold on and experience your front row seat to all the promises of God.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Help me hold on. Thank you for the promises you’ve made and kept. Thank you that I know for certain you can be trusted. Help me to be trustworthy as well. When I face opposition, rejection, pain or persecution, allow me to respond in a way that honors you and adds value to others. Help me encourage those who are being deceived. Help me fight those who are deceiving. Help me enjoy this epic story you’re writing in me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Habits: Nothing to Say About God


Tomorrow we begin 2 Timothy! Four chapters, four days, incredible principles for living.


Ruth 4

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 4:7, “Now in those days it was the custom in Israel…” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

What’s your habit? What’s the custom in your household? What’s the practice in your place of business? What words come to mind that would describe your community? What is your school really known for? What are you known for?

One of the most interesting facts about the book of Ruth is that you won’t find one verse that tells you anything significant about God. There are no commandments. No principles or precepts. There’s no correction or instruction in righteousness. The book isn’t really about God at all. The book of Ruth is a simple story about a family and how that family comes together to build a legacy that would one day give birth to kings.

Certainly God can be found in the book. The family prays for one another. They invoke the name of God in their dealings with one another. The custom of the Kinsman Redeemer was a common practice for the children of Israel. One member of the family would redeem another to insure the family was provided for and the family named carried on. It’s a beautiful picture of what God has done for you and me through the work of Jesus on the cross. But there’s nothing in the book to indicate that this was the author’s purpose.

Imagine you read the book of Ruth apart from the rest of Scripture. You would read a tragic story of loss, a hopeful story of love and kindness and discover the customs and habits of a culture whose foundation is God.

It tells me something about being a God-follower.

APPLICATION

The habits of my life reflect the authenticity of my beliefs. Ruth found her kinsman redeemer and became great-grandmother to a king because she and her family practiced habits and customs that reflected their faith in God. They didn’t have to quote rules and regulations to one another. They didn’t focus on commands. They didn’t beat one another over the head with spiritual language, talk of God or their great big family Bible with the actual picture of Jesus on the front. Instead, they lived what they believed. Their faith was practiced. It was so much a part of their culture, so much a part of who they were, that it simply came out in the choices they made.

There’s much to learn from this. It affects the way I talk. More importantly, it affects the way I live.

The story of my life will be read my most people apart from the context of Scripture. What story will they read?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being my kinsman redeemer. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Let the choices I make and the habits of my life reflect my trust in you. Let the story of my life and my family bring glory to you. Let our family be less about rules and regulations and more about each of us simply living in a way that honors you, serves one another and sets an example to others of what love really is.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Confidence Under Construction

I didn’t write yesterday, but did finish Zephaniah. Today we’ll start Philippians. Four chapters. Four days. One more entire book of the Bible read.


Philippians 1

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Philippians 1:25-26, “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (NKJV)

OBSERVATION

Where’s your confidence? What are you absolutely certain of? In Philippians 1 Paul says there are two things he’s completely confident of:

  1. Verse 6 – He’s confident God will complete his good work in you.
  2. Verse 25 – He’s confident God will continue his good work through him.

Think of it like this, right now God is at work writing the story of your life. All that seems missing, all that is incomplete, all that anxiety you feel because of fears and failures, He’s working out all these things in you and through you so that your life in him will one day be complete. Your life is a story still being written.

He’s also working in you to bless others. It’s part of his design for us to need one another. There are things you know about God I will never know until you speak up. You have skills God wants to employ for the benefit of others. You have been entrusted with resources that can help someone else as God completes his work in them.

God intends to complete the work he started in you. God has included you in his plan for how to complete that work in someone else.

Receiving and giving. Being completed and helping make complete.

APPLICATION

Be confident today. Those areas of your life today that seem out-of-place, broken or incomplete are places where God is at work. It’s your life, under construction. Trust him. In his time and his way he will knock off the hard edges. He will sharpen who you are. He will strengthen your knowledge and abilities. He will increase the influence you carry. He will provide the resources you need. He will complete the work he has begun in you.

He’s doing this for a reason. It’s because you are part of his plan for someone else. Be confident today. God will use you to encourage someone in their faith. He will use you to challenge them to take their next step of obedience. He will ask you to be generous with your time, your skills and your resources because someone nearby needs what you have. He will employ you to accomplish his will and empower you to fulfill his purpose. You are part of his story for someone else. In their story you may be the character that changes eternity for them today. You may be the one that says just the right thing at just the right time so the lightbulb finally comes on and they finally get what God’s been trying to get them to hear all along. You may be the anonymous benefactor that puts just the right amount of cash into someone’s mailbox just when they need it most.

It leads to a statement and a question.

  • God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you.
  • How will you use who you are and what you have for the benefit of others?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for working to complete the good work you started in me. You have forgiven my sin, now you work to make me whole and make me holy. Give me the patience to trust you as you create in me a clean heart, and as you give me the skills and knowledge I need to accomplish your purpose. Thank you for employing me to encourage and challenge others. Show me how I can use who I am and what I have for the benefit others. Today, do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Move

Finished Habakkuk today. Headed to Zephania next. It’s the last of the three chapter books. Read one chapter each day and by Sunday you will have finished the entire book!


Habakkuk

SCRIPTURE

Habakkuk 3:3, “I see God moving…” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

This chapter is a song of praise to God from Habakkuk. Utter devastation is about to fall. God’s justice is about to be fulfilled, yet Habakkuk looks through the difficulty to see that God is moving. He’s working out his plan in us and through us. Habakkuk’s response? Habakkuk 3:18-19, “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

I don’t know what you face today but there are two truths you need to understand.

  • God is putting all the right people in all the right places to accomplish his will in your life, your family, your church and your world.
  • God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you.

APPLICATION

I see God moving.

Do you? Where is God at work in your life, your business, your family, your church, your community? Will you join him there? Will you get excited, get involved, and get moving with him? My dad always said you’ve got to lead, follow or get out of the way. Right now God is leading you somewhere. Will you follow or will he move you out of his way?

I see God moving. I’m going with him.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your amazing work in my life and our world. There is so much injustice in our world today and God I know you intend to fix it. I trust that your timing is perfect and ask that you give me the patience to endure until you do. I see you moving in our world. I want to join you in that work. Put me exactly where you need me. Equip me to do exactly what you need done. Give me the strength, wisdom and courage to accomplish the purpose you set before me. You lead. I’ll follow. Do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me. Let the world look at me and glorify you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Justice Undenied

300Habakkuk

SCRIPTURE

Habakkuk 2:14, “For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Habakkuk is a minor prophet. But don’t forget, minor prophets always have a major message. Minor is a comment on the length of the message, not the significance of it. It reminds me of an example I once heard of the difference between significance and prominence. My nose is prominent. Everyone who looks at me will notice my nose. My liver is significant. Unless something goes terribly wrong no one will ever notice the quality work done by my liver. Cut off my prominent proboscis and I may look different, but I’ll live. Cut out my liver and more than my quality of life will be affected. My quantity of life will be ended.

My nose is prominent. My liver is significant.

The same is true of the minor prophets. Few words. Big message. Habakkuk describes the coming end of what once was Israel. The nation was divided. One kingdom had already fallen. The other would soon fall to the Babylonians. Habakkuk describes the conditions of the nation at the time. Habakkuk 1:4, “The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous so that justice has become perverted.”

Does that sound familiar? I imagine every generation looked at the world around them and saw rising levels of wickedness. It’s easier today than ever. Turn on the TV, take a look at Facebook, Twitter, or Google. The wickedness of people is easy to see.

In chapter one Habakkuk cries out to God for deliverance. I’ll bet you have too.

But the answer God gives is not, I expect, entirely the one Habakkuk – or we – really wants to hear. God tells Habakkuk he’s raising up a violent nation for the express purpose of bringing justice to his chosen people.

We don’t like to think about this quality of God. We prefer his more gracious characteristics described in the New Testament. It’s true, our God is a gracious and loving God. But without justice there can be no grace. Wickedness cannot be allowed to prevail. It must be dealt with. Justice is the only answer.

Justice makes right what once went wrong. Justice demands satisfaction. Justice will either be accomplished because the wicked pay for their crime or because someone takes the place of the wicked. In Habakkuk God’s patience has run out. This time, the wicked will pay.

APPLICATION

The wicked will always pay. The question is not if, but when and how. When I think about what happened at Sandy Hook, when I consider the man who recently kidnapped a kindergartner and held him prisoner, when stories of under-aged sex trafficking during the Super Bowl come across my news feed the need for justice rises within me. Why not now, God? Why not swift, painful, brutal justice exacted on those who are clearly evil? Why wait?

At times Kind David would pray, “God kill my enemies.” It sometimes sounds like he would add, “…and let me be the sword.” We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted to see someone get their just rewards. David was also quick to end those prayers with some variation of, “…I trust you God. Your will be done.”

In those moments when my heart cries out for justice I’m reminded by these verses in Habakkuk that there are two reasons God may seem slow to bring justice.

God’s justice is thorough. Did you notice? God said he was raising up the Babylonians, a violent, cruel, brutal people. If you’ve seen the movie 300 – the ones attacking the Greeks are the Babylonians. It’s a movie, but it does a pretty good job illustrating the brutality of Babylon. Habakkuk says God raised them up to exact his justice on his people.

God’s justice is thorough. If his justice seems delayed it’s because he’s setting the table for complete and utter devastation. He has so many tools in his arsenal. When the day comes for justice to be satisfied you can be assured that the punishment will fit the crime and will likely be far beyond anything you can imagine.

But there’s another thought here too. God’s grace is just as thorough as his justice. The giving of grace is not the corruption of justice. On the contrary, grace can only be given when justice is satisfied. For Believers that took place when Jesus Christ suffered the penalty of torture and death on the cross in your place and mine. Sometimes God is slow to deliver justice because he is trying to deliver grace.

Where do you see a need for justice today? In that situation do you believe God is about deliver his justice or his grace? Which would you prefer he deliver? Which would you prefer he give you? How can you determine when it’s time for you to deliver his justice or his grace?

These are the difficult questions, but they are questions with clear answers guided by Scriptural principles. When should I offer grace? How should justice be satisfied?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for giving me grace when I deserved justice. Give me the discernment to know how to carry your grace and your justice into this world. There are so many examples of wickedness in our world today. Do not delay. Deliver this world and your people from this wickedness. Satisfy your justice. Offer your grace. Either way, let your glory cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

A Prayer for You

2 Thessalonians

SCRIPTURE

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

This is Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica. In the U.S. Wall Street in New York City is recognized as the economic center of our nation. Chicago is a close second with the Chicago Board of Trade. Thessalonica is to Greece what Chicago is to the U.S. It is a city that still stands today. It’s population is roughly equivalent to Tulsa and the surrounding area.

The book begins with an encouragement I hope can be said of me, “…your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” He challenges them to stand fim in the face of persecution and assures them that God knows, cares and will one day bring justice. He ends with a prayer. It’s a prayer I pray for me, my family, friends, church and others.

APPLICATION

I want to live a life worthy of God’s call. That doesn’t mean I’ll always get it right. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to earn God’s favor. But by God’s power and because of God’s grace I can do better. I can become more than I imagined possible on my own. I want to live in a way that honors God. These verses say that living that way will bring you honor too.

God leads us where he wants us to go. Paul’s prayer covers that, “May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”

What has your faith prompted you to do today? God has given you the power to accomplish it. What holds you back? What’s your excuse? None is sufficient. It is God working in you and through you to accomplish what your faith has prompted you to do. There’s no need to wait any longer. Become the answer to the prayer I’ll pray today and do all that your faith prompts you to do.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving us everything we need for life and godliness. Today I pray the same thing Paul prayed. I pray this for myself, my family, my friends, the people of my church and for those who are reading this – I ask God, “…to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Point of No Return

Today we finished Nahum. Tomorrow let’s begin 2 Thessalonians. It’s only 3 chapters. Start tomorrow, you’ll finish Monday!


Nahum 3

SCRIPTURE

Nahum 3:19 “There is no healing for your wound your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

We don’t like to admit it, but there is a point of no return. You can wait long enough or choose to reject God long enough that he will give you exactly what you want. He will give you freedom from his grace. This was the fate of Nineveh. You remember Nineveh. After three days in the belly of the luxury cruise ship, Big Fish, Jonah arrived in Nineveh to preach a message of repentance. The people of Nineveh received the message. They repented, God relented. But that was another generation. The repentance of one generation became the rebellion of the next.

What do we hear of Nineveh today?

Their destruction is complete. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” That’s true, but perhaps there is one thing even more terrifying – being released from the grace of God to pursue nothing but our own desires.

Most people would think that kind of freedom, to pursue their own desires, is what they really want. But that’s because most people don’t really believe they really struggle with sin. We don’t think we’re that bad. We know we make mistakes. We understand not everyone is perfect, but we do all right. “I’m better than most,” we tell ourselves. “I’m slightly above average.” But it’s not true and somewhere, deep within, we know it.

Without the grace of God to guide us, the mercy of God to restrain us, and the love of God to sustain us we will go the way of Nineveh. Our wound will not heal. It will be fatal. And the world will rejoice at our passing.

APPLICATION

The solution is trust. We’re not very good at this, but it’s the answer. We need to trust that God knows more than we do. We need to trust that God has our best interest at heart. We need to trust that following his desire for us will lead us into everything we could ever want and anything we really need. Whatever God says ‘yes’ to we should pursue with our whole heart. Whenever God says ‘no’ we should stop and turn the other way.

If you’re a parent you understand how this works. You don’t stop your children from running out into the street because you want to limit their fun, but because you want to save their life. You don’t make them take a bath or brush their teeth because you’re mean and nasty, but because you don’t want them to go through life smelling nasty. With our kids the day comes when they approach the edge of the street and look both ways without our warning. They get up and take a shower and brush their truth on their own. But until that day we remain vigilant as parents.

That’s what God is up to. It’s why he gave his word. It’s the work of his spirit in our lives. May we receive his instruction, follow his word, trust his intention and surrender.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for showing the way. Thank you for continuing to speak through your word. Help me to listen, understand, receive and obey the ways you want me to follow. Please don’t let me or my family get to the point where we can easily ignore you. We need your grace, mercy and influence in our lives. There are times we are good at deceiving ourselves. Right now we have friends who have deceived themselves into believing you can’t be trusted. They believe they know better than you. Continue to speak into their lives. Help them see through this moment to the life you have for them in the next. Let them come to their senses and surrender themselves to you. Help us to be faithful friends to them. Help us speak the truth in love, practicing good judgement, but without being judgmental. Do in us and them what only you can do.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Bring the Pain

Nahum 2

SCRIPTURE

Nahum 2:2 “Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the Lord will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Today’s observation comes from Andy Harrison – you can read more from him on Facebook. Just click his name. I read his post just after reading Nahum 2 this morning. It fits today’s moment.

“Sometimes the rescue of God looks and feels nothing like a rescue. Sometimes it looks like an all out assault on the beaches of your life. His troops land and march straight to the headquarters of your sin. His reconnaissance has been perfect and He knows the exact location of your strongholds. Yes, the rescue you’ve been hoping for may not lie in the steadfastness of your resistance, but may come in spite of it, through the pain of your complete surrender.” – Andy Harrison

You may not understand the wrath and judgement of God. You may think him cruel for punishing sin or allowing people to experience the consequence of their choices but the heart behind the punishment is love. The purpose of the consequence is redemption. His desires is restoration. In these moments the brutality of his methods are not a reflection of his severity, but of our rebellion.

APPLICATION

Where do you face resistance? What is the cause of the friction in your life? Maybe that friction is an indicator. I know a lot of people who have had knee replacement surgery. Before their knee gave out they experienced pain. The pain was an indicator of a problem that needed to be addressed. The surgery itself was painful. The recovery required work. Sin produces the same effect in our lives. Where are you in the process?

The friction in your life is an indicator. The pain helps identify the source of the problem. The solution may hurt. It may require time to recover, but the outcome is preferable to the devastation of sin left untended. Today – examine the pain.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your forgiveness and mercy. Thank you for caring enough to not let me go. Today, help me pay attention to the friction in my life. Help me notice the challenges and difficulties. Help me see them the way you see them. Use these moments to reshape me into your image, to strengthen my character, to allow me to become what you’ve designed me to be. I don’t want to resist, but to surrender, to your work in my life.

Do this same thing for my family. When it’s time to correct or instruct my kids let them understand the correction. Let them see what’s right and choose it. When I’m wrong let me confess.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad