Archive | May, 2012

Your love makes it worth it

5 May

Earlier this week, I found myself just having a really bad day.

You know, one of those days that starts off really great and good things happen, but then all of a sudden something happens that knocks the wind right out of you. One minute you feel strong and tall, and the next minute you’re on the floor, feeling hopeless.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a tough day of the magnitude I just described, but I do want to share with you how I got through it. It made a world of difference to my perspective and my pain, and I hope it encourages someone out there.

Since I began memorizing the book of James a couple of weeks ago, I have begun to use it to fight negative thoughts. If you’re anything like me (LOL, actually, if you’re human), you’ve experienced some difficult things in your lifetime. Your life hasn’t been perfect. You’ve been hurt and you’ve even felt heartache. In times when I feel down because of things that have happened to me, I force myself to start quoting James, even if all I’ve got memorized is a few verses. And let me tell you, it has begun to transform me and bring me through some super tough days. It’s sort of like having encouraging scripture verses on index cards, but much more effective because you are literally preaching to yourself. And, in addition, you can encourage yourself anywhere, anytime (even while driving), without needing to locate your 3×5 cards!

So, on this “bad day,” I had already memorized exactly 12 verses of Chapter 1. I began to quote them aloud, and when I got to the very last verse, verse 12, my tears began to fall even more quickly. But they had gone from being bad tears to being good ones. You’ll see why.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Here’s how I see it: No matter what I face in this lifetime, I must remember that my earthly life is temporary. While it is sometimes filled with pain and heartache, I must remember that if I keep my faith in God and believe that he died to save me from eternal damnation, I’ll get to heaven one day. And when I’m there, as Revelation 21:4 says, there will be no more tears. No more pain.

That’s a future worth dealing with the temporary pain, don’t you think? There’s a worship song by Kim Walker (“I Surrender”) that says, “Your love makes it worth it, your love makes it worth it all.”

Amen to that.

On days when you feel that you can’t go on anymore, remember that HIS love and the “crown of life” make all of our earthly pains worth pressing through. He’ll give you the strength to do it if you ask him and if you surrender. I promise.

Jen

‘Though now, for a little while…’

2 May

The other day I shared the first 11 verses of James because 1) I love those verses and 2) I had them memorized and wanted to test myself to see if I could write them.

Then one of my readers shared with me a verse from 1 Peter that I had heard before, but never read so carefully in my life. The only thought I can verbalize from reading these verses is “AMEN.”

Please take a moment to read and cherish:

 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

Jen

Concerning bitterness

1 May

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15

When we’ve been wronged, when we’re the innocent ones, when life all around us seems to be attacking us, it’s easy to feel like a victim. And, it’s really easy to become bitter and unforgiving toward those who have hurt us.

Truth be told, it’s hard to forgive sometimes. It’s especially hard to forgive someone who hasn’t even apologized to us. Even more so, it’s hard to not speak of them in bitterness and anger.

But we MUST fight.

Matthew 18:21-22 tells us that we must forgive others over and over and over again. And, it doesn’t just mean we have to forgive them each time they wrong us, although that is important. But sometimes it means we have to forgive them over and over and over for one sin against us that keeps surfacing in our minds, causing us pain each time we recall it because, well, maybe they didn’t say sorry. Or maybe they did, but we’re still hurting.

I truly believe that if we stay in a bitter and unforgiving place, God can’t work in our lives. He may not change our hearts if we become consumed with self-pity and don’t ask him for help. I have found, in these times, that when we feel bitter, we should ask God for compassion and then pray for the ones who hurt us. Through this, we will learn that compassion! After all, we are all sinners. Not one of us is perfect. And the Word says we have to forgive. So forgive, and love, and pray. It’s hard. But it’s freeing.

In the Hebrews verse I shared at the start of this post, we’re told to “strive for peace with everyone.” If you’ve ever been wronged by someone, you might be thinking something like, “Well, I tried. But they wronged me. It’s not MY fault.”

But it is still our place to “strive for peace”! The bible wasn’t written so that we could point the finger and say, “YOU shouldn’t have done THAT.” Nope, it’s for all of us to learn from. So, to strive for peace when we’ve been wronged might look like this: Not speaking in bitterness. Not only because bitterness drives us to that awful place of self-pity, but also because it may cause others around us to “become defiled” when we speak it.

The ESV Study Bible provides a great commentary on these verses in Hebrews. Check it out:

As they pursue peace and holiness, Christians should watch out for each other in order that no one falls short of the gift of eternal salvation. The author warns against “bitterness” by alluding to Deuteronomy 29:18, which describes one who turns away from God and pursues other gods. A bitter and resentful person is like a contagious poison, spreading his resentment to others.

That last sentence is my favorite. Man, I never want to become a bitter and “contagious poison,” do YOU?! This reminds me of James 3:8, where we are told the tongue is a “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Um, yikes… This is even more of a reason to stay away from speaking bitterness!

If you can relate to this post today, remember these nine words: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control (Galatians 5:22-23). Bitterness is a complete antonym to any of the fruits of the spirit, don’t you think? In such a time when we’re tempted to speak bitterly (or sing bitterly, if you remember my post about Adele’s music), we must exercise that last one (self-control) in order to not cause others around us to fall.

If you’re facing difficulty in your life right now because of the way that someone hurt you, I pray that you would find healing in Jesus, and that you would learn to forgive your brother–seven times 70 times–and that you would not become bitter or spread bitterness.

Instead, choose to live in love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Sounds a lot less miserable too, doesn’t it?

Jen