“GOD IS FOR ME!”

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Ro 8:31 NIV

The question isn’t simply, “Who can be against us?” That’s an easy one to answer: disease, inflation, corruption, exhaustion, calamities, and fears. The real question is, “If God is for us…?” Let’s read these words slowly, placing emphasis on each of them: (1) God is for you. Your parents may have forgotten you, your teachers may have neglected you, your siblings may be ashamed of you, but within reach of your prayers is the Maker of the oceans: God! (2) God is for you. Not “maybe,” or “has been,” or “would be if,” but “is”! God is for you today, at this minute, as you read this sentence. No need to wait in line and come back tomorrow. He’s with you. He couldn’t be closer to you than He is at this second. His loyalty won’t increase if you’re better, nor lessen if you’re worse. He is for you. (3) God is for you. Are you too tired to continue? He’ll carry you. Are you too discouraged to fight? He’ll fight for you. Turn to the sidelines; that’s God cheering you on. Look past the finish line; that’s God applauding your steps. (4) God is for you. If God had a calendar, your birthday would be circled on it. If He had a car, your name would be on the bumper. If there’s a tree in heaven, He’s carved your name on the bark. We already know He has a tattoo, and we know what it says: “I have written your name on my hand” (Isa 49:16 NCV). So when you get up each morning look in the mirror and tell yourself, “God is for me!”

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RECOVERING FROM DIVORCE (3)

“When there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping.”  Ro 4:18 NLT

Let’s examine the last three stages involved in recovering from a divorce. Stage Five is acceptance. Yes, acceptance can and eventually does come! And when it does, sometimes you’ll feel a twinge of guilt for not feeling depressed and sad any more. What’s happening? You’ve stopped fighting. The war within has settled down and you’ve begun to experience peace. And it’s God’s peace that transcends human understanding (See Php 4:7). Stage Six is hope. “When there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping…In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises” (Ro 4:18, 20-21 NLT). Something inside you rises up and says, “I will live again, and I will love again. My life is not over.” This is when purpose is rediscovered, new friendships develop, and you start to grow stronger. Emotionally you age fast—and it becomes an advantage. Stage Seven is fulfillment. You say like David: “I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done” (Ps 118:17 NLT). Whether it’s a new relationship, another career, or a particular achievement, God will see to it that you find fulfillment again. This is the place where complaining is never heard because you no longer need to rehearse old memories of failure or betrayal. The God who said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5 NKJV), is giving you a new future, and you refuse to trade it for the pain of your past

RECOVERING FROM DIVORCE (2)

“I will restore to you the years.”  Joel 2:25 NKJV

Recovering from divorce and learning to live again takes time, so please be patient with yourself. Chances are you’ll go through the recognized stages of grief: (1) Denial. You try to ignore or minimize what has happened in hopes it’ll go away. You fear confrontation and refuse to face it. You won’t go for professional help because you think “it’ll all work out in the end.” (2) Anger. When someone rejects you it affects your self-worth and you react the wrong way. You make wild, unchecked statements born out of emotional chaos—sweeping statements like, “Good! I’m glad it’s over! Just you wait! I’ll find someone who really loves and appreciates me!” (3) Bargaining. Once you realize anger just robs you of joy and drives the wedge deeper, you resort to looking for a solution or a compromise. And when that doesn’t work you progress to the next stage. (4) Depression. It hits you at the most inopportune times like birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. Re-runs of “our favorite movie” on television, or restaurants where you made memories together depress you. At two o’clock in the morning you’re wide awake and can’t sleep. This depression is often the result of introspection, because you can’t think wrong and feel right at the same time. So what can you do? Learn to discipline your thoughts. Set new goals for your life. Focus on helping someone else. When Job prayed for his friends, God healed him and restored his fortunes (See Job 42:10). And He will restore yours too, so keep trusting Him and don’t lose heart.

RECOVERING FROM DIVORCE (1)

“Remember…not the former things, neither consider the things of old.”  Isa 43:18

Divorce is one of the most painful things the human heart can experience. If it’s happened to you, you know that’s true. If it hasn’t, be grateful and show compassion toward those who’ve been devastated by it. Have you been crushed by someone you trusted? Does loneliness overwhelm you in the midnight hours? Do you feel as though your hands are completely tied? Does it upset you because your friends don’t seem to understand? Don’t despair—your present circumstances will change. You will recover; you will rebuild; you will not stay down. It will take time, and you’ll have to invest some effort. You will experience pages of sadness in your diary of success, but by God’s grace you will learn to live again and love again. As you draw close to God and search His Word, He will reveal to you the secret of inner peace, and how to take back your life. If you are the innocent party, read this Scripture and hide it in your heart: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps 147:3 NIV). If you are the guilty party, remember you haven’t committed the unpardonable sin. So your failures are forgivable and forgettable. God’s promise to you is: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isa 43:25 NIV). Whether you are the innocent or the guilty party, the word for you today is: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past…I am doing a new thing!…I am making a way” (vv. 18-19 NIV).

PRAY WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVES

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.”  Ps 139:23 NKJV

Here are two mistakes we make when it comes to praying. (1) We focus on our failures. Therefore we pray without faith and confidence (See 1Jn 3:21- 22). (2) We fail to examine our motives. The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…see if there is any wicked way in me” (Ps 139: 23-24 NKJV). There are prayers God won’t answer for our own good—or at least not right now. Pastor Jerry Sittser writes: “Your cause may be right, but you may still be wrong: manifesting pride, gloating in victory, punishing wrongdoers with excessive severity…The great hazard for people on a crusade is…they become blind to their own faults. They fight for civil rights but treat janitors like second class citizens. They uphold standards of Biblical sexuality but show little grace toward their spouse. Unanswered prayer is God’s gift…it protects us from ourselves. If all our prayers were answered we’d abuse the power…use prayer to change the world to our liking, and it would become hell on earth. Like spoiled children with too many toys and too much money, we’d grab for more. We’d pray for victory at the expense of others…intoxicated by power we’d hurt people and exalt ourselves. Isaiah said, ‘The Lord longs to be gracious to you…therefore He waits’ (Isa 30:18 NAS). Unanswered prayer protects…breaks…deepens and transforms. Past unanswered prayers which left us hurt and disillusioned, act like a refiner’s fire to prepare us for future answers.” Bottom line: Pray with the right motives!

BROKENNESS PRODUCES CHARACTER

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.”  Ps 51:17 NLT

When we submit to God’s dealings in our lives, He empowers us to reach our full potential by gently breaking areas of our stubborn will that need to be submitted to Him. As these areas are broken, His power within us is released and things begin to change for the better. Power and talent without character and direction, have destroyed many a man and woman. You probably know some of them. So be warned; unless your talent is governed by character, you’re headed for trouble. A horse may come from a line of blue ribbon champions, but until its will has been broken, its power is a danger to itself and those around it. You’ll notice two important things about a thoroughbred champion horse: (1) It hears many voices during the race but it has learned to respond to only one—the voice of its rider. And that’s God’s plan for you. You’ll get a lot of opinions, but to win in life you must be led only by God—and that calls for humility. “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Ps 25:9 NIV). (2) Its power is realized and its full potential released only when it can be harnessed and directed. So, is God breaking you in similar fashion? Is He putting His harness on you and saying, “You can’t live like that anymore, or do your own thing, because I have plans for you”? The word for you today is: “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God” (1Co 6:19-20 NLT).

CONQUERING THE FEAR OF DEATH (2)

“He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”  Jn 11:25 NKJV

Years ago a best-selling country song said, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Why? Sometimes it’s because we’re not sure that we’re ready. But you can be. How? (1) You can prepare spiritually and emotionally. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (vv. 25-26 NKJV). When you put your trust in Christ, death is not the end of you but the beginning of the best version of you. (2) You can prepare relationally. How? By letting the key people in your life know on a regular basis how much you care about them. You must also forgive anyone who has hurt you, and seek their forgiveness if you hurt them (See Mk 11:25-26). (3) You can prepare financially. One of Christ’s last acts on the cross was to commit the care of His mother to one of His disciples. Good stewardship requires that you leave a valid will with clear instructions concerning your earthly possessions and how you want your funeral to be handled. This may not be a pleasant thought, but it’s your spiritual responsibility. Paul writes, “I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Php 1:23 NKJV). Why did Paul say heaven was “far better”? Because God had already given him a glimpse into heaven. David felt the same way: “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps 16:11).