Monday, November 12, 2018

Tone of God's Voice

Dear Friends,

In the discipleship group I’m in we’ve been learning about identity. If my identity was based in being Christ’s fully-known, fully-loved daughter, I wouldn’t have snapped at my husband last week when he thoughtfully brought me my phone. I usually identify myself by my failures. Instead of hearing Chris say, “I found your phone,” I heard, “Here’s your phone you poor, unorganized, and fragmented mess.”
Thank you. Here’s your head back.
I’m painfully aware I’m good at believing God’s Word and truths for others, but not for myself. Ironically, I often remind other women that they need to give themselves the same grace they give others. If your BFF made a mistake you wouldn’t chastise her, call her names, or deem her a complete failure, but that’s what we do to ourselves. I believe my advice is helpful and I want women to put it into practice, but there’s one problem. 
It doesn’t work.
I’ve tried telling myself there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I love the verse about God rejoicing over us with singing. I want that, but the voices in my head that tell me I’m not enough are louder, more persistent, and much more convincing.
In my discipleship group we’re learning to do, ask, and pray about areas where we struggle. When we get to the root of our struggle (for me – attacking my husband like I’m a grizzly and he’s a rabbit when he tries to do nice things for me), we form a short sentence God would say to us about our false belief  (I’m unorganized, incompetent or useless). Our group leader told one of the women to pray about God’s truth from Scripture, what He is saying about the lie she’s been telling herself – and then to say it tenderly like she was saying it to her daughter. In that moment, I realized why giving myself the grace I give others has never worked for me.
I don’t love me like God does.
God doesn’t want me to merely read about or tell myself He loves me. He wants me to feel, see, and taste his love for me. He wants us to consider His encouraging tone of His voice and realize that how we hear him can profoundly impact the depth of our belief of that love.

In Him,

Laura Sandretti

Laura Sandretti is an active speaker and blogger. She is currently pursuing her master's degree in Theological Studies at Trinity International University. Laura and her husband, Chris, have three teenagers, and live in Sussex, Wis. Visit her blog at www.laurasandretti.com/blogger

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Worthy Pursuit

Dear Friends,

“I just want to be happy.”

“You deserve to be happy.”

But we can’t all simultaneously be happy, nor can any individual be happy through every mess of life. We live in a culture that wants to give trophies and accolades to every child who puts on a team t-shirt just to avoid discouraging anyone. We declare on social media, “What a great life you lead!” 

But life is difficult. By claiming “happy” as our right and goal, we misconstrue reality. We miss out on the tools we need to live an intentional, purpose-filled life. We set aside the discipline, pruning, and trust that comes from focusing on God’s purpose in favor of our own comfort.

What we expect or demand in our “now” robs us of the fullness of “someday.” Happy gets in the way of joy and contentment. Pride gets in the way of faith and trust. We might appease ourselves and others temporarily, but we in the long run we will find ourselves dissatisfied.

Even if declare we want more meaning and purpose in our lives, our daily choices and attitudes reveal we are more happy-dependent than content and thankful for what we have. We may wish for those we love to be happy, forgetting that the things they desire may result from hurtful or destructive behaviors.

There will always be issues with striving for happiness, but our idea of happiness changes over time, and there is no reliability in happiness. Happy dependence is a worthless pursuit.

Contentment and joy are worth pursuing, as are peace, faith, and humility. Any attribute of God is a worthy pursuit. Chasing after God brings the great reward of knowing his purpose for us. 

What does God want for you? Your pursuit of that truth and your response to it may not be easy but it will give you purpose. That you can depend on.

In Him,

Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence is a writer and speaker who blogs daily at PurePurpose.org. You can also connect with Pure Purpose on Facebook.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Keeping Our Focus on Jesus

Dear Friends,

Who or what do you focus on when troubles come your way? When you are overwhelmed by difficult situations and stressed to the limit, what do you do?

Let’s see what happened to Peter during a blustery situation when he focused his attention on Jesus and what happened when his focus changed.

We read in Matthew 14:25-33 that shortly before dawn the disciples saw Jesus walking on water. They were terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. Walking on water was against the laws of nature, something that they had never seen before. 

Jesus immediately calmed their fears and said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” After their fears were calmed, Peter did not doubt who was instructing him to “Come.” With his focus on Jesus, he did not hesitate. He got out of the boat and walked on water toward the Lord. Peter’s faith and trust replaced his fear.

But as soon as Peter saw the troubling wind, his focus altered. His eyes and attention were no longer on Jesus, but on the wind, and he began to sink. Fear and doubt replaced trust and faith. When he cried out to the Lord to save him, Jesus responded immediately. He reached out his hand, caught Peter, and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

The disciples would face many stormy trials and adversities as they followed Jesus. This walking on water experience confirmed Jesus’ power and ability to help them in difficult circumstances, and proved that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  

As with Peter, we also experience stormy situations where we’re tempted to fear, doubt, and lose faith. But we can be assured that the Lord loves us and will always be with us (Ps. 46:1). 

What do we do in stormy times?

1.  Read and meditate on God’s Word: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Ps. 25:5).
2.  Spend time alone with God in prayer: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt. 6:6).

3.  Apply God’s Word to your daily life: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6-7) .

When we trust and believe in Christ, focusing on Him, we can be confident that He is always ready to help us in all situations. 

In Him,

Natalie B. Hall

Natalie B. Hall  is a guest writer for Just Between Us