Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘God’s love for me’

We All Need Help

SOURCE:  Jimmy Ray Lee/Living Free

“Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.”

Romans 3:23-24 MSG

In dealing with life-controlling problems—actually in dealing with life itself—we all need help from a power greater than ourselves. People look in many places for that help: wealth, fame, success, New Age philosophies, and even their own willpower. But ultimately there is only one answer: Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Some people see God as a crutch for the weak or sick. Others may be dealing with anger toward God. Still others may have had unpleasant experiences with Christians and developed a distorted concept of God. The most important thing to remember is that there is hope for all in Christ.

If you have been trying to deal with a life-controlling problem in your own strength, you are probably experiencing frustration, anger, fear, shame and rejection. It is important that you recognize that you can’t do it on your own and turn to the only one who can truly help you: Jesus.

Jesus loves you. He paid the price for your failures by dying on the cross. He wants you to reach out to him and receive his forgiveness and his strength. He has a special purpose for your life and wants to help you achieve it. But first you must acknowledge your need for him and ask him to take charge of every area of your life.

Father, I’ve been trying to handle things on my own too long. Forgive me for all the wrong and help me get back on track. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …


Stepping into Freedom: A Christ-Centered Twelve-Step Program
by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min.

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Not Enabling, But Waiting and Watching

SOURCE:  Living Free/Dr. Jimmy Ray Lee

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

Enabling is anything that stands in the way of or softens the natural consequences of a person’s behavior.

God does not want us to enable others in their wrongdoing. Neither does he enable us when we choose to walk in disobedience to him. He loves us too much to enable us in our wrongdoing. He knows that we will not come to our senses and change our ways unless he allows us to suffer the natural consequences of what we do.

The great thing is that, just like the father of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father is loving us and watching for us. He wants us to come home and will run out to meet us, showering his love, mercy and forgiveness on us when we return.

Do you need to return? Perhaps you have recently fallen into something you know you shouldn’t do … Your Father is waiting for you.

Perhaps you have been locked into a downward spiral and feel as though there is no way out. God always provides a way. He is just waiting for you to come to him with a repentant heart. His arms are open wide … no matter what you have done. Jesus has already paid the price for your sin. Receive his forgiveness. He loves you unconditionally and is waiting to help you.

Father, I am so sorry for what I have been doing. Please forgive me and show me the way out. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Understanding the Times and Knowing What to Do by Dr. Jimmy Ray Lee. 

God, You Are Soooo Stubborn!

SOURCE: James MacDonald

GOD’S RELENTLESS LOVE

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

—Psalm 23:6

Are you experiencing a season of defeat and discouragement?

At times like these, God can seem far off and distant from your life. But if you are one of His children—if you have turned from your sin and embraced Christ by faith as the only basis for your forgiveness—you have this Psalm 23 promise in your pocket:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Look at the two key words in this phrase.

Goodness means bounty or blessing. Mercy can also be translated loving-kindnessfavor, or steadfast love. It comes from the Hebrew word hesed, used 246 times in the Old Testament. Half of those occurrences are found in the Book of Psalms.  Hesed was David’s favorite word to describe the attitude of God toward His children.

In Psalm 33:5, David observed, “The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” In Psalm 86:13, “For great is your steadfast love toward me.” In Psalm 98:3, “He (the Lord) has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness.”

The loving-kindness of God—His goodness and mercy—is eternal. It’s persistent. It’s a stubborn love God has for His children. He won’t turn His back on us. And He won’t give up on us or let us go.

God’s hesed love brings Jonah to mind.

Jonah could run, but he couldn’t hide or get away from God. The Lord used a storm to get Jonah’s attention and a very large fish to transport Jonah back to the shore where he had made his wrong turn. Even the hardship of Jonah’s experience was God’s loving-kindness. He could have wiped out the wayward prophet in a heartbeat. But, determined to show His loving-kindness to the huge city of Nineveh through Jonah, God kept him alive.

Likewise, God is relentless in His pursuit of you.

No matter what choice you make or where you go, He will come after you. God has a plan for your life, and He will go to great lengths to complete the work He has begun (Philippians 1:6).

If you have become a follower of Jesus Christ, God is all over you and your situation. He is pursuing you—relentlessly.

That’s the meaning of the phrase, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.”

It also means your very best days are ahead. As a child of God, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done—your greatest days of usefulness and service to His kingdom can be in the future, followed always by His goodness and mercy!

Failure: God Loves Losers

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Ed Welch/CCEF

Being a Loser and the Freedom to Fail

Two kinds of failure

Our failures are not all of the same type.

“I failed the test. I studied but ended up with an F.”

“I failed the test. I was alone on a business trip and assumed I could resist temptation, but the first thing I did was turn on the porn channel.”

These are two very different failures.

One reveals that we are fallible humans who make mistakes; the other violates the clear commands of the Lord. Ironically, given a choice, many of us would prefer a small moral failure to one in which our blunders are exposed. I’ll leave the more serious matter of failure involving sin for another time, and consider the one that is less serious but feels more pressing.

The category of failure-because-we-are-human is one all of us face. This is the failure you experience when you don’t make the cut for the varsity team and all your friends do, or you don’t get the job, or you lose the church vote for deacon, or a date never calls back.

“Stupid!” “Loser!”

At times like these, we assume that everybody sees that we are losers, and we are persuaded that we are losers.

Bring failures to the Lord

One of the telltale signs of this kind of human failure is that we are slow to bring it before God. Moral failure is different; we know we must do business with the Father. But human failure has independent instincts, or, at least, we assume it is about our reputation before other people rather than our relationship with the Lord.

But the Lord does have something to say about it.

Start by telling him what is going on.

What is it? What failure are you upset about? (“My whole life” doesn’t count. Be more specific).

What are you really saying? Is it something like this: “People think I’m a jerk!” “I have made life more difficult for my family.” “I expected more of myself.”

Anything you need to confess? There is probably no obvious sin if the matter is not a moral failure, but we can always confess our over-interest in personal reputation.

Then listen to Scripture. You’ll find a number of divine responses. Here are just two.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. (James 1:9-10)

Consider how you, as a brother in humble circumstances, have been singled out from the beginning of time to belong to God and, as you throw your lot in with Jesus, you have all of Christ’s inheritance. Your stature, indeed, is quite high.

I appreciate those words, and sometimes they are helpful, but I find more comfort— and some humor—in these:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor.1:26-29)

God loves losers

In other words, God loves losers. He is the one who chooses us to be part of his team. This way we can’t boast that our stellar reputation is a result of our fine work and amazing talents.

The freedom we have in Christ has a few different facets. One is that we are not judged by the world’s standards of success and failure. Instead, we have the freedom to be human, which means that when we fail, and we will every day, we know that Jesus is the head of this new world order, not us, and we hope to one day realize that there are more important matters, such as boasting in what Jesus has done.

How God Thinks of Me

SOURCE:  Living Free

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NLT

Perhaps you have suffered abuse from a parent or spouse or another “trusted” person. Maybe you have suffered a traumatic personal loss. Or perhaps you have made poor choices and are suffering from the consequences.

God promises that despite all these things, you can have overwhelming victory through Christ. Come to him for help … and forgiveness. If you do, nothing … absolutely nothing … can separate you from his love.

Sometimes it is easy to look at scriptures about God’s love and think, Yes, God loves all people. But in our innermost being we don’t include ourselves in the “all people.” We think I’m different … I’m just not good enough … that’s alright for other people, but I’ve made too many mistakes. It’s too late for me.

But God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that you are included.

No matter what you have done. No matter what other people say or think about you. No matter what you think about yourself. God loves you. Jesus died for you. Nothing can ever separate you from his love.

And as you walk with Jesus, you can have overwhelming victory over every problem and obstacle in your life. 

The problems might still be there … the obstacles may still come. But you won’t have to face them alone … and Jesus will give you the strength to overcome.

Lord, thank you that these promises are not just for other people … but they are really for me. Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you that no matter what has happened in the past or comes my way in the future, I can walk in victory through Jesus. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Restoring Families: Overcoming Abusive Relationships through Christ by Janet M. Lerner, D.S.W. This study helps to minister to families caught in the cycle of abusive relationships. 

WHAT DOES GOD WANT FROM ME?

SOURCE:  John Eldredge

 

What Does He Want From Us?

The gospel says that we, who are God’s beloved, created a cosmic crisis. It says we, too, were stolen from our True Love and that he launched the greatest campaign in the history of the world to get us back.

God created us for intimacy with him. When we turned our back on him he promised to come for us. He sent personal messengers; he used beauty and affliction to recapture our hearts. After all else failed, he conceived the most daring of plans. Under the cover of night he stole into the enemy’s camp incognito, the Ancient of Days disguised as a newborn.

The Incarnation, as Phil Yancey reminds us, was a daring raid into enemy territory. The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and we were held in the dungeons of darkness. God risked it all to rescue us. Why? What is it that he sees in us that causes him to act the jealous lover, to lay siege both on the kingdom of darkness and on our own idolatries as if on Troy-not to annihilate, but to win us once again for himself? This fierce intention, this reckless ambition that shoves all conventions aside, willing literally to move heaven and earth-We’ve been offered many explanations.

From one religious camp we’re told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines, or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more therapeutic churches suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or self-actualization, or something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not his primary concern.

What he is after is us-our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts. Remember his lament in Isaiah, that though his people were performing all their duties, “their hearts are far from me” (29:13 italics added). How few of us truly believe this. We’ve never been wanted for our heart, our truest self, not really, not for long. The thought that God wants our heart seems too good to be true.

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(The Sacred Romance , 90, 91 )

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