Devotion: Good Out of Bad

Life is hard.

How often do we allow ourselves to grieve with God about the difficulties of our lives?

We need to be able to weep with our Mighty God about our difficulties, so we can begin to see how He is working, with fresh eyes as we grieve with the reminded that our Savior Jesus is grieving too.

Confession: I don’t like being sick, but there is something very beautiful about how our Mighty God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead – can indeed bring good out of bad.

This is probably why I love hearing Genesis Joseph’s testimony!

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Genesis 50:20, ESV

“My Verse” toward chronic illness has been Genesis 50:20.

When, like Joseph, we experience difficulties in our lives, we have to remind ourselves of the good things that can happen – even though we went (or are currently going) through a terrible thing

[This is not to advocate abuse. If you are being abused, call 9-1-1 and get out of that situation. If you are suicidal, call 9-1-1 and find support to find hope again as well as accountability if/when you need it or meds/therapy, because in both circumstances whether someone else is harming you or self harm is happening, you are worth getting out of that kind of situation or mindset. You are worthy of living and thriving. No judgment here. I am both on meds and see behavioral help, so that I don’t self-harm. I don’t want to even get to that point again in my mental health. ]

Jesus Christ cares for you so much, that He died on the cross to carry your sorrows and griefs as well as sins. And He rose on the third day to give you new life. New life, that you can begin living now!

Maybe for you, it is a trauma you wish never happened. Maybe, it’s a chronic illness that you have experienced for years and it hasn’t gone away. Maybe, it is the loss of your marriage. Or something completely different, but equally devastating.

I love the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and He is the Reason I can get up in the morning.

Even in a sea of depressive thoughts and chronic illness, He remains my hope. And our God never changes, regardless of how horrible our circumstances become.

My goal today is simply begin sitting with you. I don’t know if it is your first time here or hundredth. Either way, welcome to Gracefully Overcoming!

You are very loved and treasured first and foremost by God, but by me as well – so if I can pray for you or offer emotional support…

Don’t be shy to leave a comment or head on over to Facebook or Instagram to find me (I don’t check Twitter enough). There is even a Gracefully Overcoming Facebook Group for additional support.

One way you can support this page is through using the affiliated links I use in social media for your any Amazon purchases. It is an affiliated link, which means my blog will benefit at no extra cost to you! Great, right?

Like this one (double donation, since it is my devotional).

Or this one. This link actually is the one recently used in Social Media. It is for a book I am reading about hoping again. Great read so far!

In Christ,
Stace

Week 1: Learning About His Love

How is everyone doing with this week’s study and memory verse? Our memory verse for the week is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, which says –

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you…

The Spiritual Election

We need to know deep in our spirits that election, which has already taken place. God has chosen us. There is no other’s vote who counts more than God’s. God has specifically chosen you, to become His own son or daughter, through the sacrifice and salvation found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We recently went through a significant presidential election. One filled with emotions and arguments. This is not the sort of election that has taken place in Heaven, concerning us. God specifically and lovingly chose us. He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and this is why we have been chosen. Being chosen has absolutely nothing to do with our appearance, talents, health, or how far we have come in our lives. We are chosen specifically, because God loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him!

Being chosen by God is fully dependent upon who He is. He desires to spend time with us, who are uniquely made by Him. He is our good good Father, and honestly wants to be with us more than anything else!

Loved Anyway

It’s hard for me to envision in my mind that God has seen all of humanity at their best and worst, yet He has still chosen me.  Especially on days like today, where my struggles are real, I cannot imagine the process of being chosen. As hard as it is to believe, because I wouldn’t choose me on a day like today, God has purposely chosen me and dwells with me in my moments of trouble.

He has chosen us. He wants to just love us and be there for us. If we could grasp this truth, our entire perspective would change. As we grasp this truth, we begin to look at our relationship with Jesus differently and become increasingly more transformed than the day before.

This kind of love is what led the prodigal son home. The Father’s love is incomparable to anything else we could ever experience. We are fully welcomed into our Lord’s presence, because of what Jesus Christ has done. We have been ushered into our heavenly Father’s presence, from the moment we begin to follow Jesus Christ.

We might liken this moment to being invited to a party, but it is far different than anything we could ever experience. We are invited to sit at the table with the very guest of honor Himself – Jesus Christ. We are fully welcomed, involved in heartfelt conversation, and given the tremendous privilege to enjoy Him and His presence.

We need to realize that… God’s relationship with us is the highest thing on His “to do” list!

The Ultimate Love

This is the ultimate kind of love, where we will be welcomed, entertained, to be fond of, and to be dearly loved. Also, to be well pleased and contented with. This means: we will always have God’s full attention. He is not going to get restless in His relationship with us, and move onto the next one. God is fully invested in our lives, and desires to be with us more than anything else!

Because of His enormous kind of love, God has chosen us. We have been hand-picked by God to have our relationship with Him restored, through His precious Son Jesus Christ!

Feature image by Kalen Emsley.

Signature

Choosing Jesus: Gratitude

A-Thankful-Heart

After a few weeks hiatus, this is the week we return to our “Choosing Jesus” series. This is the second spiritual discipline in our Sabbath series, which is on gratitude. It is only nature that gratitude would proceed celebration. These two disciplines really go together.

While it is November, gratitude isn’t reserved for solely this time of year. We are called to be thankful – “delight[ing] in God and his good will” year long. Delighting in God, is described as “the heartbeat of thankfulness (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook).”

We all have been around others who are either incredibly thankful or a chronic complainer. We need to consider, which kind of person we want to be.

Do we want our hearts to be filled up with bitterness or God and thanksgiving for what He is doing?.

I have refused the gift of gratitude for most of my life. Even my adult life. God is showing me a different way – “the path of life (Ps. 16:11),” where we are given the opportunity to experience God’s Presence and the joy He offers to us. It’s not anything like this world could ever afford. God’s joy is real-and-long-lasting. Our circumstances may not vanish in an instance, but we will begin to realize that we can be happy despite our circumstances.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. ~ Henri Nouwen

As we endure our high and low days of life, we can choose to be thankful people. Even when circumstances unforeseen enter our lives, we have much to praise God for.

Why We Can Express Gratitude

We can express thanksgiving, because of our intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. We can rejoice and express thanksgiving – because:

  1. God has not left us (see Deut. 31:6; Jn. 14:18).
  2. His joy is within our reach, through His Son Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2).
  3. Others around us, act as a spark to help us learn what gratitude looks like (see Prov. 27:17).

It’s about delighting in Him, not how good life seems to flow.

Its Benefits

There are several benefits of developing a thankful heart. Let me try and list a few, for us all, to meditate on this Sabbath.

  1. Pleasure: God is not the only One who gets pleasure from our spirit of gratitude. We are tremendously blessed, when a light switch in our spirit is turned on – and we go from “complainer” to “the thankful person” (see Neh. 8:10; Prov. 21:19).

    This is the Holy Spirit’s work on our lives (see Gal. 5:22-23) – and a result of the Romans 12:1-2 kind of transformation God wants to do in us.

  2. Promises: It doesn’t just give us pleasure. It helps us to get God’s prospective on things in our lives. We learn God means what He says, when He promises to take care of us – and strengthen us (see 2 Chron. 16:9).
  3. Perspective: We learn not to take circumstances at a face value, because God is working on our behalf. God is changing our hearts, as we make the choice to follow Him and resolve to let His joy become our own – despite our circumstances (see Col. 3:1-2).

Question

I love this question that is listed in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:

How has a grateful person affected your own vision of what matters in life? How has someone who lives out of bitterness affected your life?

Activity

Finally, we come to the one thing that will help us move toward a thankful heart. This is the place where we don’t just talk about gratitude, but choose to live it out.

Take time to focus on what kinds of things help you to give thanksgiving to God. Do you know anyone who reflects a truly thankful spirit who is firmly rooted in Christ Jesus? Focus on building into your daily life a thankful heart, and watch for ways that can flow out of you onto the community He has given you.