Category Archives: John

God is love…even when we’re not!

How easy is it to disagree with that verse?  There are times when we’re angry with God because we feel there’s no way He could love us.  There are times when we feel hurt because it seems that God doesn’t care for us.  There are times we feel broken because we think God is punishing us.  If we have anger, hurt and brokenness that we feel is brought on by God, then how can He be a God of love?  Why does He allow pain and suffering in our lives?  Why does He cause us to hurt and suffer?

Those are all questions and thoughts I’ve faced many times throughout my life.  I suspect many of you have had those same questions.

God does not cause our pain and suffering.  The broken world we live in is unfortunately full of pain and suffering.  It’s part of being human.  Whether you choose to believe in God or not, you still experience pain and suffering the same.  God wants nothing more than for us to be filled with joy and peace.  It’s in those times of pain and suffering, when we call out to Him, that He hears us, wraps His arms around us and carries us through the brokenness, but we have to let Him.  He doesn’t force us.  He waits patiently, gently guiding us, placing stones in our paths to help us find our way.   He wants us to seek and find Him.

It is often difficult to show Christ-like love to people you feel have hurt you.  I have been quick to respond in anger and frustration many times, even especially with those I love the most.  I have said hurtful words and I have held grudges.  I have embraced bitterness.  I have welcomed anger.

It’s hard work breaking those habits.  I have to try really hard to think about what I say, how my reactions affect those around me, and asking that question…are my words and actions showing the love of Christ?  If they aren’t, maybe they aren’t worth saying and doing.  I don’t want to bring hurt and pain to others, so instead, I find myself much quieter than I use to be (many folks are probably very thankful for that, LOL!). 

That’s not to say that I don’t still struggle.  I do!  I have sleepless nights when I just can’t get people off my mind.  I replay over and over in my head the things I should say, the things I want to say and the things I shouldn’t say.  I debate with myself and God over my attitude, my actions, my thoughts and my feelings.  I struggle every day to find that peace God wants to give me.  Thankfully, life is much more peaceful now than it has ever been.

I think a lot most of my peace comes from His word.  Instead of being quick to speak, I am quick to turn to my Bible and see what God has to say about each particular issue I am facing that day.  Instead of acting in anger or frustration, I catch myself breathing and thinking, figuring out the best way to respond.  I don’t always get it right and there are many times when I still just want to shout to the top of my lungs my thoughts but I am slowly learning to change my ways.

Will you show the love of Christ to those you encounter today?  Will they feel His presence through your words and actions?  Will you embrace the love He wants to give you even in times of pain and suffering?

It’s through those experiences that have brought me to my knees, that have left me empty and hopeless, that have crippled my spirit, that I have come to where I am.  It’s through my brokenness that I have found true peace.  It’s through the darkness that I have found the light.  Through my pain and suffering, I have learned to live.  Before, I wasn’t living .. I was waiting to die.  Now, I am truly living, with a purpose, called to share the glory and grace that God has shared with me. 

Psalm 71:20-21  Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.  You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

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For years, I felt like I was nothing.  I doubted God’s love for me.  I turned away from Him.  I was angry with God.  I felt abandoned by Him.  I felt unworthy.  I felt worthless.  I had no hope.  I had all these “feelings” and yet for the most part, I couldn’t feel anything.  I was numb.

I lived in darkness.

I tried to read my Bible – I physically saw the words on the page but they just weren’t reaching me.  I put away my Bible, time and time again.  I was convinced God just wasn’t for me.  How could He love someone like me?  Why would He waste His love on me?  Why would He bother with me when I was just broken and bitter?

Darkness is crippling.  
Darkness is scary.
Darkness is like sitting on the edge of death without the ability to just die.

Many emotions, thoughts and memories haunted my mind.  I hated the thought of facing another day.  I lived without hope.  I ached for freedom from this life.

I prayed for an escape.  I prayed for the pain to go away.  I prayed for peace.  With every prayer, I really thought God would give me the strength to end it all.  He answered my prayers, but not at all in the way I ever would have imagined.

He cleansed me.
He washed away my pain.
He wiped away my tears.
He held me in His arms.
He assured me of His love.
He promised me a future.
He gave me hope. 

He forgave me.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

When I don’t fit in
And I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ

‘Cause I’m forgiven
Oh, I’m forgiven
I don’t have to carry the weight on who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven 

Sanctus Real – Forgiven   (official video here) (Sanctus Real website here)

I am a treasure in the arms of Christ?!  What a wonderful thought!  What a blessing!  I never imagined I could be anything even close to a treasure, much less to God.  He has given me the wisdom to seek Him, the ability to trust Him, and desire to share with others, the work He has done in my life.  He has given me peace.

Psalm 34:17-19  The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;  He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 29:11  The Lord gives strength to his people;  the Lord blesses his people with peace.

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you;  my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

2 Thessalonians 3:16  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you.

John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have over come the world.”

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Keep on reading…

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

So this was a verse I heard over and over this morning at church.  It was the verse we focused on in the 2nd grade Sunday School room as we talked about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It was one of the verses preached by a missionary who visited our church today.  As he read John 3:16 and talked about what a beautiful verse it is, he also mentioned how we tend to stop there but when we read further, we learn more.

So, reading on, John 17-18 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.”

As usual, I had to scroll down the page of my NIV Life Application Study Bible and read the notes.  I love trying to learn what I can from the verses but most of the time, it takes me reading the notes to really understand what the verses are saying.  With that said, I *adore* my Bible and couldn’t live without it.  I definitely recommend it to anyone searching for a new Bible :)

The notes go on to say in verse 18 that when Jesus talks about unbelievers, he means those who reject or ignore him completely, not those who have momentary doubts.

I am thankful for that little addition.  Many times, I have worried that my doubts are unforgivable or unacceptable.  Based on the above statements, I am reassured that my doubts just show I am human.  I know as I learn more and grow in my faith, my doubts will lessen.  That statement also makes me sad for those who reject Jesus.  I know there were times in my life when I turned away from God, when I sought bad things, whether it was in spite or to punish myself, either way, I see now how much it damaged my life and how much I have grown putting my faith and trust in God.

Diving further into these verses, in John 3:19-21, Jesus says, “This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, sot that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

You hear John 3:16 all the time.  It’s one of the first verses I remember memorizing.  It’s printed on shirts.  It’s displayed on automobiles.  It’s in commercials.  It’s probably one of the most well known verse of the Bible.  I admit, before today, I had never read past John 3:16.  I never knew I needed to, but today, it was exactly what I needed to read! 

John 3:19-21 spoke to me in several ways.  In my Bible notes, it says, “Many people don’t want their lives exposed to God’s light because they are afraid of what will be revealed.  They don’t want to be changed.  Don’t be surprised when these same people are threatened by your desire to obey God and do what is right, because they are afraid that the light in you may expose some of the darkness in their lives.  Rather than giving in to discouragement, keep praying that they will come to see how much better it is to live in light than in darkness.”  Further on in my notes, it says this about verse 25, “Some people look for points of disagreement so they can sow seeds of discord, discontent, and doubt.”

Having come out of the darkness and into the light, I strongly believe that it is so much better to be open about all those ugly secrets than to carry them around.  I have been in positions where I made decisions that were right but was condemned and criticized for my decisions.  That left me with doubt – did I really do the right thing or were these people right to criticize me?  Reading John has eased that doubt.  I know right from wrong and when others have issues with me making the right choices, it’s simply that – their issue, not mine.  

I was consumed by the darkness and I have hidden for many years, the dark, ugly secrets of my past.  I believed that was all that was possible in my life…that I would forever be burdened by shame and guilt, I would always live with fear and worry, I would stay consumed with memories and nightmares of a tragic life.  I don’t know the exact moment all of that changed, but at some point, I gave up – I turned it all over to God and he freed me from my chains.  I give him all the glory because without him, I wouldn’t be here.  The only way I can comprehend my existence today is to believe that God does have a purpose for me.  When I read the notes above about the darkness, I am reminded of all the years I spent in the dark and how that is a place I wouldn’t wish on anyone – a place I pray I never have to visit again and yet it’s a place I don’t want to forget.  I want to remember where I came from so that somehow, someway, God can use my pain to help others who are where I was.  Forgetting or denying where I’ve been would give me nothing to show how God has worked in my life, but being open about those years, admitting my guilt, my faults, my shortcomings, my choices, my suffering – all of that and showing where I am now – that is proof of God’s grace, His redemption, His love!

I am thankful today that this missionary pointed out for us to read further – past the pretty verses we tend to memorize and get the whole story.  It was a gentle reminder to me to keep going, to really soak in His words and apply them to my life.  He speaks right to the things we need to hear – but we have to be open to hearing what He has to say.  I am amazed daily at the way He answers the questions in my life!

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Relying on God…

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Today, as I read a devotion from Renee Swope, author of A Confident Heart, I’m drawn to the verse above and her version of it – “Instead of giving in to the whispers of worry spoken by our enemy, let’s listen to God’s promise of peace”.

It’s so easy for us to get dragged down by worry and doubt.  Satan creeps in, dose by dose, fueling the worries.  He finds his way in through the tiniest openings – into our hearts, into our minds, into our souls.  We have to work and fight really hard to keep him out.

How do we overcome these strongholds of doubt and worry?  How do we fight back against our enemies?  How do we move forward in good, Godly ways, without compromising our beliefs, our hearts and our minds.  How do we keep from sinking into the pit of despair brought on by Satan’s attack with worry?

We turn to God!  

Psalm 46:1 tells us, God is our refuge and strength,  an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 91:2 says, I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

And in Psalm 18:2 we read,  The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

The LORD is…


Satan certainly doesn’t make things easy.  I have my moments when things happen and I just want to shout how absurd things are or share my hurt feelings or point out others faults.  I have done those things in the past and it didn’t help the situation at all – in fact, I think my quick mouth often made situations worse.  I have learned and am still learning to be careful with my words and my thoughts.  I have to constantly remind myself that God is bigger than every situation that I face and that He is in control.  I am reminded through His word to pray continually.  And so I do, for all those hurting and struggling, for those affected by disease, distress, depression, for those wandering and lost,  and for myself, to continue to walk in His guidance, step by step, seeking Him, loving Him and leaning on His word, His truth, and not relying on the world.

Does that mean Satan won’t still attack me?  Of course not!  The closer I get to God, the more Satan wants to jump in my life.  I have a choice to make – I can either let Satan win or I can follow my heart and my beliefs and live for God because God has loved me, has forgiven me, has carried me and has promised me truths.  Satan cannot compete with my God – my God is so much bigger!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

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