Living loved, Relationships, surrender

The Forgiven Forgive

There was no peace. What started as friendship ended in full out anger. We seemed to disagree about everything. There were dirty looks and silence. Those were far from our finest moments. We couldn’t let go of the small things, so they became big problems. Weary from conflict, I read a Scripture passage that pierced my soul and helped me forgive.  

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)Operating as if I hadn't needed God's forgiveness kept me from pardoning my friend. Have you been there? Click To Tweet

I realized I was withholding mercy because I forgot the full weight of grace God has afforded me every time I’ve messed up. Operating as if I hadn’t needed God’s forgiveness kept me from pardoning her. Have you been there?andreaquote1-apr29-fb

It’s much easier for me to offend with a quick retort when someone hurts me. Or self-protect when I don’t feel appreciated or others are unkind. But it’s not what God calls us to do. We are to respond like Jesus, and He doesn’t shun them with the silent treatment or cut with snide remarks. Instead, He sees their behavior as an outpouring of hurt and sin and offers love and grace to soothe their souls.

This doesn’t mean we let others abuse us. Sometimes setting healthy boundaries is the best way to love someone. But we do allow God to reign over our relationships so that we can see the way to peace.

andreaquote2-apr29-fbTo follow His lead, we must first take inventory of all the ways God has shown us mercy. What harsh words have we spoken that He’s forgiven? What poor choices has He redeemed once we confessed? Who would we be without God’s favor? As I answer those questions honestly, I realize I have no business withholding forgiveness of others because my God has taken away my sin, free of charge.

Here’s what I’ve learned, the offended offend, and the forgiven forgive. Which we choose is important because one has power to crush, and the other to redeem. Here’s what I’ve learned, the offended offend, and the forgiven forgive. Which we choose is important because one has power to crush, and the other to redeem. Click To Tweet

Paul, and early evangelist who wrote much of the New Testament, encourages us to pick wisely, saying, “so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:7-8, ESV).

You hold the power to soothe your soul and others every time you choose love over hate and forgiveness over bitterness. Take a moment to thank God for the grace He’s shown you today and extend that line of mercy to those in your path.

 

I want to hear your thoughts about forgiveness and conflict on our FACEBOOK page. What has helped you resolve problems peacefully? What Scripture do your rely on when faced with relational conflict?

AndreaWeb47

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers. Read more from Andrea online! 

Faith, Living loved

The Unshakable Security of Christ’s Love

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Jesus should’ve given up on me long ago. I gave up on myself, especially during my teen years, when I spent more time drunk than sober, and filled with enough anger to emotionally combust.

But each day, God pursued me and lovingly drew me until, eventually, His gentle and persistent love soothed my inner angst and healed the hurt it came from. He always offers us more grace and patience than we’d ever offer ourselves, and His staying power far exceeds ours. I know this, but in moments of doubt or discouragement, or when my pride wins out over obedience, I can easily forget.

God's love for me is based on who He is, not what I've done, and my salvation rests on what He's done, not what I haven't. Click To Tweet

In Christ, I am held secure.

I never fully understood God’s heart for me, and the power and strength emerging from it, until I became a parent. But having walked beside my daughter through nearly a lifetime of good, bad, the obedient, and at times, flat-out rebellious, I’ve caught a better, deeper, picture of my Father’s heart—a heart that never lets go, never gives up, and will in no way ever turn away.

When our daughter was seven or eight, we moved across the country from Southern California to Bossier City, Louisiana, a transition she struggled with. Though initially, we were oblivious to her pain—seven-year-olds aren’t often able to express their emotions—we soon became alert to a drastic change of behavior. Our normally cheerful, affectionate little girl had become sullen and angry.

I was confused and concerned.

One afternoon, she grew quite upset with me (for reasons I can’t remember), shouted, “I hate you!” and slammed her bedroom door.

That was the first, and perhaps last, time she’d ever said something like that to me, and it broke my heart. But not for the reasons you may assume.

My heart broke because I knew hers was breaking. Beneath her anger and harsh words, I saw her pain, and in that moment, what I longed for most was to draw her near and hold her close.

Throughout my faith journey, I’ve displayed a similar response toward God as she had to me, numerous times. Like when my friend was dying, and I struggled to reconcile my circumstances with what I knew regarding God’s love, power, and sovereignty. Once my emotions settled down, guilt and fear followed. Had my anger angered God?

Had I—or would I—do something that would drive Him away for good?

But each time, not only did He remain. But He took giant, loving steps toward me.

God holds me secure, and His love will always remain. Unshakable. Immovable. Solid and sure. Click To Tweet
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How securely are your feet planted in grace? When doubts and insecurities arise regarding God’s heart for you, how might pausing to remember who He is, rather than what you have or haven’t done, help you rest in His embrace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

For those wanting to learn how to more fully embrace their Christ-centered identity and rest in His grace, grab a free copy of our study, Becoming His Princess. You can do so HERE. And make sure to join us for one of our upcoming Fully Alive conferences to learn how to connect on a deeper level with your Savior and live vibrantly alive in every moment. Find out more and how to register HERE. Want us to join you for your next women’s event? Contact us for more information or to schedule a time to chat by phone HERE.

 

 

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Living loved

Listening for God

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My eyes popped open. Did anyone else hear that? To my relief, all heads were still bowed in prayer. Good thing—then no one would notice the tears that gently slid down my face as I struggled to keep it together. My heart pounded. God had just spoken to me for the first time.

I’d experienced my Heavenly Father’s magnificent voice, and I wanted more.

Because God first spoke to me in the context of worship, I anticipated that again. It made sense that I would hear from Him in church—His house, where everything was about Him, and where He had my undivided attention. However, as week after week of worship passed with no divine encounter, I began to feel discouraged.

Was that it—the one and only time I’d hear from God?

But, something deep within knew differently, and numerous verses in the Bible indicate otherwise:

“and when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.”” (Isaiah 30:21)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

And even though I was relatively new to the concepts of Christianity, I knew that God desired a relationship with me. How could I have an intimate connection with someone if we didn’t speak regularly? I have ongoing communication with family members and close friends, so why should it be any different with God?

Then, I had get painfully honest with myself. If I know someone well, I can identify them simply by their voice. Could I do that with God? The way He spoke to me the first time was undeniable, but would it always be like that? Did I know my Heavenly Father well enough, through reading and studying His Word, to be certain I’d recognize His voice again?

christa-quote-listening-7-16iIt was clear that I needed to adjust my thinking. I’d made worship the exclusive place where I could experience God, assuming I had to physically go to church to encounter His presence. My attitude was an ignorant. “Ok, God, I’m here. Talk to me”I was limiting a limitless God, expecting Him to show up when, where, and how I wanted like an actor responding to their cue. Thankfully, God is much bigger than the confines of my expectations.

I wondered how many times I’d missed opportunities to connect with my Heavenly Father, because I was too busy looking for Him elsewhere—how many times I’d drowned out His still, small voice with the clanging of my own demands.

So, I quieted my soul, let go of expectations, and asked God to speak to me. I also began to dig into my Bible. Pretty soon, I started to hear Him. Sometimes it was a clear, resonating sound within—leading, guiding, affirming, or correcting me. Other times, it was small and sweet—a whisper to remind me He was near, a verse from Scripture that jumped off the page as I read, or worship lyrics that continually ran through my head. I felt Him speak to me through creation, heard Him when others’ words sparked something inside of me, and experienced His presence in ways that are simply too difficult to articulate.

As my relationship with God blossoms, I marvel and rejoice that the Creator of heaven and earth desires for us to be in constant communion with Him. He doesn’t need us, but he wants us—to be close enough to rest assured that we are known, seen, heard, held, and above all, loved.

Let’s talk about it! Do you hear God regularly, or is it a struggle to decipher His voice above the noise of life? What can you do today to draw closer to Him and position your heart to listen?

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Living loved

When Others Reject Us

While growing up, I was the awkward, frizzy haired kid from Podunk, Oregon. The one who came to school with a big, old feather dangling from my hair, my favorite pair of Velcro shoes on my feet, and clothes that immediately caused a stir—but not in a good way.

I had no sense of style, spent entirely too much time daydreaming, and was in no way rocking the social scene. By some miracle, midway through fifth grade I managed to wiggle and finagle my way to the fringe of the popular group, only to be completely shunned before summer hit.

Nearly two decades later, when attending “mommy-and-me” gatherings in Southern California, I felt I’d entered a time warp. It seemed I was right back in a cliquey fifth grade classroom, and I wasn’t part of the clique.

I felt insufficient and unimportant.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this—being the misfit. The odd one. The woman everyone seems to tolerate but never purposely includes. It stings.

But imagine spending your life as an outcast, the one everyone judges and condemns. Then finally receiving your invite to that long-coveted party, only to be kicked out upon arrival.

Scripture doesn’t tell us his name. In fact, we know very little about him, except he was considered to be cursed. As a blind man in ancient Palestine, he’d grown up surrounded by accusation and assumption. Everyone, even Jesus’ disciples, assumed he or his parents must have done something terrible to cause his condition.

“Rabi,” the disciples asked, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2, NIV).

This was the pervasive conclusion his peers believed, likely from the time he took his first breath. It didn’t matter if he behaved kindly to others, how long and often he prayed, or how many good things he did. Nothing could shake the judgment that followed him, because his blindness was constantly evident.

Nothing, or rather no one, but Jesus.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in Him” (John 9:3, NIV).

Can you imagine the hush that must’ve fallen over the crowd, and the hope that surely bloomed within the man? To hear the respected Teacher, this Miracle Worker, validate him so publicly?

And then, Jesus put mud on the man’s eyes and told him to “wash in the pool of Siloam,” which he did, “and came home seeing.”

This created quite a stir, and soon the man was brought to the Pharisees, a group who likely had judged him most fiercely of all. Powerful men who could choose to celebrate his healing or to expel him—completely, perhaps permanently—from the temple, the center of Jewish community.

They chose the latter, as the man most likely assumed they would, if he proclaimed Christ as his healer. At that time, the Jewish leaders clearly despised the Savior and intended to excommunicate anyone who “acknowledged Jesus was the Messiah” (John 9:22, NIV).

And that’s exactly what the leaders did, openly rejecting the once-blind man, and potentially cutting him off Woman gazing into the distancefrom countless other relationships, as well. They rejected him.

But Jesus sought him out, and offered him something more enduring, more life-changing, than prestige and popularity—the gift of eternal life. And along with that gift came a friend who would never leave him, never reject him, and never turn away.

This is what Jesus does. When others abandon or mistreat us, Jesus welcomes us near with open and unyielding arms and whispers to our hearts, “Come to Me. I’ll never turn you away.”

Let’s talk about this! We’ve all faced rejection and many have developed deep wounds because of this. How might remembering Jesus’ call to come to Him help us heal and move forward? What can we do when others hurt or mistreat us to avoid allowing that past hurt to impact our present relationships? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on our Facebook page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

You may also enjoy:

Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

Chosen and Cherished by by Edna EllisonJoy Brown, and Kimberly Sowell

Living loved

Life Change — Our Role and God’s

“Lord bless this house and shut my mouth.” I can relate to that coffee mug statement. So this past New Years, I made a truly life changing resolution.

I resolved that my mouth would be kind.

In Psalm 17 David asks God to hear his prayer, and in his plea he states why his words are worthy to be heard.

David says, “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. As for the deeds of men — by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped” (Psalm 17:3-5 NIV emphasis mine).

How I want to speak only sweet words especially when I have every right to be defensive or grouchy. I desire God’s words to replace mine because His are forever trustworthy, peacemaking, and loving.

More often than I wish, I let my feelings run my mouth instead of bringing my emotions to God and letting His wisdom speak.
Andrea Chatelain

Still, I feel like I need duct tape over my mouth half the time. Maybe you can relate. More often than I wish, I let my feelings run my mouth instead of bringing my emotions to God and letting His wisdom speak. Without God’s help I speak harsh words when I’m stressed or sleep deprived or bark orders at my kids when I am running late.

But how can I, like David, live out this resolution?

James chapter three gave me an answer. In this chapter, James urges the church to change the way they speak about to each other. He even likens the tongue to a fire that can take over and corrupt a whole person and the course of their life.

He says, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil…But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:14-17).

We switch our words for God’s when we trade our earthly thoughts for His divine wisdom. The closer we are to Jesus, the easier it is to hear His guidance.

The closer we are to Jesus, the easier it is to hear His guidance.
Andrea Chatelain

James teaches us to “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near woman praising with the words of James 4:10 in the backgroundto God and he will come near to you…” (v. 7-8). “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (v. 10).

True, lasting life change is not something we can do on our own. But we do play a part. We resist, we come close to Jesus, and we humble ourselves.

We squelch negative words when they well up in our mouth. In hard situations, we resolve not to let our mouths run free without checking in with God first. We will come close to Him as we crack open our Bibles to learn about and from Jesus, soaking in every bit of goodness into our hearts each morning. And we humble ourselves through prayer asking Him for divine wisdom through his Holy Spirit. We ask for courage to replace our thoughts with His thoughts this year so our words will be His words.

My resolution may not make me any skinnier this New Year, but it will make my thoughts and lips more alive than they’ve ever been. And the scales of love will be tipped in my favor.

Where do you feel God is prompting you to speak love and truth to those around you? Where is He asking you to be silent and let Him fight the battle? Join the conversation online or be encouraged in person at one of our upcoming conferences.