Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.
The unspoken motto of many women seems to be, “Pour on the guilt and shame; I deserve it.” One of the biggest problems we face as women on the journey is getting rid of shame and false guilt. The sad truth is we often allow our loved ones to make us feel guilty and ashamed. And letting people take advantage of us is wrong.
On many Monday mornings, Marilyn would call her husband’s boss and tell him her husband, Dennis, was sick when he was really suffering from a hangover. On the few occasions when Marilyn would refuse to cover for him. Dennis would try to fill her with guilt and shame. Like Marilyn, some women allow their families and friends to bully them into taking on responsibilities that are not theirs or to accept the false shame and guilt when they don’t comply.
For our loved ones’ sake as well as our own, we must daily draw our boundaries to protect ourselves- and we should probably apologize to those we love for having taken away from them their opportunities to grow by bearing the consequences from their actions. Let’s commit our lives to asking God to help us resist manipulation, false guilt, and shame.
Thought: I will ask God today for His insight into opportunities to express my love by saying no in situations that will help others grow.
Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you.
An excellent swimmer, she was lost in a local lake just before sunset. She could easily see the shore and was enjoying her swim. Suddenly a fog rolled in from seemingly nowhere. The swim went from leisurely to frightening. She lost all sense of direction because all landmarks had disappeared in the fog. She swam first one way and then another, unable to find her bearings. Finally, after about twenty minutes, she heard voices. She swam toward the shore with only the sound of the voices to guide her.
Sometimes in life we feel all alone in the fog. We head in one direction, then another, and still can’t find the safety of the shore. We wonder how we will ever find the way. The Swiss pschiatrist Paul Tournier once said, “Where there is no longer any opportunity for doubt, there is no longer any opportunity for faith, either.” The “foggy times” of our life bring us doubt, but they can also give us a chance to exercise our faith. God loves us, and the Bible gives us many examples of His concern for us. God uses natural resources, such as voices on the shore, to show us the way. Sometimes He also uses superrnatural resources such as dreams. We will be uncertain at times in our lives, but we can always be sure that God is there and He does care. One way or another, He’ll provide the “voices” we need to teach us and show us the way.
Thought: What subtle “voices” from God are instructing me in my life today?
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
People are not naturally moral. History proves it, our own nature shows it, and the Bible tells us from cover to cover that stumbling is part of our natural condition. History, for example, is filled with wars, greed, deceit, and hatred. Our present generation has witnessed the Holocaust, the threat of nuclear war, public corruption and private betrayal. And if we really look within ourselves, we have to admit to self-destructive habits and sins. Physically, we often don’t take care of ourselves as well as we could. Mentally we view ourselves with such distortion that we often need professional help to sort truth from error. Morally, we take short-cuts, hold grudges, tell lies on a small scale if not a large one.
Christ would not have had to die if people were perfect. But, when we depend on Christ’s substitution for us, we become perfect in God’s sight. We read in today’s verse that some day Christ will introduce us to the Father as faultless-and He’ll do it with great joy.
Thought: Today I will visualize Christ as proudly introducing me to the Father-and rejoice that His sacrifice makes it possible for me to be good.
Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorities, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Josh. 24:15.Two young men had heard stories for years about the wise old hermit who lived up in the mountains. Rumor had it that he was very eccentric, but there wasn’t a question that the old man couldn’t answer. The young men decided to test the old man’s brilliance. They decided to catch a little bird and hold it with their hands. Then they would ask the hermit if the bird was dead or alive .If he said it was alive, they would crush it to death. If he said it was dead, they would leave it alive.
Pleased with themselves, the youths stomped up the mountain until they arrived at the hermit’s cabin. When the elderly man answered their knock, the bravest one said, “Sir, we have a little bird in our hand. Is it dead or alive?” The man looked right into their eyes and said, “Whether that bird is dead or alive is in your hands. The choice is yours.”
As women on the journey, we too have the choice in our hand. We can choose life through Christ or death by turning our back toward God and his provision for us.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the freedom to choose whom I will serve.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Do you ever struggle against bitterness? My own struggle could have been called the bitter battle of the suffering saint-although now I prefer to call it the better battle of the recovering masochist.
Actually, I think I hid my bitterness pretty well most of the time. Even my closest friends would have told you that I was a happy person who nearly always had a kind word and a contagious laugh-and that really is part of who I am. But there was also another person inside me-a bitter woman who felt life should treat her better since she tried so hard to do what was right. My bitterness was private, but I know it influenced my loved ones. Hidden feelings often have a profound effect on our own lives and the lives of others.
Looking back now, I realize I was trying to play God and decide what results I should get for the efforts I had exerted. Through prayer, Bible study, and quite a bit of self confrontation, I finally began to let God be God. I realized I’m not smart enough, nor is it my place, to figure out what is fair and what isn’t.
Do you have bitterness? Don’t let it get the best of you. Give it to God. He knows what to do with it.
Thought: I will let go of my secret bitterness today. I will trust God to even things out in His own way and His own timing.
Therefore a man shall…be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
“What you see is what you get.”
“If you don’t like the way I am, leave.”
“You knew what I was like when you married me.”
All these statements are part of the “All about me generation”. When we marry we become one flesh. To do that, we obviously have to change. And change must happen if we want to grow in our relationship with each other. Change doesn’t mean one person puts his or her brain into neutral and lets the partner do all the thinking. But a beautiful change occurs in a marriage when each partner humbly sees characteristics in his or her partner that are worth emulating. For instance, if one member of the couple is a listener and one is a talker, wonderful things can happen as they observe these strengths in each other. The talker learns to talk a little less and the listener learns to listen less and talk more. They grow together as one complements the other.
Growing in any relationship means changing. How beautiful a newborn baby is-but how sad it would be if the new baby never changed its appearance. And how sad it would be if a new relationship just aged, but never grew and changed.
Thought: Growth means change. What would be a reasonable goal for change in my life today?
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
A few years ago, I experienced a major financial setback. It was only partly my fault, but I felt responsible-furious with myself. And I soon found myself slipping back into old, self defeating behaviors such as rehearsing my failure over and over again to God. A loving friend who heard me praying asked,” Don’t you believe that once you have confessed this area to the Lord, He wipes the slate clean? Are you trying to pay penance?” That was exactly what I was doing. I also was downgrading myself for not being perfect, trying to make up for my failure by working harder, and becoming irritable toward those I loved-another old pattern.
One day I stopped my frantic activity and did a self-evaluation. I had to admit that in response to this crisis I had regressed-fallen back into old, dysfunctional habits. What I needed to do instead was to fall back on the stability of God’s grace. I needed to confess my failure but affirm my value. I needed to move toward relationship rather than away from it or against it. And I needed to say, “Of course I made a mistake. I”m human. Only God is perfect.” Once I did that, I could begin to deal with the consequences of my poor choices and put them behind me.
Prayer: Lord, when I face my weaknesses and mistakes, help me to confess rather than to regress.
Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Chameleons are animals that can change colors depending on the setting they are in. God created them to do that as a protection against their enemies. They blend into rocks or grass and can be almost invisible to the untrained eye.
Mary would have liked to be a chameleon-to blend into every situation. Mary thought that if she could become whatever those around her expected her to be, then she would be loved by everyone. She avoided any situation where she might lose the “loved and respected” title. She defined happiness as having the whole world’s admiration.
Let’s look at the truth. Jesus Christ was perfect. But was He a chameleon? No! Was He loved and respected by everyone? No! In fact, He was hated, resented, and ultimately crucified.
God didn’t create human beings to blend in with their surroundings. He made each of us unique, and His goal for us is to become the best we can be-not like everyone else. He wants us to stand up in a crowd when we feel we’re right. He wants us to be like Christ, secure in our mission and secure in the One who sent us on that mission.
Thought: I will determine today to not lose heart. I will keep doing what is right, not necessarily what people expect.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.
Do bad things happen to good people? Yes. Do good things happen to bad people? Yes. One of the most difficult concepts to grasp is that life is not always fair. As children, we were obsessed with everything being fair, but it wasn’t. Life wasn’t fair when we were children and it still isn’t fair now that we’re adults.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Theologians give us three reasons. It might be because God wants to show us His power. Sometimes God wants to use the incident to help us mature. And sometimes bad things happen because of our own sin.
Whatever the reason bad things happen, here is a truth we can always rely on: God can bring good out of bad. We can’t be sure, in our limited human perspective why things happen. But we can be sure that God is with us. We can also be sure that no matter what happens, God loves us. He will help us overcome-not be overcome by-our problems in life.
Thought: God will bring good out of bad when we are committed to His purpose in our lives.
And you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.
One night during my husband’s last year of medical school, I was watching the ten o’clock news on television. The commentator announced the need for a couple to live with eight girls in a nicely furnished home. When Paul came home from his rotation at the hospital, I excitedly told him I had found a job for us. After some calls we got the job.
A word of caution, if you hear about a job on the ten o’clock news, you know there must be some drawbacks. There were! Our girls came from emotionally bankrupt homes. One had been sexually molested. Another had been passed from foster home to foster home. Still another had been beaten by both parents. Paul and I though that if we showered these girls with affirmation and provided well for them materially they would be forever grateful. So we couldn’t understand why they weren’t instantly overjoyed in their new home with us. We now know that even though the girls did appreciate us, they needed time to work through the pain of their losses before they could truly start their lives over. Lost things and people can never be totally replaced. Before we can go on, therefore, we must mourn our losses.
Thought: I must grieve over my lost relationships if I want to grow into new ones.