Love is a Decision

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
– ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-8‬‬

Love is a decision.
Sometimes, it’s a really hard one.
Sometimes it is a gut-wrenching, sick-to-your-stomach kind of hurt.
Sometimes we feel betrayed and we just want to cry out.

We wonder how someone can make the choices they make and use the words that tear our hearts to pieces, when we are giving them everything we can give. When we are always there with love, support, direction… Why is it not enough???
But it’s true. Love is a decision. We have to keep loving through the pain sometimes. We have to keep standing strong even when they try to push us away.

When I am struggling in a relationship with a loved one, I will pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me choose love! I’m tired of hurting, but I’m trying to be patient. My loved one has had cruel words to say, but I want to be kind. Help me choose to respect them and to try to understand their point of view. Calm my temper so I don’t react in anger. And when I forgive, help me to truly let go of the issue, and not throw it in their face at a later date. I want to protect their heart fiercely – like a mama bear protecting her cub. Help me trust that they will receive my love, and learn to better demonstrate their love for me. I have hope that as we each grow closer to you and learn more about your grace and love, our relationship with each other will grow stronger, as well. Be close to us through this rough patch so that our relationship may heal. Thank you, Lord! Amen.

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The Best Pathway For Your Life

“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Sometimes we want to experience what life could be like outside of the path that God has set for us. We wonder what we could be missing out on if we stay on His path.
Security?
Financial gain?
Excitement?
Happiness?
Fun?
Popularity?
But God says that He will guide us along “the BEST pathway for your life.” The best! God doesn’t want us to live miserable lives. It’s easy to get sidetracked and pulled away from the path we set out on, by the temptations of having more. More fun. More happiness. More of what everyone else has. But the important question is: what could we be losing if we choose another path?

Sometimes we get scared and and we want to protect ourselves, so we choose a route that looks safer. We let our fear lead us down a different path instead of having faith that God is watching over us like He says He will. Staying on His path is declaring that my God is stronger than my fears!

Sometimes we think we know what’s best and we choose to rely on our own efforts instead of relying on God. We let our pride lead us down a different path. It’s okay to put in extra hours to save up and buy a new car or to have a strong work ethic and work towards that promotion that you’ve been wanting. But we have to humble ourselves and admit that God’s path is always the best path and our strength comes from him.

Sometimes we want to find a shortcut and we think we can find a quicker or easier way than what God has planned for us. If we take an alternate route to avoid one obstacle, we are bound to come across others eventually. No matter how many times we branch off of His path, we are not getting any closer to a life free of all obstacles or worry. We are only taking ourselves farther away from everything he intends for us to gain in His timing.

Sometimes we just want to be alone, away from people who hurt us, so we turn down a path of isolation, thinking that if we don’t let anyone close to us, then no one can hurt us. But God doesn’t want us to live our lives alone. He made us to love. If we close ourselves off from being hurt, we close ourselves off from being loved. When we choose to isolate ourselves and push others away, we are only thinking of ourselves. Our hurt. Our pain. Our sadness. Our frustration. We are holding onto the past, when God wants us to let it go and be made new. He wants our hearts to be open and loving. In fact, he COMMANDS it. And if we truly want to serve God, we come to realize that we do so by serving others.

Sometimes we want a change in our life. We want to do something adventurous and different, so we choose a dark and scary path. We follow others who seem to have a much more interesting life than anything we have experienced, thinking that we know where to draw the line. We tell ourselves that it’s okay – we won’t stray TOO far from His path. But one small decision at a time, we find ourselves farther and farther away. It is perfectly fine to assess our lives and see what we can improve. But it is important to seek these new exciting hobbies and friendships on His terms! Find a group of people who will walk His path WITH you – not lead you away! Allowing Him to guide you will lead you to new happiness, new excitement, and new LIFE that you never imagined was possible when all you could see was the thrill of earthly treasures.

There are so many paths available for us to take, but the danger is the same for all of them. If we step off the path He has set, we could lose ourselves. Those paths can lead to pain, shame, and a world of darkness and loneliness. We can hurt the people who care about us and who want to see us succeed when we walk away from His guidance.

Dear Lord, Thank you for watching over me and leading me along the best pathway for my life. Please help me to stay on this path and not be distracted. Open my eyes so that I may see your path before me and follow where you lead, no matter what decisions I face. Amen

More Than Enough

Abram traveled back to where he had previously built an altar and called on the name of The Lord. He was back in the place where he knew God wanted him to be.
Abram and Lot were still traveling together, and they had acquired so many possessions that the land could not support them both. Abram no longer had the same worrying nature that had led him to Egypt. Now his faith was in God, so when faced with this difficulty, he was able to bring peace to the situation by acting with generosity towards Lot.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He trusted that God would provide for him, so he was willing to allow Lot to choose what part of the land he would like for himself.

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Abram was humble in the situation. He was content, knowing that there was more than enough land for both of them. He showed Lot that his relationship with him was more important to him than the conflict at hand.
Lot chose the best land for himself. After Lot had parted, God spoke to Abram. He reassured him that it was not a loss. It didn’t matter what he had given away. God would be giving it all to him anyway.
When we trust God in all the areas of our lives, we can release our grip on things of this world. Our faith allows us to live without attachment to our possessions.
We can restore relationships that are in conflict by acting out of generosity.
We can resolve tension through compromise and cooperation. We can be content and free of the worries of losing our possessions, because it’s just stuff.
You can trust that if God wants you to have it, he will bring it back to you in His timing. And if it’s not part of His plan for you, then you are free from one more distraction that could be keeping you from seeing what He has in store for you.
What is more important – your relationships or your stuff?

Dear Lord, Thank You for providing for me in so many ways. Thank You for the friends and family in my life, for the roof over my head, and for a job that has always paid me enough so that I am never lacking. I have been through some really hard times in the past, so I find myself holding onto so many things that I don’t really need. Please help me to release my grasp on these possessions and act with generosity at every opportunity. I don’t want to hold back anymore, because I have faith that You will make sure that I always have enough.
Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 13:1-18
1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lorddestroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

Faith Over Fear

Because of a famine in Canaan, Abram took things into his own hands instead of asking God for direction. He decided to go to Egypt and live for a little while.
His decision put him and his wife in danger. Because Sarai was such a beautiful woman, Abram feared that the Egyptians would kill him. Abram made another decision without consulting God – he lied.
At this point, Abram’s fear was stronger than his faith. His fear of starvation was greater than his faith that God would provide, and his fear of being killed by the Egyptians was greater than his faith that God would protect him. Abram convinced Sarai to say that she was his sister, so that he would be treated well and his life would be spared.
Apparently Sarai’s safety wasn’t a part of Abram’s plan. Although Abram was treated well with gifts of livestock and servants, Sarai was taken by the Pharoah as his wife. Sometimes when we stray from the path that God has set for us or when our faith is weak, we are not directly affected. We may even benefit from our poor choices. But those same choices could be hurting those close to us.
Fortunately, God did not allow Abram’s poor choices to keep Him from the plans He had for Abram. God handled the Pharoah, and Abram was able to leave with Sarai and everything he had gained while in Egypt.
If Abram had stayed in Canaan, where God had led him, his faith would have grown stronger as God provided for him. Instead he allowed fear to take control, leading him away from God, and even leading to sin.
How often do you allow fear to steer you off course?
You start out on the right path, with the best intentions in your heart, and then things get hard and you are afraid of what may happen, so you start looking for an easier path to take – without asking God what direction you should be heading…
But God doesn’t give up on us when we make mistakes. God shows grace in our weakness and He still has plans in store for us, even after we’ve made choices that lead us away from Him.
If you are trying to follow God’s plan for your life, you have to stop allowing fear to trigger a change of plans. Use your fears to trigger your faith instead.

Dear Lord,
Please help me to remember to seek your direction when I’m faced with a problem or when I have a big decision to make. I want to always stay on the path that You have set for me, but sometimes I lose sight of what is important, and I worry too much. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in the struggle and I try to find my own way out. Please help me to remember that even when I’ve made mistakes and end up feeling so far from You, that You will still open Your arms and pull me back to where You want me to be. Thank You for showing Your grace and not giving up on me in my weakness.
Amen


Today’s scripture

Genesis 12:10-20 NIV
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Settling For Less

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭11:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Terah set out to go to Canaan, but settled in Harran.

What made him leave his homeland?

Did the call to go to Canaan originally begin with Abraham’s father, Terah? We know that after Terah dies, God tells Abraham to continue the journey into Canaan…
When He calls us, He allows us to make the choice to follow His plan or not. But God’s plans will be achieved, with or without you. Don’t you want to be a part of His success? If you do, then you have to surrender and let Him work through you.
The journey may be a long one, and it may be difficult at times, but we know that His plans for us are good. We have to move when He calls us into action and we have to keep going, even when it would be easier to stop. We don’t get to decide when we’ve done enough – not if we want to see what He is leading us into.
How many things have I missed because I settled for something less?

How many things have I started and not finished?
Dear God, Thank You for making me a part of Your plan. I don’t want to settle for anything less than where You want to take me. I don’t want to give up, so please give me the strength to follow where You are leading me. 

Amen

Bad Attitude

Have you ever found evidence that your child has disobeyed? As soon as you see what they’ve done, you call out to them. When they timidly approach, you ask them… “What happened to my antique lamp?”
They know they broke it.
You know they broke it.
They know that you know that they broke it.
So you are hoping, wishing, and praying that they tell you the truth.
Because you want them to be honest.
You want them to be sorry.
You want to forgive them.
But if they are tempted to lie, or act like they don’t know what you’re talking about, they must suffer the wrath of Mom! “Go to your room! You are GROUNDED! No TV or phone for a week!!”

In Genesis 4:9, God knew that Cain had killed Abel, but he wants to hear what Cain has to say.

“I donʼt know,” he replied. “Am I my brotherʼs keeper?”

Cain’s response to God was rebellious and disrespectful. God gave him a chance to confess, and Cain defied him. God had had enough. Cain was cursed and banished, destined to be a homeless wanderer. Did Cain beg for mercy or forgiveness? Did he apologize or express remorse? No. He considered the punishment too much to bear, and he was afraid he would be killed because of it.

Sooooo…let me get this straight.
– Cain caused the original conflict by being selfish.
– Cain became jealous of his brother because Abel was accepted, while Cain was not.
– Cain ignored God’s warning.
– Cain lashed out at his own brother.
– Cain lied to God and became defiant when confronted.
– Cain complained that his punishment was too harsh.
Cain sounds like a teenager with a bad attitude.
And just like a mother dealing with an insolent teen, who has the power to make you angry and break your heart at the same time, God sent Cain away. Even though he followed through on his punishment, he also showed his unending love and forgiving grace by protecting him from being harmed by others.

It hurts God to see us sin. He loves us and He forgives, but He wants us to be humble. He wants us to come to Him and confess. And he wants us to ask for that forgiveness.

How many times has your bad attitude pulled you farther away from God? Emotions are one thing, but how you choose to deal with those emotions are up to you. Whatever the circumstance, don’t let your bad attitude escalate the situation. Things will not improve and you won’t be satisfied with the outcome. Turn to God for help in resolving the situation. Remember Psalm 51:10 –

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

When I am in the middle of a bad day, and I don’t like the direction my attitude is taking, I will pray:
Dear God, I am feeling overwhelmed by my emotions in the situations I am facing right now! Please help me to control my attitude so that I don’t lash out at those around me. Please help me find a way to deal with what is happening in a calm and loving way.

Amen

Do What Is Right

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
– ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭4:7‬‬

God encourages us to do what is right. We might think that our hands are clean, or that our behavior is “good enough,” but just because we are not actively sinning doesn’t mean that we are doing what is right.
God knows what is in our hearts. He knows our motives.
He knows when we are not giving our best.
He knows when we are telling the truth, but not the whole truth.
He knows when we wish our competition would fail.
God warns us that if we do not do what is right, sin is right outside the door. Every time we do not do what is right, we are opening that door a little wider. If you allow yourself to be greedy, if you allow yourself to envy, if you allow yourself to hold on to anger, if you allow yourself to hate…you are allowing yourself to slip and slide dangerously closer to sin.

We all have been angry. We all have times when we feel like the situation we are in doesn’t feel 100% right. God is telling us that we have the power to control that. We have the power to do what is right and close the door on sin. Slam it shut, lock it, and slide the deadbolt!

When I feel like I’m failing to remain in control, and I’m afraid the door may be cracking open, I will pray:
Dear Lord, I must confess that I haven’t done what is right. Please open my eyes and give me clarity when I am allowing my emotions to get the best of me. Help me to resist the urge to deal with situations my own way. In my heart, I want to live in obedience and follow you. Thank you for guiding me back to the right path when I start heading in the wrong direction.

Amen