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But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1 (NLT)

It’s time to move on. Yes, it was devastating when the career you loved and gave your life to was snatched from your hands. But that career, much as you loved it; good as you were at it; financially secure as it made you, wasn’t you. You were created by a loving God, a merciful God. A God that has plans for you to prosper you in ways money, status and security can never give you.

It’s time to move on. You were hurt by the words that were spoken, and rightfully so. They were calloused, unloving, angry words. And it hurt even more since the words were spoken by a ‘Christian’, maybe even a thoughtless pastor. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. But hurting people, hurt people. Words don’t determine who you are regardless of who speaks them. That is, of course unless that person is your heavenly Father. He calls you by name. In Biblical terms that’s far more than a greeting. It’s the most intimate of terms reflecting a deep passion, a deep love. What does he say about you? He ransomed you. He paid the price for you. You are his.

It’s time to move on. Yes you failed. You failed miserably. Again. You couldn’t have seen it coming. From all appearances it was a good marriage. Now that person you pledged to love for the rest of your life has betrayed you and even if you could forgive and forget, reconciliation is impossible. They are gone.

Or, perhaps worse yet, you are the one who crossed the line. It was a line you never thought you’d cross. Now, you wear the scarlet letter on your chest. Others may not see it, you do. Life may be better now in many ways, but the ‘A’ on your chest still speaks of guilt and failure. Everyone sees the pain of the person jilted by love; few see the pain of the person who walked. But God does. God’s forgiveness isn’t defined by your sin, but by his great undeserved grace.

It’s time to move on. The Father says, “But now…”

The past is the past. Whatever it is that’s causing your pain, let him remove the guilt. Let him anoint you with the healing salve of his love and forgiveness. Allow him into those deepest recesses of your soul to bind the wounds that have held you captive. You are ransomed. The past no longer has any right to ownership. You are free to move on in his grace and power. It’s time to move on, not through your own power but the power of His Holy Spirit who comes to you to guide, strengthen and empower you.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many that are hurting today. So many who are entrapped by their past. Draw them to yourself. Empower me to be a tool of their healing through prayer, forgiveness and Christ’s love. Amen.

Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 22:22 (NIV)

Job was perhaps the most spiritual man on earth during his time. There is no other place in the Bible where God seems to give a man such a stunning recommendation as he does Job. Job is known for his godliness, his patience and his lack of good friends.

In the midst of Job’s trials, Eliphaz steps in and pleads with Job to see the light. His wealth was gone. His family was gone. His health left him as well and he ended up sitting in a pile of ashes scraping boils with a broken dinner plate. To top it off, his wife had lost heart and wished he’d just die so he’d be out of his suffering. Talk about a downer!

When things go dreadfully wrong in our lives there always seem to be a generous supply of people willing to step in and tell us exactly why we are in that predicament and offer solutions to getting out.

Eliphaz was just the man for the task. He pleads with Job to come to his senses. “All this can be over if you will just turn your life over to God! Listen to him. Return to him. Quit being so evil and greedy and he’ll restore you!” (My paraphrase)

Maybe you have an Eliphaz in your life. Someone who scrutinizes every move you make and are ready in a heartbeat to point out why your way is wrong and their way is best. Eliphaz’s seem to have experienced every illness, every legal situation and every relational issue known to man. Their profound experience allows them the opportunity to share with the world the way to happiness.

Only one problem with Eliphaz. He didn’t have a clue as to why Job was suffering. Job didn’t either. The only one that did was God and he wasn’t talking. Give him credit though. Eliphaz was following a misconception that began in the Garden of Eden and will continue until the end of time. It’s the notion that God only speaks to us in certain ways and at certain times.

Eliphaz (and all his ancestors to this day) would have done well to practice what he preached to Job. His words in Job 22:22 are words each of us needs to follow. Rather than listening to all the ‘Eliphaz’s’ in the world, we need to learn to listen to God himself.

Does God use people to speak his word? Certainly, but not always. He would much rather speak directly to us individually through prayer and reading his word than to speak through a translator.

Calamity doesn’t always come as result of sin. Disaster isn’t always Gods way of punishing us. Sometimes God allows the bad things in our lives to bring us closer to him, but not always. The next time an ‘Eliphaz’ steps forward with all the answers to your problems, listen respectfully and then go to the Father and see if what Eliphaz says matches up with your Heavenly Father.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for the Eliphaz’s in my life for they teach me patience. Give me wisdom to follow you even when they try to convince me their way is best. Amen.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11

The Apostle Paul admonishes us to keep up the energy level in our lives. If you have ever been around a new Christian you have an idea of what he is talking about. Someone who has just accepted Christ into their lives seem to manage to include Him in every conversation. They are excited about the new life they have found and have a peace that nothing can shatter.

Then, gradually, that fervor fades. Sometimes old habits start to show up. Old life style issues raise their ugly heads, and soon it’s hard to tell the difference between them and the rest of the world. Paul tells us to keep that fervor. Keep that excitement. Constantly remind yourself of what Jesus did on the cross for you.

That’s easy to say, but sometimes reality deals us some ugly blows. Perhaps the biggest thing that can be a ‘zeal zapper’ is our own failure to conquer bad habits or addictions in our lives. “Jesus heals. Jesus forgives. So why can’t I stop smoking, swearing, looking at porn, etc. etc.” We keep adding ‘things’ to our list to try to do better but nothing works. With each failure on our part the enemy reminds us that we aren’t worthy. He’ll tell us we aren’t really Christians. He’ll remind us that God is displeased with us. (By the way, that’s a lie. God is never displeased with us. He may be displeased with our actions but NEVER us.)

Another Zeal Zapper is the comparison game. We look at how others in our groups, churches, etc. have ‘mastered the Christian walk.’ Some of them even (not so grace-fully) tell us how we too can be just like them. We fill our lives with all sorts of activities to try to be better and only end up wanting to give up all together or suffering emotional, physical and spiritual fatigue. We lose heart when we realize we simply can not be like them. (Did I mention that God never tells us to be like other people? He tells us to follow Him and He is NOT a cookie-stamper God).

Zeal Zapper number three is disappointment with other people. Sometimes our expectations of others falls short when we put too much faith in them. Sometimes our expectations are shattered beyond recognition by the way we are treated by  Zeal Zapping, Grace killing Christians who feel it is their duty to make sure you follow their ten easy steps to spirituality. There was only one person perfect enough for us to emulate. Stop trying to live up to the standards you place on yourself or others place on you. Allow your relationship with Jesus Christ to form your identity. Then, press on along the journey of life knowing that whether you walk confidently or stumble, Jesus is at your side guiding you all the way.

Zeal Zapper number four is disappointment with God. Your Heavenly Father loves you dearly. Sometimes He doesn’t do things the way we expect or want. Sometimes God’s ways are just plain confusing! But His ways are the best ways. Trust means that we give God permission to place whatever He chooses in our way in order to make us more reliant on Him.

Don’t let the Zeal Zappers take away the joy you have in Christ. Failure will come. Disappointment will happen. But He is always there wanting to encourage and energize you for whatever life places in your way.

PRAYER: Father God. I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to live by other peoples standards. I’m tired of trying to measure up to what I think you want instead of growing in relationship. I’m tired of being judged by others who seem to think they know all the answers to the easy spiritual life. I ask that you would forgive me for trying human things to accomplish divine results. Empower me with Your Spirit to live grace-fully for you. In Jesus name, Amen.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

God never intended for us to do the journey of life on our own. From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, He looked upon man, His most prized possession, and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”

In a sense, God was saying, man needs relationship to get through life. Even though Adam was in relationship with God on a face to face basis, he needed someone like himself who could walk with him and see things the way he did, through human eyes.

God has always been in the business of relationship. Relationship is crucial for our physical, emotional and spiritual well being. There are times in each of our lives when we may think being a hermit would be a great idea. No people to bother us, no politics to endure and no pain from broken relationships. But hermits don’t make a difference in their world. Hermits don’t acknowledge or use the gifts God has given them.

The writer to the Hebrews was talking relationship in Hebrews 3:13. What he is really saying to us in this verse is that each of us needs to have at least one person in our lives that we can go to with our deepest darkest secrets. Someone who won’t judge us; will listen to us when we need to vent; encourage us when we feel weak; cry with us when we need to cry and celebrate when things are going right.

It’s no secret why groups dealing with addictions encourage their participants to have a ‘friend’ that they can call on when the temptation to indulge in the addiction is too great. When we are fighting addictions we need to have someone who will stand by us and not lecture or judge us.

Ever noticed really good cheerleaders at an athletic contest? They seem completely unaware of the score on the scoreboard. Their job isn’t to analyze the team’s ability. Their job is to cheer on the people on the field. Everyone needs a cheerleader in their lives. Someone who stands by us when we are losing the battle and celebrates when we win.

Don’t buy into the enemies lie: “I don’t need anyone. All I need is God”. We need each other. We need to have intimate spiritual relationships with one or two people that we know we can share our deepest darkest secrets with; who we can express our pain to and we can trust to stand by us, even when they don’t agree with our situation.

If you are struggling today with an addiction, a relational issue, a financial issue or any of the other obstacles in this journey called life, my prayer for you is that you will find one or two close friends who are Christ-followers and will love you as Jesus does, unconditionally.

If you are a Christ-follower, my prayer for you is that you seek out those who are limping along on the journey. Like the story of the Good Samaritan, it’s easy to be too busy or too appalled by the victims we see laying along the road, bruised and battered by life. It’s time to stop and do what we can to dress the wounds of those in need of the healing only Jesus can give.

Every day, the enemy watches us get out of bed and plans what obstacles to throw in our way. Every day we need a cheerleader. Someone who will encourage us to press on regardless of the score on the scoreboard.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, you know the struggle I’m in right now. You knew from the beginning of time how important it is that I be in an intimate spiritual relationship with someone. I pray that you will help me find the comfort and encouragement of relationship the way you meant it to be. Help me to reach out to those in need as I walk this road called life. In your name I pray, Amen.

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August 2022
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