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But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus. He did this so that others would put their faith in Christ and have eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16 (CEV)

To the Judge your value is determined by your ability to follow the rules. To the educator your value is determined by your grades and your performance in the classroom. To your spouse your value may be determined by your ability to perform according to their expectations. To your friends your value could be determined by your willingness to go along with their crowd. To the businessman determines your value by the amount of profit you generate. Bottom line is the motivator. The politician determines your value by the strength of your vote and the depth of your pocket. The religious zealot determines your worthiness for the heavenly gates by the number of ‘spiritual hoops’ you need to jump through.

With all these demands on us, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves asking the question ‘Am I good enough?’ We look around and see other people who seem to have arrived and wonder what is wrong with us. We try and fail. We pick ourselves up and try again…and fail again. Sometimes we decide it’s easier just to give up. We are misunderstood, abandoned by lovers, used by friends. Finances don’t work out and our health gives out.

In the midst of the gloom and doom, when we find ourselves in the midst of despair and disappointment; when the anger and bitterness and frustration seem to be too much it’s important to remember that our Heavenly Father, the creator-God of the universe tells us a different story. While others look at our failure and dismiss us, God looks at our failure and uses us.

Our best work for the kingdom comes because we have failed and been forgiven; because we are weak in ourselves but strong in our faith; because we have used our own shortcomings to prove to those around us that while the world may say you won’t amount to anything, in God’s eyes you are his everything.

Don’t listen to the lies of those around you. It’s your inability to get things right that gives God an opportunity to use you in mighty ways.

PRAYER: Father God, I’ve been living far too long under the scrutiny and judgment of the world around me. I’ve believed the lies that my worth comes from my ability and not my faith in you. Thank you that in Jesus, no matter what, I have great value. Empower me with your Spirit to live according to the value you’ve placed in me to do your work. In Jesus name, Amen.


“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

What gives you victory in life? At the end of the day, when you look over the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory, what do you attribute to the gold medal hanging around your neck?

For some people it might be that you finally made it a whole day without a cigarette (or a whole week or month or some other milestone). Others may mark it as a victory because even though the words were on the ‘tip of the tongue’ no foul language made it through the lips. Maybe you were actually at the computer and resisted the temptation to visit ‘the sites’. Perhaps you bask in the glory of the fact that you didn’t kill your teenager with words.

We all like victory over some of the bad habits we struggle with daily. Unfortunately those victories can be few and far between. Rather than putting notches in our belts for ‘making it through another day’ we sigh and wonder if we’ll ever be able to break that habit. Seems like the more we fail the harder it is to pick ourselves up, brush the dust from our clothes and move on. “Why try, really? You just know you are going to fail again. And, where is God in all this.”

You look to heaven, maybe even shake your fist and say (sometimes even audibly), “Where were you. I thought you were going to help me? I thought you loved me. I thought you’d never leave me. I thought…”

It might seem strange to you. It might be hard to understand, but God uses the struggles in our lives to make us stronger. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us fail any more than we do. Yet he knows, in all his wisdom, that today’s failures make us stronger for tomorrow’s crisis. It might be that God refuses to remove the habit we struggle with so we will rely on him more and us less.

The warrior overcomes his enemy be rendering him helpless. The athlete overcomes his enemy be defeating him in the arena. The Christ-follower overcomes the struggles in life by reliance on God and believing that someday victory will come, even if it comes through death.

Rather than focus on the battle, focus on the one who has already defeated the enemy. Rather than dwell on your failures, remember that Jesus knew the day he went to the cross that you would fail once again. He went anyway.

Today, just for today, dwell on the fact that God lives within you. He’s walking where you walk. Seeing what you see. Feeling the temptation and frustration and anger you feel. Hearing the critical words hurled at you like a nuclear missile. Be patient with others and more importantly yourself.

Do your best today as you go to battle. Try to rely on God’s Holy Spirit who dwells within you. The one who wants to guide your thoughts and your actions in every situation. Do what you know is right. And no matter what happens, remember that whatever you do, God will do what he does best—extend his grace in your life.

PRAYER: Father God, there are days when I feel like such a failure. If I were to look up failure in the dictionary I’m sure I’d see my picture right there. I try so hard and fail. I blame others. I blame myself. I even blame you from time to time. Help me, during the frustrating times of life when I’m tempted to go against what I know is right,  to remember you are right here with me to help me. Thank you for the grace you extend when I fail. Help me to remember the failures of today build the strength for tomorrow. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him. Isaiah 57:18

The prophet Isaiah was called by God to minister to a people who never seemed to get the ‘living for God’ thing right. Their history with Him wasn’t stellar by any means. Even though God blessed them time and time again they refused to see Him as the source of their success. Any time something came along that looked better than God’s ways they followed it. They were stubborn, rebellious people who didn’t seem to care what God said.

Not only did they have a hard time following God’s ways, they blamed God when they didn’t get their own way. If God didn’t get them what they wanted they’d find a god that did. It may be money, new relationships, or stealing from other people. The bottom line was God’s people weren’t very godly after all. The people chose religion over relationship but that didn’t satisfy them so they found other things to soothe their pain.

Isaiah came before the people with a message straight from God. It was a simple message: “I know your name.” Things really haven’t changed much since Isaiah was prophet. We all still struggle with our spiritual walk. We try to live for God but are pulled in so many other directions that we lose sight of His way. People fail us, or abuse us, so we find others who will treat us well. We find comfort in drugs and/or alcohol but that is only a temporary fix to our pain. We try religion but religion is demanding and often doesn’t seem relevant to our pain. We get tired of trying and failing and trying and failing again. When we continue to fail like that it’s easy to just give up. We may decide God doesn’t exist or care. We may decide we are just too hopeless of a case and try to go it alone because there is no way He’ll accept us.

None of that is true. Isaiah 57:18 tells us that God knows who we are from the very beginning. He knows our name. He’s seen what we are like from the inside out. We humans tend to determine who we are and who others are by what we see on the outside. We associate a certain kind of behavior, looks and attitudes by what we see on the outside because we are limited by our humanity.

Our name gives people the framework for who we are. If I say I saw ‘Mary Jones’ today, and you know Mary, then in your mind you can relate all you know about Mary by that name. The same is true to a much larger degree with God. He knows who you are from the inside out. He doesn’t just know what you do, He knows the real reason you do it.

Not only does God know you better than anyone else, including yourself, He loves you. He wants to heal you. The Bible refers to our sin nature as a disease. It’s a disease we are born with and one we can’t heal ourselves. We seek all sorts of ‘medication’ to deal with it like relationships, chemicals, and religion, but nothing works. The only thing that will heal you is forgiveness by God through Jesus Christ.

If you are sick, you don’t say, “As soon as I get better I need to get to the doctor.” That’s a ridiculous idea. When you are sick you go to the one that can heal. Jesus not only heals you, He understands why you fail, comforts you in your pain and wants to help you learn to have a full, rich relationship with Him.

God knows your name. He knows who you are and exactly why you are the way you are. He’s real, powerful and loving. Through His Son Jesus, He can help soothe the pain you are in regardless of what you have done.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I’m so thankful that you know me. Other people think they know me, but even my best friends only know what they see on the inside. I praise you for knowing me from the inside out and understanding my pain. Forgive me of the mistakes I’ve made. Heal my wounds that run deep. Comfort me with your loving forgiveness. In Your Name I pray, Amen.


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Reggie Jackson had one thing in common. Failure. Michael didn’t make his eighth grade basketball team, yet became the NBA’s greatest player. Albert Einstein failed middle school math and became the greatest mathematician in history. Reggie Jackson was one of the greatest hitters in baseball, yet holds the record for the most strikeouts.

These men had another thing in common, a refusal to give up. They refused to believe that the setbacks they encountered in life determined their outcome. They believed enough in themselves that they eventually realized their dreams.

One day Jesus was talking to His disciples about the Kingdom of God. He told them what it would take for a person to enter the Kingdom of God and one of the disciples remarked “then who can be saved?” What he was really saying is, “then it’s humanly impossible for any of us to enter the Kingdom. The requirements are too great. We’ll never make it.” Jesus responded by saying, “You are right. Man alone can not accomplish this. Only with God is man able to enter the Kingdom.”

Every day we are met with challenges and obstacles that seem insurmountable. The task seems too great. People tell us we’ll never be able to succeed. The enemy, Satan, reminds us of past failures and mistakes. You may be struggling from an addiction or bruised from a broken relationship. Even family members may step in and tell us we just won’t ever make it. If we listen to those voices we will never be all God wants us to be.

Often times the difference between failure and success is just six inches. That’s the approximate distance between your ears! If you believe in yourself, you will have a much better chance of success. If you rely on God to help you with the task He will lead you, guide you and show you the way. Realistically set goals for yourself. Goals that are small steps to success. Want to write? Do a sentence a day. Want to lose weight? Start with that one walk, skipping that first snack.

Then, above all, grow closer in your walk with Christ. Let Him show you what He wants to accomplish in your life. Believe in yourself and believe that God truly wants you to succeed. With man many things are impossible. With God ALL things are possible because of His great love for us and His overwhelming power.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I have no trouble believing in the ‘big things of my faith’. I know You are the creator God. I know Your Son Jesus came to die and be raised from the dead so I can have eternal life. My struggle believes you for the day by day successes in my life. Help me to believe in you so that I can succeed at all you have for me. Amen.

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