Thursday, January 24, 2013

In Christ - I am always in God's thoughts

I am always in God's thoughts...

Psalms 139:17,18 How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with You. 

Isaiah 49:15-16 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me."  

Jeremiah 29:4-13 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon; “Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.  Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters - that you may be increased there, and not diminished.  And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.  For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed.  For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD.  For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

September 21, 2011
Finding Hope for My Future Despite the Pain of My Past
Renee Swope

"God works all things together for good."

"You were created for a purpose"

"God has a plan for your life."

“What do you feel when you read these promises? Do you believe them, or do you sometimes question if they're true for you?

“I've doubted, and I've believed.

“Soon after I surrendered my life to Christ, I started struggling with painful things from my past that made me doubt God's promises. I wondered: If God loves me, why has He allowed so much pain in my life?

“If He loved me, why did God allow my family to be broken by adultery and divorce, shattered by confusion and chaos, shaken by alcohol and drug addictions and so much more? And why didn't He stop me from the pain I brought on myself, or keep me from the darkness of depression?

“One afternoon I got the courage to tell my friend Wanda about my doubts and questions. I remember how she didn't give me a pat answer, but looked at me with understanding in her eyes and told me she was sorry. Then she told me her story, which included many disappointments and heartbreaks. Yet, I didn't sense doubt or pain in her words. Instead, I sensed confidence and hope.

“Turning the pages of her Bible to Jeremiah 29, Wanda read today's key verse as a promise to me: 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' (v. 11)

“She then told me God wanted to heal the pain of my past and use what I'd experienced to pave the way to His plans for my future. But I didn't want God to use my pain or my past. How would any of it do anything good for anyone, especially me?

“Have you ever felt that way or asked: ‘If God loves me, then why...?’

“These are the kind of questions that can linger in our hearts when we've been wounded and disappointed. And hurts that aren't healed can lead to bitterness and bondage. Yet, in the security of a relationship with Jesus, God invites us to ask hard questions and look for answers that usher us into the depths of His redeeming love and healing power.

“Can I whisper some hope into your heart today? If you are living and breathing, your purpose has not yet been fulfilled. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God does have a plan for your life.

“So, how can you discover those plans? Let's read the premise that follows the promise in Jeremiah 29. After God declares He knows the plans He has for us, He says, ‘Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ (v.12-13)

“We find God's plans when we surrender ours to Him each day. It's a moment by moment process of coming to Him, talking to Him, believing He listens and letting Him love us into a place of hope and healing.

“God's love is not a quick-fix for our wounds, but it has the power to redeem and restore us into confident hope. When we allow the Holy Spirit poured out like Living water to go deep into our pain, He can heal our hearts from the inside out.

“As we process the pain of our yesterdays and live through the disappointments of our todays, doubts may still creep up, threatening to steal our hope. But each time that happens, we can stop and seek God in that place. We can ask Him to show us His purpose by revealing what is true about who we are and what we have been through to make us start doubting.

“Then we can ask Him to help us re-define our future, not through the filter of our past and pain, but through the power of His life-giving truth. And do you know what happens when we do that moment by moment, day by day, doubt by doubt? God tells us in Jeremiah 29:14, ‘I will be found by you...and will bring you back from captivity.’

“We find Him again and again. We find the One who longs to lead us out of captivity to our doubts into a place of freedom and hope. I know this is true because I have walked it, wrestled with it, resisted it and finally surrendered to it.

“God's love is not only unfailing, it redeems and restores. His Truth cuts to the core of our struggles, bringing purpose to our pain, redemption from our past and hope for our future!

“Lord, heal my hurts and give me hope as I learn to trust the plans You have for me. I'm coming to You and seeking You with all my heart today. Please set me free from my doubts and lead me into a place of confident hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.”

It can be easy to feel like God isn’t looking – or He doesn’t care – when we’re hurting or when bad things happen in our lives.  I know that feeling myself.  There have been many times when I’ve felt SO alone – and wondered where God was in the midst of my pain and hurt.  I’ve come to see the truth of today’s devotional – God is right there in the midst of it.  He doesn’t shy away from the mess of our lives – He’s there with us – walking us through it – helping us see our way out – and cheering us on.  We’re NEVER alone.  We’re NEVER out of His sight – or off of His mind – or out of His prayers!  Hold on to that the next time you feel overwhelmed – God is with you – and He is for you!

If you’ve been to one of our groups you’ll remember the visual we show you – a small vial of sand – and we talk about how many THOUSANDS of grains of sand are in that test tube.  God’s thoughts towards us outnumber THAT!  They outnumber the grains of sand on a BEACH – in a DESSERT – ON THE PLANET!  We can’t even begin to comprehend how much He’s thinking about us!  No matter what we’re going through, God is there – He cares – He’s thinking about you!  Hold on to that and never let go!  Sharon

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