You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chose to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.
Lord, help me to be so filled with Your love that I become unoffendable.
I understand the dangers of this statement. It’s kind of like praying for patience. LOL It doesn’t just come down in a pretty gift basket and voila patience. No, that would be to easy. Instead what tends to happen is you wind up with what we will call opportunities to show patience. In a hurry? One kid will only be able to find the left foot of every shoe and not the right the other one can not seem to find their backpack. On the way you’re gonna hit every red light. So on and so forth.
I think that it is very important when asking for new gifts, yes they are gifts, that we count the cost and go in with open eyes.
Do I really want to become “unoffendable”? What does that even really mean to me?
Can I just let you into me Jesus time this week for a minute?
‘Father, forgive me I forgive them, completely, totally & irreparably. I release that hurt. I give up that anger. Let peace and love reign in my heart that I may leak that all over them today.’
This was the beginning of one of my journal entries this week after reading the passage above. During my devotion time Holy Spirit prompted some anger and resentment that I had held in my heart. Previously, I justified it. There was good reason, in my mind, that I was grumpy and frustrated and hurt. I began to pour out my heart to the Father to ask him to forgive me for holding on to that. Not 3 words in and I stoped.
I had allowed my anger to mask the need for the very things Christ told us to do. Forgive and love.
How am I supposed to leak the love of God on the people around me if I am walking around offended, angry and resentful?
‘Father, I ask that with all of my heart that You forgive me for allowing anger & hurt to take up space. Please, would You fill the space we cleaned with Your virtues, Your mercy, Your compassion, kindness, gentle-ness, humility, patience and love. Help me to be a reflection of You today. That’s what I want. Help me to walk it out.’
Often times I get so focused on receiving my forgiveness that forgiving others is an after thought. I do it once I receive my forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, the important thing is to forgive, and still I believe this week the Holy Spirit has been showing and revealing to me that there is an even deeper level of forgiveness to be had.
So as I pray to become the person who is unoffendable I would be remiss if not to remind us of Jesus on the cross. He held no anger or resentment when He said ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’
Father God, help us to see those around us the way You see them that we may leak Your perfect love all over them. Help us to choose mercy and grace over offense and resentment. Help us to be better reflections of Your Son today.
Love YOU sis,
Written by: Alexandria Brown
The Body of ChristRead Now
Last night, we had dinner with a family from our church. It was so lovely to share a meal around our 9-foot-long table and to hear our kids running around together downstairs as we talked and got to know one another a little more.
We shared about our kids, our interests, how we met our spouses and how long we had been a part of our church and how we came to be there. We landed on the subject of our church several times throughout the night, almost as if this common thread was woven throughout our varied topics of conversation.
As our friends described some things about our church body that they love, and as we agreed, I remembered a time a few years ago when I prayed for this exact thing. I remember reading through a book with a group of friends and reading the most beautiful descriptions of the church operating as laid out in Scripture: just as the body of Christ.
And don’t get me wrong: my experience with the church up until that point had been wonderful. I adored ‘doing life’ with and serving alongside brothers and sisters. But I began to read illustrations of how this particular author’s church operated alongside countless Scriptures outlining how the body of Christ is to operate and I honestly was overwhelmed. I wondered over what that would look like, what it would be like to be a part of that church, operating in the giftings given to me and surrounded by my brothers and sisters doing the very same thing: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7
I began to pray for that, for the Lord to show me what that could look like. And sitting around the table last night, talking about our beloved church, I almost had fresh eyes to see the gift that is my local church. We were led to our church mere months after this praying and dreaming and our church family has been the most delightful gift.
It’s funny, though, because as I’m sitting here at the same long table with a cup of coffee and reflecting, the Holy Spirit reminded me of just why my heart longed for this so much in that particular season. I was honestly in such a refining season, walking through hardship and suffering and a purification that I had prayed for but didn’t realize would come in the form it did.
I was real tender and surrounded by people I loved dearly who were serving the Lord through all sorts of roles and avenues and.. I felt like I didn’t have a place. I felt like I didn’t belong and that I didn’t have anything to offer up. There was one particular night that I felt actually sidelined as my people were celebrated for their roles and giftings. I tried desperately to hold back the tears that pricked my eyes and immediately felt great shame and guilt. I didn’t want to be feeling this way! I loved seeing how the Lord was working in my friends’ lives. I wanted to wholeheartedly celebrate, too, but at the same time I lamented, “What about me?”
My sweet friend, who loved me well through this difficult season and who didn’t know exactly how my heart was aching then, sent me this passage from 1 Corinthians 12:12-26:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
As I suffered, these people suffered along with me. As they were honored, I was to rejoice along with them. And as I sat off to the side, wounded and bemoaning my inadequacies and almost completely believing the lie that I didn’t belong, my heart needed this truth: I was not any less a part of the body of Christ. Not one bit.
This is such a marvelous design. “God has so composed the body.” No division, all members having the same care for one another. The many parts of the body having specific and unique purposes, indispensable and making up one body, Christ as the head.
It’s such a beautiful thing, to have walked with the Lord through this difficult season, almost just right into an opportunity to live this out in my everyday life. It gives me such an appreciation for the Lord’s design for His church and for the church itself. It makes me want to take commands regarding the church seriously. I want to nurture His church in this way:
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.” Romans 12:10
Friend, I don’t know if you can resonate with any part of what I’ve shared here today, but I pray that you let this passage of Scripture sink down deep into your heart and soul today. The way God has created His church to function leaves no room for exclusion, division, feelings of inadequacy, resentment or selfishness, even. No, we belong to and are called to nurture the body, operating as one under Christ. We are called to lay down our lives just as Christ did.
So Lord, would you open our eyes to areas of our hearts that we may, even unknowingly, carry bitterness or resentment? And would you then purify our hearts and awaken us to the design of your church, that you yourself intentionally composed? We want to obey your commands regarding your church wholeheartedly, delightedly even. We want to strive for the sort of love that undeniably presents us to the world as yours. I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would reveal to us the gifts and talents that you have given us and that you would teach us how to use them for the building up of your church and for your glory, God. Amen.
Written by: Olivia Caldwell
A Matter of the HeartRead Now
Our hearts are such silly things, but they are important to God. I am not talking about the heart that pumps blood through your body. That is a mere muscle. I am talking about the heart that feels and loves. The same heart that worships our Lord in song can turn and feel the most negative things and fuel the most negative thoughts and actions.
When I look at the Bible to the women that are written about there, I see their hearts are weak like ours and they feel those negative emotions as well. The two times it jumps out at me have to do with their abilities to provide children to their husbands. In Genesis 30 we read of Rachel, Jacob’s love, and how she became resentful of her sister that could have children when she couldn’t. Sarah and Hagar had a resentful relationship because of Sarah’s inability to bear a son until she had Issac. These feelings of resentment got in their way of trusting God to work out His plan in His time. I relate to these women so much.
After my oldest daughter was born, my husband and I wanted to have another child. So when our oldest was two, we started to try to expand our family. We got pregnant and soon after I was in horrible pain and rushed to the emergency room. I was having a miscarriage. There was nothing they could do. I was supposed to come back in a couple of days to confirm my worst nightmare. Many of you have gone through this experience as well. Some of you were far along in pregnancies and lost the baby. Some of you had to deliver stillborn children. We don’t talk about the emotional toll this has on us. Doctors deal with the physical problem the best they can. This process continued for me for a long time. Loss after loss. It was so difficult. I went to fertility specialists, had medicines, blood drawn over and over, scans and x-rays, injections, tests, ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, tears, anger, more tears, crying out to the Lord and asking him why. Was I not a good enough mother to my one child that I didn’t need to have another? Did I do something wrong? Would I never have another baby? Was I not grateful enough for what I had?
Month after month I cried out to God. This turned into years. I had given up. I had become hard-hearted. Every time someone announced that they were pregnant it was a knife to my heart. I was angry and resentful toward God. I was resentful toward my friends and family members that were able to have children whenever they wanted. I was resentful toward the foster and adoption systems that made it so difficult for loving people to have a child that someone else didn’t want. How could they?
Something changed in my heart. I realized that I was living my life wanting something and not appreciating what I had. I was otherwise healthy. I had a loving spouse. I had a beautiful daughter that was becoming a teenager. I needed to let go. Somehow I did. I made peace with it. I allowed my resentment to turn into a heart that was wanting to nurture the family I had and take care of myself in a way I never had before. I allowed myself to let God fill that hole in my heart.
It was a January morning. My husband was driving back from the Carolinas. I hadn’t been feeling well that morning. I realized that I was late - which wasn’t too strange. But for some reason this time it was different. I took a pregnancy test bracing myself for the negative result again. Except this time, it wasn’t negative. It was positive. Thirteen years since our first baby arrived and I was going to have another baby. I was elated and terrified. Dare I hope and dream? Was this really going to happen? All those years of resentment suddenly seemed so silly. All that time felt wasted.
I felt so blessed and so happy to add our sweet second baby to our family. Her name means “my dream” and above her bed has always hung the Bible verse from 1 Samuel 1:27 that Hannah says, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
Through all of my resentment and envy and depression, God was a kind and loving and nurturing constant. He still loved me. He waited for me to turn to Him and wait. I know that this is not the story for all women who deal with fertility issues. Some never are able to have children of their own. But you know what, God is still a nurturing father to you. He wants to fill that hole in your heart with Him. Even if He had not blessed me with my other children, I still would feel that way. I felt that way before the blessings of Alora and Willow.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6
When I was truly able to let go of the irritable resentment I was harboring, I was able to allow God to love me the way He wanted to. I was able to love him the way He wanted me to. And I was able to nurture the relationships I had and the ones He wanted me to have as well. I will never stop being thankful for ALL of my children - those that I gave birth to, those that I lost, and those that I have adopted in my heart.
Sisters, I hope that hearing my story can bring you to a point of letting go of some of the resentment that you might be holding on to. It is so painful to hold and so refreshing when we can really let it go and allow the nurture of our Father God to heal those sore places in our hearts. It is a hard journey, but so worth it. Let us pray for you if you are struggling with this. It might not be about children. It might be about a spouse or a parent or a sibling. It might be about a friendship that has gone wrong or a job situation. Whatever it is, resentment has no place in the heart of one that loves God. He didn’t make us that way. If you have been holding onto that, it can be scary to let it go. Trust your Abba Father to nurture your heart to a place of fulfillment in Him.
Written by: Angie Reese
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