When The Words “I’m a Failure” Ring Louder Than “I’m Redeemed”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”… (John 21:15).

In a stunning scene, Jesus reinstates Peter, communicating a simple yet profound truth that, “I believe in you.”
 
Have you ever been down a road you’d rather forget? Have you ever been so devastated by life or the consequences of a sin or someone else’s sin that you’ve thought, “Surely, this is it for me. There is no more Kingdom work for me to do like I’ve done before. I am a total failure.”
 
I’ve been there, believing those lies. I think it’s because shame was closer to my heart then grace. If we stay in environments long enough where we are surrounded more by shame then grace, the message of “I’m a failure” becomes an easy one to tell ourselves. Until we find freedom from those environments it will be very hard to experience the beauty of God’s grace for our lives.
 
But you see, Peter, on all accounts completely failed Jesus. I mean, He totally dropped the ball as he denies his rabbi three times signifying that he is cutting himself off from Jesus. To deny your rabbi in public three times meant that you wanted nothing to do with them and that you were disassociating yourself from them. This is why it’s so beautiful that Jesus comes to Peter and gives Him a second chance.
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Maybe you’ve made a few mistakes along the way and you wonder how Jesus could love someone as sinful as you. I wonder that often. Yet, Jesus, in all of HIs grace says to Peter, “I believe in you.” Isn’t this a wonderful truth? That no matter what journey we’ve walked. No matter how hard it has been, there awaits a Savior who comes to us to remind us that, “I believe in you.” Peter repents, and turns away from HIs sinful decision made out of fear and Jesus gives Him even greater Kingdom work to do than before.
 
Don’t believe the lie that your life is over. That you’ve disappointed God and that He’s completely done with you. There is grace for sinners like you and me and God will use those who humble themselves and admit their own weaknesses and failings. There are no perfect people. There are messy people who have been redeemed, who are climbing their way, stumbling towards victory.
 
Lord, I am amazed at how you love sinners. You take our lives and in our humility and repentance, you restore and redeem. That’s just the kind of God you are. Thank you, Father, for loving me, a sinner and for seeing me first as your child. I love you, in Jesus name, Amen.

The One Who Jesus Loved

So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved….(John 20:2).

John understood something about his identity. He affectionately refers to himself as, “the one whom Jesus loved.” We might think at first glance this feels a bit precocious, but John embraced and believed something that is true for all of Christ’s followers. Truly, we are, at the core of our being, “the one whom Jesus loves.”
 
If we understand this foundational truth we won’t feel the need to soothe our anxious hearts with a successful life and the praise of man. If we truly embrace our worth in Christ, we will find our heads and our hearts resting often in His bosom as we wait with Him in the stillness of His love.
 
When I first became a Christian I had many misplaced identities that the Lord had to help me sift through. For many years I thought His love for me was based upon my performance for Him. I thought if I had something to show for Him then I had more value, but what I have come to learn is that my greatest value is not in what I do, but in simply being HIs child.
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The greatest story my life will tell is not of all I’ve done, but in the person who loves me. Yes, He is my greatest joy and finest treasure. If my identity is wrapped up in His love for me then I can have confidence in knowing that He is the rock I place my life upon. With a strong, steady, firm foundation, rooted in HIs love, my life becomes a beacon of hope that draws people into the glory of God, not because of what I do, but because of the Father’s love that is working in and through me.
 
Abba, pappa, daddy, I am loved by you. Therefore, I don’t need success or the praise of man. I just need more of your love for me. Yes Lord, let it be what guides my life. Let it be the joy that springs from my heart. Yes Lord, let your love radiate in me for the world to see, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Your Fears Are Challenged

If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar… (John 19:12).

The Jewish leaders used fear to become powerful people. Fear was their weapon as they allowed evil to rule their hearts and minds. You see, whenever a heart grows hard to the goodness of God, it will always be led by evil intentions.
 
The Jewish leaders could never quite see who Jesus was, because in their own hearts, I believe, they really wanted to be King. If pride is your friend and fear is your weapon, then you’re going to hurt people. People who are loved by God and are simply trying to follow after Him.
 
Pilate was a man who lived in fear and the Jewish leaders knew it, so they pressed buttons in Pilate that would send him into a place of internal panic. Maybe you’ve been there too. I know I have when my greatest fears are challenged and I now have a choice to make. Will I enter into a state of panic, or will I quiet myself before the Lord?
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Since the Jewish leader’s hearts had grown hard, the only thing they could hear was evil. At the root of every hard heart is a wrong belief about God. Beliefs like, “God isn’t good if….” “God must not love me because”….. “I can’t ever trust God with this”…. or “God is mean and unfair”….Until we soften our hearts and repent of our wrong belief our hearts will continue to grow hard. I have seen my own heart grow hard towards God. A number of years ago, I allowed my heart to grow hard in my singleness and I made foolish decisions because of it.
 
After I repented I was able to start walking in freedom, but it honestly took me a long time to get there, because the Lord allowed me to fall in my own pride and wrong belief about Him. Once I hit the bottom I was able to see how wrong I had been.
 
Don’t be surprised if you’re bombarded by the enemy with lies when you start pursuing your freedom. Face your fears and walk forward with confidence knowing that ultimately, God is in control and you can trust Him with every single step along your journey. God’s goal is to set you free from fear, but you’ve got to be willing to take scary steps of faith towards your freedom, in Jesus name.
 
Lord, I don’t want to be like Pilate who allowed fear to control him. I want to be like Jesus, who looked fear in the face and kept walking forward in your grace. Lord, I know that you can use my life, even when I am afraid. Even when I stumble and fall you pick me back up again. Thank you, God, for loving me in that. way. Thank you for picking me up, in Jesus name, Amen.

He Binds Up and Heals

he will bind up our wounds… (Hosea 6:1).

If you have ever been hurt, please know, there is a healer. If you have ever been rejected, abandoned, abused or mistreated, please rest assured that the Lord Jesus is fully able to bind up your wounds.
 
It just may take some time. His healing rarely comes and makes everything right in one fail swoop. It comes over time as each layer is peeled back like an onion. As I give Jesus more of my heart, my hurts and my fears, He brings forth HIs healing light to the parts of my life that need a touch of His love.
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You know, there’s something about Jesus that I just can’t shake. The thought of His love is overwhelming. It’s just sometimes I forget how powerful He is and how able He is to take our wounds and heal with the power of His love.
 
There are some wounds I’m asking Him to go deeper into so that I might experience the fullness of His love. Truly, this is what I need more than answers or a quick fix. I need His restorative love and power. I need His healing and His mercy for each new day. I need that constant reminder that although life can turn painful and difficult corners, I can always go and find my Heavenly Father who is able to receive me into His healing arms of love.
 
Lord, I choose to walk in your healing power for my life today. Thank you Holy Father for setting me free. Thank you for being a safe place for me to land when life falls apart. Thank you for being my joy, delight, and hope in this world. Continue to cover me in your grace, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Jesus Loved Those Who Betrayed Him Too….

This is my command: Love each other…. (John 15:17).

Loving others when they love you back is simple. The thing is, Jesus loved those who betrayed Him too. Can I just be really honest? That’s a hard one for me to live out. It’s not that I don’t want to love them, it’s just so much harder for me to do. My natural tendency is to just try and forget about it and honestly that’s almost impossible to do. I’ve noticed “just trying to forget about it” doesn’t take the pain away. It just continues to bubble on the surface.
 
But what do we do when we’ve been betrayed, rejected, forgotten and abused? It seems as though the answer, at least with Jesus, is always love. Now, this doesn’t mean that we invite them back into our life if they continue to act in destructive ways towards us, but it simply means that we do not allow our hearts to grow hard towards that person. It means we don’t allow things like bitterness, and unrighteous anger to burn towards them on a daily basis.
 
The church is so divided over this because instead of love, we judge. Instead of love, we hurt, betray and mistreat others within the body of Christ. Why? Because our own lives have not been captured by Jesus’ simple command to love one another.
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Our driving force within the church can quickly become fear, control, and power. If this is the ship we find ourselves to be the captain of there’s no telling what we will do to protect ourselves.
 
You know what’s easy for me to do? Look at the hurt others have caused me and forget that I’ve hurt others too. You know what this causes me to ask myself? Heather, how would you want someone else to treat you if you hurt them? Well, I would want them to pray for me. I would want them to ask God to grow my heart in love. If I have sinned against them, I hope they would come to me and tell me so that I could make it right.
 
Maybe love doesn’t get practiced very much in the church because we’d rather use tools that are easier to pick up. Tools that tear town. Tools like gossip, rage, bitterness, and revenge. One of the most loving and unifying things we can do in the church is restore things that have been demolished by sin.
 
We love to do it with old furniture and cars, but we hate practicing it in real life with people. Yet, this is where Jesus’ simple command to love one another becomes most real. This is where we must practice it for the sake of our own growth and for the betterment of the body of Christ.
 
Lord, I come to you with a heart that really just wants to love others. I know that I do not do this perfectly, and so I need your Holy Spirit alive in me to help me accomplish it. Abba, please, fill my heart for those who have hurt me with your love, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

This Might Be What’s Stalling Your Faith

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me….(Jn 14:21).

Until we learn to change our expectations, our faith will never grow.
 
Just this past week my heart and mind have been flooded with thoughts that are trying to steal my joy in a relationship very close to me. Because quite simply, “it’s not meeting my expectations.” Ouch, that one hurts, because I know at the depth of my expectations is really just pure selfishness rooted in motivations that come from a place in my heart that needs the healing hand of God.
 
I have recognized that I need a transformed heart in this area. Therefore, I must change my expectations if my heart is going to grow and if my relationship is going to flourish.
 
The same goes for our relationship with God. We cannot love Him only when He’s meeting our expectations. Nor can we only submit to Him when it feels like it’s going to go super well for us. There have been many times when God has asked me to submit something to Him and it has been immensely painful to do it. But it has always been for my good as I have learned to submit my expectations to the Father.
 
Wrong expectations often come from an unhealthy need in our lives to be in control. You see, the overbearing expectations I have of people are really just the unhealthy ones that need to grow within me. God will always put people in our path that challenge our unhealthy expectations. Until we choose to repent and value the relationship over our expectations we will be relationship killers who push people away with all of our unhealthy demands.
 
Jesus says that the one who loves Him is the one who obeys what He commands. Therefore, we must come to Him without expectations that He’ll change everything fix it all and wave the magic wand for our lives. We must come to Him in a Spirit of, “not my will, but your will be done.”
 
Lord, my heart is heavy with expectations. Forgive me for allowing them to steal my joy. Lord, I submit them to you. I call them out for their desire to steal, kill and destroy and I claim the freedom and victory I have in Christ instead, in Jesus name, Amen.
 
Until we learn to change our expectations, our faith will never grow.
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Just this past week my heart and mind have been flooded with thoughts that are trying to steal my joy in a relationship very close to me. Because quite simply, “it’s not meeting my expectations.” Ouch, that one hurts, because I know at the depth of my expectations is really just pure selfishness rooted in motivations that come from a place in my heart that needs the healing hand of God.
 
I have recognized that I need a transformed heart in this area. Therefore, I must change my expectations if my heart is going to grow and if my relationship is going to flourish.
 
The same goes for our relationship with God. We cannot love Him only when He’s meeting our expectations. Nor can we only submit to Him when it feels like it’s going to go super well for us. There have been many times when God has asked me to submit something to Him and it has been immensely painful to do it. But it has always been for my good as I have learned to submit my expectations to the Father.
 
Wrong expectations often come from an unhealthy need in our lives to be in control. You see, the overbearing expectations I have of people are really just the unhealthy ones that need to grow within me. God will always put people in our path that challenge our unhealthy expectations. Until we choose to repent and value the relationship over our expectations we will be relationship killers who push people away with all of our unhealthy demands.
 
Jesus says that the one who loves Him is the one who obeys what He commands. Therefore, we must come to Him without expectations that He’ll change everything fix it all and wave the magic wand for our lives. We must come to Him in a Spirit of, “not my will, but your will be done.”
 
Lord, my heart is heavy with expectations. Forgive me for allowing them to steal my joy. Lord, I submit them to you. I call them out for their desire to steal, kill and destroy and I claim the freedom and victory I have in Christ instead, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Jesus Doesn’t Meet Our Expectations

He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it….(John 12:6).

What keeps us from being able to see Jesus? In Judas’ case, I believe it was selfishness. You see, Judas didn’t understand fully who Jesus was because he allowed his sinful desires to become his master instead. If we are not careful, we can be just like Judas, stuck in our sinful desires, unable to see Jesus for who He truly is for our lives.
 
Judas walked in darkness because Jesus didn’t meet his expectations. Have you ever done that? Gotten mad at Jesus because He didn’t answer your prayers in the way or timing that you wanted? In my own immaturity, I’ve done that.
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The scary thing is, we’ll betray Jesus, just like Judas, until we choose to place our expectations out of the darkness and into the light. I have learned in life that what my heart needs more than anything is not justice or life to be fair, but grace. Yes, I need a heart that is willing to submit into my Father’s hands so that I might receive His unending grace.
 
The crazy thing, Jesus loved Judas. That’s great news for you and me who have our own Judas moments. Jesus never stops loving us, even when we betray Him and go our own way.
 
I’m not sure where life has brought you or what battle you’re facing. Rest assured that God’s light awaits to carry your life into a place of His joy, comfort, and grace. The enemy of your soul wants to steal your joy and get you to focus only on yourself. This kind of selfishness is so easy for me to fall into. Therefore, I must always be putting my desires, expectations, wishes and wants into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Lord, I trust you. You are so good. I don’t want to be like Judas who thought only of himself, but I know that without you, I’m quick to be like him. Today I want to live with you in mind, with your grace guiding me and with a heart of humility that is ready to submit to your will, in Jesus name, Amen.