30 Days of Gratitude – Day 21 Grateful I Can Change

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Today I’m grateful that I can change with the help of God.

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Max Lucado puts it well in, “Grace for the Moment: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional” in January 21st entry called, “A Heart Like His”.

God wants us to be just like Jesus.  Isn’t that good news?  You aren’t stuck with today’s personality.  You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.”  You are tweak able.  Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life.  So what if you were born a bigot?  You don’t have to die one.

Where did we get the idea we can’t change?  From whence come statements such as, “It’s just my nature to worry.” or, “I’ll always be pessimistic. I’m just that way.”…Who says?  Would we make similar statements about our bodies?  “It’s just my nature to have a broken leg.  I can’t do anything about it.”  Of course not.  If our bodies malfunction, we seek help.  Shouldn’t we do the same with our hearts?  Shouldn’t we seek aid for our sour attitudes?  Can’t we request treatment for our selfish tirades?  Of course we can.  Jesus can change our hearts.  He wants us to have a heart like his.

What a blessing it is to know that change is possible.  If we are living with the cancer of bitterness we needn’t die with it.  Jesus can give us a heart of love and forgiveness that will kill the cancer of bitterness.  If we are hanging on to things of the past Jesus can help us to live in the present and let loose of the past that only hurts and interferes with our todays.  As the poem says, you won’t find God in the past He isn’t, I was, and don’t look for Him in the future He isn’t, I will be, look for Him in the present because His name is, I Am.

I’m so grateful for where God has brought me from already and I look forward to where He is going to bring me to in my journey to become more and more like Jesus.

Let Jesus do the work He has in store for you to bring you into His likeness.  We all must remember our place at the wheel.  We are the clay and He is the potter, longing to mold and make us in His likeness.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 9

Lynn had a fitful night’s sleep. Drank a cup of coffee and headed out for school. Things didn’t get much better there. Curtis was waiting for her at the parking lot. “What’s all this talk about me raping you?” he shouted. “I never raped you, you tease! You know you wanted it just like I did! You lying slut!” Ken had driven in as Lynn did and was privy to most of Curtis’ tirade. He was coming to Lynn’s aid as quickly as his legs would carry him but he didn’t reach her and Curtis until Curtis had called his precious Lynn a slut, this got Ken’s blood boiling, “Look you lousy scum of the earth don’t you dare call her that! You’ve already done quite enough to my woman I won’t stand for you continuing to persecute her any longer! So get into your car and get the hell out of here before I have to get physical with you!” Lynn adored this manly protection never before had anyone stood up for her in such a manner. Oh, how she loved this man. Lynn swooned. Ken caught her before she hit the pavement. As she awoke, Ken asked, “With the stress of all this are you getting enough food? I know you usually eat like a bird but sometimes I wonder if you aren’t too petite?” Lynn replied annoyed, “Oh, you and Diane are such worry warts! I wish you both would just lay off!” Ken could see that this was not the time to discuss this; Lynn was in no way ready.

Dealing with the fall out proved to be very challenging but the support of Ken and Diane, and her family, Lynn made it through. The hardest part was dealing with Curtis. He insisted on a public retraction of the rape charge but she found the courage to tell him that she would not deny the truth and if he didn’t stop harassing her she would press charges; for both the rape and harassment. As she found her voice her eating got better. She also realized what Diane meant that first day by this was an opportunity for healing. It took two years of therapy before she could really grieve all her losses. With the help of not only her therapist but Ken, Diane, and her family, she found healing and came to a point of forgiveness. Lynn realized that She and Lora had their own demons and each needed to forgive the other. She prayed daily for an opportunity to reconnect with Lora. She longed to let Lora know she had forgiven her and to seek that forgiveness from Lora.

While Lynn was healing and growing, Diane continued to remain friends with Lora in hopes that she might be able to one day bring “Sisters Three” together again, especially since she knew this was Lynn’s desire. As much as Diane was attempting to stay close to Lora, she was pulling away. Finally four years after the incident Diane saw something more than just pulling away when she looked in Lora’s eyes, while having Saturday lunch with her. She silently offered a quick prayer to God for wisdom on how to precede, “Lora, I see something when I look in your eyes. I’ve sensed you pulling away from not just from me but it appears everyone now. I see pain and loneliness. Can you tell me what is going on inside of you?” Lora replied, “I’m not positive what is going on I know that the girls at work avoid me and don’t include me for lunch. I used to be popular but over the last three or four years I’ve become more and more isolated.” Diane ventured, “Do you think that the timing of the change could have anything to do with you letting Lynn’s secret out and not forgiving her?” “That was between me and Lora I don’t see what that has to do with the girls at work! Just what are you getting at Diane?” snarled Lora. Oh Lord, please help me with the right words, prayed Diane, “Let’s look at this objectively. You say this started three or four years ago that would put it around the time of you revealing Lynn’s secret. Such an intimate confidence being divulged may have the girls at work worried that if they share anything with you, what will happen if you get mad at them? That is easy enough to understand, isn’t it? Now, as for the pulling away, have you noticed that your language has gotten more and more cutting over the years? This could be a reason why the girls don’t invite you to lunch with them. I love you and I’m here for you in good times and bad but these girls aren’t as invested in you. Even I have been a victim of your increasing harshness but I love you and know how you are hurting.” Lora had a shocked look on her face. Diane took a deep breath and continued, “But my friend you are letting your hurt turn to bitterness and that is an ugly thing that no one wants to be around. It is time to let go of the anger and bitterness. You have let this brew in you long enough and now you are seeing the repercussions of jealousy. It’s time for a new beginning its time to forgive.” The years of hardness of heart was cracking, Lora answered, “I don’t know if I know how. I’ve been living so long with it.”

Still praying, Diane replied, “There is One who has forgiven you for everything you have ever done and He will teach you how to forgive. Would you like to meet Him and start a relationship with Him.” Something in Lora’s heart leapt as she said, “You’re talking about Jesus right?” Diane beamed, “Yes, He is the author of forgiveness. If you want to learn how to forgive He is the one to go to.” Lora questioned, “What do I need to do?” Diane was elated, “All you need to do is ask Him to forgive you for your sins and come into your life and believe. It is that simple.” Lora bowed her head and said, “Jesus forgive me for my sins especially for what I did to Lynn, come into my heart and help to make things right with Lynn. Thank you Jesus.” Almost instantly Lora felt a difference in her heart, the coldness and hardness seemed to be melting away. Looking at Diane for approval Lora asked, “Was that alright?” Diane smiling with a tear in her eye, “Lora that was beautiful and perfect, it came straight from your heart and that is exactly what God wants. You know now “Sisters Three” are sisters in two ways emotionally and spiritually. Lynn became a Christian before she and Ken got married 2 ½ years ago. Ken shared Christ with her and 4 months into their dating she accepted Christ.

A Bitter Pill

Anger and resentment are dangerous emotions. Don’t get me wrong anger when handled properly is not only important but healthy. Jesus was angry at the money changers at the temple and overturned their tables and drove them out. Matthew 21:13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'” He was obviously very angry with them and we know that Jesus never sinned. Since Jesus displayed anger and did not sin, we know that there is righteous anger.

But there is unrighteous anger as well. Ephesians 4:26-27 “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” What does Paul mean by, “do not give the devil a foothold”?

When we don’t deal with our anger swiftly as the Bible prescribes resentment takes root. That’s a deadly combination. Which the devil is just waiting to use to his advantage. You see if he can talk you into not forgiving the one who wronged you he knows that anger and resentment will cause your heart to grow hard and your relationship with God to suffer. That my friends is a bitter pill to digest.

Now don’t get me wrong I would never suggest to the wife being battered to forgive and forget and stay in that situation. God is the only one that forgives and forgets. We are only asked to forgive for our benefit. No to the battered wife or husband I say GET OUT! God does not what is children harmed.

You remember for wisdom sake. You learn from past experiences and hopefully don’t make the same mistake again.

When I was going through my divorce, 22 years ago it took me a long time to get through the hurt and anger of the situation. To be honest there was a lot of resentment and my heart did grow hard for a season. I was broken and I couldn’t understand why the marriage I thought was blessed by God was falling apart. I didn’t understand how my husband could stop loving God and me. I’ll be honest with you I was so broken that I attempted more than once to go home to my heavenly Father. Praise God, He didn’t let me succeed!

Let me encourage you that if you are going through a particularly difficult time and the anger is high and resentment is crouching at your door or has already entered your heart, pray that God would guide you. Pray for a change in your heart. Our God is the job of doing miracles. All you have to do is ask and He will gladly answer your prayer. But don’t be surprised if some work on your part must be done first. I had to honestly look at all sides of the picture before my heart was ready to forgive. Now instead of anger or resentment or bitterness about my ex I have compassion for him. Does that mean I want reconciliation with him? No! He doesn’t love God and has many more issues I would never agree to live with. But do I occasionally pray for his soul? Yes. He is lost and needs prayer.

For those things that may seem major but are not as major as the ending of a relationship. Such as a dispute with your spouse, I beg you as soon as you are able to talk with a cool head DO IT! Listen to the Word of God and don’t give the devil a foothold. If you need to take a walk before you talk, take a walk but do everything you can to handle it as quickly as possible. You are doing yourself and your loved one a service.

Once you start taking bitter pills, they get easier and easier to swallow so do yourself a favor and don’t get used to them at all. Right here, right now make the decision that bitter pills are not for you. Instead decided that you will wear the cloak of forgiveness and humility. Bitter pills make you hard and cold. The cloak of forgiveness and humility keeps you warm and loving. That’s what being a Christian is all about isn’t it?

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart