Devos

If you read "About This Blog" (thanks for that, by the way!), you know I mentioned that my daughters told me they want to do Bible studies, not just devotions. Good thing I went on the record that both are good, because you've just landed on Sweet For Your Soul's devotions page! Still Scripture, still what God is teaching me, just a little different format from the bite-sized studies. And if God is teaching you something you'd like to share on this page, let me know via comment, Facebook, or email

Have I mentioned lately how glad I am that you're here?

1. The Passionate Compassion of God: 5 Verses to Remind You That What Hurts You Hurts Him
I'm sorry.

I often tell my girls this when they're going through something difficult, something painful, something troubling.

"It's not your fault," they usually respond.

And I say to them, "I'm not sorry because this is my fault. I'm sorry because what hurts you hurts me. I know I didn't cause it, but I'm sorry because of it."

What I'm trying to do--however imperfectly--is to model the compassion of Abba. I love what Bible teacher Beth Moore says about God in Jesus the One and Only: that He possesses "active pity...He not only feels for us, He does something about it."

The caring nature of God is on display time and time again in His Story. I love how these verses, in particular, reveal so clearly that what hurts us hurts God. 

On your behalf and my behalf, the tender heart of God breaks and He is...

Distressed. "In all their distress, He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them." (Isaiah 63:9)

Dismayed. "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' He asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!' " (John 11:32-36)

Dissatisfied. "As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.' Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.' " (Matthew 14:16)

Displeased. " 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.' " (Exodus 3:7)

Disturbed. "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress...The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor...For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:1-4, 6, 7)
In each of these cases, God Almighty--El Shaddai--feels deeply about what troubles His children, but not because He is helpless to do anything about it. He is I AM. He can do what He chooses. 
He could--and did--redeem Israel.
He could--and did--resurrect Lazarus. 
He could--and did--feed the hungry crowds.
He could--and did--free His children from slavery.
And He could--and did--save the whole world.

Abba is sorry for our sorrow, not because it is His fault but because it hurts those He loves.

He has walked among us and has been one of us, and so He feels what we feel.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:15, 16)
God's heart is moved and broken on our behalf because He is passionate and compassionate. And when we know this tender truth, we can echo Psalm 103"Bless the Lord, O my soul."
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. As a father shows compassion to His children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust...But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting.
Bless the LORD, O my soul."

(I'm so grateful that April of Step into Grace originally asked me to write this as a guest post for her sweet site. You'll want to head over there yourself and drink in April's tender words and beautiful #VERSEADAY2015 images. Thank you so much, April!)



2. Faithfulness in the Meantime: What To Do Now When You  Aren't Sure What To Do Next
“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person's seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”  (Elisabeth ElliotQuest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity)
I made three resolutions to start the new year.  

But I didn’t call them resolutions. I called them guiding goals.

“Resolution” sounds like a declaration of something I’m sure I’m going to do, which then feels like an invitation not to do it. “Guiding goal” conveys the sense of a filter I can pass my daily choices and decisions through while still offering grace and some gray area.

My guiding goals (GG, for short) for the year were:

1. Speak less. (Thank you, nine months of Bible study in the book of James!)

2. Play the piano more.

3. Just do the next thing.

I have failed miserably at GG #1. Let’s not talk about it. (Oh, the irony.)

I have achieved limited success with GG #2. Having played the piano on Mother’s Day in the presence of my actual mother, I’m giving this a check on the list, even if I don’t play again this year.

But it’s been GG #3—“just do the next thing”—that has most noticeably become part of the rhythm of my daily life.

I am a worrier, a planner, an organizer. I want to know what’s going to happen and what I’m going to do about it. Of course, God has embedded His Love Letter with message after message telling me, “Tomorrow does not belong to you. It belongs to Me! I’ve given you today as a gift. What are you going to do with it?”

I know my life is a vapor.
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” {James 4:13, 14}

I know worrying equal disobedience and mistrust.
"The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it. {Matthew 13:22 MSG}

I know faith in what has already happened is not faith at all but rather gratitude and that faith is about what I don’t know and can’t see yet.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” {Hebrews 11: 1,2}

GG #3 has strengthened my grip on these precepts by focusing my energy and attention on just doing the next thing that has to be done.

The next thing that’s good to do.

The next thing that should be done.

I try to make sure the next thing is something I really believe God wants me to do, because I’m just asking for trouble if I deliberately decide to do something I’m pretty sure God isn’t in.

Now this guiding goal is being put to the test by a messy, weighty choice our family is facing. If the key components of our life were represented on one of those pie charts, the sector related to this decision would be a very big slice.

The issue involves a staying or leaving. If we leave (a very big “if,” for starters), where should we go? And when should we go there? This will not be a quick, nor easy, nor simple, nor obvious, nor consequence-less decision. We are not sure what step to take next or even if we should take any step. We desperately lack wisdom and so are asking God to grant it to us (James 1:5).
But in the meantime, we need to do something. We need to do the next thing.
We need to do the next thing we have already committed to do, and do it well. 
We need to pray. 
We need to worship. 
We need to work. 
We need to encourage others. 
We need to serve. 
We need to confess. 
We need to study God’s Word. 
We need to love.

About such things, there is no uncertainty. These are always good next things to do.

So we will try to do them faithfully during our meantime while we wait for God to do the next thing in His time.

“Return to your God; maintain love and justice; 
and wait for your God always.” {Hosea 12:6}


3. Please Don't Give Up


A little while ago, my older daughter told me she felt like giving up on the toughest stretch of her academic career to date. I told her I understood. I told her I wouldn't blame her. But I also told her I thought there was one Very Big Reason not to quit. Click on over to the lovely and encouraging More To Be for the rest of the story...



4. Praising God in the "Yet"


I'm so grateful to Blogs By Christian Women for putting up this post about one of my favorite connecting words in the Word. Maybe it will become of of your favorites, too.



34 comments:

  1. "I know faith in what has already happened is not faith at all but rather gratitude and that faith is about what I don’t know and can’t see yet." Wonderful point that we often overlook. Thank you for writing on #RaRaLinkup because that's where I found your sweet site : )

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    1. Well, Bethany, aren't YOU the sweetest! Thank you so much for stopping by from the RaRa! :) Your encouraging words have made my day. I pray God sends blessings back to you!

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  2. I felt like I was reading from a sister. �� My mother was key in helping me move from devotions to personal Bible study -- always stressing the importance of both. I love that you are writing these for your girls. They are blessed! For today's post, I almost used the same quote from Elisabeth Elliot, but the Lord took me in a different direction. I love that phrase ... Do the next thing. Visiting from the #RaRaLinkup.

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    1. Dianne, I just hit "enter" on a comment on your post (speaking of sisterhood!). :) Thank you so much for taking time to stop by and to comment. Blessings on you, fellow sleep-deprived mom of teenagers!

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  3. Your words were like honey to my soul for we are in the leaving as soon as our house sells. The Lord showed us where we were to be and now the selling part is taking longer than I thought it would be but the Lord has all our times in His hands and wants me to trust Him while I know He has everything controlled and perfectly planned. So glad I found you at Grace & Truth for your post has richly blessed my heart. Thank you!

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    1. Oh my goodness...thank you so much, Jeannie! YOUR kind and thoughtful words are like honey to MY soul right this minute! May God give you strength, wisdom, and hope in the waiting and the leaving and bring you joy to cover all. Thank you for taking time to visit and comment. I think I just started following you on Google+, but I am a little new to that whole arena, so please know that I'd be honored to receive an update here on your house--current and future! Blessings to you!

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  4. Great idea, just focusing on the next thing ahead. I get frustrated all the time thinking I'll never have time to accomplish my to-do list, but having Godly perspective really makes everything simpler. Also love your point about God's names. I recently came across a set of free printable cards with tons of the names of God and verses where they were found. It's a really great way to focus on each one and get to know our God.

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    1. Thank you, Jelli! I enjoyed visiting your blog house earlier today! The printable names-of-God cards sound inspired. I'd love to have you share the link if you'd like to. To know our God is to love Him! Blessings on your day!

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    1. I know, Andi...hard to do sometimes, right? Especially when the next thing is something we don't especially WANT to do! Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Just Do the Next Thing. Great advice!

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    1. Glad it made some sense, Angela! Sometimes, I just need a way to focus on the foot right in front of me, not the mile down the road. This "Next Thing" bit has helped with that. Thanks so much for taking time to visit!

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  7. This post really hit home for me. I love it. I also love how you call resolutions, guiding goals. I'm going to start calling mine that :)

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    1. Thank you, Emerald! I'm glad my ramblings made some sense to someone other than me (and my mom!). Thanks so much for stopping by...blessings on your "guiding goals" for the rest of the year! ;)

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  8. Hi, just found you through The REFLECT LINK UP and reading this post, you had me at "Just do the next thing". I too am a worrier and a planner and so often those two take over my thought life! Thanks for the gentle reminder, loved this post!

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    1. Hello, Susie...so glad you stopped by from Reflect! Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your heart so I know I'm not alone. You are so right that worry and planning hit their mark in our minds. I think this is where doing the next thing has helped me take those thoughts captive. Blessings on you and your "next thing"! :)

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  9. Elizabeth, I was so convicted by the Elizabeth Elliott post you shared when she said, "“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today?" Wow! So true!

    Like you I am a worrier and someone that wants to be like Eve, "having knowledge" in what will happen next.

    Thank you for sharing your "guiding goals" in waiting WITH God for the next thing. :-)

    It has been a blessing to visit you.

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen! I hear you: that Elisabeth Elliot sure knew how to say it straight, didn't she? :) Blessings to you in your "next thing"...thank you for taking time to stop by and to comment!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this post! Such a wonderful reminder to obey Him in this moment, now. And He will take care of my future. Blessings!

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    1. "In this moment, now..." Love it! Thank you, Joanne! I so appreciate you taking time to stop by and to comment. Blessings back to you!

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  11. "I know faith in what has already happened is not faith at all but rather gratitude and that faith is about what I don’t know and can’t see yet." I'm going to let that one sink in! Thank you for sharing with us at Waiting on...Wednesday! Hope to see you back tomorrow!

    Holly @ www.iwillservewhileiwait.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw, thanks, Holly! I'm trying to get a grip on it, too! So thankful for the chance to be a part of Waiting on Wednesday...I'll be back, God-willing! :)

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  12. Just doing the next thing...
    I appreciate this concept! It's the control freak in me that wants to see further down the road, but I'm so thankful for His goodness in withholding what I don't need to know yet, and His patience in teaching me how to trust Him fully. Thank you for linking up with us at Grace & Truth!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer! I'm glad this made sense to someone else. I need something concrete to help me focus, and this has worked pretty well. I was reciting it to myself just this morning! :) God is gracious both to show us what we need to know now and, as you said, to withhold that which would frighten us, overwhelm us, make us prideful, or lead us into complacency! Thank you for stopping by...so grateful to have found Grace and Truth at the beginning of my blogging journey! :)

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  13. I so often feel the Bible telling me to speak less and listen more. I guess that blogging doesn't exactly fall in line with that directive! But it's a great reminder. I love the reminder that God is right there in the trenches with us. Thanks for this post.

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    1. Oh, I know what you mean, Jamie...being a Christian who blogs is a tricky, messy thing to figure out. I'm very new and am trying to work it all out. But over and through and in it all, I am thankful for God's passionate compassion! Thanks for taking time to visit and comment!

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  14. This is a page full of blessing and worth coming back to revisit. I am blessed by the pouring of His Word, my favorite way to spend time. Thank you for sharing so gracefully the sweetness of His Words for our souls, and for willingly pouring out of the abundance that He has poured into you.

    Blessings,
    Dawn

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    1. Thank you so much, Dawn! Your kind and thoughtful words are sweet to my soul! May God return to you the blessing you have given out to me this morning.

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  15. Thanks for the reminder and the great Scripture verses. Sometimes all we can do is the next thing. That's been my mantra this year. Just do the next thing. Thanks for sharing. Sorry I am late commenting, I thought I was supposed to do the two post following mine on Theocentric Thursday.

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    1. You are so sweet! Thank you for stopping by. And I'm sure you know we bloggers are thrilled to get comments ANYTIME! :) Blessings on all your next things to come.

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  17. Thank you so much for sharing this. Sometimes I forget God is a loving parent as I am. He hurts when I hurt as I hurt when my kids and grandkids hurt. Wow, what a wonderful illustration this is. thank you again. Coming to you from Blog Hop Thursdays.

    Laura L. Padgett, Author
    "Dolores, Like the River" Westbow Press 2013
    http://livinwhatyouregiven60.wordpress.com

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  18. I have a similar guiding principle... especially when emotions are high. Just do the next RIGHT thing. Thanks!

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    1. Absolutely, Karen! Sounds like we both appreciate the deep wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot, may she rest in glory. Thanks for stopping by!

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I'd love to hear from you. What do you think? What's on your mind? Did you learn anything from this study that you didn't know to begin with? Did it make any sense? Tell me...I really want to know.