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Category Archives: Encouragement

God Reigns! {Video Devotional}

 

 

 

Letting Go of Regret

We all have regrets. Situations where we’d like a do-over. Maybe it’s a failed relationship, a career path you didn’t pursue, words that shouldn’t have been spoken….or words you wish you’d said. One of my biggest regrets came about 10 years ago.

Her name was Tessa.

She was my favorite professor in college and I took a number of her world religion classes. She was intelligent, stylish, seemed dismissive toward Christianity and loved to talk about her specialized topic of study…Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. She must have respected me as a student because right after mentioning that she no longer took students on overseas trips, she invited me to attend a conference with her in India where she would be presenting a paper, with the Dalai Lama in attendance. Unfortunately I never followed through. The semester ended and that was that.

Many months later I was praying one day and felt this overwhelming sense that I should contact Tessa. That’s all I knew…just get back in touch. I assumed at the time that God was nudging me to invite her to attend a large Christian event that was coming up in the city—which I thought she would hate—so I decided I just wasn’t going to contact her.

Not long after that, I found out that Tessa had died of cancer and had been in the hospital during the period of time I felt that urgency to contact her.

In retrospect I doubt God was trying to get me to invite her to that event. More likely He probably wanted me to contact her because He knew what she was facing and that it would be meaningful to me to see her before she died, and perhaps vice versa. Maybe He wanted to use me to communicate hope and love to her.

Does my regret sound similar to yours? Or do you have others?

Use Regret as a Catalyst
As I read through the Bible I find that even God expressed regret (see Genesis 6 & 1 Samuel 15). If God, who created us, is “allowed” to feel regret, so are we. But here’s the key…instead of wallowing in regret in the present or allowing it to paralyze our future, we can use our regrets as a catalyst to something better. How do we do that? By choosing to move forward with our life.

Paul talks of this moving forward when he says, “Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:13) When we are looking ahead to the goal, to the good things to come, and when we are actively working toward that good, there isn’t much time left over to dwell on “should haves”.

Practical Suggestions For Dealing with Regret
If you find yourself dwelling on your regrets here are a few suggestions to help you move forward. Surrender your regret to God and ask Him to transform it into something good. If your regret is a result of a specific sin, turn from that sin and receive God’s forgiveness and grace. If it involves something you have done against another person, make amends as you are able. And then…just keep going. As you keep your eye on the end goal, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34)

So…
Where are you in your life right now? And what regrets have you been holding onto? Even if you are on your death bed you can choose to let go of regret and look with hope toward Jesus. I used to think often about my regret of not contacting Tessa. But one day I decided to just hand it over to God. While I would do things differently if I could go back, today I am no longer weighed down or depressed over that regret. I have moved on.

I encourage you to set aside some time this week to take inventory and make a decision to let go of the regrets that are weighing you down. Make some new goals that make your heart sing and then move forward. Life is now.

Offering True Hospitality

It is a special experience to be welcomed into a friend’s home; to be the recipient of generous hospitality. There is a difference between entertaining and hospitality. StartMarriageRight.com recently featured a series on hospitality and I loved a quote I read there. Karen Ehman wrote in her book, A Life That Says Welcome, “Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.”

Recently my husband and I received that kind of refreshing hospitality when we stayed in France with my dear friend Heather. We arrived worn out. We had been traveling for ten days on planes, trains, by foot and through various time zones. We were weary of staying in hotels and were looking forward to going home soon. The last stop on the trip was a few days with Heather and her family. Let me tell you how we were welcomed.

We walked into her lovely home and were greeted by a warm welcome and lovely surroundings. We were given her and her husband’s room to sleep in. They insisted. As I put my luggage in “our” room I was greeted by fresh flowers, a bottle of champagne, and a box of special chocolates from the local chocolatier. A welcome present just for us to enjoy! Heather and her family were glad we were there and we could feel it.

I was extremely tired that evening so Heather offered to cancel our dinner reservations at a special restaurant and throw something together last minute for dinner instead. We ended up going to the restaurant but I was touched by Heather’s thoughtfulness and attentiveness to my needs. When I climbed into “my” lovely bed that night I was met with soft, clean smelling sheets, a warm down comforter that enveloped me, and a pillow that was so inviting it seemed perfectly made for my head. It was a great night’s sleep and I felt like we were home.

In the morning we slept in and when we awoke we were greeted with a delicious spread of freshly baked croissants and other French goodies that Heather had gone out for that morning…just so the food would be extra fresh for us. Heather washed our clothes, made us delicious home cooked meals, showed us around town, and was attentive in little and big ways. Not only was it wonderful to spend time with a dear friend, she and her family made us feel so welcome and refreshed.

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” You know he wouldn’t have felt the need to write that phrase unless he knew how prone we human beings are to grumbling. Offering hospitality does take effort. In other words it costs us something. However the rewards are great, not only for us but for those we are being hospitable toward. Even giving a single cup of water to someone who is thirsty is an act of hospitality.

This week I encourage you to think about how you can offer genuine, refreshing hospitality to someone who needs it, just like my beautiful friend did for me.

With this blog post I’m participating in the Great Big Friendship Blog. It’s a simple way to express your thankfulness for a friend. To read other posts on thankfulness, or to write your own, visit www.SarahCunningham.Org.

 

God’s Love Holds You

If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it. The minute I said, ‘I’m slipping, I’m falling,’
your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.” Psalm 94:17-19

How many times have I thought the same thing? How many times can I look back and know without a doubt that I wouldn’t have made it through a situation without God grabbing onto my hand and not letting go? How many times has He brought me peace and joy in the midst of emotional disaster? Can you relate with the heart of the psalmist? I know I can.

If you are in need of a reminder of God’s presence, care and love for you, it’s all through the Bible. He sure does love you and won’t stop loving you no matter what you do or don’t do. I pray that God will reveal Himself to you this week in an amazing way and that you will deeply feel His love for you.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:38-39

 

Intimacy With God

Recently I wrote an article on Intimacy With God for The Gathering Place Church women’s website.

Here is an excerpt:

We all desire to be known. To be truly known, loved and accepted in spite of our faults and flaws. We desire to have an intimate connection. To belong to someone. I believe that God has hard-wired that desire for intimacy into the core of our being because He desires to share the deepest relationship of intimacy with us. Some of us accept that call to intimacy with God. Others run from it or attempt to fill that place with relationships or activities that don’t require true intimacy.

It’s scary enough to be vulnerable with someone you trust completely; and even scarier when you don’t believe the other person will guard and protect you; when you don’t believe you can trust them with the deepest parts of you. That begs the question: How do you view God? Do you see Him as someone who is a refuge to your vulnerable and imperfect self….or as someone who is waiting to condemn you and be disappointed when you reveal you aren’t perfect? We’ll come back to that question but first….what is intimacy?

Keep reading more of this article here.

God Is With Us No Matter What

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ve probably heard me talk about my past issues with anxiety, specifically when it comes to flying. (You can read more about it here). God has delivered me from anxiety and anytime I feel moments of anxiety leading up to or while flying, God continues to deliver me from it. However I have found that the fear of anxiety—the “what if it happens”–is more troublesome in the lead up to a flight.

The prospect of a trip with some long flights came up recently. While I felt excited about the trip itself I kind of didn’t want to go. I wanted to put it off. When I realized that the main reason I wanted to put off the trip was because of feeling afraid of the “what ifs” of anxiety associated with the flight I decided that I’m not going to miss out on great experiences because of fear of anxiety.

Then I read Psalm 139 and these verses stuck out to me in a new way:

Is there any place I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You.” Psalm 139:7-12

Even when I climb to the sky in a plane, God is with me.

Even when I travel on the underground trains, God is with me.

Even when I fly to the other side of the world, God is with me.

In fact, He’s already there waiting to greet me upon arrival.

Even when I’m in a literally or figuratively dark place, God is there and I’m immersed in His light.

Always.

What ever your fears, doubts, worries or what-ifs are, God is with you, surrounding you with His love; ready to help you in your time of need. Because He loves to help.

He says:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

God is Doing Something New!

Recently I found myself thinking, I wish I could get back to the spiritual place I was in with God five years ago…less cynicism and so much more fruit of the spirit flowing out of me on a regular basis. But then I thought, God doesn’t just want me to be like I was five years ago. He wants to do something NEW and something MORE in me right now. Yes He wants me to be free of the negative thinking and habits and become more like Him, but He wants to help me to do that going forward, not looking backward.

Whatever negative attitude or habit we have chosen to walk in over the years—anger, bitterness, pride, a critical spirit, whatever it is–God wants to free us from those things and bring us into a new place. When we feel like we’ve become a “less wonderful” version of who we used to be and we look back and say I want to get back to where I was, we mean that in a good way….but God will help us move forward. He wants to bring us into an even better place than we used to be!

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

So…

+Are you looking back instead of being in the present and moving forward?

+What negative attitudes or habits do you need to let go of in order to move into a new and better season with God?

+Trust that when you surrender yourself to God’s work in your life, He will refine you and make you more and more like Jesus. And because He is so gracious He’ll work it all for good. (Romans 8:28)