Devotional Thursdays- The Promise Keeper

“Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled”.- Joshua 21:45

Promises used to be the way I trusted people. If someone told me something and I doubted them, I would make them promise it. That is the only way I would believe they would follow through. It was my personal form of a lie detector. I don’t know how I got to believe that promises were the ultimate form of truth telling but promises equated to swearing before a court of law. I just happened to be the judge, prosecutor and the bailiff making you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

A lot of those promises I held onto like a lifeline were broken. I was constantly let down without so much as a sorry. My one form of telling the truth was used against me by people who wanted me to believe them while they were lying to my face.

Being an adult taught me forgiveness and the cruel realization that as people had hurt me and lied to me, I’ve done the same to other people. I tried my hardest to not break promises but I’m sure I have broken them. I’ve probably broken promises to people who knew how highly I placed promises. 

I’ve stopped relying on promises. I’ve learned to just be a woman of my word. If I say something, I mean it. If I say I’m going to do something. I do it. Jesus tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. What we say matters.

Just like when God promises us something, He means it. While I’m human and make mistakes and have broken promises, God never has. He is the ultimate promise keeper. 

Write it Out

  1. Do you easily trust people? 
  2. Do you have your own version of a promise? 
  3. How can you start trusting more?

Devotional Thursdays- Choices

Choices

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6b

Eve was presented with a choice. She was talking to the enemy, who presented her with an alternative to what she knew God had said. He convinced her to make the choice to eat the apple from the tree God specifically said do not eat from. They had one job, one rule and they didn’t follow it. Then, Eve handed an apple to her husband Adam because sharing is caring and he ate it without question. The bible never indicated that Adam questioned his wife on where she got the apple from. Granted, there were probably other trees that had apples and maybe Adam wanted a snack. Apples are good. Why not eat it? 

That single choice wrecked humanity on earth. This individual choice effected every single human that would be born afterwards. This choice now made all of us born into sin because of their sin. We are born sinners because of Adam and Eve’s sin. 

Imagine having that sort of weight on your shoulders. I know sometimes we feel like we are carrying the world on our shoulders. How many of us actually make decisions that effect us, our children, and the thousands of generations that follow? I sure don’t. 

Jesus comes next. It is a long time after Adam and Eve, but he comes. He is born, he lives in the wold alongside humanity that is sinful. He also started his ministry, knowing how it would end. Jesus was always aware of why he was on earth. It wasn’t some revelation that was given to him when he was in his thirties and he suddenly had to make a choice on whether or not he wanted his destiny. Jesus always knew what he was. Jesus always knew what he was sent to do. However, as a man, Jesus had a choice. Jesus even asked God to take away what he was sent to do. (Matthew 26:39)  Since I have free will, I think Jesus could have ran away that night if he really wanted to. Just like I could run away from my family and everything I know tonight. I won’t, but technically, I could. 

Jesus’ choice to follow the father’s will and sacrifice himself was the choice that saved humanity. We now can go to God freely and be saved from our sinful humanity. Jesus chose us. He chose you. He chose me. He chose to bare my sin, and your sin. 

The bible has a lot of stories about prophets and people who all had choices to make. Some choices were made to cover up poor choices. Other choices were for the betterment of a kingdom. And still, other choices were made to glorify God.

Just like the people of the bible, we have choices. We go about our day making a ton of choices. We probably make more choices than we even realize. Not all of our choices hold weight, deciding to get into another car lane isn’t as heavy of a choice as deciding to buy a house. Thankfully, our choices most likely won’t effect humanity as a whole. Our choices may have consequences but we are human and as humans, we will make wrong choices. We cannot control that. No matter how much we stress over every decision we make. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) 

The biggest choice we make will be the one that deals with our eternity. Is Jesus the savior God sent to pay for our sins for us or is Jesus a myth about a really upstanding guy thousands of years ago?

That choice is the choice that will effect eternity. 

Write it Out

  1. What are some choices you are struggling with right now?
  2. What are some bad choices you made in the past that you need to forgive yourself for?
  3. How can you rest in God’s grace instead of relying on yourself to make every single right choice?

Devotional Thursdays- Strength

Strength

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Some days, I get home from a big day with a lot of things happening and I wonder how I am still standing. In fact, some days, I get home, sit down and don’t get back up until I get myself into my bed. I am that tired. Those days are fewer and fewer lately, I’ve been working on not adding so much to my plate. (Growth!) Then there are days I wake up, think about all the things that need to be done and stress about how I am going to do it. I get new opportunities and stress about whether or not I will do a good job. 

Recently, for example, I was stressed about a new opportunity I had at work. It was something that I was so excited for. The day came for me to start and I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do with it. Naturally, I turned that nervous energy into stress and started stressing about things I couldn’t control or things that were already settled. I used that nervous energy to second guess my decisions that un-stressed Ashleigh already made. 

I was telling my husband about it and he sent me the sweetest message that included “don’t let the enemy get you down.” I was so wrapped up in my stress and felt discouraged before I had even started this opportunity I was excited for. All those decisions I was second guessing, they were decisions we made for a trip we are about to go on. All good things that I was starting to doubt because at the core of my stress, I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t qualified to do what I was told to do. 

That’s where God comes in and His word tells me to chill. Be strong, God says. Don’t be afraid, he reminds us. God goes with me wherever I go. I like to envision this as if I’m walking down the street with God and he is holding my hand guiding me. 

Write it Out

  1. Where do you need God’s strength?
  2. How can you work on allowing God’s strength work rather than your own?
  3. Where do you need peace? 

Adjusting to Change

There are thousands upon thousands of popular quotes regarding change. A lot of people try to convince everybody else that change is good. Then there are those that resist change like the plague. I fall in the middle that leans towards the resist side. I resist change because change makes me worry. Last week I wrote a devotional about worry and the number one thing that makes me worry is change. Sometimes, I believe those who resist change, are those who are content and see no reason that the change is necessary. I’m very content in my life, even in the storms. In fact, I feel like the crazier my life is or the more stressful my life is, the more at peace I am. However, this could be a conditioned response because I worry like nobody’s business when things are calm and good and normal seeming. I’m not used to calm, good and normal. 

Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by change. Divorce, terminal illness, moving, new schools, old schools, summer school, new friends, old friends, am I painting a good picture? What’s crazy to me is how I went through all that change growing up, with a constant revolving door of new information daily, and yet today, I fight against it. Today, I struggle with the adjustment. Perhaps, as a kid, I already knew there was nothing I could do so I just rolled with it. As an adult, I thought I can change all the things and if I was just ___ enough, I could change the outcome. A lot of lessons I’ve learned as an adult is from the mistakes of the adults around me growing up. Perhaps I viewed their mistakes harshly because I thought they could control all the things that were happening. They were adults! How could they not have control over the things that were happening? Now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned just how little adults have control over. I’ve learned that you make mistakes regardless of your control level or even knowledge level. The best I can do is make the best decisions with the information I know and pray that God will cover the rest. I’m sure the adults in my life were trying their best too.

That doesn’t make change any easier. I can go with the flow when I need to, but if I see change on the horizon, I’m instantly questioning why it needs to happen. Change forces me out of my comfort zone. Change takes away the control I think I have and that is probably why I resist it the most. Even though I know I have no control I have this illusion that I do. At least, I have a handle on things and things are going smoothly. Why do we need to change it up? I don’t need it to change.

I’ve said this before somewhere, but change is where you grow. Growing is a good thing, regardless of what anybody says. You don’t want to always be the same person forever, do you? I don’t. If someone came up to me today and said I was the exact same person I was when I was sixteen, I’d probably be slightly offended. Maybe even a little hurt. That would mean all the growth and work I’ve done over the past decade have done nothing and I don’t want to be the person that goes through something and doesn’t learn something from it. I don’t need to revisit the same lesson multiple times. I’m trying to nail the lesson the first time, you know?

So how do we adjust to change? How do we accept it and just allow the change to happen? For me, anytime I see change on the horizon, I start praying. I ask God for guidance and I ask for a willing heart to go with the flow. That is actually something I pray daily. I ask for guidance and the wisdom to know what I’m supposed to do when I need to do it. (Sometimes, I get really attached to my plans and still try to make every single thing happen the way I plan it.) When change is coming though, I know it is because God is allowing it. I have the freedom to trust is something bigger than myself and someone who sees the WHOLE picture. I only see the small amount of change coming and it terrifies me. God, however, sees how the change will effect me and how it will be good. God sees the endgame and the entire picture. God even sees the next round of change to bring you to the next step. 

A pastor I know once said that when you are living for God, you will live out your purpose. Every single change is helping me live my purpose. That is how I adjust to change.

What about you? How do you handle change? 

Devotional Thursdays- Newness

Newness

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

The idea of new is amazing. As a society we get excited for the new iPhone or Samsung device. We use new as a marketing tool and companies everywhere are committing to the idea of new. We get new products and technology every year because they are so good at selling us “new”. Every season gets a new style of clothes. Every computer, phone, tablet, gets an upgraded device branded as new every year. There are even conventions for all the newness to be dropped. 

We never think about the old products because we’re too busy focused on the new. We upgrade and replace our things because new is cool. New is awesome. New is better. 

However, we only have that mindset when it comes to products. We might ignore the old products, even if they are still in great condition and can do all the things the new ones can, they are discarded like they never existed. We grab onto the new product and the old is gone. We do this with things. We hold people to a different standard. There is no such thing as new with people. There is no change. There are some people that can hold grudges for something that happened to them in high school. They’ve forgotten most of everything else about high school but this grudge is still holding a torch, living in their mind as if it just happened. We leave no room for improvement and growth with people. Our one perception, situation, incident with them will be what defines them for eternity. 

Imagine if God saw us the way we hold people to their past mistakes. He knows about our mistakes. He has walked through us in our mistakes. He forgives us though. Once we ask for forgiveness, the mistake is gone, as if it it never happened. (Hebrews 10:17). He chooses to not remember the mistakes we have made and instead allows us to be new. We are made new. 

Are you the same person you were in high school? I’m not. There are parts of me that are still the same. I’m loud, obnoxious and I’ll talk your ear off. On the other hand, I’m not as sarcastic. I’m not as mean as I used to be. I don’t look to tear people down or put myself above people. I don’t look for attention from boys. I am definitely a better student now than I was in high school. A lot of factors went into who I was in high school. My home life, situations, the people I surrounded myself with, all of these things; the good and bad, made me who I was. Since high school, I’ve lost friends and gained new ones. I’ve gained family, I’ve made colossal mistakes that I’ve had to climb myself out of. If someone I only knew in high school were to talk to one of my friends today, I bet they would describe completely different people, who have a few things in common. 

When you step into a relationship with Jesus, things start to change. You start to see the world through God’s eyes. I know I’ve changed, I’m still changing and growing. It’s part of the transformation Romans talks about. However, this transformation that is talked about in Romans, is the transformation God promised in Ezekiel. Transformation isn’t a new testament concept, it’s an old testament promise. 

Write it Out:

  • Think about yourself in high school and yourself today. List ways the you in high school would be described and list the ways you today would be described. 
  • What is different?
  • How else have you grown/changed? Sometimes our growth isn’t evident in characteristics, sometimes, it is in how we think.