The guest on my blog today is one of my favorite bloggers and a dear friend. Grace will be sharing with us a special article on how life isn't fair...but that's really okay. I know you'll be blessed by reading and I'd love for you to drop a comment at the bottom to let Grace know what you think! <3
It happened again.
The deadly plague of jealousy and discontentment struck me one night when I found out about something special a friend of mine was going to get to do. I immediately became agitated.
Why does she get to do that? Why not me?
Deep down in the pit of my heart, I was grumbling, that’s not fair!
Ah. But such is life.
Growing up, my mom always said, “Life isn’t fair.” Over and over again, I’ve watched it play out in life. Life is not fair, and that is a truth that many of us struggle to accept. I mean, it just doesn’t sound very right, does it? If God really loves us all equally… why do some get privileges and others don’t?
For instance, why did some of God’s faithful servants in the Hall of Faith overcome overwhelming obstacles and see God perform miracles, while others had to plug through life with seemingly never-ending trials (Hebrews 11:32-38)? Why do some get happy endings and some get sad ones? Why does so-and-so get married but her friend remains single?
On and on we whine, why, why, why?
But again and again we have to remind ourselves, life isn’t fair.
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe life isn’t fair because God never intended life to be about fairness? Let’s think about this for a minute.
Do you think it was very “fair” of God to send His only Son to the earth to die a death for sinners… when He was absolutely blameless?
Mercy trumps justice.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should throw all law and justice out the window, but keep in mind that God gave us the law because He wanted us to realize that we are humanly incapable of keeping it and are therefore totally dependent on His mercy to save us.
We know that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to the world to die for us (John 3:16), and through that He gained victory over death and provided for us an eternal hope.
There’s no reason that God should show us such love and mercy! We were the ones that turned from God and sinned against Him. In terms of fairness, there was no obligation for the Lord to pursue us. But yet He did.
The Lord is just, and one day He will judge; there’s no doubt about it. But being a God of mercy, He wanted to give us a way of escape. A way of hope. Even though we were totally and utterly undeserving.
I could argue that there’s no reason my friend deserves the privilege she got that I don’t also deserve. But the truth is, life isn’t fair.
Jesus has said that there is no temptation known to man that He did not also know on this earth (Hebrews 4:15). And I don’t know any one more deserving – and least receiving – of fairness than Jesus. What a weighty temptation that would have been!
But yet, we know the end of the story. God was faithful to raise His Son up. Everything worked out for good (Romans 8:28); the most beautiful goodness. What Christ accomplished is the epitome of goodness. Fairness? Nope. But goodness? But mercy? But kindness? YES.
Life is not about fairness. And that’s OK.
Life is about glorifying God and serving Him with each breath we take. It’s about showing God’s love to others. It’s about spreading the gospel and making disciples. It’s about enjoying our Lord forever. We get only one life before we are sealed into eternity.
Life is too short to worry about fairness.
Dear Jesus, You know everything; nothing is hidden from You. You know when I’m tempted to become jealous and dissatisfied because life doesn’t seem fair. But yet, You were treated unfairly. You were mocked, and slandered, and betrayed, and oppressed. You endured incomprehensible cruelty for MY sake. You were treated so unfairly to save someone who didn’t even deserve it. Oh, to be like Thee! I don’t need fairness; YOU are all I need. Help me find my satisfaction and my joy in You alone. Fill my heart with Your love, that I may give it to others. Thank you, Jesus, for paying such a price for me. Thank you that You can see past our words and into our souls, because words cannot begin to express what our hearts contain. You are worthy of my love and praise. Make my life an alleluia! In Your precious Name I pray, Amen.
Grace is a teenage daughter of the King with a passion for music, a heart for missions, and an unwholesome weakness for ice cream. She enjoys blogging over at her blog, Grace Notes, playing her five instruments, singing, lettering, writing, making memories with her siblings, and serving the Lord in whatever capacity she can. Her deepest desire is that Jesus Christ would be glorified through her life.
Hi friends! Happy Thursday. Today I am reviewing a book that I really think you would love and a book that I believe every Christian can benefit from. Let's dive in!
What this book is about (according to the back cover):
What does it mean to be a Christian?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news in history, but we often live as though it has minimal impact on our lives. Being a Christian isn’t just about Sunday mornings, small groups, and studying the Bible. The good news is that Jesus redeems everything.
In the Bible, we read story after story of people meeting God and walking away completely changed. The same is true for Christians today. Being a Christian, by Dr. Jason Allen, shows how Jesus redeems all of life.
Useful for new and mature believers, small group and personal study, Being a Christian walks readers through the gospel’s impact on all facets of life, from your relationships to your resources, from your work to your rest, from your past to your future.
This book was a lot easier to read than I was expecting. And that's certainly not to say that the content was simple or easy, because this book definitely presented truths about the true meaning of Christianity. However it was written in a way that made these deep truths easier to understand for anyone who picked it up. Some books about Christianity can be so full of deep theological terms that a lot of people don't understand what is being said. Not so with this book.
I really enjoyed reading every chapter and I appreciated that each chapter wasn't super long--something that allowed me to read a chapter a day even with my busy schedule. I also appreciated how each chapter ended with, "In Conclusion," which kind of wrapped up each chapter and gave you the main takeaway points.
A lot of times we can think that being a Christian does not affect the smaller aspects of our life or days, like our schedule or our money or our hobbies. But this book did an excellent job of showing how the gospel and Jesus changes every aspect of our lives, including all of the things we think of as small.
Some of the topics discussed were how the gospel relates to our time, money, work, marriage, family, and a lot more. Although the book did seem to be written for the audience of married couples or parents because of the chapters that discussed marriage and family, it definitely wasn't something that an unmarried person couldn't read as well. Since I'm obviously not married, I could not relate to those chapters from a firsthand experience, however they were still great chapters to read for future benefit if that's in God's will for my life.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend every Christian grab a copy. :)
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Happy Monday, y'all! Today I am so very excited to share with you an article from my very dear friend, Dani. This is Dani's first time on my blog and I love this article she has prepared for you today.
This post is the second part of her article "Sick" and I would love for you to also read part one over at her amazing blog, Through Fire and Water.
I will include a link to part one at the end of this post, so don't forget to check it out!
And now, without further ado, here is Dani's article...
Just about everyone out there has someone with a chronic illness in their life. This is for you. I hope it will help you understand your own personal sickie and figure out how to make them feel as good as they can.
If you have a friend who is sick, help them! Pay attention when they’re having a hard time. Understand that something simple, like even talking, can wear them out. Be ready and willing to just sit with them, if that’s what it takes. When someone is sick, it can feel like you’re so cut off from the world. It feels like no one understands, often that no one cares. Being a sickie can throw a person into depression. They need a steady hand to support them, often literally.
Let them know that you’re there for them. Honestly, a text or two on a regular basis can work wonders in making your sickie not feel so isolated. And if you can invent fun stuff for your sickie to do with you sometimes, you’ll probably quickly become their best friend. Just make sure that they’ll avoid feeling clutzy or stupid in the process.
Make tea for them. Find something that they get excited over that they can spend hours on without hurting themselves. Tell them when they’ve done too much and make them stop.
Sick isn’t pretty. I know we all know that inherently, but sometimes sickness gets almost ‘marketed’ as something romantic. SICKNESS IS NOT PRETTY. And no one knows it more than the person who is sick. The person who sees every little random bruise emerge on their skin. The person who watches their own eyes dull, who watches their hair thin and break – or has to cut it because it is too heavy for them to handle anymore. The person who watches the weight that they lose or gain helplessly. The person who runs their tongue constantly over broken teeth. You feel as if your own body is betraying you. You feel like no one wants you because of what the sickness has made you.
Please remember that. Please make your sick friend feel loved. Be ready to cry with them, to sympathize with them. Be ready to encourage your friend over anything they do well, even if it’s getting out of bed and making it that day. WE FEEL WORTHLESS, HELPLESS. Please, please, do everything you can to prevent that!
Especially for family members, make sure that your sickie is eating well, taking their medicine, and getting plenty of exercise and fresh air. If they’re struggling with something, step in and help them. Don’t allow them to eventually break down over the problem – intervene before that happens!
But, for everyone, remember that when you are sick, no matter what kind, there is one Person who can help you infinitely. Jesus will be with you every step of the way, if you let Him. God told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. If you acknowledge that you are weak, and ask Him for His help, His strength, He will give it.
Sickness builds a reliance on God that we wouldn’t have under nearly any other situation. Sickness gives us a reason and a motivation to depend on God.
Sickness is hard. But sickness is also the point where we are so stripped down that all we can cling to is grace.
Praise God for sickness!
Dani is an MK living in the wilds of Alaska. She is a musician who struggles with a currently unknown autoimmune disease as well as several mental disorders. Her severely limited diet inspired her to help people overcome the barriers of their various sicknesses, and she blogs about faith, food, and culture over at throughfireandwater.weebly.com.
"Then God said to Jonah, 'Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?' And he said, 'It is right for me to be angry, even to death!' But the Lord said, 'You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?'"
Jonah has a bit of an issue with drama.
We saw a bit of his dramatic side in chapter one when he jumped on a boat going in the opposite direction of where God wanted to send him.
But here in chapter four, Jonah first begs God to take his life because God spared the people of Nineveh (4:3). And then he wishes death for himself because the plant that he happened to like a lot is eaten by a worm and dies (4:8).
I don't know about you, but I'd say Jonah is being a little bit dramatic in this chapter with the temper tantrum that he throws.
After all, shouldn't he have been a little bit relieved by the repentance of the people in Nineveh? They were turning from their sins, after all!
When the people repent and God spares them in His love and mercy, Jonah becomes very angry. And he tells God as much too.
"So he prayed to the Lord, and said, 'Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!' Then the Lord said, 'Is it right for you to be angry?'" (4:2-4)
Have you ever gotten really angry or upset about something that you know you shouldn't have gotten upset about? Have you ever thrown a pity party over something that, in all honesty, you were just being dramatic over?
Well, if we're going to confess things I'll admit that I certainly have done so.
Because if you don't know this already, you should know that I am the drama queen in our family. Growing up writing novels only made me more dramatic.
So sometimes I can get angry over things that I really shouldn't. And sometimes I can throw a pity party that looks a little bit like Jonah's.
When Jonah expresses his displeasure to God, He doesn't respond how I might imagine He would. He doesn't tell Jonah that he is obviously being ridiculous and that he needs to get his act together. He doesn't give His reasoning to Jonah and He doesn't tell Jonah His exact purpose for sparing the people of Nineveh.
No. He simply asks Jonah a question.
Is it right for you to be angry?
And at first, Jonah doesn't answer. In fact, he stomps off in his anger and goes to sit and watch the city to see if God really was going to spare them or not.
While he's up there watching the city (and sulking, I'm almost sure), God prepares a plant to cover him with shade. And Jonah, oh Jonah is really excited about this plant. He was very grateful the Bible tells us (4:6).
But just as God prepared the plant, God also prepared a worm to damage the plant. He sent this worm to chew into this plant Jonah loved so that the plant actually withered up and died. Then God prepared one more thing: a hot wind. And this hot wind, along with the sun, beat on Jonah's head until he was ready to faint.
This is the point where Jonah again wishes death for himself. And again, God asks him a simple question.
Is it right for you to be angry?
You see, Jonah had lost his focus.
He had become so caught up in his anger. So caught up in his anger towards the people of Nineveh that he would rather them die than God show them His love and mercy. Jonah had lost his focus on what really mattered and he let anger distract him from all the ways God was loving and merciful to him.
Yet how many times do we do the same?
How many times do we--do I--get angry over something and allow it to lose my focus on what matters?
God had given Jonah quite a gift in his second chance to go to Nineveh. In God's mercy, He allowed a fish to spare Jonah from drowning, He kept Jonah alive inside the fish, and then He caused the fish to spit Jonah onto dry land again. What mercy for someone who had only recently disobeyed his God.
And God does the same for me. The same for you.
He gives us so much mercy every day, mercy beyond what we deserve.
Yet every day, I can struggle against my flesh and get angry. I can be a little too dramatic over something. And in my anger I forget God's mercy. And I forget that I could show others God's mercy too.
The next time you get really angry over something or you're tempted to throw a temper tantrum, consider pausing. And in the pause think of that question God asked Jonah twice.
Is it right for you to be angry?
Sometimes when I read Jonah 4 I'm left wondering. God ended this book of the Bible with a question about mercy. Jonah had pity on a plant. Something so small and trivial. And God asks him if He was not supposed to then have pity--mercy--on so many people He had created. I wonder what Jonah said in response. I wonder if Jonah understood. I wonder if Jonah let go of his anger and returned to Nineveh and maybe even forgave them for their past sins. I wonder if he spent the rest of his life telling an unlikely story that displayed all of God's mercy and love.
I don't have answers to those questions, but I can answer this question for myself.
Is it right for me to be angry about this specific situation? And if God can show mercy to me--a great sinner--should I not also show mercy to those who wrong me?
Next time you're tempted to throw a pity party for yourself, remember Jonah. Sometimes what seems important at the moment is just a distraction to keep our focus off of what really matters:
God's mercy and love.
Thank you so much for studying Jonah with me these past five weeks! I can hardly believe this study is over already. In April we will begin a new study, and I hope you will join me.
What are some of the most important things you learned from this chapter? From studying Jonah as a whole? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Happy Monday, friends! Today we have a special guest on the blog, Sara Willoughby!
Sara is going to share with us some things God has taught her through her battle with chronic illness. Thank you so much for joining us today, Sara. <3
Sometimes, I wonder why God chose to allow this illness in my life. Actually, I wonder why often. I mean, I know that His plans are good, and I see many of the ways He is working in my life through this illness. For one, He is shaping and growing me in so many ways through it. He’s also allowing others to see Himself through it in ways that never would have happened had I been healthy.
But still... sometimes it seems like I would have been able to serve God better had I been healthy the last few years. You see, I have toxic mold poisoning, Lyme disease, and MCS. And it limits the ways that I can interact with the world; the things that I can do.
There are so many things I want to do... I want to be an author. I want to be a missionary. I want to be a wife and a mother eventually. I want to be able to disciple younger girls now. I want to be a good sister and daughter and friend. But so often, my sickness seems to hinder those things.
Maybe you feel the same way I do. Maybe you, too, have a long-term illness of some sort. You feel stuck, unable to do things that “really matter”. Unable to “make a difference”, or pursue your dreams. Maybe you feel like you could serve God more effectively or be a better Christian if you were healthy.
So often I feel like I’m not enough. Like I fail too much.
But today, I want to share something with you that God has been teaching me over and over again the last weeks, months, and years through this illness.
Here it is: God’s grace is sufficient for you and for me. In our weakness, His power is made perfect. When we feel overwhelmed by our weakness, our sickness, our shortcomings, God’s grace is sufficient. When we are physically too weak to tie our shoes, when our bodies cry out in pain from illness, when we can’t think clearly enough to string words together, His grace is sufficient.
It doesn’t matter if we can’t live up to what we think we should be able to. Because God is so much bigger than us. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. When we are too weak, His power is so much bigger than our weakness. When the sickness looms like a huge mountain, God is bigger.
Our weakness actually glorifies God if we choose to rely on Him. When we can’t do it on our own, it shows that it is only in God’s power that we are able to do anything.
So if you are struggling right now, take comfort. God’s grace is sufficient for you. He loves you so much and has given you the power to overcome: His unending grace.
"But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Sara Willoughby is a 16-year-old girl who loves to write and have adventures. She is a TCK, a Lymie, and a B.R.I.G.H.T. Lights leader. She writes for Romans535Blog, FoundWhoIAm, and Th!nk Magazine.
"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.' So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh. according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent."
Jonah has finally landed on dry land.
Can you imagine the way he must have squinted his eyes against the bright light of the sun? Or the way he must have rejoiced at the sand between his toes and the beautiful gift of fresh air?
The Jonah that was now walking on dry land was not the same Jonah that had been swallowed by the giant fish.
This time, Jonah receives the same message from God, but this time he has a totally different reaction. He arises. He goes. And he preaches God's message to Nineveh.
And what I love about this chapter is this simple truth:
God is a God of second chances.
Have you ever blown it big time? We all have, after all.
And where would any of us be without grace? Without a second chance? (Even ten thousands of chances)
But since we all know that we blow it sometimes and make mistakes, where do we go from there? How do we accept God's second chance?
Well, we can certainly learn a lot about this from Jonah. But we can also learn a few things from the people of Nineveh too and their reaction to Jonah's shocking message...
First, recognize your sin.
If we are sinning, but we convince ourselves that it's "not that bad," or it's "not really sin," then we're deceiving ourselves and staying stuck in the same place. In order to move forward in repentance, you must acknowledge that you have committed wrong and are sinning against God. Maybe it's the consequences of your sin that smack you in the face and show you just how much you've messed up. Or maybe it's someone in your life pointing out the wrong, as Jonah did for the people of Nineveh. When you become aware of your sin, recognize it and admit it.
Second, confess and ask for forgiveness.
Last week we talked about Jonah's prayer in the belly of the fish. Pray to God too and confess what you've been doing wrong. Admit to Him that you can't do things on your own anymore and you need Him. Ask for His amazing, unending mercy and forgiveness in your life.
Third, turn from your sins.
When the king of Nineveh heard Jonah's message he commanded that everyone in Nineveh would fast, pray, and turn from their sins. And in 3:10 we read that, "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way."
We can't just acknowledge our sin, ask for forgiveness, and keep on pursuing our sin without any remorse. When we sin, we should grieve because we have grieved the Holy Spirit living in us. This remorse should cause us to turn our backs on the things separating us from God and run back to Him in repentance.
None of us are perfect. Trust me. I'm nowhere near perfect at all. And I make mistakes every day. We will all make mistakes. But if you and I turn from our sins and walk one step closer to Christ every day, then we are making progress.
Let's make it our goal together to live more like Christ every day. And when we sin--as we will--to seek His forgiveness and make things right.
And praise the Lord--oh, praise the Lord--we serve a faithful God.
A God of second chances.
What did you learn from this chapter of Jonah? Was there a particular verse that stood out to you above the rest? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Hi, friends! Yesterday I had the honor of being featured on Grace M.'s blog with an article on prayer. Here is a quick glimpse of what I wrote...
Have you ever been halfway through telling a story when you realize that no one is paying attention?
You nudge your listener and ask, “Are you listening to me?” Once you again have their full attention, you repeat your story.
Have you ever prayed and felt like God didn’t listen to your whole prayer?
I have. I have received totally different answers than the ones I prayed for and I have wondered if God didn’t listen to my whole prayer.
But you know what?
I think we feel this way sometimes because we have some misconceptions about prayer. Sometimes we can get so focused on how we think answers to our prayer should be, that we forget who God is.
So when praying, here are just a few things you should remember about prayer...
For the one fighting chronic illness, every day things can be a battle. And sometimes we just need a little bit of encouragement.
I didn't intend to fill this post with my own words. Instead, I wanted this post today to be filled with the word's of God from Scripture and encourage you as you live out this daily battle for God's glory. <3
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." (Psalm 43:5)
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9)
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." (Isaiah 43:2)
"I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel." (Isaiah 45:3)
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." (Ephesians 6:10)
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
"The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills." (Habakkuk 3:19)
"Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish's belly, and he said: 'I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.'"
Jonah had really blown it this time.
And he knew it.
After all, he was in the belly of a stinky fish. First of all, try to imagine how terrifying that must have been to be swallowed by a fish alive. Second, try to imagine the smell. For three days.
Poor Jonah would have been in desperate need of a shower by the time he showed up on dry land again.
I wonder on what day Jonah prayed his prayer in chapter two. I wonder if he pouted in that fish's belly for a little bit and maybe even felt angry at God before finally going to Him in prayer. I wonder if he was scared and begged God for mercy right away.
And so here he is. Possibly in the darkest moment of his life. Alone. Stinky. Frightened. Hungry. Maybe wondering if God was even listening to him anymore. After all, he had turned his back on God and got himself in this situation to begin with.
But even so, he opens his mouth and he prays.
And the Lord heard his voice.
Because the truth is that even when we sin and turn our backs on God, He doesn't turn His back on us.
We've all had our moments where we've played "Jonah." Trying to run from what God called us to. Getting ourselves in even more trouble by disobeying direct commands from our Heavenly Father. Getting into stinky situations that there is no way we can get out of on our own.
And in our darkest moments of sin, where we feel like we're stuck in the stomach of a giant fish, the Lord hears our prayers.
If there is anything this beautiful prayer in the book of Jonah teaches us it is just that: God hears your prayers. No matter where you are when you are praying them. No matter what you've done. No matter how far you've tried to run from God.
Jonah was in the bottom of the ocean in the belly of a fish. You can't get much darker and lower than that. There weren't lights in the belly of the fish like in VeggieTales Jonah.
You may not be in the belly of a fish in the ocean, but your situation may feel really dark and lonely. Maybe you tried to do things your own way and ended up messing things up really bad.
Go to God.
Pray to Him. He hears your every word. And the beautiful thing is that while it may seem dark in the belly of the fish, He's using the darkness to prepare you for what's coming next. For God doesn't let anything go to waste--not even our mistakes.
Oh, and the best part? God is the God of second chances.
But we'll talk about that more next week.
For now, just let yourself be caught up in the mercy of God as you pray to Him and know that He hears every word you speak. <3
What did you learn from chapter two of Jonah? Can you remember a time in your life where God reminded you that He hears every prayer you pray? Share your thoughts in the comments below!