Do We Disappoint God?

Perfection is a tall order on this broken planet. This becomes very clear in the middle of January when goals for improvement start veering off the course we charted for 2017. We cheat on diets, take a break from the gym, skip a weekend at church, spend money when we shouldn’t, drink too much caffeine, stop trying to meditate…(um, feel free to contribute at any time so I don’t feel so alone).

We are an odd species. One day we are full of optimism and vigor, and the next we are easily derailed by unexpected challenges or our own behavior. Letting ourselves down by breaking resolutions can easily lead to some disappointment. Often, we even grow accustomed to this feeling and shrug it off.

But, what about deeper flaws in our character that persist over the years? What if we make some big mistakes that change the course of our life and maybe even the lives of those around us? What if our mistakes are considered sins? How do we cope with those levels of disappointment? Does God feel disappointed in us too? Will he give up on us if we make a really big mistake?

God understands how hard this life is.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 New Living Translation (NLT)

When God chose to reveal himself as Jesus he took on the hardships of human life. He sympathizes with our feelings and temptations because he endured them as well. He knows firsthand how difficult this life is to maneuver. He provides us hope because he faced the things we face, and he got through them without sin. We can look to his life for encouragement and strive to follow the example he set.

God chose to forgive us.   

Christianity believes that God wipes away sin and reconciles his relationship with us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Certainly, not every setback or mistake is a sin. Sin is an ugly, tough word. I don’t like the way it feels when I write it. But, the fact is we all sin. Jesus was the only perfect person to walk on Earth. It was his sacrifice that brings us forgiveness when we acknowledge, confess, and repent our sin to God.

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

Jesus took God’s wrath on the cross and called it done, finished, paid in full. Sin no longer separates believers from God. Trusting in his care provides a fresh start and secures our future with him.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 New International Version (NIV)

God loves us. He has plans for us.

What remains for us as a result of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for sin is God’s unconditional love. We can’t earn it. We can’t change it. We can’t lose it. We don’t deserve it, but we have it. Forever.

We cannot surprise, frustrate, or let God down. Because he already knows what is ahead.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

God may be disappointed for us, but not in us.

 

Of course, we have free will and therefore, we will probably make choices that lead us off course from time to time. In those instances, God may be disappointed for us, but not in us. He wanted something better for us because he loves us. But, in those moments when all we see is failure, God still sees opportunity. He uses our trouble to bring about good and to draw us closer to him. He extends grace.

And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

We are flawed, but not forgotten.

God never forgets or dismisses us in times of trouble. It is never too late to seek his help and reassurance in our lives. We can start viewing problems as alerts for prayer and build a stronger relationship with him. An insightful look at our past experiences will show us how his good works pulled us through. We can reference Scripture for wisdom in any circumstance, temptation, and emotion we face. Lastly, we can obediently act when we sense his guidance encouraging us along a certain path.

This year, like every year, difficulties will come our way. We need willpower, forgiveness, and stamina among many other things to make it through. Sin, mistakes, and unwanted flaws will persist. We will make choices. What a blessing it is to be able to make choices!

One choice we have is whether or not we will work on our relationship with God. We can choose if we allow our trouble to lead us further away from him or draw us closer to him. He has a preference in that choice, but he loves us either way.

God will always pursue you. You are not forgotten.

 

A Prayer for Your Week:

Dear God,

Thank you for seeing me as I am and loving me unconditionally. I sin, make mistakes, and I am full of flaws, but you never forget about me. When I feel disappointed you stand beside me and encourage my heart to constantly seek more of you. Help me find the reassurance I need through past experiences, prayer, Scripture, and the opportunities you send my way. I trust you and patiently wait as you work in and through me, ultimately bringing all things together for my good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 A Few Scriptures of Hope to Battle Messages of Defeat:

  • When we say: “I really messed up today.”

Scripture tells us to try again tomorrow: Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23 NLT

  • When we say: “Everybody is doing more or better than me.”

Scripture reminds us of our unique abilities: Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT

  • When we say: “I’ll never get it right. I can’t do it. It’s too hard.”

Scripture offers a lighter load: Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NLT

  • When we say: “I’m confused, lost, broken, and giving up.”

Scripture provides hope: Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Matthew 10:27 NIV

Inspiring Resources:

Christmas Countdown Challenge, Week 1-worry

Christmas tree hunt 2008

So, it’s coming! Less than four weeks and it will be upon us! Have you flung yourself headlong into the inevitable frenzy of Christmas yet? It is one of the most difficult times of the year for me to maintain a healthy perspective on my to-do list. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, the pressure descends to get the best deal, bake the tastiest treats, wrap notable gifts, and decorate beautifully. I get swept away by a current of tasks that equate to the “perfect Christmas”, then fail to measure up to my own expectations.

So, I’ve made a decision. This year calls for a new approach. These next four weeks, I am committed to making sense of the “Christmas crazy” through Scripture. Each of the next four weeks, I will write a meaningful Scripture on the heading of my to-do list. Before I assign priority to any task, I will read and contemplate this Scripture. Before I hit the mall, measure a cup of flour, unroll wrapping paper, or hang a stocking – I will replay this Bible verse in my mind. My goal – to feel less overwhelmed and more fulfilled, as I cross each item off the list.

Want to join me? Let’s get going. The Scripture focus this week:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything? Wait, really? But, there is so much to do and so much to fret about. How do we put the brakes on worry?

The Scripture above offers us a few strategies to try:

  • In the midst of making decisions, prayerfully ask God for help. While making to-do lists, intentionally prioritize, cut back, and perhaps, even eliminate some tasks. Does your heart feel heavy or light when you review your list? Do you sense that you would be happier if something on the list changed? How can you make that happen?
  • Remember this season comes one day at a time. Don’t worry about the winter road conditions for your celebrations right now. When that day comes, so will the cautious decisions you need to make. Focus on the tasks at hand for today, arming yourself with confidence and humor as you work to accomplish them.
  • Turn complaints upside down and shake them all around. Instead of grumbling about tasks, decide to speak thankfully about them. A lot of people to cook for? Remember how blessed you are to have a family to celebrate with. Shopping requires too much time and money? Remember what a gift it is to have talents and resources you can share with others. Outdoor decorating is a cold, tedious job? Remember having a place to call home for Christmas keeps us humble and grateful. How can you turn your complaints upside down?
  • Take time to be still and quiet. Carve out some time each day for yourself to revel in a little peace. Do something that you would not normally have time to enjoy this holiday season. Read a Christmas novel, take a walk in the woods, try out one of those new coloring books for grown-ups, or drink hot chocolate in front of your Christmas tree every night before bed…whatever works for you.

Prayer for the Week:

Heavenly Father, Blessed be your name above all earthly things. As another Christmas season begins, help me keep my worries in perspective. Teach me to listen for your quiet nudges on my heart regarding holiday busyness. Walk boldly beside me one day at a time, and remind me to laugh more often than not. Display my blessings prominently before me, so that I am not tempted to forget and complain about them. Lead me into quiet spaces filled with your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Resources:

Click on the following PDF link for a To-Do list form displaying this week’s Scripture. Print it, if you would like, and refer to the Scripture throughout your week. Know someone else who would like this blog? Please pass it along!

To-Do List with Scripture

A Candid Photo of Jesus

Snapshot Moments

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 New International Version (NIV)

Photos. I’ve been immersed in photos this past week – sorting, deleting, and rearranging a multitude of shots on the computer. This work, eventually, will display a condensed year of  family life in a printed photo album.

In the midst of my choices, something occurred to me. Pictures taken when the subject is not posing, and he/she is unaware are my favorite. There is something special about these candid shots. What I sense behind the images, the character and uniqueness of the individual, draws me in.

For example, you may look at a photo of my daughter and simply see her reading a book. Looking at the same photo, I would sense her deep determination for learning. You may look at an image of my son and simply see him switching court positions with a tennis partner. I, however, would notice that upon crossing paths, their hands briefly tap together, documenting my son’s loyalty to his friend.

Candid photos like this catch loved ones unintentionally offering their goodness to the world. We deeply appreciate the sense of humor behind their smirk, the kindness accompanying their embrace, and the dedication backing their talent. I think these characteristics, observed in relaxed moments, are the same qualities God lingers over and adores. Aren’t we blessed to get a glimpse of THAT?!

So, imagine someone handing you a candid snapshot of Jesus. Jesus, God in human form, is someone we can picture in our mind. If you studied this candid photo of Jesus, what would you see? Can you see beyond the image, as you do when you look at photos of your loved ones? Do you smile at the truths you know about his character? Truths such as:

God loves you unconditionally.

You do not earn God’s love. It is given to you freely, no strings attached. He loves you right where you are, and as you are. Your bad behavior, faults, sins, and failures do not cause him to give up on you. He offers you forgiveness, acceptance, and infinite love.

God does not expect you to be perfect.

You do not have to be a perfect spouse, parent, employee, volunteer, or friend to delight God. He is delighted when you feel happy, and when you are not stressed wearing your many hats. Learning through mistakes only brings you closer to his plans for you. Finding balance and practicing restraint is his hope for you.

God has a purpose in mind for you.

The moment you were created God laid out his plan for your life. He strategically places events and people in your life to direct you. Difficulties may surprise you, but he never wavers in his care and protection. His perfect timing tests patience, but also builds faith.

God wants a relationship with you.

God longs to partner with you on this journey, but he respectfully yields to your gift of free will. Because your uniqueness is irreplaceable, he wishes to lead you to some surprising places. Bravely stepping out of the “comfort zone” prescribed by this world, and into the “God zone” always renders radical change. Always.

A candid photo depicts characteristics beyond the picture because of time spent nurturing the relationship. As in a relationship with a loved one, the more familiar we become with Jesus, the more we will understand his character. Truths, unseen to us before, begin to take hold of our hearts when we look at his image. Catch a glimpse of THAT, and you won’t want to let it go.

Prayer for this Week:

Dear Lord, Thank you for the blessing of candid moments, and for sharing with me what you see beyond the images of my loved ones. Lead me in strengthening my relationship with you, so that I can clearly and confidently see your truths as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen    

Scriptures to Apply:

About Unconditional Love – Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

About Imperfection – 2 Corinthians 12:9, “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.” (NIV)

About Purpose – Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)

About Relationship – John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

About His Character – Psalm 86:15, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (NIV)

Questions to Help Make Sense of Life:  When looking at candid photos of my loved ones, what characteristics do I sense that strangers would not? When I think of an image of Jesus, how well do I feel I know him?