“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,” Nehemiah 9:17 NIV
According to Psychology Today, the way to deal with a difficult, aka “toxic” person, is to “limit your time with this person or end the relationship—and don’t look back.”
Is there someone in your life that you would like to be done with, and then never look back? You can find justification for this attitude in pop psychology, but not in the Bible.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 NIV
I have a student like that right now. You might say he really knows how to push my buttons! It’s like he wants me to dislike him. After repeated insults, disrespect, and defiance, I said to him, “I’m done with you!”
The Lord has not let me forget it! He says, “That’s not an option.” He reminds me that it’s a good thing He didn’t feel that way about me when I was (let’s just say) sowing my oats. No, God never left me when I left Him. He still loved me when I was rebellious and sinful. And He was faithful to bring me back to Him, even though I did nothing to deserve His great love, mercy, and forgiveness.
This is why I love Jesus. He loves me unconditionally! Isn’t that what we all need? – what the whole world needs – TO BE LOVED?
I believe God puts certain people in our path for a reason. There may be someone in our life that is difficult to love. It might not be forever, but while they’re around, we must show them God’s love.
Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them ….. Love your enemies ….. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:32-36
If God puts an “unlovable” person in our path, we’ll know it. He’ll make sure of that. We may think we aren’t strong enough to love that person, but we can count on the Lord to give us the grace we need. He said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Are you ever too hard on yourself? When confronted with our failures or weaknesses, we can feel like we’re not good enough, not measuring up. I struggle with this sometimes, especially when I have been too harsh with my middle school students. Why can’t I be more patient?
When we’re too hard on ourselves, we get discouraged and feel like giving up. Nothing could make Satan happier! Remember: Satan is “the accuser of the brethren.” and “a liar” (Revelation 12:10, John 8:44) But the promise of God is this:
“there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 NIV
Sunday in church, I was feeling discouraged. We sang the song His Mercy is More. As we sang, the Holy Spirit comforted my soul like only He can. The lyrics say, “Our sins they are many. His mercy is more.”
I felt the love of God embrace me. God is not a hard taskmaster. He is loving, merciful, and kind. No matter how many times we mess up, He still loves us more than we will ever understand. Let the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, speak to your heart through God’s Word.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
His mercy and love are greater than all our failures, mess-ups, and shortcomings.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” 1 John 4:16 NIV
The Apostle Paul wrote, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power …… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5 NIV
This is our God. If you need His encouragement today, I urge you to listen to and sing, this beautiful song. I pray that it will comfort you as much as it comforted me. God’s love is reaching out to us every day.
Lord, may we have a deeper revelation of your love.
In a busy, loud, and stressful world, where we live by notes and to-do lists, phone messages and electronic calendars, and where racing thoughts are accepted as normal, God wants us to stop and take time to listen to His voice.
For me, that has meant quieting my mind, and that’s not easy to do. I am learning to do this by observing nature (especially birds) and listening to the sounds from my porch (pictured above).
God is teaching me to listen to Him. He is doing this by taking me outside to watch the display of His creation. He is speaking to me there as I focus on the wonder of what I see.
It was hard at first because, you know, I had so much to do. But it is getting easier as I realize the rewards.
Something special happened this morning. The Purple Martins darted about excitedly, swooping and turning on a dime. I wrote a thank-you for the “bird show” in my prayer notebook.
I got up and moved the small bird bath I had set out. The birds refuse to drink out of it, so sometimes I move it, hoping they will accept it in a different location. But after two years, I haven’t seen a bird drink out of it one time.
At my previous home I had so many birds drinking from my bird bath that I didn’t even need to put out seed. I considered praying for the birds to drink from the little bird bath here. I picked by my prayer notebook to write this down, but I didn’t. I thought, “This isn’t important enough to write in my prayer notebook.”
A few minutes later, a tiny wren flew to the bird bath and drank! I couldn’t believe it! God spoke to my heart, “Even when you don’t ask, I know what you desire.”
Am I special to God? Yes! Are you special to God? Yes, you are! He will speak to us if we will listen.
It will still be difficult for me to take time out of my morning to sit and listen, but God has shown me that He will meet me there. In fact, I’m already looking forward to what I will see and hear as fall and winter approaches!
I’m not going to lie. When school starts back on August 6, it will be much harder to start the day like this. I’ll let you know how it goes.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;” you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
How have you learned to hear God? Have you found it difficult, like I have, to stop and be still? Any suggestions? Please share. I would love to hear from you.