Brokenhearted

Brokenhearted–a state of suffering from great sorrow or grief

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He heals all their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

“That their hearts may be knit together in love….”
Colossians 2:2

What do you think happens when your heart is knit together with love for a fellow brother or sister in Christ? What does it look like when you truly love your neighbor as yourself?
What is the result when someone you have invested into, knit your heart together in love through the fellowship of the Spirit, walks away from the truth that sets them free?
How would Jesus respond?

How interesting it is that God sovereignly ordained it that my devotional passage today for reading through the Bible would be 1 Samuel 15 which describes Samuel’s grief over Saul’s turning away from God.

“The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.”
“…but Samuel grieved over Saul.”
1 Samuel 15:10-11, 35

Another godly example of heartbreak over those who go astray is Paul.

“With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. “
Romans 9:1-3

Paul is specifically talking about the Jews rejecting Christ in this passage but I believe the heartbreak he feels for them can be the same we feel for brothers and sisters who go astray from the truth.

And as the Psalmist writes,
“My eyes shed streams of tears because people do not keep your law.”
Psalm 119:136

I believe heartbreak over the lost or brothers who wander astray is the correct, godly response when one is deeply invested in others. If you truly have your heart knit together in love for a brother or sister in Christ, you will be grieved if they turn away from the truth.

Here at Vision of Hope, we as staff and interns pour our hearts and lives to invest these women. Seeing them leave is heartbreaking. The residents feel like my own children. But they are the Lord’s. However, through the investment and heartbreak, I feel the Lord preparing me to what He’s burdened my heart for–foster care. I would say walking beside the girls in this program is a small taste of being a foster mom.

It breaks my heart to watch women leave the program at Vision of Hope. It is so hard to see them walk away from all the truth they’ve been learning to take their own path. However, it’s not devastating, just heartbreaking. It would be devastating if my only hope for their repentance was through Vision of Hope. But God is so much greater!
The Lord has comforted me over the past several months watching girls leave the program with the fact that He still is sovereign. He is still is chasing after them wherever they go. Vision of Hope is not going to save someone. The staff members here aren’t going to save someone. Rachel Miller is not going to save someone.
I’ve become so utterly convinced of God’s goodness and sovereignty through the challenges I’ve faced here . I trust Him. I trust Him beyond what I can even explain in words. He has shown Himself trustworthy over and over throughout the Old and New Testament as well as personally in my life. Additionally, the Bible, which is completely authoritative and true, says that God’s power is unlimited (Psalm 147:5, Ephesians 1:19)!
Truly, God is so, SO good. And so trustworthy.

Give Thanks

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:3‭-‬5

In other words, you’re blessed when you are out of options and all you can do is lean on God.

That seems to be one main themes of what God is doing in 2020 through the various trials we’ve all encountered. In our understanding, we may be frustrated, feel forsaken, feel betrayed. But, friends, the truth of Scripture speaks loudly against those lies.

First off, God will never forsake or betray us (Hebrews 13:5).

I know, O Lord , that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Psalm 119:75

Additionally, is it actually by God’s grace that He’s placed such trials in our lives, that we may press in to Him. He is exposing to everyone that all the idols (health, jobs, finances, sports, family…) they worship and believe will save them, comfort them, and provide them hope and happiness, all fail.

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord ? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ “Only in the Lord , it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.”
Isaiah 45:20‭-‬25

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psalm 119:71‭-‬72

There’s a lot I can think of to complain about. There’s a lot I can become bitter about for not going “my way” this year. But this Thanksgiving, it is my prayer that 1) God renews my heart and mind to desire to glorify Him. 2) We all will reflect on this year through the lens of God’s faithfulness in exposing our idolatry.

Don’t let the Enemy have victory over you. Shut him out by singing LOUD the praise and incredible greatness of our God! How have you seen God’s faithfulness in exposing sin in your life this year? What blessings has He graciously lavished upon you? Who are you going to tell about His incomparable character?

My Desire

“Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:25-26

November has been quite a month. My month started by being released from quarantine, but as it continued many challenges and unexpected turns came about. God has taught me a lot over this month but the main thing is this: God is my desire.

A couple days ago I read this verse and began praying it. Then the Lord started to really convict me as I prayed. It seemed as if He was asking me, “Am I really what you desire more than anything on earth?” Wow. It felt like a punch in the gut but it was true. As I was praying that, my heart had things it desired more than God. I say God is all I want, but at times I definitely struggle with wanting control, wanting to live by my standards and rules, wanting my Kingdom and glory. In that moment, I repented and cried out to the Lord to create a new heart and mind in me! God made me realize that in myself, I will always have a desperately wicked, sinful heart that searches for my own glory.
He must give me a new heart in order for me to be able to truly say to Him, “I desire you more than anything on earth.”

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Ezekiel 36:25-27

There is a lot this past month that makes me want to kick and scream when things don’t go my way. Do I like it when I am adjusting to a new schedule, don’t feel competent in what I’m doing, and, thus, feel like I’ve ruined something?
No. But is God sovereign? Is He working it for my good (my sanctification) and His glory? Yes.
Am I happy I can’t see my grandparents for Thanksgiving because of the growing severity of the virus?
No. But do I trust that He will still satisfy me with His presence and great faithfulness to me? Do I believe in His sovereignty He has plans greater than mine? Yes.
This, my friends, is where you’ll find peace–when you are utterly convinced of God’s character, His unchangeable attributes, and His incomparable nature. When you trust His plan beyond a shadow of a doubt because He is truly trustworthy, you will find peace and rest for your souls.
You will be able to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In Awe of the Sovereignty of God

Are there ever days where the sovereignty of God just completely blows you away?
Today was one of those days for me.

Today as I took a seat on a bench in a park, little did I realize that God had been orchestrated this moment from the beginnng of time.

At the opposite end of the bench, a man by the name of Enrique sat (who I did not even notice when I first sat down). We smiled politely at each other. Then an urge to talk to this random stranger came upon me!
So I said, “Hi, I’m Rachel.”
He asked me what I had in my hand (my Bible and journal) which sparked a conversation filled with eternal hope and truth that God enabled me to share with him.

“What do you think happens when you die?” I asked straightforwardly.
“Well, there’s a judgment, isn’t there?” he responded. I nodded. He continued, “And you’re judged based on your behavior here, right?”
“Well, that’s somewhat accurate. I have some really good news for you today! First off, we all sin. Our behavior is in no way perfect. The Bible says that even if we only break one command, we become guilty of breaking all of it! (James 2:10) God is holy. He cannot have us in His presence due to our sin. That’s pretty bad news. But here’s the good part! God sent Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, to take our eternally penalty for sin on Himself and reconcile us to God! So we are judged on whether we make a choice to accept Him as the boss of our life, or to pay for our own penalty for sin separated from God eternally. Rather than judgment being based on our own behavior, it is based on each person’s response to Christ’s behavior.”
Hope filled Enrique’s eyes. “Well that’s really encouraging.” Our conversation continued and I shared with Him the wonderful blessings I long for about being in the presence of God someday forevermore and that I want (and God wants) Enrique to be there to and I believe God is chasing after him!
“Is there anything stopping you from saying yes to such an amazing gift?”
He said no. I read Romans 10:9-10 to him and explained how to confess his sinfulness, believe in Christ’s sacrifice, and make Him Lord (or boss) of his life. I began to stand up, “Wait, we still have a lot to talk about! Tell me some things God is doing through your life right now!” I shared some stories.
“Did you have somewhere to be?” he asked me.
“Well, I’m actually here right now to suprise my mom for her birthday! They’re right over there but she hasn’t seen me yet.” I stated.
“Then what are you doing talking to me? Family is more important! Go be with her!” he urged. I responded, “Actually, this is much more important and I know my mom would truly rather me be here having this conversation regarding your eternity than rushing over to her.”

“What was your name again?” he asked. “Rachel.” I responded.
“Well, Rachel, I’m not quite ready to pray that right this moment, but I’m defintely going to think on that and read my Bible. I wanted a reminder of your name because I’m gonna thank God for sending Rachel into my life today.”

Now friends, this conversation did not just happen.
God was sovereignly directing and I believe chasing after Enrique in several ways.
First off, I was in a town I do not live, nor does my family. I was here because God gave me the idea to suprise my mother for her birthday by meeting my family there. She would never expect to run into me there! (Also note that this was not my original plan to suprise her, but it changed to this after what seemed at the time other “hindrances” came up).
Secondly, God has been preparing my heart to equip me for the conversation that followed with Enrique. God has been stirring in me a strong desire to share the Good News with someone who needed it! Additionally, the small group that I am a part of (that I almost didn’t go to this week because I was exhausted but God strengthened me to go!) role plays every week Gospel Conversations where one of us act as the believer and the other as the non-believer. So just three days ago, I practiced articulating the eternal hope of the Good News to a sister in Christ in my small group, which gave me confidence and fueled the flame to share the Good News with a lost sheep!
Third, this morning God reminded me I needed to start my morning by focusing on Him, submitting myself to His will and desires, and asking Him to give me opportunities to be His hands and feet. If I had not been in that mindset, I would have just minded my own buisness when I sat on that bench by Enrique.
And fourthly, though I can’t tell you the last time I wore it, this morning God prompted me to wear my wordless book-style rubber band bracelet.
There are more details I could go into but you get the idea…
God is INCREDIBLE! Only He could have orchestrated this!

I don’t know about you but when I think through every minute detail, I fall on my face in awe, speechless before the Father.
What can I do but praise Him forever and declare His glorious works before all people?
Please join me in praying Enrique surrenders completely so we can one day rejoice eternally together in the presence of the incomparable God Almighty.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it is commanded! Lord, let us not forget your wondrous works!
“Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy to be praised!” Psalm 96:2-4
Feel free to share this story with anyone it may encourage or challenge.
And friends, prepare your own hearts for Gospel conversations!
Practice sharing the Gospel with fellow believers! Ask God for opportunities and boldness to declare the Good News!

Trust

My word for the month is trust.

Trust-“assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”

This month has brought many highs and lows. Some days it would be easy to look at circumstances around me and wonder, “Is God in control? Is He good? Does He know what He is doing?”

These doubts that whisper to us are intended to be taken back to God. He is not afraid of your doubt. He already knows it also so there’s no point in trying to conceal it!

As the Psalmist says,
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again–my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember You.” (Psalm 42:5)

When I remember God, I have peace no matter what circumstance I am in because I trust–I have an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of my God!

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
“You are good and you do good.” Psalm 119:60
“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Psalm 147:5

I encourage you to study, meditate, and reflect on the character of God. The more I do this, the more in awe of Him I become and the more convinced I become with reasons to trust Him.

Trust does NOT equal understanding. Gaining understanding boosts self-trust. No, as I said and will say again, trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of God.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Romans 11:33

“I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 131

Do not try to understand. It will exhaust you. God’s ways are simply too great for us. Quiet your soul before Him. Rest. Trust. Obey.

Meek

My one-word summary of what God is teaching me this month is meekness.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the fact of the earth.” Numbers 12:3

What is this trying to tell me? What is this meekness?

Meek-to be teachable, humble, not self-willed, not concerned with one’s own way and wishes

Isn’t it interesting that this is the word I stumble across in my Bible reading in Numbers this morning after God has been really ingraining into me every day this past week the fact of sacrificing my own will and desires. I had not realized this is the very essence of meekness.

“In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

There are a variety of ways God has been building meekness in me. It can be big things to the smallest things. It may just be someone asking if we can go to a coffee shop 15 minutes later so they can get a little extra sleep. It is tempting to my flesh to say, “No, I really wanted to go at this time so that I can do __________.” But God has been gracious in opening my eyes to see the selfishness in this and consider other’s needs above my own and seek to love others well.

“Let us each please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself….May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:2-3, 5-7

Meekness is the key to unity. I cannot be focused on my own interests and others interests at the same time (Matthew 6:24). It is a daily and moment by moment choice.
Will I please self or God–and others for the glory of God and sake of unity?
This verse also says God will provide endurance and encouragement to us as we seek unity. It will be extremely difficult because we are fallen creatures who constantly revert back to self focus.
But God is gracious. He will provide encouragement for your soul and endurance for your path.

Lord, help me to be meek–humble, teachable–looking to glorify, love, and serve You, and those you place in my path. I surrender my pride–my foolishness, my perceived “rights.” My life is hidden with You in Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Omnipresent

Society (especially in America) is fast-paced, efficiency-driven, always seeking to make things faster, better, more appealing, more productive.
Americans can’t just eat a meal in enjoyment. They feel compelled to be productive while eating. I can’t just enjoy lunch. I need to be reading this productivity book while I eat so that I can know how to be more productive this evening when I get off work. I need to check Facebook while I’m calling my mom so that I’m not behind on any important events. I feel compelled to crochet a blanket while watching a movie because simply watching a movie is probably a waste of time and precious energy.

The problem is I am a human. God created me with the limit of a body. This limit means that I cannot be in multiple places at once.
This means that while I think I am being productive and skilled at multi-tasking, I am in reality, never fully present anywhere when I am trying to be two places.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

My attempts and your attempts at multi-tasking are, in reality, a fruit of a jealousy and covetousness of God’s omnipresence.
Though people do not normally explicitly say, “I want to be God,” this is the message people are communicating when they live with a constant focus of multi-tasking, productivity, and discontentment of being focused on one task at a time.

What is the solution?
“For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid Rock?”
Psalm 18:31

Daily reflection of who is God and what His character is like.
He is omnipresent. You and I will never be.
This is something we can rejoice and be thankful for (Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Instead of jealousy of God’s omnipresence, you and I are meant to rejoice in our limits, embrace them, and give thanks in the fact that God is God and I am not.
Wherever you go today, be fully present.
Don’t give into the temptation of multi-tasking and compulsion of productivity.
I am not saying it is sin to multi-task or be productive. God says to work enthusiastically for Him! What I am saying is that these things (like anything) can become sinful depending on your heart behind it.
This is an area I personally struggle and fall into sin with and God has really been challenging my perspective and challenging me to be fully present in every moment.

Praise the Lord that He is God and fills all things with the fullness of Himself at all times.

Creativity

Have you ever thought about the fact that no one has ever truly created something except for God?
Sure, plenty of people make things. But are any of them actually new creations? Or is everything just a remake, an imitation of something else whether that person is aware or not?

The fact is this: Only God is Creator.
He is the Only One who can make something out of nothing.

God has given me the love to cook and bake but I need ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, butter to make cupcakes.
God has given me the love to create paintings but I need a canvas, paint, paintbrushes.
I cannot create a painting out of nothing.

Why is this important?

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
 to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
    and they exist because you created what you pleased.”
Revelation 4:11

The fact that God created everything means that God owns everything.

As humans, we are quick to forget who is the true owner and ruler of all things.
We confuse stewardship with ownership, viewing ourselves as the giver of life.

Nebuchadnezzar is an excellent example of this. He proudly boasted:

“As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.”
Daniel 4:30

But soon God humbled him, opening Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes to who is the true ruler and deserves all worship and glory.

“His rule is everlasting,
    and his kingdom is eternal.
 All the people of the earth
    are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
    among the angels of heaven
    and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
    ‘What do you mean by doing these things?”
Daniel 4:35

God’s ways are unsearchable. We cannot understand them because He is God and we are not. The unsearchableness of God and the fact that He is the only one who can creates drives our worship.

We must guard against idolatry by always remembering we are mere stewards of the gifts God has entrusted us with.

“For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”
1 Corinthians 4:7

When someone compliments you on being creative, do not steal God’s glory from Him.
Instead, use the opportunity to point them to God as the only true Creator.
Find freedom in knowing your creativity is intended to inspire worship of the Creator, not have others impressed by you.

Lord, please teach your children humility. I know I so easily take credit for things that are all your doing. I am sorry. Please help me repent. Please teach me to steward the gifts you’ve given me to glorify you. 

Humbled

Humbled-to be brought low, to be not proud or arrogant; unassuming

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
     he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

 

Philippians 2:1-8

This passage has been the mediation of my heart and mind this past month.
God is really humbling me in this season of my life.

Some things He’s been teaching me:
I am weak.
I am without knowledge in many areas.
I am selfish.

But the good news is this:
God is strong.
God is the very definition of wisdom (1 Cor 1:30).
God is patient.
God forgives.
God is gentle.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” 1 Peter 5:6

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

Wisdom can only be found in humility. And what is wisdom?

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” James 3:17

Wow. Wisdom. Pure. Peaceful. Gentle. Submitting. Merciful. Fruitful. Impartial. Sincere.

And what is the result of wisdom that comes from humility?

And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

A harvest of peace.

My prayer is that God will continually keep me humble, teachable, gentle. I pray that I will be quick to listen and slow to speak.

I relate to Job after God gave Job just a glimpse of His wisdom and ways.

“I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers?
     I will cover my mouth with my hand.
   I have said too much already.
    I have nothing more to say.”
Job 40:4-5

This month, God has humbled me.
I stand in awe of Him, His ways, and thank Him for the wisdom and experience He’s entrusted to the people I am surrounded by.

 

The Promise of God’s Presence

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

We must constantly recognize His presence and constant help.
He is never far from you.
The question is this: Do you recognize His constant presence? Are you willing to humble yourself enough to ask for help?

“Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

This passage in Greek has five negatives emphasizing that god will never forsake us.
He says, “I will not, not leave thee; neither will I not, not forsake thee.”

This is promise is from God. The Creator. God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
Do you believe it?

There are times we lose the sense of God’s presence and help, but we never truly lose them. You are not alone in the feelings of not sensing God’s presence.

Take Job for example:
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
    and backward, but I do not perceive him;
 on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
    he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
Job 23:8-10

Job could not see God working. He did not sense God’s presence. But that did not change reality. Job had faith in the unseen God who He knew would never forsake Him. The One who can never lie.

Your heart is not your friend because it is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). You cannot trust your own desires, feelings, or standards.
God’s word must become your source of truth.

“The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.” Psalm 119:160

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”
Matthew 7:24-27

On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.
What will you choose?