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Category: thoughts by Sue Braid

Misery and Mercy

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Mercy - But with you there is forgiveness. Psalm 130:4

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.Psalm 130:4

In anger, someone who chose to abandon Christianity – someone I love — said to me,Who needs all that guilt?!” And I agreed. For years I felt so miserably guilty, I kept trying harder to be acceptable to God. To be weighed down by the memories of my sins was more than I could bear.

Scripture says that even God gets tired of our sins. “Rather you have burdened me with your sins, You have wearied me with your iniquities.” But He goes on to say, “…I am the one who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

Really? For His own sake?

Only God can do this because of who He is. “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity?… You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18).

How can I set your heart ablaze with the wonderful relief of this truth? If God wanted us to suffer continuously with guilt, Jesus would not have foiled the devil’s plan by taking our sins on Himself on the cross. He frees us from condemnation. “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity” (Psalm 103:2,3a). God loves you and me so individually, so entirely and kindly, that even though we have sinned, He extends inexhaustible, plentiful, and perpetual mercy and love to us who are in Christ (Ephesians 2:4,5). We can depend on His love, for it moved Him to forgive us.

Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for your immense mercy for me, one who still sins. I thank you for the extravagant love and freedom from guilt that you provided. Yet, without your help, I am not able to grasp that nothing can come between me and your love. So help me to surrender to your tender love again and again today. Grant me the grace to trust your unswerving support in our life together. Amen.

By Sue Braid
Used by Permission from https://thelife.com/devotionals

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But How Does it End?

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How does it End for the Believer?

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

Tell me how it ends,” I beg when my sister recommends a movie. I crave a satisfying conclusion even for fictional characters. In real life I long for a happy ending, too.

Do you ever wonder why Jesus chose the unhappy losses and limits of being truly human? He experienced what it was like to be hungry, tired and dirty. He felt his own brothers’ dismissal. He was hated by many, some of whom conspired to have him arrested on false charges. Because of people’s hatred and fear, Jesus endured public humiliation along with verbal and emotional abuse, physical beatings and torture, and ultimately the shame and agony of being nailed to a cross. He took not only the physical cruelty, but also the crushing spiritual weight of our sins in His own body as he hung dying on the cross.

Voluntarily, he chose no intervention strategy, no delay tactic, no vanishing act. He chose to do only what the Father wanted. Why?

The writer of the Hebrews passage explains — it was “for the joy set before Him.” Here’s the thing. Jesus knew what to expect. It would all end with everlasting joy when He returned to the indescribable beauty of His heavenly home to be with God the Father forever.

How does it end for the believer? A joy that we can’t imagine awaits. God will be right there ? everlasting, dependable, and true. Life will be free of pain and tears. A rested immortal body. Restored relationships. Now that’s a happy ending!

Lord Jesus, I long for the perfect ending, but I’m so often distracted from the joy you have for me. Then I lose heart. May I humbly ask You to help me turn my attention to the joy ahead which you have prepared and planned for me. Amen.

By Sue Braid
Used by Permission

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When Panic Attacks

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Panic, anxiety Credit:Peter Dazeley

For I have given them the words you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.John 17:6

Once, during a time of acute anxiety, I chose to confide in my doctor. After listening to me, he wrote out a prescription and handed it to me. The only words on the paper were “Isaiah 41:10.”

He explained that the night before his final medical exams, panic had throttled him. He called friends for prayer. They gave him Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” His panic receded as he let the message of this passage soak in. The next day he passed his exams.

When fear assaults, many feelings can flood in and obsess us. What spiritual machete can we use to hack through the tangle of terror to create a clearing for the reality that God is with us to strengthen and help us?

Is it admitting our need to other believers and asking for their prayers?  Possibly. What about a command to ourselves to “Just stop it and have faith?” That could be effective. You can practice taking charge of your thoughts.

Would a cry to God for help work?  Of course.  Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” He is the helper who comes alongside us to settle the panic.

The prescription my doctor gave me still is valid. I have discovered it helps to remember what God, Himself, declares in Isaiah 41:10 — that I should “Fear not, for I am with you.” It helps me to have, what I call, a stake-out on spiritual authority. I am following Jesus’ example when, in Matthew 4:10, he resisted evil in the wilderness by quoting Scripture. As it did with my doctor, soaking in a Bible verse that the Spirit recalls to me can calm the anxiety.

Stay with the Word of God. Never be embarrassed by how often you have to dismiss your feelings of doubt or dismay. Your job is to return to thinking of the truths God has given you.

Gracious God, help us to be willing to release our instinctive ways of reacting to crises. By Your Holy Spirit, remind us that you are right beside us. May we humbly accept your strength and your help in times of fear. Amen.

By Sue Braid
Used by Permission
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I Can’t Stand it Any More

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Christian Devotional

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:29-30

When was the last time you felt flooded by your situation? Overwhelmed about anything today? David, the writer of Psalm 69, was in that sort of place.

He starts with a 911 call: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” (Psalm 69:1-3). He feels hated, unjustly accused, attacked with lies. He is exhausted by what seems like unending mental and emotional distress.

With the situation as desperate as it is, it comes as a surprise to us to hear David then say, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

I think part of worshiping the Lord, bowing down, and kneeling before Him is developing a long-range understanding of our circumstances. That is difficult. Our immediate, pressing, urgent conditions can rush in on us like an overwhelming wave.

Unfortunately, the force of that water can also slam us in the direction of uncertainty, negativity, and unbelief. However, we see that the Psalm writers’ practice was to wait through difficult seasons. If we can find our way toward God in worship when the water has come right up to our chin, then we are beginning to do what David practiced. We are finding a way to trust and wait on the Lord.

Pray the words of Psalm 69:3 today:

But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O Lord, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Thy loving kindness, answer me with Thy saving truth.” Amen.

By Sue Braid

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Used by permission
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To Boldly Go

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Boldly Go Devotional and prayer

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

My father knew danger in a way that I never have. When the threat of loss of freedom came in 1939, he signed up for the army. He saw it as his purpose in life to sacrifice his own life, if necessary, for the freedom of others.

Today when I see ominous, fearsome events taking place, freedom to live and believe in Jesus carries new significance. The story of Queen Esther speaks hope amidst the desperate circumstances we find ourselves in at this point of history.

After she learns of the genocide deceptively planned for her people, her uncle implores her to boldly go to the king and beg him to save their lives.

Esther knew the penalty of going before the king uninvited — death. Yet she still made a bold commitment to act. Though un-summoned by the king, she summoned all the Jews in the city to join her in prayer and fasting. “When this is done, I will go to the king,” she said, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

If I die, I die.

Her purposefulness compels me to ask myself, “Is there anything so important to me that I would die for it? And the corollary question also comes to heart: “What am I living for?” By risking her life, the boldness of this one woman prevented a massacre. Esther’s prayer, fasting, and courage are still honored every year in Israel by a joyful national holiday.

What is my purpose (“for such a time as this”) in the place God has positioned me? What is yours?

Lord Jesus, thank You for making a bold commitment to me by becoming like a slave to change my history, now and eternally. Thank You for Your willingness to die, then rise again, for me. Now, at this present moment, help me to act intentionally. Help me to participate in bringing life and freedom to others in Your name. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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Your Treasure is Awake

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John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I love you.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love.” John 15:9

One of the most magnanimous acts of God is that He has woven reciprocity into our relationship with Him. He asks me to love Him and He assures me that nothing can separate me from His love. He instructs me to delight in Him and declares that He delights in me. He tells me to draw near to Him, that He may draw near to me.

Then He compares the degree of His love for me to the best relationship of all. In John 15:9 Jesus says that He loves us as the Father has loved Him. He also directs us, “Remain in my love.”

Jesus’ love is in me. It remains in me. In this sense I don’t have to fill up my inner tank.  The reservoir of Jesus’ love for me stays full for the long haul. I matter that much to Him whether I’m active or still, awake or asleep.

A Cuban pastor who spoke at our church said, “When I wake up in the morning, I whisper, ‘Your treasure is awake now, Lord.’”

Your treasure is awake. What a thought! The treasure He bought with His suffering, death on the cross, and resurrection. Jesus loves us just as much as He was loved on earth by the Father, which means He loves us eternally and unconditionally.

A simple song I sang as a child goes like this, “Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Do I know this? Do you? Do we live in the security of being treasures of God?

Heavenly Father, I read that Your love and presence were always with Jesus. He was never alone. No matter what was going on, Your love remained in Him. Please help me to be willing to let the truth that Jesus loves me like this, saturate my entire being. Thank You that I am filled with Your love and nothing can ever separate me from it today, or any day. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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Moving Beyond Good Intentions

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devotional

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12

When I was twelve, I had a horrendous fight with both of my brothers. I was shocked at the anger and hate I identified in myself. A verse in 1 John 3:15 smothered me with guilt and shame: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

But the fighting continued in my closest relationships. At times my anger felt overpowering and I was conscious of being hateful. However, I rationalized that feelings of hatred could not be the cause of the dissension — that I had a right to sort things out. I grappled to be understood. I doubted that Solomon’s words, “love covers all wrongs,” really meant what they said.

The New Testament affirms the wisdom of Solomon: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins1 Peter 4:8.

Over 50 years have passed since that fight with my brothers, and we have a great relationship now. But these words by contemporary author Mike Mason still ring true:

In order to surrender, and so to put an end to fighting, one must see that it is within one’s power to consciously and prayerfully move toward love. The storms of life, we all know, are fraught with subtlety and complexity. But perhaps, in the end, the peace we seek lies in something very simple, the pure action of our will. The question is not What should I do? but Will I do it?”

That question provided an “ah-ha” moment for me. Whether I liked it or not, it was a matter of obedience to choose love and peace in the face of conflict.

Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing to me that You will renovate my life as I obey You. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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You Taught Us How to Love

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devotional on love

We have spoken freely to you, …our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.2 Corinthians 6:11

We may often feel that God does not answer our questions quickly enough. But I do have a clear memory of a time when He answered very rapidly. It happened after I had just started a new job.

Day after day, I arrived at work eager to forge relationships with other staff members. I knew I worked well as a team member. I was excited to serve. Yet I encountered such aloofness from my coworkers that I became wounded.

One sunny morning in late September as I was reading my Bible, I paused and asked, “Lord, why did you put me there?”

I put you there to love.” His clearly articulated purpose shocked me.

Your heart may be open and your actions loving, but the other person’s heart may not be. But God can and does change hearts.

When I moved on from that particular job, one woman’s tribute to me was: “You taught us how to love.

Who knew? Well, God most certainly did!

Lord Jesus, thank You that through all the unremarkable days in our ordinary lives, Your love is active in us through the reality of Your resurrected life in us, even when we are not aware of it. We are so grateful. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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Clues to Follow

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Go into all the World and preach the gospel to all creation

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.Mark 16:15

On Sunday our grandson wrote clues for the latest scavenger hunt he was inventing. “Go to where the teeth eat meat,” said the first clue. Instead of finding the next clue at the kitchen table, we found it under Snapper, his hand-crafted four-foot long blue alligator.

In much the same way, I don’t know where I’ll be led next until I follow and obey God’s call to share His good news with others. Will there be scary people? Unusual places? My heart may be pounding as I listen and respond to the nudges God sends.

Sometimes I’d rather just stay put and be silent. Yet obedience is not just about trying to live to show Christ’s love. Lots of people may be loving and kind. But that’s not always enough. Obedience is also talking about who God is and what He has done for me.

The outcome may not always feel like success. All that my obedience may bring is the knowledge that I have obeyed to the best of my ability. At times the immediate experience may even feel like failure. But success in witnessing is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results up to God.

Has your obedience taken you to surprising places lately? Do you question whether this is the place God wants you to be? If so, will you stay and follow the clues to find the next step?

Oh Jesus, grant me the willingness to follow You to the places You are sending me in my own experiences at home with my family and in my neighborhood. Grant me the humility to obey You. For I have nothing to lose in the end. Amen.

By Sue Braid

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How to Get a Grip

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#Devotional HOW TO GET A GRIP

For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in his holy name.”
Psalm 33:21

Have you ever tried to define trust? Or tried to trust when it seems like you can’t?

My natural tendencies are often the opposite of trust. In my prayers I try to persuade God to do something I desperately want, or to give me something I think I can’t do without. I have a specific result in mind, thinking it will make my life better.

Yet the times I have most anxiously tried to goad God are the very times when I needed to trust Him the most. When the result I want does not happen, I have at times wandered in a land of mistrust, remaining anxious and engulfed in discontent.

What if we changed our expectation of what we think “should” happen? What if we began to define trust in God as letting go of the outcome and releasing our grip?

At first our waiting may feel more frightening. However, for myself, I’ve noticed a freedom in not holding on so tightly. Peace and gladness in God Himself enter my heart and mind after the release. I can be glad because of who God is. In Psalm 33:20 the writer states God’s characteristics: “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”

Dear Lord, please help me to let go of my demands for a preconceived outcome. Help me to let go of my efforts to control. I turn my attention to Who You are. I want to trust You. I can’t do that without Your help, but I believe You will help me because You long for me to rest in Your wisdom and protection. Amen.

By Sue Braid

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR COMMENTS.

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Used by permission
www.thelife.com/dailydevotions

comment hereEmail Viewers, please visit our webpage to leave a comment. We warmly invite your thoughts on this devotional.

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