Look at the Stars

in: Devotional, Forgiving Day-by-Day

Starry Sky-210

Scripture

Isaiah 40:26-27 (NLT)

Look up into the heavens. Who created the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

Consider

Relationship conflicts often boil down to uncertainties about our worth. Each of us has tender areas where we feel inadequate, and we are quick to take offense when these vulnerable areas are exposed. Someone’s casual remark can feel like a poison dart when it touches on shame and guilt we are already carrying. Sometimes, when a colleague receives praise or a friend enjoys new prosperity, we suffer secret jealousy and pain because tangible proof of another person’s worth uncovers doubts about our own.

Most of us have difficulty accepting a foundational truth of discipleship, that is, that God chooses to have relationship with us for no other reason than because he loves us. No matter how much we want to believe this truth, we find ourselves nevertheless working to make ourselves more valuable to God. We fear that when we act stupidly or selfishly, we will lose God’s favor. In our world of social checks and balances, it’s been said that for every criticism we receive, we need ten positive statements before we can regain a stable view of ourselves. Held captive by such fragile egos, we cannot easily grasp the depth and certainty of God’s love for us.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God directs his people to look at the stars when they doubt their true worth. The Mighty One who created the universe has a heart so big that no created being or detail escapes his notice or sustaining care. Every star is counted and named. The same is true for every blade of grass and every creature who walks the earth or swims in the sea or flies through the air. Jesus tells his disciples that the same Father who notices when a tiny sparrow falls to the ground knows and cares for each of us so completely that he has counted the hairs on our head. “Don’t worry,” Jesus tells them. “You mean more to your heavenly Father than a whole flock of sparrows.”

When we feel hurt by a relationship, it helps to remember that our worth is not determined by others or even by our own best efforts. We are valuable because God says we are. Ask God to open your eyes to the evidence all around you that God loves and cares for you. Find your worth in God, and you will be free to love others without fear of their words or comparisons.

Pray

FATHER, even in my closest relationships, acceptance comes with conditions. I confess that I do not wholly understand how it is that your love alone is what gives me value, apart from all my good works and despite all my sins and failures. Give me insight into the nature and depth of your love. Heal those tender areas in my life where I am prone to take offense and teach me to depend on you alone for my worth.

Reflect

Psalm 147:4; Matthew 10:29-30

Ponder

Take some time to sit under the stars and ponder the nature and heart of God.

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The Good Neighbor

in: Devotional, Forgiving Day-by-Day

Good Samaritan-210

Scripture

Luke 10:36-37 (NIV)

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Consider

Perhaps it's animal instinct, but we humans tend to seek out people of our own kind. We group ourselves with others who think like us, look like us, live like us, vote like us. We can be wary, skeptical, and dismissive of "those others" who think and act differently from the way we and our friends do.

Thorns That Won’t Go Away

in: Devotional, Forgiving Day-by-Day

Thorny rose branch-230

Scripture

2 Corinthians 12:7-9a (NIV)

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Consider

Is there a relationship in your life that you would describe as "a thorn"? Perhaps there is a person at work who makes your job miserable or a family member who repeatedly breaks your heart.

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