A blog dedicated to revealing lies and replacing them with God's Truth. This blog exists to help spread the word about the content on the webpage and to create a community where young women can run toward God’s Word together.
One of the smart readers of this blog submitted this question to us recently. To be honest, it doesn’t come with an easy answer. On the one hand. . . since a boyfriend is not the same as a husband, submission in that relationship can be misplaced. On the other hand, since dating is preparation for marriage, I’m left to wonder if it’s reasonable to think a girl could disregard what the Bible teaches about submission while dating and then suddenly flip a switch after saying “I do”?
If those same questions are swirling in your mind as you consider how to act in your own dating relationship (now or in the future), here are three things to keep in mind.
1. Your boyfriend is not your husband.
You may really, really like your boyfriend. He may have everything you are looking for in a future husband. The two of you may have even talked about getting married. But none of that is the same as actually being married.
Breakups happen. They happen to couples who love each other very much. They happen to couples who were sure they would be together forever. Breakups can even happen after a couple becomes engaged.
No matter how much you love him, your boyfriend is not your husband. There is no place in Scripture that places a boyfriend in authority over a girlfriend, likely because there is no guarantee that this is a permanent relationship.
This doesn’t mean that you are free to disrespect or disregard your boyfriend. Ephesians 5:21 urges all Christians to submit to each other because of our loyalty to Christ. (If your boyfriend is not a Christian, please take time to read this post.)
Yes, Christ calls us to treat others with love, respect, and consideration, but don’t fall for the temptation to play house with your boyfriend by pretending that you are already husband and wife. The guidelines the Bible offers for married couples are just that—for married couples. Marriage is intended to be a covenant, an unbreakable relationship. Dating just is not the same.
2. God has a plan to teach you submission.
How can you learn submission outside of your dating relationship? God’s Word has that answer covered.
Ephesians 6:2 says, “‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise).”
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Another way to think of submission is respect, deference, or honor. Marriage is not the only relationship where we are called to submit. Your relationship with your parents is the classroom where God intends for you to learn biblical submission. He also calls you to honor and obey your spiritual authorities. This could include your pastor, your youth pastor, your teachers, or a mentor.
Do you find it difficult to submit to your parents? When your youth pastor calls out your sin or challenges you to live more Christ-like do you tend to disregard his words? Don’t be fooled into thinking that submission will be easier when you’re married. It won’t be. Make a habit of respecting others and deferring now to those God has placed in authority over you instead of assuming it will come more naturally later.
3. Remember the real reason to submit.
Listen to Ephesians 5:22–24:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
This passage gives us a hint about why submission really matters. Marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the Church. Paul really hammers this point home a few verses later. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).
Submission isn’t about power trips. It’s about putting the mystery of the gospel on display. When you submit to your husband someday in marriage, you’ll be showing the world what it means for the Church to willingly surrender to the lordship of Christ.
I’ve got good news! You don’t have to be married for your relationships to put Jesus on display. Look for ways to honor and glorify God in all of your relationships, including your dating relationships. Speak with kindness. Forgive freely. Run away from sexual sin. These are ways you can showcase Christ without treating your boyfriend like a husband.
“Should I submit to my boyfriend?” is a good question. Perhaps an even better question is, “How can I use my relationship with my boyfriend to most honor God?” I’ll let you answer that one. Leave us a comment, and tell us what you think.
I cannot wait for you to get your hands on Lindsey Carlson’s book Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ. I read it last week while I was on the beach and knew I had to share it with you as soon as possible! Lindsey has some hilarious stories packed into the book, but even better, she has some priceless wisdom to share. (Like this: “You are wisest when your primary source of information is the Word of God, and you are richest when your greatest treasure is knowing Jesus. . . . You are not too young to learn to hope in Him. As you strive for maturity in Christ, declare with the psalmist, ‘For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence. For my hope is from Him’ Ps. 62:5″). See? So good.
Kristen Clark remembers people telling her things like: “Be sure to marry a man of godly character!” or “Don’t settle for anything but a genuinely Christ-focused man!” As much as she would appreciate this advice, Kristen found herself wondering, But how in the world am I supposed to know what a man of godly character actually looks like (in real life)? How do I discern the difference between a really nice Christian guy and a guy with a genuine Christ-like heart? In this post, Kristen will show you a simple, biblical, practical, and measurable way to evaluate a guy’s character from a biblical framework.
When I came across this post by Jani Ortlund, I was so struck by it, I just passed my phone to my mom with the article open for her to read. “We all struggle with questions like, ‘How long, Lord, will you ask me to wait? Why me? Why this? Why now?’” and we seek to be patient. But what does that look like? Jani says, “Patience is loving God enough to say, ‘Thank you,’ even for the difficult things. True patience, throughout the life-altering and soul-shattering experiences between birth and heaven, is a humble gift we offer up to God. And He is the one who enables us to offer Him that gift.” Amen!
“The world can be really confusing for teenagers,” writes Jaquelle Crowe. “We’re coming of age in a shifting moral landscape, where the most pressing challenges and culture’s loudest critics are ever changing and perpetually conflicting. We see scandals and sound bytes, terrorism and Trump, new sexual ethics and harsh racial tensions, and we wonder, How am I supposed to think about all this?” This may surprise you—Jaquelle says the answer is theology.
If you had to pick your soundtrack for the summer, what would it be? I have been listening to The Worship Initiative, Vol. 17 on repeat all week, and that would be my choice—no question! As much as I would recommend putting volumes 1–16 on your Spotify playlist, volume 17 is special because it is an all-female album! Some of the singers include Bethany Barnard, Davy Flowers, and Candace Payne—their songs (especially “Goodness of God,” “Isn’t He,” and “Jesus Is Better”) will get your weekend started on a good note.
Listings here do not imply endorsement of all writings and positions of the individuals mentioned.
Rejection is powerful. You trust someone, and then . . . wha-bam, curve-ball! Sometimes rejection is malicious; other times, you’re simply rejected out of convenience or preference, and your pain is accidental. Sometimes it’s wrong, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it hurts. When we’re feeling rejected, how should we respond?
These are seven stabilizing truths to remember when you’re rejected:
1. Self-pity is a decision you don’t have to make.
When you’ve been rejected by a friend, you can choose to linger long over the sucker-punch to your gut, or you can choose to grieve for a time while looking up to Christ. Your identity isn’t found in man’s opinion of you; your identity is in Jesus. Bitterness must be given no wiggle-room to sprout.
2. Jesus will never turn you away.
Your friends may turn you away, but Jesus promises never to forsake you. Your boyfriend may turn you away, but Jesus is always present and steadfast. Even the best of us aren’t aren’t wholly reliable, but Jesus is always 100 percent trustworthy.
As you deal with the sting of rejection, soothe your heart with this truth, “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (Ps. 27:10).
3. “Anything that makes you need God is a blessing.”
Lies Young Women Believe author Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says this often, and it’s so true. If you’ve been rejected, admit the pain. Then recognize it as an opportunity to experience a deeper, more dependent relationship with your most faithful Friend. I know it doesn’t feel like a “blessing,” and that’s okay. You don’t need to pretend it does. You can simply rest in knowing that sweet spiritual fruit will come out of this if you will allow Him to work and heal.
4. Accept the dare . . .
Look at this rejection like a test. Your reaction will reveal what kind of character lurks under the surface. Will you turn the other cheek? Will you accept it with grace, or will you fight back? When the other person has acted unwisely or sinned against you, will you extend forgiveness without strings attached?
Every rejection, every heartache, and every disappointment is an opportunity to respond like Christ, who faced heaps of rejection for our sakes.
5. . . . and don’t stop loving.
Depending on the situation, love may include establishing appropriate boundaries, praying for him/her to thrive in Christ, and extending forgiveness and grace if you were wronged. In the situations where it isn’t wise to remain close (or, sometimes, in contact at all), it’s still important to continue desiring the other person’s spiritual good. Yep—even when they dropped the ball when it came to seeking your good. There are no strings attached to loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).
6. Let yourself be humbled.
Rejection stings! But it’s also a chance to forget yourself. Life isn’t about me or you—it’s about Jesus.
7. “Freely you have received; freely give.”
Have you ever thought about how you can’t out-love God? Your care for others may bypass their care for you, but God’s care will always bypass yours. Always! The Creator of all has set His eternal affection on you and filled you with His Holy Spirit. No matter how deeply you’ve been rejected, you can still have more love at the ready to dispense to others.
Listen to Christ’s words to us found in Matthew 10:7–8, “‘Proclaim as you go, saying “The kingdom of heaven us at hand.”Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”
Because God has granted you love and mercy in spades, you are free to give it away to others.
The source of our love is God Himself, not the affection of other people—which means we don’t have to depend on others to fill our “love tanks”! We’ve received grace and love freely, in infinite measure. What’s to stop us from spilling that same love right back out?
When’s the last time you mailed a handwritten letter to someone?
Today I want to challenge you to find your local post office and mail a handwritten letter to someone who needs encouraged.
Why take the time to encourage others? Because . . .
1. You’re made in the image of the God of encouragement.
He intended for you to reflect Him to the world around you:
“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” (Rom. 15:5–6).
What’s holding you back from imitating and “imaging” your Father, the God of encouragement?
2. Your encouragement could be someone’s lifeline today.
Everyone needs encouragement—even leaders! The apostle Paul—the same guy who wrote at least thirteen books of the New Testament—wrote of a time he was desperately in need of encouragement:
When we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more (2 Cor. 7:5–7).
3. You have real perspective and hope to offer.
It’s too easy in this dark world to start living as if Jesus is just a fanciful idea rather than our soon-to-appear King! The end is in sight. The best is yet to come. That ought to change the way we think and live right now. That’s why, for ten whole verses, Paul reminds believers that Jesus is coming back soon. He concludes, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).
How could the truth that Jesus is returning soon encourage your friend in what they’re facing right now?
With these three reasons in mind, I want to encourage you to be extra intentional about encouraging someone through a handwritten letter.
Here are ten steps to writing an encouraging letter:
1. Plan ahead.
It won’t happen otherwise. Choose a regular time to write a letter or two. It could be each morning after you spend time with God, or every Sunday afternoon, or at the beginning of each month. And don’t miss the biggies. Does anyone have a birthday this month?
2. Choose who you want to encourage.
Who is currently going through a rough time? Who recently did something that meant a lot to you? Who can you thank? Who is on your heart today? Who needs Jesus?
3. Examine your motives.
Why do you want to write them a letter? Are you puffing them up in order to get something out of them? Or . . . why do you not want to write a letter to them? Are you jealous of them? Confess your sinful motives to God, and ask Him to purify your heart.
4. Pray for them.
Don’t just write a letter telling them that you will or that you are praying for them—do it right then! There’s no greater, more powerful gift you can give someone than heartfelt, urgent prayer through Jesus to the Father.
5. Write about your prayer in the letter.
Even let them know how you prayed for them. Something like, “I prayed that God would help you believe truth during this time and hope in Him alone . . .”
6. Be specific.
So you appreciate them. But what specifically do you appreciate about them? You’re grateful for them. Why? If they’re a believer, where do you see God’s grace in their life? How specifically, on a daily basis, do you see them looking more like Christ?
7. Share Scripture with them.
Romans 15:4 tells us that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
As believers in Christ, we—of all people—can offer lasting encouragement and hope. Don’t preach, but do point them to Christ and His promises. You don’t have to include a litany of verses; I’ve found that just one power-packed verse can go a long way (Prov. 25:11).
8. Keep it short.
If your letter is pages and pages long, most people won’t read it. Short and sweet all the way, baby!
9. Handwrite it.
This isn’t necessary, but it’s definitely extra special. (FWIW: I usually write or type a rough draft ahead of time so the actual card isn’t a mess.)
10. Invest in some cards and stamps.
If you don’t have the money, lined paper will do just fine. But if you can invest a few extra bucks into cards, it will go a long way in making others feel loved.
I buy the value pack of blank cards from Hobby Lobby and glue the fronts of cards people have given me onto them. (I know, I know . . . just call me el cheapo!)
I like to keep a basket of cards, paper, envelopes, pens, scissors, and glue on hand so I can whip out a card on a moment’s notice. You might want to do the same.
Don’t worry if you’re not artsy. This isn’t about making you look good. It doesn’t matter if your card is Pinterest-worthy. The main thing is: are you available to share God’s encouragement with others who desperately need it?
Writing a letter isn’t the only way to encourage someone. But it sure is a great way to put into practice Philippians 2:1–5:
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
At the beginning of this post, I asked if you knew where your local post office is. If not, you can find the nearest location here. And if you want to know how much a stamp costs, learn the answer here.
Log on to the giveaway widget below, and then leave me a comment telling me who you will write your encouraging letter to. I’ll pick one of you to win a free pack of cards. (But you’ll have to lick the envelope yourself!)
Father’s Day is just around the corner. How are you feeling about it? For some of you, this weekend is a time to thank your dad for his investment, but for those of you who have lost parents or have been hurt by a father who was domineering or distant or not there at all, it can be a time of frustration and pain. “Blair Linne knows what it is like to feel the pain of broken family relationships in a fallen world,” but in this Revive Our Hearts program, “She’ll remind us of why we can always lean on our perfect heavenly Father.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that they love limitations, and in your teen years, there are a lot: “Your parents limit your screen time, regulate how late you can stay up, and prevent you from eating twelve Twinkies for breakfast.” Lindsey Carlson says limits like these tempt us “to rail against them through arguing, negotiating, forcing your way through, or denying they exist at all.” But you don’t have to live like this—in this Crossway article, Lindsey shows how even the boundaries placed on you by people in authority are used by God for your good and His glory.
Learn from my mistake—don’t put off reading 7 Myths about Singleness by Sam Alberry. It’s been sitting at the bottom of my to-be-read pile for awhile, just waiting for me to pick it up and realize it’s one of the best books on singleness. I’m still thinking about lines like this: “Singleness now is a way of declaring to a world obsessed with sexual and romantic intimacy that these things are not ultimate and that in Christ we possess what is. . . . If marriage shows us the shape of the gospel, singleness shows us its sufficiency.” Yes!
If you’re a Lyme disease patient or struggle with any kind of chronic condition, you know the disappointment and discouragement of having an old pain suddenly reappear. When I read Kristen Wetherell’s update about recurring symptoms, it made me want to cry, but the post she shared on her blog is an invitation to hope. If your pains have come back after a prolonged break, or if you’re suffering in any way today, join us in this prayer Kristen wrote for when the pain returns.
Dear Dad, thanks for . . . uh, everything? If you bought a Father’s Day card but now find yourself facing writer’s block, you’ll want to check out this post by David Mathis. We know no earthly father is perfect, and yet, Mathis writes, “Even when our fathers have failed us, we still typically have something to be thankful for—and not just virtues that overlap with Mom’s, but qualities that were distinct manifestations of his fatherly masculinity.” Here are a few ways you can honor your father as father this weekend.
Listings here do not imply endorsement of all writings and positions of the individuals mentioned.
On Monday we talked about restoring friendships that go sour. Not every offense is friendship ending. Christ calls us to forgive. When possible, welcome friends who have wronged you back into your circle.
But not every friendship should be salvaged. Today we’re tackling the topic of toxic people.
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. We’ll call him “Friend B.” I’d been close with Friend B for a long time, but one day he took a family member of mine to lunch and blasted our family for doing something that, in their opinion, was wrong.
Shocked, we stepped back to see if what they were saying was true and to ask the question, “Is this activity good for us?” After a few days of prayer, plus a few meetings with other advisors, we determined that what we were doing was not only good, but incredibly beneficial to more people than just us.
That didn’t go well with Friend B. He would have none of it when we told him this is what the Lord had called our family to do. We tried to reason with him, but it didn’t work. Since then, we rarely speak.
When to Pull the Plug
Occasionally, you’ll need to cut off a friendship because of someone’s negative impact on you. Toxic friendships are . . . well . . . toxic, meaning they can contaminate your heart and mind. You might find yourself tempted to do something wrong when you’re around a certain person, or they might just constantly drag you down, like Friend B was doing.
But is there a way to know if you need to cut off a friendship? These three passages can help.
“‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness’” (Matt. 23:27).
We all sin. That’s part of being human. But if you’re friends with someone who looks good in public but constantly tempts you to sin in private, get out! Say goodbye. Hit the road.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).
The apostle Paul used this verse to refer to those who “have no knowledge of God” (1 Cor. 15:34). While the verse from Matthew applies to those who call themselves believers, this passage refers to a broader group. I’m not implying that you can’t be friends with people who don’t follow Jesus. What I am saying is that you need to be very aware of who you become when you’re around them. Evaluate your friendships with unbelievers and ask yourself how they’re affecting you.
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger” (Prov. 22:24).
I’m addressing this last one specifically to my friends reading this who are dating or going to date. Don’t date someone with anger issues. Anger issues are deeper than a one-time explosion. Can guys get over anger issues? Sure! I did. But all too often, girls want to write off anger issues because a guy is cute or sweet or he likes kids. Trust me: if you go ahead and date or marry him, it can, and likely will, lead to huge problems later.
Keep in mind:
Toxic people pull you down.
Toxic people cause you to doubt yourself and others.
Toxic people distract you from pursuing what the Lord has called you to do.
Let me end on a hopeful note: people can change. Never give up on someone 100 percent. It might take five or ten years, but if you get a text one day from a toxic person apologizing and wanting to make it right, give them a chance to explain. They’ll have to earn your trust back, but remember that Christ welcomed you back once you repented and returned to Him. Offer that same grace to others.
I’m curious to know from you . . . have you ever realized that a friendship needed to go (or at least change) because of something toxic that was happening to you? Tell me below.
I still remember reading the scathing paragraph posted at the bottom of a blog post I’d written. Honestly, it was one of the most cutting, below-the-belt, negative things I had ever read. Here’s the kicker: the comment was written by a friend of mine. A good friend.
At first, I was so mad I couldn’t see straight.
“What am I supposed to do now?”
“How do I handle this?
“We can’t stay friends now!”
A month later the friend-turned-attacker called and asked if I wanted to grab coffee. I expected them to ask forgiveness for flying off the handle and writing such scathing words about me. But it was never mentioned. It was as if nothing ever happened. My anger shifted to confusion.
When the Hits Keep Coming
A few months later there was another hurtful comment on another blog post by the same friend. Then it happened a third time.
I was really at the end of my rope and had no idea what to do.
Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you thought was on your side? Maybe they turned on you when the “cool kids” came around. Or perhaps a “friend” said something about you when your back was turned, and you heard about it through the grapevine.
Welcome to the club! I’m not sure how you felt when that happened, but let me tell you, I felt:
Mostly, I wanted to get my attacker back. “What did I do to deserve this?” was one question that ran through my mind. Then I thought of deleting them out of my phone forever and ever, amen. But none of these responses really dealt with the root issue of my bad attitude. (Silver lining: I learned my lesson, and now I try not to read anything posted about me online. Plus, it taught me to grow a little thicker skin).
How should we respond when someone that we think of as a friend stabs us in the back? Here are five practices I found helpful.
1. Take ten deep breaths and walk away from your screen.
It’s all too easy to type out a hasty text or email when we’re angry. But don’t do it! Proverbs 22:3 reminds us that “the prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
In other words, don’t be hasty. Wait before responding (if you respond at all).
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus told his disciples to “watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation.” Prayer is a powerful weapon. Take advantage of it! Specifically, pray for the one who’s hurt you, and pray that you would be able to forgive them.
3. Realize that you aren’t responsible.
If a friend is angry at you because you’re doing something they don’t like, realize that you are here to please and live for one person—Jesus. Listen again to 1 Corinthians 10:31, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
If our lives are aligned with Scripture, then it really doesn’t matter what others say.
4. Do what you can do to live at peace.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).
We’re called to do everything in our power to live at peace. Do what you can to preserve the peace balance including letting the offense go.
5. Don’t ditch the friendship . . . yet.
Give your friend the benefit of the doubt in this situation (and in every situation). Maybe they’re struggling in a way you can’t see or stressed about something you don’t know about. If possible, don’t let what they’re saying cause you to completely shut them off.
I continued going to coffee with my friend who’d been giving me trouble. Was it easy? Nope. But today, we’re still friends. Not best friends, but we can talk about what the Lord is doing in our lives and where He’s leading us. My heart and conscience are open and clear, knowing I did what I could to live at peace and did not allow bitterness to take root in my heart.
I’m glad I didn’t give up on our friendship, and I think you’ll be glad you stuck it out with your friend who’s giving you a hard time right now.
I hear you asking, “Is there ever a reason to cut someone’s friendship off entirely?” Great question! We’ll talk about that in Wednesday’s post. Don’t miss it! For now, I want to hear from you. Have you stuck it out after something hard happened with a friend, and your friendship grew or was restored? Sound off in the comments!
Have you ever felt that you must do something extraordinary with your life? This is one of seven lies (such as “I’ll stop feeling lonely if I get married” and “I’m too busy for church this week”) that Moses Y. Lee says college-aged Christians tend to tell themselves. If we’re honest, Lee writes, when we say we want to do something extraordinary with our lives, what we really mean is “I want to be famous” or “I want to go viral” or “I want to become an influencer.” But Lee says this attitude misses how ordinary faithfulness can be the most extraordinary calling of all.
‘Tis the season for short-term mission trips and Vacation Bible School and service projects in a part of the city you don’t get the chance to visit other times of the year. It’s so exciting to be involved in this kind of work that we go in with hearts ablaze and cameras ready to capture the best moments. But what happens if our selfies keep us from sharing the gospel with the people we came to serve? This post shares how to keep the gospel message the main focus as we minister to others.
You may have observed that we live in a culture where people are praised for questioning authority, which makes the church look pretty old-fashioned for suggesting that people ought to obey. But Andrea Burke has found that obedience is not just duty: it’s the key to joy. “You know what does make obedience easier? What makes it joyful and abundant and gives the feeling a little bit like flying and a whole lot like freedom? Trust.”
If the end of the school year has left you lost and confused and completely oblivious to what day/week/month it is, you’re not alone. As I was swiping through some Instagram stories yesterday, I freaked out when I saw a discussion about Father’s Day. Before you panic, it’s next weekend. To help you shop for the men in your life, Risen Motherhood has put together a great gift guide, and several of the ideas on their gospel-centered list come with coupon codes! Head over to to their IG page, and look for the “Father’s Day Gift” story highlight. Happy shopping!
Listings here do not imply endorsement of all writings and positions of the individuals mentioned.
You hit the snooze button again. Now it’s a race against the clock to get through your morning routine and out the door. But soon you realize there’s no way you can get everything done and read your Bible. Have you just hijacked your day?
It’s not uncommon to think you’re doomed to fail whenever you miss devotions. But the truth is, the Bible isn’t some kind of good luck charm. Reading it every morning doesn’t guarantee you a day of pleasant circumstances and godly behavior. And skipping a morning doesn’t equal an automatic jinx on your day. Believing that it does takes something good and turns it into a heavy burden. If you have this faulty thinking, rather than feeling refreshed and encouraged whenever you do spend time in the Word, you feel guilty and nervous instead whenever you don’t.
Speaking from Experience
For years I felt an unexplainable burden to crack open my Bible first thing in the morning, and I was ridden with guilt if I missed a day. It was a complicated beast, driven by a mixture of genuine desire and crippling regret.
Obviously, it’s wonderful to eagerly begin the day in God’s Word and prayer. Setting our minds on things above (Col. 3:1) can help us find joy and fight temptation, neither of which we can do in our own strength. But our problem begins when this humble dependence on divine help becomes a desperate means of seeking divine approval. It’s a battle I still wrestle with at times. But ever so gently, Jesus keeps reminding me that following Him doesn’t mean being ruled by a rod of iron. In Christ is great freedom and love.
If this is your struggle, let me gently remind you: the purpose of a devotional time isn’t to gain a higher rating from God (as if He has a rating system!). It’s to spend time with Jesus in order to develop a relationship with Him. Jesus demonstrated this truth for all of us the day He stopped into Martha’s house for lunch.
Just Like a Friend
Martha and her sister, Mary, were dear friends of Jesus. When Jesus and His disciples came for a visit, Mary sat down to listen to Jesus, but Martha kept busy preparing for the houseguests. She grew exasperated at Mary for leaving her to do all the work, and she let Jesus know it. It sounds like Martha was more concerned with impressing Jesus in her home than with making room for Him in her heart.
What did Jesus have to say about all this? Did He rebuke one (or both) of the sisters? Did He pronounce judgment on Martha for her careless neglect of Him?
While He did address Martha’s accusations against her sister, He didn’t rebuke or shame her. Instead, Jesus extended grace to her. He offered her the one thing she needed, an invitation to come, rest, and enjoy His presence (Luke 10:38–42).
This is what Jesus offers you. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is extending an offer of friendship to you, like a friend dining with a friend. Your Lord and Savior desires your company. He doesn’t want you to feel anxious or distracted about anything but to choose “the good portion”—Himself.
Don’t Be THAT Friend
Imagine you’re meeting up with a friend for coffee. She snaps a cute selfie with you to document your time together, but then she remains fixated on her phone for the next half hour. She chats occasionally about her life problems but never once asks about you. How would this make you feel? This isn’t the behavior you’d expect from a true, devoted friend, is it?
The word “devotion” is a term we often use to describe time spent in prayer and study, and it means having love and loyalty to a person or cause. That means our devotion to something or someone is driven by love. Let that sink in . . .
Are you devoted to Jesus? Is love for Jesus your motivation for spending time with Him, getting to know Him, and fellowshipping with Him? Or are you too busy checking off your “quiet time” list to actually notice His presence?
Carefully consider your motivation(s) for spending time reading the Bible and praying.
Are you afraid God will be mad at you if you don’t?
Do you worry God will neglect you in your time of need if you neglect Him?
Are you motivated simply by His love and by a growing love for Him in return?
Do you desire closer friendship and communion with Jesus?
Take some time now to confess any wrong motives and to ask Jesus for a heart that is truly devoted to Him.
You may have heard that Revive Our Hearts needs to raise $775,000 by the end of today. And you should know—the ROH team did not ask me to mention the deadline here. I wanted to include it because giving to the ministry over the years has become one of my favorite things in the world. When I first started listening to Nancy’s teaching as a teen, I was stuck in medical clinics instead of classrooms, and I struggled to see how I could be part of what God was doing in the world when I was too sick to even get out of bed. But here’s what I learned: when we give money to a ministry like Revive Our Hearts, we are giving the hope of Jesus to women who are just like us, women who are desperate for the freedom and fullness and fruitfulness that is only found in Christ. Can you believe we have the chance to be involved in this life-changing work?! Y’all, it is an absolute blast.
Here’s hope in five words: home is around the corner. Friend, if you have been wrestling with doubts and fears over all the seemingly impossible circumstances that God allows in your life, read these words from Sarah Walton. As you read, I am praying that God will help you to “praise Him even as you wait, confident that if He doesn’t work a miracle in your circumstances, He is most certainly working a greater miracle within your heart.”
When you look into the corners of your heart, what is your deepest desire? Whether your “maybe someday” is for a child to return to the faith, or to find a close friend, or to finally be healed of chronic illness, it can be painful to sit and wait with empty hands. Hannah Norton says that in times when we are left with unfulfilled longings, we can find that Jesus is more than enough. Check out her post, and while you’re on her page, you might want to leave a comment congratulating her, because she gave birth to a precious baby boy earlier this week!
“Did you see it? Did you watch Kodi Lee on America’s Got Talent [on Tuesday] night? He’s a twenty-two-year-old who is blind and autistic and also has an incredible voice and ability to play the piano.” One of the judges hugged him after he performed and said, “You just changed the world.” When Jen Oshman saw this moment, she wrote, “May it be so. May one viewer after another watch Lee and weep, and remember that all God has made is very good. May we view it over and over and over and remind each other, remind our national conscience, all lives have value and worth and dignity and must be protected and celebrated.” Amen!
Listings here do not imply endorsement of all writings and positions of the individuals mentioned.