Friday, September 23, 2011

For those who have lost a loved one...

I've compiled a list of encouraging scriptures from the Bible for those who have ever lost a loved one and are struggling with grief, confusion, questions, doubts about God, their faith, and enduring emotional suffering. Some of them are from Christian authors who have written about their personal loss of a loved one and the scriptures they've leaned on over the years. Others I have found on my own in Bible study and research or leaned on myself. I apologize for the length of the list, but I hope that it's something you can come back to if and when you're having a hard day and need to hear from God. His Word truly is medicine to the soul and brings healing to our wounds.

Wait patiently on the Lord. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. - Psalm 27:14

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith that we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find the grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:14-16

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength and portion forever. -Psalm 73:26

Trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. - Psalm 62:8

We are hard pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed by our circumstances, but not driven to despair. We are persecuted, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. - 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. - Psalm 55:22

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.  - Isaiah 40:11

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4

The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength when you need it.  - Isaiah 58:11

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn Lord, and deliver me. Save me because of your unfailing love. I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer. - Psalm 6:2-9

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon high places.
- Habakkuk 3:17-19

We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. - Hebrews 12:2

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father. - Colossians 1:11

Blessed are those who are poor in spirit and realize their need for him, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. - Matthew 5:3-4

For he has not despised nor scorned the suffering of the afflicted one. He has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help. - Psalm 22:24

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for our comfort and salvation. For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort others. Then they can patiently endure the same things that we suffer. We are confident that as we share in our sufferings, we will also share in the same comfort that God gives us. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear and they will be filled with joy and gladness. - Isaiah 51:11

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a baby growing in its mother's womb, so you cannot understand the ways of God, who is the maker of all things. - Ecclesiastes 11:5

The women will dance for joy and the men- old and young- will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. - Jeremiah 31:13

Don't let your heart be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am. - John 14:1-4

I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift that the world cannot give. So don't be afraid or troubled. - John 14:27

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in us. 2 Corinthians 4:10

Tell God what you need and thank him for all that he has done. Then you will experience God's peace which will  guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

So be truly glad because there is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold. Though your faith is more precious to God than mere gold. So when your faith in God remains strong through many trials,  it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus is revealed to the whole world. - 1 Peter 1:6-7

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again. Then, you will rejoice and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time, you won't need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your requests because you use my name. You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive and have abundant joy. - John 16:22-24

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens. I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and listen to my teachings, for I am gentle and humble in heart. You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. - Jeremiah 31:25

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. - Isaiah 40:29

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what we can see is temporary, but what we cannot see is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners. To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor and glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated. They will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. And so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. - Isaiah 61:1-7

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:18

The lowly he sets on high and those who mourn are lifted to safety. (He gives prosperity to the poor and protects those who suffer.) - Job 5:11

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows tired or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths become weak and tired, and young men stumble and fall in exhaustion. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow tired. They will walk and not faint.- Isaiah 40:28-31

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up. Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? - Luke 18:1-7

Consider him who endured such hardship and opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:3

Because of your great compassion, you did not abandon them in the desert. By day, the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take through the wilderness. You sent your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not stop giving them manna from heaven for food or water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen. - Nehemiah 9:19-21

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all the good things he does for me. Who forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases, who redeems my life from death and crowns me with love, compassion and tender mercies; who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:2-5

Since ancient times no one has heard, no eye has seen any God that is like you who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. - Isaiah 64:4

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming prideful and boasting, I was given a thorn in my flesh; a messenger from Satan to torment me. Three times I begged 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 your weakness. Where you are weak, my strength will become your strength." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, God makes me strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19

The Lord is my light and salvation. He is the stronghold of my life. Psalm 27:1

Surely God is my salvation. I will trust in him. He is my strength and my song. Isaiah 12:2

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10

But the Lord is faithful. He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and  Christ's perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. And so now I give him to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:27-28

The Lord is a place of refuge; a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? 
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again. From the depths of the earth, you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more. - Psalm 71:19-21

He will swallow up death forever. The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. - Isaiah 25:8

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord who has compassion on you. - Isaiah 54:10

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love for you. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. - Lamentations 3:31-33

Attend to my words; incline your ear to what I say. Let my teachings not depart from you; keep them buried in your heart. For they are life to those that find them and health to their flesh. - Proverbs 4:20-22

I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. -Psalm 31:7

A father to the fatherless, a protecter of widows, is God in his holy dwelling place. Psalm 68:5

The Lord watches over the foreigner. He sustains the fatherless and the widow. - Psalm 146:9

But I do not want you to be ignorant, dear brothers and sisters, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jesus, Our Intercessor

Today, I wanted to share Joyce Meyer's daily devotional with you about how Jesus fills the gap that separates us from God.

Somebody's Praying for You
by Joyce Meyer - posted September 21, 2011

"I am praying for them." John 17:9
We know that Jesus prays for us. In Luke 22:32, He says to Peter, "I have prayed especially for you." In the verse for today, He says concerning His disciples, "I am praying for them." Also in John 17, He continues and says, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me," and that means you and me (v. 20 NKJV).
What does an intercessor do? An intercessor prays for others, standing in the gap that exists between God and an individual. We all have a gap between God and ourselves. In other words, we are not as holy as He is, but Jesus is right there, standing in that gap, bringing God and me—or God and you—together so we can have fellowship with Him and He can answer our prayers. Isn't it awesome to know that as long as our hearts are right and as long as we believe in Jesus, He will intercept, make right, and take care of every imperfect thing we do? I want you to imagine Jesus standing before the throne of God on your behalf praying for you. As you do, you will be able to trust that your imperfections are taken care of through His intercession for you.
God's word for you today: Jesus is praying for you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Perfect love

When my feelings get really hurt, when someone lets me down, when my expectations are unmet, when someone acts unjust and transgresses against me...these are the moments when I see God's goodness and perfection the most. These are the times that cause me to realize my desperate need for His love. These are the events in life that really shed light for me on God's unconditional, unfailing, perfect love; His unfathomable, never-ending grace; and the awesomeness of Christ's righteousness.

As tears pour down my face, my eyes burn, my nose runs and I feel utterly overwhelmed by the imperfection of people in my life- by all people in general- and the sin in this world that causes so much pain, I realize just how perfect my Heavenly Father, my Lord and my Savior really is.

I can't possibly attain perfection despite how hard and how often I try to be perfect. The people who have betrayed, abandoned, hurt, disappointed, and sinned against me can't possibly attain perfection either. No matter how much they really love me and want to show it or do right by me, they simply can't. We are all born into sin and are prone to sin without the Holy Spirit working in and leading us. Even then, we won't be successful all the time.

That's why Jesus is so amazing! He lived the perfect life that I can't and that none of us could. He acted, spoke, served and loved the way none of us possibly can- in utter perfection. As I dwell on this mystery and awe-inspiring truth, I'm overwhelmed by relief and thankfulness for what he did. I so badly want to live the perfect life. I want to behave, speak, serve and love everyone the way God and people want me to. I so badly want people to do the same towards me. But it's okay that I don't live up to this standard for myself and it's okay that the people in my life don't reach this standard and my expectations either. Because Jesus did. He lived the life that all of us can't. Then he stood in my place and accepted the punishment that I deserve for my sin. He paid the sacrifice so that I wouldn't have to- so that they wouldn't have to- and so that we all could be reconciled to God. Now, when God looks at me he sees the righteousness of Christ. Isn't that amazing?! Now, I can receive the love and relationship with God that I so desperately need.

We all yearn to be loved. By our parents, by our husband or wife, by our children, by our friends. I've finally made the connection between my struggle to be perfect and the need to be loved. Because I didn't get the love I needed and wanted from my parents, I strived harder and harder to be perfect so that they and anyone else in my life would have no reason not to love me. I wanted to be lovable. And I think that tendency, that mindset, has made it's way into how I relate to God as well. Sometimes I struggle with being perfect and legalistic because I so badly want God to love me. I don't want him to have any reason not to. I don't want him to find any faults in me so that i'm seen as lovable.

But I don't have to. It's completely unnecessary. He loves me despite my sin and in the midst of my mess. "He loves you just as much on your worst day as on your best day" -Joyce Meyer. He knows I can't ever be perfect and completely righteous for him. He calls us to try so that he may be seen in us by others (John 13:35) and as a way for us to show our love back to him (John 14:15). But the reason God is so different from any body else and so worthy of praise and worship is because of his perfect love. While we were yet sinners (while I was and continue to sin, acting in opposition to God), God so loved the world (He loved me so much) that he sent his one and only son to die on the cross (He paid the ultimate sacrifice/highest price. He came down to earth in flesh and stood in my place) so that whoever believes in him would not be condemned and perish but be saved and have eternal life.

My need to be loved, perfectly and completely, is met by Him and Him alone.

How great you are, Sovereign God. There is no one like you. There is no one holy like you, there is no one besides you (2 Samuel 7:22). I consider everything else a loss, rubbish, compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and his love (Philippians 3:8).

Have you realized your desperate need to be loved? Have you realized your desperate need for a savior, for someone to rescue you, for someone to stand in your place and take the punishment that you deserve so that you can receive God's love? Have you received the love of your Creator and Heavenly Father? It is a completely free gift from God- his grace, his mercy and his love is completely free of cost to you because it's already been paid in full (Ephesians 2:8). Nothing can separate you from it and it will never be taken away from you (Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 13:5).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Abide in God's love

"If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have told you so that my joy may be with you and that your joy may be full." John 15:7-11

What leads to having "fullness of joy" and "peace that surpasses all understanding," even in the midst of suffering and hardship? 

  • Abiding in the love of Christ
    • Keeping God's commandments
  • Abiding in God's Word
    • Bearing fruits of the Spirit

"Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it." Luke 11:28

"Blessed are those who keep my ways." Proverbs 8:32

"Jesus replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God's Word and put it into practice." Luke 8:21

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." John 13:17

"The one who looks intently into the perfect law and does not forget what they have heard but does it will be blessed in what they do." James 1:25

"Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete." John 16:24

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you are mature and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

If i'm lacking peace and joy in my life, then it must come back to me not abiding in God's love or in his Word. He is the God of Peace (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and Christ died for us to have life to the full (John 10:10). Peace, joy and freedom are available to us if only we would trust in God's authority and His goodness. If we follow His will for how we should live, then He will lead us beside peaceful waters (Psalm 23:2) and into the abundant life that we are promised through the death and resurrection of his Son. 

God knows that we will and do go through terribly difficult things while on this earth. Although there is sin in the world causing people to suffer, He doesn't leave us alone and hopeless to handle it all by ourselves without any help. His Word is "a lamp for our feet and a light for our path." The Bible is a powerful tool and life manual for navigating the trials we encounter. He wants us to not only get through fires, but have peace and joy even while we're in them. He promises that we won't be consumed by the fires or abandoned by him. We will be more than conquerors over sin and suffering because of Christ who lives in us and was victorious over sin and death. If we follow Christ's advice (to abide in God's love) and keep God's commands (His loving rules that offer us protection and freedom), then we will have peace and joy no matter our circumstances (Philippians 4:11). God's love and grace is sufficient, for me and for you.