Saturday, November 15, 2008

Daily Digest #178

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. —Ephesians 2:8

The level of trust and love we have for the Lord shows in the way we live our lives and how we treat others. I, for instance, have been having a hard time reaching out that I act too reserved or uncaring sometimes. I find it difficult to ask for help, although I delight in helping others. Because of this, I figured how my faith falters most of the time. There came a point when I became very bothered by this that I started reading about misplaced hopes. I just felt that's what I've been suffering from. I realize how I have grown to put my faith in people, even myself, instead of God.

I do believe that it is through God that we are able to trust others. Wise men say that if one's faith were strongly grounded in Him, then he/she would have the courage to love others unconditionally. I guess that's what I need to work on. I've been worrying about and trying too hard to deal with steps 8, 9 and 10 when I haven't even started with step 1.

For this, please join me in my prayers -- that I grow a faithful heart, that I may learn to take away my pride and truly trust in His ways.

May we empty ourselves and let Him fill up the void. May we find peace, comfort and love in Him and reflect these blessings in the way we live our lives. Pray always.

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Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11 (NIV)

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Today's guest devotional is from Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at Saddleback Church.

Relationships are filled with both wonder and pain. When I think of the pain of relationships, literally hundreds of pictures flood into my mind from my thirty years as a pastor:

· A couple on the verge of a divorce neither one wants yet both are choosing.

· Parents who can't get through to their child, no matter how much time, money, and heartache they invest.

· A son whose dad has treated him with the cruel contempt of abuse.

· A friend whose feeling of betrayal is so deep that she never wants to trust anyone again.

When I consider the wonder of relationships, I am equally overwhelmed:

· A marriage no one thought could be restored — but it was.

· Friendships in a small group that have become the bedrock of life.

· A family that would surely fall apart when the pressure of an illness hit — and yet they all came together in the most amazing way.

When Jesus came to this earth, he demonstrated that he understands both the wonder and the pain of your relationships. He experienced them both.

He came to begin a new relationship with you — a relationship that will strengthen all your relationships. Here's the truth Jesus taught us: Nothing is more important than relationships.


Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (NLT)

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Today's guest devotional is from Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at Saddleback Church.

Relationships are painful. Relationships are wonderful. We all live in the drama that plays out between these two truths.

I think of Neal and Robin when I think of the drama of relationships. Married for only a few years, their life together had started strong. And then, with a suddenness that tore their world apart, Robin suffered a brain hemorrhage.

As I sat with Neal in the waiting room on the night it happened, we heard the doctor speak in hushed tones about high-risk surgery and low odds of success.

Even if Robin were to survive the surgery, she would likely be in a semiconscious state for the rest of her life. Neal's immediate response was simple faith and sacrificial love. He believed that God had a plan even in this dire circumstance, and Neal was committed to love Robin, no matter what it would take.

Robin survived the surgery, and Neal kept his commitment to love. Day after day, he sat with Robin and spoke to her and nurtured her. Little by little, he loved her to unexpected restoration.

Robin learned to speak haltingly and began to be able to use her hands and arms again. She has even taken a few victorious steps on her own. Almost every weekend at church, there they are — Neal, a shining example of overcoming love, and Robin, a powerful example of overwhelming courage and faith.

Robin sometimes wonders just what she can accomplish for God in a wheelchair. The truth is, she speaks a life-changing sermon on the power of love by her mere presence.

Those who have been involved in Robin's care see her life as a miracle. The greatest miracle, they say, isn't in the healing (they've seen bodies healed before) but in the love.

This is the love of a couple who made the choice to continue to love, even in the most crushing of circumstances — Neal having chosen to practice sacrificial love in a marriage that wasn't close to what he and Robin had dreamed it would be, and Robin having chosen to accept and return Neal's love rather than allowing her own hurt to push him away.

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Today's devotional is excerpted from The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay (Zondervan 2008). You can find out more about this book at www.saddlebackresou

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