Life Storms

My area received a lot of rain last week, so it was fitting that my pastor included this verse in his Sunday message about suffering:

When the clouds are dark and heavy with rain, showers will fall upon the earth. (Ecclesiastes 11:3, VOICE)

He acknowledged our first thought at reading it is, “How obvious! Dark clouds bring rain.” Then he reminded us of the cultural context. This was written by King Solomon, who lived in Jerusalem, where the dry season lasts more than half the year. Yet when it rains, a significant amount can fall in a short time. So seeing the dark, heavy clouds roll in probably brought mixed emotions to Solomon and his people: eager anticipation of the life-giving water with dread of the storm that sometimes delivered it.

It is common knowledge that rain benefits plants, animals, and humans. Even the smell of rain is pleasant to most people. But many think of its delivery — especially from strong storms — as inconvenient, depressing, or frightening. I admit I selfishly wish it only rained at night, when I am tucked in my bed, so I could be comforted by hearing it, appreciate its benefits, but not endure the discomfort of a dripping umbrella or wet clothes, shoes, and hair!

Similarly, we often view the storms of life, hard situations, negatively. But what if life storms actually lead us toward far more life? What if we focused on their benefits rather than our discomfort?

It is common to believe we should be exempt from hardship and suffering, that we deserve perpetually good circumstances. This is not logical! When we look at God’s original plan for creation in Genesis 1 and 2, suffering was not included. But Adam and Eve chose to assert their own will rather than contentedly follow God’s will. Perhaps if they had realized suffering would be a result of sinning they would have chosen differently. Yet God, in His infinite kindness, brings good from our suffering.

God did not even spare His own Son from suffering on this earth. It was His suffering that paid the penalty for our sin and opened the door for us to have a restored relationship with God:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5, NIV)

Jesus faced worse life storms than any other human! Fortunately suffering is not the end of His story; Isaiah prophesied the good it would produce:

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:11-12, NIV)

None of us will ever suffer as much as Jesus did. But our suffering can bring good, too. It enables us to see the light of life. It changes our perspective, even bringing satisfaction and thankfulness. Consider how these verses describe the outcome of suffering:

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. (Psalm 147:8, NIV)

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. (Hebrews 6:7, NIV)

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45, NIV)

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful… (Joel 2:23, NIV)

Jesus even used an intense storm to show His disciples who He was:

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” (Luke 8:24-25, NIV)

Jesus offered His disciples far more life that day by showing His power and revealing His divinity. He invited them to put their faith in Him. He is bigger than any storm we face and willing to use that power for our benefit:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, NIV)

God will not withhold anything we need (Philippians 4:19).

Everything He does or allows — even suffering — is for the good of His children (Romans 8:28).

Thankfully, through faith in Christ, our suffering will come to an end (2 Peter 3:13).

He will wipe every tear from our eye (Revelation 21:4).

We will see and understand God’s bigger perspective (I Corinthians 13:12).

Until then, we have a choice: despise the storms or look for the beauty the rain brings. Choose to look for beauty — and find far more life!

Sisters,
Do you feel positive or negative about rain and storms? Why?
Think of a life storm you have experienced. What spiritual benefit did you gain from it?
What is your response to reading about Jesus’ suffering?
Thank God that Jesus paid the price so our suffering will one day end.
Commit to look for beauty and far more life in your next (or current) life storm.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Kim Reem

Spiritual Prosperity

I have seen a meme stating that in the future when we have a bad day we will refer to it as a 2020. I will not be surprised if that becomes true! This has been a shocking and challenging year, with wave after wave of novel and unexpected challenges.

Many have speculated these events are signs that Christ’s return is approaching. I do not know if these are part of the prophesied “birth pains” (Matthew 24:8) signaling the beginning of the end of this world, but I do know that every day moves us closer to Jesus’ return!

I also know these challenges do not have to crush our spirits. Far more life
enables us to spiritually and emotionally prosper, even when we face circumstances
that devastate our finances, health, livelihood, comfort, and more. Consider this
perspective from the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk:

Fig trees may not grow figs, and there may be no grapes on the vines.
There may be no olives growing and no food growing in the fields.
There may be no sheep in the pens and no cattle in the barns.
But I will still be glad in the Lord; I will rejoice in God my Savior.
The Lord God is my strength.
He makes me like a deer that does not stumble so I can walk on the steep mountains. (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NCV)

All the resources listed in these verses — figs, grapes, olives, sheep, and cattle — were important for sustaining life in ancient Israel. The situation in these verses is dire. They reflect a shortage of food, drink, shelter, income, security, and prosperity. Even making the required sacrifices to remain in good standing with God would be very difficult under these conditions. Habakkuk is describing a situation that is overwhelmingly hopeless from a human perspective.

But he looks beyond the circumstances to focus on God’s character. God brings joy. God offers relationships. God makes us strong. God supplies what we need to successfully traverse difficult situations. Through God, we can prosper in any difficulty.

I have found that hard times reveal our mindset about God, whether we believe He is good or not good.

If we believe God is good, we trust that He is in control and has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 1:11). We understand He is faithful, kind, and working everything — even these hard circumstances — for our good (Romans 8:28-30). We know He loves us and is carrying us through this difficulty (Romans 8:35-39), giving us all that we need (Philippians 4:19). We are confident He would never ask us to sacrifice more than He has already sacrificed for us (John 15:13). We are certain that Jesus was God’s Son who died to pay the penalty for our sins, offering us an eternal relationship with God (John 3:16). We understand this earth and these difficulties are temporary, unlike our eternal home in Heaven (Revelation 21:1-4). While we long to be there, we believe God has prepared good deeds for us to do that will fulfill His plan (Ephesians 2:10). Believing God is good brings us hope, peace, and far more life, even in the midst of suffering and hardship.

If we believe God is not good, we think he is aloof and uninvolved in the affairs of earth. We may think He is laughing at us from Heaven as we try to navigate our way through the mine field of life He has set up for us. We question His love and feel very alone, doubting His motives, character, and promises. We think He asks too much of us and offers us little to nothing in return. We long for death as an escape from this misery and may be angry at God for making us remain in overwhelming situations when He has the power to rescue us. We might believe that Jesus died for our sins, but we often think God is punishing us for them as well. We believe we are trapped, hopeless, and helpless; we may see others enjoying far more life, but we do not think that is God’s will for us.

What determines which mindset we adopt? In part, the key is whether we interpret God’s Word through our circumstances or interpret our circumstances through God’s Word. We tend to believe what we have experienced. But our experiences do not reveal the whole picture. Paul writes,

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12)

When we look in a mirror, our view is limited. And sometimes it is cloudy or fuzzy. Similarly, our spiritual view during this life is limited and unclear. We cannot see the bigger picture or the intricate details of God’s plan. And we have an enemy, Satan, who feeds us false interpretations of what we can see. He wants us to doubt God and question His goodness; if he can keep us from seeing God clearly, he can keep us from far more life. But when we prayerfully analyze each situation where we believe God is not good, asking Him to help us see what is true and how His Word is right, we gain new understanding of ourselves, others, and God. We can replace our doubts with confidence that He is good and does good. Our faith prospers!

I am thankful that Habakkuk interpreted his circumstances through God’s Word and reminds us to do the same. I am thankful that I can experience spiritual prosperity — far more life — whatever happens in 2020…and beyond.

Sisters,
What makes you think of a situation as bad?
What is your spiritual and emotional response to bad situations?
Think of a recent difficulty you encountered. Did you believe God was good or not good?
Ask God to help you clearly see the truth about Himself, yourself, and others in that difficulty.
Thank God that you can experience far more life no matter what happens!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

All We Need

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life …For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1:3, 5-8, NIV)

God has promised to give His children all they need for life on earth. During challenging times, it is comforting to recall these promises and know that God has our back, that He will come through for us. But these verses make it clear His goal is not simply to make us more comfortable. If that is our expectation, we will be sorely disappointed and may even conclude that God is NOT keeping His promise to meet our needs. Far more life understands our comfort in this life is not God’s primary concern. He desires something better for us!

In the Bible passage above, God shared our biggest need: a godly life fueled by His divine power. This is His greatest calling for us. What does He tell us to focus on in order to attain it? Mostly character qualities. Rather than being concerned about our homes, possessions, or bank account, God puts the emphasis on growing our goodness and knowledge of Him, increasing our self-control and perseverance, adding to our godliness and affection for others, and expanding our love. Consistently choosing to let God’s power make us more like Jesus is far more life.

What is God’s purpose in developing our character so we can be empowered to live a godly life?

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)

God has good works for us to do, to bring Him glory and accomplish His goals. We cannot see the big picture of His master plan. But we can trust that we each have a unique role to play in accomplishing it because He has told us so. He has given us particular talents, gifts, and interests that are necessary for the tasks He has assigned to us. We find far more life as we are engaged in His good works.

I encountered a wonderful God-loving manager in my first job out of college. He assigned work to his staff based on their skills and experience. Then he asked each person, “What do you need from me to be successful in your job?” He was not a cruel or demanding task-master. Instead he came alongside his employees to make sure they had everything they needed to do their jobs well. I appreciated his example of how God treats His children.

Sometimes God intends for our good works to benefit other people. Rather than looking only at our own lives, our own needs, and our own tasks, God instructs us to be involved with others. There are over 100 “one another” statements in the Bible and almost 60 of them tell us how to relate to others. Far more life gives to others, trusting God to provide for us. Although finances or material items are the first things that come to mind when we hear about “giving,” God’s economy is much more diverse! Sometimes we are asked to give our time. At other times it is our physical, mental, or emotional energy. On yet other occasions we need to give spiritual encouragement. Even praying for people is a form of giving! All are important to God and He equips us for all. Consider this exhortation from Paul to the Philippians:

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles….and my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:14, 19, NIV)

The Philippians invested in Paul and Timothy’s ministry by meeting their physical and emotional needs. Not just when they were together, but as Paul and Timothy traveled to multiple cities sharing the gospel, the Philippians continued to pray for, encourage, and financially support them. Here Paul is reminding them that God is dependable and trustworthy and WILL give them all that they need. It is not hard for Him. He is not inconvenienced or put out by having to supply it. He is rich and generous and wants to repay their blessing others with a blessing. Far more life invests in others, knowing God is the ultimate supplier.

The Bible includes illustrations of people making wise and foolish investments (Matthew 25, Luke 9:1-9). God expects us to be discerning and use our knowledge, experience, and common sense to judge what and when we should give. But we can be confident that investing in God’s work will not spiritually bankrupt us. God can and will provide all we need.

Do you want to consistently experience far more life? Accept all God offers to develop your character, do the good works He has designed for you, and invest in others. You will see firsthand how He keeps His promise to provide all you need for godliness and far more life!

Sisters,
What is your response to the idea that God’s definition of “all you need” is not what makes your life comfortable?
Do you believe that living a godly life is your biggest need and greatest calling?
How have you seen God supply what you needed to do His good works?
Have you experienced far more life from giving to or investing in others? When?
Thank Him for providing all you need for godliness and far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso


Far More Thriving

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NIV)

What a great verse for this week! As we are surrounded by uncertainty and drastic changes in our lifestyles due to the invasion of the coronavirus, we can put this instruction into practice immediately. These three qualities are crucial to experiencing far more life in the moments of our day and thriving through this season.

Be joyful in hope. We hope for things that we want to happen in the future. But we can choose HOW we wait: impatiently, filled with worry, pessimisticly, even joyfully. It’s easy to be joyful in hope when we anticipate positive events: starting a new adventure, marrying someone we love, or welcoming a baby, for example. But there are other times when we don’t know exactly what is coming and whether it will be good or bad. I used to beg God when big unknowns loomed, “If you just tell me WHEN I’ll know what’s going to happen, then I will be able to wait patiently and joyfully.” Fortunately, God knew my heart better than I did; I would NOT have been satisfied for long with a partial answer! I was impatient in hope. Maybe you are, too. Or anxious in hope. Or fearful in hope. Far more life can be joyful in hope because it knows The One who orchestrates the future. Our hope lies not in the answer, but in the Answerer. We know He is good, and loving, and perfect. So we can wait joyfully, because whatever is coming is something He has approved that will arrive in His perfect timing. It will ultimately be good and allow us to thrive!

He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. (Ephesians 1:11, NIRV)

Be patient in affliction. Our lives on earth are filled with challenges and difficulty. Sometimes it feels like we have barely escaped one when the next one hits, like waves in the ocean that just keep crashing into us. At other times our troubles continue for a long time, longer than we think we can endure. I once waited 15 months for a diagnosis to a health problem. It was hard to face the symptoms day after day without any understanding of what was happening inside my body. There was nothing I could do to speed up the process; I felt like I was living in limbo, stuck somewhere between my familiar life and some new unknown life. Clinging to God got me through those challenging days, weeks, and months. He helped me be content in doing all I could and waiting patiently for the doctors to figure it out. Far more life can be patient in affliction because it knows The One who sees the end. We can trust God to give us all we need for as long as we need it, regardless of our circumstances. He has promised this and we can be confident that He will keep His word. We can patiently endure the storms, knowing He is in it with us. And He is never caught off-guard or under-prepared. He has an abundant supply of everything we need and shares it with His children generously so we can thrive.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NIV)

Be faithful in prayer. A popular movie scenario involves cutting off communication between the main character and their people at the time of crisis. The hero or heroine has to get out of the tough situation on their own. Praise God that is never a real-life situation for His children; nothing can sever our communication with the God who created all and knows all! Prayer enables us to beg for help as well as voice our biggest fears, deepest concerns, and wildest dreams. We never have to watch our words with God; He knows what we are thinking and feeling before we even have a chance to say it, so we will never shock Him. Far more life recognizes the importance of talking through everything with the One who knows us best. Prayer can reveal our hidden motives and illuminate our situation with God’s purifying light. So many times I have resisted prayer. Or started the conversation with God seeking to justify myself yet walked away having overcome my sin, fear, pride or short-sightedness. Telling God what I am thinking and feeling — both the good and bad — is a vital part of our relationship with Him. I admit, my prayers often start as a one-sided monologue. But once my words are spent, my mind becomes calm, my heart opens, and I am ready to yield my perspective and adopt God’s. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings to mind a Bible verse I have memorized or read, other times song lyrics remind me of His truth, or I may recall a point from my pastor’s message that provides a practical answer. As I am faithful to talk to God through prayer, He is faithful to draw me back to far more life. Always. Regardless of what is happening around me, I can thrive.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)

Joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer. All bring far more life. They empower us to remain in close fellowship with God, even when we must practice social distancing from others. When far more life fills our hearts and minds, we can thrive in any circumstance!

Sisters,
Are you pulling away from God or drawing closer to Him during this time of change and uncertainty?
What helps you remember and believe that God is your hope?
What helps you patiently trust that God can and will meet all your needs?
What helps you pray faithfully, sharing the good and bad, looking to Him for clarity and course correction?
I am praying that you experience countless moments of far more life this week as you hope, trust, and pray!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jenjoe Marsh

Far More Moments

But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. (I Timothy 6:6, AMP)

This verse has always intrigued me. The premise is simple but the implications are profound: godliness and contentment are far more life! In context, this verse follows instructions for slaves to honor their masters — whether their actions are honorable or not — and is part of a warning against the lure of false teachers. If anyone is tempted to feel far more life is unavailable, I think it would be a slave bound to a wicked master! But far more life springs from what happens inside our hearts. So godliness and contentment are within the grasp of every child of God, no matter what their circumstances!

Godliness is responding as God would if He was in our place. Anyone who has accepted Jesus — and as a result has the Holy Spirit living inside — is capable of godliness. We have moments of godliness, but no human has mastered it. We all have areas where Satan’s lies and our own experiences in this fallen world trick us into choosing sin. As we recognize our moments of ungodliness, we have opportunity to obey this Biblical instruction:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)

The key to growing in godliness is examining and changing our beliefs. As we compare what we hear and experience in this world to the principles in God’s word, we will find differences. Some beliefs are deeply buried — created by our interpretations of life at a very young age — and define our view of ourselves and God. As we renew our mind by adopting God’s truth, our relationship with and understanding of Him deepens. This naturally leads to more moments where we respond in godliness. More moments of far more life.

As the Amplified Bible explains, contentment is inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God. Contentment is: knowing God is in control (Psalm 93:1); understanding His love for us (I John 3:1); and believing He is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Contentment frees us from fear and worry because we know God is for us (Romans 8:31) and will provide all we need (Philippians 4:19). Contentment is a direct reflection of our beliefs about God. The Apostle Paul writes:

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).

If we are not content, we are wise to examine our beliefs about God. He will give us strength to do this.

Every day is a collection of moments where we respond with godliness and contentment or sinfulness and discontentment. The moments of godliness and contentment are moments of far more life. A segment of King David’s life gives us a clear example of this.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem…From the roof he saw a woman bathing…and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (2 Samuel 11:1-4, NIV)

In this passage, David is not content. He shirks his duty to command his troops and choses an ungodly pursuit of Bathsheba. Knowing she is pregnant, David continues to sin, ultimately killing her husband. When confronted, David repents of his sin (2 Samuel 12:13), but there are consequences; God declares the child will become sick and die. During the illness, David begs God to spare this son, but once the child dies David returns to normal life. His servants are confused by the sudden change, but David explains:

He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23, NIV)

In that moment, David chose far more life. He could have chosen bitterness toward God but he chose contentment, even in his grief. This enabled him to choose God-honoring actions; he comforted his wife (2 Samuel 12:24) and lead his army in battle (2 Samuel 12:29).

The Bible shares more moments — some far more life, some sinful — that weave the story of David’s life. Even though David was not perfect, Acts 13:22 describes him as a man after God’s own heart. A man of godliness and contentment. Our lives are also a collection of moments where we choose godliness and contentment and moments where we do not.

I used to be afraid my moments of ungodliness and discontent would cause God to pull away from me. It was such a relief to understand my relationship with Him is secure (Romans 8:1; I John 5:13). Now I can pursue godliness and contentment out of gratitude and love. The foundation of far more life will continue for eternity.

By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves which is a good foundation for the future. In this way they take hold of what life really is. (I Timothy 6:19, GW)

What we experience on this earth is just a small part of life. The bigger part extends into eternity with God in heaven. Each time we choose godliness and contentment we choose far more life. It is a source of great gain on this earth and for eternity.

Sisters,
Are you living in godliness? Contentment?
What beliefs hinder you from exercising godliness? Contentment?
How does the weaving of your life look?

Enjoy far more life in the moments of your day!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso

Safe or Good?

“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” …

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver … “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The more I meditate on this exchange, the richer it grows. In this story, Aslan represents Jesus Christ and Susan is a child preparing to meet him. She wonders what all of us would wonder when meeting an unrestrained lion: is he going to use his strength and power to hurt me? What a vivid comparison to our concerns about God’s role in our lives!

We want God to be safe, meaning we want Him to be tame, predictable, and under our control. But this is not who God is. God reminded Job of this after listening to Job’s lament about the difficult circumstances he faced:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?…Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place?…Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?…Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?…Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?…Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?…Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? (Job 38:4a, 8, 12, 22, 35; 39:19, 27; 40:9)

If you want to read more of this exchange, look up Job chapters 38 through 42. God’s power and knowledge is very humbling! But even this excerpt makes it clear: God is not subject to our desires and preferences. He is the Creator. He is in control. Embracing His role as King and our role as His subject is far more life.

Although God determines His own actions, Scripture assures us repeatedly that He is good.

Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8a, NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8a, NIV)

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever. (Psalm 100:5, 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1, NIV)

You are good, and what you do is good (Psalm 119:68, NIV)

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Psalm 145:9, NIV)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. (Nahum 1:7a, NIV)

No one is good—except God alone. (Mark 10:18b, NIV

But the fruit of the Spirit is…goodness. (Galatians 5:22, NIV)

…you have tasted that the Lord is good. (I Peter 2:3, NIV)

Because of God’s goodness, we can trust Him to treat His children lovingly. The Bible is full of accounts that prove this over and over. One of my favorites is the account of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7. God had a special job for Gideon and told him about it. Gideon was slow to believe it was really God speaking — he asked for several reassurances — and God patiently provided each one. God told him step-by-step what would happen, and it all came true. God led Gideon and his army to a great military victory, even though they were greatly outnumbered. But God, in His goodness, looked at their hearts and provided just what they needed to trust and follow His instruction.

In my own life I have seen God’s goodness through His protection. Once he protected me from physical injury when my car was struck by lightning. Another time he protected me from a financial hardship by selling our house shortly before a major mechanical failure took place. He didn’t speak to me in the way He spoke to Gideon, but I believe His goodness was at work in those situations and many others I have faced.

So why, despite evidence, do we continue to doubt God? I think one reason is because we cannot see the whole picture. From our limited human perspective, we cannot see what might have happened without God acting in goodness on our behalf. We can only see what does happen, and sometimes it does not appear good to us. And we have an enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want us to see God clearly. He tempts us to focus on the hard and bad things God allows us to suffer. When we fall for that focus we forget to thank God for protecting us from worse situations (John 17:15). And for being with us through the hard times (Hebrews 13:5) and providing all that we need (Philippians 4:19).

We live far more life in the moments we release our idea of God conforming to our definition of safe and instead embrace the truth that He, in His goodness, provides all the safety we need. As we let Him be God, we are free to notice and enjoy His provision along our journey. We will encounter valleys along the way, but His goodness — and the opportunity for far more life — is always with us.

Sisters,
How are you tempted to make God be “safe”?
What evidence have you seen of His goodness in your life?
Pray for His perspective in the difficulties you face so you can see His provision this week.
Thank Him for being with you and providing all you need.
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso

Choosing Far More Life

Can I be honest? This is one of those weeks where I don’t feel like I am living far more life. I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. So I’m going to choose far more life by reviewing some of my favorite Bible verses — those that remind me of truths richer and steadier than my shifting emotions — and invite you along for the journey.

* * * * *
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8, NIV)

Thank you, God, for offering rest and hope. And for being a safe place in the struggles and storms of life. I love that you are: a rock I can cling to when strong winds blow; a fortress that keeps me safe inside strong, tall walls; and a refuge I can run to when my enemy attacks.

Far more life is trusting, resting, and hoping in God and pouring out my heart to Him. Although I am weak, I choose far more life.

* * * * *
And my God will fully supply your every need, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, EHV)

Thank you, God, for having all that I need — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — and willingly supplying it. You supply the perseverance I need when I want to quit. You supply the perspective I need when my focus is selfish. You supply the peace I need when I am overwhelmed. I am not hesitant to ask for help because Your glorious riches are abundant — blessing me doesn’t take away from You or others.

Far more life is looking to God to meet my needs, even my need to know what I truly need. In my moment of need, I choose far more life.

* * * * *
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, NLT)

Thank you, God, for reminding me to keep doing what is good. I confess that I want to pull into my shell today and only do what I want, which may feel good right now but is not truly good. I am so glad You know exactly when to send the harvest of blessing. I know I won’t see some of those blessings until heaven, but thank You for giving me a preview just when I need it.

Far more life is remembering that God sees the good I do and will bless me for it at the perfect time. Although I may not see the fruit until heaven, today I choose to do good. I choose far more life.

* * * * *
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. (Ephesians 1:13b-14a, NIV)

Thank you, God, for guaranteeing my inheritance and giving me a piece of it now. Your choice to deposit something precious in me — Your Holy Spirit — gives me confidence that You will redeem me one day. It is humbling to recognize the value You have placed on me. You are with me — inside me — every moment of my life until we can be together in heaven. This inspires me to be better for Your glory.

Far more life is realizing God chose to become a permanent part of my life. Because God has chosen me, I choose far more life in Him.

* * * * *
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! He heals the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:1, 3-5)

Thank you, God, for being both high and nigh. You are big and powerful enough to name every star and have limitless understanding. Yet you are near enough to know when my heart is breaking and tend to my hurts. You truly are great and deserve my praise! It is pleasant and fitting to give praise You.

Far more life is giving God the praise He deserves. With a humble heart, I choose praise-filled far more life.

* * * * *
I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. (John 10:10, PHILLIPS)

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth and bringing us far more life. You left perfection and subjected Yourself to the pain and struggles of this world. I will never experience as much pain as You did. And yet, despite taking the punishment I deserved, you offer me far more life. What amazing love!

Far more life is embracing Jesus’ gift.  With thankfulness, I choose far more life.

Sisters,
What Bible verses remind you to choose far more life?
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso