Overcoming Rejection

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” – Isaiah 53:3

In high school I played on the softball team for two years. As a freshman I was on the junior varsity (JV) team, and since I had already been in Little League for several years, I was a pretty good player and got a lot of playing time. When I came back the next year as a sophomore, I had a chance to make the varsity team. Only a few sophomores were good enough to play varsity, and I was right on the edge of making the team.

At one of our last tryouts, I realized the coaches were particularly watching two of us. The other girl was a freshman who had been playing softball for nearly her entire life. It was cold and wet out on the grass where we were running drills, and both of us were working our hardest to field choppy grounders and throw them back as fast and hard as possible. I gave everything I had, but it was not good enough for the coaches. The other girl was chosen and I played JV for another year.

While competition can be good because it pushes us to do our best, it also means we will sometimes face rejection. Most of us have experienced being rejected from something—perhaps the college of our choice, a job, or even by someone we care about—and it is usually unpleasant. Even when we know the rejection was not our fault, it has the potential of leaving us feeling ashamed, unwanted, and insecure.

In the Bible, we read of how people despised and rejected our Lord. He spent His life doing good works for others, yet He was denied by His closest friends. Still today, people refuse the sacrifice He made and the salvation He offers, a rejection which must be agonizing. Because of these experiences, Jesus understands how we feel when we are told we are not good enough. He knows what we are going through, and if we take our burdens to Him, He can give comfort in a way that no one else can.

How good it is to know that God accepts us as we are! He bestows on us His wondrous love no matter what our human limitations are. He does not ask us to do things that are beyond our capabilities; all He asks is that we give Him our best. And He knows what that is because He looks on the heart! He will not turn His back on us and nothing can separate us from His love.

It might seem difficult to understand at the time, but God has a reason for everything He allows in our lives—even rejection. When we feel as though we cannot meet others’ expectations, let us focus on seeking God’s approval instead. He always understands us and will never reject us. And while the applause of man will last but for a moment, the benefits of God’s approval will be eternal!

Property Lines

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” – 1 Corinthians 6:19

My parents remodeled a house last year, and they experienced some difficulty with the man who owned an adjacent house. The man did not live on his property, but he still did not want my parents’ new acquisition to affect him in any way. They went to him once and asked if he would be willing to split the cost of replacing the sewer line to the street, since the two lots shared a pipe that was desperately in need of repair, but he refused. As a result, my parents now own a home with good plumbing, but our neighbor still does not. He had the right to decide what happened on his side of the property line, and he chose not to fix his pipes.

A property line defines where one person’s property ends and another person’s begins. If we own the property, then we have control over it. Our neighbors cannot look over the fence and tell us that we must trim our bushes, build a patio, or repair our plumbing. They can give an opinion, but the decisions are ultimately ours. However, along with control over our property, we also have responsibility for it. We will be held responsible for what takes place on our side of the line. If our broken pipes cause serious damage, we will have to pay for it, not our neighbors. And if our hedges are overgrown, it reflects poorly on us, not the neighbors. Ownership, control, and responsibility go together.

Many people consider their bodies to be personal property—something that no one else has the right to make decisions about. However, today’s focus verse says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost and we are not our own. Not only did God create us, but we have also been bought with a price. Christ’s death freed us from sin, and that transaction transferred the responsibility and control that go with ownership over to Him. Because of that, we must honor the laws and values He has established for our bodies, not the ones we might choose. If we say we belong to Christ but do not obey His principles, it ultimately reflects poorly on Him, and we will reap the consequences of our disobedience.

We could have no better person directing our decisions than the loving God of Heaven. When we give Him complete control, He will make our lives beautiful.

Assistance, Please!

“Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever.” – 2 Chronicles 30:8

Having just moved from a state that did not have a recycling program for bottles and cans, I was in for a learning session! With my bag of recyclables by my side, I gleaned what information I could from some young attendants at the store where I had stopped to recycle some cans, and then proceeded to insert my cans in the slot. Nothing happened. I was informed that I was putting them into the “reject” slot! So I removed them and proceeded to put them into the correct opening. However, I still could not get my cans to go into the machine, which would either jam up or reject them as “not acceptable.” Only after repeated attempts were the cans finally accepted, and I still had to request assistance several times to clear jams. Even though the attendant was gracious in lending help, the whole process took about an hour. I very much felt like I needed to wash my hands once my task was completed, but at least my old cans would be useful again!

From a spiritual perspective, sometimes consecrating our lives to God can be like recycling. When we yield areas of our lives to God, He takes the parts of us that are useless to Him, breaks them down entirely, and then changes them into things He can utilize for the Gospel.

At times, however, consecrations can be difficult. We may notice that God brings up a particular issue over and over, asking us to submit to Him, yet for some reason we resist. Do not be mistaken; God will keep bringing these matters before us until they are taken care of. But we do not have to work it out alone—we can call Him for assistance any time of the day or night! We can take our struggles to Him in prayer and He will be patient to teach us.

Remember that God does not ask for things without a reason. Eventually, the areas that were so difficult to consecrate will be areas that God can use to bring glory to His Name. It is a miraculous recycling program!

Be on time

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Sunday morning my husband woke up with a start. He looked at his cell phone and saw that he had slept through the alarm! Upon closer examination, he realized that his phone had changed to daylight saving time. I told him, “No, that isn’t till next week.” He went through the house checking the clocks, not knowing if he was late or not, until he finally looked at the calendar. Sure enough, daylight saving time started the following week. He would not miss Sunday school after all—his alarm had not gone off yet.

When I thought about how my husband did not know if he had missed his wake-up call for Sunday school, I was reminded of the parable in Matthew 25 about the ten virgins. They were also waiting for a call, from the bridegroom who would take them to the marriage. But when the bridegroom came, the ten virgins had no question about if they were too late. The wise virgins had made preparation for his return, and when he came, they knew they were ready. The foolish virgins, however, had let the oil in their lamps run out, and immediately they knew they were not ready to go. They would miss the marriage because they were not prepared when the call came.

There is coming a day when the Lord will return for His Bride, His Church. Those who are ready will hear the trumpet sound, and they will not wonder if they are too late. Those who are not ready will also know that they are not ready. Like the ten virgins, all we have to do is watch for the Bridegroom and be prepared to go. In a moment, those who are ready will be happy they took the necessary measures, and those who are not will realize there is no time for last-minute preparation. Just as the foolish virgins could not borrow oil from the wise virgins, sinners will not be able to depend on another’s prayers for their own salvation. We each need to have our own relationship with Jesus, and we must be sure it is up to date.

If my husband had really slept through the sound of his alarm, he might have missed Sunday school. That would have been unfortunate, but we would have moved on. However, those who do not hear the sound of the trumpet at Jesus’ return will miss their opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven. Jesus told us to “watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). Let us be sure that we are ready when He comes!

Suppertime

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” – Revelation 19:7

There is a huge oak table in our basement that used to sit in the dining area of our kitchen. It belonged to my husband’s father and we used it when our children were small. When we built a new house about thirty years ago, our oak table was replaced with a new maple one. However, we could not bear to discard the old one, so it was relegated to the basement, where it held laundry waiting to be folded, a sewing machine ready to use, and various other items.

That table holds a lot of memories of my family. From the time our children were babies up to their teen years, it was the center of many gatherings, especially during the days when we would all sit down together for meals there. Suppertime saw seven shiny little faces, plus mom and dad, sharing the day’s events over our food. With everyone together, these were good times.

On my bedroom wall hangs a picture of another table, extending out until it can no longer be seen, representing another supper. The Bible tells of the Great Supper that Jesus is preparing for those who are His; those whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life because they have given their lives to the Lord. When I think of that Supper, my prayers get very fervent. If I imagine that huge table with family seated all around it, the thought that one face would be missing is impossible to bear. We know that there will be no tears in Heaven, but the idea that a loved one will miss that meeting brings many tears here on earth.

When we look around us, we can see the signs of His coming. Each of us has loved ones who have not yet “made themselves ready,” but not one of them needs to miss that Supper—all are invited. We cannot force them to come, but we can pray and we can witness to them by our lives, with words when opportunity arises, and by our love every day.

Supper is almost ready and our Host is waiting. We must pray with faith, and be willing to spend time and tears for those we love and for many we do not even know. The reward of seeing them around that Supper table will be worth any sacrifice we may have to make here on earth.

God’s will for a nation

“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” – Proverbs 11:3

This is an election year, when we vote to fill the seats of governors, senators, judges, and even the president of our country. Political figures are in the headlines of every newspaper and news program, all claiming they would run our country much more effectively than those who are running for office against them. In the worst cases, we see people denounce one another, defame each other, and criticize what their opponents say, all in an effort to persuade voters to elect them or their party’s candidates. With so many contradicting voices, it can be difficult to know how God would want us to vote.

Making our decision even more difficult is the fact that as long as we are electing humans, none of them will ever be perfect. The Israelites learned this lesson when they asked God for a king to rule over them. Even though God Himself chose Saul and David, they still used poor judgment at times. Thus, lacking a perfect candidate does not mean there is no hope for a nation; it simply means we still live on earth.

In the United States, we choose leaders by democratic election. It is ultimately God who gives power to our rulers (see Romans 13:1-3), but we know that He often uses us to accomplish His will. Our job is to determine how He wants us to vote, to pray for His will to come to pass, and to act in obedience to His promptings to us. Although that first step—determining how we should vote—can be challenging, our focus verse says that integrity is a guide. Our integrity comes from the Holy Spirit living within us, so if we act in accordance with His teachings and leadings, we will be well guided. Moreover, we can seek the Lord in prayer about our vote, just as we would with any other important decision in life. When we seek to know God’s mind before adding our input to the direction of the nation, we do a great service to our fellowman. All will benefit from His guidance.

As we study the choices set before us and the consequences of each choice, let us not forget to ask the Lord for His direction. Then, how important it is to pray for His will to be done! And whatever the outcome, may we never neglect our duty as Christian citizens: “That, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Using what we have

“The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded.” – Exodus 35:29

An elderly widow, restricted in her activities, was eager to serve Christ. After praying about this, she realized that she could bring blessing to others by playing the piano. The next day she placed this small ad in the Oakland Tribune: “Pianist will play hymns by phone daily for those who are sick and despondent—the service is free.” The notice included the number to dial. When people called, she would ask, “What hymn would you like to hear?” Within a few months, her playing had brought cheer to several hundred people. Many of them freely poured out their hearts to her, and she was able to help and encourage them.

At times, we may feel that we do not know how God wants us to serve Him. Perhaps we are at a stage in life when we do not see unsaved people very often, and as a consequence it seems there is no opportunity for us to be used by God. Or, we may think our talents are not good enough for God. Both of those excuses are wrong, and so is every other justification for not serving Him. God can always use a willing heart.

In every stage of life, God has a purpose for us. Each day He has a plan for you and me that He wants us to accomplish. If we do not know exactly what God is asking of us, we can get a good idea by looking at where He has placed us in this world, and what talents He has given to us. Someone needs to reach out to our unsaved family, neighbors, business associates, and community members—who better than ourselves? And how else could we reach them besides using the skills God has given us and helped us to develop? Finding our place in God’s service is not as complicated as it may seem!

It is a relief and a blessing to know that our God-ordained purpose in life will revolve around abilities and interests He has put in our hearts. Through prayer, He will direct us into the exact ministry He wants us to have.

The Solid Rock

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” – Matthew 7:25

Over the past several years, various parts of the world have been hit by devastating hurricanes. Several states in the southern Gulf Coast region have been hit more than once. After each storm, we survey the damage through news reports showing destroyed homes and displaced families. One storm caused more than eighty billion dollars of damage and displaced about twelve thousand individuals—quantities difficult to fathom.

As I was thinking about the devastation in the lives of those who were caught in the hurricanes, today’s focus verse came to me. I thought about the storms of life and the destruction they can bring if we do not put our trust in God. Some of the hardships we may go through have the potential to shatter families and cause individuals damage that will take years to repair.

The only way our spiritual houses can survive the storms of life is to be certain that they are built upon the Rock Christ Jesus. We must have a real relationship with Jesus and maintain that relationship through daily Bible reading and devotions. If we do that, we can put our trust in Him and know that He will be with us and protect us as we “ride out the storms.” When the trials of life assail us, we will be able to stand on God’s Word and know that He is there to hold us up and sustain us.

We may not be able to see what is ahead, but Jesus can. If we do not let go of His Hand, He will surely bring us through. There is a hymn entitled, “The Solid Rock,” and these are some of the words:

In ev’ry high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil. . .

His oath, His covenant, His Blood,

Support me in the whelming flood. . .

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.[1]

 

How true that song is! We may not have control over every challenge that comes into our lives, but we do have a remedy for any situation!



[1] Words by Edward Mote. (Public Domain.)

Watch out for the Garbage Truck!

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” – Psalm 101:3

Garbage is something that no one likes. We do not want to see it, touch it, or especially smell it. And in my mind at least, once something has been in the garbage, it is forever tainted. It does not come back out except under extraordinary circumstances! Imagine if you looked out your window and saw a garbage truck about to empty its load on your front lawn. You would be out the door in a hurry! You would make it clear to the driver that his garbage is not welcome in your yard.

Satan has acres of garbage he wants to bury us with. If he can get us to accept a load, he knows that he will have gained a foothold in our lives. Since his goal is our total spiritual overthrow, we must make an effort to move decisively when his truck comes around. We want to make it clear that his trash is not welcome in our lives.

Exactly how does Satan dump his garbage on us? Our eyes, ears, and thoughts are his targets. He will daily tempt us to look at or read things that are at odds with holiness. He will try to pour music or conversations into our ears that will draw us away from God and toward the world. He will attempt to direct our thoughts onto any number of subjects that he knows will grieve the Holy Spirit and please the flesh. These are the same tricks he has been using since man was created.

To overcome the devil’s attacks, we need to determine that we are not going to be defiled by his garbage. We must purpose, like the Psalmist, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” If we have some doubt as to whether something is garbage or not, we should not take a chance—stay away from it. We can also pray that we will be sensitive to what is good and what is harmful, and ask God for the strength we need to resist the enemy.

It is all too easy to get desensitized to a little filth, and before long begin to take in more and more. We need to draw the line for holiness in our lives and maintain it!

The Traffic Report

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” – Isaiah 46:9-10

A traffic helicopter circled around and followed our car down the freeway as we approached a busy intersection. We were unfamiliar with the area and very unsure of the road ahead, so when we saw the sign that told of a radio station broadcasting the traffic report, we tuned our radio to that station. We were told of a detour several miles up the highway that had backed up traffic ahead of us. A large truck had jackknifed and spilled its load over the freeway, and it would take two or three hours to clean it up so traffic flow could resume. We appreciated the warning and took out the map to find an alternate route to the next city.

As we laid aside the map, I thought about the pilot of that helicopter and the person who gave the traffic report. They could move about without hindrance over the city, up the highway or down, spotting areas of congestion and hovering over the site to report the problem to the drivers on the road. They could see for miles!

That is how I think of God. He is able to see everything at once! He knows the details of situations that we cannot know, and He also knows what lies ahead in the future. He warns us if we are on a wrong path, telling us when to stop, when to turn around, and when to exit. He directs us in every facet of our lives! He knows the end from the beginning because He is God, and we have a promise that His hand will lead us and His right hand will hold us (Psalms 139:10).

God’s instructions are not hard to follow. We must read the Bible to find them, and He will also guide us with His Spirit as we listen for His still, small voice. He wants to lead us in a plain path, but it is up to us to tune in and follow the “traffic report.”