Tag Archive | bible

Christians: Are We Taking The Easy Way Out?

This weekend, I watched a movie that was very good – gut-wrenching, actually.

Movie clips of this particular movie were shown here as well https://www.life.church/watch/ during Pastor Craig Groeschel’s annual teaching of At The Movies (every year at Life.Church, they teach on a different movie each week during the month of July).

If you haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, you truly need to.

As I was watching one particular scene, my heart broke in excruciating pain…tears just rolled down my face.

As Life.Church showed this clip, it was used to show the importance of saving the unsaved…which is very important. My mind went beyond that to each person who has ever went through grief – especially those who felt abandoned, betrayed, or wounded by the Church. My heart immediately thought about those who nobody went to check on or those who nobody “went back” to help save them. I hear more stories than I can count of how nobody took the time to love hurting people back to life.

As a grief specialist and grief group leader, I hear the most heart wrenching stories people have experienced. For almost 10 years now, helping people for 20-50 hours each week, these stories have caused my heart to truly go out to those who hurt…stories about death of loved ones, grief over wrong personal decisions or a loved one’s hurtful decisions, adultery, abuse, military grief, PTSD, abandonment, extreme hurt and conflict in families and churches, church abuse, suffering, heavy guilt and regrets, illnesses, addictions…I literally hear every story that has wounded a human heart.

Before a person comes to me for help, many times, they’ve already sought out help from church leaders, family members, and friends. The hardest – and most taboo – situations of grief (suicide/suicide attempts, the after effects of rape or murder, all situations of abuse, death of a child or young person, church/spiritual abuse, etc.) are the most challenging to help.

Something that has happened time and time again, and has been said numerous times, is this:

“I went to my pastor (or fellow church staff or church member) for help, and they never got back to me…I felt I wasn’t important.”

Or worse….

“My pastor, church staff, and/or fellow Christians knew about my situation…and they ignored me. They never even called to see how I was after I reached out for help.”

Watching Hacksaw Ridge, when the main character is courageously sacrificing himself and bravely doing everything in his power to save as many as he can…and pleads, “Lord, help me get (save) one more”…my heart sank.

Just like a physical war, when someone goes through heartache, grief, or pain and they are wounded, if someone does not go and help them…the alternative is to leave them for the enemy to devour. This is beyond true spiritually, too. When a Christian is wounded, and the Church doesn’t take the time to care, the enemy is more than happy to delightfully devour them, too.

Watching that scene of Hacksaw Ridge, all I could think of were the several people I know who have quit going to church, and the ones who have turned to atheism – or even other religions – because they went through a harsh life challenge and felt like nobody cared.

We as Christians have got to demand higher of ourselves. 

Yes, everybody is busy. 

Yes, it may not be someone’s specific responsibility because, after all, they did not cause the pain. 

Yes, it is totally time-consuming. 

Yes, it truly is messy.

And there will always be people in the church or on staff who will make excuses by saying things like, “hurting people hurt people”…”we won’t help others who aren’t taking responsibility by taking the first steps to help themselves”….”nobody is perfect.”

But, the example of Jesus Christ is to deny yourself and pick up your cross…and part of picking up your cross is to actively love people back to life – especially those who are unsaved or those who have been hurt or who have left the church.

And it’s not just church members who have been hurt by the church. There are many who are (or who were) on church staff (or their spouses/families) who have been deeply wounded by either fellow church staff members or members of their congregations, too.

Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

  1. Hurting people do not hurt people. Hurting people help heal people because they understand what being hurt feels like. Jerks hurt people and then refuse to make it right.
  2. The attitude of “I’ll help people once they help themselves…” is very flawed. I am so very thankful that God doesn’t treat people that way. He loves…He gives grace…He initiates healing…He lifts us up and carries our burdens for us.
  3. The argument of “Nobody is perfect…” fails what God commands in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, nobody is perfect, but God certainly gives us some very sobering and serious responsibilities as believers on how to treat others – especially reconciling with those we hurt or those who may have something against us. He even instructs us in Matthew 5:23-24 to leave our gifts at the altar until we actively go make things right with those we have hurt or offended…and says to not come back until this is done first.

God doesn’t give us these responsibilities of how to treat others – or how not to treat others – to be difficult; He gives us these precious responsibilities so we will be careful with each other’s heart and spirit. He understands the potential terrible cost if we are not careful with His instructions.

I heard the most profound statement this week from a young person who had been deeply wounded and wronged by their church:

“People always knock certain shady TV evangelists, but all they do is steal money. What about the pastors at churches who hurt people in their congregations? They steal peoples emotions and spirit. Money is readily replaceable…trust is not.”

To hear someone young be so wounded and jaded by the Church really concerned my heart. Hearing their story…and then hearing how the leaders at their church knew about the hurt they inflicted — yet didn’t show good character by going to them and working things out…there just are no words. 

Satan loves taking people out. The enemy knows if he can get Christians or church leadership to wound someone, the likelihood of additional generations being spiritually destroyed will ensue:

Proverbs‬ ‭27:23-24,Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”‬ ‭

When someone is deeply wounded, it doesn’t just affect the individual who was hurt. It affects everyone they’ll ever come in contact with…and future generations.

•You may be reading this, and you may be one who has been deeply wounded. On behalf of every Christian, I apologize profusely to you for your pain. You should never have been left alone in your time of hurt, somebody should have cared enough to reach out to you and loved you back to life. Please, please, please know that God wanted for you to be treated with love, kindness and respect…it’s not His fault – or His Will – when people disobey scripture by mistreating others or not helping them. I humbly ask you to please forgive the Church. God loves you and has not forgotten you!

Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬,Why would you ever complain, O Jacob or Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. Butthose who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

Isaiah‬ ‭49:15-16‬, “Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are always in My presence.”

•You may be reading this right now and you know for a fact you’ve wounded a fellow believer, but you never made it right. I strongly plead with you to go to that person (or persons) and courageously apologize for your wrongdoing…Most importantly, for them. Secondarily, for the judgment that can fall onto you:

Matthew‬ ‭5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”‬ 

Colossians 3:25, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Proverbs‬ ‭17:13, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.” ‭

•You may be reading this right now and you personally know of someone who was wounded by another believer. If you know of someone who is wounded, please consider being the one to make a difference. 

Matthew‬ ‭25:40, 45‬, ““The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’…and…“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’” 

 I don’t think most people drop the ball purposely, but it does happen unfortunately. An apology, or genuinely caring for others from the heart, goes a long way.

My heart is for the hurting, the grief stricken, and those who have been spiritually wounded. I know of many Christians who this is so very important to their heart, too.

Majority of the Christians I know are really amazing people who genuinely care about others. They actively love people and truly enjoy serving others. When others hurt, they genuinely hurt for them, too!

We all (totally including myself) need to do better and become more mindful of others.

When we’re tempted not to make things right with those who we have hurt or offended…or we are tempted to leave it up to someone else to do our part…or we believe the lie that we are too busy or things are too awkward or messy to get involved…I really pray that we each will consider how we can make these situations better for everyone we know.

I know I can do better.

The rest of this year, let us prayerfully consider reaching out to those who used to attend our churches or those who were once in our LifeGroups, Sunday School class, or Small Groups – those who we never see anymore. I pray we consider the people we know who quit going to church because they were hurt, deeply offended, or wounded. 

Consider calling one person a week to check on them to see how they’re doing and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. May we each choose to love people back to life.

As a Christian, we never want to be known as someone who took the easy way out… Especially since Christ never did.

Be the example of Jesus to others that you would hope someone will be to you and your family.

Jesus’ example is very, very clear:

Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬, ““Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

I love how God used sheep in this passage of scripture. I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the above scripture and the following verses deal with sheep and lions. Think about this:

1 Samuel‬ ‭17:34-36‬, “David replied to Saul, “I am a shepherd for my father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it attacked me, I took hold of its mane, struck it, and killed it. I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.””

1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The above verses speak of sheep and lions. Just as David vigilantly looked out for his earthly father’s sheep, how much more should we as Christians look out for, and help and defend, our Heavenly Father’s sheep? The enemy’s goal is to challenge and hurt God. If we don’t actively care for those in the Church…yes, even those who have left it…then we are part of the problem.

When people waver in their faith or leave the church, or when we know of people who are hurting or who have been deeply wounded, or when there are leaders (or church members) in the church who have hurt people and not made it right – yet no one corrects them or holds them accountable – we really need to start addressing that in our churches. When no one seems to care during these situations, we must ask God to soften our hearts and also for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to those who have been wounded.

We have got to stop taking the easy way out…..we have got to expect more of ourselves and do better.

If a family member of ours stopped attending family functions and quit communications, would we simply shrug our shoulders and have an apathetic attitude of, “oh well?” Would we merely accept it and just move on? Would we think that it wasn’t our problem or responsibility? Absolutely not! We would call them and we would fight for that precious family member and our relationship with them. 

God considers Church family relationships to be of utmost importance…they’re a reflection of His relationship to us, His Bride. That is something we all need to deeply consider.

The only response a Christian should have to those who are struggling is this: Snatch them from the flames…help and encourage them…be the best version of “Jesus” to them…meet needs wherever possible…and love them back to life!

We have got to do a better job of focusing on helping people in their spiritual walk, being deeply concerned with their eternal destination, as well as care about peoples hearts, their hurts, and what truly matters.

Galatians 6:1-2, ““Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

John‬ ‭13:34-35‬, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Never discount a person’s hurt…or their potential. There are some people in life who have been deeply wounded, but they will blossom greatly when the right people genuinely take the time to care about them. There may be weeds, but please understand that underneath the hurt and weeds is good soil. All they need is for someone to take the time to rinse the mud off of their heart, and water them with compassion, so the Sonshine can work miracles.

Luke 10:2….“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Tell God you’re willing to be a worker for Him in building people back to life. Ask God to grant you the gift of seeing people how He sees people, and to love people how He loves people. Ask God to impress on your heart, and every believer’s heart, to deeply care about saving both the lost and the hurting.

I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who had a deep burden for the harvest. They saw an ugly, dying weed, but decided to care about me and love me back to life.💕

Please take a moment and soberly watch this video and listen to this song. Then pray and ask God to show you who you can love back to life. We each need to make a strong commitment as Christians to stop taking the easy way out.❤️

Movie clip from Hacksaw Ridge: https://youtu.be/Oy6kwogmhRY

Song by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7k


Who can you love back to life today?

If you have been hurt or wounded by the church, I highly recommend Saddleback Church in California. If you don’t live in California, they offer online services, too. Life.Church also offers online experiences.

http://www.saddleback.com

http://www.life.church

You are so very valuable and loved!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

Advertisements

Making 2017 A Year To Remember: 43 Ways To Delight In God

I’ve previously written about delighting in God – and have received so many requests to follow up on those posts.

With a brand New Year, today is the perfect time to reflect on 2016, and to plan for making 2017 your best year yet.

Sometimes, when God places a specific topic on my heart, I’ll write a longer blog post than normal. Today is one of those days. I promise it’s worth reading, though, because today’s topic has the power to radically change your relationship with God and bring great treasure in your New Year.

Read it all in one sitting tonight, or read a little today and more tomorrow. I pray your heart will be greatly blessed!

To start off, I’ll share how I learned how to delight in God:

I learned how to delight in God after going through the wonderful life-changing experience of becoming a mom. Life at the time, however, was not so wonderful…and I was scared to death I’d mess everything up.

I had given my heart to the Lord as a child, but I became a sold-out, truly born again Christian the day I went into labor, and the very first night after I gave birth…as I was holding my fresh, brand new baby…I desperately pleaded with God to show me how to be a good Christian and a good mom. 

I don’t think I understood God’s extravagant love before I became a mother. I grew up in a Christian home and attended church; even had loving parents…but I failed to genuinely appreciate or see the great value and blessings of God’s heart and my parents’ love.

After I had given birth, my doctor thought I had postpartum depression. I explained to him, I was weepy because I felt so lucky to be a mom…and I suddenly understood how much God and my parents loved me. I had put my parents through a lot during my teen years…I, sadly, was their worst child…so the day I held my son, everything “clicked” as I understood love so much better.

When people truly understand how incredible God’s love is for them, it absolutely transforms their entire being! It is no longer drudgery to follow God or His ways…it suddenly becomes the highest privilege you can have while on earth.
You discover God isn’t a killjoy…in fact, He’s better than any adventure you could ever hope to have. And you find He isn’t just merely “Love”…He’s love in action in everything He does. Everything

You find how awesome He truly is: during the great times…the joys…the amazing adventures we have in life…but also in the super hard times when we don’t understand. He’s amazing!

Even when our hearts are shattered to the point we think we’ll never be able to pick up the pieces. Even when all seems lost. Even when absolutely nothing makes sense.

It’s a powerful thing to love God and to feel His love in return through each season of life..good and bad.

Deuteronomy 6:5,Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

I am blessed to have attended a good church while growing up, to have parents who invested heavily in me, and to have learned a lot through various retreats and conferences. Each taught me a new perspective on how to grow closer to God’s heart.

I always thought I’d learn to love and delight in God during the good times in my life, when everything was going great. I’ve learned I have fallen more deeply in love with God not just during the beautiful times, but especially through the hard times, too…because it’s usually during the toughest times when you truly find the heart and provision of God.

When I’ve gone through the death of loved ones, and I missed them like crazy…I found God understood my deep pain because before He received my loved ones back to heaven, He was missing them while they were here on earth. God knew them before He gave them their heartbeat and first breath…Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” He knew how it felt to long for the same loved one when He was away from them from the very minute He graciously loaned them to live and do life with me.

When I went through deep marriage issues…He understood that same heartache. He had, and still does, experience deep hurt and betrayal – by His own people…including me when I’ve mistreated His heart. Marriage has taught me a great deal about Christ’s genuine love and commitment…and has been a great tool in cultivating my heart.

When someone close to me became an atheist…He understood the agony and heart-wrenching tears that fell from my eyes. I gained a much greater picture of how to empathetically witness to others who have been deeply hurt and wounded by the Church…and just as I was desperate for my loved one to find their way back to God’s heart, I gained a small understanding and glimmer of how God greatly desires for us to help His prodigal loved ones to come back to Him, too. He strongly desires for us to help those who are hurting: Jude‬ ‭1:22-23, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment…”‬ ‭

When I went through both my son’s tumors and surgeries and my own illness – and felt so helpless…I found God is perfectly in control and His plans (even if I didn’t like them), are perfect and hold great purpose.

After my dad died…I learned God is very much a Father to the fatherless. He truly made provisions spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.

I could go on and on. There are so many great lessons I’ve learned throughout the years about God and His great heart – especially after those sweet days of holding my newborn baby so many years ago.

My favorite lesson has been learning how to delight in God through the good times, and especially during the bad.

During my rebellious years before submitting my life to God, I thought people were crazy to love or follow God. I had experienced a lot of pain and heartache in my life while growing up…and the last person I wanted to delight in was God. Sad but true. My plan included rejecting God and the Church…and living independently of both. I didn’t even plan on becoming a born again believer – not even the morning I was saved. And I totally never had plans of becoming a Christian author and blogger. I just didn’t “get it”. 

…Then God showed up.

I felt a tremendous pull to read the Bible my dad had previously bought me (the year he married my mom)…to those who are new to my blog and haven’t read my book, my biological dad died while I was growing up and my mom married again…giving me one treasure of a new dad. As my Bible fell open, it opened to a page that held the story of Jesus’ great compassion for a woman who had deserved death. Instead, He chose to give the woman great compassion and mercy. He became her friend. As I read the amazing story, I cried out to God and asked Him to save me and have compassion on me like He did for the woman. Jesus became my Friend and we’ve been friends for decades now. And He’s proved to be my closest, most treasured friend.

When you truly read God’s Word…and you read for yourself all of the great ways He loves each of us, it becomes incredibly easy…and sweetly and richly rewarding…to love and delight in Him.

Think about your life and your loved ones’ lives…

God could have just spoken each person’s existence into being. With one command, it all could have been accomplished. Look how incredible sunsets and sunrises are…the light is truly brilliant, gorgeous, and amazing. Yet, God considers each of us more glorious than sunlight itself. He spoke light into existence…yet He chose to personally create and craft each of us exclusively with His very own hands…knitting us together…establishing a relationship with us before we even breathed one breath. And that’s not all. Our breath? God Himself breathed into our nostrils the breath of life…just as He did with Adam! Genesis‬ ‭2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”‭‭‬ ‭

If you ever doubt God’s intimate, extravagant, brilliant heart and love for you, you never have to doubt or wonder about your value ever again. Your value is beyond comprehension!

And the more you love and delight in God and submit to His great purposes for your life, the more you’ll experience God’s great heart. Through both good times and also bad times, you’ll uncover incredible treasure you never knew was possible.

And Jesus is a true friend. He isn’t fickle…He doesn’t ignore, hurt, or reject people. Jesus fiercely loves you and cuts through all of your sin, poor choices, past shame, or anything else you are dealing with…and He looks directly in your heart. He sees the best in you and all of your great potential. He’s a true friend, especially of sinners (and who isn’t a sinner?), and meets you exactly right where you are. He is exceptionally all in when it comes to His relationships.

One of my favorite Bible passages is John‬ ‭1:38-39: “Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).”‬ 

How amazing is that passage? Truly think about this for a moment:

  • Jesus first cared about their hearts, lives, and their needs by asking, “what do you seek?” 
  • When He could tell they were searching in their souls, He didn’t just cleverly come up with a well thought out cliche…He didn’t ignore or reject them…He wasn’t too busy for them..He didn’t tell them to come back later. What’d Jesus do? He invited them in – ALL in – so He could actively become involved in their lives as He simply – and adventurously – said, Come and see.Jesus was about to show them a whole lot more than where He was staying. He didn’t just invite them in for a day…Jesus was ultimately inviting them to experience the absolute adventure of a lifetime – and more importantly, into eternity!! He gave them new names…and brand new lives. They were about to see Jesus’ first miracle (of many) that He was about to perform. Jesus invited them to be ALL in because they were about to find that HE was ALL in too – all the way to death on a Cross for all who would love and accept Him.

Did you know Jesus wants to do the same for you? Do you realize He still asks, “What do you seek?”…He still wants to intervene in lives today; to give people new “names” and brand new lives? Jesus invites you in – ALL in – today…so He can show you the absolute adventure of your lifetime! Whether you’ve followed Him for many years or you are just beginning to take His hand, when you choose to love and delight in Him…and learn from His great heart, life will forever change and take you to a level you never realized you could go!

Matthew‬ ‭11:29, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”‬ 

So how do you learn from God and delight in Him?

There are so many ways to delight in God. It’s never a cookie-cutter experience…God cares enough to make your relationship with Him the most unique experience possible! God will reveal to your own heart special ways you can delight in Him, learn from Him, and grow your relationship and friendship together. Ask Him to make both the Bible and your relationship with Him come alive for you starting today. He totally will do it!

Does this mean I’ll never have troubles in my life again…or will it make my current problems instantly disappear?

If you have given up on God because of a trial that left you broken hearted, I hope this helps you find the One who is patiently waiting to help you and love you. God is crazy about you, adores you, and has great plans for your life! (Jeremiah 29:11)

God greatly desires to help (and even carry) you through all of life’s toughest situations. When you go through grief or loss, He will wrap you in His arms, and bring such an amazing comfort and strength, giving an opportunity to fall even more deeply in love with Him.

Life never becomes “perfect” – because people and this earth are still flawed and fallible – but it’s incredible to have a Best Friend with you at all times…in the good times and the bad…when your walk with Him is going great….and even times when you neglect your relationship with Him and are failing miserably. God’s unconditional love is amazing in experience. He doesn’t cut people off because He is all-in! He will never leave you or forsake you!

Life never becomes void of problems or grief, but as you grow close to God…you begin to see there is value in every life experience. 

Psalm 37:4,Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

So…do we delight in God so we can get the desires of our heart…or for what we can get out of Him?

Absolutely not. God loves giving good gifts – in fact, every good gift comes from Him – but God weighs the heart in all we do. 

James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

1 Samuel 16:7, “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

We choose to love and delight in God because we love Him and His great big heart! 

We don’t seek out His presents; we learn to thoroughly enjoy His presence.

I have found throughout the years that God – and a relationship with Him – is the truest treasure on earth. I’d choose Him and my relationship with Him over anyone and anything…even all of the money in the world. I believe that anyone who has experienced God would.

If you grew up in church and feel as though you were never taught how to connect to God, no worries! You can begin today! Growing up, we didn’t have the resources we have today. Literally, today, you have information with just a click of a computer button. Study your Bible, look at compelling Christian articles that are offered online, download the Youversion Bible app and read some great Bible Reading Plans, and ask God to come alive to you. He’s faithful!

So how do I begin to treasure and delight in God?

Here are a few of my favorite ways:

  1. Plan a special time when you can exclusively enjoy God. Every morning, I make some hot tea with honey and talk to God about my day. I pray for my loved ones, read the Bible, and listen to whatever He has to share with me.
  2. Talk to God continuously throughout your day silently in your heart..an ongoing conversation. Share every part of your day.
  3. Get alone and curl up on the couch with a blanket and your Bible at the end of the day and reflect on your day with God.
  4. Go on a nature walk with Him. Marvel at all of His creation. Breathe the air in deeply and thoroughly find refreshment in His nature.
  5. Go to a restaurant and talk to God silently while you enjoy a meal with Him. 
  6. Pick a favorite activity and simply enjoy God and His presence…it could be playing golf or disc golf, swimming, running, leisure walking, lifting weights, or my personal favorite – longboarding. There’s nothing like getting alone with God and having the cares of the world melt away as you talk to Him about everything. God is everywhere so spend some time hanging out with Him. 
  7. Ask God to show you areas of your heart and life that you need to change. Follow through with whatever change He asks you to do.
  8. Buy a Journal and write letters to God. Also write down goals He shares with your heart and prayer requests for your family, friends, church, work, leaders, life, and yourself.
  9. Seek to know the deepest parts of God’s  heart and share the deepest parts of your heart and soul with God. Find out as much as you can about Him and tell Him all about you. He already knows everything about you but He loves when we pour our hearts out to Him and we seek to truly know Him. Francis Chan once said that if you take a thimble to the middle of the ocean and filled water into the thimble…that’s about our limit to what we can possibly know about God in comparison to the entire ocean. I hope God allows me to know Him as much as I possibly can…and then even more after that.
  10. Ask God to share with you the plans He has for you and obey those plans.
  11. Tell God your hopes, dreams, struggles, ideas, fears, joys, and failures. Seek to find what brings great joy to His heart.
  12. Share with God your heartaches and cry out to Him. He is the ULTIMATE best friend you will ever have the privilege of knowing. He’s the only Friend who is available 24/7 and truly cares about everything you experience and go through. Deeply consider – and be compassionate about – what brings His heart pain.
  13. Ask Him for His guidance and ask Him to give you the gifts of wisdom and understanding. 
  14. Ask God to continue to “create and perfect” you. God is the ultimate artist….place yourself back on His canvas and allow Him to “paint” the rest of your life to what He wants for it. Ask Him to finish your picture in His time with the colors He chooses. There will be colors of joy…colors of brilliance…colors of beauty. There will also be dark brushstrokes and shades of sadness…heartache…suffering… BUT…God promises to take ALL of the colors and make the overall portrait something of great value, extraordinary beauty, and treasure. (Romans 8:28)…You can trust His most skillful Hand!
  15. Extravagantly honor and admire Him. Think about creation and of all the beauty He lavishes on us everyday-we are SO incredibly blessed!!! He creates sunrises, sunsets, flowers, trees, nature. When you feel the wind, think of it as a hug from God that envelopes you. When it rains, think of it as God giving you tiny little kisses. One of the things I love about God is how creative He is. Whether it’s nature, or how uniquely different He has made each one of us, or even the amazing variety He allows us in life, I always thank Him for it. Thank Him for making different seasons of weather or thank Him for all of the variety of foods and spices He has created. Look at all of the different animals and even look at all the different places you can travel to and experience. I love how God is totally not boring in anything He does. My absolute favorite is all of the people He has created. He is the greatest, most creative Genius ever! 
  16. Have a Thank-fest: take the time to literally thank Him for each and every good person and thing in your life…especially Him! There is a tremendous amount to be thankful for!
  17. Truly get to know Him- Read your Bible and find out for yourself who God genuinely is. Don’t merely depend on what others have told you about Him. Seek out His heart and really pursue Him. I had a good friend who challenged me to get to know God for myself and I am so very glad he did. God wasn’t anything like what I had thought. Many Christians have given God a bad name and have pushed self-centered agendas on to others. Forget what you’ve been told and look up passages of scripture that reveal and reflect God’s TRUE character and heart. He is a beautiful God of mercy, forgiveness, justice, and compassion. Slow to anger and filled with grace. Yes, He does discipline, so it’s good to look up what pleases God and what He expects out of us, but once you truly know God’s heart, you’ll want to obey Him…not out of fear but because you truly LOVE him. Read Psalms. It’s a great book to find God’s heart. Look at Proverbs, it tells you the right way to live. Get to know God for yourself and develop a personal relationship with Him. And make your relationship truly special and unique…build it continually with authenticity. You can download the Bible for free on the YouVersion app…they also have tons of free devotionals/reading plans to enrich your relationship with God. Grief Bites has several reading plans on YouVersion too.
  18.  Speaking of different books of the Bible…read all of the books of the Bible. I personally love Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament the most because they are so applicable, but I also enjoy getting to know about God in the Old Testament. Every book in the Bible gives clues as to who God really is. When you read it, the Bible comes alive and you find treasures only He can reveal to your heart. Did you know God’s Word shares that only believers can completely understand and interpret His Word (1 Cor. 2:14, Matthew 13, Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25)? If you believe in Him, the Bible is a complete adventure each time you open and read it! If you’re a believer and you’re not sure what to do in reading the Bible, start off by reading one chapter of Proverbs a day and five chapters of Psalms. In one month, you’ll have read all of the Psalms and Proverbs…and it is incredible how God uses many of the verses in a different way each month that you read them. Add one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament immediately or after the first month. It will take you about 15-20 minutes per day. If your Bible reading becomes dry…ask God to bring it to life, to show you new truths, and then let the Bible fall open to wherever it falls to and read that chapter for the day. 
  19. Memorize and personalize scripture and God’s Promises with your name in it. For example: Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for Susan and her family,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper Susan and her family and not to harm Susan or her family, plans to give Susan and her family hope and a future.” You can memorize and personalize any scripture. You can personalize it with just your name or you can include others in it (such as family members or friends) like I just did. You can also put a loved one’s name in it if you’re praying for someone. 
  20. Do an in depth Bible study on a certain topic and find out everything you can about it. I did one about suffering and it was amazing what I found. I had no idea that God saves each of my tears that I have cried in a bottle and writes down each and every one of my heartaches in His book. It is extremely interesting what God has in store for you if you’ll just seek to find Him, His great heart, and His plans. My sister helped teach me how to make the Bible “come alive” for me personally through studying specific topics and I have never read the Bible the same way since. God (and His word) is super exciting!
  21. Confide in God and ask Him to purify and soften your heart. Nobody cares more about your heart than God. Nobody. Like I previously said, I LOVE what Psalm 56:8 says- “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear placed into Your bottle, each ache written in Your book”. If God cares enough to document every pain I have ever experienced, then He is who I want to expose my complete heart to. Trust Him with your heart and ask Him every day to change, purify, and soften it. 
  22. If you are going through a time of suffering…ask Him to heal your heart and ask Him to show you His purpose for whatever trial or suffering you are currently or have previously gone through. If you have gone through a major trial, don’t be scared to talk to God openly about it. If you’re mad at Him then respectfully tell Him. He’s big enough to handle it. There have been times, to be honest, that I have been angry at God. It was very hard having loved ones die and watch my sister lose not only one fiance but two fiances in death and see the affects of those situations. Seeing my son go through multiple surgeries for ongoing, inoperable tumors was very difficult to watch…that has been one of the hardest trials I have been through…but I am SO grateful God is in control and He hears my heart, my fears, and comforts us through those hard times. There are other things I have gone through that have been very hard, but I have seen how God can take a horrible situation and turn the bad into good for His purposes that are too great for me to understand. I am forever grateful to the person who showed me that God has a purpose for EVERYTHING. It’s been during times of suffering that I grew in my relationship with Him the most. I like what Rick Warren says, “God never wastes a hurt”. Ask God to truly heal your heart and show you how to bring purpose out of your pain. He’s faithful.
  23. Look for ways to do something awesome for God and seek to build His kingdom. God loves for us to minister to and love others as unto Him- Matthew 25:40, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
  24. Surprise someone for God with a secret gift to cheer them up when they’re down. If you’re at a restaurant and you can tell your waiter/waitress is struggling, leave an extra tip-make sure the tip is really good! Do something super sweet for a family member, friend, pastor, or neighbor.
  25. Share your testimony with someone and tell them how God is working in your life. 
  26. Invest in your church, pastor, and church leadership by regularly praying for them. 
  27. Give God an extra offering above your usual tithe. If you don’t already tithe, start to give what you can. 
  28. Do a kind favor for a family member or a friend without expecting anything in return. Help family you know who are in need if you are able to. 
  29. Have friends or family over for dinner, a Bible study, game night, or a fun movie and serve others with the hospitality and resources God has blessed you with. God loves when we’re hospitable!
  30. Forgive anyone you hold something against. Take them off of your hook and place them (& the situation) into God’s capable hands.
  31. Encourage someone with a kind word or a note. Give family and friends genuine praise and bless them with words of affirmation.
  32. Write God a love letter and share with Him all you love about Him.
  33. Buy a new Bible and read through the entire Bible and make notations on the sides of each page of what God has spoken to your heart and then give that Bible to your child/future child/niece/nephew/family member as a readable legacy. 
  34. Make a special commitment to God and after you accomplish the commitment, celebrate with Him. 
  35. If you know the date of your salvation, plan an evening with God on that exact date. Go out to dinner and celebrate with God (and family or friends) or take lunch to the park and spend time with Him. 
  36. Turn on some praise music and spend time wholeheartedly worshiping Him. Music is such a phenomenal gift from God…thank Him for it!
  37. Look for God in the details. He is there. I am constantly amazed how God orchestrates daily lives. I love it when he surprises me by turning a bad situation into a good one, or how if I’m out late, he always gives me an up front parking spot. It’s fun to see how God works through daily life as well as the people who I know. 
  38. Pray for specific things for your spouse, children, nieces and nephews, parents, siblings, and family members. I love praying for my family!  It’s super cool to pray for them and not tell them what I’m praying about and then hear them tell some story of how God did something or provided something…and it was exactly what I had been praying for them. I love how God is in ALL the details! I had been praying for one particular prayer request everyday for 14 years and God finally answered it in 2008. It has been incredible to watch God work out the details of that prayer request and He answered it in a way that only He could have fulfilled. Trust God with the details of your life and your family. 
  39. Learn a new skill you can use for God. I know a guy who learned how to paint gorgeously with chalk. He’d use his talent to share life stories of how God was working in his life. I also know a young lady who learned how to teach dance lessons. She offers discounted dance lessons through her church.
  40. Start a ministry for God. Everybody has the ability to start a ministry. Look for a need, think of what you’re passionate about, ask God to show you what He’d like you to do and where He’d like for you to serve, and then go out and change the world.
  41. Focus on God on every holiday: Celebrate with Him throughout the year. Start New Year’s Day by dedicating your year to Him. In February, thank Him for being the Love of your life. On Easter, watch The Easter Story or The Passion and really try to comprehend what He did to have a relationship with you. Now that is GENUINE LOVE! On Father’s Day, thank Him for being the ULTIMATE Father. By the way…if you are fatherless, you have an extra special place in God’s heart! Use Father’s Day to celebrate God the Father. On 4th of July, pray for the men and women in the military as well as their families, thank God for your freedom that other people have sacrificed for you to have, and most importantly thank God for giving you true freedom in Christ. Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for our family because my sister died on Thanksgiving Day. I used to dread it and cried to God about how painful that day was. God placed in my heart a true gratefulness for Him and the rest of my family that is still here on earth. Use Thanksgiving as a way to show your thankfulness to whoever God has allowed in your life and thank Him for every blessing. Thank Him also for everything He has brought you through all year. Christmas is super fun, it’s His birthday. Make Him a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Throw God a HUGE birthday party and then as His birthday present, invest your time in prayer throughout the year for each person that comes. Think of something special you can do for God and celebrate with Him. 
  42. Show family how special they are to God and you…treat them like royalty! When a family member has a birthday, make a special birthday card or a slide show for them with pictures set to some great music and watch it as a family. Then when you pray to God later that night, thank Him for creating that family member and ask God to bless and protect them. Say a special personalized blessing for them. I do this for my family. It’s a lot of fun to honor someone in this way to celebrate their birthday. 
  43. Speak verbal blessings over your loved ones- Ever since my son was a baby, I have always spoken a blessing to him. I always say it on his birthday, but there are times throughout the year I’ll go up to him and say it out loud to him. Pick out a special scripture and speak it to your family members. For example, my blessing for my son is Numbers 6:24-27, and I speak it out loud to him…even though he’s an adult, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace”. Take the opportunity to invest and celebrate in your family’s lives.There are tons of ways to celebrate with God, for God, and because of God. God is a God of celebration so celebrate with Him in all things. 

To sum it all up: Make God your life. Include Him in everything. Make Him your everything. Day by day, share your life with Him. Find new ways everyday to fall more in love with Him and fully delight in Him. 

This list is just some ideas I came up with, and I’m not the most creative person, so I’m sure you can definitely come up with some better ideas. If you have a special way you delight in God, comment to this post so everyone else can see your idea. We’re all here to help each other love God and love others more. 

Hope you each have a super awesome, blessed, and fantastic New Year overflowing with God’s love!

Deuteronomy 30:20, “…that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…” 

Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Thank you reading this! Hope you enjoyed it and got some new ideas for how to love and delight in God more. I pray He richly blesses you as you delight in Him and make Him your heart and your life! 

More on delighting in God:

https://griefbites.com/2015/12/27/delighting-in-god/

https://griefbites.com/2016/04/03/delighting-in-god-through-trialspart-2/

Happy New Year!!!🎉⭐🌺

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

😇FREE Bible and devotionals: www.youversion.com


    Lessons From My Furry Lil Friends

    It’s incredible what you can learn from pets.

    I’ve learned many life lessons just from watching and interacting with our family’s dogs everyday.

    Our family has two large dogs — one is sweet and loves everyone he’s ever met…the other one – eh, not so much. He actually hates everyone except for our family. He pouts when he has to be around others. Literally, he pouts for days!

    Our family loves animals and pets! We absolutely adore our furry lil friends. 

    Our current dogs are extra special to us because we got each of them during times of great grief. We got one of them several years ago when he was nine weeks old, and our other dog was a three week old rescue who we’ve had for almost two years.

    Our first dog makes Marley (from the movie Marley & Me) look like an angel. This particular dog cost us over $10,000 the first three months we had him. He dug up our Sentricon system and cable lines, destroyed all of our windows, chewed the legs on the kitchen table, ate the cushions and armrests off of a sofa and then “marked” it, chewed the legs off of all the outside patio furniture, chewed up some carpet and a TV controller, among other things.

    He’s very lucky he is so cute and we love him!

    I credit God with using our second dog to “bring us back to life” after going through a major grief experience. Our son asked for a puppy for Christmas, and I thought it would be really great for him to have a companion so I said yes.

    When we got him, he was supposed to have been a Great Dane but through DNA testing, we found he has absolutely no Great Dane in him at all. He was also very abused before we rescued him so we had surprises we weren’t prepared to handle…mainly, he isn’t a fan of people because he doesn’t trust anyone except for us…so he’s had to go to lots of dog training classes.

    As we helped heal his wounds (physical and emotional), he has been the best dog we have ever owned. He’s also the biggest cuddler of any dog we’ve had. He thinks he’s a lap dog…and he weighs almost 100 lbs!

    Both of our lil lovebugs are currently training with a military/police dog trainer. As I was watching the training taking place, it reminded me so much about grief and how to process grief.

    It’s crazy how much dog training is similar to how God molds and trains us.

    The first time our dogs went, they were unsure about everything. They were extremely cautious and weren’t too thrilled about being outside in the heat. The trainer said I was our dogs greatest problem since I baby our dogs so much — he said he was going to have to re-train me first so he could effectively train our dogs. I had to learn how to undo so many of my bad habits and learn new strategies, habits, and lessons so our dogs would understand the pack order in our home.

    The dogs were not very impressed at first…especially our pouty dog…but then the strangest thing happened: both dogs began to be so much better behaved and much happier. Some of the issues we previously had began to melt away.

    Our second dog who doesn’t like anyone was introduced to five German Shepherds and a Doberman, as well as their owners…and our dog actually socialized with them. No growling. No pouting. He just blended in. One of the owners commented on how it looked like our dog was smiling.

    I think it’s a lot like God. He knows what’s best for us but so many times, we try to do our own thing…and even continue to do things the wrong way even though it’s not best. Then God allows a season of pruning or hardship, and we begin to be uncomfortable in the heat and not very thrilled about our circumstances. If we are wise, we finally realize that God is wanting us to learn new lessons by training us so we can learn how to live life in a brand new way…a better and more productive way. A much happier way. Ultimately, both dogs had to swallow their pride and willfulness and go through great discomfort so they could learn to hear my voice. They learned to fully trust and obey me. They know I have their best interests at heart.

    The best thing about God is He transforms us into new creations. And just like they were wrong about our second dog’s DNA, and lied to us, realize you may have been told wrong info about yourself, too.

    You may have been told your whole life that you won’t amount to anything…that you’re not important or special…you may have been abused or labeled in some way. But then God rescues you, gives you brand new spiritual DNA info and you find that what you were previously told is not the truth. God adopts you, makes you His very own and loves you back to life! He allows you to go through specialized training so you can have more joy…more hope…more stability. Through His love and concern for you, He brings you back to life by healing you spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

    It may feel as though life is shaken up at the present moment, but as you depend on God and trust Him fully, He trains your heart to truly feel loved, secure, and at peace.

    Today, realize how much God loves you! He’s committed to helping you find your life purpose — and it’s a fantastic one!

    Matthew 11:29-30,Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Make the commitment to learn from God and allow Him to rescue you. Allow Him to train and teach you new things.

    Being rescued by Him and then being trained in life-giving righteousness is the BEST! That’s when true life genuinely begins! 

    Learn to trust and obey Him. Train yourself to hear and listen to His voice by reading His Word in the Bible. Realize He truly has your best interests at heart!

    Snuggle up to God today…He’s faithful to help you create a brand new life.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17,All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

    1 Timothy 4:7-8, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

    Hebrews 5:11-14, “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles of Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

    ❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    ❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    ❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    ❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    ❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    Delighting in God Through Trials~Part 2

    Everybody will go through trials during their lifetime. Some will go through one or two, while others will go through multiple trials and hardships. 

    Nobody enjoys going through trials. They’re uncomfortable, heart wrenching, and they’re even confusing, frustrating, and depressing at times.

    Like a roller coaster you can’t choose to get off of, there’s intense ups, downs, twists, and turns throughout a trial or grief experience…and just when you think you’re about to go on a smoother track, life can suddenly send you going upside down or spiraling downward without any warning. 

    When you become weary of the trial or grief experience you are facing, you can become depressed, anxious, discouraged, and feel isolated. When you really get tired of the trial or grief experience, you can begin to resent God or become upset with Him for not rescuing you from your trial quick enough.

    Something I have found in the past — and I continue to learn — is God has a very unique timetable for each trial we go through in life. You can’t go over it, around it, under it, or above it…you can only go through it. 

    So what do you do when you’re hurting and terribly disappointed by life? 

    Some prematurely quit, sit down in the middle of their grief and unknowingly create a lifetime of continual hardships. Stuck. Stagnant. Very little hope.

    Some grow greatly bitter and turn their backs on God or other key relationships. They turn their backs on the only One who has the power to get them through (and out of) their storms, and who has the power to use their life message to help others later on.

    I think a lot of times, the trials we go through in life are thrown at us by the enemy because he knows we will become distracted by them. When we’re terribly distracted, it cuts off a significant amount of the communication and deep friendship we should be enjoying with God and other loved ones. This can also tempt us to think, behave, and believe differently than we normally would. 

    There’s a better way.

    When we make the decision to love God no matter what, and truly love and delight in Him through the trials we face, that’s where breakthroughs happen…even miracles.

    It’s too easy to become resentful, discouraged, or bitter. Lots of people simply give up…and the enemy counts on that happening! 

    You may not have the power to change the past or your present situation…but you do have the power to cooperate with God so He can bring good out of your trials or grief experience.

    If you feel tempted to give up today, don’t. Like I said, there’s a better way. Today, I challenge everyone to stop primarily focusing on the trials and ongoing hardships they are going through (as much as possible)…and instead, use that time to turn your focus onto delighting in God and loving Him.

    Your unfaithful mate or unkind family member? God’s capable of changing their heart. Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

    Your rebellious or prodigal child or family member? God has the power to change the course of their life and direct their very steps…Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬, “We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.”

    Your illness? God has the power to heal you. He can cause great good to come from it…John 11:4, “When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

    Your heartbreaking losses in life? God can restore your heart and bring intense healing! He can give you a double blessing! Job‬ ‭42:10, 12‬, “Then, after Job had prayed for his three friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had had before…The Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first…”

    EVERY problem or heartache we face, God has the incredible, miraculous, and powerful ability to intervene and create a strong message out of our hardships…even if our trials aren’t worked out the way we wanted them to be.

    Got a mess? God can turn it into a message. Got a test? He can turn it into a dynamic testimony. Got scars? He can turn them into bright stars so others can find their way to Him through you. God can turn victims into victors…He can turn your trials into triumphs…and He can turn your pain into a pulpit that reaches many! Never doubt the incredible power and purposes of God!

    So instead of becoming upset with God, sitting down or stopping halfway through the trial, or becoming angry or bitter…get angry at the one who truly caused your pain…the enemy. 

    It’s interesting how we are tempted to succumb to the enemy’s prompting to be upset with God. The enemy knows if we become upset with God or become bitter, we will cut off our communication with God, harm our relationships with others, and possibly not fulfill our life purpose. We’ll also fail to learn the rich lessons we can learn through trials...and miss the treasure God has for us after we come out of the trial. 

    Consider this: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family (of believers all over the world) is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-11‬)

    No matter what’s happened…no matter how terribly you’ve responded to your trials…God is waiting with open arms right now to love you extravagantly, heal your heart, and help you through your heartache. God isn’t being mean, picking on you, or playing games with you; He loves you and already knows exactly how He is going to bring you through your trial and even use your trial to help others!

    Instead of turning from God or being upset with Him, choose — from this day forward — to go out of your way to delight in Him. There truly is great treasure when you choose to love, serve, and delight in God through life’s trials and storms. 

    Are you needing an example of how to accomplish this? If you’re in the middle of a trial, I encourage you to take the time to read Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. David, Solomon, and Job are all excellent to learn from on how to love, delight in, and serve God through life and also through terrible hardships.

    Always realize this: God will never leave you or fail you through a storm. Trust Him with all your heart, extravagantly love Him, delight in Him, and know that He truly is on your side! He will guide and direct you to better paths!

    How can you delight in God starting this week? Talk to God and seek to find in the Bible all the ways He likes to be delighted in. My next blog post will be my favorite ways to delight in Him!

    Never forget how much God loves you and how greatly He treasures you!

    One last thing I’d like to share…an incredible quote from Joni Eareckson-Tada who became paralyzed from a diving accident many years ago and recently went through stage 3 breast cancer: When people see us smile, in the midst of chronic pain, cancer, quadriplegia, whatever, they will look at us and think: ‘Her God must be pretty great to inspire that kind of loyalty. I think that’s amazing that she can smile in the midst of her affliction. I want what she has. I need her joy.’ Oh, what a rich testimony that is!” 

    Amen! The only way any trial, loss, frustration, illness, trauma, grief, or heartache can win in our lives is if we fail to cherish and delight in God through it. Our victory is in and through Him! God is the way to get through our toughest trials. Delighting in Him is an honor!

    Psalms‬ ‭37:3-6‬, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.”

    Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

    Gratitude & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!❤️

    For more encouragement:

    Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

    ❤️

    ‭‭

    Mourning Those Who Are Still Alive: 10 Ways To Weather The Storm

    Most grief recovery efforts naturally include helping grievers to mourn loved ones who have died…but what if the person you are mourning is still alive?

    To have once enjoyed a good, solid, rich relationship with a loved one—and then no longer have a good relationship (or to then have a drastically changed relationship)—this terribly and horribly breaks a heart in a very unique, painful way. 

    When drastic change occurs, or a difficult situation or relationship develops, it can cause excruciating heartache, loss, and sadness. It truly can feel as though someone you deeply love has died, and you are forced to go through a silent funeral inside of your heart every single day. 

    There are many reasons why this can happen:

    • Spouses commit adultery or files for divorce or a significant other leaves or betrays you
    • Children react to parents due to divorce or co-parenting challenges…sometimes parents react back
    • Children react to an adulterous affair a parent has had or children react to how the affair victim/parent handled an affair
    • A loved one battles debilitating mental illness or a loved one goes through the longterm effects of a brain injury and these circumstances completely change the dynamics of the relationship
    • Parents react to children and children react to parents on “life” issues or spiritual issues
    • A parent, step parent, or other family member pits a child, parent, step parent or other family member against each other
    • Custody or visitation issues, foster care issues, or family conflicts cause deep heartache or even estrangement
    • Spouses return home deeply wounded emotionally, physically, spiritually or mentally from serving in the military…or spouses betray the spouse who is away serving
    • A spouse, child, or family member goes through a medical challenge, or deep grief, or another terrible life event or life challenge and they drastically change or become a completely different person
    • Parents abandon their children, and children rebel against or abandon their parents
    • Siblings, or other family members, change and are no longer close
    • A sibling, parent, child or other family member marries someone who isn’t respectful of sibling/parent/child/family relationships…so to avoid arguing with their romantic partner, they choose to “keep the peace,” and choose their significant other over longterm relationships 
    • A family member battles addiction—or another stronghold or wrong thinking—and you can’t get through to them
    • Relationship issues majorly change a relationship due to mistreating or reacting to one another
    • An adult child can enter into a romantic relationship (or marriage) where their significant other turns them against their parents or family
    • Friendships heartbreakingly dissolve
    • Physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse issues create hardships and heartache
    • A family relationship, friendship, or church relationship dissolves due to a betrayal, a lack of understanding, conflict, or deep hurts
    • Bitterness and an unwillingness to forgive or work on the relationship takes root
    • Some sever ties to “make a point” or to intentionally inflict heartache in reaction to their own pride or pain
    • Ultimately, a lack of respect, lack of genuine love, and a lack of honor wrecks relationships 
    • Lots and lots of other reasons

    Anytime a relationship changes for the worse, abruptly changes, or becomes fractured or shattered, it is very, very painful. And many times, the result is to feel helpless, as though you have runout of options.

    When this happens, what can you do?

    1. Pray. Pour your heart out to God and ask for Him to intervene in the relationship and situation.
    2. Possibly prepare for God to ask you to make a change or to do something uncomfortable.
    3. As much as depends on you, apologize and ask for forgiveness for your part…knowing that the other person may never humble their self by apologizing back to you.
    4. Place your loved one and the entire situation in God’s Hands….and take your hands off (and out of) the situation. Realize God can do more in one SECOND than you could ever hope to do in an entire LIFETIME.
    5. KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN…meaning, do the right thing and choose to show genuine love no matter what. Take the higher ground. Be completely loving, Christ-like, and kind. Close your mouth (this can be very hard to do!) and do your God-given responsibilities. This will be extremely hard, but remember that God’s got this! He needs for you to reflect His character, love, and glory. It will be very helpful to memorize and recite these scriptures when you’re tempted to put your hands back in the situation or times you’re tempted to not keep your nose clean: Exodus 14:14, Ephesians 6:11-13, 1 Samuel 17:47, Psalm 34:18. This does NOT mean be a doormat, but for God to accomplish His greatest work, it’s very important to get out of God’s way and to obey God.
    6. Have faith and fully expect God to work in the situation. It may or may not be how you had in mind, but God will definitely be working in the situation (and working out the best outcome) as you genuinely trust in Him to do so.
    7. Ask God to provide you with a strong, loving support system: trusted family, trusted friends, trusted pastors/counselors, trusted support groups/biblical community…keyword here is TRUSTED. To get through the toughest times in life, a strong support system is vital. Accountability partners are also very important.
    8. Work on yourself and do your own self-work with the Lord’s help. Consider your individual relationship with the Lord, your joy and life purpose apart from the situation, consider your part in the situation, look soberly at your own faults and possible blind spots both in and out of the situation, and seek to improve yourself as you love and serve God to the fullest as you wait on Him. (Psalm 46:10, Matthew 6:9-15, Matthew 6:33-34, Proverbs 3:5-6)
    9. Delight in God (Psalm 37:4). When we go through hardships, it becomes easy to become impatient, worry, or even become fearful or bitter. God has a better way! Delight yourself in God, learn to trust and lean on Him, and extravagantly love Him as He carries you through your grief and the storm you are in the middle of. He knows your heart, loves your heart (and knows and loves your loved one’s heart!), and no matter what happens in your situation, He will carry you, heal your broken heart, and love you back to life…no matter what! He will NEVER leave you!! In fact, other than our relationship with our own self, God is the ONLY relationship we are guaranteed to continually have here on earth. We can NEVER lose His love!
    10. Allow God to positively change your heart through the process…and whether your situation or relationship changes for the better or not…eventually use your situation to wisely help and encourage others. You are going to be an absolute TREASURE to someone else who will be walking through a similar tough relationship situation. Learn as much as you can through your situation TODAY so you can encourage and help others in the present or FUTURE. God never wastes grief. There is always good that can grow out of it. 

    Whatever situation or relationship you are grieving or experiencing deep heartache in, please realize there is hope! I agree with you in prayer for God to heal, encourage, and help you and your loved one(s) through whatever you are going through. I pray God works mightily in each relationship, heart, mind, and situation! If a positive outcome is not possible due to a permanent situation, I pray God gives you the gift of a peace that passes understanding and the ability to truly press forward and heal. God DOES love you, He greatly values you, and He already knows how He plans to help you and every situation of grief you are facing or will face!

    Even if a relationship never finds peace or reconciliation again, realize it does NOT diminish your value. Before you were ever a family member, spouse, child, parent, or a friend, you were God’s. He will always unconditionally love you, because you are totally valuable and “enough” to Him. Yes, you will go through incredible heartache if reconciliation does not take place, but God will be there for you every single day—especially your toughest days!

    There is always hope and your life is precious! Please never forget that!❤️

    Gratitude, healing, love, & many blessings,
    Kim

    ©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    ❤️If you were encouraged or helped by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage & help others!❤️

    For more encouragement:

    Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

    Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
    ❤️

    The Doors & Windows of Grief & Loss

    Sometimes, grief comes in the form of losing a prized goal, dream, or a treasured relationship. 

    A door will close and will cause deep feelings of loss. You may even feel as though you have lost your way. 

    When God closes a door, don’t try to “pick the lock.” 

    Attempting to force a closed door open delays where God desires to guide and direct you. 

    Sometimes God closes a door so He can open an unexpected window. 

    He often will give the view of a window because it offers a different view (as well as an alternative perspective) that you might have missed seeing at ground level. 

    Windows can be BLESSINGS in disguise. 

    When we seek God first and foremost, and keep Him first place in our lives and obey Him, we are guaranteed to be in His perfect will. 

    Trust God to fulfill your life purpose and to open the doors He has predetermined to open for you. 

    It’s not always easy to accept a door that has closed, but trusting God to open another door or window that He sees as best will offer a view…and future…you presently cannot comprehend. 

    Today, ask God to guide and direct your paths and to only open doors that will truly bless your life. Ask for the grace and wisdom to know which doors to keep closed. 

    (Lookup Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33)

    ©2014 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved. (from the YouVersion Bible reading plan, Grief Bites:Finding Treasure In Hardships)

    ©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
    ❤️
    Resources~

    Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

    FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: (Coming November 4, 2015)

    7 Ways To Receive New Mercies & Favor From God Through Life’s Storms~lessons from Jonah

    Going through a storm in life?

    Even though people are not physically inside a whale, they may have a “whale-sized” problem, challenge, or heartache they are facing in life.

    It’s easy to drown in life’s problems, or to lose hope, as life’s “waves” engulf you.

    Problems can wrap themselves tightly around your mind, spirit, and heart like seaweed, leaving you feeling trapped and discouraged….and eventually swallow you whole.



    Problems in life are not always bad. In fact, they can motivate us to turn back to God & His ways and powerfully reveal “idols” we hold higher than God in our lives.

    Idols come in many forms: people, relationships, self, entertainment, career, hobbies, etc.

    Even problems can become idols.

    Many of these things are not a sin—until we love, adore, crave, and desire them more than God…or we focus on our problems more than God.

    When we love & worship our “idols” more than God, or we lack faith or trust in God pertaining to our problems, bigger problems arise. When we choose to “cheat on God” with our idols, or doubt God & His goodness, we actively choose to turn our back on His mercies and favor.

    So what do you do if you’ve ran from God, sinned greatly against Him, or have many idols in your life?

    God gives us very specific things we can do during life’s storms to repent, restore our first Love, and receive new mercies:

    1. Cry out & call to Him

    2. Look to Him for answers

    3. Remember Him and His past goodness

    4. Earnestly pray to Him

    5. Put God first and restore your love relationship with Him (give up sinful idols, as well as put other idols in their proper place–anything you love, adore, or enjoy more than God…rearrange those idols, relationships & priorities to where they are in their proper place)

    6. Praise God through songs of praise

    7. Fulfill all vows you’ve made to God

    Many of life’s problems are created due to having “idols,” and sin in our lives. Not all, but many.
    Spend time with God today, repent, and ask Him for His help & wisdom to get your life sorted out so He truly is first place from this day forward.

    He’s worth it!

    He loves you and genuinely cares about every intricate detail of your life!

    No matter what you’ve done, no matter how far away you’ve ran, He is waiting for you with open arms!

    © 2014 Kim Niles/Grief Bites

    Jonah 2:1-10, Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.”

    Gratitude & blessings,

    Kim

    ©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

    If what you read was helpful, please feel free to share it❤️

    ❤️

    Resources~

    Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

    Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

    Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
    FREE YouVersion reading plans:

    1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

    2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

    3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

    4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: (Coming November 4, 2015)