Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross: Day 15

Renew A Right Spirit

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Today's Text: Lamentations 1:12-22, Psalm 51:7-10

Text: Lamentations 1:12-22, Psalm 51:7-10

“He that is jealous is not in love”
– Saint Augustine

What I am about to share is not something I am not proud of. As a matter of fact, it takes courage for me to even admit that a superficial struggle consumed me for years, challenging and endangering my relationship with my sister. It was only through my tears of repentance that God’s grace and forgiveness set me free… and set my sister free.

I was so jealous of my sister. She is smart, tiny in stature, has an amazing husband and beautiful children. What I was most jealous of was her outward appearance. In my eyes she radiated outward beauty, the beauty seen on runways, in movies and magazines. Thin is in, and I despised going shopping with my sister as she picked out her size one while I sheepishly pulled double digits off the rack. It was so superficial, and yet the grip jealousy had on me was suffocating. It seeped into my envy of her two homes and her ability to have children. My sin was really ugly and blocked my ability to love her.

The jealousy seed took root when we were teenagers. Years later, the right conditions sprouted the destructive weeds of bitterness, distance, and a mean spirit. Like the writer of Lamentations, my sin had formed a yoke around my neck (Lam. 1:14) — my outward actions hurt my sister and my inward battle was torturous.

God was at work cleaning my prideful heart, exposing the raw places that were keeping me entangled in my own mess. He was renewing my spirit.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
- Psalm 51:10, ESV

Everything changed when my sister and her daughter visited for a week to help in the care of my newborn son. Each day she would disappear for hours on a run. I was left caring for my newborn and my six year old niece. This was not my idea of help. She felt distant, both physically and emotionally.

We went to lunch at one of my favorite cafés and I watched her push food around her plate, barely eating. I saw for the first time that my sister was weak, broken, unhealthy, and struggling with control because her life was out of control. Anorexia had gripped her.

“Do you love yourself?” I asked.
She sat silently. “I’m not sure.”
“Do you know God loves you?”
Silence.

Outwardly my sister was withering away and inwardly was frail. She was just like me.

The grip of jealously loosened and was replaced with an overwhelming sense of God’s compassion and love. God had to convict me of my sin before I could come alongside my sister and help point her to God’s unfailing love. She desperately needed Jesus and I shared.

Left alone, sin will strangle the life out of our heart and soul. It debilitates, destroys, and divides. The tighter the grip, the less we can breathe to sustain the inward and outward life.

Repent and God will renew a right spirit within you. He will wash you whiter than snow. The triune God breathes life into our sin-gripped hearts, freeing us from sin’s bondage with His forgiveness that transforms us from the inside out.

“But we cannot escape the embarrassment of standing stark naked before God. It is no use our trying to cover up like Adam and Eve in the garden. Our attempts at self-justification are as ineffectual as their fig-leaves. We have to acknowledge our nakedness, see the divine substitute wearing our filthy rags instead of us, and allow him to clothe us with his own righteousness.”
- John Stott

 

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  • Thank you so much for a spot on devotional, this really hit home. I feel so much resentment for my mom and her chronic illness that takes over everything in our family. After caring for her a lot growing up, I just have in more compassion or love, just bitterness. This devotional,really helped me put into words how this sin has taken root. I would really love some prayer as I don’t have a support system around me.

  • Wendmomof3

    Only God could orchestrate this. Exactly what I needed to hear this morning.

  • I need to be transparent with my husband

  • Cleaning company

    It is very natural thing to happen.

  • Thank you so very much for sharing so honestly! It is a true blessing to me!

  • Anytime, Beverly. So happy to encourage.

  • Katie Carl

    Chelsea,

    As a 31 year old single, I would say, let yourself grieve. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve balled my eyes out after a wedding or baby shower. I can’t tell you how many of my friends are on their second child. The best thing is to be honest with God about our emotions but to trust the why to Him. He knows what He’s doing and our job isn’t to figure it out but just to follow.

    On a practical note, I would say find a wide range of friends…single and married. But don’t surround yourself with unhappy, single people. Also, as others have said, use this time for good. Invest in others around you but also in yourself. Take a class, learn a new language…pursue a degree. Filling our time with good things helps us not to “sit around and wait” for him to come. I also would be careful how many books you read on relationships. Some that have been suggested may be good, but can also make you want more of what you don’t have. Only you know what your heart can handle.

    I just met a lady that wasn’t married until she was 46. She travelled as a nurse to Africa and just made the most of her time and life, despite being single.

    And lastly, let this be a time to make sure God is enough. This is something I have to continue to do over and over. And really, we’ll have to do this the rest of our lives, whether single or married. But my prayer is always that God would fill the void in my heart that food, chocolate, running or boys can never come close to filling.

    Okay, and one more! It is so worth waiting because we do NOT want to marry the wrong person. There are a lot of unhappy, married people in the world. As much as I want a guy in my life right now, I would MUCH RATHER be single than in the wrong relationship. We are not desperate. It is worth waiting for someone we just CANT say no to.

    And with all of this, the pressure is off. The timeline of getting married is not something we can control! Everyone’s journey is different and for whatever reason, our time has not come yet. Don’t let others make you feel pressure to find someone or to feel less about yourself than you should. We are really in a grand season of life with a lot of freedom. A lot of married people would kill to be back in our shoes.

    Let’s make the most of it while still being honest with our emotions. Note: crying ourselves to sleep is still completely okay! ;)

    • Beverly

      Katie, I am so blessed by your words. Thank you for allowing God to shine His light and wisdom through you. Although I don’t struggle with singleness – your words ring so true in my own struggle. Thank you so much, Katie.

    • Victoria

      Wow, this was great. I can relate to all your points but most of all, i just found so much comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one who cries over this! Every time it happens I feel ridiculous and feel like I should just get over it and find all that joy in my singleness. Thank you for sharing :)

  • Thanks for sharing your story and keeping it real. And showing how God just doesn’t slap bandaids on gaping wounds, but heals us, even when the healing hurts. In a righteous way : ) that’s amazing!

  • Wow! This was a beautiful story…. Thank you for sharing. Definitely encouraged by how he transforms our jealousy or pride into compassion even after such a long time! Thank you lord!

  • Thank you so much for this! When thinking how this applies to my current relationships, I am actually at a really good place with my sisters. However, I see myself comparing and becoming jealous of other women, specifically other mothers who seem to have accomplished so many things when I'm over here treading water just trying to survive. But I have to keep reminding myself to hide myself from these doubts in the truth of the Word. These passages of scripture really brought to the light how I AM A SINNER and yet I have the divine opportunity to receive grace. Wow. So Lord renew a steadfast spirit. That's my prayer for the day! Thanks SRT!!

  • Kasey Tuggle

    When one is jealous of someone it hurts not just you but it hurts the person you are jealous over just as much. It hinders the relationship because the jealous one cannot fully love the other. Jealousy brings pain and hurts yourself and those in your life. We must kill all jealousy. Jealousy can end when we find our identity fully in Christ.

  • Elisabeth

    So very close to home…I know that it is not just actions that need to change but most importantly my heart. I cannot allow the sin to strangle the love out of my heart. Thank you Debbie for your truth.

  • Jeanninerm

    Moved beyond words…thank you

  • Oh my goodness! These last few days have been hitting me right where it hurts, and I need it. I have been trying to avoid the pain of dealing with things the Lord is bringing to the surface, but this devotional is not letting me hide or get away with that. Repent. Repent. Aaaand repent some more. Sometimes I find it so easy to justify my sin or I trick myself into thinking it’s not that bad, but it’s keeping me from closeness with Jesus. I am so thankful for the openness and honesty of the writers and women in this community.

  • Wow. Lost for breath, on verge of tears, and utterly convicted by this. Thank you Lord that we are helped by Your Word and Spirit working together; and thank you Debbie for writing so powerfully. I know I struggle with jealousy, too, and this devotional has been mightily helpful.

  • Debbie,
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us and your writing creates amazingly powerful word pictures in my mind. An evil weed growing with thrones and branches all around your heart and soul. God breaking those weeds apart to reveal a beautiful, cleaned soul!
    Thank you for sharing and I pray that your sister has found God’s amazing grace in her life and eased her suffering!

  • Alli Taylor

    Wow. “The Holy Spirit was not a given”. We take Him for granted all the time, and most of the time, I don’t even thank God for giving Him to us, to me. I need to do that. I need to realize that the Holy Spirit is a gift, not a given. Thank you for your words!

    • Alyssa

      So well said!! The Holy Spirit is alive and well and I’ve been taking him for granted for years! Now that my closed ears and heart are being carved open, he is truly speaking to me every morning through this study and I’m truly humbled and grateful. He is breaking my walls and exposing who I truly was meant to be. One repentance at a time

  • Powerful. Thank you..

  • I am soooo jealous of women who have a man in their life. I hear what this devotional is saying, but it’s just not penetrating my heart, not sinking in. It stings to be alone at this point in my life. Anyone have any tips for a single almost late 20s woman desperately needing companionship?

    • Ash

      Chelsea, I recommend reading a book called Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones. Reading that book along with wise counsel from wonderful mentors and the scripture changed my whole perspective. I also recommend getting involved in your church. Serve the Lord in your waiting. Use your single years for Him because once you are no longer single you will never get that back. Start a Bible study for the young girls or something like that :) Focus on your relationship with your first love, the Lord. Make Him all you ever want and He will give you all you ever wanted. Speaking from a late 20 something girl who just got engaged last year and is a little over a month from getting married, it’s sooo worth the wait!

      • Chelsea

        Thank you for your response! I’m trying to focus on him :)

      • Ash

        You’re welcome! When I surrendered the pen and let God write my story, He brought my guy to me right where I was ;) it was perfect!

    • Allison

      I didn’t get married until I was 30. It was tough. What I had to remember is that God loved me & was giving what was very best for me during that time of singleness. God is not withholding any good thing from you. He is simply giving you exactly what you need & would want if you knew the full picture. Read Singled Out by God for Good by Paige Benton. Also be skeptical of anything you read that suggests if you love God more, serve him more, etc you will get married quicker. God has a perfect plan for you & is not waiting on you to be better. He just loves you better single right now :)

    • Beki

      I felt exactly the same Chelsea – I shouted and ranted at God last year – God I have served you without question, given my life to serve you, given up chances of men because you told me to wait… And look I’m 28 and single!
      I was convicted there and then to get on my knees! After a very strange few months and chasing the wrong guy – a friend of 5 years (all the way to Tanzania from the UK!) I met the one. God took me out of my comfort zone – where I met another friend of 5 years and we looked at each other and went oh it’s you!
      We are now getting married in July – after we’ve been together for 8 months.
      The moment I knew God was in it all – was the moment I sat on a beach and went God I can’t fight anymore – have me – all of me.

      God knows the desires of our hearts. But he wants us unconditionally. He will bless you – in some way shape or form – just get on your knees and give it all.

      God is faithful and good – keep that in mind too. I will be 30 when we marry (him 27 – a toyboy) but I’m glad I waited for him x

    • Amanda

      Thank you for sharing this– I am also late-20’s and single and it is TOUGH! I feel like I’m ready to find the man I’m supposed to marry (had a promising guy recently, but no go), so I don’t know what else i should be doing. I am trying to focus on Him and to do all of the things I’m supposed to do (you know, “supposed” to do!) and “let go and let God…” But in the waiting it is so easy to feel forgotten. I am so encouraged by the responses your post has received :)

    • Casey Meserve

      Chelsea, as a woman getting close to 36 (which is not old!!), who has been married twice and has 5 kids, can I gently say to you… Enjoy this time of being single. I am all for getting married young if that is God’s plan for you. However, if it is clear that His plan is for you to remain single, count it all as joy and savor every moment of it. Once you are married and then begin to have children your life with Christ really changes. There are so many things that get in the way of your quiet time with God. It’s not even so much about serving Him, though when you are single you CAN do so much more for Him and to spread the Gospel. But I would say it’s even more about your personal relationship with God and His son. He loves you so much. He wants your heart and your time and your life. Give it all up to Him. James called himself a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. My study of that says to be a bond-servant means to be a love slave for life. James was totally surrendered to God and Jesus. Live your life as a love slave to God and see how joy-filled your life becomes. See if He doesn’t change your heart to LOVE being single!! My sister in law was 42 when she got married. She lived for God since she was a little girl and devoted decades of her life to serve Him! I know she wanted very much to be married and have kids. Yet it was not God’s plan… At that time. She just married about 2 years ago and we have discussed several times how her relationship with God has changed. Not that she loves Him less, but she has discovered a husband takes time away from the time she used to spend in prayer and worship and service to God. We are the bride of Christ. May we all accept that gift as we accept the gift of an earthly husband; with excitement and joy and love and desire. May we all desire Jesus as much (actually, even more) as we desire a husband and children. And to those of us that have a husband and children already, may we remember our first love is Christ!!

    • Bopha

      Hey Chelsea! I hear ya! It sucks being single sometimes…ok a lot of the time…I’m 28 and single. I don’t know why we are still single. I don’t know who, where, when, or if this dude will come or not. I guess for me it is a continual opportunity (struggle) to leave my desires, fears, anxieties at Jesus’ feet. It’s like in Aladdin when he asks Jasmine, “do you trust me?” …Jesus is asking too. It’s just much harder than a magic carpet ride! We say and sing “You are everything, You are all I need”, but do we live like that, do we mean it? I lean on Scriptures like Psalm 23…”The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” and Psalm 16:5-6 “the Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” And Lam 3:19-24. I’m not saying to deny the desire of companionship!! Or to vow to be single and give up on love!!! NO! I think it goes deeper…do I trust You, Jesus, and will I follow you with or without a husband? Do I believe the lines of my life have fallen in pleasant places? Because I am loved unconditionally by you! I am your child and never can be plucked from your hand! Is that enough?…
      I say this as much to you as to myself…it’s hard tho…
      (P.s I also got rid of Facebook a few years back because the pictures of engagements, weddings, babies…of people I even barely knew was making me feel jealous and depressed! I was focusing on it way to much. Deleting my account actually really helped. Even if it’s just for a season)
      Hang in there Chelsea! It’s going to be ok!

  • Bladensmom

    I’ve struggled with jealousy myself. It is definitely a sin I need to work on.

  • Wow, this was such a timely devotion, as just earlier tonight, I felt myself full of jealousy towards my sister. I didn’t want to feel the jealousy, but I did. Please Lord, help me to take the focus off of me and put the focus on you, and your plans, amen

  • This post really hit home for me. I’m not sure how to label my sin other than an issue with pride, but I almost want people to be jealous. I crave the positive affirmation that I’m doing good or that I’m pretty or thin or smart. Anytime I’ve ever been hurt I’ve held on to it and I constantly want to make myself that much smarter or thinner or prettier. It’s such an ugly thing and so hard on relationships and a losing battle as time passes and I see first hand that these things are temporal. I feel like I know the right answer, that my mind needs to be filled with scripture and prayer rather than myself, yet I still wallow with my constant me, me, me. I want to change so much and be the kind of kingdom minded daughter and wife and mom that the Lord wants me to be.

    • Ruth

      On of the best ways to fight pride is by asking God to make you humble. As I struggled with this the Lord asked me to pray, “God, please make me humble.” He is faithful and will take you and make you new.

    • Jill

      I am with you, Sarah. I will pray for you!

  • I’m having troubles understanding these Lamentations passages from yesterday and today. I’m not sure of the context. Any ideas?

  • Sarabeth

    Work has been a source of bitterness and anger. My heart takes hold of that while I’m there and I become something hard. Lord clean my heart, fill it with your love and peace, and protect it from outside attacks. Thank you for taking on my sin and giving me your righteousness.

  • Lauren Forde

    Really needed to read these words today. I’ve felt consumed by my anger lately. It’s a new feeling for me, but apparently I’ve embraced it because I find myself getting angry at my anger! I feel desperate for freedom because I see how it effects my relationships but anger is so sneaky. Thank you for reminding me that God does not withhold good things. He is working for our joy! He is exposing the raw places that are keeping me in my own mess, but that’s not all!! He is renewing a right spirit within me. He does not break us to leave us, but is faithful to bring to completion the good work he started (Phil.1:6)

  • Alexis Couture

    I have been so focused on what I need to do lately, instead of letting God work in my life and doing his will. It has been really hard with finals coming in two weeks, I just focus too hard on what I need to do. And often times I do not ask God what he wants me to do or what his plans are for me. Today reading Psalm 51 was a great reminder to let God make my plans and to focus on him. He will ckeanse my heart of being selfish and renew his spirit within me.

  • Antimony

    Lam 1:19 “I called to my lovers, but they deceived me”. She had sought for pleasure, purpose, fulfillment illicitly. Looked for someone other than God to fill her. And it had worked. For a season. But now they had deserted her. And left her empty and broken. Without hope. Fainting. And despairing.

  • Diana Anunda

    Amen!

  • It is so difficult to fathom how, because of Jesus, I am allowed to wake up each day without the burden of guilt or shame. My heart knows this was always God’s plan, and it is His gift that I am allowed to take… but my head can’t wrap around this fact. When others hurt me, I want them to SHOW me how sorry they are in order for me to forgive them (ugh! sinful!). So being wiped clean as snow feels wrong somehow, and Satan is so quick to use these thoughts against me. I beat myself up for my sins and I allow anxiety to wreak havoc on the PEACE that Jesus came to give me. I try to cover myself up with what I think is redemption (I must SHOW my repentance, right?), but it will always be filthy rags until I let HIM clothe me. Does anyone else struggle with this???

    • Heather

      Yes! It’s so hard to accept God’s grace sometimes! I find myself struggling to try and measure up so that I feel like I deserve His grace. I know in my head that this is a lie from the enemy but I struggle to believe it in my heart.

    • B

      Definitely, especially when you said that you want people to really show that they are sorry before you can forgive them. That’s a huge thing for me that I’m trying to let go. It’s hard, though, to know how to do it.

  • Very needed. As I prepare to receive the sacrament of reconciliation tonight, this was timed perfectly. It's time to stand before Him just as I am. It's time to ask for his mercy and forgiveness. It's time to repent and walk another way.

  • Oh this convicted me so very much. I have always been jealous of my brother who has always been the favourite of the family, and is smart, very successful, and married. He has what I want oh so desperately- a life companion. Even he admits that life has always went smoothly for him. I on the other hand have had to struggle for everything. And with anxiety and panic attacks affecting my everyday life, I feel a mess.

    I forget that He doesn’t have the hope of Christ and I do… I have Christ!!!! Oh how foolish and stupid of me to think that He is better off than me!

    Oh Lord I repent. Christ is gain and fills all my lack. I know the path you have me on is the BEST one for me. I repent of comparing myself to others and letting my life be broken through jealousy. Please wash me clean.

  • I am the withering sister. My eating disorder/over exercise consumes my time and thoughts. I am selfish and inattentive to others many times. I pray for God to release me from the sin I’m in and grant me mercy.

    • Debbie Eaton

      Jill, You are so dearly loved. I am praying for you as tears are welled in my eyes. I wish I could give you a hug. I want to encourage you – my sister got help from professionals, it took such courage on her part. I am one of her greatest advocates as she walks it out daily. God gives grace and mercy everyday. Your honesty is beautiful. Debbie Eaton

      • Jill

        Thank you, Debbie. I finally admitted it to my husband recently, though he could clearly see it. It’s made it real, but getting help has been difficult. I don’t know where to go, and it’s scary to surrender to something that has controlled me for so long. I’m ashamed because I’m so put together in every other aspect of my life. Prayers are so appreciated.

        • _M_

          Jill,

          I can relate. I spent some of my growing up years watching my mother battle similar issues, which in turn led to my own struggling with the same issues. I remember making it real and owning up to the fact that I was struggling, and how it continued to be such a battle. It requires such strength and surrendering to give up that control and familiarity and to walk forward into the new, uncomfortable. But, IT CAN BE DONE. In the days I gave up my unhealthy habits I wasn't even walking with Him daily as I am now. It takes time and is a process. But I want you to know YOU CAN DO IT! Especially with Him. He has mercy for you, every day! Every moment, however many times a day, you go to Him with your need – He has mercy and love for you. He loves you so so much and wants you to see yourself as He sees you.

          Father, I raise Your Daughter Jill up right now to you Lord. Lord, please put her at ease – mind, body and soul. Let her know the full extent of your grace and mercy and love! Consume her mind with the beliefs that all is well with You, and take away her other thoughts. Give her the people in her life she needs Lord to support and encourage her. Give her Your Hope. Help her to remember that all things are possible with You Lord, and guide her forward towards the life she wants. Help her to know she is so so loved by You Lord, and that is all that matters. There is no need for her to feel shame, or that she has to have it all together – because she doesn't! You've got her in the palm of Your hand Lord and help Jill to know that and rest easy in that, knowing that she ultimately isn't in control – You are! And you make all things work for Your good, and You make beautiful things out of us! Thank you Heavenly Father for your grace and your unconditional love. Jill – you are loved! Amen.

          Hope this can be the smallest bit helpful.

  • I struggled long ago with the same feeling of jealousy, except it was towards my cousin. She and I both liked the same guy but he had chosen her. I was filled with jealousy towards her. It ate away at me and our relationship was never the same. I praise God that he took that root of jealousy out of my heart and now we are back to being best friends.

    I realized after some difficult times with that same man(who is now her husband) that my cousin was stronger than I could of ever been in that situation. God knew that if I was the one who had went through that hard time I would if just crumbled. But even through it was hard for her, My cousin is a truly strong Christian woman and God really helps her through. I’m thankful that God is always in control.

  • I too am so often focused on my own needs that I don’t recognize those around me. One of my greatest sins is my own selfishness, which seems petty, and yet overwhelming. It’s easy to tell myself, “Amanda, just stop being selfish.” But when life happens, it’s so much harder to put others before myself. I excuse it as circumstantial selfishness (well I worked for 12 hours today, so it’s someone else’s turn to wash the dishes tonight), but God still views it as sin against Him and a wrong against my family.

  • Today has been challenging. And the only thing I know is that I need God. I need the saving grace and love of Jesus. I need the Spirit to speak when I can’t speak for myself. I need Him now to hold my brokenness in the palm of His mighty hand and speak Truth over me. I need His peace to replace all the judgment that binds me. I need hope to replace my despair. And I need to be renewed, though – if nothing else – I know that Restoration will not come until He’s done refining me.
    I wait on Him. Grateful for this study that is helping my heart to be broken, exposed, raw, bare so that He can work and build me back up again – fresh and new full of life, full of Him.

  • Krysta Shaye

    Loved this. I’m young; I’m a 20 year old college student, racking up a debt I won’t be able to pay off until I’m half way to retirement. God led to me be an educator and has truly laid the desire on my heart in the greatest. I have no regrets in my decision, but being the youngest of four can provoke such ugly feelings of jealousy. I have two older sisters, one married and one with (what we predict) a close engagement. The two have their lives planned with foreseeable children and domestic lives. I, however, have been called to pursue my career. I cannot see passed the next week yet they can see the next few years and that scares me, and in my fear comes jealousy. I pray for the strength to continue to follow where I am called and the understanding that I am loved and vouched for.

  • This reminds me of the book of Jude when we are reminded that our sin and self righteousness can “choke out our faith”. I am constantly struggling with being aware of my sin and actively forgiving myself as Jesus has forgiven me.
    Man, what a sweet reminder today.

  • Jealously is a big struggle for me. I wish I wasn't so jealous of the people around me. I am an older single person, no kids, lost my job, etc. Things are just pretty low for me right now. I see so many people my age and younger who seem to have it together, have successful careers and husbands and kids. I tend to get caught up in that I am missing out.

    But I know the Lord has a plan for me that is unique and perfect for Him. He knows where I need to be and I pray that I will be there with a clean heart, an open heart and a loving heart.

    • Chelsea

      I hear you! I hate being a single 26 year old and watching my friends get married and have babies. I see all the love they get poured on them and I don’t understand why God would leave me alone in the dust

  • My prayer lately has been to have Jesus reveal to me my sin so I may repent of it. I cant do it on my own.

  • "Left alone, sin will strangle the life out of our heart and soul. It debilitates, destroys, and divides. The tighter the grip, the less we can breathe to sustain the inward and outward life." This really hit home with me today. Thank you! Oh Lord, wash me clean and renew a right spirit within me.

  • Stephanie Bradley

    I feel the same as you, Debbie, but with my best friend. I’ve been struggling with my pride and jealousy for so long. Thank you for being open and honest with your story so that others could hear it. I definitely needed to today.

  • Wow, God knew what I needed today!
    I have a sister who is far from the Lord. I have spent many years not saying a word about God to her and she has been withering away both in body and spirit for many years. Just last night I got to see her, and I saw what a helpless state she was in. But it never occurred to me to always be sharing the gospel of Christ, EVEN JUST IN MY OWN ACTIONS!!!
    When I read this today, I realized that my story was so similar to this one. I began to cry and break before the Lord. I have done wrong. I haven't been a constant example of Christ to all those around me! I have fallen short. As this began to break I read "Repent and God will renew a right spirit within you. He will wash you whiter than snow. The triune God breathes life into our sin-gripped hearts, freeing us from sin’s bondage with His forgiveness that transforms us from the inside out." This is what I needed. God breathes life!!! Sisters, no matter how we have fallen short, God is there when you repent, ready to to breathe life into our dying bodies and give us strength that we cannot get from anywhere else!
    Thank you, Debbie and SRT. Continue with your ministry. It is needed in our day.

  • nashvillehost

    I love what the Message says in that classic Psalm –

    "…shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life."

    YEP. Start from the beginning in me, God; build me anew.

  • churchmouse

    My sister has declared herself an atheist and has become quite vocal about her anti – Christianity beliefs . It makes for very tense encounters, especially because I feel her comments are meant to bait me. She was once a devout Catholic – I was present when she accepted Christ at a christian concert years ago. She has had several failed relationships and one failed marriage. She considered herself the black sheep of our family (her words). I find myself wanting to distance myself yet I know this may feed her disdain. There is a family gathering this weekend and I admit in dreading her presence. Prayers for both of us please.

    • Beth Warner

      Dear Churchmouse, it sounds like your sis is screaming for help. Especially since she is very vocal about her atheism. I pray The Lord will let you see her through His eyes,and that the Holy Spirit gives you the discernment to say the right things that will touch her heart. Just show her love,,even when it’s hard to. God bless sweetheart, xo

    • Kate

      Oh man! Prayers now for the both of you from me!

    • Cherish

      Praying for good conversations and connection between you two this weekend. Praying you will feel a peace and will let God guide your time together.

  • This hit home for me today as well. Something my pastor asks us a lot is to look at the sin beneath the sin. it all results from unbeleif,not believing the gospel. When we are envious or jealous we are really saying to God, ” I guess you won’t bless me or I can’t trust you to give me what I need”. When we struggle with anger we are really saying “I want control and respect and I am not getting what I deserve”. But when we remember and believe that no good thing will God with hold from those he loves and that he is in control so I don’t have to be it sets us free! I love you dear sisters in Christ I will be praying for us to remember all that we have in Christ and that the work is finished!

    • Lys_in_RO

      This is the most truth-filled comment I have read on this board!!! Amen and amen!

  • Jenn Tendero

    Today’s post resonates with me. I spent years being intensely jealous of my sisters whose husbands are businessmen, while my husband I and struggled often to pay the bills as missionaries. Freedom came with repenting of my envy and false pride, but even a year later, I catch myself still envying from time to time, still repenting, still asking God to renew a right spirit within me. And slowly, he is.

    • Emily

      Praying for you Jenn. My husband and I are missionaries too (less than a year now though), and I can understand the jealousy and the envy – which feels all the more yucky because "I'm a missionary! I'm not supposed to feel those things!"

  • God has led me to this. My sister has always been slimmer than me and more pretty and she is currently pregnant with her third child while I am in the process of finding out if I have polycystic ovaries, and how that will affect me in terms of ever having a child. I have been finding it hard to look at all of her posts about my niece and nephew and her current pregnancy. I can feel the resentment in me building and even the feeling of wanting to avoid my beloved niece and nephew. Thank you God and thank you that I am perfect in your eyes, as you look at me and see Jesus.

    • Sarah

      I know exactly how you are feeling Hannah. My husband and I have been TTC for almost six years now I was just recently diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. Knowing that everything is “fine” and yet I still can’t conceive is so discouraging and heart wrenching. Seeing women all around me who have kiddos or are expecting, I can feel the resentment and envy creep in. I wanted to share a Bible verse with you that I’ve found to be very encouraging. Psalm 84:11, the last part says “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” In Christ we are made right; our walk is made uprightly thanks to Jesus! So if something is good for me, the Lord will not withhold it from me! I pray that this verse brings you much comfort and encouragement dear sweet sister!

  • Envy has ruined my relationship with my best friend- both of us are to blame. Although I hate to read stories of other women going through the same thing, I am so grateful for the support system we have here with one another. We all struggle- let’s face it, relationships are hard. What a great feeling it is to know that we have a God who will forgive us of our sins when we repent. Praying for all of you ladies today.

  • Loree A Smith

    Today's readings hit home for me! I have been struggling with the sin of self-pity because life has been tough for many years! I know that God is faithful – and He is bringing me back to where I need to be! I look at others with their "perfect" lives… I know that God's mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great!

  • What is breaking my relationships is anger- towards my daughter. She’s only five, but our relationship so desperately needs restored. As much as I repent, I don’t know how to stop, and how to restore.

    • Nicole

      Rachael – I too have been struggling with loving my 7 year old. He is stubborn just like me and too smart (he feels he can get away with anything). He makes things tough in our household and I do not want to admit this, but most days I dread when school is over. Since starting this Lenten journey I have taken a very long inward look at myself and fear that I am the problem. I know I am hard on him (he is the oldest of 3) and I have high standards for him. I have decided to just love him and let him be himself (as long as it is not too disruptive to our family). I have seen a positive step in healing our relationship. Praying for your loving relationship with your daughter.

      • Crystal

        Rachel and Nicole,
        You may already be doing this, but maybe you can search Gods word on love, honoring parents, anger and pray that the Holy Spirit reveals something to you for yourself and children. My mentor mom shared with me that it’s never too early to start reading the word of God with our children. We have to be patient and consistent. Even when we have a challenging day with our children let’s stay committed to God’s process in molding us and our children in His image. The same spirit that is in Jesus lives within you, me and our children. The Holy Spirit is of the same great strength in our children as in us. As the parents, it’s up to us to speak the word of God, of life, into our children. Our children will bear fruit of the Holy Spirit and not the flesh. We will lead them to Christ every day. I think I may have just been speaking to myself lol. I’m praying for you and your families!

    • Shelly

      Rachel. And all you moms of littles or any size kid. I recommend a book called Desperate by Sarah Mae. Also Amanda’s 31 Secrets from 2013. http://www.life-edited.com

  • Ladies I'm going on a hunt along with the Spirit. Will you join me? Now before you say yes, I must tell you that it's a Shoot to Kill hunt. There will be no no aiming just to wound…

    Jonathan Edwards said, pride is "the most hidden secret, and deceitful of all sins."

    I'm going hunting for my pride. It's deeply hidden and disguised itself, but I've got the right hand of the Lord on my side and He's got a perfect aim.

    YES LORD, renew a right spirit within me, no matter how ashamed I must become, we must kill this enemy.

    • Emily

      I’m in.

    • Aubree

      I’ll join you on that hunt! Pride is a disgusting sin that can ruin friendships, marriages, and our beautiful relationship with Jesus.

      Lord, help me see my prideful ways and wash those things away from me.

  • It’s very true that the people we often want to be like are struggling with their own sin. What an amazing thought that through Jesus Christ we can all receive pure hearts and renewed spirits for this very day!

  • I think the issue is I don’t know how to repent. I keep failing at it. I go back to the scene of the crime over & over.

    Lately my heart is numb. My eyes are blind. My feet are stuck. I’m paralyzed. I don’t want to go back. But I don’t know how to go forward.

    I feel I live in the ‘forgivesness bubble’ I take His Sacrifice for granted. A real person died so that I could live!! But am I? Do I live in freedom? No.

    Am I any more changed from last years Lenten Season than today?

    Who knows what I ‘gave up’ last year. Apparently it wasn’t all that life changing.

    I have book & I read. I have prayer books & I pray. Yet I have no words for my state. For my lack of acknowledging my depravity. Maybe it’s too overwhelming.

    Acknowledging my bankruptcy….. Rather perish than repent…. Be lost than humble…

    So I search for needle, thread & fig leaves.

    • Emily

      Oh, Shelly, I do know the feeling of failing to repent. I’m learning more every day that we can’t repent on our own- we need Jesus to change our hard hearts into repentant ones. We need to beg Him to reveal our sin to us and then beg Him to bring repentance to our hearts. I’m praying for you today… Nakedness before God is hard, it’s painful, but there is nothing more beautiful.

  • Stephanie

    I just feel like I need to be here today. I feel like nothing is going right, and I’m not handling those things very well. I just need to give it up to God. I keep thinking that I can do everything on my own and not only is that proving to not be true but it’s getting lonely!

  • Kendall_S

    doing a bible study at my church called body matters….this quote is from Chrystie Cole's book by the same name…..the themes of discontentment, envy, and jealousy run rampant among women today…..here is the quote gave me pause:

    "Contrary to what many believe, bodily discontent and insecurity are not a by product of our culture or media. These things only expose what is within the heart of a woman, which is a restless desire to elevate herself in a way her Creator never intended. And we can trace this all the way back to the very first woman."

    praying that i can be a woman who continually lays bare before the Lord and is brave enough to ask Him to expose what she needs to repent of.

  • Caroline Dotson

    Praying for you Katie and Rebecca

  • Jaime Cady

    Thank you for posting this about your past relationship with your sister. I too have felt a "broken" relationship with mine but recently realized that God has placed us in each others lives for a reason. I have reached out to hear and expressed my desire for closeness with her and with an admission that I am ready to leave all the junk that filled our past and begin to walk forward. I only hope that she will feel compelled to reach back to me and walk with me as we both journey towards His kingdom.

  • I really struggle with jealousy. I grew up an a abusive home and i have made some poor decisions in my life. I have this struggle in my mind that wants my life to be different from what I have. Jealousy leads to me feeling deep anger. My heat feels sick. This is my first time on this website. I understand now that the Lord has allowed me to feel the pain physically and mentally of my anger and jealousy. His desire through is to heal and clean me if only i would stop being angry with Him.

  • iheartvegetables

    Such a great post! Our sermon at church on Sunday was about envy so this goes right along with that. I think as women, we're especially susceptible to tearing others down when we're envious. I know I'm guilty of it!

  • Julie Ganucheau

    Praying for you Katie!

  • Rebecca W

    Praying for you!

  • I am really struggling today with sins of my past. Sins that have been long repented of, but yet the consequences remain. My marriage is in ruins at this moment and it feels like it is all due to these past sins. It feels like I never get out from under the weight of them. I know they have been paid for and I know I have repented of them and no longer struggle with these things, but sometimes I ask God, "Why does it feel like I'm still paying for all these things?". Sometimes I feel like the verse in Lamentations says, "the enemy has prevailed". I know there is always hope with God, and I believe He wants to see my marriage restored. He is capable of all things and He can turn my husband's heart back to Him and back to me. It's just painful to witness this hardness of heart in someone I love so dear, and struggle with the thought that it's really all my fault.
    Please pray for me.

    • Rae Lynn

      Katie, I am praying for you now.

    • Joey

      Praying for you and your husband!

    • MNmomma (heather)

      Prayers lifted for you Katie

    • stacie

      Praying for you, my dear sister. You are not to blame for the state of your husband's heart, no matter what lies in your past. Your husband's struggle with God is his ow but I understand how difficult it is to see, especially since your husband may react to you in the same way. God is with you as you go through this and He loves you more than anyone else could or will. I pray you find comfort with Him,feel His presence this day and walk forward in His peace.

    • LR

      Prayed for you Katie.

    • Ann

      Katie- praying for you that you will be courageous, that you will trust God to heal the brokenness in your marriage. That your husband can find his way to God .

    • Nicole

      Praying for you, Katie, and your husband!

    • Julia Kent

      I will pray for you Katie!

    • Erin

      Praying for you! I’ve been reflecting today on how Satan is so quick to use our past sins against us because it feels so unnatural that we can have true redemption without guilt, shame, or regret. Satan would never want you to remember this! But you know the Truth. Praise God, we have the Truth.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I do believe anyone else who has a sister may deal with this to some degree- I myself have struggle with sister comparison. May God unravel us from the grip of sin and bring us to a place of desperate repentance followed by an immense freedom in Christ Jesus. Thank you Jesus.

  • I'm actually not caught up yet in the study (on day 10) but decided today I really wanted to jump in on the comments in real time and I'm so glad I did! Thank you for sharing a piece of your story. I needed that reminder that sin and lies are coming for ALL of us. It's easy to get caught up in my own world and "don't they know how hard my life is?" But, the reality is just as you described. Everyone is hurting and in need of someone to come alongside them with compassion and empathy. It's hard to do because it requires vulnerability and willingness to set aside our own hurt for the sake of others.

    I've had a pattern for years, after a lot of relational pain, that when someone burns me, I cut and run with my anger and bitterness. Lately, a friendship has begun to get tense and all of me wants to follow my usual pattern but all over the place I'm getting messages of how deeply loved I am. I wouldn't have thought about my hurt in that way (I turn into a big thinker when I'm hurt so how people's actions affect my feelings gets pushed aside) – as feeling unloved but the words have been so healing. And they have reminded me that I don't need to seek the kind of love that gives me meaning or fulfillment because I already have that in Jesus. And by clinging to his steadfast love, I can approach this relationship and look past my desire for love and into the pain the other person is experiencing. I am deeply loved by God and that ENABLES me to enter into painful situations where I might be rejected.

    Thanks for letting me process a little. I would really appreciate prayer as I work to repair this relationship. I'm in totally new territory here and I have a history of holding onto residual bitterness so the relationship never really gets better even if we "make up".

    • nashvillehost

      Praying for you! I struggle with similar emotions and actions, and have had to turn in my comfort to God over and over again to keep me in relationships, which I desperately need. Hang in there; you're not alone!

  • I so appreciate your honesty, Rebecca’s. It, and His Word, spoke to me this morning. Thank you!

  • Blessed Assurance
    Jesus is mine!
    Oh what a foretaste
    Of glory divine!
    Heir of Salvation
    Purchased of God
    Born of the Spirit
    Washed in his blood

    This is my story. This is my song!
    Praising my Savior, all the day long!
    This is my story, this is my song.
    Praising my Savior, all the day long.

    – hope the lyrics are right… Music and song has the power to reach, move, and stir me when nothing else can… All of the psalms, including psalm 51 were originally sung, and still are in some parts of the world/denominations!

  • Kelly_Smith

    A yoke is "an agent of oppression, subjection, servitude." The yoke of sin in Lamentations 1:14 held the Children of Israel captive to foreign nations for 10 generations. It became their normal. If we wear the yoke long enough, it becomes normal to us and the bondage goes unnoticed. That yoke gets passed down from generation to generation. (Debbie, I wonder what the relationship between the cousins would have been like if you and your sister had not reconciled.) My pastor said, "The first step to freedom is breaking free from the mentality that this yoke is normal." It brings to mind the passage in Romans 6 about our freedom through Christ. "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (6:18). Instead of the yoke of sin, we take up the yoke of Christ which is easy and light (Matthew 11:30).

    "Repent and God will renew a right spirit within you." This turning is key. We brake the yoke through repentance. We live free when we honor God by offering "the parts of [our] body to him as instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:13). I want to feel the discomfort of my yoke of sin so that I am driven to the cross. There, Jesus will break that heavy yoke and replace it with His yoke of righteousness.

  • These roots that settle deep in our hearts over such things entangle and take away so many moments from us. (Oh how I speak from experience here) And they can start so small it's hard to realize at all that they exist until they're so large and extensive that like trees, they've crept their way into destroying sidewalks and roadways, working to trip us up. I think Jesus refers so much to vegetation growth in parable form because seeds are daily planted in us. He knows that we are "receiving" constantly and that what we allow to be planted into our hearts and minds can advance significantly. Anything that negates Christ can immerse itself like a bad weed and spread into an appendage that smothers joy. We know that things like horrific or inappropriate images sear themselves into our brains, it's supremely difficult to "unsee" things and those can come to play in so many avenues of our daily life. Vines of jealousy, bitterness, and resentment are no different. Like a Poison Ivy they disguise themselves as something entirely different; false righteousness, validation, entitlement. The beautiful plant seeks to lure us in, but we know what it does, we know that we'll suffer painfully the consequences of one touch. My Dad was so good to teach me the facts of the plant so that I could recognize it and actively avoid it. Just like that training I need to stay intimately familiar with my Savior so that I can hear His warnings, so that I will recognize the ivy like sin masking itself in my life, in my heart.

    I, too, have had to examine my relationships with extended family, I find this has to be a constant barometer check for me as there is more there than I imagined and I see it with my own daughters' relationships to one another and my family. I am continually praying into it and trusting that one day God will soften all our hearts to see each other precisely as He does. Prayerful that any overgrown meddler be spotted and eliminated by the righteous hand of God before it takes root and sets up home in my heart. ~ B

    • MNmomma (heather)

      Thank you B for your words….your poison ivy description really hit home with me today……blessings!

    • Meagan

      I love what you said here… "I need to stay intimately familiar with my Savior so that I can hear His warnings." This is something God has been convicting me of so much lately. It's so easy for me to come to Him when I need Him or when I have something to say, but what about when He needs to tell me something? If I'm not in His word daily, I'm limiting my interaction with Him. Sure He can speak to me in other ways, but the primary way He speaks is through His word. How can I know His will for my life if I don't meet with Him? How can I see where He's leading me if I don't hear His words? How can I keep myself from the easy snares of sin if I don't hide His word in my heart? Intimacy is key here, and intimacy isn't one sided. Thank you for your words today!

    • Sarah

      This is great . Thank you for this post. I could use prayer for dealing with resentment towards my mom

  • Anna Buchanan

    This week has been hard for me as I try to repent and draw near to my Savior. It is a good reminder to see how debilitating sin can be. I long to lay my burdens of sin at the cross so I can be full of God’s love and compassion.

  • adrienne rae

    Thank you for your honesty. And genuine heart to write and share and help us grow. It is all so encouraging.

  • Amy Jacobs

    Thank you for your honesty, as a sister I know all to well the friction the small superficial things can make. This story was raw and beautiful, it really helps to put gods words into context. Thank you.

  • Today’s Devi made me think of the parable of the farmer scattering seeds. The sin in my life is a lot like thorns and like Debbie said “Left alone, sin will strangle the life out of our heart and soul. It debilitates, destroys, and divides. The tighter the grip, the less we can breathe to sustain the inward and outward life.”

    Wash me, Jesus (again) and Renee a right spirit within me. I need you

    So true!

    This season of Lent, Jesus calls me to strip off the sin that so easily trips me up (Heb 12:1). For me that’s lust and worry/anxiet . So that I can run the race He’s set before me

    • Anna Buchanan

      I like the connection you made to the parable of the soil. For God’s truth to manifest in our lives our soil must be fertilized with His love and grace.

  • Kylene Bak

    Thank you for your honesty and transparency in sharing. I have also gone thru years of comparing myself to my lovely sister who is amazing but now realizing she has her things she struggles with too just like me. And to support each other instead of compare. Thank you I pray your honesty leads to someone else finding freedom from their sin as well. Its a powerful thing when we humble ourselves and open up about our struggles and dark hearts. But it is there where we as the body of Christ can be so powerful in the battle over sin and help each other be overcomers thru the power of the work of Jesus on the Cross and His resurrection! May we each me more brave to share our dark hearts so the light of Jesus can shine even brighter to the world around us!

  • Mackenzie

    This was exactly what I needed. I’ve experienced similar feelings with my family members and God has really laid this on my heart lately. For me to become aware of my jealousy and anger and resentment and to lay that at the cross and repent. At a time where I am about to visit this family, this was incredibly important for me to prepare my heart. Thank you!!

    • Tamisha

      Create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit with me. (Psalm 51:7) This is my prayer for today that god will renew my mind and cleanse my soul from all unrighteousness.

    • Julia Kent

      Agreed! This was so timely for me too.

    • Heather

      “What we allow to be planted into our hearts and minds can advance significantly” oh how true this is. I’ve been suffering so hard this week from some things said in passing over the weekend and they’ve been absolutely consuming me. I needed this devotional more than anything today. And these amazing insightful words. Thank you so much ❤️

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