FOCUS 40 Devotional 5

Soaring from Incorrigible Defeat to Incredible Praise! Day 5

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! —2 Corinthians 5:17

Sienna came into my office and crumpled dejectedly into the chair across from my desk. With tears streaming from her eyes, she said, “Pastor Sam, I want out of my marriage. Shawn and I were married sixteen years ago. When we started dating, I was on a rebound from a broken relationship. I discovered I was pregnant, and even though we didn’t really have any feelings of true love for each other, we decided to marry for the sake of the baby. There has never been any real love in our marriage. Now, Shawn is drinking too much. He’s becoming verbally abusive, and I’m tired of putting up with him.”

Her words, “I just want out!” reverberated through sobs and tears. My “Daddy heart” wanted to give her comfort, and say, “It’s OK. You’ve given the relationship sixteen years; it’s not getting any better, so it’s all right to get out.” But I closed my eyes and silently prayed for wisdom, and both Sienna and I were shocked at the words that tumbled out of my mouth. I said, “Sienna, our Lord Jesus Christ can give you and Shawn a love for each other that you’ve never had. He can heal your marriage and give you a Christian home like you’ve never dreamed!” I’ll never forget Sienna’s reaction as long as I live. She jumped up. I thought she was coming to hug me for my words of wisdom. But she screamed at me, “That’s not what I wanted to hear from you!” She ran out into the hall, slammed the door, and left. It was so loud that my secretary ran up the stairs to see if I was OK! And I thought, through tears, “Well, Sam, you really helped her a lot, didn’t you! You’ll probably never see her again!” But I did! Shawn and Sienna were out of church for several weeks; they showed up one Sunday morning. Sienna asked if she could talk with me.

I hoped things were better. But it was a repeat performance: “I want out!…“Jesus can put new love in your hearts!”…Scream: “That’s not what I wanted to hear!”…Gone! That scene repeated itself several times in the next year. I began to believe it was a hopeless relationship. Shawn and Sienna were bound by incorrigible defeat. Months later, I was directing our choir in the musical Living Witnesses. In preparation for the song There’s Life in Jesus’ Name, the instructions said to have a testimony of the transforming power of God in someone’s life. No one but I knew who it would be. Sienna walked to the microphone. She told the whole story of her and Shawn’s brokenness, her visits with me, the advice I gave her, her screams at me; running out on me, the counseling they received, prayers of family and friends for their reconciliation. She looked down at Shawn, and said, through teary eyes, “Shawn, I want to tell you today in front of all our friends that I love you with the love Jesus placed in my heart for you—a love we never had in all the years of our marriage!” She thanked the congregation and me for our prayers and support. As they embraced in the aisle, everyone stood up and erupted into spontaneous praise and applause. The choir exploded into singing There’s Life in Jesus’ Name! And we all knew there was joy in heaven that day as Shawn and Sienna went soaring from incorrigible defeat to incredible praise! The same God who healed, restored, and refreshed Shawn and Sienna can take you and your loved ones soaring from incorrigible defeat to incredible praise! new creations! Transforming hearts…transforming lives!

Thanks, Lord, for the awesome power of love, prayer, listening, and the Word to transform hearts…transform lives! For making everything fresh and new in Christ!

 Dr. Sam Bruce, President, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; Pastor, Hope Point Church, Pearl, Mississippi; Online Instructor, Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Copyright © 2011 by Church of God Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. This document may be downloaded, reprinted, or distributed free of charge for ministry and educational purposes provided that the copyright notice on this page appears without modification. The contents of the booklet may not be modified or abridged in any way, and this electronic version of the booklet MAY NOT BE RESOLD in any print or electronic format.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked Phillips are taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, 1962 edition, published by Harper Collins.

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