Guilt-free

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Cor 7:10).

What feelings do you have that are attached to guilt? They can range from an unsettling feeling down to low self-worth and everything in between—sorrow, sadness, loneliness, disappointment. All translate into a lack of joy because it is not coupled with repentance.  

But when we go to God, regretting something that we’ve said or done, truly repenting (changing direction), we experience the grace of God pardoning and setting us free from the bondage of regret.

Turn to the Father

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands (Deut. 8:10-16).

As a believer, when times of trouble come, I immediately turn to God. I stay in His presence whether I am totally focused on prayer or talking with Him while doing daily tasks. It’s easier to trust when we must, in situations where we have no control. But this is God’s desire in the good times, too.

God doesn’t enjoy our pain, in fact, it tears His heart too. In all their distress, He too was distressed (Isa 63:9a). Although He doesn’t initiate our suffering, He uses it to draw us into His fellowship so that He can dispense His love and mercy and bless us with His better plan.

When times are good, it is easier to lean on ourselves and forget the Giver of all good things. If I could only always be mindful of this and avoid what is documented time and time in scripture when pride led to destruction.

May His praise continually be on my lips.

The Law vs Love

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22:37-40).

Did you know that there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally and may carry criminal penalties? And that is just federal. As we are sitting here right this minute, we may be unknowingly breaking some kind of law or code.

Following Jesus is so much simpler, not necessarily easy, but definitely less complicated. In fact, if everyone followed the two laws outlined by Jesus, we would not need any other law. With the love in our hearts from God (the source of all love), we can turn that toward others. If we truly loved others we would never do anything that would be detrimental or harm them.

Simple, but not easy. Over and over our human nature takes the lead. Even Paul, one of the people throughout history who was most dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ said, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Visualizing life governed by the greatest commandment gives us a little glimpse of one little facet of eternity. Law–less, because we will all be governed by perfect love.

Safe Space

Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).

 Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.

If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).

Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”

Knowing God

It has been said that the Creator placed within each of us a yearning for Him. After reading a verse in Colossians, I am wondering if He placed more than a yearning, but also a knowledge of Him within each person—from the most primitive to the most sophisticated.

I’d like to examine some of these scriptures then end with one of my favorite stories about Hellen Keller. At least that’s my plan, but I am open to where the Lord leads, so be sure to read to the end.

Romans 1:20 states, for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and deity; so that they are without excuse. To me, this means that everyone should know God or at least, know about Him through the amazing things He created.

Colossians 1:22-23 says, You have been reconciled through Christ’s death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach, so continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven. My footnote says that Paul was using a hyperbole (exaggeration), but this same idea of everyone having heard the gospel (Christ’s redemptive death, burial, and resurrection) appears elsewhere.

Titus 2:11 states, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared (is revealed) to all men.

I would think that there are indigenous from primitive lands that have not heard the complete gospel message, but I also believe that we have an amazing God who would not leave anyone in the dark. With that lead-in, here’s my Helen Keller story as one example.

Helen was blind and deaf from the age of two. She had basically lived a life of isolation. Years later, after her teacher, Anne Sullivan, had taught her the gift of language, she thought Helen should have some spiritual knowledge as well. I have no idea how Anne explained God to Helen, but Helen’s reply is amazing. “I’ve known Him all along; I just never knew His name.”

Pure in Spirit

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

The topic for my most recent bible study was purity — not just sexual, but more so the motives of our heart. Coincidentally, today’s reading from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, was also about purity. He says that when our hearts are left to their own devises, what proceeds from them are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornications, false witnesses, blasphemies and that list of ugly things noted in Matthew and 2 Corinthians. Whoa! I don’t do THOSE things, but…

Without the Holy Spirit, we are constrained only either by cowardice (would I really act on my thoughts if I was more brave!?), or that we are constrained by living in a civilized society (so grateful for the morality set in place by our forefathers).

Sometimes I question my motives like am I being manipulative or prideful or selfish. Those I don’t like, but they are “acceptable sins” if there is such a thing. But when we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our heart, we’re appalled at how evil we really are. The Spirit of God uncovers our self-exoneration and excuses and makes us sensitive to things we never recognized, let alone admitted before. We begin to realize how much we need the kind of cleansing that only comes from Him.

Proverbs 16:2 says, Everything a person does seems pure in his own opinion, but the Lord weighs intentions. So I prayerfully repeat O God… see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Wasted Time

Then I will restore (make-up) to you the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

I love interpreting this verse metaphorically in order to apply it to my own life.

We have all had periods in our lives where we have wasted days, even years on being angry, or timid, or sulky, or fearful, or whiney, or even mentally checking-out. Later we regret those times especially if there is a person involved who is no longer with us.

In many instances a do-over is not possible, but God is able and can somehow compensate. He is so gracious to those who put their faith in Him, and with Him nothing is impossible. After all, it is not God that invades our peace, but it is He who can lead us to still waters and can more than satisfy the ache in our soul.