Overcoming Shame from a Bad Report

Shame RX 9-10-19

Shame RX: Seeing other’s gossip as an offense and a sin against God rather than being focused on our offense, we can let go of shame that doesn’t belong to us, after all.

Numbers 16:19, “Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron.”

What others say about us can be hard to deal with. This morning, as  I was reading in the book of Numbers, I saw how it only takes one to stir up others against us. Korah was spreading a bad report about Moses to elevate himself. He did not trust his leadership.

For a few chapters, ok, probably more like 40 years, the Israelites were talking about Moses and complaining about him. 40 years, people. Remember the scouts who scouted out the promised land? Yeah, them. Ten of the twelve scouts “spread a bad report about the land among the Israelites.” (Numbers 13:32). Their whining and disobedience is what cost the Israelites 40 years in the desert. HUGE consequence.

But look at Moses’ response when God said that He was going to punish the band that followed Korah:

“But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground, “O  God,” they pleaded, “you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Must you be angry with all the people when only one man sins?” (Numbers 16:22)

Moses was so shamed and weary from the gossip and slander of the people that he cried out to God. God’s people were extremely difficult to lead. But he also had compassion on them. He knew that they were easily misled.

When others talk about us, we have an opportunity to defuse the shame by praying for our enemies. Instead of sinning by becoming embittered when others sin by gossiping about us, we can ask God for wisdom concerning how to deal with them and we can pray that they will have eyes to see and repent. And maybe seeing other’s gossip as an offense and a sin against God rather than being focused on our being offended, we can let go of shame that doesn’t belong to us, after all.

Shame Off You, friends!

Day 10: Facing Judgement

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope was never meant to come from man, for we were made for another world where hope never fades or disappoints.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 25:3

“No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.”

Distractions from our healing come from familiar places. Wanting to be accepted and feeling ashamed of our troubles only causes further devastation when wagging tongues share our hurt far and wide. Slander and libel only make matters worse. Multiply the devastation many times over for someone who naturally is a people pleaser. What is God’s purpose in this? God’s people know what it is like to be mischaracterized or misjudged.

Proverbs 19:22 says what a person desires is unfailing love, but so often a critical spirit is more plentiful. Just to be accepted for who we are – in all our quirks and individuality – is a deep desire God placed within us.

The longing to be “ok” is aggravated by an inconsistent world where normal doesn’t truly exist. While man still feels the need to compare and judge, God is calling out to our souls with a message of unconditional love and acceptance.

Whether we have suffered a traumatic event or not, our hope takes some bruises along the road of life. Probably one of the most painful aspects of recovering our hope is the people around us who keep us in a place of hopelessness by their judgment. We cannot stand up to judgment when it is not based in reality. The only way to overcome self-judgment and the judgment of others is to lay it down.

How? The Bible says an underserved curse falls right off our shoulder and that we ought not to let another man judge us (Colossians 2:16). The choice is ours. Sometimes we continue to pick it back up, punishing ourselves. If we are not careful, this judgement forms a deep shame within us that brings deep discouragement that seems irreparable.

When my children and I were thrust into our new reality, the one place where we should have felt safe – church – became a painful place. We felt less than, isolated and categorized in a group of “those” people. Sometimes people mean well, but don’t see that they are actually worsening the situation.

When people tread in the place of thinking they know another person’s heart they stand dangerously in a position of self-righteous pride. They cannot walk in another person’s shoes and certainly cannot be their Holy Spirit.

In those times when we feel misunderstood, our hope for acceptance can be laid on the altar and we can pick up Christ’s view of us, instead. Laying down the idol of the opinion of man, we start to see our hope was in the wrong place to begin with.

Reinvented hope does not need what it used to – it’s foundation is in a completely different place and it’s goal has shifted to being all for God’s glory.

Haughty stares and people gossiping behind our back can still bum us out, but now we know where our real hope comes from. Hope was never meant to come from man, for we were made for another world where hope never fades or disappoints.

Lord, thank You for covering our shame and exposing us to Your abiding hope, instead.

Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness – Who Was the Thief?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

“In all the strife of life, no one can steal our hope except ourselves.”

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 119:116

“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”

Hope is a necessary ingredient to life. Without it, we perish. The ultimate definition of hope, the daughter of faith, is trusting that God said He will do what He said He would. But sometimes we can feel that is for everyone else except ourselves.

Holding onto hope can take all we’ve got sometimes. So many things in this fallen world threaten hope’s survival. Maybe we are in the desert, seemingly with no end in sight and just find it too difficult to dare to hope. Maybe we are on the other side of a significant trial but are afraid to hope. Circumstances, discouragement and fear can surely hold us back from hope, but they are birthed in an environment all our own.

It might help to know where we stand, to set expectations aright. We are hated by an enemy who delights to steal our joy and hope, because he is angry that He can never take away our salvation. He will settle for wrecking our witness or get us sidetracked with trivial matters, but he really wants to discourage us from having hope at all. If he achieves this goal, God’s people go through life living defeated lives, without hope and ineffective to share God’s hope with others because our own hope has been extinguished.

Added to our enemy’s activity of destroying hope in us is his influence on others who are used, sometimes unknowingly – to try and dash our hopes, too. Who would want to do that, right? But we do it all the time when we try to discourage a brother or sister in the work of the LORD in their lives.

Naivety gone, we recognize we are surrounded by enemies, but we might not readily see the enemy within. Sounds dramatic, I know. But what we do with the pressures in this life that try to snuff out hope is on us. It is not easy to stand up to all of the attacks on maintaining our hope in God, but it is a fight God can help us to wage and win.

So, who’s the Thief? Who is it that ultimately steals our hope?

Satan, Satan working through people, circumstances – they contribute to our downfall, but there is another thief we do not recognize, because wait for it – it is ourselves. Why would we bear the blame – why would we ever want to harm ourselves or take away our hope?

Sure, the instigator was likely from another source, but what we do with the “hope killer” is our choice alone. We must consider where our hope is placed. Is it in others, ourselves or in the only One who is capable of making and keeping promises?

Here are some “Hope Builders” that have greatly helped me to hold onto hope:

Where our hope is placed. When hope is in Christ alone, we have a consistent source that does not sway with man’s fickle opinion or momentary circumstances. Reinvented hope is not dependent on a temporary goal or the success of achieving that goal – it is fixed on the author of hope itself.

Recognizing the battle and its source. People’s opinions are often formed in jealousy. Jealousy is hatred. Discouragement, gossip and negativity only come from one place – they are of the devil. His end is certain. Dismiss attacks from people or the devil as being evil and having a just end.  God already waged war against the enemy of our souls – satan is defeated and our hope is secure.

Pressing in and seeking God’s promises. Reality hits us square in the eye and sometimes it can be LOUD. We don’t have to let life’s troubles confuse us, even though they are convincing that hope seems like a futile effort. We have to go against our feelings and place our hope firmly in the hands of God’s word. It is hard work keeping the flames of hope alive, but God’s promises fuel that hope.

Crying out to God. We need help in this quest for this hope from another world. It is found only in relationship with Christ. Crying out for help and perspective helps us to overcome and triumph over hopelessness or false hope that always disappoints. Instead of adopting the world’s hope, we begin to see formed this new Reinvented Hope as we gain God’s view instead of our own.

Focusing on God and His Word, not the hope killers around us. This one is a tough one when our hope killers are not just in our mind, but flesh around us, focused on tearing us down. When we listen to the voices all around us instead of to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we easily succumb to the strategy of the enemy.

In all the strife of life, no one can steal our hope except ourselves. We have to get up and fight and resist pouring over the negativity of other people or our own self-doubt and insecurity. A great assurance for this soul is that nothing in this world can take away our hope – it is impossible, for our hope is certain. We might feel like hope is gone, but it never is for those whose hope is in God. Picking up the pieces of our shattered hope, we form it into a new hope that never disappoints.

In Christ Alone is a worship song that reminds us where our hope needs to be placed. Worship Him, our God of Reinvented Hope, a hope given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Hope is alive!

Lord, thank You for keeping our hope secure in You. Help us to hold on to Your promises firmly.

Truthful Tuesday: The Gift of Gab – Blessing or Cursing?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Choose words carefully, for each one can affect the destiny of another.

Scriptures of the Day:

Exodus 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.”

Psalm 10:4, 7

4 “The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks,“God won’t hold me accountable; he doesn’t care. 7 His mouth is full of curses and deceptive, harmful words; his tongue injures and destroys.”

Proverbs 15:2,4

2 “The tongue of the wise treats knowledge correctly, but the mouth of the fool spouts out folly. 4 Speech that heals is like a life-giving tree, but a perverse tongue breaks the spirit.”

Matthew 12:36-37

36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 15:11

“What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.”

Ephesians 4:29

“You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 5:4

4 “Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting–all of which are out of character–but rather thanksgiving.”

Colossians 3:8

“But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.”

James 1:26

“If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.”

James 3:10

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.”


 

I know what you are thinking – with the litany of Scriptures I have on speaking blessing instead of cursing that a mighty sermon is coming. 🙂

Well, not really. I hope today’s post will be an encouragement and a reminder of how God wants us to communicate and the sheer joy of it all. And I figured we could use some reminders from God’s word in case anyone tries to rationalize cursing, gossiping or speaking ill of another person as ever being ok.

Words are amazing. They can really encourage or discourage another person on toward greatness, apathy or destruction. It is such a gift to be able to communicate to another person, to praise our Creator or cheer someone on. Sometimes we forget that it is indeed a gift.

Sometimes my heart is so full of joy it could burst. This happens often when I am reading God’s word and culminates in tears flowing, full of gratitude as all I can mouth are the words, “thank you, God”!

With so many words in the human language, it would seem we have a lot of terms in our arsenal to be able to effectively communicate, but alas, words often cannot convey fully what our heart really intends.

Sometimes there are no words that could fully express the soul’s joy, ire or sorrow. It is in those times that my spirit cries out to the living God and I know He understands, even though I have not spoken a word.

With such a tremendous privilege of speaking and writing, it would seem we would have a God-given purpose in it. If ultimately every word is known by God before it is even spoken, wisdom encourages us to carefully consider each one.

He made us to communicate with Himself and with others for the purpose of edification, fellowship and loving one another. But sometimes communication is hard. Sometimes it seems impossible to say anything edifying when our hearts are hurt. Perhaps we shouldn’t in those moments.

One thing I know God did not intend is for us to misuse the gift of language. Like every tool or thing in creation has a God-given purpose, so does our language.

Today it seems there is a carelessness to our communication. Almost like a knee jerk response, we can spew something out of our mouths that brings no glory to God and does not benefit those who listen. Curse words are in most movies, television, music – even spoken by those who profess Christ. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

People who mistakenly profess freedom in Christ yet let vile words flow out of their mouths at whim are deceived. They claim that people are judgmental or perhaps not “enlightened” or legalistic if they would say that cursing is wrong. Hmmm. Maybe a Top 10 David Letterman style list will help here . . .

Top Ten Reasons People Curse, Gossip, Slander, or Speak unkindly:

  1. The person does not fear God or believe His Word when God commands us to bless and not curse.
  2. The person is not respecting their audience and wants to use words to hurt.
  3. The person is not respecting themselves and is insecure.
  4. The person lacks intelligence, using the same word repetitively which does not mean what they think it means. :0)
  5. The person has forgotten why they are given the gift of communicating.
  6. The person thinks they are cool? No, probably not.
  7. The person lacks self control and is led by emotions rather than reason.
  8. The person is deceived and does not think cursing is a sin.
  9. The person did not receive a good education.
  10. The person wants to be part of our culture – they want to conform to society and their brain rewards them for such behavior (contributed by one of my daughters).

The point is, there is no valid excuse for cursing ever. Nada. Never. We can choose not to let them fly out of the mouth. If we will remember the original purpose of words, perhaps we will consider how to spur one another on and glorify God. We don’t know how long we will be able to tell the people in our lives how much we love and cherish them. Use words to bless, heal, minister and spread God’s Word – it never returns void and reverberates throughout all eternity.

LORD, thank You for giving us the ability to share with others our innermost thoughts. Please grant us grace to speak love and grace to those around us and to overcome the temptation to “vent” when we are hurt.

Worshipful Wednesday: Praising Our Vindicating God

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Psalm 135:1-5, 13-14

1 “Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD! Offer praise, you servants of the LORD, 2 who serve in the LORD’s temple, in the courts of the temple of our God. 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good! Sing praises to his name, for it is pleasant! 4 Indeed, the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel to be his special possession. 5 Yes, I know the LORD is great, and our Lord is superior to all gods. 13 O LORD, your name endures, your reputation, O LORD, lasts. 14 For the LORD vindicates his people, and has compassion on his servants.”

In this passage, David is speaking to God’s people here – His servants who serve in His temple.  If ever anyone needed encouragement, it is those who serve in God’s temple.

My heart breaks when I see injured people traumatized by a misunderstanding, conflict or by someone else’s actions.  All the more when this happens within the walls of the church.  Sometimes we, the church, get so wrapped up in doing what’s right that we are in the wrong.

I’ve been there.  In the most devastating time of my life, when I sought refuge in my church – I found I was silenced, instead.  The enemy is a master at concealing things that need to be brought to light so people can heal and move on.

In the name of being above approach and not gossiping, the silence is deafening and sins can be glossed over.  But the lack of addressing the elephant in the room will only cause it to become larger, still, morphed into something even more devastating.

The sheep are harassed and helpless, and oftentimes those who minister to the sheep bear burdens that are heavy.  But the beautiful secret weapon shared in this Psalm is for everyone.

The Psalmist reminds us to focus on what matters – praising God.  Unless God’s people refuse to tolerate religiosity and utilize our most powerful tool in the face of strife and troubles: praising God in the midst, we will be nothing more than a club; a group of people gathering together.

Those who know God and are informed about His awesome deeds are reminded in this passage to sing praises to God.  Catalysts for our praise are reflecting on His character, His miraculous deeds and His faithfulness. Praising Him is our greatest calling and strength.  We must refute anything that would distract us from this great purpose in our lives – glorifying God in the church and in our personal lives.

You see, there is something intrinsically powerful about worshiping God. We cannot truly praise the LORD without Him revealing motives that need to be exposed.  We cannot come sing to the One without conviction rising if we are attempting to hide something from the One Who sees all.  It is in praising Him that we are delivered and walk in forgiveness and freedom. It is in praising Him that we are vindicated form the enemy’s accusations, set free to no longer focus on the temporary things of this world.

No matter what goes on around us or where we serve God – in the temple or in a secular post, we will all face burdens that only God can lift.  Perhaps the sweetest truth in the lives of His children is that He notices us – and not just sees our inner turmoil, but He has compassion on His servants and vindicates them, all for His glory.

Curiously, the act of worship and praise is not solely for God, for it is while we all praise God together that He works in our hearts, exposing darkness and drawing us nearer to Himself.

Lord, thank You for the gift of praising You.  We need to worship You. Purify our hearts and Your bride, Lord.  All for your glory.