30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 25 – Our Merciful God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy.

Scriptures of the Day:

Romans 3:24-25 (NLT)

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.”

Exodus 25:21-22

21 “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. 22 I will meet with you there, and from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites.”

Before a Holy, Righteous, Perfect Judge, mankind stands condemned. A Holy standard was set and we did not meet it – we never could. But there is mercy in seeing our inability to obey God’s commands. This revelation that pierces our hearts also draws us near to cry out for mercy; and when we cry out to our Righteous God, He hears us and chooses to sit on a seat of mercy.

We did not deserve such lavish grace when we had so clearly violated His law. But we have a merciful God – One Who loves to demonstrate His lovingkindness and compassion, despite our sinful rebellion.

He would have been just to sit in a place of judgment for we will all come before Him one day in the final judgment, but He is long-suffering, not wanting any to perish. When we confess and turn from our sins, He hears and heals.

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy, which I am eternally grateful for. Christ, our High Priest to Whom we will give an account, Who rules over all the earth and is our righteous Judge – chooses to sit on the mercy seat.

Oh God, thank You for Your rich mercy and for paying our sin debt! May we never forget this mercy extended to us.

Mundane Monday: Call Me Chief

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 1:15

“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them!”

Self righteousness is one of the slickest tools of the enemy. Pride at the root, we begin to think we are righteous of our own merit. Often unrecognizable as we see the flaws in everyone surrounding us except for our own, it is lethal to our walk with God and hurts those around us.

Paul is refreshing in his transparent view of himself. He did not boast of his righteousness, but instead called himself the worst sinner ever.  It seems kind of demeaning at first. After all, there is always someone worse than ourselves. But God does not grade on the curve and the beauty in recognizing nothing good in and of ourselves apart from the grace of God is not only seems truthful, but fitting.

It is in seeing my desperate condition before a Holy God that I see my need of His salvation. I cannot defend myself based on any deed or belief, for it was only His grace that enabled me to do or be anything that would please a perfect God in the first place.

Admitting we all are Chief in the sin department is at once condemnation and freedom. Gaining access to a relationship with our Holy God only happens through confession of sins and then sweet redemption when we choose to believe and accept His righteousness for our own.

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us. When falsely accused, we realize that although the accusation might not be true, there is something in us that we are guilty of even if we cannot see.

This truth has been such a blessing in my walk with Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation, even though we are guilty. For Christ fulfilled God’s perfect law for all eternity and we stand blameless before a Holy God. What good news this is!

Walking in this perfect freedom, we no longer have to fear, but we also can no longer judge our brothers and sisters, either. We do not know anyone else’s hearts and we all are equally chiefs of sin, too.

Lord, thank You for revealing our sins that we could be set free. Thank you for removing our sins as far as the east is from the west. 

Truthful Tuesday: Judging Judgment

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Romans 14:12

“Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.”

1 Peter 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?”

Judgment.  No one wants to be the recipient, but all have been participants in either judging others or being judged themselves.

In His perfect wisdom, God designed a system of justice in place to judge our actions.  Man sets up his own system of judgment, too, to condemn one another.

At the root of judgment from any human being is pride.  Pride in our own sinful, myopic condition that we would think we could ever be in a place to pass judgment on another creation, made in God’s image.

There are so many more motivations in the act of judgment, though. Sometimes we want to make ourselves feel better about our decisions, or we manipulate others with judgment to try to get them to do something we want.

Sounds pretty ugly.  That’s because judgment from man is going to be man-centered, but judgment that Christ gives is perfect and redemptive.

God judges our hearts to bring us to repentance and show us our sinful condition.  Man judges to prove a position, inflict pain, manipulate or inflate self.

Man cannot judge other’s motivations, for we cannot see the heart – only God can.  Still, the default sinful condition of man is to presume and judge brothers or sisters in Christ.

Despite out corrupt nature, we do not have to give in to judgment.  The heart of man is deceitful, but God.  He is gracious and able to help us lay down our judgments and put on forgiveness.  Sometimes people can hurt us and boundaries have to be put up so they cannot hurt or condemn us further.  Sometimes we have to lay down our desire to please man in his faulty judgments, too.

Maybe some of us feel we deserve judgment – we all do.  But Christ bore that judgment for us all.  In this world we have relationships that are broken from sin and ensuing consequences, and people will judge us until the day we die, but all of those judgments fall off our shoulders and are laid at the feet of our Savior – the One, perfect, Righteous Judge.

Lord, thank You for the sweet victory You give to walk in freedom and forgiveness.  Thank You for bearing our judgment.  Help us to consider others better than ourselves and to discern others in the light of the grace that we have been given.

Weapons of Warfare

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2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live as human beingswe do not wage war according to human standards4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weaponsbut are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments  5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.  24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient,  25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

It is difficult to live in this body of flesh and live for the LORD.  Fatigue and worldliness creep in easily if we are not watchful. Sometimes I can be lulled into a false perspective that being Christian is to be “nice” and flexible, tolerant of everyone and everything.  I can become disillusioned when I think salvation is equated to being loved by all and living a trouble-free life.

While we are called to love everyone, that does not mean we should expect reciprocation.  It also does not mean that we ought to condone sinful lifestyles or give in to the philosophies of this world.  Paul, who had previously zealously persecuted Christians, was a fighter.  He knew that to be faithful to God meant to be vigilant with our thoughts, faithful to seek God and spread His word.  He recognized that this Christian walk is a battle and he armed himself for the task at hand.

But we all do not have personalities like Paul.  I confess that I am naturally a shy person and a peacemaker.  I would rather avoid conflict, but sometimes it is necessary.  On one hand, I will not seek it out and waste energy on controversial arguments, but on the other hand, I want to be ready at all times to give an answer when someone is truly seeking.

Timothy strikes me as a more gentle soul, wanting to shepherd those around him, but equally as faithful to disseminate the word of God.  I love his heart to keep what really matters in perspective – winning one precious soul with gentle correction. It wasn’t about being right, but about caring for the other person enough to be unpopular with them while the truth was lovingly shared.

We have all perhaps seen hostile arguments over faith and even tearing down of fellow believers because their style or personality was different.  We might have even done so ourselves.  These are not the weapons we are to use as believers. Pride and vanity can cloud our view and cause us to see things from a merely human point-of-view, but love can clear the fog.  Not the world’s definition of love, but God’s Agape, unconditional love, which speaks the truth completely in love.

Boldness from God consumes me and causes me to see my need of God and to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I just want to be faithful.  Sometimes we can be about the work of God and suddenly find ourselves under attack.  (Which, by the way, should not surprise us, but being that my short term memory is lessened a great deal, I am surprised every time).

Even fellow believers can nip at our heels and judge the work we are doing in the LORD.  What weapons should be use in our arsenal?  Prayer.  Forgiveness.  Love.  When persecution or judgments arise, they are opportunities to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh; to cry out to God, not man; to read His Word and apply it in our lives.

The stumbling blocks of fear and self-preservation can inhibit us from using the weapons God prescribes for use in spiritual battle and from trusting in God to fight for us.  He is our Deliverer and able to accomplish far more than we ever could with our human tools.  His weapons are not of this world and the battles we face are not, either.

Lord, thank you for being our Defender.  Help us to recognize that every we battle we face in this life is a spiritual encounter, not a physical, fleshly one.  You have overcome all!  Help us to use the weapons You have given us, that many will be saved and healed.

Perception’s Deception

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Photo Credits:
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1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

When Samuel was choosing the future King, he was led by God.  Men tried to sway him to pick according to their own prejudice and preference, but Samuel sought God’s favor.  People were shocked that David, a mere shepherd boy who played the harp was selected.  He was the youngest, the least that anyone would have expected.  It was, perhaps, politically incorrect.

The people qualified Samuel’s choice: “but he’s taking care of the flock . . .” – not someone God would choose, would He? David might not have been esteemed as a leader in man’s eyes, but to God, who knew his heart, David was the perfect choice.  Confidence in appearance never lasts, but character endures long past looks, wealth or popularity have faded.   Waiting for God’s best requires patience, trust and obedience in God, not fear of man.

It is a humbling thing putting ourselves before man, whether it be to step out in ministry, to share what God has done, or to lead in some fashion.  We will be tested in those times to develop character and sometimes in our own hometown we will not be endorsed.  Like David, people around us know we are imperfect.  They may hold a perception of us that we cannot affect.  The true moment of freedom comes when we realize that we do not have to.

None of us wants to be misunderstood, but it is a fact of life.  People have their perceptions formed on the surface in the chalice of opinion, gossip, envy, or experience.  Whether or not there is truth behind that perception often doesn’t matter, as the power of emotion can be stronger and people are often fed opinions by the peecee police in an attempt to control outcomes.  But the humility of reserving judgment before tearing down another brother or sister is rare and needed today.

To form a viewpoint on another person without attempting to know their heart is prideful and demonic.  It is also folly to trust in what someone or something appears to be, only to be let down.   Discernment comes through prayer and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

These same patterns of judgment and jealousy are in the body of Christ today.  They were also present in the time of Christ. Jesus’ own disciples questioned the motives of other followers of Christ casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  A competitive spirit was quickly quelled by the Master, though, who saw all working together for the glory of God.

Are we a David, being chosen for a work, or the older brother, scorning someone else who is seeking to work for the kingdom of God?  In either station, may we recognize we are nothing apart from Christ.  We are all unqualified to serve the King of kings.  Therefore no jealousy is permitted and no pride, either, in whatever position we are in.

Blind trust in someone can bring devastation, but we have to be willing enough to be vulnerable and not allow ourselves to become embittered and believe the worst in others, either.  We all need grace and need to believe we are capable of being better tomorrow than we were today – no matter what the appearance suggests.

Lord, we answer to you alone.  Thank You for calling each of us for Your glory.  We are so needful, yet You use us.  Help us to not fear man, but to serve you faithfully.  May we also not discourage another because of a weakness we see in them, either.

The Purpose and Fruit from Testing

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Exodus 9: 1-7; 11

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Release my people that they may serve me! 2 For if you refuse to release them and continue holding them, 3 then the hand of the Lord will surely bring a very terrible plague on your livestock in the field, on the horses, the donkeys, the camelsthe herds, and the flocks. 4 But the Lord will distinguish between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, and nothing will die of all that the Israelites have. 5 The Lord set an appointed time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” And the Lord did this on the next day; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the Israeliteslivestock not one died. 7 Pharaoh sent representatives to investigate, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of Israel had died. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hardand he did not release the people. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.

Psalm 66:11-13

“11 You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. 12 You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. 13 I will enter your temple with burnt sacrifices; I will fulfill the vows I made to you.”

Throughout time, the story of God’s mighty deliverance of His people from the Egyptians has captivated many.  The thing we often forget though, is that deliverance costs.  The Israelites suffered along with the Egyptians for the first few plagues and thereafter from the resentment the Egyptians poured out on them as retribution for their own judgment.

The rain falls on the good and bad, and the righteous and unrighteous alike will be tested – with one key difference.  The testing by God on one of His children has the potential to yield a bountiful harvest and has eternal purposes.  For the unsaved, God is hoping the testing will cause them to turn toward Him, but often testing yields punishment and exasperation for an unbeliever who does not understand the heart of God.

For those who fear the LORD, there is protection and a purpose in all hardship endured under the sun.  It makes me smile to consider that the magicians, who were so smug at being able to duplicate God’s miracles initially, then were suddenly covered in boils and recognizing the finger of God.  Not enough to repent and recognize their need for salvation, but humbled, nonetheless, in the presence of a Holy God.

God will be glorified in our moments of testing and of victory.  Knowing that nothing is in vain in Jesus gives encouragement when the testing seems lengthy.  He is at work.  Even when it seems like the enemy is advancing, God knows the end.

God is so good in all of His purposes.  He longs to bring us to a place of abundance, but not if our character is not prepared first.  Of far greater worth is our heart than our comfort, even if it means we suffer for a little while.  In due time, we will reap a harvest, and it will be beautiful.

Lord, thank you for patiently loving us and carrying us through life’s adversities and triumphs.  We need, You, Lord.  Help us to not resist testing but embrace the lessons learned and submit our souls to You in the process.

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Tradition’s Grip

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Mark 7:5-9

5 The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with unwashed hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Isaiah 29:13

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.” – author unknown

Traditions can be precious when they are founded on the word of God and there is genuine understanding in keeping them.  They can also be a hindrance to our faith that pulls away from sincere love of God if we are not careful.  Bound to them by duty and not conviction is a prison which does not inspire ardent joy that we can have in Christ.  Imposing convictions as duty on others is also once again vain tradition.

That does not mean that some traditions are not worth keeping, but it is a personal decision that must be made by each soul wandering through this adventure called life.

When I was first saved, my eyes were opened to many traditions I had been following, blindly.  We do not have to be a religious person to live according to traditions.  We might not even recognize the control certain belief systems have over us and that we are ascribing mental ascent to them.

The Pharisees probably get a bad rap because of their religiosity, but I wonder how they got there.  It frightens me to think that I could drift away from a simple life hidden in Christ and become religious, instead.  Yet, it I am honest, that is the natural progression if we are not mindful.  The Pharisees were upset when they saw that the disciples were not subscribing to the ritual washing before eating.  It was shocking to them.  But where did this ritual washing come from?

At the root of the purpose of ritual washing was holiness.  Sounds good.  But was it mandated by God?  There were prescribed methods of cleansing after someone had been made unclean in the Old Testament, but no example of the exact application the pharisees were insisting on was ever commanded by God.  Their intent might have been self righteousness or religiosity, or it might have been as devout as wanting to be pure in God’s sight.  But God did not command it.  Going beyond what God has said is not being a super Christian – it is disobedience to God.  He commands us in several Scriptures to not add or subtract from His word.

It might seem silly to us today that such a rule as ritual washing was ever made, but the same spirit behind those traditions is at work today in the body of Christ.  Members of a church subscribe to certain beliefs that are based on traditions rather than God’s word. They might even be worthy traditions based on wise principles, but man-made, nonetheless.  The danger is in judging others who do not participate in the same liturgy as another.

I personally did not feel led by God to participate in a certain ministry at a church I attended.  Most other parents did.  The persecution was real.  If we are not careful, we can spin our wheels worrying about all of our traditions in the church while the unsaved all around us will perish, not wanting to get involved in our circus of religious confusion and traditions.

God has impressed upon me certain convictions that the Holy Spirit within me inspires me to follow.  They are not blind leadings, but clear impressions from the LORD.  The difference between tradition and conviction is relationship.  But even convictions can become a stumbling block if we impose them on others or put them above God’s word.  Following Christian fads is not our holiness – God is.

Lord, thank You for relating with us – sinful mankind – so that we might know You!  Thank You for not having commands which are burdensome, but a light ad a guide to us.  How amazing it is that you speak to us!  Help us to recognize when we begin to idolize traditions and to walk in purity and genuine faith in You.  I love You, LORD!

Judgment and Compassion – A Perfect Combo

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Exodus 9:19, 26, 29-30

So now, send instructions to gather your livestock and all your possessions in the fields to a safe place. Every person or animal caught in the field and not brought into the house–the hail will come down on them, and they will die!”‘”  26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was there no hail. 29 Moses said to him, “When I leave the city I will spread my hands to the LORD, the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth belongs to the LORD. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.”

What a merciful God we serve!  In this passage, we see God’s deliverance of His people as well as His rebuke of the Egyptians, who held the Israelites captive.  What is astounding to me was the mercy that God showed even the rebellious. This is such an encouragement to me, because ultimately, God showed this same mercy to us, who were His enemies. What humility and compassion.  He is not willing that any should perish.  Right in the middle of demonstrating His power to the lost, He warns them to protect themselves from His judgment!

Even amongst the unbelievers, the Bible says that the “ones who feared God were protected.  God is the God of second chances.  He is long suffering and administers discipline with a heart of love.  God’s people were also protected.  God was demonstrating that He differentiates between believers and unbelievers, but He also extends His hand of mercy that maybe some unbelievers will also see His goodness and repent.

God did not judge to condemn, but to wake us up to our folly.  The motivation of His blessing is an attempt to encourage us toward righteousness, not to alienate us.

We may not like judgment or discipline, but they are necessary to uphold righteousness.  Praise God that He always has a purpose in His judgment and that He has a Holy standard.  Praise Him that His love is unconditional and he offers grace mingled with His discipline. Perfect parenting from our perfect heavenly Father.

Lord, thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for Your correction.  Help us to walk with You and fear Your Holy Name.

Thoughtful Thursday: How to Fight

Job 15:1-9

15:2Does a wise man answer with blustery knowledge, or fill his belly with the east wind3 Does he argue with useless talk, with words that have no value in them? 4 But you even break off piety, and hinder meditation before God5 Your sin inspires your mouthyou choose the language of the crafty. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, not Iyour own lips testify against you7Were you the first man ever bornWere you brought forth before the hills8 Do you listen in on God’s secret council? Do you limit wisdom to yourself? 9 What do you know that we don’t know?  What do you understand that we don’t understand?

Job 16:2-5

16:2I have heard many things like these before.  What miserable comforters are you all3 Will there be an end to your windy words?  Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my placeI could pile up words against you and I could shake my head at you. 5 But I would strengthen you with my words; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

James 4:1-3

“Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?  2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.”

Assumptions.  Pride.  Hurt feelings.  Control.  Put any two people in a room and conflict is inevitable.  Sure, some conflicts might be more sparky, and depending on whether or not you have a fighter or a flighter, the duration and intensity can vary. Add to that the past baggage each one brings into the fray, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good old fashioned quarrel.

I do not think many people truly enjoy conflict – so why do we do it?  It is one of those necessary components of life and can actually be a very healthy thing if we do not permit bitterness, envy or vengeance to cloud our view.  At the root of every disagreement is a desire to be understood.  We want to be known and cared for – even when we do not see eye to eye. We want people to believe the best in us – even when perhaps that assessment is not accurate.

In humility, we are all flesh and even when we think we are right, we are wrong.  Wrong for wanting to be proved right, perhaps, or wrong for not caring for our brother or sister in Christ.  A constructive discussion should always contain the elements of respect, kindness and consideration.  When voices are raised, chances of being understood are vanishing quickly.  Laying down our agenda and seeking to understand is a beautiful Christ-like response when engaged in difficult conversations and can end up turning the argument into a beautiful expression of love and caring for souls.  Asking questions and refusing to pass judgment is essential.

What is our goal?  Evaluating our motives can help us to stay on track.  Why is it so important to us that we win an argument?  What are we trying to achieve?  Redemption?  Or having our way?  Frustration is a pretty good indicator of pushiness and not entrusting the process and other person’s heart to God.  Judgment and guilt trips are an indicator of someone trying to control or manipulate.  Seeking to understand why someone is hurt, however, is beautiful.

How about laying all techniques in arguing down and praying first?  Sometimes both parties need to take a reprieve and realize they are a team.  Working on a solution together and hearing every argument as valid will help bring the quarrel to a healthy resolution.  Ultimately, His glory should be our highest goal and cherishing one another and putting each other above our own needs is honoring to God and all parties.  Just as Christ served as an intermediary when we were at odds with God, sometimes we might need someone to help guide our conflicts, too, if no solution seems possible.  May we endeavor to love one another and give to Christ our deepest need to be known and accepted.

Lord, we want to honor you in every aspect of our lives.  In struggles and hurt, disagreements and pain.  Help us to die to self and to glorify You by our unity.

The Guilt Complex and False righteousness

Romans 8:1-4; 31-35, 37-39

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 Indeed,he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him,freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulersnor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 9:13-14

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

I suffer from a natural proclivity of feeling guilty.  Those who can identify with me on this know why I say suffer.  I can pick up the same sin that I have already brought before my heavenly father multiple times and feel the judgment afresh.  I cannot imagine someone willingly doing this in our court system, yet in the court process of our own minds, our guilt echoes loudly.

Perhaps recognizing that we do not deserve forgiveness can seem like a worthy, humble quality.  Indeed, we do not deserve anything but God’s wrath.  But wallowing in past mistakes does not bring God glory nor help us to walk victoriously. Instead, it saps us of strength and is yet another filthy garment, sometimes cloaked in false righteousness, as if our guilt will earn us a reward or make us feel better for the suffering that guilt incurs. Any punishment for our guilt would never earn salvation – only Christ could bear the punishment for all of our sins

Our accuser is always ready to agree with us on our wretchedness.  He and our flesh can even offer potential things to feel guilty about which are not even our own offenses.  What to do with the constant vicious cycle of judgment and guilt?  Accept God’s gift and believe Him at His word.  I, for one, do not want to doubt Him and that He has the authority to justify.  Instead of feeling sheepish about our unworthiness, such amazing forgiveness can be an incubator for a life of gratitude and serve to motivate us to live lives worthy of such lavish grace that has been given to us.

The guilt complex is just one aspect of the battle that takes place in our mind.  Unseen by those around us, it is a sharpened tool in the enemy’s arsenal to attempt to discourage Christians and lay the groundwork for us to live unproductive lives.  What a waste.  That is not why Christ died.  He died to free us not just from the sinful lifestyle, but from the guilt of our sin, too.

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!  God help us to ever allow such a salvation to become merely a means of forgiveness.  Christ carried all of our sins, all of our pain, all of our judgement that we deserved. I must pause to worship Him.  I hope you are, too.  He loves you so much and does not want His children any longer to be imprisoned by their own faulty application of what it means to accept His salvation.  No more guilt, no more judgment.  We are free indeed!

Oh God, I am overcome when I consider how great your gift is!  Help me to daily remember this undeserved forgiveness and live in a way that reflects being accepted by the King of all kings, my Lord, Jesus Christ!