Category Archives: sin

Living For More Than Self

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S – “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

O – We should take careful thought about how we walk, how we live our lives, and not just foolishly trip along, not examining our actions. We need to be wise and make the best use of our time not wasting it just living for the moment, living for ourselves. To make the best use of our time is to understand the will of the Lord. This is imperative because the days are evil. This is not Leave it to Beaver. These are evil days. People are suffering on earth, dying, and going to hell. We can’t just skip through life picking out paint colors, and drinking tea. There’s something greater going on. It’s not sinful to enjoy the gifts we have, but it is sinful to pretend that’s all there is to life. There will be no reward in heaven for just enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

A/P – Father, I need this truth in my life. I need to live for more than just taking care of our house, decorating, shopping, cleaning, eating, and going my merry way. I know this isn’t all there is. I know people all around are hurting. I know so many in the world don’t have the gifts I do. I don’t want to live like the “princess in the tower” or the “girl in a bubble”. Open my eyes to see, to give, to sacrifice, and to be willing to serve. Thank you for all the gifts you have given me! Thank you for the privilege to learn, study, and grow. Thank you for your love.

This is a message straight to me, to my heart. I pray God will help me move beyond where I am and live more wisely. 

Please share your thoughts.

Click to read about the SOAP Bible Study method. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)

 

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Being Judged Hurts

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Regret crushed my heart! I had unknowingly hurt a loved one with my judgmental attitude. She was brave enough to confront me and share her pain. I was shocked and defended myself but soon concluded that even if I didn’t remember that instance there were plenty of other times I had been disapproving and critical. God has been gradually opening my eyes for years to how judgmental and self-righteous I have been in my life especially when I was younger.

When I was young it was easy to take on a few “rules” I knew I could keep and make that my measure of what kind of Christian I was. I chose certain rules (which were emphasized in my teaching) and hid behind them. Rules like don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, stay a virgin till you’re married and go to church every week. I found I could manage these handpicked rules and got pretty good at keeping them.

Soon I was proud of the fact I kept these rules and judged those who didn’t. All the while I was blind to what Jesus Himself said were the MOST important commandments:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

I overlooked or ignored teaching such as:

“If I…do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1

“…Who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12b

“There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10

I hid behind these outward acts and “appeared” good while inside I was filled with fear, impatience, selfishness, pride, greed, and judging others.

God has patiently been pruning me and teaching me for years to show me a better way and He will continue to do so until I die. But I have to be on guard against being judgmental (I am very much aware how my righteousness is like filthy rags before God). I am realizing how people have been hurt by my judging attitude.

As I was considering how ugly my sin has been and pondered on instances when I hurt others, I started to get bogged down in feeling “unworthy”. Unworthy to teach, write or serve Him. But self-focus for any reason is not a good place to be.

God set me free with this Scripture, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6

I am not sufficient, competent, qualified or adequate in myself and I never have been. My sufficiency, adequacy, competence, or qualification comes from God and God alone. He has made me sufficient to serve Him. He has enabled me to be a minister of the new covenant. NOT because of the letter (which kills), not because I can keep the law which I can’t BUT because of the Spirit who gives life. Trying to live by the letter of the law is futile and ultimately if one is not trusting in Christ, it leads to eternal death. If a believer tries to live by the letter of the law, it leads to frustration, self-condemnation, sometimes depression and most often not being real with others.

It makes me sad that I have hurt others but God’s grace covers even that. His grace forgives the self-righteous Pharisee as well as the one whose sin is known by all. His grace covers anyone who comes to Jesus believing.

Thank you Jesus! Because of you and you alone, I am qualified to serve you! You are my sufficiency! You are my competence. You make me qualified. Dear Lord please love and serve through me. Use me in spite of my weakness. Use my weakness for your glory. I love you so much!

Originally published as “A Pointing Finger, A Fiery Tongue” at Internet Cafe Devotions

Photo courtesy of succo at Pixabay.com

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FULL Redemption

“Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” Psalm 130:7

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Unfailing love and FULL redemption. Hallelujah!

God loves us with an unfailing love. A love that can never change or be lost. A love that will go on forever. No matter what! His love is a supernatural force.

Our sin, our choice to rebel against Him, separated us from Him. But He sent His son Jesus! Jesus who is perfect. Jesus who has always been and always will be. Jesus who lived a perfect life for us and then willingly took our place and died for our wrongdoing. When He gave Himself as a sacrifice for us, He gave us FULL redemption. God doesn’t do things halfway. When we put our faith in Him and believe in Jesus we are redeemed now and forever. It is done. We belong to Him!

Praise His Holy name! I trusted Jesus as a young teen and now at age 62 I can say He has always been with me. His love is the foundation of my life. His forgiveness and grace surround me. I have never been alone. He is my strength and shield. I bring to Him my selfishness, pride, jealousy, self-seeking heart and bent toward foolishness and He gives me His wisdom and grace. I love you Jesus!

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

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Stand Firm When Evil Calls

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The call came to me

Pulling me

Just come play a little

It will feel so good

Taste so good

Come and try it

You won’t get hurt

I felt the pull

The attraction

Just come a little closer

Just a little step

You can always go back

You know you want this

Come on…
Then the whisper of God’s Spirit

Don’t listen

It’s a lie

You won’t find satisfaction there

You won’t have real fulfillment

It will end in regret

Trust Me

Let Me give you what you need

Who will I listen to?

The pull is strong

But the love of God constrains me

I have answered both before

And listening to the lie has ended in regret

But the love of Christ is always there

Welcoming me back

Yet, once the choice is made

I cannot change the results

I cannot get back what I missed by not trusting

I can only decide that today

I will trust His love.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

Photo courtesy of: Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Thoughts Out of Control

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Rein in the thoughts.

Out of control again.

Imagining rejection magnified.

Projecting out to the worst case.

Assuming motivations.

Judging motives.

Inviting self-pity.

Beating dead horses.

Learn and let go.

Believe the best of others.

Trust God.

Rest in redemption.

Give grace without question.

Cover it all, Jesus.

Cover it all with grace.

And you have.

All the brokenness.

All the selfish choices.

All the regrets.

The weakness I have right now.

At this moment, I don’t measure up

And that is covered by grace also.

Oh, the powerful blood of Jesus.

How can I realize all it has done for me?

The resurrection sealed my freedom.

Freedom from condemnation.

From having to answer for the stubborn wilfulness of my heart.

Jesus answered for me.

Perfect sacrifice.

Willingly given.

For one who was born thinking of self most.

My heart is yours.

Remake me.

Jesus, shine in spite of my weakness.

Shine more because of it.

My weakness allows your power

To be strong in me.

Shine Jesus.

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Photos courtesy of Pixabay

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you,for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

We all struggle with out of control thoughts and feeling broken and weak. Share your struggles here or at Living By Grace.

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Please Don’t Give Me What I Deserve!

“Hey! I have a right to be in this lane. Get out of my way!”

“Why is my pizza cold? I have a right to receive it hot and fresh. I paid for it.”

“Why isn’t my cable operating? I have a right to good service.”

We love to talk about rights in our culture. We feel entitled to many things. We deserve to be happy. We believe we have the right to everything from unhindered access while driving to being first in line at the grocery store to having our family the way we want them. After all, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t we? 

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But do we deserve all that? To “deserve” means to be worthy, to have a claim to or be qualified for (reward or punishment), to be entitled to. It implies that we have earned this right.

What have we earned the right to experience?

The Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10 and “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a

Since we are all sinners and the wages of sin is death, what we have “earned” the right to is death. What each human being “deserves” is eternal separation from God. This truth is what makes Psalm 103:10 some of the most wonderful words ever written:

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Praise God He does not give us what we deserve!

Why not? He is perfect and holy. He has the right to punish our sins.

Instead He chose to rescue us. He sent Jesus, His perfect Son, as a baby who would grow up, suffer and die for us as hopeless sinners. Why would He do that?

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him.” Psalm 103: 8,11 

His great love gives us what we don’t deserve.

I have brief moments when I think I am good. Than in an instant I am filled with envy, jealousy, unkindness or selfishness so much that I know I don’t deserve His grace. My heart apart from Him is wicked.

Those moments help me realize that I don’t “deserve” anything but I am given grace in everything. 

That He could love me in spite of knowing what my sinful heart is like overwhelms me.

     Father, thank you for loving me so much you were willing to send Jesus to die for my sins. Thank you that you do not give me what I deserve. Thank you that I am free from the penalty of my sin. Nothing can compare to you! I cling to your grace. I rest in your abundant love.

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Under Attack!

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“You’ve blown it as a parent.”

You’ve wasted so much of your life, you are such a failure!”

“You call yourself a Christian; look at all the people you ignored over the years. Look at all the missed opportunities.”

“You blew it!”

“You failed.”… Have you ever had thoughts like these bombard your mind? Recently, I was struggling with these thoughts coming to my mind like so many artillery shells. One zinger, “I can’t believe you are 61 years old and you are just learning (insert recent revelation).” I was overwhelmed with my own self-focus, contaminating pride, laziness, and weaknesses. As I was getting in the car one morning, the song “Greater” by MercyMe was in my mind. As I was about to turn on the ignition, these lyrics went through my head, “And greater is the One living inside of me than he who is living in the world” I turned on the car and those exact lyrics were playing on the radio! Some would count this as a coincidence but as one who believes in and follows Jesus, I have learned there are no coincidences and when something like this happens; it is God giving me a message. But I didn’t really examine it at that time. Later that day I was sharing my struggles with my dear friend and prayer partner and she said, “That’s the enemy! God does not talk to us like that.” Then it was like a light going off in my heart and I remembered the song God brought to my attention. Later I read all the lyrics and realized all He was saying. I was under attack and the enemy was filling my heart with his accusations and reminders of my sin. But the blood of Jesus Christ has covered my sin! As it says in Ephesians 1:7-8a “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.

I then realized when the attack started. A few weeks ago God spoke to me through a sermon at my church. I took the challenge to give God the first minutes of my day to pray. Not just a brief prayer but a sacrificial time to seek God apart from all distractions. I started getting up earlier than usual to pray and it was a blessed time. But things came against me, I missed a few days and then I spent a week under this attack. The enemy did not want me to spend that time in prayer! That tells me how important it is. When the enemy attacks, it feels like oppression not conviction. The Holy Spirit will convict of a specific sin and call us to repent of that. He does not oppress us with a general feeling of failure and condemnation. I praise God for His love, His forgiveness and His grace. And I thank Him for this song.

Are you under attack?

Are you feeling condemned and overwhelmed by your sin? If you feel that conviction but you have never given your heart to Jesus, know this truth from Romans 10:9-10,

If you declare with you mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And once you are His, Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Once we belong to Jesus, when we sin, He promises in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Once He cleanses us, our sins are gone. They are wiped away. The enemy condemns; Jesus leads us to life.

If you belong to Jesus and you are convicted of sin, confess it and move on yielding to Him. If there is a general sense of condemnation and accusation, that is the enemy! Resist him!

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 Meditate on the truth of Scripture. Spend time praising God. Pray and tell the devil to leave you alone. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 Praise God for the victory!

 

 

 

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