The work…

The work has been done.

God’s work has been done — it is full and complete. Jesus did it all for you and for me.

We don’t have to strive. We don’t have to figure out how to be acceptable. We don’t have to beat ourselves up. We don’t have to listen to satan’s lies and deception any longer.

It is finished. We are free to rest in God’s goodness, and in God’s deliverance. Jesus bore the brunt of it all and paved the way for each of us.

It is a relief that, because of Jesus, I am worthy. I am God’s creation. And yes, of course there is sin and sadness, there is pain and regret. But, there is salvation. There is more to come.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for walking that walk. Thank you for your sacrifice for me. Thank you for the gift of New Life! Amen.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness.

Psalm 51: 13 – 19

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness.

Sin is sin. The earthly consequences often differ, but in the end, we are all guilty.

I believe satan loves to poke and needle the guilty. He wants us to never forget our sins. And his goal seems to be to interrupt or delay the recognition of our sin as sin and distract us from going to our Deliverer.

Have you ever been stuck in the cycle of sin-guilt-shame-hiding-isolation- discouragement-frustration-anger-distance-sin? It might look a little different in your life, but this type of cycle does not produce healing. Somewhere in the cycle needs to be the confession-forgiveness-deliverance!

Don’t let yourself be fooled by satan and his tactics. The world certainly gives us every reason to justify our behavior. We have been through a lot recently and it looks like things aren’t easing up just yet. But God — He longs to restore and renew us. Daily confession brings daily deliverance. What a beautiful way to start a new day!

Take not your Holy Spirit from me

Psalm 51: 7-12

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Another gut wrenching plea. The weight of our sin in unbearable except for Jesus’ work.

But, if I am honest, sometimes the weight of my sin doesn’t impact me to the core as much as someone else’s. How could that be? I think it is my sinful nature coming through along with the whispering lies of satan.

I am confident in God’s love, care, and provision for me. I am very confident. And yet I vacillate between the gravity of my sin and the work done for me. It’s difficult to hold both of those at the same time.

Do you struggle with this, too?

Restore to me the joy of your salvation.

Psalm 51: 7-12

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation.

It’s been a long few years. And things are getting a little more unsettled with what is happening in Europe. Whether or not we are experiencing the same challenges as our neighbors, it is disheartening to watch things around us.

Internal joy is not dependent on external circumstances. And, of course, the joy of salvation is such a different thing altogether. It’s above and beyond and yet I don’t think I consider it on a daily basis.

The joy of your salvation.

The word restore indicates that the joy has been there. Being separated from God should break us. And that brokenness makes us miserable. And that is evident to those around us.

Joy is contagious! And the joy of salvation? It’s certainly a cause for celebration. And once you know that particular joy, knowing that you have separated yourself from it can rock you to your core.

Lord, let me comprehend the weight of my sin but, in confession to You, bring it all. And allow You to wash it clean, renew my spirit, and restore my joy! Amen.

Renewing

Have you ever turned trash into a treasure? Little kids like to repurpose things —

  • a stick becomes a sword
  • acorns become soup
  • paper towel tubes become trumpets
  • a treehouse becomes a castle on a hill
  • a piece of fabric is used as a cape, skirt, or royal robe

The list is only limited by our imagination. Some kids are born to think outside of the box. And maybe we all were born to think outside of the box — but we have forgotten how!

God works outside of the box on a regular basis. He takes things that we consider useless and worthless and can make them invaluable. In His hands, what is considered ugly can actually bring about something beautiful. It doesn’t mean the ugly wasn’t ugly, but God can still work with it and use it to bring about a greater purpose.

Lord, remind me that you are the business of renewing me and my sinful patterns. It’s hard for me to get out of those ruts that seem to entangle me. Help me see that transformational work. And when I can’t see the benefits, help me to trust in You anyway. Throughout history you have proven yourself. Help me to see it in my own life and be willing to share it with others! Amen.

The Stain of Sin

I have been sinning since the beginning of my time. I still sin. It is a part of my human condition but I have been working on my stuff. I can say “I am sorry”. I can ask for forgiveness. I can work on not sinning, and yet, I still sin. I know God forgives me for the large and small sins and wipes it clean away but, in this world, the stain of sin can remain, for a lifetime.

And that can be a lifetime of me being needled by satan. He loves to try to condemn, particularly those who have been forgiven. The devil wants to wrestle away my peace that passes all human understanding and convince me that I am stained and unusable, that His healing work can’t possibly work through this mess.

This mess of me.

But God can and He does. He can do it for you too! Lord, let me focus on Your work of healing. Let me trust You to work on the stains of my sin. I know you see me through the beauty and perfection of Jesus, but sometimes the world can see my stains and I feel condemned all over again!

Thank you for your gift of Jesus and His sacrifice on my behalf! Amen.

From God the Father, virgin-born

From God the Father, virgin-born
To us the only Son came down;
By death the font to consecrate,
The faithful to regenerate.

Beginning from His home on high,
In human flesh He came to die;
Creation by His death restored,
And shed new joys of life abroad.

Glide on, O glorious Sun, and bring
The gift of healing on Your wing;
To eve’ry dull and clouded sense
The clearness of Your light dispense.

Abide with us, O Lord, we pray;
The gloom of darkness chase away;
Your work of healing, Lord, begin,
And take away the stain of sin.

Lord, once You came to earth’s domain
And, we believe, shall come again;
Be with us on the battlefield,
From ev’ry harm Your people shield.

To You, O Lord, all glory be
For this Your blest epiphany;
To God, whom all His hosts adore,
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Wounds & Scars

It’s been raining here in southern Indiana since Thursday. Sometimes it is a light rain and sometimes it is pelting and intense, but it has been pretty regular for days. It always feels right to me when there is rain during this part of Holy Week. It symbolizes the tears and anguish during the actual week as the events unfolded.

It also represents my own tears:

  • For the things I have done.
  • For the things I have left undone.
  • For the times I intentionally caused pain to others because of my own pain.
  • For the loss.
  • For the shame.
  • For the grief.
  • For the profound sadness.

The wounds and scars of Jesus remind me of my own, at times. Of course, He endured His for me, for all of us. He had no sin but was sin for us. My wounds and scars are just as real, but some were caused by my own sin in addition to the injury caused by others. Jesus takes on sin that isn’t His.  He wipes those tears and takes my guilt and shame as His own. His wounds are Holy and allow me to stand in front of the Holiest.

And then the tears fall again:

  • For the forgiveness.
  • For the relief.
  • For the thankfulness.
  • For the love.
  • For the saving grace.

All the tears for all the reasons.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV]

May you fix your eyes on Jesus — Sunday is coming!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: Inside/Outside

Mindfulness

I have been trying to be more mindful about a lot of things but it is exhausting. It takes a lot of thinking and planning to be more intentional. And since I can only be more mindful about a few things at a time, I need to choose wisely. What deserves my focus? I can’t possibly be intentional about everything. So I struggle with balancing what is vital with what would be nice as well as how to go about it.

Recently I have been working on mindful eating. I know, I know – this is a First World problem. For some reason, this is my challenge. And definitely a work in progress but I need to find a good groove for this because I do travel quite a bit these days and that can be a challenge if I have not given it some thought. So I have tried to break it down a bit. Maybe whatever you are being more mindful about can fit in these categories. Or, please feel free to share how you are thinking through and acting on the things that are important to you!

WHAT – having a meal and snack plan is important. I need to have healthy snacks as well as healthy meals but I also have a budget. Thinking through my meals and making s

WHEN – These days, I can’t have a meal late without feeling yucky so I like to finish my last meal by 7pm, and then no snacks afterwards. I like to be in bed around 9pm or so because my day starts early.

WHERE – I have to admit that there is quite a bit of snacking in the car, particularly if I am trying to stay awake. Once in a while we are trying to push through and we might even eat a meal while driving. I am sure this isn’t a great plan. The other thing I need to work on is since our dining room table always has work project on it, it isn’t always ready to eat on. I don’t like that. I need find a better system so I can eat at our table.

WHY – This might sound crazy but I do need to think a little more about why I am eating. Am I really hungry? Am I bored? Is everyone else doing it? Does it just taste sooo good? Or am I automatically doing it without any thought? Have you ever been to a nice, satisfying dinner and then went out for a movie and bought popcorn and had a bucketful? It’s crazy…but we do it. Somehow it seems like going to the movies automatically means having popcorn. Now, I don’t go to the movies except for, maybe, once a year but the above scenario is a great example of mindless eating!

HOW – I have a tendency to eat too fast – so building in time to relax and enjoy a meal S-L-O-W-L-Y is important for digestion but I have either waited too long (and then I am too hungry) or I have some other task I need to accomplish. Being mindful about pace is important for me. I love the idea of “slow food” cooking but maybe I just need to think about “slow food” eating???

HOW MUCH – For me, this is my extra challenge. But eating more slowly will help me eat less. Serving portions in restaurants are large and I need to be more mindful when ordering but also as I am eating. Leaving food behind (if I can’t take it with me for later) is better than just eating it so I don’t “waste” it!

Really now, bring mindful about food requires that much thought? Apparently, for me, it does.

What are you being more mindful about these days?

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:15-25, NIV]

May God bless your day!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: DIRECTION

Uprooted

Have you driven by a wooded area and noticed large trees, roots and all, just lying down? That would be an amazing thing to watch happen. It is interesting that something so tall and so old can just tip over. Ground saturation usually plays a role and I am sure there is a lot to it but it is such an interesting visual.

Have you ever felt like your life was uprooted? Maybe you were in a terrible situation and, even though the change was good, it was change all the same and was distressing.

Or maybe you made the decision to make the change. I always think that when the ball is in my court that it feels better. Or at least it was a bit within my control. But it still is a process and requires a lot of steps.

It seems harder to be completely uprooted these days – even if your “new” life is across the ocean there is an ability to maintain a connection. Sometimes that is good and sometimes it is not so good. You can be tugged back into the “old” when you need to venture forth into the “new”.

Ever try to break free of a particular sin and find it, seemingly, dragging you back into “service”? You try to cut it down, root it out, and then it sprouts up again. You try to leave it behind but it finds ways to catch up with you.

I know we all have sin in our lives – some of them we have just co-existed with over the years because we have numbed ourselves to the reality that it is sin. Today, focus on one area that seems to trouble you and ask God to show you where the root is. Put some time and intentional focus and prayer into this sin that seems to follow you to every job or friendship or place you live and see what you can do to root it out.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. [Colossians 2:6-8, NIV]

God’s blessings to you as you consider what needs to be uprooted in your life.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: THE LAW

Forgiveness

I opened my mouth the other day and something really ungracious came out. I realized it immediately and reminded myself, also out loud, that God’s grace for me has been unending. I, too, have behaved in ugly, hurtful ways and yet, He loves me. I need to extend that grace.

Sometimes my memory isn’t the greatest, but when I have been wronged, my memory is amazing. I can remember the circumstances, the emotions, the damage. It can put me on a sad path. Surely others I have known over my lifetime can remember my hurtful and selfish behavior that has impacted them. Maybe I am even someone they need to re-forgive on a regular basis.

In my ungracious moments, I need to remember that I took this situation to God and I gave it to Him. I asked him to help me see that person as broken, in need of forgiveness, and to help me not get stuck in a cycle of anger and resentment over the circumstances. I may have already walked through the process of forgiveness but some vestiges have hung on. I need to loosen the grip of my justification for my anger and forgive again.

The trouble is, these are some of the things I don’t seem to forget.  Remembering and walking through the steps of forgiveness and God’s provision in the process help me remember that I, too, have hurt others deeply and it keeps me honest about my own need for forgiveness. Every day I need to be reminded that I need of a Savior washed clean by Baptismal grace.

I am not proud of my ugly moments, but they serve a greater purpose. My mouth speaks what my heart is holding onto. And it is important for God’s Word to shine in my heart and change me, and my responses.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. [Matthew 12:34b-35, NIV]

An interesting thought from author Seth Godin today:

You made my day

When your day gets made, how long does it last? A made day–is that different from a normal day?

Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a made hour or, if we’re going to be quite truthful, a made minute.

When something bad happens, we can revisit the humiliation and anxiety for months. But the good stuff, if we don’t work at it, can pass right by.

We get what we remember, and we remember what we focus on.

May God bless you as you come to terms with your own sin and forgiveness as you process unforgiveness you may harbor against others!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TIME