Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


I'm grateful to remember that the Lord's blessings don't depend on anything I can do, but upon what He has done. And I'm relieved that because of His grace, He does not withhold blessings from me even if I fail in some good resolution or plan I've placed before myself.  But tomorrow morning, I'm going to turn off my wireless access and open my heart to the Lord ahead of the responsibilities of my day, not because I love Him (and I do) but because He has loved me; blessed be His Name.


Week 1  Abide and Rest
Day 1

Rest. Rest. Rest in God’s love. The only work you are required now to do is give your most intense attention to His still, small voice within.
 –Madam Guyon[i]

First—ahead of it all—rest in the Lord. Only as you find your rest in Him will you have energy and strength for the tasks in your path. Shut out the world’s influences and listen to Him. Listening is an act of your will, and is more active than doing nothing. And yet, as you rest in His Presence, physical rest will come as well.


et’s begin our 100-day journey with seven days of rest.  Mark 6:31 says, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while...” Synonyms for the word "desolate" are deserted, isolated, and bleak; and yet we sense God's waiting presence in the silence; He waits for us to come unto Him. 

Make yourself a place apart. Most of us can't randomly decide to rest for seven days, but understand that spiritual rest does not require physical rest; if you are traveling this path with me please recognize that getting up an hour early to spend time with the Lord prior to a busy day is a viable way of finding rest in Him. However, if you are able, clear as many responsibilities as possible for this seven-day period so that physical and spiritual rest may coincide. 

In prayer, inquire of the Lord. What duties and responsibilities would He have you set aside for this one week of time? Your list will differ from mine. Don’t dismiss that first thought that comes when you begin to pray; allow the Lord to grant you respite in ways you may think are not possible. These are not rules to follow:

You are not under the law, with its inexorable Do,
but under grace, with its blessed
 Believe what Christ will do for you.
–Andrew Murray[ii]

Here are possible elements of these seven days of rest:

1) Increase your intake of God's Word (see appendix 1 for suggested weekly memory verses, and appendix 2 for a year through the Bible reading plan).  
2)  Seek Him first--before email, work projects, to-do lists, etc.; give your daily time with the Lord priority above all else.
3) Limit screen time. Consider a one-week fast from all unnecessary online activity, TV, movies, etc. Discipline yourself to check social media sites only one time a day, and for a limited amount of time. 
4) Purpose to spend a regular early morning time with the Lord in your own "desolate" place where "...the only work you are required now to do is to give your most intense attention to His still, small voice within.”
5) Rest this week from intense physical exercise. If this is nearly impossible for you, faith in health habits may have insidiously moved ahead of faith in the Lord's power to protect and preserve; and you will need to repent. If you usually run/bike/swim each day, this week cut your exercise to a daily fifteen minute stroll during which you observe and are nurtured by the beauty of God's creation. For many people this abstinence from working out amounts to a fast. Don't let anything—not even your morning sit-ups—come before prayer, praise, Scripture, and meditation on how you are to apply God's direction to your life. This is one week of discipline that will provide physical and spiritual rest.

During this seven days we will begin to exercise the discipline of putting the Lord first, before all else in our lives. We will rest physically as much as possible, and spiritually by committing the first segment of each day to His presence. 

Pray:  Dear Lord, teach me the discipline of rest. Help me to run straight to Your arms when I am upset. Melt my resistance to Your rule in my life as I abide in Your great love. Amen. 


…for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

[i] Madam Jeanne Guyon’s public domain works can be accessed online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library:
[ii] Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ, public domain


For 100 days, beginning January 1, 2017, this blog will feature a devotion from my new book, One Hundred Days to Freedom: Release From the Self-Condemnation of Overweight. This isn't a program that must be followed every single day in order to reap benefit; feel free to visit just once in awhile. Each devotion can stand alone, and the Holy Spirit will quicken your heart to receive blessing even if you are able to stop by only occasionally.

The devotions aren't just for folks who are overweight. As the back cover says, "This book is for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings."

I'll post each day's devotion the evening before so that early risers or middle-of-the-night-wanderers can have access according to their schedules.  

Today's reading is the book's preface (I've called it a prelude as you'll see below). God bless each person who reads these words, in Jesus' Name, by the Holy Spirit's power; amen!



Let heaven and earth stand amazed at his love.
Matthew Henry[i]

 prelude is the melodic beginning of a musical composition, while a preface introduces a book. However, the term “prelude” is appropriate as we sense the beginning strains of the melody of our freedom journey; it is the music of our love for God, love that is released like a hidden spring from our hearts by the power of His great love for us. And so ahead of any determination to gain mastery over health habits and weight, let’s focus on abiding in His love.   

We are being groomed to bear much fruit for God’s kingdom; this requires His virtuosity and our cooperation. We tend to reverse this process as we devise good plans for our own lives and then ask the Creator of the universe to cooperate with us.

We are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind,[ii] and so we bind ourselves with cords of determination as an athlete might lace up a pair of running shoes. We are grimly prepared to strive with valiant effort to do a good job of loving God, but we err. Praise is a release, not a weight to be lifted; delight in the Lord is a gift we give, not a burden to bear. Our job is not to work hard at loving God more, but to put ourselves in a position where we can know more of His love. It is God’s love for us that sparks our love for Him.

Our lives are difficult, our burdens many; we are earthbound and can’t see with human eyes the hope to which we are called. With the Psalmist we might ask, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”[iii] The answer to this heart cry is that loving God is not about us, or our circumstances, or the state of our hearts; it is about God and what He has required us to do. We resist opening our hearts because we want to make things right in our own strength, ahead of the vulnerability of allowing Him full access to all our hidden places. But in truth, failure to come into God’s presence with praise on our lips and delight in our hearts is disobedience that requires repentance. Diligent effort will not enable us to purge ourselves of sin; cleansing from sin is the exclusive domain of Christ.   

When we finally open our hearts to God without reservation, delight is the natural response. We don’t need to conjure emotion any more than we would have to pretend a smile in response to an adorable child, because the Lord is beautiful.  Human eyes could not bear His brilliance and beauty; we must view Him with the eyes of our hearts in the place we have learned to call imagination. Not our earthbound imagination run wild (which will gravitate to the thrill of the free fall of sin), but the Holy Spirit guided imagination that affords us the best view of heavenscapes physical eyes cannot perceive.

Ahead of it all, let’s fall in love with Jesus all over again.


And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
 Matthew 22:35-37

Week One
[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on 1 John 4:14-21, public domain.
[ii] Matthew 22:35-37
[iii] Psalm 137:4