Release from Self-condemnation

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Willing To Be Made Willing

Week 5  Trust and Know

Day 32

Willing To Be Made Willing

as his perfect happiness cannot be separated from his perfect holiness, so our happiness will be in proportion to our being made holy.
Matthew Henry[i]


f we trust God and know He is sovereign in power and love, then of course we are willing to follow Him. Hesitancy to follow the Lord’s lead has its roots in lack of trust along with a ridiculous but deadly desire to go our own way. 

When we struggle with obedience, we may become aware that situations from childhood have influenced our current negative behaviors. We may approach the Lord with excuses from the past in hand, expecting him to say something like this: “Well, you really have had an unusually difficult time, no wonder you are having so much trouble now.” 

This is not at all how the Lord responds to our tendency to blame other people for our own wrongdoings. The root problem is sin, not that of others, but our own. We fear judgment because we have judged; we have placed blame (judgment) upon those we perceive to have contributed to our unhappiness. 

We attempt to correct our own behavior, and miss the point. My own thoughts went something like this: “Maybe I should spend more time in praise; maybe I haven’t expressed my love for God adequately.” But resentment toward other people is not a flag for an area in which we do not love God as we should, it highlights an area in which we do not obey God as we should. Lack of obedience is sin, and it is sin—our own, not that of other human beings—that separates us from an awareness of God’s abiding presence with us.   

The remedy for disobedience is discipline, not a discipline of our own making, but submission to the Lord’s lead. We dishonor Him with our fear of His discipline and resist His rule in our lives through disobedience. We look to our own wisdom and offer Him gifts of our own making, but it is a worldly thought that self-discipline can accomplish God’s work. Only discipline from on high can yield fruit fit for Heaven. 

We are afraid of the Lord’s rebuke, but remember, when He tucked Elijah into the cleft in the rock, Elijah did not hear God’s voice in the storm or the fire. God came to him gently, quietly.[ii] Acceptance of Christ as Savior has put us in a protected place; God is our shelter from the storm and shade from the heat.[iii] If He doesn’t allow other voices to scald us, do we think He will consume us with fiery anger Himself? He will not. Do not fear the voice of His rebuke; His discipline cleanses. 

 Pray: Lord, please forgive me for judging others. Forgive me for trying to discipline myself in an attempt to avoid Your discipline. Forgive me for following plans of my own making so as to avoid submitting to Your plan. Show me how to proceed; I really don't know how to make myself willing. I don't think I can do even that. Please make me willing to submit to You, in Jesus' Name I pray. Please enable me to be disciplined in You.  Father, please set my heart free!  Amen.


I will run in the way of your commandments, when you enlarge my heart (for you set my heart free…)[iv]
 Psalm 119:32

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
    be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth…
 Isaiah 54:4

[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on 1 John 1, public domain.
[ii] 1 Kings 19:11-13
[iii] Isaiah 25:4
[iv] Italacized portion is from the footnote alternate translation of the ESV

Monday, January 30, 2017

Behind and Before

Week 5  Trust and Know

Day 31

Behind and Before

You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
Psalm 139:5  NLT


his phrase awoke me from a sound sleep at 2:30 a.m.:  "You can be of no use to your loved ones apart from obedience."  

I stumbled into my study room, curled up on the little sofa, and pulled my computer onto my lap. I know I don't have to record my conversations with the Lord in writing, but it is the way I process my thoughts most clearly, and at 2:30 a.m. I very much felt in need of clarity.  

"Well, I am angry," I wrote. And then I kept writing for quite a long time. I talked about the injustices of, among other things, a twelve-year stint of caregiving for my Alzheimer’s mom. I expounded on the subject of grief over all I'd hoped to do with my life and about a really uncomfortable struggle to lay it all down for the Lord. I ended with an extensive list of things that seemed unfair. Then...

Lord:  Are you done?

Linda:  I guess. Obedience is another word for survival for me now, isn’t it? You have got to show me how to anesthetize my pain in You so I can break free of overeating. 

Lord:  A time of grief is not the time to diet. This has been just a brief interlude in the midst of your obedience journey, and is actually a part of the journey itself. Do not be afraid. 

Linda:  I cannot toss my common sense out the window, Lord...

Lord:  I am giving you your heart's desire; will you trust Me?  I know your heart better than you do.  Trust in your heart precedes obedience in your actions.  

 Linda:  I will trust You.  

Lord:   Sometimes the “freedom doorway” doesn’t look like what it is. Satan has shouted “Servitude!  You have been taken for granted and despised!”  But I tell you this: you have been loved. Submit to Me and I will lift you up. Release your fear of the future. You are not being locked into a box, you are being invited to cross a threshold. You can't see what lies beyond, but I am there, and you will be well pleased.  

God has saved us through our belief in what Christ has done,[i] and He looks at our hearts ahead of our actions. It is belief that fuels our trust in God, and trust is the necessary foundation of obedience to Him. Through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, the God of all creation inhabits the past, present and future. It is safe to place our trust in Him.

Pray: Father, today so many circumstances in our world seem out of control.  Grief threatens, loss seems inevitable, and our hearts have been broken. We bring our brokenness to You and place our trust for the future in You. Forgive us for anticipating sorrow in a future we can’t see.  Help us to live in You today, and trust You for the future for ourselves and for those we love so dearly, in Jesus’ Name, amen.


It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8  

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.[ii] 
From the Hymn Great is thy Faithfulness 

[i] Romans 10:9
[ii] Great is Thy Faithfulness. Words: Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923. Music: William M. Runyan, 1923.