Release from Self-condemnation

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

Thursday, January 5, 2017

First Comes Love

Week 1  Abide and Rest

Day 6 

First Comes Love

When we enter into God’s presence through the doorway marked grace, our hearts melt with sorrow over the ways we have hurt Him. In repentance we are overwhelmed with love and desire to please Him. No human effort can accomplish this cleansing that follows repentance; it arrives by grace alone, grace that flows with the tide of the shed Blood of Christ. Our response to God’s overwhelming love is the place obedience is born.
 fast from the world’s distractions is restful, but if those distractions have been used as a way to keep uncomfortable issues at bay, unwelcome emotions may arise. When we walk "according to the flesh,"[i] barriers are erected that numb our emotions, and although we don’t intend it, our hearts are hardened toward those we love. We simply don’t want to feel their pain or our own.

One way to keep these protective barriers erected is by numbing spiritual perception through overeating. But when we abide in the sustaining comfort of God’s presence, we can be brave to share His clear vision of our loved ones' hurts and our own. Our hearts don’t have to bleed for them, and we don't have to die for them; Jesus has borne the weight of our sorrows. It is better to be strengthened to bear a burden than it is to retreat in weakness and failure. Abiding in Jesus strengthens us to bear knowledge of the sorrows around us, and the sweetness of His comfort is better than the choicest food. [ii]

Now is the time to invite a prayer partner or two to accompany you on this journey. In Exodus 17 there is an account of a battle against the nation of Amalek. The Israelites prevail only when Moses holds up his staff, but when he becomes weary his friends, Aaron and Hur, stand on either side of him and hold his arms in place, ushering the Israelites to victory. Moses couldn’t win his battle alone and neither can we; praying for others and receiving their prayers in return can anoint our spirits with comfort. A brownie will bring no lasting benefit, but the prayer of a friend eases craving for counterfeit pleasures that will not bring lasting sustenance. 

We need those prayerful friends because the devil doesn’t like our efforts toward freedom. There will be difficulties. During the beginning days of my own 100-day journey, I was frustrated by debilitating lower back pain although I had been doing everything right. One evening during this time I was pouting before the Lord--there is really no other way to describe it--when a memory popped into my head. At Wal-Mart I had seen a little boy kicking and beating his father, who, with a calm expression on his face, was carrying the child toward their car. The little boy was screaming, "I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!!!" The dad just cradled his child in his arms, dodged blows, and did not look angry, but perhaps tired and a little resigned. I wondered whether my pouting made the Lord Himself feel tired and a little resigned with me! He might have been thinking, "It really doesn't take much at all to throw you off track, does it?" 

Obedience is a response and not an initiative. We don’t have to mount a grand obedience effort (jaws clenched, minds determined). Instead, as we rest in the Lord, His love ignites our own. Obedience flows from our love for Him, a love that exists because He first loved us. 

Pray:  I come before you, Lord, and I see myself in Your eyes. My very DNA is sin-tainted and corrupted. Re-knit me in Your Holy likeness, cleanse away the dross, remake Your perfection in me. Like spun gold, Your song weaves a melody of transformation, knitting me together with threads that will never decay. The old falls away like shreds of a decayed garment, and I walk away in newness of life.  Praise You Lord!
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

[i] Romans 8:5
[ii] Psalm 119:103

Week Two

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