Release from Self-condemnation

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Provision Along the Way

Week 9  God’s Love for Us

Day 59

Provision Along the Way

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.
Psalm 138:7-8 KJV


any years ago, I read Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. I was young, and the symbolism was not always clear to me, but one idea took firm hold; we are all travelers through this life. 

Our lives are in a constant state of change, and with the clarity that comes from truth as revealed through Jesus, we accept that this world offers no permanent place of happiness. We have learned not to hold too tightly to material things because the Lord calls us to find our heart homes in Him. Lives lived for Jesus become allegories of His years of ministry, and we remember that our Lord traveled from town to town with no earthly place to call home. However, God provided for His Son’s needs; Jesus had both spiritual[i] and physical food,[ii] money to pay His taxes,[iii] and rest when His body was weary.[iv] We may be sojourners—people whose stay here in this world is temporary—but we can be sure that when we follow in our Savior’s footsteps, God will provide for us.  

Jesus has not only forged a path for us to our Heavenly home, He walks along beside us on our way. He has promised not to leave us on our own, and no matter what our circumstances may be, we hear Him say, “I am with you.” 

We live here for now and are allowed transient moments of joy, but our true happiness awaits us in Heaven.  When our earthbound paths hold challenges that seem too difficult to face, God’s Word provides Spirit-breathed refreshment.

Psalm 138 provides rich encouragement for the sojourner:

"... for you have exalted above all things your name and your word" (v. 2).

"On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased" (v. 3).

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life" (v. 7).  

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me..." (v. 8 KJV).  

God is sovereign over every circumstance of our lives. When we call on His Name, he responds and grants strength. Even if we are in trouble of our own making, the Lord is with us and will deliver us as we invite Him into the situation. Most encouraging of all, the Lord is able to take our bumbling efforts and inbreathe them with the Holy Spirit's perfecting power. Thus our tiniest positive effort results in the advancement of His Holy work.  

Praise God for His constant presence with us, His delivering power, and for the ways He smooths our rough edges! Incredibly, His redeeming power makes us fit for His Kingdom as we travel the path He blazed for us. Blessed be His Holy Name!

Pray:  Lord, You know I am weary, please strengthen me. You know I have sinned, please forgive me. You know the way seems too difficult for me; please encourage my heart. I praise and thank You for strength, forgiveness, and encouragement through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of Father God. I affirm that my hope is for Heaven’s joy, but I taste that joy now because You are with me. I praise Your Name. Amen. 


The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.
Psalm 138:7

[i] John 4:32
[ii] Matthew 14:13-21
[iii] Matthew 17:27
[iv] Mark 4:38

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fall Back Into His Love

Week 9  God’s Love for Us

Day 58

Fall Back Into His Love

We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs are all against us; but as to his own people, even that which seems evil, is for good. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, or the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith; the end he has promised, which will be the best for them.[i]
Matthew Henry


rief and worry over distressing situations can interfere with our awareness of God’s great love. It is good to remember that although life circumstances and our fellow human beings may trample our hopes and threaten our dreams, nothing can interfere with God’s love-directed plans for us.

Our responses to frustrating life events are often sinful and self-defeating. We show God our disapproval of His decisions by snatching pleasures He has not provided, as though to administer our own balm to wounds of disappointment. We search the pantry for something that will satisfy and, like petulant children, refuse to find our refreshment in the God who has withheld some pleasure or asked for a sacrifice we do not want to give.

When Jesus called Lazarus to come out of the tomb, the ever-practical Martha pointed out that three days had passed and the body would smell. Indeed, something that was once alive and is now dead does smell, and there is a spiritual stench around dead dreams to which we stubbornly cling beyond the time any hope of their fulfillment has passed. We must come before the Lord with hearts willing to release the secret hopes that He has not chosen to inbreathe with life, because apart from Him, we can accomplish nothing.[ii] There is no benefit in keeping a dead body of thwarted plans; it only occupies space that should be dedicated to the Lord. God has made our hearts holy by setting His Spirit to dwell within us, and something that is unclean should not be allowed to inhabit holy ground.

But it isn’t so easy. Sometimes, especially as we grow older, we fight against the death of our ideas of the way we thought things would be. We may find it impossible to let go of past dreams and move forward into circumstances God has chosen for us. The Lord’s response to our inability to shake off the old and welcome the new might be something like this: "It is very true you can't do this, but I can.  You have only to entrust yourself into My hands and allow Me to work through you." 

In God’s economy, nothing is wasted, and we serve a God who is able to resurrect lost dreams. But, as Christ said, just as a seed must fall into the ground and die before it can sprout forth with new life, we must release our ways for God’s. This exchange can feel a lot like a death, and it is not wrong to grieve. But although it feels counterintuitive, we must recognize that falling back into God’s arms (rather than plunging forward in our own strength) is the most expedient way to the new life He has promised.

Perhaps we will experience the joy and healing Naomi felt when her beloved daughter-in-law, Ruth, placed her firstborn son into Naomi's arms.[iii] Maybe we will be workers, like sensible Martha (I’m always comforted to remember that Scripture says that Jesus loved Martha despite all her bustling and worriment).[iv] And by God’s grace, we may become more like Mary, who loved to sit at Jesus' feet.[v]

Whatever the plans of the God who loves us more than we can comprehend, we can be certain that when we exchange our goals for His, we will be blessed beyond anything we could have dreamed for ourselves. 

Prayer:  Father God, I entrust my future into Your hands. Please forgive me for seeking comfort in sources not of You, and show me how to find all my needs met in You. Show me how to remain steadfast in honoring You in my behavior even when I am lonely, hungry, or tired; teach me not to let my physical state dim the expression of Your Holy Spirit through me. I release my ideas for yours because I trust in your love for me. Help me to become very good at loving others and at being loved by You. Amen.

See now that I myself am he!
    There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
    I have wounded and I will heal,
    and no one can deliver out of my hand.
Deuteronomy 32:39 NIV

[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Jeremiah 29, public domain.
[ii] John 15:5
[iii] Ruth 4:17
[iv] John 11:5
[v] Luke 10:39