Release from Self-condemnation

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Die to a Helpless Perspective

Day 88

Die to a Helpless Perspective

I would not permit the adversary to trouble me about the past or future, for I each moment looked for the supply for that moment.[i]
William Hill


n 2 Kings, chapter 18, a field commander from the enemy taunts the Hebrew people saying, “…do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?”[ii]

In response to these gibes, the people are disheartened and remain silent, and King Hezekiah nearly gives way to despair. However, the prophet Isaiah encourages the king, saying, “Do not be afraid of the words that you have heard!” (2 Kings 19:6).

Our perspectives depend very much upon the voices that hold our attention. If we use past failures as the basis for our self-talk, we will fall prey to a “what’s the use” state of mind that works against any hope that the Lord can do for us what we could not accomplish for ourselves. We must release to Him our beliefs about the past, perceptions of the present, and hopes for the future. This allows Him freedom to shape our memories and expectations so they more accurately reflect His perspective.

The release of the past is difficult, because we have to entrust to Him our oft rehearsed, eyewitness versions of the ways we’ve been hurt. The release of the future is difficult because we have learned to fear what we can’t control. But once we entrust the sorrows of what cannot be undone and our fears about what is yet to be done into God’s hands, we are left with the only point of time that is actually ours: the present.  We are not able to change the past or manipulate the future, but we have been given the ability to abide in Christ in every present moment. 

Jesus asks us to change our point of view from the finite to the infinite, and the bridge between our human understanding to confidence in the incomprehensible power of God can only be traversed via trust and obedience to Him in each moment we are given. There came such a moment in the life of the paralytic when he heard Christ say, “Take up your mat and walk!”[iii]

In that instant, this man had a choice between the familiarity of the perspective he had known his entire life and a challenge from the Son of God to rise to a completely new way of looking at the world. Legs that had never borne weight were suddenly strengthened by God-power to stand. He may have suffered physical discomfort, and he certainly would have faced challenges as he learned to earn a living in a brand new way. The fascination of his radical change of perspective may have helped propel him through those first, difficult days of standing upright, and he may have been kept from the easier path of lying down and begging once again because he had claimed healing; people had seen him walk! He would, by God’s grace and glory, continue to walk!  His integrity was on the line; would he sink back into helplessness and despair? Or would he face the challenges of a brand new life? 

There is a holy fascination in the radical change of perspective that freedom in Christ brings. May we cling to Him in joy and view the discomforts we must bear as being inconsequential when compared to the blessing of walking in the integrity of our moment-by-moment confidence in Him. 

Pray:  Lord, I’ve been so discouraged because change doesn’t seem possible for someone like me. My age, health, present circumstances, and my past all seem against me, and I am frightened of the future. But right now I place my hope in You. I know that Your truth trumps any lies of the enemy.  I know Your promises are more powerful than my circumstances. I trust in You.  I entrust my past and my future to You, and  I choose to obey Your call to stand up and walk in every present moment in You.  Amen. 


But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish…The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. 
Isaiah 9:1a, 2

[i] William Hill, quoted by Hannah Whitall Smith in The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, public domain
[ii] 2 Kings 18:32-33
[iii] Luke 5:17-26

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Die to Fear

Day 87

Die to Fear

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Philippians 3:12


ear is a powerful hindrance to our bid for freedom from overweight. Our circumstances may be so stress-filled that it doesn’t seem safe to take our eyes from the things that are causing us anxiety.  

When Peter attempted to walk on water, he began to sink when he took his eyes from the Lord.[i] We can imagine Jesus, eyes filled with compassion, reaching down to take firm hold of His impulsive, passionate, and very frightened disciple. For a moment Peter continues to flail helplessly, but the awareness of his Savior’s firm grip focuses his attention, and it is when Peter reaches out to grasp the Lord that he becomes calm and is pulled to safety.

We have no way of knowing whether this is how the scene unfolded, although we understand from the Biblical account that Peter was safe from the moment that Christ took hold of him. But perhaps Peter, still frightened, did not receive the truth of that safety until he in turn reached out to take hold of the Lord. This is the truth of Philippians 3:12: Christ has taken hold of us, and now we must press on to take hold of him. The King James Version says it this way: “…that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” 

So long as we keep our eyes on our frightening circumstances and the frailty of our own efforts against them, we cannot receive the comfort of the Lord’s firm hold upon us. It is when we lift our eyes to His that we are inspired to reach out our hands to Him, and only then do our hearts receive the truth that we have been saved at last from all that has kept us bound by fear.

When we take our eyes from the Lord, we are like Peter, who very well may have continued to thrash wildly for a few moments even after the Lord had taken hold of him. It is only when we lift our eyes to His face that we have wits enough to cooperate in order to help and not hinder our own rescue. 

When we have made repeated failed resolutions to lose weight, despair and hopelessness threaten. But we must remember this: from the moment we confessed Him as Lord and Savior, Jesus has held us firmly in His grip. We are no longer our own, we belong to Him, and His intense interest in everything that touches us brings His power to bear upon those circumstances that have caused us such discomfort of fear. He is in control of our self-defeating patterns of behavior and our sin. And yes, He is sovereign even over the number on the scale, the way people perceive us, and the judgments they bring. We can raise our heads high, because we are beloved of the Lord. 

May we remove our eyes from everything that has discouraged and frightened us, and take firm hold of Him who has never let us go. As Andrew Murray says of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12:  “It was because he knew that the mighty and the faithful One had grasped him with the glorious purpose of making him one with Himself, that he did his utmost to grasp the glorious prize.”[ii] 

Pray:  Father, I’ve been so afraid. I’ve been afraid of the health consequences of my continued overweight, of the judgments of other people, and, because of my failures and sins, of losing the blessings You have promised. But I know that You have taken hold of me, and covered my sins, and that You work on my behalf. Help me to take my eyes from my fears and place my focus on You. Lord help me to cooperate with Your work in my life so that I may help and not hinder my own rescue from the self-condemnation and fear that have held my attention for so long.  Amen. 


There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18

[i] Matthew 14:22-33
[ii] Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ, public domain