Release from Self-condemnation

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Alive to Hope

Day 93

Alive to Hope

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3


e sometimes feel sorrow or even an aversion to reading the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry in the first four books of the New Testament. This happens when we think of the gospels as relating the facts of our Lord’s inevitable journey to the Cross. However, any reluctance to read of our Lord’s suffering should dissipate as we remember that in every report of His time on Earth, Jesus is headed through death and to resurrection. When Christ arose, the great evil of the death of the Son of God was swallowed by the inestimable power of His resurrection. Like the explosion of a star, in one holy instant everything changed; those who were doomed to hell were restored to the hope of eternal life through what Christ had accomplished, once and for all.  

Because we serve a God who allowed His only begotten Son to die a physical death, the enemy will seek to convince us that God doesn’t care what happens to our mortal bodies, that His concern is only for our immortal souls. Since Christ Himself passed through death in order to save our souls for eternity, Satan will tell us that our physical sufferings and inevitable physical deaths are of no consequence to the Lord. 

This is, of course, a twisting of what is true. Our Lord is concerned for our mortal bodies. Remember Christ’s healing ministry, His compassion for those who suffered physically, and His concern about the provision of food for the hungry and rest for the weary. We must never hesitate to cry out to Him when we are in physical distress, with full confidence that He hears and provides for us. But we must also remember that our physical bodies, which are temporary, aren’t to have preeminence over our spirits, which are eternal. And so the demands of our physical bodies shouldn’t determine how we act. 

If we are manipulated into accepting the lie that the Lord doesn't care all that much about physical suffering or physical comfort, we justify closing our minds to Him while we feed our need to partake of what is enjoyable and comforting. But the physical body is a childish and tyrannical leader, and if we follow its demands we will partake of things we don't need or sometimes even truly want, and we end up in bondage. Our freedom in Christ depends on whether we have placed our hope fully in Him. We show Him that we believe and trust in Him by our willingness to follow His will rather than our own, even if we have to be uncomfortable to do it. The willingness to bear the temporary discomfort of self-denial for Jesus’ sake is an outward sign that our hope in Him is robust, strong enough to face down the noisy demands of sinful flesh. 

Consider Romans 8:11:  “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Our life source comes from the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us by the grace of Jesus Christ and the authority of Father God, who loves us. Our hope isn’t to rest in this world, but in the next, not in the corporeal, but in the eternal. And thus our Holy Spirit directed minds should require our physical bodies to submit to the Lord within us. 

When it comes to eternal truth and blessings, our spiritual vision isn’t keen enough to see clear evidence of what God has promised. But because we trust Him, we don’t doubt that the good promises He has given are true. In faith, we set our hope fully on the grace that will be given us in Christ at His coming.[i]

We can’t see what’s just ahead, but we know the Lord can. When He tells us that we must control our physical bodies for the sake of the Spirit He has placed within our hearts, we can believe this is a necessary discipline for those whose hope is fully in Him. 

Pray: Father, in the moment I’m in I can’t see why I shouldn’t choose physical comfort over the discomfort of disciplining my flesh as You have asked me to do. Lord, even though I can’t perceive immediate benefits of self-denial in the short run, help me, through love and trust in You, to deny myself for the sake of Your life in me.  Forgive me when I fail. Show me how to hold firm to obedience even when I can’t yet see the fruits You have promised. Teach me to place my hope fully in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 


Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:17-1

[i] 1 Peter 1:13

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