Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Guilt Is GONE!

Do you struggle to let go of the shame and guilt of your past? Do you find yourself regurgitating your sins to God, confessing them again and again?

If you have become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, God chooses to remember your confessed sins no more! Thus, when you repeatedly confess the same sins to Him, His response essentially is, "I don't know what you're talking about!"

This is how God treats our sin, according to His Word:
"He [the Lord] does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:10-12)
"I, even I, as he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." (Isaiah 43:25)
Although He remembers our confessed sins no more, sin is still a big deal to God and He deals with this to quite an extent in His Word. There are 167 references to guilt in the Old Testament ~ 38 of them in the book of Leviticus alone, a book primarily documenting God's laws for His people.

So if our sin, and thus our guilt, are removed from us through faith in Jesus, why even read Leviticus? The real benefit in reading it is to understand what it was like to constantly try to perform up to God's specific standards while constantly failing to do so!

We might also wonder this: Why would God give His people laws to live by if He knew full well they couldn't live up to them? Simply because those laws were necessary to show them ~ and us ~ that no one can justify him or herself by living up to the law! It's only when we understand the burden (and impossibility) of trying to live up to God's holy requirements that we can appreciate the free gift of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is ours because Jesus paid the price for our sins!

In Leviticus, there is a wonderful teaching concerning the Day of Atonement which teaches us much about letting go of guilt. It was on this Day, once a year, that the high priest engaged in a ritual that was intended to help rid the people of their guilt. Furthermore, the events of the Day of Atonement are a series of visual aids through which God taught the Israelites what their Messiah would do when He would come to redeem the world from sin!

Let's look at the rituals of the Day of Atonement and see how they symbolize what Christ did for us.

The Humbling:
  • The high priest was one of the most important people in the whole nation, and the clothing he wore displayed the dignity of his office. But on the Day of Atonement, he set aside his magnificent clothes, wearing instead a simply white cloth, the dress of a common slave.
  • Likewise, Jesus set aside His magnificent clothing ~ His glory, His exalted position in heaven ~ and took the form of a servant, wearing strips of cloth as a baby in a manger.

The Preparation:
  • Before the high priest could enter the presence of God to deal with the sins of the people, he had to deal with his own sins first by sacrificing a bull and sprinkling its blood on the mercy seat inside the Most Holy Place.
  • Here, Jesus differed from every high priest in the Old Testament: He committed no sin, so no sacrifice was necessary for His preparation. He was and is a qualified Savior.

The Atonement:
  • The high priest next sacrificed a goat for the sins of the people, similarly sprinkling some of the blood on the mercy seat inside the Most Holy Place. The blood from the sacrifice was a visual statement that sin and guilt cannot be removed until a death takes place. God's judgment demanded a blood sacrifice from the sinner ~ and God's mercy allowed the death sentence for people to be transferred onto an animal. He accepted a substitute sacrifice for the people, allowing the sinful people to live.
  • Jesus served as our substitute sacrifice. His blood was shed on Calvary and God's judgment fell on Him. This satisfied the justice of God, and allowed His mercy to be released to all who will come to Him by faith.

The Confession:
  • Sin cannot be atoned for and forgiven until it is confessed and forsaken. So next, the high priest would take a second goat and, laying his hands on the head of that live goat, he would confess all the sins of Israel, thereby transferring the people's guilt onto the goat. This goat hadn't committed any of those sins ~ he was innocent! Nonetheless, they were placed on him as the scapegoat.
  • This is a picture of what our Lord did when He died on the cross for our sins: All our sins were transferred to Jesus ~ blameless, innocent, righteous Jesus.

    "God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (II Corinthians 5:21)
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." (I Peter 2:24)
Just as the priest had to confess the sins of the people, we also must confess our sins. In so doing, they are transferred to Christ and are included in the sin for which He died.
The Release of Guilt:
  • As the final ritual of the Day of Atonement, the high priest sent the guilty goat way out into the desert, where it was let go. The goat ~ and the guilt ~ were gone forever!
  • When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) As you lay hold of Jesus by faith and confess your sins, can you picture your specific sins being taken away into the distance and out of sight? Can you believe that through the finished work of Christ, your sins are not only forgiven but your guilt is also removed?
Won't you recognize that your sin and guilt have been taken away, never to be remembered against you again? Friend, go and live in that freedom today!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Accepting Condemnation

No Condemnation

From whom have you been accepting condemnation?
  • Someone from your childhood?
  • An authority figure in your life?
  • Yourself?
  • Your arch enemy, the devil?
Of course, we are not perfect, and there are things in our lives that need to be confronted and changed, but no one has the right to condemn us except Jesus -- and He doesn't!

Romans 8:1-2 assures us of this wonderful truth:
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
As a Christian, there is no condemnation! No other religion in the world offers this grace, for there is no other qualified savior except the Lord Jesus Christ. Because He took the condemnation that was due us, we can stand before a holy God without condemnation because God sees us in Christ, with His righteousness and without guilt!

Are you allowing others or yourself to lay condemnation on you? When we do this to ourselves, we are actually holding grudges and harboring unforgiveness in our hearts toward ourselves and, as a result, carry much torment. Did Jesus pay the price for our sins, past and present? He did! Was the price He paid satisfactory to His Father? It was! Can any amount of self-torment or abuse that we inflict upon ourselves make us more acceptable to God? Never! Therefore, forgive yourself and be free from condemnation!

Are you hearing condemnation from the devil? He uses our past failures, shortcomings, and sins to level guilt and condemnation against us, but we must remind ourselves that our acceptance by God is not dependent on our performance but on Christ's perfection! Learn to resist the devil's lies by talking back to him -- repeating truths based on Scripture that can set us free, such as the following:
  • Only Jesus can condemn me, and He doesn't.
  • I will not be burdened again with a yoke of slavery to guilt or condemnation.
  • Jesus came to set me free from this guilt, and I choose to be free.
  • You might as well give up, Satan, because I refuse to let you condemn me.
Romans 8:33-34 (Phillips) reassures us there is absolutely no condemnation for us in Christ:
Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!
So throw off condemnation by putting your name in the blank and repeating this to yourself time and again:
          _____________, only Jesus can condemn you -- and He doesn't!

The Circle of Freedom

Because of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf, we do not have to live under a cloud of condemnation from anyone, including ourselves! Galatians 5:1 (Phillips) says this:
Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery.
I love that imagery of planting our feet firmly within the freedom that Christ has won for us! Can you not hear Jesus saying to you, "Here, come plant your feet firmly in the freedom that I have won for you. This battle has been fought and I won it. Come here and stand in this freedom that is now yours"?

Our responsibility is to obey -- to take our mental feet and plant them firmly in that circle of freedom. At first, our thoughts will not willingly go into that circle of freedom and, once we get them there, they won't want to stay for very long. However, like any exercise, the more we do it, the easier it is to do, and the longer our mental feet will remain in that freedom!

I leave you with this encouragement:
          Purpose today to recognize any area of condemnation to which you have been listening.
          Determine right now, by God's grace, to throw it overboard.
          Choose to walk into that circle of freedom with Christ as your victor.
          And every time that condemnation raises its ugly head, replace it with Truth from God's Word!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Believing Wrong Messages

What wrong messages have you believed that have caused you to feel guilty?

I so often hear stories from women who are dealing with guilt that comes from believing wrong messages. Sometimes these wrong messages or lies have been programmed into their minds through other people. Other times these wrong messages come from their own errant thought processes and their lack of understanding the freedom they have in Christ.

To erase these wrong messages, we must grasp that God has loved us from the day we were born and that, alone, makes us worthy and valuable! We must never lose the wonder of God's forgiveness so that we can put the past behind us, and live in the truth that God has lovingly planned all our days as His valuable child.

The Source of Wrong Messages

Wrong messages can come from others: Overbearing parents, critical spouses, and never-satisfied bosses can send messages of inadequacy and incompetence about our performance or worthiness.

Wrong messages can come from our culture: The image of the ideal woman as thin and ageless, and the you-can-have-it-all message portrayed by women in the limelight drives us to try to be superwomen.

Wrong messages from our past: Failures, rejections, and a dysfunctional family life can all cause us to believe we'll always fail, we'll never be worthy of acceptance, and, where dysfunction exists, we are the cause.

Erasing Wrong Messages

Only God has the ability to erase His memory, as we read in Isaiah 43:25:  "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions. . .and remembers your sins no more."

I doubt any of us can ever totally erase the wrong messages that have been ingrained in our minds for so long. But there is an answer, and it takes place in our minds.  Paul taught us how to fight this battle: "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedience to Christ." (II Corinthians 10:4-5)

Bringing our thoughts into captivity is what we must do in order to live in the freedom that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.

The Fail-Proof Delete Button

I following is a fail-proof method to erase wrongs messages because it is firmly rooted in the truth of God's Word!

1. To erase wrong messages, you must bring them into captivity and force them to be obedient to Christ. Learn to recognize the wrong thought patterns and then, by a specific decision on your part, erase the thought patterns that are giving you those wrong messages by replacing them with right thoughts.

2. Replace wrong messages with God's truth through Scripture memorization. Memorize portions of Scripture that directly address your particular wrong messages, so that when they begin to re-play in your mind, you can immediately recite the Scriptures that counter those wrong messages, replacing them with God's truth.

3. Recognize the power of Scripture to demolish your strongholds of thought.  God's word is eternal and will set you free.  This is a promise from our Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

An Overly Active Conscience

Did you ever think about the guilt that the apostle Paul must have struggled with after his remarkable conversion on the road to Damascus? Think of all the words he had spoken against Christ and His disciples; think of all the damage he had done to the new and brave believers in the early church; think of all the pain he had caused to so many people simply because they believed in Jesus.

The Need for a Conscience
Every person has a conscience, or at least had a conscience at one time. A definition of conscience is, "the sense of what is right and wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action." Paul wrote to Titus, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted" (Titus 1:15). We need to work at keeping our conscience clear and pure.

An Overly Active Conscience
An overly active conscience is susceptible to unrealistic expectations. These expectations come from various sources--from within ourselves, from parents, from friends, bosses, co-workers, or even from a distorted understanding of God. With an overly active conscience, we can actually attract unrealistic expectations because we so desperately need approval that we look for ways to earn that approval by trying to do or be what is more than we can do or be.  The need to prove one's worthiness to others remains constant. While we should be concerned, to a point, about the feelings or expectations of others, an exaggerated concern for what others think will put you on the road to burnout, depression, and despair. An overly active conscience is a stern task-master who is only occasionally pacified and immediately requires that you prove your worthiness once again.

Satan loves guilt and wants to convince us that God could never love us again. Maybe God loved us at one time, but not anymore. Why would He ever trust us and take another chance? Physical, emotional, and spiritual deprivation are a result of Satan's attempts to pull this dark veil of guilt over our hearts. God's forgiveness is enough!

Understanding God's Grace
How many songs do you know about grace? How many sermons have you heard about grace? No doubt you've seen the acrostic that attempts to define grace as

God's
Riches
At
Christ's  
Expense

Living in Grace
It's a sad truth that many of us never live in that wonderful grace even after we've received it, even though we believe it and sing songs about it. Our daily experience often does not reflect that we have been given this amazing grace.  When we understand that God's grace is lavished upon us and in spite of our unworthiness, our minds can be filled with truth, which eventually drowns out that nagging voice within us that is fueled by an overly active conscience.  Living in grace is ours in Christ, and we should not settle for anything less.


If you would like to purchase the book, Why Do I Always Feel Guilty, visit our bookstore at www.christianworkingwoman.org

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My trip to Africa 2017

Headed to Kigali, Rwanda for 10 days of ministry with Rex on 
September 4, 2017




We arrived safely in Kigali on Tuesday evening and thank God for a safe trip. Dear friends met us. On Thursday we begin a very busy teaching schedule here in Rwanda.


 


I had the joy of speaking to a church in Eastern Rwanda today, a church which my dear friend, Simon Nziramakenga began in the early 90's. It is in a very remote area where there are few churches. The women were very happy to have the conference and we had a blessed time. Standing beside me is Jackie, who interpreted for me. 




In a three day conference in Kigali, Rwanda. Many women came forward for prayer as we talked about getting rid of the bitter roots in our hearts. Every woman in Rwanda has a story that would break your heart, but God is doing a wonderful work of reconciliation here. What a privilege to be with these strong women!





Here are three precious children, peering in the church window. Children are very friendly and curious about the us white Americans. 





We just completed a two-day conference with about 350 women in a church in Gigenyi, in western Rwanda. We saw God do a mighty work in the hearts of these dear women. Many testified that God had set them free from the "bitter roots" in their hearts, after my message. One woman told how her father left her as a baby and she never saw him until she was 21. And for many years she has been bitter toward him, but God has set her free. That is one of many stories. I have taught all day for six days, but God has given me strength and blessed our meetings. Thanks for your prayers.





I had the great privilege of speaking to the leadership of the Tabitha Ministry in Bomet, Kenya.  This is a Bible study ministry begun by my friend, Linda Spriegel, with one Bible study in 2005, and now there are 250 Bible study groups scattered for miles over this countryside, with over 2000 women coming each week.  The top 100 leaders of this ministry met on Saturday, the 16th, for a time of inspiration and fellowship.  What a joy!






 



We are seeing some incredible animals as we travel back to Nairobi. Looking forward to going home Thursday night. Thanking God for a safe and fruitful trip.




















Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Making Comparisons

Have you ever compared yourself to other people? When we do that, one of two sinful and opposite consequence usually results:
1. We begin to think we are better than others or
2. We begin to think others are better than we are.

Consider the first consequence: thinking we are better than others. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is appropriate here:  (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee prayed, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers......."  The tax collector stood at a distance. "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." When we look at the Pharisee we may think "What an awful attitude!" When we compare ourselves with others, we can fall into the sin of pride. Jesus said in Luke 18:14 "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
The second consequence: thinking others are better than we are. Arrogance and pride are not present so we may think we are not being sinful but we need to watch out for thinking negatively about ourselves. God has entrusted each of us with abilities and talents and with these come opportunities to multiply and gain more abilities and talents. Read Matthew 25:14-30 and consider what Jesus said in the parable of the talents.

Accept the talents and gifts God has invested in you, and then set out to grow them as much as possible.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Our Superwoman Delusions

Finding Balance in Our Lives

Have you ever thought of the fact that the God of all creation has a specific list of good works for you to do? How exciting is that?

When we try to do what we think we should do, rather than ask God to lead us to those good works He prepared for us that's when our problem with the "superwoman syndrome" begins. Anytime we allow someone beside God to set our agenda, we're headed for trouble. Anytime we live to please others rather than God, we're headed for trouble.

Ephesians 2:10 is one of the most powerful verses in Scripture-- it contains, in one verse, a life-mission statement for every Christian. This statement could hardly be clearer or more powerful:
We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If we are to do the good works God planned for us to do, we have to know what they are. God doesn't send us on a treasure hunt to try to find His will. The good works God has planned for each of His children will be:

1.  In complete agreement and harmony with God's Word and His principles as presented in the Bible.

2. God will make use of the gifts and abilities he has placed in us. Hence, we each need to know how God has gifted us individually. If you've never studied the gifts that are listed in Romans 12:6-8,
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Ephesians 4:11, you would do well to do so and discover which of those gifts are evident in your life.

3. The good works God put us here to do will not come to us in a strategic plan for our life, with every detail outlined and every path clearly marked. God knows that plan, of course, but He reveals it to us gradually as we grow in grace and our faith increases.


If you wonder what some of the superwoman tendencies are, you can take a short quiz in my book, Why Do I Always Feel Guilty? It can be ordered on my website at www.christianworkingwoman.org.