Freedom from Guilt

“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord’. And you forgave me! All of my guilt is gone!” (Psalm 32:5)

A guilty conscience is on nobody’s wish list, but there’s only one way to remove it if you happen to have one.

Confession.

I don’t mean the booth with the priest where you spill your guts and he prescribes a certain amount of Hail Mary’s. (Although if that’s your thing, more power to you.)

I mean confession.

Who are the injured parties? Whether they were lied to, stolen from, cheated on, or worked over, they deserve an apology.

When a transgression has been made, there are three stages of making amends.

1) Make it right with God.

2) Make it right with yourself.

3) Make it right with the offended person(s).

Each stage requires an increasing capacity for humility.

Before anything else, you must reconcile with God. You must accept responsibility for your actions – with sincerity and solemnity – and ask God to forgive you from the bottom of your heart.

Don’t feel the need to convince God of your seriousness. He knows. The fact you feel guilty is convincing enough.

But know that…

“If we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

This ought to be enough to make it right with yourself, because the One with absolute authority has just forgiven and cleansed you.

Now this is key: You no longer need to feel guilty.

God has forgiven you. Believe it.

You should make every effort to make things right with whomever was wronged, but you cannot force them to forgive you. Nor can you place your peace upon the shoulders of someone else.

That is why this is the last step.

They may never forgive you, but that’s on them. If they choose to live in bitterness and hatred, that’s really too bad, but all you can do is pray for them (and you should).

“Do not worry about anything, but pray for everything in supplication, and with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

Amen!

God’s Honest Truth

“God is not a human being, He does not lie. He is not a mortal, that He should change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and failed to fulfill it?” (Num. 23:19)

The image commonly conjured of God is often that of an elderly gentleman with long flowing hair and a full beard.

While this is not untrue (for indeed, God can take any form He pleases), it is a quite an oversimplification.

In fact, it is often a welcome oversimplification, because God cannot be conceptualized in terms our puny human brains can understand.

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

God is not confined to a decaying human body. Thus, He is able to exercise omnipresence – being everywhere at once.

Our brains are only so big and can process only so much. God’s brain created, and maintains, the universe.

The most intelligent person on the planet knows a lot. But God knows everything (remember He created the universe).

And while we must toil tirelessly to create anything of value, God need only speak (which is how He created the universe).

So what does this mean for you?

It means that God does not share the qualities of that jerk from the office, or the spouse who cheated on you, or the friend who let you down, or any number of abhorrent human characteristics.

He loves you unconditionally, regardless of reciprocity. He desires that you come to know Him and develop a relationship with Him. But even if you don’t, that will not stop Him loving you.

God has no reason to deceive you. None, whatsoever. Because He has absolute power, and can therefore do anything, He has no need for subterfuge or manipulation. In other words, while some people cozy up to you in order to gain something from you, God does not.

He does not love you for what you can give Him – He loves you because He loves you. Period.

After a lifetime of being lied to, backstabbed, burned, and bamboozled, as experienced by everyone, it is easy become suspicious of other’s motives.

What are they playing for? What do they want from me? Everybody has an angle…

Well, God isn’t everybody, and He doesn’t have an angle (but He does have plenty of angels).

If He does have an angle, it’s that you come to experience His love first-hand, and then go tell someone about it.

Amen!

Formidable Focus

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, who merely deceive themselves. For if you hear and do not do, it is like looking into a mirror and, upon turning away, immediately forgetting what you saw” (Jms. 1:22-24 *paraphrased)

Absent-minded. On autopilot. Inattentive. Distracted. Unfocused.

In the age of immediately available information and instant gratification, our attention spans are suffering.

If you’ve ever checked your watch for the time and then had to re-check it again because it didn’t register the first time, you know what I mean.

Another commonality is when you enter a room and can’t remember why.

We attribute these incidences to “old age”, but the real reason this happens is because of our dwindling attention spans.

It’s simply a lack of focus – of not being present in the moment. It is usually harmless in most cases, but there are times when being distracted can be dangerous.

For instance, driving in heavy traffic while trying to talk on the phone, organize paperwork, eat breakfast, and keep an eye on the children all at the same time, is not a good idea. (But notice how often this happens.)

There are other, less life-threatening, yet still important instances, where being distracted is quite harmful.

Distraction is detrimental to the learning process.

In general, the brain can only handle one thing at a time (and make sense of it). What we call multitasking is really just multitask-switching.

The brain can switch between different tasks very quickly, but processing different data simultaneously – and actually comprehending it – is not it’s strong suit.

Furthermore, it is often difficult for the brain to digest information without testing, doing, or otherwise using it.

If you read an instruction manual, say, to build something a few days from now, it is unlikely that you will fully remember what to do when the time comes.

But when you actually build the thing, it is likely that you could replicate the process again later on – without having to refer to the manual.

That is to say, those who hear and do not do, will be unlikely to even remember what it was they were told to do.

Reading the word of God is great, but if you do not put it into practice, then it is unlikely to stick with you. And if it doesn’t stick with you, what’s the point of reading it (or anything else, for that matter)?

For best results: turn off the music, the TV, even the phone, and really zero in on the task at hand – whether you’re studying the Word or anything else. Focus. And then find a way to use what you learn so that it’s really hammered home.

“Study to show yourself approved.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

Amen!