The other morning as I walked along, one of those old “if-only” thoughts popped into my mind. I used to torment myself with those a lot. I’d whine, “If only I had gone God’s way instead of mine, then I wouldn’t have hurt so many people, and I would be enjoying ‘X’ benefit that I don’t enjoy now.” Possibly true, but I can’t change what I’ve done, and there’s no longer room in my life for “if-only.”
That kind of regret focuses on me, not on Jesus. It brings no honor to God. In fact, it hints that I have hindered His power to forgive and heal. It hisses that God is somehow limited by my failure. How ugly! I’m going to my thought closet right now to yank out every one of those if-only garments that the Holy Spirit will show me. That will make room for more praise and thanksgiving and additional attractive spiritual clothing (like humility and patience).
Hebrews 12:2a “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”
2 Corinthians 5:15 “And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for [Him] who died for them and was raised again.”
Ephesians 4:17, 22-24 “…[You] must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
(All Scripture quotes NIV)
I’ve appreciated Pastor Tom Hilpert’s sermons on the Book of Revelation. Three I especially liked were #17 “War, Famine, Disease and Death: In All Things God Is In Control which I reblogged earlier today; #20 The Joy That Awaits at https://clearbible.blog/2018/02/27/the-joy-that-awaits/ ; and #21 The End of Grace at https://clearbible.blog/2018/03/13/revelation-21-the-end-of-grace/
I hope you’ll check them out.
Yes, I can obey God’s Word! I’m through telling myself the “I can’t” lie. Sometimes, when I would read a Scripture portion or verse, I would say internally, “God says to do _________, but I really can’t. So I’ll just skip that part and look for something I can do. For example, I would read Philippians 4:8 (“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”). Then I’d think, Well, yes, but you know I’ve tried to think on these good things, and I really can’t. Other thoughts always take over. Then my mind runs wild, and I fall back into a negative outlook.
I repent. No more “I can’t.” No more excuses. I will choose to listen to the truth that by the power of the Holy Spirit I can obey God. I will choose life, not death. (Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”)
(Scripture quotes are New King James.)
How many times my thoughts stray from focus during the day! I find myself going over and over conversations or actions, thinking about what I should or shouldn’t have said or done. Or sometimes I’m planning what I’ll do if such and such happens or if so and so does this or that.
But I have hope. Since I’m in Christ, old things have passed away (died), and new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17). I have received the Holy Spirit who gives me power to put off the old and put on the new. When I catch myself thinking the old way, I can say to myself,
“No, self. Focus on the task at hand. If it doesn’t take much thought (comb hair, vacuum), think about the Scripture you meditated on this morning or heaven or Jesus or God’s attributes or other wonderful things.”
Then as I begin to focus on the good things and let go of the scattered thoughts, I will be obeying God’s Word by renewing my mind. (See Romans 12:2 and James 1:22.)
(Photo by Paula Satijn, “Mirror.” Found in Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulasatijn/79850464800/)
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation)
The old me was touchy, irritable, grumpy, and rude. She sought only self and her way. She spent time with gossip, deception, unfaithfulness, anger, greed, quarreling, and jealousy. (See Galatians 5:19-21.)
The new me is patient, loving, pure in heart, and hardly even notices a wrong done to her (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). She fellowships with peace, kindness, joy, forgiveness, honest and loving speech, generosity, courtesy, and other such companions.
O Lord, please grant me grace to take off and dispose of the rags of the old me and put on the clothing of the new me which is renewed in the likeness of Christ. Holy Spirit, please help me do that more! (See Colossians 3:5-10.)
I read something the other day that triggered a painful memory. I felt sad and angry. But I choose today to wash that recollection with God’s total love for me and for the others involved.
Thank you, Lord, for Your Word which tells me of Your unconditional love for us. You love us when we’re correct and when we’re not, when others approve of us and when they don’t, and when we succeed and when we fail.
So I will receive Your love and allow it to heal my soul. And I will forgive those who offend me because You have forgiven me for my offenses. Thank You for showing me how to deal with this troublesome memory. Amen.
“We love because He first loved us.” –1 John 4:19
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive.” –Colossians 3:12-13
(Both Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)
“‘All things are ready,’ come to the feast! Come for the table now is spread;
Ye famishing, ye weary come, and [you shall] be richly fed.”
“Hear the invitation, ‘Come whosoever will.’ Praise God for full salvation,
For whosoever will.”
(First verse and chorus of hymn “All Things Are Ready” by Charlotte G. Homer and W. A. Ogden)
I recalled this song from my youth after I’d read Pastor Tom’s sermon on Matthew 22:1-14 (You’re Invited to the Feast! ). The sermon helped me understand the part of the parable in which the man without the proper wedding clothes was thrown out. From the parable and the sermon, I see that even though everyone is invited to God’s wedding feast for His Son Jesus Christ and His bride the church, we can’t come on our own terms. We have to come on His terms.
My own goodness (even if I were “practically perfect in every way,” which I’m not) wouldn’t be proper attire for the feast. I can’t come smeared with the filth of my sin. I must repent and turn from my sin to Christ.
It’s not about saying a prayer and getting a ticket to heaven and living as I please. Accepting the invitation means that daily I lay down my own way (die to self, take up my cross) and go God’s way (follow Jesus, seek God’s kingdom). When I live this way, I will experience real life and joy now. And when I am called to enter the banquet hall, I’ll be properly dressed and ready.