I volunteer a few hours a week at a food pantry/clothes closet for low income people in our county. One day God pointed out some unloving attitudes I had toward the people I served there and even toward some co-workers. So I wrote this prayer:
“Dear Lord, I see that my attitudes toward these requesting help and those I work with don’t reflect You well. I need more of Your mind toward them. Please help me to listen to Your thoughts and see both volunteers and clients through Your eyes as I’m doing my job there. Please help me distinguish between what I can control and what I can’t. Teach me to humble myself so I don’t get angry or think myself better than anyone.
You’ve been so merciful and patient with me, and You have forgiven me again and again. I want to let your love shine through me to others. Amen.”
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
(Luke 7:47 New Living Translation)
This devotional by our pastor Randy Huddleston spoke to my heart, and I have his permission to share it with you.
The All-Sufficient Cross of Christ
Prepare yourself, take off your shoes because you are entering holy ground.
Sacrifice, selflessness, supreme, surprising, suffering, the Son of God nailed to a cross to die.
The injured party in the human drama was God. His joy and desire were to delight in the people he had made, but they turned on him and aligned themselves with his archenemy. God was stabbed in the back. The relationship was broken, and separation led to consequences for the hurt they had done. This was no small thing like spilled milk; this was the breakdown of divine and human connection, love, and the journey together. That brilliant, beautiful pair’s act of rebellion rippled like a tsunami across the created order affecting the animate and inanimate. It has come to you as part of creation and as a son or daughter of Adam and Eve.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 (NLT2)
Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 8:20-21 (NLT2)
A solution was needed to sin, curse, and death. Neither human philosophy, self-made religion, or holier-than-thou living would be the solution. The solution had to come from above, and God provided it. He sent his Son.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 (NLT2)
Jesus, the God-man, Son of God, who lived a perfect and blameless life, humbled himself to be the sacrifice, the sufficient sacrifice to pay the penalty of sin. No other could do it. He knew the importance of what he did. His suffering and death were not to impress or please you but to provide justice before the Supreme Court of Highest Heaven. If the requirements of the highest law and Lawgiver were not met, there would be no future for humanity or this universe. Jesus on the cross was the all-sufficient, permanent, and perfect payment. He changed everything.
Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 (NLT2)
Adam freely took from the tree and disobeyed God leading to death. Jesus willingly gave himself on the tree and fully obeyed God even to death. Adam’s death led to death for all. Jesus’ death leads to life.
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT2)
Jesus’ death on the cross did it, once for all, no need for continued animal sacrifices. Jesus’ cross was God’s plan, and when it was finished, people could have new life in him. Trying to earn points to get into God’s good graces is of no value by comparison to the once for all sacrifice of Christ. Salvation is only by God’s grace; no one can earn it by what they think is good.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT2)
- Have you ever considered Jesus’ death on the cross insufficient and tried to do good things to be saved?
- No other historical event has done more to set people free than this one selfless solitary sacrifice on the cross. Has the cross of Christ enthralled you?
Copyright © 2020 Grace Bible Church, All rights reserved.
In my sojourn through the Valley of Anxiety, I struggled through sleepless nights and shaky days, and regrets often surfaced. In late November, I wrote this prayer:
Dear Lord, You are God, the only God. You are the One who has ultimate control. I want to fit into Your plans, for they are good. You have always been faithful to me. Please forgive me for the times I’ve turned away and looked longingly at what I thought might have been or what used to be. Too often I’ve run after what looked good from a human perspective instead of trusting Your goodness. Please forgive and cleanse as you have promised (1 John 1:9).
2015 National Park in California
Lord Jesus, I remember Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”* And I feel so ashamed of the many times I’ve missed opportunities to do the good works prepared ahead of time for me to do. Lord God, please work in me according to Your promise in Philippians 2:13—“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.”* Then I can take advantage of the opportunities which You give me today instead of missing them and tomorrow wallowing in regret. Amen.
*Holman Christian Standard Bible
Photo in Glacier NP
My mind in depression-anxiety mode gravitates to guilt. Past wrongs I’ve done loom large in my life. Even good sermons sound like, “You ought to have been or done better; you should be or do better; shame on you.”
Now I’m not talking about real guilt for which there is a solution. It’s important to face the sin which the Holy Spirit points out. This we can repent of and confess to God. Then we can look to 1 John 1:9—“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)” God keeps His promises, so that takes care of the real guilt.
False guilt wallows in regrets and manufactures “should-do’s” or “ought-to-be’s.” My mind gets busy with these thoughts, and my spiritual vision gets blurred. Then I don’t see the real and current sins I need to confess and repent of. And that kind of thinking gets my focus off of Jesus and onto me. Then I start expecting me to do what only He can do. So—more burden, more depression, more anxiety.
But there is hope at the end of this valley. And, much as I feared there wouldn’t be, there was an end. When one is down in the valley, though, a prayer from Psalm 86 ministers to the soul: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. …You alone are God. …Give me an undivided heart…. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me…. (From Psalm 86:5-8, 10-13 New International Version.)”
Yes, Lord, an undivided heart, trusting You alone
And seeking Your kingdom, not my own.
Today I remembered a couple of unconfessed sins from my college years. At first I went back to my old way of thinking: “Oh I wish I could go back and change my attitudes and actions so I wouldn’t be ashamed of them when I face Jesus at judgment.” Then I remembered a certain story a Christian leader told me:
“A man carrying a load on his back walked along a dirt road on his way to town. A farmer in a horse-drawn wagon offered him a ride. So the man climbed up beside the farmer, and they continued on. The farmer asked the man why he didn’t put his burden down in the wagon bed.
“The man replied, ‘Oh sir, you were so kind to give me a ride! I couldn’t ask you to carry my pack also.’”
Ah, yes. When Jesus died for me, He paid for those two sins also. And 1 John 1:9 is still true: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)
I don’t have to carry around that shame. I can lay it down in God’s wagon bed of grace.
Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (NIV)
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (NKJV)
The One who put the stars in space
Prepares in heaven for me a place,
And someday I will see His face.
Jesus Christ my Savior.
On the cross unjustly slain,
He took away my guilt and shame.
For all my sin He took the blame.
Such love, my Lord and Savior!
My thanks and praise seem so small
Since You, Lord, sacrificed Your all
To redeem creation from our fall,
Mighty Lord and Savior.
(By Tricia 6/5/2019)
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
(Fourth verse of Isaac Watts’ hymn,
“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”)
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3 NASB)
After publishing my post “Redeemed” yesterday, I remembered the hymn “Redeemed” which our church sang when I was a child. The lyrics mean much more now to me than they did back then.
Thank You, Lord, for the classic hymns of the church. Amen.
By Fanny Crosby (Music by Wm. J. Kirkpatrick)
1 Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever I am.
redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
His child and forever I am.
2 Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
no language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell. [Refrain]
3 I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song. [Refrain]
4 I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night. (Refrain)
Found on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGm5LLsJyQY
where it is sung by the congregation at Temple Baptist Church in Powell, TN.
In the book of Hosea, God tells the prophet to marry a prostitute, so he married Gomer (Hosea 1:1, 3). In Hosea 3:1, God tells Hosea to love his wife again, even though she had apparently returned to prostitution. Hosea 3:2 says, “So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine” (NLT).
The book of Hosea shows us God’s faithful love for Israel in spite of her unfaithfulness to Him.
Hosea also has truth for us today: God paid a redemption price for us. It wasn’t silver or wine or barley, but rather the life-blood of His Son Jesus.
And God wants to redeem every person and make each one His own. He’s already paid the price, but He gives each one the choice to accept or reject the love and life He offers.
Thank You, Lord, for paying the price to redeem me from sin and darkness. Thank You for Your offer of forgiveness through Jesus. I love You because You made me one of Your beloved children in Christ. Amen.
One of my favorite Bible quotes: “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12-13 NLT)
As a young person, I prayed to know God’s will, mainly wanting to know what career I should choose. I didn’t hear any answers to that prayer. I had grown up in church and committed my life to Christ at an early age; however, I didn’t learn to rely on Him and to submit my will to His until years later.
Most of the time, I tried to live by feelings, fear, “ought-to’s,” and my own understanding. This resulted in my making many poor choices in life. Those decisions never gave me the happiness, satisfaction, or sense of being loved which I craved. It’s no wonder they didn’t provide those things, though. What I longed for comes only from trusting and loving God with my whole being, letting go of my own ways, and living for Jesus. I wanted good things, but I didn’t trust the Giver of all good things.
Although my faith has grown since then, I still don’t always make wise choices. But I’m learning to trust God more and ask Him about things in life. I’m also trying to focus more on Jesus and less on me. How thankful I am for God’s patience and forgiveness! He never quit loving me, and He never gave up on me.
Thank You, Lord.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 – NKJV
“But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:11–NKJV
Today as I focused on Jesus—His beauty, wisdom, goodness, and grace—a thought of past failure came to distract me. So I had to remind myself that my past was taken care of at the cross.
Thank You, Jesus, for carrying my sins away there.
Yesterday’s gone. I can’t go back there. If I keep trying to go back, I’m going to miss Jesus in the now. He is living TODAY. Likewise, I won’t see Jesus in this day if I get off into the lands of “What if…” or “If only….”
My thoughts, words, and actions today are writing a page in the story of my life. When it is written, I want it to bring honor and praise to God my Father and His Son Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit gives me power to do that.
Jesus calls me to follow Him and abide in Him in this “Today.” So I tell myself, “Stop looking at guilt and regret, and quit trying to control tomorrow. Look at Jesus and trust Him.”
“Blessed is the [person] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For [they] shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV)