Jesus, You are the author and finisher of my faith. As You begin Your work in me, You teach me to set my mind on things above and on the Holy Spirit. You empower me to end a mind set on what I want or what might please others.
You start my mind remembering what I need to remember, such as Your mercy, forgiveness, and love which extends all the way to Calvary. You are the author of the sound mind that forgets what You have forgotten like forgiven sin carried away at the cross and the shame of imperfections which are covered by Your love.
Lord, You have begun a good work in me and will continue it until the day of Your return when I will see You face to face and will be like You.
I could never thank You or praise You enough for all Your works. Let Your name be glorified forever and ever. Amen!
Hebrews 12:2 “[Looking] unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….”
Philippians 1:6 “[Being] confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
(Scripture quotes are from the New King James Version.)
“Do you suffer from regret syndrome?” the pastor asked.
“Well, now that you mention it, I probably do,” I thought. I’ve struggled with regret for many years. Am I the only one?
A few weeks ago, I decided I’d fooled around with regret long enough. I imagined coming to a stop sign with “Nailed to the Cross” printed on it in the middle of the road.
I wrote, “Every time I’m tempted to go back to regret, I can think, ‘That one was nailed to the cross too. I don’t have to go down “Regret Road” anymore. I can get back to following Jesus.”
But what about actions I just wish I could go back and change—not necessarily sins? Perhaps I’m forgetting that God works even those things into His plans and purposes for good.
So when some old sin or foolish deed flashes into my mind, the old me might say, “Shame on me!” But the new me, transformed by Christ, would question, “What? Did that one slip out when the rest were nailed to the cross?” and that new-in-Christ me would sing for joy because of the truth of Colossians 2:13-14: “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” New Living Translation
As I began my morning walk, I pondered my many failures. The Holy Spirit seemed to say, “Don’t go there again.” Then I turned my mind toward gratitude for forgiveness, the beauty of nature around me, and for friends and family. I could have walked on with thanksgiving and praise for spring flowers, singing birds, warmer temperatures, and baby calves.
But I didn’t. Instead, I let my mind wander back to promises I hadn’t kept and my many slips into people-pleasing. I remembered when I had first learned the joy of repentance and of receiving forgiveness. I had promised God that from then on, with His help, I would live in obedience to Him. I would say, “Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord.”
However, many times I’d gone my own way instead of leaning on His power to overcome evil tendencies. I poured out my heart to Jesus and walked quietly for a few minutes. A hymn from childhood bubbled up into my memory: “Are ye able to remember when a thief lifts up his eyes that his pardoned soul is worthy of a home in paradise?” *
My joyful response: “YES! And I also remember that I’ve confessed these sins and received Your forgiveness and cleansing. (1 John 1:9) Thank You sweet Holy Spirit for reminding me. Thank You God for being so patient with me.”
“Lord, You have given me another day to live for Your glory. Oh, let me do it well! Amen.”
*Verse 2 of the hymn, “’Are Ye Able?’ Said the Master,” Words by Earl Marlatt, Music by Harry S. Mason. An excellent performance of this hymn is at https://youtu.be/eFI90wvB8JU .
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV)
Thank You Jesus, for going to the cross where my name was engraved on Your hands, maybe not on the palms–-with crucifixion, the Romans pounded spikes through the base of the hand where it is joined to the wrist. But You suffered and died for my sin there.
That reminds me of the hymn, “Nailed to the Cross,” which I learned as a young person:
They are nailed to the cross; they are nailed to the cross.
Oh how much He was willing to bear!
With what anguish and loss, Jesus went to the cross,
And He carried my sin with Him there.*
Thank You, God, for forgiving all our sins and for never forgetting us.
“…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.” (Colossians 2:13-14) “……God has said,’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) (Both NIV)
*Hymn author: Carrie Ellis Breck (1899) Music and lyrics at:
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.”
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?
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.
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.)”
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)