When someone suggested I call customer support about one of our office machines, I grumbled, “They’re never any help.” I added in my mind: I’ve had nothing but trouble with that stupid machine from the beginning! Also, communicating with tech support totally frustrates me.
Really? Am I thinking that people should immediately solve the problems and if not, I need to get angry? Or do I believe that because I’ve had difficulties before, things can’t change? Maybe faulty thinking is behind my irritation. How can I change?
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 New Living Translation).
I can start with prayer. Lord, please help me! I have harbored anger and frustration in my heart. which have come out in angry words. I also felt resentful toward people who seemed to get better service than I did. I confess these things as sin. Please forgive me.
I could follow up with choosing God’s way over mine. I choose to “cease from anger and forsake wrath because it tends only to evil-doing” (Psalm 37:8–Amplified Bible). I will “put on” the new me which is being re-created in the likeness of Christ (Ephesians 4:24). Now I can forgive others and choose to overlook someone’s fault. I will walk in an attitude of generosity which rejoices when others are blessed.
As I follow Him, Jesus leads me to experience abundant life. What a relief to be able to accomplish my tasks without tripping over my old non-renewed mind!
In a conversation with a respected friend, one remark flew right past the logic center of my brain and poked a hole in my heart. My friend had said one thing and somewhere between my ears and my soul it got twisted so that I heard something entirely different.
I heard blame: “XYZ’s unpleasant behavior is all your fault,” and I heard put-down: “You are a bad person, worthy of rejection.”
Aha! Rejection! There’s a mental stronghold where the enemy twists thoughts, shreds meanings, and shoots out his lies. I see other strongholds in my soul too, but what can I do?
Asking the Holy Spirit to show me the truth might help. He points out a foundation stone of pride—thinking life should work the way I want it to. So I could start with humbling myself before God and remembering that He’s God and I’m not.
I’ve let past rejections and hurt feelings build up instead of dealing with them God’s way. Now fortress walls guard a breeding ground for grief and misunderstanding. They ought to come down as I choose to repent of my bitterness and to quit focusing on myself.
“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 obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV).
(Picture by Colin Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13083522)
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:1-3a NIV).
“Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. [Other versions say, “and the unrighteous their thoughts.”] Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously” (Isaiah 55:6-7 New Living Translation or NLT). [Other versions—“freely pardon,” “freely forgive,” and “abundantly pardon.”]
Holy Spirit, I need Your help to forsake my old negative ways of thinking that I learned from the world and culture around me. I want to come and drink living water and partake of the bread of life. Please point out to me where I’ve chosen the wrong ways so I can repent. I will choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).
Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs me to get rid of my old corrupted nature—my ways of thinking and doing which aren’t under Your control. Instead, I am to “let the Spirit renew [my] thoughts and attitudes,” and to “put on [my] new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (NLT). So with Your help, that is what I’ll do.
I’m determined to quit feeding the old me with its negative thought patterns and behaviors which have no life. I want to start feeding my new nature which is becoming more and more like Jesus. He is life and the Giver of life. I will partake of Him and His Word, and I will grow.
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)
Once in a small group meeting, I lamented the fact that I had wasted much of my life in living more for me than for Jesus. I added, “And now I’m old. I don’t have very much time left to live for Him and not myself.”
One of the women responded, “Yes, but when you repent and go God’s way now, you aren’t just changing for the rest of your earthly life; you’re changing for eternity.”
Wow! That’s right. I had forgotten. Remembering this truth helps me “forget what lies behind” and “press on toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).”
1 Peter 1:23 NLT “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.”
Don’t you hate it when you’re looking for something on the internet, and you get the screen “Error 404—Page not found”? But there are times in my life when I’m glad for “page not found”—like when I start to dig up those sins which have been confessed, forgiven, and forgotten by God. (See 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25, and Hebrews 10:17)
Psalm 103:12 makes a great promise: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” And Jesus makes it true for all of us who trust in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Thank You, Father, for removing my sins so far from me. I can forget the past except for the lessons I’ve learned. I cannot meet up with those transgressions again. If a person travels east, they can go around the globe 100 times and still be going east. Also, if we travel west, we’ll still be going west no matter how far we go. So east and west have no meeting point, no “page” where my sin could be found.
I can’t thank You enough, O Lord my God.
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.”
Isaiah 43:25 “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.”
Hebrews 10:17 “I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore the “Amen” is also through Him for God’s glory through us.”
(Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)
This sermon by Pastor Tom really helped me. One thing he points out is that we need to seek repentance, and beware of regret. He says, “If you find you are regretful but not repentant, I encourage you to ask God to help you repent instead.”
Peter is my hero. He seems to mess up more than any of the other disciples, but he is my hero because of what he does afterhe makes mistakes. Every time, he repents, and goes back to Jesus in humility and faith. It’s not about how often you fall down: it’s about what you do after you fall. And Peter always does the right thing after he falls. He’s a terrific example for us.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button:
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Download Matthew Part
Matthew #96. Matthew 26:69-27:10
There is a lot going on here. Matthew tells the tale as it happened, so we are jumping back and forth between various events. So far, I have not spoken about the physical suffering that Jesus experienced…
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I failed; no, messed up; no, blew it—well, actually I sinned.
Nevertheless, I can go boldly to God’s throne of grace to receive mercy and help at the time I need it (Hebrews 4:16). I can receive mercy from God because of Jesus Christ.
When I repent and confess my sin to my Father, He casts my sin behind His back (Isaiah 38:17). Then He doesn’t turn around and look at it, so He doesn’t see it anymore. I can’t see it either because He is too big for me to see around Him.
Father, I’m so grateful, I think I’ll dance.