Malachi 4:1 talks about the arrogant and evildoers being burned up completely and turned to ashes. I think of the people who want to uproot everything good in our nation and of wicked tyrants around the world. Then I want to cheer Malachi 4:1, but Proverbs 24:17-18 warns against being glad when my enemy stumbles. Also, we who follow Christ are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). How can I not want the “arrogant and evildoers” to be destroyed?
Maybe I could think of them as people for whom Christ died but who have been taken captive by the devil and are listening to him. Then I can pray for their repentance so they won’t have to be destroyed on Judgment Day (2 Timothy 2:26).
“Surely, the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays….’”—Malachi 4:1-2 NIV
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him”—Proverbs 24:17-18 NIV
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45 NIV
“And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”—2 Timothy 2:26 NIV
“The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.” Psalm 145:20 NIV
Your Words are perfect, Lord—flawless, pure, absolute, and true. They tell me of Your love and about who You are. They lead me in right paths and will bring me home to You when it is the right time. Therefore, I will bow before You and humbly receive the spiritual nourishment, the knowledge, and the guidance of Your Word. (James 1:21)
I come to Your Word for refuge from the lies of the enemy.
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
“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 .
At this time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I remember the Easter hymns we sang in church as I grew up. I loved “Christ Arose” partly because of the building excitement in the chorus:
“Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!” * (Words and music by Rev. Robert Lowry, 1826-1899.)
Now that I’m older, I value more and more the truth of the song. Jesus Christ conquered death, and He offers true eternal life to those who choose to receive and follow Him.
Christ is risen! Hallelujah! He is risen indeed!
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV)
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)
*Several performances of this song are available on YouTube. I liked this one by the Klondike Baptist Church Praise Team: https://youtu.be/UYcEH6vzVas
We tend to say things like: “Today was OK, but I think tomorrow is going to be really hard.” What we really think of as most important, or most powerful, we but after that ‘but.’ Leah was a saint who had a very difficult life. People considered her ugly. Her husband didn’t love her, and it didn’t seem like that would ever change. But (!) she learned to put God’s love after the but. We too, can find incredible life and grace by learning to put eternal truth after the ‘buts’ in our life.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button: To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer: Download Living Crucified Part 4
One of my journals from 2017 contained this entry:
“Another bad night last night. Lord, You are my God. The truth is that You are here, that You love me, that I am Your child, and that You hear and answer my prayers.
“But today I’m having trouble believing the truth. The fear and the lies shout loudly, and I don’t feel Your presence. I have trouble hearing Your voice. I want, need, to know You and walk in real relationship with You. Could I please have a sense of Your presence today? Would you show me how to come into Your secret place and hide under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 91)?”
I wonder why I had so much trouble trusting the truth. Maybe because my brain chemicals needed adjustment. Or maybe because I wanted to feel like those things were true. When I started telling myself that I could choose to believe the truth no matter what things seemed like or what my natural feelings were, I made spiritual progress. As Moses told the people, “Today I set before you life and death. Therefore, choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).” To choose to believe the truth—that’s life. To choose to believe the lies and how I feel—that’s death. Now I’m free to choose truth and life.
“Truth is under attack in our culture,” states David Barton, author of The American Story, in a recent talk available on YouTube. He gave startling statistics especially about moral truth. He noted that 3 out of 5 Americans believe there no such thing as absolute moral truth. Among millennials, the number is 4 out of 5. Even among Christians, 1 of every 2 believe there is no absolute moral truth.
He spoke about 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, particularly about verses 10-12 where Paul talks about people not receiving a “love of the truth.” A continued rejection of truth results in being deluded and believing a lie. People then act on these lies and experience condemnation.
Mr. Barton points out that personal opinion has replaced truth and fact in our society. “My side winning” has become more important than truth.
(The above from the American History II video in a series of 3 at Christ for the Nations Church:)
All 3 videos were truly fascinating with true American history being given in each one, much of which I didn’t know and which is no longer taught in American schools.
How very sad that people in our country have drifted so far! Everyone “doing what is right in their own eyes” must stop. The only way our nation can be restored is for all of us to begin to love and pursue truth in every area so God can bless America again.
At one time when my anxiety symptoms intensified, I reached out for help. Through a series of misunderstandings, I ended up spending a night in a “suicide watch” unit, even though suicide has never been an issue for me. But while I was there, I met a young mother who had tried to take her own life. I wished I knew how to help her.
Since then I’ve learned of others with similar struggles. I prayed privately for one young woman: “Father, she can’t seem to grasp how much You love her or how precious she is to You or how faithful and mighty You are or how You are for her and not against her. Please help her.”
2015 San Francisco, CA
I understand where she’s coming from. I remember when I went through my own storm of anxiety. My troubled mind latched onto doubts and let truth slip out of my hands. I wrote wonderful verses in my journal, like Romans 5:5, “…For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” Also, Psalm 56:9, “…This I know: God is on my side.” (Both are New Living Translation) Still I felt unable to trust and believe the truth.
Doubt pointed at me (and my focus followed his pointing finger) and whined: These things are true for others, but maybe not for me. I don’t have as much faith as other people. I might not love God enough, or perhaps I’m not good enough. There could be conditions on these promises that I’m not meeting.”
Two things that helped me were getting proper medication and understanding that I could choose to believe God no matter how I felt. Now that storm has passed, and I’m learning to turn my gaze away from me and back to God. It occurred to me that whatever I’m lacking, He is great enough to make up for. He calls me to believe Him, trust Him, and rest in Him.
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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).