Nothing hurts like a broken conscience. It’s when you can’t look a person in the eye anymore, or stand straight before others. When the burden of sin is a constant reminder that you are not a good person. It staggers the walk and stutters the speech. It points to depression and self-harm as the best answers for inner pain. Guilt will force you into decisions that you never thought you would make, and circumstances beyond your control. Who will save us from this body of death?
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He heals the broken conscience and forgive even the hidden sins. He gives joy for sorrow and love for guilt.
Make today the day He heals your broken and contrite heart. Don’t carry your burdens any longer. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.
Ugh. I really don’t like that word. A “Do-Gooder” just seems bland and cliched. In he same vein, a “goody two-shoes” comes to mind, which I found out last week was an actual person, and now used as a paragon of virtue, an example for others to emulate and point to. Be again, it smacks of cliche and unreality. Real people have bad days, difficult times where they slip. A real human being has real human problems, which seem so unlike the stellar phrases above.
And yet here is this text stating back at us. Do good. Always seek to do good, and do not repay evil for evil. If I may, I understand this to be an instruction to us, do good rather then evil, especially when evil is expected. I am human. Because I am human, I more often am prone to react in anger when threatened or wronged. This comes with a choice. I can choose to react violently and “fly off the handle” or I can choose not to, and do something else. I used to not have that choice. Because before I started to follow Christ and received His Spirit into my life, I didn’t have that check on my temper. But now, however brief a time I experience it, it is there, and my renewed conscience comes back into play, so that I am now conflicted. I want to react in evil, hurting the one who hurt me. I know better. And that has made all the difference. This verse reinforces that which I know to be true, but I still need to hear it. I hope it has helped you today too.
So it’s Tuesday. The old Norse called it Tyr’s Day. Tyr was the god of war, so it seems appropriate that we go to war today, against our own thoughts. You see we have a battle going on constantly in our heads over who gets to run the body. On the one hand is the high-minded and righteous blood-cleansed spirit given aid and comfort by the Holy Spirit who has chosen to dwell within us once we had come to faith and been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And the there’s the opponent. The old man, the corrupt flesh that still plagued us with its desires and “needs”. It plagued us with its needs because its needs call for no righteous solution, but by any means necessary. Sex is needed. Food is needed. Clothes are needed. Sleep is needed. Air is needed. But the flesh doesn’t care that there are good and righteous ways to acquire each of these. The flesh wants what it wants. The desires of the flesh run counter to the desires of the spirit. Thus we are at war with our flesh and the tempting thoughts it produces.
“Do you see that nice-looking lady over there? Do you see her? Doesn’t she look nice?”
“Don’t even go there brain. I am happily married to a wonderful woman who satisfies me and I her. I have no need for anyone else. Besides, you’ve seen enough broken marriages, hard-hearted children and evil consequences resulting from such thoughts. God doesn’t want this, and neither do I.”
“Alright, alright, all I am saying is that she looks nice. Jeesh!”
It’s a never ending battle. Always be on your toes.
God bless you today.
Ever feel like your prayers are ineffective. I know I do. I heard a long time ago that God offers three answers to prayer: yes, no, and wait. It’s hard to tell the difference between the third and the first two sometimes. I know there are many who feel like their prayers don’t reach past the ceiling, that God isn’t listening at all. I do know from 1 Peter 5 that sometimes God leaves us alone for a while in order to test our resolve. But there are others who don’t pray enough or at all.
This verse stresses righteousness for powerful and effective prayer. It presents this in the context of forgiveness for sin. Here is a definite contrast between sin and righteousness. Those who have sin, confess it to a fellow Christian. Allow that Christian to pray for you (this is in light of the previous verse about being physically ill). And pray for one another. James poses here that physical illness may in fact have something to do with spiritual sin. And that confession and prayer have the power to effect healing.
There are some illnesses, we call them psychosomatic, that directly link one’s emotional state to their physical well-being. When you feel uneasy, your stomach starts to churn. When you are under stress, you get a headache. Tell what guilt does? Tell me what shame does to the body? Sometimes, extended shame and guilt lead to unexplainable physical illnesses. When the doctor can’t figure it out, maybe it calls for confession and prayer. That’s why we include Chaplains in our healthcare system, just to make sure all of our bases are covered. Include your pastor and your church in your health care. It might make a difference.
Just s thought for a Wednesday.
in the Lord’s Prayer, you might remember the phrase, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” James adds “The Lord does not tempt anyone.” So it has always seemed a bit odd to me that Jesus would say we ought to pray that the Lord lead us not into temptation. Does the Lord lead us into temptation unless we ask Him not to? James would say no. Perhaps the first phrase then is to emphasize the second. While the Lord does not lead us into temptation, we certainly pray He would deliver us from evil. And today’s verse emphasizes this last part.
We are constantly tempted. I know that sounds harsh, but even as I sit here to make this blog post, I am tempted to put it down and walk away. I have many other things I could be doing right now. Sitting here and typing out this comment on a Bible verse is something that I don’t have to do. I want to, but I am tempted not to. Temptation can be subtle. It can overt. But it usually appeals to your sense of self and what you deserve. It’s always like that McDonalds ad, “You deserve a break today.” It always appeals to you, to your sense of fairness and equity, your sense of justice. Temptation never feels wrong at the time. That’s why it’s so hard to spot when you aren’t looking out for it. When you are spiritually weak, temptation comes upon like an armed man and gives no quarter, no mercy.
But God reminds us that temptation is common, meaning don’t beat yourself up over it. Everyone is tempted. Even Jesus was tempted. Temptation is not a sign of spiritual weakness. Spiritual strength is measured by how well we recognize temptation and how well we find God’s offered way of escape. God will deliver us from evil, but we also need to let Him. Sometimes we don’t want to be rescued.
Just food for thought today. God bless you.
in context, our brother David is waiting on forgiveness. He is feeling the iniquity of himself and his nation, and is waiting earnestly, like the watchman for the morning, for God’s grace to fall. There is a poignancy here to his request. He is feeling the stab of guilt and the crushing weight of sin. Sin is not kind once fostered in your life. It is like a growing gangrenous wound, slowly eating away at your healthy spirit until you feel dead inside.
I wonder if I feel this. It is one thing to be aware that you have sinned, but do I notice the guilt and sense of iniquity that comes along with it? Or have I ignored it, with my conscience seared and burned away to certain sins that I commit so frequently? Lord I pray restore to me my sensitivity to sin, that I may feel that guilt again and seek your forgiveness, that you may cleanse my heart afresh upon my confession. May I like David wait upon the Lord and put my hope in the grace He has promised through His Son.
We have these precious and certain promises, that if we confess our sin, He will forgive us our sin and cleanse our hearts from unrighteousness (1 John 1:7).
My prayer is also for you today, dear reader, that you have not let sin get under your radar by stealth and familiarity. May your eyes be open to sin and alert to temptation. Help us Lord to watch as the Watchman for the morning, waiting for your cleansing blood to move through us and make us clean, unshackled by the sin that so easily entangles us. (Heb 12:1-2)
God bless you all today.
Jesus Reached Out
No matter where you run, or how buried you are in work and circumstances, there is no place that God cannot find you. This is a comfort to some, and a fear for others. Don’t add God to your list of fears. When Adam sinned against God, he ran and hid. God called out into the garden and said, “Where are you Adam?” Adam hid because of his sin, but his sin did not hide him from God. God knew exactly where Adam was, just as our parents could always see our foot sticking out or our hair just above the back of the couch. We pretend that we can hide from those that love us the most, but we are only fooling ourselves. God sees us in our sinfulness, our wretchedness, even our busyness, and stills calls to us. He still reaches out His hand. God loves us, even when we sin against Him. God loves you, especially today.