We are in the lazy days of summer. While life busily moves along, there is a peacefulness about summer that surpasses any other time. A lightness hovers over the season causing us to take a deep breath, reflect more on past days and future hopes, and lull in the moment. Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” In this verse, the Psalmist is not asking God to tell him how many days he has left on this earth. He is asking God to show him how to make the best of the days he has – however many. This summer I have had the privilege of spending time with my family – particularly grandchildren – riding the tractor, running through the sprinkler, eating ice cream sandwiches, and finding lightning bugs – simple things but priceless memories. These moments have meant more to me than I can find the words to express. How do you invest your time? Do you ask God for the wisdom needed to use your days wisely? When we reflect on time, we realize how weak we are and how short our days are on this earth. We are frail people. Something can happen to any one of us at any given moment in time. The beautiful part of God is He preserves and protects His people, either on earth or in eternity. This Psalm was penned by Moses. Take time to read through Psalm 90 slowly and intentionally. What Moses is trying to tell us is God is outside of time – time has no implications for Him; however, for us, it is fleeting. We tend to live as if our days are limitless. There will also be a tomorrow to apologize, to connect, to change, to forgive, to… The reality of tomorrow? It will never come. All we have is today. I recently attended a funeral of a friend of mine. His wife smiled and hugged my neck as I entered the visitation. She knew Connie and I had traveled some distance to be there. Through tears she whispered, “He always said to me, ‘we’ll do it tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it tomorrow.’ Mike, he never realized there isn’t a tomorrow, is there?” Today is a special time. God has a purpose for your life that is unique and only pertains to you; however, if you do not allow Him the opportunity to use you in order to fill it, you will never experience the fullness of life God intended for you to have. In every direction you look, there is beauty. Sometimes, we choose not to see it because we only want to see what is wrong – what is negative. When we make NOW our primary focus, it enables us to love who is near us; to enjoy the simpleness of where we are in life; and to experience the richness of the day God has planned for us. I encourage you today to realize, there is nothing more urgent than right now. Be comfortable where you are. Extract every bit of what you have from this moment because you will not live it again. Take time to be present in your here and now. This moment in your life is simply enough.
Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
What interests me the most about the Apostle Paul’s comments is his contrasts of emotions. He is suggesting that we get rid of destructive behaviors such as bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander and replace them with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Easier said than done, isn’t it?
I saw a quote recently. “Forgiveness is admitting we are like other people.” The phrase stuck in my head for several days until I could rationalize what it meant to me. Interestingly, we see others for what they are. We see ourselves for what we are striving to become. When others make mistakes, we measure them by the mistake they made. When we make mistakes, we reconcile the action with our circumstances and strive never to do it again. We find the potential in ourselves and disregard the potential in others.
Forgiveness comes when we see ourselves in others.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Christ came to us in human form to experience our struggles, our temptations, our grief, our mistakes. He came so that He could connect to us in a way no one else ever could. And because of His willingness to do so, He paid the price for our sin – IN FULL – accepting the pain and suffering for us. It is difficult to relate His action with ours but I see it in this way, when someone apologizes to us for hurting us, we tend to respond, “It’s ok. No worries.” In actuality, we’ve probably told 3 people what they did to us. We don’t really want to be around that person and while we think we’ve forgiven them, we really haven’t.
Forgiveness comes when we say, “Yes. You hurt me deeply. But I am willing to pay the price and love you. I’m willing to accept the pain and the betrayal and continue our relationship.” That is what Paul meant when he wrote those words in Corinthians.
But how do we truly know we have forgiven? 3 Ways to be assured you have forgiven a wrong doing.
1. The act does not consume your thoughts any longer. When we are betrayed, we tend to play it over and over in our minds. We talk about it and refer to it on a regular basis. Sometimes it becomes who we are. It is how we relate. When we forgive, we are able to put the action aside.
2. It doesn’t hurt anymore. While forgetting would be a great thing, most of us don’t have the ability to erase our past; but, when we forgive, we remember the action, but it doesn’t have power over us anymore.
3. We can love the offender. The toughest part of forgiveness is willingly showing our love for the one who hurt us. We do not react differently in their presence. We display genuine acceptance when they are around.
Today, realize there is someone in your life you need to forgive. Start on the path to turning “bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander” into the kindness and compassion of God
Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
Some of you may know the story of King David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the death of her husband. It doesn’t really matter though what David did or did not do, what matters is the difficulty he faced in life until he decided to repent of his sins before God. Because God knew only if David confessed of his sins and walked in His way could God use him, God did not let up on David.
I spoke with a man a few weeks ago who is living in a nightmare. Because he does not want to come clean and confess his behavior, he is being eaten up inside with sickness. His body aches and his stomach is constantly sick. He cannot sleep and depression has nearly overtaken him. The simple solution is to confess of his sins before God, make a complete 180 degree turn, and stop doing what he’s doing.
It is important to realize that God loves us enough to put His heavy hand on us until we “own up” to what our lifestyle is and how it influences those around us. God hates sin. It pains Him when we are living in sin and refusing to come forward and change. Some of you, like King David, are silent. You are ignoring God; ignoring what is right and what is wrong; justifying what you are doing with some ridiculous argument.
If you are in the middle of something you know is wrong, stop today. Go to God in prayer. Make it right. And do not go back to your former ways. God’s way is better. His plans for your life cannot be fulfilled until you clean up the mess in your own life. Like David, God has His eye on you. Don’t make Him wait any longer.
When my kids were little, I purchased an above ground swimming pool. It was big enough for me to get in with them and it helped them learn to swim. My son David loved for us to go around the edges of the pool as fast as we could, repetitively until a current was formed. Then the three would lift their feet and go with the flow. I can still see their faces, laughing, as the water pulled them around the pool.
John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
I often think of those hot summer days when I read this scripture from John. If any of you have ever been caught up in a current, you know, it is difficult to get out. Once you have been pulled in, you are heading where the water is heading. How amazing to be caught up in the flow of living water! To trust in the current of God; to trust in the direction of the water; to know He is pulling us along.
Another translation says, “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'”
I don’t know about you, but I want to float on the power of His presence. I want to feel the freshness of His mercy ever single day and have living water flowing through me and around me for the rest of my life.
Today, acknowledge your desire to be in God’s flowing current. Ask Him to fill your heart with living, moving water. Allow Him to flow through you to benefit His Kingdom and bring others to know of His amazing love and truth.
On a daily basis we have two options – to complain or to be grateful.
There really isn’t any other way to be. We can complain in the morning that the bed was lumpy, the temperature of the room was too cold or too hot, the coffee was bitter, and the eggs runny. Or we can wake up grateful for a bed to sleep in; a roof over our heads; the sweet smell of coffee first thing in the morning; and the goodness of food to put in our bellies.
Same morning – differing perspectives.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
The daily grind can wear us down. We can become complacent in the drudgery of work, chores, family, church, school, laundry, or “whatever” fills our days. We long for something new and different or we simply wallow in the muck we’ve made and play our tiny violins of pity.
Years ago a friend showed me his gratitude calendar. It was pocket sized and filled with simply words which he penned daily. He said it was his secret weapon for life.
As I thumbed through page after page of tiny squared calendar days, I read his words on different pages, “So thankful for the lunch my wife made for me today. Really tasty!” “Thankful for the lady at Walmart who helped me find Cream of Celery soup my wife requested for me to bring home. Saved me a great deal of time!” “Very thankful for the package I received today from my uncle in Wisconsin. Best honey I’ve ever tasted!” “So grateful the flat tire on my wife’s car happened during the day and in a safe place for her to pull over.”
I learned this practice of finding something every day to be grateful about was something he learned from his grandmother after the loss of his 16 year old daughter. While at first it seemed impossible to be grateful about anything, once he began implementing it in his life, it changed the way he thought. Every year on his deceased daughter’s birthday he writes, “So grateful I had 16 years with her. So thankful she was in my life.” His grandmother raised 7 children and in the course of her life, she buried 5 of them. She told my friend, “Gratitude makes life beautiful again.”
Today I want to challenge you to pry open your eyes to see all the reasons you have in your life to be grateful. Keep a calendar or journal. Experience what a difference saying thank you can make in how you look at life.
It is time that you enjoy God’s best for your life. He wants to give you His favor. He wants to extend kindness to us even though none of us deserve it; but He wants to bless our lives and show us favor because we are His children.
Genesis 39:3-4, “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight…”
Job 10:12, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”
Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”
Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Numbers 6:25-26, “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. “
We have to find a way to believe what God’s Words say about us more than we believe what the world says about us. When the negative comments come our way; when failed businesses define us; when our grades don’t display our efforts; when people misunderstand us or exclude us; when our thoughts tell us we are worthless, God’s Word must hold true in our hearts. Self-doubt causes us to put stock in those around us and not God. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. You are no accident but designed and created uniquely. You are an incredible creation of God!
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3
Today, realize who you are in Christ. Tell yourself that you walk in God’s favor; that you are the child of the King of kings; and you are loved more than you can imagine.
Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Often we interpret this verse to mean “mourning” as in grieving the loss of a loved one. No doubt; when we lose someone we love, God comforts us; but mourning here also refers to the grief we feel for our sinful acts. It is a loss of fellowship with God – a separation of our relationship to Him. There are blessings in our conviction over the sin we committed. The blessing comes in the pardon of our wrong doing. Redemption comes because we seek God’s forgiveness; we mourn because we have wronged Him and by His blood we are made clean again.
Jesus was also referring to the sins of the world. Anytime we feel the depth and pain of sin, whether it be our own actions, someone else’s, or the malicious acts of a nation, the sorrow draws us closer to God. In our pain and grief, He extends His hand toward us.
2 Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
There have been times in my life when I asked God to forgive me for something that I did wrong. The attitude in my heart was almost nonchalant – I’d done something wrong, I’d asked for forgiveness, I’m done, right? What I was missing was the true meaning of this verse. God is very grieved when we lie, cheat, judge, steal, hurt others, have addictions, and any other mode of sin. He is hurt by it. When we casually make requests for forgiveness, it must grieve Him even more. The seriousness of sin is eternal damnation – it is no joking matter – and yet, at times we do not understand the seriousness of sin.
Jesus is saying to us, we are blessed when we understand our sin and we mourn over the separation that occurred between us and God when we sinned. This true repentance will bring to us the comfort of God’s forgiveness.
Today, search your heart; ask God to show you areas of wrongdoing to which you need to apply “Godly sorrow.” Sometimes we may need to ask God to give us a sense of sorrow over the sin we’ve committed and for which we are asking His forgiveness. We may need to feel the hurt we have put on others by our actions. We may need to understand how much we’ve hurt God by our sin. It is a privilege when we experience the true sadness for our sinful acts; the burden of death is lifted from us; we are redeem.