Attitude in My Heart

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 red


Expectations

In the New Testament, Christ gives us promises; yet, almost always the promises are conditional. Often, in fact almost always,we must do something to receive the gift of His promise. I like to read the scriptures and underline my part – highlighting what I have to do to experience the fulfillment of His promise in my life.

John 6:35 – “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'”

John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Many years ago, I worked with an incredible leader whose philosophy of “Team” was simple: if you have a problem, bring with it a solution. His expectation in meeting with one of his team members required a presentation of the problem and a presentation of an answer. He would then contemplate both and come up with a resolution. That way, we all had ‘skin’ in the game. We couldn’t just come to him and complain expecting him to answer all our problems.

Christ is presenting a similar platform for us to follow. He wants us to bring our problems to Him but in doing so there is something expected of us. We must understand His requirements. He gives this, we give that. Salvation is a “TEAM” effort. Christ requires us to live in accordance with His words so that we become a part of His Team.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!”

Salvation is not about works; it is about the mercy and grace of God. When we are saved, we become new creations in Christ. A transformation occurs in our lives. We are no longer our old selves and our new selves long to obey His commands.

Luke 6:35, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Luke 9:48, “Then He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent me. For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.'”

Walking in the Promises is a two-way street. Many people miss what they have to do and see only what Christ has done for them. If it were simple, why the sacrifice? Why suffer humiliation in the hands of evil? Christ died so that we might live – because He knew what we will face every day here on earth; because He believed in our ability to remain faithful to Him; but above all, because He loved us enough to give all so that we might live with Him in eternity.

Understanding your part in receiving the Promises of our Lord and Savior is a key element in our daily walk with Christ.

John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Luke 11:28, “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'”


Wonderfully Made

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.


You are a Chosen People

Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name.” Anyone who has read Song of Songs understands the deep adoration and all-consuming emotions depicted between a man and woman; but consider God using it to compare such to a deep, personal thirst for Him.

Song of Songs 2:3, the Beloved describes her lover, “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.” She is declaring a choice, a uniqueness, a separateness from all others. He alone is the apple of her eye. He alone can shade her. His fruit is like none other.

1 Peter 2:9 tells us, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” We are His special possessions. His chosen people! How unique we are to Him. How much more should He be to us?

God is a jealous God. He wants all of your devotion, adoration, love, and appreciation. He wants to provide for and protect you. He wants to comfort, heal, guide, and adore you.

Have you ever read Charles Dickens’ book, A Tale of Two Cities? The plot is thick and entangled, but character Charles Darnay awaits execution. His friend, Sydney Carton, visits Darnay the night before the execution, drugs him, exchanges clothes, takes his place in prison, and ultimately dies for Darnay. Carton secretly loved Darnay’s wife Lucie. It is a sacrificial death; he would rather die in Darnay’s place than see Lucie suffer without her husband. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” 

To have someone die for your happiness; can you even imagine such devotion? Such love?

Actually, I can. We can. There is no greater love story than Christ’s death on the Cross. Does He not deserve our ultimate devotion? How can we not share an intimate relationship with God?

Talk to God. Rely on Him. Seek Him. Know, there is no love greater than His.


What do I do with forgiveness?

Matthew 18:21, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Peter is asking Jesus what everyone of us have asked Him before, “What do I do with forgiveness when the person hurts me over and over – the same way?”

Jesus’ response to Peter was simple, “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22).

The parable that follows is one of the greatest examples of forgiveness for us to follow and one of the toughest. It is from Matthew 18:23-27 and it tells of a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. There was a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold. The king requested that the man be brought before him. When the man told the king he could not pay him back, the king ordered for the man, his wife, his children and all his belongings be sold to pay back the debt. The man pleaded with the king and assured him he would pay him back. The king felt sorry for the man, forgave the debt, and let him go with no consequence.

He didn’t extend the time to pay the debt back; he didn’t work out additional terms of the loan; the king CANCELED the debt the man owed.

When people hurt us, we believe we are owed something. The question is what?

Money? Time? A new relationship? A do-over?

What could someone actually do to repay you for what you have suffered?

The real answer is not “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; the real answer is “Do unto others as Jesus Christ did unto you.” But that is really hard.

The conclusion of the parable brings quite an added twist. When the man who was forgiven his debt by the king leaves, he goes and finds a servant who owed him. When the servant explains he cannot pay him back, the man has him thrown into jail. When the king hears of the man’s handling of his servant, he calls the man back in and has him thrown into jail and tortured until the debt is repaid.

Matthew 18:35, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Forgiveness is a “heart issue.” It comes when we realize those who have hurt us do not deserve our forgiveness; but, they receive it because we have been forgiven by Jesus Christ. The harsh reality is we believe we forgive for the other person; but, we forgive for ourselves. For our hearts. For the protection of our souls. Forgiveness is a decision to cancel the debt; to walk away and say, “You owe me nothing.” It is a decision to stop telling the story; to stop hearing the wrong over & over in our heads; and to choose to say, “He/she doesn’t owe me anything.”

Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”


The Beginning of Knowledge

Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The Hebrew word for fool in this context, and in other places in the Old Testament, is a word which means morally defiant. The fool Solomon describes here is very much like a snake, deaf and unable to charm. Until the fool is willing to know God, he despises Godly instruction.

According to the psalmist in Psalm 58, unredeemed people are seen as wicked in the eyes of God, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer however skillful the enchanter may be.”

Some of the psalmist’s words are hard to understand. The important part to remember is, when David wrote these words, he is asking God to punish the wicked; he is not asking God to allow him to punish them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor, anti-Nazi, and one of the greatest martyrs for Jesus Christ wrote a small book called Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Bonhoeffer lived his life according to the richness of the Book of Psalm. He understood from his prison cell in Nazi Germany what it was like to be tormented by the wicked. He felt the depth of evil, as David is describing in Psalm 58. He knew well of the existence of the ungodly.

Many times in the Book of Psalm, the authors cry out to God to punish the wicked; to declare judgment upon them: “The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” The words are very sombering when we consider our God to be of love and light. David meant here simply the wicked will die and the righteous will not.

So what do we do with Psalm 58 and others like it? First, the important words to remember are, David was asking God to handle those who harmed him. It is no different from what we pray when we turn people over to God; those who sin against us or are cruel to us; those we believe are unjust and unfair. We lay them at the foot of the cross; we place them in the hands of God. It is not for us to handle but for God to handle in His time.

Secondly, we were all wicked before the redemption of Christ; before we were reborn in Him. Whether we want to accept such a thought or not, until we drenched the blood covering protection of Jesus Christ over us, we were/are considered lost among the wicked. That is why the battle for souls is so important to God and so important to Satan. Every soul counts.

Because Jesus was human on earth, He understands what it feels like to be treated cruelly and unjustly at the hands of mean and hateful people. The Psalms are the prayers and cries of human beings to God; humans in desperate situations; humans who believe in a God who protects and defends them against evil.

Bonhoeffer writes, “It is the incarnate Son of God, who has borne every human weakness in his own flesh, who here pours out the heart of all humanity before God, and who stands in our place and prays for us.” Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, page 20-21.


He is the Life

John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

When life deals us a blow; when all around us seems to fall apart; when what we know to be the truth is not what others know; when the storms rain upon us, Jesus tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

I am the waySome of you may have lost your way. Maybe you feel off life’s path. The purpose and plan for your life seems to have been tossed aside and nothing makes sense. Jesus is calling you. He is telling you that He is the way. You are not lost. Follow Him.

and the truth I’ve been there too. People are saying one thing and you know the truth and it isn’t what they are saying. Know that Jesus has the truth and He will help you reveal the truth. His way is the best way. Don’t fret, just put it in His hands to handle.

and the lifeSin is death. Jesus is life. Even if there weren’t a Heaven or Hell, I’d still follow God. His way makes sense. His way brings peace, comfort, understanding, and goodness. Jesus came so that we would have life. It is His promise to us.

No one comes to the FatherA very important truth in salvation, Jesus is the way to the Father and we do not get to Heaven except through Him.

It is a simple verse and one many know by memory. Living it out, is not simple. Think about what Jesus is to you today. Take Him a His word – He is the way; He is the truth; He is the life.