Anyone out there ever made a mistake that you were embarrassed about? A bad decision or a fall into a sin? Then right after the realization that you fell short of the grace of God, remorse set in. All the repenting didn't seem to help you feel better. And the devil, who is quick to bring up past sins, guilt or condemnation was right there on your tail. Even some friends or family seem to constantly rehearse the mishap, which doesn't make the situation better. Getting past the hurt and guilt is extremely difficult. Forgiveness from yourself and those you hurt, generally seem a long time coming.
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Of course the first thing we need to do is confess to the Lord we messed up. The second, is to ask for forgiveness. Then the scripture says, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us! That means He cleans us up. It's as if we never sinned. Now, the hard part, in our mind is, we must forgive ourself! Yes, we have to let it go, just as if we never sinned! (A word of caution, all this forgiveness and cleansing, doesn't give us freedom to sin again. Rom. 6:15) Forgiveness is not condoning the sin or even the lack of accountability, it's letting go of the anguish or resentment of the sin. It's coming to realize that Jesus himself took our sin, guilt and iniquities. Is. 53:5 NIV "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole." We can be free from pain of guilt and condemnation only by receiving it by faith from God, when we truly repent!
Now let's talk to the people that were hurt by the offense. I am reminded of the story in the Bible where, Jesus spoke to the accusers of the woman caught in the act of adultery, "he who is without sin cast the first stone". I believe that everyone of us at one time has committed a sin that affected others. I can already hear "but my sin wasn't as grave as the one committed against me"! Listen people of God, sin is sin! Lying is the same as stealing, sexual sin is the equilvalent of anger, unforgiveness is synonymous of murder. One sin is not greater than another! And if Jesus can forgive us of any sin we commit, then how simple is it that we forgive others! Holding grudges, animosity or someone hostage for their sin hurts us as much it does the one who committed the infraction. First of all it keeps us from being forgiven. (Mat. 6:14-15) Secondly, the bitterness that comes from unforgiveness keeps the blessings of God from flowing to us because we grieve the Holy Spirit. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:29-32)
How many times are we suppose to forgive, you ask? Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4 "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” I know some of you are saying, 'How can I forgive this person that has done this dastardly deed against me? My feelings are hurt. Trust is broken. How do I know they won't do it again?' The answer to forgiveness is LOVE. Agape Love which is unconditional Love, like the love Jesus gave us. He forgave us even before we were born. He paid the price for our sin and forgiveness 2000 years ago. The only way to get past this hurt is by faith in the Lord. Through prayer, praying like you would for yourself and faith, forgiveness will flow. Every time you think of the pain you must forgive by faith, until one day you realize it's no longer tormenting you. That's when forgiveness is established.
If you are one of these two kinds of people I urge you to operate in the Love of God and forgive. Allow the healing power of God to come into your life and minister to you. Remember 2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Trust the Lord for a new beginning. All things are possible with Him.
Prayer #1: Father, in the name of Jesus I come to you repenting for my actions. I ask for Your forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit to help direct me and lead me in the path of righteousness. Open my ears and seal Your Word, that I may do what I have heard. Amen.
Prayer #2: Father, I come to You in the name of Jesus praying for the person that sinned against me. I forgive them as Christ forgave me. I loose them from my anger and allow the Holy Spirit to minister healing to them and to me. I ask forgiveness for anything I may have done to cause this transgression. And I choose to operate in the Agape Love towards them. Amen.
Of all the creatures on earth I believe the less stressed is the snail. Seriously, think about it, the snail, as slow as he is, still made it to the ark before the flood. He wasn't stressing about making it! The pressures of daily life, whether it be the job or family oftentimes can be overwhelming. With the need to accomplish what's been set before us or the tasks we've chosen, stress can enter in to affect us causing illness. Too often people tend to put more on their plate than they can effectively handle. Or because of the tender nature of some, responsibilities are often added to them by leadership. All this adds stress related emotions.
The work before us, isn't easily ignored, especially when it involves others, assignments or impending target dates. The tension of fulfilling the mission usually mounts as more duties are assigned and the schedule narrows. So how does one handle stress on a day to day basis?
I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:7, of which I like the Amplified version, "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." I liken casting to 'heaving, throwing, or flinging'. And of course Peter didn't say, just throw part of your care...he said the 'Whole of your care'! That's all the 'how's it going to turn out, how's it going to get done, IS it going to get done, and how am I going to do it' thoughts. Then he indicates 'once and for all'! In other words, do it once and leave it! Don't take back the worry or questions. Leave them in the Lord's lap.
Doing this is very difficult for a lot of people, because they want to be in control. I think some people believe God's not interested in the 'little' BIG stuff in our life. I call it 'little' BIG stuff, because in the scheme of it all, there are bigger and grander problems than these things we call BIG! Our nature is to make mountains out of mole hills, thinking the world will fall off of its axis if we don't complete something. If the truth be said, generally it's us that determine the degree of significance. (I'm not talking about those large events with time constraints involving hundreds of people. In those cases, we just need to activate time management or delegation. Remembering we can't do everything ourself.) Regardless of the measure of importance, we should cast the whole of our care, once and for all over on Him!
Here are some helpful points to rid yourself of stress or anxiety in your life.
1) Pray! Yes, it's come to that! Prayer IS 'Casting'. It's taking whatever's confronting you and giving the guardianship of it to God. Pro. 3:5-6NIV "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." In more ways than not, God has the perfect way to accomplish your task at hand! You just might be surprised at the answer He has for getting it done!
2) Thank God for taking your care! Phil. 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Thanksgiving is where faith is activated. When we thank Him for the answer before it arrives, that means we believe He's given us the answer.
3) Renew your mind to the Word. In other words, find some scripture to meditate on. Phil. 4:8 "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." Instead of thinking about all the problems and all of what you cast over to God, find the good things about your situation to reflect on.
and 4) Praise the Lord. Praise is acknowledging what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do! It's important to know that Praise always precedes God's power. (Read 2 Chron. 20:21-22) Your praises to God will open the door for things to change and answers to come in behalf of your situation. God always sits upon the throne of praise we build. (Ps. 22:3)
I know that if you incorporate these points in your life, your stress will leave, peace will come and the help you need will arrive. Praise the Lord!
Imagine this, you're moving along in life, going to work, living happily with your family. Everything seems real fine! You've got your bills paid, and a little money put away for a rainy day. You and your family are healthy. You live in a nice house, drive a cool car and can afford to have a few luxuries. It seems life is treating you real good. Then 'wham' right out of no where, a problem hits. You've always considered yourself to be a person of faith, praying regularly, attending church when you can and even quoting Bible scriptures. But now there's a serious issue that's staring you right in your face. It's so severe that you don't know who to turn to for help or how to confront it. It seems over whelming and unsolvable. What are you going to do?
Regardless of any type of difficulty there's always one solution, God. Yes, I know a lot of you are saying, "Really?? Are you for real? Of course you'd say God, your a preacher. But what about us normal people?" Ps. 56:3 says, "What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You (God)." Let's face it, is there anyone that can fully dispel fear, anxiety, frustration or give a sense of calm in the midst of turmoil? No! All the friends and family around can only sympathize, empathize, and express their opinions. Not one individual can completely ensure peace in the heart of a situation. Generally most people want to try to solve the dilemma on their own and really think they have the answer. Yet, when in the middle of adversity, no matter what we try to do, there's still the feeling of despair and questions of resolve.
The Psalmist wrote, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1 What that verse is really saying is, the Lord God is our deliverance. He will deliver us out of the situation. Personally, years ago we were faced with a serious lawsuit. A man who willfully injured himself while working for us, sued us for millions of dollars. We sought out legal counsel and help, but there was not one attorney in that town who would help. It seems the judge that normally handled these types of cases, always sided with the injured worker. In the words of the attorneys, we were doomed right from the start. But not heeding their counsel, we decided to take the problem to the 'Higher Court'. Our Almighty God. We prayed and asked the Lord God to intervene on our behalf. On court day, we showed up without an attorney prayerfully and in faith believing for the 'deliverance' by our God! Much to the courts surprise the judge that entered the room was not the original one scheduled. A different judge took this court because the other judge was unable to attend. And yes, you guessed it, she ruled in our favor! God mediated!
The second half of Ps. 27:1 says, "...the Lord is the strength of my life...." That word strength is defense. He will come to your defense. Just like in our court case, beyond any of our control,God turned the problem around protecting and defending us. Despite all difficulty He by the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.] (Eph. 3:20Amp) God IS the answer to any problem, situation, disaster, trouble or dilemma you may be facing. We urge you to seek Him out. Pray for His intervention. He will come to your aid and defense! Of whom shall you be afraid?
In our house we have an alarm system. To activate or deactivate that alarm, one must have right code. The proper numbers must be entered in proper sequence or the system won't work. Surprisingly there is a code to faith and the operation of it is just like working an alarm system. Unless you're willing to use the code the alarm is good but you'll never activate it. Most people would say, they have not yet found out how to operate their faith consistently and have trouble setting it in motion.
The Bible says, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17) However, faith does not operate by just hearing or just knowing. As in our previous blog (Fully Persuaded Faith 8/13/13), you have learned that just knowing something does not make it so in your life. The key to a successful and prosperous life is what we do with the Word! Look here at Joshua 1:8,9, "This Book of the Law shall not depart (cease) from your mouth, but you shall meditate (mutter) in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success." Notice a favorable outcome is determined by us! Saying the Word, and doing it is an activation of our faith! One can tell what one believes by what is said and done. Because people say what's in their heart and act out what they truly believe.
Everywhere individuals are confronted with problems that they wish would change. And generally instead of putting Godly faith on that situation, they just talk about it, complain about it, and think about it. In essence, you could say they put negative faith on it, believing it will be that way always. Emotions, such as anger, fear, sorrow, grief, or the like, will not activate faith. There's a 'code' to activating faith in your life and that's the only way to have a move of God in your situation.
Let's look at Mark 11:23,24 Amp. where Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, whoever, says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you and you will (get it)."
So what's the code of faith? Just like in Joshua 1:8,9 we must:
1) Find out what the Word says about our situation and for what we are believing. Write those scriptures down. It's important to know what's the basis of our faith, how it lines up with God's Word.
2) Meditate on that Word. Get it down in our heart to the point that the Word comes out instead of the complaint. Mutter it to ourself - remember faith comes by hearing.
3) Confess or say what we're believing, instead of what we're seeing. This will encourage our faith. How long do we say it? As long as it takes for it to manifest.
4) As in Mark 11:23-24 Believe we receive it as we say or pray for it, before it materializes. Faith without works is dead. Putting belief to our confession activates faith!
and 5) Praise and rejoice! True faith that believes the answer has shown up, rejoices and Praises the Lord before it actually arrives. (Read about Paul and Silas who were praying and praising before their answer came. Acts. 16:25-26)
These steps will help activate faith in your life if you exercise them regularly and consistently. Remember faith works by love, faith without works is dead and faith opens the door giving access to God's power.
Have you ever had a serious situation that occurred and left you feeling devastated? Perhaps you were so distraught that you thought God was the cause of your problem. You may have prayed, stood in faith and believed the circumstance would turn out differently. And when it all happened, in your thinking, you thought God caused it to transpire. You may believe that you did everything right, that you were diligent and faithful, but in the end you now believe that God brought you to this place and has left you.
Many people go through life believing that God caused the mishap. And now they are mad at Him, because of a catastrophic event. It could be that you or someone you know lost their job, had their house foreclosed, got in a terrible accident, experienced an unexpected divorce or had a loved one die. All those kinds of things happen in life and are always hard to explain 'why' they happened. Truthfully, we could spend the rest of our days reviewing the issue at hand only to find we are still asking 'why', and not any closer to an answer than before.
The serious danger in harboring anger towards God, can push us past the point of finding comfort or peace. When we harbor the question 'why' and hold on to our complaint for too long, it turns into irritation, which turns to bitterness. And then our bitterness turns into rage. At that moment we will no longer listen to reproof and God's Word will not have an effect on us. We shut out any words of wisdom or consolation from friends, family, spiritual authority or the Holy Spirit. Stepping into pride - we begin to blame God.
The Bible tells of a man named Jonah who got so angry with God that he wanted God to kill him. Jonah felt he had a right to be angry all because his situation didn't turn out the way he thought it should. His rage against God made him believe life wasn't worth living.
Because of your situation, you may believe life isn't worth living or that God failed you. Let me assure you that no matter what we encounter in life, God never fails. There are reasons responsible for whatever has happened. Somewhere someone missed GodWhether we were out from under God's protection (Ps. 91), or that we just didn't have the knowledge we needed (Hos. 4:6), it's time to forgive. Understand ".... that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28 NIV) At this instant, decide to put down your anger. "Lay aside anger..." (Col. 3; Eph. 4:26-32) Quit asking 'why' and begin thanking Him for His love and grace. "Trust Him with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding." (Pro. 3:5-6)
Prayer: Father, I come humbly to You asking for Your forgiveness for my anger towards You. I begin today to lay aside harsh feelings and complaints. I make a decision right now to trust You with all my heart, putting my understanding down knowing that I may never know the 'why'. And I believe that You have my interests at heart and are working all these things out for my good. I love You and praise You for Your goodness and grace. Amen!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."