We never like to be wrong. Pride. It’s a terrible thing. Not only do we not like being wrong, but we usually are not quick to confess our sin. Rather than confess to God and receive His mercy, we do not take the simple step toward forgiveness.
The Psalmist noted that when he refused to confess his sin, his “body wasted away… (he) groaned all day long.” He carried around this horrible burden, this dreadful sin, and it caused him to experience great pain. It tore him up. It weighed him down.
We usually think that the confession of sin is all about us stating our imperfections, listing the laws of God we have broken. It is a time when we recognize we serve a holy God. Confession is much more than this though—it’s a release, a freedom from this sin that weighs us down. When we confess, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). That’s it. Said and done. No need to look back on it. No need to remember it (He chooses not to). Read Isaiah 43:25. Freedom. If you have something to confess, take that step. Be free.
“When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.” – Psalm 32:3 [NLT]
A dear friend gave me some Tim Tams the other day. I even ate one with my afternoon coffee that very day. But then with my scatterbrained mind, I forgot that the Tim Tams were in my special hiding spot. Only when I saw them today, did I realize that I had nearly a full pack of Tim Tams just waiting to be enjoyed. Forgetfulness is a horrible thing, except for when it comes to forgiveness.
When we forgive another person, we should forgive as if we forget. This means we forgive as if it never even happened. We forgive like with the Tim Tams, where it would not be remembered unless seen again (meaning the person sinned against you again). That’s how God forgives us. The Bible says that He forgives us as far as the east to the west (Psalm 103:12). His Word also tells us that He forgets, He chooses not to remember what we’ve done when we ask for forgiveness (Isaiah 43:25). Now He could choose otherwise. He is all powerful and all knowing. He could easily remember; it’s a choice.
We need to forgive like God. We need to make a choice—and be intentional with our forgiveness. When someone has sinned against you, when someone has upset you, when someone has done something foolish—choose not to remember. Ask the Spirit to help you forgive and forget. This isn’t only for the benefit of the person being forgiven, but more so for you. Unforgiveness is a prison where you are held in torment. Marriages break apart because of the records kept of the wrongs. Friendships are destroyed because of the records of the wrongs. Always we remember the faults, the bad moments. These things burn a hole in our memory bank. Only when you choose to put it aside, to say “I forgive this” and press forward, are you free from the prison of unforgiveness. Only then will you have freedom. Only then will you live by the grace you have received. It is a beautiful thing, a freeing thing.
“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9 [NLT]
The song of Moses and Miriam is great. The Israelites were in awe over what the Lord did to lead them out of Egyptian slavery. This song was sung by Moses and the Israelites as an offering of praise and a declaration of the greatness of God.
The song is a holy song, one to honor God and lift up His great name. Verse 2 speaks of the Lord as one’s strength and song. In this verse, the Israelites declare that God is their strength and their song. The strength is easy to understand. We are weak; He is strong. They couldn’t escape the slavery of the Egyptians; however, God could lead them to freedom by His strength.
But what about the song? How is God our song? God is only your song is He is on your lips. This means you are forever praising Him. You are forever signing His praises and pointing to Him. Has He been your strength and your song? Have you praised His great name today?
“The LORD is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him–my father’s God, and I will exalt Him!” – Exodus 15:2 [NLT]
I love a good shortcut. It has been a difficult few months as my favorite shortcut has been shut down due to construction. I save 5-10 minutes on my drive with that shortcut. But in life, there are not always shortcuts. You really cannot learn in life if everything is a shortcut.
God desires an investment from us. If we are going to walk with Him, the walk includes turns and rest stops. The walk includes going the long way until we grasp what He is trying to teach us or until we allow Him to chip away at something that isn’t meant to be in our lives.
When God led His people the long way to freedom, it was not to keep His people from the freedom, but to help them grow to truly experience the freedom He had for them. If they went the short way, they would have turned back. They weren’t ready. He led them the long way so they could be ready—so they could experience the best He had for them.
Today, don’t look for the shortcuts to God. Don’t look for shortcuts in life. Appreciate the long road God has you on, because it is the road that will lead you to God’s best for you. Take some time today to thank Him for not letting you alone on the road.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” – Exodus 13:17 [NLT]
Jesus gave His life so that we can be free. We are free from every kind of sin. Jesus gave His life so that we can be cleansed. Because He carried all of our sins, because He paid the penalty of our sin, we are redeemed. We are cleansed by His cleansing blood. He made the atonement. He paid the price. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are made righteous through faith. Because of Jesus, we have the opportunity to be God’s very own people.
When God created man, He created man to live with Him. He walked with Adam and Eve before the Fall. After the Fall, God still had a heart for His very own people. With Abraham, He made covenant. He promised blessing and descendants and land. As the descendants multiplied, the Israelites were His very own people; however, they continued to go astray. Every time they fell away, God brought them back. Every time they went against God, He forgave them and showed them mercy.
Today, God wants you to be His very own. He has offered you freedom. He has offered you cleaning. He has offered you a new life. He loves you. Take the step today to reach back to the One Who always has His arms reaching towards you.
“He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” – Titus 2:14 [NLT]
It really upsets me when I hear people say that God sends people to hell. The truth is that hell is a choice. People choose to go to hell because they don’t want a life with Jesus—Who is in heaven at the right hand of the Father. God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (v. 4). In 2 Peter 3:9, we read that “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise… instead He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (NIV).
Jesus Christ gave His life as a sacrifice—to purchase freedom—FREEDOM FOR EVERYONE. In John, we read that God loved the entire world, everybody, that He gave His one and only Son and everyone who believes in Him will not perish (3:16). God loved the entire world. Jesus purchased freedom for everyone.
Hell is a choice. Heaven is a choice. You have a choice. Jesus Christ paved the way for you to have these two options, instead of it ending at the wages of sin being death. There are two options. You decide. Everyone chooses for themselves. God wants you to choose freedom. He wants you to choose heaven. He wants you to choose life. He wants you to choose Jesus. But He loves you so much, He’s given you the choice. It’s the only way for you to truly love Him, to truly have freedom, to truly have life. You decide.
“Who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth… He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” – 1 Timothy 2:4, 6 [NLT]
Rules and regulations are important and certainly needed. If we would not have rules, there would be no boundaries in the world. People could drive on any side of the road. There would be no need to stand in a line. These are only a few examples but it is easy to see things would be very different. Structure would disappear.
Even so, there are two things that are important to remember. We must remember that none of us keep all of the “rules.” We do not follow God’s Law. Read the Law of Moses. Read the Ten Commandments. It won’t take long to see that we fall short. In Romans 3, Paul is quick to profess that we all fall short. Accept it. Second, grace is above the Law. The love of Christ, the grace of God—with this we have salvation because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
In Colossians 2, we read of people who were trying to keep the Law. Though Christ fulfilled the Law, though we no longer live by the Law, people were still trying to submit to the Law. Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch. Do not. Do not. Living with these regulations enslaved the followers. No longer were these people living by grace; instead, these people were slaves of the Law. They were asked if they still belonged to the world. Why? Because those in the world follow the laws of the world, while those who belonged to Jesus lived by grace. By following the Law, they were basically saying that the blood of Christ wasn’t enough. You decide. Where do you belong? For me, I belong to Jesus.
“Why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations? – as] Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them].” – Colossians 2:20b-21 [AMP]
I love the powerful story of the walls of Jericho falling down without anyone touching them. I can see these people marching around and blowing the horns and shouting. What an amazing demonstration of the power of God. All the people had to do was follow the steps and God did the work.
Beforehand God spoke to Joshua and said He had “already given” Jericho to them. He could consider it already in his possession. We have many guarantees from God too. We have already been given so much yet we do not act as if we already have been on the receiving end. We walk as if we need to tear down the walls that God already promised to tear down for us.
What have you already been given? You have become a child of God (John 3:3). You are glorified with Jesus (Colossians 3:4). You are redeemed from slavery to sin (Romans 8:23). You are FORGIVEN OF ALL your sins (Colossians 2:13). You are FREE (Romans 6:14). The Spirit is in you (1 Corinthians 2:10). You are delivered from the power of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). You are united with Jesus (Colossians 2:9-10). You are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). You have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16). You are a saint (Ephesians 1:1).
“God spoke to Joshua, ‘Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops. Here’s what you are to do: March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Repeat this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s horn trumpets in front of the Chest. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, the priests blowing away on the trumpets. And then, a long blast on the ram’s horn—when you hear that, all the people are to shout at the top of their lungs. The city wall will collapse at once. All the people are to enter, every man straight on in.'”
– Joshua 6:2-5 [MSG]
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in prison singing hymns. An earthquake opened the prison doors but the prisoners stayed. Free to stay. Why? Why didn’t they run? They were bringing Hope.
The jailer woke up from the earthquake and saw all the doors of the prison open. He immediately decided to kill himself because he would have been killed anyway for allowing the prisoners to escape. He felt hopeless. This reminds me of Elijah and the hopeless woman and her son. Do you remember she wanted to eat the food she had left and then die? In 1 Kings 17, you find this widow of Zarephath feeling hopeless, just as this jailer. Elijah was bringing Hope.
In both cases, this sense of hopelessness was met with the presence of God. Paul and the others stayed. The jailer asked what to do to be saved. He and his household were saved. The widow and her son never ran out of oil. What was once hopeless was no longer. The jailer was then “filled with joy” (v. 34). From hopeless to joy—you can have that too!
“The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped… He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” – Acts 16:27, 30 [NIV]