Christians—Will We Engage In Political Debate in Civil Manner?


God’s sovereignty prevails over the course of men’s lives. His will will be done, regardless of man’s great plans. When countries ignore His moral laws and applaud those who flaunt them, He has said He will withdraw the hand that restrains sin and evil and leave us to our depraved selves. Is that a society we want for ourselves? Christians must lead as “salt and light” of the world, defending God’s moral law and conducting ourselves in civic affairs with love and humility.


Eph. 4:29 (NLT): “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” 

Jeremiah 1:9 (ESV): “Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’”

Exodus 4:12 (NASB): “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”


(SLIGHTLY REVISED MEDITATION PUBLISHED IN 2016 BUT APPLICABLE IN 2020)

TWO THOUGHTS ON THE 2016 U.S. political season, a brief  analysis, and then a conclusion: 

 FIRST THOUGHT: The electorate is angry and divided. During the primaries, three candidates (Republicans Donald Trump & Ted Cruz; Democrat Bernie Sanders) led populist assaults against Washington. 

Of the three, Trump alone survived, leading to a predictable result: Old Guard politicians and establishment figures from both parties joining forces against Trump, their common foe. Too soon to tell if the electorate, wearied from a year of politics, will yawn and back the establishment candidate or continue the assault and overturn the status quo.

(Now, we know. They bucked the establishment and elected the populist.)

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Second Thought: The real possibility that Almighty God is withdrawing his protective hand as our country’s arrogant leaders—and a growing number of private citizens—ignore His biblical instructions for our lives. 

The apostle Paul wrote: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.” (Romans 1:28 NASB

He also wrote: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” (Romans 1:18-19 NIV)

Old Testament prophets told rebellious Israel that, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” (Isaiah 59:2 NLT) and “Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God?” (Jeremiah 2:17 ESV) 

King David, who lived under the covenant before the Cross, was so fearful of God’s rebuke for his sins, that he prayed: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11 NIV)

 While God after the Cross will not remove the Holy Spirit from His believers, calling His gift “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14), nevertheless, continued disobedience on our parts still erects a barrier between us and the God of mercy. 

This grieves the Lord who has assured us it is our obedience and salvation that He wants to see: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9 NIV)

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Analysis: Christian values, as many have seen, have given modern society so much to cherish — among them hospitals, civil liberties, abolition of slavery, modern science, elevation of women, and regard for human life — against the shameful record of non-believers who tout homosexual marriage, abortion-on-demand, civil unrest, antipathy toward individual rights and private property, and disrespect for all authority.

One difficulty with discussing civic matters from a biblical perspective is that the Bible is clear only that some matters pertain to God and His affairs, leaving a whole array of others to the state and to interpretation.

For example, we are to honor marriage as the union of one woman with a man, but  we’re left without biblical guidance on where to set the corporate tax rate or whether legislators should be term-limited.

Unfortunately for U.S. society, our national government now is usurping the moral sphere, replacing God’s moral law with political policy and defending that usurpation on a false reading of the Bible! 

Followers of Christ cannot let that go unchallenged. 

However, we are still called to be “light and salt” to the world and to express our views with humility and love. While God made it clear He abhors homosexual conduct and abortion, Christians could differ on issues such as developing new energy sources or protecting our nation’s borders.

Christians must boldly defend Scripture, but where the trail is muddled, Christ’s followers must reach their positions through prayer and promote them lovingly, even when disagreeing with one another.

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CONCLUSION: IT IS IMPERATIVE that followers of Christ lead the way this election year in the U.S. by boldly defending God’s laws and by conducting civic affairs in a civil manner. That would preclude the ad hominem attacks so favored by the unfaithful. 

We are called to support civil government (Rom. 13:1-7), but we must pray that whichever party’s candidates prevail in this ugly election, hearts will be softened to hear—and follow— the Lord’s voice.

POSTSCRIPT: This meditation written before the 2016 election seems equally pertinent as we approach the 2020 election. The electorate remains angry and deeply divided. Again, Trump — this time as President — and Bernie Sanders — launched campaigns against the status quo.

Once more, the Democrats muzzled Sanders’ voice, but Trump was not muzzled by Republicans in 2016 and, since then, has remade the party in his image.

As Christians, our jobs have remained constant: be a voice for Jesus Christ in the public square. The Bible even tells us how to do that:

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6 ESV)


PRAYER 

Our Heavenly Father, we pray Your grace as our countrymen  vote this November. We pray that our country’s leaders, and those who seek to replace them, will be open to Your voice and seek Your will, not just rhetorically when it’s politically useful, but in their personal lives and public acts. We also pray that You will lift up men and women who follow the Lord to seek political office at all levels of government so that our country, state, local communities, and school districts will be led by those who seek the Lord’s will. We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen

“DO YOU WANT TO BE HEALED?”


We know that Jesus is the “Great Healer,” and He has the power to heal any ailment we have. Yet, when He comes to us, sometimes He asks a question that might sound strange, “Do you want to be healed?” It’s similar to its cousin question, “Do you want your sins forgiven?” In both cases, He’s saying, “I can do this for you, but, first, you must be willing to place your faith in  Me.” So, the question remains open, “Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be forgiven?”


John 5:6 (ESV): “When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”


IT IS EASY TO OVERLOOK the real meat of this story. 

Healing, the Jewish religious leaders said, can be done on six other days, but the Sabbath day is a day of rest, and God has decreed that we’re to refrain from working on that day to keep it holy.

It’s a familiar story in the Book of John, of how Jesus heals a man who has been lame from birth, but the story quickly pivots to the fact that the healing took place on the Sabbath, in violation of Jewish law. 

But Jesus asks a question valid for all people in all places for all time.

“Do you want to be healed?”

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THINK ABOUT IT. We’re apt to say immediately, “Of course, I want to be healed. I don’t want to be lame for the rest of my life … or blind or deaf or … whatever else it might be.” 

Yes, I want to be healed.

So, what does Jesus do for the man? Does Jesus heal him right away? 

According to John, no. Instead, Jesus tells the man to do something he’s never done before. 

He tells him to get up from his pallet (the mat that has been his home for 40 years) and walk, and then bend over from a standing position and pick up the pallet and carry it with him. Implied is that (a) he won’t need it anymore and (b) he can’t just leave it by the side of the road.  

Even carrying the pallet is a violation of Jewish Sabbath keeping. 

Jesus is testing the religious leaders of the day for missing the point of God’s law, but let’s not overlook the real meat of this story because this story is not just a happy tale of how the Great Healer happened upon a man in distress and cured him — remarkably, unexplainably, and supernaturally.

This is a story for everyone of us for every day of our lives.

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IT TURNS ON THE QUESTION Jesus asked the lame man and asks us today: “Do you want to be healed?”

To be healed, fine. 

But will it cost us?

What will we need to give up or do, maybe something:

  • we’ve never done before, 
  • out of our comfort zone, 
  • that will separate us from the crowd or our buddies,
  • from our habits.

Do we really want to be healed?

This question has a cousin, another question Jesus asks: “Do you want your sins forgiven?”

“Well, of course!” We’re going to say. “Yes, please do that, kind Sir. Please forgive my sins, wipe my slate clean, erase my debts, forget my trespasses, start me off anew.”

But, do you really want your sins forgiven? All of them?

The shady business deals that are just part of the way things are. The friendships over the years with your drinking buddies. Those secret pleasures that have become the dessert in your boring life. Your private thoughts. Your wishes. Your dreams. No one’s looking. No one will ever know. 

Do you want those sins forgiven?

What, like being healed, will it cost you?

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IN OUR STORY, JOHN TELLS US that the man gives Jesus a rather strange answer. Instead of saying outright, “Yes, Sir, I sure want to be healed. Can You heal me? Will you heal me?”

No, instead, he tells Jesus a story of woe, of how he lies by the pool day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year — carried to the pool each morning, dropped off, and picked up at the day’s end and carted off, only to repeat the pattern the next day. 

He tells Jesus he’s unable to get himself into the pool when the waters are stirred, when the waters contain some magic potion that will heal the distressed. “I have no one to carry me to the water,” he says, mournfully.

Then Jesus tells him something, seemingly unrelated to the man’s story but actually right on point to the man’s life. “You do something. Do something you’ve never done before. Stand up. Go ahead. Stand up, then pick up your pallet, and walk.” 

This man’s legs did not function. The muscles had atrophied or never developed in the first place. The synopses that connect the brain to the legs were damaged or never functioned. 

But Jesus told him, “Tell yourself to move.”

The man did so. He imagined his brain telling his legs to do something his legs had never done before and, in fact, could not do: to move.

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THERE ARE OTHER STORIES in the Gospels where Jesus has directed someone — someone blind, or a leper, or a woman with a hemorrhage, or a centurion with a sick child, or a man carried to the roof of a house and lowered in front of Jesus and the crowd — and Jesus healed them by noticing their faith. 

Yes, He possessed the power of healing, but the agent He chose was their response to His power. 

Sometimes, He refused to heal the sick because of their unbelief. His power is there to heal, but He heals only where there’s faith, only when someone repents, only when someone truly wants what Jesus offers.

Do you want to be healed? 

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RETURNING TO OUR STORY in John, the Apostle tells us that as the lame man on the pallet tried to move, at the very moment that the man determined he would comply with Jesus’ directive, at that moment, Jesus healed him. 

Healed the synopses connecting his brain to his legs, healed the muscles that never grew, and provided the ability for the man to lift himself off the pallet, right himself, bend over to pick up the pallet, tuck it under his arms, and walk away!

To walk … to be healed … required the man to do something he had never done before — to try to walk.

That took faith, and it was the man’s faith in Jesus that led to his cure.

It’s faith in Jesus that leads to forgiveness of sins.

It’s faith in Jesus that leads to eternal life.

Do you want to be healed?

Of course! Really?

It could cost you something. 

Are you willing to pay that price? Will you do what it takes to be forgiven? 

Are you willing to repent?

Are you willing to turn your life and soul over to the Master? 

Do you want to live?

Do you?

How much so?

Enough to trust Jesus … in faith … with everything you have, your life, your soul, your dreams, your future … everything.

Do you want to be healed?


 PRAYER 

O LORD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, please heal our broken souls, we pray. Heal our hard hearts, our deceitful tongues, our dishonest hands, our wicked ways. Soften us, O Lord, and make us Your children. Lord, we know that You and You alone are the Great Healer, but You require us to place our faith in You, in response to Your grace, Your calling. We ask for that faith, that faith that can move mountains, faith that proclaims our redemption from the rooftops, faith that shines a light into the dark corners of the world we live in. Lord, for healing, we give You thanks. In Jesus’ precious name, AMEN

The Christian’s Response to the Political Season


Some religious leaders caution Christians against publicizing political views, fearing discord that could split the flock, while others challenge believers to engage in all areas of public life, including holding office or working as staff. What is clear, and all agree on, is that in matters of our earthly lives—including the political—God’s people are called to seek His guidance and direction and then speak the Word of God boldly. How are you called to witness for the Lord during the political season?


Psalms 146:3-5 (NLT): “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those … whose hope is in the Lord their God.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV): “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Acts 1:8 (GW): “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be my witnesses to testify about me … to the ends of the earth.”


THE U.S. POLITICAL FABRIC IS TORN. 

The last several decades have seen a wedge form within the body, separating families, friends, neighbors, and communities. On one side are those pushing for more government regulation of our personal lives, while their opponents push against more government, saying less government promotes a vibrant private sector.

In both arenas — the role of government and the cultural war — there is no middle ground. If one is not “right,” then one is “wrong” — not partly right or mostly right, but completely wrong.

Overlapping this battle is the divisive “culture war,” pitting secular voices  calling for “progressive” values against Christian voices defending biblical values.

Both major political parties have seen an “ethnic cleansing” of views, where those left-of-center have migrated to one party and those right-of-center have moved to the other party.

The result of this realignment is a political middle nearly extinct, and, with it, any chance for either side to find compromise or common ground.

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WHAT SHOULD BE THE CHRISTIAN VOICE?

The Christian is called to observe two truths. 

One is to follow biblical teaching; that is, to listen for God’s voice and obey His commands where He has made them clear (Lev. 22:31; Matt. 28:20; John 15:14). 

The other is to follow the Lord’s mandate to love God and to love our fellow man. Jesus said we are to forgive our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44).

The Lord was also clear that He created civil government to maintain order and domestic peace, to punish wrongdoers, and to keep us safe from our enemies (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1). He even calls us to pray for our political leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-3).

In the most famous exchange on secular observance, Jesus told his questioners to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:7).

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WE ARE REMINDED IN SCRIPTURE that the Lord Jesus will return to earth — the Second Coming — when He will gather the believers to Him and usher in a lengthy earthly reign, possibly for a thousand years, before providing the Paradise He promised that far exceeds the Garden of Eden (Rev. 21, 22). 

Until then, we are called to witness in the way we act and speak that gives the glory to God (1 Peter 2:12).

So, is there a “Christian List of Political Positions” that we could refer to that will tell us the biblical stand on the day’s affairs?  

It might be easier to point to Scripture in defense of marriage between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6) than it is to discern a Christian position on, say, the ideal tax rate (Matt. 17:27).

But looking for “right” positions on earthly concerns doesn’t feel at all biblical, especially in light of the apostle Paul’s statement that “our citizenship is in heaven,” and we are waiting for the Lord’s return (Phil. 3:20).

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AFTER JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS for our sins, He rose from the dead to create His church (Matt. 16:18), which He would soon commission his followers to build (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

The apostle Paul was clear that the Lord’s church should follow “one Lord” (Eph. 4:3-5), so there’s very little room for discord or fractious debate within the circle of believers. That is not to say there isn’t room for disagreement. That is entirely a different matter, as long as the issue is not a clear biblical mandate.

We’ve seen what happens when God’s people fail to consult with God on all matters of their lives, from Adam and Eve’s decision to eat of the  forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), to Abraham and Sarah’s plan to fulfill God’s promise to give them a son (Gen. 16:1-2), to Korah’s uprising against Moses’ leadership in the wilderness (Num. 16:31-33), and that’s just the tip of the first three books in a 66-book Bible.

The prophet Jeremiah was pretty blunt, wasn’t he, when he put it this way when God’s people stopped asking Him for guidance: “For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered” (Jer. 10:21).

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WHAT IS CLEAR is that in all matters of our earthly lives, including the political realm, God’s people are called on to seek God’s guidance and direction.

The apostle James, Jesus’ half-brother, says that if anyone lacks wisdom, he or she “should ask God,” who will give it (James 1:5). He says that the wisdom God gives “is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (3:17).

The psalmist tells us (Psalms 118:8-9 CEV) that it is “better to trust the Lord for protection than to trust anyone else, including strong leaders.”

Lastly, we’re reminded in Acts 4:24-26, that God is sovereign, and He will determine the outcome of any event, whether it be a plea for direction in marriage or which job offer to accept — or what the election outcome should be.

That doesn’t mean we will understand or even like the outcome (Isa. 55:9). It does mean that God is in control.

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WHEN THE APOSTLES PETER AND JOHN were released from prison, they reported back to the early believers that the political and religious leaders of the day had ordered them to stop preaching the Good News of salvation. 

Immediately, the believing community raised their  arms in prayer: “Sovereign Lord, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’”

Their amazing prayer continued: “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

After they finished, the Bible says (v. 31), “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”


PRAYER

O Holy and Merciful Father, we come to you in this troubled political season in our country and seek Your guidance. We ask for wisdom on what we, as Your followers, should share with fellow believers and with a fallen world hungry for Light and Truth. In the end, Lord, we know that Your Truth will prevail and that You alone are sovereign. We seek guidance that will help us navigate the coming months in a way that brings glory to You, Lord, and healing to our community. We raise this plea in Jesus’ Name. Amen

LISTENING TO GOD’S VOICE


God talks to us. The living God, creator of all the universe and the One who made man and woman, talks to us, tells us that He exists, that He is real, that He is One, and that we are His beloved creatures. He reassures us when we are uncertain, He guides us when we ask Him, He forgives us when we repent, and most of all, most assuredly blessed of all, He rewards us with eternal life if we believe Him.


Hebrews 12:25a (NLT): “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.”

Hebrews 4:7 (ESV): “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”


PERHAPS THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATION for me as a relatively new Christian (less than 10 years) is longing  to hear God speak to me His will for my life … and wondering if I heard Him … or if I missed it.

What about you?

Are you listening for God’s voice in your life? 

He tells us to listen for Him. Sometimes he’ll speak in a whisper or a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). 

Other times, God shouts at us! (Psalms 19:1-2; Rom. 1:19-20) 

Look at all creation, He’ll shout. The heavens declare My handiwork. The earth, My glory. Look at the complexity and variety of nature. Consider the marvel of the human body, all of its functionality. 

… and yet, most often, He’ll choose a personal touch to reach us individually.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING to God’s voice is borne out throughout both covenants of the biblical canon, totaling more than 400 times.

  • From the Old Testament, in Jeremiah 51:36 (NKJV): “Therefore thus says the Lord.
  • From the New Testament, in Matthew 5:31,32 (NASB),Jesus as the God-Man speaks on His own authority in the Sermon on the Mount: “It was said, …but I say to you.
  • Paul, writing to the churches, declared that his authority to preach was a commission from the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV), he said: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord)” and in 1 Cor.  7:40 (NCV), he declares: “I also have God’s Spirit.

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LISTENING TO GOD is the first step toward obeying Him, and obeying Him is of paramount importance to God.

Consider:

  • From 1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV): “So Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.’
  • From Hebrews 12:25b (NET): “For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the one who warns from heaven?

God tells us what He wants for us because He created us, knows our hearts, and knows the good things He has planned for us. (See Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”) 

He knows that if we disobey Him, we will suffer the consequences, and He wants us to avoid harm.

He has something better in mind for us … life. 

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b NASB)

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PRAYER

O LORD, our Heavenly Father, our Creator, our King and Master, You have set before us blessings and curses, that if we obey You, we will share in Your blessings, but if we disobey, we will incur judgment and God’s wrath. Lord, You did not create us to visit wrath upon us but blessing. Help us, Father God, to listen to You, to approach You on our knees, Lord, if only in our hearts, to be still, O Lord, and know that You are God, that there is no other God but You. In Jesus’ majestic and royal name we pray. AMEN

Christ: Our Faithful Judge


In the end, we’ll all be judged. Those who do not know the Lord, whose names are not in the Book of Life, will spend eternity outside the Lord’s presence; those who do know the Lord, whose names are inscribed, will be eternity with Him. Beyond that, there is a second judgment. Suffering or glory will not be the same for everyone. Some will suffer less than others; some will enjoy more glory than others. Whatever the outcome for each of us, we know this with absolute certainty: God will be fair, just, and honest. 


Genesis 18:25 (ESV):  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?

Romans 3:6 (NLT): If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world?

2 Corinthians 5:10 (GNT): For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him.


ARE YOU READY to be judged by God for how you’ve lived your life? 

I know I don’t relish the idea of being judged, even by the One who loves me the most and has assured me of His fairness.

Jesus tells us that at the end of our lives, every one of us will have to “give account on the day of judgment” for any careless word we have spoken (Matt. 12:36 NIV).

Yes, our rebirth through Christ (Rom. 8:1) means we have passed from death to life, but we still will be evaluated for our eternal reward. We are certain to feel remorse for jobs undone or poorly done. 

While I console myself that my sins are covered by Christ’s shed blood on the Cross, I still know that a fair accounting of my life will  find me coming up way short.

I most definitely want God the Father to see me through the sinless life of God the Son when He’s looking at me.

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WHEN GOD, OUR CREATOR, says He will judge us, He wants to know what we’ve done with the skills, talents, abilities, aptitudes, training, education, and experiences He’s provided for us so that we can carry out the commands of the Great Commission, which is to share the Good News of redemption through Christ.

We know going into this judgment that “no one is sinless,” and all of us have strayed from God’s straight line. Fortunately, He has assured us of His evenhandedness. The Bible tells us that “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11).

Even better, we know that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV), meaning that the redeemed of the Lord will not lose their salvation during judgment. Our judgment will be to determine our responsibilities and rewards through eternity. 

Those who have been the most faithful will receive the greatest rewards.

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THIS CONCEPT OF FAIRNESS is so important that in American jurisprudence, great symbolic weight is given to the phrase “blind justice,” meaning the judge is rendering a verdict solely on the basis of the facts and the law, not showing prejudice either for or against the accused.

But human “fairness” often fails to be fair. King David, when scolded by the prophet Gad for his sin, proclaimed, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14 NKJV).

God’s judgment promises to be fair.

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WHAT, THEN ARE WE to make of this judgment that awaits us all? 

Doesn’t this bring God glory as He redeems us despite our rebellion? He has given us the atoning blood of His Son to pay the debt for our sin, so that those who call on His name will be saved (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32).

Isn’t this how He models grace to us, that as our sin increases, His grace increases “all the more,” as Paul says in Romans, “so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21 NIV).

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IN GOD’S TERMS, judgment is how a just God rewards those who have placed their faith in Him and deals with those who haven’t.

In the end, whether the person during his or her lifetime acknowledged God as Creator, He promises that “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11 NIV; Phil. 2:10) in recognition that He is King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega.

That means a just rendering of life on earth, completely fair. Those of us who have received His offer of life through His Son will rise to glory, while those who have rejected His offer will rise to remorse. 


POSTSCRIPT:

IN HUMAN TERMS, this “completes  the circle” or “ties up loose ends.”

Praise God that He has offered us life through Jesus Christ! 

“The Lord is loving. You reward people for what they have done.” — Psalms 62:12 (NCV)

“He rewards people for what they do and treats them as they deserve. Almighty God does not do evil; he is never unjust to anyone.” — Job 34:11-12 (GNT)

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” —John 10:10b (NKJV)


PRAYER

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that  You are a loving God as well as a just God. We confess our sinful hearts to You, O Lord, and ask Your forgiveness for our rebellion. Create within us a new heart: one of flesh, not of stone; one of compassion, not of selfishness; one of purity, not of lust. Lift our gaze, O Lord, above the boundaries of our individual orbits to see the wider world, the needs of others, the calling of Your hand to play a healing role. We know, O Lord, that You will judge us in the end, and we pray eternal thanks that You promise to judge us through the lens of Your Son, our Savior. For it’s in His mighty and precious name we pray. AMEN

GOD TO MANKIND: HONOR YOUR MARRIAGE


Marriage is an institution created by God to bring husband and wife together as equal partners into one unit, much like the Holy Trinity encompasses the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equal partners, together into one unit.


Hebrews 13:4 (NCV): Marriage should be honored by everyone, and husband and wife should keep their marriage pure. God will judge as guilty those who take part in sexual sins.

Genesis 2:24 (NASB): For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.


MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN mirrors the relationship between Jesus and His church. 

The apostle Paul makes that point in Ephesians 5:32, right  after saying a husband and wife are to be “united” as one body and before saying the man must love his wife and the woman must respect her husband.

The oneness of man and woman cleaving to one another also mirrors the Trinity, where God exists in Three Persons, equal and distinct but the same Person. So, too, in marriage, the husband and wife are equal and distinct yet form one body.

The marriage bond should not be broken by any means, whether it’s willfulness, or lust, or jealousy, or anger, or resentment, or … well, any other sin we could list.

REPAIRING THE BROKEN BOND

WHEN THE BOND IS THREATENED, both marriage partners are responsible for repairing it. 

As the spiritual head of the family, the husband (man) should take the lead by seeking forgiveness for his part in the fracture; this allows the wife (woman) to feel secure in seeking forgiveness for her part in the fracture.  

Both parties must forgive the other.

Christian marriage counselor Dr. Paul David Tripp counsels us to “fight for your marriage by practicing confession and forgiveness each day.”

Scripture is clear that God designed marriage (Gen. 2:24) and He hates to see a married couple divorce (Mal. 2:1; Matt. 19:6).

He wants Adam to cherish Eve (Prov. 18:22; Prov. 31:10; Eph. 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7), and Eve to respect Adam (Eph. 5:22; 1 Peter 3:1) and calls both husbands and wives to lean on Him (John 15:5) to keep the marriage going strong. 

MARRIAGE:THE FOUNDATION OF SOCIETY

IMMEDIATELY AFTER CREATING THE FIRST WOMAN, God put Adam and Eve together and told them they were to become “one flesh” (Matt. 19:15 NASB). 

This was more than an “iron sharpens iron” moment (Prov. 27:17); it was a unity moment (Gen. 2:22-24; Gen. 3:16). 

Strong marriages — ones built on love, respect, and mutuality, and especially ones built on belief in Jesus Christ — form the cornerstone of civil society. Another way of putting it, marriage is the “backbone,” the “foundation,” the  “centerpiece” of well-ordered society.

When marriages are fragile, adultery abounds, and divorce is rampant, societies crumble, a point made in a 2012 New York Times article by former Education Secretary William Bennett “Stronger Families, Stronger Societies.”

More importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ made the same point is His Matthew 19 discourse on marriage and divorce. 

Bennet said this: “The family is the linchpin of society, both economically and socially.” Jesus said this: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

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POSTSCRIPT: A DECADE AGO, I was searching for answers to life’s questions and came to realize that Jesus was and is who He told He is: God!

When I accepted that, I wanted more of Him in my life. I was drawn to Him by watching how Christian men treated their wives. 

They loved their wives, they honored them, they complimented them. No “take my wife … please” jokes, no “can’t live with them, can’t shoot them” comments.

Instead, I heard, “She’s my best friend,” “I married up,” and “She is a good influence on my life.”

Here’s how King Solomon, under God’s inspiration, saw it:

Prov. 18:22 (ESV): He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.

I’m so blessed now. Not only have I found the Lord, but He’s given me a Christian wife. So I join my Christian brothers by declaring that I definitely “married up” to a woman who is “my best friend” and “a good influence on my life.”


PRAYER

Heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us the institution of marriage. Forgive us, O Lord, when we stay from our faithful vows, even when our straying is nothing  more than expressing anger or disappointment or irritation with our spouse. Cleanse our hearts of all evil, O Lord, and lead us to humbly seek to restore marital harmony. Lord, You have given us the perfect image to mirror in the Trinity. Help us, husband and wife alike, to rely on Your wisdom, Your strength, Your patience, and Your love to reinforce our marriage. In the blessed and compassionate name of Jesus we pray. AMEN

TEACHING THE YOUNG


The LORD has given each of His followers the nobel task of sharing the Good News with others, but chief among our potential audience is our own families, especially our children. If we fail to raise the next generation to learn about the LORD, we deny them the greatest life-affirming gift possible — an eternity with their Creator. Unfortunately, even those who teach their children may see their beloved offspring walk away. But, at least, we would have given them the chance at life.


Psalm 102:18 (NLT): “Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet  born will praise the LORD.

Psalm 78:6 (NASB): “That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children.


WE ARE TO TELL OUR CHILDREN ABOUT THE LORD.

Surely, it is better to instruct our children while they are still young and willing, even eager, to learn from us. The task is made more difficult when they reach rebellious teenage years and more difficult still when they are fully grown adults and leave the home.

Once they have passed from our hands, we are left with praying that God would direct others more suitable than us to come alongside them and instruct them. 

In turn, the Lord might well call on us to be the “others more suitable” for someone else’s adolescent or grown children.

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IN MY CASE, I did not know the Lord during my  children’s growing-up years, so I could not instruct them in the way of the Lord. 


“You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deut. 11:19 (NKJV)

Yet I know of many adults who admit they raised their children in the church yet failed to connect that teaching with knowing the Lord. So, once grown, their children leave the church and refuse to listen to further instruction.

There is no need for us to despair. When we realize that our children’s fate rests outside of our control, we become more dependent on the Lord and His mercy.

We become more diligent in our prayers, and we become more consciously aware of our duty to other parents’ children.

As long as we remain faithful to the Lord and seek Him out, we will be exactly where He wants us to be—dependent on Him. Jesus reminds us in John 15 that, without Him, we can do nothing.

PRAISE THE LORD!


 PRAYER

Our Lord and Master, many of us have failed to instruct and encourage our children to know the Lord the way You have instructed us. Some of us thought we were leading our children because we took them to church; others of us didn’t know the Lord and so could not instruct them. Please forgive us our failings and help us to share our testimony with them now. Soften their hearts, O Lord, that they may hear us. Please bring into their lives Your saints who can reach them where they are. In turn, O Lord, help us be the saints You place in the lives of other parents’ children, who are more likely to listen to us. We pray, O Lord, that Your name will be praised forever more! In the majestic and beautiful name of Jesus, AMEN

The World Turned Upside Down

As the Western world lurches farther away from its moorings rooted in Judeo-Christian morality, we increasingly enter a Romans 1 world, where God, in His disgust, turns mankind over to its basest desires … until the time of reckoning, when He promises to lower the boom! Meanwhile, those of us who point out the foolishness of our new cultural norms are called “bigots,” and “haters,” even though we sound the alarm out of love, compassion, and obedience to our Lord and Maker. We find truth as God defines it in His Holy Word. We do not make it up. It is His design.


Genesis 1:26a, 27 (NASB): Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. … God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Isaiah 5:20 (NIV): Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 

Matthew 19:4 (GNT): Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female?”


THE WORLD AS WE CHRISTIANS KNOW IT IS UNDER ASSAULT. 

Let’s be clear. The culprit behind the assault is Satan, who has been behind evil since he deceived Eve, the first woman, in the Garden.  

The instrument of his assault is our sinful desire, and the messengers are the proponents of left-wing political ideology. While the political left, “leftism” as an ideology, is not the only messenger base, its ideology is the antithesis of God’s Holy Bible.

Leftism controls most of the dialogue in the Western world. Leftism has overrun the colleges and universities, as well as the public school system from K-12th grade. It predominates in Hollywood, the entertainment capitol of the world. 

It is the ideology of the major media empires, which determine the news we read or hear as well as shapes how those events are portrayed. Increasingly, it is controlling the social policies of our largest corporations.

Dismayingly, Leftism also has penetrated the Christian churches, yanking once respectable denominations known as “mainline” churches into following the apostasy of the prevailing secular trends.

†††

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS illustrate this. 

Let’s focus on two of them.

The first is legislation in Sacramento, Calif., mandating a radical curriculum required for graduation. It focuses on the “oppression” facing “native peoples and people of color” in the United States.

Here is an explanation from the document, itself: “The field critically grapples with the various power structures and forms of  oppression, including but not limited to white supremacy, race and racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia that continue to impact the social, emotional, cultural, economic, and political experiences of native peoples and people of color.”

†††

ALBERT MOHLER, PRESIDENT of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writing about the curriculum proposal, says the agenda of its authors “is the transformation of the culture. The background is the claim that the culture primarily represents forms of oppression” (emph. mine). 

The document contains no recognition that millions of the world’s population of all races and creeds are eager to enter the United States, many of them illegally, if necessary. 

Those facts, alone, should testify to the idiocy of claiming the U.S. culture “primarily represents forms of oppression.”

Mohler says that what the course curriculum wants is “the rewriting of history, the redefining of reality.”

†††

THE SECOND ITEM is the so-called “EQUALITY ACT” (H.R. 5), which is legislation before the U.S. Congress.

While the California bill would indoctrinate youth in the public schools to accept policies of the political left, the bill in the U.S. Congress would radically redefine what it means to be a “man” or a “woman.”

The Equality Act, which has passed the House and gone to the Senate, would restructure the Civil Rights Act of 1964, designed to correct economic and institutional discrimination based on race, to add alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

It would regulate religious institutions that believe God made two genders: male and female. Nothing else. Nothing in between. Nothing floating or morphing. Nothing malleable.

†††

WHILE THE BILL’S proponents say it would grant legitimacy and recognition to the homosexual and transsexual population, religious objectors say it would neutralize religious liberty  protections because the two spheres cannot co-exist.

The secular recognition of same-sex attraction and gender fluidity clearly violate God’s established order as He has revealed it in nature, through our consciences, and within the text of His Bible.

With this legislation, however, faith-based practices would be held secondary in court to so-called LGBT rights, according to Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the First Liberty law firm, which argued in favor of religious freedom and free speech in the Obergefell case, the decision that legitimized same-sex marriage.

“The Equality Act,” Shackelford said, “attempts to make sure that in all cases, LGBT rights trump religious freedom—in every situation. It makes religious freedom a secondary freedom or right.”

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WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?

For those of us who try to follow God’s Word, these are surely the last days, spoken of by Our Lord, when He walked the earth. 

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” —Matt. 24:36-39 (NKJV)

While we’re busy doing our jobs, witnessing in word and deed for the Gospel, all around us is chaos and darkness. Yet, as Christians, we can take heart for our God is sovereign. He remains on His throne, and He will engineer His will. 

GOD is sovereign and in control (Isaiah 46:9-11) and will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7).

We are charged by Jesus in Acts 1:8 to witness for the Gospel without knowing when the end will come. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:18-20 that “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him, and He wants us to tell everyone the Good News.

POSTSCRIPT: Nothing has changed since the apostle John observed in John 1:9-11 that Jesus came into the world as the Light, but the world, made through Him, neither recognized Him nor wanted Him.

This is what he wrote:

“[Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” —John 1:11 (NIV)


PRAYER

 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. We humbly ask Your forgiveness for our lack of faith, our prideful stubbornness, our outright disobedience, our weakness in the flesh. We have no right to seek Your favor except that which You graciously grant us through Your Son, who was given on the Cross to satisfy our sin. In humility, O Lord, we ask Your favor. Give us strength and wisdom to confront the demons of our time, never lagging in zeal, not conforming to the world, but marching faithfully, counseled by the Holy Spirit, into being Your witnesses, both in word and in deed. In the mighty name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. AMEN

GUARDING OUR THOUGHTS

The sin in our lives stems from three sources: our desires, the influence of the fallen world around us, and the devil’s schemes. There is enough motive for us to sin even without Satan’s pull. God speaks into our hearts—our minds and thoughts—with His message of Truth. Our thoughts drive our comments and, eventually, our actions, so, to keep our witness pure, we first need to capture evil thoughts. To do that, we need to stay in prayer. God calls us to pray so that He may pour His Truth into our hearts and minds. 


“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” — Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” — James 1:15 (NLT)

“We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5 (GW)


SO, EVEN OUR THOUGHTS are subject to God’s judgment?

Well, Jesus was pretty clear about it in Matthew 5:27-2), when He said that it’s not just a sin to commit adultery, but that if any man or woman looks upon another person with lust in their hearts, that person “has already committed adultery” (NKJV).  

Does that mean it’s not enough that we not do harmful things … or make derogatory comments …we can’t even think those thoughts even if we don’t say or do them?

Isn’t that a bit much?

Seriously, apart from Jesus, who can go through a whole day without thinking sinful thoughts? It’s tough enough avoiding the actions and comments that follow, but just the thoughts?

†††

MAYBE THAT’S THE POINT.

God knows our sinful hearts. He knows how we work. After all, He created us, and He knows our rebellion.

There’s a well-known misquote of a Bible verse that says “money is the root of all evil,” when the actual verse says it’s “the love of money” that is the root of evil and that “through this craving,” many have wandered away from the truth and faith in Jesus (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV). 

James reminds us that it’s our desires (that is, our thoughts) that “entice us and drag us away” (James 1:15 NLT).

God knows that as soon as we start harboring thoughts, whatever they may be, those thoughts will overtake us and begin to drive our comments and our actions … a little at a time … until they completely take over.

Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us again in Matthew 15:11, when He said it’s not what goes into our bodies that defiles us but what comes  out of our bodies. 

What defiles us is what comes out of our hearts … and our mouths … and our thoughts.

†††

GOD, IN HIS MERCY, has given us the way out.

1. He tells us what we should be thinking about:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

2. How do we do that?

Paul tells us:

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV)

Praying “constantly” (CSB) or “never stop praying” (CEV) or “pray at all times” (GNT) are several ways of encouraging us to be in the “spirit of prayer” at all times, not that we should walk around with closed eyes and clasped palms, callouses on our knees, murmuring words that only God can hear, but that we should be “connected” to God throughout the day.

It means opening our hearts to the voice of Almighty God, even when He speaks with a “soft whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 CSB) or “gentle whisper” (NIV) or a “still soft voice” (NKJV).

3. Does God give us any help?

“Do not quench the [Holy] Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV)

God places the counselor inside our hearts to nudge us, to convict us, to guide us, and to lead us. He’ll help us through the rough spots, assuming, of course, that we don’t “quench” Him or “stifle” Him (NLT) or “restrain” Him (GNT). In other words, we must be attentive to Him and listen. 

4. Finally, we need to stay in His Word.

“He [Jesus] answered, ‘It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 CSB)

We won’t know what those “pure,” “true,” and “honorable” thoughts are unless we’re in God’s Word, capturing His “pure,” “true,” and “honorable” thoughts. He is the definition of what is “pure,” “true,” and “honorable.”

Amen! God is good!

 PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, You know our thoughts are impure. You know we wander from the truth. We stay connected for a short time, then go astray. You keep pulling us back … through reading Your Word, through worship, through fellowship. Thank You for Your mercy. Change our hearts, O LORD, to hearts that seek the Risen Lord, that witness to the life-saving power of the Holy Spirit, that spread the message of redemption. We lift this prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen

GOD Says, ‘Forget the Past’

Why does God tell His followers to stop dwelling on the past? Often, we reminisce just to savor the great memories or linger over hurts, perhaps figuring a way we could have avoided them. Aren’t they instructive in some way? Possibly so, if we’re delving back to relive a victory or stave off a defeat, but He doesn’t want us to fixate on yesterday. He has a plan for our lives, and that plan involves pushing forward, opening the door, stepping through, and embracing the challenge. Best of all, He promises to go with us. 


Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NASB): Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.

Isaiah 43:18 (NIV): Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

Luke 9:62 (ESV): Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


WHY DOES GOD spend so much energy telling us not to dwell on the past? 

Why does He encourage us, even command us, throughout Scripture, to focus on the “new things,” where He wants us to go? 

This is a very important issue for me, and one where I often come up short … very short … very often.

I constantly revisit the past and wonder how I could have handled events better if I had known the Lord then. Of course, I would have been a different person, with a different mind set, a different heart, and with different priorities. 

Yet God exhorts me to put those idle speculations aside and live the life He is offering me, as His child, to serve the Kingdom and to be a blessing to those He places in my path.

†††

THE ISSUE HERE is clear: It is about our sin, God’s willingness to forgive our sin, and our unwillingness to forgive ourselves.  

We hold onto the moment, lamenting lost opportunities, wrong paths taken, selfish actions, bad decisions. We see the evil in our hearts play itself out in our lives, and we long to rewrite the story.

God tells us He has already rewritten the story, and if we would drop the baggage of the past, we could join Him in this new adventure He has planned for us. 

  • Solomon tells us not to lean on our own understanding but to trust in God’s direction, and He will make our paths straight (Prov. 3:5-6);
  • King David informs us that God’s light illuminates the path before us, so we can see where we’re going (Psalms 119:105);
  • The apostle Paul reminds us that through Christ, we are crucified to our sinful pasts, and with Him living in our hearts, we are open to the challenges and adventures that God has waiting for us (Gals. 2:20);
  • The Lord Jesus admonishes us by saying those who put their hand to the plow and keep looking back, not forward, are “not fit” for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62 NLT).

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SOME MIGHT SAY if we ignore the past, we’ll fail to learn from it. That may well be true, but God is pointing out the difference between learning from our errors and dwelling on them.  

Once He has forgiven us, we need to leave the spot of sin and not build memorials to our past. Otherwise, we’re saying that Christ’s work on the Cross was not sufficient to complete God’s plan, when God said, quite emphatically, that it was sufficient.

He wants us to believe that and embrace it. Remember, Jesus told us that He came to give us life “abundantly” — a full-throttle life experience full of community with Him and each other (John 10:10). When we dwell in the past, God tells us, we’re demonstrating our lack of faith in His good provision.

†††

INSTEAD OF FOCUSING on the past, God exhorts us to focus on the future … because that’s where He longs to take us.

Jesus said God is constantly working (John 5:17), and He wants us to join Him in that effort to spread the Good News to everyone.

Here are a few of His reminders:

  • Isaiah 43:19 (CSB): “Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
  • Philippians 3:13 (NLT): No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
  • Philippians 3:14 (NKJV): I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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POSTSCRIPT: 

TODAY’S POST has a few more Scripture citations than I usually use beyond the text source. While each one individually has value, together, they are powerful.

Savor the message. Feel the love. Claim the blessing. 

Remember: Scripture is God talking.

To you and me. 

Two more verses to meditate on:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV): Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Gen. 19:26 (NIV): But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.


PRAYER 

Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father, we thank You for bringing to our attention our tendency to dwell on past sins and  wishing we could *redo* the past, to avoid making the bad decisions our sinful natures led us to make, that brought ruin and heartache to our lives. We cannot rewrite the script so as to benefit from wiser decisions, but through Your love and grace, You have given us each day a new beginning. Help us, O Lord, to believe so fully in Your promises for our lives that we eagerly abandon the tendency to look back on our sins and hold onto the plow as it moves forward. Lord, we want to be fit for the Kingdom, and we thank You for giving us that opportunity! We lift this prayer in the majestic name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN