Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

red hairy alien

Thank you  Melissa Spoelstra for today’s message.

“Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” Psalm 119:29

As I’m processing a recent conflict with a family member, I’m trying to sort out the fact and fiction in my own head. I usually feel like my truth is the truth, but I know my tendency to equate my perspective with truth is shortsighted. In my daily Bible reading, I just happened to encounter the verse in Today’s Truth, or more likely God sovereignly had it before my eyes right when I would need it!
In this verse, the psalmist prayed that God would help him not to lie to himself. I know I need to pray this type of prayer on a regular basis. Whether I’m justifying myself in a parenting decision, making judgments about others’ choices, or working through a relational conflict, I know I’m biased. I tend to think of each situation based on my perceptions of others’ actions, words, and attitudes. I have one side of the story and it is mine. How about you? Have you noticed that we can all tell ourselves lies at times and not even realize it?

Culture is sending us messages that stand in contrast to the teachings of Jesus. He said to seek purity, forgive, and serve. The world celebrates scandal, revenge, and being served. If I don’t ask God to help me live in truth, I can easily find wrong thinking creeping into my head. The danger comes when we tell lies about ourselves, it can lead us to tell lies about God. I can also lose the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. These are some pretty heavy consequences. So what can we do?

This verse gives us two practical helps when it comes to lying to ourselves:
Admit it. The psalmist knew it was a tendency so he implored God to help him. In the same way, we can confess that we don’t have the corner on truth. In his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul talked about spiritual pride and then remarked, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) In the same way, Jesus taught that we should be careful of making surface conclusions. He said, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24) So we begin by admitting that we might be lying to ourselves. We need God’s help to see situations clearly.

Pray specifically about lying to ourselves. The book of Psalms is a prayer book. In it we read personal pleas for help. In the same way, we can cry out to the Lord asking Him to keep us from lying to ourselves.

Study God’s Instructions. After the psalmist asks God to keep him from lying to himself, he then says, “give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” Knowing God’s Word can help us speak truth to ourselves. The more we press into the Bible by reading, studying, and memorizing it, the more we align ourselves with truth. This can expose any lies we’ve been telling ourselves about what we deserve or how our poor reactions were justified. God’s Word lays us bare. 2 Timothy 3:16 describes it this way, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” The privilege of knowing God’s instructions helps us to realize what is wrong including the lies we tell ourselves.

I’m not sure what conversations you’ve been having with yourself lately, but I wonder if like me you sometimes confuse your truth with the truth as you process life. Our perspectives matter, but we need God’s help to be sure we aren’t lying to ourselves

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Grace for the Imperfect

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message:

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many ~ Hebrews 12:15, NIV.

It wasn’t a major thing she did to make me upset. It was many minor things over many days. For instance, I shared a joy I was thrilled about, but she changed the subject. I sent her texts of love from the bottom of my heart, and she was either slow to respond, or didn’t respond at all. I showed love, but she didn’t invite me to things other friends were invited to.

Inside, I was ready to write her off.

I’ve invested so much, butI am done with her.

Consciously and decisively, I created distance when we were together: talking to her less, giving her short answers, avoiding eye contact, and paying attention to others more.

But at home, I felt convicted. What is true love if it is dependent on another woman’s response?

I’d looked to her response to define my worth. But in reality, my love isn’t unto her – it is unto Christ. I’d lost perspective.

Worst of all, I’d allowed something horrible to grow within me. . .

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15, NIV).

A bitter root was forming.

Do you have a bitter root forming within? Toward a co-worker? A husband? A friend? A child?

There are 3 ways to pull out bad roots:

1. Forgive.

Christ forgave us when we were still sinners. Likewise, we forgive others while they are still imperfect. This doesn’t negate or defend bad actions, but it frees us from carrying the weight of them.

2. Extend grace.

We can extend to others the very grace we could only hope to receive on our worst day.

No one is perfect. We all are growing. We hit busy seasons. Tough seasons. Rough seasons. Pain. Trials. Tribulations. Huge mistakes.

Christ-like love bears each other’s weaknesses, so as to carry the other person’s cross, even if only for a bit. This kind of love changes relationships, brings back marriages and restores what has been lost. It resurrects.

3. Receive grace.

Undoubtedly, I had eyes for myself in this situation. There was more to this woman’s responses. I could either beat myself up for what I’d done wrong or receive the grace Jesus paid for. The first option would keep me stuck in perpetual self-harm, but the other would set me free.

You too can let yourself off the hook, because Christ is not condemning you. The second you confess, you are blessed by His grace.

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

How to Heal a Hurting Heart

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When Life Seems Broken

Thank  you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. (Nehemiah 1:3, NIV)

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of a land far from his home. (Which means he held a trusted position that allowed him personal access to the king.) When some old friends came to town he found out that his people, the Jews, were in a terrible situation. Deeply burdened by the news, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. He took the devastation of his people to heart and responded on a soul level.

The Bible shows us that Nehemiah prayed. He was pressed but not crushed. He told the Lord that he was sorry for the way he and his people had rejected God and for the ways they had disobeyed His commands. He remembered the instructions of God to His people and reminded Him of His promises. And he asked God to hear his prayer, give him favor and lead his responses.

I read this and see a vibrant example of the way I should respond when difficult situations come my way. When my loved ones are hurting. When my homeland is unsafe and vulnerable to attack. Here are a few basic faith principles we can apply that Nehemiah modeled in his prayer and in the conversations that followed.

#1. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS. Nehemiah wept and mourned in response to the situation. You don’t need to pretend that you’re “fine” when life hurts. Instead, You can do what Nehemiah did: cry. Be sad. Mourn. Grieve.

Because life is hard … and just because we’re Christians does not mean we get easy passes.

Thankfully, God knows sorrow well and is the generous source of comfort we need.

#2. PRAY. Nehemiah’s powerful prayer included the following. I’ve bullet pointed them to be a useful guide:

– Begin with confession (on behalf of you and your people).

– Remember and remind God of His Word.

– Petition on behalf of others (Pray for your people. Stand in the gap. Intercede.)

– Ask for success (Yes. You read this right. It’s okay to ask God to give you favor. Nehemiah did!)

– Ask for mercy (That the punishment we and our people deserve would be withheld.)

While following this template of Nehemiah’s prayer doesn’t guarantee any of us that God will answer our prayers as we expect Him to, it does give us a step by step path to follow that will focus our hearts on God’s intervention.

Then, after Nehemiah prayed, the Lord allowed the king to see that something was wrong. And the Lord allowed Nehemiah to experience the favor he asked for. BUT he had to face his fears in order to step into the provision God had for him. And this shows us another great takeaway…

#3. DON’T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK. Nehemiah was heavy with sorrow and the king noticed. In chapter 2 the king asked Nehemiah what had made him sad. “So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2)

Insightful king, right?

The next words Nehemiah writes are, “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemiah 2:2-3)

Amazingly, the king cared! He asked what he could do to help, and then provided Nehemiah with everything he needed to go back to Jerusalem and help his people rebuild the ruins.

Nehemiah could’ve shrugged off the king’s question. He could’ve said,Nothing is wrong, my lord! I’m fine. All is well. But he didn’t. Even though he was afraid, he spoke truth. He didn’t let fear hold him back. And as a result, he was equipped with what he needed and was mobilized toward healing.

Are there complications that have your heart grieving and sifting through ashes?

Are you trying to keep a stiff upper lip and carry those broken burdens quietly?

God is all about rebuilding broken hearts and hopes, friend. He specializes in transforming smoky ash heaps into beautiful displays of His grace. He will move you toward that beauty and healing as you move toward Him in distress as Nehemiah did.

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Power of Confession

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

When he got in the car, he kept his head down, looked away, and muttered some words. Not hearing him outright, I said, “Son, what is it?”

He muttered, “I made a mistake. I looked at someone’s paperwork at school and copied their answer. I didn’t tell my teacher, but I told God ‘I’m sorry’. I will never do it again.”

I conveyed to him that he did right thing by confessing to God and deciding to change. God forgives. God keeps no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). Our sins are cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

Jesus takes away the burden of sin, when – through confession – we allow him to do so.

But, later that night (and I mean way-late), I felt a finger-poke in my side.

There he was, standing there, fretting, and worried. He cried, “Mommy, I have to text my teacher now. I feel so guilty. I want this off of my back.”

And, he did. The next morning, he wrote her a text essentially saying he was sorry. That he didn’t want to carry this anymore. That he needs to feel better.

And, after he pressed send, I was amazed. The transformation was huge. He went from being down and dejected to dancing and jubilant. He jumped around the house rejoicing and full of new life.

This is a picture of repentance. When we let go of the guilt, we carry to receive the blessing of the cross that Jesus carried – we always find new life.

Part of the process is forgiving our self. Have you forgiven yourself for the wrongs, the guilt, or the burdens that weigh you down? If Jesus forgave you, can’t you forgive yourself too? If Jesus paid the ultimate price, hasn’t he fully purchased all your mistakes?

If you’ve confessed your sins to God, but still don’t feel life, you might consider doing these three things:

1. Confessing to any other people involved, as God leads you.

2. Letting go internally. This means you release the guilt, shame and burdens to Jesus from within you and receive his gift of forgiveness, once and for all.

3. Choosing not to dwell any more on what issue God has already set you free from.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face after he got that burden “off his back.” We can do the same today. Freedom is right on the other side of asking for and receiving forgiveness.

Have a blessed day!