Monday, September 23, 2013

Walk with Me

This past weekend we were up in Rainier, Oregon helping one of our sons and his wife move into their new home. Their old home has a very steep drive-way, so steep that our van would not back into it without scraping the front cowling on the ground. So, every load to the van was carried down steep concrete steps—up and down and up and down and up and down and ….You get the picture. By the end of the day my knees and hips were quite sore (no pity—just illustrating a point, because it was our great pleasure to help them). But in the end we could see the progress and at night we could definitely sleep.

Sometimes our lives can seem like those tiresome steps, where we wonder even if we can do it one more time. Carrying stuff around in our hearts, minds, and bodies can be very burdensome. It can wear us down and steal joy and hope from our lives. Whether it is guilt, shame, secrets, a long-term or even a short-term but intense trial, they can all wear us down making each step difficult and foreboding.

Everyone has trials. Everyone sins, and everyone has things to regret and issues they’d rather avoid. And it is the commonness of these things that brings us all to the point where our singular answer is found in our God, the work of His Son on our behalf, and the enabling of His Spirit in our lives.

First of all, are the issues of guilt and shame. It is guilt and shame that drove Adam and Eve to hide after they ate from the tree, and it is guilt and shame that drives us to draw within ourselves. At the core of this is the unavoidable truth that we are all guilty. We have all done things worthy of judgment. But we don’t have to live under that guilt, for God has given us release in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was always and remains fully God, yet He consented to the will of the Father and willingly was born of a virgin to become a man, living a sinless life keeping Himself as the spotless Lamb who could pay the ultimate sacrifice, satisfying the price for our guilt. This He did on the cross when He willingly laid down His life, knowing that it would not end there. For on the third day, as foretold in the Scriptures, He took it up again not only demonstrating His power over death, but extending to us the right through His gift offering to have the full and complete forgiveness of sins and the inheritance of new life which never could again be lost.

Jesus paid for our sins, and as such they are fully accounted for and our accounts are credited with His righteousness when we trust Him for salvation. This means that the real big part of guilt and shame has been permanently taken care of. Now, there are the smaller issues of guilt and shame when we do sin and when we hurt others. With God we confess those sins to Him knowing that He has forgiven us and that we can continue to be right with Him. But with others, whose forgiveness might not be as freely granted, there might be a difficult walk to endure. But it is a walk we need to face, knowing even in this that God has given us the strength. We need to set aside our pride and our image and admit that it is growing into the image of Christ which is our real desire even as we deal with others.

Next are those things that come from living in a fallen world next to people doing the same thing, all carrying around personal bodies which are temporary and ultimately failing. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, NASB95)

Man was not created to carry around all of this garbage, but as a result of sin we now must do so. Jesus tells us that when we place our trust in Him and enter into a relationship with our Creator God that these originally unintended burdens become His burdens—taken up at the cross. And it is our responsibility to turn them back to Him, knowing that He will strengthen us for the challenges He sovereignly allows into our lives. Peter wrote, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NASB95) He went on to write about the reality of the battle in which we are engaged, but also affirms our God who will bring us to victory. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:8–10, NASB95)

Paul wrote, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13, NASB95)

Sarah adds in today’s devotional writing….

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (9/23)

Walk with Me in the freedom of forgiveness. The path we follow together is sometimes steep and slippery. If you carry a burden of guilt on your back, you are more likely to stumble and fall. At your request, I will remove the heavy load from you and bury it at the foot of the cross. When I unburden you, you are undeniably free! Stand up straight and tall in My Presence, so that no one can place more burdens on your back. Look into My Face and feel the warmth of My Love-Light shining upon you. It is the unconditional Love that frees you from both fears and sins. Spend time basking in the Light of My Presence. As you come to know Me more and more intimately, you grow increasingly free.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah.” (Psalm 68:19, NASB95)

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7–9, NASB95)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18, NASB95) 

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