A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Psalm 51:4 "God Loves Losers And Sinners"

Everybody loves a winner; nobody wants to associate with a loser.  We live in a very competitive culture, with everyone striving to be on top. But stop and think about it for a moment.   In order for there to be somebody on top, somebody else has to be on the bottom.  The only way for one person to win is for someone else to lose.   And I just want to say I'm glad that God doesn't limit his love to a select few who out perform others.  I'm glad that God loves losers. 

The Bible tells us plainly that all of us have sinned against God. We are, each of us, equal in that respect.  If God only loved the winners, we'd all miss out.

Psalm 5, however,  reminds us: "Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.....God, create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me....You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God."

All God has ever wanted from us is honesty, and a broken heart before him. All God wants from us is for us to admit our failure, and allow Him to show His strength through our weakness. Just as we are equal in our sin, in Jesus, we are equally accepted and forgiven in our repentance.  Because God loves us.  God loves losers and sinners like you and me.

#by-his-stripes.com  #ByHisStripes

Friday, May 26, 2017

1 John 1:9 "Confessing Sin"

We live in a fallen, broken world, we are constantly surrounded by evil influences, and we are weak willed people; so, even though we believe in Jesus and have accepted His death as the punishment for our sin, and have turned to Him for forgiveness and new life, we still struggle with sin.

Because we still struggle with sin, God made a continuing provision for sin. The Bible tells us, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”(1 John 1:9).

Jesus has already paid the penalty for sin –in that sense, God made provision for our forgiveness once and for all, and for all time. The penalty has been been paid, and we have been forgiven. Yet, Christians are specifically instructed to confess sin as it occurs.

There is a very good reason God wants us to confess our sin. It’s because unconfessed sin turns into baggage that we have to carry around with us.

When we sin and do not confront it, and do not repent, and refuse to confess it, we end up with a load of guilt and shame and bitterness and anxiety and fear. God doesn’t want that for us. God wants us to unload those kinds of burdens. We unload by confession and repentance.

God doesn’t need to hear our confession so that He knows what we’ve been up to. He already knows every wrong thing and every right thing we’ve ever thought or said or done. Our confession doesn’t change God, and it doesn’t change God’s mind, and it doesn’t change God’s opinion of us. Our confession changes us.

When we are humbly confessing our sin to God, something happens. In order to truly confess, we must examine ourselves. In order to realistically examine ourselves, we need to quit pretending to be people we’re not –we need to let our defenses down, we need to take our masks off. In order to confess, we need to be brutally honest about ourselves before God. And it is in the context of humble honesty, with no pretense and no defense that a relationship with God begins to develop. And the relationship is what God desires.

#by-his-stripes #ByHisStripes

1 John 3:1 "God Loves Me"

I believe that God loves me. I know it is a simple thought, but it has profound implications.

How can He love me in a personal way if He doesn’t know me in a personal way. God knows me.
That’s a thought that is comforting and frightening all at once, isn’t it? I’m sure we all have a few things in our past that we’d rather not parade out in public.

I used to think that I’d be more comfortable with God if He didn’t know all about my failures and faults. It’s embarrassing to think that God knows everything about me –even my secrets. But then I realize that He loves me. That changes everything –doesn’t it? 

I mean, if God said that He loves me, but didn’t know the worst about me, I’d always have to hope that He never finds out. I’d always have to worry that if He really knew me that maybe He wouldn’t love me.

But the fact that He loves me even knowing the worst about me means that I never have to worry about that. He already knows the worst about me. And He loves me.

1 John 3:1  See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!
#by-his-stripes.com #ByHisStripes

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Luke 4:40, Matthew 14:14 "God Loves Individually & Personally"

It is possible to go all day without ever actually talking to another human being –I don’t mean by avoiding them or by hiding out indoors, I mean in a normal day in which we do all sorts of normal things, we could go all day without actually speaking to anyone.

We do banking at ATM machines or online. We send emails and texts instead of talking on the phone. Many stores have self-checkout lines where we don’t even need a cashier to wait on us. We do our shopping on the internet. We pay for our gas with a credit card right at the pump. . As our society gets more and more impersonal, I think it’s good to know that our relationship with God is personal –His love for us is personal. 

Jesus taught great multitudes of people. Often several thousand people at a time gathered to hear Jesus teach. Everywhere He went hundreds of people gathered around Him wanting to be healed from every imaginable sickness. Think about this –if He had wanted to, He could have healed every sickness in every crowd with a single word. He could have raised His arms and waved them over a crowd and healed every disease at once. But He didn’t do it that way. Instead He placed His hands on them one at a time and healed them one at a time.

I think it’s because He didn’t see crowds of people in the same way we see them. I think that Jesus saw a crowd of a thousand people as a thousand individuals, each unique and each important. And that’s the way He sees us –and that’s the way loves us. He loves us each individually.

Jesus didn’t die for the sins of humanity in a generic sense –He died for my sin and He died for your sin –personally. As our society gets more and more impersonal, it makes me happy to know that God loves me, personally.

#by-his-stripes.com #ByHisStripes