December 2018

christmas2018Happy Birthday Jesus! My heartfelt prayers go out to all those who won’t be experiencing a Merry Christmas this year because of fires, hurricanes, floods, shootings and other turmoil.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” 1

A Welcome Response…

A Christian brother named John wrote again from Pennsylvania, saying:

“I wrote you a few years ago. I’m still fascinated with your life’s story and the message that you have on your website that God can forgive someone who committed murder.

“I have the hardest time forgiving myself for the things I have done. I go to Bible study, and they continually go on about if God can forgive me, then who am I not to forgive myself? The problem is that I must be looking at it from a different angle.

“I feel as though I’m not worthy. I feel beat down. I have daily thoughts of suicide. I see a therapist and take meds, but it doesn’t help. I don’t sleep good. I feel good on Bible study morning most times and then go back to feeling bad. It feels like a boiling pot about to explode.

“How do you keep the faith when it doesn’t seem to be getting any better? Maybe your situation is different. Do you have any Godly advice? If someone like you can do it and go on, then I should be able to. You took a very negative thing and turned it into a very positive thing. Kind of why I’m reaching out to you. Your brother in Christ, John, PA.”

Can you Identify?

John has help all around him, yet the answer eludes him. I can recall how I was looking for answers right before my breakthrough. Like John, my feelings were telling me that I had a problem. And finally, I concluded the Answer to be the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the early 80s, psychologists were using Rational Behavior Training for prison rehabilitation. I converted their Rational Self Analysis sheet to Spiritual Soul Analysis for evaluating events, thoughts and feelings that result in negative actions and consequences. I found the sheet useful for questioning my thoughts and keeping them in line with God’s Word, resulting in Spirit-filled life.

For me, I’ve learned to not limit myself only to Bible studies if a tool can be validated with biblical principles. For example, the Twelve Steps are important healing tools. I believe that if we regularly apply these to our lives, we open ourselves to God’s healing love and grace. These steps were originally Christian from the Oxford Group in the 20s and 30s. The Christian 12 Steps are offered on the website.

A Different Angle…

I’m not sure what “angle” John is looking at forgiveness, but God provided it for all of us 2000 years ago at the cross; past, present and future sins. Jesus “…loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” 2

It is evident that John is allowing his feelings to overcome his faith in God’s grace. His thoughts of unworthiness are beating him down, resulting in sleepless nights and about to explode. I see him in a great place for a breakthrough, ready to wake up to new horizons. Thank God he is acknowledging his need and reaching out for help. It’s never too late!

For me, I had resentments stemming from my youth, that caused me to rationalize or justify my behavior or weaknesses to myself. Think about how this would cause an unwillingness to forgive as we blame others for our failures. My perceptions were so hardened that I became misled and easily deceived. Maybe John needs to deal with resentments as part of his healing process?

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger… Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 3

Godly Advice…

I’ve already offered John a recommendation course of action, but we can never have too many healing strategies, even exercise. But spiritually, we need a good study Bible, and for recovery help I recommend The Life Recovery Bible from Tyndale House Publishing, Inc, which has Christian 12 Step notes. But nothing can take the place of renewing our mind with the Word of God!

The Holy Bible is God’s love story to us all through his Son, Jesus Christ. The more we understand God’s love for us, the greater the healing. As the apostle Paul prayed, “…may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” 4

Again, the number one need is to experience God’s love for us in giving His Son for our sins at the cross. This is the secret for healing spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Make the following prayer personal as the apostle Paul continues his prayer for us.

“May you [I] experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” 5

A Prayer for You…

Father, please give my friends a revelation of the power of the Gospel today. Enable them to understand what salvation truly is and how You’ve provided for them everything they need as a free gift through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Please enlighten them to these truths from Your Word. As they begin to understand Your love and grace, thank you for setting them free from guilt, condemnation and a performance mentality. It’s all about putting our faith in what Your Son did and not what we do. From this day forward, may Your grace be the foundation of my friends’ daily relationship with you. Amen.

Scripture References (NLT):

1) Heb. 4:16
2) Rev. 1:5c, 6, NKJV
3) Eph. 4:31a, 32
4) Eph. 3:18
5) Eph. 3:19

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