8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Source)
Psalms 103: 12 reminds us that God forgives fully and removes our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. This truth came up recently when I met a friend to discuss the bible studies that we had both done separately over the BSF break, her Hebrews and me, James.
A theme that separately came up for each of us is belief and how it is also possible for us as believers not to take God at His word and put in caveats that are not there OR that limit our overall ability to enjoy the time spent with Him. And this way, practice unbelief. In my specific case, this came through in the area of prayers. For others in my life, I am able to pray big prayers and believe on their behalf that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He said He will but somehow somehow in my case my faith is muted and I doubt that He will do what He said He can. So my pal rightly asked me: “what’s that about?” And in that moment, I was reminded of the verse that exhorts fathers not to provoke their children to anger by how they treat them (Ephesians 6: 4 NLT).
We often approach God based on our earthly experiences rather than step out of those and experience Him as the eternal Father who loves perfectly. Who has been perfectly revealed through His son Jesus Christ (Heb 1:3) and His living word (the Bible).
This contrasts with the devil who speaks from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he is the father of all lies (John 8:44) and in the other, the accuser of brethren (Revelation 12:10). However, we also know that Jesus has fully overcome the world on our behalf and though we will have trouble we should take heart and have peace (John 16:33). This means that I can overcome this burden of shame and this fear of intimacy with Christ due to past sin by entrusting my all to Him and believing fully in Him. Additionally, I know that Revelation 12:11 talks of overcoming the accuser through the words of our testimony. By what we declare and what we state can we be renewed and overcome his lies about us, God’s children.
Questions to Ponder
- In what ways do you struggle to take God fully at His word?
- What are some of your personal life experiences that hinder the development of a childlike faith in God the Father?
- How will knowing this truth of Christ now impact how you approach Him in faith?
Lord we thank you that you are eternal yet unchanging, that your word is true and that you can swear by none but yourself which further encourages our faith in you. Forgive me where I have doubted your word in how I have acted, thought or spoken. Help me always to trust in you ( in the following specific areas of my life ) and believe even when my old self wants to doubt. Teach me how to hold onto my faith unswerving and this way to bring glory and honour to you. I thank you that you are a good Father who gives good gifts to His children and who forgives us fully and does not hold our past sins against us.
Posted in books, Heart matters, life
Tagged about me, bible god, Bible Study, Book of James, BSF International, devotions, female friendship, friendship, God, relationship
It is quite funny how we can pick to do something and then later find that God had actually purposed for us to learn from that experience. Well, I picked James as I had just finished doing John and wanted something light for the BSF break. How very wrong I was as James turned out to be the very thing I needed to continue with the lessons learnt from the Book of John.
What character traits of God did I see?
- God as sovereign, ordering all my plans and in control of my future.
- God as Judge. Reading James 5, I learnt that the coming of Christ is imminent and that in all my plans I have to remember the eternal plan for mankind’s salvation.
- God as transformer who is able to change me from my fallen self through to the daughter that He would have me become.
What actions/thoughts do I need to stop?
How has the study encouraged me?
- I was encouraged by the fact that by abiding in Christ and remaining in His words and teachings, I will grow. This was brought out through the likening of God’s word to a mirror. (James 1: 22 – 25)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
So be encouraged!!
I have been studying James over the last couple of weeks and one of the themes he speaks repeatedly of are the words of your mouth. In fact, he specifically states that “perfect” is the man who is able to bridle his tongue. This has got me thinking of how I can restrain myself from saying certain things and therefore prevent myself from falling into unnecessary sin.
This morning I read this blog post cautioning against using secular language rather than speaking the words of truth that many in the world today need to hear about. This article brought to mind another area of the tongue that could lead us to fall into sin – the hollow words we speak of that while well meaning do not really mean a thing or profess the hope we have in Christ.
This article got me thinking of the number of times I have said rather vaguely “All the best”, “Good Luck”, “Best Wishes” or “I will think of you” rather than I will pray about this to Jesus and ask that His will be done. How many times have I heard of people talking of an energy/ the forces out there and not called it out and asked them to rather refer directly to Jesus – and this is true also of Christians and non-Christians.
So from the post, this is the challenge that I would like to leave you with.
I would like to challenge you, as a believer in Christ, to evaluate the phrases and hashtags you throw out to a world desperate for hope. It may seem harmless enough, but the vibes you’re alluding to are vacuous. Our friends aren’t strong enough on their own to “keep their heads up” and “pull through” life’s challenges, like vain platitudes suggest. No, they were made to find their strength in the God who made them. Theology matters. It doesn’t take long for someone to see the way we deal with the circumstances in our lives. We either have confidence in God or confidence in the flesh.
- Discovering a lovely brand of tea.
- Sleeping in on a Saturday morning during the BSF break.
- A wonderful chat with my sisters and friends.
- I read my first Bessie Head (Maru) this week and it was lovely.
- Successfully parallel (flash) parking in one attempt.
- Trying a recipe and immediately knowing you will do it again.
- Enjoying Season 7 of My Kitchen Rules.
- Seeing my nephew and niece as they start to interact as siblings.
- Really enjoying the study of James. Quite challenging but very interesting.
- Discovering a great podcast and then going back to download all 80 episodes
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged Bessie Head, Book of James, BSF International, cooking, driving, friendship, My Kitchen Rules, Podcasts, recipes, siblings, sister love, tea
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
With those close to me, I love to talk. But equally, I tend to say things that are undesirable or hurtful and so my desire and prayer is that I would learn to restrain my tongue, being slow to speak and anger and quick to listen (James 1:19) starting today and always by God’s strength.
Courtesy of this journaling prompt.
Posted in Heart matters, home, life, marriage, working
Tagged about me, belief, Book of James, faith, Jen Wilkins, lessons learnt, speech