Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
Ephesians 4: 22-23
My little brother had a favorite blanket that he carried with him when he was feeling the need for security. The older he got, however. the more tattered the blanket became and the more he became ashamed to need it. Many times he would throw the blanket in his closet, determined not to carry it again. Yet, when those waves of insecurity came, it was back to the closet to look for the blanket.
Paul, in this message, encourages us to throw away our blanket of sin and be renewed in our spirit. Those old habits we hid in the closet are so easy to find. They feel so comfortable. They give us security, even though we know they aren’t good for us. In our moments of insecurity we want to run to the closet and cover ourselves with the security of our old behaviors and habits. But we don’t have to do that today. We have another choice. We can let God work in our lives, and we can become new women in Christ. Our security can be in God instead of our old, tattered, familiar sins.
Prayer: Lord, help me today to develop my bonding with you. Help me replace the sins I run to when I am feeling insecure with the security of being your child.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.
I John 3:1
Jesus delights in giving us names that we can grow into. Never does Jesus label us “sinners.” We are commanded to “go and sin no more,” but we are not given a derogatory label. Instead, we are called “children of God.” Imagine that! Jesus affirms us, and we grow into His affirmation.
Jesus delighted in doing the same things with His disciples. Jesus changed the name Simon, meaning “reed,” to Peter, meaning “rock.” Instead of focusing on Peter’s indecisiveness and impetuousness, Jesus focused on what Peter would become-rock solid.
Have you noticed that when you label someone, all you can see from then on is the label? You persist in seeing “Jack the drunk” or “Donna the airhead” instead of Jack and Donna, God’s cherished children. Following Christ’s example we need, with the eyes of faith, to see the potential for wholeness and transformation in each person, including ourselves. We need to be God’s affirming voice to those around us.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the affirming people you have brought into my life; their affirmations move my eyes away from my mistakes toward my potential. Help me learn to affirm others, too.
For I will forgive their iniquity; and their sin I will remember no more.
Many of us on the journey carry around a backpack of regrets. We wish we hadn’t said this, done this, fallen for that line. We wish we hadn’t been sop irresponsible. Some of us flog ourselves on a daily basis with “if onlys” and “what ifs.” It’s easy to turn these regrets into excuses for not accepting responsibility. They can be an excellent justification for failure and self-pity, and they can cause us to stay dependent on others rather than facing life on our own.
God invites us tenderly to release our regrets through confession-words backed up by a change in our behavior. Then God promises to forgive us and wipe our slate clean-to remove our transgressions completely.
A priest was told that a woman in his congregation had visions. To test her he told her to ask God what the last sin the priest had confessed was. A few days later, the woman sought the priest out and told him she had followed his request. “Well, what was the last sin I confessed?” he asked. The lady smiled, “God said he couldn’t remember.”
If God can’t remember the regrets we’ve confessed to Him, who are we to carry them around?
Prayer: Lord, help me to use my energy on growth rather than regrets.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Marla had been coming to counseling for well over a year, but she was still a very angry young woman. She had vented her feelings over and over again. One afternoon, I finally said, “Marla, you’re never going to get better until you forgive. Her answer was quick and to the point, “I don’t do windows, and I don’t do forgiveness.” I said, “Well, I guess you won’t get better then.” Marla left in a huff, I wondered if she would come back.
Next week, however, Marla showed up. She seemed calm and relaxed, so I asked her how the week had gone. Rather sheepishly she replied that she had had a great week. She had really thought about what I had said. And she had decided to make an effort to forgive not only others, but also herself. Marla had started on the road to forgiveness by taking the first step-making a conscious decision to begin the process of forgiveness. It is a long process that often requires peeling off layers of bitterness like tearfully peeling off layers of an onion. Unlike an onion, however, our lives come out of the “peeling ” process whole and intact-better than ever.
Thought: I will decide to forgive today, so the long process of forgiveness can begin to bring healing in my life.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
I John 4:7
The need to belong and be accepted is universal. We all crave the love of God and the love of humans, and rejection is one of our biggest fears.
Love for a newborn baby can mean the difference between life and death. This has been well documented in studies of orphanges where babies receive normal physical care but, because of the understaffing, are not played with or shown affection. In such situations, the babies cry first, then seemingly give up, and some die. They become listless and lose their appetites. Many become ill and some die. Of those who survive, many are mentally retarded or mentally ill.
But age makes little difference in the need for love. Social scientists at the University of California at Berkeley found that adults who aren’t in some kind of nuturing group are just as much at risk for health problems as people who smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or are obese. Being a loner can be deadly.
You have probably seen the bumper sticker that asks, “Have you hugged your kid today?” Answer yes! Determine to show your love to your friends and family. Think of specific ways to let them you know you care. Do it today. And let them show love to you too!
Thought: Love is contagious, so I will think of several ways to pass it on today.
If you abide in me and my Words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done to you.
As Dawn drove her little red Honda to her mother-in-law’s house, she wondered what the day would bring. Dawn had been married to this woman’s son for ten years, yet she still felt like an outsider. And when Dawn and her husband, Rick, announced their decision not to have children, her in-law relationships had become more intense.
Dawn felt anxious over confronting her mother-in-law, but she knew she could no longer ignore the comments such as, “God meant for you to have children.” Dawn was visiting her mother-in-law specifically to ask her to accept their decision and to accept Dawn herself. She prayed that the Lord would help the two of them begin a new relationship.
As Dawn and Rick’s mother ate lunch together, Dawn groped for the right words to say. As she told her mother-in-law how hurt she was by her comments, Dawn realized that for the first time she was sharing her feelings with this woman. Amazingly, Rick’s mother switched her tone when Dawn expressed her honest thoughts. She apologized for her words and admitted she felt rejected by Dawn; she also admitted she had been rude to Dawn. As the two shared their feelings, they made a decision to start being honest with each other and to treat each other with respect.
Prayer: God, help me face the daily fears I try to avoid.