It’s Not Your Past That Matters to Jesus

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Shame is a No-Win Game

Friends, I’ve discovered that many people today are dying slowly in a secret tomb of shame. Some are ashamed of their poor financial condition, plagued with guilt about their irresponsible spending and debt. Others are ashamed about sexual sin from their past. Many carry extreme guilt with them into their future relationships. Countless people are crippled by the shame of secret addictions. Some people even live with false guilt after suffering as victims of sexual abuse. Some carry constant guilt over broken relationships, shattered marriages or children they may feel deep down inside they failed. Still others bear the shame they feel over a chronic health problem that affects their entire life.

Shame usually follows a pattern — a cycle of self-recrimination and lies that claims life after life. First, we experience an intensely painful event. Second, we believe the lie that our pain and failure is who we are — not just something we’ve done, or had done to us — and we experience shame. And finally, our feelings of shame trap us into thinking that we can never recover — that, in fact, we don’t even deserve to.

Finding a Way Out

Please understand that there is a way out of the cycle. It is different for each person, but it is also possible for each person, by the grace of God, no matter how uniquely and irreversibly crippling that person’s shame might feel.

When we let shame control our actions, we cannot know God, because we cannot live our lives for him. Christians, ironically, can try to live as if God doesn’t exist because, in their cycle of shame, it doesn’t seem as if He does.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, broke out of his prison of shame, although the struggle was long. Jesus had predicted this fisherman-turned-disciple’s betrayal, and Peter immediately and passionately denied that he’d ever turn on Jesus.

“I’ll stand faithfully by you until the end,” he insisted.

Unfortunately, real-life events soon proved Peter wrong. A rooster’s crow reminded Peter of his denial, forcing him to face his crushing triple failure. Yet Peter refused to believe the lie that his betrayal now branded him a traitor. Broken and repentant, Peter cried out to God for forgiveness. After His resurrection, Jesus honored Peter’s desperate plea. Jesus’ forgiveness and restoration gave Peter a renewed passion, and the courage to preach a daring message at Pentecost and become one of the fathers of the Christian church.

His failure — transformed from tragedy into triumph through Peter’s repentance and God’s forgiveness — became a character-building lesson that led the way to kingdom victory.

Breaking the Shackles of Shame

Like Peter, we can break free from the cycle of shame, but only through the power of God in Christ.

We live lives of private defeat, but God wants to renew our hearts and minds and to send us into His world as lights shining in the darkness. Like Peter, we can become convinced of the truth: namely, that we are not our sins. And we’re also not what others have done to us.

Rather, we are who God says we are: His children. We are forgivable. We are changeable. We are capable. We are mold-able. And we are bound by the limitless love of God.

When we hope in what God has promised — commanded — our hope is the same as certainty.

For many, it is difficult to accept that the past has passed. Sometimes, it’s so hard just to leave it there, where it belongs. But until we do, we cannot make peace with the present or walk into the future with hope.

Changing Your Future

Once we accept the unchangeable past, we must embrace that God can change our future.

While we may always remember what happened, we need to believe that we are not what happened. We are who God says we are — new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we reject what our shame says about us, we can finally hear what God says about us. He is working in all things to bring about good in our lives because we love God and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28).

Your Turn

God is ready and willing to turn your shame into your strength! Are you ready to let go of that shame, repent to those you’ve hurt, and give it to Him? Your Heavenly Father is more willing to take your burdens than we are often willing to give to Him. We pray He has touched your heart today and that you will indeed choose to let go of that inner shame, give it to Christ by prayer and just be set free from that which is holding you back from His plan for your life. Freedom is just one prayer away for you. Take the step now and watch God work a supernatural miracle in your life through Jesus Christ who already suffered the guilt of all your sins, on His cross, and said, “IT IS FINISHED!”

Lord Teach Us About Time

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The New Year & Our Renewed Concept of Time

The Psalmist prayed, “Lord teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” (Psalm 90:12). 

Could it be that the main reason why we never get around to doing everything we want or need to do in a day, a week, a month, a year or a life is not so much because “we don’t have enough time” (common response), but really because we don’t know how to best manage the time God has given us?” Perhaps. I will honestly count myself in that bunch, especially when I allow other “things” to distract me from what I should be doing. In our technology-driven world today, it seems we have more devices and applications to manage time, but somehow many feel they still don’t have enough “time” in any given day. Why is this? 

Could it be that most of us would acknowledge the truth that “our days are indeed numbered,” but by the way we live we feel our time is more or less unlimited in scope?

“Where did the time go?” middle-aged and older adults often remark. Many of us feel that time passes more quickly as we age, a perception that can lead to regrets. According to psychologist and BBC columnist Claudia Hammond, “the sensation that time speeds up as you get older is one of the biggest mysteries of the experience of time.” Fortunately, our attempts to unravel this mystery have yielded some intriguing findings

There are good reasons why older people may feel that way. When it comes to how we perceive time, humans can estimate the length of an event from two very different perspectives: a prospective vantage, while an event is still occurring, or a retrospective one, after it has ended. In addition, our experience of time varies with whatever we are doing and how we feel about it. In fact, time does fly when we are having fun. Engaging in a novel exploit makes time appear to pass more quickly in the moment. But if we remember that activity later on, it will seem to have lasted longer than more mundane experiences.

The reason? Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. In other words, the more new memories we build on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight.

This phenomenon, which Hammond has dubbed the holiday paradox, seems to present one of the best clues as to why, in retrospect, time seems to pass more quickly the older we get. From childhood to early adulthood, we have many fresh experiences and learn countless new skills. As adults, though, our lives become more routine, and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments. As a result, our early years tend to be relatively over-represented in our autobiographical memory and, on reflection, seem to have lasted longer. Of course, this means we can also slow time down later in life. We can alter our perceptions by keeping our brain active, continually learning skills and ideas, and exploring new places.

So, what exactly does it mean to “teach us to number our days that we gain a heart of wisdom?” (Psalm 90:12)

First, it means to “make the most of each day.” Prioritize what is most important and be consistent in pursuing our goals. We have to set goals for without them we will drift. By prayer, godly counsel and Scripture study—decide what it is God wants you to do. If you are saved and belong to Christ, then He has given you a job or a task to do in His Kingdom. Make no mistake about it. It could be anything, but it will be something. It’s easy to get caught up “in our own agenda” and forget why God has put us here in the first place. God’s plan for our life includes allowing Him to guide and direct us toward His will for us (which is the best plan, incidentally). Evaluate your daily and weekly activities. Focus on what is most important and don’t allow distractions to detour your direction. We are “time managers” and the more we do it “right” the more joy we will experience, as well as a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. 

Second, it means to keenly realize “our lives are shorter than we realize.” For some people, it is drastically brief. Since none of us know exactly how much time we have left, we have to use what little, remaining time doing the things which matter, the goals which count for eternity and which are most important, not just for this life now. It may sound morbid to some, but our days are “literally” numbered Scripture teaches. That means in a certain year, of a certain month on a certain day it will be “game over” for each of us. No going back. No reincarnation. No second chances. It’s a done deal. I sincerely believe if each of us actually knew how many “days” we really have to live, it would profoundly shock us. “Count your days by making each of your days count.”

I like to do research on the internet. I enjoy learning new things. I also enjoy some time on social media and I do my best to reply to emails as quickly as possible. I selectively watch some television programs, good movies and inspiring music often. Because of the rise of technology today, if I am not careful and I don’t get my work done first, then all of these other things can easily trip me up and cause me to never get to the most important tasks of my day. Stay in charge of your schedule, don’t let lesser things rule your day. Your time is more precious than you might know. 

A wise question to ask yourself is, “What do I want to see happen in my life before I die?” This transcends a mere “bucket list.” When you have noted the answer to that probing question, then ask yourself this one, “What small step could I take toward that life purpose today?” Stay focused one step at a time. Keep your eyes on the prize! 

Thirdly, “numbering our days to gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12) means embracing the truth that our accomplishments on earth await their ultimate satisfaction only in eternity. Most Christians, who are spiritually healthy and growing in the Lord, deeply want to see their work reflect the glory of God and His permanence. This is good, however, if we feel dissatisfied with this life, and all it’s endless contradictions, frustrations and imperfections, then we must remember that our very passion to see God’s work and will done in our life, as well as the lives of others we serve, originates from the Lord Jesus Christ, not ourselves. 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11).

This means it is a good sign to have a certain sense of “dissatisfaction” with earthly pleasures and pursuits. Because we are created in “God’s image,” we have; a spiritual thirst and hunger for Him, eternal value and are intimately connected to the “cosmic, heavenly reality” that ultimate fulfillment will never happen to us in this life. Why? Because God has created us with a “built-in” restless yearning for the kind of flawlessly, perfect, eternal world which far transcends the temporary, fallen material world we live now. Can we experience high levels of joy and peace in Christ here? We should, it’s our birthright, after all. But, the truth is God has given us “only a glimpse of His glory” and the amazing perfection of His creation to come. This mere glimpse is only a passing glimpse. We can’t see the whole picture. No one can. We see in a “mirror dimly.” Anyone who claims to “see and understand all the details of the future” is blinded by their own self-deception. Therefore, we must trust God now and love Him enough to do what work He has already clearly revealed for us to do in His Word. 

The more we see “time” from God’s eternal perspective, the more we will apply our entire lives in such a way that we will not only realize the brevity of life, but we will also seek to take advantage of each day as an opportunity to honor God. We will see our limited time on earth impacting our destiny in eternity, “what we do in life echos through eternity, ” (Russell Crowe in Gladiator). 

“Father God, forgive us for the way we have managed our time. Sensitize our hearts and minds so that we will enthusiastically pursue Your plan for our lives with a view to eternity. May Your wisdom in Your Word become even more so our directional compass in the 2019 New Year ahead.  For we ask and pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”