On forgiving yourself

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Romans 8:28-39 (NIV-UK): “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These verses are fantastic – Romans 8:28 has been one of my favourites, ever since I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And, the very idea that we cannot be separated from the love of God, sounds almost too good to be true; but it is true and we can really live as conquerors in Christ’s love.

As Selwyn has said over the last few days – when we turn to God and genuinely (and He knows if we are) seek repentance for our terrible sins – the forgiveness we receive is absolute and eternal. That should be the end of the matter.

However, as Selwyn says in his conclusion, there are some people who experience the chains of shame, because they have no forgiven themselves. Don’t they trust the Word of God, some may ask? There are plenty of examples in Scripture where we are told that God has completely forgiven the sins of His people.

Here’s what Selwyn has to say about it: “When a sense of shame remains after having been forgiven by God one might begin to suspect the presence of pride.

What you may be saying to yourself at some deep level of your emotional life, is this: ‘How could I have ever done that? Me, of all people?’

Hear the pride? Self-hate and self-contempt is rooted in pride, so recognise what is going on and repent even of that. Now, just as you forgive others, forgive yourself. God has forgiven you.”

I agree with Selwyn, and I would add that if there is a difficulty with forgiving yourself, then it is highly likely that you also have difficulties in forgiving others – especially when it concerns deep personal hurts.

The following parable from Matthew 18:23-35; is, I think, one that is really not well understood – because there are some people who act as if it applies to other people and not themselves!

We hear the words of Jesus teaching us about forgiveness: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded. ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.” ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’”

Our sins against God are massive, well beyond our means to address; yet He offered His Son as a sacrifice to pay the full penalty, for all of us. You have heard this truth many times. So, why is it, that we can find it so hard to forgive others who have sinned against us – when the ‘debt’ is so small – compared to the debt we all owed God? Perhaps, Selwyn has the right answer – unrepentant pride?

Your view?

Remembering to forget

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Jeremiah 31:31-37 (NIV-UK): “ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord.

This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is his name: ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.’

This is what the Lord says: ‘Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the Lord.”

Is it not great that the Lord, is our God; and we, are His people?

Selwyn continues to discuss the issue that some people think they are repentant when all they feel is just remorse and passing fear.

He writes: “Hasn’t our repentance been less then authentic at times? Haven’t we been sorry, not because we have offended God and broken His holy laws, but because we have lost our inner peace? Haven’t we been cast down, not by genuine sorrow over sin, but because we have suffered some personal deprivation?

What does God say to truly repentant people? He give the message of our text today: ‘I will … remember their sins no more.’ … I think God remembers to forget: when we repent of our sins – truly repent – then the forgiveness that God gives is absolute and eternal.”

I think that the prayer for today is an appropriate way to end: “Dear God, may the sense of forgiveness permeate my soul. I know that when I truly repent You truly forgive. Help me move forward with the light and steady step of someone who has been forgiven by God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Jesus, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, is so powerful that He has the authority to forgive all sins – even yours!

Repenting of ‘repentance’

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 7:1-16 (NIV-UK): “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged.

In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.

I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.”

I like the key verse, selected by Selwyn for today’s study – especially, the bit – ‘leaves no regret.’

He starts off, with this introduction: “How then do we work with God to annihilate the giant who seeks to paralyse our lives by replaying memories of things that re best forgotten? First, we need to be sure that we have brought it to God in repentance.”

Selwyn, then makes this insightful comment regarding ‘repentance’; “Often our repentance is not what it should be. … Because often our repentance is not really repentance at all. It is only remorse or fear. We can be sad, even tearful, not because of what we have done but because we have been found out or may yet be found out.

Remember , repentance is not only being sorry for our sin, but being sorry for the self-centredness that prompted the sin. Sin is self in the place of God ought to be.”

In Psalm 51:1-12, we hear King David’s words of repentance: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Notice that David fully recognised his sin, and no excuses are offered; in addition, he knows that only God can cleanse him and restore him. And, the last and important point is that David seeks a willing spirit to obey God’s commandments – to enable him to sustain his relationship with God. An excellent example for all of us.

Repentance and forgiveness, go hand-in-hand with mercy and compassion – but they are all, but words – if we don’t act in love, for our Lord and our neighbours.

If we keep on habitually sinning, after we have sought our Lord’s forgiveness, then we are being false to God and ourselves. Repentance always involves a change in our behaviour.

Any comments?

What it means to forget

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Peter 1:1-11 (NIV-UK): “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is short-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Some great verses there, don’t you agree?

Selwyn starts today’s study as follows: “The question facing us now is: How do we go about annihilating this giant that seeks to paralyse us by reviving memories of our past, which has been forgiven? … “

His conclusion, is this: “I do not believe it is part of God’s purposes to erase unpleasant memories from our memory banks. He does however, take the sharp edge off them and helps us avoid an emotional overload. … Give God the chance and He will help you forget anything that it would be harmful to remember. Not the event, but the acute recollection of it.”

I agree with Selwyn’s conclusion; the sharp edges of my past sins have been removed (through the work of the Holy Spirit) by the conviction that I’ve been totally forgiven. As the apostle Peter states in today’s reading, we have been cleansed of our past sins. We, now live as loved children of God.

Perhaps there are people reading this who are held in bondage by the thought that their sins were so terrible that Jesus could not pay the full ransom to set them free. God has paid the finite price, through His infinite love.  All sins, for all people, for all time – have been covered. As individuals; we just need to believe that Jesus died on the cross for us – and, we are saved. Remarkable, when you think about it – amazing grace!

Your thoughts?

 

Just holding the coats

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation (I’ve included a few preceding verses):

Acts 7:54-60 (NIV-UK): “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Stephen, who followed closely in the footsteps of our Lord, is a great example for all of us. To be able to say, when being severely hurt by rocks: ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ Is truly remarkable – I don’t think I could do it – not unless I was receiving a lot of help from His Spirit.

Selwyn says, in today’s study: “We continue looking at the issue for those who have received the forgiveness of God for something in their past, but whose memories continue to be lacerated by shame. Paul the apostle had a ‘past’. The first time his name is mentioned in the New testament is in connection with the stoning of Stephen.

Yet Paul found forgiveness. And years later, he said: ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I press on towards the goal’ (Philippians 3:13-14). … He was not glad about what he had done but he did not allow the past to determine his future.”

If, we believe that though our Lord’s saving grace, we have been completely forgiven; then why should we live as if we are still stained by past sins. The only one who likes to remind us of our past sins is Satan, so why give him a foothold?

Your view?

[I had a dose of chemotherapy yesterday and find it a bit hard to concentrate. I should come good over the next few days – God willing.]

Memories of the past

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation (I’ve included a few preceding verses):

Isaiah 43:14-28 (NIV-UK): “This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride. I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.’

This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel. You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honoured me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with grain offerings nor wearied you with demands for incense. You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offences.

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence. Your first father sinned; those I sent to teach you rebelled against me. So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple; I consigned Jacob to destruction and Israel to scorn.'”

In today’s study, Selwyn turns his attention to the ‘giant’ of shame.

He writes: “Part of this giant’s work, is to revive memories of things that are best forgotten. Shame picks on us, reminding us of an action, thought or omission in our past – a sin that has been brought to the cross and forgiven – and works to make sure we will not forget it.

I have been amazed at the number of people I have met who have told me that even though they knew God had forgiven them for some ugly moment of the past, memories and feelings of sorrow and remorse remained to such a degree that a dark shadow was cast over their life. … Those tormented by shame are filled with feelings of self-contempt that hinder them from moving on, in the work of God.”

Perhaps it’s fairly natural to feel some degree of shame when we think back over our past sins. I think these feelings become a real problem when they constantly pester us and we are diverted from our work for His kingdom (as Selwyn mentioned).

At times, Satan will trot out in front of me, a long procession of my sins. There is often a fleeting moment when I wished I wasn’t such a fallen human; but those negative feelings are overtaken by the joy that arises when I fully realise that God has forgiven the multitude of my sins through the blood of Jesus; and, I then start to praise my loving Father for what He has done for me.

Consequently, I don’t worry about how many times Satan reminds me of my past, because it always ends with me praising God. I can recommend this approach to anyone who experiences shame over their past sins. As, I’ve said many times; Jesus loves you so much, He will not leave you as a prisoner of shame, turn to Him in prayer and talk to Him about escaping from the grip of this giant. He will help you.

Your view?

Creative desires

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation (I’ve included a few preceding verses):

1 Corinthians 6: 9-20 (NIV-UK): “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’– but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’ The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?

Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”

I think the last verse above is one we can print and stick on a fridge, as a constant reminder that we are not our own – we belong to Jesus – who paid the ransom for us. We, God’s children, are one with Him, in spirit – we should live out – this truth.

Selwyn spends one more day looking at the various ways we can overcome the giant of lust. He says: “It is more than a matter of mind control or the exercise of the will. The heart of the issue is the matter of our heart. Is our heart taken up with Jesus and fully occupied with Him? If so, then His love brings all other love under His control.”

He then looks at the group of people who are not married, either by choice or circumstances.

Let’s look at what he says about them: “History is replete with people who have committed to a life of celibacy and achieved tremendous works of service living active, full, satisfying lives – their sexual desires have not so much been repressed, but expressed in a different sphere. … Remember the God who delivered Goliath into the hands of David is just the same today. Take aim in His strength and even this giant will fall.”

This is a complex issue, and I’m sure many would agree. There are some people who have committed themselves to a life of celibacy – but, they cannot control their sexual desires and they burn with passion that ends in suffering.

In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, we read the word of Paul: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

It’s important to keep this truth central in your heart: Jesus loves you. If, you are facing difficulties in controlling your sexual desires then take them to Jesus whenever they start to take hold. He will help you in your time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

As Selwyn has said on previous days, and I’ve endorsed; this is one giant that must be faced, with His Spirit’s help, as soon as it appears. If you let it linger in your imagination it will grow to such a large size that it will dominate all areas of your life including personal relationships; and many will suffer.

Any comments?