Category Archives: Marriage

the real issue of every temptation

Meditation Journey Day 52        

Hi Friend,

We have been “chewing on” verses 19-22 of Psalm 139 to learn how to walk in spiritual victory and understand the process of repentance.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! Men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them, my enemies! Psalm 139:19-22

The questions in this verse probe our hearts with the real issue of every temptation we face.

In these verses, David asks himself two important questions that actually begin to lead to true repentance. Do I not hate those (secret sins and evil thoughts) who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those (secret sins and evil thoughts) who rise up against you? The questions in this verse probe our hearts with the real issue of every temptation we face. LORD, do I hate what you hate? Do I have total contempt for Satan, the world’s evil and my own selfishness? Or do I secretly love my sin? LORD, I know you know me and you love me, but do I really love you?

These questions remind me of the three times Jesus asked Peter if Peter loves Him. Jesus was restoring Peter to a right relationship after Peter denied Him three times before the crucifixion. Jesus asked him, “Do you truly love me more than these?” He asks us similar questions. Do we love Him more than our sin? Do we love our lusts and bitterness more than His purity and forgiveness? Does our hearts long for the temporal comfort more than the eternal communion? These questions expose the root of our sin. Our hatred of sin and evil is a genuine indicator of our true love of God and His holiness. We are commanded to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22). When we do not love God completely we are vulnerable to Satan’s schemes and the world’s way of temptation.

The two questions David asked, force us to examine our hearts and minds. We may say, LORD, I love when you tell me I am of great worth to you, and I feel safe knowing you are always with me. Father God, I swell with joy knowing you have given me a divine purpose, but do I love you? Really love you? The questions confront us with a probing light, “Do I not hate those (secret sins and evil thoughts) who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those (secret sins and evil thoughts) who rise up against you?” My choice to sin and disobey God’s word and His precious thoughts tell me I am presuming on His goodness and grace. It reveals I am not walking in repentance. I am walking in pride.

temptation-1The King James Version of verse 21 adds a powerful inference to this probing truth. It uses the word “grieve” instead of “loathe”. “Do not I hate them, O LORD that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?” The idea of our sin grieving us takes our dislike of evil to a deeper emotional level. When we begin to understand the sinful choices we make from believing Satan’s lies, it angers us. Then it causes us to grieve for the way we have treated our loving Savior. When God opens our eyes to our rebellion, we will weep over the relationships we have destroyed and people we have wounded. Actually, the more we surrender to the Holy Spirit and engraft the word of God into our hearts the more we will understand how unloving we have been! God’s grace does this to help us to have genuine repentance and transformation.

Friend, we will begin to win spiritual battles when we personalize David’s two questions. If we allow the Holy Spirit to use them to probe our hearts we will begin to see the roots of our rebellion. When we see ourselves as God does our only hope is to focus on Jesus Christ sacrifice for us and run to the cross to receive His forgiveness.  

 

Observation: David is now asking the right questions. Do I not hate those (secret sins and evil thoughts) who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those (secret sins and evil thoughts) who rise up against you? Until these questions are faced we will never get to the roots of the wickedness in our hearts.

Interpretation: The strongholds of evil in our hearts are defeated at the cross, yet until we take the responsibility to end their control in our lives we will never experience the freedom Jesus has given us.

These questions reveal our lack of love for God. This lack of love gives place and power to sin. We cannot defeat sin in our own power, but as we trust God’s precious thoughts and yield to the Holy Spirit, God will deliver us.

Application Prayer: Father God, thank you for asking me if I really hate my sin. I am humbled by my rebellion and brokenness for I know I do not love you as I should. I am grieved over the hurt I have caused you and the people I love. Please forgive me and help me to engraft your word into my soul daily. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

the spiritually normal response

Meditation Journey Day 50       

Hi Friend,

What is the spiritually normal response to truth?

We are now in the Valley of Victory of Psalm 139:19-22. These verses are a pattern and process of how we gain Victory over evil and sin in our own life. They come after we have seen the beauty of the LORD in the preceding verses 1-18. David is displaying what our hearts will do when we have seen the Lord’s loving-kindness and gracious mercy.

This is the process of repentance and it is the spiritually normal response.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! Men of blood, depart from me!

What David is saying is, LORD I see your truth and hold your thoughts precious in my change-1heart. Now I know the wickedness around me and in me and I do not like it! Turning towards God, David asks, “God, can you please change my circumstances?” Then David turns towards the evil and says, Men of blood, depart from me!” David is sick of the sin his eyes see and his heart is burdened by the evil associations he has accepted. His expectations are that God will remove them and change the circumstance. David then turns to the men of blood and hopes that by simply telling them to leave the problem will be solved. It won’t.

The wicked and the men of blood, while they may have been real people to David, are metaphors of the lies and half-truths we believe.

The wicked and the men of blood, while they may have been real people to David, are metaphors of the lies and half-truths we believe. The wicked thoughts that we believe have been leading us to rebellion and darkness. They are the seeds of bitterness and rejection that tell us God does not love us. The evil thoughts are lusts of all kinds that sell us pleasure as a sanctuary of false peace. The men of blood are demon’s lies that murder our hope and slaughter our purpose. Friend, they will not go away simply because we ask.

The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to destroy them all independently of us, but He does not always choose to exercise His power.

repent-turnaround1Why, because He wants us to gain the victory from the inside out. He wants us to “stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might” with an internal confidence in God. How we stand in the Lord’s power will come clearer as we proceed on this journey. Just remember what you have learned to this point. The Holy Spirit has given us God’s precious thoughts in Psalm 139 and now He wants us to receive it, believe it and obey it. This is the only path the world, sin, and Satan will be defeated in our lives.

Observation: David sees the wickedness around him and he responds in the spiritually normal way of wanting freedom and change. His first two responses to the realization he needs change are typical and non-productive. David was expecting God to change his circumstances or he hoped they would just go away on their own accord.

Interpretation: The road to spiritual victory starts with the Holy Spirit revealing to us God’s loving kindness. He leads us to the foot of the cross to see the grace poured out on us. That is what we have been receiving through Psalm 139:1-18. Jesus Christ’ sacrifice on the cross obtained all the blessings we have received from God. As we become alive in Christ, the wickedness of this world becomes more uncomfortable. Our response typically is to expect God to change our circumstances. He could but He does not because He wants an internal and everlasting transformation of our hearts.

Application Prayer: Father God, Thank you for your gracious mercy revealed in Jesus Christ dying for me. I know all your grace freely flows to me through His death, burial and resurrection. As I receive your precious thoughts and obey them the sin in my life becomes more obvious. It challenges your word and resists your truth. Help me to take the responsibility to internally allow you to change me. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

Does God Dance with you?

Meditation Journey Day 38

Hi Friend,

Psalm 139 is a very condensed communication of God’s mercy and loving kindness to each of us. It is reasonable to believe God loves me when I am doing well, but to think He still loves me at my worst stretches my faith.

Consider verses 9 & 10 in our journey: “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” They tell us of the tender and reassuring love of God even when we are very sinful and rebellious. It is reasonable to believe God loves me when I am doing well, but to think He still loves me at my worst stretches my faith. In Psalm 139 this is exactly what David, the writer f this Psalm, is reporting.

First, I need to tell you why I can say God’s love is so consistent even when we are willfully disobeying Him. The very simple answer is Jesus’s sacrifice. Jesus Christ died for all our sin; all our past rebellion, present willfulness, and even our future wickedness. Trusting His sacrifice pays for all the moral debt we owe. When we put our faith in His righteousness we also receive His merit of goodness. From the moment we exchange our rags of self-righteousness for His moral purity, God looks at us differently. Paul said it this way,

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did…  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5

Now read the verses again, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” David is remembering times when he willfully and rebelliously ran from God. He wanted to fly away and find a place where he could live his own way. No matter where David went he found God there! What is remarkable to David and should be to us, is God’s attitude and actions towards David. Notice God’s one hand is leading David and the other, God’s right hand is holding David. Allow me to suggest this is a dancing position. God is facing David looking at him directly in the eyes and God’s left hand is holding David’s right hand. God’s right hand is around David’s waist and holding him.

Knowing more about the hands is very important in our meditation. The right hand is a term in scripture that refers to the power and might of a person.  The right hand of God is a metaphor for all the power of God! Consider with me the placement of the hands in these verses.  David’s right hand, all his human strength, is being held and directed by God’s left hand. It is when David’s strength is finally rendered powerless that he realizes he is in the hands of God. He is at the end of his rope and yet God is leading him. God’s right hand, His power and might, is holding David. Just like David, at our most wretched moments when we are in rebellion to God, he is still holding and leading us. This is hard to Dance 3imagine but the placement of Father God’s hands resemble the placement of someone dancing! Is it possible that when we are at our worst God posture is to dance with us!!!  Grace says this is true, but our minds resist this kind of grace.

That my friend is the kind of love I need and have found in Jesus Christ. I find this overwhelmingly kind and precious of God to be so patient with my failure and sin. This Psalm made it real to me at my worse moments, and God will reveal the depth of His great love for you as you fill your mind and heart with His Word.  Remember Proverbs 2, “My, Child if you will receive my word…”

Have you taken the wings of the morning? Do you wish to run away from life and are you struggling against the grip of God? Know that at your worse He is still dancing with you. Please turn to Him now and trust Him so the dance can be enjoyed by both of you!

My your day be filled with grace and peace…. from the Lover of your soul…Jesus!

 

Observation: David finds even when he willfully runs from God, The Lord never leaves him. He also realizes that when he is in rebellion God is still holding him.

Interpretation: God’s attitude and actions at David’s greatest failures is pure grace and love. The way God is holding David appears to be a loving and kind posture. This is a picture of great grace and mercy at our lowest moments.

Application Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending Jesus and covering my sin. I was so afraid that when I chose my own way you would leave me in my brokenness. Knowing that you are always there holding me helps me trust you and relax in your faithful love. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

Got Guilt?

forgiveness

The Bible says we can be forgiven through Jesus Christ. He redeemed us to love us and to love through us. All the guilt and shame of our past is removed it is over and gone.

Psalm 103 declares: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

 Your past has past. Let it go. God has forgiven you and you need to forgive yourself. Yet even though we know we have been forgiven guilt can keep us focused on past mistakes, poor choices and wrong decisions.

In his book Devotions for a Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas tells this story:

“A relationship from my teen years still makes me wince -whenever the girl’s name comes to mind and I think about the hurt I caused her. One day recently I was wondering and praying about looking her up to tell her how sorry I felt for how I acted twenty-five years ago. One of my best friends — a marriage and family therapist from San Diego — adamantly opposed the idea.

“Gary,” Steve said, “I’m thinking this is more about you than it is about her.”

In his counseling experience, Steve has discovered that looking up someone after two and a half decades can be dangerous; you don’t know where he or she is coming from or what’s happening in his or her life.The potential for hurt is just as great as the potential for healing. But the clincher came when he said, “Look, why don’t you take all the energy you’re using thinking about this and spend it on planning how you can love your wife today.” That’s when it dawned on me: Guilt attacks us by using a dead relationship to distract us from a living one. Some things in our past can’t be “fixed.” 

You can repent, you can ask for forgiveness; but you can’t always go back — nor should you try. Some of us are more introspective and hold on to our guilt in such a way that we become blinded to our present obligations. When guilt comes knocking on your door about a failed relationship from the past, start praying about how to love your spouse today.”

And I will add not only your spouse, but everyone in your life. Don’t let a dead relationship pollute or weigh down a living one. Forgive as you have been forgiven; love as you have been loved. Christ has set you free from the past so live and love in the present.

I’m so glad my wife likes coffee.

Coffee cupI’m so glad my wife likes coffee. Not just because there are some healthy reasons to drink the brew, but because it is an easy simple gift I can give her every morning, every day. I have a routine of making the coffee either the night before, or as soon as I awake, and then I bring it to her while she is still in bed.

It’s the perfect time to tell her she is beautiful, I love her and thank God for her.

Yes, everyday if I can. When she is away on a trip, I send her a morning text with “here is your coffee, I love you” just to remind her.

Why? ….. because she so insecure that she needs that reassurance each day? Not at all! She is a very confident and competent woman. I just happen to enjoy loving my wife, and this is a simple easy way to let her know I cherish her each day. I also know I need opportunities to express the truth about her and our relationship. This is a simple and easy way to serve her and keep my heart focused in God’s direction towards my wife and our marriage.Coffee together

So what are the little rituals you have practiced in your relationship? You need them. Look for the routine moments of your life and turn them into rituals of grace to nurture your love for each other. How do the two of you say hello or good-bye? What do your children observe in how you cherish each other?

Keep it simple and easy to do each day. The impact will be little each day, but great over the years.