Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knowing Forgiveness

The heavy burden of unforgiveness can eat at us day after day. Our consciences weren’t meant to carry unforgiveness around with us. Ideally, our consciences can be cleaned. And when that happens, we’re free! Joy wells up inside because that heavy, horrible, monstrous burden has been not only removed, but obliterated.

Here’s how it works:

We’ve all made mistakes. That’s called being human.

We can’t erase our mistakes. Though we’d like to, we can’t go back and make better, wiser decisions, so unless someone steps in, we will carry the burden for that sin all of our lives.

Jesus knew our predicament. Almighty God wasn’t surprised (though I believe He was heartbroken) by Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden. He wasn’t surprised when I blew it, or when you blew it. He knows our condition.

One we blew it, we couldn’t fix it. We’re only human, and no sinner can rescue other sinners.

Jesus cared enough to step in. Oh, this is where it gets gooood. God, knowing the suffering we’d endure (due to sin) had a solution: the perfect sacrifice for our sins—Jesus!

God knew we needed a Savior. Without His intervention we’d only know pain and suffering and the burden of longing for forgiveness, knowing we couldn’t pay our own debt.

And Jesus stepped in to save us.

Now, all we have to do is say “yes.”

Say “yes” to forgiveness: Dear Jesus, I know I’ve sinned. You don’t have to look very far in my life to see a whole slew of mistakes. And I know You made a way for me to be forgiven. Please forgive me for my sins.

Say “yes” to His leadership: Take over in my life. Help me learn Your ways and hear Your voice and do Your will. I’ve already shown that if left up to me, I’ll make a mess of my life. But with You in charge, I can have hope.

Say “yes” to life: Help me live for You. Thank You for saving me and giving me eternal life, plus the abundant life You offer me as a child of God.

Say “thanks”: Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

If you prayed that, if you believe that Jesus is Lord, and say it aloud, you’re saved!! Now, let real life begin! Let joy reign! Let your relationship with God grow and flourish!

Read the Bible (start with the Gospels—I especially like the book of John). Pray often! Worship! And get plugged into a great church where they will support you, help guide you and teach you solid biblical truths. That solid biblical foundation will make all the difference in your world.

And rejoice! Your sins have been forgiven!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Five Good Choices

Sometimes I hover in the bakery section of the grocery store. My daughter even snaps pictures on her cell phone of the delectable chocolate-covered strawberries or gourmet cupcakes. No, we don’t buy them. But we do ooh and ahh. To reach my goals I know I can’t load up on desserts.

I’ve come up with a strategy that encourages me toward my goals and you might find it helpful as well. It’s about making five good decisions each day.

So, take weight loss, for example. Say you want to lose ten pounds. What decisions can you make today that will help you get there? What wise choices can you make that will get you another day closer?

For example, breakfast: choose fiber and fulfill a fruit serving, maybe add a little protein. That’s one great choice down. Take a mid-morning walk. Choice number two! Healthy lunch, choice three. Kids are having ice cream after dinner, choose frozen yogurt (or a banana)—choice four. No late night treats. Bingo! Number five.

See what I mean? Five wise choices gets you closer. The opposite’s true too, so beware. Say you chose a donut for breakfast. It’s easier to choose to not workout that day. Then lunch rolls around and you have a bacon cheeseburger. Uh-oh, two not-so-good choices. And it snowballs from there.

But with five (or more) good choices, you’ll stay encouraged throughout the day. Yes, I’m on the right track. I’m headed toward my goals. I’m not giving up now.

It all goes back to the wisdom of small choices adding up to big changes over time.

Same’s true with seeking God daily. If you don’t have a daily devotional time, establish one. Dig into His Word. Worship Him. Delight in Him. Make Him a part of every area of your life. Spending daily time with Him will help you grow.

We can’t have those days back when we didn’t choose wisely, so let’s team up with wisdom and choose wisely today. We’ll thank ourselves later.