Category Archives: Guilt

You are I AM – Mercy Me

I recently came across this song by Mercy Me and it has really touched my soul. The message is powerful and I hope it proves to be an encouragement to you as well.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, Encouragement, Freedom, God, Grace, Guilt, Hope, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Mercy, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

God’s grace is enough!

Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the middle of the night. (John 3) He is part of the Pharisees, a religious group that believed God was not showing up to deliver the Jews from Roman control because they were not keeping every little detail of the law. So they pursued getting it right!

Jesus minced no words with Nicodemus but spoke immediately of his need to be born again in order to be part of God’s kingdom. Just like our first birth, being born again of the Spirit is not something we control. We cannot earn God’s favor or forgiveness; we can only accept His gift of grace.

Shortly after this encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus intentionally encounters a woman at a well in Samaria. (John 4) Jews despised the Samaritans because they married non-Jews and dishonored the law of God. Every good Jew avoided Samaritans at all cost… except Jesus.

This woman came for water in the middle of the day to avoid any encounters with the other women. She didn’t need their scorn or snide remarks to remind her of the many mistakes she had made in life.

Jesus crossed a cultural boundary and offered her a drink that would satisfy the deepest longings of her soul. He even revealed Himself to her as the Messiah. When the townspeople responded in faith, Jesus stayed with them for a couple of days before moving on.

To the man who tried to do everything right, Jesus said: “You can’t be right enough to earn God’s grace.”

To the woman who did everything wrong, Jesus said: “You can’t mess up badly enough to be beyond the reach of God’s grace.”

Most of us likely fall somewhere in between Nicodemus and the woman at the well. In fact, we probably bounce back and forth once in a while. At times we give ourselves wholeheartedly to getting it right only to be disappointed at our failure to do so.

So we swing the other direction and suffer through feeling too messed up to even have a part in God’s kingdom. We perceive that our mess is bigger and deeper than God’s grace. But…

God’s grace is enough!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Forgiveness, God, Grace, Guilt, Kingdom of God, Religion and Spirituality, Sin, Surrender

Even good men fall hard

Kelsey is a cute, energetic 10-years-old girl who is part of my wife’s Sunday School class. As they were discussing King David’s sin and repentance they penciled the word God inside a big circle along with a variety of different sins.

They erased the sins to represent God’s forgiveness when we repent and some of the pencil marks remained. That’s when Kelsey made her observation.

The left over marks are the scars of our mistakes. Even though God forgives us there are still consequences that we have to live with and relationships that have to be rebuilt. (My paraphrase)

It was a simple observation wise beyond her years.

David went from shepherd boy to king because he was a man after God’s own heart. The core of his being was in rhythm with the heart of God and all that mattered to God.

Under David’s leadership Israel accomplished many victories on the battlefield and experienced a time of great peace and prosperity. But even good men fall hard. And David was no exception.

David committed adultery, treachery in trying to cover it up and eventually outright murder. How is it that a man who did all these things is still known as a man after God’s own heart?

While David wasn’t perfect, his repentance was genuine.

When King Saul was confronted about his disobedience towards God he made excuses. But David took full ownership of his sins and was sincerely sorry for what he had done.

Sin is almost a taboo subject today even among Christians and churches. We generally dismiss it or down play it or reshape it… in short, we justify.

God hates sin because it not only hurts people but it interferes with our relationships – both with Him and with others. When we walk according to His boundaries we open ourselves to experience life and relationships in a fresh, new way. (See 1 John 1:5-10)

God’s grace is always bigger than our biggest sins. That’s no excuse to knowingly sin, but it means that no matter how many times we stumble we can get back up and once again walk with God. We can be refreshed.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” ~ Acts 3:19-20

When we genuinely repent and return to putting God first, as David did, we can be people after God’s own heart.

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If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 13 for this week. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Forgiveness, Grace, Guilt, intimacy with the Lord, Repentance, Sin, The Story

A 600 year old promise fulfilled!

I love it when a promise is kept and I enjoy keeping promises I’ve made. There is something very special that happens in relationships when promises are fulfilled.

  • Trust grows and deepens.
  • A sense of value is experienced.
  •  And we are imitating our heavenly Father.

God had promised Abraham that his descendants would one day inhabit the land of Canaan (Genesis 15:16). God used Joshua to make good on that 600 year old promise, and has given them everything they need to be a great nation:

  • A set of guidelines on how to live,
  • His presence in the tabernacle,
  • A way to reconcile their sins, and
  • The land he had promised their ancestors.

But it isn’t enough!

The Israelites abandon God to worship false, pagan gods. Angered, God turns them over to be oppressed by neighboring nations. They eventually repent and cry out to God for help. Graciously, God raises up a judge to rescue and lead them.

For a season of time the people follow God. But when that judge dies they once again abandon God to chase after false gods.

The period of Judges lasted roughly 330 years. During that time, the Israelites spent 111 years being oppressed by other nations because they repeat this same cycle – sin, oppression, repentance, deliverance – six times!

The people are slow to learn and fickle in their faithfulness; but God remains faithful.

There is no longer any condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1); but we are far from perfect and still wrestle with our sin nature. And so… we repent.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  ~ 1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)

Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you… ~ Acts 3:19 (MSG)

Even though we are slow to learn and fickle in our faithfulness, God remains faithful!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brokenness, Forgiveness, God, Grace, Guilt, Repentance, Sin

It’s not my fault!

Last week I came across a blog written by a late twenty-something male from another country (not the USA). One of his statements caught my attention like the last chocolate chip cookie on a plate of crumbs.

It seemed very obviously flawed, but perhaps I was missing something. To be safe I ran it past my wife Susan – she saw it too.

Later, at the dinner table, I tossed it out to get a response from my kids. We’re talking twin 17-year-old girls and two guys; 15 years old and almost 12 years old. Yep! They saw it too! Here it is…

“I believe in destiny. If I fail, it’s because of destiny only. If I succeed, it’s because of my own efforts only.”

Go ahead, read it again. Notice anything peculiar?

Destiny, however that might be defined, is to blame for failure but success is due to personal effort alone! I.e. – I’m not to blame if it goes wrong, but I get the credit if it goes right! No responsibility, no blame, no guilt… no problem!

ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!

Certainly there are events and circumstances in life beyond our control, but to use something or someone else as the excuse for our failings is sad on many, many levels. But it’s not new!

When confronted with his sin Adam pointed to Eve and told God, “That woman you gave me…” Eve followed suit and said, “The serpent deceived me…”

Many years ago a newspaper in England ran a question for the public to consider – “What is wrong with the world?”

G.K. Chesterton, a well-known Christian, replied with a letter to the editor that read, “I am.”

Until we admit our sin and brokenness, God’s grace will be powerless to transform us. And if we don’t change, how can the world change?

May God’s grace empower us to own our own shortcomings!

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Filed under Accountability, Brokenness, Grace, Guilt, influence with the world, Morphing, Sin

A question as we head into Christmas

Here’s a question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time: Why do I have so much? …We need to slow down occasionally and force ourselves to wrestle with that question.

Why? Because a consumer-driven culture keeps us laser-focused on what we don’t have, and focusing on what we don’t have leaves our hearts vulnerable to greed… If God has blessed you with more than you need, it’s so that you can share your abundance with those who have need. Embracing that simple truth is the key to ridding your heart of greed.

Guilt is conquered with confession. Anger is conquered with forgiveness. Greed is conquered with generosity. Generous giving will break the grip of greed on your life.  So whether or not you think you have extra, give and give generously.
~ Excerpted from Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

Let’s be honest. Few of us will spend money this Christmas on things that we really need. Most of what we buy will fall under the umbrella of want.

Why not challenge your family and friends to sort through their stuff prior to Christmas and give away 4 or 5 things that others can use. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great destinations for such things.

And who knows, sorting through all our stuff might give us a deeper appreciation for the priceless gift of Jesus this Christmas!

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Filed under Anger, Christmas, Forgiveness, Generosity, Greed, Guilt, Stewardship