Monday, July 6, 2015

When God Forgets - Martin Wiles

I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds. Hebrews 10:17 NLT

I stared at her, but her name wouldn’t come. The fact that I had taught her for three years made no difference. 

Obviously, she noticed my blank stare. With a smirk on her face, she remarked, “Have you forgotten my name?” Returning her smirky smile, I replied, “How could you tell?” 

Memory lapses are a part of aging. Since I’ve always had an excellent memory, these momentary lapses disturb me. While I know they come with age—especially the forgetting of names, I can’t help but wonder if they’re not foreboding shadows of some dreaded disease. 

Some things in my past I want to forget. Unkind remarks. Sinful acts. Unhealthy relationship decisions. Unwise disciplinary decisions made with children. But others I don’t. Such as what day it is. Or month. My wife’s name and birthday. Our anniversary. My address. Important things. 

Old Testament worshipers never had the assurance that God forgot their sins. Repeatedly bringing animals for a priest to slaughter on an altar constantly reminded them. The blood ran, but their sins didn’t. The animal died, but the feeling that something wasn’t quite right between them and God remained. They wanted to forget…but couldn’t. 

God is in the business of forgetting. Not that he is old and losing his memory—although he has been around forever. He forgets on purpose, and since he is God, forgetting is something he must purposefully do—not something that happens because of his age. He doesn’t forget the important things such as my name, that I belong to him, that he’s promised to meet my needs and see me through every trial, or that his Son has died for my sins. 

What God does forget are my sins. The ones I’ve confessed and repented of. The ones I’ve allowed the blood of his Son—not some animal, to cover. He forgets on purpose the ways I’ve failed him, so he can use me in the present. 

Confession and repentance is all it takes to make God forget our sins. Has he forgotten yours?

Prayer: Father, we praise You for not holding our sins against us when they are forgiven through Christ. 

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Living Without Guilt - Martin Wiles

If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped…and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. Hebrews 10:2 NLT

He was a church leader. How could he have done what he did? 

Henry grew up in a Christian family and trusted Christ as his Savior when he was ten years old. After graduating high school, he remained in his small town, took a job at a local factory, and married his high school sweetheart. People in his church encouraged him to use his gifts, but there was one thing that held him back. Henry had a dark secret no one knew about—not even his wife. 

As a teenager, he had begun to delve into pornography. Before he knew it, he was addicted. He had confessed it and got on with his life, but the guilt still ate at his soul. He simply couldn’t believe God could forgive him. Henry’s guilt led him to turn down every opportunity he was given to use his spiritual gifts.  

Under the Old Covenant, sacrifices were unending. Every time a worshiper offered an animal, they were reminded of their sins. The ceremony only temporarily pacified their guilt, but it soon returned. They knew an animal’s blood could never permanently cover their sin. 

Satan’s tried the same trick on me as he did Henry. As a saved but rebellious teenager, I have many things in my memory I’m ashamed of. Quite often he’s tried to convince me those sins disqualify me from being effective in God’s work. Only by understanding God’s forgiveness and the types of guilt was I able to thwart his subtle tactics. 

False guilt makes me feel miserable over something I’ve already confessed to God. Satan is the source. God only sends the guilt when I need to confess. Additionally, God’s forgiveness takes care of all my sins. I no longer have to feel guilty over what he’s forgiven. 

Living with false quilt will stymie me as it did Henry. Understanding forgiveness frees me to be all God designed me to be and do. 

Let God remove any false guilt you may be experiencing so you can live an abundant life. 

Father: Thank You for allowing us to serve You with a guilt free conscience. 

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Believe God! - Norma Gail Thurston Holtman


“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:6-8

Do you ever doubt God? Everything is so different when I face circumstances believing without wavering or doubting. In Galatians, Paul says Abraham believed God “and it was credited to Him as righteousness.”

The father of the boy possessed by an evil spirit pleaded with Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Believing in God is accepting the fact of His existence. Believing God is giving oneself completely over to His sovereignty, trusting He is Who He says, believing His word is infallible, and acknowledging He is capable and faithful to do what He says. God wants my complete trust—like that of a child for a loving parent.

When my children were young, their grandparents had a backyard pool. One of their favorite games was “Jump!” They would stand on the edge while an adult in the water held out their arms. They never doubted they would be caught and held in loving arms.

Many times this world calls on us to jump into the unknown. Testing develops faith and refines it like gold. The times of testing, whether for a moment or a lifetime, are well within the control of our heavenly Father. I must believe Him or be paralyzed in fear and doubt. Job says trusting when God tests enables us to come forth like gold.

Each trial requires me to trust God to catch me and never let go. If I can’t, I must pray the simple prayer of the father in Mark for God’s help to overcome unbelief.

I must choose to not just believe in God—but to believe every word He has spoken is trustworthy. Only then can I receive what God has for me and experience the blessing. Like the joy of a child held safely in the arms of a loving parent, I will learn the leap of faith enables me to trust even more.

So I must face each challenge in life with a conscious decision not to be double-minded and doubting but single-minded in my trust for God. He has the ability to keep me safe, not only for this lifetime but for all eternity. What could be more comforting than that? 

Jump—He will catch you!

Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams—set in Scotland and New Mexico, released in April 2014. She has led weekly women’s Bible studies for 19 years. Her devotionals and poetry have appeared at Christian Devotions, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. She is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 38 years. They have two adult children.


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Homecoming - Martin Wiles

He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28 NLT

The celebration was the highlight of the church year, but it took a great deal of preparation. In the lower regions of South Carolina, church homecomings are immaculate celebrations. 

Normally held in the fall of the year, they are attended by current members, previous members, family members, previous pastors, and anyone wanting a free meal. Barbeque is often the meal of choice. Churches prepare pounds of meat and hash. Plans are made months in advance. Letters are mailed to former members and pastors. Announcements are placed in local newspapers and on local radio stations. Men stay up all night cooking. 

On the day of, churches are packed with worshipers. Some churches host gospel groups to top off the day. After services, congregants gather for the feast, enjoying the company of those they haven’t seen since the previous year’s celebration. 

As wonderful as homecomings here are, they’ll never match the ultimate homecoming that will occur when Christ returns. Some will be alive to witness it, while those who have died in Christ will actually return with him. Christ came the first time to pay humanity’s sin debt, but his second coming will put an end to all sin and corruption and usher his followers into a perfect eternity. 

Homecomings took months of preparation, and we always knew the date. Jesus says no one except the Father knows the date of the final homecoming. Readying myself for the end time homecoming requires only one thing: trusting Christ as my Savior. I serve him and others as a result of that decision, but the decision—not the actions, is what prepares me. 

When I’ve done this—whether he comes while I’m alive or for me at death, I can wipe the sweat of my labor from my brow and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of your Lord.” 

How are you preparing for the Homecoming?

Prayer: Father, we look forward to the eternal homecoming with You and all believers. 

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