May 30

Encouragement for Today

 

NEVER say Never!

Bonnie Schulte, Director of International Ministries

 

Devotion:

 

Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (NIV)

 

I did it again!  I let something my husband said to me turn me into a self-centered, “you hurt my feelings” nincompoop.  It wasn’t as if what he said was that bad.  In fact, he didn’t yell, degrade or call me horrible names.  But all the same, my feelings got hurt and I let my ego take over.

 

It was getting late that Saturday afternoon when we decided to do something most married folks shouldn’t do in the first place…rearrange furniture.  Bob was on his knees pushing the television set, zig-zagging it across the family room floor to a third spot.  Knowing he was already tired, not to mention suffering from rug burns to his knees, I volunteered, “I think it needs to go back more into the corner.”

 

I don’t remember his exact words, but his tone was harsh.  My response was, of course, very fitting to the situation.  Without a word and in typical kindergarten-ish, “I’m taking my ball and going home” fashion, I glared at him, turned abruptly on my heels, and stomped out of the room.

 

With our son away at college and our daughter out for the evening, that particular evening could have been a pleasant one for the two of us.  However, as I grunted in response to Bob’s questions, slammed an occasional pot as I cooked dinner and displayed the best sullen face I could muster, the evening was ruined.  As we sat at opposite ends of the sofa watching an old WWII movie, “The Longest Day,” it was as if an ocean separated us.  Later I did what every good marriage counselor will advise couples not to do.  I went to bed without saying a word.

 

It was still very dark outside when I woke up to a nudge.  Hearing the steady snore from the other end of the bed, it was easy to determine it wasn’t Bob.  No.  It was my heart.  Not being the first time to be awakened by such a nudge, I knew I would never get back to sleep until I addressed it.  Quietly slipping my legs over the side of the bed, I got up, making my way to my quiet place.

 

As I sat in the darkness of the early morning, a voice spoke to my heart, “Is there anything you would like to say?”  Sensing no way around the question, I responded with a sigh, “Oh, Lord.  I was dumb.  I let such a little thing get to me.  I was mean, and I ruined what could have been a pleasant night with Bob.  But you know what?  I’m frustrated at making this same mistake; and, quite frankly, I’m rather tired of confessing this same sin over and over again.” 

 

Silence.

 

Nothing.  Just dead silence.

 

In that deafening noise of nothing, my mind took me to His Word and to the story of Cain.  Turning on the lamp, I reached for my Bible and flipped the pages finding the Old Testament story in Genesis, chapter four. And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him,” I read.  Turning the pages still further, I moved to the Old Testament account of King David in 2 Samuel 11. Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest.  Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die,” David instructed the commander of his army. 

 

“Interesting reading,” I thought, “But last time I looked, no murder was committed here.” 

 

Reading on in both accounts, you’ll notice both men committed the same grievous sin.  Both men also suffered consequences for their actions.  Yet, while David was ultimately restored in his relationship with God, Cain was banished as he “went out from the LORD’s presence.”  Why?  Why was David forgiven and Cain not?

 

The answer lies in their confession.  Where David repents, “I have sinned against the LORD,” Cain never asks!  Because of Cain’s pride, because of his unwillingness to confess his sin, because of his rebellion against God, Cain was eventually removed from God’s presence.

 

Some years ago during a family gathering, we couldn’t find our son.  For 15 horrible, heart-wrenching minutes I was in a state of shear panic as we searched for our four-year-old.  Thankfully, we found him sleeping in our car.   He said he had gotten tired and decided to take a nap.

 

As I watched the paramedics close the ambulance doors, the sound of metal hitting metal pierced my entire body like a sword.  Having fallen during a horseback-riding lesson, our precious ten-year-old daughter was inside that vehicle.  Gratefully, she left the hospital the same day with only a bruised side.

 

It felt as if an enormous-sized boulder was sitting on my heart, weighing me down, as I anxiously listened for the sound of the garage door opening. It was after 7:00 p.m. and Bob wasn’t home from work.  Walking in the door a few minutes later, he confessed he had stopped at the hardware store on the way home.

 

Separation.  As these memories swirled through my mind, I relived the excruciating pain of being separated from those I hold so dear to my life.  Is this what it feels like to be out of the Lord’s presence?  Cain allowed his heart to grow hard and he refused to repent of his sin.  Genesis 4:11-12 says, “Now you are under a curse…You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (NIV)  As he lived out the rest of his years separated from the Lord’s presence, did Cain experience an enormous, continuous, heart-wrenching, piercing, over-bearing weight throughout his soul?

 

It was still completely dark outside, but I was no longer sitting on the sofa.  I wasn’t even on the floor on my knees.  I was lying flat on the floor begging our Gracious God to have mercy on me.  As I prayed, I asked Him to forgive the meanness I showed my husband and my arrogant attitude of thinking, much less saying, “I’m rather tired of confessing this same sin over and over again.”  I never want my heart to grow hard with pride! I never want to say never to confessing my sin!  I never want to be out of the blessed presence of our Loving God!

 

In the morning, I completed the circle of repentance by asking my husband to forgive me.  What a wonderful restoration of our relationship, as he also asked me to forgive him.  No more sitting oceans apart on the sofa for us!

 

Dear friend, what have you done that you resist confessing?  Something you don’t even recognize as sin?

In Psalm 32 King David writes, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (NIV) Our Heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting love and He is waiting for you to confess your sins, waiting for you to come into His warm embrace and delight in the joy of His forgiveness.  Don’t make excuses, don’t rationalize.  Go to God; ask Him to forgive your sins.

 

 

My Prayer for Today:

 

Dear Gracious Father.  Thank you for Your faithful promises to forgive my sin.  Please forgive me for I have sinned against You in my thoughts, in my words and in my actions.  Keep my heart from ever growing hard toward You.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

 

Application Steps:

 

Confess your sins to Our Heavenly Father.

 

Rejoice in His promise! Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-2 (NIV)

 

Reflections Points:

 

What emotions do you experience when you are separated from someone you love?

 

Compare Genesis 4:9-14 (Cain) and Psalm 32 (David).  What are the differences in these two confessions?

 

Read Hebrews 12:15.  How does not repenting of our sin keep us from the instructions of this verse?  “ … one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up.

 

Power Verses:

 

Psalm 103:2-4, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”  (NIV)

 

Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (NIV)

 

Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”  (NIV)

 

Matthew 4:16-18, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”   From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (NIV)

 

Luke 11:2-4, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily read.  Forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.  And lead us not into temptation.’” (NIV)

 

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/resources/radical.html

 

A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life, by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/resources/secretbalanced.html

 

P31 Woman magazine

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/woman.htm