“Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”

"Thy Will be Done In Earth As It Is In Heaven."

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 6 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray this Way – "Thy Will be Done In Earth As It Is In Heaven."

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Let your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth." (Matthew 6:10)

INTRODUCTION:

When God's will become man's will, God's purpose for the world is fulfilled.

PROPOSITION:

This prayer involves inner submission and also outer commitment.

I. To Pray 'Thy Will Be Done' involves inner submission.

A. Submission assumes belief in God's wisdom.

1. God uses 'sunny' experiences to mold character.

2. God sometimes uses 'cloudy' experiences to mold character.

B. Submission assumes Belief in God's Love.

II. To Pray 'Thy Will Be Done' involves outward commitment.

A. Motives Behind Commitment.

1. This is a prayer that God will enable us to do His will on earth with the same motives as those in heaven who do His will.

2. This is a prayer that God will strengthen our will to do His perfect will.

3. This then is a prayer that holy motives may issue forth in practical obedience and active involvement.

B. Results of Commitment.

CONCLUSION:

"The maximum achievement of any man's life after it is all over is to have done the will of God. No man or woman can have done any more with a life." (Professor Drummond)

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CHAPTER 6

SUBJECT: Pray this Way – "Thy Will be Done In Earth As It Is In Heaven."

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Let your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth." (Matthew 6:10)

INTRODUCTION:

The life which is patterned after God's will is the most satisfying life. To face the future with one's hand clasped in God's Hand is challenging and reassuring. Each circumstance – be it 'sunny' or 'stormy' – is used of God to bring good to the trusting soul. Before one can believe that his circumstances are ladders to higher plains of living, he must first be convinced of God's wisdom and of God's love. Convinced of God's wisdom and love, submission to God's will is much easier. Inner submission to God's will issues forth in a life of active involvement and commitment. It is God's will that His Kingdom be established in the hearts of men. When God's will becomes man's will, God's purpose for the world is fulfilled.

PROPOSITION:

Let us carefully note what this prayer involves. (1) This prayer involves inner submission, and (2) this prayer involves outer commitment.

I. To Pray 'Thy Will Be Done' involves inner submission.

One cannot honestly pray 'Thy Will Be Done' without submission of his will to God's will. Submission to God's will assumes that one has confidence in God's wisdom and confidence in God's Love.

A. Submission assumes belief in God's wisdom.

Says Barclay, "Sometimes when we want something built or constructed, or altered or repaired, we take it to the craftsman and consult him about it. He makes some suggestion, and we often end up by saying, 'Well, do what you think best. You are the expert.' God is the expert in life, and His guidance can never lead anyone astray." (Barclay)

Michelangelo was a great sculptor. One time he said that as he viewed a large shapeless block of stone, he envisioned an angel coming out of that rock. Before Michelangelo began shaping a rock, he had a vision in his mind of what that rock was to become. Through his skillful and patient molding, that vision became a reality. God, who is all-wise and all-knowing, has a vision for every man's life. God has a plan and purpose for each person. When we pray 'Thy

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Will Be Done', we are submitting ourselves before the Hand of the Divine Sculptor to let Him shape and mold our lives according to His divine plan.

1. God uses 'sunny' experiences to mold character.

No flower could grow without sufficient sun. Neither can a life be properly molded without sunny experiences. As one man say, "The good things in life far outweigh the bad. There are more sunrises than cyclones." (God's Psychiatry, p. 104) God often uses the normal and appealing things of life to mold character. The beauty of a flower, the majesty of a mountain, variety of changing seasons are all normal experiences which God uses to mold our esthetic capacities. The warmth of friendship and the joy of kindred are circumstances that mold deep emotional and soul capacities. The challenge of involvement and the offering of talents are situations that mold spiritual capacities. The great majority of circumstances are favorable and appealing to us. In God's great wisdom He uses these circumstances to better our life.

The God of wisdom knows that we sometimes need sunny experiences in order for the bud of our abilities to blossom. There is no fragrance without the flower, and there can be no flower without sufficient sunshine. Sometimes the potential of our lives will never be realize without the sunshine of honor which makes potential talents realized talents. This is not to say that there is no need for clouds, rain, and storms in our lives, but oftentimes there is more need for sunshine than there is for the storm.

God uses the gentle instrument of honor to shape and mold character. Barclay notes an interesting example of how a man's life was molded through the gentle instrument of honor. "Ambrose was one of the great figures of the early Church. He was a great scholar; he was the Roman governor of the province of Liguria and Aemilia, and he governed with such loving care that the people regarded him as a father. The bishop of the district died, and the question of his successor arose. In the midst of the discussion suddenly a little child's voice arose: "Ambrose – bishop! Ambrose-bishop!' The whole crowd took up the cry. To Ambrose it was unthinkable. He fled by night to avoid the high office the Church was offering to him; and it was only the direct intervention and command of the Emperor which made him agree to become bishop of Milan." (Barclay's Philippians; p. 39) This man was inaugurated into office on the wings of honor, and is remembered in church History as a great man.

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One man whose potential blossomed in the sunshine of God's high call is Myron F. Boyd. As a youth, he had an impediment in his speech. He was called to preach, but Myron Boyd at first felt that that was the last thing he could do. Some men reinforced Myron Boyd's own conviction, and told him that he would never be able to preach. However, God knew better, for the God who made Myron Boyd knew him better than he knew himself. In God's great wisdom, God called Boyd to preach. He preached on the "Light and Life Hour" Radio program for 20 years to countless multitudes who heard him. Later, he became a Bishop of his denomination!

2. God sometimes uses 'cloudy' experiences to mold character.

If one truly believes in God's wisdom, he will submit not only to the 'sunny' experiences, but he will also submit to the 'cloudy' experiences.

Sometimes God has to use rough mallets as well as delicate and gentle instruments. The Arabs have a proverb: "All sunshine makes a desert." Circumstances which lead to prosperity can be dangerous to some men. As Barclay says, "The danger of prosperity is that it encourages a false independence. It makes us think that we are well able to handle life alone. For everyone prayer that rises to God in days of prosperity ten thousand rise to Him in days of adversity. As Lincoln had it, 'I have often been driven to my knees in prayer because I had nowhere else to go.'" (Barclay's Corinthians; p. 192)

God uses the cloudy and stormy experiences to bring ultimate good to the submissive and humble man. Joseph was mistreated by his brothers, but the day came when they bowed before him. Joseph expressed his faith in an all-wise God when he said to his brothers, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Genesis 50:20)

After great loss, Job as able to make a declaration of faith: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 42:12 a)

It is recorded that when Bunyan was due for trial he said: "With God's comfort in my poor soul I went down to the justices, I begged God that if I might do more good by being at liberty than in prison, then that I might be set at liberty. But if not, His will be done." (Barclay's Hebrews; p. 146) Bunyan's words of submission

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were possible only because he believed in God's wisdom. Ultimate good came from that submission, for his posterity is blessed with 'Pilgrim's Progress', that he wrote will spending many years in prison, because of his faith in Christ.

To believe in God's wisdom is to submit to God's will even when we don't understand.

"Lord, that I may learn of Thee, 
Give me true simplicity; wean my soul and keep it low, 
Willing Thee alone to know. 
Let me cast my reeds aside, 
All that feeds my knowing pride, 
Not to man, but God submit, 
Lay my reasoning at Thy feet."

(Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 121)

Prayed Augustine, "Grant that we may never seek to bend the straight to the crooked- that is Thy will to ours – but that we may bend the crooked to the straight – that is, our will to Thine." (To Tell the World; p. 114) That is the prayer of submission – submission to an all-wise God.

B. Submission assumes Belief in God's Love.

Associated very closely to a belief in God's wisdom, is a belief in God's love. As Barclay says, "We (Christians) do not believe in a mocking and a capricious God, or in a blind and iron determinism." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 214) In the face of an unknown and uncertain future, the Christian is able to submit his will to God's will simply because he knows he is serving an all-wise and all-loving God.

Confidence in God as a God of love is absolutely essential if one is to find out God's will for his life. Why is this? Simply because knowledge of God's will is only learned after one has submitted himself to God. Submission is always a prerequisite to spiritual knowledge. It is only after one can honestly say to God "I gladly accept thy will, regardless of what that will may be," that he can actually come to know God's will. To adopt this submissive attitude, clearly demands a deep conviction in God's love.

The Christian must declare the same triumphant faith that Browning declared:

"God, Thou art love! I build my faith on that... 
I know Thee who has kept my path and made

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Light for me in the darkness, tempering sorrow 
So that it reached me like a solemn joy. 
It were too strange that I should doubt Thy love."

(Barclay's Matthew; p. 215)

Although the future is unknown, the Christian has confidence in God's loving care. Wrote Whittier:

"I know not where His islands lift 
Their fronded palms in air. 
I only know I cannot drift 
Beyond His love and care."

(Ibid; p. 215)

One can commit his very destiny to God because of his conviction that God's love is eternal. God's love will outlast time. That is certainly reason to submit ones will to God's will. "He that doeth the will of God abideth forever." (1 John 2:17 b)

"All things that are on earth shall wholly pass away 
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye.

And the great globe itself, so the Holy Writings tell, 
With the rolling firmament, where the starry armies dwell, 
Shall melt with fervent heat, - they shall all pass away, 
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye."

Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 125)

II. To Pray 'Thy Will Be Done' involves outward commitment.

We have seen internal submission is important. Submission assumes a belief in God's wisdom and a belief in God's love. We must next note that submission issues forth in active and outward commitment. Let us first note the motives behind commitment and also note the results of commitment.

A. Motives Behind Commitment.

What are we really praying when we pray 'Thy Will Be Done in Earth as it is in Heaven'?

1. This is a prayer that God will enable us to do His will on earth with the same motives as those in heaven who do His will.

What characterizes those who perform God's will in heaven? It is perfect obedience and love for God. When we constantly seek perfection in our

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motives and constantly strive to express love to God, we are helping to bring God's Kingdom to earth. To pray 'Thy Will be done in earth as it is in heaven', is to pray that God will enable us to possess the same spirit of love and obedience as the inhabitants in heaven possess.

God's will is not done in heaven out of a spirit of bitter resignation but out of a heart of active love. This is a prayer that we will perform God's will out of the same motive – love and obedience. To feel compelled to do God's will in a tone of defeated resignation or in a tone of bitter resentment is to do God's will out of the wrong motive. There must be a willing and glad submission to God's will. The attitude of the Christian is: "I delight to do thy will, O God."

2. This is a prayer that God will strengthen our will to do His perfect will.

It is one thing to know and to desire to do God's will, and it is another thing to have the strength actually to do that will. As John Drinkwater wrote:

"We know the paths wherein our feet should press, 
Across our hearts are written Thy decrees, 
Yet now, O Lord, be merciful to bless 
With more than these.

Grant us the will to fashion as we feel, 
Grant us the strength to labor as we know, 
Grant us the purpose, ribbed and edged with steel, 
To strike the blow.

Knowledge we ask not - Knowledge Thou hast lent, 
But, Lord, the will - there lies our bitter need, 
Give us to build above the deep intent 
The deed, the deed."

(Prayer and Life's Highest; p. 72)

3. This then is a prayer that holy motives may issue forth in practical obedience and active involvement.

To pray 'Thy will be done' involves a willingness to give up one's most valuable possession, in order to advance Christ's cause. "Two men stood on a dock in New York City. They were watching an ocean liner as it left for far-away shores. One of the men said to the other: 'That ocean liner is carrying a gift from me to the mission fields. It

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has on it thousands of dollars worth of supplies for a mission hospital'. The other man replied: 'That ocean liner also carries a gift from me to the mission fields. It has on it my only daughter. She is going as a missionary. I have given her to the Lord's service.' Tears came to the eyes of the first man. He said: 'My friend, you have given far more to the Lord than I have, I have given money . You have given your only daughter.'" (Quoted in This Is the Will of God; pgs. 57, 58)

B. Results of Commitment.

What is the result of actual and active commitment to God's will? To do God's will with the same motives that the inhabitants do God's will, will result in seeing God's Kingdom further established on earth.

Notes Barclay: "Paul was haunted by the regions beyond. He never saw a ship riding at anchor or moored to the quay but he wished to board her and carry the good news to the regions beyond. He never saw a range of hills blue in the distance but he wished to cross it and to carry the story of Christ to the regions beyond." (Barclay's Corinthian; p. 273) Because Paul had a passion to do God's will, he was most influential in establishing many churches and thus seeing God's Kingdom advanced on earth.

Through one of the most influential sermons that was ever preached, William Carey was instrumental in seeing the Baptist Missionary Society formed. In that sermon he made his famous statement: "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." (God's Psychiatry; p. 107) William Carey's submission to God issued forth in earnest and practical commitment.

The story of Adoniram Judson is an outstanding illustration of this point. Dr. Boyd tells the story: "When the East India Company would not allow the American missionary, Adoniram Judson, to remain in India, God directed him to Burma. Conditions there were repulsive. Notwithstanding all the difficulties and hardships through which Judson passed, he was used of God in establishing one of the greatest and most successful missions in the world at that time. For nearly one hundred fifty years Judson's heroic sufferings have kindled missionary fires, and quickened missionary zeal in the hearts of multitudes of Christians in every land. God overruled the selfish materialism and hatred of the East India Company and, by fulfilling His own will, brought untold blessings to millions." (To Tell the World; pgs. 111, 112)

Livingstone was a great 19th century missionary whose missionary vision for Africa resulted in a great spiritual quest. Livingstone's sole passion was to keep constantly submissive to God's will. On the last day of his life he wrote in his

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diary, "My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All, I again dedicate my whole self to Thee." (God's Psychiatry; p. 101)

What wonderful examples to follow! To pray that God's will may be done in earth as it is in heaven is to pray that personal involvement may result in soul- salvation and Kingdom Building. The result of doing God's will is the establishment of God's Kingdom in the hearts of men.

CONCLUSION:

To pray 'Thy Will Be Done' involves inner Submission and it also involves outer Commitment. Professor Drummond says. "The maximum achievement of any man's life after it is all over is to have done the will of God. No man or woman can have done any more with a life." (To Tell the World; p. 116)

"God's will is peace, and plenty, and the power 
To be and have the best that He can give, 
A mind to serve Him and a heart to love Him, 
The faith to die with the strength to live."

(Ibid; p. 116)

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Process Grief For Healing

Process Grief For Healing

Chapter Two

Process Grief For Healing
Good Grief 29 Grief: Wrestling With Guilt 37
Grief: Handle With Hope 31 Grief: Love For The Lonely 39
Grief: Face It Realistically 33 Grief: Recovery And Victory 41
Grief: Experiencing Anger 35 Discussion Questions 43

Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 2:12-13

Good Grief

Grief, that keen mental suffering over affliction or loss, can be bad or good. Whatever causes grief is generally bad, terrible! However, while it is painful and difficult, grief can be a growing, maturing time in one's life if approached properly. Much will depend upon your attitude, your belief in God's sovereign grace, and a willingness to do "grief work". I found this out the hard way.

That day will forever stand etched in memory. A few days earlier an ominous shadow had stolen over our happy marriage. My second wife had had a routine mammogram that showed some abnormality. A referral to a surgeon and a biopsy had followed. Now my lovely wife and I were sitting in the doctor's office waiting for his report on the biopsy. As gently, yet honestly, as possible the surgeon said that the biopsy revealed a malignancy. My wife had breast cancer! We both were shocked. How could this be? Our world was shaken to the very core. We sat there stunned as we were told that she would have to have immediate radical, deforming surgery followed by radiation and possibly chemotherapy.

My first reaction was, "How can you do this, God?" Nearly two years after the death of my first wife I had remarried. Now fifteen years later the dreaded invader cancer had come to threaten us. It wasn't right. But together, with faith and hope in God, my wife and I faced the future. She had what appeared to be successful surgery. But undetected, the fast-growing mass had already begun to spread throughout her body. Weeks of painful treatments followed. There were ups and downs, dark and bright days. We walked together, she and I, though 'the valley of the shadow of death'. After two years of battling this dread disease, my wife went to be with the Lord.

I was left to grieve all over again as I had nearly twenty years previously. But this time it was a double grief. Old wounds were opened up. You see, I had not properly grieved after the sudden death of my first wife. I had neither the time, nor the knowledge to do 'grief work' then. But now I had to. Undergirded by the prayers of countless friends and relatives, and with the help of a Christian counselor and an understanding congregation, I began the healing process. As pastor, I shared what I was experiencing through a series of sermons on grief. I also found a Grief Recovery program through Hospice to be helpful.. But it still wasn't easy. I just had to live through it.

And that is perhaps the hardest lesson of grief work, the necessity of living in and working through one's grief. You can be confident that, even as you work through your grief, God is at work in you to bring about His best for you.

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"Lord, the way I'm feeling I don't see how you can bring anything good out of this experience. It's hard for me to see any future. But right now, I trust you to do what I cannot do. Help me as I walk through my grief. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because I have been called by God for His purpose, I believe He is at work in my life, even in my grief, for my good and His glory.

– Robert A. Crandall –

NOTES:

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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Grief: Handle With Hope

Persons face many different kinds of grief and loss. If you are grieving it may be due to the loss of a job or a home. The cause may be deteriorating health or finances. Children move away from friends and family, and grieve. Young people know about broken relationships and loss of friends. Perhaps you are lonely, away from family. Maybe you have had a humiliating experience causing severe loss of self-esteem. This can happen with the death of a dream. Many of us know sorrow as we "bear one another's burdens" and losses. Of course, a primary cause of grief is the death of someone close.

Whatever the cause of our grief, when faced with it we must determine by God's grace – and there is no other way – that we will live and work through it. How well we succeed is often based upon our understanding of the grief process. Today and for the next few days, I will be sharing some of the stages a person often goes through in grief.

The first one is that of shock, the unbearable loss. In grief, the first thing you feel is no feeling! The effect of shock is a numbing of the senses. Everything seems unreal. It is like a bad dream. Shock is nature's anesthetic to protect us. A person functions as if in a fog, going through the motions, operating on automatic. There is a heaviness that weighs down; a voiceless void hanging over us. At this initial stage you can't even ask, "Why?" All you know is heartache and deep loss. The heartache sometimes gives way to hopelessness.

At this point about all you can do is to hang onto hope. That you must do. Don't give in to despair or give up. Someone has said, "There are no hopeless situations in life, only people who have grown hopeless." This we cannot do.

A pastor friend of mine has a motto on his study wall behind the desk which reads, "Hangeth in there!" In shock that is about all we can do. And at this stage it is enough. Nature is protecting you, and so is God. In one of his sermons, Robert Schuller says that hope is "Hanging On Praying Expectantly." Now is the time to exercise faith. You may not even be able to pray. So lean heavenly upon God.

At this stage, the best thing you can do is to let other people love you, care for you and express their concern. Don't push them away or try to be brave. Most of all, let God love you. Crawl up into his lap. Let him take you in his strong, loving arms, for "underneath are the everlasting arms." God alone can "wipe away all tears from our eyes." Let him do it. Trust yourself to his love and care. Things will get better. Believe it. Rest in it. Hold on to this blessing from Romans 15: 13: "Now may the God of hope

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fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

"I can't even think, let alone pray right now, Lord. But I know Jesus is interceding for me and I feel the support of the prayers of others. I trust myself to You, loving God, knowing that you will care for me. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My hope is in the Lord who gave himself for me, and I will trust him now to see me through any grief I am experiencing.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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Psalm 34:1-22

Grief: Face It Realistically

After three days of devotions centered on the theme of grief you may be wondering why we are doing something this in depth. Perhaps you feel that it would be a more appropriate subject for a seminar or sermon than a devotional. But what better way to deal with one of the most distressing experiences of life than through reflection and prayer? An understanding of grief and of God at work in it should help us now and in the future. If you are not grieving over something now, prepare for it, for grief will surely find you! So, let's consider the second stage of the grief process, denial.

After the dullness is gone, and feeling has returned, the most important factor in working through grief is to experience reality. We want to wish away the sickness, salve the heartaches, or shut the door against the knowledge of death or other loss. This is an unrealistic response to the cold, hard truth of loss. If we are not careful this will lead to denial. Denial is dangerous for it is self-deceiving. It is not honest.

Some time ago a neighbor woman was wrestling with cancer of the stomach. She went through a series of surgeries, hospitalizations and other treatment. After some improvement she began to deteriorate. We could see what was happening. So could she. But her husband went into denial. He was sure she would get better. I don't think he ever really faced the possibility that she might die until the very last. She did die and he was devastated.

It is easy to act as if everything is alright when we are actually falling apart inside. We want to put up a good front, wear a mask. We don't want to be vulnerable. A few weeks after his wife had died, this neighbor came to our home and shared his grief. He said, "I am usually pretty good at controlling my emotions, but I can't keep the tears back." He had covered up for so long that when reality hit he felt it more keenly.

Whatever you do, don't deny grief for it will poison your soul. Don't try to dodge it either for it will catch up with you sometime. And don't despair, for "God will not permit you to be tried about what you are able to bear, but will provide a way of escape…" (1 Corinthians 10:13). He delights to do that for us.

Denial is dangerous emotionally and physically. Most of all it is dangerous spiritually for it makes us dependent upon our own resources rather than upon the grace of God. So, face your grief honestly, openly and with the help of God. In prayer ask God to show you the truth. Remember, Jesus said, "Then you will know-the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). It is liberating to face your grief and move on through it, rather than faking your feelings. You will then be on the way to healing.

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"O God, it hurts so much! You know how I struggle with the overwhelming sense of my loss. But, I do acknowledge my hurt and ask You to help me face it honestly. I trust you, my Strength and my Redeemer. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalms 34:18).

– Robert A. Crandall –

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Psalms 41-8; Ephesians 4:26-27

Grief: Experiencing Anger

Anger is almost always associated with grief. With reality often comes a flash of anger or smoldering resentment. During this third stage of grief angry behavior is often observed. Children fight over a lost toy or a game. Teens are vitriolic in their verbal responses. Adults say or do things they would never do at other times.

Anger is a strong emotion in response to hurt. Someone steps on your sore toe and you yell or retaliate. Something bad is happening on top of where you already hurt. Psychological hurt may be even more painful than physical hurt. The most common response to hurt is to strike out at someone or something. Such anger comes from frustration or resentment. You don't get what you want or realize your goals.

If not handled well, anger which can be used for good can also be like a raging forest fire. Then that smoldering resentment which ignites becomes "the flame that destroys," causing destruction and havoc in it's wake. Fire can warm, provide fuel for cooking and even cleanse when used properly. But when out of control it wipes out years of growth, building or investment. If unmanaged, your grief anger can destroy months or years of relationships and memories.

Since anger is a festering sore, my suggestion is that you let it out positively. To try to suppress it, repress it or depress it does not work. But healing can come from properly expressing your anger. Why not be angry with our enemy death? What's wrong with hating the disease that has no remedy and debilitates or takes away a loved one? Or the drugs that blight a teenager's life. It's alright to express anger at missing a spouse's love, a child's embrace, a parent's touch or a grandparent's blessing.

If not expressed appropriately, grief will come out in inappropriate ways. Not long after the death of my second wife, Judy, I found myself being angry at inappropriate times, in inappropriate ways, with persons who had done nothing wrong but were actually trying to help me. So, be careful of your response to anger during grief. As resentment builds up it can cause either depression in yourself or striking out at others.

Don't strike out at God. He is not to blame, humanity's sin is. But it is alright to question him. God knows your hurt and your feelings. Share your anguish with him. Striking out at others is equally destructive. It destroys relationships and ties that are desperately needed in times of grief. To be angry with oneself does no good either. You have enough to handle without punishing yourself further. Be constructive with your anger, rather than destructive. Let it work for you rather than against you. In this way you will redeem your grief and move toward wholeness again.

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"You know, Lord, how often feelings of anger sweep over me. Please help me to control and use these emotions for good and your glory. In Jesus' Name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With God's help I will bring every thought and emotion under the captivity of Jesus Christ.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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Hebrews 10:19-25

Grief: Wrestling With Guilt

One of the most potent emotions accompanying grief is that of guilt. It seems to wash over the sensitive soul. Remorse, if allowed, will begin to set in. Feelings of failure abound. As all this begins to weigh you down emotionally it becomes an impossible load.

This situation reminds me of an event I attended at the State Fair held annually in our city. It was the Horse Pulling Contest in which beautiful teams of draft animals compete to determine which team can pull the heaviest load. Each team is hitched to a sled piled with weights. As the sled is pulled, more weights are added at specific intervals until the team can make it no further. The team going the greatest distance wins.

During the fourth stage of grief it seems that guilt is piled upon guilt until we can stand it no longer. The only remedy is forgiveness. If there is some valid reason for guilt, some wrong done or something left undone, it must be addressed. Whatever action is required should be taken. If something can be done about it, it should be done. God's forgiveness, and where needed, that of others, can then be received.

But frequently we are faced with false guilt. To blame yourself for what could not be helped does no good. Hindsight is always better than foresight. The "If Onlys" of life will eat you up, destroy you. "If only I had…" will gain nothing. You recognize that such thinking is not helpful, but it is difficult to quit. Even if there were things that could have been done differently, they weren't. One can never go back. You can never live the past over. A friend of mine has a choice saying I have often found helpful. I want to share it with you: "I did the best I could with who I was, and what I knew at the time." The Apostle Paul said, "Forgetting those things which are behind, I press on to that which is ahead" (Philippians 3:13). That is what we must do also.

To be able to move on in the grief process, we must forgive ourselves and accept the abundant forgiveness of Christ. Only grace can free us from our "guilted" cage. Sometimes we need to hear the word of forgiveness spoken by a fellow traveler. That was my situation. In an earlier devotional I mentioned that I had doubly grieved after the death of my second wife. Along with that I also felt the double weight of false guilt. It was truly an unbearable load I could not shake, even with earnest prayer. So I phoned my superintendent who served as a "pastor to pastors" and asked for an appointment. When I shared my need, he prayed for me and then said, "On the basis of John 20:23 I say to you 'In the name of Jesus you are forgiven'." With that my heart was set free and remains so to the present. My word to you today is not to allow the Accuser (Devil) to torment you further, but to reclaim your position as a forgiven, cherished child of God!

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"O Lord Jesus, in the confusing emotions of my grief you know the load of guilt I sometimes carry. Forgive me, Lord, and help me to sense your forgiveness. Make me glad with the freedom you so graciously offer. In Your Strong Name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My name is Forgiven. When Jesus sets us free we are free indeed. Today I will live as a joyful, forgiven, cherished child of God.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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Psalms 25:16-21; Psalms 68:3-6; Psalms 68:19-20

Grief: Love For The Lonely

The fifth stage of grief is marked by utter distress! Here you will experience and must work through self-pity and loneliness. Feelings have moved from questioning "Why me?" to exclaiming "Poor me!" In fact, our neighbor, whose wife of over fifty years died of cancer a few months ago, has often said since, "It's just not fair!" Somehow you feel as if you are the only one who has ever experienced what you are going through. You feel that you are "different" than others. And, in some ways you are. Debilitating disease makes you different than someone healthy. Loss of a job is the opposite of being employed. Divorce leaves it's mark. So does estrangement from close loved ones. When death takes a marriage partner you are suddenly a single in a couples' world. Or a single parent among two-parent families. Feelings of alienation sweep over you because of this "difference." So you have a "pity party." The longer it lasts, the more you turn inward and stew in your own sympathy. If you don't get enough from someone else, you'll get it from yourself!

Loneliness accompanying the loss, whatever it is, only adds fuel to our emotions. Our neighbor also told us, "It's so lonely. I don't know how I am going to make it." In such times of distress it is easy to withdraw into oneself. The danger is that we will shut out the friendship of those who care and could help us. We curl up in our own misery. We may even push others away while we drown in our own misery.

I had a friend whose middle-aged wife had to be admitted to a nursing home. This sudden loss of his wife's companionship hit him hard. One day I tried to reach out to him in his grief only to be rebuffed. I told him, "I will love you anyway!" But it took some time before he realized the resources available in life friendships.

Therefore, it is important to force yourself to be with others. Keep close contact with family and friends. Resume an active social life as soon as possible. Don't neglect worship services and fellowship groups. Even work is good therapy. So are hobbies. Get your mind off yourself and onto others. Focus outward instead of inward. Work on the answer rather than the problem. Reaching out to neighbors and friends will make your own sorrow seem less severe. There is always someone to whom you can bring comfort. Most of all reach out to God. He knows your heartache and loss. Let him be your comfort. His is an eternal friendship, one that never fails!

"Lord, you are the lover of the lonely, the keeper of those who are alone. You know the feelings of the aching void, the loss of companionship. You are aware of the empty house, the shadowed hearth and the sighing heart. And, Lord, you not only know but you care! When you were here on earth you too were lonely. So you feel with all who

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experience loneliness. And you live for, love fully and lift up the lonely. Thank you for your touch today. Praise you, Lord Jesus. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am no longer alone, for Christ is with me by his Spirit. His presence is my security, his peace my rest.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

Grief: Recovery And Victory

Recovery is the natural result of a healthy grief process. It may have been long and difficult, but you will make it. One thing you discover is that others have gone through similar circumstances and have made it. So can you. You will never be your "old self' again. Grief changes you. Yes, there is a season where all you can do is to "hang in there." But if you move through the grief process with openness and trust in God, you will come out a stronger, more mature person.

It all depends upon your response. The choice is yours to react negatively or positively. Sorrow can shrink the soul or expand it's horizons. Like a beautiful butterfly you can emerge from your cocoon of grief a beautiful creature.

Countless Christians can bear witness to this fact. I can too. You wish whatever caused your grief had never happened. You acknowledge that it was painful and difficult. You hope never to face it again. Yet, somehow God uses suffering to shape us more into the image of Christ. God never causes something bad to bring about good. But "in all things" God does work his purposes in our lives.

I have found God's grace to be abundant in my grief. As a result I know I have become more sensitive to others and their hurts. God has used my experiences to minister to others, just as I have with these devotionals. I trust he will continue to do so. And he has graciously provided another life companion each time of my loss. A multitude of friends and family continue to be encouragers. God is surely good.

Grief comes to everyone. But the Christian has God on his or her side. He is "the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). The secret is to lean heavily upon God, accept with gratefulness the assistance of others, keep in touch with your own feelings, and believe in a brighter future.

That future is promised by God. Christ's resurrection provides the basis for our hope. Our scripture lesson today assures us that Christ will reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, even death. Everything that causes us grief has been conquered. So we can face whatever comes our way with confidence that the One who called us will accompany us in every life situation.

So, remember in your grief that the sun will come up tomorrow. The long, dark night of grieving will pass. Joy will return. The sound of singing will be heard again. In fact, life will be richer and fuller because of your grief experience. You will have complete victory! "Where, O grief, (whatever the kind, intensity or duration) is your sting? …thanks

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be unto God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55, 1 Corinthians 15:57)

"Thank you, Lord, for my recovery from that awful experience of grief. You were with me even when I could not sense you there. Out of the ashes of my loss you have helped me rise to new life and new victory. In the Strong Name of Jesus."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because He lives I can face tomorrow and whatever it brings.

– Robert A. Crandall –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Is it a 'sin' for a committed Christian (a follower of Christ) to experience heartbreaking sorrow and deep grief, following a great loss such as the death of a loved one? (In other words, does it demonstrate a 'lack of faith in God' when a Christian 'sheds many tears' and 'feels a sense of despair and anger' and 'questions God regarding the reasons for his loss' after the death of a loved one or after another great loss? Why or why not?) (Note John 11: 33-36)

  2. Is it 'legitimate' for a Christian to take considerable time to 'recover' from the deep emotional hurt and sense of loneliness and 'disorientation', following the death of his loved one (or following some other kind of great loss)? Why or why not?

  3. List some of the 'common losses' which people experience, all of which cause considerable grief.

  4. When one experiences the terrible 'initial shock', as a result of a great loss (of a loved one or of a job or of one's health, etc., etc.), does this 'shock' often give way to a sense of 'hopelessness'? When you suffer a great loss (grief), what can you do to resist the strong temptation to 'fall into the trap' of hopelessness and despair? When one is tempted to despair, can he 'lean heavily on God' even if his mind is so confused and his emotions all so injured that he finds it 'impossible' to verbally pray to God? (Note Romans 8:26-28; Romans 15:13)

  5. How important is it for heartbroken (grief-stricken) persons to put aside 'pride' and 'self-sufficiency' and 'aloofness', and to allow friends and relatives to express their love and care and comfort to them?

  6. As time progresses and as the harsh reality of one's terrible loss sets in, why is it so important for the 'grieving person' to accept his loss (with the 'fuller implications' of that loss), rather than to 'run from his loss' in denial?

  7. During a time when you were observing the deterioration of the health of a loved one, did you try to act as if everything was 'alright', even though you were actually 'falling apart inside'? Is it possible, 'in the name of faith', for a Christian to deny that his loved one is in the 'process of dying', and as a result fail to provide opportunity for his dying relative (like a spouse) to openly share his/her 'honest feelings and thoughts' about death and about future plans following death? Does it demonstrate a lack of faith in God's 'power to heal' if a care giver talks openly to his/her sick loved one about his/her loved one's 'impending death'? Do you think that refusal to talk about death with one's dying loved one shows insensitivity to the 'needs' of the dying one? Why or why not?

  8. From a realistic (Biblical) viewpoint tell why it is 'tragic' to react to your grief in any of the three following manners:

    1. Deny Grief.

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    2. Dodge Grief.

    3. Despair during Grief.

  9. Give your interpretation and application of the following statement: "Denial of your grief is dangerous emotionally and physically. Most of all it is dangerous spiritually for it makes us dependent upon our own resources rather than upon the grace of God."

  10. From your own experience, did you find 'liberation' when you faced your grief honestly and moved through it progressively, rather than 'burying your feelings' in denial?

  11. Since 'anger' is a strong emotion which is a response to hurt, can you expect to experience a certain degree of anger when you feel the 'deep hurt' from the 'death of a loved one' or the 'death of a friendship' or the 'death of a vision' or the 'loss of your health or your job'? Is it 'legitimate' (i.e., God approval) for a Christian to experience 'anger' as a result of his loss (grief)? Why or why not?

  12. Do you agree that, if 'grief anger' is not handled appropriately it can become like a 'raging forest fire', destroying months or years of relationships and memories? Even though the expression of anger (by a grief-stricken person) to those around him may be 'understandable' and even somewhat 'therapeutic', would you agree that most of one's anger (during a time of grief) should be expressed directly to God? Why or why not? Is it possible that one's anger (during a time of grief) can easily harden into deep resentments and bitterness and hostility, the consequences of which can be most devastating and unhealthy and alienating (in terms of maintaining ones past 'warm relationships' with friends and relatives)?

  13. If suppressing or repressing one's anger is not appropriate or helpful, how can a grief-stricken person positively express his/her anger (without hurting ones self or ones friends and associates)? Is it alright for a grief-stricken believer to express his great anger at missing a spouse's love, or a child's embrace, or a parent's touch, or a grandparent's blessing?

  14. Do you agree that, if anger is not dealt with positively and constructively, it can be expressed at inappropriate times and ways and to persons who have tried to help the grief-stricken person? During your times of grief, how can you avoid 'scapegoating' (or venting) your frustration and anger upon those persons who most wish to 'help' you (or upon other persons – even strangers – who surround you)?

  15. If 'grief anger' is not 'processed' correctly, can it lead to inner resentments and bitterness, or even to deep depression? Do you think that it is possible for a conscientious believer, who wishes to be rid of all anger (Ephesians 4:26-27), to deny (suppress) his feelings of frustration and loss and anger, and thus fail properly to "process his grief", and as a result become seriously depressed?

  16. If you intend to 'redeem your grief, why is it important for you (during your times of grief) not to 'strike out at God' or 'strike out against others', or 'strike out against yourself?

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  17. During your time of loss (grief), when your mind is confused and your heart is broken, is it appropriate (legitimate) for you to share your anguish and to question the 'justice' of what has happened to you, with Almighty God? Why or why not? Even though you likely will never receive a full or satisfying answer as to the 'reasons' for your crushing loss, is it nevertheless helpful for you to question God and to share your feelings of 'deep hurt' with God? Why or why not? Is the 'fall of mankind into sin' (in the Garden of Eden) the ultimate 'reason' for all losses (griefs) in life?

  18. What should the grief-stricken person do about the genuine guilt which he feels as a result of contemplation of his 'failures', 'mistakes', 'negligence', and 'transgressions' committed intentionally, and more often unintentionally, against the person (relative or friend) who has died?

  19. As it relates to the tendency to 'feel guilty' regarding the circumstances and decisions surrounding the death of a loved one, give your interpretation of the following statement: "The 'If Onlys' of life will eat you up, destroying you." What was Paul's attitude regarding the past events (both 'successes' and 'failures') of his life? (Note Philippians 3:13)

  20. To the grief-stricken one who is carrying a 'heavy load of guilt', what can you (as a burden-bearing brother, Galatians 6:2) do to help bring comfort and relief? (Note John 20:23)

  21. According to Revelations 12:11-12, what is sometimes the 'source' of guilty feelings in the lives of believers, and what can believers do to deflect this imposed guilt?

  22. During your time of 'grief recovery', how can your discipline of forcing yourself to be with others (family, friends, fellow parishioners in your local church), help you to resist the temptations to fall into the traps of 'self-pity' and 'loneliness'?

  23. Do you believe that your reaching out to neighbors and friends (during your times of grief) will help make your own sorrow less severe, since such action will 'break' your own unhealthy 'self-preoccupation' and will provide opportunity to receive wholesome empathy and comfort from others?

  24. How can the comfort which you receive from God during your times of grief, better prepare you to comfort other sorrowing persons? (Note 2 Corinthians 1:5-7)

  25. Share a time (occasion) in your personal life when, during a time of great loss and grief and loneliness, you sensed in an unusual way the comforting and the companionable presence of Almighty God.

  26. Do you believe that, if you move honestly and thoroughly through the 'grief process' with openness and trust in God, you will come out a stronger and a more mature person? Do you believe that, as a result of experiencing deep grief, no one remains the same as he/she was before his/her experience of grief, that he/she will be either 'bitter or better' depending upon his/her reaction to the 'crushing sorrow'? Do you believe that sorrow will either 'shrink the soul' or 'expand the horizon of the soul'? Do you believe that, although God is not the

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    'author of sorrow', He never allows His children to shed 'needless tears', that every sorrow can be transformed and redeemed for beneficial purposes in the life of a believer?

  27. As a result of your own wonderful recovery from great grief, tell if you agree with a 'fellow sufferer' who said: "The secret (in dealing with grief) is to lean heavily upon God, accept with gratefulness the assistance of others, keep in touch with your own feelings, and believe in a bright future."

  28. Do you believe that, because of the resurrection of Christ, everything that causes grief to human beings has been conquered, and that the time will come for every believer when all tears will be wiped away and all will be peace and joy forever in the heavenly presence of our loving Savior? (Read Revelations 7:9-17; Revelations 21:1-5)

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Discover Restoration and Victory

Discover Restoration And Victory

Chapter Four

Discover Restoration And Victory
How Do You Conquer 'Giants'? 61 Learn To Forgive Yourself! 69
Does Jesus Care When You Fail? 63 Put Yourself Again Under God's Control! 71
What If You Yield To Temptation? 65 Humbly Accept God-Allowed Consequences From Sin 73
Restoration After Moral Failure 67 Discussion Questions 75

1 Samuel 17:38-51

How Do You Conquer 'Giants'?

When you are confronted with the many 'giants' of temptation in your life, remember that it is not human weaponry, but divinely-given weaponry, which wins the victory! Wrote Paul, "It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don't use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God's mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil's strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4, Living Bible)

What were the 'secrets' to David's victory over the pagan giant Goliath? David stepped out from the crowd and he believed God. Listening to God instead of listening to the unbelieving and cynical world around you is the first step to spiritual victory. David could have listened to his cynical brothers and to the unbelieving King Saul, but, instead, David took his counsel from Almighty God! He did not succumb to peer pressure, but instead he responded to the pressure of faith in his heart. David's inner belief in God was expressed outwardly: "I will go out and face the giant regardless of the blasphemy of the giant, and regardless of the unbelief of the crowd of Israelite soldiers." If you are to win a spiritual victory, you too must 'step out' for God, giving heed to God's call to courage rather than succumbing to the peer pressure of an unbelieving and compromising and godless world around you! God commands you to separate yourself from the evil advice of godless persons: "Come out from among them and be ye separate", saith the Lord, "and then I will receive you and ye shall be my sons and daughters!" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

David used his God-given weapon – his sling. The weapon which God puts in your hand – the weapon of faith – like the simple sling which David used in battle, may appear to others to be too simple and crude and ineffective. Faith wins the battle! Not dependence on the heavy armor of Saul, but dependence on the living God, as symbolized by the simple sling of David! David flung the stone from his sling and the stone found its target. The stone sunk into Goliath's skull and the enemy of Israel tumbled to the dust! The stone represents the 'Word of God' . The 'Word of God' – the Bible – is the 'stone' which brings down the 'giants' in your life. Think of Jesus when He was being tempted (Matthew 4). Jesus used the Scriptures against the devil, and Jesus won the victory! Remember, the 'battle' is the Lord's. The Word of God (represented by the stone) alone can conquer your giants. But, also remember that without David's obedient cooperation the battle could not have been won. God gave David faith to face the enemy, but David, nevertheless, had to exercise that gift of faith. The victory over the 'giants' in your life is not automatic. It is David who put the stone in his sling, and it is you (as a believer) who must exercise faith in God's power, by using the Bible against the 'giants' in your life.

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"Father, give me courage, as you did to David, to put my faith into action. Help me to use the Holy Scriptures to bring down the many 'giants' in my spiritual life!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There is no 'giant' in my life which cannot be conquered, by the use of my 'sling' (God-imparted Faith) and my carefully-selected 'stones' (God-empowered Scriptures)!

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Luke 22:54-62

Does Jesus Care When You Fail?

Have you ever failed morally or spiritually or socially, and after your failure, wondered if God still cared for you? Have you ever felt so guilty that you had a hard time thinking that you could ever love yourself again? Have you ever had a hard time looking at yourself in the mirror after you did or said or thought something that was ignoble? Have you ever had an experience when you knew, like Simon Peter, that you had denied your Lord (Luke 22:61, Luke 22:62)? He who climbs the highest, may fall the hardest. Jesus warned us to watch and pray, lest we fall into temptation. He said that the spirit of man is willing but that the flesh is weak. Everyone is vulnerable at one time or another. Wrote Paul to the overly – confident Corinthian believers: "So let the man who feels sure of his standing today be careful that he does not fall tomorrow." (1 Corinthians 10:12, Phillips)

God promises to help us during temptation. "And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptation's power so that you can bear up patiently against it." (1 Corinthians 10:13, Living Bible) As believers, we need never yield to temptation. We can say 'No' to Satan's allurements. Because God controls even the temptations that beset us, every believer can handle temptation. God is strong and able and willing to help every believer during his times of moral struggle and spiritual warfare. Jesus has already won the battle against Satan, on Mount Calvary and through the Empty Tomb. The power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that is available to give Christians victory over temptation. We do not work 'for' a victory; we work 'from' a victory. The victory belongs to Jesus, and each believer has a right and a responsibility personally to appropriate that historic victory as his own personal victory. Great is God's protection of his trusting children. "The Lord is faithful; he will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind." (2 Thessalonians 3:3, Living Bible) "He is able to keep you from slipping and falling away, and to bring you sinless and perfect, into his glorious presence with mighty shouts of everlasting joy. Amen." (Jude 24, Living Bible) "For since he (Jesus) himself has now been through suffering and temptation, he knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us." (Hebrews 2:18, Living Bible)

"Even so, we do sometimes fail. We get careless, we stealthily lessen our trust in God, and we let a spirit of disobedience bewitch us. Suddenly we have yielded to temptation and are filled with sorrow." (A Faith To Grow By; Donald Bastian; pg. 42,43)

"O Father in heaven, 'does Jesus care when I've tried and failed to resist some temptation strong; when for my deep grief I find no relief, though my tears flow all the

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night long? O yes, He cares; I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief!'"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When I fail, falter, or sin, I will allow the 'tender eyes of Jesus' to pierce my heart with conviction, which will bring the tears of genuine repentance!

– Ron Christian –

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Psalms 51:1-19; 1 John 2:1-2

What If You Yield To Temptation?

You need not yield to temptation, but what should you do if you find yourself sinning against God? There are specific steps you must take if you yield to temptation.

First, recognize the reality and the seriousness of sin. It was sin which crucified the most beautiful person in the universe on a cross! Sin blunts one's sensitivity to spiritual matters. Sin obscures one's witness for God. Sin causes one to lose his fellowship with God. Sin makes it easier to continue to sin. Sin can cause others to fall (weaker brothers). Sin can even open the door to a life of apostasy.

Second, don't rationalize or deny your sins. There are those who compare their sins favorably to someone else's sins. God is our standard, not someone else. There are those who minimize the seriousness of sins by failing to realize that a life of sinning not only breaks one's fellowship with God, but eventually will actually sever one's relationship with God! There are those who strangely believe that, once they are sanctified (i.e., 'filled with the Holy Spirit'), it is impossible to sin. Those with such a static view of sanctification tend to deny their sins, calling them 'mere mistakes' or 'human weaknesses'.

Third, accept personal moral responsibility for your failure and your sins. Do not 'scapegoat' your guilt on others and do not blame Satan for your sin. It is true that others can influence one wrongly, and it is also true that Satan is called the Tempter, but it is also true that (as James writes) "a man's temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which greatly attract him." (James 1:14, Phillips) Every temptation is resistible. No one needs yield to temptation. It is because one has become careless or overconfident that he has fallen into sin. Jesus said, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit, indeed, is willing, but the flesh is weak". Man's natural and legitimate desires can become the 'bridgehead' or 'door' to sinning. Failure to guard one's affections can result in one becoming vulnerable to sin.

Fourth, recognize that forgiveness is always costly. It took Jesus' death to make possible your forgiveness! It is because of the shed blood of Jesus on the cross that God is able to forgive you of all your sins (1 John 2:1-2). God has turned His just wrath against sin upon Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ. A simple analogy would be that of a parent who is wrathful because of his child's disobedience. The child deserves punishment, but the parent takes the punishment for the child and thus releases the child from the punishment, and, at the same time, appeases the wrath of himself (the parent).

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"Holy Father, thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross to satisfy your justice, to rightly appease your wrath against sin, and to demonstrate your love for sinners."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God will not despise a 'broken and a contrite heart', but will quickly and gladly restore the penitent one to full and joyous relationship with himself!

– Ron Christian –

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Psalms 32:1-11

Restoration After Moral Failure

We are looking carefully at the steps for spiritual recovery after a moral failure in the life of a believer.

Fifth, confess all your sins to God, and repent deeply of your sins. Both Psalm 32 and 51 record David's prayers for recovery after he failed so tragically in his spiritual and personal life. When David's sins were revealed, David did not try to deny his sins, or rationalize them, or 'scapegoat' them on someone else. Be forthrightly and humbly confessed his sins to Almighty God and he pled for mercy and asked for restoration. Humble contrition (repentance) is the door back to God. Peter, after his denial of Jesus, wept bitterly and repented wholeheartedly. Do not try to conceal your sins. Wrote David (after he had sinned grievously), "When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long." (Psalms 32:3) If you yield to temptation, follow David's example. He wrote, "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord' – and you forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalms 32:5)

Sixth, accept God's forgiveness gratefully and humbly. Never take God's forgiveness for granted! One man was asked how he could sin so brazenly. Be replied something like this: "O, I am not worried, for it is always God's business to forgive!" Such blasphemy! God is not obligated to forgive anyone! Forgiveness is a gift of God's mercy. You cannot earn it or deserve it or purchase it! You can only receive it with brokenness and humility. Every sinner deserves to die! Never make the mercy of God an excuse for sinning. 'Sin is not only a violation of the 'laws' of God. Sin is a violation of the 'love' of God (i.e., sin 'breaks' the heart of God!) Sin is never a virtue! "Well then, shall we keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Should we keep on sinning when we don't have to?" (Romans 6:1, Romans 6:2 a, Living Bible)

Seventh, after you have confessed your sins to God, be willing, if necessary, to confess your sins to others. Notes Donald Bastian: "If in your lapse you have wronged others, make amends. If you have wronged God alone – by a failure in your imagination, for example -confess to Him. If you have wronged another person, correct it with him. If you have wronged the church, confess to the church. This is a costly thing to do. But it is right, and doing so will help prevent future failures." (A Faith To Grow By; pg. 43) Said Jesus, "So if you are standing be/ore the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and suddenly remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God." (Matthew 5:23-24, Living Bible)

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"Heavenly Father, 'restore to me again the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to other sinners, and they – guilty like me – will repent and return to you.'" (Psalms 51:12-13, Living Bible)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who haven't strayed away!" (Luke 15: 7, Living Bible)

– Ron Christian –

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1 John 3:17-24

Learn To Forgive Yourself!

In considering the steps for spiritual restoration, we noted in the last devotional that sometimes it is necessary for a 'repentant believer' to confess his sins to others. Restitution – i.e., confessing your sin to someone else whom you have wronged – is a 'bitter pill' to swallow, but restitution will give you at least four positive benefits: (1) It will give you humility which, in God's eyes, is very valuable. The Bible says that God 'resists the proud, but He gives grace unto the humble". (2) It will give you a 'clear conscience' which is important if you are to maintain your joy and confidence in Christian living. (3) It will leave a positive witness with the one whom you have wronged. God can use your humble confession to another as a means to incite repentance in the life of that other person to whom you are confessing. Confession is often 'contagious'. Unbelievers (as well as believers) are impressed with persons who are courageous enough to confess their wrongs, especially in a world where most persons like to blame others rather than accept personal moral responsibility for actions. You do not lower yourself, but you raise yourself in the estimation which others have of you, when you humbly confess your sins to them! (4) It will act as a deterrent against further sinning in the future. Anything that is so painful (and humbling) as restitution will act as a 'barrier' against yielding to temptation in the future.

Eighth, forgive yourself and learn valuable lessons from your moral failures. Notes William Sangster, "Having accepted the forgiveness of God, don't brood over the past. There are many people in the family of God who do not doubt God's forgiveness, but they never seem able to forgive themselves. The memory of their sin lacerates them. It is hardly ever out of their minds. So, far from being able, as some are, to forgive themselves lightly, they seem unable to forgive themselves at all. Just like some unhealed wound in the body, this unhealed wound in the spirit drains their strength, hinders their progress, pours pus into the blood-stream, and keeps them in a state of spiritual invalidism. (1) Can't you see that your unwillingness to forgive yourself is a form of spiritual pride? What you are really saying, at the deep level of your mental and . emotional life, is this: 'How could I ever have done that?' (Note the stress on the'!'.) (Me"! A spiritual giant like me!' Now look! That self-hate is doing you no good… It is like poison injected into your veins. Accept the forgiveness. You cannot undo the past. God has forgiven it, and, if God has forgiven you, who can justly accuse you? (2) In some mysterious way – beyond your human fathoming – God can use sin … The God who is mighty in creation is also mighty in transformation." (Daily Readings; pg. 71)

"Heavenly Father, I thank you that, as I surrender my failures and sins to You, You are able to use my 'moral weaknesses and transgressions' in some mysterious way, to help accomplish ultimate good in my life and in the lives of others. How amazing!"

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If! refuse to 'forgive myself', I proudly declare that my 'moral standards' are higher than God's! Gratefully accepting God's forgiveness, I will learn quickly to forgive myself, and gladly resume my 'sweet communion' with my Father!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Peter 1:3-9; 1 Peter 4:12-13

Put Yourself Again Under God's Control!

There are valuable lessons to be learned from every moral failure. When one suffers, as a result of his wrong moral choices, it is important to remember that God always is ready to forgive the 'repentant believer', and that God is able mysteriously to use any sin to ultimately accomplish some kind of good! God will not allow anything from your past life to be 'wasted' – if you surrender your past to God. God is the Great Transformer! One man, before he was a believer, involved himself in deceptive practices and ended up in prison for several months. After becoming a Christian and after he was released from prison, this man (Charles Colson) began a Christ-centered prison ministry which has gained international recognition and acceptance ('Prison Fellowship')! Simon Peter, after his dreadful fall into sin, wept bitter tears of regret and remorse. However, God's mercy made possible the forgiveness of Peter and, as a result, Peter was restored to dignity and usefulness. However, after Peter's terrible fall, caused largely because of pride and overconfidence, Peter forever thereafter maintained a spirit of deep humility and trust in Christ alone.

Allow your failures to help you to develop greater character in Christlikeness. If you have been lustful in the past, be notable for your moral purity now! If pride has been your downfall, let yourself be clothed with the 'garments of humility'. If stinginess has been a problem for you, then make generosity a way of life now! It is said that where a broken bone heals is where the bone of the body is the strongest! Where you were the 'weakest' in your past, you can be the 'strongest' in the future! The eagle with a broken wing can be healed and can again soar high in the sky.

Ninth, "put yourself again under God's control and submit to His testing." (Donald Bastian) What is from Satan's viewpoint a 'temptation' is from God's viewpoint a 'test'. God intends to use problems and troubles in life to produce steadfastness in believers. Notes William Barclay: "Now here is a great and uplifting truth. What we call temptation is not meant to make us sin; it is meant to enable us to conquer sin. It is. not meant to make us bad, it is meant to make us good. It is not meant to weaken us, it is meant to make us emerge stronger and finer and purer from the ordeal. Temptation is not the penalty of being a man, temptation is the glory of being a man. It is the test which comes to a man whom God wishes to use." (Daily Study Bible; Matthew; vol. 1; pg. 56) Throughout life, believers will encounter temptation. It was even so with Jesus. After Jesus successfully resisted the devil and overcame temptation, what does the Scriptures say about Satan? "And when he (Satan) had exhausted every kind of temptation, the devil withdrew until his next opportunity." (Luke 4:13, Phillips)

"Father, give me insight to face my 'troubles' in a positive way, to see them as 'stepping stones' to strengthen me in the development of Christlike character, not as 'stumbling

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blocks' to defeat and destroy me, as. the enemy of my soul would desire."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Despite my past moral failures and sins, my future can still be bright and productive – all because of God's forgiving grace and transforming power!

– Ron Christian –

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2 Samuel 12:9-25; Galatians 6:7

Humbly Accept God-Allowed

Consequences From Sin

The tenth 'step' in the recovery process' is to accept without complaint the God-allowed consequences from your past wrong moral decisions (sins), and to expect God to continue to use you even while you are suffering from the consequences. Even though God forgave David his terrible sins, there were many consequences that David lived with for many years. The Bible says, "Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." We can choose initially, but we cannot choose the consequences of our choices. For instance, a man who has smoked all his life can be forgiven, but he must oftentimes bear, as a forgiven person, the consequences of his smoking habit – namely, bad health perhaps in the form of lung cancer or heart disease.

However, in spite of the ongoing consequences which David had to bear because of his past sins, David enjoyed restored fellowship with God. Joy that is lost because of willful sinning can be restored to a 'fallen believer', because of sincere confession and total surrender (Psalms 51:12). The joy which God gives to the repentant believer is combined with dignity which comes as a result of God's willingness to use a restored believer in effective evangelistic ministry (Psalms 51:13). A person who personally experiences forgiveness and inner cleansing is equipped to help others whose experiential needs are the same as his own. While David had to bear some of the scars of his past sins, David's future was not totally jeopardized by his past sins. David had to live with some regrets because of the wrongs of his past, but David's fellowship with God was mended and his joy was restored. Instead of becoming 'bitter' and 'hard of heart' against God, David humbly accepted the God-sent consequence from his sin, namely, the death of his illegitimate son. When David learned of the death of his newborn son (whom David deeply loved), the Bible says, "David got up off the ground, washed himself, brushed his hair, changed his clothes, and went into the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. Then he returned to the palace and ate." (2 Samuel 12:20, Living Bible) No wonder David was considered "a man after God's own heart!" I once received a letter from a convicted man – a man who was a backslidden believer but one who had been restored to fellowship with God. "I was given a 32 year sentence. It came as no surprise. My attitude was one of a fighter, knocked down but not knocked out… I've had the ultimate privilege of leading a young man to Jesus in this jail and the Lord used me in preventing a suicide, so I'm not idle at all. I don't believe for a second that God put me here. But I do believe He will use me where I am at… I turned myself in on all this. I could not run from God any longer. Being right with God meant more to me than being physically free. I believe with all my heart I will be free again on the outside to lead a productive life, one that will count for Jesus, so while I'm disappointed in some things, I am not discouraged."

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"Loving Father, heal the 'hurts' in my life which remain as a result of my wrong choices in the past, and make me a compassionate servant because of my lasting 'scars'."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Regardless of how 'bad' my past life has been, if I confess my sins and I surrender totally to God, I can 'turn my scars into stars'!

– Ron Christian –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Share an experience from your own life (or from your knowledge of the experience of another believer) which demonstrates the truth of the following statement: "If you are to win a spiritual victory, you must 'step out' for God, giving heed to God's call to courage rather than succumbing to the peer pressure of an unbelieving and compromising and godless world around you!" (Note: 2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

  2. In effectively dealing with temptation, what is your part (as a believer), and what is God's part?

  3. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "The victory over the 'giants' of temptation in your life is not automatic. It is David who put the stone in his sling, and it is you (as a believer) who must exercise faith in God's power, by using the Bible against the 'giants' in your life."

  4. Share your personal response (or reaction) to the following statement: "There is no 'giant' of temptation in my life which cannot be conquered, by the use of my 'sling' (God-imparted faith) and my carefully-selected 'stones' (God-empowered Scriptures)!"

  5. What has God promised to do for a believer during his times of temptation? (Note 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Jude 1:24; Hebrews 2:18)

  6. Give your explanation and interpretation of the following statement: ''We do not work 'for' a victory; we work 'from' a victory!"

  7. What should you (as a believer) do if you discover that you have sinned against God? (Note 1 John 1:9; Psalm 51:1-19)

  8. Put a check beside the following Biblically-based statements which you personally find to be the most difficult for you to accept (appropriate) during your attempts to recover from a spiritual failure (due to your transgression against God's moral laws and God's revealed will to you):

    1. ___ Recognize the reality and seriousness of my sin.

    2. ___ Openly confess my sins to God rather than rationalize or justify my personal wrongdoing.

    3. ___ Accept my personal moral responsibility for my failures and sins, rather than 'scrapegoating' my wrongs on others.

    4. ___ Recognize that my forgiveness is very 'costly', i.e., it took Jesus' death to make possible the forgiveness of my sins.

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    5. ___ Acknowledge that God will never despise a 'broken and a contrite heart', but will quickly and gladly restore a penitent person to full and joyous relationship with Himself.

    6. ___ Repent deeply of my sins, i.e., decisively turn away from all wrong behavior (a moral V-turn).

    7. ___ Gratefully accept God's forgiveness of all my sins, and humbly express gratitude to God for my complete spiritual restoration.

    8. ___ Be willing to make amends (restitution) to those persons who have been hurt.

    9. ___ Be willing to forgive myself for my past wrong decisions (sins), and to humbly learn valuable lessons from my moral failures.

    10. ___ Refuse to brood over my past wrongs and failures and sins, and instead to joyfully accept God's complete forgiveness and total restoration to spiritual fellowship.

    11. ___ Allow God to use my past moral failures (sins), to perfect my character and to prepare me for greater and more tender-hearted ministry in His Kingdom Work.

    12. ___ Accept without complaint the God-allowed consequences from my past wrong moral decisions (sins), and expect God to continue to use me even while I am suffering from the consequences of my past sins.

  9. List at least four positive benefits which you (as a believer) incur when you make 'restitution' to a fellow Christian (or to a non-believer) whom you have personally offended through your deliberate sinning or through your unintentional (careless) actions.

  10. Why can it be said that your unwillingness to forgive yourself is a form of spiritual pride?

  11. From your own life experience (or from the life experience of .others whom you have carefully observed), give an example which demonstrates the truth of the following statement: "God, the Great Transformer, is able mysteriously to use any sin to ultimately accomplish some kind of good!"

  12. Share specific ways in which you can use your past moral failures and sins to develop greater Christlikeness in your character.

  13. Tell with what degree of 'conviction' you believe the following: ''Where you were the 'weakest' in the past, you can be the 'strongest' in the future! The eagle with a broken wing can be healed and can again soar in the sky."

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  14. Do you believe that, despite your past moral failures and sins, your future can still be bright and productive – all because of God's forgiving grace and transforming power?

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