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“Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22 (NLT)

The little girl let out a piercing scream that brought both parents running to her rescue. She had been playing on her grandparent’s farm and building a ‘fort’ in the wooded area behind the barn. Unfortunately, she’d chosen to build her fort in the midst of a nest of wood ticks! Her parents spent nearly an hour picking ticks off the scared and crying little girl.

After a thorough inspection, a warm bath and a bowl of ice cream on Grandpa’s lap she felt much better. She got down to play but decided to stay near the house and play with her dolls.

“A little scared to go play in the woods?” Grandma asked her gently.

“A little maybe,” was her reply, “But mostly I still feel itchy, like the bugs are still crawling all over me.”

We can all, no doubt, identify with the little girl in the story. We walk through a spider web or discover some insect on us and for some time later still feel it’s ‘presence’ on us.

The same can often be true of sin. We fail to do what we should, or do something we know we shouldn’t. We may even wander far from God and live a lifestyle we know is wrong or become addicted to drugs, alcohol or lust.

Like the Prodigal Son, we come crawling back to God. We confess our sin. We work hard at cleaning up our act. But deep in the corners of our mind is this sense of guilt and shame that we can’t shake. We pray about it. Read Scriptures. We talk to counselors, pastors or trusted friends. Still we are haunted, sometimes day and night by the feeling of guilt on our lives. Much like the little girl continued to feel the wood ticks on her body.

So, why is that? Is God so angry with us that he won’t let us forget? Are the reminders of our past signposts to make us be sure we were sincere? Does God’s forgiveness fall short of our expectations because our ‘sin was so bad’ that he’s going to haunt us for the rest of our lives?

The simple answer to that is a resounding NO! The Bible is very clear in several places that once we confess our sins to Jesus and ask his forgiveness those sins are forgiven. The moment you asked, the blood of Jesus cleansed you from the penalty of that sin. We can still feel guilty though for a variety of reasons.

If you have asked sincerely for your sin to be forgiven and still feel guilty it could be a matter of healing and healing takes time. Sometimes that healing is made longer because people keep bringing up your faults. Sometimes it can be due to constant ridicule. Religion is a great source of guilt as well with constant reminders that we are bad.

The biggest culprit in our struggle with a guilty conscience though is Satan. That great enemy of Christ-followers wants nothing more than to keep you in the prison of guilt and remorse. He’ll lie to you. He’ll use other people to lie about you. He can even use religion to keep you captive. Don’t listen to him. Listen to the words of Jesus. “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. No matter how many times you come sincerely to Jesus he has promised to forgive you. Tell Satan to take a hike. Tell him to get lost. In Jesus Christ you are NOT GUILTY because of the blood he shed on the cross for you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’ve been carrying this load of guilt long enough. I now realize that the guilt I feel is a false belief that I’m not forgiven. I renounce the efforts of Satan to keep me in the prison of my soul. From this day forward I’m going to live in the freedom of your forgiveness. Amen.


You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

It was the stuff TV dramas are made of except it was happening to me! I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that my life was being threatened. My emotions when from shock mixed with humor to fear. What if he made good on his threat?

The more I thought about it, the less I was afraid. Sound odd? Perhaps. But my contentment came from the realization that death for me isn’t defeat. It’s victory. My assailant would still be here to suffer the consequences of his crime. In the meantime I’d be resting comfortably in the arms of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The same scenario plays itself out in Satan’s life. Our attitude towards Satan is one of extremes. In some ways we don’t take the idea of ‘Satan’ seriously enough. He’s real. He’s very powerful. He has a very large army of demons who have but one plan…to destroy you. He’s also very cunning and deceptive. He won’t attack you in the areas of your strength. He’ll always attack in your weak spot.

On the other hand, in some ways we take Satan far too seriously. Sound like I’m writing in circles? Consider this. Satan is very strong. He wants to destroy you. He knows his time is short. But there’s something else you need to realize about Satan. You scare the hell out of Satan, or should I say you scare the hell INTO him?

From the beginning Satan has tried to defeat God’s plan for relationship with you. He wants to be number one and you are standing in his way. If he can keep you defeated; if he can keep you wallowing in a pool of self-pity, guilt and fear he knows he can win.

But if you decide to stand up to him. If you act on the power you have through Jesus Christ the Bible says he will ‘flee from you!’ Not stand and fight. Not beg for mercy. RUN! Satan is terrified of Christ-followers who live in the power of the Spirit and act like they are God’s children.

Don’t let Satan defeat you. He’s a loser. He knows it, but he doesn’t want you to live out the power you have in Jesus. Live in the promises of grace, forgiveness and mercy. Even if you lose your life you win.

PRAYER: Father God, from this day forward I’m not letting Satan control how I feel about me. He’s kept me in prison for far too long. By the power I have through Jesus’ forgiveness I demand he leave me alone. I rest in the freedom I have in you. By the name and blood of Jesus I pray, Amen.


No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Comedian Flip Wilson used to do a skit in the 1970’s in which his ‘character’ did all sorts of things wrong. Whenever he was caught his quick response was to say it wasn’t his fault, “the Devil made me do it!”

It was just a silly skit but lurking in the shadows of the laughter is a truth that none of us should ignore. When bad things happen to us, or to others, our first tendency is to place the blame on someone. We blame other people, we blame God, we blame government or employers. We even may blame the Devil, or Satan.

There are three things each of us must realize about ‘the Devil’. First of all, the Devil, or Satan, is a real spirit person just as God is except that he doesn’t have nearly the power God does. Secondly, the bible is very clear that Satan is the root of all temptation and that his main goal in life is to draw us away from God. Lastly, and this is the most important thing, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we can order Satan to leave. In fact the Bible says that if we resist him, he flees from us.

The third statement about Satan is very important when we are tempted to do things we know we are not supposed to do or when we don’t do things we know we should do. Temptation is not sin. Being tempted is a thought; sin is acting on the thought. The bad news side to temptation is that if we act on the temptation we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we get angry or bitter or unforgiving, that’s a choice. When I over eat, refuse to exercise, text while I drive it’s not the fault of the person who wronged me or the person who made the good food or the cell phone company. If I sin, I’m the one to blame. Not Satan, not God, not you. Me.

The good news is that when God allows temptation to come (He is never the source of temptation) He will also provide a way of escape if we ask Him. His desire is to see us succeed, not to see us fail.

Those of us who struggle with addictions know all too well the struggle of giving in to temptation. Whatever that addiction is (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, pornography, food) we want in the worst way to resist and yet we find ourselves giving in over and over again.

If you struggle with sin (if you think you don’t you are in denial) let me remind you that the same Paul who wrote to the Corinthians to say that every temptation has an escape, also wrote to the Romans to say that the very things he wants to do he doesn’t do and the things he hates doing he finds himself doing.

In Jesus Christ we have hope. Jesus’ desire is to walk with you through temptation so that you can see victory in those areas of your life that seem out of control. Be patient with yourself. Know your enemy. Plan your escape through Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. You alone know the struggle I have with giving in. It seems no matter how hard I try I can’t have victory over the things I hate doing. I thank you for your forgiveness and patience with me. Thank you for giving me second and third and fourth chances. I ask that you would help me to battle the habits and actions that plague me daily. Help me look to you for the victory I need. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to resist the temptations as they attack me. In Your name I pray, Amen.


“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28

A couple weeks ago we went to a local apple orchard on our fall run to pick some fresh, crisp apples. As we were walking through the rows and rows of trees our conversation turned to the many types of apples there are. Some are sweet, some tart; some soft, some hard; some are good for eating right off the tree, others are better for pies, baking and apple sauce. Amazing the choices we have and there are new varieties coming out every year.

Enemies are like apples in a sense. There are all sorts of them out there. There are enemies a half a world away that we hear about on the news. We shake our heads at them and perhaps our fists. We pray for them, but for most of us, our prayers are vague, general voices of concern for people we’ve never met, and based on fear of our own safety and freedom.

There are the enemies based in the political arena, whether that is church politics or government. Again, we’ve never seen them but the choices they make directly, or indirectly affect our comfort and from time to time attack our convictions.

There is the unseen enemy of course. Satan, or one of his ugly cohorts, lurks behind every corner waiting to through darts of worry, temptation, judgmental, anger or a whole host of lies at us. Lies about our self-worth; lies about our God; lies about other people.

Perhaps the biggest enemy each of us faces every day is the enemy next door. I don’t mean your physical neighbor, but those who are closest to you emotionally. The child that no longer sees it necessary to follow your faith; the spouse who neglects, abuses or abandoned you, the boss who never sees anything you do as worthwhile. The friend or family member that misunderstands you, accuses you or makes you feel worthless. The parent who has never ever been there for you but now has all this advice to give you, advice you don’t need or want.

These enemies hurt the worst because, if we let them, they determine who we are, how we feel about ourselves and what God is like. They are the closest ones to us emotionally and can destroy us in a heartbeat with a flippant word, sarcasm or open attack.

It’s also these enemies that Jesus talked about on the hillside that day. He wasn’t telling the people to love some system that caused them pain. He was talking about the people we rub shoulders with every day. The ones that hurt us constantly. The people who, when we see them, cause the lump to form in your gut.

So, how can we do that? How can we love that person who hates the ground we walk on? How can we love that person who once professed to love us but has now turned their back on us? What Jesus is really commanding us to do is to counter every negative action directed towards us with a positive action. Sometimes that may mean that even though we have to remove ourselves from a harmful situation, we still refuse to speak evil of the person who attacked us. Sometimes it may mean praying a prayer that says, “God, I am supposed to pray for them but I’m so full of hurt right now I can’t. Help me.” I believe God honors the honest prayer of helplessness when we have to deal with the painful enemies of our heart.

I have to confess that the idea of being kind to people who have openly, intentionally and willfully attacked me isn’t pleasant. In fact, I struggle to do that. This is perhaps the hardest part of the Christian life, to love those in my circle who refuse to love back. So, how do we do it? Here are some suggestions from a person who has not yet attained.

  1. Remember that God DOES love you and understands how hard it is to love people who reject and hurt you. People do it to Him every day and since we are made in His image that means He feels that pain as well.
  2. Remember that God also created the ‘jerks’ of the world and His desire it to bring them to Himself, just as He did you.
  3. Remember that God realizes that you can’t do this on your own. It’s a process and requires that we lean heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.
  4. Lastly, Remember that we are told to love our enemies and as much as possible live at peace with them. Loving our enemies doesn’t necessarily mean we trust and live in relationship with those who have abused us physically, spiritually or emotionally.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I’m hurt. The hurt that I feel right now is the result of people who I thought I could trust who have turned on me. They are family members, friends, former lovers and/or even my own children. I feel completely alone and misunderstood here. Still, because of Jesus in my life I want to do as you’ve commanded. I want to love my enemies through the power of your Holy Spirit. Please help me have the wisdom and strength to love those nearest to me. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.


See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

‘I don’t get mad, I get even!’. We hear it said, or even say it all the time. Most of the time it’s meant in jest, but if we are honest, there are many times we get even when we’ve been hurt or offended. There are a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways of retaliation, but all have the same goal, to make sure the other person ‘pays’ for hurting us or crossing us.

Getting even is usually counter-productive. We are hurt by others so we hurt others in hopes of making our pain less. I’m not trying to minimize the pain of being attacked. Whether the attack is physical or emotional, the pain can be unbearable. Sometimes I think the emotional pain is worse because it leaves no visible bruises and we suffer alone.

It may be hard to admit it to ourselves, but many times our desire to ‘get even’ is a result of our own self-image. When we’re attacked, the enemy likes to whisper in our ear and tell us we are unworthy, unlovely, ugly, fat, stupid, weak and a whole list of other lies. The enemy loves to get us to think badly of ourselves so that we forget who we really are. We are children of the King!

Retaliation almost always leads to a negative spiral. You hurt me so I hurt you so you hurt me so I hurt you…and on and on. Many marriages and other relationships are destroyed because no one steps out of the circle.

When Christ-followers are involved in a negative spiral it shows the world that we are no different than they are. We talk of love and forgiveness but show none! In fact, sometimes the ‘evil sinners’ of the world are far kinder and forgiving than those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica and reminds them that retaliation (paying back evil for evil) should never be a part of the body of Christ. Rather, we are to do good to each other. This should be the defining mark of every church. People may not always agree with our stands on issues, but they should never question our love for each other and for them.

There’s an old Christian song that says “We are one in the Spirit….they will know we are Christians by our love’. If we are to impact our corner of the world for Jesus this should be our way of life. We will be hurt and offended. We will be attacked and misunderstood. We’ll be lied about. Our response should always be one of kindness even in situations where we have to separate us from our attacker because of the physical/emotional damage they have done to us.

Remember this. You are loved by God. He made you just as you are. If God had a chance to make you over again, He’d make you the same way that you are now! Let Him handle the crabby customer at work, the jerky driver on the interstate, the know-it-all gossip at your church. Rely on the Holy Spirit to empower you to show kindness and wisdom every time you are attacked. In this way, the world will know what it means to have the love of Jesus in our lives.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that it’s far easier for me to retaliate than to react with love, kindness and forgiveness. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m harder on my ‘Christian’ friends than I am on the ‘evil sinners’ I pray for each day. When someone hurts me, remind me that I’m yours. Empower me to remove myself from danger and rely on you for justice. Anoint my wounds with the healing oil of your love. If there is anyone to whom I should ask forgiveness please show them to me today. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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