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[To my friends at OCC, the next couple days are review of points we talked about on Sunday for the benefit of my other Blog readers and those who weren’t able to be with us. Have a blessed week.]

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

The Lie: My Distress signals God’s Disgust

In the battle for peace of mind, the enemy tries to get us to believe the lie that the struggles we go through in life are somehow the result of God’s hatred of us. Because of our sin and refusal to obey God sends all sorts of terrible things our way to punish us. Some have linked natural disasters, plagues and political upheaval to God’s anger and vengeance. Make no mistake about it sin has an effect on nature and the events of our lives. However, we often mistake God’s silence as God’s disgust or anger rather than the natural consequence of sin.

The rules God has put in place for us aren’t some unplanned system of meaningless rules. They are there for a reason. God hates sin, but not sinners. God doesn’t hate people living a gay lifestyle, but he is opposed to the activities involved in that lifestyle. God hates divorce, but he doesn’t hate people who are divorced. God hates abortion and murder, but he doesn’t hate the people who are involved in abortion or murder. God loves people unconditionally, but because of his holiness can’t allow sin to be any part of his relationship with us.

There is a thing we call conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. When we as Christ-followers sin, the Holy Spirit guides us towards repentance so our relationship with God can be restored. True peace of mind comes when we change course by confessing our sin, asking forgiveness, and changing our mindset towards that sin (repentence).

When the enemy reminds us of sin he does so in order to cripple us, to keep us defeated and living in guilt. Once we have asked Christ to forgive us of our sin we no longer need to feel guilt. We are free. Forgiven!!

When we are going through tough stuff in life we must learn to trust God. We have to remember and live in the truth that God is, in essence, love. Even if we don’t agree or understand why he does what he does his actions are based on unconditional love for us. Secondly, we must believe we are forgiven. Satan loves to remind us of our faults long after God has forgiven them. Placing false guilt on the believer is one of his favorite weapons. Lastly, remember that God is sovereign. That means that absolutely nothing can happen without his knowing about it and allowing it to happen.

You may have done something terribly wrong. You may be feeling guilt right now for mistakes of your past. You may even be living with life-long consequences for what you did years ago. Remember that even though you may be living in the consequences of sin God has forgiven you. He promises to protect and comfort even during those times. Living in the consequences of sin doesn’t mean you aren’t forgiven. Notice the verse for today. The words are not “If you walk through deep waters, but when. You will suffer struggles. You will have things to endure. You will feel distant from God from time to time. That doesn’t change the fact that he is there for you.

Truth Statement: God forgives the penalty for our sin and strengthens us through the consequences.

PRAYER: Father God, I’m being constantly reminded of things in my past that I know you have forgiven. The enemy continues to trouble me with thoughts of my failure and rebellion towards your ways. I hereby claim the freedom and peace of mind that comes from your forgiveness. With the power of your Spirit I refuse to listen to Satan’s lies about this. Thank you for your love. Amen.

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Psalm 27:4-5

A sad story…

When I was growing up a family near the town I lived in had a young man in his early 20’s who was mentally handicapped. One night the family’s home started on fire in the middle of the night. The family searched frantically for their child but was forced from their home by smoke and flames. The home was far out in the country and well engulfed in flames by the time the fire department arrived. Even so, a couple firefighters risked their lives by climbing into the window where the young man had slept. They too were eventually forced from the burning building.

Once the fire was out they searched the ruins for the young man. They finally found him wrapped tightly in a blanket UNDER the bed where he slept. Apparently he heard the smoke alarm and became frightened. He wrapped himself in the only security he could find (his blanket) and hid from danger under his bed.

In a sad sort of irony, the very place he sought shelter became the place where this precious young man met death.

That story reminds me of the struggle each of us has on a daily basis. We are afraid. We worry. We are met with threats on one side or another. Sometimes those threats are physical ones from abusive parents, spouses or others. Sometimes those threats are emotional ones. Voices in our heads play the song over and over again. You won’t make it. It’s too much for you. You can’t go on this way. You are a failure, you’ve always been a failure, and you will always be a failure. Stop trying.

Other times the things we fear are of a spiritual or religious nature. Constant reminders of our sin. Continual references to our past. Demands that we try harder, have more faith, trust God more. They all weigh against us to the point where we simply don’t feel we can go another step or face another sunrise.

Then the words of the Psalmist ring clear. “He will conceal me when trouble comes.” Did you see that? Read it again. It doesn’t say he’ll keep us from troubles. He doesn’t promise we will be free of worry or fear. He does promise that the things that scare us, worry us or try to attack us will not be successful if we put our complete trust in Him.

Unlike the young lad in the story, we will be hidden in a safe place while the flames and smoke of life circle around us. That’s what grace is about. That’s what the Father’s love is about. Safety and hope in the midst of trials.

PRAYER: Father, in the midst of my fear and distress I ask that you would remind me that you will keep me safe. Hide me in your arms of mercy and grace. Envelop me in your love and keep me from fear of tomorrow or reminders of the past. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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