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Guilt, Shame, Fear Resolved

 
Recently a little book Josh recommended to me brought together a number of truths I’d collected over the years. “The 3-D Gospel” by Jason Georges explains the three terrible results of the fall and the three wonderful ways God has provided restoration for each in the death and resurrection of Christ.
 
When Adam choose to trust Satan, his wife and himself instead of God, he ate of the forbidden fruit and Immediately he became guilty. He and his wife also became ashamed and tried to cover their shame with leaves. And they became afraid, hiding from God when He came to talk with them.
 
While different cultures tend to emphasize just one of these results over the others (Western “guilt culture”, Eastern “shame culture” and animistic tribal “fear culture,”) we all suffer the twisting effects of each part of this trinity of guilt, shame and fear.
 
In our Western culture, the gospel is presented mainly as dealing with our guilt (think of the Romans Road presentation—and this is certainly correct). However, little is taught about how the gospel also provides a solution for our shame and our fear.
 
Many (if not all) of us have a sense of shame, maybe from past experiences where we were abused verbally, emotionally or physically. We also have failed to measure up to biblical and church culture standards. And we all have done foolish and destructive things we know are wrong. Shame is there, but often not acknowledged. Undealt with, it is a weight and blight on our souls, keeping us from loving ourselves so we can love our neighbors well.
 
Fear also is a big factor for us, as the world seems to be falling apart, as Christianity is more and more marginalized, denigrated and portrayed as evil, as millions of believers are persc We wonder where this all is going–and are filled with fear. Look at how many believers are consumed with worry, experience anxiety attacks and need medical help to cope.
 
God knows all about this and has provided a solution to each one. When the Holy Spirit does His work of conviction, He addresses each of our areas of need: guilt, shame and fear. As it says in John 16:9-11. “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong:
–“about sin, because people do not believe in me” [there is guilt];
 
–“about righteousness, because I am going to the Father” [there is shame as we stand humiliated before the righteous One, who exposes the emptiness of our futile, selfish attempts to make ourselves look good];
 
–“and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” [There is fear as we, too, without Christ stand judged and worthy of condemnation.]
 
However, for those who respond to the Spirit’s work, Ephesians 1:18-19 tells us what God has given to free us from each one of these: Paul writes, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know:
 
–“the hope to which he has called you” [forgiveness in place of guilt],
 
–“the riches of his glorious inheritance in his saints,” [honor in place of shame]
 
–“and his incomparably great power for us who believe” [power in place of fear].
 
All of this I vaguely comprehended, but now they have come into full 3-D focus and it makes a difference. I have wholeheartedly looked at my hidden shame from my failures and sins, as well as from others’ opinions of me, and am embracing the honor Jesus has given me by taking my shame on Himself in His suffering before and on the cross.
 
I have also confronted my fears more directly, embracing the fact that “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 KJV). This is making a difference in my life, and in the lives of those I am sharing this with.
 
So I encourage you, too, to embrace the full trinity of the gospel, internalizing the fact that Jesus died to save us from our sin, our shame and our fear. “My salvation [guilt covered] and my honor [shame covered] depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” [fear covered](Ps. 62:7).
 
As Corrie Ten Boom said, “If we look around us, we will be distressed; if we look within us, we will be depressed; if we look to Jesus we will find rest.”
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Christ the Shepherd

 
Meditating on, “The Lord is my shepherd….” Ps. 23:1
 
Praise you, Lord Jesus, that you are the great Shepherd of the universe. You are wise, powerful, all knowing, all seeing, all present. You are the One who breathed the stars, who gathered them into the Milky Way, who hung the earth on nothing, who brings the dawn each day. You are the One who sets up and takes down rulers, who controls the flow of history, who will bring all existence to an end.
 
Your power is infinite: what we see in hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis is a tiny bit of your might. We cannot begin to imagine a power that could create a galaxy like the Milky Way: 100,000 light years across, containing billions of stars, many much bigger than our sun. You simply spoke and they came into existence.
 
Your power and attention to detail is unbelievable. To make carbon-based life possible, you created the sun a million times larger than the earth, burning at just the right and incredible temperature. You placed the earth at exactly the right distance from the sun, so it won’t be too hot or too cold. You put it in an orbit just the right shape so summer is long enough for crops and winter isn’t so long that people would starve. You spun the earth at the optimal speed so night isn’t so long that we’d freeze, and day isn’t so long that we’d get too tired. And you tilted the earth at exactly the right angle to make the different climates. You did everything perfectly.
 
In this you show what a wise, strong, good and trustable Shepherd you are. I praise you for the wonder of your Character, seen in your being the Creator, the Redeemer, our Savior, Provider, Protector and Great Guide.
 
You are Love, you are Light, you are Life. And you have declared yourself to be my Shepherd: you wanted me as your sheep; you chose me before the foundation of the world; you arranged all the influences I needed in life so I could come to you.
 
What I actually deserve, as a rebellious sinner, is continual punishment, rejection, suffering, failure, hopelessness, despair, death and eternity in Hell apart from you.
 
However, you had mercy on me, you wanted me as your child. So, you suffered, died and rose again to make it possible that I would be your sheep. You called me, you cleansed and transformed me, you claimed me as your own, you commissioned me to special service and you cherish me.
 
I stand before you now dearly loved, deeply cared for, doted on and delighted in. In you, Lord Jesus, I am fully forgiven, fully loved, fully accepted, fully yours. I revel in your love, I bask in your desire for an ever-expanding relationship with me. I rejoice in your unconditional, deep, rich acceptance of me as your child, your sheep, your beloved.
 
I bow before you in awe and reverence; I rise up today to return your love in obedience to your Word, to walk in the joy of being yours, to reflect the light of your love to those around me, living in the perspective of Psalm 73:25: “Whom have I in heaven but you and earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
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Psalm 26:8-12

Psalm 26:8 “I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells.”

[Praise you, Lord, that now you dwell in each believer, in each of us, and as we together are living stones we make up your church, your bride. Help me to live the reality of that, to love the church universal and the church local. Help all of us to be in awe of you and live in such a way as to bring you honor, both personally and as local congregations.]

Psalm 26:9,10 “Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes.”

[Praise you that, although I am naturally one of these sinners, in you I am made an innocent, being cleansed and forgiven, transformed and adopted. Therefore, I will not have to go with the wicked into punishment, but with you into an eternity of joy and peace, of goodness and grace. Help me to recognize my tendency to do the natural, negative, nasty things, to reject them, and to live instead in the freedom of wisdom, the joy of submission and the goodness of obedience to your Word and Spirit.]

Psalm 26:11 “But I lead a blameless life; redeem me and be merciful to me.”

[I do want to live a pure life, but cannot do so on my own; help me to walk with you in your way of purity, positiveness and power. Thank you that you have redeemed me and that I stand in safety because of your blameless life, Lord Jesus. Praise you that you are merciful to me far beyond what I deserve.]

Psalm 26:12 My feet stand on level ground;

[Praise you that you have given me level ground, that I have all I need in you for stability, effectiveness and safety. You have set a race out before me; you smooth out the way, you help me forward, and running before me, you guide and direct.]

“in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.”

[Before all, Lord, I want to give you honor and glory, praise and power, exaltation and strength. You are the good One, you are the powerful One, you are the trustable One. So, I bow before you in awe and thankfulness, I rise up in grace and joy, I move ahead in this day with thanksgiving and faith, fully clothed in the armor of God, able to stand no matter what comes.

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Psalm 26:4-7

Psalm 26:4 “I do not sit with deceitful men,”
 
[Help me to recognize them and not join in their talk, and not to be deceitful myself.]
 
“nor do I consort with hypocrites;”
 
[That’s pretty hard avoid, as we are all hypocrites to a degree. But help me to avoid those who are blatantly, knowingly so. Point out my tendency to hypocrisy and help me not to be one.]
 
Psalm 26:5 “I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.”
 
[Help me not to join them in any way, and help me to recognize the evil in my own heart and reject it in favor of obeying you.]
 
Psalm 26:6,7 “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.”
 
[May I consistently and quickly confess any sin and be cleansed by your forgiveness. May my focus be on you, Lord Jesus, listening to you, being obedient to you, thinking truth, doing what you proclaim to be right. Help me to be consistent in praising you at all times, proclaiming to all those around me your glory, revealed in your awesome acts and gracious goodness.
 
As we move through life with all its unknowns and challenges, it is wonderful, Lord, to know that you are guiding us, that you will lead us in paths of righteousness.
 
I am so small, so ignorant (I couldn’t even buy the right corner piece for the rain gutters today!), so weak, so bound up in my own viewpoint, so influenced by selfishness and sin that in myself I cannot make wise decisions.
 
When I tried to buy tickets for our trip to Germany last week, you prevented the transaction from going through, even though I thought it had. This was because you knew the dates I had picked were wrong, and enabled me to change the dates to better ones with better flights when I tried again. You, Lord Jesus, are my wise and all knowing Shepherd who cares for your sheep. You know the future, you know the next things to come, you know the needs I’ll have today, next week, next year.
 
I praise you now for how you will provide and protect, for you are good and pure, you are wise and loving, you are kind and firm, you are powerful and gracious. You are my God and my Rock: unshakable, unassailable, unchanging. You are my Salvation: the One who redeems and rescues. You are my High Tower: giving safety, vision and insight. I can trust you.
 
Help me to know how to deal with what will come today, Lord. Only with you can I press forward properly, denying self, obeying your Word, listening to your Spirit. I praise you now for your help to come. May I honor you today in all.
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Easter

An Easter thought:
When Christ said, “It is finished,” and died, the curtain in the temple was ripped from top to bottom, showing that the way into the holy of holies was now open to all through Jesus. This curtain was thick and woven with strands of metal, silver and gold, making it impossible for a human being to rip. And it was ripped from top to bottom, whereas a person would try to rip it from bottom to top. God did what man could not do and He did it in His way, not ours. Christ is risen indeed.
 
More adventures from the 80s
 
Shortly after meeting Orin, we made a trip to Germany, driving Dan and Nancy’s car for them so they could pick it up after their furlough and drive it back to our country of service.
 
This trip turned out to be very different from our previous ones. When we arrived at the Bulgarian border at about 11 am, the police said we had to wait there until there were enough cars to be escorted through the country.
 
When we asked why, a policeman said, “We are trying to prevent the entry of hoof and mouth disease into our country.”
“Hmmm,” I thought, highly skeptical, but prayed, “Ok, Lord, we will praise you for this, too.”
 
It was a nice warm, sunny day, so we sat back and enjoyed the afternoon. We bought ice cream from a shop there—it was the best ice cream I’d ever had, and we each had several cones as our wait stretched on.
 
Finally at about 6 pm there was a line of three hundred cars, a large enough group, and they opened the border. We each had to drive through a vat to cleanse the tires of any hoof and mouth disease germs; then we slowly moved off in a great caravan.
 
After three hours the lead police car pulled off into a rest area. There were about twenty toilets for all the passengers in those three hundred cars. You can imagine the lines, and how much in need everyone was after three hours of driving!
When most people were ready to leave, off we went again, arriving at the northern border at 1 am. We were near the front of the line, so we got through pretty quickly.
 
On the other side of the border was a long line of cars waiting to enter Bulgaria. These were people from our country who worked in Europe, and were now on their way home for summer vacations.
 
We didn’t realize how long this line was until we had driven several miles and still saw no end to it. Then suddenly the traffic in our lane stopped. I got out to look, and could see up ahead that there were cars coming towards us in our lane.
 
Since we had all been in the caravan driving across Bulgaria there had been no traffic in our lane for a long time. Some impatient driver on his way to Bulgaria had gotten tired of waiting and had decided to use our lane. Then everyone behind him followed along. So now we had gridlock!
 
We again thanked God for this 2 am adventure, even though there was one thing that intensified the situation for me: our gas tank was very low—we had not been allowed to tank up in Bulgaria. I had planned to stop at the first gas station in Yugoslavia, but there was none in sight and now we weren’t moving.
 
Then the driver in front of me turned off the road into the orchard on our right, obviously trying to find a way past this traffic jam. Since the car I was driving was built high like a jeep, I had no qualms about following that driver off the road and into the orchard.
 
We drove along parallel to the road for a good ways, finally passing the last of the “road pirates” who were blocking our lane and climbed back up onto the asphalt. Shortly after that we came to a gas station and tanked up.
 
Just think of the God sightings here: we were near the front of the line, right behind the driver who had the idea of going off road, had a car capable of driving over the rough terrain, and made it to the gas station before running out of gas! The Lord had again showed us his bountiful grace and goodness.
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Psalm 26:2-3

salm 26:2 “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”
 
[This is a scary thing to pray, as there is much unknown sin hidden there in my heart and mind, hidden even from me. If He answers this prayer, he will find some bad things.
 
Yet, Lord, you are the only One I can fully trust to examine me, as you are fully good and fully ready to forgive–so I am perfectly safe in praying this, although it doesn’t feel that way.
 
Certainly, there are negatives for you to find, so I need to expect exposure. Then I can repent and be set further free, for you are “good and ready to forgive and plenteous in mercy to all those who call upon you” (Ps. 86:5). This is a “step up” for me.
 
So, I ask you to examine my heart and mind, to point out the next sin I need to deal with, and to point out my failures early on (like not checking in with you in conversations) so I can grow in cooperating more with you. Help me to respond immediately with confession and repentance, with accepting your forgiveness and forgiving myself, with praise and submission; I thank you now for what you will do.
 
Psalm 26:3 “for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.”
 
I praise you that you are loving, firm and gentle, that your mercy triumphs over justice, and that you chasten us for the purposes of helping us to walk in your way, to really live, to share in your holiness and to give us peace and righteousness (Heb 2:9-11).
 
Guide me in your truth this day, O Lord God, protect me from my own evil, keep me safe, watch over me that I may live for your glory. I praise you for your goodness which will surround me, for the care and protection you will give in all things. I bow before you, giving you glory and honor, praise and adoration, for you are worthy.]
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Psalm 26:1

Psalm 26:1 “Vindicate me, O LORD,”
 
[You, Lord Jesus, are the only One who can remove the deserved accusations against me; I am, in myself, a sinner only worthy of condemnation. But you are the One who, in your death and resurrection, bought for me forgiveness, honor, power and transformation, granting to me your righteousness.
 
Therefore, you can and do vindicate me before Satan and his accusations, before myself and before others. It is your righteousness that declares my innocence: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8”:33,34).]
 
Psalm 26:1b “for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.”
 
[This I cannot say about myself, Lord–I sin every day in my thoughts; I waver every hour in my decisions. I need your help to trust, and then you vindicate me: “Trust in the LORD, and do good… Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday sun” (Psa. 37:3,5,6).
 
Praise you for the new start every day—actually, every minute. I thank you for your grace-filled kindness to me, to your creatures, to your creation.
 
As we wait for the great and total restoration of perfection, we can heed your call in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” As we delight in you, you will put into our hearts the right desires and then fulfill them at the perfect time.
 
Praise you for your great patience, Lord God, waiting until all who are willing to believe are swept into your kingdom, and then you will bring the day of judgment, righting all wrongs and eliminating all evil, ushering in an eternity of Light and Love and limitless Life.
 
I revel in your forgiveness and love, I give you glory and honor, Lord, for you are absolutely worthy of it.
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Our Amazing God

“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.”
Psalm 96:4
 
You, O Yahweh, are great beyond comprehension: great in wisdom, great in power, great in patience, great in creativity, great in knowledge, great in holiness, great in love, great in mercy, great in justice, great in strength, great in kindness, great in faithfulness.
 
You are truly most worthy of praise and honor and glory and exaltation, “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens” (Ps. 96:5).
 
You stretched out the tent of the skies, driving in its pegs firmly, tying its ropes securely, making it strong and sure: it cannot be changed without your desire.
 
You spoke and the stars became, you shepherded them into galaxies, assigning them their places and names, and at your command they settled there. You spread the galaxies across the vast, empty stretches, forming gigantic patterns, beyond the perception and comprehension of man. You, O Lord, are immense in power, wonderful in wisdom, awesome in creativity.
 
We exalt you in your greatness and your goodness; we bow before you in full and amazed submission, leading us to whole-hearted obedience. We proclaim among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
 
You are truly God and I prostrate myself before you in awe, in smallness, in humility that flows from a vision of your holiness. You are God, you do what pleases you and it is always good. We tremble before you, the Holy One, the great I AM, the righteous Judge, the faithful Father. You alone are worthy of obedience, of submission, of trust and praise.
 
Prayer: “You reign rightly, O Lord. Reign in me today. Convict me of where I am following my own whims and desires instead of your great goodness; bring me up short, bring me to submission. Amen.”
 
         –From Edified!
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The Ugliness of Sin

 
 
A story taken from chapter 15 of the book “EQUIPPED!”
 
Dave pulled into the driveway and parked. He was looking forward to his lesson with Jack, but when he knocked on the door, there was no response. So, he went around to the back of the house, walked down toward the pond, and found Jack standing knee deep in the water, pulling up lily pads.
 
“Good morning!” Dave called, and Jack waved a muddy hand. “I’ll be up in a few minutes; just let me finish with this patch,” he called.
 
Dave watched Jack reach down deep into the water with both hands, feel around for a bit, then pull up a long dark root. With it came several lily pads and flowers, all tied together by the tuber. Jack then threw them way up on the bank.
 
Pulling up the last bunch with its roots, Jack waded to the shore and dropped it on the bank. As Jack rinsed the mud off his hands at the edge of the pond, Dave asked, “Why don’t you just pull off the pads and flowers instead of messing with those ugly, muddy roots?”
 
“Because lily pads are like sin,” answered Jack. He paused, enjoying Dave’s look of bewilderment. “Just like sin, lily pads are attractive to look at: beautiful, graceful white flowers floating among lovely green leaves. But they are destructive. If left unchecked, lily pads will fill the whole pond, choking out other plants and animals. And under those beautiful flowers and leaves hide ugly things: slime, bloodsuckers, worms and snakes, to name a few!”
 
Jack leaned down and picked up one of the roots he’d thrown up on the bank. He held it up, a dark, gnarled, muddy tuber with long, white ugly stringers hanging from one side, and on the other the slime-covered stems ending in leaves and flowers.
 
“Look at this. Like the root of sin, it’s ugly. See what it’s done to my hands?” Jack held up his free hand, stained a dark purple from the roots. “The last time I did this, one of my fingernails got infected from working with these. And smell this!” He held the root up toward Dave’s nose. Dave pulled back as the odor of rotting mud and slime assailed his nostrils.
 
“Just like the stench of sin uncovered,” said Jack, throwing the root back on the ground. “And like sin, unless you remove it far from where it was growing, it will re-root and grow again. That’s why I’ve thrown these way up on the bank where there is no moisture to help them stay alive.”
 
“Look at this.” Jack held up a stem growing from the root; it was coiled up like a telephone cord. “This young stem was below the surface, slowly straightening out to bring its leaf to the surface. If I’d just picked off the leaves and flowers I could see, within a short time this young leaf would have been up on the surface to replace them, keeping the plant healthy and strong.”
 
Dave stood thinking on what Jack had said. “It’s like confessing in layers, isn’t it?” he said. “If you only get rid of the pads and flowers, not the stem, the shoots and the root, it’s going to grow right back!”
 
“Good application,” said Jack as he turned and walked up to toward the shed, where he turned on the hose to wash the mud off his hands and bare feet. “Confession in layers is the only effective way to root sin out of our lives. And as you read chapter 16 [in “EQUIPPED!”], you’ll see how to apply this to a very specific and significant area of your life.”
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Psalm 25:19-22

 
Psalm 25:19 “See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!”
 
[Satan, who is the great angry dragon as in the picture below, is always after me, seeking to trap me, to trip me up, even to take me out–if you, Lord, gave permission. I am too weak to stand against him and the people he uses. But I praise you that you are very aware of my situation and are protecting me moment by moment in your great Power. As your Word says, “The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear Him and delivers them” (Ps. 34:7).]
 
Psalm 25:20 “Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame,”
 
[Every day I must appeal to you, Lord Jesus, to rescue me from my powerful enemies, from my foes who are too strong for me. Thank you that, instead of shame, you offer us honor–the honor of being your children, of belonging to your Kingdom, of joining you in your work, of keeping on the armor and standing against the enemy, and of living with and for you.]
 
“for I take refuge in you.”
 
[This is my part, I must flee to you, my High Tower, my Rock of Salvation, instead of trusting in myself. I do this recognizing my weakness and need by offering praise and thanksgiving for whatever comes, asking for your help and obeying what I know to be true.
 
You only, Lord God, are my mighty Shield, my high Fortress, my powerful Defender, standing firm against the attacks of the enemy. You are my God, my great Rock in whom I take refuge, my Protector, the Provider of my salvation and my Stronghold. I call to you, O Lord, who are worthy to be praised and so I am saved from my enemies! (Ps. 18:16-19).]
 
Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and uprightness protect me,”
 
[I praise you, Lord Jesus, for the integrity and uprightness of your character and that you have imputed these to us, your children. Help me to live in your integrity (doing what I say I believe) and in your uprightness (obeying what you say is right) so I can give you honor and glory in all.
 
“because my hope is in you.”
 
Praise you that I can do what is difficult and unnatural (like offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving in the midst of trouble), because my hope is in you alone. In you there is the certainty of help, guidance, and protection.]
 
Psalm 25:22 “Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!”
 
[Praise you, O God, for your great act of redemption in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this you have provided salvation for all in all our troubles.
 
I pray that you will save me from my present troubles, Lord. Help me in the midst of them to act in wisdom and obedience to you and your Word. I praise you now for how you are going to help me today. Amen.
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