One of the things I'm going to do this year along with reading the Bible all the way through -- is also read my Bible's weekly studies. I wanted to put this week's study on here because God just totally spoke to me through this lesson. As I was reading this, it was like angels singing, lights going off in my head, revelations happening. God is so good. He always comforts me through His word, reinforces when I am on the right path and have made right decisions and confirms what lessons He is teaching me. I hope what I write makes some sense to you --- I know these lessons I learned this week were probably only "ah ha!" moments for me - but maybe you can take something from this!! A lot of you might already know these lessons - but I wanted to share where I am on my path right now:
This first week's study was entitled, "God's Pursuit of You". It talks about how life was perfect in the Garden of Eden but then that awful day of sin, Adam & Eve felt shame for the first time. "God is calling you. Are you running to meet Him - or are you hiding from Him? Shame can prevent an intimate, personal relationship with God. But it's important to differentiate between TRUE shame and FALSE shame. True shame comes when you feel guilty over a sin. False shame comes (not from God) when you have been wounded by somebody else's sin. Bring true shame to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness. Bring false shame into the arms of Jesus for healing."
When this sin happened in the Garden, nothing had changed about God. The reason Adam & Even did not run to Him as before and instead hid was because of what THEY felt because of what they had done. God's love for them hadn't changed. God had not changed. Man..... that's powerful to me. It's always the condition of OUR heart that determines the strength of our relationship with God. That is what free will is all about - He lets us choose to pursue Him. And He let's us choose how strong of a relationship we will have with Him. I think this study should have been called, "OUR Pursuit of God"!
I don't know why, but I've always had a strong conscience (and I've always 2nd guessed how to spell that word). I have been blessed with the ability to link my actions to consequences. I sometimes feel guilty of the most ridiculous, little things though! and I have come to realize that this guilt that used to keep me down was not from God. God doesn't want me wallowing in the past. He wants me to confront my sin, call it for what it is, use the true guilt the Spirit puts on me to move me to ask for forgiveness, forgive myself and then MOVE on. There is to be no dwelling. Guilt that I feel after I've already been forgiven - is not guilt from God.
Don't let anything or anybody make you feel guilty for something God has already forgiven you for. Do you realize how vast God's ability to forgive is? An example is shown in Jesus' ability to forgive those that stoned and tortured Him. It seems beyond comprehension sometimes, but it's true. Jesus' ability to forgive Paul and take away his shame is AWEsome --- Paul, who was the persecutor of His followers - now THAT is love!
Love covers all wrongs. It keeps NO record of wrongs. What Jesus did on the cross for us over 2000 years ago, took away the separation that sin had caused between God & us - so that our shame would no longer separate. What Jesus did, didn't change ANYTHING about God -- it changed OUR hearts and our souls to be able to run to Him again. But He can only change us, if we let Him in, if we accept that His grace & mercy can change the conditions of our heart. Woah. When Jesus comes into your life, He makes you a totally new person. He changes YOU so you can have a relationship with God. I don't think I ever truly understood that. "A new Spirit I will put within you" Ezekiel 36:26. WOAH - just yesterday I went through a box that mom brought and I found this bookmark that was given to me when I was baptized in 2001 - and that verse was on it!
Do you hang on to wrongdoings that you once did? Do you hang on to wrongdoings that people did against you? Can you not seem to 'get over' some mistakes you've made?? or hurts others have caused you? Why don't you run to God more often? Is it shame? Do you feel like you are not worthy of having Him in your life?
Don't look to other people for approval, or to find your worth. People will hurt you, they will cut you off from them - they will harden their hearts to you - they are humans just like you and their "humanness" will sometimes show because humans will never be perfect. Don't look to others for forgiveness. Look only to God. We are called to try to make amends with our fellow man that we have done wrong to - but if their hearts are hardened to you - you can not use that as an excuse to harbor over things that you might have done. ****The human ability to show compassion and mercy is NO reflection of God's mercy or love for you! ****
I hope that anybody who reads this, really understands this. One of the devil's best ways to keep us down is by planting seeds through other people or wherever - to make us doubt God's grace and mercy. Jesus took all your sin and shame with Him to the cross. Don't doubt it! Don't let what He did for you, be in vain. He came and fulfilled His purpose so you could have a relationship with God and know what TRUE love IS and so you could have an abundant and FULL life - and then share that truth with others. You are totally 100% forgiveable no matter what you've done. Do you deserve that mercy!? NOPE. But it is offered to you. No matter your past, no matter how crazy/silly/stupid/bad/ evil your actions might have been, God always wants you in His presence, always. He wants you to ask for forgiveness and then forgive yourself so you won't be separated from Him. He wants your heart, He wants you to spend all day with Him, He wants to show you His love.
*God's love for us doesn't change, even when we sin!*
There is a light we share, when we allow God into our lives to cover up all our darknesses, our sins, our mistakes, our ugliness. Not only will YOU benefit from allowing your heart to be changed by Jesus, but others around you will benefit too. Other people will see this light you carry when Jesus is in you. Sometimes, the light you share is why people run from you like roaches, why they might not be open to you - they aren't ready for how bright that light is. They don't like that light - because it brings to the open, their darknesses and they might not be at a point in their lives to let those wounds be open and painful before the healing comes. But shine your light anyway. Those seeds you plant in others will come up eventually.
So, look to God to take away all of your darkness this year. He has already offered to take it all away, why hold onto it? He has forgiven you and His love for you is never changing. But let Him come in & change YOUR heart so you can forgive yourself and get closer to Him!! And know that "Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never crowned with shame" (Psalm 34:5)