WRITING A DEVOTIONAL
WRITING A DEVOTIONAL
Back in 2003 after having spent the year before reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's book "Simple Abundance" I took her suggestion to heart and wrote my own daily devotional. Each day I took a line or two from one of the various spiritual authors from the last three centuries I was reading and wrote my own thoughts on the subject. I then looked for a scripture that illustrated the truth that had been revealed to me. What follows is the result.
"Our greatest bondage is to have our own way; our greatest freedom is to let God have His way." Warren Wiersbe
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
“I love humans now as I never loved them before when I depended on them. It is in solitude that I am learning to truly remember what I have lived forgetting.” Elise Boulding, 1975, Daily Readings from Quaker Writings, 11/8
Ms. Boulding has summed up in two sentences what I’m only beginning to understand about my ability to love. As long as I depend on other humans I cannot possibly love them in the way that is truly love. True love never seeks anything for itself. It only seeks to give of itself. In her solitude Ms. Boulding was able to remember this. Perhaps that is what being saved is all about--remembering what it was like to be one with God. Jesus Christ enables us to remember and now we must not forget again. In the meantime we must no longer depend on other humans as we have ever since we left the Garden of Eden. It is in only depending upon God, our Father, that we are freed to love our fellow human beings. This is very simplistic yet we struggle with the whole idea. This is why solitude is so important. It is there that we can block out the world and hear God. Unfortunately, in much of the world today solitude is considered “quaint”. With all the electronics we have and the portability of them, we do not have to be alone anymore at any time. Man’s own thoughts are not even available to him anymore, let alone God’s. If we were to take the time to be alone with God, however, we would discover that He is all we need.
“The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” John 16:32
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
“For nothing so gives victory over sin as to reckon one’s self to be dead to it, and nothing so enables the soul to walk in righteousness as to realize its resurrection life in Christ.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 11/7
As I read non-Christian books on spirituality I often see parallels to what I’ve read in scripture. I believe part of the lack of appeal of Christianity today is because religious leaders often convey the concept that God is out there somewhere. On the other hand, the non-Christian books on spirituality leave out the fact that we can only be restored to the “God within” by Jesus Christ’s payment for our sins. Today’s spirituality has hit upon the truth that God never separated from us, but instead it’s our belief that we are separated from God that has caused us to live our lives without God. They practice the belief that they are one with God better than many Christians, and because Jesus paid for their sin whether they know it or not they are enabled to reconnect with God because the Holy Spirit is in them bearing witness to His Presence (Romans 8:16). I even believe that many of these people will arrive at the gate of Heaven and be admitted while many so-called Christians will not because God looks at our hearts. I believe the work of Christ on the cross can be received into our hearts by acknowledging that God is our creator and Father and that without His life in us we are nothing. It is in this dying to the self-life--that part of us that thinks of us as separate from God and from one another and thereby sins against God and others--that enables us to be one with God and He with us, just as Jesus prayed.
“That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us...” John 17:21a
Monday, November 28, 2011
“I have found that sometimes he asks me to do nothing but belong to Him. If I am not willing to do this, demanding no results, I am overburdening both the carriages and the cattle. My ‘idols’ are too heavy.” Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 11/6
Eugenia is referencing Isaiah 46 where the animals were struggling to carry the idols placed upon them. I think it is in our willingness to do nothing but belong to God that we are freed from all our burdens. Once we have that issue settled--our need to do rather than be--we will be able to do according to God’s will. By making the only requirement that we belong to God, we will have removed all possibility of our ego-selves deceiving us. By allowing God to place our work upon us we can be assured that our work will not become a burden. But we must be careful to remain in Him. Often times in our eagerness to serve God we will snatch the assignment out of His Hand and run off to accomplish it! When things don’t go well we wonder where God went! Because we have not remained in Him our ego begins to direct us. It is then we always get off the path and the idols we pick up along the way will begin to weigh us down. This is what happened when I took on the assignment to care for my invalid mother. The idol I picked up on the path I took was my desire to gain my mother’s approval. It was only near the end that I let go of all my idols and returned to God’s plan. He gave me the privilege of being with her when she entered His presence, and I felt peace.
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and move among them...” 2 Corinthians 6:16a
Sunday, November 27, 2011
“There came a critical moment in my life when I was sadly in need of comfort but could see none anywhere...Immediately there flashed into my mind the words, ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want’ (Ps. 23:1)....I began to repeat [it] to myself over and over.....Suddenly, as I did so, the words were divinely illuminated, and there poured out on me such floods of comfort that I felt as if I could never have a trouble again.” Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 11/5
In the fourth month of my pregnancy with my last child I came down with bronchitis. I ended up in bed for a week unable to care for my five- and eight-year-old sons myself. Because I was adamant about not taking any drugs during my pregnancies I could do nothing but lie there and pray for my unborn child’s safety and for my health. It was during this time that I memorized the 23rd Psalm and discovered just how comforting God’s word was. I found myself repeating it putting the emphasis on different words each time...The LORD is my shepherd....The LORD is my shepherd...The LORD is my shepherd....The LORD is my shepherd. Since then, this Psalm will come to my mind when I feel afraid, and I continue to receive the comfort it offers. But as He has made me “lie down in green pastures” and led me “beside still waters” I have also discovered He offers me more than just comforting words. He offers me Himself.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
“The psalmist said he responded to the Lord’s call to ‘seek My face’ (Psalm 27:8). It’s the idea of God longing for fellowship with me that now draws me into His presence. My quiet times with God are no longer a dreary duty, but a response to my Father who yearns to spend time with me.” David Roper, Our Daily Bread, 11/3
This is a most heartening thought for me. I immediately identified with the feeling Mr. Roper has captured--how I feel when I can tell someone wants to be with me. For me, that is what being “in love” is all about. We all have plenty of people we love, but it’s only when you are made aware that the other person wants to spend time with you as much as you want to spend time with them that you can say you are “in love”. It’s the feeling you get when you first discover a friend who shares your same interests, when you and your boy/girlfriend first declare your love for each other, when your newborn child is first laid in your arms. Unfortunately, life always gets in the way and those feelings of being “in love” turn into duty. Love calls us to put up with being excluded, ignored, or fed and changed on demand! God, on the other hand never excludes us, ignores us, or demands anything from us that He doesn’t provide to begin with. Being “in love” with God is never a risk. It is always a win/win situation. True freedom is to wake up each morning declaring, “I am in love with You, Lord!”
“Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
Friday, November 25, 2011
“[God’s] commands are not grievous, we are told, but surely they would be grievous if we were utterly unable to obey them.... He tells us that we need have no fear in doing what he has commanded us to do, for he is in every command he gives and will always bestow the necessary power to obey it.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 11/3
How many times have I told God “I just can’t do it”? It always seems to occur when putting myself in a vulnerable position--especially in relationships where I fear I’ll be taken advantage of. In fact, any area of insecurity is a potential area of disobedience for me. There will be times, though, that I step out in faith but then bail out along the way. I realize I need to be more aware of what I am thinking in those times. I know that God hasn’t taken back the power He’s given me to obey, so I must be telling myself something that makes me think He has. Is it that I’ve become focused on myself instead of Him? This is part of that pride issue we’ve been warned about--pride comes before the fall. I can see in my own life how the process begins: I’m afraid, then trust God, receive the power to move forward, begin to feel confident, start taking credit, and before I know it, I’m feeling less confident, more vulnerable, and everything grinds to a halt. The only way this cycle can be broken is to finally settle the Self issue. Do I or do I not want to totally identify with Christ? It is then, and only then, that I am freed for God to empower me to obey Him.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18, 19
Thursday, November 24, 2011
“But if we refuse to listen to the voice of our Comforter and insist instead on listening to the voice of discouragement or despair no comfort can reach us.” Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 11/1
I think I’m finally “getting it”. Negative thoughts kill positive thoughts. Discouragement always begins with a negative thought. In the past I’ve claimed that because the negative thought was the truth there wasn’t anything I could do about it. But I see that I can. But first, I have to believe that just because a negative thought might be true, doesn’t mean I’m allowed to entertain that thought. I must immediately replace it with a positive thought. I used think this was a form of denial and did not want to play that game. Now I realize that there are positive thoughts that are creative rather than destructive. The “truth is” can always have a positive spin to it if I see things as God sees things. Because He is able to bring good out of the bad I can always count on anything negative to have a positive side to it. It isn’t up to me to judge it as bad. I can acknowledge that I don’t like the way this feels to me, but I will no longer dwell on that aspect of it. I will instead dwell on wanting what God wants and trust that He will show me what that is so I will be obedient to His will.
“But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:5-8
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
“[God] did create us. He is still longing to bring us to perfection. Hand Him your heart. The pressure of His dear fingers on the hard places may bring pain at first. But if we are not willing to bear this pain at the touch of His hand, we are wasting the Calvary-pain in His heart for us.” Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 11/1
I have a muscle that runs over the top of my left shoulder that is so taunt that it hurts just to touch it. Yet I asked my husband to massage it for me. The pain was excruciating as he kneaded the muscle with his strong hands. By the time he was done, though, it no longer hurt. This is what Eugenia is talking about. We must be willing to endure the pain of having our hard places worked on by God if we ever expect to be freed of them. It’s not a masochistic willingness, but a trusting willingness. Because I believed my husband’s hands would unknot that hurting muscle I allowed him to cause more pain than I would have experienced if he’d not touched it. When God works on our hard places we experience emotional pain often times because we’re so use to being in control. God takes that control out of our hands, and if we aren’t willing, we will fight His strong Hands. How much better it would be if we would relax and trust that when He is done things will be better.
“Woe to those who hide deep from the LORD their counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Isaiah 29:15, 16
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
“Satan is the father of lies and a master deceiver (John 8:44). If he can convince you that God has not defeated him, then you will not experience Jesus’ victory. You will find yourself fighting battles that Christ has already won! You will fear Satan though he has already been utterly and humiliatingly defeated. Your responsibility is to resist Satan, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).” H. Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day, 10/31
My struggle with my “ego”--that part of me that does not want what God has planned for me--feels exactly like what Blackaby ascribes to our struggle with Satan. My ego engages me in battles just like Satan does, trying to convince me that no one loves me nor cares about me so that I’d better take rather than give. It lies to me, making me think it’s looking after my best interest, then deserts me the moment I feel lost and confused. I’m sure anyone who has tried to rely on their ego has experienced the same problems. Because I was born with my ego and relied on it for so many years I feel as though I’m betraying myself when I try to ignore it. Because I now have the Holy Spirit I no longer “need” my ego, but it continues to make me feel guilty only because I allow it to. If I give it some sympathy, I’m immediately reengaged in a battle to keep it from taking control back. This is what Satan does. Give him an inch and he takes over. This is why we must realize that Satan is dead to us. We only bring him back to life when our thoughts try to convince us that he’s not dead. This is what we must resist. God has given us all the tools we need.
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.” Luke 10:19
Monday, November 21, 2011
“There is no slavery like the slavery of love, but its chains are sweet. It knows nothing of ‘sacrifice,’ no matter what may be given up. It ‘desires to do the will’ of the beloved one. Our Lord can never be satisfied until this is the attitude of our souls toward him.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 10/30
Besides repopulation of the earth, I think the whole point of becoming parents is to teach us this one thing about God. Unfortunately, though, we need someone like Hannah to point this out to us. I’ve felt this way toward my children. I love them so much and so unconditionally that no matter what they do or don’t do I am willing to sacrifice anything for them, including my life. It is my desire to give them everything they want. This is the only time I become frustrated because they don’t always want what’s best for themselves and I have to say “no”. When I stop to think about it I get a better understanding of God’s love for me and how He must feel when I do not desire to do His will. If God can get frustrated, I must be a real source of it for Him! It is very encouraging to know that He will never be satisfied until I have this “desires-to-do-the-will-of” attitude because I know He will never let me go. This is unconditional love.
“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’” John 4:34
Sunday, November 20, 2011
“We are made for union with [God], and the only pathway to this must, of course, be a perfect harmony between our will and his. For ‘how can two walk together except they be agreed?’ Therefore God’s commands to us to be holy are all based upon the fact that he to whom we belong is holy.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 10/27
People complain that God takes all the fun out of life with all His “dos” and “don’ts”. I don’t understand this attitude. What they really are saying is they want to satisfy their carnal urges. Telling themselves “no” is the ultimate insult. What they don’t understand is God gives our regenerated selves the desires of our hearts. In Christ my union with God is complete, but if I continue to resist the new life in me, I’m going to feel deprived. It’s this walking in two worlds that defeats the Christian life. It’s what divides churches, splits families, and destroys our witness to the lost world. The only times we struggle are the times we are straddling this fence. This is why non-Christians often seem happier. They’re on their side of the fence--often succeeding in making a pretty good-looking life. However, the fact is one day they will come to the end of their lives and have nothing that will carry over into the next life. Christians who straddle the fence will be called to give an accounting for their lack of obedience. Those who let Christ lift them up and over that fence will be rewarded not only in the rest they find here on earth, but in the kingdom yet to come.
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:14-16
Saturday, November 19, 2011
“Learn to take the yoke upon you. Do not wait for it to be forced on you; but bow your neck to it willingly and take it. Say ‘Yes, Lord’ to each expression of his will in all the circumstances of your life....Take each yoke as it comes, and in the taking you will find rest.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Daily Secrets, 10/25
I realize I’ve not done the added step of “bow your neck” when it comes to taking Christ’s yoke. It’s only after He’s placed it on me because He knows what’s best for me that I finally accept it--usually after much chafing. It only makes sense that, if that is the only time I accept it, I would equate the pain resulting from the struggle with the yoke itself. But by bowing my neck and gladly accepting His yoke immediately, I will experience His rest instead. It reminds me of the childbirth classes I took. The instructor told us if we were tense during labor we would cause pain. In addition, muscles need oxygen to work properly. By teaching us how to breathe we were shown how to work with our muscles as they contracted rather than against them. This is the same principle for taking Christ’s yoke. The more we “breathe” the Holy Spirit’s life-giving force and trust His will for us, the more we will relax and find rest. Just as our bodies do the work of pushing out the baby, the Holy Spirit in us carries the burden of whatever circumstance we are in. Our job is to “go with the flow”!
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Friday, November 18, 2011
“Be still and wait, God will show you clearly and simply, if you are willing to follow His instructions. He knows whether or not you and I are willing..... So, if He knows us to be unwilling in some perplexing matter, what would be the point in giving directions until He has brought us by a means of His own, to the point of willingness? He will never add to your confusion.” Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 10/28
This is a wonderful point! Often, when I am confused, I ask God to pick one of the explanations I’ve provided Him in my multiple-choice quiz. Sometimes I will have no choices to offer and simply ramble off my confusing thoughts hoping God will make some sense out of them and set me straight. Now I understand why I sometimes do not get a clear-cut answer from Him. If I’m not willing to obey the answer, then why bother telling me! In fact, I think my confusion is caused by the fact that I’ve left the path of obedience looking for my own answers. It’s on that side road that I become disoriented and confused. But rather than turn around and head back to the point where I left the path, I try to find my way back through the woods. No wonder I get lost in the dense underbrush. Eugenia is reminding me that my job isn’t to figure things out, but instead to be willing to obey. Once God knows I am willing, He is able to set me straight and lead me through whatever darkness may have clouded my vision.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6
Thursday, November 17, 2011
“If you serve the Lord out of duty or habit, but not out of joy and gratitude, you will feel like a martyr. You will envy those who are experiencing joy in the Lord while you feel weighed down by the work you are doing. This is not the abundant life your Father has planned for you.” H. Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day, 10/27
Anytime we hear ourselves whisper inside our heads “What about me?” the martyr alarm should go off! For me, what happens instead is that after posing that question I make myself miserable trying to answer it. The answer never makes me feel better. When I get to the point of deciding it’s no fun being a martyr, rather than find the right solution, I fool around with blaming others for forcing me into martyrdom! This is NOT the abundant life our Father planned for us! So, what is the right solution? Of course, it would be best if we never played the martyr role, but if we find ourselves there what should we do? There is only one answer, but it may take several steps to get there depending on our particular circumstances. We may need to pray, to give thanks, to praise, to confess, but all these things merely lead to the real solution—the one-answer-fits-all solution--and that is to humble ourselves before God so we can walk in His grace. Often time it is the one who seemingly is obedient that needs to hear this message--like the prodigal son’s brother. Because he had served his father out of duty and not joy he fell into the trap of pride. This is not the abundant life our Father has planned for us.
“And [the father] said to [the brother], ‘Son you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours’.” Luke 15:31
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
“What do we mean by the comfort God gives?....is it an honest and genuine comfort that enfolds life’s trials and pains in an all-embracing peace? With all my heart I believe it is...” Hannah Whitall Smith, God is Enough, 10/27
The words “comfort” and “comfortable” don’t hold the same meanings for me even though the dictionary would beg to differ. When I think of being comfortable I think “free from any bother” whether it be mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual. In fact it conjures up images of being lazy---how many times have I’ve gotten comfortable with the way something was to the point of not bothering to do what needed to be done? So when I hear words like “comfort” connected with God I don’t always let the real meaning of the word sink in. What I’m learning is that it is OK to be comfortable in the midst of the hard places in life if God is the source of your comfort. When He isn’t the source, then it means you’ve gone outside His will to find your comfort. This will always backfire. It is a temporary comfort that serves to lull you into complacency. This reminder is not only a comfort to me, but also will be a source of compassion when I see others attempting to make themselves comfortable in difficult circumstances. Rather than be angry with them for seemingly ignoring their problems, instead I will pray that they will turn to God instead to receive their comfort.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
“As long as we are ‘working on ourselves’ for any reason, we are, in a sense, tearing down. We are to work with God. To co-operate with Him in our ‘building up’ process. We are to let Him plainly show His own life in us through our actions. But we are not to waste our precious energies on the futile performance of trying to improve ourselves spiritually. We are merely to expose ourselves to Him.” Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 10/27
The moment we begin to work on ourselves we’ve taken our focus off God. What happens, usually, is something will cause us to doubt ourselves. It may be someone’s actions toward us or our plans may have fallen through. Rather than approach God and ask Him to show us if there is something we need to correct, we will go looking for the error ourselves. I think true confession can only come when God has exposed our sin. Too often we carry around guilty feelings that someone else has imposed on us. Then when we attempt to confess these false guilty feelings and then receive no relief from them, we begin to doubt God’s grace. Self-improvement is an ego-driven attempt to be as good as God and therefore on His level. Instead God desires to give us that position at the table next to Him.
“[God] raised us up with [Christ], and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God--not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:6-10
Monday, November 14, 2011
“If you sense that the spiritual vigor has gone out of your life or the life of your church, this is God’s invitation to pray. He wants you to intercede with Him so that He might revive His work.” H. Blackaby, Experiencing God Day-by-Day, 10/26
I am feeling exactly this way--to the point of feeling I have nothing to write about. So I’m sitting here with my fingers on the keys waiting for something to come forth.....When I feel this way, it seems the hardest thing to do is to pray. But this is a good reminder to me it’s not so much how much I have to say to God, but what I say. If it’s just one word--“Help!”--that is all that is needed if it is genuine. I think my impatience is part of my problem. If I can utter “Help” and then am patient enough until God answers that prayer, I feel certain I’d know what to pray next. The other part is distractions. After praying for help I’m often distracted by the emotional pain that brought me to prayer in the first place. I probably miss many of God’s answers because of this. I’m reminded of the parables that Jesus shares about persistence. A persistent person does not lose his focus. Believing prayer is also a key element. Persistence will be a part of this kind of prayer. This all brings up another point I’ve failed to remember. Prayer is the fuel of my relationship with God. Just like in human relationships, it’s the communication that keeps it alive. Losing vigor is part of God’s design to keep us in prayer; otherwise, we will grow complacent and forget just how important communication--prayer--is.
“I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” Luke 11:8
Sunday, November 13, 2011
“Sometimes God permits ‘a great earthquake’ which opens our prison doors, so that we can take the easy way out. We decide at this point. Remaining in prison can sometimes lead to a greater fulfilling of God’s purpose than for us to go free.” Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 10/24
Eugenia is talking about when Paul and Silas were in the prison and how they returned after going to the jailer’s house where they led the jailer and his family to Christ. It was clear to Paul that he should return because God wasn’t done using his imprisonment. But what about the rest of us? How can we know if we are to walk through a door that has been opened to us that seems like a way of escape from our troubles? This is where the Word of God is invaluable. For instance, because divorce is so available and easy for us today we may think it is our way of escape from a bad marriage, and many Christians take it. But God’s word tells us that infidelity is the only reason God accepts and then as a last resort. In an abusive marriage, separation provides a temporary escape and an opportunity to use that time to get help in resolving the problems in the relationship. There are many more ways in which we try to escape our troubles that seem like open doors to us, but we must be careful to examine them for God’s fingerprints. In Paul’s case God did open the door, but it was also His intention that Paul return through that same open door so that His will could be accomplished. Is there a place where you feel confined? Might God have a purpose that you’ve not yet seen?
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Saturday, November 12, 2011
“My attitude of heart in the midst of trouble and hardship sings or complains far more loudly than my voice could sing or complain. And someone will always hear.” Eugenia Price, S.P.S., 10/23
This is why I’ve not been content to just pretend that everything is OK. As long as the attitude of my heart is not right, I’m driven to correct it. My problem has been I’ve often gone about it in the wrong way. I’ve tried to change other people’s behaviors so that my attitude would change. I see now that does not work. The attitude of their hearts must change, and I cannot do that for them. I also know now that one’s attitude does not change with one simple command. Our attitudes are the culmination of experience and beliefs, and beliefs are one of the hardest things to change. In addition, experiences cannot be undone. So, is there any hope? For me, this explains God’s plan. Our only hope is the exchanged life--the life of Christ that we receive when we acknowledge our hopelessness without Him. That acknowledgment and our consent to cooperate is all we need to start the process of our changed hearts. What’s more, God even gives us that ability. It’s only the hardened heart that actively seeks to reject Christ that is without hope. Our hope, which others will see, is what will bring others to Christ to be made new.
“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19