Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Courageous Man Of Faith


And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it... (1 Chronicles 28:20a)
I just love that, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it." Isn't that great? "Just do it!" is a popular advertising slogan, and in another place, a well-known preacher is often quoted as saying, "Do it afraid." Both come down to courage.

Not much is said in "preaching" circles about courage, yet it is all throughout the scriptures. Moses, and later Joshua, encouraged the people of Israel to be courageous. King David spoke of it in the Psalms. Always included with their statements are words against fear and for God's strength. *

"Fear not, nor be afraid"
"Neither be dismayed."
"Dread not"

I like what I read from Gloria Copeland:

"Living a life of faith takes courage. Most people don't realize it, but it does! It takes courage to stand up in the face of sickness and declare you're healed by the stripes of Jesus. It takes courage to believe for prosperity and put your last dime in the offering plate when poverty is staring you in the face. There are going to be some days when you'd rather pull the covers over your head and hide than take another faith stand against the devil. But you can't. Because the battle of faith isn't fought once and then forgotten. If you want to keep living in victory, you have to fight it again and again."
Think about it! Courage IS faith. Standing in faith, and "having done all" standing some more, takes great courage. (Ephesians 6:13) When you're facing certain situations, whether its problems at home (strife at home can be the worst) or financial troubles or sickness, to continue to walk by faith, making confident confession of your belief in God's provision for you, is daunting.

It's funny really because I've never thought of myself as courageous. I watched a video the other day about a group of professional sky divers. The point of the video was to illustrate the risks people take. I remember thinking, "There is no way I will ever do that!" In fact, my list of things I will not do is far longer than that of the things I will do. Physically speaking, I like to "play it safe". But speaking spiritually, we are told to be courageous.

Courage is faith, and courage is also boldness. In the book of Acts, Peter and John prayed for boldness. I have meditated on their words a lot over the years.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, (Acts 4:29)
This blog in itself is the result of boldness, or courage, the Lord has given me. It's not my "thumbing my nose at the establishment," but more an audacity to stand up against the devil. In the face of any "threatenings" he throws at me, I walk by faith. Fear has no place. Remember? "Having done all, to stand. Stand therefore..."

Ephesians 4:27 states, "Neither give place to the devil". This is my motto. Fear is the biggest enemy of faith that I fight against every day. Fear sits in direct opposition to courage.

I heard a statement about fear recently that really stayed with me. In talking about war, journalist and movie director Sebastian Junger stated:

"Fear is the emotion that comes with danger, or thinking you're in danger. What's interesting about fear is that it's actually not connected with the element of danger. The most obvious example are phobias. I'm really scared of spiders, terrified of spiders. I have been since I was a little kid. They're not dangerous at all, but I'm deeply scared of them."
Though he was speaking from a physical standpoint, in his statement I finally saw the truth. Fear is inherently powerless over us! It is especially powerless in the face of God's strength and anointing. Fear only has any power over us as we give in to it.

We've been told to BE COURAGEOUS. I am determined now more than ever to follow God's instructions. Just as Gloria Copeland said, there ARE days when I don't want to function and times when I'd rather stay at home. However, in order to "do" all that God has called me to do, I must first be courageous.

The BDB definition of the word "courage" specifically says "to be strong, brave, secure (for oneself), assure, to be determined, to strengthen oneself." ** It is that last definition that I like the most. We must strengthen ourselves - through the Word of God, through confession of God's promises, through mediation on His faithfulness - and therefore, we stand in faith.

It is as Joshua said,

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:7)
Be strong, be courageous, that you may do, that you may prosper. This is God's desire for me. I will take courage; I will walk in faith. I WILL do it!


* Deu_31:6-7 (2), Deu_31:23, Jos_1:6, Jos_1:9, Jos_1:18, Jos_10:25
, 1 Chronicles 22:3, Psalms 27:14, Psalm 31:24 ** e-sword.net

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trees

I created this video to illustrate Psalm 1:3. I was asked by someone the purpose of the water sound. That sound was actually recorded along the Ocoee River in Tennessee, just over the border from North Carolina. It illustrates both the opening scripture verse, where the tree is growing beside the water (indicative of life) and the trees in the photographs. Those trees do grow beside a small creek, or stream and are a variety of oak tree species. I chose black and white for the images to show the structure of the trees, that there is more to a tree than just its leaves. I encourage you to think about that as you watch it.

Trees


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pure and Holy Lives

I was watching one of those television programs the other night where a young couple buys their first house together. I admit at first, I wasn't paying a lot of attention, but it had become more of a background noise in the room. Suddenly, something the man said made me look up. He said, "After we get married, we'll move in here together."

How startling to hear someone profess that! And how sad that I was startled by it!

...And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:10)
Sometimes I feel like Elijah, in despair, the only one left still trying to live a clean and holy lifestyle.

I look at it like this. God's Word is our set of instructions, which we are told to follow. It's rules are not optional or up for debate. But in them, God has set in motion certain laws, and these laws are operable whether you believe in them or not. Think about the law of gravity. The law of gravity works no matter who believes in it. Someone can decide they don't want to follow the law of gravity, and yet you will still see it working in their life to keep them connected to the ground. Their mindset on the law did not make it ineffective.

So when we read in 2 Timothy 2:22, "Flee also youthful lusts..." We must realize that it is a truth that will remain permanent no matter what man chooses to believe. In 1 Timothy 5:22 it states, "Neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." This is again, an instruction that will always operate.

We don't have a problem with this when it is something we believe in. The world despises child abuse, so those who commit such acts are arrested and prosecuted. Burglary is wrong. Those who choose to live life as thieves or through selling drugs, are thrown in jail. No, the problem comes in when an instruction that God has set in motion, a standard He has espoused, becomes "antiquated" in the world's eyes. If "everyone's doing it", does that make it okay? Your mother would have said, "No."

It really is that black and white. There aren't many ways to believe or many ways to heaven or many gods to worship. It is NOT okay for you to live with someone outside of marriage. Homesexuality IS a sin, and abortion IS murder. In the end, it doesn't matter what the world chooses to preach. God's word is clear. It says, "For the end of those things is death." (Romans 6:21) This truth never changes; it is always in operation, no matter what.

Yet there is more heartening news! The very next verse states, "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." (NKJ) Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary, we have been set free from sin; we have only to believe it and confess it. Then God creates in us holy fruit with everlasting life as our ultimate reward. How marvelous is that!

But stop here and notice what God said to Elijah, as he sat there in despair believing he was the "only one" left.

But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. (Romans 11:4)
There were yet 7,000 who had not given in to the standards of his day. Maybe it was "cool" to follow Baal. Maybe "he" was the "in" thing. Yet 7,000 people still said, "No!" He just needed God to remind him of that.

I am reminding you. I believe in purity. I believe in holiness. Will you stand with me?

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes

Sometimes I'd like to be a little girl again.

I'd like to sit at my grandmother's table and eat her Sunday leftovers. I'd marvel that she knew how to cook all that. We'd tell jokes and laugh. Then at the end, she'd bring out her hidden stash of cookies and chocolates.

Yeah, sometimes I'd like to be a little girl again.

Juanita and Suzanne

I'd like to be a little girl again. I'd like to hear my grandfather sing one of the old hymns, his rich voice resonating through the hallway, his fingers snapping the time. I'd like to hear the rumble of his TV in the back room as it played some unknown baseball game. I'd like to see him go out the green door to do the laundry. And then later Granny would lay it all out over the blue chair to fold.

I'd like to be a little girl again. I'd like to put up the Christmas tree. Granny would want everything evenly spaced. If you placed a decoration on the left, then you had to place one on the right. I'd like to hear her tell the stories of where she purchased each one. Granddaddy would try to correct her, but somehow she was always right. Then we'd pull out the candelabra with it's orange and green light bulbs and place it in the window. Somehow it was never Christmas without that candelabra.

Christmas at Granny's

I'd like to be a little girl again...at Eastertime. There'd be flowery dresses and new shoes. Granny would make her famous cake, all covered in frosting and coconut, a green nest of jelly beans...eggs...on the top. We'd eat ham and green beans, rolls, all sorts of good things. There'd be Easter eggs to find, cousins to see.

I'd like to be a little girl again.


Pop-Pop in the Field

I'd like to be a little girl again. I'd like to stand in Pop-Pop's field and wonder at how large the fruits and vegetables were. He'd be there stooped over a bucket, a farm implement in his hand. Or perhaps he'd be on the old tractor, slowly driving down each aisle. The hot sun would strike on the shoulders of his plaid shirt, as he continued with his task.

I'd like to be a little girl again sitting at his table. He and Granny would provide an abundance of good things, all from the field - greens, strawberries, and the ever present platter of sliced tomatoes. I'd like to be the little girl I once was, my head bowed in prayer, hearing his voice thanking God again for the "bounty we have all received".

Me in a Tree

I'd like to be a little girl again, but sadly, I am not. Not a day goes by that I don't miss these four people, whose unconditional love for me was just always there. They gave of themselves without my asking and created wonderful, joyous memories to cherish.

I'd LIKE to be that little girl again, a little girl at a time with few responsibilities, with abandon roaming the woods, admiring the birds, picking the flowers. I'd climb trees, or run across the field, or hang over the railing at the bridge and simply watch the water trail by. I'd walk my dog down to the canal and hunt for my cat, always hidden somewhere amongst the leaves. I'd just live, because things were good, happy, and at peace.

Dad's Bridge

I'd like to be a little girl again...knowing there are those who care for me. A little girl whose grandparents were sometimes her entire world.

I'd like to be a little girl. But wait! What did Jesus say? "Except ye...become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3) And again, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5) Here is a marvelous thought! I am God's child, and He is always here with me. He loves me unconditionally. He has promised to provide for me, to supply my every need. He wants me to be happy, healthy, and free!

But even better yet, my grandparents are there, there with Him, and they still love me. I will see them all someday. In God's eyes and in theirs, I am still a little girl. I am loved, and I am blessed....always.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One Life At A Time

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
This scripture is traditionally read in the broader context of prayer for governments and nations. However, I want you to think of it a bit more personally. Let's move it down to the level of your home, your street, and your neighborhood.

A couple of months ago I shared with you and encounter I had at a local grocery store. I watched two young parents be escorted from the store with their four crying children, two of them infants, tagging along behind. As I stood there, my heart breaking, I heard the Lord whisper, "Who is praying for these children?" I admit I was startled with the thought.

You see, some children do not have anyone to pray for them. I suspect those four have nothing of God in their lives. It was readily apparent to me that they had very little so far as natural substance. They were dirty and unkempt with matted hair and tattered clothing. Their mother's shopping cart was empty, and as evidenced by the store manager's escort, something else was going on as well.

But what did Jesus say?
But Jesus sent for them, saying, Let the children come to me, and do not keep them away, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Luke 18:16 BBE)
Children who grow up without God become adults who live without God. And living without God leads to failure, fear, and disappointment.

In Deuteronomy 11:19, we read God's instructions to the people of Israel.
And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 11:19)
Teach them to your children," He said. Why?
That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children... (verse 21)
And this chapter goes on to include safety and protection, success, and blessing. (verses 23-27)

The world today is quick to speak of teaching children, of bringing up a strong generation, but what the world doesn't include in their description is what is the most important part of a child's instructions, that of the truth in the Word of God. It is a child who learns to walk by faith, to listen to the wisdom of God, and to know His voice, who will grow up a into secure, world-changing adult. Only God in a child's life brings him or her true success.

Life is hard, and people are cruel, and unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. But this is why it is SO important to pray for children, and not just your own children, but maybe some like those four I saw that day, four children who have no one praying for them.

What if my prayers changed their lives? What if it brings into their situation physical blessings and especially spiritual ones? I may never know the true end of their story. Yet I am content in knowing with each prayer I pray, each day I bring them before the Lord saying, "God bless those four lives. Feed them today. Have someone show them love today. Bring someone into their lives that points them to the truth of the Gospel," I am content knowing I am doing my part to "heal the land."

Do you see it now? My prayers for those children, "heal the land" around me one life at a time. This makes the instruction of the scripture so much more personal. God said if I would pray, then He would do it. And that is marvelous!

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Review: Identifying and Feeding Birds

Identifying and Feeding Birds
By Bill Thompson III

About the Author:

Bill Thompson III is longtime editor of Bird Watcher's Digest. and a previous author of other Peterson Field Guides. This book being underneath the "Peterson Field Guide" name gives it considerable weight in the bird world as being reliable information.

Book Content:

The book is broken into two halves. The first half covers a wide range of topics about birding in your backyard. The second half is a listing of common backyard birds.

This is a handy book for the home birder to have. Bill Thompson III talks about everything from birds habits and needs, to types of feeders, to some of the bird myths he's come across over the years. Each topic is presented in a broader sense, so that anyone in the U.S. will be able to use the information in the book.

Backyard birders are encouraged to include in their bird feeding habits natural habitat, through the planting of native plants. The author describes the types of plants and gives suggestions of those which will attract birds and more specifically what species of birds. He then talks about the different styles of bird feeders, as well as the multitude of seed choices. Much attention is given to how the choice of seed and the style of feeder affects what birds you will attract. This information was particularly well thought out.

As well as feeding habits, the author also discusses the choices a home birder has to include water in the garden. He talks about the many types of bird baths and especially stresses the need for cleanliness. This is followed by a chapter on bird housing. Here information is given on the many choices of housing and what birds will use each.

I was most interested in the chapter of the book dealing with bird myths. Drawing from his considerable knowledge, Bill Thompson III answers a series of common questions he has heard over many years of birding. He effectively expels some of the rumors many birders have heard.

Most helpful in this book are the charts. There is a chart for birds' individual choice of seeds, for bird-friendly plants, for cavity-nesting birds and their proper housing, and also on what plants will attract hummingbirds. Each chart is laid out cleanly and is easy to read.

The second half of the book is a listing of common backyard birds, both those that feed in the yard and those you might see there. The author first takes the time to discuss the proper technique for identifying a bird without going too much into more specific terms. Each listing gives the common and Latin names of the bird, it's size (in inches), field marks (comparing some birds that look similar), a description of any sounds the bird makes, what its natural habitat would be, and lastly how you'd see it in your backyard. There is also a color-coded map of the United States showing the summer, winter, and annual range of each bird. This section of the book is very helpful to a backyard birder. It avoids giving too much detail, which would confuse those with less knowledge. Because it lists only birds typically seen in a back yard, it is very helpful as a quick reference to identification.

PROS:

This book is a great choice for a home birder, who just wants to draw in more birds, care for them properly, and know what they are looking at. It is presented in a general sense and is applicable to most anywhere in the United States.

The photography in the book is fantastic. Underneath each photograph is yet more tips and helpful information. The photographs come from a range of well-known birding enthusiasts, many of whom I have met on the web. The book is almost worth buying just for this reason alone.

CONS:

What is a pro for some might become a con for another. The book IS a general bird knowledge book. Someone who is deep into birding might become bored with its lack of specifics on individual species of birds. However, I would point out that this book is not meant as a field guide, so much as one for the beginning or intermediate user and is geared towards the home birder.

The book also does not give detailed information for each area of the country. That would have made the book unwieldy in my opinion. The home birder will have to find more resources to enable them to know what is most common to their area and what plants and habitat will best grow in their yard.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hearing Ears


He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 2:29)
This phrase is repeated seven times in chapters two and three of the book of Revelation as an instruction to each of the seven churches. It is a summation of the thoughts that precede it. It is the Father's pleading. His strongest desire was for these people to hear His words.

Let's stop here for a moment and notice a couple things. First, here in these chapters, God is speaking to churches - to Christians. Second, He states to each what is right in that church and then what must be corrected.
I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary." (Revelation 2:2-3)
In each case, He starts out by saying, "I know your works." In other words, "I know you have 'persevered'. I know you have been tried and found faithful. I know your love and patience. I know."

How precious is it to us when our children are found doing what we've asked of them, when they make a godly decision and turn aside from what "everyone else is doing". No matter what age they are, a parent is pleased to see their son or daughter choosing to live their life after God.

Well, we are told in Romans 8:15 that God is our spiritual Father. We are told later to imitate Him. (Ephesians 5:1) Just as we train our children to follow Christ and make godly choices, we ourselves are taught to do the same. God wants us as His children to follow the instructions He has laid out for us. After all, isn't that what the Bible really is? The Scriptures, written by the loving hand of our Father, are there to increase our knowledge, to give us wisdom, and to guide us into truth. They help us know what the "right thing" is.

I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. (2 John 2:4)
Who will stand up an do what is right? This is the heart of God in Revelation 2 and 3. He wants to rejoice over us as we "walk in truth". He pleads, "Hear me. Hear my words. Do the right thing. I'm so proud of your faith, your love, and your patience. I proud of how you stood up for truth. Now fix the rest. Repent and do what is right."
Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. (Revelation 3:3)
Hold fast and repent. What powerful instructions! Yet, there is another passage of scripture I think we should read.

For made gross was the heart of this people, and with the ears they heard heavily, and their eyes they did close, lest they might see with the eyes, and with the ears might hear, and with the heart understand, and turn back, and I might heal them. (Matthew 13:15)
It is possible to have "heavy ears". The King James Version uses the phrase "dull of hearing". But notice the effect of "dull hearing". It says, "Lest...they might hear...and understand." Without hearing, there is no understanding. Next read what follows, "...and turn back, and I might heal them."

Without hearing, there is no understanding. Without understanding,there is no repentance and as a result, no healing.

To him who overcomes... (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26;3:5,12,21)
But we don't have to live that way! God promises each church a powerful blessing if they will only hear and overcome. This means it was possible for them to overcome, no matter what the issue was.

God has made a way for us to overcome, and it is the path of His forgiveness. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12 NKJ) This is GREAT forgiveness. "'Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18) This is COMPLETE forgiveness.

That is the message of God to the churches. It repeats over and over again in my heart. He says, "Hear Me. Hear Me."

And I reply, "Yes, Lord, I hear You!"

Can you?

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Clouds and Skies

Sunrise

I will never become accustomed to the gloriousness of the sunrise. Each day it is slightly different, yet somehow just as beautiful. These images were all taken on the same day. Meteorologically speaking, they were the result of a passing hurricane, somewhere way out in the Atlantic. But as a photographer, they provided interesting shapes and textures to a normally boring sky.

Geek Notes: Nikon d5000, 18-55mm Nikkor lens, circular polarizer

Clouds

Clouds

Clouds

To view more images of the sunrise taken in my front yard, view my Webshots.

There is a local pilot who has taken to writing phrases in the sky above my house. The other day he wrote "Jesus Loves U" and then "Hope In God". This video shows some of his work creating the second phrase. It really takes an incredible talent to know where to start and stop the smoke to make the letters, flying around in such an irregular patter. And the entire phrase has to be created quickly because often by the time he finishes the letters at the start of the phrase are fading.




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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Forgiving Me


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
Forgiveness. Those brought up in the "church world" are taught from the very start about God's great forgiveness. We walk around quoting John 3:16, firmly believing in God's grace and mercy, His love, and His desire to forgive. From the pulpit, we learn to always forgive others. We recite the passage from the Lord's prayer - "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12) And yet despite all of that, we struggle with forgiveness.

Notice, in the above passage, the phrase "we deceive ourselves". We "deceive ourselves" in one of two ways. We either think we are without sin, or we are painfully aware of our sin and therefore "deserve what we get". Both lines of thought are incorrect.

But look at the next phrase, "and the truth is not in us". "We deceive ourselves AND the truth is not in us." I believe a quote by a noted Bible scholar helps clarify this statement.

[This is] either the truth that is contrary to such denial (we lie in denying our sin), or the truth of religion, is not in us. (Matthew Henry's Commentary, e-sword)
Do you see it? The truth that "is not in us" can be our denial of sin - we feel justified in what we've done - or it could be denying the ultimate truth, God's Word on forgiveness. We deny ourselves His forgiveness.

This commentary then presents a sobering thought.

The denial of our sin not only deceives ourselves, but reflects dishonour upon God. It challenges his veracity. He has abundantly testified of, and testified against, the sin of the world...God has given his testimony to the continued sin and sinfulness of the world, by providing a sufficient effectual sacrifice for sin...And therefore, if we say either that we have not sinned or do not yet sin, the word of God is not in us, neither in our minds, as to the acquaintance we should have with it, nor in our hearts, as to the practical influence it should have upon us.
Wow! I do not want my behavior to "challenge" the veracity, the truth, of God's Word. I must not refuse the forgiveness He has provided for me.

There are numerous examples of this in the Bible. Think about Jonah. Jonah had been sent to the city of Ninevah to tell them to repent. Ultimately, they did just that and God forgave them. However, what was Jonah's reaction?

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. (Jonah 4:1 NKJV)
Jonah was mad! As if that was not enough, he then comes up with a really lame reason.

...Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. (Jonah 4:2 NKJV)
"I knew you'd do that! I just knew you'd forgive them! That's why I ran away!" he said.

Seriously? Haven't we all done this? We argue with God over something in our lives and give Him such pathetic excuses! Jonah was definitely deceiving himself. The truth was not in him.

Think also about the prophet Elijah. Here's a man who called down fire from heaven to consume a water-soaked sacrifice, and he had slain all the prophets of Baal. How amazing is that? And yet with the slightest threat from the queen, the Bible says he runs a day's journey into the wilderness, sits down underneath a tree and proclaims, "I want to die!" (1 Kings 19)

I just love God's response. First, he sends an angel to provide food. Apparently, Elijah was worn out. Elijah does get up from underneath the tree, but somehow he continues to wander around out there - the Bible says for 40 more days! Eventually, he ends up in sleeping in a cave. It is here that God finally speaks.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9 NLT)
Don't you just love that? "What ARE you doing?" How many times have I needed God to ask that very question! Elijah, as great a prophet as he was and despite all the things God had done through him, was denying himself the truth.

So what he messed up, and so what he ran away in fear. God, in providing sustenance for him through the administration of an angel, started dropping a very large hint about the size of His forgiveness.

Forgive yourself and move on. Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. We "self-flagellate", constantly beating ourselves up in some manner over a mistake we've made. This is as much a denial of God's forgiveness and "the truth not being in us" as the other side of the coin, denying we have sinned at all. In either case, as the commentator said, we are expressing a doubt about God.

There are yet two more examples, but in these cases, both people did the correct thing - they repented, and they forgave.

We have all read the story of King David and Bathsheba. King David has Bathsheba's husband killed so he can marry her. That's a pretty big sin! However, what is worse is how deceived David was about it. Nathan the prophet comes before David and tells him a story involving two men, one rich and one poor, and the theft of the poor man's sheep by the rich man. To this, David becomes enraged.

“As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” (2 Samuel 12:5-6 NLT)
Then Nathan speaks up again.

“You are that man..." (2 Samuel 12:7 NLT)
"You are the man who has done that very thing," he says, " God wants you to know He anointed you to be king of Israel, and yet look at what you've done. There will be a heavy price to pay..." (verses 11-12)

David wasn't even aware of his sin until God, through Nathan, pointed it out. Notice though David's reaction. He immediately repents. And his sin ultimately results in the death of their child. (verse 14) What a huge debt of sin to have to forgive oneself for!

My last example comes from Job. Here we see a man who lost everything - his worldly goods, his children, his health. He spends months mourning his losses and wishing for his own death. He even proclaims that his birthday should be removed from the calendar! (Job 3:3)

Then God speaks up and begins to tell Job just exactly how big, mighty, and magnificent He really is. Read Job's response.

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not...Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:2-3,6)
Job realizes his error and repents. In obedience, he then prays for his friends.

That is the key to forgiveness, especially when it comes to forgiving yourself. The key is repentance. Perhaps your "sin" was not as great as David's. Maybe you are more like Jonah, you are mad and making excuses. Maybe fear is the problem, like Elijah, or loss, like Job. But you must realize, Job's fortunes were doubled in the end, and King David went on to have another child - the wise king Solomon. In both cases, it was only after admitting the mistake and forgiving themselves for their part in it.

True repentance brings peace whereas unforgiveness towards others, or towards yourself, brings great misery. It really is that simple.

This scripture from Acts really sums it up the best.


So change the way you think and act, and turn to God to have your sins removed. (20) Then times will come when the Lord will refresh you. He will send you Jesus, whom he has appointed to be the Christ. (Acts 3:19-20 GW)
"Change the way you think and act." That is repentance. "Have your sins removed." That is forgiveness. In the end, that is really what we all want. God is so "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

He has said He WILL forgive you. If that is the case, then "you" forgive "you" and afterward enjoy His refreshing, the true peace that can only come through Christ.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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