The Future is According to God

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“I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.

Jeremiah 29:11, NCV

“So that for all future time he could show the very great riches of his grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:7

The word “future” is defined as “all that time which is to come hereafter.” It seems that it can never be held by us in a literal sense. In trying to explain it, I have come up with this idea or concept of something that will exist or happen in time to come.

People who struggle with a mental illness  often have a problem with the idea of having a personal meaning.  I remember reading this somewhere, Depression is the inability to construct a future.”  I think  that many have issues with trying to make life work.  It seems that hopefulness has been brutally cut out of our hearts, and we think and believe that we’re lost and cursed.

It seems to me that this is one of my own problems.  Closely related are the twin issues of cruel despondency and a terrible despair.  When these two run rampant through my life it is sort of a “spiritual mugging.”  I’ve just been totally ripped off. I’ve been completely drained of hope.  I don’t anticipate life and grace, instead I have profound pain and incredible loss.  I feel terribly alone in an ugly void. My depression is all I can see. A relationship with an eternal God seems highly unlikely.

I believe that it isn’t so much me reaching out to Him— rather it is Him coming to me.

The promises God gives us are made to energize and propel us into life and meaning.  The Father completely understands me, and has purposefully given me “a future and a hope.”   I once worked out a plan to kill myself a couple years ago.  It involved duct-taping heavy weights to my ankles and jumping off the dock in the harbor.   I had reached the point of complete despair. Everything was without hope. And all I will say is that God prevented me and then gave me hope.

At times, our future is sometimes woven with predominently dark threads.  If we just look at the back side it makes no sense at all. But God works patiently and expertly, as a skilled Artisan.  We have His word that what He does will be a wonder and a marvel. And we will see an intricate and beautful work.

“Father forgive me for despairing. I know You control everything, and especially all that concerns me. Give me hope for my future.”

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A Puppet, or Your Sovereign Prince?

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

–Luke 5:12, NLT

This man, an infectious leper, approaches Jesus. The Lord looking at him (most people would avert their gaze) asked simply, “What do you want?”  There was no hesitancy as he falls at Jesus’ feet.  “Please!  Make me clean, if you want to.”  His beautiful prayer of absolute surrender and trust sets up the staggering miracle.

There are so many plagued with personal sin-– and its like leprosy, it started out small, hardly noticeable.  But time and opportunity has caused it to spread through the whole body.  The man now lived among the unclean.  He has been utterly infected, and totally consumed by his disease. It has taken over his body, and his life.

His prayer exposes his desperate humility.  It is Jesus’ decision completely.  The man does not demand, or challenge Jesus.  So many try to make it an issue of Jesus proving his power and deity.  The man has lost all willingness to manipulate and control the healing process. He has been stripped of his power in this matter.

Much of the time, when I come before Jesus in prayer, I come with my checklist.  I build my case around things I have done to deserve my request.  (I’m very stupid sometimes.)  I don’t say it, but I’m trying to earn an answer by my effort.  We still try to achieve spiritual blessings by works.

What I need to do, is to throw myself at the feet of Jesus.  I need to plead for mercy.  Scripture has revealed to us that God draws close to the humble and contrite. “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”

There are no hoops to jump through.  There are no vows you can make so that it will happen. There are no deals to make. “(If you do this for me, I  promise never to swear again.)” But it is grace, from start-to-finish.  It raises havoc with our built-in sense of spiritual entitlement.  Personally, the grace of God has been the most profound, and significant concept I have ever encountered.

It’s all about a simple, childlike trust in the Savior.  He is always good and merciful.  I will exercise no agenda of my own.  I will pull no spiritual strings, He is not my puppet.  Instead I put myself at His feet, and wait for Him to do what He wishes. Is Jesus your puppet, or is He your Prince?

Coming Home

Returning Home:

“Then the men who were designated by name rose up and took the captives, and from the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them, dressed them and gave them sandals, gave them food and drink, and anointed them; and they let all the feeble ones ride on donkeys.  So they brought them to their brethren at Jericho, the city of palm trees.  Then they returned to Samaria.” 

2 Chronicles 28:15

I once was held captive by sin, ransacked and naked, starving and bereft of hope.

Lord, thank You for saving me, restoring me and returning me to the place I belong . . with You.  And here’s a simple poem . . .

Brought Back                                       

Love clothes me
and feeds me
and fills up
my flaws.
Love anoints me
and establishes me
in the presence
of all.

………..

See Deb’s blog at http://iftodaywehear.wordpress.com/

Sins That Stick to Your Heart

It is often quite difficult for people to forgive themself from their past sins.  We have a tendency to hold ourselves to a stricter, more accountable level then other people.

I usually don’t have a big problem forgiving others.  But for many people they will struggle through their entire Christian walk with both self-forgiveness and its cousin, self-acceptance.

 Self-forgiveness is:

* Accepting yourself as a human who has faults and makes mistakes.
* Letting go of self-anger for your past failures, errors and mistakes.
* No longer needing penance, sorrow and regret over a grievous, self-inflicted, personal offense.
* The act of self-love after you have admitted your failure, mistake or misdeed.
* The spiritual self healing of your heart by calming self-rejection, quieting the sense of failure and lightening the burden of guilt.
* The act of letting go of the need to work so hard to make up for your past offenses.

Negative consequences of the absence of self-forgiveness
In the absence of self-forgiveness, you run the risk of:

* Unresolved hurt, pain and suffering from self-destructive behaviors.
* Unresolved guilt and remorse for self-inflicted offenses.
* Chronically seeking revenge and paybacks toward yourself.
* Being caught up in unresolved self-anger, self-hatred and self-blaming.
* Defensive and distant behavior with others.
* Pessimism, negativity and non-growth oriented behavior.
* Having a festering wound that never allows the revitalization of self-healing.
* Fear over making new mistakes or of having the old mistakes revealed.
* Being overwhelmed by fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of non-approval, low self-esteem and low self-worth. 

Signs of the absence of self-forgiveness.  Lack of self-forgiveness can result in:

* A loss of love for yourself.
* Indifference toward yourself and your needs.
* An emotional vacuum in which little or no emotions are shown or shared.
* Chronic attacks or angry outbursts against self.
* Disrespectful treatment of self.
* Self-destructive behaviors.
* Self-pitying.
* Chronic recalling and reminding of past failures, mistakes, errors and offenses.
* Suspicions about others’ motives, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs when they are accepting of you.
* Chronic depression.
* Chronic hostility, sarcasm and cynicism.
* Self name-calling, belittling and self-demeaning behaviors.
* Unwillingness to change and/or unwillingness to seek the help necessary to change.
* Resistance to doing what is necessary to heal within and recover from low self-esteem.

 Irrational thinking preventing self-forgiveness

* I hurt myself so much; how can I ever expect to be forgiven for that?
* No one deserved the treatment I dished out, and I do not believe that forgiveness is deserved in this situation.
* I am sick over what I did; how can I ever forgive myself?
* I must be inherently evil, and I am despicable. No forgiveness will ever change that.
* I am vicious and cruel, and I always need to be on guard because of that; so why try to forgive what I have done?
* It is a sign of weakness or softness to forgive myself. I must always keep my guard up so as never to repeat my wrongdoings.
* There are some things I can never forgive myself for.
* Only God can forgive me, though at times I don’t believe He can for what I have done.
* What has happened in my life is God’s seeking revenge for all the evil I have done in the past.
* I have done too much for which I can never be forgiven.
* I am just seeking my forgiveness so that I can come back and hurt myself again.
* I do not deserve any self-kindness, self-compassion or self-forgiveness for what I have done to myself or others; I’ll see to it that I am never able to forget it!
* All people who do wrong deserve the worst that life has to dish out.
* I resent myself for hurting myself or others. It is better for me to be hidden behind my wall so I don’t hurt anybody again.
* If I could treat myself or others that way, then I am undeserving of being forgiven, loved or cared for.

 New behaviors needed to create self-forgiveness.  In order to forgive yourself you need to practice:

* Letting go of past hurt and pain.
* Trusting in God’s goodness. Trusting in the goodness and mercy of God to take over the burden for you.
* Letting go and letting the Holy Spirit  lead you during a hurtful time.
* Believing in the infinite justice and wisdom of the Lord                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Letting go of fears for the future.
* Allowing yourself to be vulnerable to growth.
* Taking a risk.
* Letting go of self-hostility, resentment and self-destructive behaviors.
* Working out your self-anger.
* Overlooking slight relapses or steps backward and getting back on the wagon of recovery immediately.
* Developing a personal spirituality.
* Developing an openness to the belief that you can change.
* Developing trust in yourself.
* Open, honest and assertive communication with yourself concerning hurts, pains and offenses experienced.
* Identifying and replacing the irrational beliefs that block your ability to forgive yourself.

 Two Steps to Develop Self-forgiveness.
 

Step 1: In order to increase your ability to forgive yourself, you need to recognize what this behavior involves. Answer the following questions.

A. What do you mean by “self-forgiveness”?
B. Have you ever forgiven yourself before? How did it feel?
C. Have you ever brought up something from the past to remind you how you hurt yourself or others? How did that make you feel?
D. What role do you feel self-forgiveness has in your growing down? How could you improve?
E. How has the absence of forgiving yourself affected your current emotional stability?
F. What are the signs of the absence of self-forgiveness in your relationship with your family of origin, current family, significant others, spouse, children, parents, relatives, friends or co-workers? With whom do you experience a wall or barrier behind which you hide your past real or perceived failures, mistakes, errors or misdeeds? What feedback do you get about this wall you have been hiding behind?
G. What beliefs block your ability to forgive yourself? What would be necessary to change these beliefs?
H. What new behaviors do you need to develop in order to increase your ability to forgive yourself?
I. What role does the existence of spirituality play in your ability to forgive yourself? The lack of it?
J. For what do you need to forgive yourself?

 Step 2: Now that you have a better picture of what is involved in self-forgiveness, you are ready to work on a specific past failure, mistake, error or misdeed.

A. List a failure, mistake, error, misdeed or event for which you are unable to forgive yourself.
B. How much energy, creativity, problem solving capability and focus on growth is sapped from you whenever you recall this past hurt?
C. What feelings come to mind as you recall this past hurt?
D. How would you describe your role in this past event? In what ways were you the victim, perpetrator, enabler, martyr, bystander, instigator, target, scapegoat, distracter, peacemaker, people pleaser or rescuer?
E. Why do you feel strongly over what happened and how you treated yourself or others?
F. What did this event do to your self-esteem and self-worth?
G. Who was responsible for your reaction to the incident?
H. Who was responsible for your feelings about the incident?
I. Who was responsible for your inability to forgive yourself?
J. How can you forgive yourself?
K. How can you put this incident behind you?
L. How can you avoid being so hurt when something like this happens again?

 ybic, Bryan

 

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