Tag Archives: confession

Nehemiah 9-11; Acts 4:1-22

I’ve been thinking of my mom lately. She’s been dead half my life, and I barely knew her outside of her being a mother. I couldn’t tell you what her favorite ice cream was, her favorite book, or what the perfect day would be for her. I didn’t know what things she struggled with, what were her hopes or fears. Half a life later, I have moved on, becoming a wife and mother myself. I don’t even remember the sound of her voice. She is a mystery and a stranger aside from childhood memories.

The book had been on my shelf at least half a year. I’d had lots of intentions to read it, and recently my schedule opened up to a now-or-never opportunity. It changed everything. It happened in chapter two: daring to confess. Because of a few well-worded questions, I began to see a remarkable parallel between my mother and me. I began to see so many components of sin and wounding passed down through generations. I had inherited more than her hearty laugh.

In Nehemiah 9, the subhead reads: the people confess their sins. In their praise and worship of God, they go back through the generations and account for sins and God’s merciful response to them as a people.

16 “But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. 17 They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them …” Nehemiah 9:16-17, NLT.

This reminder seemed so timely, and full of hope. How much closer I become to the Lord when I lay it all before him, ugly and honest. He already knows anyway.

No matter how long I’ve carried it, nothing is impossible for God.

For everyone was praising God 22 for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years. Acts 4:21b-22, NLT.

Father God, I’m thankful for your gentle revealing of the hidden places of my heart. Thank you for bringing to light issues and attitudes I wasn’t aware I kept alive. Thank you that you are gracious and merciful, slow to become angry and rich in unfailing love. You won’t abandon me either. You continue your work in me, to fashion me into the image of your son. For me to accomplish this on my own? Likely impossible. But nothing is impossible for you.

Courtney (66books365)

(I purchased Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard. This blurb acts to satisfy some FTC rules about book reviews/mentions. I wasn’t compensated to read or recommend this book. The link provided is not an affiliate link and I will not receive credit of any sort through it.)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Joshua 9-10 & Luke 3

There is a scene in The 13th Warrior, (a movie loosely based on the epic, Beowulf), where actor Antonio Banderas’s Arabian character looks anxiously to the heavens and says, “Are you listening, God?” The question makes me smile every time because I relate so well.  There is no doubt in my mind that God is all-powerful, all-seeing, and all-knowing.  I even believe in miracles such as recorded in Joshua 10:12 where we are told that God answered Joshua’s prayer for the sun to stand still and the moon to stop for an entire day to allow him to finish the battle with his enemies.

What I sometimes doubt is that I’ve done everything necessary to get my prayers answered.  I totally believe that God is a personal God who cares about us, and that Jesus Christ our Savior even intercedes for us.  I acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit to change me from the inside out and to make deep, silent prayers on my behalf.  I enjoy meaningful communion with God when I go to my knees in prayer.  It’s just that sometimes when I get up, having left my burden at the Cross, I still have no clue what to expect next.

Was my prayer aligned with God’s will? Did I do everything right to get His attention? Believe me, I’ve looked into this to see if there is a formula that works every time.  I’ve search through books, listened to learned pastors, sought teachings, and participated in conferences on answered prayer. I’ve learned that Scripture does give guidance on getting our prayers answered.

For instance, we cannot have unforgiveness toward others.  Make apologies. We must confess our sins and accept Christ’s redeeming blood.  Nightly confessions. We should always pray and sometimes even fast in approaching God.  No Little Debbie’s for a week and keep praying. We are told to go to God boldly, but remember to remain humble. Cry out and beat my chest. And above all, enter the spiritual realm though praise and thanksgiving to God. Make a gratitude list.

When all is done and I begin to wait expectantly, some well-meaning soul will say something like, ‘In this world we all will have trouble.’ Deflate.

Oh, to be like Jesus! When He came up from the baptismal water, He prayed and God answered immediately, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” (Luke 3:22)

To be honest, this declaration by God to the world gives me more hope and comfort than all the instruction on answered prayer. For in John 17:20-26, Jesus demonstrates God’s intent to love and accept us just the same as He loves Jesus. His prayer is “that they are one just as We are one…I in them, and You in Me…that [You] have loved them as You have loved Me…that the love with which You loved Me may be in them.”

This knowledge restores my wavering faith and stops these runaway fears. God listens to and answers my prayers, not because I am following a formula but because I am His daughter, and He is my Father who loves me.

Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, John, Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

Leviticus 22-23; Mark 1:1-22

I find it fascinating to read about the Jewish holidays as set out in Leviticus, particularly, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). This is considered by Israel even today as the High Holy Day of the year.  How the Jews celebrate this day of fasting and prayer is significant in my own understanding of repentance.

Repentance from the Greek word metanioia is a compound for meta meaning ‘after’ suggesting change and nous meaning ‘mind.’ The word also implies remorse for each sin, a desire to turn away from one’s sin, and a hope to God for salvation. On the Day of Atonement, it is necessary to afflict the soul to encourage repentance, and this is done by making the body uncomfortable through fasting. The Jew is also prohibited from wearing leather shoes, washing and bathing, using perfumes and lotions, and having marital relations. It seems to me that the effect would be similar to that of being a homeless person.

I once experienced a missionary challenge to find out what homelessness might be like – not knowing how to find transportation to a destination, not knowing anyone to ask, having only $2 in my pocket to feed me and another person, and having no cell phone to call for help. The purpose of the experience was to feel pain to understand how others feel when they are in pain. How better to prepare oneself to focus on giving charity and asking others for forgiveness?

Repentance is also privately and publically confessing sin. At the beginning of Yom Kippur, the congregation repeats three times, “May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.” If sin can be kept secret, confessed only to God in silent prayer, then why would we make amends? Confessing one to another, as is commanded in Scripture, (James 5:16) holds us accountable to those whom we offend with our sins (and don’t we offend others, no matter what our sin?), and God knows I need accountability.

Yet beyond confession and making amends, in the Book of Mark, Jesus Christ calls all to “ believe in the gospel”(Mark 1:15).  Another interesting tradition on Yom Kippur is that the congregation actually sings words describing sin to a tune, representing the joy of being cleansed from one’s sins. This is foreign to me because I find myself mournful and despicable as I recite my sins to God.  Yet being joyful should be the result of believing in the gospel.

The gospel is the good news of “peace (restoration of relationship with God – Ephesians 6:15), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23 ), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (he rewards those who seek him – Ephesians 3:6)), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).”  [Excerpt from “The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation,” by Don Schwager, 2010].”

So for me, every day is the Day of Atonement, and it should always end with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Leviticus, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament

Genesis 27, 28; Matthew 18: 21-35; Romans 7:15-25

Just the other day, I heard a conversation at work about siblings.  One woman said that she and her sister had spent the weekend insulating a “d— dog house” for her aging parents, and described the hilarity of the situation and how well they got along.  Another woman described her sister as “crazy” for calling and trying to establish a relationship after 20 years of silence.  Their mother had recently passed away and this sister sought solace in the family ties that bind.  Then both of my coworkers turned to me and asked if I got along with my sister.  A quick rundown of each family name (I have three sisters and two brothers) left me tripping over a few hurdles.   I can immediately think of incidents that caused friction and even long periods of silence between us.  Even worse, I remember my vicious attempts to get my mother involved in my self-righteous, indignant logic – hoping to manipulate her into making my sibling see the light, or more likely, hoping to convince her that I am the ‘good daughter.’

 How dark is my own eye.

        Esau saw red when he learned of Jacob’s treachery.  He even wanted to kill his brother.  Fury and calculated revenge replaced the great disappointing loss he felt.  How does one begin to forgive in the midst of such thoughts? Time and lack of opportunity may save his brother from his wrath, but what of Esau’s soul sickness?  That’s what I feel in my unforgiving.

 A sickness of soul without hope of rescue.

      I wish I could say that I’ve learned to forgive, keep short accounts, and humble myself for the sake of others, but even remembering these past incidents with siblings feels like poking around in the fire, looking for a reason to stoke it back to life.  So even though I know to forgive, there is strong evidence of what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells, for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

 Confession: “Deliver me from this body of death.”

      That dark Hulk inside me who threatens, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” must learn to surrender these hurts and injustices to God in order to cease from maiming and disabling the ones that I love. I know my family will be grateful to be spared my emotional whirlwind, and may even agree with me in saying,

 “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Matthew, Romans