My day began with attending a special session Liberty offered on engagement and marriage. They also had coffee from the shop located by the place I purchased my wedding gown!
A lot of the information presented was helpful in reminding me of core lessons and truths I have already studied or been made aware of.
I left the class with a result different than I had expected though.
Conviction is a subject we often shy away from in modern evangelical circles. We prefer lighthearted topics of discussion that affirm us in our current ways of living or lift our souls up in encouragement. While there is a time and place for encouragement, I would like to remind you that conviction is also a sweet gift from God.
Hebrews 12:4-12 (NIV) shares, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Wow! What stood out to me most in the discussion over engagement and marriage was sins committed interiorally.
Many of us harp on the sins sexually committed physically with bodies, yet the sins committed within minds and hearts are less spoken of. The reality of that does not make them less harmful.
Our class pamphlet included a point that said, “Be sure to include talking about inward sins of the heart and mind. Beyond outward expressions of sexual immorality, consider any struggle with other pervasive sins. Covetousness, idolatry, and bitterness are a few that could be listed in this category.”
Just this morning on the phone with Houston, I verbalized struggling with bitterness with a person a few years ago. I noted that bitterness within my own heart has happened more than once. That conversation which happened less than a few hours from the class stood out to me.
Many of us are quick to judge others who have pasts that look different than ours.
It is easy to focus on the mistakes in the lives of those around us or in the lives of those we love without looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves as broken humans in need of God’s saving hand of redemption.
Maybe you find yourself there today-feeling like you have lived in a way that has honored God completely. You may have lived a life pleasing to Him, but I pray you also realize your need for the Savior daily. He makes our salvation secure and complete, but the Gospel and importance of it in our everyday lives is never obsolete.
No one is exempt from needing God’s grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness.
Ministry workers are broken apart from Christ.
Pastors need the forgiveness of God.
The mentors you look up to fall short of the glory of God and should seek repentance.
No human should boast in their good works.
Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) shares, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
This verse is not fuzzy or cuddly. It is convicting and eye opening yet a blessing.
Our walks with Christ are NOT and never will be based on our good deeds, disciplines, or behavior modification.
Jesus is the only Hope we have and it is in His salvation alone that we can and should place our boasting.
Iain Duguid in “Waiting to Awaken Love” wrote, “Failure should not lead us simply to guilt but to repentance, while God-enabled purity should not result in pride but profound thankfulness to God for his grace that protected us against ourselves.”