Answers for Today
Choices for a Great Day
I Choose to Come into the Light
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar, and his word has no place in our lives.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 1:5-2:2 (NIV)
“It’s not my fault!”
This way of dealing with responsibilities and sins has been both common and ineffective ever since the Garden of Eden, when a formerly perfect man and wife ate the forbidden fruit and committed the first sin, quickly followed by the first excuses.
Adam’s response when the Creator asked him about his sin? It’s not my fault. This woman you gave me... (In a way, God, it’s your fault since I was doing fine until you gave me this woman...)
Eve’s response? It’s not my fault! The snake made me do it!
Sin quickly caused the first humans to prefer hiding from God to walking with God. Sin always has that effect on us. People filled with guilt want to dive for cover, not come into the Light. But only in the Light do we find forgiveness.
The first step in getting forgiveness is admitting we need it. When we switch from “Not my fault!” to “I did it; please forgive me,” peace follows. Relief comes when we quit blaming wives and snakes and God, and accept responsibility for our sin. Relief comes when we come into God’s Light, instead of hiding in the darkness and pretending it’s light.
God wants to have a relationship with His children, but it doesn’t happen when we’re hiding from Him. The first step in having friendship with God is to come into the Light. He takes it from there.
Choice #1: I choose to come into the Light.
Choices for a Great Day
I Choose to Love and Forgive Everyone
Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:9-15 (ESV)
“I can’t go on in life because of what they did to me!”
How do I free myself when I’ve been wronged, I’m “stuck” with anger, hurt and resentment, and no apology is in sight? In fact, it seems they refuse to even acknowledge their trespass, much less ask my forgiveness! Is there any release?
The release button is forgiveness; the one in control of the button is me. Should the perpetrator come asking my forgiveness, I can grant it, of course, but should they blithely skip through life, ignoring me, I don’t have to wait for an apology before I can proceed with my life. I can choose to forgive, even if they don’t ask. Forgiveness enables me to go on, regardless of their actions or inaction.
Forgiveness is like the release button on the seat belt after the accident. When I choose to forgive, it sets me free. I’m no longer trapped in the wreckage of “what happened.” I am free to go on.
Forgiveness frees. Meanwhile, it has been said that, “Bitterness is like eating rat poison and hoping the other person dies.” The choice to love and forgive everyone is a powerful choice which frees me to continue in life, no matter what happens, no matter what anyone does to me. Love and forgiveness are the keys to a free life. No wonder Jesus commanded His disciples to use them.
Choice #2: I choose to love and forgive everyone.
Choices for a Great Day
I Choose to Be Thankful
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
There is something so powerful about thanksgiving! Meanwhile, there is something so odious about ingratitude, envy and complaining.
The choices are before us in a never-ending array. A hundred times each day we choose to be grateful or resentful, to praise or find fault, to focus on thanksgiving or on complaining. The results of those choices are life-changing.
The individual under the grip of “I deserve better!” who has succumbed to a critical spirit will be shorn of countless blessings a mere change of attitude would have triggered. When less than ideal circumstances produce quick resentment and faultfinding becomes habitual, the ever-increasing collection of faults and poor circumstances form a perfect seedbed for bitterness, a homeless shelter for hard knocks. Unrecognized blessings tend to dry up. Complaints attract more complaints.
Meanwhile, the person who chooses to approach life with the dial of his inner mind set to “thankful” is an individual who can’t be stopped. Circumstances can’t do it; Satan himself can’t do it. The power of gratitude overcomes the undertow of life’s various griefs and disappointments. The buoyant hero bobs along, out of reach of the enemy. His very thankfulness is what keeps him afloat. Bitterness tries in vain to gain a foothold. Anger doesn’t even bother. Friends surround the person who values their company and excuses their faults. God commands blessings which cannot be revoked. Life is good for the grateful, even when it’s not!
Lord, help me set the dial of my mind on gratitude as a default. Then help me not to change it, though circumstances or frustrations try to wear me down. I want to be a grateful person, not just when I feel like it, but in the times when it is a sacrifice and an act of worship to “give thanks in all circumstances.” It’s your will for me. It’s also one of the greatest defenses I have against the enemy of my soul.
I choose to be thankful, not as a trick to ward off bad karma or something, but because I am.
Choice #3: I choose to be thankful.
These three devotionals are excerpts from the new devotional book, Answers for Today, by Dave Ness.
Answers for Today may be purchased through Amazon.com. It is available in softcover or e-book.