Conviction and Comfort


It’s difficult to write the weekly post. I can feel my flesh want to be clever, wanting compliments, wanting God’s glory for myself. I know it’s the Lord’s grace in my life that I write the weekly post because I am forced to do something that otherwise I would not do, namely, think these things through. I know, apart from His grace, I would not take the time to think through what the Lord is saying to me; what He is showing me and wanting to teach me. Ultimately all I can do is share with you what the Lord is showing me in my heart and in my life and hope that He uses it to encourage someone else.

“Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:19-22). This was one of my verses that addresses the anger that remains in my heart.

Laurie spoke the same words this week — don’t deceive myself! Just stop it already! Stop! Turn! Renew my thinking! Put to death my flesh!

We have to keep asking the Lord to show us our sin as He sees it because we truly don’t take it as seriously as we need to. Keep digging to get to the root. And really there’s the root of the root! That’s the thing. Even the root of my anger is a symptom of a far more insidious sin. Self-righteousness. Charles Spurgeon says there is nothing more deadly than self-righteousness and nothing more hopeful than contrition!

It’s so much easier to understand when we think of sin as a deadly cancer. My dad’s treatment for his Stage 4 cancer was aggressive. It had to be. Apart from the treatment, death would have come swiftly. Chemo, radiation, drugs, weekly tests, doctor visits, diet adjustments, and more. Even if someone’s cancer is just one small spot, it will be deadly if left untreated.

I was struck when Laurie said what good planners we are and that if we go on vacation we make a plan. I immediately thought about the extensive itinerary I had created for a Christmas Disney trip my family took several years ago. I made copies for everyone, they were spiral bound with a cute cover. It was a lot of work. Am I willing to put the same effort into putting my flesh to death? I say I want to, but I continue to let the busyness of the day rule. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).

The question was asked this week: How badly do I not want to sin? How badly do I want to be healed? Paul says he counts everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. Do I believe that knowing Christ is of such surpassing worth that I would be willing to make the most minute sacrifices in comparison to Christ’s death for me by not eating sweets for a just a few weeks? I am confronted yet again with my unbelief. My love of the things of this world. My laziness. My selfishness. My idolatry.

But I am comforted by today. Good Friday. “Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.”

As another hymn tells us, “It was our sin that held Him there until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished.”

“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away, as wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory.”

“There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains….The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day. And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.”

May the gospel, the love of Christ displayed at the cross compel us to repent and turn to Him. Change teams. Follow the One who bore the anger of God that we deserve out of His great love and mercy. May He give us grace to follow, to persevere, to not give in or give up, to fight the good fight of faith, to trust Him and rest in His love. May we see this all as a labor of love.

The resurrection has made all of this possible. In Christ alone we place our trust. He is faithful and He will do it.

“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor, and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:33-34).

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace

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