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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Photo of cloud over lake with Scripture
Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania
Photo by Nancy Martin, a friend of ours
(click on photo to enlarge)

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"At Rest In His Presence"
"This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything" (1 John 3:19,20).

What are you aspiring for today?  Observing the world there are many pursuits people crave for such as wealth, fame, possessions and a flood of material appealing to our base instincts. John describes such thinking with the following summary: "the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does."  But none of these meet our deepest and greatest need.

David sums up what life's highest aspiration should be in Psalm 27:4: "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple."  To gaze or meditate upon the beauty of the Lord brings peace and assurance as one who has been forgiven and placed in right relationship with God.

Prior to coming to faith in Christ we are all under God's condemnation. His condemnation of us is absolutely just and completely consistent with the nature of a sinless, holy God. The repentant thief speaks not just for himself, but for the entire human race in the final minutes before his death: "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41).

This condemnation is the result of the universal human condition of sin; "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But when we believe in Christ and come into the truth a marvelous transaction takes place. One of the most liberating truths of Scripture is in Romans 8:1: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

The apostle John makes a statement in this portion of Scripture that describes the human condition of self-condemnation. He describes it in a way that I can identify with when he uses the phrase "our hearts condemn us."  I've experienced this occasionally and I’m certain that many of you have as well. I don't believe John is speaking of the healthy Holy Spirit-prompted conviction of sin that leads us to repentance. Rather he speaks of self-condemnation that can afflict God's children, robbing them of the peace and assurance that God has provided through the sacrificial death of His Son.

The Study Bible comments on this portion of Scripture “our hearts condemn us." “An oversensitive conscience can be quieted by the knowledge that God Himself has declared active love to be an evidence of salvation.  He knows the hearts of all – whether, in spite of shortcomings, they have been born of Him.”

Two truths need to be deeply appropriated from today's text:
        1) "God is greater than our hearts"
        2) "He knows all things"
Today I encourage you to rest in a deep assurance of the Father's love and acceptance. Some readers struggle with self-condemnation, which the enemy of our soul delights in. He will use that to create self-doubt, worthlessness, and tempt you to admit defeat and walk away from God; God who has not left us in our condemned state but who has provided His rich mercy.  Let us accept the truth of God, who is greater than our hearts, and humbly realize that indeed He knows all things, even those things which we cannot fully understand.

Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as Your children we need to regularly examine our hearts to see if there are things, pursuits, or attitudes that are drawing us away from Your heart and thrusting us once again into the mindset of the world.  Our heart’s examinations are not intended to condemn us but to refresh our spirit and remind us of our godly heritage.  Father, since You know our hearts more than we do ourselves, reveal to us that which helps and that which hinders our Christian walk.   As we walk in obedience to You we’re grateful for the peace and rest we receive in knowing that You do not condemn us but deliver mercy to help us in our time of need.  You do not stand over us in judgment, but You walk alongside us assuring us of Your unwavering love and unending mercy that will see us through on this side of the journey.  

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"  (Audio)

"How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place"

"I'm Forgiven"  (Audio)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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