CAN’T LET GO Psalm 32

The problem with forgiveness is not with God but with me.  We know that sin takes a terrible toll on everyone and everything, don’t we?  But too many kid themselves, imagining that that three-letter word is some medieval superstition.  Long out of its ‘best used by’ date.  Not for our time.  Good luck with that.  For sin’s pain is real and current, coupled with far-reaching effects.  So, to have God forgive me of all my sins is way over-the-top amazing.  Unearned and undeserved, certainly by me.

Unfortunately, feeling unforgiven won’t let go.  I can quickly drum up nasty infractions I committed decades ago.  Some insensitive remarks.  A put-down that feels good at the time, which rots in my conscience ever since.  And lots more and worse.  Again, all are forgiven by Jesus.  All of them?  All.  Gone?  Forgiven and forgotten by the Lord.  Really?

Maybe you need some evidence.  I do.  Read the first two verses of Psalm 32–‘Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…’  The word ‘blessed’ in Hebrew can also be translated as ‘happy’.  Sins forgiven, covered over, not noticed anymore, and not counted against me ever again.  For sure?  Am I happy yet?

Any fine print I missed?  No.  Shouldn’t that make me happy as a lark?  For that’s God’s promise to those of us who come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  That’s His Word.  What He says.  God wants us happily forgiven.

Yet once again I have trouble letting go and being happily forgiven.  Why is that?  Could it be that I don’t easily forgive others?  Possibly.  I feel a twinge or two.  Or that I know that I’m not pure as the driven snow?  No doubt.  Got me there.  Or that my conscience is way too sensitive, eagerly holding onto the negative, too reluctant to accept what God has positively promised me.  Probably.  That sounds like me.

Is there any help on the horizon?  I think so.  Honestly talking about my foibles reveals some honesty which in itself brings rewards.  Confession is good for the soul.  But there’s more going on as in changing my ways.  Doing what I know needs doing.  What God wants.  Countering those negative thoughts with His good promises.  Crowding out accusing voices with Jesus’ accepting ones.

All that would help.  In what ways?   Relying on His promises more than my guilty feelings?  That’s good.  Believing what Jesus says more than my fragile feelings?  That’s better.  Don’t stop now.  Refusing to lie helplessly flat on the ground when He offers to lift me up?  Come on.  Take hold.   Acting on what I know He wants.  Right!  Now we’re headed in the right direction.

Other ideas?  You must have some that will help us to feel happily forgiven.  Don’t you?  Time to practice what we preach?

Thank you, Jesus, for your generous forgiveness and love.  Amen.


I’m innocently checking out a couple of books from our public library.  Since I never carry my library card, I recite from memory my card number to the librarian.  An older man overhears what I say and shouts his card number at me, saying, so the whole building can hear, ‘not many people our age know their library card numbers by heart, do they?’  What?  Who’s he talking to?  ‘…people our age…’  Our age?  This old duffer is way past his sell-by date.  Who’s he squawking at?  I look around. They must be hiding.  Can you blame them?   Unfortunately, there’s no one else standing near him.  Just me.

Here’s a better word that I can also hear.  Psalm 90:10–‘The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.’  This is better?  Life soon gone?  Sliding away as if coated with greased lightning?

Should I get all weepy-eyed, down in the dumps?  That’s one option, but not what’s recommended.  Later in Psalm 90, better ideas are put forth–‘So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom…Satisfy us…with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days’ (vs. 12, 14).

Make each day count.  Cherish each one, especially as they’re nurtured by God’s love.  Spend time praying.  Dig into your Bible.  Quality and quantity time.  This time for Jesus.  Give carefully but generously so your money promotes God’s work.

I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more I’m aware of Jesus’ love and care.  More experience with answered prayers.  Some answers are yes.  Some no.  Some wait a while.  Some ‘you’ve got to be kidding!’  Even then, I’m more apt to pray than gripe, turning quicker to Him, trusting Jesus a tad more.

Have I arrived yet?  ‘…people of our age…’?  Made it as a Superbowl saint?  Perfect in every way?  Humble and proud of it?!  Well, you know.  But I am getting there, slow as molasses, even on good days, moving ahead at a snail’s pace, plugging along with that slowpoke tortoise.  Progress noted.  More ahead.  He’s not done with you or me yet.

By the way, remember that not ‘many of us our age’ can recall the numbers on our library cards.  Remember that, if you can.  I do!

Lord, it’s good to grow old with you, getting closer and closer, day by day, moment by moment.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

WHO DID WHAT? Matthew 28

I feel bad when I doubt the Lord.  Unwelcome thoughts cross my mind.  When troubles hit, I wonder if God cares.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Passing thoughts that erode faith.  Is God out to lunch?  Taking a much-needed holiday?  Or am I even saved?  Maybe I’m kidding myself when I hem and haw about trusting Jesus.  How weak can I be?

That’s why I read my Bible every day.  Pray often.  Why?  To strengthen what I have.  To shore up against doubt’s incoming tide.  To hold Jesus’ hands as our godless culture’s whirlwinds blow ever stronger, trying to knock me off course.  I need His help.

Know what I mean?  Possibly you don’t but I doubt that too!  If we’re in this together, we’re in rather good company.  Take a gander at Matthew 28: 16-17–‘Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.’  Who did what?  You read it.

Some doubted.  Who?  The disciples and apostles of Jesus.  How can that be?  They witness firsthand the miracles Jesus performs.  They hear with their own ears His engaging stories.  They witness the change in others’ lives, including their own, after encountering Jesus.  Then His trials and death, but all trumped by His Resurrection.  He lives!  He’s alive!  Death defeated by Jesus!

Their reaction here at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, just before Jesus ascends to heaven?  Well, they do worship Him.  Fine.  Bow down and offer praise to God.  Even better.  However,  that’s not all– ‘…but some doubted.’  In spite of all that they had seen and heard?  That’s what the Bible says.  Sadly, even then.

Guess we’ll have doubts too.  The Lord knows this and understands.  So, return home from your guilt trip.  Unpack your bags with that excess baggage.  Get used to living in an imperfect, fallen world.  Have joy, encouragement, blessing… and doubt.  But know that doubts will come and doubts will go. But they won’t last through eternity.  Not at all.  They’ll be like fog disappearing on a warming day.  Here this morning, then gone forever.  Gone and good riddance.  No doubt about it.

Lord Jesus, please strengthen my faith in you today.  Amen.

LEAVE IT TO ME! Psalm 20

A church member has charge of a local hospital’s medical imaging department.  It’s an active unit filled with umpteen stresses.  When I’d stop by to see this member, after visiting a patient, invariably some crisis captures the emotions of the nurses and imaging assistants.  They’d come running to their boss with this issue or that.  Always immediate help required–as in pronto, half a jiffy, on the double, a.k.a. right now!

I’d marvel at my church member who would say, ‘ Leave it to me.  I’ll take care of it.’  You could sense the anxiety-bubble bursting into thin air.  Best of all, he would!  Take care of it, that is.  So, go about your business and leave whatever to him.  Okay?  Got it?

Psalm 20:7–‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.’  Read that verse again.  Good advice, I’d say.  The best really.  Okay?  Got it?

So, what’s weighing heavy on your mind today?  Can’t seem to give it a rest.  Nags, nudges, and hounds at you.  Hard to sleep lying down on pins and needles.  Any help out there?  As in on the double?

Here’s an idea–memorize that verse from Psalm 20.  Deposit it deep within your memory bank.  About trusting the Lord more than anyone or anything else.  I know that’s hard.  It’s disappointing when this world offers so little to hang your hat on.  Its limits are everywhere, aren’t they?  Why even that church member couldn’t cover every issue thrust in his face as quick as greased lightning.  Did the best he could, but still…  Well, you know.

Now look at Psalm 20: 4-5–‘May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!  May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!  May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!’  Good news, huh?  But only when we put our trust right where it should be.  Smack dab in His hands.  Resting firmly on His shoulders.  And leaving them with Him.  Okay?  Got it?

The bottom line– trust Jesus.  Bank on Him.  He’ll take care of it.  In His time.  In His way.  And don’t fret over hanging onto security blankets from this life.  Relying on what’s unreliable.  Trusting the untrustworthy.  Just come back to Him.  Keep on keeping on with the Lord.  I’m trying the best I can.  My grade is a C+.  Better than an F but still a long way to go.  Remember that God knows we’re made of dust and clay.  So, He keeps saying, ‘Leave it to me.  I’ll take care of it.’  Okay?  Got it?

Thank you, Jesus, for being so trustworthy.  Amen.