From Self-deception to Relief

I once asked my sister, Luci, to name the emotion she considered the most powerful and enjoyable of all. She surprised me with her answer: relief. After thinking for a moment, I had to agree. Relief is everyone’s favorite feeling! David’s song about forgiveness begins with a celebration of relief, which he found in God’s forgiveness of his transgression.

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Living under the Cloud of Guilt

Your conscience may be invisible but it is certainly not inactive! Who hasn’t been kept awake by its pleadings? With incredible regularity, an unforgiven conscience can rob us of an appetite, steal our sleep, and drive us to distraction. Do you remember Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”? The main character has committed murder.

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The Woeful Song of Frightened Sheep

I have observed that few inner battles are more fierce than the daily grind of uncertainty. No doubt you, too, have encountered one or more of its many faces as you have struggled with a career choice, new direction in life, purpose in pain, job security, financial pressures, physical handicaps, relational snags, and a dozen other confusing puzzles not quickly or easily solved.

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Failure to Yield

Solomon pleaded with his son—and, by extension, with all of us—to heed the warning voice of wisdom. A good question is, why? Why must Solomon plead? Why do we ignore God’s reproofs, those in Scripture as well as those that come through other means? Looking back at the sayings preserved for us in Proverbs 1, I discover at least four reasons we do not heed reproof.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

Divine reproofs aren’t limited to Scripture. While Scripture is God’s primary instrument of communication, He will use any means necessary to get our attention when we’re headed in the wrong direction. On other occasions, reproofs come verbally from those who care about us, including parents, friends, children, mates, employers, neighbors, a policeman, a teacher, a coach . . . any number of people.

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Danger Signs

Author and pastor Andy Stanley tells of a time when he and a friend drove from Birmingham to Atlanta and, to shave an hour off their trip, decided to use an unfinished section of Interstate 20. Impulsive teenagers, they felt a rush of adrenaline as they eased their car between the words “Road” and “Closed” and then gunned it. They had the entire highway to themselves, so they made great time . . . for a while.

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Reproofs

Let’s face it: we are a wayward flock of sheep! It’s not so much that we are ignorant, but rather that we are disobedient. More often than not, we know what we ought to do. Put plainly, we simply do not put what we know into practice. So we spend our days enduring the irksome and painful consequences of going our own way. The grind of disobedience is neither easy nor new.

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A Song of Circumstance

Songs are usually born out of surrounding circumstances that so affect the thinking of the composer, he cannot help but burst forth with a melody and an accompanying set of lyrics describing his plight. This is certainly the case with the blues and jazz of yesteryear as well as the old spirituals of days gone by and the romantic love songs of any era.

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Compromise and Erosion

The Hebrews’ ancient hymnal begins with a song that addresses one of life’s most common grinds: compromise. Please understand, I’m not referring to those give-and-take times so necessary for living in harmony with one another. Without that healthy kind of compromise, nations could never find a meeting ground for peaceful coexistence and family members would forever be at each other’s throats.

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For a Fresh Start

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1–2) Our Father, in a dry and barren world, where sin is so rampant and society is so filthy, we need a fountain of fresh, clean water full of blessing, truth, and strength.

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