Confession and Prayer Brings Healing – James 5:13-16

Until a few months ago some of my cousins had been out of touch with each other for decades. When two of them recently moved to Lane County, we arranged to meet at the Camas Country Mill and Bakery. It didn’t take us long to find ourselves delighted with all things old, the ancient schoolhouse with its furnishings and our childhood tales.

As we reconnected, the teasing and silliness escalated until it bordered on being ridiculous. Should people our age act like they’re still thirteen?

I sipped my tea and chased chickpeas around my salad plate until I spotted names, dates, and initials carved on a weathered wall not far from our table. This fascinated me because the boards had been salvaged from the building’s exterior. Diners now enjoy their meal while examining evidence of former students’ vandalism. I traced one date with my finger: 1900.

We were told a few names belong to people, or their descendants, still living in the area.

How would I like my misdeeds put on display for a hundred years, my name listed with those who have damaged public property? I realize they were probably young children, someone else may have been the culprit, or that it may now be considered art or an entertaining story. Still . . .

I don’t like the thought of someone judging me while chewing their sandwich, but maybe bringing my failures into the open is a good thing. Perhaps removing the façade and revealing underlying scars is healthy.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:13-16 ESV).

Maybe in the future our descendants will get a good laugh about our misadventures. Hopefully, there will be a lot to admire, too. Like our honesty.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Judging Others – Luke 6:37

Do you size people up when you walk into a room? I do. It’s important to be aware of our surroundings, but sometimes I take it too far.

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A few years ago, I took in a scene at a pizza restaurant and passed judgment on a woman I’d never met.

Our three boys marched between the tables, their pace accelerating to the point I thought they might trip over themselves as they approached the play area. As Jerry led me toward an empty table, I took a glance at a woman seated nearby.

Here’s what I saw

  1. She was large.
  2. She was alone. There was no sign of someone else’s belongings on the seat to indicate anyone accompanied her.
  3. She was eating a piece from a huge, family size pizza.
  4. She didn’t appear to be happy.

I concluded the woman must be a person who was out of control with her eating and her life, that she worships food and thinks only of herself. And I went so far as to judge her as someone I wouldn’t want for a friend.

Why do we judge?

Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24 ESV).

He also said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 ESV).

The truth might actually be

  1. She was enjoying pizza in celebration of an 80-pound weight loss.
  2. She had been fasting, or this was her first meal in a long time.
  3. She would eat one piece and save the rest for later.
  4. She needed a kind word from a friend.

The scriptures tell me if I judge I must be careful how I do it. One definition I found says judging is forming an opinion after careful thought. I hadn’t given much thought to the woman’s reality. And I certainly wasn’t looking at her with God’s love and compassion.

It’s possible she may be far ahead of me in her walk with God. She may be withstanding trials and hardships and remaining true to her faith far better than I am at the moment. There was probably much I could learn from her.

Since it was decades ago, and I don’t remember what she looked like, she could be one of my dear friends today. If that is true, I’m sure if she passed judgment on me that day, she is forgiving. How could we be friends if she wasn’t?

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Jesus and Questionable People – John 4

Who are the people you don’t want to associate with? Those who seem to reject healthy values and show little respect for themselves or for others? Those who are generally negative? Or those who don’t seem interested in learning from their mistakes, but only deteriorate as they go through life?

Jesus talked to a woman who was considered the lowest-of-the-low in her culture. She even said so (John 4). Surely the Creator could have satisfied his own thirst, but instead he asked a woman he shouldn’t be talking to for a drink of water, apparently so he could satisfy hers.wishing well. deboer. Free. stockxchng

I’m sure his request rattled her. Her reply sounds like “What’s wrong with you? You’re talking to me?

“… How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9 NIV).

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water’ ” (verse 10).

He didn’t just offer this questionable woman answers or forgiveness or healing: he offered her life. And what an interesting way to offer it. “If you knew… you would have asked…” It’s clear he was open to giving her better understanding.

” ‘… but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (verses 14-15).

Her response and mine, in my own words? “I’ll take some of that!”

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

How to Manage Guilt – Psalm 32

Haven’t we all entertained thoughts like these? I know some would say what I did was wrong, but hey, it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t hurt anyone. Somehow it’s twisting my perspective and messing with me, but I just have an overactive conscience. 

Psalm 32 offers healthier thinking.

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” (Psalm 32:5-6 ESV).

Think about that simple and powerful truth. I confessed I’m guilty. God forgave me and now I’m free. I don’t have to be afraid to admit my wrongs. He makes the way for my guilt to be resolved.

You would think as people of faith we would be quick to acknowledge when we’ve done wrong. That’s not the case though, is it. We may be full of pride and think it’s better to cover up the wrong, change its name, or get too busy to deal with it.

There’s a warning about that in verses 8 and 9.

How to Deal with Guilt“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.”

I love the promise in this chapter. The wicked have many sorrows, but love that doesn’t go away surrounds those who trust him. I don’t want to be a dumb, sorrowful animal chomping on a bit. I want to follow his instruction and counsel, and know his amazing love and forgiveness.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

 

The Good, the Bad, and the … – Psalm 28

Crying for justice, the writer of Psalm 28 says,

“Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again” (Psalm 28:4-5 NIV).

How different this sounds from the cry of Jesus in his suffering on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV).

The foundational truth behind these two scriptures is that ultimate judgment belongs to God, not to us. Look at the last line in Psalm 28,verse 5 again, “… he will tear them down.” It’s not instructing us to execute judgment. Instead, it’s warning what the outcome of our deeds might be.

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“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy” (verse 6). “… my heart trusts in him, and he helps me (verse 7).

The good news is that God passed judgment on us already, found us guilty, in his mercy sent his Son to pay our debt – which Jesus willingly fulfilled, and purchased our pardon. The bad news is that refusing God’s provision for our pardon leaves us with the acceptance of the final sentence. Not a good choice.*

Psalm 28 ends with verse 9, a plea for God’s continued salvation, blessing, and care. “Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

By Kathy Sheldon Davis

*the good news/bad news viewpoints are also supported in later writings, the books of the New Testament.