God Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever, Part 2

Let’s just walk through the Bible. Some people have the question, “If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then how do you reconcile the Old and the New Testaments?” They read the Old Testament through the wrath of God, constantly seeing that God was angry and correcting. You have to know that in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit didn’t live inside of people. Once they had gone really evil, starting to agree with the enemy, there was no correction other than the rod for them. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit to guide them. They didn’t have the power of God to overcome their temptations. They just became increasingly worse and worse.

If you look at the Word, God always provided for His children. From the beginning of time, He provided for Adam and Eve. Even when they left the garden, He provided the clothing. He provided the first sacrifice for them. They didn’t even have to sacrifice the first animal. He did it. God did it. He is a provider.
From the beginning of time, He has been a provider. From the beginning of time, He has been good. From the beginning of time, everything He created was good. From the beginning of time, He gave us choices. From the beginning of time, He told us we had a choice between life and death.
That still exists in the New Testament, the new covenant, today. Not just in the Old Testament, but every day, they had a choice in the old covenant. In the new covenant, they have a choice, too. They have a choice to reject Jesus. In the old covenant, they were given curses for every time they disobeyed. But if you look at the new covenant, in Galatians 3, it says Jesus became the cursed for us. If you read John 16:8, it says the Holy Spirit comes to convict the world of their sin. Their sin is that they do not believe in Jesus. 

There is one sin outstanding against mankind after Jesus came. That one sin is what separates us from receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to instruct us, guide us, comfort us, and love us. There is just one sin. That is it. Before, it was all the sins. If you look at it, God Himself took the wrath—through the body of Jesus Christ—for every sin. He took the payment. 1 John 2:2 says He died for the sins of the whole world. They are abolished. They are erased as far as the east is from the west. They are finished. It is a finished work.

This is a story. It is not a concrete thing that happened at one point in time. It has been a story of God creating us and redeeming us since Genesis 1. He created us. And since the fall, He has been redeeming us. There are dimensions to the process, so when we believe in Jesus, we are made new and we are being made new. One day, in the new world, we are going to be fully made new in a glorified body. It’s incredible. It’s an incredible story.
Only religion would keep you trapped in the mindset that God is mad and angry. If you read Isaiah 54:9, it says, “So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again” (NIV). He is finished with it. He is in the prophecy of Jesus Christ. He is saying, “I am putting all of my wrath and all of my anger into Jesus’ body so you don’t have to bear it.” 

That is the same loving God who created us, redeemed us, and gave provision for Adam and Eve. He is a good God. He is a good Father. He loves you. He wants you well. He prospers you. He is continually on your side. He is standing for you. Jesus is interceding for you. He is praying to the Father all the time. He says this if you have not asked. If you ask not, then you won’t have it. If you ask, you will. He is saying, “Hey, I am just this simple Father who loves you so much. If you would just ask, it is right here waiting for you.”
But sometimes, we are so afraid He is a wrathful God who is going to be angry if we ask for something selfish or we ask for anything, we don’t even bother asking. What is really happening is we are putting ourselves in the seat of God instead of Him. It’s like saying, “Hey, I’m the one who decides what I am going to ask for and what I am not going to ask for. I am the one who is not going to tell Him the desires of my heart.” 

In intimate relationships, you share those things. Back and forth, you’re like, “These are the desires of my heart. This is what I love. I just want this so much.” It’s a conversation. It’s not begging. It’s not a vending machine. It’s not like ask and receive. It’s literally an ongoing dialog with this lover of your soul.
That is the God who gave us the Holy Spirit that lives in us, guides us, talks to us, and comforts us at every corner and in everything as long as we welcome Him and say, “Holy Spirit, would You speak to me today? Would You guide me today? Will You tell me which way to drive when I pull out of the driveway? Would You continue to remind me that there’s no condemnation in You and I am not supposed to live under condemnation? I just love You, Father.”
That God is the same. Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus is the “exact representation” of God (NIV). He represents exactly who God has been since the beginning of time. If you read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the four Gospels—you will find that Jesus is loving and kind. He is for people. He is not against people. He wants to work in their lives. Many times, He healed entire crowds. That is who He is. 

Jesus took the punishment we deserved and took it upon Him. Not getting the punishment you deserve is called mercy. Not only that, but then He gave us a gift. That gift is called grace. That grace is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift to us that will tell us and warn us of things to come and remind us of the things we have forgotten if we would just listen and receive.
Yes, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is love. It is who He is. It’s not what He does. He is the Redeemer. He is continuing to redeem us every day until we have our new bodies.

One Step Ahead to Self-Development

Forgive yourself when you fail.
I’ve gone two whole months without failing. I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t gotten angry. I haven’t been offended. I haven’t been hurt. 

You know that’s not true. It’s really not possible. We’re flawed human beings by design. The truth is that I’ve failed already today in a big, hard way. It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon when I’m writing this. Today, I’ve been angry and bitter, holding a grudge against my husband and, honestly, keeping a record of wrongs on his behalf. He won’t keep his own record of wrongs, so I have to keep it for him and make sure I correct him when he’s wrong, right?
Of course, I fail. I fail, sometimes, moment by moment. I fail in being disciplined. I fail in eating right. I fail in spending enough time with my kids. I fail by harboring bitter thoughts. I fail by getting offended. I am a failure in so many ways.
Several years ago, I stepped into the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness. I remember the day when I realized I was truly forgiven and I finally forgave myself. That day, I was set free. I haven’t been in bondage since.
In my Christian walk, there were times when I would get mad and frustrated. I would think, “I can’t believe I failed again. I’m such a failure. Argh! Why do I keep screwing up? Why do I keep messing up? This is horrible. I know better.” I hated it. I hated myself. I was so mad.
But guess what, I wasn’t walking in the freedom of forgiveness I once received. Scriptures say to walk in the same way you received Christ. That means if you know you’re forgiven the first day, then you’re forgiven the second day, the two thousandth day, the eighty-two thousandth day. You’re forgiven. You can forgive yourself.
The Lord showed me that when I screwed up and then beat myself up about how I had messed up, I was living in my works, my own effort, my own goodness, my own (lack of) perfection. I was living in my blood as a sacrifice to God. I wasn’t living in the blood of Jesus. 

He showed me, “When you fall, you need to get right back up into my Spirit in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t do this right in that moment, you’re inoperable to work as My child for as long as you’re beating yourself down, whether it’s a day or a month or a year, because you’re too focused on you and what you’ve done. I need your eyes on Me and what I have done and who I am and what I am here to do. I don’t need your eyes on you. I need them on Me.”
He showed me that while I was beating myself up, I was saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for me. Man, that’s all-out blasphemy. That is arrogance beyond arrogance. Not only do we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we need to forgive ourselves quickly.
You know, I think a lot of people think that means repentance. They think repenting means crying in their closet, “Oh, God, please forgive me. I screwed up so bad. I’m a horrible person. I’m just a weak, fleshly soul.” You know what they are doing when they say that? They are agreeing with their old self before they were in Christ. They’re agreeing with their old identity and completely ignoring who God says they are. Wow.
Have you done that before? I’m confident you have. I have done it. I lived that for years, tearing myself down all the time. I talked horribly about myself. When I do that, I’m completely disregarding God’s truth that: one, I am a new creation; two, I am made whole; three, I am the righteousness of Christ; four, I am forgiven, and my sins have been erased forever; five, I’m His child, and He delights in me; six, He is not mad at me; seven, I don’t have to beg a God who loves me, a Father who enjoys me; eight, I am whole. Nothing can change my identity. My behavior cannot steal my wholeness. It’s impossible.
Here is what God convicted me to do when I mess up. I didn’t learn this from anyone else. No teacher taught me. I didn’t watch it on TV. I didn’t hear it from my pastor or a friend. But I struggled and I wrestled for a very long time, beating myself up because I wasn’t perfect, so I know. This is my story. I’ve walked in these shoes. This isn’t a preacher’s message. This is straight out of the heart of God, and you need to hear it.
God said, “Though righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” He said, “Sheri, get up. Lift your chin. Do you know who you are in Me? You’re already forgiven. Do you think what you just did was a surprise to me? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a surprise. I’m not shocked by you. I knew it already. Here’s what I love about you, Sheri. You fall, but you keep choosing Me. You choose me again and again because you know I love you. You know Me. We’re intimate. We’re close. Your mistakes don’t steal from our relationship.”
He showed me that when you fall down, you need to get up and say, “Thank You, Father, that I’m forgiven. Thank You, Father, that I’m not defined by what I do. Thank You, Father, that I am the righteousness of Your Son. Thank You, Father, that I’m a new creation and I’m not of this world. Thank You, Father, that I’m completely forgiven. I receive right now in the name of Jesus. I thank You, Father, that You make me whole and complete. I thank You, Father, that I am Yours and You are not mad at me and You are not mean like my parents were. I thank You, Father, that You are so in love with me, that You delight in me, that we’re friends, that I can come to You and talk about my struggles. Thank You for keeping me whole. Thank You that my identity has not changed, that I’m secure, that Jesus Christ was enough for me.”
You know what, I get up from that prayer with fullness of joy like you have never known. Somebody can call me and say, “Hey, can you help my family member who is in the hospital on the verge of dying? Can you leave for them right now?” And I can say with everything in me, “Yes.” I don’t feel unworthy because it’s Christ who makes me worthy. I remain worthy even when my behavior isn’t worthy because it’s not based on me. It’s based on the blood of Jesus Christ, His love for us, and what He did for us—that alone, nothing more. It’s never been based on you or me. It’s never been dependent on us, and it never will be.
If you get down and you beat yourself up, you are making it about you. It will be about you trying to make things right with God. It will be about you trying to get yourself back in the right place with the Lord. It will be about you and your behavior and what you’re not. It will be about you begging God because you don’t think you’re worthy to come to the throne with grace and boldness. You don’t think He wants to forgive you. You don’t think He is delighted to give you the desires of your heart.
But He is. You have to forgive yourself, and you have to do it quickly. Forgive and forget.