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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

No More Shame

"Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don't be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood" (Isaiah 54:4).

Shame. It's a crippling and debilitating emotion that seeks to overwhelm and redefine who you are. Have you ever observed a dog that has just been yelled at for making a mess, for being complicit in an act of destruction, or for relieving himself again on the inside of the house? The dog will either run away, cower down with a whimper, or place its paws over its nose and give the saddest look imaginable. The dog doesn't feel remorse, isn't able to understand responsibility, nor is capable of showing repentance. He responds to shame. No matter how good the dog has been, how many times he has been praised and rewarded, shame has away of overshadowing and redefining, in that moment, who that dog is. That dog is a failure. That dog is shameful. That dog knows it.

God speaks through the prophet of Isaiah to the people of Israel. They had done it again. They had given into the lusts of their own desires and had turned their backs and their lives away from trusting in God. It cost them greatly. They had lost their sovereignty as a nation. Once the kingdom to be feared and revered, they were now mocked, ridiculed, and had become outcasts in their own land. At that moment, the best days of life were more like snapshot photographs that were beginning to fade into distant memories. Shame had overtaken them. They no longer remembered the promises and covenant of God. The only thoughts that remained were of how they had failed, what they had lost, and how they were now viewed.

God reminded them that better days were still within reach. As they would turn back to Him, He would reach out and begin to restore the brokenness they had brought on themselves. They didn't have to fear. Shame was not their destiny. The sins of their past could really be their past. All they needed to do was to repent of their disobedience and lack of trust, and receive His love, His forgiveness, and His desire to rebuild. One day, it was promised, they would no longer be the laughing stock to the world because of their shame. More importantly, their shame would no longer occupy and overwhelm their hearts and minds. They had been forgiven. Their sins had been forgotten. Their relationship with God had been restored.

What mistake, failure, or missed opportunity is still trying to thrive in the open market of your mind? Shame seeks to take every thing you've done wrong and put on continuous play in your mind, replaying the same thing over and over and over again. Shame is founded in both fear and in guilt. Neither of these is a gift from God, but rather a tool designed to hold you back from the belief that there is hope and forgiveness. Hope reminds you that there are better days ahead. Shame's lie is that you've had your chance, you've blown it, now this is your life. Resist the lies of the enemy and hold on to the truth of God. "Don't be afraid." "You no longer have to live a life shackled by shame and disgrace." Acknowledge the sins and struggles that have put distance between you and God. Identify the areas that you have not trusted Him, have tried to assume control, and have lived in disobedience. Choose to lay it down, turn around, and walk away in the direction that God is leading. Allow Him to heal your heart, restore your hope, and show you the way. 

Shame attempts to redefine your identity. God simply reminds you of your identity. Never look at yourself any lower than your God does. No more shame. His love is greater.

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