Pray for Manasseh

Photo shows excerpt from Awaken, by Priscilla Shirer, published by B&H Publishing

You can always tell God is trying to get your attention about something when He keeps bringing it up. This very thing happened to me recently: I was reading Psalm 103 late one evening, and then Day 34 in Priscilla Shirer’s Awaken the next morning, really just a few hours later.

She was talking about Manasseh, who ranks right up there among the most despicable kings Judah ever had. He was, to put it mildly, a hopeless case, and it is safe to say he had a lot to do with Judah earning time in exile. He was exiled too, of course, and 2 Chronicles 33:11 shares that, “They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.”

But then something amazing happened. Remember, this was a truly evil king: “Manasseh also murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. This was in addition to the sin that he caused the people of Judah to commit, leading them to do evil in the LORD’s sight.” (2 Kings 21:16) Even so, something happened and, while in exile, he woke up to his sin.

“But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.” (2 Chron. 33:12)

It took exile and being “in deep distress” for the change to occur, but it turns out Manasseh wasn’t a hopeless case after all. He humbly repented, turned his life around completely (which is what repentance is all about), and not only did God forgive him but He also returned this formerly evil king to his kingdom. Why? The answer is found in Psalm 103:8-11.

The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

So, on Day 34 of Awaken, Priscilla references Psalm 103:8-11. In this devotion, she covers how limitless God’s mercy is, that it’s never too late and you’re never too far gone for God to restore you – just like He did Manasseh (2 Chron. 33). 

No matter what you have done, no matter how evil you have been, you are never too far gone for God to restore you if you will only humble yourself, fall on His mercy, and repent – turning your life around and your back on sin. Jesus came specifically to die for our sins: Yours won’t stand between you and Him unless you let them.

Most of my readers are Christians and hopefully already understand the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy, how willingly He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for even the worst of sinners. So, it’s time to take this knowledge and carry it even further.

How many times, especially if you live in the south, have you heard it said of a horrible person, “He needs Jesus!” Usually, this is more of a culturally-based sentiment than a spiritually-based declaration, but it is true. We all need Jesus, including the most evil person you know. Further, if that evil person doesn’t receive Jesus, he or she will spend eternity in Hell.

So, I’m here to offer us a challenge. Let’s choose to genuinely walk in the love of the Lord, following Jesus’ example. I propose that we each select one person, just one, who seems unredeemable, and commit to pray for them until God tells us to stop. More to the point, ask God who He would have that one person be. You may not like His choice, but if He asks anything of you, He has a purpose.

Because prayer is unimaginably powerful. It is, truly, one of the most mind blowing weapons in our arsenal, and it can accomplish amazing things. Honestly, usually those things, those changes, are revealed first in us. For instance, as we pray for another person, often we find ourselves letting go of unforgiveness (even unforgiveness we didn’t know we were holding onto) and growing in compassion, mercy, and the love of God. This is a massive step forward for us even if we never personally see a change in the other.

But what if there is a change? What if your Manasseh repents and becomes a whole new man? What if he starts living his life differently? What if he ends up in Heaven instead of Hell? I trust that you wouldn’t really wish an eternity in Hell on even the most evil person you know. The positive changes in him could be as far reaching as Manasseh’s changes, affecting untold numbers of people for years down the road.

You would have had a part in it, and that part’s only cost is humbling yourself and praying for someone who doesn’t deserve it – any more than you deserved it when Jesus accepted you.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Scriptures used are in the New Living Translation (NLT)

Forgiveness Isn’t an Option

Yes, you can forgive, and you must!

You’ve heard it preached over and over. I’ll even list a couple of scriptures at the end of this post.

You’ve probably even seen articles online that show the benefits of forgiveness. I’ll include some of those at the bottom of this post as well.

But…

Are you one of those who sit there convinced that it’s not possible? Your situation is too hard. The wounds go too deep. The betrayal affected too many people. That person has never asked for forgiveness, so you feel no need to give it.

Still…not optional. Yes, I said it. Forgiveness is not an option. For the Christian, it is a command. For everyone, it is a physical and psychological necessity. If you read the Bible, you can’t avoid it.

Remember what Jesus said on the cross? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There is a part of me that wants to correct Jesus. “Oh yes, they did! They knew exactly what they were doing!” Doesn’t matter. Even before His death, burial, and resurrection, He was asking forgiveness for the collective “us.” Jesus forgave. We received. (Well, I hope you’ve received!)

Consider the Apostle Paul when he was still Saul. He was hell-bent on destroying the new movement that became Christianity. Those followers of Christ, starting with Ananias, could have refused to forgive him after he met Jesus. If they had, if they had denied his right to minister on the Lord’s behalf, he may never have written what we know today as about 2/3 of the New Testament. But they did forgive, and he did write, and we received.

I could keep on with accounts from the Bible, but let’s bring it forward to today. Bear with me, if you will, as I share two examples from my own life.

I have a friend. I love her dearly, and I hurt for her often. She is a loving and generous person who used to serve God openly, freely, joyously, but something has changed her, caused her to withdraw in many ways.

There is one person, another Christian, against whom she holds implacable unforgiveness. Did the person genuinely do her wrong back in the day? Quite possibly; I don’t know their story. But that really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the roots of unforgiveness and bitterness have grown so deep and strong that now pretty much every aspect of her life seems to have become choked by those weeds. Yes, she has a hard life, but so do a lot of others who haven’t chosen her path.

Others like me.

Let me pause here and say that I’m well aware I am far from perfect. I know this. What I am, however, is living proof that you can walk through hell and come out the other side victorious.

My story starts over forty years ago when I unknowingly married a narcissist. During those years, he abused me in pretty much every way but physically. I lived under his thumb without even realizing it for a very long time – without understanding that my life wasn’t normal. He had multiple affairs. He ignored everything that was important to me unless paying attention to it played into his plan and made him look good to others. He squandered his really good income so that I ended up having to earn money for the “unimportant” things like homeschool curriculum for the boys and clothes for myself.

Then, when it became hard for him to find a “position,” he stopped working; a regular job was beneath him. This left me doing all I could to pay the bills he easily ignored.

Eventually, we ended up living in a house that was literally falling down over our heads because he couldn’t be bothered to maintain much of anything, ever. Lest you think I exaggerate, first we lost gas because the line started leaking and he “couldn’t afford” to fix it. Then the water pipes started bursting and when his quick patches didn’t hold he gave up. We were left with only electricity for years, and I paid that bill. The walls had so many holes in them that I couldn’t stuff them all well enough to keep anything out. I once ended up in the ER with a bug in my ear as a result of that. And the roof? One room was off limits because half the roof was completely gone, and when it rained it rained inside our only bathroom. Years… Today, looking back, that blows my mind; I felt so trapped in that…place. (NOT just talking the house here.)

And then there were the women. The first affair I know about happened in the early 90s and either he thought I was a complete idiot or he was flaunting it in my face. (Him having the affair was my fault of course. He was an expert at gaslighting.) The last affair he tried to have was in 2014. Strange as it seems, it wasn’t until then that I actually stopped loving him. It was the point at which that tiny flame was at last doused completely.

My primary focus through most of the past forty years has been on staying right with God and growing closer to Him. As a result, I learned to forgive. See, if you’re actively watching your spiritual walk, when things stop feeling right, when you can tell that you’re “off,” you stop. You pause, take a good look at yourself, and ask God, “Where have I gone wrong?” In those early years, it was almost always unforgiveness towards Jack or someone else that nailed me. God had to school me over and over, but I eventually learned how to genuinely forgive and do it quickly. (Note to Self: As soon as you hit “publish” on this post the devil is going to see to it that you’re tested.)

So, my regular readers know that Jack passed away in October. I can honestly say that, regardless of all he had done, all he did until just a few weeks before his death, I forgave him. I chose not to walk in unforgiveness, but in forgiveness, which meant that when unforgiveness popped up I actively stomped it out.

I prayed for him often. I very much wanted to know he was right with God even if he were never right with me. He asked me to pray the sinners prayer with him days before he went into the hospital for the last time, and I rejoice that he did, that now, in Heaven, he is finally the man God always meant him to be.

Decades of abuse could have destroyed me. It did not. I did more than survive those years. In spite of dealing with anxiety and occasional bouts of depression, I thrived. I had to battle each and every day, but just as daily workouts strengthen muscles, those daily battles strengthened me. I came out stronger, and one of the reasons is my determination to deny the devil the option of using one of his greatest weapons – unforgiveness – to bring me down.

Forgiveness isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Forgiveness Verses (There are many more.)
Matthew 18:21
Mark 11:25
Luke 6:37
Ephesians 4:32

Benefits of Forgiveness (There are many more.)
Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness
The Many Benefits of Forgiveness
The Power of Forgiveness
The Physical Benefits of Forgiveness

Progress Report

In November, I wrote In His Mercy, an entry about my journey with a book He told me to write years ago. I’m making progress!

It’s currently in the hands of some beta readers whose judgement I trust. Once I get that feedback, I’ll make the changes I need to and turn it over to a professional for editing and format tweaking. Then it’s on to cover design and, finally, putting it up for sale on Amazon.

And then the not fun stuff starts. But that’s an issue for another post.

For now, just be proud of me for making it this far. If you read the other post, you know it’s been a long road for what really isn’t that complicated of a book.
God is so.
Very.
Merciful!
If He’s told you to do something and you’ve failed Him, He still loves you and still wants to use you. Just step back into the game and get moving.

I did.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

In His Mercy: https://tammycardwell.com/2021/11/13/in-his-mercy/

No King but King Jesus

I just completed my study of the book of Judges, which ends with some of the saddest words in the Bible: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

The last few chapters illustrate the utter depravity Israel sank into after Joshua died. It’s horrific, and I cannot help but see a parallel.

“No king but King Jesus!” is a phrase associated with the American revolution, a heart cry that made its mark on our nation’s founding documents. Letting God reign made a difference at our founding as it did at Israel’s founding.

In the book of Judges, we see that when God is removed from His rightful position things go south because people are left to do whatever seems right to them. This is where we are in the US today. Moral relativism rules and depravity dominates – and the failure started in the heart of the Christian just as surely as, in the book of Judges, it started in the hearts of the Israelites.

If there is to be any hope for our nation as a whole, it starts with us. We Christians MUST put Jesus back on the throne of our hearts, letting Him rule. Then, and only then, will we be in position to be the light of the world so others can be drawn to God. Then, and only then, can we hope to experience a moral revolution in this nation we love.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Girl, That’s Sin

I got a ticket recently, my first in nearly 40 years. I never even noticed that stop sign and blew right through it. My stomach still turns when I think about it.

I immediately started beating up on myself.

Hard

Yes, everyone makes mistakes and accidents happen. Yes, pretty much every adult driver out there gets a ticket at least once every twenty years or so.

Not. Me.

I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I’m a good driver, a careful driver, and getting that ticket, even being pulled over, sent me over the edge into flaming self-hatred.

I’m not even kidding here. I tend to expect a lot out of myself in most things, and if I blow it in pretty much any area I’m going to hate on myself worse than anyone else will ever hate on me.

I asked God’s forgiveness right away, but I absolutely, infuriatingly, could not forgive myself. I continued the self-abuse until I had a Come-to-Jesus meeting with God. The brief conversation went something like this.

God: What would I tell you if you were beating up on someone else the way you’re beating up on yourself?

Me: Tammy, that’s sin.

God: Tammy, the rules don’t change just because it’s you. Girl, that’s sin.

He’s told me this before, in various ways, but this time it hit almost like a glass of cold water in the face. Refusing to forgive myself is as wrong as refusing to forgive anyone else, and every bit as destructive.

It wasn’t easy to do. It took work on my part, but I stepped up and did it. I still hate the fact that I blew it, but at least that gut-churning self-hatred is gone.

We cannot afford to walk around in unforgiveness, my friends – towards anyone.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Hallowed be Thy Name

When you put a bumper sticker on your car, people associate you with whatever that bumper sticker represents. Did you cut them off in traffic? They’re probably disparaging your preferred university. Even worse if you’re a Christian, when they see you behaving badly while driving a car that labels you as a Christian or a member of a certain church, they are quite possibly using your behavior as an excuse to judge God and your church.

You think I’m kidding? I know someone who will not put one of her church’s bumper stickers on her car because she’s heard, too many times, “Those ______ drivers are some of the worst on the road!” She doesn’t want to risk her driving reflecting badly on her church, so she won’t advertise where she goes.

I think of this sort of thing often as I pray the Lord’s Prayer. I wear the label “Christian” and, whether or not anyone around me sees that label (And they do!), I know there is a multitude of other witnesses both angelic and demonic that do. Even more so, God does. God’s name is holy, and my desire is to always, even in the privacy of my own thoughts, reflect His holiness, not giving the devil or man any reason at all to judge God poorly based on ME.

As I pray “hallowed be Thy name,” I renew my commitment to keep His name holy, to do nothing to sully or stain it. I remind myself that every little thing I do and don’t do DOES matter, and that even a moment of giving in to the flesh can have a terribly negative impact on people around me, putting a wedge between them and my God and, yes, between them and my church if they know where I go. What if my church is the one God has been calling them to and my actions make them turn away? God has said in His Word that He holds me accountable for such things!

I’m human, and I fight my battles with flesh in all its forms just like every other human does. I fail Him and the people around me all too often, but when I realize I have I hit my knees, repent, and get back up even more determined to get it right the next time.

I do it because His name is holy and I am well aware that I have a responsibility, that my part as a Christian is to always do my best to respect His holiness.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C