Ladies, as I grow older (and wiser, I hope) I realize how much we have in common with each other. Oh, we like to think our lives are vastly different than that of those around us. But let’s face it, I bet each of us did at least a few of the following already today: groaned when the alarm went off, flinched when you looked in the mirror, rolled your eyes when you saw your husband’s dirty socks on the floor next to the hamper, washed dishes and laundry, reminded the kids to brush their teeth, told your kids to wipe the toothpaste off the sink and walls, made a to do list and a shopping list, thought of a dozen areas of your house and life that need better organization, told your fighting children to knock it off, wished you had listened to your husband and stopped at two children, okay you get the point. I think you can agree we have a lot in common.
One other item every single one of us has in common is sin, we all struggle with it. It may take on different shapes in each of our lives, but it is still there. It could be in the form of envy, lust, gluttony, dishonesty, idolatry or any other type. Often it is not visible for others to see; sin loves the darkness and hates the light. We keep it hidden due to shame and a sense of self-righteousness. We don’t want others to know about it; we don’t want to be judged by anyone! We would rather keep on letting others think that everything is great and that our lives are sparkly clean, or at least as clean as our friends’ lives are. The Bible puts it this way:
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21
I used to be very touchy when asked about sin in my life for all the reasons above. However today, if you sat down with me and asked me about my sins, I can readily admit to the ugliness that is in my life. I can promise you it wouldn’t be pretty, especially if I confessed all the thoughts that run through my head in 24 hours. You may have to finally ask me to stop talking. Why is this? When you get to know Christ more deeply and recognize how holy he is, the sin in your life becomes much more apparent. You begin to see the darkness much easier and you hate it.
Those I worry about are the ones who have a hard time recognizing sin in their lives and often rationalize it as being a “normal” part of the American life. My primary concern is that their view of God as Lord is less than it should be and that their value of his holiness is diminished. If I sat down with you today and asked you about your sin, what would you have to say to me? Would you confess it and ask for prayer or try to make excuses as to why you do what you do? Do you hate your sin or is it something you are fairly comfortable with? Can you recognize it easily? These are serious questions each of us should be asking ourselves.
God hates sin and God is 100% without sin. We can only be in his presence if we are also without sin, completely without a single blemish. This means only those who are perfectly righteous can go to Heaven and live there for eternity with God, everyone else is sent to Hell. Whoa, wait a minute…I said above that all of us have sin in our lives so is there no hope?
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25) God has given us a way through the one who lived on Earth and was (and is) completely perfect and without sin; Jesus Christ. He took our sin upon himself and bore the wrath of his Father as he died on that cross for those who will receive the gift of life he offers. For those who accept Christ, our sin was killed on that cross over 2,000 years ago…all of it. Perfectly righteous and holy Jesus stands in our place when we are before God and allows us to enter into his glorious home of Heaven. What a gift it is and how anyone can reject it is beyond me.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14
We need to hate sin as much as God does. We need to bring it out of darkness and expose it to light so it can die. Don’t go easy on yourself and explain it away or try to justify it. There won’t be others around you to make you look better on judgment day, only you before God. Unless you accept Jesus as the savior of your soul and make him Lord over your life. If you do, he will be right there, saying, “I died for this one and took away all her sins, she belongs with me.”
On a recent drive home from visiting my parents in the Amanas we drove by the ADM corn sweetener plant along highway 30 in Cedar Rapids. When I was a child I used to think of it as a cloud factory since large billows of fluffy white steam pour out of the large towers into the sky making it look like it is producing clouds. So I have told each of my children the same thing when they were old enough to understand it. It seemed like a fun thing to imagine.
On this drive home however my youngest who is now seven piped up as we drove by and asked, “Mom is that really a cloud factory?” I heard the question but tried to ignore it. It didn’t work and he called out louder, “MOM, is that really a cloud factory?!” For some reason I didn’t want to tell him no. I felt a slight sadness that my youngest was old enough to realize that what we had pretended for so long was not really accurate. I wanted him to stay young and childlike. It was purely selfish. “Don’t grow up!” I was thinking inside my heart.
What a strange thing to feel. What if my son continued for years to think it was a cloud factory? It wouldn’t be so cute after a while. It would be downright strange; aging but not maturing. This made me think of Paul and what he said about spiritual maturity. In his letter to the Church in Corinth he expresses his frustration in regards to their lack of maturing in Christ:
But I, Brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready. 1Corinthians 3:1-2
The Church family in Corinth was still arguing amongst themselves regarding trivial matters. Paul goes on to state that there was jealousy and strife among them since they were behaving in only a human way; they were not gaining in spiritual maturity like they should be. They were handling things all wrong. He is calling them out as big babies! He wanted to give them solid spiritual food, but they hadn’t grown enough, he had to start back over with the spiritual basics (milk).
So what are you eating these days? Are you giving yourself a healthy diet of God’s Word and growing in your walk with Christ? Or are you being spoon fed the basics over and over again, one step forward one step backwards? You go to church every so often when you want to and only pick up the Bible occasionally. You enjoy the social times at church or special events but the Bible study is just not your style. You feel closer to God in the outdoors and not cooped up in a building with a Bible in your hands. If these last few sentences describe you, guess what… you may be a big baby. Knock it off and grow up!
God’s desire is for you to grow in knowledge and understanding of him. He loves you and has work for you to do. In order for you to grow in spiritual maturity you need a steady diet of the Truth found in his Word, the Bible. You also need to be around others who are spiritually mature and learn from them. Stop settling for bottles and go for some steak!
My response to my son’s insistent question? “Nope, that is NOT a cloud factory.”
Ladies, have you ever wished you had a big “reset” button? I sure do. Days where I could start everything all over again just by pushing that big button. I would jump back in bed, fall asleep and wake up to begin the same day over. Only this time, do things differently. Sometimes this happens when I haven’t prepared enough for the busy day ahead - I push the snooze button one too many times, I realize I haven’t washed my work uniforms, I’m finally ready to leave and the gas tank is empty. Other times, despite my best efforts, nothing seems to go right - my hair looks funny, the dog pukes on the carpet, one of the kids spills their bowl of cereal, I get assigned an extra project at work.
To be honest with you, the times I usually wish to restart the day is when I have not used my time wisely. It’s the days I get lazy and don’t get done what I know I should have. Oh, I may have stayed “busy” on those days but I neglected the truly important things. I didn’t spend time with God like I should have, I didn’t demonstrate Christ to my children or spouse, or I didn’t reach out to help or encourage someone else. Those are the most frustrating days for me. I always seem to realize it when the day is coming to a close. As I plop into bed I feel an uneasiness that I know is from the Holy Spirit. Pains from a day wasted on business again. What an uncomfortable feeling. I can only compare it to when I was a child and the feeling I got when I knew I disappointed my parents. Yuck. Do-over please!
I know many of you reading this are thinking I need to get a grip. Maybe you think, “I read the Bible enough and I go to church; I am a nice person and I can’t be expected to reach out to someone every day. I just need to give myself a break!” Umm… no. What God has called me to, I should not run from or neglect. I can’t just busy myself with other things to keep from doing my real work. That’s just Satan’s way of knocking me off course, he likes me off task. So I should hate it.
I relate so well to Paul in Romans 7:15, 17-19 when he says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” I know what I should be spending my time on throughout my day, but instead I find myself staying occupied with other “important” tasks. I spend my energy on Earthly matters instead of Eternal matter. What a fool; what an easy target for the Enemy I allow myself to be! Paul expresses this perfectly in verse 24 when he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Fortunately Paul goes right on to give the answer to his own question in verse 25. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Jesus is the answer! More specifically what Jesus has done for us in his act of salvation is where we find our power. He died in our place so that we would not have to be a slave to sin any longer. This means that I can stop playing the fool in my daily life. I need to remember Jesus and that he has already beat sin for me. I can stop being a slave to whatever business the Devil dangles before me and begin to see my daily life as having eternal significance. This I can do only through the grace of Jesus and through his power.
I have failed to use my days wisely so many times and continue to do so, but I find so much encouragement in 2 Timothy 2:13, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful.” Despite our failures at being faithful to God’s calling in our lives, that does not change the goodness of God. He will always remain faithful to us. He will always restore us back to himself.
So with the power granted to you through Jesus Christ get off the computer and pick up your Bible. Go encourage yourself, your family or a friend with the Word of God right now! Don’t waste another minute of this day!
The tedious task of doing laundry has never been described as glamorous. I have rarely found a woman that enjoys the task or relishes the work of washing, drying, folding and putting away clothing. We tire of the balled up socks and pockets full of odds and ends. Today I want to talk about the WORST discovery in a pile of dirty clothes and that’s… clean clothes! Sometimes the item is even still folded! Oh, the frustration this brings me! This means that all the work I went through last week to get this item washed, dried and delivered to their room was for nothing. The owner didn’t care about the time and energy I took to do this work. They didn’t value what I had given them. The piece of clothing was either discarded into the hamper after finding something better to wear or maybe it never made it to the closet or drawer in the first place.
Finding clean clothes in the laundry is worse to me than finding stains on clothing. I am used to stains. I have three sons and a husband; stains are considered accessories at our house. “Nice grass stains, Peyton, they match your socks.” “Thanks, Dad, I like the new spots on the front of your shirt, BBQ sauce is manly.” At least when clothing comes to me stained I know the wearer used the item and probably had a good time getting it. That’s what they make Oxy Clean for (yep, works great, free tip for the today).
But a clean shirt…not cool. You know I have to see this as a Biblical lesson. Since everything happens for a reason and is ordained by God, is there really any other way to see every occurrence in our lives? This particular event brings to mind the parable given by Jesus about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Do you think how I feel finding a clean shirt in the dirty clothes is just an inkling of how the Master felt when offered back the talent that had been buried and unused?
If you don’t remember this story well, go back and read it. Here is the condensed version. A Master has three servants. To one he gives five talents, to another three talents and to another one talent. The first two get to work and make use of the talents they have been entrusted with and double their talents. The third servant however does not. He goes off and buries his one talent right away to keep it hidden. The Master comes back to settle accounts (cue the dramatic music here). The first two servants each take their turn and present their doubled offering back to their Master receiving the glorious words of, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.” Then up walks the final servant with what in his hand to offer back his Master? A clean shirt. Exactly what he had been given and nothing more. Where are the stains? Any rips or tears? Where is the proof of a life well lived? How about proof that demonstrated he belonged to his Master? Nope, nothing. His Master had given him something to make use of, to be fruitful with and multiply. To demonstrate to the world that he belonged to and loved his Master. Instead he hid it so no one would see it and it couldn’t even be of use to him. What a waste. What does the Master have to say to this servant? Oh, it’s not pretty. Read it for yourself; it contains words like wicked, slothful, darkness and weeping. Yikes, no laughing matter there.
What are you doing with what God has entrusted to your care? Whether he has given you much or little, he expects you to make use of it for His glory. Talents, money, children, skills, wisdom, a husband, health, friends, the list goes on. Don’t bury it just to offer it back to your Master untouched and unchanged. Get some dirt on it. When people look at you let them say, “Yep, I know who she belongs to, it’s obvious.” Let your talents be well worn from use. May the fruits be multiplied for God’s glory. May your feet be scarred from carrying the Good News to others, may your knees be calloused from time in prayer. When the time comes to settle accounts with your Master may you show up exhausted from a race well run and with stains and scars from a life that shows proof of a good and faithful servant.
Next time you are sorting through clothes that show the proof of being worn, think about how you can use the talents entrusted to you by your Master to demonstrate a true life well-worn for him.
Those who know me quite well know that I love pottery. I don’t like to accumulate stuff and I don’t like collections. Pottery comes close to being my one exception to this. I love it. There is something visceral that happens when I see a beautiful piece of handmade pottery. You can keep your jewelry, handbags, and shoes, I don’t want them. Give me earth made by hand into something beautiful and I am a happy woman.
I remember hosting a dinner party once and using my set of hand thrown plates (best gift my husband has ever given me). I told our guests to please notice the beautiful plates I had set out for our dinner and gushed on about how they were made and where they were from. They looked at them and nodded their heads obviously not impressed. This was my first realization that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for ceramics. However, I cannot keep myself from talking about them and how they relate to God’s Word!
If you were to come to my house and look over my shelving unit of pottery I keep in my dining area you would quickly notice something about my collection. Rarely do I buy a piece that is not useful for something. Very few are just pieces designed to simply look good. The vast majority are pieces that serve a purpose. They may be pretty at the same time, but they were purchased to perform a duty. I have plates, bowls, pitchers, serving trays, a colander, a butter dish, a mixing bowl, a bread bowl and even a bacon maker. Some are chipped and some are still in great shape. They have to be durable to survive use and washings.
As I look at my pottery I think of the how God is the true Great Potter:
But now, O Lord, you are our Father: we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
It really is the perfect metaphor. So what can we learn from this? Oh, so much. Here are a few that I want to point out to you today:
So get off your shelf and see what purpose God has for you today to bring him glory. And, hey, if you ever want to check out my collection for a little encouragement come on over!