I love garbage day. I also like recycle day. Those days are Thursdays and Fridays for me each week. I really like Thursdays and Fridays. After the fire at our business we got excited on Tuesdays, the day they emptied out our big dumpster so we could refill it again for the following Tuesday.
One of my favorite activities (nearly a hobby) is taking donations to thrift stores. I love dropping off boxes full of clothing, toys, books and décor that I just don’t need. I really feel a weight off of my shoulders. I feel lighter and less tied to this world.
Some of you (though not all) can relate completely. You get me.
This superficial and short-lived enjoyment we experience of decluttering our homes needs to be applied in a much more profound way to our spiritual life. We need to clean house and take out the trash. Let’s look at this in two ways today: physical and spiritual (or tangible and intangible).
First, the physical (tangible). Get the junk out of your home that does not honor God. Clothes, movies, music, games, books, pictures, photographs, letters, artwork, magazines, certain medications, certain foods and drinks, posters, décor, idols. Anything that you would want to hide, turn off, or change out of if Jesus either walked into your house, hitched a ride in your car or stopped for a visit at work. Trash it all or even burn it. Do not donate your sin or shame to someone else.
Take a tour of your home with a trash bag in hand and go to work. You may be sadly surprised at how quickly you fill it and grab another. Some things may be hard to part with, but do it anyway. We don’t want to find ourselves trading God’s blessings for worthless dust. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8.
Secondly, the spiritual (intangible). The same applies; get the junk out of your mind and heart. If the Spirit of Christ has mercifully come to dwell within you, don’t make him room with fear, lust, anger and bitterness. “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Cor. 3:16. Jesus died so that you could be emptied of trash like this and could be filled with his gifts of faith and grace; overflowing with fruits like love, peace and kindness.
Just like with your home, take a spiritual inventory of your heart. What is there that needs to be brought out and burned? Unforgiveness? Hatred of others or yourself? Envy? Anxiety? Kill it all with the power of the Sword. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24. Don’t stop there, do not stay empty and vulnerable (see Matt. 12:43-45). Fill the space with ammunition for when new rubbage tries to take up residence. Filling up on God’s Word so that when new hurts want to hang out and fester, you can turn them away for lack of space. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I pray that you will hold your own trash day very soon and will ask for God’s help and his strength to accomplish it. Rid yourself of what is toxic and causing gross stagnation in you. It is time to be renewed and refreshed by the cleansing waters flowing freely from the throne of God.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” 2 Cor. 7:1
Ladies, do your spring cleaning for real this year. Make a difference in your heart and home. It’s time to take out the trash.
This is a great responsibility, Mom, and yes… it is on your shoulders. Your husband’s as well (or the child’s father), but today I am talking to YOU.
Last week I wrote on loving your children by teaching them who love. That must be first and foremost, teach your children about God’s love for them and his salvation offered through his son Jesus Christ. Today and next week, I am writing on the significant task God has assigned to you as a parent of keeping your child’s heart “unstained from the world.” See James 1:27.
Solomon was a man blessed by God with great wisdom; his wisdom was far superior to that of any before him or any after him. In Proverbs Chapter 4, he is entreating his sons to listen and be attentive as he shares his counsel with them for their benefit. His desire is for them to gain wisdom and to “walk the path of the righteous” (v. 18).
Toward the end of the chapter in verse 23, he sums up his guidance in one sentence, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)
Much of what we are instructed to do as Christians can be boiled down to guarding our heart or keeping our hearts pure for the honoring of God. The heart is the core of who someone is, the area from which flows feelings, decisions, and attachments. It puts on display who we really are; our actions flow forth from our heart.
The ESV translates the Hebrew this way “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We are to protect our hearts with all vigilance, a strong word indeed.
What does this have to do with raising Children? Everything! Have you ever thought about why God assigned these children to YOU? He has given them to you as a heritage, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalms 127:3) He has ordained that YOU be the one responsible for caring for them; teaching them about him, and guarding their hearts while they are young. This is on your shoulders until they are old enough to guard their own hearts.
This is big stuff and a huge responsibility! I don’t say this to overwhelm you, but to make you understand the seriousness of what God has called you to for these fleeting years.
How do you guard your child’s heart? Proverbs 4 goes on in verses 24 -27: Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (ESV)
These are good directions on how to keep your heart pure and how to train your child to do the same. Put simply: speak carefully and honestly, do not deceive; your eyes need to be forward on Christ (whom you live for); you need to wisely choose your path and where your feet go; staying persistent in your pursuit of Christlikeness; and finally, stay away from evil.
When relating this to how you guard the heart of your children think of it this way. You are the gatekeeper of their heart. You are the one to decide who or what is granted access to the heart of your child. What their heart is filled with is largely up to you. You don’t want to allow anything in that may cause harm to them or their potential relationship with Christ. This sounds simple…. it isn’t.
It is a raging war and you are in the middle of it. Placed there by God himself. How well are you doing at fighting for the purity of your child’s heart? How have you prepared yourself to know what is good and what is evil?
Continue to read next week as we address some very practical ways in which we need to be guarding the hearts of our children.
When I was young my family delivered newspapers for our little one street town of Homestead, Iowa. Each morning bright and early (or dark and early) we would get up, pack the papers into big heavy bags and head out on our bikes to do our route. I have to admit my older brother and sister did this much more than I did, but I did my share and still have many memories of it. It was one of those “character building” experiences that are required when growing up.
One summer morning my Dad was helping me get the last few papers delivered; we were both on our bikes. There had been a hard rain the night before and you could still smell it in the air. Drowned worms were all over the road and I would swerve to miss them.
I remember riding by the town feed store and seeing up ahead a huge toad in the middle of the road. Once I spotted him I couldn’t take my eyes off of that ugly thing; I felt like he was staring at me and I was staring at him. Wasn’t he going to move? My bike felt unstoppable as it traveled my exact line of sight, exactly where I didn’t want it to go…“SPLAT!” I rode right over the middle of that bloated toad. I can still hear the sound of it exploding into a squishy and disgusting mess all over the street and my bike too.
I then did what every young girl would have done after that, jumped off my bike and ran to my Dad screaming and sobbing. Dad did what every caring father would have done after that, held me in his arms and laughed his head off. Telling me between huge chuckles that the toad had been dead already and that I had the entire road to travel on, why didn’t I just go around it?
My Dad still laughs at this story to this day, over 20 years later. You just ask him and you’ll see.
As gross as it may be, it provides a great illustration for how we often handle the problems we face in life.
That bloated toad = anything bad, difficult or ugly in your life. Once we have our sights set on it, we have trouble seeing or thinking about anything else. Often we think we can handle it fine on our own, only calling on God if we need to (that would be considered a drastic measure reserved only for emergencies). Yet, this never seems to work out right. We seem to keep running smack dab back into that toad every time, making a horrible mess of things.
Here is the problem: when we focus on the problem we begin to orbit around it and allow it to have a gravitational pull on us. We use the desire to avoid the sin as the reason to alter our behaviors. We try to do this using our own strength.
Is your struggle with lust? You then try to keep all of those temptations at arm’s length as you circle around it. Eventually you fail and are in a mess again. Marriage issues? Focus on the problems, try harder and it will work out. Ha! Right. Using these strategies makes as much sense as being on a diet and staring at chocolate cake all day.
The fix: we MUST refocus our sights - take our eyes off the problem and place them squarely on the solution; off the toad and onto Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says it like this, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV) We need to keep our eyes set on Jesus, the only possible solution to heart problems (which all of these are). He is the only one who can fix our heart issues, we certainly can’t, no matter how hard we work at it or how many therapists we see.
God allows these toads in your life for good reason; he wants your attention for sanctification. Some of us are slow learners and deal with many toads in life. All the while Jesus is saying, “Hello? Look at me! You need me to get you through this. Quit giving attention to your sin and turn around and let me save you from it.”
I ran into that toad because I was looking right at it. If I had looked past it to where I wanted to go, I would have missed it altogether. Where do you want to go? If you are a “follower of Jesus” then you need to keep your eyes on the one you say you are following!
Let me tell you, all issues, anxieties and obstacles look mighty puny next to a huge God.
No wonder Jesus remarks many times in scripture about how little faith we have!
We can’t be aware of the might and power of our God when we have our eyes set on earthly toads. Time to start looking up. Call on God in prayer and get into his Word.
Our heart often travels where our eyes lead it. Your sight matters. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” Matthew 6:22. I enCOURAGE you to get your sight checked today.
Until very recently, I worked as a nurse supervisor at a blood center where blood is collected to be transfused into patients at local hospitals. When I would tell people this, there would be two common reactions: curiosity or disgust. The latter often accompanied by a comment along the lines of, “I hate needles, how can you stand doing that?” I would laugh and tell them that if didn’t do my job people would die.
Okay, so that may seem a bit over the top, but none the less true. Sure, there is pain involved with donating blood, there is a needle involved after all. If everyone was too afraid to give blood we would be in trouble; people would suffer greatly and many really would die. There has to be willing volunteers to give up some of their blood in order to save others who are in need of it. Someone has to go through pain to allow someone else to experience healing.
In the Old Testament times, the Israelites had to sacrifice the best of their animals in order to atone for sin. In order to be right before God, there had to be something given up and blood shed.
These animal sacrifices are like the units of blood taken at the blood center. The blood collected helps people stay alive physically and gain health, but it is still just temporary. Everyone still dies eventually. The blood we collect and transfuse is not able to save them from eternal death. Just like the animal sacrifices under the old law were not sufficient to save the Israelites from eternal death. A better way was needed. “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” Hebrews 8:7
Imagine if there was perfect blood that we could give to each person that would allow them to have permanent health and eternal life!
That is what the Israelites hoped for in Old Testament times. A Messiah to save them from the old law “because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19.
This is exactly what the ultimate blood donor, Jesus Christ, did for us (he is the “better hope” spoken of above). God knew the old way (the old covenant) was flawed; he created it that way to point to the need for something greater, a new and perfect covenant. There was need for blood that could truly save. So, God sent Jesus, the absolute perfect sacrifice. Jesus came and gave all of his blood for us. He did this to save us and allow us eternal life forever in glory with him.
Some of you may have received units of life-saving blood in the past or know of someone who has. It truly is a precious gift.
Eternal life is available to each of us also through the gift of blood. It is the gift of a gracious Savior who wants you to live forever with him. He voluntarily allowed all of his blood to flow out of his body in order to save you from death. His blood alone is sufficient to cover all the sins of each one of us “…since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:27.
Do you understand your need for a cure for your sickness called death? The penalty of our sins is death (Romans 6:23). We are guilty and therefore headed toward Hell unless we accept the gift of the blood offering Jesus has made for us. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25.
Hebrews 9:22 tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” I enCOURAGE you to allow Jesus to pay this price for you. Allow a transfusion to take place and accept this donation given on your behalf: the perfect blood of Christ, with the power to save.
Ladies, today I enCOURAGE you to rejoice with me in the fact that we are forgiven. If you have accepted the gift of sacrifice from Jesus Christ your sins have all been paid for long ago. You don’t need a man dressed in black with a white collar or robes or blue jeans to tell you this. The one and only man who walked this earth who could redeem you and pay your penalty did so long ago, job done. Period.
Forgiveness of sins happened at only one point on our human timeline of history and that was on the cross of Jesus Christ years ago. His blood poured out as he consumed the full wrath of his Father (the wrath we deserve), he then gave up his spirit as he declared, “It is finished!” John 19:30. This is the moment when sin died, mission accomplished. Jesus paid for your sins and mine at that exact moment. It is imperative that you understand this if you are a Christian.
Never minimize the sacrifice of our God dying in our place. If you think you can say enough repetitive prayers or do enough good works to earn forgiveness you are gravely mistaken and in attempting to do so, you are spitting in the face of Jesus. How dare you? If his act was lacking than we would have to crucify the Son of God over and over again to accomplish forgiveness multiple times. What a worthless and insufficient god that would be. That is not my God. That is not the God of the Bible.
Women, do not fall prey to a deceived way of thinking. If you have accepted Jesus, have turned from your life of sin, and now live for him, you are forgiven. Your sins have been washed away by the all sufficient blood of Jesus Christ. This is what causes us Christians to love our Savior so much and propels us to worship him with unreserved gratitude.
Is repentance needed? Oh, yes for sure. When your eyes are opened to your ugly sins and see that they are what keep you from a loving God, you will fall on your knees with a contrite heart seeking mercy and forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
After salvation will we still sin? Yes, to our shame knowing what it cost our Redeemer. It is a true daily battle, but the payment of Jesus still stands good. Once accepted in earnest, all sins have been forgiven.
Ladies, when Jesus died, the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (where only the high priest was allowed to go once per year to atone for the sins of the people) was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). No more earthly intercessor needed, full access granted to the mercy of God because of what Jesus did.
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14.
If you have not yet done so, seek this mercy today and turn to God. If you have received this mercy, you are familiar with the awesomeness of this forgiveness that I speak of. Praise him for it! Your freedom has been granted, walk in the victory that Christ has provided, knowing your debt has been paid in full!
Last night I sat down at the computer in our office with the lights off and was immediately attacked by a big, ugly moth. Moths will often keep to themselves, but not this one, he wanted to get close and personal. He was in my hair, on my neck, and on my hands and face. Aaagh!! I did the “there’s a bug on me” crazy dance and finally swatted him down. Two thoughts crossed my mind after this. One, I need to get outside in the sun more if I am the brightest thing in a dark room.
Two, how did this big moth get in our house? That was an easy one, I knew the answer. You see, I have two young boys who enjoy running between the indoors and the outdoors and don’t pay the electrical bill. They seem to have something against shutting the front door of our house.
Actually come to think of it, we’ve had a few other occurrences too. We’ve had birds fly in on two different occasions … then there was the cat a few years ago… and the neighbor kid, Al (that’s a frequent one)…and one little girl who just appeared in my kitchen one day. Yes, definitely an ongoing problem of not getting our door shut. You never know what (or who) will pop in.
As mothers, we desire our homes to be places of safety and comfort. We want to ensure our kids are protected and that we monitor what they have access to, and who has access to them. If our homes are not safe, we are failing at parenting well and we are endangering our children.
Many parents will tell you they are vigilant about protecting their children, yet many homes still have huge spiritual safety hazards in them. Many dangers we welcome inside ourselves or even pay large sums of money to have them in our homes. These could be televisions, radios, computers, video games, magazines, books, DVDs, CDs, photographs, the list goes on.
None of these are bad in and of themselves, but each has the strong potential to be. A radio is not evil, but if is playing songs with vulgar lyrics it is a pathway for evil to enter into your home and into the hearts of your children. Video games are not evil, some are even educational, but if they promote violent acts and encourage anger they are affecting your child’s character in a sinful direction. Many of these items also have the potential to consume your child’s time and attention away from the priorities we are trying to instill in them of serving God and studying his Word.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:17 “give no opportunity to the devil.” Notice the small but important word “no” there. It doesn’t say that a few R-rated movies now and then won’t hurt them, 60 minutes a day playing that war game on Xbox won’t affect them, or country music isn’t as bad as pop or rap, so go ahead. It says give NO opportunity to the devil!
If there are leaks in your home that allow the devil access, deal with them! Don’t shrug your shoulders and hope for the best. Truly love your children by keeping the Enemy who hates them away. He wants nothing more than to lead your child gently by the hand (or eyes, or ears) away from the truth you are teaching from the Bible.
James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” It doesn’t say keep the devil on a manageable leash or just let him take a peek inside your home once in a while for fun and because the neighbors allow it; it says “resist” him! Fight him off and make him run from your home with his tail between his legs. Be a vigilant protector of your children’s hearts by submitting to God.
I fully recognize that we need to train our children to live in this dark world and that they will be exposed to these dangers and more in their lives. However, I will not be the one that serves them this evil and acts as if is acceptable when it is not. We don’t train our children to fight evil by exposing them to evil. We fight evil with the truth which is the word of God. That is what they need more exposure to in order to be strong warriors on their own.
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” – Words of Jesus from John 17:14-17
Are there dangers in your home? Are you leaving a door wide open for the Enemy to walk right inside? I enCOURAGE you to take a hard look around your home today and take a serious look at where the weak spots are. Make your home a place of refuge where God is honored above all else.
I have just recently returned home from a mission trip to Guatemala. I have to admit, I feel as if part of my heart is still 2000 miles away with the kind and generous people of that culture. While there I witnessed many atrocities such as families living with no water source (let alone clean water), people dying of treatable diseases, and children who live on top of trash. These seem like desperate conditions and they are, however many of the people in the above situations professed their faith in Jesus Christ and were clinging to him to meet their daily needs and answer their prayers. Some were the same ones worshiping God with all their heart next to me at church on Sunday morning with arms raised in praise.
As I dwell on this now that I am back home in this land of (over)abundance, I wonder which of us is truly depraved? The Guatemalans who struggle so hard to survive each day and stay safe and healthy or we Americans who are drowning in wants and petty desires for more material goods and the appearance of worldly success?
The battles we fight are so very different in appearance and yet are enacted by the same Enemy. Is there one that is a greater battle over the other?
At one of the home visits I did, the woman kept apologizing for how little she had and how small her living space was. She felt bad for not having enough seats for us and not being able to offer us better. We assured her we were just thankful to be there with her and appreciated her kind hospitality. I now wonder how I would feel if that same woman came to encourage me in my home. Would she look around and think, “This is how American Christians live?”, “Why all the stuff?”, “Hasn’t she read Matthew 6:19-24 or James 2:14-17?” I’m afraid many would look at our homes filled with material goods and excess and think we are just fooling ourselves in this Christian walk. Are we?
Many of the needs of the Guatemalan people are so very obvious. In most of America, because of our affluence, the needs are hidden and yet just as deep. In Guatemala, our shared Enemy throws poverty, sickness and feelings of despair at them. In America, the same Enemy throws success, material goods, and feelings of security at us (I know there are exceptions).
Having this knowledge, we need to understand a few important facts. One, recognize that the Devil can use any type of weapon to fight against us and to pull our attentions away from God; need and excess are both weapons in his arsenal.
Two, spiritual depravity can be found in any person regardless of their appearance or life circumstances. We have to recognize that the ultimate need of every individual is the gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of apparent status. Finally, understand that God has placed you in the country and circumstances you are in on purpose and he knows that is the best place for you to be in order for your life to bring him the most glory possible. Use it for just that purpose alone.
Don’t think I am writing this to make anyone feel guilty (however you may feel convicted like I do), but do understand I am writing this to bring attention to the possibility of depravity in your life. Don’t allow your possessions or pursuits of worldly success lead you to believe you are “better off” than anyone in a “less fortunate” country. Examine your life closely to see if the Devil has found his way into your home and is smothering the potential work of the Holy Spirit there. Who or what are you dependent on really? Who or what is your life centered around? Don’t take these questions lightly, they have eternal consequences.
Recall the encounter of the Rich Young Man in Matthew 19:16-26. He followed the Ten Commandments and was eager to learn what more he could do to obtain eternal life (he was wise enough to know there was more to it than the law). Jesus responds to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” Jesus knew that what this man needed was to get rid of his earthly goods in order to be fully surrendered to God. However, the young man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Jesus turns to his disciples and says, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” This man preferred to hold on to his possessions rather than spend time in the presence of the one and only, all powerful, Messiah and Son of God.
God may not be asking you to give all you have to the poor (though he could be), but he does demand all you have to be his. The true depravity of humanity cannot be judged by appearances, possessions or geographical locations, it is a state of the heart. We all desperately need Jesus Christ to claim our hearts as his own possession. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10
Sin. Sin is at your door right now. As the Lord said to Cain when his offering did not please him and Cain was becoming angry, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7
Our Pastor recently reminded us of this verse in our Sunday school class. He encouraged us to be more intentional in our prayers for others and to ask them what sin is crouching at their door so we can help pray against it. This thought has stuck with me.
Right now Satan desires my marriage. As I prepare to leave for another country this coming Saturday, Satan would like nothing more than to drive a wedge between my husband and me. To have us say bitter goodbyes as we harbor resentment in our hearts toward each other. These ill feelings could continue to stew while we are apart and affect how we minister to others and care for our children. Boom, the enemy wins.
I type this as I sit poolside at a hotel watching my husband and boys swim. I have felt the attacks coming one by one all day. From not receiving a compliment after working extra hard to look nice (petty I know), to no help with packing and hauling luggage for our overnight stay and now to the immodest women opposite him in the hot tub. Our enemy can sure hit where it hurts.
I find myself at a moment of decision, more accurately a pivotal moment in a battle. I have been here many times before and I'm guessing you ladies have as well. These little digs add up until we feel we have every right to be hurt and angry. A confrontation feels imminent. My inconsiderate and insensitive husband needs to be held accountable for his actions... right?
That could be my battle plan and I have chosen that route many times. The Sin at my door I welcomed in and allowed him to have his way in my heart and to direct my hurtful words and actions. I thought I knew better than God and wanted fleshly retribution for my hurt feelings.
Praise God that he has lordship over my heart and has patiently been training me over the years that I have been his. Training me for real battle and how to identify the true and only Enemy that I have. This is the Enemy I need to battle against, the Sin at my door, Satan himself. I am beginning to better understand verses like Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
So I fight. With the Word of God in my hand, I look at Jesus. I remind myself of who he is and what he has done for me. I look at verses like Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And Colossians 3:13, Mark 11:25, and Ephesians 4:32. Finally, Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
As I read these verses and fix my eyes on Jesus, his powerful words fight for me. They heal my heart and at the same time kick the Devil in the teeth and order him away from my doorstep. Thanksgiving floods me and my eternal perspective is set right again. Praise my mighty God!
Understand this trained (wise) response comes from walking with God and being in his Word for years. I have failed so many times before that it is embarrassing. This demonstrates why it is so important to remain in Christ and to work hard to have his Word implanted within you. How can you fight a powerful Enemy if you are not trained in using the right weapon?
Ladies, what sin is crouching at your door desiring to pounce on you? Be obedient to God’s command and “rule over it” in the name of Jesus. Don’t battle flesh; battle the real Enemy that is spiritual evil. It is attacking you in order to steal your attention from God’s good plans for your life. Be courageous and don’t allow this to happen. Allow God to train you for battle with his Word. It is the only way to be victorious. I enCOURAGE you to remain vigilant!
Now, Ladies, please excuse me. I have a swimsuit to put on and a husband to enjoy some time with.
Thanksgiving is here! I encourage you today to lift your gratitude to the heart and ears of God. Thank him for all good in your life and the trials too; be boldly thankful like I encouraged you in last week’s blog. Above all, give thanks to God for the victory he has won in your life through Jesus Christ your savior.
For each true follower of Christ, there is a battle raging daily. You can feel it in every decision you make and action you take as your flesh (the sin in you) battles your spirit (the Holy Spirit that dwells in you after salvation). Paul recognized this easily and he wrote about it to the Romans in chapter 7. He writes at length regarding the desire of the Spirit in us to do good, God-pleasing works, while our flesh causes us to continue to sin. In verses 19 and 21 he says, “ For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”
After a lengthy discourse, Paul says (I picture him shouting it), “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (verse 24). Oh, the frustration! It is overwhelming! The deeper your walk with Jesus is the more you hate the sin you see in yourself. And you see it constantly. You know that it is this sin that keeps you from serving your Lord with all of your heart. Yet, you can’t seem to get away from it. Like Paul says, you want to do right, but evil is always right there with you.
Are we without any hope? I am totally wretched, it’s true! I feel it just like Paul explains it in Romans 7. So who will rescue us from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! - verse 25
Paul gives the answer quickly…it’s Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only answer possible; he killed our sins when he died on the cross for us. Through Christ, the battle is already won! For those of us who follow Jesus, we know that he died once for all of our sins, every sin we will ever commit. The direct result and only appropriate response is thanksgiving! For that reason we shout, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” This knowledge causes us to surrender in thankful worship to the one who saves us from our wretchedness.
Lift your voices to God today and every day; give him the thanks due his name!
Sold. I knew as soon as I read the label on that pair of jeans hanging on the rack, they would be the ones I would buy. The lure of a better appearance just by slipping them on was overwhelmingly appealing. The marketing department knew exactly what they were doing. Had they been honest, the label may have read, “Get some exercise and eat less, Tubby, then you can really be 10 pounds thinner and won’t have to fake it anymore!” Not a good way to make sales.
If we were to take a good, hard look at our lives my guess is that we could identify other areas where we also tend to “fake it”. For some it could be your financial status, you spend money you don’t always have and act as though you are very secure when maybe you are truly living paycheck to paycheck. For others it could be your home life. You act as though you have it all together when in reality you often feel like things are a mess and you can barely keep up.
These are important issues, but there is one area in which faking it can mean the difference between life and death...that is your spiritual life. I am sad to say, but I think MANY people are faking the wellbeing of their spiritual life. They may attend church (at least on the “important” Sundays), say the right things, and even carry around a Bible, but this is all for appearances. They may look and act the part very well, but inside they are dead. They don’t truly know Jesus. Could this be you?
Do you feel you are just going through the motions, do you ever stop and think, “What the heck am I doing this for?” Do you say you believe but then wonder what that even really means? Do you find yourself thinking people should keep their beliefs to themselves? Do you act differently depending where you are and who you are with?
If any of the above describes you, time to do a serious heart evaluation. Don’t take any of this lightly and don’t waste time. Matthew 10:28 - And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. God is just and he will deal with those who are only pretending to serve him, the consequences are real.
How do you know if you are authentically following Christ? Here are a few ways: Check the fruit in your life. Matthew 7:16 - You will recognize them by their fruits. Your life should be producing godly fruit for the glory of God (see Galatians 5:22-23). Seek counsel; ask a trusted minister to help you evaluate your condition. Finally, ask yourself if you really know who Jesus is; are you able to articulate it? Better yet, do all three of these things.
What you DON’T want to do is compare yourself to others around you. There are too many fakers out there. If everyone who claimed to be a Christian was a Christian, the Bible would be a lie. Matthew 7:14 - For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. The Bible is not a lie, it is solid truth. Make sure you are on the narrow path and not following others along easy street to destruction.
We can fool many around us, even those closest to us, but you will never fool God. God sees your heart and he knows what is inside of you. Let this cut you deep; you have to get this right. No more playing around or blindly following traditions taught by men. No amount of good deeds will get you into Heaven, only accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ. John 14:6 -I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Know for certain.
An authentic relationship with your Savior may not make you look ten pounds thinner, but the evidence of his grace in your life and on your face will be glorious and beautiful, more attractive to others than any pair of jeans. Go ahead and fake your hair color, nail length and skin tone if you must, but let your relationship with Jesus Christ be the real deal.