Throwback Thursday: The Price of Negligence

This week I am blessed to be attending the She Speaks Conference, so I am sharing some gems from the past couple years. Praise God He takes away every single one of our sins through His precious Son, Jesus Christ!

Photo Credit thecounselingnetwork.org
Photo Credit
thecounselingnetwork.org

Leviticus 5:1

“When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”

Leviticus 5:5

“When an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned.”

Leviticus 5:17

“If a person sins and violates any of the LORD’s commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”

I love how reading passages over and over again there is always something to glean from God’s Word! Leviticus is often thought of as being dry and a lot of jargon about offerings and prescriptions for dealing with sin. It couldn’t apply to us today, could it?  As a mother of five children, I have often heard the expression, “I didn’t know”, or “I forgot”, or “It was an accident”.  What strikes me in the verses above is that there are no excuses given for the offender’s lack of knowledge of their own transgression.  Instead, there is a prescribed solution, and the One to whom we are accountable paid it.  We cannot take care of our sinour way, though.  It must be in accordance with the One with Whom we will give an account.  While it is difficult for our generation to understand the slaughtering of animals for the propitiation of our sins, both for known and unknown sin, we have the same sins going on today and the same excuses.  Acknowledging our shortcomings is just as necessary and required by our Holy God.

We are good at making excuses for ourselves in this generation, but the idea of the scapegoat has been around a long time.  In Hebrew, the word scapegoat is Saʿir La-ʿazaʾzel, (one interpretation is “a goat for Azazel”, which means strong God).  This refers to a goat being used to bear the sins of Israel during the ritual of Yom Kippur.  The scapegoat has been used in most cultures, ironically.  Whether the goat was sacrificed or set free to bear all of the iniquities, it did not have a choice – it was chosen to take away the people’s sin.

Mankind recognizes it has a need to have sin dealt with, if we are honest with ourselves.  But we often create our own solutions as to how to remedy our sinful status.  We can also come up with excuses, rationalize or placate our guilt.  Maybe the standards were to high, or maybe someone else is responsible or to blame. But not in God’s economy. No fig leaf is sufficient to cover our shame or guilt and redefining our guilt to make ourselves feel better really doesn’t.  We still need covering for our hidden and known sins today, but we do not have a scapegoat – we have the Lamb – who chose to bear all of our sins.

Recently, I became aware of negligence in an area of my life.  It was hidden from me in that I did not recognize it as sin, just an inability.  Becoming aware of something as sin is not fun and we can easily dismiss it as maybe we are not talented in a certain area or lack understanding.  It can be easier to avoid it rather than face accountability.  Maybe it is not a sin, after all.  But once I are aware, I am culpable.  No more ignorance to hide behind.  Although it is difficult to have to work on those areas of our character that are challenging for us, we cannot pretend any longer that we do not know.  We must instead ask God to help and to strengthen us in our areas of weakness.

I am grateful that God exposes our sins.  He does so to free us.  The deeper we go, the more unrighteous we may appear, but cooperating with the Holy Spirit when He illumines our hidden sins, which we often couch as inabilities or habits that are a part of our personality, is ultimate victory.  True, we each have our own unique challenges in our perspective walks with God, but He is sufficient to help each of us in our time of need.

Thank You, Lord, for lifting the veil so we could see and gain access to You.  Thank You for Your grace and love, which always seeks to rid us of the cancer of sin and draw us nearer to You.  Praise Your Name!

Truthful Tuesday: To Know Him is to Serve Him

Serving and Knowing God

Photo credits from 924jeremiah.wordpress

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 22:16 (NET)

“He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.'”

Righteousness cannot be attained by good works, yet valid faith cannot exist apart from them. The life hidden in Christ is one that seeks to follow after the Spirit, walking in obedience to God, which will undoubtedly involve service to others.

Christ, Who reigns over all, chose a path of humility and service. His followers will do the same. Seeking to understand the real need around Him, Jesus met people where they were at and ministered to the physical and spiritual need of all people.

When we examine ourselves in light of Scripture and the example of Christ, we will always come up short, but that does not mean we replace the standard of Christ. The plumb line of Jesus reveals our desperate need of a Savior and His costly salvation exposes our inability to ever be able to adequately thank Him for His free salvation.

Christ simply asks that we believe and do what we see Him doing – serving others. Knowing God means we begin to have His heart for His people, particularly the poor and needy.

The same things that burden Him become our mission. In His infinite wisdom, God knows we need to serve others. Our flesh is preoccupied with self, while so many unmeet needs surround us. Knowing God makes all the difference in our service to and for our King and is a witness to the world that our God is living and we belong to Him.

The Holy Spirit within provokes us to do righteous deeds – not to earn our way to Heaven, but because we know God and love Him.

Religion can attempt to do the work of God and make great strides in helping people, but it can never achieve inward heart change. Serving others from a relationship with God is not self-motivated by achieving glory for ourselves or securing a spot in heaven, but fueled by a zeal to please God and initiated by the living Holy Spirit within us.

Ultimately, when we are serving God’s people, we are serving Jesus. Our service to our King might be radically different from person to person. One might be poor materially while another might be poor in spirit. Being sensitive to our Master Who instructs us how to serve, we become the beautiful hands and feet of Jesus, affecting His people for eternity. How blessed are the feet who bring good news!

Lord, help us to see where You are working around us and to join You. May our hearts burn with compassion and may we be poured out for Your glory alone.

Truthful Tuesday: The Truth Hurts

truthhurts.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

How will the world be able to believe the truth if it sees it shrouded in deception?

Scriptures of the Day:

Ephesians 4:25

“Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

Colossians 3:9

“Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices.”


When someone loves you enough to be honest with you, it can hurt – for the moment. The opposite is also true – when someone is untruthful with you it can hurt – for a long time.

There is something about deceit that communicates a lack of genuine care. Choosing to protect self instead of the person we are deceiving is demeaning. It places value on ourselves over the other person’s perception of us and is a facade of who we really are.

Lying, the native tongue of the devil, has become the language of our culture, as well. The need to escape responsibility is fueled by the desire to present ourselves in the best light, even if it is not reality. But living in a false fantasy is not comforting in the end and makes truth foreign, almost indistinguishable. Far removed from reality, we can lose sight of what is really important in this life.

Assuredly lies would be far away from the Christian’s mouth, right? Hopefully most Christians would see that lying is a sin condemned by God and seek to be obedient in this aspect of their walk with God, but there are many levels of deceit that we need to guard against. If our hearts our deceitful and beyond cure, then we might not even realize we are lying and being deceived ourselves.

The spectrum of deceit begins with embellishment or polishing of facts to make them more palatable to the hearer. It might be as simple as flattery (which works ruin) or slightly altering the facts to make a story more exciting. Or maybe deceit can be a fudging of the facts and an ethical compromise that we think no one else sees. Our conscience sold for a small perceived victory or famed reputation. These might seem harmless in a small matter that we think just involves ourselves or is just about vanity, but this habit can begin to penetrate our conscience and dumb down conviction in the area of honesty.

Beyond the polishing of facts, we can enable deceit by giving it righteous garb – it is ok to lie in this instance, because we are protecting someone else and that person would be hurt. Ironically, the prevention of pain is not accomplished, for when deceit is revealed, the deceived feels betrayed and has lost the ability to trust to some degree.

Then there is the savage all out lying to protect self. Just flat out making up stories to avoid consequences. This might make the liar feel accomplished to be able to “pull one over” on the victim of their deceit, but sadly, they are the one deceived. If a deceiver is able to trick others into trusting him, is that really something to boast about – trying to make others believe we are something we are not?

True character can never be faked. Being who God made us to be is sometimes humbling, but all the time freeing. There is no need to try to be something more because we are accepted by a Holy God just as we are. Wow. No need to add to that, and if we did, it would be filthy in God’s eyes. He alone is our righteousness and truth.

The motivation to lie is crushed and the fruit of lying exposed when we realize that doing so hurts our relationship with God and others. Lying destroys intimacy and God made us to enjoy relationships where we can be fully known and accepted for who we are. The very people who love us no matter what deserve truth from our lips. It might mean a loving rebuke, but what a gift that is to the condoning of sin, which destroys us.

From outright lies to a calloused heart who cannot even distinguish between truth and falsehood anymore, we must surround ourselves with people who are willing to impart truth into our lives and constantly put truth into our hearts through the word of God.

The beautiful feeling of conviction from the Holy Spirit is like no other. We are both humbled and grateful when we can see and understand truth and our desperate need of it. The church and Christians must rid themselves of deception and speak the truth to one another, for we carry the Truth and are all members of one body. How will the world be able to believe the truth if it sees it shrouded in deception?

Lord, thank You for revealing sin in our lives and showing us our need of You. There is no truth in us apart from Your grace. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, guiding us into all truth. Keep falsehood far from us and help us to guard and walk in Your truth all the days of our lives – especially when it hurts.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

http://www.seeingdeep.com

Mundane Monday: Isolation’s Surprise

isolation

Photo Credit Flickr Creative Commons and loufi.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the unlikely places that God reaches His people with His love and grace.

Scriptures of the Day:

Matthew 14:15

When evening arrived, his disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 15 But he replied, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 15:33

The disciples said to him, “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven–and a few small fish.”

It is sometimes not until we are in a place of want that we understand how blessed we are. Not knowing how the bills will be paid, hoping the debit card works at the register at the grocery store, not being able to afford prescription medication, or even being unable to fix our car – all things I have walked through – taught me lessons I could never have learned when provision was more abundant.

The assumption the disciples made and we often can, too, is that in those desolate places, when we are alone and it seems there is no help, it is not what we have that matters. It is Who we have that makes all the difference.

The disciples did not see how they could help the masses of people. They looked at what they had, they looked at the resources around them and it looked bleak. This makes sense in our practical world. We don’t plan on what might be, we plan according to what is in our hands. While this is a sensible approach when it comes to living on a budget, God’s math does not add up when His children are hurting or in need. In the place of isolation there is a test. A test to see what our response will be. A test of trust.

He loves to demonstrate His care and use us to do so, as well. Jesus looked at their hearts and longed to provide in a way that brought glory to God. No one could take credit for such a lavish feast. People still scratch their heads today wondering how such a miracle could occur, but that is what is so awesome about God’s provision – it always surprises us because it does not seem possible.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked means of God’s provision is us. He blesses us and watches to see how we will be sensitive to see the needs of others. Will we be His hands and feet? God is asking us today, “What do you have?” Phew. humbling. But one of the greatest joys is giving and seeing God at work in the life of the recipient.  Much like earthly parents love to surprise their children with blessings, our God waits to see if we will call on Him and also be used by Him so He can answer in amazing ways.

But perhaps the need and provision are not the most significant aspects of these biblical stories. God is using that need to open their eyes to seek Him, that we might know Him more.

Lord, thank You that You are never far off when we cry out to You. Please help us to be attentive to the needs around us, ready to help, as well.

Worshipful Wednesday: Our Generous God

God is generous

1 Corinthians 1:5-7

For you were made rich in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge– 6 just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you– 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 25:14

“The LORD’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

We worry about provision in a world system that requires payment for everything. Yet God says that if he takes care of the grass, flowers and a small sparrow, He will provide for us, too. Trouble is, flowers don’t spend well in our economical system and sometimes we don’t know how God is going to do it, but He always comes through.

His provision is vastly more than we could ever imagine and lasts for all eternity. What kind of God is that? The richest person in the world according to the world’s riches could not compare with the riches God has for those Who would call upon His name and be saved.

We were (past tense) made rich in EVERY way – but it might not always appear to be the case. Man looks at the outward, but inwardly God is at work in amazing ways. We received everything we needed when we were saved, but sometimes we do not perceive it.

When my kids were little, I wanted to instill in them a love of learning.  I wanted them to treasure knowledge and wisdom, for wisdom opens our eyes to see the truth, and knowing God and His truth is the greatest gift of all.  When other kids were getting electronics, my kids got books. When I would come back from Homeschooling convention, they would run up to me and wonder what devotion or new journal I got them.  I pray that sticks with them their whole lives through.  Knowing God is our greatest treasure.

When we don’t understand, we can come to Him and He will generously give us wisdom without finding fault. When we lack faith, we can run to His Word and to Him and He will give us hope.  When we are weak, we can cry out to Him and He will strengthen us. When we are depressed, He gives us the gift of joy.  When we are hurt, He comfort us. Once again we come back to the word, “relationship”.  Access to these precious gifts He has bestowed is given when we come to Him and He does not withhold.

Lord, thank You for giving us everything we need, and most importantly – the gift of Yourself and Your only Son.  Help us to be a grateful people, recognizing your generous provision for your children.

Worshipful Wednesday: Striving No More

It is Finished

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Be still and know that God is fighting for us.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 46:10-11

“He says, ‘Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!'”  11 “The LORD who commands armies is on our side! The God of Jacob is our protector!” (Selah)

“It is finished”, Christ proclaimed as He breathed His last on the cross.  No more work needed to be done to complete the perfect sacrifice.  Such a stark contrast with the other religions of this world which state that we will never do enough to earn our salvation.

In Christ, we recognize that our good works are like filthy rags, but we also see our need to serve God with all of our lives.

The motivation is different, though.  We do not serve out of guilt or obligation, but out of incredulous gratitude and a heart of obedience.

Formerly enemies, we, who are in Jesus Christ, are now called His sons and daughters.  And He says to be still – to cease striving, worrying, trying to defeat the enemies we encounter while temporarily on this earth.  He, our All-Powerful God, already won the war and we are positionally already with Him in the heavens.

When faced with life’s realities, though, it can be difficult to rest in God’s victory, because our eyes, hearts and minds scream out the opposite.

What does this rest look like?  Not lying down on a couch eating potato chips and playing video games – no, this rest is on our knees crying out to our God to fight on our behalf. Once again, the motivation is changed.  It is not for us, but for His glory.  We do not just want Him to fight for us, but for His Name’s sake – that others who look at our lives will see that we serve the living God.

Lord, thank You for accomplishing our salvation and victory and for living in us.  Help us to not look at the waves of this live, but to rest and to look to You, our Almighty God Who loves us.

Truthful Tuesday: Bitter or Better

Bitter-or-Better.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Bitterness blinds us to the truth.

Scripture of the Day:

Ruth 1:21

“I left here full, but the LORD has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the LORD has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.”

One thing you can say about Naomi – she did not pull any punches.  She was going to tell it to you like it was.  No sugar coating needed.  But perhaps her recounting of the story was not true, after all.

Sure, Naomi told the truth about how she felt, but her description of God was affected by those bitter emotions.  

Naomi felt that God opposed her.  Such an admission revealed a distrust of God.  Was He still the good God who blessed her in Jerusalem?  Was He still faithful in the famine? Or is faithfulness dependent upon us always being what we perceive as “blessed”?

Scripture says that God does oppose the proud, but it also says to endure all hardship as discipline from a loving Father. It is difficult to feel loved when we suffer. We wonder why a good God would allow pain when he is All-powerful and able to remove our sorrows.

I remember bowing down and crying out to God when I lost my baby.  I did not understand, until I came to God.  There in His Word was a precious promise.  He loved me, and “in His faithfulness He afflicts those He loves”.  I had to sing a song in a wedding the next day that mentioned a baby’s heart beating.  I had just watched my baby’s heartbeat stop beating the day before on an ultrasound.  Why would circumstances have to collide in such a fashion?

Beautiful brokenness brought me closer to my God and somehow the veil was lifted and a glimpse at the mystery of suffering with God was a moment of Holiness I will never forget.

I did not just worship God when I was healthy and blessed.  I now knew my God in a deeper way and trusted Him, even though, like Job, it seemed that He slayed me.  He did.  A part of my flesh was crucified that day and what rose was a soul comforted by the living God.

The former presumption that I only deserved blessing now humbled me. The feeling of betrayal and hurt was replaced by a daughter of the King who ruled her emotions and laid them at Her Master’s feet.  Trusting that His plan was best instead of mine – set me free to have a living faith in the One Who knows and sees all.

A surface relationship with God views His permitting of suffering as proof that His character is questionable.  But when we walk in the deep waters with God, our perspective changes and we realize that a relationship with God is during times of blessing and famine.  Sunshine Christianity, worshiping God only when He allows no pain in our lives is not true Christianity.  Carrying our cross and glorifying Him in the midst?  Priceless.

In the end, Naomi was not forgotten by God and was blessed again.  We can’t see the end, but how precious it is to trust in Jesus even in the rain.

Lord, thank You that You allow any blessings at all in our lives.  Thank You for Your mercy and kindness.  Help us to overflow to others around us with the healing You have given.

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s in a Name?

Whats in a Name.jpg

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

There is None like our God.

Scripture of the Day:

Judges 13:18

“The LORD’s messenger said to him, you should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.”

Genesis 32:29

“Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.”

When the God of the universe says we should not ask His name, the only response we can have is complete awe.  In a culture that screams familiarity and a lack of reverence, it is perhaps foreign to consider that there is One in authority Who has the right to permit and prevent access to whatever He desires.

I don’t like secrets.  My flesh does not want to be left out of knowing things – especially if it is something important.  The Name of God is esoteric and yet revealed in part to His children.  We see His Name by observing His character, and yet we cannot fully know Him.

I might not understand this boundary fully, but when I consider how He is Spirit and I am flesh, He is Holy and I am unholy, then I contemplate the miracle that we can know Him at all.

I am thankful that God has established in His Word that He is so far above us and yet demonstrates unconditional love and lets us – frail man – get a glimpse of just a fraction of how awesome He is.

Manoah offered a sacrifice right away when he realized He was in the presence of the LORD’s messenger.  Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock when the glory of God passed by.  When we, God’s people, have the indwelling Holy Spirit – the very presence of God – within us, how then should we respond?

Oh God, You are Holy!  You are far above anything I could ever imagine!  Thank You for Your mercy!  Help us to know You more and to never cease to be amazed by You, our Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, King of kings, Omniscient One, Righteous, Holy Savior and Creator of All.

Thoughtful Thursday: True Prosperity

True Propserity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Reconciliation with the Almighty God of this universe is the greatest wealth we can have.

Scripture:

Job 22:21-28

21 “Reconcile yourself with God, and be at peace with him; in this way your prosperity will be good. 22 Accept instruction from his mouth and store up his words in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent, 24 and throw your gold in the dust–your gold of Ophir among the rocks in the ravines– 25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold, and the choicest silver for you. 26 Surely then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and will lift up your face toward God. 27 You will pray to him and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28 Whatever you decide on a matter, it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.” 

I’ve heard of people longing to win the lottery – even going to great lengths on strategies to hopefully help them land the winning number – and end their woes.  Thing is, the people who do win often end up destroying their lives.  What happened?  Wasn’t prosperity the solution to all of their troubles?

Some preachers have taught that world wealth is a given for those who are in Christ. People who are poor by the world’s standards must just not have enough faith to obtain the wealth God planned for them.  I don’t buy it and I have never played the lottery, either.

Like Paul, I have known what it is to be in need and to have an abundance.  In both times, I praised God.  I did not want to forget God when He blessed us, nor did I want to blame Him when we were unemployed and sued into financial woe.  God was faithful through it all. Both circumstances were not easy.

In times of prosperity, materialism, comfort and apathy threatened to woo us into a backslidden, religious state.  In times of financial hardship, we had to adapt and go without. We cried out to God and gained things of value that wealth could never give us.  A deeper walk with Him, a deeper trust in Him as He provided in creative ways, and learning contentment – precious treasure earned in challenging financial ordeals.

My children and I look fondly on the times when we craved food that we could not purchase due to a limited budget, then the LORD impressed on other people’s hearts to bring us that very food.  It was very specific and amazing to see God’s faithfulness in even the smallest of things.

The greatest riches we can ever achieve were given freely to us and can never be lost. Eternal treasures purchased for us by the blood of Christ, the cost for our reconciliation to God.  Nothing compares to this prosperity.

Lord, thank You for giving us Yourself, the most precious gift ever.  Please help us to be a grateful people and to share what You have given to us with the world.

Worshipful Wednesday: God With Us

Pursue a relationship with God - God with us

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christianity is the only religion where the One true living God is near and living within His people.

Scriptures of the Day:

Genesis 39:2

“The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.”

Genesis 39:21

“The LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”

Ever feel like God has forgotten you?  I am sure Joseph can relate.  Being thrown into a cistern with no water then sold as a slave to his ex-family – the Ishmaelites – was not exactly the appearance of favor by God.

After Joseph had climbed his way to a position of status with Potiphar, once again he was betrayed.  Being thrown in prison for a deed he did not commit must have made him feel as if God was not taking care of him.  How could God allow the wicked to prosper?

But it was in the dark dungeon that God spoke to Joseph and once again gave him favor. Joseph could not see all that God was doing, but that did not mean God wasn’t doing it.

His purposes were much higher than Joseph’s personal comfort and His plans were far superior to any that plan Joseph could have dreamed.  Joseph  might have thought the dreams he had meant solely that he would be in a position of power.  Ultimately, it was not about Joseph, but about the salvation of all his people and the glory of God.

Our perspective is changed when we see how small our view is in light of God’s sovereignty.  We might not understand why we have to suffer or why things have to happen the way they often do, but if our motivation is God’s glory and not our own selfish gain, then we begin to understand how amazing our living God is and how we can trust Him.

Joseph could not have imagined the methodology employed to save his people, but God sees everything.  This same God also lives in each person who chooses to believe in Him and receive the gift of salvation.  He chose to be with us when He came as a babe to offer His life for our sins and now He dwells in us and speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.

God desires relationship with His creation and has gone to great lengths to demonstrate His love and faithfulness toward us.  Right when Joseph’s life seemed jaded, the very next sentence God says He was with him.  With him in the cistern.  Chained with him in the dungeon.  That is our God.  He never leaves us and promises to be with us at all times.  He truly is Emmanuel – God with us – and worthy of all praise!

Lord, thank you for loving us and making a way that we could have fellowship with You.  your love is extravagant.  How You brought the Holy and unholy together never ceases to amaze me.  Thank You for living inside me and teaching me daily, moment by moment.