Mundane Monday: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Truthful Tuesday: The Truth Hurts

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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

Fickle Friday: Endless Pursuit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

Scripture of the day:

2 Corinthians 1:17

“Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?”

We have a lot of goals that we pursue, but any purpose that is attempted in the flesh will ultimately fail – even if it appears to be successful according to the world’s standards.

Our desires change and fluctuate moment by moment. That’s just our nature. As Solomon questioned all the activity underneath the sun, he wondered what really mattered. Even though our work on earth is temporal, that which is done in the spirit lasts forever.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results, I think we would all qualify.  So many resolutions offered your after year with few ultimately accomplished.

Wow. I really sound like a downer. We certainly never should cease trying to be more like Christ and working toward goals that he puts on our hearts.  It is the vain pursuit of success apart from His leading that is a futile effort, even if we achieve our objective.

Sometimes when God calls us to do something, it will take a lot of effort and tenacity. But when we know that He has placed a vision on our heart, we cannot deviate or vacillate from it.

Our double-minded, fickle nature makes it a challenge to discern between pursuits that don’t matter and ones we were destined for.  But in our weakness he is strong.  He knows we are flesh and His grace is greater.

Lord, help us to know your will for this life and to be faithful to that calling all for your glory.

Denise Pass | Seeing Deep

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Idle Idolatry

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize.

Scripture of the Day:

Exodus 32:4-6

“He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the LORD. 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.”

Moses was missing in action. Gone too long on a mission by God, or so the Israelites felt. Forty days in the presence of God, thunder on the mountain, the God who parted the Red Sea – and the people asked for another god.

When the cat’s away the mice will play. Idle lives focused on their entertainment rather than on pleasing God was the stumbling block that began their campaign of idolatry. Coupled with impatience, the people of God ached to fill their emptiness with something greater. They did not want to have to wait. Their solution seemed religious enough – they were going to worship, after all. Sure, it was a “god” that was handmade by Aaron their leader from the jewelry they had worn just a few minutes earlier, but it gave them purpose and filled the empty spot in their souls that cried out to worship the living God.

What a sad account. Not just because God’s people accepted a counterfeit for their God who had just rescued them, but also because a man of God who was their leader – enabled them. Aaron was the one who would hold Moses’ hands up to lead Israel to victory. He was the very voice of Moses when Moses felt too fearful to speak. But when Moses was absent, Aaron quickly turned away from God and gave the people what they wanted – even though it would ultimately lead to many of their deaths.

In the times when it seems God is absent or far off, His answer and presence might be closer than we realize. The Israelites did not want to be disciplined and wait. They wanted to play. God saw what they were doing, anyway.

We are not unlike the Israelites. Busy, distracted, absorbed in modern technology, we have many options for idle time spend with modern idols. At the moment of our compromise, in His mercy, God shows us our sin so we will be freed from our idolatry and come back to Him. Even though idols can have a strong appeal, God’s grace is greater than our weakness and He longs to set us free.

Our response in the moment of our sin being exposed makes all the difference. Aaron said a calf “popped” out of the fire when his sin was revealed. Wow. Add a big fat lie on top of the grievous sin is not the way to forgiveness. When the scales fall off our eyes and we become aware of our sin, concealing our sins will not hide them from the eyes of God or heal our waywardness. God welcomes us to lay down our idols at His feet and to worship the only One of worth – Himself.

No substitute could ever replace you, God. Keep us from useless idols and keep our hearts near to You.

Denise Pass, Worship Leader/Songwriter/Artist/Author

 

Truthful Tuesday: True Repentance

True Repentance

Image from Closerdaybyday.org

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We live in a unique time today in the politically correct society that tolerates all sin, but judges the righteous…

Scripture:

2 Corinthians 7:9-11

“Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. 10 For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. 11 For see what this very thing, this sadness as God intended, has produced in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, what punishment! In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

While we as Christians are called not to judge one another, for we are all equally sinful, we are also called to gently correct one another when we see sin in our lives. Sin – that death threat to our spiritual walk with God. Who wouldn’t want that gone?

But sometimes we live in fear of offending someone, even though they are trapped in their sin. The message of the Gospel has the power to deliver one from the bondage of sin and bring true joy into their lives, but we often shrink back because it might hurt them or their feelings. Not really. We are afraid in actuality that they might not like us. So, instead of sharing the life-giving message of Christ’s resurrection and the forgiveness of our sins, we often keep the most amazing truth a secret, potentially damning people for all eternity.

I know. That was hard for me to hear, too. Today at a Chick-fil-a, a woman came up and handed me a napkin she had written upon. She wrote to tell me how astonished she was at the patience of my youngest child who sat while I worked for three hours. Divine appointment. Sometimes these moments are not convenient – wait, who am I kidding? They are never convenient. But we are perpetually on a mission, and those around us are the ones we are to reach.

If we dare to love people enough to share both the message of God’s punishment and forgiveness of sin, We just might witness one of the most beautiful things on this earth – true repentance – that moment when a soul recognizes their need of God and submits wholeheartedly to God’s loving rebuke and correction.

True repentance cannot be faked. It is a devastation over our sin and a turning away from that sin.  It is not the emotion of sorrow for being caught, but sorrow for hurting God and grateful for the instruction that opened our eyes in the first place.

Lord, help us to care about the souls all around us and to share Your message of hope and salvation. Bring divine appointments our way and help us to be Your faithful witnesses. The harvest is ripe – send us – and help us to yield, as well, when the revelation of sin knocks on the door of our own hearts, begging us to truly repent.

Worshipful Wednesday: Striving No More

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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.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Notices Us

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Nothing escapes God’s notice; He is sovereignly working out all of the details of our lives for His glory and our good.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 31:7-8

“I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness, because you notice my pain and you are aware of how distressed I am.  8 You do not deliver me over to the power of the enemy; you enable me to stand in a wide open place.”

 

Psalm 33:13-18

“The LORD watches from heaven; he sees all people. 14 From the place where he lives he looks carefully at all the earth’s inhabitants. 15 He is the one who forms every human heart, and takes note of all their actions. 16 No king is delivered by his vast army; a warrior is not saved by his great might 17 A horse disappoints those who trust in it for victory; despite its great strength, it cannot deliver. 18 Look, the LORD takes notice of his loyal followers, those who wait for him to demonstrate his faithfulness.” 

This world often holds a deist point-of-view, supposing that a god exists and made the world, but then went on a hiatus.  Maybe he’s too busy, or perhaps he does not care.  Most people can acknowledge that there must be a Creator, but whether or not this Creator is intimately involved in the lives of His creation is where faith begins or dies.

Of all the religions in the world and all the demands of “gods” there is no god like our God. He is the God who “sees” – who saw Hagar and Ishmael, when Hagar thought she would have to watch her son die in the desert.  He is the God who saw Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb; the God Who sees all.

He is the God who notices us and longs to deliver His people.  But sometimes we have to wait and be uncomfortable.  That does not mean He does not see, nor does it mean that He does not care.  What we perceive is “bad” can be a tool used by a loving God who sees what we really need.

As we surrender our will over to the God who really does see it all, we truly are in the best hands.  Our myopic view is self-focused and lacking.  We often see in the here and now and our all-knowing God sees it all.

Now to some this fact of God’s omniscience is comforting – to others it is horrifying.  Each of us could not stand before such a God, unless this all-seeing God would cover our sins. And that is just what our God did.  We do not need to hide or try to attempt to cover over our shortcomings.  We can come before our Holy God, confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness.

Our God Who notices, Who knows every detail of our lives, invites us to trust afresh in Him, even when our circumstances seem dire.  He is able to give grace and strength now and knows the end. He is already there.

Lord, thank You for being so amazing.  I cannot contemplate how You can know all, but I am so grateful that You do.  Help us to trust in You at all times.  You are good!

 

Holy Week: His Name is Truth

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Living a lie to be politically correct is never as satisfying as living in truth.

Scriptures of the Day:

Isaiah 53:9

“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.”

John  14:6

“Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.”

John 18:23-24, 37-38

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”

Ever been lied to?  Silly question, I know.  There is something about deceit that is painful. It is a betrayal, an intentionally masking of truth to keep it hidden and people ignorant. Why go to all that effort?  What makes truth something people would want to hide from? If knowledge is power, than the person with knowledge is able to help others see or keep that insight to him or herself.

Sometimes we avoid truth because it is not popular or politically correct.  Sometimes we would rather avoid it because it is painful and sometimes we want to pretend we are unaware because we would then be accountable to the truth we know.

Jesus did not beat around the bush.  He not only spoke the truth, He WAS and IS Truth.  He knew how desperately His people needed to hear truth.  Being in the dark is not really living – it is existing a false life.  Why live in darkness when we can walk in the light?

When Christ walked that road to Calvary, He did not waver in telling and living the truth, even though it cost Him dearly.  When Pilate looked Jesus in the eyes and asked him what truth was, Jesus was not concerned with freeing Himself, but instead steadfastly told the truth, wanting Pilate to understand.

We are unacquainted with truth and unable to see or understand it until God mercifully reveals truth to us.  Something innately within us bursts with peace when we hear God’s Holy, sweet truth.  His truth convicts and liberates the sinner, setting the captives free from the bondage of lies.  As we consider the celebration of Easter, I am so grateful for God’s revelation of truth that would open our eyes to see such a great salvation.

Lord, help us to walk in truth at the very core of our inner being and to shine Your Truth for all to see.

Truthful Tuesday: Carrying the Torch

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We help our children carry the torch of faith by living out our faith honestly and in humility.

Scripture of the Day:

Judges 2:10-12

“That entire generation passed away; a new generation grew up that had not personally experienced the LORD’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel.  11 The Israelites did evil before the LORD by worshiping the Baals. 12 They abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods–the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped them and made the LORD angry.

Some have said that the upcoming generation is leaving the church.  The foundation laid is purportedly not firm and the future generation left the faith of their predecessors.

Nothing scares me more than the faith of my children fading and being replaced with a worldly counterfeit.

I have a jealousy for their souls and a desire for them to see this walk with Christ is not mere religion, but a vibrant, cherished relationship with the Lover of our souls.

But I cannot make that choice for them.  They have to pick up the torch and choose to carry it.  As the character Sam Wise said in the movie, “Lord of the Rings”, “‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

Praying for them and daily sharing God’s word and living it out has a much more profound effect than rules aimed at external behavior only.  So it is with us, the predecessors.  We each had to face the poverty of our own souls, grapple with sin and not allow it to master us on the inside.  We still do.

When our children see our need of God, there is no greater demonstration of active living faith.  Confessing our shortcomings yet not yielding to them shows them how to carry the torch.

Ultimately, if the faith of the future generation was dependent upon our perfection, faith would fail.  Thank God that faith is a gift from Him, nurtured with time spent with Jesus in His word and prayer.

Lord, help us to never grow weary of seeking You and discipling the precious next generation for Your glory.  May righteousness sweep across our nation and the hearts of the children return to You.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Judging Judgment

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Romans 14:12

“Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.”

1 Peter 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?”

Judgment.  No one wants to be the recipient, but all have been participants in either judging others or being judged themselves.

In His perfect wisdom, God designed a system of justice in place to judge our actions.  Man sets up his own system of judgment, too, to condemn one another.

At the root of judgment from any human being is pride.  Pride in our own sinful, myopic condition that we would think we could ever be in a place to pass judgment on another creation, made in God’s image.

There are so many more motivations in the act of judgment, though. Sometimes we want to make ourselves feel better about our decisions, or we manipulate others with judgment to try to get them to do something we want.

Sounds pretty ugly.  That’s because judgment from man is going to be man-centered, but judgment that Christ gives is perfect and redemptive.

God judges our hearts to bring us to repentance and show us our sinful condition.  Man judges to prove a position, inflict pain, manipulate or inflate self.

Man cannot judge other’s motivations, for we cannot see the heart – only God can.  Still, the default sinful condition of man is to presume and judge brothers or sisters in Christ.

Despite out corrupt nature, we do not have to give in to judgment.  The heart of man is deceitful, but God.  He is gracious and able to help us lay down our judgments and put on forgiveness.  Sometimes people can hurt us and boundaries have to be put up so they cannot hurt or condemn us further.  Sometimes we have to lay down our desire to please man in his faulty judgments, too.

Maybe some of us feel we deserve judgment – we all do.  But Christ bore that judgment for us all.  In this world we have relationships that are broken from sin and ensuing consequences, and people will judge us until the day we die, but all of those judgments fall off our shoulders and are laid at the feet of our Savior – the One, perfect, Righteous Judge.

Lord, thank You for the sweet victory You give to walk in freedom and forgiveness.  Thank You for bearing our judgment.  Help us to consider others better than ourselves and to discern others in the light of the grace that we have been given.