Truthful Tuesday: Black or White

Sheep - black or white

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

If we have a standard and do not uphold it, then we have no standard at all.

Scripture of the Day:

Mark 8:33

But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”

Opinions are bemoaned as being black or white when they are stark or clearly delineate a point of view. We are supposed to be “tolerant” of all and having a conviction is legalistic, old fashioned or judgmental. But if we have a standard and do not uphold it, then we have no standard at all.

The upholding of a standard need not be judgmental. It can bring clarity and safety to ones who acknowledge and receive the warning that a rebuke brings.

Exhortation is the ugly stepchild of the spiritual gifts. We would rather encourage others and do not necessarily see speaking the truth as encouragement.

Jesus did not parse words when He called His beloved disciple “Satan”. Such a sharp rebuke for one of the top three closest of His disciples seems harsh and out of place. That is until we consider the spiritual danger of being in error and the lasting legacy we leave behind us, whichever path we choose.

If Christ permitted Peter to talk Him out of the impending suffering, Christ would not have redeemed all of mankind. Sometimes we have to call out the influences in our lives that are not drawing us closer to the LORD and clearly delineate what is from God and what is not.

We cannot serve God and mammon and fuzzy boundary lines do nothing to help us live lives of conviction that please the LORD. The lukewarm attitude that says everyone is fine and is afraid to speak the truth to one another is not love at all.

Although we might not want to be called out as behaving like a black sheep, we all like sheep are capable of straying, but the LORD our Shepherd calls us back to Himself with a loving rebuke and has laid on Himself the iniquity of us all.

Sometimes the truth might hurt and sometimes it might not be spoken in the manner we would like. But Truth, when combined with grace, opens our eyes to see our own deception so our lives are not wasted and leads us to the sweetest gift of all – eternal life with Christ.

Lord, thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit Who reveals sin in our hearts and pierces our inner being with Your Truth. Help us to faithfully, stubbornly persist in the Way of truth, all for Your glory, teachable and grateful.

Denise Pass, Worship Leader/Songwriter/Artist/Author

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Whose Fault Is It?

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Proverbs 11:5-6

“The righteousness of the blameless will make straight their way, but the wicked person will fall by his own wickedness.  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.”

Proverbs 12:12, 21

“The wicked person desires a stronghold, but the righteous root endures.  21 The righteous do not encounter any harm, but the wicked are filled with calamity.”

Genesis 4:7

“Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Romans 6:12-13

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.”

James 1:15

“Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.”

Jeremiah 19:5

“They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind!”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”


Daily we bear the sins of one another as well as our own.  In vanity we scramble to attempt to cover our shortcomings, but underneath is the same intent and heart.  In all the stress of our messy lives, a sinless Lamb covered all of the sins of the world and yet our hearts somehow still can blame Him.

Every day sin captivates mankind and every day the consequences of those sins are born and the blame is cast.  Sin ravages our souls and is often permitted to do so by the very ones whose lives it wreaks havoc upon.

A sane mind would not seek to suffer purposely, yet that is exactly what we do when we give in to sin’s deception.  God’s laws still stand whether or not we pay heed to them.  Like gravity, our decisions will affect the course of our life and the weight of sin will be felt, much like the joy experienced from the fruit of obedience.

God hates sin.  He hates what it does to us.  Our flesh hates the rules and boundaries set, thinking we are being deprived. All the while God wants to spare us from the spreading cancer which threatens to steal our joy and imprison us.

Time and time again throughout history God’s people are lured away by sin’s promises deceitfully dressed up in an attractive array.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.  How is it we cannot recognize the same strategies of the enemy and refrain from indulging our flesh?  Especially when we have seen in history the effects of sin on this weary world?

Deception.  Lust of the flesh.  Distrust.  Rebellion.  Self-reliance.  If in the moment of temptation we cry out to God, He will provide the grace and strength we need to overcome.  But all too often we don’t.  He makes a way out and we rationalize that our way seems better.  Or maybe we doubt God’s goodness or His ways and choose to be our own God.

While the prevalence of sin in our culture can be discouraging, there is still hope.  We can stop blaming others or God and put no confidence in our flesh.  We can turn away from sin and ask God to help us recognize it for what it is.  We are left without an excuse, but God forgives us anyway.  What kind of grace would choose to bear our blame?  Selfless, Holy grace – from the Only One Who can grant it.

Lord, help us to recognize sin in our lives and to turn away from it, the enemy of our souls.  Thank You for Your gracious covering and for setting us free!

Thoughtful Thursday: Hidden Treasure – Our Prized Possession

Proverbs 7:1-2

“My child, keep my words and treasure up my commands in your own keeping.  2 Keep my commands so that you may live, and obey my instruction as your most prized possession.”

Proverbs 2:4-5

“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Luke 12:34

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Colossians 2:2-3

“My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

We can go our entire lives searching for treasure – what our hearts long for.  Yet all the while it is right in front of us, sitting on a shelf, gathering dust.

Imagine finding a treasure and looking at it and taking just one piece of the treasure out, then leaving it there.  The treasure would not benefit us and would not be shared with anyone else, either.  In this fast-paced world, we can step over the greatest treasure and miss it, if we are not careful.

What are the various gems in this treasure chest?  Understanding.  Why is it that our eyes were opened to be able to comprehend what God has done?  Knowledge.  Adding to our understanding, more and more knowledge of Him and the ability to see our sins and His grace.  Wisdom. Knowledge applied and used for God’s glory.  Peace. Souls at rest no matter what is transpiring around us.  Salvation.  The penalty for our sins removed – our guilt stains washed away! Communion with God. being able to fellowship with Jesus and go to Him anytime.  Forgiveness.  All of our guilt washed away.  Grace.  Strength to live for Jesus.  Healing.  Changed hearts and minds yielded to Him, delivered from the burdens of this world.  Assurance.  The sweetest jewel – assurance that we will be with Him for all eternity lasts longer than any temporary treasure on this earth.

On and on the precious gems to be found.  To some the Bible is a book of rules, void of life.  To those who have recognized it’s worth, it is the greatest gift God has given to us.  Boundaries set to free us, counsel to comfort us, His word a lamp to guide us.

To be able to know the God of this universe and fellowship with Him is the greatest treasure given to mankind, but often we accept what is more tangible as a substitute and miss out on the gold He has for us.  No where else will we be able to find such a treasure, that supplies all our needs to each individual.

Lord, we delight in You!  Thank You for the treasure of Your most precious Son!  Help us to seek You without ceasing and to daily,moment by moment bask in your Word.

The Politically Incorrect Jesus

Mark 12:14-15

“When they came they said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not court anyone’s favor, because you show no partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?  But he saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”

John 18:38

“Pilate asked, “What is truth?” When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against him.”

Psalm 51:6

“Look, you desire integrity in the inner man; you want me to possess wisdom.”

Proverbs 29:25

“The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD will be set on high.”

With flattery they approached Jesus, couching their questions with seeming adoration of Jesus’ reputation of being truthful. He knew their hearts.  He did not seek fame nor popularity with them.  The people who had eyes and ears to understand the truth Christ shared listened with delight.  The ones who were jealous, racked with guilt over their sin or even self righteous – plotted to murder him.

Jesus was not deterred by their mocking one bit.  He did not fear them, either, but longed for them to know the truth and just kept living the perfect life before them.  He was more concerned about their salvation and did not try to utilize “seeker sensitive” means to win their hearts.

Truth accomplishes one of two reactions in those who hear it; it is either received and embraced or infuriates the one who does not want to be convicted by the truth.   It seems truth is an instigator.  We have to do something with it – we cannot hear it and have no response.

As believers in a very politically correct charged society, we have a dilemma.  To be all things to all people does not mean to compromise.  How are we to reach this world when absolute truth is no longer recognized or accepted?  Living a righteous life speaks volumes more than just telling someone else about it.  But what about when we make mistakes?  Even in those moments, we can respond in an honest way and repent and glorify God.  Living in truth does not mean we are perfect, but honesty is refreshing and what this world needs more than politically correct empty words.

We must put forth God’s truth in a manner consistent with the grace that has been given to us and we must not shrink back. There are those who have not yet bowed their knees to the peecee police – may we not drink the Koolaid, either.

Avoiding persecution is not a righteous choice and persecution is certain if we live in accordance with God’s truth.  We will not be understood.  We will be mocked.  Labeled.  Jesus was too.  But the peace that comes from Knowing God, searching out His truth and asking Him to help us walk with Him faithfully far outweighs the hollow, temporary acceptance from fickle man.

Lord, help us to live like You did.  May we recognize truth and settle for nothing less in our personal lives.  May we not try to curry the favor of man by worldly means, nor fear them, but love them and guide them to You – truth personified.

Weapons of Warfare

Photo Credits: covenantpromises.org

Photo Credits:
covenantpromises.org

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live as human beingswe do not wage war according to human standards4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weaponsbut are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments  5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.  24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient,  25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

It is difficult to live in this body of flesh and live for the LORD.  Fatigue and worldliness creep in easily if we are not watchful. Sometimes I can be lulled into a false perspective that being Christian is to be “nice” and flexible, tolerant of everyone and everything.  I can become disillusioned when I think salvation is equated to being loved by all and living a trouble-free life.

While we are called to love everyone, that does not mean we should expect reciprocation.  It also does not mean that we ought to condone sinful lifestyles or give in to the philosophies of this world.  Paul, who had previously zealously persecuted Christians, was a fighter.  He knew that to be faithful to God meant to be vigilant with our thoughts, faithful to seek God and spread His word.  He recognized that this Christian walk is a battle and he armed himself for the task at hand.

But we all do not have personalities like Paul.  I confess that I am naturally a shy person and a peacemaker.  I would rather avoid conflict, but sometimes it is necessary.  On one hand, I will not seek it out and waste energy on controversial arguments, but on the other hand, I want to be ready at all times to give an answer when someone is truly seeking.

Timothy strikes me as a more gentle soul, wanting to shepherd those around him, but equally as faithful to disseminate the word of God.  I love his heart to keep what really matters in perspective – winning one precious soul with gentle correction. It wasn’t about being right, but about caring for the other person enough to be unpopular with them while the truth was lovingly shared.

We have all perhaps seen hostile arguments over faith and even tearing down of fellow believers because their style or personality was different.  We might have even done so ourselves.  These are not the weapons we are to use as believers. Pride and vanity can cloud our view and cause us to see things from a merely human point-of-view, but love can clear the fog.  Not the world’s definition of love, but God’s Agape, unconditional love, which speaks the truth completely in love.

Boldness from God consumes me and causes me to see my need of God and to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I just want to be faithful.  Sometimes we can be about the work of God and suddenly find ourselves under attack.  (Which, by the way, should not surprise us, but being that my short term memory is lessened a great deal, I am surprised every time).

Even fellow believers can nip at our heels and judge the work we are doing in the LORD.  What weapons should be use in our arsenal?  Prayer.  Forgiveness.  Love.  When persecution or judgments arise, they are opportunities to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh; to cry out to God, not man; to read His Word and apply it in our lives.

The stumbling blocks of fear and self-preservation can inhibit us from using the weapons God prescribes for use in spiritual battle and from trusting in God to fight for us.  He is our Deliverer and able to accomplish far more than we ever could with our human tools.  His weapons are not of this world and the battles we face are not, either.

Lord, thank you for being our Defender.  Help us to recognize that every we battle we face in this life is a spiritual encounter, not a physical, fleshly one.  You have overcome all!  Help us to use the weapons You have given us, that many will be saved and healed.

The Goal of Selflessness

Photo Credits: followpics.co

Photo Credits:
followpics.co

Genesis 44:33-34

“So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers.  For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”

Philippians 2:4

“Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.”

2 Corinthians 6:3

“We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”

What a beautiful picture this is of selflessness.  Although Judah had spared his brother’s life before by suggesting they sell Joseph into slavery rather than killing him, Judah had finally seen that his former jealousy hurt others.  He had robbed his father of a son and was now willing to take the place of another brother, rather than see his father suffer anymore.

Jealousy is an ugly thing.  Striving for favor instead of being content with what God has provided is prideful.  Condemning others as if we hold the one correct view is sinful, yet we do this even in the body of Christ.  Why?  Self preservation. Defending self when we have been unfairly judged is understandable, but is it really the highest goal?  I know, I know. More death to self.  Ugh.  I feel it, too.

Don’t worry – dying to self does not mean we do not matter.  Biblically, we are to be concerned about our own lives, as well, but not myopically focused on self alone.  Deference hurts, especially when you have been wronged, but ultimately not one of us is always in the right.  Seeking God’s glory in the matter is paramount and helps to clear up our vision.

As we all want to have people believe the best in us, so must we extend this grace.  The church is a place where people should not be condemned for being imperfect, for we would all be condemned then.  As Christians, we cannot think that we are better than our fellow brother or sister.  No, we are all in the trenches side by side, working out character and sharing the Gospel.  Instead, humility and grace lived out and generously bestowed is demonstrated by loving one another in the face of rejection and hurt.  God help us to do so.

This weary world always has some new drama to unfold; someone who is not happy with you, or someone wanting “our” position.  But when we see everything we have as not ours in the first place, we have no need to defend self or hang onto anything.  Since we are hidden in Christ, He is our Defender and ultimately the harm others do to us is not to us at all.

Lord, help us to seek the best for others and favor them above ourselves.  May we be sensitive about Your Name being glorified by how we live and not as sensitive about ours.  Everything You have given us to do is about You. 

Unequal “Yokedom” and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts

Photo Credits: My son Sam

Photo Credits:
My son Sam

Genesis 28:1-7

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants!  Then you will become a large nation4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Thereforecome out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.”

Ok, so we are not cattle and it might seem a bit archaic to still use the terminology “yoked”.  Perhaps another analogy would serve today’s generation better, nonetheless our souls confirm this truth.  It was not a racial slur when Jacob’s parents were opposed to Jacob marrying a Caananite woman.  They knew that Jacob’s heart could be turned away from following the living God by marrying an unbelieving spouse.  This is not just a principle for the Old Testament.  I fear in our day of tolerance and relevance that we have lost touch with the truth that God’s word never changes and His principles still stand, no matter how sophisticated or independent we think we’ve become.

I have three daughters and two sons that God has blessed me with.  Later in life, He also brought a step-daughter into my life.  When God enabled me to be a parent, my greatest heart’s desire was that I would be faithful to raise them in the LORD.  God was seeking godly offspring when He chose Abraham and when He chose us.  These children He has given are truly His.  Being charged with guarding their hearts and guiding them in Christ has been a challenging task, indeed, but it is worth it.

Suitors are now coming to call and the foundation that was laid all of these years is holding, by the grace of God.  It is not easy, and I, too, can easily falter if it were not for the compass I hold in my hand each day – the Bible.  You see, the philosophy of this day and age is to minimize the authority that parents have in their children’s lives.  It is viewed as old-fashioned.  So be it.  The role God gave parents is one He holds them accountable for, and that truth, coupled with the fear of the LORD, keeps me seeking God for His choice, not mine, in my children’s lives.

Worldliness is easy.  It is so woven into all of society, even in Christian places, that we can become dumbed down and not detect it anymore.  It is so hard to keep our hearts, let alone our children’s.  If I put my oxygen mask (the Bible) on each day, I am able to see clearly enough to place it on my children, but this also requires discipline and consistency in my life.

It starts when they are young.  Even when my children were first able to understand, I shared with them God’s word and how it differed from the world around us.  At that time I told them we were not going to follow the customs of the culture around us, including dating at a young age.  The follow up to that standard never relents and must not just be a legalistic mantra.  Godly standards flowing from genuine conviction breathe life, not rebellion.

This morning, my 10-year-old son knew I was not to be interrupted during my devotion time.  It is still so hard for him to not do so. Instead, he got his Bible out and read beside me and drew a picture from his devotion time, which I used for today’s blog. These moments are precious, but we cannot rest in them.  We have to keep building on this foundation and remind our kids that the faith they were taught has to become their own.

Back to my daughters.  Young men are now coming, asking to date or court my two oldest – pesky thing it is, them growing up.  Trying to walk the line of counseling my daughters and letting them make decisions is difficult, to say the least.  True character is shown soon enough, though, whether a young man will respect the parent’s place in the young woman’s life whom he admires, or whether he will secretly attempt to subvert the authority God has placed in my daughter’s lives.

We did not permit dating or courtship until they were 18 and have certainly been judged for doing so.  No regrets here. This past week I had the joy of having a godly young man inquire after one of my daughters.  They have been friends for a year and a half and walked through this process beautifully.  Moments like this make it all worth it.  Suitors can lie, manipulate and couch their professions of love in “Christianese”, but the Holy Spirit is able to guide important life decisions.  We just have to be seeking and listening.  True character is shown in time – we just must be vigilant!

My older son is a couple of years away from adulthood now.  Completely different and also much the same.  The principles of purity and guarding our hearts have been laid as groundwork since before he could first understand those words.  May he and his younger brother continue to walk in God’s ways and seek a righteous wife someday, for even the wisest man, Solomon, had wives turn his heart away from God toward worthless things.

Although Jacob might have easily disregarded his parent’s counsel, he did not.  He chose to obey and was rewarded for it. He had his own past of deceit and maybe learned from it.  My prayer is that my children will continue to choose the path of following God, but that will be their decision.  I am blessed to say that they are walking with God, but the spiritual battle for all of our children’s hearts is waged daily.  We have experienced firsthand how the disobedience of one person caused incredible pain and horrific consequences in our lives.  We do not want to walk that path again.

We never arrive as parents and never are done inspiring our children to love God.  The costs are just too high, and future generations are counting on the faithfulness of us right now.  We cannot become trapped in cultural pressure or fads.  Even terminology can become an idol – dating or courtship.  Choices lie before us all each day.  What we choose impacts those who follow behind us.  I choose by the grace of God blessing and not a curse – walking in obedience over rebellion, life over death.  What say you?

Lord, thank you for saving me and showing me the need for discipleship of the children You have given.  When I fall short, LORD, protect their hearts and enable us to follow hard after You, for You are our life!

Thoughtful Thursday: The Blessing of Rebuke

Job 5:8, 17-19

5:8But as for me, I would seek Godand to God I would set forth my case. 17Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandageshe strikes, but his hands also heal19 He will deliver you from six calamitiesyes, in seven no evil will touch you.”

Proverbs 15:32

“The one who refuses correction despises himself, but whoever hears reproof acquires understanding.”

Psalms 94:12

“How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O Lordthe one whom you teach from your law.”

Psalm 145:1

“May the godly strike me in love and correct me! May my head not refuse choice oil! Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.”

This morning I am praising and thanking God that He loves us enough to rebuke us.  That’s right.  Where would we be, if we were just left in our sin?  Some of you might be tempted to say – “free” – but enslavement to sin or poor character is not free at all.  I love how the Holy Spirit can speak to us right in the middle of a thought we are having.  At the doorway to our mind and heart are multiple thoughts, seemingly at the speed of light.  I daresay we allow some in without realizing the poison they are injecting.  It is in those moments that I am so grateful for God opening our eyes to recognize thoughts of pride, jealousy, anger, hatred that are astir in our minds.  We might not call our thoughts those names, but if we look at the root and give our sins the worst name, we are not deceived.

We all know that feeling you get when you’ve been caught – either by another person or the Holy Spirit within you.  Sort of like the child with their hand immersed into the proverbial cookie jar, there is no denying the rebuke you feel in your spirit. As much as that conviction might not be pleasant, what a gift it is!  Our response in the moments following being confronted with our shortcomings can produce beautiful fruit if we let it. Do we attempt to deny the allegations, become offended at someone else judging us, or do we consider the rebuke as an opportunity for reflection and ultimate blessing?

Perhaps a rebuke is errant – maybe it is not applicable at all.  Praise God!  But more times than not, if we are honest, we are culpable on some level to the charge being asserted.  The messenger might not have been godly in their correction – even more of an opportunity to glorify God by not taking it personally.  A poor messenger does not always mean the message is not valid.

Maybe there is truth in the rebuke, confirmed by the familiar conviction felt in our soul.  What then?  No despair or discouragement is necessary.  Isn’t that awesome?  Just recognition and surrender to God, then replacing those thoughts with His.  Feeling mistreated by someone?  Pray for them (not judgmentally, lol), sincerely and do not allow your thoughts to become presumptive.  Let it go.  Accept the rebuke and realize that it is not an end, but a beginning.

David was shocked to hear of the behavior that the prophet Nathan detailed about a wicked man who would take from someone less fortunate.  When he realized it was him being spoken about, that he was the adulterer and the murderer, he was undone.  He repented and acknowledged his guilt before God.  He had become deceived and yielded to the flesh, despite knowing God to be the one true God.  We in the New Testament can do the same thing, yet the standard is higher. Our thoughts condemn us as just as guilty as if we had committed the actions those thoughts represent.

So where is the blessing in rebuke?  The book of Job, chapter 5 lists numerous ways we are blessed by accepting God’s rebuke.  We are redeemed from death, famine, the power of the sword, protected from malicious gossip, no fear of destruction, unafraid, our home will be secure.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s the good news today – God never gives up on us.  He is a loving Father Who corrects His children, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.  Accepting His rebuke is accepting life.  Refusing rebuke or making excuses for it is death. Some may rebuke with the purpose of tearing down, but God is able to take even that and turn it around for our good. Amazing, awesome God.

Lord, thank you for teaching us through Your Holy Spirit and revealing sin, that we might gain forgiveness and fellowship with You.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Gap Between Conviction & Intentionality

Photo Credits scottrossonline.com

Photo Credits scottrossonline.com

Proverbs 28:4-5

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law contend with them.  5 Evil people do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it all.  9 The one who turns away his ear from hearing the law,even his prayer is an abomination.

So, it might no longer be a fitting title for this blog to be called “Thoughtful Thursday” since it is, in fact being written and posted on a Friday, but I could not miss my favorite day of posting – even though I technically did.  (o:  Better late than never!

At first blush, this verse in Proverbs seems not too applicable to probably most of my readers, but I love to try and think outside of the box – to see if there is an application there that perhaps I did not consider.  While there are many motivations to abstain from sin, this one probably ranks high on the list.  I do not think any one of us would voluntarily say they consciously praise the wicked.  “Boy, I cannot wait to go praise the enemy” – said no good Christian ever.  But is it possible that could occur?  To forsake the law potentially encompasses many actions.  We can willfully choose not to obey God’s law or a law that God sovereignly placed us under on this earth, but frequently, the law is forsaken unintentionally.  Subtly.

Sometimes it is a lack of understanding.  Is a specific law still applicable today?  Take the Sabbath, for instance.  Scripture is replete with many examples of God’s call to faithfully still adhere to the Sabbath.  It would not look the same as it did in the Old Testament, but since God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, does not He still want us to rest and worship Him, one day a week?  I am humbled to say this is a challenge to me, but the fear of the LORD drives me to not casually set aside a law if I do not understand it or it seems outdated.

Another form of forsaking the law is when we permit words to come out of our mouth that Scripture clearly commands us not to – praise and cursing come out of the same mouth.  But often it can slip in many “Christian” circles as being a “part of the culture”.  Not a part of God’s culture, but somehow allowed in because the Christian’s sins are covered?  May it never be.

Exposing areas in our lives that are not consistent with the life hidden in Christ can sting a little bit.  We all have blind spots, spaces in our faith that lack integrity and perhaps an understanding of what God requires.  That is where God’s grace comes in – not to placate those areas, but to cover the ones that are still hidden from us while we still seek to be obedient to God and His Word.  We need to be intentional – not legalistic, but sincere and persistent in seeking God’s laws.  It is my earnest prayer that this weak vessel will spark a generation of sincere believers who will be vigilant in walking with their faithful God and be a light in a dark world.

Lord, reveal to us where we are not submitting to Your law and help us to obey Your laws fervently.  Thank You for Your promise that if we seek You, we will understand justice and our need to follow Your ways.  How amazing You are!

Judge Not

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By: Denise Pass © 6/9/14

I Corinthians 4:3-5

“So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord. So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God.”

You know the feeling – it’s a stare and sudden looking away that leaves you with a distinct impression that you are being shunned. You are not adequate. At once you remember the guilt of your actions, or perhaps are aware of the slander spoken about you.  In that moment you can feel inferior and labeled.

The problem is, you don’t really know for certain that the individual is in fact judging you, but you act as though it were fact.

Well, what if it were fact?  What if instead you acknowledged whatever conviction (not guilt) that you were feeling?  What then?  Instead of denying even the false rumors, perhaps real freedom comes from humbly admitting that while their perception might not be true, certainly there are some things in me that are not praiseworthy.

Then comes liberty. There is no longer judgment in my failures. No more worrying about other people’s perceptions or judgments. We are aware of some of our shortcomings, though we are all myopic and incapable of seeing them all. Our Lord knew that man’s opinion was not trustworthy. ”  But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.”  There is amazing freedom when we know we are guilty and not perfect, but accepted in His sight!  I am free!  I am not condemned.

We all know we are not supposed to judge others, but how about ourselves? Isn’t it liberating that we are not qualified to judge even ourselves? We can think ourselves righteous or a martyr when we beat ourselves up for our weaknesses, but, in fact, it is legalism which is not godly at all.

Lastly, if we can realize that focusing on the perfect One instead of focusing on trying to make ourselves look perfect to everyone else, it is liberation for our souls. Replace the description of us with God’s description of us.

Let go of worrying about false perceptions and thinking of self and lay that burden at His feet.  He is your Defender and our lives are hidden in Him.

Lord, help us to stop judging ourselves or others and to not allow anyone to judge us but You alone. You are the perfect, righteous Judge and I thank you that you shape my weaknesses to make me more like you.