30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 26 – Imputed Holiness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Genesis 15:6

“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Philippians 3:9

“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:30

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

Hebrews 10:10

“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

When I was first saved, discovering the miracle of Christ making me Holy completely overwhelmed me. It still does. That I could in one moment be darkened in my understanding and in the next moment be able to see my sinful condition was a miracle.

Suddenly there was a desire to be Holy. That day of salvation I threw away all my former music and craved to be like Him. I broke up with my boyfriend and chose not to date. Radical transformation because of a radical gift of salvation.

I began to grasp what it meant to be justified before a Holy God. I could not ascribe to His Holiness, so He covered me with His. Just-As-If-I-Never-Sinned. Wow. We who are in Christ are “at-one” with Him. The “atone”ment cover which conceals our sins is Christ Himself.

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God. For all eternity we will be in His presence because of what Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. Holiness imputed to the unholy ones.

This Holiness given freely was so costly, so undeserved. Those who are unclean, with sin as red as scarlet, are made as white as snow simply because they choose to believe. What a gift I am forever grateful for.

Lord, thank You for purifying our minds and hearts, our entire beings with the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. May we never forget the cost and live lives worthy of His great sacrifice.

Mundane Monday: The Struggle is Real

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 6:12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”


Spoken often in jest, we confess with our mouths about the struggle of living in a chaotic world, yet we are often unaware of the real struggle lying underneath. The Prince of the air is busy – constantly striving to steal, kill and destroy. Ignorance is not our friend, no, we perish for our lack of understanding.

Blaming a devil behind every evil is not the answer, but seeing the influence this evil is waging on us and those around us is paramount. This influence might not be as obvious as acts that we see which can be clearly understood. The power of the enemy can be borne out in our thoughts, attitude and behavior.

When we perceive that someone does not like us or we feel negatively toward another person ourselves, these pessimistic thoughts have but one source – the pit of hell. Judgment, shunning, gossip, deceit, superiority, self righteousness, unkind remarks – all have a common root of flesh affected by enveloping darkness. We who are in Christ are given a great gift of recognizing this evil and turning away from it.

Filtering our thoughts and actions through the Bible and prayer instructs us on how to live and how to discern things outside and inside of ourselves. True freedom comes from recognizing that our flesh does not desire conviction but then yielding that flesh to Jesus, anyway.

While we will never arrive on this earth, we can know that Jesus knew we would struggle and He loved us so much that He made a way out. We do not have to be imprisoned by the negative influence all around us, but can cry out to God for understanding and choose to obey Him, instead.

Even though the struggle is indeed real, whether or not we perceive it, we are not without hope. Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Jesus, thank You for opening our eyes to see sin in our own lives. When we see demonic influence in other people’s lives, help us to pray for them and not judge them. Help us to examine ourselves for worldly influence that we might be a faithful witness for You – testifying and living for Your glory alone!

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass – Seeing Deep Ministries – http://www.seeingdeep.com

 

Author | Singer/Songwriter | Worship Leader

A Season of Thankfulness: Day Three – A Righteous Standard

Day Three Thankfulness God's unchanging standard

Leviticus 19:2-3

“Speak to the whole congregation of the Israelites and tell them, ‘You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.  3 Each of you must respect his mother and his father, and you must keep my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God. 4 Do not turn to idols, and you must not make for yourselves gods of cast metal. I am the LORD your God. 11 “‘You must not steal, you must not tell lies, and you must not deal falsely with your fellow citizen.  12 You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. 13 You must not oppress your neighbor or commit robbery against him. You must not withhold the wages of the hired laborer overnight until morning. 14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am the LORD.  15 “‘You must not deal unjustly in judgment: you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the LORD. 17 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. 18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Leviticus 22:9

“They must keep my charge so that they do not incur sin on account of it and therefore die because they profane it. I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

He created us, made us in His image.  He established His righteous laws and communicated His requirements to His people.  Then He paid the price and sanctified us.  Words cannot adequately convey how amazing our God is.

Some think rules spoil the fun.  They are somehow unfair and unnecessary, legalistic and burdensome; wrecking our happiness due to the judgment felt when we break God’s righteous laws.

Leviticus – that book of the Bible that many dread to read.  Gruesome with detail about sin and its consequences, we do not like to look at the devastation of sin or the standards of God because we are unable to keep His laws in our own strength.

But it is the revelation of His standards that ultimately sets us free.  God’s laws revealed our need for a Savior.  The conviction felt when we looked into God’s perfect law causes us to either run to God out of our desperate need or to rebel in our pride, thinking we are above the law.

As humans, we tend to think a loving God would let us do whatever we want.  But He loves us too much for that. He is GOOD and perfect in what He allows for His children.  That goodness commanded us to abstain from sin because He knew it would destroy us.  That righteousness would command us to rest and give us a salvation that we could never earn.

Sure, we could don our own covering like Adam and Eve tried to do, or cover ourselves with excuses that leave us feeling empty deep inside.  We could try to earn our own righteousness by good works, but ultimately, we would fail.  Rationalizing in a relativistic world does not cover our sin and making sinful actions lawful in our society will never wipe away our transgressions.

Our inability to provide for our own sin leaves us destitute before a Holy God with standards that do not grade on the curve.  But His grace overcomes our flaws and failings and His firm promises are our redemption before a Holy God when we admit our need of Him.

Thank God for His mercy and wisdom and complete Holiness that would have a standard in a world with constantly shifting standards.  Because of His faithfulness, we are secure in Christ.  Secure in a relationship with a Holy God Who does not change.  Ever.

Lord, thank You for providing us with boundaries that set us free in You.  Please open our eyes to understand more of Your perfect law and to rejoice and delight in You and Your perfect statutes.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Impact of a Righteous Foundation

Photo Credits: jimbomkamp.com

Photo Credits:
jimbomkamp.com

Psalm 89:14

“Equity and justice are the foundation of Your throne.  Loyal love and faithfulness characterize Your rule.  15 How blessed are the people who worship You!  O Lord, they experience Your favor.  16 They rejoice in Your name all day long, and are vindicated by Your justice.”

Isaiah 16:5

“In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it– one from the house of David– one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”

Proverbs 16:12

“Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.”

Psalm 9:7 

“The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.”

Proverbs 25:5

“Remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


A king or ruler in this world system is not often characterized by being gracious, loving and faithful.  In fact, their predominant traits are based more in pride, power and politics.  Godless leaders in our age seek to subjugate their people by both the laws they impose and the freedoms they allow.  But our King chooses instead to embrace and exhibit perfect humility, mercy and justice toward His people.  While we are ultimately His creation and slaves, He calls us His children and cares for us and grants us access to His throne room.

It seems that the key to success in this world is all wrapped around clawing our way to the top, usually by dishonest means or political ploys.  Yet any position on this earth is merely temporal and the influence of our rule will perish, unless righteousness is at its foundation.

Unlike the politicians of this world, our King keeps all of His promises and not one of His promises are evil.  A man might gain popularity for His promises to provide for the people’s flesh, giving them laws that permit a sinful lifestyle, but a righteous leader knows that laws based in unrighteousness will ultimately destroy his people and his nation.

Any leader on the face of this earth who is worthy of esteem will bow his knee before God and seek to be His servant first. So, we, too, have that same responsibility.  Whatever our positions of leadership, we have an opportunity to embody a worldly philosophy, seeking popularity with man or to seek the favor of our God.

We might not be kings or queens, presidents or even administrators, but we can pray for those in positions of power.  God has placed us in an area of influence and leadership somewhere in our lives, too.  Perhaps the greatest role of leadership on this earth is not seen as that.  As parents, we set boundaries for our children that are based in righteousness or we allow the pressures of this world to dictate our leadership.

Parents are undermined by government and this culture, but not by God.  We need to rise up and be faithful, for God is seeking godly offspring to affect the next generation.  Much like a political figure who is watchful over his affairs, we need to constantly be on guard for wickedness and worldliness that seek to enter our home, but we also need to be demonstrating the right path daily.

The tricky thing about leadership is that is is not just telling people what to do, but showing them.  If my children see me seeking the face of God, that has a much more far reaching impact than just preaching at them.  Parenting is one of the toughest positions of leadership.  We must correct our children in love, knowing that they might not understand.  But if we are not faithful to discipline and watch over their souls, we are loving self more than them and not following the example of our Savior who led like a Shepherd.

Any position of leadership in this world is all about God and not us, all for His glory and purposes.  Every position will one day end, but the affects of how we lead can have an eternal impact.  Praise God that we have a sure foundation in Him.  He is holy, righteous and no uncertainty exists in His reign.  Wow.  May we apply His style of leadership to our lives and rest in the confidence that while the kingdoms in this world will all fall, we worship a God whose throne is established for all eternity.

Lord, thank You for showing us how to live, love and lead.  You are so Holy and we fall so very short, but please enable us to lead where You have called us to.  Help us to influence those in leadership above us in righteousness, by prayer and action.  Thank You, God, for the security we have in You, our Righteous King.

Mundane Monday: Striving for Rest

Photo Credits: kingpinlifestyle.com

Photo Credits:
kingpinlifestyle.com

Philippians 3:12-16

“Not that I have already attained this–that is, I have not already been perfected–but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. 16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.”

Psalm 46:10

“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!”

Hebrews 4:1, 11

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  11 Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.”


Here it is a Monday again.  I missed blogging last week while recording in Nashville and although Mondays have a reputation for being daunting – back to work – here’s a promising blog of what striving is supposed to look like in the life of the believer.  So, happy Mundane Monday – with God’s grace our lives are anything but mundane and the ordinary becomes extraordinary in His hands!

Is God duplicitous when he says to strive in one passage, but then in another says we need to cease striving?  Paradoxical at first blush, the more we look into His perfect word we see that in His faithfulness he already attained perfection for us.

Positionally, we are right with the God of the universe, though presently we see how very far we fall short of His glory.  How is that?  Just as Abraham was reckoned as righteous before a Holy God, so it is with us who have believed in God and believed that He has the authority to declare righteous who He has ordained to be in His perfect plan.  My heart cannot contain the joy of knowing that God considers me righteous.  How can it be?  Because His Holy Son, Jesus Christ took our place!

While this bliss of being forgiven is incomparable to any other gift on this earth, on one hand it means we are called to rest in His righteousness and on the other, it is a call to cooperate with the sanctification process of pressing in to know God more.

So many times we see today people professing to be Christians and yet their mouths utter profanities or remain in sin and they lay hold of the expensive grace granted by Jesus’ precious blood and believe they are covered.  Paul’s words echo loudly within my being – “may it never be”!  God forgives our sins – and we receive this undeserved forgiveness, not so we can trample on His lavish grace.  No, it is so we can yield to His will and say no to our flesh.

Where does striving cease?  It is in trying to attain our own righteousness.  We can never make it on our own and we can never make ourselves more righteous than what God has achieved for us.  No amount of additional demands made by man can make us clean.  After receiving a covering for our sin, to strive to try to earn it is folly.  But the striving we are to do is to die to self and to seek fervently after God.

Life is hard.  It can be easy to get lazy in our pursuit of God when seemingly the sky is falling, or opposite of that, when all is well in our worlds, we can get very comfortable and forget how great our need is of God.  His salvation is priceless and precious and although it was already attained for us, as ambassadors for Christ our work is never done.

This work in Christ is done only by His grace and He again accomplishes the work of sanctification and character in us as we are faithful to live for Him and not ourselves.  This is truly rest for our souls.  Resting and trusting in Him to complete the work He began in us.  Amen!

Lord, thank You for calling me to know You.  I was an enemy and You chose me, anyway.  I falter and stumble, and you pick me up, clean me up and use me again.  I am dumbfounded by Your mercy and grace.  Be glorified, LORD!  Please help all who are reading this to truly understand this rest You have called us to and to never allow comfort to be our goal, but knowing You more and making You known!

Thoughtful Thursday: The Righteous vs. the Unrighteous

Psalm 36:1-4

“For the music director; written by the LORD’s servant, David; an oracle. An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin.  The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful; he does not care about doing what is wise and right.  He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed; he is committed to a sinful lifestyle; he does not reject what is evil.”

Malachi 3:18

“Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.”

1 John 3:7

“Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Jesus is righteous.

Psalm 38:18

“Yes, I confess my wrongdoing, and I am concerned about my sins.”

Psalm 45:7

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.”

No one is righteous, no not one, and yet God counts us as righteous.  How can this be?  The blood of Jesus Christ covers our sins and makes us as white as snow.  Such a costly sacrifice should ever be before us, so that we remember the expectation that comes with so magnificent of a gift.

In this politically correct society, we dare not say that some are wicked and some are more righteous than another, but God has said it in His Word.  Of course I am not suggesting that we go around judging one another and compare our own righteousness – that is folly.  We, who have nothing good in us are not capable of judging another man’s heart, but these Scriptures above help us to examine our own hearts.

The deeds of the wicked are obvious, but the thoughts of the heart are not.  I love the word, “practices” used in the the book of 1 John, above.  It does not indicate that I am trying to be righteous in my own strength, but rather seeking after God and living in such a way as to follow after Jesus.  We will never arrive to perfection on this earth.  We practice because we are ever in the company of our flesh that we must be constantly putting to death.  How do we recognize our faults? Looking into the mirror of God’s Word.

By recognizing our wickedness and confessing our sins, we find mercy and are filled with joy.  Living the godly life is not a miserable, boring life.  It is living as God intended – having fellowship with Him and loving others.  Living for the flesh is a miserable account; especially if you belong to the Kingdom of God – the Holy Spirit will chase you down.  Thank God that He has left us with a Helper.  We do not have to live in ignorance of our sin anymore.

The biggest difference between the righteous and unrighteous is conviction.  The unrighteous do not care that they are sinning; they consider it folly to be concerned with sin.  The righteous are stricken to the core for their sin and troubled enough with their sin to run to the One Who can heal them.

God reveals our sins to us because He loves us.  A sinful lifestyle harms us and separates us from Himself.  We might recognize sin in others, but God did not ask us to seek out other’s sins.  If we see sin in another person, may we be humble enough to see that we are no better and approach in gentleness with redemption being the goal, not accusation.

The church is God’s agent on this earth to reveal our condition before a Holy God and to share God’s salvation.  All to often we find judgement and shunning – even in the body of Christ – because we see some imperfection in one another.  This is laughable – if we could only accept one another because we were perfect, there would not be one member in the body of Christ.  We were meant to be a light to extinguish sin in the world, not a judge waiting to condemn, when we have received mercy ourselves.  Sin kills – are we going to let another soul die?

By God’s grace, we are no longer numbered as unrighteous; may we never forget that.  But may we also never forget what it was like to be unrighteous and seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus, throwing a lifeline to the lost, so that they may be found.

Lord, I am forever grateful that You opened my eyes to see my sin and saved me.  Please help the church to hate the sin but love the sinner, that Your amazing gift of salvation can reach more people and rescue them from sin and death.

The Higher Goal of God’s Deliverance

1 Samuel 1:10

“She was very upset as she prayed to the LORD, and she was weeping uncontrollably.”

1 Samuel 2:1-3, 9

1 Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lordmy horn is exalted high because of the Lord.  I loudly denounce my enemiesfor I am happy that you delivered me. 2 No one is holy like the Lord!  There is no one other than you!  There is no rock like our God!  3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, letting proud talk come out of your mouth!  For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do. 9 He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darknessfor it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.”

Each day, I am amazed how God speaks to just what I need to hear.  This blog is written directly out of my devotion time, which is from a bible-in-a-year plan.  Yet in God’s sovereignty, He uses right where I am at in His Word to speak to me. What an awesome God.

Hannah’s story has always been special to me.  God sees our longings, but fulfills them in accordance with His will and timing.  Her response is so humble and surrendered to God.  In the face of a rival mocking her for her perceived inferiority because she could not bear children, she cried out to her God.

Don’t we all not measure up somehow, in someone else’s eyes?  Hannah suffered from the onslaught of minimizing, but it was not so much her concern for Penninah’s opinion.  She did not get involved with the small-minded desire to be esteemed by others or to have what others had for vanity’s sake.  No, she longed to be a mom.  The pain and shame of not being able to bear children stemmed from her innate, God-given role as a woman.  God honored this desire.

The sting of a longing unfulfilled can paralyze us if we let it.  But in this beautiful moment of Hannah’s submission to God’s will, she wipes away her tears and trusts in God.  When God granted her request, she praised Him and then gave back this cherished gift to her God.  Our tendency as humans is to want to hold onto God’s provision, but Hannah knew that Samuel, her precious son, was God’s and not hers.  Ultimately, her desire to honor God brought about more blessing for her and five more children.

More than victory over those who would demean her, Hannah had a joy in her relationship with her LORD and had gained something even more precious – character.  Humility gained from other people’s judgment is a reward, too.  It teaches us perspective and guards us from living to please man and reminds us that none of us are without fault.

Overly being concerned with man’s affronts is not righteous.  Jesus modeled this heart of humility when false accusations were hurled at Him and He is the only One in whom there was not a hint of truth in his enemy’s rants.  He was spat upon and murdered and responded by praying on behalf of those who wished Him harm.

Letting go of the idol of currying man’s favor is a beautiful place of peace and freedom.  Hannah was not trying to be glorified by man or be the best at anything.  She was not concerned with other people’s perception of her, and when Penninah’s judgment hurt, she ran to her Father – and He heard.

Man’s opinion is insignificant in the scope of eternity, but our response reveals pride and insecurities or trust and surrender to God.  Hannah chose the latter and glorified God, not herself.  We can, too.  Her “ladder” was leaned against God, not the culture.  Her greatest goal was not being right or triumphing over her enemies, but in glorifying God and being found in Him.

Lord, help us to be in the world and not of it.  May we care more about pleasing you than anything or anyone else.

The Guilt Complex and False righteousness

Romans 8:1-4; 31-35, 37-39

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 Indeed,he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him,freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulersnor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 9:13-14

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

I suffer from a natural proclivity of feeling guilty.  Those who can identify with me on this know why I say suffer.  I can pick up the same sin that I have already brought before my heavenly father multiple times and feel the judgment afresh.  I cannot imagine someone willingly doing this in our court system, yet in the court process of our own minds, our guilt echoes loudly.

Perhaps recognizing that we do not deserve forgiveness can seem like a worthy, humble quality.  Indeed, we do not deserve anything but God’s wrath.  But wallowing in past mistakes does not bring God glory nor help us to walk victoriously. Instead, it saps us of strength and is yet another filthy garment, sometimes cloaked in false righteousness, as if our guilt will earn us a reward or make us feel better for the suffering that guilt incurs. Any punishment for our guilt would never earn salvation – only Christ could bear the punishment for all of our sins

Our accuser is always ready to agree with us on our wretchedness.  He and our flesh can even offer potential things to feel guilty about which are not even our own offenses.  What to do with the constant vicious cycle of judgment and guilt?  Accept God’s gift and believe Him at His word.  I, for one, do not want to doubt Him and that He has the authority to justify.  Instead of feeling sheepish about our unworthiness, such amazing forgiveness can be an incubator for a life of gratitude and serve to motivate us to live lives worthy of such lavish grace that has been given to us.

The guilt complex is just one aspect of the battle that takes place in our mind.  Unseen by those around us, it is a sharpened tool in the enemy’s arsenal to attempt to discourage Christians and lay the groundwork for us to live unproductive lives.  What a waste.  That is not why Christ died.  He died to free us not just from the sinful lifestyle, but from the guilt of our sin, too.

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!  God help us to ever allow such a salvation to become merely a means of forgiveness.  Christ carried all of our sins, all of our pain, all of our judgement that we deserved. I must pause to worship Him.  I hope you are, too.  He loves you so much and does not want His children any longer to be imprisoned by their own faulty application of what it means to accept His salvation.  No more guilt, no more judgment.  We are free indeed!

Oh God, I am overcome when I consider how great your gift is!  Help me to daily remember this undeserved forgiveness and live in a way that reflects being accepted by the King of all kings, my Lord, Jesus Christ!

The Eyes Have It

Photo Credits creepypasta.wikia.com

Photo Credits
creepypasta.wikia.com

Genesis 9:22-25 (NET Bible)

22 “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. 23 Shem and Japheth took the garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered up their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his drunken stupor he learned what his youngest son had done to him. 25 So he said, “Cursed be Canaan!  The lowest of slaves he will be to his brothers.”” 

Job 31:1 (NIV)

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”

Matthew 5:28

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Genesis 19:26

“But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt.”

Psalm 119:37

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

We live in a visually heightened society.  Eye candy is everywhere and it can become overwhelming.  The perception is that the images flaunted on the covers of magazines are perfection and should be our aim.  I confess – I am one of those who flips all of the magazines around when standing in line.  I want to protect my eyes as well as my children’s. Of course sometimes the back of the magazine is just as bad, if not worse, then the front.  Sigh.  I also have taught my children from an early age to look the other way when walking in the mall and passing an ungodly store.  It has become instinct now to do so.  Why take such precautions? Conviction.  Fear of God.  Obedience.  Awareness of the need to make no provision for the flesh even if it is not currently a temptation.  In humility, I know it could be apart from God’s grace.  Vigilance offers sweet reward and protects us from calamity.

Even with protective measures in place, we can all stumble across something we wish we hadn’t.  It is what we do in those moments that can set the course for moral victory or failure.  Ham must have felt that the discipline was a bit extreme for his child and future generations to be cursed from one peek.  There are many commentaries on this, but a parent knows his child’s heart.  The foolish, wicked response Ham demonstrated revealed what was in his heart.  Perhaps this was already evident in his son, Canaan, as well.  The curse did indeed extend through Ham’s son Canaan, whose descendants eventually populated Sodom.

Even if we are not involved in an impure lifestyle, do we condone it?  Lot’s wife also looked longingly with her eyes at what she was leaving when God was burning up Sodom and Gomorrah.  Scripture does not say that she was participating with the moral filth all around her, but her eyes were also the source of her demise.  I would have wanted out of there in a big way.  The flames from the sky would not have been the only reason, but the flame of lust all around.  The company we keep can also greatly impact whether or not we walk in purity.  I think the moral decay was probably already apparent before Lot’s neighbors were banging his door down to sexually violate his house guest – and he offered his pure daughters instead.

The sins of the father do not have to be duplicated in future generations.  Noah’s discipline could have been a turnaround and produced repentance and righteousness.  Revelation of the action being sinful is actually grace.  It is ignorance and a culture of impurity unnoticed that breeds moral depravity extending down the family line.  If only we could see what the momentary indulgence of the eyes does.  The effect is profound – a wife unloved while her husband gazes on images which have no life, just to satiate his lust.  What a waste.  Families falling apart because parents do not teach their children to guard the eye gate, which our very life’s direction can be altered by.

There is nothing new underneath the sun.  The same sins which threaten to undo our society were the same vices thousands of years ago – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life.  Compromise can slip in almost unnoticed.  It might be an item of clothing – fashion that maybe is a little revealing, but we can rationalize it away and accept it as appropriate.  It might be allowing certain media or programming in your home, which fosters ungodliness and worldliness.  God help us to not just abstain from impurity, but to cultivate purity.  No matter what our past, today can be a new benchmark of holiness and chasing after God’s heart instead of the world’s cheap substitute.  Past mistakes do not have to be a harbinger of the future.  They can instead serve as a guide of what to avoid and an impetus to walk faithfully with God.

Lord, help us to keep our eyes open to Your ways and to recognize sin in our lives.  Help us to devote our eyes only to worthy things which bring You glory.  Amen.

Preparations for the New Year Begin with the Heart

Photo Credits wau.org

Photo Credits
wau.org

Psalm 26:2

“Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”

Matthew 6:21

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

Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  
Psalm 51:10
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 73:26
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 

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As I begin to contemplate what goals the LORD would have me set in this coming year, there is not just the battle of the mind, but the battle of the heart.  What we think about matters to God.  What our heart longs for does, too.  Our hearts can be drawn to many worthwhile and unworthy passions.  What we desire, we will often succumb to, unless our minds are girded with the word of God and our flesh saturated with God’s perspective.

Although the mind and the heart have many similarities, when I refer to the heart, I am referring to the strong emotions which affect our will and thoughts.  Catching myself craving something that might not be in accordance with God’s will can be difficult to discern.  I confess that I struggle with disciplining my flesh when it comes to exercise and food.  My thoughts can be well intended regarding both of these important aspects of life, but my emotions, my heart, can deceive me.  I wake up excited to run on my treadmill (ok, maybe excited is a stretch, but motivated, nonetheless).  I overcome the mental block inhibiting me, then my heart comes in and tempts me with the Lazyboy recliner and a cup of joe.  I begin to think on it and I am ashamed to say that my heart usually defeats my mind when it comes to food and exercise.

The rationalization might be dressed in righteousness.  Time with God, ministering to my family or friends.  But physical training is of some value.  Around and around the battle goes.  So, how do we cultivate and foster a heart towards righteousness?  How do we crave what pleases God?  What we meditate on in the mind is paramount, but when our heart feeds our mind, we can call out to God to help us walk after the spirit and not the flesh.

Disciplining the mind and heart is not all drudgery, though.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4, which contains a precious promise of God granting us the desires of our heart.  What precedes this promise of God is our delight in Him.  Turning our heart toward craving the things of God instead of the things in this world is possible.  Christ being our joy is also far more rewarding than any other occupation or endeavor this world has to offer.

As we plan for the coming year, may we consider our heart and lay it bare before our Maker.  He knows what is best and what I desire must be checked by the Holy Spirit and submitted to my God, my King.  Retraining our heart to run after the things of God will feel unnatural at first.  That’s ok.  Practice makes perfect.  Despite our failures, there is great hope: God is our strength and our portion forever.  He really is all we need.