Choose Your Master

8-26-19 Nature of sin
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7 (NLT)
 
Like it or not, we all have a master. We’re gonna serve somebody. But Ii would rather choose to serve God rather than being enslaved to serve sin.
 
When I was first saved as a young college student, I just wanted a simple verse to hold onto, a “magic bullet”, if you will, that would help me to be faithful to God in my walk with Him. Basically, I wanted instructions that I could understand and thought it was as simple as obeying those instructions or commands. 😁
 
Oh, if it were only that easy. But if there ever was a magic bullet, this verse above from Genesis ranks pretty high as one of them. And this verse reveals the reality of a mighty spiritual battle going on around us all the time, whether we know it or not, ready or not.
 
Sin wants to master us. That’s simple to understand.
But we must master it. Simple to understand, but not so simple to carry out. 😳 And we were not meant to try and carry it out in our own strength as a good work.
 
This verse was spoken to Cain before he murdered his own brother. God knew his heart and made a way out. But Cain’s hardened jealous heart was bent on killing the competition rather than examining his own heart.
 
Cain had the “magic bullet” verse spoken to him before he sinned. But he still chose sin. The verse “didn’t work”. Why?
 
🔘 Sin mastered him.
🔘 His mindset mastered him.
🔘 His flesh mastered him.
 
Cain chose to listen to the thoughts convincing his mind rather than to God. Emotions fueled his mindset rather than the words from His loving God. And his own evil desires won out. He was walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit.
 
Before we judge Cain hardcore, we are not so unlike him.
 
Ever been jealous of another?
Ever spoken a harsh word (even in your mind) and judged another?
Ever wanted what someone else had?
 
Coveting. Jealousy. Hatred.
 
Such ugly words, and yet they can form in our own hearts and minds if we are not so aligned with the word of God that we don’t recognize them and deal with them.
 
Sin is not always so obvious. It deceives us and we are convinced that our feelings are legitimate.
 
Our feelings are innate, within. We believe them and our thoughts so often without questioning them. Sometimes we accept them and let them in at the door of our minds without doing the litmus test—is this from God?
 
But it is not just the removal of negativity that needs to happen. When we replace those thoughts with truth, we are able to overcome evil with good.
 
Jealousy can turn into rooting for the other person and praying for them.
 
Coveting can turn into gratitude for our own portion.
 
Hatred can turn into love when we see that person as God’s child and have compassion for them.
 
Through Christ, we can do all things.
 
Cain’s momentary decision affected his whole life.
 
And so it is with us. We have a choice each day—life or death (Joshua 24:14-15), even if we feel that we do not.
 
But if we are aware of sin’s trickery, we can arm ourselves with God’s word to master sin, instead of it mastering us. ❤

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 28 – Freedom from Sin

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-1

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In our misguided pursuit of freedom, we are rebels destined to selfish living apart from God’s kind intervention.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:10

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.”

2 Peter 2:19

“Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.”

Galatians 5:1

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom has been the theme of man’s desire from day one. We don’t like to be boxed in, whether it is to an endless routine, someone’s definition of us, or someone else’s rules. In our misguided pursuit of freedom we are rebels destined to selfish living, apart from God’s kind intervention.

The inhabitants of this world long to be free, but don’t know what we really need to be free from. Freedom from authority, freedom to do whatever we want is not truly freedom at all. But freedom to abstain from sin – this is true freedom – and our loving God provides freedom within His perfect boundaries.

When my children were small I would purposely set a coveted object in front of them and tell them not to touch it. Sounds cruel, huh? But it was actually a desire to teach them self-control and to learn that we need to be able to master our desire for things that are not good for us. I still need work on this, myself, when it comes to chocolate.

Sometimes we fall short and can begin to wonder if God forgives us still. This is one of the greatest aspects of our freedom in Christ. We are free to live Holy lives by His grace, but we are also freely forgiven when we fall. This is not to be mistaken as an abuse of grace, but a humbling reminder that our freedom is not something we could ever achieve on our own and it cost our Savior His blood. What motivation to reach for His grace and to abandon sin and its empty promises!

I am grateful that Christ showed us how to live for God and die to self and gave us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us when we are tempted. Christ set us completely free. Though we are in cases of clay, we can overcome and live victorious, free lives.

Lord, thank You for setting us free from the bondage of sin so we could live worthy lives for Your glory!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 13 – The Holy Spirit

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 2:38-39 

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.'”

John 14:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

“And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)–when you believed in Christ–you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Job 32:8

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” 

Today I am grateful for the Holy Spirit and His activity in the life of all believers. In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

We are not merely one dimensional; not just fleshly beings. We were made for something so much more. We who are in Christ, who have been forgiven every single transgression, were also given the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us to live this life for God’s glory.

The Holy Spirit comforts and counsels us in our relationship with God, guides us and emboldens us to do the work of the LORD, reveals truth and convicts us of sin, fills us and produces beautiful fruit and character within us, just to name a few of the activities of the Holy Spirit within believers.

As we consider the many various denominations within the body of Christ today, God is LORD over them all and the Holy Spirit is evident in them all. He fills every person who has believed on Jesus Christ and accepted the gift of salvation. As we ache for the LORD’s return, we have not been left alone.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit and continual communion we have in Your presence because of Your amazing grace and atonement for our sins.

This article by author Frank Viola lists 50 things the Holy Spirit Does in the life of every believer.

Day 16: Understanding Sin & The Sovereignty of God

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-salvation-2

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God redeems our mistakes and uses them to fulfill His perfect purposes.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 130:7

O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.

Romans 8:28 ESV

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Sovereignty is a word that at once evokes comfort and fear simultaneously. We want to believe in a God Who is all-powerful and all-knowing, in complete control of everything. We just aren’t so comfortable with the fact that the other side of sovereignty sometimes means this awesome God also sovereignly allows suffering into our lives.

We tend to translate the truth of God’s sovereignty into believing Christians will have a painless life – if they have enough faith. The mystery of God’s sovereignty is much more complex than our simple definition of what is good or bad, though.

Enter mankind and his sins. How in the world is God sovereign over that? 

As only our infinite God could, He weaves the reality of sin with His perfect plan and uses it all – for good. I know, we have all heard that verse many times, and frankly, it was not one of my favorite verses when I was smack dab in the middle of intense suffering. It was hard to see anything good that could possibly come from the mess I was in. But that was before I understood that my definition of good was skewed – in favor of me.

Dispensing with the perception that God’s sovereignty means inactivity on His part or a fatalistic, apathetic view on our part, we still have to wrestle with the reality that God sovereignly allows suffering. But without the pain we would not be grateful for the times when we do not have pain. 

If God knew ahead of time that we would sin, how is man to blame?

God’s foreknowledge of our sins does not equate to culpability on His part. We cannot have it both ways. Either we have free will and are able to choose to sin or not, or God creates us to be robots with no will of our own. Man’s free will and God’s overriding omniscience work in tandem and somehow amazingly God redeems our mistakes and uses them to fulfill His perfect purposes. In the hands of God, He is able to take what was meant for evil and use it for good.

When our expectations for life are shattered, there is peace in resting in God’s sovereignty. We are seen by a loving God. He will never forsake His children. He is All-Powerful and able to take our circumstances and turn them around. The patience, perseverance and beautiful character formed in the midst make it all worth it.

How about when other people’s sin causes us pain?

Why do we blame Him in the first place when sin and free will cause most of the messes we encounter? The same free will we want for ourselves we cannot take from others, even if they wrought pain in our lives. Can God restore our faith when it has been dashed to pieces? Can He use the death of dreams to bring new life?

Yes and Amen! Will the pain ever stop and the shame ever go away? Absolutely! But we might be surprised at how God uses the very thing we scorn.

Like Paul who said he was “under great pressure far beyond his ability to endure…but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead”, we begin to understand that we will be tested beyond our ability, but never beyond God’s. His grace truly is sufficient. We just need to learn how to access it when the world is upside down.

We can learn much from the Israelites. It was in their suffering that God made Himself available to them. When they were blessed before, they had forgotten God and were distracted with things of lesser value. Hardship had gotten their attention and had revealed to them that they were missing what mattered most – Knowing and enjoying God in this life that He gave.

For the Christian, there is hope in suffering because of our hope in God’s sovereignty. He is faithful and He is a Redeemer of everything that transpires in our lives, all for His glory.

Lord, I stand in awe of You! I am so grateful that You are in complete control. Help us to surrender to Your sovereignty and trust in You always.

This song by Chris Tomlin says it well. Our God is sovereign.

 

 

 

 

Day 7: Facing Depression

Copy of Salvation (1).png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own. 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 41:11

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 40:1-3

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

Today’s topic I tread on carefully. The “loneliness of soul” as depression has been called, is so characterized because it is often so misunderstood.

Shame and self hatred can often come with depression, as this emotional pain is just as significant as physical pain, but we can feel judged and isolated to admit such a profession.

Ever been really discouraged to the point where you just did not have any hope at all? Maybe feel as if you are gasping for air and trying to find hope and meaning, only to be confronted with a wave of strong emotions that threaten to engulf you? Add to these feelings the stigma of feeling this way and it seems there is no way out.

The battle in the mind to overcome negative or sad emotions is real. The motivation to escape the prison of depression can falter as people are overwhelmed with sadness or grief and feel powerless to affect it at all.

Depression is real. Causes can stem from circumstances, sin, a chemical imbalance, mental disorder or our own spiritual battle, to name a few. Fixing depression is not as easy as a bandaid on a physical infirmity that we readily can affect, but God can do all things.

The One Who fearfully and wonderfully made us also chose to be encased in human flesh and can identify with every sorrow and heartbreak we have.

Some of God’s greatest servants encountered depression – but they did not all stay there. David is such an encouragement to me. He confessed and was honest about being depressed, anxious and stressed. Who wouldn’t be in his situation? David knew what it was to suffer greatly, chased in the dessert for 15 years by a mad man who was also depressed. Sometimes even other depressed people can try to bring us down with them, preoccupied with self and ascribing motives to us that just don’t exist. Saul was crazed with jealousy of David and left those thoughts unchecked, fueling them with his false perceptions. Our minds can really get in a fog if we take in the lies and negativity and allow it to go unchecked.

But David’s refuge was God’s word. He did not have a local CVS to run to or Dr. Phil to cheer him up. Hiding in caves, despairing of life – His medicine was to run to God and His word and to cry out to Him.

While sometimes medicine is needed and a great help to sufferers of depression, the greatest healing balm I have found is being in God’s presence reading His word and crying out to Him, just like David modeled for us all.

My visit down depression lane has been brief and intermittent. Personal choices I made while there were what determined how long I stayed and when I would be leaving.

Recognition. A lot of times we don’t see that we have a choice. We don’t realize the state of mind we are in. Walking around in a cloud and sad atmosphere, we are often unaware of and don’t recognize that we are depressed. The first step toward leaving the path of depression was to recognize we are on that path in the first place. With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts going through our mind in one day, sometimes seeing the source of those thoughts can be dizzying.

Roots. Finding the root of depression helps us to see. If we take those thoughts and examine where they came from, we begin to see the culprit that served as a catalyst in the formation of depression. Painful roots can be lifted out of the dust, healed and transplanted again in the healthier soil of being rooted in God’s love, instead.

Relationship. Victory out of depression is a daily battle in the mind that we often cannot fight by ourselves. We have to fight and choose to overcome, but if we are in a bad state of mind, we might need others to pluck us out and help us gain perspective.

Rescue. Seeing motivations of ourselves and others through biblical and prayer filters helps us to release possession of our thoughts and surrender them to Jesus. Placing them in God’s hands – sometimes again and again – is when we begin to see things from His perspective.

Real Hope. We need to tell ourselves the truth. The many discouraging thoughts are not always true. They might be convincing, but lies, nonetheless. This is not going to last forever. As long as we want change and are willing to be on the hunt for healing, your hope is sure and changed. The hope we have in Christ is abiding and eternal. Where we are now is not.

Trying to escape depression with a fake hope just won’t work. Happy little phrases and anecdotes are not a real solution. But we are never without hope if we approach our internal struggles biblically. What does His word say? Reflecting on His promises rather than our ever-looming reality is a life preserver ready to be used, if we let it be.

The circumstances surrounding the revelation of my children being harmed provoked depression and overwhelming grief that seemed insurmountable. My expectations were blown out of the water and I could not see how I could ever recover. If it had not been for God’s presence before and throughout, surely I would not have survived.

The night before the revelation of sin in our family, God awoke me to write a song. Usually my heart is filled with praise when I write Him a song, but this night my soul was in anguish. Complete fear gripped my heart and the LORD began to reveal to me that my life was going to change dramatically. I did not know that as I wrote the song and sought God’s face, the father of my children was harming one of my children in that moment.

The next day the LORD walked with me as truth was unfolding that broke our hearts and rocked our world. Shock and horror filled my heart and I felt I was not even in my body. The stress added to the pain and brought all of my autoimmune diseases out of remission. Trying to function with simple tasks felt impossible. It was in this place of despair that my brain would not turn off. Sleeping was difficult, anxiety consumed me over the constant barrage of attacks, accusations and court dates. The ominous doorbell ringing again and again with more subpoenas frightened my children and I as we felt like puppets on strings being thrown around carelessly through a process we did not ask for.

Deep sadness emanates often from a place of suffering. It threatens to snuff out hope with the grim reality of its tentacles wrapping around our mind again and again, proliferating a message of doubt and hopelessness.

But we need not be trapped by depression’s lure. The choice depends on us, if we will see the escape. God’s love reaches deeper than the deepest pit and demolishes the lies that depression tells us.

At the core of depression can be unbelief formed in the chasm of broken expectations. At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own.

We become disheartened when life has not lived up to what we hoped for. We are set free when we realize it is not our life, after all. Sadness for self is removed when we don the attitude and reality that our lives are wrapped up in Christ’s. If we really believe that we no longer live but that Christ lives through us, then we see our lives as living for One.

Adopting the mind of Christ is paramount to overcoming thoughts in a mind filled with troubling thoughts. Christ sought to glorify the Father. He did not consider Himself, but only others around Him. His zeal for God consumed Him.

If we are real, zeal for self can often consume us. God knows that. He wants us to lift up our eyes to Him and see where our help comes from. Self can be a burden, but we are free when we can lay self down and see our problems as potential to glorify God in it.

Moving past depression is not easy, but it is possible. Feelings are powerful, but they are not more powerful than God’s Word, which never returns void.

Rather than desiring an escape from pain, we can ask for God to be with us in the pain and to give us His perspective as we navigate through the mire of emotions and pain. The more we seek God, the more we get answers to our questions. The more we ask, the more we receive. God is not limited by our limits and the Maker of us all has the remedy for every suffering – emotional or physical.

The song, “Draw Me Near” was the song I wrote on the night before my life and the life of my children was changed forever and now serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness at all times. If our hope is in anything other than God, our emotions ride a rollercoaster.

Lord, help us to trust You with our emotions. You made our hearts and can heal them, too.

Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore

not-in-kansas-anymore

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope is fragile if it is dependent on a perfect life. The strength of a hope in Christ is that we hope beyond what we are feeling.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Hoping is easier when all is well. But when it seems the ground beneath you has not just been shaken, but disappeared altogether, where is the Christian to stand? On higher ground.

At first this higher ground is on our knees, desperate for understanding and compassion from our God. With no fight left, surrender to God might seem easy, but depression or fear try to keep us from hoping at all.

Maybe we quote some verses or sing a song to try to help pull ourselves up in our new reality. Maybe we get angry, or cry or call friends – anyone who can offer a tonic to numb our pain. Maybe we stare blankly at the walls around us, pinching ourselves to see if we are awake.

We can’t go back to the place we were before the pain entered our lives. We can’t move forward, either. Daily functioning becomes an exercise in futility and feels like walking in mud. Our hearts are gripped with shocking horror that threatens to paralyze any movement at all.

A crisis happens when we encounter this moment when life simply hurts. We grasp for any sense of “normalcy”, whatever that is, and secretly in our hearts can begin to question God’s love and goodness.

Ever felt this kind of hopelessness? Sorry if I paint a grim picture. We have to be real, though, and honest – in order to see our need for a hope that is tenacious in the face of suffering.

The day God revealed to me the sin of the father of my children I could not breathe. The shame, horror and complete shock enveloped me. I did what any sensible woman would do. I ate chocolate. A lot of it. Buffalo wings, too. I spent out of our budget just to try to bring joy to my children. I wept and wept some more. I cried out for understanding and suffered the shunning and new social status that threatened to steal my joy. How did I get there?

This was not supposed to happen. I had waited for marriage and married a Christian man. I had promised to protect my children. In a state of grief, I could not feel my hands or feet and was dragged to court incessantly by the one who inflicted on us all our pain. Trying to homeschool five children while being falsely accused was a mess. But still I had this thing inside of me – what was it? Hope.

Hope that the God who promised to use everything for my good and His glory would do so. Hope that my God saw me. On the witness stand. On the floor, crying out for His deliverance. I read His Scripture night and day, trying to find answers that would help me to hold on just one more day. This hope was a constant anchor that I had to cultivate in God’s word.

If you have never gone through something traumatic that has rocked your world, hang tight. This world does not promise a perfect life. If you have suffered something that has left you disillusioned, you are in the right place.

Suffering is common to man. There are lots of books on the subject, but having genuine joy, hope and victory when the trials continue is uncommon. Finding hope in the midst is not just about coping, but about reinventing our idea of hope and navigating disillusionment to find real hope in God’s sovereignty, promises and character rather than in our circumstances.

So how do we let go of Kansas? It may have been all we ever knew. The grief process of letting go of our perception of what we thought our life in Christ should look like is not easy, but it is a well worn path by many who can testify of God’s miracles reaching into their circumstances and transforming their heart and hope in the midst.

It is not until we are submerged in the most challenging trials of our lives that we realize where our hope is placed. The former hope was based conceptually, this new hope experientially. The former hope was developed when we were surrounded by blessing, this new hope was developed in the fire and is no longer dependent upon circumstances.

Our innocence gone, our hope in the happy fairy tale ending smashed to pieces on the floor, we have to find a new hope that is not manufactured by rote, but rather fashioned in the fire. Tough questions need to be asked to find hope again. Authentic questions that pour out our heart before God.  At this place of raw suffering and crying out to God we present an honest offering – a sacrifice of praise, that becomes an internal hope that cannot be put out.

Paul understands. He wanted everyone to know the fire he had passed through – not to be a whiner, but to be real and to give God the glory. He shared his secret, too. He found his hope in relying on the One Who rose from the dead. Anyone Who can do that can handle our problems.

While we are not in our Kansas anymore, the new place we are at is deep. Deep in Christ. We understand His suffering. We understand that He left Heaven to come and suffer for us. He understands what it is like to leave perfection behind for those He loves. He left Heaven and we had to leave our Kansas.

We cannot get back what we thought we owned, but when we see the amazing treasures God gives us while we process trauma, we would not want to go back there, anyway. In its place is now a genuine desire and acceptance of what God has for us, which far surpasses our former hopes and dreams.

Hope is fragile if it is dependent on a perfect life. The strength of a hope in Christ is that we hope beyond what we are feeling. Supernaturally, God enables us to hope when it seems ludicrous to do so.

Recently, I had the joy of thanking Sara Groves for a song she wrote that embodied what I felt during this season of searching for hope in my life. I thought you might enjoy it, too – Painting Pictures of Egypt.

Lord, I pray for each one reading this blog – that you would fill them with your inexpressible hope and give them Your promises whispered to their heart. You are forever faithful and we worship You!

Truthful Tuesday: THE GRAND REVEAL

Forgive us our sins

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hiding things only complicates things and puts off the inevitable reality.

Scriptures of the Day:

Luke 8:17

For nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light.

Jeremiah 23:23-24

23 Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the LORD asks. 24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the LORD asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the LORD asks.


Fully seen. Fully known. Fully accepted. The exuberant joy at such a statement cannot be fully understood unless one knows what they were saved and forgiven from.

Being found in our sin is shocking and destroys those around us, too. That’s what sin does – it is death. Yet somehow we get tempted and deceived into believing it can bring life.

The reality of our sin is devastating and separates us from God. The revealing of our sins is traumatizing despite our full knowledge of it, but covering it up will not bring healing and only serve to cause more pain. When we love one another in Christ, we will help one another to see when we are myopic to our sin – not to judge one another, but to provoke one another toward righteousness and forgiveness.

Our futile attempts to try and make ourselves righteous before a perfect, transcendent God fall far short, but God knew we would. He longs to expose our sin not to condemn us but to set us free.

He knew we were rebels, choosing lesser things and chases us down, anyway, to open our eyes to see the wonder of knowing Himself and walking in His ways, which far surpasses the foolish goals we had for ourselves.

Just like the nation of Israel in biblical times, we vacillate between delighting in sin, being deceived and then God mercifully revealing our heart attitudes and spiritually bankrupt status.

Oh what a good God to do so! He does not leave us in our sinful condition, but exposes our utter depravity so that we will recognize our need for mercy from our most gracious God!

Maybe you are at the moment of the discovery of sin, maybe you were sinned against or the one who sinned. We will all play each of those roles in our lives and God already knew our transgressions before we were created. In that knowledge, He chose in the Garden of Eden to sacrifice His only Son and still chose to create man, anyway.

Lord, I am humbled that You created us knowing we would rebel against You. You are Holy and our joy! You are perfect, merciful, all knowing and all merciful. Thank You for showing us our sin even though it hurts to see our own wickedness. Keep us from deception and help us to seek You and Your glory alone.

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass | Author | Singer | Speaker | Worship Leader

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Thoughtful Thursday: Idle Idolatry

idle idolatry.jpg

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: Who’s to Blame?

Pointing Fingers

Pointing Fingers — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When one falls, we all do.

Scripture:

Joshua 7:1, 11-12

But the Israelites disobeyed the command about the city’s riches. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, stole some of the riches. The LORD was furious with the Israelites. 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenantal commandment! They have taken some of the riches; they have stolen them and deceitfully put them among their own possessions. 12 The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation. I will no longer be with you, unless you destroy what has contaminated you.”

But.  I hate that word.  It usually precedes something you don’t want to hear.  Before the “but” word is typically something encouraging to set you up for the plunge you are about to take.  I gotta say it … BUT if it were not for the buts we would probably have many lessons unlearned.

We all want to hear a fairy tale ending for someone who has suffered.  The Israelites had just defeated Jericho.  We don’t want to hear that they are now about to be annihilated because one person stole what was meant to be destroyed.  Instead of celebrating victory, 36 innocent men died because one of the Israelites just had to disobey.

What is difficult for me to swallow in the above passage is the plural on the people group Israelites.  One person is named to have sinned greatly before God, but they all take the rap for it.

At first God’s ire seems unjust, but if we consider the family unit, when just one member transgresses, the whole family is affected.  People question how the family could allow such an action.  So it is with the body of Christ.

Sometimes tragedy awakens us to realize we might have sin in our camp.  We can oversimplify and assume that any difficulty was brought about by sin, BUT in reality, whether the root cause is sin or not, there is always a lesson within that has the potential to draw us nearer to God.

Who is right and who is wrong does not really matter.  Finding someone to blame does not necessarily fix the problem, either.

If we are all the body, then when one part of the body of Christ is found in sin we should not consider ourselves better, but surround that person and count ourselves in their number until we right the wrong.

Ultimately, the discovery of sin is devastating, BUT it can produce the beautiful fruit of repentance if we humble ourselves and let it.  Like Moses who offered to bear the blame of the sin of his people, may God help us to bear one another’s weaknesses and point one another to Christ.

Lord, help us to yield to You when we want to run the other way because of someone else’s or our own shame.  May we discover the joy of obedience and help others around us to do the same.

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Three: The Law

Gift of Gods law

 

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.”

This Christmas, when we think about getting what we want, I am thankful that God in His wisdom does not always give us what we want.  Further, in His mercy, He did not give us what we really deserve – His judgment.

We are all rule breakers in one way or another, often rationalizing our weaknesses away, but God’s righteous standard is held.  He does not leave us in a state of deception, but opens our eyes through His perfect law found in His Word, revealing our sin and need for a Savior.

What a gift – absolute truth – steady, unchanging and Holy in a chaotic relevant world.  In a culture that demands its own way and makes laws to condone its sin, there still stands a righteous standard.

Many feel that this standard set by God steals our freedom and joy, but no greater freedom has anyone than the one who can see his sin that shackles him and can walk away from it.

Even though we could never fulfill God’s commandments perfectly, God in His sovereignty and mercy fulfilled it for us.  His law brought condemnation so we could see our need of Him.

As we visualize ourselves opening these gifts that You have given us, Lord, help us to see Your law at work in our lives and to submit ourselves to Your will in every area of our lives.