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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Just a little housekeeping...

I am not the world's best housekeeper, which is actually ironic since I grew up with a mom who kept an immaculate house.  Every Saturday before we could go play outside or have friends over we had our "chore" list that had to be completed.  I dusted more furniture and polished more silver than I care to remember.  I now have a natural aversion to anything silver and refuse to polish any!  I learned to iron clothes and fold clothes at any early age.  I learned how to put things away where they belonged because that is what you did to keep a house clean.  

Now that I am a married woman with a home of my own, things run a little differently than they did in the home of my childhood.  For one thing:  I hate clutter.  I despise it.  That doesn't mean I don't contribute to the clutter around my home.  But I don't like it.  That doesn't mean that I don't have clutter.  It just means I don't like it.  I do like things to look nice and neat.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I do not.  But here is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in my house.  (It may or may not happen in yours.)  It does not matter how clean my kitchen is, or how clean the bathroom is, or the living room...someone is still going to place a dirty dish on the counter instead of taking the extra step and placing it in the dishwasher.  

What does all of this have to do with anything spiritual or scriptural? you may ask...

In Luke Chapter 11 Jesus is casting out demons and the people are speaking against Him.  In verses 24-26 Jesus talks about what happens when a demon is cast out of someone.  

Luke 11:24-26  "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.'  (25)  And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order.  (26)  Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first."

So here, let's go back to the clean house I was talking about to start this post.  After I have cleaned the house, it is necessary to continue to clean the house to keep it in a state of cleanliness.  I have to dust the furniture regularly.  I have to make the bed every day.  I have to clean the bathroom regularly, and sometimes more than once a week.  I have to continually pick up stray items from the dining room table.  If I don't do these things regularly the filth and clutter will stack up on me until it is an overwhelming job to get it back to a state of cleanliness.  Much is the same as the demon being cast out in the above scriptures.  When it can't find a place to go, it returns to its original dwelling place - and it brings seven of its buddies that are WORSE than it is to live with it in the clean, swept out, EMPTY space.  Not only that, but the person that allows those negative emotions, hurts, angers, etc. to return will end up worse off than he or she began. Of course, the house is an analogy for our hearts.  So, how do we keep our hearts clean?  What are we supposed to fill our hearts with to prevent the return of cluttered thoughts, worldy views, and negative emotions?  

Galatians 5:19-24  Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  (20)  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  (21)  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (22)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  (24)  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The first three fruits of the spirit are love, joy, and peace.  When we are cleaning out ourselves and allowing the Lord to heal us of hurts and scars, we have to replace the hurt with something: love, joy, and peace.  If we do not, then hurt builds resentment, which gives birth to anger, which damages relationships.  We are told in Colossians to PUT OFF these behaviors.

Colossians 3:8-11  But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  (9)  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,  (10)  and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,  (11)  where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Put off is an action.  It is one we choose to perform. Much like taking our clothes off to take a shower, we are to strip ourselves of the behavior we participated in prior to salvation.   Yes, it is easier said than done.  Oh my goodness, don't I know how much easier it is to talk about then to put into action?  But like most things, it is an action we have to practice until it is second nature.  As a musician I could not pick my instrument up and immediately be a concert level musician or a master at my instrument.  I had to put hours of practice into mastering my instrument.  I had to make many, many mistakes until I could make that key change correctly without messing it up.  It is no different with putting off the behavior of our natural flesh, the old man.  But once we have taken off the behavior of the old man, we are to replace it with something.  

Colossians 3:12-15  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  (13)  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  (14)  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  (15)  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

So, as the elect of God, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, we are to PUT ON mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (patience), and forgiveness...just as Christ forgave us.  But what is the most important item to put on, to fill the empty places we have cleaned out?  

Love. 

Paul calls it the bond of perfection.  But it is something we have to practice.  Yes, we have to practice loving others.  We have to practice forgiving others.  We have to practice bearing with one another.  We have to practice letting the peace of God rule in our hearts.  We need to ensure we are growing the fruits of the Spirit and tending to the empty places of our hearts so they are filled with the love of God, the peace that passes all understanding and the joy of the Lord so when resentment, anger, hatred, hurts attempt to return to us, they have no place to dwell.  They do not clutter our witness to the world.  

What do you have in your life today that you have allowed to clutter your heart?  What do you need to practice in your life today?  

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

No Hesitation...Make A Decision

In Tuesday's post, Reroute your GPS, we looked at what it means to take a different route other than the one we have always taken.  Today, I want to talk about no hesitation in the route you are taking and I want to continue using the GPS as an example, if that is okay.

I use GPS regularly.  Most of us have smart phones now I believe, and I use the Google maps app on my phone.  I have found Google maps to be the most accurate in most cases when I am trying to get somewhere.  The one thing that the app does not do is recognize construction zones or detours.  If I am on a route that has construction areas or detours, my GPS will reroute me only after I make the turn for a detour.  And then, it will try and direct me to the nearest point to make a U-Turn so I can return to my original route.  I actually have to select the reroute option most of the time.  Not always, but most of the time.  

SO, what exactly does all of this have to do with our walk with Christ?  When Jesus calls us to Himself and we accept Him as Lord and Savior and we are born again, we are expected to make a decision without hesitation.  When Jesus called Simon (Peter) and Andrew, He just said Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19-20).  They immediately left their nets, their livelihood, they only way they had to provide their families and followed Him.  But yet, in Matthew 8:21-22 we see where "another of His disciples" said to the Lord to let him go first and bury his father.  Jesus' response was simply to Follow Him.  Let the dead bury their own dead.  In other words, Follow me.  Don't get distracted and don't reroute.  Make a decision without hesitation.  When Jesus calls us we are to follow Him on the path He has sent us to walk.  No hesitation in our decisions.  

When we believe on His name and we are born again, we have essentially been rerouted by the King of Kings.  There is no detour.  We will not be routed back to the orginial route.  We are given a new route.  We are given new directions to follow.  We have been given a new destination.  Jesus never said following Him would be easy.  He just said, "Follow Me."  

Did you ever play follow the leader in elementary school?  I did.  I think it was a ruse created by teachers designed as a game to keep a class quiet and doing what he or she wanted the class to do, but that is neither here nor there.  When we were told to play follow the leader, the rules were simple.  You followed the person at the head of the line and you did what they did, you went where they went.  You didn't do your own thing.  You mimicked or copied exactly what the leader did.  Whether the line meandered all over the hallway, or whether the leader quacked like a duck and flapped his or her arms, you were expected to do what he or she did.  It was fun and silly and a life lesson that applies here.  Are you following your Leader and doing what your Leader does? Or are you doing your thing? 

What keeps you from following the Leader?  What prevents you from making a decision without question...without hesitation?  Are you hesitant in making decisions today?  I know for me, I do hesitate in making some decisions.  In fact, making a decision that brings us into unknown territory can be frightening.  We, as humans, tend to fear what we cannot see. We fear what we do not know.  We do not blindly trust, and yet that is what God asks from us.  We also know that fear does not come from our Lord.  Fear comes straight from the enemy.  2 Timothy 1:7 says:


2 Timothy 1:7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

God the Father has not given us a spirit of fear.  But He has given us power through His Holy Spirit, love through the sacrifice of His Son, and a healthy whole mind restored to Him through renewal.  So, when we are rerouted in life, just remember, our God holds all things in His hand.  

Colossians 1:16-17  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  (17)  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Let Him hold you, too.  Follow Him without hesitation.  Trust in Him with your whole heart...let Him direct your route, your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Reroute your GPS

I recently was driving home from out of town and I used GPS to give me my route home.  The route the GPS took me on the way home was different than the route it had me take on the way to my original destination.  My passenger told me in a near panic that I was about to miss my turn when I was sitting at a red light.  I told my passenger I was actually taking another route home.  He was not very pleased with the new route and I asked my passenger if there was a particular reason he wanted to take the other route home.  My passenger responded with, "No, that is just always the way I go."

It ocurred to me thinking about this on the way home that we often approach our relationship with Jesus Christ the same way.  We have our traditions, our habits and so many things we do because "we have always done it that way."  Where do we leave room for Christ when we refuse to adjust course for something new to be done within us?  

When we stay on the same path or route in our lives we become complacent and we only see what we expect to see.  We can often overlook something that is new or someone that may need help.  When we travel the same path for a long time, we become accustomed to what we see.  The people in our lives become accustomed to seeing us.  We know no strangers.  However, Hebrews 13:1-2 says, 

Hebrews 13:1-2  Let brotherly love continue.  (2)  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

How can we entertain strangers if we do not venture out of what we know or "what we have always done?"  We can't.  When we venture into new areas we tend to be more observant than we are if we stay on a course we know well.  We aren't familiar with our surroundings, or the people.  We don't know what belongs and what doesn't.  It is no different when we walk a new path laid before us by the Lord.  We are in unfamiliar territory so we pay closer attention to what is around us.  We try to listen closely for His voice to ensure we are going in the right direction.  We watch the road much closer.  We look for potholes and speed limit signs. The same occurs in our spiritual walk as well.  God never leaves us or forsakes us.  He is with us always.  He is with us in the old path, the new path, and the paths we haven't yet walked.  

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;  (6) In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

We may not understand the path the Lord is taking us on.  But we don't have to.  We are not to lean on our own understanding.  We are to trust in the Lord.  We are to acknowledge Him in everything we do, and He will direct our paths.  He will be the One that guides and protects us as we walk in unfamiliar territory.  

Isaiah 55:8-9  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.  (9)  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

His ways are not ours...we are not to lean on our own understanding.  We cannot fathom the thoughts and ways of our God.  His ways may not always make sense to us, but they are His and He has a plan.  

1 Corinthians 1:27-29  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  (28)  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  (29)  that no flesh should glory in His presence.

What may make no sense, or what may look foolish to those in the world, God intentionally chose to confound the wise.  God's strength is found in our weakness, so while we may not understand what is going on or God's plan, that is okay.  Our hope is anchored in Him.

Hebrews 6:19-20  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,  (20)  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

We all know the purpose of an anchor, right? It is lowered into the water to prevent a ship or boat from continuing to move after it's engines are turned off.  So, our hope anchors us in the stream of Living Water.  When we anchor our hope in Him, when we put our trust in the Lord, He directs our paths.  He holds us in Him.  Because we have this hope in Him, we don't have to fear what is to come.  (2 Timothy 1:7)

We can trust Him because His Word says we can.  He only has good thoughts toward us.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

So, don't get stuck in habits or complacency.  Don't get stuck in fearing the unknown.  God is God. God knows what He is doing.  His will is perfect.  Place your trust in Him and see what He can do.

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