Tag Archives: purity

November 14; To Change or Not To Change, That Is The Question

Acts 7:54-9:31

Simon believed he was someone great. He wasn’t the only one. It sounds like he had quite a following. His sorcery must have been amazing, because people even thought he was divine.

That is, until they heard Philip preach the “good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.” Many believed in Jesus, and were baptized – including Simon. Simon ended up following Philip around after that. Being a sorcerer, he was amazed at the miracles he saw Philip do.

Then when Simon witnessed Peter and John placing their hands on believers who then received the Holy Spirit, he wanted in on the action. He was willing to buy that ability. Peter recognized Simon for who he really was, and addressed Simon’s sin in no uncertain terms. “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right with God.”

Simon had believed in Jesus. But Simon was still the same old Simon. His heart had not changed.

Saul, on the other hand, was not only NOT a believer, he had dedicated his life to destroying the church by getting rid of anyone who did believe in Jesus. But his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed him.

Completely.

Saul became Paul who then dedicated his life to sharing Jesus with everyone, in hopes that everyone would believe. Paul’s belief in Jesus didn’t stop with the knowledge that Jesus is the Savior. Paul’s belief in Jesus changed his heart.

Do you believe? Scripture tells us even the demons believe, and shudder. (James 2:19). Belief is the first step, but it isn’t the only step.

If accepting Jesus as your Savior hasn’t changed you, let me suggest you check your heart. Is your belief head-knowledge, or a heart-changing, person-transforming, sin-defeating relationship with God Himself?

Change, or no change? That’s the question. And the answer is the difference between being a child of God, and being someone who has no part in His ministry, His kingdom.

Let your belief in Jesus change you.

June 1; Who Are You?

Proverbs 16-18

Solomon gives us a chance to do a spiritual exploratory surgery on ourselves. When you read these Proverbs, when you make each of them about you – what do you find? Who are you?

Proverbs 16 has us looking at our hearts, our motives, and attitudes. Are we committed to God, humble, loving and faithful, kind, honest, wise and discerning? Is what is in our hearts pure, so that what comes out of our mouths, and through our actions also pure?

Chapter 17 takes a closer look at our speech. Do we say wicked things? Do we lie, mock, gloat? Are we arrogant, gossips, quarreling people, perverse? Solomon says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Have we learned that truth for ourselves?

Proverbs 18 explores humility. Solomon calls prideful people unfriendly, fools, wicked, foolish. “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

God, through Solomon, tells that what is in our hearts is revealed by what we say and do. If I am prideful, is my heart pure? If I use vulgar language, or gossip, is my heart pure? If there is any wicked way in me, can my heart be pure?

I’ve had several surgeries in my lifetime, and I know it’s not pleasant. It hurts. But sometimes you just have to find what is making you unhealthy, and cut it out.

I hope you’ll do some spiritual exploratory surgery today. Who are you?

 

April 1; Completely

Judges 1:1-3:36; 17:1-13

One thing that stands out to me as I read about Israel’s take-over of the Promised Land is how easily they gave up. God had promised to GIVE them the land. Yes, they’d have to do their part and go to battle with the inhabitants. But those inhabitants were enemies of God. And He wanted them gone. He would give the Jews victory.

God’s instruction was for them to rid the earth of the inhabitants of Canaan – completely, Don’t let any of the evil survive. He even warned Israel that if they left any of the enemy remain, they’d be asking for trouble.

I count 17 cities – plus surrounding territories – where the Jews failed to eliminate the enemy. Ungodly people were allowed to live with God’s people, which was a total act of disobedience on their part. And by 3:6 we see that the Jews had intermarried with the enemy, and even served the enemy’s gods.

Why hadn’t the Jews rid themselves of the evil like God told then to in the first place? Sure the ungodly people were determined to remain on their own land in their own homes. Who could blame them? Sure, they were strong warriors with state of the art battle gear. But did Israel think any of that was too strong for God?

Why didn’t they step out in faith and let God do His thing, eliminate the sin that so easily entangles? They gave up on God.

I don’t know what sin God is revealing in your life. But I know He wants it gone. Completely. And I know that He is able to help you do the impossible, defeat the evil in your life. I believe God will give you victory – if you let Him.

What’s stopping you? Have you fooled yourself into thinking that one sin is no big deal? That you can handle it and not let it take over your life? Do you think eliminating the evil is too hard because you are too far gone? Or do you think God is either too weak, or too uncaring to defeat this enemy?

I believe God not only wants to, but can give you the victory over whatever sin He wants you to eliminate. Understand that if you decide to live with that sin, you’re asking for trouble. Serious trouble.

We’re going to see the results of allowing sin to exist in the lives of God’s people here in the book of Judges. They were one generation away from not even knowing God. That is the result of tolerating sin, of living with it, of not eliminating it from our lives…

Completely,

February 17; Guilty By Accident

Leviticus 5-7

I’ve been sitting here thinking about accidental sins, after reading these chapters in Leviticus. God tells us He takes those sins seriously. I confess I not only don’t take them seriously, I don’t give them a thought. I might have to reconsider that position.

J. Vernon McGee, in his Commentary on Leviticus 1-14 says this on page 64:

“We can’t be out in the world without becoming unclean by seeing things and hearing things and thinking things. We are unclean. We may not even realize that we have come in contact with the unclean. It may be hidden from us so we are not even aware of it. But we are not to rush into God’s presence until we are cleansed.” (Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, TN; 1991)

I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery and inadvertently read the cover of a magazine and saw the picture of a half -naked famous person. I didn’t pick it up to get a better look. I didn’t buy the magazine. In fact, I haven’t even thought about it until now.

The question I find myself asking is, can I be pure before my holy God with that picture in my mind? If I had gone on an internet site to purposefully view pictures like that I would have no problem identifying that as sin. But, God forgive me, I have that picture in my mind whether I meant to or not.

I John 1:9 tells us if we confess our sins God will be faithful to forgive our sins. But what if we don’t know we’ve sinned? Does God forgive sin even if we don’t confess? Are we guilty of sin when we sin, or when we know we’ve sinned?

Dear God, I am a sinner. I have pictures in my mind, thoughts going through my head, careless words coming out of my mouth, blowing off things I know I should do. I see things, hear things, think things that offend you. I sin. So, God, I ask you to forgive me the sins I commit without even knowing. Forgive anything that makes me impure. And if there are specific things you want me to deal with, please bring them to mind. I may sin accidentally, but I’m asking you to forgive me on purpose.

I Corinthians 6-10; Life in a Nutshell

Paul gives us many examples of what life should be for the Christian. And his descriptions are so politically incorrect, it’s almost laughable.

In his letter to the Corinthians he tells us Christians ought not to sweat the small stuff. We shouldn’t be making mountains out of mole hills. We shouldn’t be blowing up over trivial matters. The world is watching how we handle the small stuff. Does our example convict them, or does it validate their own bad behavior?

The Christian life should be pure. Yes, I know that’s an old-fashioned word. But purity should describe we who serve a Holy God. Again, the world is watching us. Do they see us with self-control, with unwavering morality? Or do they see the same depravity in us they see in themselves?

Christians should be content, faithful in marriage, busy serving God. If they see us sleeping around, divorcing because we fall out of love, or neglecting our families or our ministries, what is different about us than what they have in their own homes?

Paul challenges us again today to stop looking out for “number one,” and step aside for the benefit of others. Who cares if the new sanctuary color isn’t to your liking? Or if that lady in your Sunday School took your favorite pyrex dish home after the last pot-luck dinner? Who cares if Suzie got the choir solo you wanted to sing, or if you weren’t asked to sit on the AdMin committee again this year.

Get over yourself.

The world tells us to stop being a door-mat. The apostle seems to be telling us being a door-mat has its purposes.

Paul said he gave up so many rights to take on his ministry. He said he became whatever was needed in order to win people to the Lord. That must have been exhausting. He did it anyway. He denied himself a spouse, he turned down wages, he gave up the comforts of home. For what?

Time is running out, he told the Corinthians 2,000 years ago. And, friend, if time was running out then, it’s closer yet today. Paul didn’t have time to be self-absorbed when there were people who still needed the Lord.

Do we? Paul tells us to be single minded. Focus. You can’t live with one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in the world. Are you trying to make God mad? (10:22)

Life in a nutshell? Jesus said we are to love God and love our neighbor. (No mention of self-love, is there?) Paul tells us whatever we do, whether we are eating or drinking, “do it all for the glory of God.” (10:31)

Life in a nutshell is not about you.

Numbers 5&6; Do You Trust Me?

As a woman, I had a hard time reading God’s instructions for a jealous husband. If a man thought his wife had been unfaithful, he could drag her to the priest who would make her drink dirty water that, if she was guilty, would render her infertile painfully and publicly. If she was innocent, the dirty water would do no harm.

The husband needed no proof of infidelity. He just had to be jealous. Doesn’t seem fair. What if a woman was truly innocent and her body reacted to the poison anyway?

And here’s the kicker: Regardless of the outcome for this woman, “the husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing…” (5:31) Plus, no mention is made of the guy this woman was supposed to have had an affair with. Let’s organize a march on Washington or block traffic or something.

But God doesn’t let me go off on tangents very long before He sits me down and reminds me of the Truth. Today I felt Him ask, “Do you trust Me?” If He gave the order, He’s not about to fail to make it work. So I am absolutely 100% sure that not one innocent woman – not one innocent woman – ever reacted to the dirty water.

And I am reminded that just because the male offender isn’t mentioned here, doesn’t mean God doesn’t address adultery elsewhere. God is very specific about sexual sins in both the Old Testament and the New.

So why institute this public judgment on adultery?

  1. It reminds us God takes marriage seriously. Marriage is a picture of His relationship with His church. And He will not tolerate unfaithfulness.
  2. Private sins have far reaching consequences. How many people do you know who are living with disease, abortion, raising children alone, or even poverty, as the result of sins they thought were private?

Then God reminded me that He is able and eager to forgive. We might bear consequences in the flesh, but God can make us pure in His eyes and able to bear fruit for His kingdom. Yes, He is serious about sin. Yes, the guilty will not go unpunished.

But thank God, through His Son Jesus, we can know the forgiveness of any and every sin we’ve ever committed, no matter how bad we think that sin is.

 

The lesson for me today wasn’t so much about the way guilty adulteresses were revealed, although at first I thought it was. The bigger question for me was, do I trust God to do all things well?

The answer is yes, I do.

Satan’s Subtile Strategies

As I continue to read in 2 Samuel I see that David is once again running for his life. This time it’s his own son Absalom who wants him dead. Absalom was a wicked, sneaky man who set his plan in motion by playing the part of a good guy. (Read 2 Samuel 15) Then after he got the people on his side, he made his move. He made himself king.

That’s a picture of Satan. If his only means of getting us to follow him was by using his pitchfork, he’d be easy to recognize and resist. But he comes playing the part of an innocent. He whispers in our ears and makes sin seem harmless, desirable.

“One drink won’t hurt.”

“One peek at pornography is no big deal.”

“One lie, one dirty joke, skipping church just once can’t hurt anything.”

But all addictions begin with “one”. All habits begin with doing that thing the first time. 

Soon Satan quits whispering in our ears and makes his move. And we are caught up in something that is meant to destroy our souls.

David ran for his life and we should, too. “Flee youthful lusts.” Think on things that are true, lovely, right.  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” “Put on the whole armor of God.”

Do you take Satan seriously? Do you understand that he is actively working in your life to make you his own? David took Absalom seriously. We could learn from his example.

Heavenly Father, I pray for your people today. May we not ignore Satan’s subtle attempts to destroy our souls. May we recognize sin and be quick to repent of it. May we guard our hearts and minds. And if there are those reading this who are caught up in addictions and habits that keep them from a right relationship with you, I pray that they will look to you for strength and healing. Give wisdom. Give direction. I pray for victories today.