Tag Archives: sanctification

September 28 – A Worthless Pledge

Nehemiah 6-10

The school where I was guidance counselor celebrated Red Ribbon Week each year. I always tried to make the emphasis fun, informative, and challenging. We’d ask students and staff to take a pledge to be drug-free. They’d sign a banner or a poster, then receive a red ribbon they would wear to show evidence of their pledge.

Student leaders were in charge of sitting at tables in the hallway and asking kids to sign the pledge and receive their ribbons. I’d often have them perform skits or share information during our morning announcements about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. We’d have contests, and try to make it cool to be drug-free.

Years later, I got a call from a young woman who had been one of my student leaders while she was in Middle School. She had recently asked Jesus into her life, and felt the need to confess some past sins to people she felt she had hurt. She told me that she had started using drugs in Middle School, that while she had been one of the more vocal advocates of a drug-free lifestyle, she had been using. She’d signed the pledge every year. She just didn’t keep her pledge and wanted to apologize for lying to me.

I read the list of names of the men who signed a pledge to obey God (Nehemiah 10) and wondered how many of them were able to keep their promises once the ink dried on the paper. Did they sign it like my young friend, not intending to keep their word, but because it seemed like the acceptable thing to do? Or did they sign it with good intentions, only later discovering they couldn’t hold to it? We know the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to obey God. Did any of those men succeed?

Sometimes I think we Christians are guilty of trying to get people to say the right words, raise a hand or kneel at an altar, or promising to change, then we walk away and assume we’ve done our part. But salvation isn’t a name on a ledger. Salvation isn’t even a promise to quit sinning. It isn’t church attendance, or praying for a meal at the restaurant.

The New Testament tells us we can recognize Believers by their fruit, their love for one another. The test isn’t church membership. It’s a life that look’s like Jesus’ life. It’s a person who thinks more highly of others than himself. It’s a heart that belongs to the Savior because that person has asked Jesus to forgive them.

I wish I had paid more attention to that young Middle School girl. Maybe I could have recognized the signs of drug abuse in her. I think because she said what I wanted to hear, I figured she was ok. She wasn’t.

Do you know a person who is young in their faith? Get to know them better. Nurture them. Hold them accountable out of love. Don’t assume because they went forward last Sunday that they will be ok. Those of us who have walked with God for a while now know that accepting Jesus is the first of many steps in this Christian life.

Walk with someone today who is learning to use their faith-legs. Your interest might be exactly what they need to help them keep the promises they’ve made to the Lord.

 

 

September 10 – All Of Me

Ezekiel 42-43

These chapters have me asking myself what it means to be the temple of God in 2016. It occurs to me I was thinking way too small.

I have asked Jesus into my heart. I’ve pictured my repentant heart as the place where God lives on earth. But as vital as my heart is, it’s not everything.

Ezekiel reports that God said, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of my feet…” (43:7)

Have you ever seen the old Steve Martin movie, “All of Me”? I think one of the funniest scenes in the movie is when the “spirit” of Lily Tomlin’s character enters Martin’s character. Watching Martin trying to navigate his steps, while being controlled by that spirit just cracks me up every time. Martin has to learn to walk, and talk, and move as one with that spirit. The challenge comes when Martin tries to take control and move independently of the spirit.

Being God’s temple is kind of like that. If God’s spirit is in me, He not only controls my thoughts and feelings, but my fingers and toes, my voice… all of me! His throne, His dwelling place, reaches down to the soles my feet.

And my life can’t be complete, I can’t maneuver through this life effectively, or be of any use to God, until I learn to move as one with His Spirit.

Father, Take all of me. My heart, my thoughts, down to the soles of my feet. May my arms be Your arms, my feet be Your feet, my elbows and knees and eyes and tongue, be controlled by You alone. I submit myself… all of me… to You.

 

Sept 7 – Breathe On Me

Ezekiel 35-37

As I read about Ezekiel’s experience with the dried up bones in the wilderness, the words of an Edwin Hatch hymn kept going through my mind. This is my prayer today:

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me life anew,
That I may love what Thou doest love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So I shall never die,
But live with Thee 
The perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

                         Amen


June 3 – Time to Grow Up

Proverbs 1-3

The other night I watched a little neighbor girl go up to my five-year-old great-nephew, Colton, and put her finger on his shirt, then ask, “What’s this?” When Colton put his head down to see where she pointed, she flicked his nose. Took me back a few decades. I wonder how many times I fell for that myself.

The thing is, just a few minutes earlier, the little girl tried the same thing with Sara, Colton’s mommy. I’d heard Sara laugh and say, “I’m not falling for that.”

Children are naive, aren’t they? Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, they believe just about anything they hear – until they grow up. But you have to admit, it’s cute while it lasts.

Solomon begins the list of proverbs by talking about wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, he reminds us. God gives us wisdom, he says, if we only pay attention.

1:22, “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?”

1:12 tells us the waywardness of the naive will kill them.

Dear one, it’s not enough to say you’re a Christian. Being a Christian involves being born again, but like a child, there is a time to grow up. Solomon tells us God will pour out His spirit on us and make His words known to us. But first God says, “Turn to my reproof.” (1:23)

In other words, accept the fact that God disapproves of sin in your life. No, he hates sin in your life. And he doesn’t want you to be naive about what sin is, or what the consequences for sin are. Saying, “I didn’t know” doesn’t cut it with God.

In fact, naivety is a death sentence. How sad is that, when there is so much wisdom available to us through God’s Word and by His Spirit living in us?

It’s time to grow up.

April 23 -Who Influences You?

I Chronicles 1-2

Be honest. Did you read every name listed in the two chapters for today? It’s a list ancestry.com can’t even offer. Can God speak to us in passages such as these? I mean, what does Shallum becoming the father of Jekamiah have to do with me in the 21st century?

Whenever I read the genealogy sections of the Bible I try not to skip over any name. All Scripture is God-breathed, so evidently old Segub must be important. Did you know Segub’s dad was over 60 when Segub was born? Achar was described as “the troubler of Israel.” Ouch. Sheshan had only daughters.

I have a pretty strong German heritage. And I believe my sisters and I were raised, in part,  with the influence of that culture. But I don’t consider myself a German. I’m an American. Born and raised.

God seems to be asking me today where are my greatest influences? Is it the patriarchal make-up of my ancestors? Is it the influence of being raised during post-WWII? Would I say my teachers and/or professors have been my greatest influence? Literature? Friends? Movie or rock stars?

Or is my greatest influence my adopted Father? My spiritual family? God’s Word?

I have no say as to what family I was born into. But I have been influenced by them, by teachers and friends. I am who I am today largely because of them. And I can’t change that. I’m actually blessed because of them.

I can, however, choose to place God above anyone and anything. I can choose to be like Jesus from this day on. I can devour God’s Word, pay attention to sound teaching, love like Jesus loved. I can learn from older saints, and mentor younger ones.

Yes, these chapters in I Chronicles are important to me in 2016. It made me stop and think about who I am, and what is really important. I want my legacy to be that I was a godly woman, one who was influenced by God Himself, and lived her life to please Him.

 

March 30 – Living With The Enemy

Judges 1-2

Israel didn’t drive out the enemy like God had told them to do. Yes, it would have involved force, it wouldn’t be easy. But, like Judah who didn’t drive the enemy out of the valley because they had “iron chariots,” the Israelites chose to live among the enemy. Clearly not what God had wanted for them. (besides, what is an iron chariot next to God?)

God had promised them He would go before them in battle. God had promised them victory. Either Israel was too lazy, or they didn’t really believe God when He told them living with the enemy would cause them to sin.

So, the Jews lived among idol worshipers. And the result? The Bible tells us that their children were “another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” (2:10)

Oh, their kids knew about Baal. But they didn’t know God.

I have lived six decades. In my lifetime I have seen the decline of morality and the reverence and fear of a Holy God. I have seen worship turn into entertainment, and the Truth replaced by a lie.

God is speaking to me today. I am a part of the decline of Christianity. Have I cleared out my own Promised Land like God has commanded me? Have I eliminated sin from my life, or do I live with a hint of jealousy? Do I watch that one ungodly TV show? Do I take God’s name in vain on occasion? Am I too busy to read God’s Word and pray, replacing my worship of Him with busyness?

Do I love this world a bit too much? Have I grown numb concerning sin, accepting sin or tolerating it?

God would have me clear out the land. He has said that living with the enemy can only turn out badly for me… and for the dear ones who come after me.

God, reveal those areas in my life where I have allowed Satan to exist. I don’t want anything to do with him. I don’t want his influence to have any hold on me. I want to be free from the bondage that results by allowing sin to exist in me. You died to free me. Forgive me for squandering that. I don’t want to live with the enemy. I want my life to be just You and me.

March 29 – Come On In

Joshua 22-24

They built a replica altar. The two and a half tribes that chose to live close to, but not in, the Promised Land built an altar as a sign to those in the Promised Land that they were their equals. They wanted everyone for generations to know they had the right to worship at the tabernacle, that they were the children of Israel, too.

They were. And they did have the right to worship with their brothers. God hadn’t forced them to enter the land. And He blessed them with their own land on the other side of Jordan.

But they had settled for second best. They never experienced the abundant riches living inside the Promised Land afforded. It wasn’t that they weren’t happy, or that they couldn’t call themselves Jews. They just missed having everything God wanted them to have.

Is it possible to be a Christian and not experience the abundant life? I believe Scripture tells us it is. Can you be a Christian and not read your Bible every day or pray? Can you be a Christian and not be involved in a church fellowship? I believe so. But hear me when I say non-Christians don’t read their Bibles, either. They don’t pray. They don’t go to church.

Can you be obedient to God as His child, and not nurture a close relationship with Him?? I don’t see how.

God wants you to live in the Promised Land of fellowship with Him, enjoying the abundant blessings that come when you walk with Him. Why would you be satisfied living within arms reach and not grabbing hold of the best God has to offer?

God won’t force you. But that door is wide open, and He’s standing there inviting you to come on in and be blessed beyond what you can even imagine.

Ans speaking of blessings… Thank you for praying for Sheri yesterday. Her daughter reports that surgery went better than they had hoped. There will be radiation and chemo for Sheri in the days and weeks ahead. But God is in this and we are just praising Him today for answering prayers with this successful surgery.

Sheri lives in the Promised Land. She faces her cancer with hope and confidence and assurance beyond what many people can imagine. She walks with Jesus. And she knows she’ll walk with Him today either here on in eternity.

I trust you can say the same.

March 25 – A Rest From War

Joshua 9-11

These chapters tell of Israel’s taking of the Promised Land. It involved wars, and fire, and hangings, and destruction. Then in 11:23 we see that finally the land had rest from war. But it hadn’t been easy. And it didn’t happen over night.

11:18 says, “Joshua waged war a long time with all the kings.” God had promised the land. But the land needed some serious cleansing. They had to purge the evil before the Jews could live there.

My spiritual Promised Land is mine for the taking, too. It’s there God promises to never leave or forsake me, to live in my heart, to bless and keep me. But, just as with the Jews, there is some purging I must do.

I need to repent of sin, flee youthful lusts, love God with all my heart and soul, cleanse my hands and purify my heart, fight the good fight, put on the whole armor of God. And, just like with the Jews, God is going to fight for me.

God will help me rid my life of sin that so easily entangles me. When I allow God to come in and stand with me against our enemy, there is victory. Then I, too, can live in this world resting from the spiritual war Satan has declared on my soul.

With God I can be more than a conqueror. With God I can know the peace and rest that comes from abiding in Him, living in the Promised Land.

March 10 – Protecting What Is Mine

Numbers 35&36

I find it interesting that the last two chapters of Numbers deal with cities of refuge, and what to do with the five daughters of Zelophehad concerning their inheritance. Both subjects have to do with protection. One, the protection of a person who accidentally kills another, from the dead man’s avenger. The other, the protection of the land.

In the first instance, a person was protected from the avenger as long as he stayed inside the city of refuge. One step outside those gates, and the avenger was free to kill the manslayer.

Satan is like that avenger, eager to destroy me if I step away from my Savior’s protection. And every time I neglect time in God’s Word and prayer, when I sin and refuse to repent, when I don’t obey Him by worshiping and serving with a fellowship of believers, when I try to live with one foot in the world, I expose myself to Satan’s arrows.

The second is about protecting the land, the inheritance given by God. I can see that as my own, personal Promised Land of fellowship with God. It seems that relatives of the daughters of Zelophehad were a bit jealous of the possibility that, should the girls marry men from outside  of Joseph’s family, another tribe of Israel would get the rights to the land God had given them. They wanted to make sure what was their’s stayed with them.

Makes me wonder how jealous I am that something or someone could take what God has given me: love, peace, joy, fellowship with Him, holiness. The same things that make me vulnerable to my manslayer, Satan, can steal the blessings that are mine as God’s child.

So God is asking me today to protect what is mine through the blood of His precious Son. I need to control my thoughts, I need to resist temptation, I need to read and meditate on His Word, to pray, to worship Him and praise Him and love Him like He deserves. I need to walk with Him in an intentional way, and to cling to Him as my Protector, my City of Refuge.

 

 

Feb 25 – Restitution

Numbers 5&6

God instructed that a person who committed a sin against another person was to first confess that sin. Then, they were to make restitution in full for the sinful act, plus add another 1/5, and give it all to the person who had been wronged. It wasn’t enough to pay for the damage. You had to pay the damage, and a little more.

I’ve sinned against God. I’ve confessed my sin. But there is no way I can make restitution. I am totally unable to pay the penalty for sin, which is death. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) I can’t do that, much less die plus add 1/5.

So the One I sinned against, paid it all for me Himself. Inconceivable. I can stand before God, account paid, guiltless of the sins I’ve committed against Him because Jesus shed His own blood and died in my place.

I will not suggest that I can, by being a good person, ever repay God for sending Jesus to the cross for me. Jesus’ grace isn’t a loan.

Yet because of what He did for me, I WANT to live my life to honor Him. I find myself wanting to resist temptation, to spend time in His Word, to talk to and about Him, share Him with people who don’t yet know Him.

I want my life to stand out from the crowd because I want people to see this amazing Savior in me.

No, there’s no need to pay restitution to God when Jesus has already done that. But I want my life, the choices I make, to show Him how much I love Him, how grateful I am that He paid it all for me.

And blesses me every day with Himself.