Who me, a sinner?

Pr. 20:9:  “Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Let me give you the answer:  no one.

Last night I dreamed that I was preaching about God’s faithfulness.  I was on fire.  People were responding.  The Holy Spirit was moving.  Less than an hour later, I was at sneaking into the home of a missionary, stealing a very valuable tropical plant.

Isn’t that just like reality?

We are all sinners.  It’s not just me.  It’s not just you.

It’s only the blood of Jesus Christ that washes those sins away.  Once that happens, the Lord no longer chooses to remember them.

So, while we strive to live a holy life that glorifies and honors the Lord, we must remember that we will never be perfect.  We don’t need to allow satan to beat us down, constantly reminding us that we are sinners.  God made provision for that already!

There is a reason we need a Savior.  It is only through Him that we are saved.  If we keep our eyes on Him, we will follow Him into eternity.

Happy trails,

jamie

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Don’t allow your labors and wealth to go to another

Pr. 5:10:  “Lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner.”

I recall a particular sleepover my daughter had with her friend when she was a young girl.  The next night, as I tucked her in to bed, she was cuddling a stuffed animal I had never seen.  When I asked her where she got it, she told me that her friend’s mom had taken them to Wal-mart and bought it for her.  How sweet.

I asked her if I could look at the toy, and when I got a better look, I could see scratches on the eyes of the animal and raggedy fur.  I realized instantly that this was a well-worn toy, not a brand new toy from the shelf of the store.  With her elaborate story, it was clear that she had taken the toy from her friend’s house with every intention of claiming it as her own.

Because she had not only stolen the toy, but had taken the time to think up such a cover-up story to hide her deeds, we knew we had to punish her in a way that she would remember.  For stealing, she had to give the toy back in person, and give away 3 of her very own toys to people who did not have as many as her; and because of the lie, she was grounded from playing with the toys she had left.

Reading this verse about the consequences of adultery reminded me of the consequences she faced.  A marriage is an investment.  We do labor in a marriage.  We give hours, months, and years of our time to our spouse.  We build our houses together, and spend our money on new counter tops or lighting fixtures.  As a couple, we have friendships with other couples.  Maybe we even have a ministry within the church.

We risk losing all that we’ve built when we commit adultery.  Like my daughter, who had to give away some of her own things when she stole from someone.  When we take something that is not ours, in adultery, we risk losing what we have built within our marriage.  All the time we’ve invested into our spouses is now hard to remember, or now seems like a lie.  The houses and “nests” we’ve built with our spouse may be lost to us, given to another, or just sold to settle accounts.

Stealing from her friend, my daughter also risked losing that friendship, due to lack of trust.  The same can happen with our friendships if we risk adultery.  We may even lose our ministries.

The warning in this verse is very clear and very real.  Why allow someone else to gain what you’ve invested in?  We don’t need to invest in or claim things that don’t belong to us.  We must treasure what we have, care for it, invest more into it, and allow the rewards to multiply.  The gain we experience will be exponential and eternal.  🙂

Investing,

jamie

There is a better reward for honesty

Pr. 21:6:  “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.”

The first thing that comes to mind for me with this verse is games.  Cheating to win a game may bring a moment of exhilaration, but certainly it is a delusion that is short-lived and distorted.  The lesson that must eventually be learned is that if you had to cheat to win, then you really didn’t “win” at all.

Some, however, never learn this.  Some get used to the feeling of winning, to the feeling of exhilaration that comes from manipulating their environment to get what they want.  I remember when I was a young kid, maybe 5 or 6, and I stole something from a store.  My mom eventually found out and she drove all the way back to the mall, made me hand my prize back to the cashier, and I had to tell them that I had stolen it.  I still remember the terrifying feeling of having to do that.

What if my mom had not done this?  Her plan wasn’t fool-proof, but she had to try if she was to teach me about integrity.  If I had been allowed to relish the feeling of getting something free, perhaps I would have tried it again the next time we went shopping.  Time after time, if I continued, my path may have led me to cheat and steal in other areas of my life.  Lying and stealing would have become second nature to me.

How does someone become a person who consistently lies to get what they want, steals from others, embezzles, or cheats people out of their own possessions or money?  Almost certainly it is not a decision they wake up one day and make.  It is more probable that the trajectory of their life has led them to that place. Little by little, understanding that lying or stealing can get them something they want or make them feel good, they begin to trust in that feeling and grow comfortable that consequences won’t come.

Still those feelings are a fleeting fantasy, and while they may not be purposefully choosing to seek death, the snares of death have taken hold of their lives.  The only way to be released from the snares is the truth.

Confessing our sins to our Savior (whatever they may be) and asking for forgiveness allows God to release His forgiveness and grace over our lives.  Honesty from that point forward will continue to point to the Savior and to eternal life.  The power and presence of God is a reality that brings better things.  There is a great, enduring reward for those who believe in the Lord.  Now THAT is a real Win!

Let’s be careful not to pursue fleeting fantasies of sin, but to endure for a great reward in heaven.  We will be ever so grateful that we did.

Sincerely,

jamie

Speaking of sin…

Yesterday I wrote about sin and the fact that we must have a faithful witness in order to show others the Way.  We must allow the Lord to examine and weigh our hearts to get rid of the impurities.  However, please remember this:

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.  Then each one’s praise will come from God.”  1 Cor. 4:5

This verse tells us something wonderful…the Lord knows what satan does to each of us.  We each have individual battles and temptations that we daily must fight and the Lord will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness.”  He knows what satan is doing to us every day!!!  Is that not reassuring to know?

We no longer have to live in condemnation.  Judgment has not yet taken place.  The Lord understands that satan comes in and offers “counsels of the hearts.”  Do you not think the enemy whispers in your ear anything he can to distract and dismay you?  Of course he does.  He will stop at nothing to get your eyes off God.  He will fill you with negative thoughts, regret, overwhelming guilt, and condemning thoughts about yourself.

Of course the Holy Spirit will examine our hearts and give us wisdom on how to live holy lives, but God knows our frames and ultimately He knows what battles we fight every day.  Maybe you’re not a murderer, but maybe you overcome the temptation of lust every hour on the hour.  Maybe you haven’t stolen millions from the fatherless, but maybe you have to make the choice each day not to harbor anger in your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Maybe you haven’t created a room in your home and filled it with idols, but perhaps you constantly fight the temptation to idolize something or someone and instead decide…one more time…to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength.

The Lord knows our battles and He knows what satan throws at us each day.  Let’s let Him be the judge of us.  Only He truly knows how we battle temptation each day in order to choose Him.  Then on that day of true judgment our praise will come from God!  🙂

Thankful to truly be free,

jamie