Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘man's unworthiness’ Category

I don’t know anybody who puts in the time doing laundry just so they can see their clothes hanging in the closet or lying in a dresser drawer.

That would be crazy.

Instead, people do the boring task of washing and drying and folding/hanging clothes for something more purposeful than simple storage.

The clothes are washed so that they can be used to help us live more successfully than if we didn’t wash them.

Clothes that aren’t washed when soiled soon become liabilities rather than assets.

And even if the clothes are washed, they have to be used as intended in order to have any real value.

Hmmmm…..

In a spiritual sense, our consciences (some might say our “spirit”) are like clothes for the soul. Because we’re imperfect people living in a filthy, imperfect world, our consciences invariably become soiled from time to time because we rub shoulders with sinners in their corrupted world of gossip or bitterness or coarse language or coveting or physical lusting or flat-out laziness when our church needs our volunteer help.

When such happens — and we both know that it does in your life and mine — our consciences need a trip to the laundry. The holy laundry.

It’s not a laundry where you walk into a sanctuary and are handed a King James Bible-sounding script of words to chant while you painfully rub-a-dub-dub a coarse, bristle brush all over your exposed skin in a penance-like fashion.

Instead, God’s laundry is far simpler and far more powerful.

You repent. And when I need God’s holy laundry, I repent.

We ask God to forgive us.

If we really mean it after really repenting, God really does holy laundry.

I John 1:9 promises such.

He WILL forgive our sins and put us back on our spiritual feet on His spiritual path.

We will be back to doing what we were saved to do, according to Ephesians 2:10 — good works for God.

God can do this because of what Christ did on the cross.

We can have consciences pulled from the dirty conscience hamper, washed in the holy laundry and put back over our souls in the way that God designed and desires.

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14

You and I were created to worship God, serve God and love people. When we fall spiritually, even for a moment, we need to go to the holy laundry.

God doesn’t want to clean us just to put us in a drawer or on a hanger. Instead, He wants the cleansed consciences over our souls to seen by all as blood-washed, God-empowered, service-minded tools for the Kingdom.

How do your soul’s clothes look just now?

As always, I love you
Martin

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

To hear this Morning Devotion, please click From glance to gaze

.

.

We all know the difference between a glance and a gaze.

Particularly when it comes to the topic of temptation and sin.

The momentary glance at the “hottie” who walks by your beach chair — and then you go back to reading your book — doesn’t corrupt.

The choice to gaze with the second look, or third or fourth — imagining certain things as the hottie moves down the beach — now that definitely corrupts.

The same principle applies with temptations involving greed or vindictiveness or the craving of public praise. We can be tempted in a brief glance with the opportunities to unscrupulously put ourselves ahead of others in terms of public esteem or job advancement.

But it is only when we gaze at such opportunities, giving them a dwelling place in our minds and hearts, that sin takes root.

Of course, you already know all this so why am I sharing it this morning?

It’s because we need to hear this warning over and over and over again.

For Satan keeps tempting us over and over and over again to turn glances into gazes.

He likely tried to lure you into gazing yesterday or the day before or perhaps even this morning.

He knows the potency of the gaze.

In fact, it’s one of his best tools.

At the core of SO many spiritual meltdowns in scripture have been glances becoming gazes.

Eve gazed at the forbidden fruit.

Ham gazed at Noah’s inebriated nakedness.

Lot’s wife gazed at her burning hometown.

Potiphar’s wife gazed at Joseph’s young, muscular body.

Moses gazed around him to see if he could get away with murder.

Achan gazed at the fine silver bars and fancy clothes in a yet-to-be-burned house in Jericho.

And then there was David’s midnight gaze when he couldn’t sleep.

Oh my…..

That was a really, really bad one.

David’s failure to stop at the glance stage regarding the bathing Bathsheba was a terrible choice of epic proportions.

It’s described in today’s I Samuel 11 reading from the One-Year Bible.

I encourage you to read it again. This time, though, reflect on how much better David’s life would have been had he simply said that night, “Oops! I’d better go back inside the house right now. Staying here on the patio is more than I can handle and I know it’s a trap.”

Isn’t it amazing how two seconds of innocence can degrade into 20 seconds of sin that ultimately unleash a world of hell into a person’s life and the life of his or her loved ones?

Though the details are likely different than David’s experience, you’ve tasted the bitter consequences somewhere along the way of allowing a glance to become a gaze.

For a brief moment, you perhaps saw a window of opportunity for revenge against a relative or co-worker or school acquaintance and, rather than glancing then ignoring the trap, you studied it and schemed at how you could get even.

Or perhaps you saw the shipping order and invoice that listed five laptop computers for your business but, when you opened the box, there were actually six. Rather than immediately pick up the phone, you gazed at the paperwork to see if the vendor would ever have a paper trail for tracking down the missing computer.

Please, my friend. Don’t allow Satan to coach you from glances to gazes.

Remember that his central goal is to damage and destroy souls — including yours — so that God receives less worship.

That’s why he tempts.

That’s why he loves it when our glances become gazes.

Don’t let the two seconds become 10 seconds, or 20 seconds or two minutes, or whatever.

The risk of reaping a life of heartache and an eternity of hell is just too great.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

.

.

You recall what the scriptures say, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverb 16:18 KJV).

We’ve all had occasions when we elevated ourselves on the flimsy ladder of pride and then fell SPLAT! on the ground because of our false confidence.

Life is much better when we realize that God and His purposes are SO much bigger than us, that we’re as a blade of grass here for a moment and then we’re gone.

Combining that sense of humility with the knowledge that God loves us so deeply is the key, I’m convinced, to having a balanced, humble, productive life for the Kingdom.

This view was reinforced in my mind and heart this morning when I read John 4:43-54.  Jesus was visiting Cana in Galilee, the site of His first miracle, when a royal official from King Herod’s administration came to Him with a desperate plea.

The official’s son was dying and he was convinced that the only hope for healing rested with Jesus.

Rather than snapping His fingers in order to instantly get the child out playing kickball, however, Jesus said something surprising to the heartbroken father.

Actually, one could argue that it was cold-hearted.

Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe,” Jesus told the father.

Some dads might have gotten ticked off at this street preacher’s “in your face” display of bluntness.

The official, however, suppressed any sense of offense that might have inflated his pride and clogged his ears.

Why?  Because the needs of his child were far more important that the pseudo-need of his ego.

Sir, come down before my child dies,” the official said.

“You may go. Your son will live,” Jesus said.

The man believed Jesus and left. He wasn’t even home yet when his servants ran to him with the news that the boy was healed. Further inquiry showed the healing occurred at the exact time Jesus spoke it into being.

Wow.

It’s amazing to see what humility can accrue to the benefit of those who possess it.

Pride in the father’s heart would have blocked the child’s healing.

His humility, though, was the bridge between God’s power and the child’s need.

Now that’s a lesson we can take to the bank.

Satan doesn’t want us to believe this, of course.

And he CERTAINLY doesn’t want us to apply it.

But he’s not your boss.

Please don’t treat him like one.

Listen, pride is not your friend.

Humility is.

And it’s the friend of your loved ones and friends who need your intercession with Jesus.

When you have some special person in need, you need to go to the Lord and beg for help.

It’s true that you might not like it when the Holy Spirit convicts your heart about the sin in your life.

But taking those shots to your pride is a small price to pay in return for the outpouring of sustaining or even healing power that might flow into the life of your loved one.

Please don’t let your wounded pride get in the way of your fervent prayers to God for a loved one’s healing or your weekly attendance at church for your kids’ spiritual strengthening.

In eternity, it won’t matter who wounded your ego.

It WILL matter, though, if you allowed that wounded ego to keep you from going to the Lord for the help that your loved one needed.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here — History’s greatest ‘No’

.

.

It screamed off the page to me this morning.

Thank you, God, for the inspiring insight.

Confirming again why reading the Bible repeatedly is so very important, I saw an inferred contrast in Luke 23:35-39 that poignantly yet powerfully affirmed my faith in Jesus Christ.

“They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One”

“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself”

Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us”

Three times, Jesus was told to save Himself.

Three times, instead, Jesus gave Himself.

Three times Jesus was tempted to think His #1 lived inside His own skin.

Yet, three times Jesus showed that His #1 lived — and lives — inside the skin of all mankind BUT Him.

It’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t allow Himself to be nailed to the cross just to show mankind how strong His pain threshold was.

Instead, Jesus surrendered to the nails in order to show mankind how strong His love was for every soul ever created.

I’m eternally grateful that Jesus didn’t save Himself from the suffering of Calvary.

For in rejecting that trap of Satan, He gave me the hope of eternal joy in heaven.

Wow.

He gave to save.

We, of course, should be deeply stirred toward the same desire.

We aren’t being asked to surrender our hands and feet to the nails. At least, not yet.

Yet we are tempted in multiple ways at multiple times to follow the advice of the crowd and act as if #1 lives in our skin.

“Save your pride!” the Enemy pleads when you’re struggling with forgiving another.

“Save your financial status among peers!” when you’re under conviction about the command of tithing. he cries.

“Save your social/recreational schedule!” his voice whispers when your congregation issues a call for volunteers.

Hmmmm…….

You know how the list can go on and on. Why? Because, like me, you’ve too often accepted the “I’m #1” to-do list handed you by Satan.

We know better.

And as we follow Christ’s example in Luke 23:35-39, we’ll show better.

Dear friend, strengthen your desire to live for God and others in this life and you’ll strengthen your hope to live with God and His saints forever in the next life.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

.

.

Forgiveness is never a solo event.

In fact, it is typically the fruit of multiple efforts.

Yes, it’s true that individuals must forgive themselves for having made bad choices that negatively affected others.

We’ve all seen individuals imprisoned by residual feelings to guilt and unwilling to humbly accept the fact that inner peace cannot come through grit but only through grace.

Fortunately, though, we’ve seen a larger number of people who accept the fact that forgiving self is just part of the mercy matrix.

Others are needed to teach us of the need for forgiveness, of how it might be gained, and to accompany us emotionally and spiritually along that challenging, humbling path toward spiritual and emotional restoration.

I’m praying that you are part of somebody’s matrix of mercy.

I’m praying that God is using you to help somebody toward spiritual peace with God and emotional peace with himself or herself.

This is one of the key reasons that God stirs us toward the seeking of friendships — so that we can help each other toward restoration when forgiveness is necessary.

I was reminded of the above while reading from Luke 5 this morning in the One-Year Bible.

Verses 17-26 tell of four friends who bring the paralytic on a mat to Jesus for healing, yet the five men can’t fit into the crowded house where Jesus was teaching. You know what happened. They tore a hole in the roof and lowered the paralytic down with ropes until he was right in front of Jesus.

“When Jesus saw their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven'” (v. 20).

Wow.

Huh?

Four guys showed their love for a friend and he then is forgiven of sin? What’s up with that connection? Why not just heal the guy and then deal with his sin issue later?

Jesus had a bigger plan, of course. He always does.

The forgiveness set the stage for the subsequent healing and explosion of praise for God that followed among the people of that area.

And besides, without forgiveness, the man would have lived as one walking toward eternity in hell.

This forgiveness/healing is a great story.

The key principle I want to glean today, however, is that this man might never have heard Jesus say, “your sins are forgiven” if the friends had not interceded in order to show their loving desire for his physical healing.

Listen, I have never seen a person come to Jesus for forgiveness in the absence of godly influence by somebody or some group in his or her life.

Yes, it’s possible and randomly occurs that somebody gets saved apart from an active, “seeker” involvement in a local congregation.

But no forgiveness occurs in a vacuum of caring relationships.

Somebody, somewhere has demonstrated the place and power of grace in a way that left an impression on the sinner needing salvation.

Usually it was a very patient, godly friend or relative.

It’s very likely that your cry to Jesus for forgiveness occurred against the backdrop of a friend describing to you the peace and joy found on the other side of repentance and surrendering to Christ’s Lordship.

Please, my friend, understand that your friend or relative needing forgiveness will likely miss out on seeking God’s grace through the gospel if you and his/her Christian friends/relatives don’t intercede.

Even if your intercession is initially directed at helping them for a tangible, physical reason, just being in their presence as you demonstrate Christ’s presence in your life will very likely move them closer to an encounter with Jesus.

And without that, there will never be hope for their eternal forgiveness.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

To hear this Morning Devotion, please click here

.

Even the very faithful people have times when they’re not very faithful.

Including the poster child for Old Testament faith, Moses.

Numbers 11 tells of when Moses couldn’t grasp how God was going to feed the griping Hebrews with so much meat that they would have it coming out of their nostrils.

Even if all the flocks and herds were slaughtered in the Hebrew camp or all the fish in the sea were caught for them, it wouldn’t be enough, Moses said.

It was, to say the least, a tension-filled moment.

God didn’t respond with a lecture.

Instead, He responded with a question.

“Is the Lord’s arm too short?”

Oh my.

Of course, Moses shouldn’t have doubted the God who spoke from a burning bush, who provided all the miracles of the plagues, who parted the Red Sea, who behaved miraculously and powerfully on Mount Sinai, who provided water from desert rocks and etc., etc., etc.

But Moses did doubt.

Partially because he was worn down emotionally and spiritually by the countless malcontents in the camp and partially because Moses was still struggling to transcend his human nature of wanting to control people in constructive manner.

This happens to every Christian at one time or another.

We fall into moments of doubt about the promises of God.

We doubt the length of His arm.

Satan tells believers that the Lord’s arm IS too short and cannot deliver on promises.

And so believers — including ourselves — sometimes resort to lying, to resenting rather than forgiving, to stealing from God’s tithe offering, to cheating on time sheets or school exams or mentally on our wedding vows, or to compromising sexually, or to hoarding, or to all sorts of misbehaviors.

Let’s remember that the Hebrews did end up with more meat than they needed and reached the point of being sick of the meat they so desperately begged for.

The Bible is a record of the Lord’s long arm.

God’s Word has NEVER come up short.

He will reach wherever He needs to in order to keep His promise.

Listen, my friend, the same divine arms that reached around all the quail flocks in Egypt and shooed them to the Hebrew camp can reach His arms around the blessings or strength or mercy that you need and bring them to you at the time they’ll do the most good.

Trust God’s long arms and forgive others so that He will free you from the anchors of resentment.

Trust God’s long arms and trust that any calamity allowed to come upon you is part of a larger, sanctified plan to prepare you for greater blessings, whether only in heaven or perhaps on earth, too.

Trust God’s long arms and give 10 percent of your gross income to ministry work so that God will see your faith in Him and provide amply for your life on earth.

What a great day that will be when your earthly trust in God’s long arms will be transformed into the heavenly reality of God’s long arms hugging you to His chest.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

To hear this Morning Devotion, click  The accounting of love

In the midst of countless “Do not …” admonitions I read this morning in Leviticus 19, there were two profoundly affirmative statements that reveal the core of God’s heart.

To those who think God is an autocratic and mean-spirited control freak, these two statements don’t add up.

But to those who understand that God is the Abba Father of the Good Shepherd, albeit a holy and righteous Father, these phrases come as no surprise.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:14).

“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (vv. 33-34).

It’s good to know that the Golden Rule was taught before Jesus started His preaching.

And wherever it was practiced, God was exalted and people were blessed.

God knew that it would be very difficult to do these things unless one had a close relationship with Him.

The fact is that we humans — even the believers among us — are drawn to the idea of “payback time” like kids are drawn to a bowl of candy.

It’s bad for us but we still want to taste it, convinced that it will satisfy our cravings.

The fact is that seeking revenge or bearing grudges does nothing emotionally or physically healthy for us.

You’ve known people who have been eaten alive by stress and anger because of cherished grudges and cravings for revenge

In contrast, loving our neighbor — i.e., anybody in our lives — is to characterize our conduct.

It’s SO much healthier physically and emotionally to cut the anchor ropes.

Even when that neighbor is an outsider culturally or ethnically or spiritually, we are to treat him as we would one our hometown best buddies or, as my daughters used to say, as pinky pals.

We are to love the outsider as we love ourselves.

Just as God did for us.

Wow.

This kind of love doesn’t happen very much, does it?

It’s because so few people obey God in these teachings.

Are you?

Thoughts of revenge and bearing of grudges are not part of God’s agenda toward you, but showing grace and love are.

Shouldn’t you do the same toward others?

I am certain that some people in my life have, because of God’s Word, chosen to love me despite my imperfections and lack of common heritage with them.

I have been blessed because they loved me as they love themselves, not because of my merit but instead because of their obedience to God.

Because they have done so for me, I am more inclined to do so for others.

It’s interesting to note that our Almighty God is watching to see if we are loving others as we do ourselves.

We need that accountability, it’s true.

For if we think that nobody is taking notes, we just might skip out on our call to love.

Please remember that Jesus died for you and me, despite the fact that we are sinful aliens deserving payback.

Let’s love somebody today as we love ourselves, cutting loose Satan’s suggested grudges and bigotries.

It’s what God desires. And it’s what God deserves.

As always, I love you
Martin

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »