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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feeling a little dirty...

Have you ever felt so lazy that even a shower seems like too much work for you?  I mean to the point where you really don't care about the filth you have on you from the day before?  Perhaps you're just too comfortable sitting in your PJ's to get up and get in the shower and wash off the remains from the day before.  Or maybe it's just really cold in your house and the thought of taking off those warm clothes or getting from under your warm blanket and stepping into the cold air of a shower gives you the chills.

That's how I was feeling this morning.  As a matter of fact, that's how I feel a lot of mornings.  Rest assured, I take showers every day.  But there are moments when I just don't feel like it.  I'm far too comfortable in the current position that I'm in, and I'm just not willing to give up that comfort at the moment to hop in the shower.  Or it's just really cold in our house, and the thought of having to deal with the cold air--before and after the shower--just does not seem very appealing to me.  I choose to stay warm, I choose to stay comfortable.  Eventually though, I have to get up and wash the dirt off from the day before.  If I did not, I'd just continue to get dirtier and dirtier and people would start to notice.

As I was having this random thought earlier today, God spoke to my heart.  I always find it amazing how God can take any situation and use it to better explain Himself to us.  He showed me that it's a lot like sin, and living a sin filled life.

To a point, we all have dirt on us, even when we shower.  Dirt gets on our skin and it just stays there throughout the day.  When we shower over night or the next morning, we're able to remove that dirt by washing it away.  If we never shower, that dirt stays on our skin, and more dirt is added to us daily.  In the beginning, no one really notices.  You don't even notice and it's your body.  So you could say that it's somewhat acceptable.  Eventually, though, if you continue not to shower, the dirt begins to show up.  You start to smell.  You, along with other people start to notice it. 

Before I knew Jesus, I was knee deep in sin.  Much like going without a shower for a day, it started off passable.  I couldn't really tell.  No one else could tell either.  Each day I continued in this sin letting it fester all over my body.  It seemed like the more I allowed the sin to stay on me, the more other sins began attaching themselves to my body.  Once you have enough on you, it's easier for more to attach itself to you.  Too much dirt on you can cause disease.  And who wants disease all over their body?  Most people with diseases want to be cleansed of them immediately.

 If we don't shower for a few days, we're still able to hide the dirt.  We're still able to cover up the stink.  But eventually, it all comes out.  It can come out to the point that people either start gossiping about us, or people come to us with genuine concern for what we're doing.  You know what I mean:  A wife cheats on her husband.  She continues to do so, and it eventually comes out.  You become a social drinker or drug user.  You continue telling yourself you've got it all under control.  Then somewhere down the line, you wake up and discover the drugs or alcohol has control of you.  It is inevitable, the sins in your life can and will get out of control to the point that people begin noticing them.  You'll start to notice them. 

There is, however, a way out...

In Psalm 51:2-3 the psalmist asks God, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me."  Verse 7 goes on to say, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."

Our sins are like dirt.  They are filthy.  We all have sin in our lives, some of us just choose to ask for forgiveness for them and to be cleansed of them.  When we ask to be cleansed of them, God promises to do so.  In Jeremiah 33 He says, "I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me." (Jeremiah 33:8, NIV).

In this chapter, he was talking about the people of Judah and Israel.  But this is a promise that He's made for all of us today.  He's already given us this promise, it's up to us to stop being lazy and comfortable with our dirt and ask for Him to cleanse us of it. 

The best part about it, is God doesn't care how dirty we are.  All He cares about is that we acknowledge Him, and ask for His forgiveness for our sins.  When we do this, we can rest assured He is faithful and will cleanse us of them.  1 John 1:8-9  (NIV) states, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 

And once we do this...once we decide that we're no longer comfortable sitting in our sin...once we make the decision to stop be lazy and festering in our sin...once we come to Him and let Him take it from us, we can be confident to know that He's wiped our slates clean and removed that sin that once made us so dirty and smelly far from us.  Psalm 103:12 states that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (our sins) from us."  This is how much He loves us...


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well it's finally 2011.  When I was a kid, I think I expected everything to be similar to The Jetson's once this time came around.  If you'd told me we'd still be driving our cars rather than flying them, I'd have called you a liar. 

As I start to get settled in to this new year, I--like others--have so many expectations and hopes.  I expect that I as a person will grow and be better this year than I was in 2010.  I hope that this year brings even greater blessings to my life and my families' lives.

Many people create New Year's resolutions because they want to be better in the new year than they were in the past.  What would make you better?  Losing 20 or 30 pounds?  Having more friends?  Having more money or more material items?

Physical health is one of the things I value most in my life.  I'm thankful for my health and my physical strength and ability.  I am also very thankful for the few but true friendships that I have been blessed with.  I'd definitely love to get more money in 2011 than I got in 2010.  And there's nothing wrong with material things.  I too like stuff.  

But what about Jesus?  Would you be willing to get to know Him in 2011?  If you already know Him, would you be willing to ask Him for more of Him in your life this year? 

What if I told you, that having a relationship with Jesus would make you better?  What if I told you that having a relationship with Jesus would give you more of what you're truly searching for?  Would you still rather have more friends, money, stuff or lose more weight this year than get to know Him?

Imagine that you have all the money, material items, and friends in the world and you are a "perfect size".  What would life be like for you?  Would you be content?  Or would you want more?  What if you had all this, but you didn't have Jesus?  How would life be for you?

I can speak from personal experience that I once had all the "friends" I thought I needed.  I had tons of money, and I had tons of material things.  I think I had pretty much everything an average person would want in life.  The one thing missing was Jesus.  I remember going shopping and buying and buying and buying until I thought I was satisfied.  When I got home with all my stuff, I'd always feel this enormous sense of emptiness. 

I remember going out with friends and eating and drinking to my heart's content.  The first bite and drink are always delicious.  But once it's gone, it's gone.  You can only eat so much food, and you can only drink so much drink.  No matter how full my stomach was, I still had an emptiness inside of me.

I remember thinking I had tons and tons of friends.  I remember losing most of them when I could have used them the most. 

I remember the day that I gave my  life to Jesus.  I remember that empty feeling being filled like never before.  I remember feeling a sense of peace wash over me like a cool, calm shower.  It is a  moment that I will never forget as long as I live. 

2 Corinthians 4:18 states, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

In the context of chapter 4, the verse is speaking about personal affliction.  It's a reminder not to look at those things (the different struggles) which afflict us, but remember to look at what's ahead if we continue to trust in Jesus.  For me, something about this verse, touches the subject that I speak of...

Think about it.  The Webster's Dictionary definition of affliction is to cause persistent pain or distress, great suffering.  The battle of losing weight and/or gaining weight can cause great suffering, friendships can, loss or gain of money can cause that, and so can other material items.  Why?  Because these are all temporal things.

But setting our sights on the things that are eternal: Jesus, Heaven, His love for us, etc. comes with no affliction.  It does, however, come with peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7), agape love, unlimited joy, and freedom from sin. 

One of my promises for 2011 is to make more time for God.  My hope is that I am able to strengthen my prayer life this year; and in so doing, deepen my relationship with God. 

My prayer in this new year is that more people will let go of their fleshly desires (for more money, materials, and "cool friends"), and explore the hunger in their hearts for Jesus.  Not that there's anything wrong with that stuff.  I do hope, though, that they would choose to have more of Him above all the things of this world that fade, break, and get old.  Rest assured that Jesus never fades, gets old or breaks...He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8)

Wishing everyone abundant blessings, peace and agape love in 2011!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 30

Day 30 of the Prayer of Jabez challenge is finally  here.  It's also a new year!  Happy New Year!  Marcus and I decided that we would like to reread the Prayer of Jabez book.  Our copy is in storage, so I'm just going to check it out from the library.

We are also going to do a fast starting next week.  I am really nervous about that, but I continue to pray for strength for it. 

I'm always excited about the end of something.  The feeling of getting through it is always a wonderful feeling.  I'm thankful for the peace that God has given me.  It has come from knowing what I have control over and what I do not have control over and accepting it. 

It has also come from knowing that God is not my enemy.  Therefore, if I have to wait on something it isn't because He's trying to punish me or because He's being mean.  There's a reason for it.

Isaiah 40:31 states, "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

So when we wait on God, it may seem like we're being lazy.  It may seem like we're being stupid.  It may seem like we're just afraid to take action, but we're none of the above.  We are putting our trust in Him, and waiting for His very best. 

In the final week of 2010, I came to realize that although I have trusted God, I have trusted Him to do as I expect Him to do.  I have trusted Him to do what I think needs to be done.