Doing Right

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“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
-Isaiah 1:16-17

Word of the Day

In view of the recent happenings, the Charleston Nine Shooting, the Orlando Shooting and the Charlotte Shooting, many are left with a dull, aching pain which stimulates the heart to weep. As a society, for years we have been in a place of trying to reconcile how and why these things are happening in our society, but I believe these events aren’t new. Once you take a step back and think about the word of God, it is clear that “nothing is new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  In Isaiah’s day, the Lord had grown weary of his people pretending for Him. They were literally going through the rituals of worship and sacrifice without sincerity of heart. Sometimes we may find ourselves speaking for God, serving his people, and praying to him without truly surrendering to Him for ourselves. Each time we refuse to confess our sins and repent we develop an easier will to disobey. Before we know it, we will have traveled a great distance from the Lord and become less sensitive to Holy Spirit’s leading. God’s remedy is for us to make things right with Him.

We have so many privileges under our covenant of grace. First, we are instructed to “wash ourselves, make ourselves clean”. We wash ourselves by asking the Lord to show us ourselves (Psalm 139:23) and then be willing to accept what He shows us. In essence, we must desire to know what is lurking within our hearts and minds. It can become easy to ignore our sins because willful sinning creates a powerful sense of shame and justification. The shame can cause us to hide from ourselves and the justification is found in our reasoning of why. We have been commissioned to live our lives by faith (Romans 1:17), knowing there is nothing we can do to make ourselves right. Faith in God and what He has done through Christ enables us by Holy Spirit to choose His way over our own. Second, he says to “learn to do good”. This step is vital in making lasting change because it requires that we do more than say we’re sorry. The act of “learning” is fostered by the will. We must choose to act upon what we know is the right and acceptable will of God. The prophet Micah reminded Judah that God’s requirements had not changed, that he had already told them to “to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). The same holds true today, we must put into practice what we already know to do – no matter how it feels.

Prayer

Father, I thank You that Your love for me never fails, without it I would be hopeless. Today, I ask that You show me my heart, examine my mind and move on my will to walk in faith. I realize that I get into trouble when I start walking in my will rather than in faith. Holy Spirit help me to surrender to Your will and not my own. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reflect & Journal

It may be that you struggle with negative thinking, have an addiction or filled with doubt and discouragement, know that God wants you to face it.
In what ways have you recognized that you are weak in faith?
Are you ready to change? If so, what are your first three steps?

Not Like Everybody Else

     well-w-bucket  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.                                                                   Psalm 19:14

 

Word of the Day

On a Tuesday after lunch duty, I was walking behind two students who were involved in a deep conversation when I overheard one of them use profanity. At the time I didn’t address what I heard but began to ponder why these seventh graders were so comfortable with speaking to one another in that way. Knowing one of the students would be in my 6th period class later in the day, I decided to change the focus question in order to get some healthy feedback on my curiosity. As a class, I asked “In what ways can we communicate in a more positive way with our peers?”. I was amazed at the variety of comments and astonished at the response of the student I heard cursing earlier. “We need to stop cursing and use good words. My grannie said that people who cuss are ignorant, got a little vocabulary,” he said. The class giggled and began to comment about someone they knew who used profanity on a regular basis. At that time, I redirected these young people to think about what they were sharing. When I surveyed to find out who would admit to cursing, about half the class admitted to cursing sometimes but not the young man I overheard. His inability to admit to his peers that he used profanity deeply troubled me. After class I told him what I thought I heard earlier and before I could complete my sentence he began giving me his reasons for “talking like everybody else” in school.  This young man was a victim of his environment. He didn’t believe he was strong enough to appear different from his peers. For days after our conversation the student made an effort to discretely let me know if he had slipped and said a bad word. I used these confessions to encourage him to make better choices.

How many of us can relate to my student? You may not use profanity but are tempted to have conversations that displease God. It may be that you are surrounded by friends, family or coworkers who pass gossip, or you find enjoyment in unfairly judging and criticizing others. The Bible makes strong references of the importance of knowing what and how we are to speak. Some of us are like the children I teach; we look for a way to justify the deeper issue: contents of the heart. The psalmist makes a humble plea to the Lord, suggesting that God is able to help us grow in our thoughts and words. David distinguishes that there is a relationship between what we are thinking and what we say. God wants us to have a pure heart, knowing that He requires us to be holy in all things. “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (1John 3:20).” What we say originates with the thoughts of our heart.  For my students to understand the principle of how to change what they speak, I gave them an analogy of the waste basket in my classroom. When it’s filled with dry wrappers and old papers, if it were to fall over, it would be easy to pick up the can and paper. However, if the basket were to fall over being filled with chewed gum, soda cans, banana peels, and used tissues, cleaning it up would be a mess. In the same way that the contents would come out of my wastebasket when knocked over, when we open our mouths the content of our hearts spill out as words. Luke 6:45 teaches us that whatever we say is a reflection of what is in our hearts. In order for us to cleanse the heart we have to take a stand concerning what we are willing to allow to enter in. Holy Spirit empowers us to take a stand and face our weaknesses in order to make better choices. This means we have to choose to change what we watch, what we listen to, where we go, and ultimately who we associate with.

Prayer

Father, today I ask that you search my heart. I know I suffer with thoughts, words and emotions that are sometimes displeasing to you. Show me myself and give me the courage to change. I ask for your grace to surrender my heart fully to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reflect & Journal

Have you taken the time to examine your words? Would you feel comfortable having most of your conversations in the presence of your parents? Your pastor? Your children? Why or why not?

Name the thoughts and words you have that would be pleasing to God.

Name the thoughts and words you have that would dishonor the Lord? What attracts you to say the things you do?

 

 

Getting Ready to Go!

cropped-well-w-bucket.jpgAlso I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”                              – Isaiah 6:8

 

Word of the Day

While driving home this afternoon, I heard a song that ministered, professing that “I’ll be the one” the Lord could trust. As the song continued I was taken by the simple truths of holiness being taught through the lyrics, so I began examining myself by the principles so beautifully sung. By the time I got home and checked my cell phone I had a lengthy text from a young lady who was struggling with her faith walk and desired to “do something” in the church. Frustrated, she was asking for instructions to know how to live godly in spite of her circumstances. Her life had been riddled with abuse, betrayal and abandonment from the time she was a very small child, so having faith seemed a distant reality for her. When I began to think about the best way to answer her questions I started thinking of the lyrics to the song I heard in the car. The message in the song related that God had an expectation to find someone who would give themselves fully, knowing that God could trust him. The songwriter declared he was in a good place with the Lord. He was aware that Holy Spirit living within him brought the desire to live holy. Because of His enabling power at work in our lives, we are able to think, speak, act and make choices that will give us victory while bringing glory to God’s name. After a while a connection was made with the young lady, she understood her faith walk required her to do something other than just expecting God to move for her. She acknowledged Holy Spirit’s conviction in her life and began confessing her sins.

The prophet Isaiah described an encounter he had with God. Being in God’s presence Isaiah was able to have a better image of himself, “I am a man of unclean lips…for my eyes have seen the King” (Is 6:5). Once he admitted he had issues an angel touched his mouth with a hot coal (Is 6:6-7) signifying God’s ability to make us clean.  It was after Isaiah grew closer to God that he was able to have a more accurate view of himself. The same holds true for us today.  After Isaiah recognized he didn’t measure up to God’s standard, he was open for change. God forgave him and removed the sin.  It was then the Lord called him to service. I explained to the young lady that in order to bring glory to God in “doing something” in church she had to grow in developing a stronger personal relationship with him first. So often we find ourselves showing up for work before we get hired. By God’s standards, we are ready to be sent after we have been touched and changed.

Prayer

Father, I want to be more pleasing in your sight. Search my heart and my mind, show me my sinful ways. I ask you to forgive and purge me of all unrighteous thoughts, words, emotions, actions and plans. I stand knowing I’m not perfect, but know that my desire is to honor you in all my life. In Jesus name.

Reflect & Journal

Are you like the young lady I was speaking with?

Do you struggle with walking by faith?

What is the sin in your life that hinders your effectiveness for the kingdom?

God Above Doubt and Fear

 

“Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

                                                                                                      – Exodus 3:10-11

 Have you ever wondered why following Holy Spirit’s leading doesn’t always lead you to an easier journey? Perhaps you began experiencing your greatest challenges when you surrendered your will to God’s. Maybe the saints told you that following God would make everything work out right, only to find out that it isn’t always “right”. Whatever your testimony, God has purpose in the assignment.  When the Lord instructed Moses to confront Pharaoh, Moses quickly began to doubt his ability to perform the assignment. He was no different than some of us; we want to do great things for God but when we reach the fork in the road, we hesitate and think about turning around. For some, it may be that you felt God’s unction in a particular direction, you heard His voice, and you said “yes” only to experience a greater sense of conflict or defeat. When we recall how we used to feel, it doesn’t take long before we begin to wonder whether we truly heard from God. We can spend a great deal of time doubting ourselves without thoroughly giving God the credit He deserves. Before we travel the road of “I can’t” I suggest we reach a place of accepting God’s choice in the matter.

He has promised us a bright future (Jeremiah 29:11) but it is often birthed out of adversity. It is during the seasons of adversity that God is preparing us for the “expected end”. With Moses, he was trained for 40 years, living as an Egyptian and watching the enslavery of his people, Israel. That chapter of his life closed when he could no longer maintain his peace toward injustice directed at his people. At that point he killed an Egyptian and fled. After Moses lost control of his emotions, and fled for his life, he found himself in an unfamiliar place. Just like us, when we are in the unfamiliar God has a way of meeting our innermost needs. It was in that place that he found safety, instruction and purpose. God was able to get Moses’ attention in a way that he could understand. Although Moses obeyed God, he questioned his ability and qualifications to do what God asked of him. Moses was racked with fear and doubt, referring to the familiar – his natural limitations rather than God’s supernatural power.

Isaiah 46:10 declares that our end is already known from our beginning. Before we lose confidence in who and what He has called us to do, the Lord wants us to consider Him. We can trust Him regardless of the circumstances. 

Prayer

Father, today I acknowledge that You are omnipotent, the God who is all-powerful. Help us to trust Your call for my life. Whatever You have told me to do, let me not consider who I am not but Who you are. I thank You, Lord, for providing what I need when I need it. In Jesus name. Amen. 

Reflect & Journal

What has God told you to do that you that you are afraid to do?

If you have the certainty that God has spoken, have you asked Him to strengthen you and give you the courage to obey Hill will? If not, do so now. (write your prayer)

Think about all your reasons for why you haven’t obeyed God in the past. Do you see a pattern in your life? If so, search the scriptures to see what God says about each reason you have used to disobey Him. Choose to trust God over your doubts and fears.