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?

Forward and New

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!                                               2 Corinthians 5:17

Word of the Day

Have you ever looked around and noticed that everybody seems to be moving forward and you feel stuck? Stuck with excess weight, stuck in a lifeless relationship, stuck in a dead-end job, stuck in a daily cycle of unfinished business! If you can relate, this is a word for you today. The Bible teaches that we are new creations when we come into the knowledge of Christ and accept Him as Lord. This simply means that we need to recognize and adjust our thinking, our behaviors and our tongues. We cover our heads with the helmet of salvation and we have the mind of Christ. So, what are we waiting for? Do we believe or not? Do we believe that God has given us all we need that pertains to our lives and godliness? If so, let’s think about our salvation benefits.  When we accepted Christ we were justified, freed from the penalty of sin. Colossians 1: 13 states, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” He has declared us righteous.  As we walk out our faith on a daily basis, we are being sanctified by the power of Holy Spirit, being able to overcome the power of sin in our lives. Paul explicitly told the Thessalonians (2:12) to walk out their salvation with fear and trembling, meaning this was something they were accountable to do. It requires that we are reverent, intentional, and dependent on Holy Spirit’s power within us. We know that it is God in us that gives us the ability and power to do pleasing work for His glory (Phil 2:13). ­­­So daily, we are being saved from the rule of sin. The third aspect of our salvation is the most exciting for me. I love to think about what eternity with the Lord is going to be like. With this in mind, we are anticipating that we will be like Christ forever (1John 3:2,3). Knowing this, we are encouraged to trust Him more. In that day we will be new again, but this time in perfection. ­­­

The truth is that we don’t have to wait to get to heaven for our lives to be made new. Newness begins each day. Each day we are blessed to be able to start over again, knowing that it’s another day the Lord has saved us for something.  As we anticipate the newness – the fresh start, the new direction – we must face the reality that God may not change what’s happening in our lives until we allow Him to change what is going on within us. As our decisions adjust to His leading, we will find that our words have to change. The Bible teaches that world we live in was created at the sound of spoken words (Hebrews 11:3), we have the power to build and destroy. Let’s build a new future beginning with today! Put the old stuff in its proper place – behind us and begin anew!

Prayer

Lord, we know that with time we all have a history, but You have a way of making all things new. Help me to take what I’ve learned from my past and use it to create a new future, one that is good, not evil. I submit myself to Your leading as you are the great orchestrator of my life, so have your way. Holy Spirit, enable me to push forward in You, knowing that I can do all things through Christ. I expect all things to become new as I walk with you today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Reflect & Journal

What is it that you desire to be behind you?

Describe your attachment to the dead things you still carry.

Identify at least two areas of your life that been to be changed or transformed.

Describe what you are willing to sacrifice in order to move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Still

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Be still and know that I am God. –  Psalm 46:10

Word of the Day

As a child I can remember the elders around me telling us to “study to be quiet” whenever we would get too talkative. Sometimes fellow believers will ask me how to handle things and I have been led to tell them “just be quiet and listen to God” rather than encouraging them to continue rehearsing the issues. For those times, I have been grateful that many have come back delighted to tell me what God has spoken.

During seasons of my life the Lord has allowed and instructed me to go through periods of silence, in order to strengthen and sharpen my spiritual hearing. These times would be identified by a subtle pulling away from socializing, talking on the phone and entertainment. During those times of silence He has answered the questions that seemed so far away. He would reveal: The What. The Who. The Why. The When. The Where…and The How. God used those times of quietness to sharpen my discernment concerning the natural and spiritual truths surrounding my life and those around me. I learned that our God really wants us to know that He is present, fighting for us. People of God, like never before, we are in a time that demands we know God and what He is saying. Be still. Listen. He always has our best interest at heart. Today, I encourage you to be still and watch the Lord work in your life. This type of stillness can be the entrance to deeper places with Him, knowing He is already there.

Prayer

Lord God Almighty, help me to be still long enough to hear what you are saying concerning my life today. I am open to wait as long as it takes. I thank You that I can be confident in knowing that You are present in my life in Jesus name. Amen.

Reflect & Journal

Have you felt distant from God?
Are you having trouble connecting in worship and prayer?
When was the last time you remember Him speaking to you through the word, in prayer, through happenings? Did you understand the message for you?
What are you willing to move away from in order to hear from God during this season?

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?