Tag Archives: forgiveness

Messy House

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.

1 Peter 2:1-3 (MSG)

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My house is normally pretty tidy with things picked up and a clean kitchen to work in. But I hire a couple of girls to come in twice a month to “deep clean.” The other day I walked into the house after lunch and it looked like a whirlwind had hit it.

Because of the holiday, my cleaning girl brought a couple of extra friends to help her catch up on the missed day. All the furniture was pulled away from the walls. One girl was on a step-stool wiping down bookshelves. Another had the kitchen torn apart and was spraying and wiping the counters and cupboards. I heard others in the back of the house making noises with vacuums and mops.

You would think that I was messy and dirty. On the surface, the house looked fine, but underneath the furniture, behind the books, in the nooks and crannies out of sight, dirt and dust lingered and multiplied.

It made me wonder about the state of my heart and life. I can put on a good face and attitude and people observing will think all is well. Not much cleaning up for her to do. But is my heart and mind free of fear, prejudice, frustration, anger, pride, and selfishness? Honestly, no. If I had to clean them up all by myself, I would fail miserably. But God took the giant vacuum cleaner to my life when I confessed my sins and weaknesses to Him and accepted His offer of love and forgiveness. Jesus’ blood cleansed me and gave me life eternal.

Yet, this world still leaves our feet dusty as we walk the roads of life. The news indicates that things are hardly tidy and free of grime. We have experienced a week with the murders of police officers in Dallas, rallies in cities across the nation to protest racism, lies and distortions by politicians. And that is only in the United States. The rest of the world is hurting, too.

We will never live in a perfect world, this side of heaven, but we have help and hope from God’s word, The Bible. When we spend time reading, meditating, journaling, confessing our sins, and praying over the truths that we read, God promises to grow us up into mature people. Just as my grandgirlies had to learn to walk one step at a time, so do we. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are a result of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only then will:

  • Anger on the streets be replaced with love.
  • Racism be replaced with acceptance.
  • Rudeness be replaced with kindness.
  • Pride be replaced with humility.
  • Fear be replaced with hope.
  • Division be replaced with unity.

The disorder and disarray in my house? By the time they left, everything was back in place, the sinks sparkled and the floors glistened. Maybe it’s time to check the corners and pockets of your hearts and minds for dust and grime. Give Jesus the opportunity to clean up your mess and make your life clean and whole, ready to be a light and witness for Him to a darkened world.

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Let It Shine

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (HCSB)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 (NIV)

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I love singing the children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine” with my grandgirlies:

Verse 1: This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine,

Let it shine,

All the time.

Verse 2: Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m gonna let it shine (Repeat)

Verse 3: Won’t let Satan blow it out

I’m gonna let it shine (Repeat)

Even if the girlies don’t know all the words, they know all the motions and how to hide their light (index finger) under a bushel (hand covering the finger) and how to blow it out.

The daily goal of the Christian life is to walk in that light but, sometimes, we find ourselves in the shadows.

My counselor mentioned the term “shadow self” during one of our sessions and it was unfamiliar to me. I began to pay attention as I read various blogs, posts, tweets, and then did a little research on the subject.

As a believer, I know that in Christ all things were made new when I accepted Christ as my Savior. The sins I commit today are forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty for them on the cross. However, I’m still human and live in an imperfect body for the duration of my sojourn on earth. My perfection will only be attained on the shores of heaven.

So what is the shadow? It’s that part of ourselves that we keep hidden, often not even aware that it’s there. Many aspects are not the favorite parts of ourselves but shape our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions. But getting to know our shadow side is like cracking the code to the “why” of some of our actions and becoming aware of changes that need to be made.

Every day, we have the choice to walk away from Christ’s light and the balance He offers and right into the plan of the enemy. It’s Satan who wants to keep us in the shadows with our darkest self. But, over and over again, Jesus reminds His followers that He is the light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Reflecting on all of this, I’m reminded that I don’t have to stay stuck. Grace and forgiveness allow God to make all things new— to refine and purify me—so that those very shadowy aspects will be used for His glory and purpose. My part is to turn to Him daily and trust Him to dispel the shadow so that I will walk in the light and “let it shine.”

 

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Change It Up

 

Talking things over, they went on into the house, where Cornelius introduced Peter to everyone who had come. Peter addressed them, “You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. So the minute I was sent for, I came, no questions asked. Acts 10:27-29 (The Message)

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Personality? Temperament? Nature? Nurture? Birth Order? I’m never quite sure why I react or respond like I do. There are some things in my life that once they are set, I don’t want to change — moving furniture around in a room, as an example. But don’t ask me about hair dressers.

Mark could wear and buy the same blue shirt every time. I’m all about color, style, comfort, uniqueness — never the same thing twice. Ask him about learning to drive the streets in California after he first moved there. He never knew which was was home because I never drove home the same way. (Now there is only one way in and one way out.)

I like to change it up. Variety adds spice to my life. Yet, I was raised in a very rigid home and church. Rules were the rules. And as a firstborn, I followed them all.

The apostle, Peter, was also used to following rules but God had other plans for him. It took three times, with the same vision, for Peter to understand that God had something important for him to do, different from his usual. He listened and obeyed with great results for the Kingdom.

The Christian community in Charleston is suffering and mourning as a result of one man being rigid and hateful. Isn’t it interesting that God’s name, grace, forgiveness, love and mercy are all over the TV right now?

Tolerance has been redefined to mean that we leave God out of our lexicon or a lawsuit is on the horizon. Forgiveness? Not! On our own, it’s impossible. We want justice—or maybe revenge. Love doesn’t even enter our minds. But in this time of tragedy, God is the source of comfort and, more importantly, forgiveness.

Commentators and pundits are amazed at the forgiveness offered by the Christian families of those lost. What they don’t understand is that it’s God’s love within a person that allows and offers forgiveness. Have you discovered God’s unfailing love for you?

As believers, let’s change it up and show our neighbor what this God-love is all about.

I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (The Message)

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Glow!

See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.

Luke 11:35-36 (NIV)b30f69bac8a6498dd68b4614f2b8d07f

It was a lovely day and I headed out with a friend to have lunch at a local outdoor mall. After lunch, we wandered through the shops looking at clothes, shoes, and stuff for the grandkids.

As we approached one particular gift store, I raved to her about all the pretty things in it. She was unfamiliar with it, so we spent several minutes oohing and ahhing over the various styles and designs of the different collections displayed.

At one point, I reached to the back of a shelf to pick up a package of decorative napkins and accidentally knocked a small ceramic cactus off the shelf. Of course, it broke…not into smithereens but shards of the pottery from the top of the cactus crumbled into a pile on the floor.

I immediately took it back to the sales desk and showed them the remains of the piece. She responded with the price and asked for payment. Before, I could say a word, get out my wallet, or do anything, my friend said, “I will pay for it.” And she did. Nothing I said would persuade her otherwise.

Now that it was hers, we looked it over and realized that the intended purpose of this little cactus was to be placed over a votive candle to glow softly through small holes poked all over. The broken pieces were located at the top and back and we realized that it could be used if placed high on a shelf so that the imperfections would be hidden.

I felt awful and again attempted to repay her, but this gracious lady said to me, “I will use it in one of my talks to the ladies. It will be a perfect example of God’s love.” She saw possibility in the brokenness.

What a perfect example of how God sees us, always looking beyond our futile attempts to glue ourselves back together. Or, we even try to stand just right so the misaligned parts don’t show.

But, we will never be flawless until God puts us back together. His love for us was shown in the cross when all that sin and brokenness was stamped Paid in Full – just like my friend did for me at the store. Now, our intended purpose will be fulfilled and the light of Jesus will shine through us as we tell our story of healing and wholeness.

I love the children’s song, I am a Promise.” May the lyrics encourage you today:

I am a promise

I am a possibility

I am a promise with a capital “P”

I am a great big bundle of potentiality

And I am learnin’ to hear God’s voice

And I am tryin’ to make the right choice

I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be.

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Rage vs. Respect

“When they cry for help, I will not answer.

    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

For they hated knowledge

    and chose not to fear the Lord.

They rejected my advice

    and paid no attention when I corrected them.

Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,

    choking on their own schemes.

For simpletons turn away from me—to death.

    Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

But all who listen to me will live in peace,

    untroubled by fear of harm.”

Proverbs 1:28-33 (NLT)

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Who wants to turn on the TV or radio these days? Or check the internet for news? Or read the newspaper? Everywhere I turn, the images are of fire, destruction, rage, and anger. Families are being torn apart. Politicians are trying to make a name for themselves. Citizens have turned against each other. Police are disregarded.

I remember a bumper sticker from my growing-up days — Respect Authority. We have a generation of young people that ignore, taunt, fight, and are proud to tell the world of their illegal actions and disrespectful opinions. They may hide their faces under a mask or hood, but mothers know. Some are willing to grab that child and take them home.

Why is all of this happening? Because we have lost a generation that respects or fears God. He is all but buried in all forms of civil discourse. I’m not saying that injustice has not been done. But the answer for the rage and anger is forgiveness. Wanting fairness or our own way is the action of a baby or young child. As we mature, we must put away those childish behaviors and look into the mirror and see the living God. There, we find perfect love and forgiveness as He forgives us for all the wrong we have done. Then we are able to forgive others.

I don’t have an answer for these problems. But God will not be mocked. 

I do know, that my peace is in Him.

Lord, protect our nation. May we fall on our knees and ask forgiveness from you and each other. Heal our land.

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WWJD

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Who had ever heard of Ferguson, MO, before the recent uproar as a result of the death of a young black man by a local white policeman? The news is wall-to-wall with very disturbing images splattered across the screen, getting worse each day.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back happened today as I was driving home from Costco, listening to talk radio. I have heard many politicians spout Scripture to justify their positions, but, Rev. Louis Farrahkan went over the top as he ranted “an eye for an eye…,” leaving it up to your imagination as to what he was suggesting needs to be done.

I have my own bias as to this incident, but I wondered what would Jesus do or say?

Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18: 21-22 NIV

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Luke 6:37 NIV

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 17:3-4 NIV

So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says , ‘I repent,’ forgive him.

John 8:7 NIV

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

What would Jesus do? Something to think about.

As believers, let’s commit to pray.

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