Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘sin’

Sun will Rise!

Some days the hurts of the world–and the sin that causes those hurts–darkens my view of God.  This morning was one of those days.  That is always a time to chase God hard.

There is so much joy in simply taking the time to seek the face of God.  He faithfully reveals what blocks our view–if we seek Him.  The truth for me is that I get in the way…or rather, sin in me gets in the way.  Seeking Him means humbling accepting my failings. It isn’t about the sin I am seeing in others.

The sweet admonition the Father led me to this morning is in Malachi:

Set your heart to honor my name.

When I fix my eyes on the stuff of this world and allow it to interfere with giving holy awe to the King of Kings, I dishonor His Name.  God is not uncaring or inattentive.  He is on the throne and working out great good.  Malachi reminded the children of God that the covenant of life and peace calls for reverence.

There is a companion admonition to this that God gave me this morning:

Let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.  Zechariah 7:10b

We are all impure in this world.  None are righteous.  Christ gave Himself for the Church and is busy bringing it to maturity.  At the last supper, Christ said he would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it new in the Kingdom.  We can and need to fellowship with Him as individuals all the time, but there is a glorious fulfillment of the Kingdom coming.  He is the vine; our lives produce fruit.  He is waiting until the fruit is ripe; who am I to do less.  As we drink of the fruit in this life, we are to remember Him.  His purposes.

My prayer is that this restores YOUR view of the Lord as it did mine.  As I wrap out and head out to enjoy the day, I leave you with this promise and a video to encourage you to leap and frolic for the King is on the throne!

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

 

Growing in Unity

This piece was written for and published by Christian Light Education.  Here is the unedited version offered to help us all grow toward greater unity in Christ.

Brotherhood…it’s been a concept fraught with desperate need for God since the beginning of time.  The first brothers, Cain, Abel and Seth, show us both the desperation and the hope inherent in brotherhood.  The lessons they offer could transform our world!  (Genesis 4:1-2)

The names of our Scriptural ancestors offer great instruction.  The Hebrew words related to Cain speak of a spear and mourning.  Knowing the story, we intuitively understand how his name reflects truth.  Cain became a tiller of the ground; he served and worshipped what he could produce through his work.

His younger brother, Abel, opened the way to better living.  His name implies emptiness and transition; not that his life was empty but he became the way for God to show His true desire.  Abel became a steward of what God gave; he took dominion over what God entrusted to him—just as God originally instructed before the fall of man.

Then, we meet Seth; Eve understood that God offered a replacement in this child.  Having revealed the only way to Himself with Cain and Abel, Seth came on the scene—and we read that men began calling on the name of the Lord!  (Genesis 4:25-26)

So, what does this have to do with brotherhood in our lives today?  Everything!  The instruction to Cain is ours:  “Do well and I will receive you; you will be in my presence.  Do not do well, and you will be in the presence of sin.  It will crouch at your door to devour you.”  (Genesis 4:7) We live in a world of devoured lives.  Too often, we follow the example of Cain, relying on ourselves, promoting our efforts and preferences.  The results he produced are ours:  the destruction of others and us.

Sin escalates negative behaviors.  God told Cain that the very ground cried out against him.  (Genesis 4:10-11) Made of the earth, his very essence rejected the path he chose.  The curse of unrest within himself—and conflict with all around him—becomes a life as a vagabond and fugitive.  There is no brotherhood in that.

Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  (Genesis 4:9)  The apostle Paul emphatically taught that we are far more than that:  we belong to one another; we are part of one another.  (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Ephesians 4:25) Abel revealed what we all need to be—stewards of what God entrusts to us, open vessels for the purposes of God.  We must die to our selfish nature and determine to follow the way of Seth:  calling upon the name of the Lord.

The presence of God is the only way we enjoy brotherhood.  The spirit of God: compassion, meekness, humility, forgiveness and patience produces unity.  Our flesh generates division.  The passion of Jesus Christ flows forth in his prayer for us in John 17; unity is the heartbeat of our Savior.  (John 17:21-23)  Unity with the Father and the Son allows brotherhood.  May we long for it as we long for fellowship with the LORD.

Hallelujah!! Captive to Jesus

Do you ever have those verses that just stump you?  They tease you with an awareness that there is more than you can grasp.  Treasure those verses.  I promise you, that in the fullness of time, God will give you beautiful revelations with them.  I want to share one of those that tugged at me for years.  Paul quotes the Psalmist:

That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”  Ephesians 4:8

Psalm 68:18 When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives. You received gifts from the people, even from those who rebelled against you. Now the LORD God will live among us there.

I have chewed on this verse for years…drawn pictures, diagrammed the sentence (yes, I am odd) and chased the root words in Hebrew and Greek.  But it was the sweet work of the Holy Spirit that finally showed me what that looked like in me.

It takes a confession to explain.  I have never denied being stubborn.  I wore it as a banner, in fact.  Confessing is not repenting.  I saw that the stubborn-ness had benefited me sometimes.  I saw that being stubborn helped me walk in obedience.

Now, God also showed me those terribly convicting verses that equated stubborn-ness with witchcraft and rebellion.  But they just didn’t fit–or so I thought.

A casual remark that a more mature Christian held me accountable for opened the door to the Light.

“I hate rules,” I said.

“God loves rules.  He is a God of order.  Where do you think that came from?” my mentor challenged.

In my natural mind, the answer was honest:  “I don’t know.”  But the Spirit knows and when I asked, He immediately revealed that pivotal point in time when I choose rebellion.  The details of the scene are something I’ll share with those who ask but they don’t matter to this piece.

I was a child–perhaps 12.  It was a decision that changed my future but not one that confounded God.  He knew and He mapped my life to utilize that offensive choice.  I chose captivity to rebellion.  It cost me a lot.  It injured many.  But God kept wooing me, and I surrendered to Him to the limits I understood.

I didn’t know to surrender the stubborn-ness. I suspect I didn’t trust Him Freedbyloveto guide me without it.  I had used it for so long.  I couldn’t see it for its deadly yuck.

Now, look back to those verses that had called to me.

In His loving patience, He had taken that sin captive.  I was not using it for good…God had it all along!  He accepted ‘gifts’ from this rebel simply because I believed in Him. He worked greater things than I understood…He let me take credit for His work.  He let me even give credit to sin.   That’s the heart of the loving Father, the heart of the humble Savior!

Do you see the mercy, power and glory of God in that?  

He is not daunted by our dirt, but He doesn’t leave us in it!  His transformation plan includes taking the yuck into captivity until such time as we can surrender it to Him.

Our journey through life is about allowing the Spirit increasing room in our lives.   Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil.  He came to provide abundant life.  The Spirit leads us into that life when we walk with Him in faith!  Will you let Him do what He desires?  When God created the world, he said “Let there be…”  We have the same creative option!  Will you let Him?

Restoring life!

Vines invaded my fig tree this year.  They choked the life out of some branches and devastated the crop of fruit.  I’ve battled these vines for three years…this year they were mad.  It seems that every year they have come back stronger.  Truth be told, I was afraid of them.  Someone told they were poison oak, and I believed it.  Fearing for the life of my fig tree, I sought the help of more experienced gardeners.

A battle plans was laid out.  Wait till fall or early winter and attack!  Trace the vines to their root, cut it off and douse it with poison.  What a job!  Pulling the vines down broke out dead wood–and damaged a few good branches as well.  Finding the roots was a daunting challenge–and the size of some of those nasty, hairy roots was surprising.  My tree looks great now; spring will tell the story.

But this isn’t about fig trees or vines, of course. I like to garden but I love care-taking souls.  Those vines made me think of the parasitic nastiness that invades lives.  Our lives are full of little ‘sins’ that pop up…sins powered by evil that produce trial and sorrow.  When they begin to bother us, we attack them–only to find they get stronger and stronger.  Sometimes we freeze from fear.  Sometimes we need the help of others.  Always we have a way to win:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus,  John 16:33

Like the vines in my fig tree, evil kills life and robs us of fruit.  Breaking off the vines above the root just allows the root to thicken and produce with greater energy.  Focusing on the external as a solution–changing a behavior, quoting a Scripture–without attacking the root improves the ‘look’ of our lives for a time.  The Pharisees were great at it–white-washed tombs with death inside is the description Jesus gave.  Discouragement, despair and death are the long-term results of that approach.

God did not leave us alone to fight the lusts of the flesh or the principalities and powers of the air.  We are created with a spirit designed to meet with His Spirit!  Abundant life is the plan of God for the child of God.

The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive. Proverbs 20:27

Sin and evil cannot withstand the Light of Christ.  Like the roots of the vines on my tree, the roots of sin must be destroyed.  The love and light of Christ restores life–and produces fruit.  Our lives should taste like the Spirit:

…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,

goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…

If there are vines choking your fruit, find a friend who can help you with a battle plan.  Victory is yours in Jesus Christ…claim it today!

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