If the Law ( or laws ) could make us holy, then Jesus would not have needed to die on the Cross. No state-appointed law is going to make us clean for Him. He is SO HOLY that we don’t stand a chance. If we could make ourselves holy, then Jesus died for nothing. I think Paul says that quite eloquently. At any rate, think on it. It IS extremely tempting to think that finger pointing and condemnation will make another person BETTER, but it doesn’t work. Only the BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST can make any one of us WHOLE again. Without Him, not one of us is CLEAN.
– Carley Evans, July 25th, 2013
“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9, KJV)
I’ve heard people say this; I must admit the statement always surprises me. I’ve never said this because I’ve never accomplished this feat. I’m able to say, “Jesus made my heart clean, so I am pure from my sin.” But, I can’t say, I never sin.
To believe you never sin — that’s equivalent to believing you are perfect. You never make a mistake, you never do less than your very best, you never strike back, you never take more than your share, you never speak ill of another, you never go to bed with worry or anger in your heart, you never fail to notice someone’s pain, you never fail to help, you never roll your eyes, you never look away, you never forget to care, you never turn your back, you never run away.
I can not imagine.
I can know that Jesus is such a person. Like the lamb slaughtered as a substitute for people who sin, so Jesus substitutes Himself for me. His death on the cross wipes away my sins, though they be as red as the tide befouled by algae. And so, I stand pure before His Father in heaven.
Ever wonder why some Christians seem to stir up trouble for themselves and others while other Christians seek to calm the storm? Imagine two people on either end of a giant seesaw, one pushing down while the other reaches up.
Jesus tells His disciples not to be afraid, to not allow their hearts to be troubled. He encourages them with the Word that He is with them always, even to the end of the world.
Paul reminds us – with strong exhortation – that if God is for us, what can be against us? Nothing can overpower Him; nothing can succeed against His Will.
Thank You, dearest Heavenly Father God, for being here with us now. Thank You for Your loving control of all things and for Your command to not fear and not be troubled. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Ever seen a movie you absolutely loved? Of course you have — if you like movies, that is. Ever watch that same movie six months later when it comes out on DVD to discover it’s not as great as you remember? Probably.
The second time around, the movie either bogs down somewhere or clips along at an alarming pace. Moments that were funny the first time aren’t as funny the second time around. Scary happenings are no longer so spooky. And you discover the characters aren’t as fleshed out or engaging as they were the first time you met them.
Happily, this is not true with the Word of God. The second time is better than the first time you discover it. Each time you engage yourself in the Word, you find something new, something you didn’t see before; or something you didn’t fully grasp the first or second or third or even fourth time through. The Word opens up like a blooming flower, each petal more glorious than yesterday’s — a flower that never fades or wilts or dies.
The Word gets better with time.
Those 7 things about me are:
1) I used to spy on people after reading the Louise Fitzhugh novel HARRIET THE SPY. This is how I became a writer.
2) I want(ed) to be an astronaut. I look forward to exploring God’s universe in eternity.
3) The WORD is God Himself revealed on paper via ink. For me, it’s like swimming in love to read Him.
4) I’m both 5’3″ and 5’4″.
5) To honor the women in my family, I changed my legal name late(r) in life — my entire name.
6) Prayer is like breathing — it’s tough to pray naturally when I focus on myself so much.
Ever think about this — about why God loves you? Ever wonder why He chose you — and perhaps not someone better behaved than you — before the foundation of the world to belong to Him, to be plucked from the fires of hell so that you escape damnation; so that you stand with Him on the judgment day? Ever wonder how you became a sheep and not a goat, a grain of wheat and not chaff?
Think about it for awhile.
If God’s choice of you does not humble you, not much will.
What I glory in mostly in Christ is my freedom — for Jesus “loosens the chains of injustice and unties the cords of the yoke, to set [this] oppressed [one, that’s me!] free.” (Isaiah 58:6, NIV) And, God says, “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger — [that finger and spirit of criticism] — and malicious talk — [that gossip against neighbor or even enemy] –” “then your light rises in the darkness and your night becomes like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:9,10)
In freedom, “the Lord guides [me] always, He satisfies [my] needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthens [my] frame. [I am] like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)
In freedom, I rejoice for “surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1) If I “share [my] food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter” “then [my] light breaks forth like the dawn, and [my] healing quickly appears; then [my] righteousness goes before [me], and the glory of the Lord is [my] rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:7-8)
“The Redeemer comes… to those who repent of their sins, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:20) In repentance, I find my freedom from oppression. Darkness fades; light springs forth. God stands behind me as my rear guard, and Jesus destroys my chains. He unties the cords of the yoke, and leads me in the path of everlasting life. Amen.
Paul says, “About dates and times, my friends, we need not write to you, for you know perfectly well that the Day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night.” Non-believers, Paul continues, find “all at once calamity upon them” with “no escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; NEB) We, however, “are not in the dark, that the day should overtake [us] like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5)
We are of the day; they are of the night. While non-believers sleep, we must “keep awake and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:7) We must be “armed with faith and love for coat of mail, and the hope of salvation for helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
Armed and shielded with faith, hope, and love “hearten one another,” writes Paul. “Fortify one another — as indeed you do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
And do not worry — you won’t miss the Day of the Lord even when it comes like a thief in the night.
My daughter’s dream is crushed.
And, I remember God asking Satan, “Where have you been? What have you been about?” And Satan’s response, “Oh, I’ve been walking around the earth” and thinking of his implication: “I’ve been searching for someone to devour.” God invites Satan to consider a particular man. This man, says God, is a person of “perfect integrity, who fears Me and turns away from evil.” (Job 1:8, HCSB) Satan taunts God, telling Him that this man only fears God because God has “placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns.” Satan challenges that if God stretches out His hand to “strike everything he owns, he will surely curse You to Your face.” (Job 1:10,11)
From this point, God allows Satan to destroy all of Job’s property and his servants and his children all within a few hours. Job stands up, tears his robe, shaves his head, falls to the ground and worships. He says what is so important to say and so difficult to comprehend, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the Name of Yahweh.” (Job 1:21)
“Throughout all this Job does not sin or blame God for anything.” (Job 1:22)
Father God, by no means am I a person of “perfect integrity” or one who consistently “turns away from evil,” but I do thank You for Your mercies. I thank You for Your perfect love and Your perfect will. I know that surely all things work together for good to those who are called according to Your purposes. I put myself and my children into Your hands. Your will be done. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
To his friends who maintain his suffering is because of sin, Job says, “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.” (Job 27:6, ESV) “As long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; til I die I will not put away my integrity.” (Job 27:3-5)
Job rather indicates that God ignores the wicked “when distress comes upon [them].” (Job 27:9) Now he believes he must be one of their number in God’s sight. “Oh that I were in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent.” (Job 29:2-4)
Job argues that God is unfair. God is treating him like He treats the wicked, allowing the forces of nature and the will of men to bring calamities against him as if he were one of the godless. “Behold, all of you have seen it yourselves… This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty:” (Job 29:12-13) “For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life? Will God hear his cry?” (Job 29:8-9)
Job argues, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; and I searched out the cause of him I did not know. I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth… Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them.” (Job 29:14-17,21-22)
Lord God, thank You for this picture of Jesus — of His complete righteousness, of His total integrity — as He faced Your wrath on the Cross of Calvary. Thank You for this reminder of how deep the agony must have run as You treated Him as one of the wicked and of how much He did not deserve this treatment. Give us Your Spirit; help us to love and follow You all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, amen.