Cleanse Us

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

The old garage door near the church was surrounded by smooth, nicely painted walls.

Looking at the photograph I took of it, I wonder—why hadn’t the door been painted nicely and repaired?

It looked tattered and worn out—like many desperate people in this world.

They feel dirty and guilty, used up and torn up, stripped and faded, hopeless and lost.

With an outlook tinted with shame, they see what looks like a clean, smooth surface on others’ lives.

No one could accept them in their broken condition, they think.

Family couldn’t.

Friends couldn’t.

Certainly God couldn’t.

After all, they’ve messed things up.

There’s nowhere left to go to escape the mirror of accusation that hangs on every wall they encounter…

In the last two weeks, I have learned of two people I know—both in very different walks of life—who have taken their own lives.

They lived hundreds of miles from one another, but they both shared hopelessness.

For a crucial moment, they failed to look at God’s unlimited power and grace and instead, looked at their own lack of ability to repair and restore.

God can accept anyone in any condition.

Broken.

Dirty.

Guilty.

Used up.

Torn up.

Stripped.

Faded.

Hopeless.

Lost.

Friends may not accept us.

Family may not.

But, God?

He is ALWAYS ready to heal and to forgive!

To CLEANSE us from ALL unrighteousness!

If we cry out to God from our brokenness, confessing our sin and our mistakes, we will be forgiven.

We can start over.

We can begin again.

It’s not too late for any of us, ever.

 

confess

 

 

 

On Your Own

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If you were going to climb a pretty tall mountain, what would you take with you?

How would you dress?

Whatever you might list as clothing essentials for your trip, most of the articles would be fail to be as important as  your shoes.

Think of it—climbing up the mountain wearing a special, pocketed vest to hold important items, a hat to shield you from the sun, rugged trousers, a good belt—you’re all set, right?

There’s just one problem, though.

You’re barefooted….

“I can do this,” you think.

The first hour or so of incline isn’t so bad.

But little by little, the path becomes more rocky.

The terrain before you promises only to be worse.

So, what do you do?

You resolve to keep going, ignoring the pain and focusing on how smart you were to have brought a hat and worn study pants.

Another hour goes by, but your pace has slowed.

Occasionally, you have seen other climbers passing you by.

They were wearing hiking boots….

Isn’t it strange how we would never set out to climb a mountain barefooted, yet we think we can ascend through life without God’s help, determined to believe that we have secured all the help that we might need on our own?

Even when things get tough, we resolve to keep going, ignoring the pain and focusing on how smart we were to have planned for our lives on our own, doing only what we thought was best, without including Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

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on your own

Courage

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Courage.

The dictionary defines courage as, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

Psalm 3:3-4 reads,

“But, Lord, You are my shield.
    You are my wonderful God who gives me courage.
 I will pray to the Lord.
    And He will answer me from His holy mountain.”

If I were to take the modern definition of courage and consider it in this verse it would be,

“You are my wonderful God who gives me the quality of mind or spirit to enable me to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear. You are my wonderful God who gives me bravery.”

As I stood on the grass by the lake as the sun was setting tonight, I photographed the clouds towering in the sky, reflecting on the calm water below.

I prayed.

God knows that I am in need of some courage.

His courage.

He also knows all the other things I need, too, even though I haven’t realized it yet.

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courage

To the Throne of Grace

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Below are some of the lyrics to a popular Christian song:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(from “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher)

Lately, the words, “And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You” have gone to a special place in my heart.

How precious to even consider that during our greatest weakness, God is there for us to fall on.
In recent weeks, several people that I know have faced extreme circumstances.
In fact, some of them are still facing these trials today.
This song, when changed to an intercessory prayer, is a comfort to me concerning them:

 *

Lord, they come, they confess
Bowing there, they find their rest
Without You they would fall apart
You’re the One that guides their heart
Lord, they need You, oh, they need You
Every hour they need You
Their one defense, their righteousness
Oh God, how they need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, they are free
Holiness is Christ in them
Teach their song to rise to You
When temptation comes their way
And when they cannot stand let them fall on You
Jesus, You’re their hope and stay
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My heart is solemn as I yearn for healing of every situation in the lives of my each of my friends who are facing troubles.
God is the only One who can take care of each of the needs.
What a precious privilege to have the gift of prayer.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:16

 

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Throne of Grace

A Love For Him

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During the time of Jesus’ ministry on the earth, who did He seek out?

He chose His disciples.

He talked to crowds about the kingdom of God.

He talked individually to people, as well.

Sometimes, He talked to people who had obvious transgressions.

Tax collectors.

Prostitutes.

People known by their sin.

Sometimes, He talked to people who might not have shown any outward offense.

People like the rich young ruler who had kept laws but refused to sell all he had and follow Jesus.

Who is more broken and in need of salvation and forgiveness of sins?

The prostitute?

The tax collector?

The young ruler?

Who is more broken and in need of salvation and forgiveness of sins?

You?

Or could it be me?

The real answer is that those who do not know Jesus as their savior are in need of His forgiveness.

We are all existing in the same need.

Once we ask for forgiveness, believing in Jesus, we are all existing in the same salvation.

We will never be a first class Christian or a second or third class.

Every life is precious to God.

Every one.

As believers, we each have a ministry on the earth.

By following Jesus, there will be those that He wants us to talk to about Him.

Prostitute?

Tax collector?

Ruler?

Maybe.

Neighbor?

Coworker?

Family member?

If we are attentive to His voice, He will let us know.

He sees the hearts of the broken even when we cannot.

 

 

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

—Mark 10:17-22

 

eternal life final

 

 

 

Forgiveness

When we show love to others, something happens. A bridge to a wounded heart begins to form. A passageway that was previously non-existent is now a possibility to consider. A broken spirit begins to mend. The flower of forgiveness starts to bloom where once there were only weeds. The debris on the edge of the shoreline is washed away, leaving smooth sand that beckons our feet to travel the uncharted distance into another’s life.

 

 

November 19, 2007