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.

 

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The Wages of Sin

It was the first time I had ever seen any message quite like it on a vehicle.

As I was driving down the multi-lane highway, I noticed a pickup truck as it passed me to the right.

The rear window of the cab had a message in large letters that took up most of the glass.

It read, “If you’re not committing a sin, then you’re not having fun!”

Hmmm.

As I ponder this statement, several emotions come into play.

I am saddened for this person, as I know they are flaunting the seriousness and danger of sin.

I am affirmed in my own faith, as I am reminded that this statement is simply not true.

If I am enjoying a dinner out with my spouse, I am having fun.

Bouncing my toddler child years ago on my knee was certainly a lot of fun.

Going into a pet store and holding a very tiny puppy with that same child years later was a fun experience–one that I will always remember.

Going to the beach.

Going to the mountains.

Laughing until we cry at the dinner table because of something silly we are talking about—that’s fun, too.

So far, I am not seeing the necessity of sin in any of these situations.

Satan would like us to believe that God wants to keep the “good” things–the “fun” things–away from us while he offers us those things freely.

Of course, this is not the truth.

Those things that would bring us the most happiness and joy–those are the things in life God offers to us.

It doesn’t mean that there will be an absence of trouble.

We live in a fallen and sinful world.

Still, the thrill of what sin offers is short-lived and what we are left with is the consequences.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 6:23

 

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Control Your Mind

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.  For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.  That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

—Romans 8:5-8

What do I want to be controlled by?

Dominated by?

Do I want death or do I want life and peace?

Each of us must make that choice.

 

 

 

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So Death Spread

Walking near a park area in the early morning hours, I noticed some trees—well, they used to be trees, or maybe they still were–but they hardly resembled trees anymore.

Having been absolutely overtaken by a growing vine, the trees were almost unrecognizable.

Instead, the tightly intertwining vines had taken over, creating a lush, green shroud.

The trunks and branches beneath this blanket are probably in danger of dying from the vines that hold them in bondage.

People are kind of like those trees.

Once sin came into the world, it brought death with it.

Sin and death have spread, covering humanity.

Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin that entangles us.

He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.

Because of Him, those who believe are rescued from its heavy blanket of death, restored to new life, forever.

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Sin came into the world through one person, and death came through sin. So death spread to everyone, because everyone sinned.

–Romans 5:12

 

 

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Living in the Light

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But if we are living in the light,

as God is in the light,

then we have fellowship

with each other,

and the blood of Jesus, his Son,

cleanses us from all sin.

—1 John 1:7

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Bitter Root

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Since I was off work today, I decided to do some weeding in the yard.

At one side of my house, I have some nice plants in a rectangular bed.

Sadly, I have neglected it and many weeds have grown up.

While removing some of them today, I reached down to pull an unwanted weed.

To my surprise, when I pulled it from the ground, it was actually spread out for quite a way to either side of the root.

What looked like a lot of plants was actually only one weed that had grown and spread its tendrils over an impressive area of soil.

Almost immediately as I looked at the mass of greenery hanging from my gloved hand, I thought of how that applies to life.

I hung the removed mass of stems and leaves up and took a photograph of them.

Pondering further, I think there are many spiritual problems that can threaten to overtake someone.

I wonder if those vast number of issues could actually be stemming from an initial one–

Bitterness?

Greed?

Anger?

If so, how can a person be delivered from a life plagued with the wages of sin?

Only God can deliver us from our plight.

When He removes, forgives and redeems, everything is taken out.

We can be healed from our transgressions and have a renewed mind—a mind devoted to Him.

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See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

—Hebrews 12:15

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What Some of You Were

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Have you ever known someone who was:

addicted to drugs?

an alcoholic?

addicted to pornography?

a compulsive gambler?

aggressively angry?

a thief?

habitually dishonest?

disloyal to their spouse?

a negligent parent?

untrustworthy?

If you are like me, I can look back over my life and probably think of someone in every category.

The 6th chapter in 1 Corinthians speaks of a lot of things that are sinful, meaning they are displeasing to God.

Though perhaps not directly mentioned in the scriptures, the common issues listed above could certainly be in the category of being displeasing to God.

Then, again, the list above could be lengthened a great deal just by considering the ways that you or I might have displeased God, even during a short period.

The fact is, we are all human and we fail.

We fall short of what God wants for us, time and again.

Going back to 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 11 reads,

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Whatever we could come up with to label ourselves or others by our sinfulness, those labels do not have to continue to apply.

Those labels are about what we were.

Now, we can be washed.

Sanctified.

Justified.

Because of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins.

Let me ask you:

Have you ever known someone who was:

forgiven?

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you were

Takes Root

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What we allow to lodge within our hearts really does matter.

Late this afternoon, my fifteen year old basset hound became quite persistent in her requests for my attention.

Knowing her as I do, I got the leash and took her for a walk in our neighborhood.

At the corner of our front yard, we have a sizeable palm tree.

It’s trunk is quite large—it has taken twenty-three years to grow into its present state.

Walking the dog by the tree, I noticed something that I hadn’t before.

A fern plant was growing out of it’s trunk.

This is a common occurrence in my area, but it had not happened before in one of my own trees.

Also in the front lawn, we actually have several ferns that grow–-on the ground.

The fern that is growing out of our palm tree is doing so because a spore from a fern in the yard came and attached itself to the palm tree.

Finding the palm tree a suitable place to thrive, it began to do just that.

We are like that palm tree–you and me.

If there is an opening in our hearts, things can take root there and begin to grow.

It can be something good and good for us or it can be something bad and bad for us.

Love?

Compassion?

Faith in God?

Those are good things.

Hate?

Indifference?

Faithlessness?

Those are certainly bad.

Right now, the little fern looks pretty emerging from the tree.

I realize though, if more and more ferns come to find my tree as a home, its trunk will hardly be recognizable at some point.

It’s like that with us, too.

We can become so filled with the good things that God wants for us that we are hardly recognizable as the person we used to be.

We can also become so filled with bad things that will do us harm that we are hardly recognizable as the person we used to be.

The choice is ours.

What are we going to allow to grow inside our hearts?

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Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.

—Hebrews 12:15

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takes root

Keep Your Mind

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Does it matter what you allow into your life?

Does it matter who you choose as your closest friends?

Does it matter what you choose to watch on television or at the movie theater?

Does it matter what you choose to read?

Does it matter what organizations you choose to be affiliated with?

Does it matter who you choose to date?

Does it matter who you choose to marry?

Does it matter if you choose to go to church?

Does it matter if you pray?

Does it matter if you choose to be obedient to God?

Does it matter if you choose to seek God’s will each day?

Will any of these choices really have an affect on you?

Where I live, white ibis birds frequently come to my yard to search for food.

Today, I saw a scarlet ibis.

It looked exactly like the white ones, except it was a bright orange-red color.

In doing some research, I found that the diet of the bird causes the color to be orange.

It eats a lot of red crustaceans.

A long time ago, there used to be a popular saying: “You are what you eat.”

Well, in this case, this bird looked like what it had been habitually eating.

What we choose to do in our lives may not actually change our outward appearance, although it could.

What we choose to do or not to do in our lives will certainly change our attitudes, our outlook, our behavior and —-in the end—-our final destination.

If we choose to allow what God wants for us in our lives, we are going to be changed accordingly.

If we choose to allow things in our lives that He would not choose, we are still going to be changed—but to our detriment.

Colossians 3:2 reads, “Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things.”

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worldly

The Gift

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We give gifts at Christmas.

We give gifts on birthdays.

We give gifts at Valentine’s Day.

We give gifts to show love.

The one who receives the gift then has something that they hadn’t before.

God did not want us to be lost forever without Him.

He didn’t want us to be separated from Him.

He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins.

Then, He offered us the gift of eternal life.

We did not have eternal life before.

There was no possible way for us to get it for ourselves.

The gift must be accepted.

What if Jesus spoke these words to you—

“My child, won’t you please accept this gift from Me?”

Would you accept?

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When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 6:20-23

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gift

If the Son Sets You Free

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The swallow-tailed kite soared above me.

These birds travel from North America to South America for the winter and then back again.

They are free.

Free to go where they want to go and where they need to go.

God has given them this freedom and the desire to make the journey each year.

With Jesus, we can have freedom, too.

Spiritual freedom.

Freedom to live the life that God wants for us.

An abundant life.

A life no longer in slavery to sin.

Are you free today?

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So Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you live by what I say, you are truly my disciples.  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 They replied to Jesus, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. So how can you say that we will be set free?”

 Jesus answered them, “I can guarantee this truth: Whoever lives a sinful life is a slave to sin.  A slave doesn’t live in the home forever, but a son does.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free.

—John 8:31-36

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free

A Record of Sins

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The tiny white flowers were beautiful, but too numerous to count.

Even though there were a great many blossoms, I would’ve had more sins than that even in a relatively short period of time.

Wrong attitudes?

Unkind words?

Neglecting what God wants me to do?

Selfishness?

The list is long.

The Bible tells us these words in Psalm 130:3-4:

If You, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
 But with You there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve You.

Knowing that God has forgiven us should soften our hearts to forgive others.

We want to be forgiven by our heavenly Father.

Isn’t that what others want from us?

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record

Christ’s Triumph at the Cross

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A few weeks ago, a church very close to my home erected a white cross on their property.

Several stories in height, it towers above everything.

It would be very difficult for anyone to miss while driving down the road.

A reminder to all, it speaks silently of the sacrifice that Jesus made in order to pay for our sins.

We need only accept His payment and repent, asking for forgiveness as we purpose in our hearts to live for Him.

I recently purchased a song that I had heard on the radio.

Part of the song’s message is:

               There’ll be days I lose the battle
               Grace says that it doesn’t matter
              ‘Cause the cross already won the war*

Sure, I will make mistakes sometimes.

So will you.

God is willing to forgive us when we do.

Jesus has already won the war over the destiny of those who love Him.

When we find that we have displeased God in some way, (sin) we must seek His forgiveness, get up, and move on—

move on toward the path He has laid out for us that day.

You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins,  and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.  In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.

—Colossians 2:13

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triumph

In Order To Take Away

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I have lived in the same house for several years now.

Ever since I moved in, a private waste management company has taken care of the trash in my neighborhood.

A fee is charged and paid on a regular basis.

Each of my neighbors has their own idea about what type of trash can to buy.

Mine is metal and hefty; others have plastic ones that are lighter.

There are different colors of trash cans, too.

Whatever anyone wanted was always just fine.

Recently, that all changed.

Our trash pickup is now with a public service and new, matching trash cans were delivered to each house for our use.

A special truck will come once a week.

Giant prongs will pick up the cans and empty the trash into the back of the truck to be hauled away and forgotten forever.

When I came home after work today, my street was lined with matching, empty trash cans.

Although I know they could, I really don’t think anyone in my area is keeping their trash inside their homes, refusing to throw it away.

If they were, things would get really bad, really fast.

Throughout the week, when something is identified as trash, it gets thrown away.

Once a week, the giant pronged truck comes to take it all away.

When that happens, it’s gone from us.

We don’t see it.

We don’t smell it.

We don’t trip over it, get sick from it or deal with it in any way, ever again.

Sin can be gotten rid of, too.

Those words we said that we wish we hadn’t?

They can be thrown away and considered as trash.

The things we did that we wish we hadn’t?

Out they go.

How is that possible?

It wouldn’t be, if there wasn’t any way to actually be rid of the trash.

If no one picked it up, we’d see it.

We’d smell it.

We’d trip over it and get sick from it.

Every time we do or say something that is displeasing to God, we can ask for forgiveness and throw it away.

Jesus paid the price on the cross for all our sins and He can take away all our trash.

It doesn’t matter how heavy it is.

That’s not a problem for Him.

It doesn’t matter how much it is.

There’s no limit to His forgiveness.

When He takes it away, it’s gone from us.

We don’t see it.

We don’t smell it.

We don’t trip over it, get sick from it or deal with it’s penalty in any way, ever again.

If you’ve been keeping all your trash, don’t you think it’s time to throw it out?

You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

—1 John 3:5

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take away sins

To Cleanse Us

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Clean.

How important is that to me?

A lot of money is spent each year on cleaning products.

Products to clean floors.

Products to clean dishes.

Products to clean clothes, furniture—even products to clean me.

When I began to cook dinner this evening, I pulled a pan from the dishwasher to use.

Checking it’s cleanliness, I noticed that there was still a very tiny amount of residue on the pan.

This made it unacceptable for me to use until it was cleaned.

Choosing a steel wool pad with embedded soap, I began to scrub the pan.

After rinsing it with water, I was satisfied with the result.

As I was cleaning it, I thought about what I was doing in the context of spiritual cleanliness.

We all want to be clean, don’t we?

Forgiven?

Free of guilt?

Removed from shame?

Some people try to become “clean” in a variety of ways.

Actively doing a number of good things to make up for the bad things they have done.

Simply hiding the actions and attitudes they are ashamed of.

Vowing to be better by a sheer act of will.

Tonight, as I took the pan from the washer, just rinsing it with water would not have been enough to get it clean.

The spots of left over food had dried and stuck fast to the metal.

Using the steel wool pad removed it in seconds.

If the pan was going to be clean, it was going to have to be cleaned in the proper way.

If you and I are going to be clean–forgiven, free of guilt and shame–our efforts are not going to be enough.

It is going to take an act of God to make us clean.

That act of God has already occurred.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, making us clean in His sight.

If you are tired of trying to get clean on your own, He understands.

If you are weary from the weight of living life apart from God, He is ready to lighten your load.

It’s not too late.

Ask God to forgive you.

Tell Him you believe in Jesus and what He has done for you.

Commit your life to His guidance.

It’s going to feel really good to finally be………..

clean.

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

—1 John 1:9

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confess

Through Jesus

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Does the weight of guilt sit on you with a heaviness you can’t get rid of?

Does the hope of ever being forgiven seem impossible to even consider?

Does the helplessness you feel when you remember your mistakes grip you with regret?

I want you to know that through Jesus, you can be forgiven of every sin.

The weight can be lifted.

The heaviness can go away.

The helpless feeling can be replaced with gratitude.

Regret can be replaced with thankfulness.

Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

–Acts 13:38

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forgiveness

Someone to Devour

 

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It was my first time to visit the island.

Walking on a trail, it was quite wet at times.

Almost swamp-like.

I found several very interesting objects to photograph.

One rather curious thing was a group of bracket fungi growing on a log.

They were very fascinating, with their mix of puce and rust colors, edged with a marshmallow-white ring.

As intriguing as they were, destruction was likely a part of their story.

This type of fungus can actually kill the tree that it’s on and then continue to feed off the tree for some time later, as I was witnessing.

It attacks the inner part of the tree first and when the brackets appear, the inside of the tree has already suffered damage.

A fungus slowing devouring a tree…..

 

I thought about how the devil is like that fungus.

The Bible says,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”    —1 Peter 5:8

Somehow, I don’t think he actually looks like a lion most of the time.

Huge.

Big, ravenous teeth.

Loud roar.

No, it’s different with him.

More like a fungus.

He begins to look for a place inside our hearts.

Attacking our thoughts, Satan prowls around with temptation as his claw.

If sin begins to grow within us, left unchecked by repentance and forgiveness from God, it begins to damage our inner selves first.

By the time the “fruit” of the sin is visible on the outside, a lot has already gone wrong on the inside.

Although it is true that our enemy is constantly looking for someone to devour, we can turn to God for strength and for protection from that which would seek to ruin us.

 

 

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devour

I Know My Transgressions

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I walked into a gift shop the other day.

A beautiful salt water aquarium was near the front desk.

A clown fish swam cautiously behind the glass, perhaps aware of my presence.

Remember the movie, Finding Nemo?

I have always been struck by how a particular scene at the beginning of the film found closure at the end of it.

Being a parent myself, I can relate to Nemo’s father as he is anxious about his only child’s well being.

Having been a child myself, I can still remember wanting to do things that my parent was afraid for me to do.

In the movie, Nemo becomes very frustrated and angry with his father.

Then, the awful words are spoken.

“I hate you, Dad!”

And with that, Nemo is captured by a scuba diver and whisked away.

After many dangerous perils laced with adventure, Nemo and his father are finally united once again at the end of the story.

Do you remember Nemo’s first words to him when this happens?

“Daddy…….I don’t hate you.”

Nemo’s last words to him before he was captured had surely weighed heavy on his heart throughout all the time they were separated.

Have you felt this kind of regret before?

I have.

Words spoken that should never have been.

I know the longing to take them back and to say that I’m sorry—don’t you?

The best way for me to avoid this pain all together is to consider my words before they become audible.

Will I still become frustrated and angry?

Disappointed or critical?

If I do, I have a choice.

What will I say?

Psalm 51:3 reads,

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”

If I don’t want to carry the heavy knowledge of sinful words spoken hastily, I need to make sure they are not ever spoken.

But what if I fail?

I may ask forgiveness from those my words have reached and ask forgiveness from God…..

 

 

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For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Regret#sthash.Xs0sEFoU.dpuf
For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Regret#sthash.Xs0sEFoU.dpuf
For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Regret#sthash.Xs0sEFoU.dpuf