Archive | October 2012

Hidden In My Heart…

As a general rule, I don’t normally think about what goes on in the deep recesses of my heart. Life has its own ebb and flow…from routine to chaotic and back again. After a bit, I start to operate on auto-pilot quite well. Doesn’t sound so very spiritual does it?

One of my favorite verses in the Bible speaks about what kind of condition my heart and spirit should be in on a daily basis…

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  – Psalm 51:10

Of course, that requires time spent on keeping my heart right with God and before God. Never before have I seen a trash heap grow quicker than the way the stain of the world grows on my heart. Having gotten saved later in life, I had all the “worldly” attributes you could possibly imagine before receiving my Lord Jesus Christ. If it was bad, I had done it and was always on the lookout for something new (worse) to see if I could awaken my jaded senses.

I admit that it’s been eight years, eight wonderful years of growing with the Lord…but daily I let him down by the worldliness that still flows through my veins. I don’t think that I  “look” very Christlike on the outside but it’s a whole lot easier to fake a clean heart when you are just looking at the packaging that shows the finished image.

The Word of God says in Matthew 15:11, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

If you were the proverbial fly on the wall around my house you would wonder just what I have been storing up in my heart for the last eight years. Shoot, most of the time I wonder. It actually scares me to realize that even with all the love I feel I have for Jesus, I still can claim that the internal scars are still wet with the poison of the world and it seeps into and then out of my heart to overflow from my lips and actions on a daily basis.

“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  – Isaiah 6:5

The account in Isaiah 6 amazes me each time I read it. Here is a man, a prophet, called by God to take His Words to a rebellious nation, knowing all too well that they wouldn’t listen anyway. Isaiah however, gets it when He is before God and realizes that he is unclean…things he’s said, thought and done had no place before the Most Holy One! He speaks out and in return one of the seraphim places a hot coal on his lips and purges his sin. Now he is cleansed and ready to serve the Lord.

I fell on a wood stove as a child and burnt my hand badly…to this day I am leery of very hot surfaces. 😉 That burned and I couldn’t use my hand for a while. I remember that the burn feeling went deep, like it was so far down that there was nothing that was ever going to stop it. So, in my mind I can imagine what that live coal felt like as it was laid, burning hot, on the sensitive skin of the lips. But think of the relief, the freshness after, knowing that his sin was gone. I’ll bet it was like one of those crisp, fresh breezes you get in the fall but a thousand times more refreshing!

So, I take that passage into my heart and then I fast forward to the book of Ephesians 4:22-24 –

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Isaiah had been cleansed by a burning coal; I was born again, covered by the blood my Savior spilt on Calvary. When He died for my sins, He died for all of them…past, present and future. God knew every single thing I would do and say my entire life when He placed those sins upon Jesus to remove my stains and forgive my unrighteousness. And yet…

Here I sit, echoing Isaiah’s sentiments with a quivering brow and lip…”I am a woman of unclean lips!” I can sincerely thank the Lord that I am not where I was and that by His grace, I will continue to grow but oh, how I wish I was farther than I am at this point!

The pastor from my church in Titusville used to say that the fruit of the spirit was like a staircase…you move up and down as your growth waxes and wans. I feel as if I have gotten my heel stuck in a couple of the steps and can’t seem to move beyond them.

Knowing what I need to do and actually doing it has always been a struggle for me. I get lazy and tired and of course, I have a million excuses. Thanks be to God that Jesus didn’t trot out a list of excuses when He was consigned to die for my sins. He would have had the right; let’s face it…in the eyes of the world, I’m not worth saving. I am so glad that God didn’t feel that way!

So, as I emotionally beat myself up, there still hides in my heart a tiny ember of hope…God doesn’t just tell me to have a clean heart and to put off the old man, He gives me the prescription that I need to do exactly what He tells me to!

For instance:

Ephesians 3:18-20 –

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”

Ephesians 4:2-3 –

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

I don’t think there is a book or chapter in the new testament or many in the old that don’t give us instructions, guidance and ways to follow Jesus; change our behavior and thought patterns and become the child of God that He would want us to be! My God didn’t just say to be holy for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16); He gave us a living example when Jesus walked this earth and then the Holy Spirit imparted the words to men so that I would have the written Word to help me change my ways to be pleasing to Him!

Each time I open the Word of God, that ember sparks and becomes a flame once again. My spirit is renewed and my joy and hope in the Lord are refreshed and renewed by the life-changing power of His Word! I may be emotionally laid out after the punching bag swings back and knocks me down but I am not counted out…with Him, I can get back up, clear my head and step back into the ring; knowing that He is standing in the front of me, deflecting the hits as they come.

Whew!

Once, tired…now refreshed and looking forward to another round. 😀

Till next time…faithwalkin’ 🙂

The Gravitational Pull of Negativity

We all know how gravity keeps us grounded on earth, right? That is definitely a good thing…although I can think of a few times I would have liked to be weightless. 😉

Well, negativity has a gravitational pull as well and it also keeps us grounded…in the past – failures, mistakes, abuse, bitterness, anger; anything to keep you from rising to your next level. The worst part is that not only can our gravitational pull keep us grounded, the pull from ourselves or others can also be very grounding.

Have you ever been in a room with a group of people where everyone has a positive outlook except for the one “Negative Nancy or Norman,” whom no matter what spin you put on something, they always come back with something a bit more negative than the last thing that came out of their mouth? It seems when you leave that person in a group for 15 minutes or more, eventually the rest of the group suddenly feels tired, dejected or starts finding negative things to say. Negativity spreads faster than the flu and has killed more hopes and dreams than a nuclear bomb going off in the midst of the group. As you leave, you feel as if you are dragging a 50 pound ball & chain behind as you head for the parking lot. If you’re not attentive to where that attitude came from, it can affect the rest of your evening and have a trickle down effect on those you come in contact with.

Like some people, I struggle with the difference between negative and realistic. Sometimes, life isn’t pretty and the things that can happen are hard to state positively…whether it be in your head or with what comes out of your mouth.

But, with that said, I do believe that everything that happens can have a positive affect on you or others around you, if you work through it and allow it to become a positive gravitational pull. Death isn’t fun and losing someone you love can really take any positive energy you have and toss it in the trash. However, maybe you are blessed that you will see them again in Heaven. Or maybe you don’t have that guarantee and it causes you to look at how you handled any witnessing opportunities that you may have had in that person’s life. It may be the catalyst that causes you to really break through any inhibitions you have about sharing the gospel…an incentive in showing someone the way to avoid an eternity of hell.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

Jesus draws them near; He changes their hearts but sometimes if you don’t speak up, they may never stop for that single moment and think about what happens when they no longer walk this earth.

Sometimes it is things that people say that cause you to make major adjustments in your living or thinking. People can say whatever they want to but it is up to you to take it and make it into a positive experience for yourself. Someone may call you fat; does that make you go eat more ice cream or start heading to the gym every day after work? Your perception of what they say, your reaction and your corresponding action determines whether or not it becomes a positive or a negative pull on your life.

I don’t know too many that can take criticism, run with it and make a positive change without that initial “What did you say to me?” response…that either pops in our minds or spits out of our mouths as we stare at them in disbelief. Obviously constructive criticism works a bit differently than off the cuff, “Ouch that hurts” stuff. Processing something that might have been hurtful takes a little time…even when we don’t really care what people think, we still want to be well-thought of.

Now generally we don’t think of what Jesus said in a negative context but I wonder what this man thought after this exchange with Jesus?

Matthew 19:16-22 “And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Here is a guy that thought he had it going on; let’s face it, it sounds like he had it going on better than a lot of born-again, Bible-believing Christians today. I can only speak for myself but even though I don’t go out and shoot someone because they did me wrong, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have anger or hatred (even momentary) in my heart.

Jesus raised the bar when He said, “But I say unto you…” numerous times in His Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5). Before Jesus came to fulfill the law, the law was exactly was it sounds like…words. And, if you kept the letter of the law, then by the religious standards, you were golden. But then Jesus came and basically said (paraphrase mine), “Hey, if you can only keep your outside clean, then you are falling short. True righteousness starts in the heart.”

So, here’s this guy who wants eternal life like I think we all do, but, he is told that it will require more of him…more sacrifice, more humility, more servitude, and, LESS stuff. He went away sad because, well, he was well off in terms of worldly goods and my guess would be that it hurt to be told that all his “good works” were nothing without a change in his heart. Having stuff doesn’t stop you from going to Heaven but placing those things above Jesus sure does!

Do we know if this man had a change of heart? No but I think it bears thinking about because he could have. He perceived that what Jesus said was negative because it entailed something that he didn’t want to do when in all actuality, it was a suggestion, that if followed would positively affect the rest of his life and of those around him.

Some people like the “Negative Nancy” or “Negative Norman” may just be trying to spread their doom and gloom and bring you to the place they are wallowing in. But at the end of that hurt feeling it may be good to ask the question of yourself, “If you knew that Jesus allowed that conversation or comment for a reason, would you listen more closely?”

Till next time…faithwalkin’ 🙂