Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Sins, Whiter Than Snow Part 2

When Jesus came, everything changed. He put an end to the law and the need for animal sacrifices, not by destroying the law but fulfilling it once and for all. (Matthew 5:17) Judgment and the lingering feelings of condemnation, guilt and shame for sins vanished, if we chose to receive what Jesus has done on the cross.

The law required that the sacrificial lamb be perfect. Then, after the sins of a person were transferred, the animal would be put to death and the blood spread on the altar.

Jesus, being the Son of God, remained a sinless man. Before He was sacrificed on the cross, all of mankind’s sin past, present, and future were transferred to Jesus. Then He died. Unlike the animals of the Old Testament, though, Jesus had the power to rise again from the grave to claim victory over all of mankind’s sins and the death penalty as well once and for all. 

This means, we are free from God’s judgment and we do not have to carry around thoughts of condemnation, guilt, and shame anymore. We carry God’s grace because we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. No sin can ever steal our righteousness away. Now when I sin, I say I’m sorry, I remind myself of God’s promise of grace, I thank Him, and then I ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to avoid that sinful situation in the future.

God showed me a vision pertaining to this recently. I could see myself standing there with lots of dark spots (sins) all over on me. I tired to get them off but I couldn’t. When I hear the gospel, I saw myself accepting Jesus into my life and every last one of those dark spots immediately fell to the floor. Instantaneously, Jesus gave me a glowing white robe and I saw myself putting it on. Jesus told me it was my robe (gift) of righteousness and it would never come off even when I sinned again. From now on, He would take the responsibility for my sins and reminded me that His grace is sufficient.

Then the scene changed. I sensed I wasn’t ‘feeling so righteous’ anymore because I was still sinning. Guilt and shame permeated my thoughts. I felt like the dark spots should reappear to represent my present sin. I could see myself picking up the pile of dark spots and trying to make them stick by rubbing them back on my robe of righteousness but they slid off and fell to the ground.
As I pondered this, I realized that most of my life I did not understand the full significance of all that Jesus had accomplished on the cross for me. I knew in my heart my sins were forgiven but my mind was plagued with thoughts of guilt, shame and never measuring up from the enemy. Unfortunately, my mind (soul-mind, will, and emotions) ruled over what my heart wanted to believe. Fear overwhelmed me at times and I would go through bouts of depression. I felt unrighteous and my relationship with God was affected. I felt I had to “do” more to cleanse the sins I was still committing. Carrying around the guilt and shame was part of my penitence. I was never fully cleansed. Thus, I was never free from condemnation. In my mind, it always kept me at a distance from God.

Then I discovered:

The law is about ‘what I can continually do’ to remain righteous
but accepting Christ is about
being in a state of righteousness continually’ forever.
When I am in Christ,
I do not have to do anything more to stay righteous.
He is my righteousness!

What I had failed to comprehend years ago was that the sins I committed from then on did not affect my righteousness or God’s opinion of me. I had always measured up not because of me (my self-righteous activity) but because of Christ (the Cross). I was ‘in Christ’ and he had continually taken care of whatever sins I had. That truth does not make me want to sin more but love more…love the Trinity more. Share Christ with more of those around me. The fear and depression? It gradually melted away the more I meditated on: My sins were really gone forever and God loves me no matter what. Carrying around the guilt and shame as penitence was neither necessary nor desire by God. Now, we are freed to be grace-conscience instead of sin-conscience. When we accept that sacrifice of Jesus into our lives, we become whiter than snow for eternity.

The knowledge that I am truly free from the law of sin and death has turned my sorrow into great joy!

Blessings to each of you in this season of our Savior! 

(Romans 8:1-2, Galatians 5:1, John 8:32, Philippians 3:9, 1Cor. 1: 30) 

Friday, March 20, 2015

My Sins, Whiter Than Snow

I got excited recently when I hear it is going to snow. When I noticed the first flakes falling, I made a mug of tea, pull my over-stuffed chair around so it faced the picture window, and watched until peace filled my soul.

While I was enjoying the beauty of the snow, a verse permeated my thoughts and I knew the Lord desired to speak:

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me,
and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalms 51:7

“I will be whiter than snow” was the phrase He highlighted so I kept rolling that over in my mind. Hummm…snow looks really white, Lord, but there must be something about snow I’m not seeing.

So…I researched how snow is formed and found out an interesting fact. Snowflakes are formed from dust particles in the air. When the temperature of the cloud is below freezing, water vapor collects on those tiny particles of dust/dirt/pollutants and turns into ice. The tiny crystals stick together until they form snowflakes.

In David’s time, atonement for your sins (dust/dirt/pollutants) was a requirement by God to stand right before Him. Sins were transferred to the spotless lamb and then the sin ladened lamb was killed and his blood was drained and placed upon the alter. (Leviticus 17:11) The Jewish people came back yearly for their sins to be completely washed away by this ritual. However, the Jewish people were never completely rid of condemnation, guilt, and shame-consciousness for their wrongdoing and ungodly attitudes. Soon after the cleansing ritual would be completed, sin would again begin to accumulate. Being whiter then snow was only a momentarily blessing.

As I continued to meditate on the scriptures, God showed me the picture of a long wooden table, which I understood represented the entire life of a Jew who went through the yearly cleansing ritual for his sin. Next, I saw a long blood red silky fabric that had been gathered from one end to the middle. As I continued to look, an accumulation of what looked like black dirt (sins) appeared on the table, located just before the silky fabric. Suddenly the fabric moved to cover the dirt then stopped. I could see there were bumps from previous years. Then it moved again over a new accumulated pile of dirt that appeared and then once again. The process was representative of the blood of the lamb covering the yearly sins of a Jew. When the silky blood red cloth covered the full length of the table perfectly, it meant the person’s life would have been over with all sins covered under the blood of the lamb. As long as he kept up the yearly trip to the temple, his sins were covered.

This sacrificial system went on for hundreds of years and it was the only way the Jewish people could be free of God’s judgment in their lives.

Then...when the time was right Jesus came
…and everything changed!!

Part 2 of My Sins-Whiter Than Snow
Next Week

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Boy's Mistake, The Father's Mercy

Buying a new bed and a mattress, there is nothing like it.

Step one…find the perfect bed. I had waited for this moment for along time so I wanted to enjoy the process. At first, I thought I wanted a poster bed. Ya know…the ‘princess’ look but I could not find one I liked at first. Finally, I found two different styles that I thought would be perfect and they were displayed together. In the end, I decided against the poster bed for one with a tall headboard. I thought that bed would look better when spread one of my handmade quilts on it. I set up the delivery date for the next week.

Now, on to step two…go for the mattresses. I knew exactly what I wanted when it came to that…a tempa-pedic. I just had to find the best price. In my small town, there are not many options. However, I found a store that was moving and needed to sell their inventory. Thus, I got the good discount I was looking for. I set up delivery for the day after the bed would arrive.

The bed came as promised. It was big and heavy but there were two nice size men handling the job.

Then the mattress arrived the next day. A man and his twelve year old son got out of a pickup truck, looked to see where the mattress would be going, and then started to untie the box springs to bring it in first. As the father and son worked together, the father patiently instructed his son on how to maneuver each step of the way. You could tell the son was new at this but the father trusted him to do a good job. The father lifted his side over the footboard first. Then the son followed…but…the son dropped his end on the footboard shelf. When he lifted it up again, I saw the gash. Neither the son nor the father noticed the gash before going back out to get the mattress.

In those next few moments, the Lord cautioned me to hold my tongue. Then, he said,

“Look at what is really going on in this moment. This father and son are working well together and building a lasting relationship. Please don’t disturb their teamwork. Forgive and be at peace.”

Oh how my selfish side wanted to speak forth. However, in the end, I realized God’s request was much more important than my new piece of furniture.

Then this scripture came to mind:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Matthew 16:24

To deny yourself in this context means to forget one's self, lose sight of one's self and one's own interests. It means to say ‘No’ to your self and ‘Yes’ to God.

There was something going on in the spirit and I was asked to step aside and show mercy. Afterwards, when the father and son had gone, God filled me with great joy! I felt my obedience was a victorious moment for both My Lord and me!

What about you? Has God asked you to deny yourself for another in some small way? Remember and Rejoice! Denying yourself is not always some big public persecution event. Sometimes, it is just quiet affirmative smiles between you and Your Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

All Dogs Go To Heaven

It happened again…

Two years ago, I woke up about the normal time, grabbed Maggie, my dachshund, and put her on the floor, then headed off to the kitchen to start the coffee. A little while later, I noticed Maggie hadn’t followed me into the kitchen as normal. Curious to see what she was up too, I went to investigate. There she was…still in the bedroom. She would not move. I took her outside to potty and she attempted to stand but she obviously couldn’t.

The vet’s office ran some test and took some x-rays. When the doctor took me into his office for the consultation, I knew the prognosis would not be good.

He clipped the x-ray over the light as he explained that Maggie’s back was deteriorated to the point that she could not walk. He could give her some back treatments that would help her walk again or do surgery but it would not heal her back condition. Then he said she was in a lot of pain. I felt horrified. I had no idea she had been suffering. She never whined or cried out at all. Still climbing the stairs.

The doctor never mentioned putting her to sleep until I asked what he thought. He said it was my decision but he reiterated she was in pain and the treatment would only be a temporary fix. I decided to do the back treatments. I was not ready to let Maggie go yet. They started right away.

Over the next couple of days, I prayed and agonized over what to do. I did not like this ‘live or die’ decision-making. While I was out on the porch the next afternoon, the Lord gave me a vision.

I saw His hands came down and take Maggie lovingly from my lap as he spoke these words: “Here let me take care of her for awhile.” Peace flooded my soul at the Lord’s offer. I knew then she was heaven bound.

The morning after, I took Maggie outside to potty. I was standing about 10 feet away when I looked over at her. She was sitting with her eyes barely opened. I felt her communicating this message to my heart: I will be here for you as long as I can but I am really tired and ready to go home. Maggie was helping me to understand her heart. She was at the vet’s within the hour.

Now… it is my lab, Buddy. His knees are badly deteriorated. He is in a lot of pain. The vet said we could try the pain meds to see if they would help, if not…

For a couple of weeks, I tried to comfort and baby my Buddy but the meds were making him sick and I knew what needed to be done. Again I saw the Lord’s loving hands come down with the same loving response.

For one last time, my daughter and I took Buddy out to the Christian camp for one last romp. He swam in the lake and frolicked like a pup. It did my heart good to see the measure to which Buddy enjoyed life all the way up to the end.

Have you lost a beloved pet recently? Animals are so important to our lives. They bring us joy, they alter our perspectives, and they give us loyalty and devotion like no other. When we lose them, it is like we have lost our best friend …so, if it has happened…take time to grieve. Afterwards, take time to remember where it all began. As the good memories roll, let the joy spill forth.

Link to related post: Check Your Resolve Part 2

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Inspired Innkeeper

Joseph and Mary were making their way through the streets of Nazareth looking for a place to have the baby. By now, Mary was in labor and her water may have broken. Because the city was packed with people waiting to register their families, a place to stay was hard to come by. But they continued on, praying for a place of refuge. The one they knew God would provide.

There was an inn on the edge of town, one of their last hopes. When they knocked, the door opened to a room already bursting with people. Joseph pleaded with the innkeeper but the innkeeper knew he was already swamped with demanding guests. He wanted to help but he couldn’t. The innkeeper began to shut the door, when he had a thought…the stable outback! So he hollered for the couple to come back. He told them they could use whatever they found in the stable. That was the best he could offer.

Joseph thanked the man for his kindness. His main concern was Mary and the baby. The stable was not what he had wanted but it was shelter and private. Now…to witness the born of the long awaited King.

The quote that got me to thinking.
As I read through the typical quotes about how the Innkeeper was such a jerk for rejecting Jesus this year, I began to pray and ask the Lord if this assessment was accurate. I felt the innkeeper was getting blamed for something that was not his fault. The scriptures simply make a statement: …there was no room or place for him in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

As I pondered, these were some of my thoughts:

The Innkeeper had no idea who the couple was. He hadn’t been informed by a dream or visitation like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. The man was just doing his job the best he could. However, he did give what he had and that was the stable. As they left, Mary and Joseph didn’t feel rejected but blessed with a safe haven to have their child. Did God inspire the innkeeper’s offer?

Jesus had to be born in a place where no one could take credit for or profit from the occasion. God wanted Jesus’s birth alone to be center stage not the cleverness or effort of mankind. Jesus would have no obligation to anyone from the start. Plus, wouldn’t all the noise and confusion from those in the inn spoiled or taken away from the glory God wanted to share with only those He trusted?

Jesus’s birth had to be protected because of those who were out to destroy Him. If Jesus had been born in the inn, the news would have been spread quickly after the confirmation of shepherds and the Wiseman. Caesar was clearly after information leading to the baby’s whereabouts. Would the story have been drastically changed?

It was a place where those whom God chose could come freely. In our view, the stable may not be the most sanitary conditions, but no one was there to shame the shepherds or laugh at and question the wisdom of the men who traveled so far (maybe even steal the gifts). This was God’s moment, God’s way. Peace and praise were the only things that mattered. Was there really a better way?

Today, when we are carrying the King of kings within us, life may not always be what we think it should be. God’s guidance does not always mean it will be the easy way. What it does mean is your faithfulness to find His pathway will always bring the biggest reward of protection, peace and praise. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Boxes Filled With Love

Volunteering during the holidays brings joy to my heart. So…when a friend asked me to join her in going to Charlotte, I thought why not!

“What are we going to be doing?”

“ We are going to process the shoeboxes at Operation Christmas Child.”

Oh goodie! I’ve never done that before. This should be exciting.

And it was…..!

We came through the door and oh what a sight! The huge warehouse was filled with hundreds of volunteers busy at their workstations. The goal for 2014 had been 10 million boxes and we were there on the last shift on the last day to finish it up. What love and excitement filled the air.

The supervising volunteers gathered a group of us into a boxed off room to show us a video of what we would be doing and how to do it. I kept thinking Lord; just give me a job I can do well. None of it was hard but just overwhelming at first. Then we were shuffled all the way to the last workstation #30.

“All right, who can do what?” the tall blonde lady said.

When she came to box inspector, my hand flew up without a thought.

We must have gone through 300-500 boxes. At first I was slow and careful but soon (mainly when I relaxed) the skills began to flow. We were checking for items that can’t be sent like money, chocolate, anything camouflage/military looking (a Si Robertson doll had to be discarded) because the child could be harmed. There were boxes that were well thought out and others not so much. Some were bursting at the seams and others had to have items added. Why? Because Samaritan’s Purse believes every child deserves to receive a full box.

Out of all the boxes I examined, there is one that remains. Inside, were a used hair bush, two worn shirts, and a pair of well-worn flip flops. At first, I thought who would do such a thing.

Then the Lord spoke to my heart and said,

"Jesus Love us even when we mess up.
Put your hand on min."
“She gave the best she had.”

I fought tears from running down my face. Oh, how quick I was to judge. So then I apologized to the Lord and prayed this sweet giver would be bless for her faithful giving. (widow’s mite) Although, we can’t send used items, the original box was repacked, prayed over, and sent along its way.


Operation Christmas Child is not just a few days in December. There are people volunteering all year around because filling, inspecting, and mailing the boxes is only a part of the total scope. Teams of people come together around the country to serve in the specific areas of prayer, church relations, community relations, and media relations.

And if a child receives a box…then they can participate in a discipleship program.

More than 2.8 million children from 150 countries have participated in The Greatest Journey, the 12-lesson discipleship program created by Samaritan’s Purse. The Greatest Journey is one of the largest discipleship programs in the world, implemented through a global church network to help children know and follow Jesus Christ.

So each child not only gets a gift, but an invitation to eternity.

I pray heart-filled blessings on each child 
who is to receive a box and may each one see and 
fulfill their God-given destinies. 

If you have done it unto the least of these,
you have done it unto me....Jesus 
(Matthew 25:40)

Put you hand in mine and
we can pray together.
Become a part of something greater then yourself this season or even in the coming year. You may think it will be too small to matter but it’s not. God can/will multiply the limited results you see. And…what you don’t see, may have eternal value for someone you may never meet. So…Cast those vain imaginations down and see what you can discover to do in your area. The receiver will be eternally grateful.

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Necklace of Pearls

After years of challenges and moments of despair, I felt like a failure. I asked God if I would ever get to the place where I could really be use by Him again. I wondered because the sense of discouragement seemed to clothe me securely.

The Lord responded with a picture of a beautiful pearl necklace in my mind’s eye and spoke gently to my spirit:

“The circumstances you have gone through trouble you. Some circumstances were caused by your stubbornness and others were demonic assignments. Nevertheless, I have been with you through them all. And now, I need you to grasp each of those lessons in a fresh way.

I designed this special necklace especially for you. The pearls represent each situation you overcame by My guidance and power. Just like the oyster suffers pain in growth, you have suffered pain in growth. The oyster covers his pain with something priceless. You have learned to cover your pain with something priceless as well… My Wisdom and Glory. Now I desire to line up those experiences with a knot of grace between each one so they will never pour back into your lap again. As you learn to wear this necklace of love humbly, I will use you greatly. When I lead, share one of your treasured pearls for My glory. This necklace, my child, is the key to your joy-fill-ed witness for the days to come.”

“Thank you Lord. Your words calm my heart,” I said. But then I asked another question, "How will I ever get rid of this guilt and shame?

"When you are ready to put up your shield of faith to quench all the enemy's negative thought-filled reminders of your past and are willing to let go of your obsession with self-condemnation, then you can and will move on. Afterwards, I will be able to grace-fill-ly knot and secure all those pearls together and secure them around your neck with the blood of Jesus.”

I have wasted so much time meditating on ‘what ifs’ or ‘I should have known better’. Life should have been so different. Then I realized the 'shoulds keep the shame alive'. Yet, again I realized even if I had made wiser decisions then, I would have eventually made an error in judgment later.

Wisdom training is a must in God’s kingdom. I can’t avoid trouble forever. God designs my life to be filled with instructional moments from a variety of sources. What I need to remember at all times is this: God’s grace is sufficient.

Having this special pearl necklace reminds me…all is not lost. God intends to use everything I do right or wrong for His glory. When I get off track, God still marks the journey as valuable and that brings me joy.

How about your pearls that came at a great price? Will you allow God to line them up and show you off? God is so proud of you and the way you hung on to Him. You may feel disqualified. Don’t despair! God plans to use all those 'unseemly parts' to minister grace and hope to many.

Go ahead…quench the enemy’s thoughts of failure, pick a pearl and courageously share how God changed your life.