“We Are Made New!”

New. What a great word! What was, is now
gone. The old is done away with and put in the
past. It doesn’t have a place in the here and
now. For now, “all things are become new.”

Life is now seen with different eyes; with a
different vision. Because Christ has changed
us from what we used to be, now we see us
as He sees us – NEW! We have been
transformed. We have been remade. Our
lives have been restored. And now, our walk is
made great. Bought with a price and made
whole through and through. Saved creatures
in Jesus Christ, who are now totally NEW!

No longer enemies…

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)

Have you ever really thought of yourself as an enemy to anyone? Most would say no. Nobody likes to think of themselves as being against anybody in such a manner to be categorized as an enemy even if they don’t wholly agree with them.  

Worse, have you ever thought of yourself as an enemy toward God? I’m assuming you’ll answer with an emphatic “No!” to that one. The majority of us would absolutely shudder at such a thought because such phrasing seems very, very extreme for anyone, especially when you are using it in a reference between mortal individuals like us and our holy God.

But enemies are what we used to be. As hard as it may seem to be to grasp, if we were or are living outside of Christ (and we all were at one point), we were at enmity with God. But, through Christ’s death on the cross, we have been restored! The Bible tells us, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Now, we are living life anew through His “life.”  For, “He that hath the Son hath life…” (1 John 5:12).

Because of what Jesus did on our behalf, we have “joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We can rejoice because our sin-sick souls have been cured and made whole by His redeeming blood. Our “atonement” came through Him. Our reconciliation with the Father has been healed by His sacrifice (Romans 5:8-9).   

Now, we have a reason for real joy! Our relationship with God is no longer standoffish. Rather, now we can draw near with faith because all the obstacles that stood in the way of a wholesome union have been taken care of through the cross. We are now in the right alignment with Him. Our lives are restored to work in the order which He designed. Sin has been thrust through as the enemy that it is and harmony between us and the Father sings with the song of salvation.

Once we may have been considered as enemies, but now in we are saved! Is there a better feeling in the world? I think not!   

Cloud nine may be an expression of happiness according to the standards of the world. But, we know what it is to truly rejoice because our future and life eternal in the presence of the Father give us something beyond a metaphor – it gives us real joy in knowing this shall happen. We are secured in Him and we have something better on the horizon. We have the hope of heaven which cannot be extinguished by the world!

Through Jesus Christ, we have been given the gift of so much more! Aren’t you thankful for that today? I know I am. The truth of all He did for us is completely awe-inspiringly out of this world, literally… 

Our lives have been completely turned around and now, when God sees those who believe, He sees them as nothing less than His beautiful child: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12). Now, we are no longer enemies. Now, “we are saved by his life”!

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What Would It Have Been Like? – “In the Garden with God”

 

One of my favorite times of the day is waking up.  Not the actual waking up part (sometimes that’s a little hard 😉 ), but when I finally get up, I get to draw back the curtains and see the new day.  It’s untouched.  It’s filled with hope and promise.  Whatever happened yesterday is not here for this is today.  It’s that freshness that draws me in and gets my soul stirred for the possibilities ahead.

When we go on vacation one of the places we stay at is a condo in the mountains.  It’s so peaceful.  With coffee in hand in the morning, I head out onto the balcony and sit to admire the new day.  The only thing I hear is the birds singing their song.  The deer break twigs and rustle leaves when they walk.  Sometimes you see the groundhogs and other animals eating their meals for the day.  You get this sense about you that this is the way it was meant to be.

And it makes me wonder about a time when all days were meant to be like this.  When there was a time when all days started in innocence and nothing was yet corrupted.  When there was a time that man walked freely in the Garden with God.

I love gardens and I declare one day I will have a nice one.  I’m working on it.  We were meant to live the garden lifestyle.  We were designed to reign in innocence and peace.  The world we live in today contradicts the fellowship we were created to have with God.  We were to have an up-close relationship with Him.  After the fall the Bible tells us,  “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” (Gen. 3:8).

Let your mind go back, not to the sin, but to the experience of being with God in the garden.  Adam and Eve experienced God on a level that no other being will have the privilege to.  Surely this was not the first time God had paid them a visit in this fashion for they knew what it sounded like when they heard Him in the garden.  They had a realistic divine view of the Almighty here on earth.

What would it have been like to have the Sovereign of the universe, day by day to come and see about me?  What would it have been like to verbally hear the mouth that spoke things into existence speaking to me?  What would it have been like to hear Him moving among the garden with my own ears and to know it was the Lord?  What would it have been like?

There, thinking back before the Fall, fellowship with God was uninterrupted by evil.  There the beauty of all God is could be seen by those He created.  There, peace was the predominant feeling because the shaker of peace had not entered the scene.  There, God spoke directly to man unhindered by fleshly desires.  There, it’s hard to imagine, but life was nothing but good because the man knew nothing but God.

Imagine the best backyard barbeque.  We sit around laughing and enjoying the company of others.  Not that we are bringing the Sacred down to our level but in our finite understanding can we imagine in the garden, Adam and God chit-chatting about the day, about the animals, or about life in general?  Can we imagine the way Adam’s heart must have felt assured every time He heard the voice of God speak to him?  Can we imagine that when Eve was presented to her husband there was no fear, only love, because that’s all they ever received was love on the earth?  Can we really imagine?

It may be hard for our minds to fathom such an age of innocence and honesty.  It’s hard for us to see what this must have been like because now our view has been corrupted by sin.  But I imagine it was glorious.  It was nothing like we’ll ever know here on earth.  In that garden, during that time, beauty is all that was seen with our eyes and with our hearts.  God was all that was known.  Oh, imagine.

It’s hard to put into words when everyone was right before God.  It’s hard to describe from one’s soul a place of longing but never viewing.  It’s hard to capture the essence of what being with God was like there, and yet my heart still yearns to know what would it have been like?

What do you think it would have been like to see the world at its best?  What do think it would have been like to fellowship with God at your best?  Where we live in the mid-Atlantic region we are expected to have rain most of the day.  Even in this dreariest of settings, I’m looking at the trees swaying outside my window and imagining the beauty of that time.  I guess that’s what it would have been like, beautiful because everything was in harmony with God.  Beautiful represents their relationship with God and it represents the surroundings that God created for them.

One day we will experience that garden lifestyle again, that age of beautiful unbroken relationship with Him when we meet Him in our heavenly home.  And I can’t wait.

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“You are not forgotten!”

“Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;” Job 29:2

Have you ever experienced these same thoughts that Job expressed?  Have difficult times ever made you look back to the times before when you felt everything in your world was right?  When adversity strikes and when we deal with things we do not understand, I’m sure many of us, like Job, take our mind’s eye to those past days when trouble wasn’t knocking on our door.

The difficulty of the days he was presently in caused Job to look at those previous times as times of favor, saying, that’s when “God preserved me”.  But now, his expressions tell a different story of what his feelings are feeling.  His troubles caused him to think that just because he was going through adversity, God was not as presently with him as before.

Little did Job know, and many times we need to be reminded, that just as God was with us in the good times, so too is He with us in the troubling times.  It may look different than we are used to seeing it, and it may feel different, but just because we don’t understand and may question, it doesn’t negate the fact that God is presently near, and watching, and keeping His people.

Jesus taught, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7). 

A bird sold is not forgotten before God, and neither was Job, and neither are you.  Our value before God is so precious and so much more than we could ever imagine.  The clouds that come during those dark days may try to hide that fact, but the truth of God’s Word is a fact, that no matter how we feel or how hard it may seem, God is still there for you.  Even if you are dealing with hurtful situations and even if you feel like you have been wronged, God’s loving eyes see and His precious hands are working behind the scenes, holding you, loving on you, and valuing you when others may not.

Difficult times are difficult because they are not easy.  During these times, see Him with eyes of faith.  See that He is still with you and that you have not been left in this alone (Hebrews 13:5).  Take your cares, your disappointments, your hurts, and your discouragements to God in prayer.  He is there listening.  And trust me, He does cares.

Just because it hurts it does not mean He’s not feeling what you are feeling (Hebrews 4:15).  And just because we can’t figure out all this stuff, God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and we must trust Him with it, and with all the times in between.

God is here for you today, God is here.  Regardless of what you feel or are going through, you are not forgotten.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Isaiah 49:15

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Purpose in the Struggle

Why, we may wonder, why God does not just remove every obstacle and resistance to our faith?  Why in this journey must we fight?  Why must we strive against adversity in reaching where we are aiming to be?

Can a faith that is not exercised truly be called faith?  For if the road traveled is always smooth and the pathways are always leveled plains, how then will we ever learn to climb?  How will we learn to exert our muscles and pull our weight to mount upon the top? 

More strength only comes by using more strength.  More faith only comes by being forced to use more faith.  We can only learn to climb by experience.  We can only learn to push ahead by continuing to push ahead.  We can only learn to fight by being made to fight.

There are things that God knows His people will only learn by going through them.  That’s why Judges 3:2 says, “Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;”. 

When we are choosing multiple services in life we tend to want to choose those with experience.  Take getting a simple hair cut for example.  We want those who have had plenty of practice perfecting their skill before attempting to put scissors near our head that could alter the way we look for good or for bad.

God has many plans and purposes for His people but what we fail to see or have the patience for is the seasoning of the saint, the molding and perfecting that goes on behind the scenes.

I guarantee no one whom you have read about or see, who is doing great exploits for the Lord, just fell into that role ready to go.  There was some teaching.  There was some humbling.  There was some learning along the way.  It may have been behind closed doors and away from the eyes of the public, but God takes the time to make sure His vessels are properly prepared to go forth and hold all the potential and purposes He has for them.

The children of Israel might have been concerned as to why certain enemies were left in the neighboring surroundings.  By them, God was testing His people.  By them, God was teaching those to war who had never known war before.  God was causing faith muscles to be exercised.  He was training hearts to not focus on what they see in the enemy but on what they know about their God.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (1 Peter 4:12).  There is no struggle or contention that does not come without a purpose.  Though it may not be pleasant it is plentifully seasoning your walk with the Lord.  Like the children of Israel, it is teaching your hands to war.

One can never be a good soldier without ever facing contentions.  One can never learn to fight unless they have been made to fight.  One can never learn to pray in earnest if they never had that petition that would draw them to the knee with fervency.  And one could never learn to seek and lean on Him if their heart were never stirred to do so through the challenges faced.

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6-7).  It may not always feel like it, and it may not always feel good, but there is purpose in the hardships we face, especially when it comes to our faith which is found more praiseworthy in the eyes of Christ than gold that will perish.

Sometimes we may not understand everything and we may ask, “Why?”  But as we journey, may our eyes never leave Him who promised and is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).  Take heart, dear friend.  Through it all, at the end of our Christian race, we may look back and see the fruit those hard times produced, and we may see the purpose in the struggles.

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

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“Not a word of God’s promises will fail!”

 

“Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass,” Joshua 21:45

The waiting – sometimes excruciating. The battles – hard-fought and horrendous. The enemies – many. The hopes and dreams of a people once enslaved – building. The promise – within sight. Victory – obtained. Possession – now.

The journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land had not been a road easily traveled. Through it all, they struggled with discouragement and wrestled with obedience. Battles ensued, some won and some lost. Crossing the Red Sea; crossing the Jordan. Walls were brought down at Jericho and lives fled at Ai. The sun stood still during the fight and kings were conquered. Now, they are at the promise but the road there was not easy.

The children of Israel and their excursion to the Promised Land, their struggles with the flesh and their attitudes, and holding onto hope while waiting for obtaining the promise reminds me of our Christian journey. The promise is before us but the road is not paved with ease and comfort as some would have you believe. The path we walk takes effort, sometimes great effort. The trials we face are often difficult. But the faith we hold onto is assured.

If life never threw you any curve balls then I wonder if you were in the game at all. What does that mean? There are a lot of messages that we hear that tickle the ears making the hearer believe that they will never suffer hardship on this Christian journey. It leaves the hearer bewildered when they do face difficulties. They are taken aback when struggles come to their home. They believed they would coast on through without any road closures or stumbling blocks. Discouraged, many throw their hands up in defeat before they obtain the promise.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33, KJV). You see, we have an assurance of a great promise at the end of our journey, but Jesus was very real and upfront to let us know that road won’t always be easy. Jesus led no one into a false sense of security that they would never have to experience any adverse circumstances. He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.”

Before reaching the Promised Land and even to the point of laying hold of the promise, the children of Israel had to fight their way through. But the Bible tells us, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” They eventually were able to fully experience everything their souls had been longing for on that journey. The sights, the smell, and the taste of victory were theirs for their enjoyment. They had the good thing that God had promised.

I write words of encouragement in case you are in a curveball state; in case you have been sidetracked by unexpected discouragement. Still press forth in the journey. Don’t give in at the sight of struggles. Be determined in the forward march. Not a word of God’s promises will fail for you either. In fact, Psalm 84:11 says, “For the LORD is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” (KJV).

Keep your head above water and float on the promises of God who said, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deut. 31:6). I can’t promise you million dollars or that you will never spend nights crying over life, but I can promise that Jesus will be with you even to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20, KJV.

We have the blessed assurance of every promise that God has bestowed upon us. When adversity comes, know that you are not the only one going through it. Sometimes the journey will be harder than we like it to be, yet the assurance remains the same. In the end, if we hold on to our faith despite what our eyes are seeing right now, the promise is ours. “All came to pass,” for the children of Israel and it will for us too. “Be of good cheer,” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world!”

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“God’s Voice Over All!”

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).  It doesn’t matter what you see or what you don’t see. Nor, does it matter what the circumstances or even others are speaking. 

Faith has never been about or worked by seeing what it is believing for first. Faith works independently of the visible. What true faith does is it grabs hold of and grounds itself with confidence that says, if God said it, that’s what I choose to believe. If His Word promotes something as true, then it must be true. End of discussion.

And yet, a discussion is often what we deal with. It comes through voices and ideas that speak contrary to what faith was hoping for. It speaks against what faith was believing for.

Today, refuse to enter those discussions. If “faith is the substance of things hoped for” then we must be mindful of what conversations are feeding our faith.  Communications with others, or even within one’s own self that speak doubt will sow seeds of discord against what God’s Word has already spoken to be true.

Refuse their arguments and hold on to that pull of God, that drawing of His voice that says, to just trust Him.  Trust what He says. Trust that His conversation, written in His Holy Book, is the one we need to draw an attentive ear to.  

If they could, many conversations of this world will pull you from His conversation of truth. But, hold on to what God says, dear friend, as if it is your life preserver in these tumultuous waves. Because it is.

If you keep your heart steadfastly focused on Him you will not soon be moved. Just as sure as He is, so are the beautiful things His Word promises us.

Where have you placed your confidence today? From upon what have you built your foundation of faith? Whose conversation is your ear giving more time to? And, whose words are feeding and supporting all that you believe?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Conversations contrary to that supporting faith – turn a deaf ear to, for they are not nourishing you where you need to be nourished. Those words are not building you where you need to be built.

Refuse their invitation to get involved with them, because when you are a child of God, what the Father speaks is what I need to hear the most. The best support system one can find, who is truly trying to live a life of faith, is going to be found in what God affirms as true in His Word. Get into agreement with Him.  Get into agreement with what He declares for your life and over your life, and avoid all other toxic discussions, for they will not profit you or your spiritual journey. 

What we see before us, whether it’s visible or not, is never supposed to take the center stage in our faith journey.  Nor is it the voice of others.  The center stage of our faith journey is all about what God says.  It’s God’s voice over all! 

Draw near to what God says.  Take every bit of it to heart and build your faith upon it.  In His Word resides the confirmation of everything you need. In His speaking, your faith will be made strong.   

~Blessings!

More Inspiration:

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” – Psalms 18:30

“For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” – Psalm 33:9

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” – John 10:27

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” – 2 Timothy 2:16

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“Spotlighting God!”

The construction of the temple had been completed. Years of preparation and work have finally seen the fruit of its success. The dedicated things were brought in. The ark of the covenant of the LORD is put in its proper place. And, the trumpets and singers are making one joyful sound of praise and thanksgiving.

King Solomon then turns to the people and says, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David,” (2 Chronicles 6:4).

Friends, in all that we do from day to day. In our grand successes, or daily, mundane jobs, it is so important to recognize that it is God’s hands, it is His moving in our lives that allow us to do what we do.

The Bible tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In everything He has privileged us to do and be, we are to be magnifiers of His glory. We are to make sure the spotlight is on our Heavenly Father. All the activities of our lives are to bring glory to God.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him,” (Colossians 3:17). Bless God. In all your works and deeds, say, “Lord, I thank You!” Recognize that He has honored us with the privilege, power, and strength to do what we do, taking no glory for our own.

King Solomon could have erroneously made the dreadful mistake of many in great authority, and he could have attributed the success of building the temple, and all that he performed and acquired to his own glory. He could have praised himself and pumped up his own name for a job well done.  But, he didn’t.

In all the trumpeting. In all the singing. In all the celebrating, he celebrated God. He knew that it was God’s hands on his life that allowed him to do what he did. He knew it was nothing he could have accomplished on his own.

In everything we do, the greatest thing we can do is bring the focus where it rightfully belongs: on God the Father. Make His praises known. Acknowledge His hand and work in what you do. Bless His name for He is the one who has allowed to us do what we do, whether it be of meager beginnings or great successes.

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“Throw away those filthy rags.”

If there is one thing I really cannot stand, it’s a messy house.  I am not saying my house doesn’t get messy, because it does.  But I can’t stand it that way.  When I see a mess, I see chaos and clutter.  Some days I can let it go, but then there are those days that I just cannot.  I cannot go to bed knowing in the morning as I fumble my way to the coffee pot, I will encounter a housekeeping tragedy.

I am one of those weird people who enjoy watching other people clean their houses on videos.  And let me clarify, I do not like just watching anybody.  The few who I watch, who I am drawn to, are professionals or are reputable.  Some older than me.  Some younger than me, but because of their experience I can learn things from them about cleaning that I may not have known about.  I may have been cleaning a certain way and possibly may have learned a new, better, or more efficient way to get things clean and keep them clean.

Whether watching videos or in my own experiences of cleaning, one thing I do know is that what you use to clean with matters in the results you will get.  Inefficient tools produce inefficient results.  And if one is trying to make something clean by using a dirty rag – it is not going to work.  All you are doing is spreading the previous filth from which the rag was used on what appears to the naked eye to be clean, but now it’s riddled with invisible germs and all kinds of gross stuff you can’t see.

So, we see with those filthy rags we didn’t actually clean anything.  We didn’t make anything right or better than it was before.  All we did was re-contaminate what we thought we were cleansing. 

Isn’t that like our human nature to step back and look at something and think that we made something right on our own, with our own abilities and thoughts and actions?  To take credit for things we ought not to?  Especially when it comes to spiritual matters and our Christian walk?  It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have obtained any of His goodness on our own.  As if by our will, we can check off invisible boxes that said we were good enough in this area and that, therefore the graces, mercies, and salvation bestowed on us is our just reward.

No, my friend.  That thinking is so far from the truth and reality of our stance before a holy God.

Isaiah let us know that no matter what we think the best of us is, in and of ourselves, it still amounts to nothing but dirty rags before a holy God.  “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (64:6).

On our own, what we bring to the table of our lives and try to clean up, just amounts to mess on top of mess.  Our nature has been sinful from the beginning.  This is why Jesus stressed to Nicodemus our need to be born again (John 3:3).

Outside of Christ, there is nothing within us that is powerful enough and good enough to wash away our sins and make us clean.  Any attempts within us to answer the charge against us are just that – attempts.  They are futile self-efforts of futile self-righteousness.  And self-righteous efforts never go far in God’s account book of records.  Because for one to claim self-righteousness means they can get right with God on their own and in their own way.  Who they are, their works, their efforts speak for what they think they deserve.

By all accounts, Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, ticked off all the right religious boxes to be able to boast of his own acquired righteousness in the flesh.  In his own testimony of himself found in Philippians, he states:

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (3:4-6).

Have you ever been there with the mentality that the good you are or have is because of you and your efforts?  Have you ever looked down on another, even in just your heart, and felt they should be holy like you until God had to come in and knock you off your beast of pride like he did Paul to let you know you didn’t have it as together as you thought you did?  You are still harboring some mess inside of you.

At another time, in giving a defense for himself, the apostle Paul said, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day,” (Acts 22:3).  And still, to add to his accolades, Paul said at another time, “…I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee…” (Acts 23:6).

Paul supposedly had all the right stuff, and yet, he had nothing, and without Christ, he was nothing.

Back in Philippians 3, Paul continues to write:

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” (7-9).

Going off his own righteousness obtained by checking off the boxes of the law, Paul became a persecutor of the church.  After his transformation, he went from persecuting Jesus (Acts 22:4-8) to calling Him in Philippians 3:8, “My Lord.”

My friend, I don’t care what we think we have or bring to the table.  When we meet Jesus, we realize as Paul did, we have nothing on our own.  And that is a good place to be!

No matter who we are or what we perceive we have or do not have, we all start out with Jesus in the same way.  As Paul testified, “…not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” (Philippians 3:9).

So, whatever those “good enoughs” are any are holding on to, without the righteousness found only in Christ, all those “good enough” efforts and ideas of self-realized righteousness are as “filthy rags.”

Throw away those dirty rags.  We all need Jesus Christ in order to be made right before God; in order to be saved.

Jesus, Himself, said, “…without me ye can do nothing,” (John 15:5).  He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).  To make a long story short, we all need Jesus!

I have heard some say something along the lines of, “Well, I’m not as bad as some.  I don’t do this or that.  What do I need to repent for?”  In other words, they may not be super-saints (are any of us?), but they are not that bad either, so why do they need Jesus?  Aren’t they good enough the way they are?

To them, I give Jesus’ answer: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).

At another time, Jesus put to rest the idea of those who thought they were righteous on their own.  In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Bible says:

“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14; bold emphasis added).

Friend, throw away any filthy rags of self-righteousness for they will never make one right before the Lord.

Come to Him humbly like that tax collector, realizing without Jesus cleaning us up on the inside, we will never be clean enough: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” 

When one trusts in themselves and their own works of righteousness, they put themselves in the dangerous place of tossing God’s grace aside and adopting a prideful position in life that opposes God and His plan of salvation. 

The Bible strictly warns, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

That is the best part of the gospel message.  It is never about what we can do, bring, or add to the equation.  It always has been, and always will be about Jesus Christ and what He has already done.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:6-11)

Some Pharisees and those in religious circles could not accept Jesus’ message because they, in their self-righteousness, thought they were okay the way they were.  They were religious but didn’t have Christ.  They looked to be in all the right places and doing all the right things but took credit for their own perceived holiness.  Therefore, they looked down on others when it is only through the sacrifice of Christ one can receive “atonement” and be made right.    

Then, there are those who don’t know or won’t acknowledge Christ, because as previously stated, they are not as bad as some, and think they are “good enough” the way they are.  But it is when none of us were “good enough”; when all of us were “sinners” that “Christ died for us.”

Self-righteousness is a set of filthy rags that many try to clean their life with.  We may not see the surface dirt, but the invisible attitudes of the heart, God sees it all.

Friends, we must throw away any filthy rags of self-righteousness and realize none of us got here on our own.  Everything we have and are is because of the work that Jesus Christ has already performed on the cross.  No self-works.  No self-efforts.  No self-righteousnesses can save any of us.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

And, that salvation, my friends, comes through Jesus Christ alone! 

If you want your life to be truly clean, then one must come through Him who is perfectly clean, “without blemish and without spot,” (1 Peter 1:19).  No filthy rags will do. 

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“The Treasure of the Heart”

The heart holds so much in it, and it is there in the heart where we store and follow the things that are most important to us. There, in that place, is where the things we treasure reside.

To God, the heart matters. David is quoted as being a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), and rightly so. Though he made mistakes in his life, and though he sinned before God, his heart never stopped beating after God. When faced with his wrongs, David didn’t make excuses for his behavior. He repented of them and sought forgiveness.

Solomon, David’s son, was a man especially blessed by God in a way no man had ever been blessed. He was endowed with extraordinary wisdom and wealth (1 Kings 3:9-13; 29-34). God also told Solomon, “And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days,” (1 Kings 3:14).

Although his riches and wisdom abounded, the heart of Solomon turned away from following the Lord and went after false gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). His heart was “not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father,” (1 Kings 11:4). Thus, we see a great comparison between those who follow God with their all and those who don’t, and that comparison starts in the heart.

Although God had appeared to him twice and specifically said this shouldn’t be done (1 Kings 11:10), Solomon, because of the women he loved, allowed his heart to be filled with the false ways of their false gods, which in turn, turned his heart from following the one and only true God.

Friends, we must mind the heart with all diligence. Proverbs instruct us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” (4:23). Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh,” (Luke 6:45; see also Matthew 15:18-20; Mark 7:20-23).

What treasure is your heart holding? As we go through life, there will be times when we must take a heart examination to make sure it is in good health producing good treasure. This world can wreak havoc on a heart and if one is not careful, the heart can become tainted and impacted in a very negative way.

David took the matters of his heart seriously. When he sinned against the Lord he sought to realign his heart to the will of God. Instead of ignoring the problem and letting the problem grow worse and worse, David took his heart before the Lord, and prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10).

What David showed us is, if one does not like what the heart is producing or has produced, we can take these matters of the heart before God and seek His help to get it straight. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,” (Psalm 51:17).

It is in the heart where we store up our trust in God (Proverbs 3:5). It is there in the heart where we hide God’s Word (Psalm 119:11). It is in the heart where we show our true love for God (Matthew 22:37). And, it is in the heart of man that God looks upon and judges (1 Samuel 16:7).

Outwardly, Solomon seemed to have everything, but inside he lacked what God was looking for the most – a heart that was after Him.

A heart that is after God is a heart that has prepared itself to be after God. There are so many choices one can turn to and each choice will fill us with something. When Solomon made his choice to fill his life with that which is false, false ways and ideas took root in his heart and led him astray.

In comparison, even in his wrongs, David took his heart to God, admitted his wrongs (Psalm 51:4), and sought restoration (Psalm 51:12).

When one seeks to have a heart filled with the things of God, God will fill it, and that filling will produce beautiful treasure.

Material wealth will fade, but the treasure of one’s heart will follow them through all eternity. What treasures are you storing today?

Lord, increase me in You. Help me to look to You and Your ways continually. Help me to keep my heart and my feet on Your righteous pathways. Fill me up with more of You till my life and my heart is overflowing with Your good treasures. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!