“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 to just watch anybody.  The few who I do watch, who I am drawn to, are professionals or are reputable.  Some older than me.  Some are 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 now I 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 materials you use to clean 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, 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 abilities, 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 a 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, and 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 enough’s” are that 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 okay in all the right places and to be 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 that 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.

Friend, 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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A Truth You Must Know

Perfection.  Innocent.  Pure and undefiled is how the world stood.  It was beautifully unmarked and untainted from heaven’s sky to the dirt on the ground.

Then came sin with all the diseases that follow its wrong course.  There was now pain and sorrow, hurtfulness and despair.  Perfection has been injured.  What was beautiful has received a scar.  The world was fallen – utterly torn apart (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12).

Torn apart from its innocence.  Pure no more. 

Torn apart from its Maker.  What would happen now?

Would He turn away and erase it all?  Could the shattered love that spoke of its good still see hope in the end?

He did. 

God didn’t leave the fallen world without an answer to its depravity.  He refused to forget His love for the ones He made.  He made a choice and had a plan to redeem what was broken.  In Jesus Christ, He had the cure: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1:4).

We can look around and measure the world by the wickedness we see.  Or we can look at how much grace was bestowed on you and me. 

In the world, we were far from perfect or right.  In the world, we too groped like people in the night.  But His plan shone a light to help us see that this is not the end of the story for us or humanity (Jn. 3:16).

Friend, if you have fallen, may your eyes upon Him turn.  He has not forgotten you.  God is waiting for your return.  There is salvation ready in His redemptive plan.  Something that could never be earned by any woman or man.  But because His love for us is so real, His only begotten Son became our everlasting seal:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel . . .” (Col. 1:19-23)

When we believe, we are redeemed, covered by the ransom’s cost which His holy and undefiled blood has bought (1 Pet. 1:18-19).  That is the truth you must grasp today.  The question is, will you accept the Gift that saves (2 Cor. 9:15; Jn. 3:16)?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

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Before the day was, I am He!

“Yea, before the day was I am he . . .” Isaiah 43:13

There is a time and a place for all things, that is what they say.  Some will argue their disbelief in God because they have trouble with not being able to pinpoint His beginning.  This life, this walk of faith demands that we believe God for who He says He is: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), meaning there was never a time God was not.  He was before all and will continue to be, forever and ever.  The psalmist celebrated this by saying, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2), a truth repeatedly recognized throughout Scripture (Job 36:23; Psalm 93:2; Isaiah 41:4).  

The Bible begins with the very words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  God is responsible for all of the Creation events.  He “laid the foundations of the earth” (Psalm 104:5).  When “the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2a), God was already there moving: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2b).  Before light (Genesis 1:3-4), and even before there was a day or a night (Genesis 1:5), there was God.  He has always been and will always be.

“To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:25-26a).  God is the Creator of all things.  Knowing who laid the foundations.  Knowing He who was before all things, solidifies our faith in the one and only true living God.

There is no one like our God.  He testified of Himself before Moses and said, ““I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14), meaning just that.  He has always existed before anything else, and He has always been before even one day was ever noted in history.  He is God all by Himself: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).

God has no equal!  There is nobody that can be measured up to Him!  There is no comparison, no rival, no match, and no substitutes – none that can be even remotely like God!  There is only one God, and from before the foundations of the earth, God has been, and He has been in control.  All we need to do is simply put our trust in Him, believe in Him, wait on Him, and watch Him work: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).

The eternal nature of God cannot be understood by pinpointing days, only by believing in faith: “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).

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A Song in Us!

I sit and I hear the birds calling out to one another.  One sings his melody, and another responds.  The beauty of this conversation puts a smile on my face as I hear the rhythms of nature in their song.

In the heavens, where our eyes cannot yet see, there is a song more glorious being called out: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts . . .” (Isaiah 6:3) as the seraphim cry out to one another.  The adoration and praises of God fill the atmosphere of that heavenly realm.  There, all give Him the glory.  All recognize His splendor and majesty.

What are our hearts crying out for today?  Is it more of what the world offers, or do we have something within us to offer Him?

Do we feel a calling out within us, stretching us to give Him praise?  Are we welcoming Him in our lives and days, laying things down that we might raise a shout of “Hosanna” (Mark 11:10) in our hearts?  Are we making room for Him, lauding Him as Lord over everything?

Or, have we allowed silence to be louder?

Redemption has instilled a song in us.  Our salvation has enlightened us to be quicker with a heavenly melody of our own.  Our own words of adoration come alive, wake up, take a stand, and shout of His unrecoiling love.

A love that has spared no expense to save me.  A love that has looked hurt and pain in the face that one day I can hear those songs of heaven for myself and let my heart be joined with them when my feet stand before Him.

Yes, in that future we will praise in a beautiful way we have never experienced before.  Until that day, I open my mouth and my heart today and praise the God of my salvation.  I will let the glory of who He is roll from my lips, and let my heart sing her song with rejoicing.

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In God, we are blessed!

Day by day, God helps to carry us and our burdens. His love bears us up and in Him we are blessed!  “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Psalm 68:19

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Today, You are held!

Friend, today you are held. You are safe and secure in the Father’s hand. Jesus said, “No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand,” (John 10:29).  Rest in the grip of God’s grace. 

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“Lay it all down!”

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1

Lay those burdens down!  Give yourself permission to release it, and let it all go.  Grab hold of the confidence of His Word, and cling to it for dear life.

This world is raging.  Things we’ve never seen before are unfolding at a frightening rate.  Hurts are dissimulating families.  Distresses are speaking despair into lives.  Lay it all down!

Refuse to pick it up today!  That fear; that feeling – refuse it space in your world today.

Who does God say I am?  What does His Word speak over my life?  That’s what I choose to pick up today.  That’s what I am choosing to carry with me.  Not these burdens.  Not these worries.  They are hindrances to my progress.  They’re deflating my steps.

I want to run!  I want to run for You, Jesus!  I want to run my race well and effectively.  But, in order to run, I have to release some things that’s been holding me down.  I must cast disappointment aside.  I have to get rid of any sin that’s stopping me from running full speed ahead for the Lord.  I have to throw away everything that’s not working for my heavenly good and trust in God the Father who is.

Lay it all down, dear friend, lay it down.  The heaviness it holds it’s not worth it.  Don’t coddle it.  Don’t get comfortable with it.  Don’t declare this is how it is now.

No, get rid of it.  By faith, be determined.  By faith, walk in the confidence of the God who has spoken beautiful things over your life.  By faith, don’t just claim His peace – live it, because it’s already yours!

The weight is not yours to carry, but His peace is.  Run your race with Him and be blessed.

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“Who have you been glorifying?”

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50:15, NKJV

Who gets your praise when you get a reprieve from the madness all around?  Who receives your honor when troubles dissipate and deliverance has been brought forth?

Have you attributed your successes to your own wisdom?  Has your ingenuity received the credit for plans coming to pass?  Have you praised yourself, thinking, “Look what I have done?”

Who have you been glorifying?  Don’t pat yourself on the back for a job well done when you know if it had not been for the Lord on your side, you would not have what you have, do what you do, and be in the position you are in.

God is not only our Heavenly Father, He is also our mighty defender and our deliverer.  He invites us to seek Him in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), and He will be our present help.  When we come to Him, and call upon Him, and He delivers us, please do not give His glory to another, or take it for yourself.

Recognize what God has done in your life and honor Him alone.

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say;

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us:

Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:

Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:

Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.

Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:1-8

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“Study Him!”

“The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them,” Psalm 111:2, NKJV

Why such doubt?  Why such confusion?  Have you studied Him?  Have you studied the works of our God?

Open your understanding to the truth of who He is.  Open, and expand your knowledge of our Heavenly Father.  Seek Him, and search Him out.  As the greatest treasure that is to be found, don’t stop digging till you have unearthed His glorious truths.

“His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever,” (Psalm 111:3, NKJV).  So, dig deep, my friends, and find Him for yourself.

Look through His holy pages and see Him.  See what He has done.  See the testimonies of the lives that have walked in those written lines.  See the things He performed in them and through them.  See what He continues to do even in this day.  See, and believe.

For where the truth of this treasure is, it leaves no room for doubt and confusion.  Truth eats up the empty spaces that make room for lies.

Therefore, study Him.  Let not your appetite be quenched by the false junk and ideologies of this age.  Take your fill of God, our Father.  Learn of Him.  Explore Him, and you will not only be satisfied with that which nourishes for all eternity, but you will enter an abundant adventure of a lifetime today (John 10:10).

It’s there, in those pages of the Bible.  Seek Him.  He’s not hiding from you.  Study Him, and enrich your own life further and deeper than you could have ever imagined.

“He has made His wonderful works to be remembered . . .” Psalm 111:4, NKJV

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