Tag Archives: Repentance

God’s ‘Safety Valves’

14 Oct

Passing by the primate area one day, a zoo attendant happened to notice a chimpanzee sitting on a rock with an open book in each hand. He looked first at one book and then the other.

Upon closer examination, the attendant identified the books:  the Bible and Darwin’s Origin of Species.

Curious, the attendant asked the chip, “What’s with the books?”

The chimp replied, “I’m trying to decide whether I’m my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.” * LOL!

With some choices there’s not much difference ~ like choosing between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, a matter of taste. But other times, choices are as clearly different as those two books in the chimps hands. Some choices can change the direction of our lives.

Can you think back to a crucial decision that took you down a different path? Maybe it was a foolish choice. You didn’t anticipate the consequences. Looking back now, you wonder how you ever could have missed the signs, the clues that your choice was destructive or hurtful. It’s a choice you now regret.

Or maybe you made a wise choice that helped you grow, led to success or opened up more opportunities. You’re so glad you made that choice!

What was the difference? Was it just the choices before you? We have options to choose every day, all day long. The choices just are. Just like temptations. You might face one temptation and it’s like water off a duck’s back; face another kind of temptation and you fall head first! What makes the difference is our response. Temptations have no power unless we act on them.

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us how to respond to temptation:“… God is faithful and he will not let you

A Safety Valve

be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape….” The same is true when faced with a wrong or foolish choice. We can always look for God’s “way of escape.” It is a safety valve that helps us when the pressure to sin or be unwise gets strong.

The way of escape may actually be proactive. All sin starts in the heart and mind, when we want something that is not good for us, something God has declared “off limits” or destructive.  We need to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and mind. We need to be careful what we allow into our thoughts through the media, especially, because they can become a constant source of temptation. God provides mercy when we repent of and forsake any “ways” that are contrary to His ways (Isaiah 55:6-7) ~ wrong desires in our hearts, wrong habits and behaviors.

The way of escape comes when we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:16-25). It is not by our might or power, but by God’s spirit that we accomplish anything (Zechariah 4:6). The Spirit makes us overcomers! (1 John 4:4)

The way of escape also comes as we renew our mind (Romans 12:1-2). What we feed our mind will eventually come out, but we can change the direction of our thinking and refresh “the spirit of our mind” in Christ (Galatians 6:8a; Ephesians 4:17-24) and the Word of God. We study, meditate on, and apply the principles of scripture that help us stand strong against temptations and make wise choices.

The way of escape comes in our commitment to glorify God in purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). While will power can only take us so far (which is why we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit), we can resolve to say “no” to temptations. We can purpose to make choices that lead to holiness.

The way of escape also comes through accountability. The Bible encourages us to exhort (encourage) one another and bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We can ask Christian friends to help us fight temptation. We can seek God together for wisdom to make wise choices.

Are you facing some tough choices? Is temptation knocking at your door? God wants to give wisdom, and He offers safety valves ~ His way of escape in many forms. How will you respond?

* from CyberSaltDigest.com, 7-7-11

– Dawn

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Wearing Clean Clothes?

2 Sep

While waiting for my husband to try on some clothes at Macy’s the other day, I remembered a joke someone told me:

A man sat in the “husband chairs” as his wife tried on clothes in a fancy store.

After almost an hour of watching his wife parade outfit after outfit for his “approval,” the poor man had definitely had it!

So the next time his wife came out of the changing room, he exclaimed, “Wow, Babe. That’s a knockout! Why don’t you buy that one?”

His wife frowned. “Oh, right,” she said, “This is what I was wearing when we CAME IN!”  

LOL … and hold that thought.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I had a spiritual revelation when I heard that joke.

I heard this little voice ask me, “Are you wearing what you had on when you came in?”

Let me explain.

I thought about the day I came to Christ ~ that wonderful garment of holiness I received when I became a Christ-follower. I remember how clean and pure I felt when I first gave my life to Him.

But I get my spiritual “clothes” so soiled sometimes. Don’t you? That’s why the writer of Hebrews urges us to “Make every effort… to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). It takes effort!  Yes, it’s true that when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we are clean through the blood of the Lamb ~ but the scriptures tell us some things to “put off” and other things to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22-24). When we do, our spiritual garments stay fresh and clean.

The apostle Paul uses the words “put off” to illustrate that we need to “divest” ourselves of some things … to strip them off just as we would some dirty clothes. We need to do this daily, because the corruption in the world tends to cling to us.

What kinds of things do we “put off”? We put off anything that belongs to the corrupted old self. Things that we repent over and leave behind. Various lusts within and influences without make our spiritual garments spotty and smelly!

I read recently that harmful bacteria can linger on clothes we think are clean. In the same way, we may think we are “clean” before the Lord … but it’s good to ask Him if there is “something else” lingering in our lives ~ a “hint” of the unclean (see Ephesians 5:3), or perhaps something we need to see from God’s  perspective.

After we “put off” the unclean things, there are things that we “put on”… things that relate to the new self. It’s not a matter of us trying to “launder” our soiled clothes, but rather to strip them off and allow the Lord to give us fresh, pure garments as He transforms us from within. We are a new creation in Christ … created for true righteousness and holiness. And God’s Word lists many ways that we can put on the pure character of Christ. 

This is not an exhaustive list* by any means, but simply some suggestions for consideration:

Can you imagine how exciting and effective your life would be if you Put Off and Put On all of those things? Wow!

The important thing is that we realize we have the opportunity every day to wear clean spiritual garments, just as when we first came to Christ.

His grace, mercy and forgiveness are powerful, and our Father God is working to transform us every day into the image of Christ. And ONE DAY, we will receive a spotless garment ~ “fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14) for all eternity! Praise God!

* There are many such lists on the internet… here is one.

– Dawn

God Knows Where You Are

29 Jan

While cleaning the attic, Joan and Harry found an old stub for some shoes they left at the repair shop TEN YEARS BEFORE! They thought it would be fun to go to the shop and see if the shoes were still there. So they did.

They handed the stub to the repair man who took it and looked in the back of the store. Joan and Harry grinned at each other, thinking the shoes were probably once repaired, but then lost over the 10 years.

Then the repairman returned. “They’ll be ready on Wednesday,”he said. (1) LOL!

Banana Sippper by Kobi Lev

And I can’t resist this one…

Question: What do you call shoes made from banana skin?

Answer:  Slippers! (2) 

One of my Facebook friends and fellow-bloggers, Lisa Burkholder Keck, wrote about God’s watchful concern for us in her delightful post about some special shoes. I want to share her story with you.

Lisa begins with a scripture that makes us think: For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.  (Proverbs 5:21, NLT)

“Bye, Will. Have a good day at school,” I called out as my eighth grader got out of the car. I pulled away from the curb and merged into the line of cars waiting to leave the parking lot where the drop-off area was. As I waited at the stop sign, I saw Madi crossing the street. I’ve watched her grow up. Our families used to go to church together.

I said a little prayer of blessing as she passed. Then I noticed her shoes. They were cute!

“She has the cutest shoes,” I thought. 

Driving down the street, I remembered the bells. More accurately, I remembered Mom and her friend Janell talking about the bells on their children’s shoes.

I represent one-fourth of those eight tiny feet that jingled as they walked. Like Mom, Janell is also blind, and the bells were their way of knowing where their children were. I don’t remember wearing bells on my shoes, so it must have been a toddler thing.

I wonder whether Mom missed the sound of the bells when it was time to take them off. I guess she would be as nostalgic about her children’s younger years as any other mother.

As I grew, Mom had a new way of keeping track of me. She’d call out my name. When I’d ask what she wanted, she’d say, “Nothing. I just wanted to know where you were.”

That reminds me of the time God called out to Adam in the garden and said, “Where are you?” (see Genesis 3:8-9) God knew very well where Adam was, so why ask? I think He asked so that Adam would realize where he was. Repentance cannot happen if we don’t recognize our sin.

God gave us the Holy Spirit, and—like my mother—He calls out my name. When I ask what He wants, He replies, “I just wanted you to know where you were.”

Bells on rebellious feet are silenced as I fall to my knees and repent. When I stand up, I head in a new direction.

What about you?

God knows where you are, but do you know where you are? Are you walking step in step with Him today? Or, like Lisa, do you need to head in a new direction?

Lisa KeckLisa Burkholder Heck is a wife and mother of one college-aged daughter and a son who is a freshman in high school. She loves seeing how God changes lives, but especially how He lets His light shine out of the dark chapters of life to minister to others.

Lisa has two blogs, Ears in the Cornfield, and When My Father Wakes Up,  which promotes her soon-to-be-self-published memoir, Then Monday Came: The Party’s Over but the Celebration Has Just Begun.

 (1) Adapted from www.jokesclean.com, “Cleaning the Attic”

(2) http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/games/jokes/jokes_galore.htm

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