Unchecking the Excess Baggage

baggage“…let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.  Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith.”  (Hebrews 12:1-2 Voice Translation) 

It is so critical that we put our attitudes and hidden heart issues on the altar, and become so immersed in the Word that we aren’t blind to undealt-with sin and/or weights. We can have every potential to do great things—may even have had prophetic words spoken over us about our gifts elevating us to leadership or notoriety—and negate the prophetic word through pride, narcissism, jealousy, unforgiveness, or fear. Instead of being angry at those we perceive to hold us back, and instead of being envious of others who possess our same potential, we must deal with that pesky hidden man of the heart.

If there are unforgiveness issues stemming back even to our childhood, or healing that needs to happen when we release those who’ve hurt us, we must do the work. If we fail to do so, we will taxi the runway back and forth but never gain the momentum to get off the ground. Still more tragic: we risk imprinting our character flaws on our children by forcefully living vicariously through them, by repeating abuses on them that we experienced, or by failing to desire success for them that exceeds our own. Even very good people can be trapped in a holding pattern, mind you…disqualified over things that could be fixed!

Father, help us not to be our own worst enemy. You are fully-aware of even what we don’t see about ourselves–those damaged, flawed, or underdeveloped matters of character that we haven’t yet recognized or owned-up to. We will stop blaming others for our lack of success and begin to look inwardly, with humility and a quick-to-repent heart, for what needs purged from our character. Even if we don’t aspire to promotion of some kind, coddling wrong attitudes and negative emotions is a behavior not pleasing to You; and as badly as we want not to feel like a failure in our destiny, we want to find favor in Your sight even more. As David prayed after his hidden sin bubbled to the surface, likewise create in us a clean heart and renewed right spirit. See if there be (expose) any wicked way in us; and after the diseased element in our hearts is purged, restore the joy of our salvation. May we bear good fruit—30, 60, 100-fold, unhindered by toxic emotions, attitudes, and behavior.

You discipline those whom You love…and we know You love us too much to leave us messed-up. We don’t want to be those Your Word speaks of whose neck becomes hardened from having to be chastised often. Help us get it right, to learn and be willing to change. Remove the blinders, and after we’ve seen ourselves without the wax coating, make us whole—perfect and entire, lacking nothing. Give us courage to allow ourselves to be overhauled from the inside out. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Adapted from one of my Facebook status posts, 08-2016)

Dishpan Discipline

“For whomever THE LORD JEHOVAH loves, he instructs, and draws aside his children with whom he is pleased.” — Hebrews 12:6 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

It’s amazing the things the Lord will speak into your heart when you are intentionally listening for him even while you go about your day.  There’s not a lot to be learned spiritually while washing dishes, right?  Wrong!

We got called out of the house abruptly yesterday for a family emergency and consequently, the dirty dishes just had to sit until a time when I could get to them…which happened to be this morning.  (Don’t faint from shock, you ladies who are better housekeepers than I!)
As I went in and started to tackle a day-old dish job along with a bowl and fork from a quick bite of breakfast this morning, the Lord just dropped this into my spirit about sin.  Two forks had the exact same food on them; except one had dried on from the day before, and one was fresh.  The Lord asked me, “Which one is dirtier?” to which I replied, “Neither, they’re both needing washed!”  “Which one will be easier to wash?” He asked.  The answer was obvious in the time it took me to clean one and then the other.

This is the difference between confronting sin and undealt-with sin.  Just like those two forks, sin leaves you just as unclean whether it’s new or old; but undealt-with sin is sometimes takes more “elbow grease” to remove than when you realize you have erred and immediately confess, forsake the sin, and receive God’s forgiveness.  Although sin is sin, period, there are some sins that are harder to break free from once you lend yourself to their influence because they’re “clingier” in nature; just as there’s a difference between the effort required in washing the spoon that stirred the tea and the spoon that stirred hot cheese sauce. Understand, I’m not talking about grace versus works–what He forgives, He forgives and we are saved by His grace, not our works.  I’m talking about the effect sin has on us, not whether we’re truly saved.  I believe you comprehend when I say that there are some things we can get ourselves into that are a little harder than others to undo the damage.  The blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin when we confess and turn away from that sin; but consequences of that sin can linger even when the sin is forgiven and gone.

The same scenario with unforgiveness and grudges…you need to deal with both new and old wounds and hurts, but the best and easiest time to let go of an offense is while it’s still fresh and not “baked on” to one’s heart.  If we willfully continue in the same sin and remain unrepentant once it’s exposed to the light of God’s Word, we have just crossed over into the realm of iniquity.  Friends, that’s a chance we can’t afford to take!  Iniquity can affect your family for generations to come!

Though God requires all His people to live holy, I believe He deals with each of us in different ways to get the same result end because He know our individual personality types life experiences, and spiritual maturity.  And just like those dishes in my sink, the method of separating that sin from me may vary with what kind of “dirt” it is (was it an unintentional erring, or was it a deliberate and direct disobedience to something I knew God’s Word says) , what part of my life it affects, and how long it’s been “stuck” on me!  To be sure, all sin needs cleaned off our lives.  You wouldn’t deliberately eat with a dirty utensil, and God won’t leave us to wallow in our dirty ways!
But just as some things require vigorous scrubbing while others require a more gentle, gradual pre-soaking; and just as exposing some things to too much heat only makes a stain or a stuck-on food harder to come clean, God knows just how to get up close and personal with each of us!  Some of us “get it” right away and require just a minimal bit of handling.  Others of us might be more stubborn, or by personality type are more vulnerable to reverting back to the same points of error over and over again.  Still, His Word applies to every person.  He hold us all to the same standard of obedience; but He is well-acquainted with His creation and how to bring the best out in each one of us!  We can trust Him and yield ourselves to His will for our lives.  He knows us intimately–what makes each of us tick, how to bring to fruition His plans for us…plans that prosper and not harm us…to give us hope and a future!”  He loves us too much to leave us in our sin, regardless of what method He needs to use to get our attention.
Wow.  While this may sound corny to some of you, it makes perfect sense to me.  God knows my kitchen is as good a place to talk to me as my prayer closet!  And whether He has to go all Brillo-pad on me, or He does a more subtle work in areas of my life where a harsh rebuke would be too much, I want to be yielded to His perfect will for my life because I trust Him.  Put yourself in His loving, capable hands and let Him work in big and small ways to make you a vessel of honor–clean and holy– and ready to fulfill His purpose in your life.  When He reveals something you need to deal with, please don’t put it off.  As a wise woman known here on earth as Edith Mahon once said, “Do it now, do it now, do it now!