Tag Archives: conviction

Ezra 3-4; Psalm 92; I John 1

I John 1:5 says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Wish I could say that about myself. Instead, I regularly confess shades of sin to God and to others whom I have wronged so that God, who “is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” will send His grace and mercy to this repentant heart. (John 1:9). Blatant sin such as thefts, murders, and adultery may not be on my conscious, but the Holy Spirit is quick to convict me of blaming others, acting self-righteous or lacking faith. But what about defenses buried in sin that are unrecognizable until after they bite?

I came home from work the other day, glad for another blessed Friday. My elevated mood sparked my interest in making a real meal, not just the casual, lazy, Friday night fare of pizza and hot wings. Hubby heard me singing along with the radio, and I knew he was smiling before he poked his head around the corner to tell me hello. He let our small dog out of the cozy room among the laundry appliances and linen soaps. Seeing that smash-nosed, bow-legged, 16 pounds of lion-hearted loyalty, added to the promise of peace and harmony for the weekend. Yet when I reached down to kiss his silky head, our family pet violently, and without warning, bit me on the face. The shock of teeth penetrating skin was nothing compared to the painful reality that my 11 year-old friend had turned on me. The rest of the evening was a shambles caring for my wounded cheek and rationalizing the unexpected attack. Was he in physical pain? Is his advancing age a factor? What is the risk of repeated dog biting behavior? My husband and I talked about our fear that the dog would do the same or worse to our grandchild or other visiting family and friends.

Upon awakening the next morning, and after a sickening dream of giving poison to a guinea pig (go figure), the emotional jet lag felt defeating, and I sought consolation through the Word of God. As I meditated, the smog of confusion cleared and I felt convicted of sin – the sin of neglect.

Vignettes of a dog’s life played in my head. Especially over the last three months, I had not spent quantity or quality time with my canine friend. I rarely walked him. He was not allowed to be in the living room with us in our new house. I had developed a low tolerance for frustration which caused me to shoo the little guy out of the kitchen regularly so that he wouldn’t be under my feet or be a nuisance at the table. The story of neglect continued to play. Where once my dog would find a corner to curl up wherever I was, he now chose to stay in his own room. Instead of lying beside me feet, he preferred to be near my husband. He stopped asking for the treats that rarely came from me. I believe that God showed me that the sin of neglect was a contributing factor of my dog, old and blind in one eye, perhaps not knowing me at the moment he literally snapped.

“O Lord, how great are your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this. When the wicked spring up like grass and when all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they may be destroyed forever,” (Psalm 92:5-7).  Lord, I can see how the sin of neglect sprang up and is a microcosm of relationships in my life that have long-since dissipated or relatives who no longer expect more than a hastily signed Christmas card once a year. I pray that the sin of neglect is destroyed once and for all by revelation, correction, and restoration. Through Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezra, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 4-6; Psalm 82; John 2

“That’s not what I expected. I’ve been listening to others who have heard Him teach, and their stories of His divine wisdom and hints of rising power have excited me – even ignited hope to my weary soul…worn down with eking out a living under the heavy hand of Roman captors. Yes, I feel like a captive, even though I am not a slave, yet. What a miserable thought – that I might have to sell my body to have some means of caring for my family, paying tithes and purchasing sacrifices, and giving to those who are even more needy and poorer than I. Oh, God, when will You save us? Those were my thoughts that Passover when I brought the few coins that I had saved to purchase an offering and pay the temple tax in the house of God.

As I walked inside the temple, a commotion began at the east corner, a place to avoid when purchasing an offering, though the other vendors are not much better. Dishonest and unjust Ben-Hadad charges exorbitant prices for exchanging Roman denarii for shekels, and his cohorts squeeze every last coin for their pitiful excuses of a sacrificial animal, even selling doves with broken wings and blemished, scrawny sheep.

All of a sudden an explosion of wooden tables crashed all around me and a whirlwind spinning with coins and curses seemed to suck out all the air in the room. Men groped on the floor or pressed against the wall in confusion and desperation. Then His voice, clear and with authority commanded, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ This must be Jesus!” (Adapted from John’s account of the cleansing of the temple, John 2)

Today some see the temple cleansing story as instruction to churches not to sell pastors’ books, study guides, bible covers, CDs of the weekly sermons, etc. What came to my mind, however, was Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…” This Scripture is instructing Christians not to use the body for immorality, wickedness, and various sexual sins. We are told we are without excuse because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict us (let alone plenty of fellow believers and non-believers to condemn us). Yet, I wonder if the age-old practice of self-flagellation is just a misguided response to this conviction.  I don’t doubt that many of us feel a sound whipping is in order to cleanse our conscience! How long, though, does it take to forgive oneself and more importantly, what does it take for God’s forgiveness to sink in? I know how wretched a sister or brother in Christ feels to be caught up in sin. Christ still is consumed by zeal for His Father’s house – consumed by His desire to see us cleansed by His blood. But wait! Didn’t Jesus Christ already accomplish that? Are we truly forgiven or do we need to perform some ritual, penance, or sacrifice to cover sin?

I don’t think that is what the Apostle Paul was saying. Rather, what we need is to receive the ongoing regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, working out our salvation day to day in the presence of Almighty God.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are still consumed with zeal for my body, mind, soul, and spirit. Keep me aware of the places within me that need Your cleansing. Cleanse me by Your Holy fire and the washing of Your word. Have Your way with me. Thank You, thank You. Thank You, God for Your mercy!

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel, John, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

1 Kings 18; 1 Thessalonians 1; Ezekiel 48; Psalms 104

Elijah approached the people and said, “How long will you not decide between two choices? If the Lord is the true God, follow him, but if Baal is the true God, follow him!” But the people said nothing.

Elijah said, “I am the only prophet of the Lord here, but there are four hundred fifty prophets of Baal. Bring two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal choose one bull and kill it and cut it into pieces. Then let them put the meat on the wood, but they are not to set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull, putting the meat on the wood but not setting fire to it. You prophets of Baal, pray to your god, and I will pray to the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to his wood is the true God.”

All the people agreed that this was a good idea.

Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “There are many of you, so you go first. Choose a bull and prepare it. Pray to your god, but don’t start the fire.”

So they took the bull that was given to them and prepared it. They prayed to Baal from morning until noon, shouting “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound, and no one answered. They danced around the altar they had built.

At noon Elijah began to make fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “If Baal really is a god, maybe he is thinking, or busy, or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!” The prophets prayed louder, cutting themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed, which was the way they worshiped. The afternoon passed, and the prophets continued to act like this until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But no voice was heard; Baal did not answer, and no one paid attention.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Now come to me.” So they gathered around him, and Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. He took twelve stones, one stone for each of the twelve tribes, the number of Jacob’s sons. (The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel.) Elijah used these stones to rebuild the altar in honor of the Lord. Then he dug a ditch around the altar that was big enough to hold about thirteen quarts of seed. Elijah put the wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the meat and on the wood.” Then Elijah said, “Do it again,” and they did it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it the third time. So the water ran off the altar and filled the ditch.

At the time for the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah went near the altar. “Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,” he prayed. “Prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show these people that you commanded me to do all these things. Lord, answer my prayer so these people will know that you, Lord, are God and that you will change their minds.”

Then fire from the Lord came down and burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the ground around the altar. It also dried up the water in the ditch. When all the people saw this, they fell down to the ground, crying, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” 1 Kings 18:21-39 (NCV)

Elijah played a vital role in God’s strategy to reveal to the people of the time His glory and His power. God used Elijah to send a message to the men and women of Israel. God placed Elijah in the center of a miraculous event designed to challenge the status quo of those who had chosen to worship false idols, to definitively prove that He was, is, and will always be the ONLY Living God.

Elijah’s faith in the reality of God’s power gave him the ability to step out in boldness to proclaim the truth and confront the priests of Baal and the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel. He gave them an experiential demonstration of the uselessness of putting their trust in counterfeit gods, the hopelessness of rituals intended to convince a statue to relieve suffering and provide for needs.

Daring the believers of Baal to authenticate their god, Elijah goaded them with taunts of a deity too busy to listen, too preoccupied with thinking or traveling or sleeping. It didn’t matter how loud the priests prayed, how hard they danced, or how much blood they let flow from their bodies, an imitation with no eyes to see or ears to hear would never be able to ease their desperation. Elijah allowed the priest to expend themselves in the futility of calling on a fake.

When it was Elijah’s turn to take part in the competition, he upped the ante, asking the on-lookers to pour twelve buckets of water over the altar he had rebuilt, soaking the sacrificed bull and drenching the firewood. A simple, yet fervent prayer – “show us who You are Lord” – called on God to take the impossible, and make it possible.

I have seen first-hand the fruitlessness of rituals, the worthlessness of worshipping a stone or a tree or an animal or money. I have heard the stories of men and women and children who have no hope and no peace. I have looked in desolate eyes that are seeking a savior, but were never told of Jesus. And, I have encountered the desperation of hearts seeking the joy of salvation without even knowing what they were searching for.

My whole being, praise the Lord.

Lord my God, you are very great.

You are clothed with glory and majesty…

I will sing to the Lord all my life;

I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.

May my thoughts please him;

I am happy in the Lord. Psalm 104:1, 33-34 (NCV)

I have also experienced the faithfulness of God. I have felt His Father arms wrapped around me, offering hope, giving a second chance. I have surveyed the wondrous cross, His sacrifice, partaking in Christ’s Blood and in His Body, my sins cleansed. I have been comforted by the assurance of Holy Spirit, convicted in the certainty of my Savior. I have witnessed His power to make the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see. I offer testimony to His miraculous works.

It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (MSG)

Like Elijah, like you, I am an integral part of His story, of God’s plan to establish His Kingdom on the Earth. I was created to exhibit Truth, to reveal His goodness. I was born to carry mustard seed faith, hope in the One, True God, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing. I was called to walk in boldness, receiving courage from Holy Spirit to exhort the undecided, the complacent to make a choice between false idols and the Genuine Article. I was sent to carry His love, His grace, and His mercy to my family, to my neighborhood, to my city, and to the outreaches of the world.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

P.S. Thank you for your patience with the delay in this post…we had a full day shut down, no electricity for 8 hours, no internet access for 8 hours. Helps me remember the blessings of living in America. 🙂

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

2 Comments

Filed under 1 Kings, 1 Thessalonians, 66 Books, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Genesis 46,47,48; Matthew 23:1-22

His language slaps and stings. Did they feel it? Would they see themselves in His words?

Blind guides, blind fools, hypocrites … what sorrow awaits.

These religious leaders, who shut the door to the Kingdom of Heaven so that neither they nor their students could enter. Making converts twice the child of hell they are. Burden stackers. Spotlight seekers. What sorrow awaits.

“Don’t follow their example,” Jesus tells the crowd and the disciples. He didn’t say their teaching was wrong; he was talking about their example.

I feel the sting. The contradiction of word and deed. It falls on me, conviction.

I tell my kids not to load up on junk, but when they leave the room  I sneak Hershey Kisses from the freezer. I tell my kids to treat each other the way they want to be treated, but I’m snapping at them as I do so. When I (internally) fault a “sister” for her lack of forgiveness, I see my own unforgiveness as I hold an offense against her.

Do I want to keep on like this? Candy sneaker, edgy mom, hypocrite?

Just yesterday, a friend and I talked and the question arose, “Wouldn’t you want a friend to point out if you were headed down a bad path? I know I would. But I don’t know anyone who would want to confront.”

There is a friend.

Jesus says, ” … for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.” Matthew 23:10b (NLT).

I am thankful for God’s Spirit in me, to help, to convict.

While it’s a little late in the year to make a resolution, it’s not too late for change. Jesus, be my teacher. Today. For real. Show me what needs to change and help me to do it. From what goes into my mouth to what comes out of it, Lord, I want to walk alongside you and learn from you for real change.

Courtney (66books365)

 

3 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament

Exodus 31; John 10; Proverbs 7; Galatians 6

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.     Galatians 6:9-10  NIV

 

Sometimes conviction comes upon me slowly over time in a whisper.   Other times it hits with all the subtlety of a sonic boom, and Galatians 6:10, figuratively speaking, just broke the sound barrier.

Do good.  Got it.  No problem.

Especially to…

Really God?  Believers?

I’ve read through the entire Bible more than once so I’ve certainly read this multiple times, but this command has apparently managed to escape my notice to date.

Don’t mistake me for a great evangelist, because I’m far from it.  I witness occasionally, but I have yet to experience the joy of leading someone (other than my children) to Christ.  Yet, it is with unbelievers that my heart lies.  It is to them that I try to direct any good works, hoping that perhaps God will use me to draw them to Him, hoping that they might yet escape the fate that otherwise awaits them.

When it comes to my church family, the focus is different.  We worship together, we grow in the Lord together, we encourage and edify one another.  Are they the targets of practical acts of good?  Yes, but not often and not in any truly remarkable way.

Reading Galatians 6:10 this week immediately brought a recent event to mind.  A gentleman in my church had a medical emergency that kept him from his job for a couple of months last fall.  His job doesn’t come with the benefits some of us enjoy — no pay for sick days.  His is the only income for his family, so they were in a genuine financial crisis.  Word got around and many in our church family helped them as they were able.  He eventually returned to work, and the help we provided was apparently sufficient to see them through.

Today’s reading also includes Exodus 31, in which God informs Moses of the skilled craftsman He had prepared to produce all the articles of worship He had commanded to be constructed.  I may not have remembered Galatians 6 well, but I do remember what happens a few days from now in Exodus 36.  The people gave so generously to the construction of the tabernacle and sanctuary that Moses actually made them stop giving.

I can’t help thinking that I (and my church family) struck out last fall.  We helped this family through, and they issued a heart felt thanks for our efforts.  During their crisis though, they never came to the congregation and said we’d given too much, that we should cease.  I can’t help but think that such an announcement, and only such an announcement, would have indicated we had fully met the command to “do good to all people, ESPECIALLY to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Dear Lord, you’ve commanded that while we are to do good to all people, our finest acts should be bestowed upon our brothers and sisters in the faith.  You command this “as we have the opportunity.”  My neglect of your Word has allowed me to pass up such opportunities all too often.  I pray that now that you have made me attentive to this command, that you’ll send more such opportunities, and that I will embrace them to your fullest satisfaction.  Likewise, when I am in need, please pour out on me a spirit of humility so that I may allow my church family to keep this command by doing good to me.  Finally, please continue to draw my attention too all the other commands I’ve neglected or have remained unaware of.  You alone know what they are, but we both know the list is long.  I pray this in deepest appreciation of your patient grace, Amen.

Michael   (mmattix)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Exodus, Galatians, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Uncategorized