Sin Plunders

Proverbs 1:19 Amplified says, “So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; such (greed for plunder) takes away the lives of its possessors.” Our sin against another, or another’s sin against us is rooted in greed. It is self-gratification. How did the serpent tempt Eve? Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took…”

I want to go to the account of the man at the pool called Bethesda. John 5:3 stated the scene very clearly. It says, “In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed…” They all had one thing in common: they were waiting for an angel to come and stir up the water. Only one person could be healed at that time.

Jesus approached the scene and centered on one man. He had been bound by his infirmity 38 years! Jesus asked him a question in verse 6, “…Do you want to be made well?” Hmm. After all, the man was hoping he could get healed wasn’t he? Let me put a disclaimer: not all sickness is sin related. However in this case his infirmity was linked to sin. 

I want you to read verse 7 with a whinny voice. It says, “…I have no man to put me into the pool…while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus did not address his attitude. Verse 8 says, “…Rise, take up your bed and walk.” Verse 9 says, “And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked…” Verse 14 says, “…See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Verse 5 in the Amplified defined his infirmity. It says, “There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder…” As I read this I immediately thought about buried emotional pain. Though Scripture does not say what his sin was, it does say that his condition was the result of sin.

Here is an interesting aspect of his healing. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that we are given a sound mind. Neuroscientists say that the brain gets stressed when we think of two opposing things at once. Such as: I want, but I can’t have. If only, no it’s impossible. Consider your own thoughts. James 1:8 says that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. The Strong’s defines a sound mind as: good judgment, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions.

James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” We are commanded to forgive AS we are forgiven. To hide our sin sets up an inner stronghold that continually opposes God’s way. If you have any disordered thoughts, I encourage you to go before the Holy Spirit and ask Him to reveal what their source is. Healing from something in the past can take place in the present when we confess our hidden sin.

Out With The Old Part Two

There is a difference between stubborn and tenacious. Stubbornness is rooted in a sinful inner stronghold. It is fueled by our rebellious flesh. Tenacity is a heart-conviction based on truth. Jeremiah 1:10 is God’s way of uprooting sinful habits. It says, “…to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” Once we confess our sinful habit, He cleanses the area where the stronghold was in our heart. That area is free to implant God’s word that will keep us free. 

Let me give you an example. The grumpy person received a fiery dart-lie. It was a suggestion: you were treated unfairly. They built a case out of it and erected a grudge. It became a heart-idol that they served. The mole hill slight became a mountain of offense. All they can see is the mountain. They go before the Holy Spirit and ask why they are always grumpy. He reveals the lie. They confess it as sin, and forgive the person who slighted them. That is the ‘root out’ part. The next part is to build and to plant. That takes specific Scriptures that address the heart.

The ways we have tried to change have been in our own strength. Anything we do independent of God is futile. Here is His way. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Here is a weapon-verse for the formerly grumpy person. Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our heart with all diligence. 

Diligence is like tenacity. They must tenaciously guard their heart by ignoring satan’s future suggestions. They don’t give them another thought. They implant God’s word by memorizing a verse in the opposite spirit of grumpiness. Throughout the day they meditate on what it means to them. They add other verses to help them walk in truth.

Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.” Their heart sings with praise to the One who they believe in. Their new motive is to worship and glorify Him. Their thoughts become partakers of His nature. Their attitude reflects Him. The Holy Spirit uses the word to help them form a new joyful habit. Grumpiness was taken out and joyfulness was planted in its place. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, which is fruit that glorifies the Lord.

Out With The Old Part One

Habits are patterns established through repetition. Our brains love repetition. I took piano lessons when I was young. Last year I took up piano again. I have had to practice the same scales and chords over and over. Why? I need to groove them into my brain. Autopilot comes with repetition. Let us consider that good habits are grooves, but bad habits are ruts. 

Here is a progression I would like you to consider. Our motives are backed by what we believe. Behind every thought is a motive. Our thoughts precede our actions. Our actions carry an attitude, which forms habits. Do you know any habitual grumpy folks? It all goes back to what they believe about themselves, others, or their circumstances.

The root of stubborn practices is rebellion. 1 Samuel 15:22-23 were Samuel’s words from the Lord to Saul regarding his disobedience. It says, “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord…”

Hosea 10:12 says, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way…” These verses spell out the crux of stubborn habits. They are sin patterns. How do we cast out the old and bring in the new?

First, look for stubborn practices. They are usually things about your character that you have tried to change, but you have failed time and time again. It is a rut. I encourage you to go before the Holy Spirit and ask Him these questions. Where is the hidden rebellion in my heart? What lie have I believed? What motivative is behind this stubborn habit? When He shows you then confess them as sin.

Tomorrow I will give you an example of casting out the old and embracing the new.

Organizing Our Heart

Things in our homes get out of order when we fail to keep them organized. We had a junk drawer in our kitchen when I was growing up. Miscellaneous things were haphazardly thrown in there. They had no other place. When I moved in with my parents to take care of them 24/7, they still had a junk drawer.

Sometimes we have junk drawers in our heart. We throw emotional feelings in there because we don’t know what to do with them. It is called stuffing. This is so true with children who are traumatized. They do not have the understanding of what has happened to them, nor the maturity to process it.

Years ago I read a book called “Organizing Genius.” It was about solving enigma type problems collectively. The input of each was crucial for the success needed. I am taking that analogy into our daily reading. As we systematically read the whole counsel of God, aspects of truth reveal where our heart-beliefs collide. God’s word is collective truth. It is His whole counsel. We cannot take one part and ignore other parts. Each verse, precept, principle, or command is an essential part of the whole.

The Lord gave Solomon extraordinary wisdom. His book of Proverbs is a great book to read. He understood enigma’s. He wrote Proverbs 1:1-6 to help us understand his intent. Verse 6 says, “To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.” The emotional pain that we stuffed continually seeps into our thought process. We may ‘think’ we have banished it from our life, but that is a lie.

Here is one great indicator of how close the hidden is to the surface. Present events trigger past history events. When our flesh reacts to something said, acted out, or an event, the hidden emotional pain from our past is exposed. That is the Holy Spirit reminding us right then that we have unresolved issues. It is prudent for us to stop and ask Him: why did I react? The Holy Spirit is so patient with us. He leads us into the truth we need to be set free from what has kept us bound.

As we read, we need to be present with what we are reading. We incline our ear, we stay alert, attentive, and ready to receive course correction. The Lord is All Present. He is never wandering in His thoughts. His thoughts are far higher than ours. His capacity is boundless. He is ready to reveal the lies that have entrapped us. His truth is designed to free hearts that are bound. May our hearts be attentive to the Holy Spirit when He highlights a verse in our reading. It is time to get rid of the junk drawer.

Words Are First Thoughts

We do not speak independently of our thoughts. Our thoughts are ruminations of our beliefs about ourselves, others, and our circumstances. In Psalm 15:1 David asked, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” His answer is our mandate as well. Verse 2 says, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.”

The only way we can speak truth in our heart is if the word of God is hidden there. Thoughts, words, and actions are like a braid. Our thoughts lead off, our words and actions follow. They are indistinguishably intertwined. That is the power in meditating on God’s word. It becomes integrated in our thoughts, words, and actions. That is the ‘work’ of righteousness. Meditating is the water that softens the calloused flesh-areas, like a potter uses water to soften the clay so it can be worked.

A hard, callous heart is impervious to God’s word. Impervious means that it doesn’t allow fluid to flow through it. A duck is impervious to water sticking on their back. They dip into the water and fully immerse. When they come back up the water runs off. Anyone can change. The Holy Spirit, our Change Agent, dwells within us. He leads us into truth that will set us free.

Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” God’s word has been through the fires of time. When it is hidden in our heart, it will rise up to take us through our fiery trials. As the fire intensifies, our hidden dross is exposed. This is an essential part of our progressive sanctification. No child of God is exempt.

The work of righteousness conforms us to His image. It also purifies our words because it goes deep to permeate our thought processes. It is our heart that believes unto righteousness. Our mouth speaks what we believe. The Refiner watches for the dross of erroneous thoughts to come up. We confess them as sin and receive His cleansing. Then the Holy Spirit helps us renew our mind with truth that will take its place. May our heart-reservoir of thoughts please the Lord and bring Him glory.

Our Words Reveal Our Heart

Have you thought about where your words come from? Have you ever said things that you wish had not come out of your mouth? We eat the fruit of our lips. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The question that I asked myself: do I love the words that come out of my mouth?

Our heart is our belief center. Every experience we have ever been through affects our heart. It is like an imprint. Therefore what we believe about ourselves comes from our experiences. It shapes our perceptions. When we have negative experiences from our past, we may have beliefs that are negative.

That is the power of renewing our mind. No mind is set in concrete. Ephesians 4:23 Amplified says, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).” Only God’s implanted word can change toxic thought patterns in our brain. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

What are your thoughts about yourself? David wrote Psalm 139. If you haven’t read it lately I encourage you to do so. Verse 14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” This is a truth that I stand in. I have learned a lot about how God has designed our brains through my multiple brain injuries. Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

It doesn’t matter what we have been through in the past. What matters is do we believe what God says about us? If we don’t, that is an indication that we have derived our identity through our experiences. That brings us to salvation. Before we accepted the Lord as our Savior, we were alienated from Him. Cut off. No connection. No interchange. Ephesians 4:18 says, “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

Everything points back to your heart. God’s way is perfect. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Your heart is designed to be a reservoir of God’s word. Don’t fill it with toxic beliefs against yourself.

John 7:38 says, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” We are surrounded by thirsty unbelievers. Let us be water carriers that dispense life giving words. It all starts with a renewed mind about God’s purpose: He has no desire for anyone to perish.

What Are You Eating?

What fills your ‘plate’ spiritually, physically, and emotionally? I am reminded of Deuteronomy 8:3. The Lord gave the children of Israel manna that they had to collect daily. It was their sustenance for forty years! He has put a table before us that is overflowing with abundance. God’s word is His whole counsel. It is not just a verse here or there, but food that sustains our life.

I love Psalm 103:5 which says, “Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Proverbs 18:20 says, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.” What we ‘eat’ affects every aspect of our lives.

We are what we feast on. I learned this truth in a new way during a short term mission trip. The goats fed along the roadside which was strewn with trash. Goats will eat anything. The goat meat we were served, tasted just like what the goats were eating. Years ago, I sat down to eat a thanksgiving dinner with my friends. The turkey had cooked all night, and the house smelled wonderful. My host took his first bite of turkey and said, “Oh no!” You see, his turkeys had gotten into the sawdust! Emotional fillers have no nourishment for our spirit, though they certainly feed our flesh.

Psalm 37:3 says to feed on His faithfulness. The Lord is Faithful, and He has faithfully provided for us. Now I admit, there are passages in Scripture that I would rather not read. I’m in Judges now and there is a chapter that just infuriates me. Every time I come to it, I have to made an attitude adjustment. In Acts 20:27 Paul said, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” We know from Hebrews 5:12 that God’s word has milk and it has solid food.

Let me recap 2 Timothy 3:16. God’s word is profitable. It is nourishing. It fills us with truth that will set us free. His word instructs us in doctrine, which is the stability of our walk with the Lord. As we daily read His word, it will reprove our fleshly desires, and it will bring course-correction if we have veered off His chosen path. His word reveals His character. It is our standard of righteousness. We are called to emulate Him to those around us, and to the unseen principalities and powers. What we eat affects our thoughts. Our thoughts become our actions, then attitudes, and then habits.

Psalm 23 says that we have a Good Shepherd. He leads us into green pastures, that are lush and abundant. Then He makes us to lie down, to rest and ruminate on the word that we have read. He leads us beside still waters, that are clear and untroubled. He restores our soul, and He leads us into His chosen paths for our lives. Let us rise up and follow Him.

God’s Word Instructs

Consider these four truth together like a magnificent collage:

We are created to glorify the Lord

Apart from Him we can do nothing

He does in us what He has called us to do

Without faith it is impossible to please Him

(Isaiah 43:7, John 15:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Hebrews 11:6)

2 Timothy 3:16 Amplified says, “For every Scripture is God-breathed (given by inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, (and), for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).”

We can hear instruction, but unless we receive it in our heart, it will not be profitable. Romans 10:9 says that it is with the heart that we believe unto righteousness.

Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live…” We listen and hear through faith. A permeable heart is receptive.

Proverbs 2:1-2 says, “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding.” The inclined ear receives. Incline means to listen attentively.

Proverbs 4:13 says, “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.” God’s word is our instruction book. It is only print on a page, unless we take it to heart and apply His words through our thoughts. Thoughts precede actions.

God’s word instructs us in righteousness. That is our holy calling. We cannot do it on our own. Yet, we have the Holy Spirit within who is our Teacher. Let us open our ears to hear and obey.

God’s Love Reforms

Here is a new song called The Cross

I will sing of Your mighty love. I will sing of Your grace. You are faithful and You are awesome in power. In mercy You redeemed me. In Your love You remained. The cross was Your death so I could live.

You took my place. You bore my sin. You came in humility and You died the same. O the wonder and the power as You laid Your life down for me. The cross was Your cruel punishment. Though You had no sin. It was my sin that nailed You. My sins were judged on the cross. You died for me to destroy the works of the enemy.

O I praise Your name and I rejoice in You. I bow in worship. I kiss Your feet of love. My heart melts within me enfolded in Your grace. Yes I will praise Your name. I will praise Your name forever.

Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” Psalm 40:2-3 says, “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth–praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”

Let me take us back to the Martin Luther Reformation. What happened? Martin Luther was reading God’s word. He was struck with truth that turned his understanding upside down. Salvation by grace alone. It was not by human effort, or any accomplishment. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

I am challenging myself as I challenge you. Let us read God’s word with an openness to be impacted with truth that will expose and uproot any hidden lies of the enemy. Joshua 1:8 says to meditate on His word so that we can observe to do it.

Let’s start with 1 John 2:15. It says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It speaks about emotional fillers. Remember, an emotional filler is anything that usurps the Lord’s place as Absolute Fulfiller in our heart. I have to work on this one, do you also?

I read my Voice of the Martyrs’ magazine. It was about Rolo, a former Guerrilla, who does not love the world. He daily denies his flesh to deliver Bibles to remote areas. He travels through the Guerrilla infested jungles of Colombia to remote areas, because he knows the territory so well from his former life. God’s love radically reformed Rolo. 

I am brought up short by his testimony of sacrifice for others. Here is the challenge from the VOM editor: ask God to lead you out of your comfort zone. May you prayerfully and boldly follow Christ into a decision, place, interaction or situation that requires you to deny worldly desires in order to glorify Him. I have written this prayer in my journal, and on a card taped to my cabinet. I encourage you to consider this prayer for yourself.