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Tag Archives: Clean Heart

No more Stinkin’ Thinkin’!

 no stinkin thinkin 1No more Stinkin’ thinkin’…impossible?  Depends on what you tend to think about.

What consumes your thoughts on a daily basis? Take a few moments to answer this question (it won’t take long), then reflect upon the following.

If your thoughts are continually focused on this world and all the “things “promising satisfaction, you are no doubt miserable! Take it from a person who has from time to time walked this dead-end path. Fortunately, I’ve learned a better way of thinking….that leads to a life that fully satisfies, and at times, splashes hope, joy, peace, and love onto those who happen across my path.

Note to self and friends:  Learning and living this out is a daily surrender and dependence upon God.

Most recently, I found myself consumed with worry. Yes, the big W. Although I memorized Philippians 4:6 many years ago, I hadn’t been living it out, nor had I replaced my stinkin’ thinkin’ with thoughts that lead to hope, joy, peace, and love.

First, let’s look at one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

– Worry about NOTHING

– Pray about EVERYTHING

– Thank God for ALL THINGS

Often we try to avoid or rid ourselves of thoughts that are unhealthy and or unholy with our own will power. This is not the best method. In fact, we will find ourselves powerless over thoughts that originate from the flesh, the world, and Satan, unless God’s power, through His Holy Spirit is at work in our lives.

Paul instructed the Church of Philippi, and future Christians, to fill their minds with the following:

Whatever...“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

I believe this is a great plan! Instead of going around with stinkin’ thinkin’, I’d much rather think upon such things that lead to peace.

Parents and grandparents, take this challenge.

No more Stinkin’ Thinkin’!

Discover the meaning of such things and then help your children/grandchildren catch you living out a thoughtful life in Christ, setting an example for them to follow.

Brief definitions (paraphrased from Webster Dictionary, etc.):

True — Agreeing with the facts, not with anything false.  And I will go a little further than Webster: Not only agreeing with the facts, but living a life that substantiates all that is true. Qualities: steadfast, faithful, honest, just, truthful

Jesus said, “I am the true vine…” (John 15:1).

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Noble — Having, showing, or coming from personal qualities that people admire (such as honesty, generosity, courage, etc.)

The Scripture that comes to mind:  Proverbs 31:10 – The Wife of Noble Character

Right — Morally correct or acceptable; agreeing with the facts or truth; accurate or correct; speaking, acting, or judging in a way that agrees with the facts or truth. Sounds somewhat similar to the definition of True.

Pure — Not mixed with anything else; clean and not harmful in any way; being free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes; being free from everything that might make dirty, change, or lower the quality

Synonyms: spotless, stainless

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.  They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:3-6).

Lovely – That what is attractive or beautiful especially in a graceful way; very good or likable; very pleasing; having a beautiful character

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Admirable — Deserving to be admired; deserving the highest esteem

Excellent — Very good; extremely good; that what is superior or first-class

“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).

Praiseworthy — Deserving praise; worthy of praise

God is worthy of all our praise.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).

Daily Challenge: Read and meditate on God’s Word (Holy Scripture).

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8).

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

All Scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.

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“Sometimes I do mean things.”

For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).

Children speak from the honesty of their hearts, even when it reflects their sinful nature.

Julia 1While finishing eating our cupcakes for Julia’s 4th birthday, Julia surprised me with these words, “Nana, sometimes I do mean things.” Prior to our little party, Julia had been in our backyard running water from the hose, making a puddle to jump in with her sparkly new shoes. Her momma caught her and gave her a little talking to about her misbehavior. No spanking though, since it was her birthday. I later gave her four affectionate old-fashioned birthday spankings and a pinch to grow on…fondly recalling my childhood memories.

Now back to Julia’s concern over her naughtiness. I asked her, “Why do you think you do mean things?” She quietly answered, “I don’t know, I just do.” Okay, got it! Julia’s sinful nature is becoming evident to her and to others. Because Julia has received the primary teaching of sin from her parents, and by the faithful conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, Julia is clearly beginning to recognize the reality of her inherited bent toward sin.

With her pretty blue eyes focused upon mine, I responded to Julia this way. “I know that you really don’t want to do mean things, but the only way that you will be able to stop doing them, is to ask Jesus to help you.” As she seemed to experience a small sense of relief, I told her I would be praying for Jesus to help her.

My prayer for Julia is the same one that I pray for all my grandchildren: That they will come to know Jesus at a young age, to love Him fully, to obey His Word, and to serve Him faithfully all the days of their lives.

I believe that teaching children who God and Jesus are comes more naturally for most parents/grandparents, than it does to teach them about the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

While recently watching the made for T.V. miniseries, A.D. The Bible Continues, my spirit was reviatlized by the dramatization of the Acts of the Apostles being infilled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

This same Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) that was poured out upon those early believers is the same Holy Spirit who desires to infill every Christ-follower today.

We need to teach our children the only way to work out the “meanness” in our lives, is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior…to repent of our sins, and allow the Holy Spirit to begin His cleansing work in our lives.

Somewhere along their spiritual journey, new believers sense an internal struggle–the “desire” to sin. This desire comes from the original sin nature, (inherited sin of Adam). The only remedy for the sinful nature is heart cleansing by the infilling (or baptism) of the Holy Spirit.

Teaching our children to understand the difference between original sin (nature) and personal acts of sin is a vital part of training in Christian holiness (perfect love).

Pray for your children to be sanctified (or set apart for God’s holy purpose). See Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonica Church:

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 (NIV)

22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

It is true, God is faithful to cleanse (purify) the heart from original sin as we consecrate or surrender ourselves fully to Him. He promises to replace the inbred “desire to sin” with an abiding holy-heart desire to please our Heavenly Father above all other. Of course, we will continue to be tempted to sin, but with a cleansed heart, have the power NOT to sin.

The greatest joy of Christian parents is realizing the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of their children. Sanctification empowers every believer to serve Christ with a joyful heart.

The proof of spiritual maturity is not how “pure” you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace. —Philip Yancey  

When David sinned against God, he acknowledged that he was “born a sinner.” And when David repented of his personal sin against God, he sought to be fully cleansed, or purified.

Psalm 51:  A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.[a] For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb,[b] teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins.  Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.  You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. 18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

Living in the Light (1 John 1:5-7)

This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Resources for teaching children the basic beliefs of Christianity and the doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene.

My Faith: A Nazarene Catechism for Kids is a concise introduction to the basic beliefs of Christianity and of the Church of the Nazarene. It is designed to give 6th graders a solid theological foundation for their lives. My Faith is available as an 8 week course and a 12 week course. http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/waol/innerpage.jsp?c=WAOL&cs=CHILD&sc=MYFAI&ss=NA

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 1: The Father

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 2: Jesus Christ

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 3: The Holy Spirit

  • Beliefs About the Bible, God s Holy Word

  • Beliefs About the Human Race and Sin

  • Beliefs About Salvation, Part 1

  • Beliefs About Salvation, Part 2

  • Beliefs About Entire Sanctification

  • Beliefs About the Church

  • Beliefs About the Christian Life

  • Beliefs About the Sacraments and Divine Healing

  • Beliefs About Things to Come

Important Need to Knows

  • The Apostle’s Creed

  • The Nicene Creed

  • The Ten Commandments

  • The Beatitudes

  • The Lords Prayer

  • Agreed Statement of Belief

  • Articles of Faith

  • The Church

  • The Covenant of Christian Character

  • My Faith: Certificate of Completion

A.D.BE SURE TO TUNE IN TO WATCH A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES ON SUNDAY NIGHTS, NBC, 8 PM CENTRAL TIME.  DISCLAIMER: DUE TO THE VIOLENCE DEPICTED IN SOME OF THE EPISODES, PARENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE DISCRETION WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN.  HOWEVER, I PERSONALLY ENCOURAGE PARENTS TO WATCH WITH OLDER CHILDREN AND TEENS.  FOR BIBLE STUDY AND OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES TO ENHANCE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES, THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, GO TO DR. DAVID JEREMIAH’S WEBSITE: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/therevolution/home.aspx

 

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Are we training our children to keep or break the Ten Commandments?

Faith @ Home Moment:

Our precious three-year old granddaughter spent the night with us Friday evening. During breakfast, she randomly posed this question. “Why did Jesus have to die?” I’m not sure what prompted her to ask this question since we hadn’t been talking about Jesus at this time. My heart welled up, realizing once again, God has placed eternity in the hearts of all people, including Julia Ann.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The Ten Commandments – – Exodus 20:1-17 (NIV) 

10Commandments

 

20 And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

It dawned on me after becoming a grandmother for the first time, that I had not taught my children the Ten Commandments. As a young parent, and a young Christian, I suppose I assumed our three children would learn them at church. And as I recall, they did.

I was personally convicted to memorize the Ten Commandments, and soon after, displayed a Ten Commandments tapestry in our home. Looking closely at the Ten Commandments during this time in my life, I admitted to God, with a sorrowful spirit, that I had broken most of His laws. Within the next several years, I was led by the Holy Spirit to teach the children at our church the Ten Commandments, which included our first granddaughter.

Teaching the Ten Commandments is one thing, living them out in obedience to God in our daily lives is really where the ‘rubber meets the road’.  Idiom Definitions for ‘Where the rubber meets the road’

Where the rubber meets the road is the most important point for something, the moment of truth. An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road and they’ll know how good they really are.

Back to my original question: Are we training our children to keep or break the Ten Commandments?

I was tempted to make a list of questions to serve as a personal check list, but instead, I’d like to challenge every parent to read/study God’s commandments and then take their own personal inventory.

Okay, I can’t do it! Here are just a few questions that come to mind.

 – Am I putting my personal pleasures/preferences/activities ahead of God? Do I encourage my kids to do the same? Does God get left-overs?

– Do my kids see me faithfully worshipping God with my time, talents, and treasures?

– Do I treat the Sabbath casually, like any other day? Do I allow my kids to miss our Sabbath worship observances to participate in sports or perform in their dance recitals?

– How’s my relationship with my parents and in-laws? Do my children see me treating them with love and respect, in word and deed?

I pray that the Holy Spirit will give parents/grandparents clear understanding of God’s commandments, and give them the desire and power to teach them diligently to their children/grandchildren; and with the power of the Holy Spirit, live them out in obedience in their daily lives.

The law cannot save us. The law cannot grant us salvation. The law does define sin and can condemn us, since we all are lawbreakers. (For all have sinned…Romans 3:23) God knew that no one could keep the law. God’s law does point us to Christ. The law cannot give us salvation, but it can help us see our need for salvation, and realize that righteousness must be a gift, not something we earn. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8).

Scripture also tells us that when we do sin, we have a loving and gracious Father who will forgive us.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Projects

Memory Cards:  Write the Ten Commandments on index cards and laminate. Punch holes into the corners of each card and attach the cards to a key ring.

Ten Commandments Plaque:  Purchase or make an unfinished wood plaque. Have child paint or stain the plaque (I used a light gray paint). Print each of the Ten Commandments on the plaque and then use Mod Podge clear sealer. You can also use Krylon Metallic Textured spray paint that will give it a stone-textured look.

Favorite Quote:  The following quote from Dr. Woodie J. Stevens (Global Director for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International, Church of the Nazarene) “Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t murder. Be true to your mate. It’s the only way to a civilized society.”

Resources

I Have No Greater Joy Website:

http://ihavenogreaterjoy.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/10-commandments-5-minutes-and-prep-for-sundays/

Bible Story Printables Website: http://www.biblestoryprintables.com/BiblePrintablesTenCommandments.html#.VElVpWd0yUk

Ten Commandments Jewelry: http://www.thefind.com/jewelry/info-ten-commandments-bracelet

 

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How could I sin…

just hours after hearing a beautiful message of holiness, on Pentecost Sunday?

Initially, I tried to ignore the soft, yet undeniable promptings of the Holy Spirit. “Be truthful. Don’t lie! Be an example to your family.”

 A little more bait dangled before me. “It’s not that big a deal. After all, you are hard-pressed to make this work out.”

Six hours later, my mind flashed back to the day before. I spent a leisurely afternoon walking around a community festival with my husband. Returning to our car, I observed a young couple walking on the sidewalk, along with their two small children. Within minutes, the little boy veered off the sidewalk and began to take a short-cut through a clearly marked “No Trespassing” grassy area.  Immediately, the mother gently redirected her son’s steps back onto the sidewalk. Their conversation went something like this.

No Trespassing“Johnny, didn’t you see the No Trespassing sign?” He shrugged his shoulders and answered, “Yes, mom, but no one was looking.” Without skipping a beat, the mom then said, “So, this makes it okay to do something we know to be wrong, just because we don’t think we will be caught?” Her son quickly replied, “No, mom, we shouldn’t.”

 The Holy Spirit had been preparing me for a simple test of heart purity through this timely faith talk between a mother and son. God is faithful and will always provide a way out when we are tempted to sin. (1 Corinthians 10:13)  The choice is ours (mine).

The following quote from Dr. Woodie J. Stevens (Global Director for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International, Church of the Nazarene), also crept into my mind.

“Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t murder. Be true to your mate. It’s the only way to a civilized society.”*

This Thursday, I will begin leading a women’s neighborhood Bible study, titled Becoming a Woman of Excellence. Yes, God has been preparing my heart.

In preparation for our Bible study, I came across some of the following thoughts from an additional resource.

Resource from: Mark # 11: The Pursuit of Excellence from the series: Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader, by author J. Hampton Keathley, III.

The pursuit of excellence is the matter of the heart, of the inner person. By itself, the heart is not a safe haven. It needs guarding or protection from invasion by the world  system around us and from the sinful nature that dwells within us.

The biblical view of the pursuit of excellence refers to pursuing and doing the best we can with the gifts and abilities God gives, giving our best to the glory of God.

 “ May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).

Praise be to God, for the infilling and renewing power of His Holy Spirit, who cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

I thank God for His grace, which truly leads to confession of sin, and repentance.

walking along the road

 Faith at Home Lessons: 

  • The young mother clearly demonstrated the importance of living out Deuteronomy 6 – to teach her children God’s truth while walking along the roadside of life.

  • The Holy Spirit helps us recognize our own weaknesses, which can lead to sin.

  • Christ, through His power, will help us resist the desires of the flesh; and He instructs us to flee from the Evil One.

  • Guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus is a daily commitment.

I believe that being transparent with our children/grandchildren as they begin to formulate their own spiritual beliefs will help our kids develop a viable realistic faith. Let them know that you struggle with temptations from time to time, and on occasion, sin. Yes, it’s okay to use the word sin! (It seems to me that some church leaders have gotten away from using the word sin, and have replaced it with words like mistake, error in judgment, or wrong choice.)

Teach children the biblical truths about: sin and the sinful nature, repentance that leads to forgiveness, and teach our children who the Holy Spirit is and the work He does in a believer’s yielded heart (the sanctifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit).

I am thankful for the Church of the Nazarene, for upholding the doctrine of entire sanctification (heart holiness, Christian love, or whatever you choose to call living a life that pleases God).

 Resource Recommendations (From Nazarene Publishing House)

 The Young Believer’s Discipleship Series (WordAction Publishing)

http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/waol/series.jsp?series=Young%20Believer’s%20Discipleship%20Series

Raising Kids To Extraordinary Faith – by Debbie Salter Goodwin

http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/search.jsp?q=Raising+Kids+To+Extraordinary+faith

*Pursuing the Mission – Booklet written by Dr. Woodie J. Stevens

http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/search.jsp?q=Pursuing+the+Mission

 

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Clean House — Clean Heart

window cleaning

For the past few weeks I’ve been cleaning my house. Not just a superficial cleaning, but a deep cleaning, similar to what my grandmother referred to as “fall cleaning.” Since we are preparing to sell our house, I want it to look it’s best for potential buyers.

In addition to cleaning carpets, washing windows, and touching up a few spots with fresh paint, I’ve been decluttering. Although I’m not really a pack rat, I do tend to store things that I may someday use or need. Thus, I came across several of these items (size 6 clothing, unopened bath beads, an original Cabbage Patch doll….but definitely not my husband’s 80s turntable!) So…out they went. My most recent accomplishment was completed Labor Day weekend, as I cleaned under, behind, and around my washer and dryer. Now that my house is “really” clean, I’m not too sure I want to sell it. There’s something so refreshing about having a clean house.

While having my personal devotions and enjoying my morning coffee, I began to ponder this thought. Having a “really” clean house is somewhat like having a “really” clean heart. I love my friend’s description of a clean heart: “Squeaky clean for Jesus.” (Beth Coppedge, Come To The Fire speaker — See below for conference link.)

In keeping with my life’s passion, to intentionally pass down my faith in Christ to my family, I know I must do my very best to set an example of having a clean heart.  It’s interesting that my daughters both keep a very clean house. I’m not sure how much credit I can take for this however, since their dad is really the “neat freak” in the family. All joking aside, I believe that our kids truly want us to set good examples for them to follow. With the most important example: living a life that pleases the Lord.  

Tips for Fall House and Heart Cleaning

Cobwebs (Webster) tangles of the silken threads of a spiderweb usually covered with accumulated dirt and dust. They intentionally go unnoticed, until I deep clean.  Cobwebs could easily represent those things in my life that I hope no one ever notices–fear, unresolved conflict, insecurity, un-Christlike thoughts and attitudes.  Of course, just when I think no one is noticing, the Holy Spirit brings them into the light. Now I have a choice to make, to ignore those disgusting (dirty) webs, or to knock them down, often one by one. The longer I ignore them, it seems as though they multiply.

Washing Windows: It’s very important to use the right cleaning product, so not to leave behind streaks. Just like there are a wide variety of glass cleaners on the market, there are a lot of great Christian books, authored by fully devoted Christ followers available. Many of which I enjoy reading, especially when they pertain to living a life that pleases God. However, I thankfully discovered fairly early in my Christian walk, that the only product that truly keeps my life from becoming streaked with sin, leaving behind a film of dirt, is the Bible. Daily use is advised. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”  (2 Timothy 3:16).

Oven Cleaning: Remember the day when everyone used “Easy Off” oven cleaner?  Well, there was never anything easy about cleaning my oven. Spilled-over sweet potato juice and splattered baked beans were the worst. Then they came out with self-cleaning ovens. What a marvelous invention! A self-cleaning oven is an oven which uses high temperature (approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit or 500 degrees Celsius) to burn off leftovers from baking, without the use of any chemical agents. Turn up the heat, lock the oven door, and three hours later, wallah! a clean oven.  Oh, if it were only that easy to have a clean heart, one that is “squeaky clean for Jesus.”

Similar to the self-cleaning oven, it takes God’s consuming fire to burn away the “dross” in our lives. Dross (Webster): the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal, waste or foreign matter : impurity. This definition sounds a lot like sin doesn’t it?  Just shut the oven door and no one will see the mess. That is until I let it go too long. Now the residue of the spilled-over sweet potato begins to fill my kitchen with smoke, leaving behind a stinky burnt smell. This happens in our lives when we allow sin to build up in our hearts. Unconfessed sins such as gossip, jealousy, lies, impure thoughts, sexual immorality, selfishness, pride, hatred, and so on begin to leave a foul odor to those around us, and especially to God.  

Our God is a loving God, as well as a righteous God, not wanting anyone to perish or be separated from His love. But to receive and keep a clean heart, all of our idols (anything that we put ahead of God), must be openly revealed, so that He may purify us. The Bible says “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”  (1 John 1:9).

Moses, realizing the consequence of not honoring God earlier in his pilgrimage to the promise land, gave this exhortation to those Israelites preparing to enter Canaan. “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.  For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”  (Deuteronomy 4:24).  And from the author of Hebrews 12:28-29, the Scripture says: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For God is a consuming fire.” 

consuming fire

God’s holy fire may bring judgement to the wicked, but His refining fire builds humility, faith and purity in those who seek a deeper relationship with Jesus. David, after attempting to cover up his sin of adultery and murder, cried out with godly sorrow and sincere repentance, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”  (Psalm 51:10). The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Church of Corinth, admonishes all Christians to flee from anything that might keep them from being reconciled to God: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”  (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Prayer for a Clean Heart:  Dear God, please be a consuming fire in me. Burn off all that doesn’t look like your son Jesus. And as I surrender myself to you daily, create in me a pure heart. Forgive me, Father, for any sins (name them) that are in my life. Nothing is hidden from you; so I open my life up to you, to cleanse me from all impurities that separate me from you, God. I truly want to be an example to my family–of your love, grace, purity, and holiness.

Concluding thoughts:  While you are doing your fall house cleaning, let this journal entry be a reminder to declutter your life from anything that keeps you from loving and serving Jesus with a clean heart. And remember, from time to time, it will be necessary for God to turn up the heat….in order to do some deep cleaning. As important as it is for me to have a clean house for potential new buyers, it is so much more important for me to have a clean heart, where my Jesus resides. There’s something so refreshing about having a clean heart!

Recommendations: 

Come To The Fire Conference: A conference for women seeking to have a “squeaky clean heart for Jesus.” This year’s theme is “Celebrate Your Freedom.” Dates: Oct. 17-19, 2013, Holland, MI. For more information and registration:  http://cometothefire.org/conference-registration/

Grandparents’ Day of Prayer, September 8, 2013: For more information on how you can stand in the GAP for your grandchildren, go to: http://www.christiangrandparenting.net

 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 10: 54 am - in Christianity, Faith At Home, God's Word, Holy Living, Salvation, Serving Jesus

 

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