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Awakened Abruptly

God woke me up from a sound sleep to remind me of His marvelous and overflowing grace in my life.

Several years ago I worked at a Christian conference center. Part of my job responsibility was to meet with prospective clients, to generate and coordinate new events for the conference center.

During this time, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with Barbara, the beautiful and gracious wife of the conference center’s president. Her smile and contagious love for life made it easy for us to become quick friends. Our friendship led to taking a “work” trip together after Barbara convinced her husband (my boss) that she should be my travel companion, partially for safety reasons. He agreed, after recalling my solo trip to Colorado, where a bear had given me quite a scare!

Blue Ridge Mountains

Our friendship and desire to glean expert advice for developing quality events led us to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. After a few delightful days sightseeing…including the Biltmore, we headed to our destination, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Ashville, NC. Here we spent hours viewing the beautiful facilities and attending a seminar session on prayer. Drawing so close to God in this setting, Barbara and I also opened our hearts to each other in the quietness of our room. Girls just seem to know how to go deep when all the makeup is washed away and the PJs are on.

The Cove

Prior to our trip, I learned that Barbara had been dealing with some major health issues. She had undergone two liver transplants two years prior to us meeting.

After exchanging some thoughts from our earlier prayer session, our conversation quickly turned to our love for Jesus and for our families. We discussed the importance of living out our faith passionately and with solid convictions based on God’s Word, so our children would desire this same kind of love for Jesus in their lives. We laughed and cried together the entire week, which ended way too soon.

Shortly after we returned home, Barbara became very ill and soon after went home to be with her LORD and Savior. I was deeply saddened, and at the same time so grateful to have had the opportunity to become friends with a woman who lived out such a vibrant faith, demonstrating genuine love for others and the grace of God.

God is still using our abbreviated friendship to remind me of God’s amazing grace in my life. As I alluded to in the beginning of this testimony, I was awakened abruptly the other morning from a deep sleep. I rarely recall much of my dreams, but this time it was so specific, and I knew it had special meaning for me.

My time spent with Barbara, especially during our trip, was vividly revisited during my dream. Awakening with some urgency, I began to recall more details of our time spent together. Barbara and I were very close in age, in fact, we were born just two days apart. We will both celebrate our birthdays in August. Barbara in Heaven, and me still here on earth. The following is what I believe God wants me to receive from my recent dream.

Life is short during our time on earth. The Bible says, we are like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Barbara was 46 when she passed away, leaving behind a loving family, including two children. She shared with me during our PJ hours her desire to see her children grow up, marry, and have their own children, etc., but she knew in her heart this may not happen. I believe that even though Barbara’s desire didn’t come to fruition on earth, my heart tells me that all is well with her soul, and that the vibrant Christ-filled life she lived before her children is continuing to live on through their lives.

As I quickly approach my 62nd birthday, I am once again reminded of the marvelous and overflowing grace God has shown me throughout my life. I praise Him for giving me the breath of life, for physical healing, giving me a loving and faithful husband for over forty four years, three amazing adult children, six grandchildren, a life of much love expressed through friends and family, and the desire to live for Jesus in a chaotic world.

I don’t know how many more years I will live on earth, but whatever remains, my desire is to be daily awakened by God’s grace, and to extend this grace to those around me.

I don’t deserve all that God has done for me, and I don’t understand why some lives are much shorter than others. Like Barbara, my mother passed away before she got to see me grow up, marry, and have children. I didn’t like this, but I have made the choice to accept God’s sovereign will in and for my life. Someday it will all make sense when Jesus comes to take me home. I’ll be so excited to see my mom and Barbara, along with so many other loved ones who placed their trust in Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Building A Legacy of Faith

  • Discuss with your children the reality of life and death. (Do so with age appropriate thoughtfulness.)

Share the birth story of your child. Retell the events surrounding their birth (who was there, what kind of day it was, the feelings of love you experienced while holding them for the first time, etc.). Take this opportunity to reinforce your unconditional love for them.

Read the following Scripture with your child, emphasizing that God created them, loves them unconditionally, and that He has a special plan for their life.

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,
[a]
God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you
 (Psalm 139:13-18).     

Our children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and all life is to be cherished and lived for the glory of God.                                                      

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:12).

  • Teach your children to read the Bible so that they can follow and live God’s plan for their lives.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).  

Suggested Resource:

Teaching Children About Heaven: Answering Your Child’s Questions by Randy Alcorn  https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/24/teaching-children-about-heaven-answering-your-chil/

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2019 8: 38 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Eternal Life, Faith in Jesus

 

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Joy in Death?

God’s Word…Life and Truth

A Merry Christmas

A Christmas card from a long-ago neighbor arrived with sad news.

Her beloved husband of fifty-seven years went home to be with Jesus.

Our family lived next to Bud and Iris for ten years.

Bud was kind and friendly to everyone, including our rambunctious children.

I think it appropriate, learning of Bud’s passing through a Christmas card.

He and his sweet wife know Jesus as their personal Savior.

There is joy in death, when we know our loved one is in the loving arms of Jesus.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 2: 46 pm - in Christmas

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

 Joy in the Journey

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:11)”

joy in the journey

Anticipating beautiful fall foliage in Minnesota – JOY!

A professor once told me, “Don’t miss the joy in the journey.”

He was right!

Awaiting Jeff’s graduation from Bible College, we explored the

Colorado Mountains…cheered at volleyball games & homecoming courts…made new friendships…and experienced God’s presence.

By the saving grace of Jesus, I anticipate my eternal home with gladness, and thank God for granting me joy in the journey of life.

Facebook Friends, May the Psalms draw you close to God.

“Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. 11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16, NLT).

Faith at Home Moment:

Living for Jesus brings great joy into our lives. Yes, at times we have sad and lonely days during our days on earth, but praise be to God, His presence is with us, filling us with hope, peace, and eternal joy in the journey of life. Our children need to see the joy we experience by living for Jesus. The Gospel is Good News! Take a few minutes each day reading through the Gospel of John with your children. Pray that God will fill you with His joy even in the midst of struggles. An oldie but goodie song to sing along with children: Joy, Joy Down In My Heart – http://www.psalty.com/track/687853/joy-joy-down-in-my-heart?feature_id=140418

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2015 11: 16 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Faith at Home

 

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“Nana, look, there’s blood on Jesus.”

 

Max with cross 2

A crucifix (from Latin cruci fixus meaning “(one) fixed to a cross”) is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself attached to the cross is referred to in English as the corpus (Latin for “body”) — Wikipedia

Several years ago, a friend made a ceramic crucifix for us. The crucifix depicts an image of Jesus bleeding from his side, while dying on the cross.  Since that time, I set the crucifix out in our home during the Lenten season.  It serves as a visual reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for me, our family, and for the entire world. Jesus suffered and died a horrible death, so that we could be reconciled into a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

This year, I placed the crucifix on our kitchen hutch. I thought to myself, “This will be a good location for it, so the grandchildren won’t knock it over and break it, yet still at eye level so they can easily see it from a distance.”

The first week passed and nobody noticed it, or at least they didn’t mention it. A week later, our four-year-old grandson, Max, pointed to the crucifix and said somberly, “Nana, look, there’s blood on Jesus.” We walked toward the crucifix, and I said, “Yes, isn’t this sad?” We then dialogued about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

max 1The following week Max asked his mother to come and see Jesus on the cross.  As they walked over to the hutch Max said, “Look mom, Jesus is bleeding. He died on the cross.” There was a slight pause,–then the most beautiful declaration of “He is risen!” resounded from my precious grandson’s mouth: “But Jesus isn’t dead anymore!” My heart began to melt as Max realized the Easter message with such an exuberant simplistic faith.

I have to believe that this special encounter between our Savior and Max put a big smile on the face of God.

Each Easter my heart is full of thankfulness and gratitude to our LORD, who loved me, our family, and the entire world, enough to reconcile me (a sinner), to the One True God, through His (Jesus’) death and resurrection.

I encourage parents to display Christian symbols, especially the cross/crucifix, pictures, and other home décor inscribed with Scripture, around their homes. This is a simple, yet very effective way to share the love for Jesus with family and guests.

The Saturday before Easter morning, I will remove the crucifix and replace it with an empty cross or an empty tomb. Just like Max said, “Jesus isn’t dead anymore!”

The cross of Jesus Christ symbolizes the epitome of love and self-sacrifice. “Greater love has no man, than that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate sacrifice of love that reconciles us to God. Crosses and crucifixes are powerful visual reminders of God’s love and serve as a witness of hope to the world.

I invite my friends to reflect upon God’s love while reading through the following Scripture and notations.

Peace and Hope (Romans 5: 1-11)

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

The Crucifixion (Notation of Mark 15:15b-32) – From Bible Gateway:

The brevity of Mark’s report is striking. Jesus chose to endure death fully conscious rather than drink the sedative offered him (see Pr 31:6). The division of his garments (see Ps 22:18) underscores the humiliation of the Crucified One. The notice affixed to the cross, the taunts of the passersby, and the mockery of the chief priests and teachers of the law are all ironic. They communicate a fundamental truth that would not have been lost to the Christians of Mark’s day: In the suffering and weakness of the Cross, God’s power is manifest.

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).

 The Crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 15:21-32)

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the Jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus (Mark 15:33-39)

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

 Jesus Has Risen! (Mark 16:1-6)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.

Romans 6:9-11

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

May the remembrance and affirmation of Christ’s death and resurrection bless you and your family this Easter.

He is risen!

All Scripture is NIV unless otherwise stated.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 1: 20 pm - in Easter, Holiday Traditions

 

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God is the Lover of our Souls!

While reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded of how much God loves me. Interestingly enough, this early Valentine’s message came through a very unlikely passage of Scripture: Numbers 25 and 31 New International Version (NIV). The swiftness of God’s punishment came upon some of the Israelite men and the Midianites for their sexual immorality and idolatry. As I read the chronological events of this difficult portion of Scripture, the Holy Spirit helped me to correlate God’s divine love for His children with the severe penalty of sin. I concluded it is because of God’s amazing love, that He protects us from that which has the potential to not only rob us from our present blessings, but even worse, prevent us from entering the “Promised Land,” the eternal home God has prepared for those who love Him.

When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, they were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to participate in idolatrous practices (Numbers 25:1-18); thereby provoking a jealous God to anger, and resulting in the death of thousands because of their sin.  Just like those who posed a threat to the Israelites’ entrance into Canaan, sin poses a threat to us and must be dealt with—to secure our entrance into Heaven.

I am thankful God takes every precaution to keep me from spending eternity apart from Him. He does this by demonstrating His amazing love and grace…daily in my life, and at times warns me of danger, and on occasion, delivers just discipline for my sin.

Because I want my children and grandchildren to enter the Promised Land (Heaven), I want them to know the love of God that is always demonstrated through His mercy and grace; and I also want them to understand the Holiness of God, which is often upheld through His protective and corrective hand of justice. God is the lover of our souls!

When teaching our children and grandchildren of God’s love and the beautiful plan of salvation, these verses come to mind. Help your children memorize them and take time to help them understand their meaning. Pray that God will prepare their hearts to receive Jesus as their Savior if they haven’t already done so.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Children enjoy making Valentine’s cards for their family and friends. Go to the Bible Parent website to print Valentine’s Cards based on 1 Corinthians 13: http://www.bibleparent.com/valentines.asp

Valentine’s Day is a great time to tell our children and grandchildren how much we love them, and it’s also a great time to tell them that Jesus loves them even more. And that’s a lot!

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“For great is [God’s] love, higher than the heavens; [His] faithfulness reaches to the skies” (Psalm 108:4).

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2015 8: 49 pm - in Holy Living

 

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Life is but a Vapor

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life?

It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

 “Ella Volunteer Homeless ShelterIt certainly adds weight to the scripture’s characterization, life is like a vapor.” This is the response I received  from a friend after notifying him of a mutual friend’s tragic death. It made me pause, then reflect upon my life. Have I been wasting much precious time with things that don’t really matter? Yes, I’ll be honest, I have spent way too many moments with worry, over thinking, harboring ill-thoughts toward others, spending money I don’t have on things I don’t need (or at times, even like), trying to figure out the end results, and so on.

Our most recent losses:

  • A friend, who was a loving father, grandfather, and faithful Christian.

  • Our friend’s son who died from cancer this past year. At the same time, she made the difficult decision to place her husband* into a nursing home.

    * Charlie, a dear man, who led many souls to Jesus, including my husband. Charlie selflessly visited the lonely and forgotten at nursing care facilities and homes for the disabled. Now, as his life draws near, he is the one in need of love and care. His dear wife Marilyn provides this for him, during her daily and tiring visits.

These most recent losses fill me with deep sorrow and thoughtfulness, as I ponder my own impending death; when God chooses to take me to my “forever” home.

Our oldest daughter and her husband recently moved into their new home, which took nearly a year to build. Jennifer recently told me that she didn’t mind all the extra effort and resources they poured into their new house, because it will be their “forever” home. I like that!  We, who call ourselves Christians, should have the same outlook, as we plan and co-labor with Christ, building the Kingdom of God, our forever home.

I recommit my life to wholly living for Christ and His Church. Help me, God, to prioritize my life according to Your will and purpose in my life.

TRAINING CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO EMBRACE LIFE WITH A SENSE OF GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS, AND AS FAITHFUL STEWARDS, MAY BE CHALLENGING TO MOST AMERICAN CHRISTIANS.

Let’s not only prepare our children for academic excellence, playing sports, and securing a good-paying job, but let’s help them realize their life’s purpose:  To use their gifts and talents for the glory of God.  

I recently spent a day volunteering at a homeless shelter with our oldest granddaughter. It was a very rewarding experience. My prayer is to have more of these kinds of opportunities with all my grandchildren…to serve others in the name of Jesus.

It’s important to teach our children (age-appropriate) about death. I’ll never forget when our now 10-year-old granddaughter began asking me this question, “How does Jesus take people to heaven when they die?” After trying to explain, Ella profoundly stated, “I know, Jesus carries people to heaven with balloons.” Since then, when a loved one passes away, we release balloons. When Jesus takes me home to heaven, I hope to have a large bouquet of rainbow-colored balloons released on a warm summer day.

Similarly, our 5-year-old grandson recently said goodbye to one of his pet ducks that was born with a birth defect. Jack named him Donald and was quite attached to this little white-feathered creation. Jack is beginning to realize there is a time to be born and a time to die. His parents took this opportunity to explain death and eternity to Jack. They also had a burial for Donald and placed a little wooden cross on his grave.

Having experienced the death of both of my parents by age 7, I fully understand the importance of talking to children about death, and eternal life. 

I came across this article from Scripture Union: Talking with your children about Death… Issues to think about.

Based on and adapted from: Children and Grieving (SU) J Goodall 1995

http://www.scriptureunion.org.uk/Families/Parents/Talkingabout/Death/1200.id

Celebration Ideas for Grandparents Day, Sept. 7.

http://www.grandparentingwithapurpose.com/2014/07/celebration-ideas-for-grandparents-day-sept-7/

 

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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 Faith at Home, Holy Living

 

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