Lie 8: Sin Should Be Left In The Dark

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We don’t like to look sin in the face and see it for what it is.

We’re tempted by it, yes. We have a propensity for it, yes. But we really hate to face it.

I remember one of the first times I did.

Case Study: The Christian Who Didn’t Need Saving

Early in our relationship, my husband and I kicked back in campus center arm chairs and slipped into conversation about God. I wasn’t saved, but as best I knew, I was a Christian.

My understanding of sin was wrapped in false humility and security. It was boxed in liturgical or experiential confession. My sin content was stuffed, I believed, with mere mistakes and results of others’ crimes against me. I kept it hidden behind my good deeds and spiritual talk.

But my then-boyfriend went digging. He showed me his sin stuff. With a big smile on his face, I remember him pointing to the floor like his sin was laid bare there. Then he pointed up and told me to understand the heights of Christ’s love and forgiveness meant understanding the depths of sin.

He didn’t ask me to expose my secret stash to him, but he demonstrated a reason compelling me to expose it to God.

Bringing sin into the light of Christ shows us what we are saved from, and by whom. It’s a glorious, relieving, revitalizing exposition. 

To keep sin in the dark, once a believer, is a bit like sitting in a hospital after surgery pretending you have no wound, no treatment to complete, no therapy to continue to work through.

Though the problem is taken care of, the effects are still to be dealt with. The wound needs to be seen, addressed, and cared for. It’s in the hard work of tending to exposed weakness that we heal.

That’s what bringing sin out of the dark into Christ’s light is all about: healing.

Believers still have mess and hurt and sin to face. But in all our still present darkness and pain, we also know the light, the healer. We know Him, and we know the warmth of His illumination- even in the cold of sin.

Saved sin is safely in the care of Christ.

But Saved sinners still need the care of Christ.

saved-sin-is-safely-in-the-care-of-christ-but-saved-sinners-still-need-the-care-of-christ

In Charles Spurgeon’s words:

“We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also…We have a strong argument to plead, for it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen—‘the power . . . by which you have worked for us.’ Do you think He will fail to protect and provide that?

There’s a reason He sent the Holy Spirit to help believers. Saved sinners still need God. In them, with them, every day.

Now forevermore reconciled to God, believers can be unhindered by shame and the bounds of saved sin. Believers can enjoy fellowship with God, stewarding their lives as those abiding in Him.

Through abiding, even addressing and confessing to God our saved sin, we “walk in the light” of Christ.

In the light, we can “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7.)

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Sin thrives in the dark.

Come into the light where Christ is, where sin is forgiven, shame is disintegrated, and facing the truth means looking full in the face of our loving Savior.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Resting With A Yoke On

I’m one of those happy people who gets to work in my pajamas sometimes. My work, however, doesn’t involve sleeping. I have to be awake. More than that, I have to be thinking, communicating, and putting significant effort in if I’m going to do a good job. You too, huh?

Maybe I was just extra-ready for bed, but when I read the classic verse recently, the reference to “rest” made me laugh:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” –Matthew 11:29

Who rests with a yoke on?

Worn by animals under the direction of their master as they labor, yokes are devices for steering oxen and other livestock through the process of completing their purpose. Biblically, people are referred to as being under the yoke of slavery to sin and the yoke of kings or oppressive nations.

Taking on Jesus’ yoke means we, as laborers for Christ, submit to Him as a master. Jesus tells us about what He’s like as a master: gentle and humble. He says His yoke teaches us. That certainly differs from other kinds of yokes used to burden or belittle.

But the idea of His yoke being restful?

Work isn’t restful- even for doers like me.

Of course, the plain text isn’t talking about sleep-rest. What Jesus refers to is “rest for your soul.”

Rest for the soul– that we actually do find when submitting to His yoke, as His laborers.

rest-for-the-soul-that-we-actually-do-find-when-submitting-to-his-yoke-as-his-laborers

Our lives are wrapped up in striving. We live by effort, working at this and that to create and fulfill until it’s time for what’s next. We work for money just to need to work for more money. Our goals are stepping stones to bigger goals. The mentality tends to be “make it count.”

Meanwhile, our souls are ever straining against the yokes of these masters. Our earthly masters don’t aim to fulfill us, but to be fulfilled.

Whether money, reputation, ambition, or meaning, our not-Christ masters and their yokes chaff against the truth of what God made us for: Him.

“That is why we labor and strive,” Paul explains to Timothy, “because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior” (1 Timothy 4:10.)

Do you want rest for your soul, rest for the soul weary from the striving to save you using money, fame, ambition, or anything else?

Put your hope in your Savior. You’ll put on His yoke. He’ll lead you without all the chaffing and straining against deadlines and expectations you weren’t made to meet. He’ll lead you in the way of perfect peace, a soul-restful path indeed.

 

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Word of the Week: Direct

Earlier this week, Carly shared about trusting in plans. She realized her “planning was not enough” and that she “needed God to…make it come together.”

The verse she wrote about is a challenging one:

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ” –Proverbs 3:5-6

To not lean on our own understanding is to not depend on manmade schemes and rationalizations over what the Lord teaches. This involves leaving space for His leading and work when we’d rather do it all on our own.

Likewise, to acknowledge Him in all our ways is to recognize, glorify, and seek Him with all our lives and being.

God directing our paths?

This is where I start to beam and where I recognize that the plans I make for my path make a mess.

In this context, the word direct refers to the work of the Lord as He is….

  • Smoothing out
  • Straightening up
  • Setting aright
  • Making agreeable

…our paths.

There’s One Way folks, and we know Him. The path is narrow and it does not change. He has one plan for each of our lives, and He planned it a long time ago.

When we read that He will direct our paths, God isn’t coaching us through a course still being conceived. He’s going ahead of us. Straightening up the messes we spread ahead for ourselves. He’s smoothing out the bumps we trip over when we’re caught up in plotting our own steps. His work evening out the surface keeps us from slipping.

He makes the road we walk more agreeable.

He does go on ahead of us, just as Deuteronomy 31:8 says.

When we acknowledge God and follow the Lord, we walk in the way He prepared for us. We set aside our plans, messy as they are, to enjoy what He has planned out for us.

His plans, despite our mess, He has straightened up, smoothed out, righted, and made pleasing according to the plans He has also prepared for us. His good, perfect plans.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

3 (Hopeful) Truths for the Overwhelmed

My calendar always ends up a mess. It seems like everything is happening at once and at the same time like the things that really matter to me aren’t happening at all. I notice plenty of hurry up and wait. In the meantime, I begin to hear the phrase “you can’t do it all.”

Every little thing adds up and I just feel overwhelmed.

You too?

To read the helpful truths that give me hope and slow me down, click here to visit Ashlee Perry’s site The Maze, where I am blessed to guest post today.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Will

Free will. My will. His will. I will do that. When will…?

I’m not sure we often get through a day without using the word.

At the same time, I wonder if we view it well?

Perhaps its most famous context is this:

Not my will, but yours be done.”

Luke 22:42

As Lois shared earlier this week in her post about trusting in outcomes rather than in God, praying that God’s will be done is challenging. Often, we’d prefer He just do our will so that we know what will happen and can feel good about the outcome.

But there is something special about “will” in this context.

Transliterated “theléma,” this particular reference “will” can be defined as “best-offer.”

When we pray that God’s will be done, we pray that His best offer be accomplished.

This says so much about our Lord.

We know He wants what is best for us, as is the case in perfect love. We know He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Here we have an example of that perfect love and perfect work driving out our fears about not getting “our way.” His way is not only better and higher than our way– His way is the best option we have.

What comfort that gives as we pray and surrender to Him.

His will is His best and ours, too.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: (Pure) Joy

The NIV translation of James 1:2 says:

“Consider it pure joy,

my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

I love this verse. Abby shared it in her post this week about how loneliness can be a blessing. She describes a lonely season in her life and how, through it, she found joy in growing closer to the Lord.

An often cited verse, the contrast and command of this verse is striking. Joy and trial are tied together as a directive. When life is hard- consider it a joy. For Abby, this meant her struggle with loneliness was to be counted joyful.

It just seems so backwards, doesn’t it? Almost like Scripture says “deny and defy reality. Things stink. But you can be happy anyway.”

Fortunately, that’s not what God calls us to.

Notice the word “pure” in front of joy? It isn’t there in every translation. However, it’s inclusion in the NIV is probably because of what it notes about the particular type of joy we are called to in our trials.

The transliterated word is “chara.”

This type of joy is defined as:

“properly, the awareness (of God’s) gracefavor; joy (grace recognized).”

What we’re called to here is recognizing God’s grace in our trials. These Greek words for grace and joy are even cognates (cousins!) These words are bound together by the blood of Christ.

Joy in our trials isn’t about putting on a happy face for others’ sakes or forcing yourself to feel differently than you really do. Pure joy, chara, is about looking to Christ and recognizing His grace in even the worst of trials, the muck of sin, and the painful consequences of living in this fallen world. Joy is the natural perspective that comes with this recognition.

It doesn’t always bring a smile to a tear-soaked face. Joy rarely changes or ends the trial.

But joy can point you to the glimmer of light in the darkness, enabling you to fix your eyes on the truth.

Joy can make the choice to continue on count for something even while the weights are stacked heavily against you.

The joy of God’s grace is enough to bring us through those trials where you see His grace (sometimes where you see it most!)

Consider His grace. Recognize it. Joy will come!

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

When Loneliness is a Blessing -The Word Works Series

Writing on her blog Fearfully Made Mom, Abby reveres the Lord and His workmanship in her words and life. Sharing stories and thoughts that many of us encounter in daily our lives, Abby is quick to point straight to the truth we need to hear. Listening in gladly today!
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I remember the first time we drove through this small town tucked into hills of Western Maryland. It was a cold, rainy day and a heavy fog hung over us like a blanket.

As we made our way across the overpass and I looked down at the place I would later call home, I thought, “Oh God, what have I done?” My husband and I were going to be living here in a few months, and I had agreed to the move here sight unseen.

I looked out my window and I thought about the friends we’d be leaving, the church where we’d thrived, and the snowy peaks outside our doorstep in Utah. Had we gone crazy? On what planet did we decide this was a good idea, to pick our family up and move cross country for the second time in five years?

And yet, in late January during one of the coldest winters on record, that is exactly what we did.

After living with my in-laws for a few months while looking for a house, we finally found a place to raise our growing family. We were expecting our second son, and I was eager get active in the community. But the more we tried to fit, to find a church family and make friends, the more elusive our desires became.

I wondered if we’d heard God wrong. Even though we’d prayed fervently before making the move, I couldn’t help thinking we’d made a mistake. What I didn’t realize was that even in the midst of my grief, God was working.

God can use some of our loneliest seasons to draw us closer to Him.

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As we push back against the isolation and wonder where He is, He’s whispering, “I’m right here, my love. Come and sit with me a while. Everything you need is right here.”

During those months where I grieved the life we’d lost in Utah, God drew me to his side and comforted me like no friend ever could.

He gave me an understanding of his Word which can only be gained by living it.

I remember coming across this verse in James during those first few months of transition into our new town.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

James 1:2 NIV

I used to look at verses like this one and think, “Seriously? That sounds really nice in theory, but how can it apply to my everyday?”

But the move changed me.  It took James words and put skin on them in a way I never expected.

After spending some lonely months in my recliner nursing my newborn, I saw that James wasn’t delivering some clichéd phrase to sound religious. He was speaking truth and life.

joy

I wasn’t happy about my situation, but I had joy. Because friends, joy goes so much deeper than being happy. It is knowing no matter what trials life brings, we cling to a hope which will withstand it all.

As God worked on my heart, he prepared a place we would later call our church home. He brought people to our doorstep who ministered to me in my sadness.

When a new spring dawned and buds formed on the trees outside our window, I knew our winter of isolation was over. And I thanked God for everything He taught me during the cold.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Loving-Kindness

As Jeanne shared earlier in the week, the Lord’s love is certain. His love for us is displayed in so many ways. For Jeanne, it became apparent that God’s love for her was complete, even through infertility. So complete, in fact, that His love for others never competes with His love for her.

One of the aspects of His love that Jeanne highlights is kindness. The Lord’s loving-kindness is precious. It’s here that we find His love for us changing our lives with the joy and comfort of living and active relationship.

“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’”

Jeremiah 31:3

Also translated as God’s own covenant-loyalty, favor, or affection, His loving-kindness has specific qualities.

It is His loving-kindness that ensures that what He says, He will do.

…That the character of God, which is so inviting, is sincere and fulfilling.

His loving-kindness is what welcomes us without fail, always unconditionally and joyfully.

Certainly there are times that He seems far off and we seem unlovable and unworthy of returning to Him. There are times in which we look around us and it seems He is loving, but more so towards others than us.

Praise the Lord that is not the truth.

His loving-kindness offers us assurance. Like the father of the prodigal son He described, or like Christ giving incredible power to the friends who had abandoned Him before He rose again, we know that the Lord is one whose eagerness to love and delight in His children does not change.

His kind-hearted loyalty to each of us His loved ones is the same because His covenant with each of us is the same: by the blood of Christ, we are His children.

Savor the sweetness of this word from His Word. As the verse says, we are drawn by this loving-kindness.

Come with that sigh of relief and that silly grin-

You are loved by a kind God. Perfectly. Eternally. Right now. Right here.

This post is being shared on:
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25. BEHOLD: The Christ

Behold, the warmth of a newborn baby.

Behold, the peace in the stable.

Behold, long journeys over that have only just begun.

Behold, the world forever changed in a moment.

Behold, the moment by moment blessing.

Behold, the hope we have forever.

Behold, the promise fulfilled.

Behold, the victory over sin and death.

Behold, the reason for the merry and joy.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.”

-1 John 5:1

Behold, Him, still. Still in the manger, still at work in the world, still seated by the Father, still in our hearts…stilling us in awe today.

Behold, behold, the Christ!

 

24. BEHOLD: The Merry

Merry Christmas Eve! Have the festivities begun? Are you making merry? Do you know what “merry” is all about?

The dictionary tells us:

merry def

Scripture also uses the word.

we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead,

and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

Luke 15:32

The Greek word for “merry” is “euphrainó.” Interestingly enough, in its definition, alongside have a cheery outlook and being glad, is the idea that merriment is the kind of gladness that comes because of a sense of victory. Within the definition of merriment is also the word feast.

“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

-Proverbs 15:15

Merriment is like having a feast before you. The cheery outlook of being merry is the perspective of seeing not just the glass full, but the whole table!

Is there not a sense of victory in that alone? Everything before you is full, abundant, enticing. The fullness of the table ahead offers certainty that you, too, will be full.

Anyone who has prepared a feast or attended one knows the delight and warmth of a full table. Especially one full of food and loved ones. That’s the sort of celebration thrown all throughout history when a victory is had.

At Christmas, we gather around our tables, our trees, and our trays of cookies. We gather with loved ones. We gather to revel in and celebrate the full victory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Born a king. Born victorious. Sin and death never stood a chance –not even before the least of these, a newborn baby.

The Lord uses the weak and the little to triumph over the strength of the powers of evil. Through that victory, God uses this time of year to fill our hearts with the fullness of Christ and the assurance that we will filled in Him forever.

Behold, the victory of the Merry Christ.

Behold, the merriment born of the fullness of Christ with us.

Behold, the merry heart that looks on us as ones to share the feast and fullness with.