Paul wrote many lists of sins, but here is one from Jesus.
And He said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things comes from within, and they defile a man.”
Mark 7:21-23 RSV
So what is coming out of us as we prepare for the Christmas celebration? Is our first response to honor the birth of Christ? The second coming of Christ? or the weight of expectations as we gather with family for another Christmas meal? Are we burdened by gift giving? Rampant greed? Unobtainable expectations of others? Ourselves? Coveting, envy, deceit, slander, pride, foolishness?
None of the lists of sin in the New Testament are told to us as the worst then the second worst, etc. We tend to assign those judgements, but they are all called sin. Sin is “falling short of the mark.”
As we once again prepare room for Christ I pray you will consider asking the Lord to help cleanse and purify your heart and mind. Let the Holy Spirit shine the Light within you and show the areas where you fall short. Then do what we are told in 1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
Prepare Him Room – an article by Jon Bloom
Suddenly, we find ourselves standing where Luke had found us. There are the Christmas lists, the half-trimmed tree, the holiday movie paused, and pans in the sink. The familiar stress of the bustling and bursting schedule of Advent activities reawakens.
But seared in our minds is the pathetic picture of the holy, homeless mother and child. Bustling and bursting Bethlehem had no room for the advent of Jesus. And echoing in our ears are our own words, “Surely we can find some room somewhere!”
The real Christmas was nothing like the Christmas we’ve come to know, with its traditions, memories, and legends. It was a desperate moment that occurred for a desperate reason.
“God of hope, I look to you with an open heart and yearning spirit. During this Advent season, I will keep alert and awake, listening for your word and keeping to your precepts. My hope is in you.” ~ Matthew Kelly
If you go to the website mentioned above you will read that this church season is a time to prepare our hearts for Christ but also a time to prepare our hearts for the RETURN of Christ. The author speaks of both looking back and looking forward, “balancing the two elements of remembrance and anticipation.”
Here am I, stuff of earth
But by the Spirit's power rebirth
has brought me receptivity.
Fill me with Yourself.
Molded by Your Holy Hand
I wait before You
Cupped and ready,
eager for Your radiant touch
Virtue compelled to enfold Your own
the vessel of Your making.
Here am I, stuff of earth
yielded for Messiah's birth
be it unto me, O Lord,
as in Your word and will.
The Great I AM
dwells in my heart
there to impart the power
courage and propulsion for
His dream to be fulfilled.
My prayer for you is that this season you will wait for the Lord to fill you with His power, courage and propulsion that His dream will be fulfilled in your heart. We can gift ourselves to Jesus this year. Have at it!
May the words of Matthew Kelly keep your heart on track: “I will keep alert and awake, listening for Your word and keeping to Your precepts.” Amen!
I believe one reason we fear silence and stillness is we do not want to know ourselves and what God has to say about us. If we could only trust Him in a small way we would learn that He loves us more than we love ourselves. In fact, He treasures and adores us.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
Zephaniah 3:17 NRSV
The writings of Oswald Chambers contained in the book noted below were excerpted from articles published by God’s Bible School in Cincinnati. The articles were taken from his classroom lectures and Bible studies and published in the school’s periodical God’s Revivalist.
What does the Bible mean when it says to be an example to the flock of God? You must be a walking example of what you believe, in every moment of your life, known and unknown. You must bear the scrutiny of God until you prove that you are indeed a specimen of what He can do. Then He will send you out to disciple all nations.
Oswald Chambers, September 18 selection from “Devotions for a Deeper Life”
Every moment known and unknown. Things done in secret. I do not think this refers just to shameful things. Our deepest wounds are often kept private. The healing the Lord may give from those wounds is also usually given in private. The deep formation of a disciple usually takes place in private.
But whenever you pray, enter into your inner room and shut your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 NIV
Your Father who sees in secret. He hears every whisper or shout of a prayer. Your Father knows you inside and out. He will not require that you share with others what He does in your secret place of prayer. There may however, come a time when you want to shout His work from the rooftops.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured my attention writing in The Cost of Discipleship when he emphasized that we each walk alone with God.
Every man is called separately and must follow alone.
Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, Discipleship and the Individual
Many of us admire other Christians but we know little or nothing about what it takes for them to be public Christians. We have no clue what happens between them and the Trinity in private. No idea the depth of their wounds or the strength of the healing times the Lord has sent to them. All most often occur in private.
You interact with your Father in a private place, even if you are kneeling in a sanctuary packed with other people. We can share our experiences with others but we are essentially alone with Christ in our walk. Yes, He encourages fellowship with those who are like minded, but in the final analysis we are each alone with Him. He reads our heart. He corrects our course. He convicts us when we go astray. He gives us His righteousness. He suffered and died for our salvation and for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NRSV)
Public, private, the deepest things occur in a private place with your Holy Trinity God.
Steffany Gretzinger in her song “Forever Amen” sums it up for me. “I was made to love You. Let me hear the sound of Your voice…”
I would strongly encourage you that when you hear the sound of His voice, go running to a quiet place. Listen up! For unlike human parents, the Father does not waste His breath. He speaks to us with power, love, meaning and transformative powers.
Freedom from a Self-centered Life / Dying to Self is an old book of mine described as ‘Selections from the writings of William Law (1686-1761) and edited by Andrew Murray (1828-1917). I return to this title again and again as the topic of dying to self comes up in my Christian walk. The most famous idea notes we are to follow “the way of patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God.” I studied this once years ago as evidenced by all the underlining and highlighting in my book. This time I wanted to not just review what I marked, but truly study it and try to find a way to express the truths therein in today’s language. We might be talking brain strain here?
Basically this is a teaching about not just seeking salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ, but asking Him to help you become more like Him in your day to day walk. We cannot possibly accomplish that in our own strength. Simply cannot be done, for this is a work of renouncing your Adam tendencies and embracing Jesus, “the new Adam” and His indwelling Spirit. Letting the Spirit use His ways to remodel and build your life to be like Jesus.
Amazon’s summary says:
William Law tackles a very difficult subject for many Christians: dying to self. First published in the 1800s, “Dying to Self” is one of Murray’s (and Law’s) lesser known works. Though written many years ago, Murray’s comments on Law’s insightful text have been “pure gold” to the hearts of numerous readers.
The conversational style of the book between two people (Eusebius and Theophilus) seeking further enlightenment on the topic was written by Law, with explanations provided by Murray. Law’s wisdom, combined with Murray’s commentary, makes for an excellent treatment of the subject which will be especially helpful to Christians who don’t fully understand what “dying to self” really means. The good news, as Murray so expertly points out, is that this “dying to self” can and will be wrought by the Spirit of God when we surrender to Him.
Dying to Self is akin to “deny yourself and take up your cross daily.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
Matthew 9:23-24 NIV
This was not a suggestion from Jesus, but a MUST. Oh Lord, I fall so short on this. Come help us to seek You in all of Your glory and shed Your light upon our individual lives.
What have you experienced in your Christian life of ‘dying to self?’ I am not talking about giving up chocolate for Lent. More to the point of ‘taking up your cross DAILY and following Jesus’. Murray says this can only be wrought by the Spirit. Wrought as in worked, shaped. One thought is wrought iron. The dictionary implied a more delicate work or shaping, though in shaping metal hammers would be used. I might be the one in need of a hammer. The photo below reminds me of my need to cling to Him.
Quoting from this book I will not try to differentiate between Law and Murray. The things in quotations are taken from the book, but not always noted as to which one wrote it.
We are instructed over and over in this work to “sink down into our own helplessness and humbly and patiently resign ourselves to God to work in us.” Law makes the point that we are helpless to create these changes in ourselves. God must do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must yield. And we must yield to the work again and again and again.
Patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God.
This resignation is not the attitude of defeat or despair. It is more like an accepting, unresisting attitude. Letting God have His way within us.
Law compares the New Testament seekers who approached Jesus to how we go about trying to change. He said, “You seek these first-rate virtues in the ways they are not to be found. They are not in a multiplicity of human rules, methods, and contrivances, but in that simplicity of faith in which those who applied to Christ immediately obtained that which they asked of Him.” We humans do not have the answer within our selves or our religious establishments. Jesus has the key and dispenses the changes through our giving way to the Holy Spirit.
Are you prepared to go forward, following Jesus, (that is what disciples do, they follow), asking the Holy Spirit to make changes within you so you are more like Jesus? Then will you obey what you are told? Generally, the Lord leads me little by little, a change here, another there. Like Paul wrote,
“Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.”
Philippians 3:12 RSV
With patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God we will become what He had in mind when He blew breath into our lungs. Yield to His leading again and again.
This post has been republished due to a technical issue preventing some followers from seeing the initial publication…. So I guess the pressure to write this week has been taken off!
Years ago we had a cardboard plaque that had the words of this poem on it. I think when we downsized I might have let it go? I recently printed it out for a study group, and then another group. I had to search for it online. Today when I went to find it again for this blog, I found this interesting note from another blogger!
*A reader alerted me to the fact that this sermon may have originally been written and preached by Phillips Brooks, pastor and author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The words are attributed to him in this 1952 newspaper. I will continue to research this, but if you have any additional information, please contact me.
What is so enthralling to me is the figure of Jesus standing behind Phillips with His hand on Phillips shoulder as he was preaching. A visual wonder of inspiration and being led by the Lord! A few folks over the years have told me when they were speaking it was as if the hand of the Lord was upon them. I always tried to print out a photo of this statue for their encouragement.
So whether One Solitary Life was written by Pastor James A Francis in a 1925 sermon or by Pastor Phillips Brooks, the impact of the life of Christ is summarized and noted well.
The Text of the Sermon runs:
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never owned a home.
He never had a family.
He never went to college.
He never put his foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of his divine manhood.
While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied him.
Another betrayed him.
He was turned over to his enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he was
dying, and that was his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.
Our group “Journey Together In Stitches” met recently and someone brought up the prayer by Phillips Brooks on the back cover of Forward Day By Day. He wrote:
O God; Give me strength to live another day: Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people: Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; Open wide the eyes of my sou that I may see good in all things; Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
By the way, I have no credentials. Call me whatever You want, Lord. I am Yours and I will try to always speak Your truth.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26 NIV
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
1 John 2:27
Go forward speaking the truth in love in any place the Lord directs you. Never rely on yourself, but His Spirit within you.
There have been many songs recorded over the years about Psalm 23, including the words from the actual Psalm in various translations. Here is one of my favorites composed by Walt Harrah.
A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 has these Scripture quotes in Chapter one.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:15-20 NIV
1 COR 6:19-20 NRSV Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
1 PET 2:5 You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
ROM 8:34 NRSV Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
JN 15:26 NIV But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
JN 10:11 NKJV I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
JN 10:14-16 14 I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.
LK 19:10 NKJV “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
MT 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
JN 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
MT 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Also in MK 8:34 and LK 9:23
MT 7:22-23 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many deeds of power in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
I hope you are encouraged and challenged by the song and the verses. Make them your own. Look to Him in all things. May the blessings of God the Father be upon you, Molly Lin
Our neighborhood women are starting a study of the book entitled “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” written by W. Phillip Keller, first published in 1970. I have led this book as a study once or twice before and most all participants have enjoyed it immensely.
Writing the introduction, Keller said “First of all I grew up and lived in East Africa, surrounded by simple native herders whose customs closely resembled those of their counterparts in the Middle East.” He goes on to tell how he became a shepherd for about 8 years. Then even later, as a lay pastor he shared the truths of this Psalm with his “flock” every Sunday for several months.
If you have not read this book it is a great one. Twelve short chapters, easy reading with much meat included!
As with most books, this one has a variety of cover art. You can purchase it used on Abebooks or Thrift. Almost every new book seller still carries it. Worth the read. So powerful the lessons included between those pages as relates to us as His sheep.
Here is a photo of my old copy:
If you get a chance to obtain a copy read along with us. I will try to post something each week about our study. I will go out of my way not to break any confidences from the group, just share Keller’s powerful lessons.
This week we will likely cover the introduction only. Chapter one has many Scripture references that are not noted. I will be posting those next week.
Did you get a Chocolate rabbit? What part did you eat first?
Years ago when I saw this in a hospital gift shop I purchased it immediately. Fondly remember my mother teaching us about “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” Now bunnies demonstrating their limited abilities after someone ate the ears, ate the eyes, ate the mouth. Ha!
Has your Lenten discipline brought you to a new place in your walk with Jesus? Or like so many New Year resolutions have you already forgotten what you were aiming for in what you ‘gave up’ for the 40 days of Lent?
I hope and pray that the Easter Season brings you into a closer and richer fellowship with the One Who died for each of us. He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
I saw an advertisement recently that used a quote from Audrey Hepburn. I had never heard this one! She said,
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.
2 Peter 1:3-4
He has given us His Son. The power of resurrection life through the sacrifice of Jesus and the indwelling Spirit. Everything we need for life and godliness is ours. Are we taking advantage of the things we have been given? Are we telling ourselves “I’m possible.”
There was a time when it would have been thought impossible that people of color could star in Cinderella, and I would ask “Why not?” There was a time when my mother took my sister for modeling lessons while I stayed home to strip the wax off the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. I called myself “CinderLinda.” (Molly is a nickname.) Yet the following shows how very possible “impossible” things are!
You may have asked God if there is some way He can use you in His Kingdom. I would cheer a resounding, “Yes!!” Our Pastor often quotes Henry Blackaby.
“We don’t choose what we will do for God; He invites us to join Him where He wants to involve us.”
So have you asked the Father where He wants to involve you? If He shows you where He is working will you be willing to join Him? Even if it is not a place you choose to serve? Are you willing to declare through His power “I’m possible!”
Many years ago the following praise chorus was popular. Praise choruses are a great way to learn Scripture. This one quotes Jeremiah proclaiming praise in The Amplified Bible Jeremiah 17:32.‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too difficult or too wonderful for You—. The outstretched arm is the weakest position. You will get the idea after the first minute!
God can use anyone yielded to Him for the growth and building of His kingdom. The best question is “Are you willing to serve Him?”