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Pliable People

“Like clay in the hands of a potter so are you in My hands.” Joel 18:6

Playing with Play-Do was a “Yay!” activity in our house when my kids were little.  We had all kinds of tools, forms and presses to make things with the colorful putty.  When we were done (yes, I mean we) the Picasso-esque artifacts were set on a shelf but it didn’t take long for them to harden, crack and eventually fall apart.

I imagine we are like that too.  God’s hands are pressing and molding us, sometimes adding and other times taking away.  All the while He is delighted in His creation and, as long as we remain pliable, He is able to shape us as He wills.  However, if we withdraw from Him, become hard or bitter, or even apathetic, we will not be workable.  No change can occur without first adding water.

In John 4:14 water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, “…the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” As a believer we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and cannot be unsealed.  However, we can quench and grieve the Holy Spirit and have dry, powerless lives.  Ephesians 4:30-31 says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Therefore, God will continue molding us into the likeness of His Son.  Our part is to remain pliable. Abiding in Christ, sitting at His feet, meditating on His love and forgiveness and prayerfully reading His Word are all ways to remain soft-hearted.  Another is confession.  When Jesus washed Peter’s feet He said, “Unless I do this you can have no part in Me.” John 13:8b.  This intimate exchange is a picture of confession.  We give Jesus the dirt that clings to our feet because we are living in this fallen world.  He gladly takes our sin upon Himself and makes us clean.  After Jesus finished washing the disciples feet He told them that they were (we are) to do this for one another.  Hence, James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  Here the “Confess your sins to one another” is born.  This does not mean that we have to confess our sins to another person to be forgiven.  We are already forgiven!  Rather, that we reflect Christ in the lives of our brothers and sisters by showing unconditional love and forgiveness as we share our burdens and sin with each other by living out this command.  This is humble submission.  This is being pliable and soft, teachable and available for His Kingdom and for His glory.

Unfortunately, oftentimes we are hesitant to confess our sins to another believer.  We are compelled to hide our defects and pretend to have it all together when we are actually dying inside.  We were not meant to walk alone.  We were meant to be shaped by God through relationship. His Holy Spirit is the press Who shapes us through relationships that chisel off the rough edges.  We are being sanctified, made perfect for His Kingdom and I can’t wait to go home.

Finally, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  May we be pliable in the hands of a loving God and choose to be used by Him to comfort others with the Good News of forgiveness so they too can drink deeply of the Living Water and be forever changed.

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Cleansing Confession

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

When I first came to know Christ God revealed my own past sin in a vivid, movie-like way.  Every hateful word, unclean thought, impatient action and unforgiving attitude came to my remembrance.   I was undone.  For so long I had blamed others for my problems, frustrations and failures.  Of course it was their fault because I was a good person.  I believed I was the victim of circumstance and the world was a mean place.  However, after God opened my eyes, I knew I was a mean, ugly, selfish person.  No longer could I claim the role of the child-victim because now I was the one inflicting the pain.  Fortunately, God allowed me to remember so I would also know how very much I had been forgiven.  Convicted of my guilt, I was compelled to confess my sin. Forgiven of my sin, I was free to live for Christ.

Since then I’ve come to realize that Confession is a vital bridge to living a life of freedom in Christ.  In the judicial system Confession means: “A formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.”  We are to formally agree with God about our sin, bringing it to Him because we trust that He is not only faithful but also just and righteous.  He is able to forgive us because the penalty has been paid. God set the standard of righteousness and then met that standard through the shedding of Jesus’ blood. In the same way that faith is credited to our account as righteousness (Romans 4) His payment of death has been credited to our lives. In other words, the blood has been applied to the doorposts of our hearts and we are fully forgiven.  Therefore, we are now free to live His life by faith.

However, living life by faith includes allowing Jesus to wash our feet via confession.   Confession is the great exchange.  We bring Jesus our sin and He gives us His righteousness.  We appropriate (receive) His forgiveness and we live for Him, pouring ourselves out for His glory.  It’s like breathing in and out in intimate communion with God.  Surprisingly many people want to jump over confession instead of walk through it.  Like Peter they say, “Lord, You will never wash my feet!” Because sin can be painful, ugly or shameful it seems easier to bypass confession and go from praise to supplication.  Also, some sin seems trivial and we don’t want to bother Jesus with it, even though it’s a barrier to intimacy with Him. God calls us to confession, however, for the purpose of intimacy.  How many children want to sit in their daddy’s lap when they know they are guilty of something or they believe their father is mad at them?  God knows our tendency to run away and hide when we have sinned.  So, His loving way is to convict, draw out into the light, cleanse and restore so we can sit in His lap without fear or shame.  Thank you Lord for calling me to intimacy through transparency as you show me Your blood has covered all!

Confession

A sail so ripped by choppy skies

Set right again by Wind;

I see the crimson sailcloth rise

Enveloping my sin.

His guardrails set at great a price

Too much for me to pay;

The vast, horrific sacrifice

On pulpit lay that day.

His blood, which Jesus offers all,

Runs down my hardened boom

Reviving still the lifeless soul

Summoning from the tomb.

“Come, My child!” He beckons me,

“I’ll cleanse you with My blood.

My righteousness will set you free

Of shackles gained abroad.”

“Confess, beloved, your waywardness.

My pardon will I give,

Your rudder turned to set the course;

Repent and you will live!”

“Let go the pain that holds you fast

To stern of hate and fear.

Take courage! Climb the Maker’s mast,

Set sail in Love so near!”

Marlene McKenna 2015