Idolatry, Insecurity, Pride, Sanctification, Self Righteousness, Submission, Surrender, Uncategorized, Works

Nothing but the Blood

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

No matter how many times I skim the surface of the water or how much debris is retrieved from the bottom, the pool is never perfectly clean.  It’s not the leaves or the bugs that elude the net but millions of microscopic particles that scatter throughout the water only to gather in mocking, dirt piles on the bottom of the pool.  This job clearly requires something outside my abilities.  In the same way, you and I can NEVER clean ourselves up to the point of purity.  It is a futile task to try to be “good enough” for God to accept us.

This was a lesson I learned the hard way many years ago when I was “doing” well in meeting my standards of the Christian life.  1. Read the bible everyday.  “Check!” 2. Pray for my family and for the lost.  “Check!”  3. Serve in ministry.  “Double check!”  I graded myself an A+ and anything in me that seemed subpar was, of course, someone else’s fault. In other words, after Jesus reached down into the murky waters of my sinful heart and cleansed me from all unrighteousness  I insisted on keeping my own heart pure by using the Christian to-do list.  It didn’t work.  Instead, microscopic particles of sin scattered into mocking piles of pride and self absorption.  Unnoticed because of the stealthiness of self-righteousness I survived for years without much conviction.

Lovingly, God led me to a discipleship class He knew I needed. During the second class there was a lesson on Performance.  It shed light on the error of using the patterns of this world (i.e. A good performance = a good person/reward; What I have and do defines me) and applying them to Christian living.  Being that it was my first time hearing this truth I had questions like:  Trying to earn the approval of God and others by doing the right thing is sin?   The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”    Jesus finished the work, He paid the price, and we are to live accordingly. Our identity comes from Jesus alone, not from anything we have done (good or bad) or will do in the future (good or bad) or from our family (good or bad) or from our past (good or bad).  Furthermore, trying to earn or deserve the “goodness” label is the opposite of  Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  and Romans 15:16 b: “I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.”    The difference is not in the outward appearance but in the motivation of the heart.  What I was doing was for self glorification, not for God’s glory and definitely not compelled by His love for me but by my love/hate relationship with myself.

Boy, did I have a revelation!  I would love to tell you that I fell to my knees in repentance when God revealed the idolatry of works within my heart.  In actuality, I was angry with God.  After all, I was an A+ christian, right?   Sadly, instead of running to God my pride kept me away from Him.  I stopped reading the bible, stopped praying and, in essence, gave God the silent treatment.   My heart was isolated and cold and Jesus’ warm, sacrificial love was unable to flow through the icy vessel of self. But God… Thank God for the precious blood of Christ!  David knew that only God could create in him a clean heart, purifying him from sin (Psalm 51).  The same is true today.  Only the Holy Spirit can make us holy as He is holy.

When I finally confessed what I believed in my heart – that His grace was not enough – the cross was not enough – the blood was not enough – that I was trying to add to what Jesus did – then the power of pride that dominated my life was broken.  Instead of unseen particles, the piles of dark sin were revealed and obliterated by adding the blood to the pool of my heart.  I still struggle with performing for the wrong reasons, finding myself wondering if it’s good enough, if I’m good enough.  That’s where God’s Word brings freedom when the enemy desires condemnation.  “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10 and Romans 8:1 “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Now I see that anything He calls me to do is for His glory.  It’s not about me! His burden is light because He does all the work!  He equips those He calls.  He gives rest when needed.  He is the power source.  I am already accepted to the fullest degree so there is nothing to earn even if I blow it.  His love is deeper and more complete than I could ever imagine and, in the Spirit, it compels me forward to good works because I get to, not because I have to! He is a living Savior and His blood covers all sin. No debris in my flesh is missed!  He will complete what He started.  So, the question now is, “What can wash away my sin?”

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus. 

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this I see—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
For my pardon this my plea—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Nothing can my sin erase
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Naught of works, ’tis all of grace—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

This is all my hope and peace—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my righteousness—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

 

 

Faith, Love, Obedience, Surrender, Trust, Uncategorized

Obedience Equals Love

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you”  Psalm 37:4-5

These verses were lived out before my eyes this weekend and I really want to grab someone right here in the airport and share God’s faithfulness!  

“The Lord is gracious.” Psalm 145:8 is written above the slider in our prayer/sunroom. Everyday I am reminded of where I was when God found me and how He has shown me grace over these past nineteen years.  In the same way, when our oldest son, Sean, graduated from Wheaton College on Mother’s Day I was overwhelmed with God’s grace once again. 

Now, while contiplating the “what ifs,” I know my reality is so altered from the path I was on before God saved me.  Back then I was headed for divorce, single parenting, possible poverty and definitely depression and hopelessness.  Fortunately, I was attending a local Mother’s of Pre-Schoolers group where I heard the Gospel many times. Then, one rainy night, alone with my babies, I was made new. The Lord graciously gave me what author Jennifer Kennedy Dean calls a Blood transfusion; new life in Jesus Christ!  It was that fast – a blink of an eye and I was forever changed.  The best part was the cleanness I experienced that filled me with unexplainable joy. I was forgiven! 

Yes, it was painful being born again. The Lord brought to mind so many sins, things I had done that hurt others and offended God and my utter helplessness to change because I was dead inside. I was heartbroken and mourned the ugliness of it all. But God did not reveal this to me to condemn me but to forgive me. He literally gave me a New Spirit, life in Christ! Because He lives I live also!

Since then, over the past nineteen years, I have traveled some bumpy roads, made many mistakes and shown weakness and a lack of faith when it came to my children. Yet, God is faithful!  In spite of my weakness He has carried us through to a fruitful end.   

Still, obedience has never come easy for me. (Fortunately, God is constantly changing that too!) But, the love God has for me and the love I have for him manifests itself in obedience. In other words, obedience is the way I express my love for the Lord. The more I understand how deeply He loves me the more I want to obey Him. “The Love of Christ controls me!” 2 Corinthians 5:14.In retrospect, the celebration of our son’s graduation is like an Ebeneazer stone. It is a reminder of how very faithful, sovereign and good God is and how He blesses even clutzy obedience.  I know God’s ways are best even if I do not understand. I know God loves my children WAY more than I do because His motives are always pure.  My prayer is that, knowing who God is, you and I will continue to bend our knees in obedience, surrendering to the One Who loves and knows best, forever and always, Amen!

“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19