Thursday, September 30, 2010


“Satan rarely tempts us with the ‘big sins.’…Rather, he takes us down the delicate path of deception, an inch at a time…It’s never recognized until it’s too late. His tricks are timeless; his schemes subtle.” Chip Ingram quote from Invisible War

No wonder I seldom recognize the seriousness of my sin. Satan is sneaky. He knows how to tempt me in the areas of my life where I am most vulnerable, and he does it gradually with great patience. He lulls me into feeling secure and confident. I start pridefully thinking that I can handle any situation because I am a strong Christian. That is just where Satan wants me—feeling proud of my Christian walk. It is when I feel strongest that I am most vulnerable to falling prey to his tricks. This is the time he will slip in a small temptation. That small temptation will then lead to a little more sin. After all I handled that small sin issue last time--sort of—well enough. Before long I am numb to the seriousness of my behavior because I have become entangled in the rationalizations and self-justification of the sin I have now made a regular part of my life. It is so easy to see the small deceptions leading to major problems in other people. But what about myself? I am guilty of not recognizing my own sin.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” Ephesians 5:6 NIV

In my case, I did not recognize my disobedience at all. I thought I was growing spiritually and doing right. Oh how deceived I was. Even though by man's standards I was doing right, by God's standards I was not. However, I know I was growing spiritually even during the times Satan had me most deceived because when I realized my level of sin, I knew what to do. I sought God. I prayed, studied scripture, read books by quality Christian authors, listened to pod casts by quality pastors, and sought solitude as a spiritual discipline. God loved me enough to discipline me and then restore me. He brought me to brokenness so that He could mold me into a correctly focused servant for Him.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV

My besetting sin is not that bad, but at the same time it is horrible. It is putting my faith and trust in humans instead of God. I was following the guidance of others without checking to see if their words really did line up with scripture. And I neglected to pray for God’s advice as often as I should have. It is so easy to place too much trust in someone you regard as a spiritual giant. God gives us Christian friends to guide and encourage us. But that does not mean that Satan will not use deception and his sneaky schemes to draw us into sinful, human directed instead of God directed behaviors. I am beginning to believe that is one of Satan’s most successful ploys—distorting our perceptions of the intentions and activities of our Christian friends. Satan does much mischief in the church because we are not vigilantly watching for his schemes. We are lulled into complacency.

So I must be alert for and recognize Satan's agenda especially when it involves my Christian friends.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV

Lord, keep me acutely alert to the deception and schemes of Satan. Make me your faithful servant in all my activities and relationships with others, especially my Christian friends.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sugar Coating

“Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.” Deuteronomy 28:14 NIV

One thing I love about the Word of God is that God tells me clearly and repeatedly what he expects from me. In multiple places it is stated that I am to have no other gods. God Almighty is to be the most important influence in my life. I am to worship only him. But do I?

For much of my Christian life, I interpreted putting God first as making sure I went to church, attended a Bible study, and read my Bible on a somewhat regular basis. I was not worshipping any graven image so I did not believe I was worshipping an idol. Yes, I put my career on a pedestal and I wanted people to discern from my appearance and possessions that I was a success. But isn’t that normal for young adults—even Christian adults? I now realize my attitude was wrong. My career and possessions were idols. With that realization, I thought I had removed all idols from my life. Wrong.

Each time I take a step in spiritual growth, I detect another step for which I was unaware of its existence. I recently discovered that I have not eradicated the sin of idolatry. My current idolatrous sin item is relying on mankind instead of God. When I have a problem, to whom do I go—my husband, a friend, a self-help book--anyone who will listen? What an insult to God!

“Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” Isaiah 2:22 NIV

God created and has control over everything. Yet I do not pray about my problems before I discuss them with a human being. God has given me a Christian family, and I am to use them to guide and help me. However, they are not to be my first source of counsel. Sadly, I do not even pray about my problems before I have rationalized and worked out solutions I find acceptable. I usually do not seek God’s instruction manual—the Bible. No wonder God expresses anger at my sin.

“If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.” Leviticus 26:27-28 NIV

When I pretend at being a good Christian, but in my heart and actions spurn God, he is right in covering his ears when I just go through the motions of praying. My heart is not sincere because I have sought the counsel of others and have already made up my mind for a course of action before I ask God to bless my decision. I have placed my wisdom above the guidance of God. That is the sin of self-idolatry. God does not candy coat what he says about such sin.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” Isaiah 1:15-17a NIV

So I must stop my sin of self-idolatry and learn to do right by seeking God’s advice at the outset.

Lord, please forgive my unwillingness to put you first in every aspect of my life. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, make me recognize when I commit the sin of idolatry and give me the ability to eradicate it from my life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Am Back

My last post said that I was overwhelmed, and I was. The past three weeks have been challenging. All has turned out well and some of the challenges were truly blessings. However, my scheduled activities were totally upset. Today is my first “normal” day in almost a month. Unless something unusual happens, life should return to normal activities with the expected daily challenges. So I am writing tonight. Yeh!

In a way I feel a bit guilty that I have been neglecting writing about what God has been revealing to me. In a way I am not bothered because I know the reason why I have not posted a blog. However, I wonder if I am rationalizing my lack of writing or am being realistic and in tune with God. You see I am beginning to understand that Satan does much damage when we rationalize. It is not my place to justify my behaviors. It is my place to seek God’s will through thoughtful prayer and listening for his answer.

I needed a breather. I was beginning to show signs of stress. Tears were often just below the surface fighting to come out. I needed a break, and God provided a time of retreat. But did he want me to take nine days off from writing? No. I selfishly decided to not write one day. Yes it had been a trying day and I was tired. For me, once I start something I should not do, I will continue for quite a while before I can put a stop to my behavior.

This is the reason I do not buy M&M’s. I can have a package in my cupboard for several days, but once the package is opened and I eat the first one, I do not stop until the whole package is gone. It makes no difference that the sweet chocolate taste has become obnoxious. The package must be consumed. The consumption may be spread over a couple of days, but I am consuming the candy until it is completely gone.

It would have been no big deal if I would have sat down to write the next day. But I didn’t. I was still tired and stressed. After all, two days of not writing was not a big deal since I had written every day last month. The rationalization had begun, and it continued to feed on itself. I know it is okay to skip a day once in a while especially if God has not laid something on my heart to address. But he had. By the third day, I did not want to write. It was too much effort. I started to avoid listening to God. My conscious became calloused. Why do I let Satan sneak into my thoughts and control me like this?

So by not putting God first, I arrogantly rebelled against doing God’s will. I was full of human pride as I decided to do as I wanted to do.

The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2:11 NIV

Who am I? A stubborn, rebellious woman.

Lord, forgive my arrogance of challenging your instructions to me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, give me the strength to withstand Satan when he tempts me to rationalize my behaviors. Make me joyfully responsive to your every command.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I am feeling overwhelmed tonight. Nothing that dramatic is happening. It is just an accumulation of many small things.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22 NIV

Okay, Lord, I hear the message in this passage of Scripture. But it is hard. There are so many details over which I have no control for the expected events taking place this week. I just cannot seem to wrap my mind around what I need to do. My brain is foggy. Clear thinking is just not happening.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV

So, God, part of the problem may be that I am not humbling myself before you. Why should I be worrying about things over which I have no control? God, you are always in control. Turning my anxiety over to you is the only logical course.

God, forgive my arrogant attitude of thinking I am indispensable for the events happening this week. But, what about the details I need to handle?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV

God, that is very clear. I am not to worry about what is possibly going to happen. Lord, conform my actions, plans, and attitudes so that they align with your wishes. Give me wisdom to handle the next few days in a manner glorifying to you.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7 NKJV

What a promise!

Lord, give me a willing heart to humbly trust you with the events in my life this week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Okay. Okay.

Okay! Okay! I admit my rebellion against God. Yes I am a good person, but I do know I sin once in a while. In action or thought, I do break a commandment on occasion.

“For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.” Deuteronomy 25:16 NIV

However, I must admit, I am rife with selfish and defiant attitudes. I like to have things my way, and I like to be in control. I am not so different from millions of others.

“The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 16:5 NIV

Whoa! Does this mean my self-confident, I can-do attitude is sin? Am I wrong to take pride in my accomplishments and talents?

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6b NIV

According to Scripture, these attitudes are sin. And sin is sin. It makes no difference how many people engage in similar behaviors. God loathes all sin. In Isaiah he warned the Jews that he would no longer tolerate their attitude of disregard for his commands.

“I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.” Isaiah 1:25 NIV

God acted like a loving parent who punishes misbehavior because it is the only way to mold the child into a well-behaved, productive person. Isaiah was prophesying the words God gave him. He was stating that the sin of God’s people would be punished for the purpose of removing that sin. He was saving his people from the ravages of a life lived reveling in sin--a life of rebellion toward him.

So what rebellious sin do you need to eradicate from your life? Are you going to wait until God purges you? That is always an unpleasant experience as all effective punishment is. Or are you going to confess your sin and ask God to give you the power to be pure in his sight?

Lord, show me the sin you want me to eliminate today. Give me the power to overcome whatever it is about that sin that makes it attractive to me. Make me hate that sin with the intensity that you hate it. Teach me how to replace my sinful behavior with God-honoring actions and thoughts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rebellious Sin

Sometimes my rebellion toward God is so entrenched that I have to experience an extremely unpleasant event before I understand a message that God has been sending my way for a long time. It is only after I suffer some severe consequences that I recognize the warnings God had been lovingly giving me. I am not unique in this area. Rebelling against God’s commands has been a problem throughout human history.

The first chapter of Isaiah has much to teach me even though this chapter was written to the nation of Judah. My attitudes and behaviors can be so arrogant that one would think I am as significant as a nation of God’s chosen people.

“…Why do you persist in rebellion?...” Isaiah 1:5 NIV

What parent finds pleasure in her child’s rebellious behavior, especially if there has been much discussion and punishment used to eradicate the offensive behavior? Likewise, God desires for us to quit being rebellious.

“…For the Lord has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” Isaiah 1:2b NIV

This verse was true during the time of Isaiah. But take a look around at our community and our church. One would have to be absolutely blind to not see the rebellion to God. A lot of good behaviors are being exhibited. However, the good behaviors, as the saying goes, are a mile wide and an inch deep. Good things are being done, but they are not being done for God. They are being done for self—the desire to look good, for people to think well of us, to soothe our conscious for some slightly bad thing we did. Our good, “churchy” activities are not pleasing to God.

"’The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to me?’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 1:11 NIV

God tells us he would rather we quit our showy efforts to seem religious. He doesn’t need our pitiful, selfish labors.

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings…I cannot bear your evil assemblies.” Isaiah 1:13 NIV

I always thought that it was important to appear religious. But I had it backwards. Appearing religious is detestable to God. God wants our hearts. God says he will not listen to our prayers if we are living in rebellion to him and are insincerely seeking him.

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” Isaiah 1:15-17a NIV

Looking religious is not wrong if it is a result of seeking God in love and faith.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV

God promises to reward those who stop rebelling against him.

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land;” Isaiah 1:19 NIV

So, which comand of God's are you rebelling against?

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.” John 15:10 NIV

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, take away every thought and action that is rebellious to you. Make me yearn for obedience to you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bible Study

Marvelous. Miraculous. Stupendous. Wonderful.

These were my thoughts after attending the first Bible Study Fellowship class this fall. I study my Bible daily. I regularly attend church. I talk with Christian friends in person and electronically. But nothing encourages me more nor builds my desire to learn more about God than studying God’s Word in a strong, Scripture-based, God-inspired Bible study.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 NIV

So, I encourage you to find and actively participate in a quality Bible study.

Lord, thank you for BSF. Thank you for using BSF to encourage me to spend more time with you. As I study your word for this Bible study session, draw me closer to you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Topsy Turvy

My life is topsy-turvy. My activities, sleeping, eating, and routines are all dramatically different. I am discombobulated. (Is that a word?) Well, you get the picture.

I apologize for not writing on this blog for the past week. Please continue to check because I should be back to writing soon. Things are beginning to settle down somewhat. September 8 at 12:30 AM we had to call the ambulance to have my mother-in-law transported to the hospital. She is still in the hospital and still has an IV. Praise the Lord she is improving. Ray and I have learned how to easily negotiate the hospital cafeteria and are ready to recognize some of the staff as important friends. Ray’s mom has received very good care all the staff--nurse, CNA, OT, PT, social worker, dietician, and others. We love her doctor.

My writing time has been one of the things which has been temporarily abandoned. My mind has been on almost everything except writing. I have spent extra time studying my Bible and reflecting on how God is working in my life and the world around me. God has shown himself to me in ways that I found unexpected. While sitting in a hospital you expect God to give you peace, strength, and courage. Instead he has convicted me of areas of sin in my life. He has made me realize how much I fight his way because I want things my way. He has convicted me of how I use my tongue. My words are not always his words or words which bring glory to him. My frustration and anger are still issues I have not mastered and cannot master unless I am willing to submit completely to him. I have seen how I am not living his first commandment.

“Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

So, no matter what is happening in this life, I must put God first because only he is worthy. My uncontrolled tongue and anger are an affront to God and must be controlled through the power given me by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, draw me close to you. I cannot do it on my power. Give me your love, wisdom, words, and actions.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Camping Out

Labor Day Weekend represents the symbolic close of the summer vacation season. Many families travel to the lake for the last campout of the year. It was fun for me to discover that the ancient Jews also had a camping out holiday. It was called the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles generally took place the first part of October after the harvest season. It was a joyful holiday. This was the third pilgrimage festival in the Jewish year. Families traveled to Jerusalem. They built shelters from tree branches and lived in them for seven days. Living in the shelters was to remind the Jews of their time living in tents on the desert. Solemn assemblies were part of the first day and eighth day activities.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord's Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the Lord by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.’” Leviticus 23:33-36 NIV

The festival was to celebrate the bounty of the harvest, but it also was to thank God for the rains which made the crop grow. An ancient water-pouring ceremony was part of the religious activities. Each morning for the first seven mornings, a priest would fill a golden pitcher from the pool of Siloam. The water was poured into a funnel at the side of the altar as the morning sacrifice was made. Then the temple choir would then sing Psalms 113-118.

It was on the last day of this festival that Jesus told the crowd in the temple that he was the source of living water. Of course we know he was talking about the Holy Spirit who he would send to live in us. But this proclamation was confusing to the crowd and created controversy.

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:37-39 NIV

I find it profoundly interesting that Jesus would publically proclaim he is the source of living water on a festival day for which a water ceremony was a part.

So search the Scriptures with an inquiring mind. They are full of fascinating bits of information that when you start to understand the connections God has created will intensify your faith and belief in him.

Lord, you are an amazing God. Thank you for providing the Holy Spirit as nourishing--spiritually life-sustaining-- living water. Only you are worthy of my worship.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bruised--Not Broken

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18 NIV

What reassurance! David was in a very dangerous situation when he wrote Psalm 34 yet he knew that God was with him and protecting him. Therefore, in my everyday experiences I can be assured God is close to me any time I am experiencing problems.

John Wesley’s life verse was Isaiah 42:3. This verse talks about a bruised reed. It is bruised but not broken. This is symbolic of our past sin. When we sin, God will let us experience the natural consequences for the sin and he will restore us.

"A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 42:3 NASU

God does not want us to focus on past problems. Yes, we are to learn from our life experiences, but we are not to live today looking at yesterday. God wants to lead us to the next thing. He prepares us for our future service to him.

"Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you." Isaiah 42:9 NASU

We get busy and tend to go from one task or event to the next. We are so busy doing the next thing. But all of our doing does not please God. He desires for us to pay very close attention to him.

“Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come?” Isa 42:23 NIV

How can we dare to not concentrate on God’s will for us?

“I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” Isa 43:11 NIV

So we are to be very attentive to what God is doing today. God can and does accomplish the impossible.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Lord, create in me a heart of forgiveness—to forgive persons who intentionally hurt me, to forgive persons who unintentionally hurt me, and to forgive myself. Give me the desire to hear you and to focus on what you have for me to do to serve you today.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

His Voice

I get so frustrated with God sometimes. He doesn’t do things when I think he should do them in the manner in which I think He should do them. I do not want to listen to and follow his instructions. I want it done my way. Because I prayed for it, he should grant it. Now I realize how arrogant this attitude is, but I have been unable to eradicate it. As a matter of fact, I have not even allowed myself to recognize this sinful attitude until recently. I must learn to listen to God.

So how do I “hear” God? He does not speak to me today like he did to the prophets in the Old Testament. But why should he? God has given me the Holy Spirit to live in my heart. I have unlimited contact and communication opportunities. However, I do not use them.

I set aside some time to pray and get out my journal with the list of requests I have for God. My prayer will open with some obligatory praise statement. Then I start the long list of requests. By the time I get through the list, I’m tired of praying. A quick “Thank You, Lord” is said and with an “amen” the prayer duty is done.

This portrayal of my prayer life is a bit harsher than my actual practice. I usually enjoy praying and find it a fulfilling activity. But if I am not careful it does become perfunctory. Keeping my prayer life vital is essential because it is how I communicate with God. It is how I talk to God and many times how I receive guidance from him.

Jesus often sought time with God. He was always unwilling to proceed without instructions from God.

“‘You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.’ Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.” John 7:8-9 NIV

Jesus would not go on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles because God had not given him permission yet to go there as a part of his public ministry. To travel to Jerusalem with his entourage would have drawn too much attention. Later, God did tell Jesus to attend the Festival but to go incognito. Jesus did not change his mind; he received instructions from God. When he received them, Jesus followed God’s directions as to the method and timing of his travel.

“However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.” John 7:10 NIV

Jesus’ insistence on following the commands of God is repeatedly mentioned in the Gospels. Jesus taught his followers through example and instruction that his total life was under the direction of God and that Jesus willingly followed God’s directions.

“but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31 NIV

All I read in the Gospels lead me to believe Jesus communicated with God in a conversational manner. No flashes of lightning from Heaven nor any big booming voices are mentioned. Voices yes. Show biz attention getting extravaganza style communication is just not there. Well, with the one exception of God’s comment after the baptism of Jesus. (Matthew 3:16-17) But even this amazing event was not bombastic. It was a beautiful, loving, soothing, statement of God’s pride in Jesus.

In the Old Testament, God generally spoke to people in a personal manner. One example is God’s talk with Elijah. Elijah was expecting a magnificent show, but God communicated with him in a gentle whisper.

“but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11b-12 NIV

So how can I hear God? I must study God’s Word to know what it says for that is what he has to impart. I must listen for the whisper—for the quiet voice inside that brings with it a calm, a peace that only God can give. It is the voice that never disagrees with what is taught in Scripture.

Lord, make me responsive to your quiet voice and what you are telling me in the Bible. Make me aware of when I try to twist Your Word to suit my purposes. Make me willing to hear the hard truths you want to convey to me. Make me patient as I wait for your answer to my requests. Make me thankful no matter what your plans for my life.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thankful Heart

Today, my heart is thankful.

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

So I prayed to my God with praise and thanksgiving.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV

How can I not give thanks to my God who was, is, and forever shall be?

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

He has given me eternal life with him. Amazing that he should desire for me to be one of his children.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV

So for what are you thankful?

Lord, thank you for my salvation, prayer, love, family, a home, an income, laughter, friends, food, my car, safety, protection, my church, the Bible, books, computers, telephones, the seasons, and … How can I list all the ways you have blessed me. But tonight, Lord, I am especially thankful for my health and my mind.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Clean Cup or Dirty Cup

I am not a recreational shopper. When I shop, I errand shop. I have a list of items to buy and a list of places where I will stop on that shopping trip. I do not have a problem with people who like to comparison shop or shop for new trendy ideas. It is something I rarely do because I enjoy other activities more. It is fun though to car shop. Driving a new car is a pleasure. Discovering the controls and new features is an adventure. The new car smell with the clean interior and the polished exterior are pure pleasure.

Jesus says our interiors should be as showroom ready as we make our exteriors. We go to great lengths to keep our outer selves clean and looking great. We shop for just the right outfit and take much time fiddling with hair, nails, and makeup. But how much time do we spend on our inner appearance? What is the condition of our hearts and minds?

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26 NIV

That was stated plainly. Jesus was talking to the religious people of biblical times. They spent time looking good to their contemporaries, but their hearts were not pleasing to God. Jesus repeats his warning. Whenever something is repeated in the Bible, it is a sign that we are to take it seriously.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28 NIV

Jesus did not mince his words. We are to be clean on the inside. What we allow into our brains matters. What we think about matters.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'..." Matthew 15:18-20 NIV

As a Christian I like to think of myself as having a pristine, clean heart. If that is the case, then why do I say things that I later regret? Why do I say negative things about others? Why do I say things in anger? Why do I not correct a statement which is true except I chose to delete a little unimportant detail? Why do I watch a movie or television show which promotes immoral sexual behavior with the justification that I can handle it?

So we need to examine our inner selves. How clean are we, really?

Lord, show me the dirty spots in my heart and mind. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, make me clean.