It’s The Season

Organize-Your-Home_chore-checklist_092011It’s one of those annual rites that’s practiced in most homes across the USA.  At some point in the Spring and the Fall months of the year, there is some time scheduled for extra cleaning.

Just as you make time to spruce up your house, you might want to examine your life as well.  Is it as tidy and clean as it was a week or a month ago?

Self-examination is a continuing theme throughout the pages of Scripture, and I’ve emphasized a word in each verse below.  While these are different words in the English, they come from the same word in the Greek which is the language of the New Testament.

As you read these verses consider them in the context of who, what, when, and why:

***1 Thessalonians 5:21-22:  Test everything. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil.

  • What am I doing now that I wasn’t doing that has created a void in my relationship with God?

***Philippians 1:9-11:  I pray that your love will keep on growing because of your knowledge and insight. That way you will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.  Jesus Christ will fill your lives with everything that God’s approval produces. Your lives will then bring glory and praise to God.

  • When did my love for Jesus quit growing and when did it cease to bring Him glory and praise?

***Ephesians 5:8-14: Live as children of light, for the fruit that the light produces consists of every form of goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Determine what pleases the Lord, and have nothing to do with the unfruitful actions that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by these disobedient people in secret.  But everything that is exposed to the light becomes visible, for the light is making everything visible.

  • Who has influenced me to walk in the shadowy sin of darkness instead of the light of God’s love?

***Galatians 6:3-4:  If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself; but let each one examine his own work

  • Why do I think I can live my life on my own terms and disregard the principles of God and compromise my testimony?

***Romans 12:1-2: I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.  Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Examine your life to discern who you are most like.  Are you more or less of a reflection of Jesus than you were a week or a month ago?  If you are less like Him, is it because you like Him less and some one or some thing else more?  Are you still conformed to His image or have you morphed into the likeness of the world?

Examine yourself:  Is it time for some Fall cleaning?

Relationship’s Three R’s

Wheat field sunriseWhen I read the Psalms, I get the idea that many of these believers were get-up-before- the-rooster-crows kind of people. They rarely missed a sun rise and enjoyed the early morning hours.

I see this theme in most of the Psalms and here as well: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14).”

Henry Ward Beecher may have been reflecting on a similar verse when he said: “The first hour of waking is the rudder that guides the whole day.”

I encourage you to set a time to reflect on the three R’s of relationship that are found in the Psalms. These can act as a rudder to help guide your day:

• Relax in His peace: In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Ps. 4:8).”
• Refresh yourself in His mercies: “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made (Ps. 145:9).”
• Rejoice in His love: “I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation (Ps. 13:5).”

I’ll close with two verses that can summarize what I’ve written: “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:2-23)!”

Frazzled and Frayed

???????????????????????????????????????I hate it when I have to retire a favorite shirt. It’s the shirt that fits best, is the most comfortable, and just has a good feel whenever I wear it.

There comes a point when the shirt is moved from the wear on Sunday and to the office section of my wardrobe to the yard work section. When I notice a slight fray on the inside of the shirt collar, it signals a warning—prepare to retire this shirt.

The subtle but powerful culprit that eats away at the collar is my beard stubble. Even though my neck and the collar are well-acquainted, there is no affinity between the two because of the abrasive and constant presence of the beard stubble.

It’s a simple truth that beard stubble and shirt collars cannot coexist. They are like water and oil. You can stir them up and mix them together, but they will eventually separate; and, I know that, over time, the wear and tear of the coarse stubble will fray and tatter the soft collar of my shirt.

When I put my well-worn and favorite shirt on the other day, I noticed the frayed collar and said to myself: “What my beard did to this collar is the same thing sin does to my relationship with God.” Sin slowly eats away at the fellowship you have God, and it will wear you down and wear you out. Think about these relationship contrasts:

• As a Christian, you are formed and fashioned to walk in the light and not in the darkness ( I John 1:5-7).
• You are to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world (John 17:6-19).
• You are to focus your affections on the things above and not on the things below (Colossians 3:1-4).
• You are to “abhor” what is evil and “cling” to what is good (Romans 12:21).
• You are to “cast off” the darkness and wear “the armor of light (Romans 13:12).”

While it’s true that beard stubble can turn a shirt collar to rubble, it’s also true that when you’ve strayed from the path God has laid, you end up frazzled and frayed. You only have to read Psalm 1 to see a contrast that will confirm this.