All Washed Up!

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Sometimes I am amazed how the Lord presents truths to us and mixes them over time with providential circumstances to reveal the inadequacy of our perspective and the complacency of our walk with Him.

Recently I posted a quote on Facebook from J.C. Ryle “If you do not love Christ, let me plainly tell you what is the reason: You have no sense of debt to Him.”

The post got a few hearty Amens but little discussion.  In a way I was glad because to be honest I don’t think I really had a sense of the depth of that quote. I understood it, but I wasn’t feeling it.

A a few days later I sinned.  It was a selfish, stupid sin that I struggle with from time to time.  One I wish I could be free of.  But there it was.  I was dead, caught in my trespass. I did not feel worthy to come before the Lord and ask to be forgiven… again.  So I avoided Him for a while as I wallowed in my pity and sense of guilt.   I did eventually confess my sin to the Lord, but in the back of my mind I wondered if I was just mouthing the words.  Was I just going through the motions? I felt guilty but I did not really feel that sense of debt those Amen-ers seemed to grasp.

I chewed on that for a while.  The taste of it lingered.  Kind of like those red onions from Burger King three hours later.

A few days later I was reading the 2nd chapter of Romans. It was tough.  There were too many distractions to make it profitable.  On one end of the house there were folks loudly watching the recorded “live” version of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood (ugh!) On the other end of the house my daughter was playing some loud Christian music in her bedroom

Verses like these were tagging me.  But not getting all the way through.

Romans 2:1  “YOU, therefore, have no excuse, you pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things”

And

Romans 2:4 “Or do YOU show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance”

I knew the lord was working on my hard heart. The inadequacy of my ho hum repentance was nagging at me.

Due to the noise I decided to listen to the dramatized NIV on my kindle.  And this is where the lord broke through. It is where my hard heart crumbled into tiny little pieces.

I listened to john chapter 13 where Jesus washed the disciple’s feet.  Peter resisted Jesus and said “Lord, you are going to wash my feet?”  He resisted further,  “ No, you shall never wash my feet”.  Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah.  He saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.  He had heard Jesus say to the Jewish leaders “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” Peter knew the meaning of this. He knew Jesus was claiming to be God.  Peter Knew who Jesus was and rightly resisted.  But Peter relented when Jesus said to him “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”.  Peter then wanted Jesus to wash not only his feet but his hands and his head as well. (Peter was an all-in kind of guy) Jesus then explained to Peter that “those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean”

Now I know what that means. We have been washed in the blood, we have been redeemed. We’ve had a bath. We are clean from a positional standpoint.  The washing of the feet refers to confessing our current sins, basically, since our last repentance.

It occurred to me that when we are exercising 1 john 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful… to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness”.  What we are really doing is asking Jesus to wash our feet.  We are asking Jesus to stoop and wash our dirty, stinking feet.  We are asking Him,  the Lord of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, to cleanse us from the stain of sin we so callously got ourselves dirty with… again.

I had a mental image of Jesus –  the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,  gently washing my sin away,  gently dabbing until the stain of sin was gone. In my mind I was submitting to the unimaginable depth of kindness that he has for me.  I recalled Jesus’ words to Peter “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”.  Like Peter I wanted him to wash me.  Honestly it was overwhelming. I sobbed. And then sobbed some more.  It moved me to worship the Lord for His kindness and His compassion and I thanked Him for the incredible kindness of WANTING to restore me to Himself.

Saying “I have been washed” speaks to me of a humbled submission and an acceptance of my own helplessness in a way that “I have been forgiven” does not.   It also carries with it the idea that this great God of ours loves us so much that he personally involves himself in restoring us. He does not dispatch a lesser agent. He does it Himself.  Only He is qualified to do it. Restoration is a privilege He reserves for himself. And we have to do it His way or no way at all.

God showed me afresh what it meant to have a sense of debt to Him. And that sense of debt lead me to love Him more.

AMEN! J.C. Ryle  AMEN!

Payback is Hell.

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In John Piper’s book “Life as  Vapor”. He writes this:

“Remember that God will vindicate your just cause and settle all accounts better than you could. The offender will either pay in hell or Christ has paid for him. Your payback is either double jeopardy or an offense to the cross”.

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:19

“Beloved never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God. For it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord'”

 Jesus set the example for us in 1 Peter 2:23 “When He was reviled, he did not revile in return; when He suffered He did not threaten, but continued entrusting to Him who judges justly”.

We have all heard the phrase “payback is hell” and we laugh.  Perhaps we should not.

For the non-christian – it is quite literally true.

The phrase “payback is hell” really should give us cause to consider how well we have “lived the gospel” in the situation at hand.

Part of living the gospel involves fighting to keep our perspective in line with biblical truths when we feel offended.  We should strive to view the “offense” in light of the depth of grace that has been extended to us.

Jesus suffered immensely to make an alternative payment plan available.

How we react in these situations can have a profoundly positive or negative affect on others.

Payback doesn’t have to be Hell.

We need fresh stuff everyday!

soul may live

A friend made the statement recently that a trend in some Christian leadership circles is to think that preparing to lead a group or teach a class adequately serves as their personal time with the Lord.

While preparing to lead has great value and at times can lead to some very deep communion with the Lord, using that as our sole source of time spent with the Lord can leave us ill prepared to lead. It can easily turn into leading in the power of our own flesh.

When we are preparing to teach others we have their interest in mind. At best we have the Lord’s interest for them at heart. Still it is for them.

It fails to adequately address the concepts in Psalm 139: 23-24: 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Regular time alone with the Lord for ourselves, separate from preparing for the ministry He has given us, is essential.

Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” This mental picture implies a sense that an immediate need is being met.  Only the light needed to see what is just ahead is provided.

In the same way Matt 6:11 “give us today our daily bread” is a reference to Manna in the old testament. They were instructed to take only enough for their daily needs.

Both of these passages are a picture of our designed immediate and daily dependence on the Lord.  We need fresh stuff every day.

Luke 6:45 says “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks”

 If we are going to have something to give, we need to put something in. We need to regularly spend time with Jesus in a personal way that is deeply satisfying so that there will be an abundance in our  hearts from which to share.  

Act 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

For other people to be able to take note that we have been with
Jesus – well, we have to spend time with Jesus in order for that to work.   

where it all began