Matthew 15:1-3, 10-20

New Living Translation (NLT)

Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”

16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”

I have a stubborn planter wart on the bottom of my foot. Gross, I know. For the last year, I’ve been pulling, picking and smothering the seeds with Compound W that have risen to the surface. Several months ago, I finally relented in trying to eradicate the thing by myself, so I scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist. She brought out the big gun: dry ice (solid form of carbon dioxide). After 3 painful, burning procedures that sucker still wasn’t gone! The latest treatment involved injecting chemotherapy into the wart to kill the infection at its root. Needle into the foot? AHHHHHHHHH! Yes, I cried out to the Lord… as I was trying not to kick the doctor in her face.

Hobbling through the house, trying to avoid the pain that permeates every time I step on the affected area, I realized that I attempted to pull, pick and smother my sins…especially those that were deeply rooted in sexual immorality. After I accepted Jesus, who saved me from eternity in hell, I still experienced hell on earth as the seeds of sexual sin continued rising to the surface of my life. Ashamed, I tried covering them up with a band aid (just like I did the wart). I pleaded with God, “PLEASE make it go away!” (just like I did with the wart).

Nothing happened.

Until I asked for help. Help from my Savior and Lord. Help from others in the body of Christ. What do I mean by that? I mean bowing my will to the King of kings and Lord of lords. I mean crying out, “create in me a clean heart oh God, that I might not sin against you!” (Psalm 51:10, emphasis added). I mean taking off the cloak of shame I was wearing and laying it at His feet. I mean confessing the pain my body and soul were suffering as a result of sin. I mean standing before God naked. I mean allowing Him to shine His light on the darkest areas of my soul, to expose every single temptation and sin related to sexual immorality. I mean giving the Holy Spirit permission to dig until the first seed of sin was exposed, injected with fire, and uprooted. I mean extending forgiveness to those who sinned against me. I mean asking forgiveness for those I sinned against. I mean confessing to God- and others. I mean feeling the deep grief of repentance for the sins I committed against God and His commands. I mean asking Jesus to deliver me from the evil that resided in my wicked heart. I mean accepting His sacrifice for my sin. I mean receiving supernatural healing for my body and soul because He bore the stripes upon His body for ME.


My friend, your evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander cannot be removed by religious activity (washing your hands). The seeds of your sin cannot be smothered in Compound W. But submitting to Jesus as Savior and Lord and asking other believers for help can uproot the rebellion that lies hidden within your heart. Yes, injecting Truth into the lies will be painful. The procedure will hurt some. You will be embarrassed that others know your deep, dart secrets. But death WILL come to the sin, and life WILL grow in its place as you confess your sins in prayer!!! (James 5:16)

The 99

Luke 15:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever read a passage of Scripture over and over again and think, in your arrogance, “yeah, I get it?” Until someone says “many people get confused by it [this parable], but….?” And you are instantly offended?

Just me? Ok.

IMG_2961When I re-read the above passage, the Holy Spirit breathed life onto the page and BOOM, revelation invaded my soul. Humbly, I cried out, “Oh….God…I’m so sorry for leaning on my own understanding….thank you for revealing your truth to me.”

I had always assumed the 99 were already saved, and God abandoned them. I was continually irritated when this message was preached in seeker friendly services (what does that mean, anyway? “Seeker friendly”?!). Pastors would declare, “it’s not about YOU, it’s about the one.” Excuse me? What does THAT mean? Am I not loved by God? Am I to be abandoned in the wilderness when He goes after the one?

No. No. No!

The 99 represented the Pharisees and teachers of religious law. They had no relationship with the Shepherd, even though they belonged to Him. The 99 stayed in the wilderness, instead of following the Shepherd.

Here’s the deal: The Shepherd loves all His sheep. He died for all of them. But, He goes after the one. The one He chose before the foundations of the earth. He leaves the 99 who reject him. He pursues the one. He finds the one. And when the lost sheep humbles himself, the Shepherd picks him up, puts him on His shoulders, and carries him home.

I am the one.

I was part of the 99. I stayed in the wilderness for decades. I was raised in the church. I knew about God. I was involved in religious activity. But I did not know the Shepherd. I was lost. I was a notorious sinner.

Now I am found!

The Lord left the 99 to search for me 19 years ago. ME! He chose ME before the foundations of the earth. He pursued ME. He found ME. And when this stubborn sheep humbled myself before the Great Shepherd, He picked me up, put me on His shoulders and carried me home. There was joy in heaven for ME!

I am the one.

Are you?

(Thank you, @realcoryasbury https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xx0d3R2LoU )

A Wife’s Consent

Acts 5: 1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”

As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”

“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”

And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”

10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.

Ananias. A man who, with his wife Sapphira, believed the Good News of Jesus Christ and were part of the early church. Perhaps they were included in the 5,000+ who heard Peter preach the gospel after Pentecost? Perhaps they hadn’t yet received water baptism before he and John were brought before the council, arrested and put in prison? Perhaps they hadn’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by fire? Perhaps their story would have been different if they had?


But those chapters were never written.

Immediately after Ananias & Sapphira’s brief introduction in chapter 5 verse 1 of the book of Acts, we realize that Ananias was greedy for acknowledgement & affirmation. Upon the sale of his property, he also became greedy for the cash he earned. As Peter explained to him, it was HIS land to keep or sell.  It was HIS money to keep or give away. But he made a decision in his heart which would cost him his life- and the life of his wife.

He chose to fear man instead of fearing God.

Ananias wanted to appear generous, like his fellow believer, Joseph, who had sold a field he owned and given ALL the money to the apostles so that they could distribute it to those in need (Acts 4:36-37). Ananias wasn’t prompted by the Holy Spirit to sell his land. Ananias was prompted by Satan to be like Joseph. He has tempted by the lust of the eyes, flesh and pride of life. A thought captured his mind; sell the land, give some of the money to church leaders, and appear “righteous” like Joseph. Panic invaded his emotions; what if I need some of the money to provide for me and my family?! He made a willful choice; seek approval & affirmation from the apostles by giving part of the profit to the church and keep the rest.

Then he obtained his wife’s consent!!!!

Sapphira made the fatal decision to fear man instead of fearing God. Whether she was afraid to tell her husband “no” because of religious customs or societal pressure, she chose to fear his wrath, rejection, or withdrawal of provision instead of fearing God. She gave consent to lie- to him, and herself.


They lied to the Holy Spirit!

They lied to the church!

Both sinned.

Both fell short of the glory of God.

Both died suddenly.

Both were an example to the believers.

If only they were the one couple in church history who sought acknowledgement and affirmation from religious leaders. If only they were the only husband and wife duo who wanted to appear generous, but were actually greedy.

If only….

Men still scheme and devise plans to look righteous. Women still give consent to lies. They may not die a physical death in front of others, but death comes non-the-less. Decay follows as Satan slithers his way through families and causes disunity amongst believers.

What are we to do, then?

Scripture is clear: confront the sin. If a man or woman fails to confess, the young men need to get up, wrap them in a sheet and bury them! (see also Matthew 18: 15-20) The church in America has become experts in sweeping sin under the rug. God is not fooled. May the Holy Spirit fall on the bride of Christ with all-consuming fire, causing us to confess, repent, and once more fear God. Only then can we be equipped to preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation so that others will believe & accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and go, make disciples.