Uprooted

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.

Uprooted-2

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)

Like Scarlet, As Snow

Isaiah 1:10-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.”
    Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
    says the Lord.
“I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of fattened cattle.
I get no pleasure from the blood
    of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to worship me,
    who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
    the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
    and your special days for fasting—
they are all sinful and false.
    I want no more of your pious meetings.
14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
    They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.
    Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,
    for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
    Get your sins out of my sight.
    Give up your evil ways.
17 Learn to do good.
    Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
    Defend the cause of orphans.
    Fight for the rights of widows.

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me,
    you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
    you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

I love the first snowfall of winter. IMG_4319Tiny frozen flakes cover a multitude of branches, leaves, and blades of dormant grass. The earth is blanketed in white and I am immediately taken back to memories of childhood playing at our grandparent’s home in La Pine, Oregon. Snow drifts several feet high covered the landscape- along with our white poodle as he attempted to paint the snow yellow! Gone now is the little girl who bundled up from head to toe to play in frigid temperatures. In her place remains an adult-ish woman who now prefers to watch our children write their own memories in the snow as I sit beside the roaring fireplace with a book and hot beverage in hand.

Gone too is the spiritual little girl who first met her Savior when she was 9 months pregnant with our first little girl. In her place remains an adult-ish spiritual woman who now prefers an authentic, life giving relationship with her Lord instead of the religious ceremony that once devoured her.

I accepted and believed in Jesus in the final few months of the 20th century and was baptized with water the following year. However, my baptism with fire didn’t occur for several more years (see Acts 1: 4-5). Although my life was saved for all eternity, the abundant life that Scripture promised was not yet realized. I was a religious zealot. I sought acceptance and approval from church leaders to satisfy my ravenous pride. I made sacrifices of my time, talent and treasure. I paraded through the courts of worship auditoriums with religious ceremony. I brought meaningless gifts to the altar. I lifted my blood covered hands in prayer meetings in an attempt to look washed and clean. All the while, I refused to give up my evil ways.

I attended worship services, but I did not worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. I heard the Truth, but I wasn’t set free. I acknowledged the Spirit, but I wasn’t filled with power. But just as He promised in His Word, the Lord poured out His Spirit on me while I was in the living room praying with my husband one day… and I began speaking in other languages! Shortly after, I began to prophesy, see visions and dream dreams (see Acts 2:17-20).

I was transformed.

How?

Grace.

Deliverance.

And discipline.

God’s Spirit released the gift of repentance in my soul. The warmth of His love melted my hard heart just as the sun dissolves the snowflakes from the earth when the sun rises. As solid gave way to liquid, my religious activity was exposed and the scarlet sin of rebellion was revealed beneath. I began to pray as Jesus taught His disciples to pray. I began to read His Word and do what it says. I began to confess my sins to the Lord- and others. I began to acknowledge that I did not love God. I began to grieve over my disobedience.

Then He caused wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below: this spotted sheep, who’s sins were like scarlet, were made white as snow.

All because the Lamb of God was slain.

And now, this white as wool sheep listens to the Shepherd’s voice… and obeys Him, instead of offering sacrifices.

Salt Life

Matthew 5:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

In verse 1 of the 5th chapter of Matthew crowds once again were gathering around Jesus. He left them, choosing instead to go up the mountain and sit with His disciples for another teaching opportunity about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told the 12, “you are the salt of the earth.” His disciples were no longer part of the crowd. They were set apart on the mountainside- and they would be set apart in life.

They were to live the salt life.

According to science.howstuffworks.com salt already exists far below the earths surface. In order to extract the mineral and use it for seasoning, deep mining shafts are required to drudge it from the pit of darkness into the light of day. This process requires continual drilling, cutting and blasting of dirt, rocks and sediment to break the salt free.

Long before salt was created, God existed. Long before minerals were tucked into the depths of the earth, God called His children by name. He called His children to be disciples. He called them to be salt. He provided the way for them to be salt: He crushed His Son. Through Him, they would have eternal and abundant lives. Then He gave them the power to be salty: The Holy Spirit. And then… the mining process began. He drilled deep shafts into their souls to break the salt free that was hidden within the darkness. He drudged the mineral to the surface, so that others would taste and see that the Lord was good (Psalm 34:8)!

When you respond to Gods call by believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord, you are salt. But in order to live the salt life- in order to go, make disciples you will require continual deep shaft mining. When you invest time, day after day, getting to know the Lord through His Word, prayer and with His church (other believers), the Holy Spirit will drill into your soul. He will cut through the hardness of your heart and reveal the mineral that exists deep within. Through confession, repentance, forgiveness (drilling, cutting, blasting), your sin and those who have sinned against you will be forgiven. You will be crushed and His flavor will be hauled to the surface where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will emerge.

Salt life.

Has your life lost its flavor?

When the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life rule your mind, will and emotions you shut down the deep shaft mine to the Holy Spirit. You don’t study the Word. You don’t pray (except in public – to be noticed). You don’t confess. You don’t repent. You don’t forgive. You are convinced that you’re right about everything and everyone else is a bunch of idiots. You don’t love our wife. You don’t submit to your husband. You don’t train your children.

Immediately after His declaration on the mountain, the Lord gave His disciples (present & future) a stern warning about being salt without flavor: what they did in His name would be thrown out, trampled on, and essentially…worthless- if they did not know Him (see Matthew 7:21-23).

But…the Good News is still the Good News! IF you choose to humble yourself, pray, seek Him and turn from sin, He will hear, forgive and restore your saltiness.

You are the salt.

Now go, live the salt life!