Washed in Mercy

wash

Titus 3:5

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

We are blessed to live in a nation where clean water is readily available to most, and it is for certain something that we take for granted. I was in the Philippines to sing at a conference about 11 years ago and my first shower in a home in the Philippines, which did have running water, but to shower there was a plastic cup that hung on the wall from a cold water only tap. You realize how very spoiled you are. It’s that spoiling that causes us to miss the blessings of salvation.

I want stuff. And the Lord says “You have stuff, you need Me.” I need more of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. This morning I was whining to the Lord about wanting something for my husband. He works so hard, he asks for so little. So when something comes up that he’d like, it hurts me that it’s not within his grasp. And while the Lord didn’t mind that I was whining for someone else for a change, it brought me back to that spigot in the wall, and a pipe sticking up out of the floor that was the toilet, and how blessed I was to be there. Because there in that city where many of the people had nothing materialistic in comparison to me, they had what I longed for and it cost nothing… the Presence of God.

While salvation was instantaneous upon the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, my relationship with God is dependent on the time I spend in His Word and in His presence. As a friend once said “The Word of God is a spiritual warsh cloth.”

“Warsh” is the word “wash” spelled as he pronounced it. That’s an important piece of his story because he was raised poor and when he became wealthy, he didn’t forget where he came from. He glorified God and kept his humility.

When Paul wrote to Titus in chapter 3 he reminded him not to “get above his raisin.” Not to forget where he came from. The presence of God in our life, through the preaching and reading of His word is a cleansing. As I read the word this morning I was not only reminded that I can live better, but I was reminded of the fact that I can’t live good enough when it comes to obtaining the presence of God in my life. That only comes by and through His grace and mercy. I can’t earn stuff with God and I cannot earn His unmerited favor.

Praise God for that regeneration (the spiritual change) within me that gave me a new life, a new hope, and leaves my soul as clean as newborn baby in the eyes of God. Oh… I struggle. I fall and fail and muddy myself with the world around me. But He is faithful to scrub me back up!  Hallelujah!

A Nice Thought To Begin the Day

fireNobody is any more surprised than we ourselves when something we’ve said ends up being the start of a pathway to destruction. Yet, there it is in James 3:5

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things, Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

As I read through James last night and this morning, preparing my Sunday School lesson for the teen department; I am reminded that the same tongue that can start a fire of destruction… and we all know it can! Can also start a fire for the cause of Christ that will burn until His return and God won’t mind in the least! As a matter of fact He’ll reward us for the effort. I pray that my thoughts and God’s words unite to ignite my youth. I pray that’s true in your church too.

The tongue is such a small portion of the body, and yet yields so much power. So do each of us in the body of Christ. That’s a nice thought to begin the Lord’s Day with. Encourage one another today!

Who Is on the Wall?

wallI love lessons in leadership. It truly is where my heart lies much of the time; seeking wisdom of God as to the expectations of leaders in a church.  I’m especially interested in leadership as it pertains to women. Now I realize this differs at every church, and I know that varying denominations have varying beliefs, but I think one we will all agree on is that our church is “our church.” And how we believe is our choice. That being said, this is not about gender as much as it is about the ears on the side of every head be they male or female. One of the greatest leadership lessons learned of recent date was the 2016 National Election. The ears of Washington D.C. had been plugged with the cotton of conspiracy by Satan himself and they had long since stopped listening to the people. Unless of course you were Hollywood’s people. Which is a liberal mindset not fit to listen to and by no means should carry a greater weight than that of the rest of the country. And because they didn’t listen, the election was a shocker for them! Well, I don’t want a shocker in my church and you shouldn’t want a shocker in yours either.

That’s why it’s important to listen, rather than labor in vain.

2 Samuel 20 finds King David trying to reestablish his Kingdom having been ousted by his son Absalom who was then killed in the battle.  And once that battle was over there was a man of Belial (evil ungodly man) who’s name was Sheba the son of Bichri and he refused to accept the victory of David. Sound familiar? I guess Sheba was a democrat of the day (okay, I’ll stop). This is not about politics so don’t fret! This is about one woman in her community who saved the day and one leader in David’s army that stopped to listen.

2 Samuel 20:16-20

Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.  And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear. Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord? And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.

A Woman of Wisdom

The unnamed woman, a mother of Israel (she was a leader), took her plight to the leader of David’s Army and saved her whole city. She went “in her wisdom” back to her people and they cut the head off of Sheba and threw it over the wall to Joab. He didn’t have to lift a finger, he just had to listen.

A Woman of Willingness

Much like our nation, I believe that church leadership isn’t listening to their people. There’s a battle against the church from within and without but if everyone would just listen to one another we could throw the head of Satan outside our walls and dwell in peace. Of course I speak metaphorically, but this scripture pierced my heart when I heard her plea for her city “I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful.”

In other words, “I’m not trying to cause trouble, I’m one of your people and I’m willing to serve, tell me what you need and I’ll make it happen.” Joab listened and the woman acted. That’s what will make our churches great! When leadership puts the battle into the hands of the people. The congregation knows where the trouble is. They see when a family struggles, they see when disagreements and dissention is arising in the ranks, they know when something works and when it doesn’t.

A Woman of Watchfulness

Everyone in the congregation? No. But the woman of wisdom who had kept her eye her people, not for the latest gossip, but to keep them alive! No doubt there were men of wisdom. We know who’s mature in the faith and who’s still a baby and likes to tattle. A whole city was saved because a woman without a name had the nerve to speak boldly to a leader and that leader had the wherewithal to listen.

Here’s was my lesson from this woman’s story:

  • She cared, and she cared deep ( she was willing to stick her neck on the line)
  • She went to the leaders to find out what needed to be done, and he answered.
  • She went back to her people and had them handle the problem. (I highly doubt she killed Sheba) but she knew who could.
  • She didn’t care if nobody knew who she was, her mission was to serve the people of God.

The lesson: Leaders should listen, and listeners should feel led to lead, so that everyone on the inside of the wall has a voice.