Revive Me #22- Clear Your Conscience

Revive Me, Week 22– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Clear Your Conscience

One of my sons, who shall remain unnamed, recently started this conversation with me:

“Mom, do you remember that time several years ago when I was sweeping the kitchen and you saw me sweeping the crumbs out from under the refrigerator?  You commended me for being so thorough and told me I was doing a great job with my chores.  Well, I wasn’t sweeping the crumbs out from under the refrigerator.  I was too lazy to get the dustpan so I was hiding the whole pile of crumbs by sweeping it under the refrigerator.”

There was chagrin all over my son’s face as he waited for my reaction to his confession.

We are entering that phase of parenting where we get to hear all kinds of confessions.  It’s a wonder any of my sons even survived their childhood based on some of the shenanigans they’re owning up to!

In this particular case, my son’s conscience was bothered by having received undeserved praise.  Perhaps there will come a day when we will receive a confession of something more “serious” than laziness or recklessness.

“Open confession is good for the soul.”

This old Scottish proverb has biblical backing.  Guilt has a way of festering.  God wants us to feel clean and whole.

  • James 5:16- “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
  • 1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Prov. 28:13- “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
  • Psalm 32:3-5- “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide;  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you like to mark in your Bible, look up the above passages.  Circle the action (“confess,” “acknowledge”) and underline the result (“healed,” “forgive,” “cleanse,” etc.).
  2.  If you have children or grandchildren, spend time studying these passages.  Help them understand that confession is better than suppression.  Help them see that confession brings forgiveness and wholeness and is another evidence of God’s love for us.
  3.  If you have hidden sins, clear your conscience.  If it’s between you and God, confess it to Him and ask for forgiveness.  If it’s an offense against another, go to that person privately and humbly confess and ask for forgiveness.
  4.  Pray for courage, wisdom, and discernment.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

Revive Me #21- Long for Fellowship

Revive Me, Week 21– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Long for Fellowship

I have rolled my eyes at the idea of another potluck.  I’ve whispered “amen” to posts or comments about the fact that fellowship is not about eating a meal together.  Well, I’ve decided that I’ve been guilty of a bad attitude.

If I’m honest, I must get to the bottom of my lack of enthusiasm.  Is it the meal itself?  No.  Is it the effort it would take on my part to prepare a dish?  No.  So that leaves only two other reasons.  Either I don’t relish the idea of spending more time with my Christian family or I don’t want to cram another event into my already busy schedule.  Spelling it out like that doesn’t make me sound too good, does it?  What could be more important than spending time with God’s people?  What does it say about the spiritual condition of my heart when I lose the desire to do so?

God’s people are the best of people!  I never regret spending time with them.

What does God think about Christian fellowship?

  • The early Christians were devoted to it- Acts 2:42
  • He lists it as a blessing of walking in the Light- 1 John 1:7

There are commands we can only fulfill with time and togetherness:

  • We meet together to encourage each other- Heb. 10:25
  • We are to bear each other’s burdens- Gal. 6:2
  • We are to have the same mind and the same love- Phil. 2:2
  • We are to comfort one another- 2 Cor. 13:11
  • We are to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other- James 5:16
  • We are to look to the interests of others- Phil. 2:4
  • We are to do good to each other- Gal. 6:10
  • We are to love one another- 1 John 4:7
  • We are to exhort one another- Heb. 3:13

Only so many of those can be accomplished through social media.  Paul desired to see Christians so he could be encouraged by their faith (Rom. 1:11,12).

Busyness.  Introvertedness.  Isolation.  These may be the types of things that lead to a lack of desire for togetherness.  Or maybe the withdrawal comes from hurt feelings.  Maybe someone said something thoughtless or let you down.  Whatever the cause, let us remember that fellowship was special to the church of the New Testament.  Let us remember that fellowship is about more than getting, it’s about giving.  We encourage, love, serve, exhort.  We hug and laugh together.  We light each other’s fire to save souls.  We let others glimpse our faith.

The first century Christians were united and turned the world upside-down (Acts 17:6).  Certainly that is the desire of every Christian today.

Suggestions for the Week:

1.  Look up the “one another” passages and list what Christians are to do together.

2.  If your desire to fellowship is waning, try to determine the cause.  Have you been hurt?  Are you so busy that you are burned out?  Have worldly pursuits distracted you?  Pray about it.

3.  Make sure the same people aren’t having to schedule fellowship activities.  Help brainstorm and create opportunities to be together.

4.  Pay attention to those who are missing fellowship activities.  Reach out to them and encourage them to join you.

5.  Be intentional in your fellowship.  While you’re with Christians, focus on giving, loving, encouraging, and listening.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #20– Rise and Shine!

Revive Me, Week 20– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Rise and Shine!

“Rise and shine, friend. Everyone you meet today is on heaven’s Most Wanted list.”

(Charles R. Swindoll)

I love this quote.  It’s a reminder and a challenge for me.  It reminds me that my attitude affects my ability to impact others for Christ.  It challenges me to see each new day as an opportunity to think souls.  Rise and shine!

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”

(Phil. 2:14,15)

There are many reasons to grumble, I know.  Politics.  The high expense of health care.  Job insecurity.  Maybe Monday mornings are on that list for you.  We all have personal reasons to grumble.  But what are any of these in light of a soul?  Let’s lay aside our grumbles and look for ways to shine.  The people around us need Christ.  Does grumbling lift Him up for all to see?

Rise above the earthly annoyances (Col. 3:1,2) and shine the Light (Matt. 5:16).  May God bless our daily efforts to share His love this week.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Be mindful of your face.  It’s the first thing people see.  Smile warmly as you interact with EVERY person.
  2.  If your list of reasons to grumble seems overly long, remember that your list of reasons to smile is even longer.  Write down your blessings and keep adding to that list each day this week.  This would be a fun family activity.
  3.  Your cheer will be obvious in an unhappy world.  Some will comment on it.  Be ready to give a thought provoking answer for “the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).
  4.  My son, Dale, said, “We can Think Souls all day long but we need to get beyond the thinking and start doing something about it.”  What specific way can you reach souls this week?

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #19–Turn Your Regrets Around

Revive Me, Week 19–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Turn Your Regrets Around

We will be celebrating our youngest son’s graduation from high school next week.  For the past several weeks I’ve been fighting a slight panic, a nagging feeling that I’ve left some things undone and untaught.  How did this moment get here so quickly?  How have I run out of time already?

I shared these thoughts with Kathy Petrillo last night, a wise mother who is a few years ahead of me.  She promptly said, “There’s still time.”  I blinked, and then I smiled.  Of course!  Thank you, Kathy Petrillo!

There’s still time.  We’re not promised a tomorrow (James 4:14) but we have today.

I imagine we all have some regrets.  It’s encouraging to read about individuals in the Bible who surely had regrets but still continued to serve God to the best of their ability.  David sinned in his relationships but secured the best relationship of all by being “a man after God’s own heart.”  How?  God knew David would “do all His will” (Acts 13:22).  Paul went from persecuting the Lord’s church to loving the Lord’s church.  I can imagine a brother asking, “Paul, how do you deal with your regrets?”  Paul would answer, “One thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” (Phil. 3:13,14). He would go on to say, “Let us therefore…have this attitude.”

How can we turn our regrets around?

  1.  Do all God’s will
  2.  Forget what lies behind
  3.  Reach forward to what lies ahead
  4.  Maintain this attitude

I’m still not ready for my last son to leave the nest.  I know I missed opportunities and messed up many times.  Satan wants me to get bogged down in the “if onlys.”  God wants me to press ahead.

“You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.”

(Pat Schroeder)

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  Paul said, “Join in following my example” (Phil. 3:17).  What “goal” was he pressing toward (v. 14)?  Write down what goal you’re pressing toward.
  2. Perhaps, like me, you have some things in your past you’d like to forget.  Is there anything you need to do before you can turn those regrets around?  Do you need to ask for someone’s forgiveness?  Do you need to make something right, if possible?
  3. Bible-mark “Haunted by the Past.”
  4. Ask God to help you let go of the past so you can pursue the opportunities you have in the present.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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What Carl looked like just yesterday.

 

Revive Me #18–Keep Things in Perspective

A few months ago I shared the photo below on my husband and dog on social media.  Several posted comments like:

“That’s not a dog…it’s a grizzly bear!”

“That dog is huge!  What kind is it?”

“That can’t be a real dog.”

“That’s a wookie.”

“Is that real?  When’d he get so big?  (Your dog, not Neal)”

Chipper does look ginormous in the picture but he’s only a medium sized goldendoodle and weighs about 55 pounds.  Something about the perspective of the shot makes him look a lot bigger than he actually is, especially compared to Neal.

How are you at keeping things in perspective?  It’s easier to see when someone else has trouble because they’re approaching something from the wrong point of view.  We might think, “If only they would change their attitude concerning ______…”  It’s more difficult to recognize in our own life.

Thankfully the Bible is our mirror (James 1:23).  We can look into it and see if we need to make any changes.

  • What causes you to worry?
  • Do you have unresolved issues with someone?
  • Do you wonder what you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • Do you feel like you’re not good enough, your past is insurmountable, or Christianity is too hard?

Satan wants you to struggle and doubt.  He wants to discourage you from ever “getting it right.”  These types of questions can be more easily resolved when approached from a biblical perspective.  When we keep our focus where it belongs, the predicaments of life don’t loom as large.

“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above…Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

(Col. 3:1,2)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study verses that have to do with spiritual priorities:  Luke 12:22-34; Col. 1:10; Matt. 6:19-24, 33; 22:37,38; Luke 10:38-42; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 3:13,14; 2 Tim. 2:22
  2.  List your concerns and pray about them.  Ask God to help you keep things in their proper perspective.
  3.  Consider the quote, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”  Have you allowed fear to control your decisions?  How can you strengthen your faith to help you see things God’s way?

Read it. Memorize it. Live it.

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