Monday, November 12, 2018

Clean Heart, Loyal Spirit

By Joanne Viola


Recently in washing a pot, I splashed some of the residue onto my blouse. Immediately I went to spray stain remover but even after going through the wash cycle, I can still see the faint outline of the spots.

 "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10, NLT)

David knew confession was the only way to receiving forgiveness for the wrongs he had done. But David desired more - he desired a heart that would not repeat the sin nor fall back into it.

David also knew his heart would fail him and only God could give him a heart that would be loyal. David needed a clean heart and so do we.

The word "create" is bara in Hebrew and "This means to generate into existence ... implies craftsmanship. It describes bringing something which wasn't into existence or re-creating something into something new" (NLT Study Bible, Hebrew and Greek Word Studies).

The word "renew" is khadash and "This means to return an object to a condition or state that is the same as a prior condition" (also from the NLT Study Bible, Hebrew and Greek Word Studies).

"But if we confess our sins to him,, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." (1 John 1:9, NLT)

Let the pronouns stand out - one in particular - "our". It is our sin and He cleanses us. We need to have hearts which confess quickly, feel remorse and repent sincerely. May He not only cleanse us from our wickedness but also keep us from repeating it. May we not "fool ourselves" (see 1 John 1:8) into thinking we have no sin or do not sin or go a day without sinning.

 Here is the amazing act which God does in our hearts. He takes our soiled hearts and handcrafts them into something new, the condition they were meant to be from the beginning.

"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
(Psalm 51:7, NLT)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for causing this verse to fall new and personal. Help us to come quickly to You, to keep a short account. May our hearts not deceive or fool us into thinking we have no sin but, You, by Your Holy Spirit bring conviction and remorse quickly. Keep our hearts tender towards Your voice calling us to repentance each and every day, all day long. Amen.

In His Love,
Joanne

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

House and Heart Cleaning...


It's the most wonderful time of the year!  The holidays are right around the corner. There are at least six different gatherings at our home before Christmas, so today I wanted to get an early start on my pre-holiday deep cleaning. I always start with the hidden areas, the cupboards and drawers and pantry in the kitchen, and the bathrooms and laundry room. Today, I emptied all the shelves and drawers, threw out old or unnecessary items, wiped everything down then put things neatly back. I highly doubt that any of the guests that gather in our home will notice the tidy state of my cupboards or drawers, much less care about them. But, I notice and I care. When things are in order in my home I can handle the extra busyness that comes during this time of year with more grace and peace.

My word for 2018 has been yield. For these eleven months since last New Year's Day, this year of focusing on yielding and surrendering to God has been one loooonnnnng season of deep cleaning.  I'm not sure anyone else can see what God has been doing within, but the deeper I let Him go into the hidden places within my heart and soul the more I'm able to face life with grace and peace.

Cleaning the house and cleaning my heart have some things in common.

Get rid of things that are rotten or outdated.
When I was cleaning out the pantry today, I found a baggie of something I couldn't even identify. EWWW! That was an easy one to toss in the trash. But then, I found an unopened bottle of Tobasco sauce that was past its expiration date. Does Tobasco sauce really go bad? I reluctantly threw it out, regretting the waste.

As I yield to God's work within my heart I know that unforgiveness or bitterness is rottenness to my inner well being. It's a pretty obvious thing that I know I must yield to God and allow Him to throw out. But, there are other more subtle issues that I can rationalize holding on to. Like that past its expiration date bottle of Tobasco sauce, I can convince myself that it can't be that bad to hold on to. Yielding and surrendering to God, even in those sort of things, has resulted in a new level of freedom, rest and peace within.

Get rid of things that are no longer needed.
As I cleaned out cupboards and drawers I also found some perfectly good items that I no longer used or needed. There was nothing wrong with them, but getting rid of them freed up some storage space. It was time to let them go. During this year of yielding to God, He has helped me to let go of some things, in order to free up some space for some new things He has for me. It's all too easy to hold on to old things, old wrong mindsets and yesterday's old obligations. It's liberating to let go and make room for God to do a new thing!

When spring comes around, you'll find me doing another deep cleaning. I'll empty out those same cupboards and drawers that I cleaned out today and clean them again. Mess accumulates. Cleaning is a continual process. In my home and in my heart.
"Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!" Psalm 51:2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Finding Peace in Goodbye





From November 2016 through May 2017, I kept a small countdown calendar in my daily planner. One sheet with the months mapped out, a reverse number in the corner of each box. I highlighted each day with a blue pen, and my sheet eventually became a tranquil sea of light blue.

I left my job that I had for four years. I was excited about moving on, but I dreaded the final goodbye.

On the last week of my job, one of my coworkers tried to say goodbye and compliment me for my help, and I all but shooed him away. We were able to laugh about it, but I hoped he didn't notice the sheen of tears in my eyes.

The truth is, I'm TERRIBLE with goodbyes. I'm convinced this started back in my childhood, and without getting too heavy today, it stems from my oldest and deepest fear of abandonment. I avoid goodbyes like the plague. If I've ever sneaked out of a party or event I've attended with you, now you know why.

Goodbyes bring me face-to-face with several uncomfortable truths. One is that things will never be the same again. For instance, I will keep in touch with the friends I've made at work, but it will never be the same as hearing their stories and seeing their faces on a daily basis.  I will miss them so much, more than they know.

Another truth that makes goodbyes so hard: it means the unknown future is stares me in the face, and that tempts me to fear. Even though I was ready to leave the job, I felt comfortable in my daily rhythms, and I knew they would be disrupted. I really prefer being comfortable to being stretched...do you get me?

Yet, the reason I had peace in that goodbye is knowing it is God's time for me to make a change. When I wrote my book Newness of Life, I spent a long time contemplating this scripture:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

The truth about seasons is they change. As much as I dislike change, I'm realizing that change is a normal, even healthy, part of life this side of heaven. Change brings goodbyes, but it also brings hellos to new and better things.

I found peace in that goodbye because God appointed an end to that season so another season could begin. And now I'm living in that new season, which is much better than I could have imagined.


Because I rely on God and trust in him, my goodbyes are getting a little easier. Knowing that God appoints the times of my life helps me navigate my transitions with stronger faith.

I pray that if you are facing a goodbye, you will be able to see the good in it. God is with you in the goodbye, and he'll show you new things on the other side of it, friend. 

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Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and God's peace to you,



Photo from Canva.com

Reflection questions:


1. Are goodbyes hard for you too? Why or why not?


2. How has God helped you find peace in a goodbye?


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

You Are Free...Act Like It

By: Jenifer Metzger


Thousands of years ago Jesus came to this earth with the purpose to die for you and me. Through His death and His Resurrection, we have been made free. Free from sin, free from addiction, free from fear, free from guilt. We are free.

The Bible tells us in John 8:36, and these are Jesus' words, that if He set us free, we truly are free. We are no longer a slave to the things that bind us. We really are free!

Yet, here we are walking around as if we are still in bondage. We are living in sin, afraid of everything, guilty from the sins we are living in, and addicted to all sorts of things. We say we will quit our addiction, from drinking to smoking to overeating to social media, one day. We say we won't live in fear, yet we do. We say we gave our past to God, yet we continue to feel guilty for every little thing.

Friend, you are free! Why are you not acting like it? Why are you walking in bondage? Give it all to God and be free. Let's all say that verse together and personalize it: So if the Son sets me free, I really will be free!

We are free so let's act like it.





It is time for the Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday Link Up. We desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories in their comments.

On social media, use hashtag #w2wwordfilledwednesday!

Three rules to this link up:
1. Must be a {Christian} faith post.
2. Please link back to W2W somewhere in your post. (Feel free to use our button if you'd like!)
3. Visit and comment on at least one other blog in the link up.


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Monday, November 5, 2018

The Little White Church

 By: Joanne Viola

A year ago, we began driving regularly through a neighborhood which was new to us. On a corner stood a small church in the middle of this residential community, and each time I was stopped at the red light, the sight of the church would occupy my thoughts.

Recently, I sat parked across the street and facing the church, to ponder what it was I needed to see.
It’s a small church – simple in its construction – yet beautiful in its simplicity.

Getting out of the car, I snapped a few photos without exactly knowing why.

In the days following, I pulled up the photos on my phone, and my thoughts began to come together.

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:8, NLT)

We cannot be divided. ‘Loyalty’ means being faithful and committed. We must uproot whatever is distracting us from focusing on God. The New American Commentary states, “Attacking that which pollutes the heart will remove that which divides the mind”.

James tells us that we are to repent so that we are able to draw close to God. The imagery he brings is of the Old Testament priests. It is a process of purification before our God and as we submit to the process, praise God, He comes close–and closer–to us.

The simple white church began to speak its message.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are as red as crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)

The doors of the little church are red. We all come to the foot of the Cross, our hearts stained red with our sin. We come freely, once for all, entering the doors of His sanctuary, the place where we are safe and made free.

We come freely to be made free.

The white church, suddenly became representative of God’s sanctuary. The place of forgiveness, salvation, and purification. The place where we are covered and made pure once again.

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” (Revelation 19:7-8a, NLT)

We enter His covering to be covered.

Standing across the street from the church, I take my pictures with my phone, and walk back to my car. Starting my car back up, the song begins to play, and the words strike deeply:
“You are The One alone in greatness
The one who never changes
Jesus You are!
The One who rose in power
The One who reigns forever
Jesus the one true God!”
(Lyrics from the song One True God by Steven Curtis Chapman)

 “Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!”
(Psalm 61:4, NLT)
 

We come freely to be made free.
We enter His covering to be covered.
May we enter His sanctuary.


In His Love,
Joanne