Friday, September 2, 2011

Be careful what you resurrect!

Psalm 99:8 O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.

What is it in the human heart that takes us down a path that separates us from fellowship with our Father? We find the answer to this question in Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Listen to me today, my friend.  If you are incarcerated behind bars of steel, or if you live in a prison of fear, bitterness, or rage, you must look no further than your own heart to discover the source of your distress. 

 While it is true that we are unable to control many things that affect our life—a history of childhood abuse, neglect, deprivation, or abandonment—the way we respond to the challenges of our past will determine who we become.  A broken, illiterate, teenager can become a mighty man of God.  An abused objectified woman can be restored to purity. Think of the prostitute that wept at the feet of Christ and washed his feet with her tears.  Broken hearts not only need mending, they need cleansing.  And that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 tells us: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Are you willing, today, to allow the Holy Spirit of God to cleanse your heart of any and all of the impurities mentioned in Matthew 15:19?  You may ask,” Why would he do that for me,  a person convicted of breaking the law of our land?”   Why would he do it for me—a person convicted by the Spirit of God of transgressing his Holy law? Clearly not because we deserve it.  With all that ‘stuff’ in our heart, we hardly deserve to be rescued by a righteous God who hates evil.  Titus tells us “He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.”  The everlasting mercy of God saves us and His Holy Spirit cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

So, you say, if God loves me so much and is so full of mercy, why am I still here—sitting behind these bars?  The Psalmist gives us the answer to that question.  “You were to Israel a forgiving God , though you punished their misdeeds.”

Even though God loves His children and saves them from the eternal consequences of their misdeeds, he does not overlook them.  The Word says He “punished their misdeeds.”  The Name of God used in this passage (Psalm 99:8 NKJV)) is “The God Who Forgives.”

What good does it do us to be forgiven if we are still in prison?  As the Apostle Paul might say, “Much in every way.”  While we serve out the punishment of our misdeeds behind physical bars, we are steadily being released from the guilt and blame that we so richly deserve because of our actions.

Today is the day of salvation! (11 Corinthians 6:2 NLT) “Choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)  Will you serve the evil that so easily inhabits the human heart (Matthew 15:19) or will you surrender to the mercy of God and allow him to take your through the cleansing process that will renew and revitalize your soul?

Linda Settles is a prolific writer, speaker, and teacher with a story to tell and a purpose to serve. She sees every life challenge as an opportunity for growth, and a call to “come up higher,” in our walk with God.

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