Dirty Diapers

Most of us wouldn’t want someone to have to change our diaper. And yes, most of us right now don’t have to wear diapers anyways — but you did — and you may again some day.

I use this example to illustrate the point of John 13:1-18 in a more relatable context given today’s culture. In Jesus’ day, their feet were filthy and nasty. They didn’t wear a new pair of freshly scented and fabric softened socks everyday, safely covered by shoes, and they didn’t live and work in environmentally controlled and meticulously cleaned buildings, and they didn’t travel in vehicles. They were outside, in open sandals, walking where the animals walked and defecated, working in the open environment. Feet were nasty, like a dirty diaper would be today.

Years ago, I wrote a post entitled “It’s time to stop pooping our pants” and it came to mind as we discussed our morning devotional about John 13.

Instead of talking as a family about washing feet (which is really not a big deal in our society today because of how relatively clean feet are these days) — we talked about the fact that some adults have to wear diapers — and that changing someone’s dirty diaper would be more in line with what Jesus did when He washed the disciples’ feet.

And we talked about how sin is like a dirty, stinky, filthy diaper spiritually — and

1) how sinfulness in our own lives will influence and stink up the spiritual lives of those around us if not repented, confessed and forgiven

2) how we need to come to Jesus to be washed clean from our sin

3) how we need to be like Peter after he was told the purpose having our stinky mess uncovered and revealed in front of others (public, verbal confession of our sin, struggles, shortcomings)

4) how we need to be imitators of Jesus that we would help meet the physical needs of others as a servant (even as far as lovingly changing their diapers as a caregiver if it comes to that) and more importantly, willing to hear others’ struggles and be willing to forgive them, remind them that they are washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, and to intercede with prayer for them, encourage them, and serve them spiritually as well

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:1‭-‬20 NLT

As we become caregivers for our elderly , and as we are already spiritual caregivers for those we counsel, shepherd, sharpen, encourage, and equip for the ministry — let’s not forget that our example is to get our hands dirty doing the real work of the ministry that is dealing with things most of us would buy nature rather be left hidden and not dealt with — but if we are only superficially religious, we are walking around with untended, stinky diapers spiritually, that need to be washed clean.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

Are we ready for the mess?

Are we willing to have our mess, our weakness, be surrendered publicly in front of others so that God can get the glory for washing us clean?

Are we afraid of letting others “know our business” and possibly “gossip about us” if we were to confess to others — can we be honest with ourselves and with them about our lack of trust?

Are we willing and ready to forgive, to wash clean, to do the “work” of an imitator of Christ and get in the mess with someone else?

Lord, it is only by the power of your Holy Spirit, by the power of Christ who lives in the heart of the believer, that we can do these things that will be hard, challenging, and will stretch us beyond our being comfortable. But you bid us step out of the boat and into the water, even in the midst of the waves — you bid us to take up our cross and bear it — you bid us come and die to self and be imitators of you. Reveal yourself to us, through us, and in us. Amen.

October 30, 2015 – Dinner on Fridays

How do I know if I am being encouraging and helping someone with accountability or if I am being judgemental,  Grumbling, or gossiping?

Encouragement – building each other up
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3870&t=KJV

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing

.

Accountability – Equipping one another for spiritual warfare
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2008&t=KJV
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2675&t=KJV

Luke 17:3 ESV
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

James 5:16 ESV
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Galatians 6:1-3 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.6.1-3.ESV

Judgmental – Spiritual pride of measuring another’s imperfections
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2919&t=KJV

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:12-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jas.2.12-13.ESV

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned;  forgive, and you will be forgiven;  give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:37-38, 41-42 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.6.37-42.ESV

Grumbling – Complaining about the circumstance that God has you in
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4727&t=KJV
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1112&t=KJV

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
James 5:7-9 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jas.5.7-9.ESV

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/php.2.14-16.ESV

Gossip – Corrupting talk about others
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G988&t=KJV
REF: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4550&t=KJV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV
http://bible.com/59/eph.4.29-32.ESV

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,  a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/pro.6.16-19.ESV

Here is the pearl – it matters which way we are looking. We are to be looking forward, not looking back. Focused on hope and commitment for now and the future, nor dwelling on the past.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.12-14.NLT

He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:59-62 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.9.59-62.NLT

But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gen.19.26.NLT

We have to stop looking back. Forgive for the past – and encourage and hold accountable going forward. If we slip up, we confess to our accountability partner(s) and pray together for forgiveness and that we will repent and build each other up in that area of weakness – that we will see His strength come to bear and overcome those chains.

If we are harping on something a person has done in the past – we need to forgive and make it right between ourselves and that brother or sister – looking for a fully restored relationship encouraging one another starting now. We are to be peacemakers.

If we are complaining about something,  we are allowing the Spirit of offense to build up bitterness in our hearts over the past,  instead of focusing on what can’t be changed,  we should focus on what we can do now and for the future to improve the situation.  We are to be overcomes – challenge minded,  not problem minded.

If we are talking about what someone did in the past, instead of about the hope we have for their future – we are both participating in gossip and we are not holding out hope and faith that the Lord will answer our prayers for them to be alive and growing in Christ.

Words have power,  and they are important.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad,  for the tree is known by its fruit.  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.12.33-37.ESV

What is God’s will?

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.
John 6:37-38 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.6.37-38.NLT

I am His. I know this because He draws me near to Him. I can trust that He will not forsake me. And He gave me the example to follow – to do God’s will and not my own.

So the next logical question is,  what is God’s will?

Continue reading “What is God’s will?”

Judge? No. Rebuke? Yes. Forgive? ALWAYS!

When someone repeats their past mistakes and hurts us again and again, our tendency is to no longer forgive them – because we listen to the voice that tells us we must protect ourselves from them.

So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.  Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”
Luke 17:3-4 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.17.3-4.NLT

We are to be a voice of encouragement and accountability into the lives of other believers. If we choose to stop being that voice in their lives because we have grown weary, either from the repeated pain or from the hopeless feeling that they refuse to change, then we are choosing the path of last resistance, the broad path that is easy and is chosen by many.

That path offers less testing and proving through the faith that refines us. In fact,  the resulting lack of exercise and testing of out hearts results in the love of many waxing cold. It is not healthy, in fact,  it is quite dangerous for us to turn to the cold, exacting,  judgemental nature of a legalistic and religious person who measures and judges people and offers sacrifices at their altar of religion,  but who produces no love in their life and in the lives of others. Yes, Jesus tells us to even love our enemies, so we do not have the excuse of someone being our enemy to release us from the obligation of loving and forgiving them.

And fellow believers need accountability, they need a gentle rebuke when gentleness is called for,  and they need a more clear and direct rebuke when their rebellion puts them in the path of death – but it must always be done from the stance of love,  with the intent of encouraging them towards repentance,  and the hope of seeing them restored.

Even though there are many unfaithful who would claim the name of Jesus Christ today falsely, by cling to the promise of grace and forgiveness while ignoring repentance and following Christ – that doesn’t mean that we are to be silent and let them continue blindly into the darkness. The same ones who respond,  “You can’t judge me. You aren’t perfect either.” As they cling boldly to their sin with no fear of God whatsoever are the blind that need the healing touch of the truth. And that is exactly what a rebuke is – it is speaking truth into the life of someone who is confused,  misled,  lost,  and struggling – it is done in love to provide assistance and guidance in hopes they will step back onto the narrow path.

But broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many will refuse to follow the path with their actions even though they will try to claim Him with their words. But it is our hearts that are weighed,  my friends.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Matthew 7:21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.7.21.NLT

‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Matthew 15:8 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.15.8.NLT

People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart. The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
Proverbs 21:2-3 NLT
http://bible.com/116/pro.21.2-3.NLT

Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Matthew 9:13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.9.13.NLT

Show mercy,  friends – for that is where Christ is found,  that is where His love is demonstrated, and that is how your life can be used as a vessel of His glorious grace.

Find mercy and love for those who persecute you and you will soar like on the wings of eagles where their actions can no longer touch or harm you in the places that matter. For we are temporary residents of this foreign land,  and we return to our home eternal soon enough. What can mere men take from us that we are not willing to give in exchange for our eternal life with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.
Matthew 16:24-27 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.16.24-27.NLT

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.