Dirty Clothes After A Shower?

I love to travel, which is a good thing, because I’ve been traveling all my life. My father’s air force career kept me traveling with my family all through my childhood. In my own adult life, I’ve been traveling to countries across the oceans for 35 years. I love trying new foods, adapting to different cultures, listening to various languages, and observing God’s beautiful creation in every country.

In some of my travels, especially when spending numerous days in the mountains of Central Asia, taking a hot shower is non-existent. Often, changing clothes on a daily basis is also non-existent. These things are all a part of cultural adjustment and adaptation. I have learned, and maintain, that keeping a good sense of humor, helps to get one through these unusual situations with greater ease. Also, travel adventures make great stories, so plunge right in and enjoy cultural differences to the hilt!

As much fun as I might have on my traveling escapades, I confess that, on the return home, I start envisioning the hot shower awaiting me! Oh, how good I know it’s going to feel; hot water — endless hot water, flowing all over! Oh, and to put on fresh clothes that are clean and smell good, too! Now, wouldn’t it be absolutely strange if, upon taking and enjoying, my longed for hot shower, instead of putting on the good-smelling, fresh clothing, I put the dirty ones back on? Would that make any sense at all? Of course not! It would not only be strange; it would be foolish.

Knowing that such an act would indeed be a foolish thing to do, why do we sometimes do that very thing in our spiritual worlds? There comes a time in our lives when we realize what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross to pay the price for our own sins. Realizing that, we accept His gift of salvation, through a prayer of repentance and thankfulness for what He has done. Then, He washes us clean; and not only that, He puts within us a new heart, as Paul affirms in II Corinthians 5:17, “Those who have become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old is passed away, and all things have become new.”The becoming new means that Christ puts within us His Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us; to give us strength to actually keep on our clean clothes. It’s the only way of true joy.

Why then, comes the question again, do we pick up our old, dirty clothes, stepping back into the world from which we have been freed? As Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 4:7, although we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are also still trapped in our earthly bodies. We are troubled and perplexed, face difficulties, suffer physically, and are tempted on every front to, indeed, put our dirty clothes back on. What can we do?

It’s all a matter of focus. When we fall down, don’t lay there and focus on the failure; look up and focus on the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Focus on the truth of I John 1:9 that promises us, “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” Remember, too, this wonderful promise found in I Corinthians 10:13, “Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” Isn’t that an exciting promise?

Therefore, if you find that you have gone and foolishly put your dirty clothes back on — don’t stand there and smell; ask the forgiving love of Jesus to dress you again in the new clothes that He died for you to wear. Did you know that, when Jesus dresses you, you are, as it tells us in II Corinthians 2:15, “…a fragrance presented by Christ to God…a life giving perfume.” Now, that’s a beautiful reason to get rid of those dirty clothes.

Who Are You Listening To?

A young woman asked to speak to me last week.  She began to share the hurt and sorrow she kept in her heart.  As she was pouring out her feelings, she made this comment, “I’m just a terrible person; I don’t even know why God loves me.”

Wonderfully, I explained to her, we don’t have to waste time trying to understand God’s deep and unchanging love for us.  He just loves us, bestows His hand of grace and mercy upon us, and is ready to be whatever we need, every single day of our lives.

From the moment we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, the Holy Spirit takes up residence, and begins making us into a new person.  We know that because the Scripture tells us in II Corinthians 5:17, “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”  We still live in a fallen world, and we have an imperfect body, and a mind that is weak to temptation.  Even so, as we make the decision to give God free reign in our lives, then, slowly but surely, we begin to take on the family resemblance of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit in us, shows us our weaknesses, and points us to the strength of God.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome — as we let Him.  Hence, we begin to take on the characteristics of Jesus.  We begin to talk like Him, to think like Him, to seek Father as He did, to love as He loves.  Of course, we trip along the way, but when we fall, we don’t have to stay down; the Holy Spirit leads us to awareness of failure and sin, and then to the joy of repentance and forgiveness.  It’s a joyful journey that molds us more and more into the image of Christ.

Now take heed — Satan is never pleased to see anyone walking in the ways of Jesus Christ.  He hates it, and will do anything to pull the rug of peace out from under our feet.  How does Satan do this?  First of all, let’s remind ourselves that, in Hebrew, the name Satan means, accuser.  Satan is that very thing — a terrible, hateful, lying, accuser.  He never stops whispering in our ears that we are weak, useless, and hopeless,  He tells us that we will never get any better than who we are today.  Satan tells us that we might as well give up, that we will never be as good as others.  His lies go on and on like the torture of constant water drops on the forehead.  It can drive you crazy with feelings of hopelessness, despair, and self rejection.

You see, Satan is everything opposite of God.

God is love.  Satan is hate.  God is goodness.  Satan is evil.  God desires to build you up.  Satan desires to tear you down.  God will always speak truth to you.  Satan will always lie.  God tells you to keep running and don’t give up.  Satan tells you, you’ll never finish the race so give up now.  God seeks to mold you into the lovely image of His own Son.  Satan seeks to snare you into a mind-trap of self loathing so that you are not a lovely image at all.

Satan is powerful; of that there is no argument, but remember this — God is all powerful.  God can never be tricked by Satan, or made weak by Satan.  Remember this, too – God is in us by His Holy Spirit.  Therefore, we have a powerful tool in resisting the evil tactics and lies of Satan — we have everything of God Himself available to us.  We have His strength, His courage, His wisdom, His peace,  and His resolve to press on.

Therefore,  dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if you discover that you have fallen into a trap of self-loathing, feeling like a terrible person, and wanting to quit — I encourage you to ask yourselves — who are you listening to?

If you have unwittingly been listening to Satan, then tell him, in the name of Jesus to get out of here.  He has to flee at the very name of Jesus. “Humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”  James 4:7-8  Of course, Satan will come skulking back at some point, so be aware, and then use your tool all over again to resist him.  Call upon the name of Jesus.  Speak the name of Jesus.  Ask the help of Jesus.  Everything of Him is available to us.  Isn’t that amazing?

Pay attention everyday, and know with certainty — who you are listening to.