Following Through on Repentance


“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8

Do any of you have sins, weaknesses, or offenses that you confess to God (as well as to others whom you’ve wronged) but then find yourself doing the same things again and again? If so, you’re not alone. I have a few problem areas like that, too.

For example, at times I get irritated too easily. I end up reacting too quickly and sounding more harsh than I should. And regardless of the offense that prompted me to lose my cool, I really don’t want to act that way.

I’m fairly quick to realize my wrong behavior and confess it, but many times I have trouble with follow-through—with, like mentioned in the verse above, producing fruit in keeping with my repentance. It’s easy to say we’re sorry (and yes, it’s harder for some), but changed behavior can be an ongoing challenge.

True repentance should manifest itself in our actions, shouldn’t it? If we’re truly sorry for certain behaviors, attitudes, or thoughts, shouldn’t we make a real effort to avoid those shortcomings in the future? Of course.

One simple thing we can do to help correct our shortcomings is to memorize the verse above from Matthew. The Holy Spirit can then remind us of it when we are tempted to slip back into the wrong pattern. He might also bring it to mind when we make the same mistake again, correcting us and exhorting us to keep on trying to produce the fruit that matches our repentance.

Let’s take a moment today to think about the sins that trip us up and ask ourselves if we are producing fruit in keeping with our repentance. If not, let’s ask God to work in our hearts to bring about the fruit he—and we—long to see. Let’s follow through.

“‘But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’” John 14:26

*What other things can we do to help bring about changed behavior and/or thoughts?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out next week. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by prodigy130, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: The Great Exchange


Consider this scripture passage from Zechariah with me today. It’s a small portion of his account of a vision he had. As you read, imagine the scene in your mind’s eye:

“Then he [the angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD . . . Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’

Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’” Zechariah 3:1a, 3-4

Even though this vision was about a high priest and how he represented the sinful nation of Israel, as I read it I immediately pictured what Jesus does for us his children.

As we call on Jesus, asking him to forgive our sins and be our Savior, he removes our filthy sin-stained clothes. He forgives us, cleanses us, and dresses us in the rich garments of his salvation and righteousness. He puts on us the royal robes worn by the family of God. He performs the great exchange.

What great love and forgiveness Jesus extends to all who come to him in faith! Praise and thank him with me today, won’t you?

“. . . ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow . . . ’” Isaiah 1:18

*Have you received the royal robes of the family of God yet? If not, why not ask for His forgiveness and cleansing today!

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 12. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Douglas Brown, Creative Commons License

Feelings of Unworthiness: A Tactic of the Enemy


Have you ever heard that voice inside your head say who do you think you are to be ________. You fill in the blank. That old and ever-on-the-job enemy of ours, Satan, likes nothing better than to cause us to doubt ourselves and walk away from the work God has given us to do. That’s right, that voice is his and that of his cohorts.

Satan has tried repeatedly to get me to give up writing. When he wants to undermine my writing ministry and work, he’ll say things like, “Who do you think you are to offer spiritual help or words of wisdom and encouragement? You’re not worthy of such a task.”

And you know what? Apart from the grace of God and his forgiveness and cleansing, I am indeed unworthy.

The fact is I mess up. I have issues. At times I struggle with doubt, confusion, and pride. Sometimes I blow it with sinful attitudes, harsh words, and selfishness. My relationships are not always all they should be. And because of these failures, Satan would have believe I’m unworthy to write and share God’s truth and messages of life. He wants me to believe that I’m not worthy of my task of Refreshing Spirits, Nourishing Souls.

But who, in fact, am I? I’m a child of the King. A servant called by God to write of the hope we have in him. Satan wants me to forget that. He wants me to quit writing of God’s love and hope and joy and truth. 

And even though the enemy delights in reminding me that I’m far from perfect, God’s Word tells me that I am forgiven, that I am loved. I’m called and equipped by God. And because Jesus paid the price for my sins and washed me white as snow, I am indeed worthy—worthy to be in God’s family, worthy to do the work he’s called me to do.  

And so, I will keep on writing for him. The enemy loses. I am a worthy child of the King.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

*Do you ever struggle with feelings of unworthiness? What does Satan want you to think you are unworthy to do or to have?

*Flickr photo by PetteriO, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: When God’s Laws Are Being Broken


“It is time for you to act, O LORD; your law is being broken.” Psalm 119:126

Are you heartsick over how many in our nation—leaders included—have forsaken God’s righteous laws as revealed in his Word, The Holy Bible? Do you shake your head in disbelief over sinful attitudes and behaviors that many now support as acceptable or even admirable?

If so, please add the verse above to your prayer arsenal. When we see God’s laws being broken—whether in our lives, the lives of those we know and love, or in the wider populace of our nation—let’s go to God in prayer.

Let’s plead with God to act—to open eyes to the wrong being done, to correct, to bring about a return to his standards and his holy ways. Let’s ask him to act in his righteousness. It’s time.

“Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.” Psalm 119:136

*What are some effective ways to do battle prayer over the laws of God being broken?

*Flickr photo by Vinoth Chandar, Creative Commons License

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 3rd. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Not Immune


After all these years of knowing and walking with God, you’d think I’d be immune. Immune to moments of doubt. Immune to thoughts that slither their way into my mind and whisper it all seems too good to be true.

Slither is an apt word here, isn’t it? After all, the author of those kinds of doubting thoughts is the old serpent himself—our enemy Satan. He likes to cause God’s children to doubt. He’s been doing it from the beginning, ever since he ensnared Eve in the Garden of Eden. Remember how he said, “Did God really say . . .” (Genesis 3:1)

Essentially that’s what he says to me when he plants insidious seeds of doubt in my mind. Did God really say he knows every bird in the mountains, that not one sparrow falls to the earth apart from his will? How is that possible? Did he really say he’s numbered the hairs of your head? How can he know billions of people on earth that intimately? Is he really preparing a home for you in heaven? Doesn’t everything you believe seem a little too good to be true?* (see scripture references below)

In truth, when I look at everything from my own human understanding, these things are too good to be true. I can’t wrap my finite mind around the vastness and power of God. I’m sure this is one reason we’re told in Proverbs to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding (3:5). I don’t know about you, but I can get into trouble when I lean on my own understanding, limited as it is.

And so, as the Word exhorts me to do, I “live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) “I remember the wonders he has done” (Psalm 105:5a) and how he has shown himself real in my life. I trust that “All Scripture is Godbreathed”(2 Timothy 3:16), and then I put on the armor of God and “take [my] stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11b). I am not immune to the traps of the enemy so I must do battle.

Are there are other areas—traps other than doubt—where I’m still susceptible as well? Most definitely. I suppose as long as there is breath in this human body of mine, I will not be immune to falling into sin.

It helps to be on guard, though. It helps to know my weaknesses and to be ready for the unsuspecting darts of temptation the evil one lobs at me. I’ve also got to remember that he’s not above trying to trip me up in ways I’d never think I’d fall.

What about you? Are their areas of your life where you’re not immune? Are you on guard against the devil’s schemes?

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12

*Psalm 50:11; Matthew 10:29-30; John 14:3

*What are some ways you guard yourself against the enemy?

*Flickr photo by frielp