“Sanctify the house of the Lord…carry out the rubbish.”
2Ch 29:5 NKJV
In Scotland, they have a New Year’s tradition that involves cleaning out your house, dumping the old ashes from your fireplace, and paying off your outstanding debts. It’s about cleaning out the old to make room for the new. And from time to time you must clean your spiritual house too. The Bible says, “Carry out the rubbish.” Why? “Because over time wrong attitudes, shoddy workmanship, and bad habits creep in and blind us to what’s important. Sheila Coleman says: “Ten years ago I cleaned the house from top to bottom. I dusted every nook and cranny…scrubbed the bath and every sink until they shone. I even took a toothbrush to the grout in the kitchen. That house had never been so clean. And today—ten years later…it’s still clean. I’ve never had to pick up another duster…vacuum…or wash the kitchen counter…and my house looks as clean as it did that day, right? WRONG! We continually need spiritual housecleaning because we live in a dirty world. Just as our homes…cars and clothes have to be maintained…our hearts—our spiritual homes—need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Not once a week or once a month, and certainly not once every ten years, or once in a lifetime. We need to let God have His way in us every day, to clean us up and renew us…is there a room in your “house” you haven’t allowed Him to clean? If it’s been a while since God did a thorough heart-cleaning, make this your prayer: “Lord, clean my heart so You can live and shine through me.”
“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself.”
3Jn 1:12 NIV
When people speak well of you, it means you have acceptance. But when the truth speaks well of you, it means you have class! Demetrius had it. Do you? Paul told Timothy, “Set an example…in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity…give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (1Ti 4:12,15 NIV). We decided to reprint these timeless words on “class” by columnist Ann Landers: “Class is just confidence dressed in humility. It keeps its word, its temper, and its friends. It has a steady eye, a steady nerve, a steady tongue, and steady habits. It’s silent when it has nothing to say, thoughtful when it judges, and is always first to make amends when it’s wrong. Class doesn’t run scared. It’s surefooted, committed, and handles whatever comes along. Class has a sense of humor. It knows that a good laugh is often the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations. Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps, learns from its mistakes, and becomes wiser. Class knows that courtesy and good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices. It bespeaks an aristocracy that is not dependent on ancestors or money. A blue-blood can be total without it, while the son of a Welsh coal miner may ooze it out of every pore. Class can walk with kings, yet still keep its virtue; talk with crowds, yet still maintain the common touch. Everyone is comfortable with a person who has class—because they are comfortable with themselves.” Today, show some “class!”
“We are taking pains to do what is right.”
2Co 8:21 NIV
There’s a cartoon depicting some hogs feeding while the farmer is busy filling their trough up to the brim. Overhead in bold letters, a sign reads, “Premium Bacon Company.” In the cartoon, one hog says to the others, “Have you ever wondered why the farmer is so good to us?” Question: Do people have to wonder about your motives? They shouldn’t! The apostle Paul defines integrity like this: “In honor preferring one another” (Ro 12:10). Integrity always seeks the good of others. It believes that if something isn’t good for both sides, it’s not good for either side. Solomon warns, “Exploit the poor or glad-hand the rich—whichever, you’ll end up the poorer for it”. (Pr 22:16 MSG). If you want to test the depth of your integrity, consider these questions: How transparent are you with others? How well do you treat people from whom you have nothing to gain? Do you assume different personas depending on who you’re with? Do you put others ahead of your own personal agenda? Do you love people and use things, or love things and use people? Do you make difficult decisions even when it costs you personally? When you have something to say about somebody, do you talk to them or talk about them? Are you accountable to anybody other than yourself? These are important questions, so take time to consider them prayerfully. And remember, you may succeed momentarily because of what you know or do, but you’ll only succeed permanently because of what you are.
“For I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God”
Ps 42:5 NIV
Some of the godliest people in the Bible and in church history battled depression. Job experienced it through the back-to-back losses of his children, his wealth, and his health. Moses “spoke face to face [with God] as a man speaks to his friends” (Ex 33:11 NKJV). Yet the pressures of leading Israel overwhelmed him to the point of despair. Elijah conquered the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and afterward became so depressed that he wanted to die. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers who ever lived, called depression “the black dog” that followed him all his life. Depression, in some form, will touch each of us at some point in life. Long-term depression frequently requires professional help. But the longest road in the world is shorter when you take the first step, and that step is turning to God. Whether your depression is caused by the pressures of responsibility like Moses, or by losing things you love as Job or feeling drained on the heels of great success like Elijah, you must turn to the Great Physician and let Him make you whole. It’s what the psalmist did: “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you (Ps 42:6 NIV). David doesn’t deny his emotions; he expresses them to God in prayer. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (*v. 11 NIV). But he doesn’t stop there. He says, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Notice, depression lifts and hope returns when you begin to praise God and trust His goodness.
“In love, He predestined us for adoption.”
Eph 1:4-5 NIV
We all have a need to belong to be part of a family. One pastor writes: “I know couples with hearts of love who yearn to focus it on some little one, but no little one arrives. When these couples find children to adopt, they don’t tell the children they’d better measure up to expectation if they want to stay in the family. There’s no such thing as three strikes—then back to the agency. No, they accept them with open arms and joy-filled hearts because they love them. They take them into their homes forever, give them the family name, and make them legal heirs.” Long before we even knew we needed God, He predestined us to adoption as sons [and daughters] by Jesus Christ” (NKJV). Earthly parents get divorced, go separate ways, and start new families. But not God; you never have to worry about your standing and relationship with Him. Regardless of race, color, creed, or background, when you repent and accept Christ as your Savior, your adoption becomes binding and permanent. You’re part of His family. And to prove it, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16 NKJV). Do you realize what that means? You never again have to walk around feeling intimidated and fearful, or live under a cloud of condemnation, because you are a child of God and a “fellow [heir] with Christ” (v. 17 NAS). The word “heir” means you can claim every blessing and benefit Christ purchased for you at the cross. Every single one without exception.