We often like to think the best of ourselves. We do not realize how corrupt our heart is, so it difficult to take a good hard look at ourselves and see the truth. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Deceitful. The MOST deceitful of all things. Desperately wicked—so wicked we cannot say how bad.
Today’s verse says that no one does good. That means that even you do not do good. You are part of the “not a single one.” That is hard to handle. We find it hard to come to terms with the fact that we are not good—that we are corrupt. The truth is, no matter how many good things we do, we have bad things that we think and do—things we do not even realize. But God can see through every crack and crevice. He sees the corruption. He sees the deceitfulness. He sees the wickedness from within us.
The awesome good news is that He loves us anyway, and He has made a way for us to be in right relationship with Him. Despite the corruption, despite not doing good—He has made a way for us to come before Him, covered in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness, made right with God through Him. Today, thank God for His great mercy and His unfailing love. Seek His righteousness above all else. Remember, no one does good—not a single one.
“But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” – Psalm 53:3 [NLT]
After the rebellion of Korah, we read about Aaron standing between the dead and the living. What an interesting display. Aaron stood between the dead and the living with the incense burning to purify the people. This incense was to make the people right with the Lord. He stood between them and the plague stopped.
This display foreshadows what is to come. Jesus Christ stands between God and us sinners, just as Aaron stood between the living people and the dead people. Remember, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So we are the dead. God is life, we are dead in our transgressions. But Jesus Christ stands between God and us. He is the Lamb of God. He is our mediator. He is our High Priest. The Bible says that “He lives forever to intercede with God on (our) behalf.” He offered a “once for all” sacrifice. This sacrifice of His blood makes us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18, Revelation 7:14). We are right with God because we are clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
Today, remember Who stands between you and God. Remember the High Priest that we have- “He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.” Worship Him. Praise His great name. In Christ alone, my hope is found.
“He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped.” – Numbers 16:48 [NLT]
“Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when He offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.” – Hebrews 7:25-27 [NLT]
As I was printing envelopes today, the printer stopped working. It continued to say that there was a jam. I looked inside the printer and I did not see a jam. I closed the door but it still said there was a paper jam. I turned the printer off and on. I continued to pace around the machine, asking it when it would start doing its job. Finally I looked closer. I realized that there was a jam in a section I never even viewed because it is against the wall. There was never a jam in that area. After five minutes of pacing and thinking there was no jam, I realized it was something I couldn’t see.
In Romans 3:23, the Bible says that we all fall short—we all sin. Sometimes the sin is in the open. Sometimes the sin is easy to be seen. Sometimes people point it out to us. Sometimes we wear it on our sleeve. Sometimes it is something that we have struggled with for years. But then there is other sin that often seeps into our lives in the crevices we do not really look at or consider. Our sin can be right in front of our face but sometimes it has become part of our normalcy and we don’t realize what has grown over time.
Today ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any sin that you may have buried beneath other things in your life. Ask for your eyes to be open to anything that you may have overlooked. When the Spirit reveals these things, take the time to bring each item before God. Ask for repentance. Ask for strength. Ask for encouragement. May He shine a light on your darkness so you can bring more light into your life and shine the Light for others.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:5-9 [NIV]
I saw a post today online about the infamous invite-a-friend to church day. It got me thinking about the recent invitations I have extended and the invitations that seem to get excuse after excuse. There are some people I have been inviting to church for years. I get a lot of excuses but the one that goes through me is “I’ll come when I get my life together.” So I guess the idea is that you cannot go to church until you have yourself cleaned up, fixed, repaired, looking good, feeling good, or whatever.
Jesus said He came for who? For the perfect? NO! Firstly, we all have fallen short so no one but Christ alone is perfect (Romans 3:23). Second, Jesus came for the sinners. Luke 5:32 says, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (NLT). Remember, it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick (see Mark 2).
I don’t care what you have done or how dirty your hands are right now—Jesus can make anyone white as snow. See it doesn’t rest on what you have done or how you appear or where you are at in life. It rests upon the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood is enough. He has paid the FULL PRICE. By His righteousness, we are welcome before the throne of God. So yeah, perhaps you have a sporting event to attend or you must work. But don’t use the excuse of getting your life together first. The only way to get your life together is through Jesus Christ. Therefore the BEST place to be is in His presence and with His people. Come to church. Today. Tomorrow. Come. I have some good news to share with you.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9 [NLT]
Moses was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Joshua was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Joshua 5:15). Holy means set apart or sacred. One of my favorite passages references Isaiah’s commission. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on His throne and He is in complete awe and reverence as he hears the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” He knows he is unclean. He knows he is undeserving.
It is important to approach God with fear and awe. The fear is not the fear we consider when we typically speak of fear. When Proverbs 1 speaks of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, it doesn’t mean we are frightened as we are when watching a horror movie. Fearing God means that you have a fear of disobeying and displeasing God which would result in judgment and a disconnection from Him. It is about reverence and submission. God is holy and exalted above all. It is approaching with humility.
Yes, the blood of Jesus has cleansed us and when we repent we are forgiven of our sins. Yes, the veil has been torn and we can approach God once again. But it is important that we still approach God with fear and awe. The song says you have a friend in Jesus, and you do, but that is to be treasured not stomped on. When you approach God in prayer, in church, wherever—don’t take it for granted. Focus on Him. Remember He is holy and you too are to be holy. May your heart be filled with a passion and desire to worship, to truly worship Him, with all that you have and all that you are, each and every day.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” – Isaiah 6:1-5 [NIV]
We often get absorbed in things. Before you know it you were online for an hour. Before it was realized, you played the video game half the night. When you had planned to get work done, something else grabbed your attention. While at work, you became so focused on a task, that you stayed late at the office and did not take note until long after. We all get absorbed.
Today’s passage talks about being absorbed with God projects. The people were so absorbed with the God projects “that they didn’t notice God right in front of them.” He was right there but they were so busy taking over their lives, focusing on what they were doing. What happened? “They stumbled into Him and went sprawling.”
Are you taking on a lot of God projects disregarding what James said about works, trying to earn your way into the Kingdom? Remember there’s a stumbling block—God is right in front of you. If you are missing Him, if you are not trusting Him and thinking you can earn your way, you’ve missed it all—and you too will go sprawling. There was a time in my life that I thought the more good I did, the better chance I had. But there’s only one way to Heaven, through Jesus Christ, through the blood of Jesus. There is no other way. If you are focused on God projects, you’re missing the boat.
“How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling.” – Romans 9:30-32 [MSG]
Jacob wanted to build an altar to God. An altar represents the presence of God—it was how one would have an encounter with God. He recognized the need to be clean before a holy God. He commanded everyone to toss out all of the other gods. They were to rid themselves of anything and everything that was not God the one true God. Then Jacob commanded that they take “a good bath and put on clean clothes.” They were purifying themselves. This was an outward display to signify a change of heart—a ceremonial cleansing.
Many scholars see this bathing as a likeness to baptism as this washing was done to signify their choice to serve the one true God. Baptism is an immersion into water or sprinkling of water which signifies purification. It is the ceremony people participate in when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In doing this, people choose to give their lives to the one true God. By doing so, you receive the Holy Spirit and therefore have the presence of God within you.
You may have already been baptized, but you might not have tossed out all of the alien gods in your life. Something might be pulling you away from the presence of God. Evaluate where you are today and see if anything is taking the place of God in your life. He should be first always. Today is a good day for a cleaning. Let us put on clean clothes and walk forward in His presence.
“Jacob told his family and all those who lived with him, ‘Throw out all the alien gods which you have, take a good bath and put on clean clothes, we’re going to Bethel. I’m going to build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in trouble and has stuck with me everywhere I’ve gone since.’”
-Genesis 35:2-3 [MSG]
As a mother, I remember the days when my children would eat something and get food all over their faces. I would get out the napkin, wet it and get their faces ready to see the world. Still today I check their faces before we leave just to be sure they are clean. And yes, I check mine as well.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet is standing before God and he immediately acknowledges that he is sinful. He understood that he could not stand before God filthy. God is holy. Then an angel takes a burning coal and touches Isaiah’s lips. The angel says, “Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out” (MSG).
If we accept Jesus and what He did for us, our guilt is gone – our sins are wiped out too. Through the blood of Jesus, we no longer live condemned, but we are made as white as snow. But we have to acknowledge that we are sinful. We have to acknowledge our unclean lips. Even after we repent and accept Christ into our lives, there is a need of daily repentance of our sins. The blood of Jesus wipes out each sin, but for each one, we must bow before the Lord and acknowledge our need for repentance.
“Then I said, ‘It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.” – Isaiah 6:5-6 [NLT]
There are people who feel unworthy to approach the throne of God, and the truth is we are all unworthy. Only through the blood of Jesus are we able to approach God. Only through God’s grace, His love and mercy, are we able to have this opportunity through Christ. In Leviticus 26, the Lord told Moses that “despite all this,” despite what the Israelites have rejected, ignored, and despised, God would not reject His people and He would not cancel His covenant with them. He told Moses He would remember the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob even though the Israelites were unworthy.
We all mess up. We all can recount moments when we take the path that takes us in the wrong direction. We all can list the times we followed with lust and greed, making choices that got us into trouble and knee deep in sin. But despite all this, God loves us and forgives us. We still are called to be a holy people. His grace does not give us permission to sin. But when we do take a turn away from God, when we do cave from worldly temptations, He has promised not to reject us. Despite all this – repent and be forgiven. You are not rejected.
There are arms wide open waiting for you. We are all unworthy but through Jesus, despite all this, despite the dirty rags each of us has worn, we can approach the Father – we are not rejected. Today, thank the Lord for His great sacrifice. He gave all so we could have life—an amazing life with our loving Father. Oh how marvelous a life!
“But despite all this, I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out, for I am the LORD their God.” – Leviticus 26:44 [NLT]