Something that I have been thinking about a lot is usefulness. There are moments when we have items in our home that are not useful to us. Sometimes we have apps on our devices that are not useful. Maybe at a time they seemed useful, but things have changed. But usefulness isn’t only something we consider as objects or possessions. People can be useful or not useful too.
Paul was writing to Philemon about the runaway servant Onesimus. He tells Philemon about this change that has occurred. Yes, Onesimus was deserving of punishment, which could have meant a death sentence. It was within the legal limits. But Paul mentions this great conversion of Onesimus. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but in doing so, he became useful. In saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” he became useful. God had big plans for Onesimus!
If someone would consider your usefulness, what would they say? Would they describe you as very useful? Do you think you are very useful? Or is something getting in the way? That something could even be you! Truth be told, you have a great purpose. God has known this since the very beginning. It is a purpose that I pray you embrace and pour yourself into as an offering. Aim today to come to terms with this usefulness, and if the Spirit convicts you, follow His leading. It is a very dangerous prayer to say, “Use me.” Yet is a prayer than can help position you for what God has already prepared. Be useful. Plant for a good harvest.
“Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.” – Philemon 1:11 [NLT]
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]
We never like to be wrong. Pride. It’s a terrible thing. Not only do we not like being wrong, but we usually are not quick to confess our sin. Rather than confess to God and receive His mercy, we do not take the simple step toward forgiveness.
The Psalmist noted that when he refused to confess his sin, his “body wasted away… (he) groaned all day long.” He carried around this horrible burden, this dreadful sin, and it caused him to experience great pain. It tore him up. It weighed him down.
We usually think that the confession of sin is all about us stating our imperfections, listing the laws of God we have broken. It is a time when we recognize we serve a holy God. Confession is much more than this though—it’s a release, a freedom from this sin that weighs us down. When we confess, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). That’s it. Said and done. No need to look back on it. No need to remember it (He chooses not to). Read Isaiah 43:25. Freedom. If you have something to confess, take that step. Be free.
“When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.” – Psalm 32:3 [NLT]
The Psalmist asks God how he could know all the sins that were lurking about in his heart. He understood that we cannot see everything. We are blind to some of the things lurking in our heart. We try not to acknowledge some things that are happening. We disregard some of the sins. We turn a blind eye. But God, He sees everything. He sees everything on our heart. He knows us more than we know ourselves. All the hidden faults, all of the bad thoughts, all of the things we deny or turn our eyes from—He sees.
The Psalmist asks that God cleanse him from these hidden faults. He does not want to have this sin in his heart. He knows he cannot see it, but he knows there’s something there. God sees it. God alone can cleanse him from it. This is a great prayer we can lift to Him. Those sins that are hiding deep within—He can purify us from them.
It’s amazing to consider how awesome our God is, isn’t it? He has unfailing love for us. He pours out grace upon grace. His mercy is unending. Even though we have these sins, even these ones we deny or cannot see, He loves us. He forgives us. He calls us His own. Today, rejoice in His love. Rejoice in the freedom from sin that He alone provides. Rejoice, rejoice that He makes all things new!
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” – Psalm 19:12 [NLT]
When Korah had a problem with Moses and Aaron, it wasn’t a matter of taking it to Moses and Aaron and dealing with it. Ironically, the problem wasn’t with Moses and Aaron, but with God, because He was the One Who put these two men in their positions. Nonetheless, Korah stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron.
We were created to be communal people. We have friends. We have people we go to about our problems, our worries, our joys, and life in general. Sometimes we get upset with someone, and we take that to our friends. In doing so, we often stir them up. It makes us feel better. Our friends agree with us. We have someone on our side. But what does it do to help the situation? Where is the relief? Now your friend is sharing your opinions about someone. Your friend is thinking poorly about this person who wronged you. By sharing all this, you have stirred up the pot. Now there is something between you and this other person, and something is between your friend and this other person. Stumbling blocks and more stumbling blocks. Imagine if your friend tells another person. Before you know it, everyone knows what this person did to you.
Proverbs 16:28 speaks about a troublemaker planting seeds of strife. This is exactly what Korah did– planted seeds of strife. We are called to be peacemakers, not troublemakers. If we are too busy making trouble, we will never be able to make peace. Remember, the fire goes out without wood. When you get upset with someone, go to the person and make peace. Ask the Lord to help you to forgive. Allow the fire to go out. Keep the peace. You will be blessed (Matthew 5:9).
“Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to the whole community.” – Numbers 16:19 [NLT]
“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” – Proverbs 16:28 [NLT]
“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” – Proverbs 26:20 [NLT]
A dear friend gave me some Tim Tams the other day. I even ate one with my afternoon coffee that very day. But then with my scatterbrained mind, I forgot that the Tim Tams were in my special hiding spot. Only when I saw them today, did I realize that I had nearly a full pack of Tim Tams just waiting to be enjoyed. Forgetfulness is a horrible thing, except for when it comes to forgiveness.
When we forgive another person, we should forgive as if we forget. This means we forgive as if it never even happened. We forgive like with the Tim Tams, where it would not be remembered unless seen again (meaning the person sinned against you again). That’s how God forgives us. The Bible says that He forgives us as far as the east to the west (Psalm 103:12). His Word also tells us that He forgets, He chooses not to remember what we’ve done when we ask for forgiveness (Isaiah 43:25). Now He could choose otherwise. He is all powerful and all knowing. He could easily remember; it’s a choice.
We need to forgive like God. We need to make a choice—and be intentional with our forgiveness. When someone has sinned against you, when someone has upset you, when someone has done something foolish—choose not to remember. Ask the Spirit to help you forgive and forget. This isn’t only for the benefit of the person being forgiven, but more so for you. Unforgiveness is a prison where you are held in torment. Marriages break apart because of the records kept of the wrongs. Friendships are destroyed because of the records of the wrongs. Always we remember the faults, the bad moments. These things burn a hole in our memory bank. Only when you choose to put it aside, to say “I forgive this” and press forward, are you free from the prison of unforgiveness. Only then will you have freedom. Only then will you live by the grace you have received. It is a beautiful thing, a freeing thing.
“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” – Proverbs 17:9 [NLT]
The Israelites were quick to complain about God when they didn’t have their eyes on food. Just after God brought them out of Egypt, they forgot what He rescued them from, because they were hungry. Where was the food? We would be better off back in Egypt.
Even though the Israelites were complaining, God showed His glory to them. He didn’t withhold His glory. How awesome is that?!? He graciously allowed them to “see the awesome glory of the LORD in the cloud.”
Have you ever seen God’s glory? If you haven’t, you haven’t been looking. Despite each of us being sinners, He allows us to see His glory. Despite us often being ungrateful, He allows us to see His glory. Today, thank Him for His gracious ways. Thank Him for allowing us to experience Him—allowing us to see His glory!
“And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the LORD in the cloud.” – Exodus 16:10 [NLT]