For years, I’ve used a decorative paper towel holder in my kitchen. It looked nice; matched my kitchen theme—roosters—and held my roll of paper towels within arm’s reach.
There was one problem with the holder. It was made for an earlier time, when a roll of paper towels wasn’t as thick as it is today. That meant every time a new roll was placed on the horizontal pole, I had to use one hand to grab a towel and the other to pull it away from the roll and tear it off.
This was frustrating, because when I’m cooking, I don’t always have a free hand to grab a towel. Of course, the problem resolved itself once several towels were removed. Then, the roll would move freely on the holder. After that, I wouldn’t give it another thought.
The other day, I accidentally hit the bottom of the ceramic holder, and a piece of it fell off. I didn’t immediately think about replacing it, because it wasn’t that noticeable, and it didn’t affect the way it worked. Later that day, I was in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store shopping for another product, and I happened to pass by a shelf of paper towel holders. Several of them had labels describing them as being perfect for today’s extra large rolls.
That was the moment I decided not to put up with the frustration I felt every time I inserted a new roll of paper towels on the ceramic holder, and I used my 20% off coupon and purchased a sleek new modern-looking one.
When I brought it home, I placed a fresh roll of paper towels on it, and presto! problem solved. I’ve had it a week now, and I’ve probably changed the roll three times—I’m very messy in the kitchen—and, every time I install a fresh roll, I ask myself why I didn’t buy a new paper towel holder sooner.
Why did I put up with something that was clearly a problem and had an easy solution?
The answer’s pretty simple. It seemed like a small problem, and I had too many other things to think about, and, after removing a few sheets, I didn’t notice it again until I needed a new roll.
Too often, we treat spiritual problems in the same way. A situation arises; tempers flare, angry words are spoken, lustful thoughts are entertained, gossip is spread, godless choices are made, and then we move on.
However, the sin that caused the problem in the first place remains; it’s never examined, never prayed over or confessed, and the situation happens again. And again.
God’s Word gives us much counsel about dealing with our sin, and one example is found in Psalm 51 where David realizes the only solution to the sorrow he’s experiencing is to confess his sin to God.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:10-12).
Don’t put up with it!
It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on our failures or weaknesses, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. If you read the Bible on a regular basis, hear sermons, or sing Christian songs, you’ll constantly be confronted with your inability to live up to the person God created you to be. We all “fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
While it’s true every individual born since Adam (except for the God-man, Jesus) comes into the world filled to the brim and running over with a sin nature, it’s also true God has provided a way for a new filling. He’s promised to infuse us with His nature, His Holy nature. This is what the Bible calls our new nature.
This new nature is promised to everyone who believes. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13.
As a follower of Christ, filled with His Holy Spirit, you are a repository of God’s grace and mercy. He’s filled you with His attributes. You’ve become a “vessel of mercy.” Romans 9:23.
Being filled with God’s grace and mercy, enables us to be merciful. John Piper of Desiring God Ministries writes in his sermon on Romans 9:
Mercy produces mercy and receives mercy again. We become merciful by being shown mercy. And we show mercy to obtain more mercy again. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Freely you received mercy, freely give – and you will receive more and more, “pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6:38). Mercy upon mercy.
While it’s important to continually examine ourselves for sin in our lives and confess that sin to God (1 John 1:9), it’s also important to realize we are full of God’s mercy and His mercy is an overflowing mercy.
Voices! We hear voices each and every day. Some are screaming at us from the TV, telling us to order this, pay attention to that, and don’t forget about something else. Others are posting on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, our other social media sites, wanting us to sign this, like that, or look at something else.
Who merits our attention? To whom should we be listening? Whose voice is the worthy voice?
A crippled up old man appears in the gospel of John to answer these questions. (John 5:1-17). He doesn’t have a name in the gospel, but everyone at the pool of Bethesda knew him. He’d been lying there for thirty-eight years, unable to take advantage of the pool’s healing properties. Jesus stopped by one day, and, in one instantaneous moment, took care of the crippled man’s lifelong problem.
Following Jesus’ instructions, the Man Made Whole gathered up his bedroll and walked away. Later, when asked by the religious leaders what he thought he was doing carrying around his bed on a Sabbath, he told them he was doing what he’d been instructed to do by the man who’d healed him, by the man who had enough authority to make him whole again.
The Man Made Whole was carrying his bed—in defiance of the religious authorities—because he recognized a man who was able to give life to his withered limbs was someone with authority, someone worthy of his attention.
This same man, Jesus of Nazareth, healed me one day. He healed me of a lifelong sin problem, a sickness so severe I was doomed for eternal destruction. He did so by taking sin’s disease on Himself and paying the price for it Himself. Now, he commands me to take up my life and live it for Him.
His is a voice worth hearing. Listen to His words from the rest of John 5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (25-26)
In the Old Testament, he gave the Israelites seven festivals of celebration each year. That’s a lot of celebrating! However, each festival was also a means of remembering the awesomeness of God and an occasion for teaching about the holiness of God.
In the New Testament, Jesus told his followers to celebrate the meaning of the cross and to do so by using unleavened bread and wine to remember his broken body and his shed blood. Unlike the seven celebrations of the Old Testament festivals, Jesus gave no restrictions on the number of times we could celebrate this event–“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26.
I recently celebrated the day I was born. Although I didn’t feel any differently on March 31st, than I did on March 30th, I marked it as special and didn’t treat it as an ordinary day.
Christians and Jews alike mark this week as special, but for Christians, the most important day this week will be celebrated on Sunday. If this spectacular event—which took place on Sunday some 2,000 years ago—had not happened, then this week would mean nothing. There would be absolutely nothing about this week to mark it as special. Why celebrate the death of a man who claimed to be God? Disillusioned people die every single day.
But this man, this Jesus, who said he was God, who claimed that He and Jehovah were one and the same, backed up those claims by coming back to life. After being pronounced dead, wrapped in a shroud, and placed in a borrowed tomb, He showed himself alive to over 500 people.
While certainly spectacular, resurrections from the dead had occurred before Jesus’ death and even occurred afterward–by His hand and power. But, whereas others resurrected from the dead later died, never to be alive on this earth again, Jesus ever lives!
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
More importantly—at least for me personally—is the reason behind his intercession for me. The death he died on the cross was the punishment I deserved, both for my sinful nature and for my own willful sins. By accepting Jesus as The One who died in my place, as The One willing to intercede for me before God, I too will be granted eternal life. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
Now, that’s a reason to celebrate!
Do you remember any of the items you threw in the trash last week? Do you recall what you tied up in a plastic garbage sack, put inside a garbage can, and rolled to the curb a month ago? Probably not. They aren’t important now. That stuff is yesterday’s garbage.
That’s exactly how God treats the sins of His children. Those sins are yesterday’s garbage. Hebrews 8:12 “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Since God is . . . well, God, it’s hard to believe He’s just going to forget this trash. As human beings, we remember our failures, our transgressions, our sins, our disobedience. Not so with God. Hebrews 10:17: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
As difficult it is for us to accept God’s forgetfulness, one look at Scripture proves that God is both a God of forgiveness and a God of forgetfulness. Were it not so, He would have crushed Adam and Eve from the moment they believed Satan’s lie, not bothering to go looking for them, inquiring, “Adam, Where are you?” Were it not so, He would never have given the Ceremonial Law, providing cleansing from sin or the Mercy Seat for the atoning of sins. Were it not so, He would never have sent His only Son who said he was going to die an excruciating death, “for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28.
Putting away the sin in one’s own life, is just like getting rid of any other refuse. First, it must be brought to the trash can. Bring your sins to God. Proverbs 28:15: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Second, it must be left there. Leave your sins with God. Hebrews 11:10-23: “. . . hold fast the confession of our faith, without wavering. . .”
Lastly, walk away. Walk away in God. 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has granted to us all that pertain to life and godliness.”
“I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake.” Isaiah 43:25. Why not allow Him take out the trash for you.
No one does a better job of it.