When my son, Hunter, was ten years old, he came to me one night with a humble confession. He said that because he hasn’t been spending much time with God lately, he has been grumpier and grumpier. He quietly admitted that he had been mean to his siblings and had said some unkind things. With amazing insight, he connected the amount of time he spent with God with his behaviors … recognizing that there was a direct correlation in his life.
Boy, can I relate!
Tears welled up in my eyes as we talked it through.
I told Hunter that I experience the exact same thing in my life. That when I don’t carve out time in my day to spend with the Lord, I often say and do things I shouldn’t. For that matter, even when I do read my Bible and pray, I still say and do sinful things.
There was a time in my young adult life when I struggled with profanity.
My tongue was a loose cannon.
My church friends would never have known, but when I was angry, profanity was often present … even if only under my breath or in my mind.
God has delivered me from that ugly habit, but it took over ten years of prayer and confession.
In those ten years, I failed repeatedly and struggled to believe that God could change my ways. It was a long-term process for me to become sanctified in my language, and I can assure you that it is only by the grace and strength of Jesus that I can stub my toe now without needing to wash my mouth out with soap.
Decades into walking closely with Jesus, I still struggle to live holy every day.
Like Hunter, I frustrate myself (and others) when I get grumpy, say unkind words or choose wrong behaviors, thoughts, tones and responses.
If I’m not careful, I can easily blow off or downplay my sin. Or try to justify it. I’d venture to say most of us do this at times.
This Psalm 99 passage lends well to a discussion on why this type of rationalizing needs to be both addressed and confessed.
1 The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
2 Great is the Lord in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
5 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
8 Lord our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.
9 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the Lord our God is holy.
There are only nine verses in Psalm 99, and three of them talk about the holiness of God. When thirty-three percent of a chapter addresses a topic, it’s clearly important.
Holiness is a really big deal to God.
The writer of Psalm 99 calls us to respond to God’s holy name with praise (v3), exaltation and worship (v5, 9). Here’s where it really gets tricky, beyond responding to God’s holiness, we are called to live holy lives. Personally!
Jesus told us so in His Sermon on the Mount. “You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, AMP)
Peter reminded us of this as well in his letter to struggling New Testament believers, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” (1 Peter 1:13-15, NIV)
Are you holding your breath a bit here? Yeah. Me too.
Jesus also explains: anything good in us comes from Him and it is not possible for us to live holy on our own (John 15). Thankfully, He assures us that while we can’t do it ourselves, all things are possible with God. (Matthew 19:26) Whew!
Breathe in grace … exhale peace. We can ask God for help with holiness.
One of the most powerful ways to make progress in areas of weakness is to keep short accounts with God. When we pray and ask the Lord to filter our actions, thoughts and beliefs through the Holy Spirit, He disarms the loose cannons of our sinful tendencies.
At the end of my conversation with Hunter, I told him that one of the most amazing things about our Heavenly Father is the mercy He greets us with when we come before Him to confess our messy behaviors. I said to him, and I say to you, God loves you perfectly, every time you turn to Him with a repentant heart, He offers grace.
So today I choose to live and worship in response to God’s holiness.
I will confess what needs to be confessed, and trust that the grace of Jesus covers my un-holiness with forgiveness, enabling me to move forward as a set-apart sister in the power of His Spirit today.
You are mighty to save and generous in mercy. Please forgive me for the ways I get holiness wrong.
Help me to make progress in purity today. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
In Jesus’ name, amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
Read John 15 and reflect on the importance and benefits of abiding with Jesus. Respond in prayer in your journal or on the wall of my blog.
Hope your day is filled with the courage and grace of Jesus,
PS. I’ve got a free, personal challenge for you! Click here for details.
SO MANY GREAT NEW PODCAST EPISODES FOR YOU!
TIME TO GET CAUGHT UP, GIRLFRIEND
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By studying apologetics, Natasha Crain has identified several hugely important conversations that we need to be having with our kids, given the specific challenges they’ll encounter in society. Whether you have young kids, teens, adult kids, grand kids, or you get to influence kids, this episode will better equip you for many of the challenges of discipleship today.
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I dare you!Z