That Stinking Sin

by Dena Dyer @denajdyer

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.                                  Romans 3:23-24 NIV

“What is that horrible smell?” my husband asked me after climbing into the front seat of my car.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve looked under the seats but there’s nothing there. Maybe something spilled?”

A day later, the smell was even worse. Desperate to find the cause, we got our brightest flashlight and looked under the hood (thinking maybe a mouse had crawled up in the engine and died). We even searched the side pockets on the car’s doors to see if some bit of food had gotten trapped.

Finally, I looked in a box of clothes I had been planning to take to Goodwill, which had been behind my back seats for a couple of weeks. And I found a small grocery sack with—wait for it—a two-week old tube of ground turkey. It had expanded and looked ready to explode. Holding my nose, I put the gaseous tube, along with the donation box in a big garbage bag and deposited into our outdoor trash can.

The next morning, as I drove to work, God nudged me. That’s like sin, He pointed out. Even small sins can become a big problem over time. At first, our sin may seem like no big deal. But over time, it poisons more of the areas and relationships in our lives, until nothing remains unaffected.

I remember when bitterness over a friend who betrayed me turned sour, affecting my ability to trust in others and risk friendships. It stank up my words and thoughts, until my husband noticed and called me out. I had felt justified in my emotions and reaction, and so I had allowed myself to become blind to its insidious, creeping nature.

But here’s the good news: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NIV).

I did confess my bitterness and anger to the Lord. I rejoiced that Jesus paid for that sin, and that it would not stand between the Lord and I. But the Lord did more than forgive. Over time and with His help, I forgave the person who had hurt me, releasing her to God, and I felt the freedom to pray for her and (gasp!) even wish her well.

In the illustration above, the Holy Spirit is like the flashlight, helping us search out sin and convicting us of its presence so we can confess. God has already removed our sin by the blood of Jesus. We are clean and wear His righteousness. In His grace, he has set us free.

Today, ask God what sins–big or small–are “hiding” in your own life. Then confess the wrongdoing and thank God for His forgiveness and mercy.

This blog is excerpted from Dena’s book, Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms, which is available as an e-book from online retailers. 

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dena headshotAbout the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Dena’s book, Grace for the Race,  uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled females. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help moms realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: Have you nursed bitterness in your heart? How did God set you free?

Souls as Clean as Snow

by Debb Hackett @Debb_Hackett

It’s that time of year. For anyone living in the northern two-thirds of the United States, the weather seems to lurch from near-Armageddon amounts of snow or ice, and frostbite causing temperatures, or beautiful spring-like warmth that offers a welcome respite from the full-on days of winter.

We are a family of skiers. Every Saturday sees us up at 5 a.m. to get to our favorite resort in time to make “first tracks” and be the ones at the front of the line when the lifts open. During a recent trip, conditions were particularly beautiful. The trail-groomers and snow makers had done an outstanding job and the slopes were adorned with fresh powder. As my skis swished down the mountain, I was struck by how like God’s grace a ski trail is.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
 they shall be as white as snow; (Isaiah 1:18, NIV)

First thing in the morning, the surface of the trails is white and smooth, perfect for skiing. But as the skiers come, the snow gets chopped up and marked. Sometimes there are deep ruts or slash marks, and over time, moguls or bumps form. By the end of the day the snow can be dirty with mud, and pine needles or twigs mixed in. Isn’t that a little like us? We wake up to a day with no errors… yet. Then there’s a poor thought, maybe a sharp word or some other type of mistake and we are off. Sin makes it’s “first tracks.”

We go through the day with all the challenges life throws at us and we can find our closeness to Jesus slashed, or perhaps our faith hit some bumps. By the end of the day we might well be a little less than pristine, feeling the weight of our sin.

But even as I skied and contemplated this, the Lord was quick to reassure me…

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17, NIV)

It doesn’t matter how dirty our snow gets, we know the ultimate groomer. Unlike a ski slope, Jesus doesn’t bury the mess in more snow so it’s hidden. He cleanses us from it and leaves us forever washed white.

Be reassured today that there’s no sin so great or mistake so big that Jesus can’t forgive it or redeem it. That’s just how much He loves you.

Take a minute to ask for that love and grace work in you and shine through you today.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)

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Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: How has God’s grace impacted your life?

Coffee? Or Cough-ee?

by Rhonda Rhea

I microwaved my second cup of coffee this morning and couldn’t figure out why in the world it tasted like cough medicine. Granted, I’m never sure how I’m supposed to be awake enough to get my own coffee when I’ve yet to have my coffee.

Three or four sips in, I still didn’t get why it tasted so weird. Somewhere around that fifth sip, I woke up enough to remember it wasn’t my second cup of coffee. It was my first. And then another realization slowly started to sink in:  I haven’t made the coffee yet this morning.

I stared at that cup of coffee for a few minutes thinking about how I’ve been gone for a few mornings and Oh my word. When did I make this coffee?

Let’s be clear. There are times when adding extra creamer isn’t going to cut it. Not even a lot of creamer. Not even if it’s caramel macchiato creamer. Cough-medicine-au-lait is never going to be anybody’s specialty drink of the day. And frankly, I’m pretty sure those first four sips were a little chewy. No wait. I think I’ll stay in denial about that for a while longer.

It’s a good reminder, though, that sin can be something like that. We don’t make life taste better by trying to flavor sin with something we think might mask its icky-ness. We don’t fix anything by excusing or rationalizing. We can’t avoid dealing with its objectionableness by distracting ourselves with something else or otherwise trying to forget about it, either. What we have to do every time is just plain get rid of it. Pour it out. Get a clean cup. Start over. We confess sin, turn away from it, and go a different direction.

Facing up to our sin is anything but tasty. It’s unpleasant. Humiliating, even. But necessary. At every point we come face to face with our sin, we get a closer look at our own depravity and our surprising penchant for evil. It’s easy to deceive ourselves about our bent to sin, but this is no place for denial. When we do get a taste of our sin’s offensiveness, the revelation that we could actually be so utterly wicked can be outright devastating. It sends us into a place of mourning.

But it’s at that place of mourning that Jesus comes alongside us. When we become painfully aware of our inability to lift the tiniest finger to clean up the mess, and at the point we realize anew our complete dependence on Him to do it, He reminds us of His cross. His payment for every sin was complete. Jesus suffered unspeakable agony on that cross for sin—agony that should’ve been ours.

Remembering the inexpressibly high price of sin also reminds us to keep a short account of it. First John 1:9 reminds us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (HCSB). Not a masking. Not a distraction. Not a denial. No, a complete cleansing. A new cup, as it were. That’s a better something to chew on every morning.

In other things to remember, making sure I’ve put on a new pot of coffee is high up there on my list for tomorrow. I’m happy to report that at least this morning’s coffee didn’t make me sick. As a matter of fact, I haven’t coughed once all day.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is still wondering if coffee can actually ferment. She is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What helps you to keep your relationship with God fresh?

Photo by Mario Ibrahimi on Unsplash