Don’t Let Sin Destroy Your Life

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Sin comes in a variety of ways. It can be outright evil, or it can be sneaky. Sneaky sin is scary. If you don’t ask for forgiveness and help from God to resist it, it takes root in your life.

When I was nine years old, my parents and I were at a mall at a surf and ski shop. There were magazines and pamphlets by the front door. At first glance, they were labeled “free.” I noticed one magazine with its bright, beautiful pictures of the ocean. I knew I wanted these pictures for a wall in my room. We left the store, and I had the magazine in my hands.

My parents and I got home, and I went straight to my room. I grabbed a pair of scissors and looked at the front cover to see a price of $5.99 on it. I could feel the blood drain from my face. “Oh no, I’m a criminal!” was my thought. I ran to my dad and begged him to drive back so I could give back the magazine. My dad sighed and said, “no, it’s too far, and it’s fine.” I had tears streaming down my face. My dad soon realized this was not the right way to rectify it and consoled me, “sweetheart, we will go back tomorrow.” And we did.

At that age, I wanted nothing to do with sin. As children, we are taught not to lie, cheat or steal. Something happens to us when we aren’t stable in our faith and follow the ways of the world. We may think we are safe if we know God and have a deep relationship with Him, but the enemy loves to distract and confuse us, especially when it comes to sin.

A few days ago, I was at a bi-monthly gathering. The same people usually attend, but every so often someone new comes. There was a man who I met for the first time. He smiled at me, and I immediately felt an attraction. It felt weird and sweet at the same time. He was making small talk, but he seemed genuinely interested. I soon realized we talked for over 20 minutes straight, I decided to bring in more people into the conversation, so I wasn’t alone. For days, I thought about this situation. I felt guilty and sad that as a married woman I would be feeling like this toward someone else other than my husband.

I decided to confide in a friend, a person who I think, also as a spiritual mother. Thankfully nothing more than conversations happened between the man and me. But I told her how I felt and cried tears of shame and guilt. She lovingly listened and comforted me. My friend was truthful but understanding. She revealed that there was something deeper that I needed to explore with myself and my husband. Expose the sin and work on those areas of weakness and pain.

I think back to that time as a little girl being so guilty of accidentally taking a magazine. Why isn’t that the same reaction I have to sin as an adult? We live in a world where most sins get a free pass because everyone is doing it. When faced with temptation, ask God to intervene right that minute. Please know, that no fleshy desired fulfilled is worth the torment it will bring for months or even years. I want to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus!

Lesson Learned: If we allow Jesus to intervene, no temptation is too great for Jesus to save us. Sinning is not worth it.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for allowing sin to take a foothold in my life. Cleanse my mind, heart, and soul. Reveal those areas that need work and your intervention. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Redemption in a Starbucks Drive-Thru

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it; it is sin for them.” James 4:17

Sin comes in many forms.  We sin against others, ourselves, and God.  Jesus came to die on the cross for the reconciliation of our sins.  Making our wrongs right, is necessary, but pride and denial get in the way.

One rainy evening, my husband, newborn baby and I drove to the Starbucks drive-thru.  We were suffering from sleep-deprivation and wanted something warm and with caffeine. As we turned into the driveway, another car cut us off to go into the Starbucks drive-thru.  We were mad, but there was nothing we could do about it.

We gave our order and went up to the window to pay.  The barista said, “there is no charge. The customer before you paid for your drinks and said he was sorry for cutting you off.” My mouth dropped.  I couldn’t believe that it happened. Honestly, that cup of hot chocolate was the best one I had ever had. But that man did what we should all do if we sin/wrong someone, we make it right as soon as possible.  

Many times we are faced with disagreements with people or our sin, and we do nothing about it to make the wrongs right.  Making wrongs right doesn’t mean we have to apologize for things we didn’t do, but the act of forgiveness frees us from more profound trauma.  If we did the wrong, we need to accept responsibility and seek forgiveness from who we wronged. Do not let sin take a foothold in our life.

Lesson Learned: When you wrong someone, take responsibility and reconcile the best you can.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for forgiveness of sin I have committed.  If there is someone I need to reconcile with, give me the right words to say and courage to make amends.  Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross to cleanse me from sin. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

No Sin is Hidden from The Lord

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 12:2

There is a small pleasure of not getting into trouble when I should.  I feel it when I perform the California rolling stop when driving.  But the Sheriff behind me is looking for someone else, so they do not pull me over.  While that may be a sign of grace, true sin will catch up to us.

Many years ago, when I was in college, living at home, my parents were renovating the backyard.  My friend and I were at my home studying for a class. Except, we were distracted by the attractive construction workers.  (Hey! We were young and single!) They would have to walk past the kitchen bay window where my friend and I were “studying” next to, to get tools and supplies from the truck.

As they would walk, by we would smile big and do funny dances at them. We did this because the house had tinted windows. Well, we were so wrong about that! The next day, I was outside and walked past that same window and could see inside, when the lights were on in the kitchen.  And the lights were on in the kitchen that day were giving the construction workers googly eyes. From that day forward, I never looked at them and tried to avoid them at all costs.

I remember thinking, I  thought I could get away with acting like that.  If I knew the construction workers could see my friend and me, we never would have behaved that way.  In life, we sin and think we had gotten away with something or hurting someone because they would never find out about it. However, Father God knows every sin.  He knows every move we make. All of these sins will come to light, and we will be judged for it. There are no tinted windows between God and us.  Let us repent for our sins, and the sins were are unaware of daily!

Lesson Learned:  All sin will come to light.  No sin is hidden.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, convict me when I sin.  Holy Spirit, show me when I sin and not realize it.  Thank you for giving us grace and mercy. Give me guidance to always do the right thing. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Step by Step

“Do not be terrified by them for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The Lord, your God, will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the Lord your God will deliver them once over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them.” Deuteronomy 7:21-24

God is miraculous. He can heal instantly or keep someone safe from harm. Most of the time, we end up enduring some kind of test, physical or emotional pain, to learn a valuable lesson. For me, a stressful situation results in physical pain or anxiety.

In one month, I volunteered for many school activities for my daughter, traveled, had a lot of unexpected bills, construction in our complex, and applied for a full-time job. My skin had eczema, and my stomach and gallbladder seemed to be on fire. I would wake up in the middle of the night due to my abdominal pain. I could barely eat without wanting to throw up. Finally, I went to the doctor. She ordered blood work and tests. Praise God, everything was normal. She told me that I need to try to do less because my stomach can’t handle the stress anymore. If I don’t slow things down, ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues will follow.

I changed my diet for good, by embracing being gluten free, as much as I fought it. I prayed and meditated. For a few weeks, I did well. Then, I encountered more stress. The pain began to come back, and I couldn’t eat much without feeling sick. I went to the grocery store before church. It was the trip that broke me.

Here is what happened. I entered the parking lot of the grocery store and nearly hit by a distracted driver. The store did not have a few items. The grocery clerk did not load some of my groceries, and I smashed my fingers trying to put them in the cart. As I left the store, to cross the parking lot, I a speeding driver almost hit me. Then a large, raised truck parked so close to me, I had to climb into the passenger side to get into the driver seat. Then I saw a car pull up. The man opens his car door, with empty beer cans spilling out onto the ground and he wobbled into the store. God tested my patience at that grocery store on Sunday morning. That trip broke me.

I was seething mad. I wanted to go off on the world for being so inconsiderate and selfish. But these were strangers, no one I knew. How can I bring people to Christ, when I can’t let go of people’s dangerous actions or habits? How can God trust me with big things when I lose it over small things?

A few weeks went by, and I went to a small group gathering. There was a Bishop and his wife, who came to preach. They prayed over some people and had words of knowledge for others. The wife came over to me and asked me, “if you ate a whole apple pie, what would happen to you?” I said, “I would get sick.” She said, “so you eat one piece at a time, and you will be fine?” I said, “of course.” She continued and said, “God can give you everything He has for you at once. He can perform a miracle or answer all of your prayers. But you won’t be able to handle it. Usually, you need to do things, step by step. We let fear keep us from starting something, or we do well and start doing it on our power instead of His power.”

The Israelites journey to the promised land was only supposed to be 11 days. Instead, it took 40 years! They sinned, complained, and were disobedient. They would go back to their old ways after they promised to change. Towards the end of their journey, they had to defeat many of enemies. God told them He would help them, but one enemy at a time. God had the power to destroy them all, but instead, He had them fighting one battle at a time. They needed to grow and have the spiritual maturity to be trusted by God.

Our faith cannot lack when we are following His will. If we see all the problems, we lose our trust and get hurt, physically and emotionally. Let us increase our faith and trust in the Almighty God.

Lesson Learned: Let our daily surrender be to God. May our faith and patience increase. And take the difficulties one step at a time.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your covering and protection over me. May I trust in you and my faith grow every day. When trouble surrounds me, let me see your guiding hands. Remind me what is true and all that you have done already in my life. Forgive me for not trusting in you Lord. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Never be in a Relationship that You Cannot Talk About

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

When I was in my early 20’s, I entered into a relationship that was toxic and unrighteous. He paid attention to me in a way no one had. I entered into the relationship because I did not see myself as able to be loved or valued. Every Sunday, I would go to church, torn by conviction and guilt. Yet the next day, I was emailing and talking to him. This carried on for many months. Then one Sunday, it all changed.

I was hanging out with a friend one Sunday after church. I was suffering from this relationship emotionally and physically. It was taking a toll on me. She noticed that I was distraught. The Holy Spirit prompted her to keep pursuing a conversation with me about it.

I drew in a big breath and confessed to what I was doing it. I bawled my eyes out, condemning myself and asking why would I let this happen. She listen to me and said the relationship ends today. We prayed and she would hold me accountable.

God gave me the strength to stop and end it. I told him to never contact me again and he actually did. He had too much to lose, so I think that is why he did. I spent the next 5 years of my life afterward, still living in guilt and condemnation. I wanted to be free and receive my forgiveness wholeheartedly. But I felt if I did, I would be condoning it. I felt I didn’t deserve to be happy.

The enemy still uses our past to slap us in the face and remind us how much we have sinned. I know the Lord forgave me the first time I asked and each time after that. But I just felt this torment, that I still deserved punishment. When I met my future husband, I knew I was going to marry him. I told him what I did because I felt I had to. He was so loving and understanding about it. God used him to show me what a true and pure love should be like.

This time in my life reminds me to continually pray for protection against temptation. This situation has given me mercy and grace over those who have made serious mistakes. I can see past the initial sin and look deeper to why they may have done something bad.

I felt genuine remorse and wish I could go back in time and stop it from happening. But I cannot. I am blessed by His love that He forgave me and restored my heart. If you find that you are in a situation that is causing you to sin, stop and get help. Live a life of purity and truth.  On this Valentine’s Day remember that you are valuable and lovable.

Lesson Learned: God wants us to not be a slave to our sinful nature. He wants us to be victorious and been in healthy, stable relationships.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for carrying me out of mistakes I have made. Thank you for giving me the strength to end mistakes before more damage is done. Please guard my eyes from being deceived by the enemy. Show me my worth and value. Give me discernment and conviction when I am doing sinful things. Thank you for restoring those deep hurts and filling them with your love. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Don’t Leave out a Welcome Mat for the Enemy

“…And give no opportunity to the devil.”  Ephesians 4:27

 

Most of us know to avoid the outright immoral things in life.  However, the enemy uses little things to catch us off guard.  Those little things open the door to the enemy and we soon see how immorality has crept into our lives.

 

One day, I was walking through the neighborhood and noticed a house had a for sale sign.   My neighborly friend, Monica lived next door to this house.  Monica was walking her dogs and asked if she knew the status for the sale of the house.  She didn’t know, but instead told me about what a relief it was to have the house vacant for a while.  Apparently,  that house had some bad renters.  They had parties until 5 a.m., the other days loud music was played at all hours, and had people living in the house that didn’t belong.  The Sheriff was called many times over the years to that home.

 

I did not think these renters could sound any worse until she said that they had cockroaches.  (Ewww…)  And these cockroaches that were living in that home decided to explore through an unknown hole in the wall and come into her kitchen.  She and her husband patched the hole in the wall and bleached everything in their house.  She said it was a miserable experience that she hopes never happens again.

 

After my walk, I came inside the house to see my daughter walking around while she was eating.  I told her Monica’s story about the cockroaches and how she needs to sit at the table when she eats, so we don’t see those bugs in the house.  My tween daughter (tween=can have an attitude when she talks) says, “well they aren’t hear yet!”  I brought her over to the dining room table and said, “just because they aren’t here, doesn’t mean we want to give them an invitation.”

 

I thought about how I have had that same attitude my daughter had about the cockroaches that I have had towards things in life. What kind of invitation have I given to the enemy?  I have heard conversations amongst co-workers that were filthy or were filled with gossip that I decided to join in on.  Music that had colorful language or degrading lyrics that I listened to because it had a good beat.  Watching t.v. shows that had too much violence, sex scenes or bad language so I didn’t want to feel left out because everyone else was talking about it.   My life needed a good bleaching like my friend’s home.

 

It may not seem like a big deal to watch a t.v. show or listen to some music, but it does over time.  This is the gateway for the enemy to take advantage of to bring more opportunities to sin.

 

The fight is exhausting but it is important to stay vigilant or the sin will take over.  All of this sin takes us farther away from the relationship God wants with us.  The competition is too strong.  Keep in remembrance that God’s will for us is better than anything we think of as fun.

 

Lesson Learned:  God’s narrow path is better and wiser than any wide path the world wants to take you.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for trying to fit into the world.  Convict me when I slip up.  Thank you for your grace and mercy since I am not perfect.  Show me the way you want for me.  Guard my eyes and mind from the tricks of the enemy.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”