Clean the Temple

I’m going to tell you a secret…I’m not great at cleaning my house.  Hahaha! Just kidding; that’s not a secret.  That’s common knowledge!

My least favorite thing about the holiday season is making sure all of the nooks and crannies are sparkling.  You know what I’m talking about.  You want to make sure that when your guests come in your home, your mirrors are sparkling, the floors are freshly mopped, and the sheets in the spare bedroom are crisp and clean.  You wash away the dirt and grime and make sure it’s refreshed.  It’s nice to know that you’ve worked hard at cleaning your home!

It should be the same with ourselves.  God reminds us of that in I Corinthians 6:19.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

I think it’s easy for us to forget that what we ingest physically and spiritually affects how clean our temple is.  It could be the shows that we watch; are they pleasing to God?  Maybe it’s the books that we’re reading.  Is the material something that edifies the body?  How about the company we keep?  Are these people bringing fellowship as a believer or are we finding ourselves turning in the other direction?  Perhaps we’re missing church.  We starve ourselves of spiritual meat and a body of believers.  I could go on.

When we recognize that something or someone is preventing or stunting our maturity in a relationship with God, we should be correcting or purging it.  I have to do this often.  As I read the Bible more and study scripture, I start asking myself if what I’m currently engaged in is glorifying God. 

Let me give you an example.  For me, it started with TV.  For the last two years, when my husband and I have turned on shows that we’ve always watched, I’ve found myself cringing at the sex scene or the use of foul language that had never bothered me before.  When I recognized that it was making me uncomfortable, I started praying about what I was watching.  Now, seasons of shows are left unwatched because I want the temple as clean as it can be.

Cussing is next.  Growing up, in junior high and high school I cursed like a sailor (sorry, Mom!).  And then there were a great many years when I never cussed.  As I’ve gotten older, I got lax.  Now, I’m praying that the Holy Spirit would guard my tongue.  If I wouldn’t say it front of God, I don’t want to say it.  I’m pretty sure God’s not calling someone the “B” word from His throne, so what makes it ok today?  It’s a work in progress for me, and I find myself asking for forgiveness often.  But I want the temple clean.

Does it mean we have to be perfect?  Of course not!  The only man that walked this earth to lead a sinless life was Jesus.  But He does tell us in His Word over and over again to do what is pleasing unto the Lord.  While pleasing according to world’s standards looks vastly different than God’s, I want to choose to honor Him every time!

This week, let’s take inventory on ourselves!  Let’s clean out our temples of what distracts us from the work of the Lord and start fresh.  Let’s aim to keep our temples clean!

~Erin

Context is King

How many times have we read those memes about how punctuation can really change the context and understanding of the sentence?!  They’re some of my favorite things to see on my Facebook page.  You know what I’m talking about…the ones where one comma can change the sentence from “I like eating kittens and sleep” to “I like eating, kittens, and sleep.” What about the times we get just one part of story from someone and we realize we need to see the complete picture, not just the one piece they’re telling us? 

Context is king, and it’s even more important to understand the context of verses in the Bible to fully comprehend what God is saying in the passages of scripture!  It’s very easy to take a verse at face value.  We pick it out because it sounds helpful or we think it’s perfect according to our situation. 

While those verses ARE helpful, it’s important to understand what the verse is talking about as we use these verses.  There are many around us who may not fully understand scripture, and it’s important that we are not misrepresenting the Bible.

Let’s look at a few of the ones I’ve been researching:

James 1:5—“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given him.” 

If my Table 8 Bible study group heard this from me once, they heard it from me 100 times during our study of the book of James that many use this verse to preach the prosperity gospel.  “If you ask, He gives and He gives GENEROUSLY!  Keep asking!” 

That’s not what He says, though.  He doesn’t say ask for stuff.  He says if you lack WISDOM, ask and He will give it you.  This isn’t about what financial gain you can receive but rather wisdom.  As well, if you read the verses before, James is talking about trials producing endurance  and allowing it to have its perfect result.  This is about wisdom as you endure!

1 Corinthians 6:19—“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

I actually love this verse.  I often heard growing up this verse being related to drinking, smoking, sex outside of marriage, overeating, etc.  While I won’t negate that because your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, it’s important to treat your body well in relation to all of that.  But when you look at the context surrounding the verses, this verse is referring to sexual immorality!  Paul is saying that sexual immorality can truly invade not only your outside self but your inner soul, as well.  Sex is not ‘just sex.’ It’s something that, when not honored in the biblical way, can hurt your heart and soul. 

Friends, as I study the Bible and dig deep, I’m gaining such a better understanding of the scripture.  The study clarifies how it pertains to me and it has me digging even deeper to see the entire Bible and not just the bits that I can fit into a catchy phrase to share as I’ve done in the past.

I pray that as we go through our studies this week, as we dig into the scripture, that we are asking God to allow us to see it as a whole.  Let’s challenge ourselves to see the full context of what we’re reading and allow God to reveal exactly what His word says!

~Erin

Selfish Prayers

I was thinking about prayer a lot today.  Tomorrow, Peyton turns 18, and I’ve prayed with her every morning before school (whether she wanted to or not).  I’ve prayed for her when she’s hurting.  I’ve prayed for her when she’s had victories.  And now, my prayer changes ever so slightly as she ventures into the realm of ‘adulthood.’

Prayers in general tends to be a hot topic.  We were talking about it a few weeks ago during Table 8’s weekly Bible study.  The discussion of what constitutes a good prayer and how often we don’t take things to God for ourselves because it feels selfish or trivial was on the table.

I was thinking about that later that night.  I don’t believe it’s wrong to pray for something that you want.  Clearly in the Bible, there are passages that tell us that we are tell God what we want.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” –Philippians 4:6

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” –James 1:6

There are even great examples of people who prayed for things that they wanted.  Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn is his flesh three separate times and God denied the request.  He told Paul that His grace was sufficient and to find strength in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).  Hannah prayed for a baby, and she was finally made pregnant with baby Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11).  Jesus Himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for God to take the cup from Him before He was tortured and ultimately killed (Mark 14:36).

The important thing to remember when we are seeking God in prayer for things that we want, is to recognize and allow for the answer that God gives.  The answer from God will be His will, not necessarily ours.  While we may be thankful for the response that He gives us to a request for some things, we may not like the answer on others. 

We must also understand that if God’s answer is the opposite of what we want or desire in an answer, we are not to take over and ‘make it happen.’  I’ve been guilty of this so many times in my life.  I think I know the answer, God is clearly closing the door, and I still manufacture the outcome, because I’m pretty sure I know better than God…how ridiculous does that sound?!

I pray, dear friends, that as you seek the Lord this week that you share with Him what you want.  Nothing is too trivial for God to hear.  He desires for you to bring it to Him.  Then wait for His answer and trust the outcome.  His way is always the right way!

~Erin

Hang-ups, Phobias, & Quirks…Continued

When you wrestle with deep soul secret keeping, you risk your relationship with God, with yourself, and with others.

In 1998, I practiced a quickly growing, cultish behavior when I joined a Wiccan coven.  I committed; I practiced; I researched; I participated; I went all in with a pagan walk and turned my back on our Heavenly Father.

For seven years, I deliberately disobeyed God.  I denied Christ. I knew I was wrong. I kept it from my friends and family.

I became the deceivable woman.

2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV) states, “the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness.” Deceived exapato means “to seduce wholly; “ “To persuade into disobedience.”

Utilizing the 2 Corinthians passage, we are able to see that in Genesis, Eve is an example of a woman who was persuaded to do wrong.  When she was alone, she was vulnerable to temptation.

She was the first deceivable woman.

In my last post, I stated that quirky tendencies are not necessary sinful.  It’s when we keep secrets deep in our soul that we become vulnerable to sinful behavior.

In the case of practicing Wicca, I was committing sinful behavior, which I was keeping secret.  Is there a difference? Perhaps.

Once I shared the secret of my sinful behavior with my closest friends and family, they immediately began praying for me to be restored to a Christian walk.  That did not happen immediately, but it did happen eventually.  When we selectively share our hearts with other believers, they are able to bolster us.  They are able to hold us accountable.  They are able to approach the Father on our behalf.

Last week’s hang ups, phobias, and quirks seem very miniscule when compared to my absolute avoidance of the occult aisle at the bookstore. I avoid horoscopes, moon cycles, and other pagan related calendar items.  I steer my child away from tarot cards and subtle pagan television shows. Avoiding and dismissing occult and pagan related issues has become a hang-up, phobia, and quirk.  It’s one that will not be a secret in my life, because I refuse to have that sin ever take hold of me or my house again.

I was the deceivable woman. It wore me out being that woman with the deep-seated secret.  If you have sinful behaviors that are wearing you out…that you are keeping secret…I am urging you to find a strong Christian woman to confide in so that she can go to the Lord in prayer on your behalf.

Turn from the secrecy. Ensure you aren’t falling into a sin trap because of secrets.

~Emily