Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Staying Out of Prison

There were no steel bars. No guards to prevent my escape. Yet I was a prisoner. A prisoner to thoughts and fears that immobilized me. The more I focused on my fears, the stronger my imaginary prison cell became, until there was no breaking free.

Negative thinking gave rise to all sorts of suspicions. I was afraid of what others thought of me. What they might be saying. Without being aware of it, I had fallen prey to the deceptive thought -trail of depression.

As the downward spiral continued, it was virtually impossible for me to concentrate on anything other than my perceived problems. I wanted to be free, but didn’t have the strength to leave this prison cell of my own making. How was I to escape? My thinking had to change.

Over the course of nine, long months, the Lord used family, friends, godly counselors, and medication to bring me out of the pit of depression. He reminded me of the plan He had for me – a plan to walk in victory, not defeat, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 15:57; KJV). That was more than five years ago.

Today, I’m aware of how easy it is to find myself right back in ‘prison.’ Maybe not a captive to depression, but to one of any number of other ills: anger, pride, covetousness, envy. And the list goes on. How do I remain free? Jesus himself gives me a clue, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32). I must be intimately acquainted with God’s Word.

Thousands of years ago, two men found themselves in prison. A literal prison. Complete with steel bars, shackles, and guards. The prisoners had been whipped and treated poorly. Their crime? Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Had I been in their place, I can only imagine the pity party that I would have thrown in my honor! But Paul and Silas’ response was much different, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” They may have been deterred from speaking to the townspeople, but they continued witnessing for Christ through their songs to the prison inmates. They refused to focus on themselves. Instead, they worshipped God and sang of Him to a captive audience.

Beautiful mindset. Keeping things in the proper perspective. Loving God first and being concerned about the needs of others. Look at the results, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed,” (Acts 16:26). The prisoners were free to leave, yet Paul and Silas took the opportunity to lead the jailer to Christ!

The Lord wants me to walk in victory, too. In fact, He’s issued a Get Out of Jail Free card exclusively for me. As I read His Word and yield myself to obey His will, I’ll maintain the proper focus and be able to stay out of ‘prison’!

Are you in ‘prison’? What step will you take to get out today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your truth can make me free. Help me identify any sin that holds me captive. Today I choose to put You first and truly care about others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do The Right Thing

Almost a year has passed. I really meant to write the book review last October. Somehow, I never got to it. But I’m re-reading the book so I can follow through on what I said I’d do.

Integrity. According to my dictionary, “Rigid adherence to a code or standard of values.” I like the way pastor, and author friend, Warren Baldwin, defines it in his book, Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs, “…the internal commitment to do the right thing under any circumstance.” Over and over, the book of Proverbs speaks of this character quality as something to be highly valued:

The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3; KJV)

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1)

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)

In today’s society, it’s not always easy to do the right thing. Especially when the price tag is high. It was no different thousands of years ago in Joshua’s day. Shortly after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they came face to face with a challenging situation.

With the Lord’s help, they had soundly defeated the cities of Jericho and Ai. They were prepared to move forward and take the next city. But wait a minute – it appeared as if people were approaching them on the horizon. A closer look confirmed their suspicions. A number of shabbily clothed men on donkeys entered their camp. This was strange…

Joshua and the men of Israel agreed to listen to what these visitors had to say. “We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us,” (Joshua 9:6b). After further conversation, their story seemed to check out, and they HAD agreed to be Israel’s servants. What could possibly be the harm in letting these people live? The Israelites could actually benefit from having slaves. So Joshua approved the treaty, making peace with them and allowing them to live. But he made one big mistake - he forgot to bring the matter before the Lord.

It didn’t take long before Joshua discovered that the travelers were actually from neighboring Gibeon. They had lied about who they were and where they were from, because they feared for their lives. They had heard that the God of the Israelites had commanded Joshua to destroy the inhabitants of the land – so they came up with a plan that could potentially save their lives. And it worked. Now, Joshua had a difficult decision to make. Many of the Israelites were angry that he had made the treaty, and wanted to kill these imposters. Should he go back on his word?

Joshua kept his word. He would endure whatever consequences followed. He and his men displayed integrity, “We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them,” (Joshua 9: 19-20).

God values integrity. It may not be easy, but keeping my word is important. It just may point someone to the Savior!

Is there a commitment you’ve made that you’ve failed to follow through on? What step will you take today to keep your word?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for reminding me of the importance of integrity. Forgive me for the times I’ve not followed through with the things I said I’d do. Help me to be willing to keep my word, even when it’s difficult. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running Away?

He knew what God wanted Him to do...but he didn't want to do it. He convinced himself he'd be better off heading in a different direction. He didn't look back. It probably wasn't just a coincidence that he found the boat at the dock headed to Tarshish, right? Maybe Jonah had misunderstood God after all, and God's plan actually was for him to minister to the people of Tarshish. Yeah, that was it! But deep down, Jonah knew he was deceiving himself.

The storm caught the mariners off guard. The weather had been perfect for sailing, yet here they were in the worst storm they could remember. The angry waves tossed the boat about like a toy, and the wind howled its fury. They tried everything they knew to drive the boat out of the tempest - to no avail. It was high time for Jonah to do some explaining.

He owned up to his sin and admitted that he was running from the Lord. He didn't want to warn the people of Nineveh of God's pending judgment due to their wicked ways. What if they repented? The Ninevites were barbarians, after all! They didn't deserve God's mercy.

The mariners were at a loss. What were they to do? Jonah was insistent, "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you," (Jonah 1:12; KJV). But the men continued trying to row the boat back to shore. It was no use. They finally agreed to throw Jonah overboard. Immediately the sea was calm, and faith was born in the hearts of the mariners. "Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows," (Jonah 1:16).

God's grace continued in the life of Jonah. The Lord prepared a whale to swallow him and gave him a second chance to preach a message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. This time, Jonah obeyed. He shared God's message, but was disgusted with the results...The Ninevites did the unthinkable. They repented! And God was true to His word; He spared their city.

Jonah was beyond disappointed. He was angry. In his mind, the people of Nineveh deserved to die for all the atrocities they had committed. Why had God allowed them to live? It didn't take God long to answer. He loved them. He wanted them to repent and turn to Him. He wanted them to point others to Him.

The story of Jonah is familiar. But the lesson of compassion contained within its pages is timeless. How often do I run from the job God has called me to do? His voice is pleading, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," (Mark 16:15). Yet I'm convinced that the people He's put in my path don't want to hear. Or worse, that they don't deserve to hear His life-giving message.

Like the mariners, sometimes unbelievers around me show more compassion than I do. They do everything they can to help me, while I'm oblivious to their needs. God's Word reminds me, "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth," (Psalms 86:5,15).

He's compassionate to all. My job is to deliver His message today, knowing that His Word will not return void.

Are you doing the job God's called you to do? What steps could you take today to be more compassionate?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the example of the life of Jonah. It's encouraging to know that You love me and give me second chances even when I mess up. Give me a heart of compassion for others and help me carry out the job you have for me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Way Too Close

I was too close. When I pulled into the driveway and angled the car toward the garage, I had a feeling I’d need to back up, and straighten the car to fit into the space for my vehicle. I looked again, and thought to myself, ‘No, I think I can make it…” As I put the car in gear and inched forward, the scraping sound confirmed my original fears. I WAS too close. I should have gone with my initial instincts…but it was too late now.

I put the car in park and got out to survey the damage. Sure enough, I had hit the trim that frames the garage door opening. The headlight washer on the passenger side had broken off, and a five-inch piece of the garage door trim had splintered as a result of my ingenious behavior. Oh, how I wish I could press the rewind button and be graced with a do-over! Instead, I need to be thankful the damage wasn’t worse, and learn from my mistake.

There’s a life lesson embedded in my unfortunate mishap. Sometimes, I’m convinced I can handle certain things, when in reality – I cannot. I’m reminded of Solomon’s words of wisdom, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life,” (Proverbs 4:23; KJV).

When I’m faced with life’s temptations, they beckon me to come closer. I pause and think to myself, “What’s the harm in just taking a closer look?” I forget that my heart is often deceived and my human nature tends to justify its desires (Jeremiah 17:9). As I step closer, I convince myself that I’ll be fine, forgetting that I’m exposing a very vulnerable part of myself - my heart.

The enemy of my heart knows what he’s doing. He tempts me to get close enough for him to strike. He wants me to fall into his trap. It’s my job to stay alert and watchful. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” (1 Peter 5:8). He preys on my weaknesses, seeking to make me ineffective for Christ.

Being aware of what tempts me is important. Preparing myself to stay at a safe distance when temptation arrives is even more crucial. I don’t remember the first time I heard the expression, “It’s better to be safe, than sorry,” but applying this principle to my life goes a long way toward protecting my vulnerable heart from temptation.

Yes, my close encounter with the garage door could have been avoided. Did I learn something? You bet! The next time temptation flags me down, I’ll think twice before taking a closer look. With the Lord’s help, I can stay far away from things that appear harmless, but in reality are meant to destroy.

Can you identify weaknesses in your life? Those areas where you’re easily tempted? What step will you take today to remain far away from temptation?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for continuing to teach me valuable life lessons. Help me be alert and watchful when it comes to the devil’s schemes. I know he seeks to destroy me, but You give me the tools to stand. Help me apply Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There's a Big Difference

A new school year. Plenty of challenging subjects, and a lot to learn. I remember ninth grade Algebra. The concept was foreign. It felt like combining an English lesson with math – all those letters mixed in with numbers. It didn’t seem right.

A couple days into the class and I knew I needed help. Problems stared back at me on my homework assignment, and all I could do was stare back. Dad to the rescue. He taught me the principle that ‘what you do to one side of the problem, must be done to the other side.’ At first, I just watched him solve a problem. It still wasn’t making sense. The fog wasn’t lifting.

When it was my turn, I tried following the same pattern, but I was lost. My goal was to finish my homework, I really wasn’t applying myself to learning this strange new subject. My Dad tried explaining the process another way. By the end of the evening, both of us were frustrated, but I had gotten through the homework.

The next day in Algebra, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head. It all made sense. What my Dad had walked me through the night before, combined with the teacher’s explanation gave way to understanding. I was no longer mortified to step to the chalkboard and solve a problem because I was able to apply what I had learned. Ah, what a good feeling!

Sometimes Biblical principles are like that Algebra lesson. I know what God is saying, but I’m not focused on applying His truth to my life. There’s a big difference between knowing some facts and being able to apply them to real life.

I know God’s Word places an emphasis on loving others. In fact, almost an entire chapter in the New Testament is devoted to defining what ‘love’ is and is not. The Apostle Paul writes, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, “ (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; KJV).

I may have this entire passage committed to memory, but when I’m in a situation that challenges me to demonstrate love to someone, and I respond selfishly and in anger, I’ve clearly missed the point. There’s a disconnect somewhere between my head and my heart. I may need to revisit these verses and analyze my actions. When I understand what they’re saying, I can make the choice to apply their meaning in my personal relationships.

Learning a bunch of facts that I can quote, pales in comparison to being able to take what I’ve learned and apply it to every area of my life. Living out my Christianity involves more than just reading the Bible and being familiar with what it says. It’s actively applying the concepts that are contained in its pages. Today I choose to bridge the gap between my head and my heart, living out the principles pleasing to my Heavenly Father.

Do you struggle with a disconnect? What will you do today to apply what you know to be true?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for revealing the disconnect between knowing something and being able to apply it. Help me to understand what Your Word says and apply it to every situation in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Healing Takes Time

Healing takes time. It's a process. I never would have guessed that it would take over two months for my back to heal after I had a single mole removed. But infection slowed the process down and made it necessary to have a few extra stitches put in. When the sutures are removed, I'll still need to take it easy and give the area a couple more weeks to heal before returning to my normal activity. Wow! Remind me why I elected to have this procedure in the first place?!

In spite of the ridiculous amount of time it's taken me to recover, I'm glad the dermatologist insisted on removing the mole. It was the kind that would have become melanoma. Yeah, I've been reminded - excessive sun exposure is NOT a good thing. I promise I'm retraining myself and have become good friends with sunscreen. Dealing with the problem area instead of ignoring it, gives me a great prognosis and the opportunity to heal completely.

I'm reminded of the gentle, yet probing finger of the Great Physician. When I allow Him access to my heart, it's much like my trips to the dermatologist. I'm acknowledging that He's the Specialist and trust that He will find and point out any 'abnormalities' in my life. I can say with the Psalmist David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," (Psalm 139:23-24; KJV).

He's faithful to answer my prayer. I give my consent for Him to perform 'surgery' - removing the thing that is harmful to me. The cut is painful, but necessary. I'm well aware of the area that's been operated on, and realize it's tender. God's Word acts as balm, separating truth from lies. The process of healing begins.

But it's not always quick. Sometimes my memory lapses and I fall into the same old patterns and a twinge from the site of the 'incision' reminds me that healing is not yet complete. An 'infection' might even set in, requiring the Great Physician to re-open the wound and probe a little deeper. His intention is never to hurt me - but to bring full healing.

Following His 'post surgery' instructions will ensure a good outcome. Replacing what was removed with God's truth, will prevent future infection. "With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee," (Psalms 119:10-11).

Making regular check-ups with my Physician rather than avoiding them, keeps me aware of problems that need to be dealt with and gives me the best opportunity to experience true healing. "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward," (Psalms 19:9,11). Time to schedule an appointment, and let the healing begin!

Has it been awhile since you've scheduled an 'appointment' with the Lord? What steps do you need to take in the 'healing' process?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience with me. In addition to pointing out what needs to change, You're always willing to provide the strength to help me do so. Remind me not to fight Your process of healing. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Little whirlpools form above the holes. It's easy to see where the water is seeping through the ground. Something has to be done to plug the openings so the water level of the pond can rise. The pond was designed as a place for the water to collect before spilling over a waterfall and into the creek. It was never meant to collect and stagnate. The holes have created a problem. The water has found an alternate path to follow, and is no longer flowing as it should.

Clay to the rescue. My husband, Steve, has spent countless hours digging clay out of the hillside, and transporting it by the bucketful to patch the holes. Beginning on the left side of the pond, and gradually working his way to the right, every visible opening has been filled with the pasty substance. Ever so slowly the level of the pond is beginning to rise. Once all the holes have been located and filled, the water will flow out of the pond as it was meant to.

My life as a believer often imitates my pond. Strange statement, but true. The Holy Spirit dwells in me as the 'living water' that's meant to point others to Christ and draw them to Him. This 'water' is alive and active. Jesus offered this description, "...the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life," (John 4:14b; KJV).

As long as I follow the Lord, and remain submitted to Him, the supply is bountiful and overflowing. He provides the power I need to complete each task, resist temptation, love others, persevere. And the list goes on. When I begin leaning on my own understanding, the 'holes' begin forming and I get into trouble.

In my own strength and wisdom, I forget to tap into God's power supply, and find myself looking elsewhere. I become consumed with the cares and insecurities around me, and my focus becomes self-serving. I stagnate and no longer fulfill the purpose God has for me.

I can't use clay to fill the 'holes' that have drained me, but applying the truth of God's Word provides the strongest 'patch' available. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing," (John 15:4-5).

As A.J. Russell put it so beautifully, "For straying, My children, there is no cure except to keep so close to Me that nothing, no interest, no temptation, no other - can come between us," (God Calling, p. 168). To stay close to the Savior, the 'holes' need to be identified and patched. I need to submit my will to the Lord. And I need to stay focused on Him. Then that well of water within me will be able to spring up as it was meant to - bringing honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are there 'holes' that need to be patched in your life? What will you do today to restore the well of water within you?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me the need to patch the 'holes' in my life. Help me to stay so close to You that nothing comes between us. Allow me to be that well of water that springs up and points others to a wonderful Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Job To Do

Everyone had a job to do. But not everyone was happy with the job that had been assigned. Discontent moved beyond thoughts, becoming words that fostered rebellion. Dissatisfaction continued to spread until more than two hundred and fifty people were affected. The instigators of the rebellion, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were determined to let their voices be heard.

Why were Moses and Aaron the ones in charge of leading the children of Israel? Weren't Korah and his followers just as qualified? Their indignation led them to an unpleasant confrontation, "And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?" (Numbers 16:3; KJV).

Moses responded in wisdom. He saw through the fact that Korah wasn't satisfied with his position as a Levite, ministering in the tabernacle of God. Korah wanted the power of the priesthood also. But he failed to realize that God was the One who appointed the priests, not man.

Dissatisfaction with the roles God had given them, was the undoing of Korah and his followers. They paid the ultimate price, "And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods." Reads a bit like a science fiction thriller, doesn't it? But there's an important lesson to learn here.

Just as in Moses' day, the Lord continues to give believers jobs to do within His body, the church. It's my privilege to embrace the task He's given me and serve Him with it. But too often I fall into the trap of discontentment, just like Korah and his cohorts. Why does so-and-so get to do the job I wanted to do? Why can't I serve in a more visible role?

The truth is, the Lord gives every believer a vital role in the body. Each role is different. But when each member of the body performs his/her God-given role, the body functions as it should - without division. The Apostle Paul put it beautifully, "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body," (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).

Instead of focusing on the roles of others, it's important for me to function in the role where God has placed me. Remembering that God placed me in the body (the church) where He wanted me to be, goes a long way toward keeping me content with the job He's given me to do. When I'm wholeheartedly concentrating on my role, I don't have time to desire the jobs of others. The focus is where it should be - on the Savior who allows me to serve Him!

Are you aware that God has a job for you to do? What steps will you take today to avoid discontentment?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for giving me a job to do within the church. I realize we were not all created to be 'eyes,' or 'ears.' Help me to carry out the task You've given me, so I can bring honor to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Memory Trouble

It happens every year. I manage to forget one of my nieces or nephews birthdays. I DO have a list that includes every relative's special day, but I've managed to misplace it. And by the time the Facebook birthday reminder alerts me to the fact that someone's big day is about to arrive, it's too late! Even if I rush to the post office to send out the card and gift, it's belated once again. Does anyone else have a hard time remembering birthdays?

I've been reading about some people who had memory trouble. But it wasn't birthdays they had a hard time remembering - it was God. Moses was constantly reminding the children of Israel to remember God's goodness and provision. Before they entered the Promised Land, Moses once again encouraged them, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness...Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years," (Deuteronomy 8:2a, 4; KJV).

After leading the people for four decades, Moses was well acquainted with their tendencies. He shared a sneak peak of the amazing land they'd enter, "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills," (Deut. 8:7). But followed it quickly with a stern warning, "Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day," (Deut. 8:11).

Moses knew the people's propensity to wander away from God. After they entered the Promised Land and were well-fed, and had houses to live in, and flocks and herds to take care of, it would be all too easy to let pride creep in and take credit for what God had done. A life of relative ease and comfort would lull their minds to sleep, so they'd forget that every blessing they enjoyed was truly a gift from their Heavenly Father. Instead, they'd convince themselves that it was their power and might that had enabled them to become wealthy.

Unfortunately, Moses was right. It wasn't long before the Israelites began doing things their own way, completely forgetting God. But before I shake my head in disgust, I have to admit that I often do the very same thing. When things seem to be going along smoothly in my life, I begin imagining that I'm the one in control. My dependence on God wanes, and the spotlight is shifted to self. It's easy to take credit for things that are really the blessings of the Lord.

Enter the troubles and trials of life, and I find myself in an 'Ah-ha!' moment. Oh yeah, I'm not the one in control after all! And I find myself asking forgiveness and once again bowing at the feet of my Savior - the only One who is ever in control. It's important to remember. Focusing on the goodness of God and all that He's done for me. He is truly worthy of all of my praise!

Do you have a hard time remembering all the good things the Lord has done for you? Take some time today to praise Him for His goodness!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word that paints a vivid picture of the importance of remembering Your goodness. Forgive me when I choose to forget You. Help me to praise You today for all that You've done in my life. You are good! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The process was uncomfortable. Painful. The infection had to be drained from the wound and several supportive stitches added to draw the skin back together. Time for the healing to begin again so I can get back to using my muscles like they were meant to be used!

The incision had been healing nicely. But then the site started to bleed, and the skin around the sutures became red and irritated. What was going on? My husband, Steve, had done an excellent job cleaning the area and covering it with the sterile bandages. Maybe I was just being paranoid, and this was all a part of the healing process. But each time Steve changed the dressing, I couldn't help flinching when even the slightest pressure was applied to the wound.

After a few days, I finally called my dermatologist. When I described what was going on, the receptionist told me it was very likely that an infection had developed. Oral antibiotics and topical antibiotic ointment were prescribed, and I was told to head over to the emergency room if I began vomiting or running a fever. Fortunately, the antibiotics worked, so I was able to avoid a trip to the hospital.

Sin in my life can act a lot like an infection. I don't give it much thought at first, but when it begins to cause some damage, I can no longer ignore it. I have a choice to make: allow it to fester, causing additional damage, or purge it from my system.

Throughout the Bible, God draws a parallel between leaven, or yeast, and sin. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul states very clearly, "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened," (1 Corinthians 5:6-7a; KJV). When yeast is added to bread dough, it rises. It's impossible for only part of the dough to rise. All of it WILL be affected.

This principle holds true in my life as well. When I allow sin in my life, it has the characteristics of yeast, spreading in my life, much like an infection. It affects my relationship with God and can even affect those around me. Time to call on the Lord for help. Purging sin from my life is the only way fellowship can be restored with my Savior. "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).

Purging sin from my life has an added benefit - God can once again use me to point others to Jesus Christ. Timothy clarifies this point, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity...If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work," (2 Timothy 2:19, 21).

Today I'm eager to examine my life and purge any sin that will cause 'infection.' And to become a sanctified vessel of honor, ready to be used by my Master!

Is sin causing an 'infection' in your life? What steps will you take to purge sin from your life today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me of the importance of purging sin from my life. Help me to pray with the Psalmist, David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," (Psalm 139:23-24). In Jesus' name, Amen.