Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

does it hurt? — March 22, 2022

does it hurt?

“He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  – Titus 3:5

According to Paul, a person is put through the wash when they are saved.  It reminds me of my Haiti experience.

Our mission team was in Haiti to put a roof on a church building.  I stayed with a family in a house that made my walk-in closet look big.  But the hostess was most gracious. 

It was at the end of day two for me.  I was desperate to bathe, but the new towel and washcloth, that I had used the day before, were missing.  Someone snatched them from the line.  Great!  It was going to be a stinky, sweaty week for me. 

Another day passed and the purloined linens reappeared.  Evidently my hostess took them down to the river, with her laundry, to wash them for me. 

However, she used the old beat-them-with-a-rock method.  They came back to me frayed and tattered with holes in several places and the fabric had a nice sandpaper feel.

She was all smiles – delighted to have been so hospitable.   I thanked her for her kindness and then took the washcloth and sanded off a layer of dirt from my arms.

_________

The washing took something new and made it useless.  When Jesus washes us, however, he takes the useless and makes them new. 

Theologians call this phenomenon, “sanctification” and it affects the Christian in three ways.

– Sanctification takes place the moment that we come to faith. 

It is then that God declares us as belonging to the clean ones.  In laundry terms, we have been placed in the special laundry basket of the redeemed.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, who were at time, grossly immoral, and yet he said, “to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)   Paul addressed their sad lifestyle later in his letter, and yet nevertheless he recognized that they were saved and set apart for God. 

Because we enjoy the new birth, we also are given a new capacity to live righteously.  Doesn’t mean we will, but we have it within us because we have been sanctified.  All this is painless by the way, but not so with the second installment of sanctification.

– Sanctification takes place progressively throughout our lives.

This kind of cleansing is experienced.  This is where God trains us, corrects, teaches, refines, and transforms us, progressively, each day, so that we increasingly resemble the precious Son of God.   

Think of this as loading the laundry into God’s washing machine.  The churning and spinning and hot water can be uncomfortable for us, but necessary to work the dirt free.

But beware!  The darkness within us can be as stubborn to remove as that stain on your shirt.  This is because we have a part to play in this kind of sanctification.  Paul wrote, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires.” – Romans 6:12

– Sanctification is eventually completed.

This happens when we meet Jesus, face-to-face.  Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.” – Philippians 3:21

It will be then and only then that we will become perfect.  Think of this as pulling your wardrobe for the day from the dryer – the colors are sparkling bright, and the smell is meadow fresh. 

That will be you and me some day, thanks to God who sanctifies us!

A PRAYER: Thank you Lord for cleaning me up and getting me ready for heaven.

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you

Scripture references are from the NETBible ®

cornered — September 4, 2019

cornered

james ray johnson

My mother-in-law lived in a home that was last updated during the Eisenhower administration.   One day she came into a little money and decided to freshen up her long-neglected living room.

The walls were begging for fresh paint, so my dad and I volunteered our brushes and went after it. The dingy, quickly gave way to the bright and beautiful. 

She began with a professional carpet cleaning.  The carpet was of a high-quality which was a very dark shade of gray, except it wasn’t.  The cleaning made it five shades lighter.  Did I mention years of neglect? 

We happily worked our way around the room until we came to a triangular-shaped corner cabinet.   We needed to move it to paint behind it, but Margaret wouldn’t hear of it. 

She wanted us to just paint around it.  We were puzzled of course!  What was she hiding? A wall safe? Letters from a high school sweetheart?  A portal to Narnia? 

The more we insisted, the louder her protest.  But dad and I were thorough types, so we ignored her and pulled out the cabinet from the wall.   We were stunned by what we found.

There, on the carpet, was a perfectly formed, filthy, black triangle where the cabinet had stood.  It looked a giant rug tattoo.  The cabinet had clearly not been moved for many years.  

I guess she won the argument with the carpet cleaner.  He was forced to clean around it.

Aw but don’t judge my mother-in-law. She is no different than the rest of us.  What she did to her carpet, we do to our souls. 

Jesus is our carpet cleaner.  His job is to cleanse us from the filth of sin.  The Bible employs the word “wash” to describe what He does for us. (1 Cor 6:11, Heb. 10:22)   How wonderful?  Who doesn’t like to be freshly showered? 

I remember when I first experienced that cleansing. I sought his forgiveness for the things I had stolen, for the people I had hurt, and for rejecting Him and His will for my life.  He forgave me and washed me clean.  The stains of sin were dissolved by His rich mercy and grace.  I felt spiritually fresh.

But, like my mother-in-law, I gave Jesus limited access to my soul.  There was still a small corner that I protected – a filthy spot that was “hidden” from the Lord and the people around me. It was a corner too troublesome to touch and embarrassing to explore.

Pride was the stronghold that continued to accumulate grime beneath my cabinet. 

That was mine!  What’s yours?  Do you harbor bitterness toward your parent(s) or maybe a former love interest?  Do your insecurities compel you to compromise your purity?  Are you strangled by guilt over that secret abortion?   Do you wake up at night wondering if that fatherless boy is actually your child?  It’s uncomfortable – isn’t it? 

We did my mother-in-law a favor when we removed the cabinet.  Once the spot finally saw the light of day, we applied a soapy brush to it.  It dried to look as good as the rest of the carpet.  She was greatly relieved and genuinely delighted.

Sin is very much like that.  It needs to first be exposed.   For a year after I came to Christ, pride lurked in that dark corner of my heart.  But then Jesus pulled back the mask. His Spirit weighed down my spirit until I confessed it and surrendered it to Him. 

Heads up!  Think of this blog as God’s way of moving the cabinet that conceals your sin.  He seeks your permission now to mercifully clean up your mess.

What you need to know, was written in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.”  -NET Bible®. (with the emphasis on all!)

Consider the text to the old hymn: “Come ye sinners, poor and needy; Bruised and broken by the fall. Jesus ready stands to save you; Full of pardoning love for all.” 

Listen to the song link below and consider the words above and then surrender that stubborn dark spot to the Lord Jesus.   You’ll be greatly relieved and genuinely delighted if you do.

Come Ye Sinners: guitar and arrangement Jim Johnson
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