December 14

Jeremiah 17:5, 9 (NIV) 5This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

9The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Man's very nature turns him away from God and turns him to the ability of man. If it is not self that we rely upon, then it is the ability of another. It takes a revelation and the grace of God to turn us away from man to place our trust in God. Why is it so difficult to see that God is more reliable and capable than man? It seems like such an easy decision, and yet over and over again we turn to man first. The passage here says that will place a curse upon us. The natural outcome of trusting in corrupted man will be a curse in our lives.

After the 10,000th failure, one would think we would get the idea and turn to God. Why don't we learn? It is because it is engrained in our deceitful hearts. We even deceive ourselves! This nature within us is so bent on staying free from the influence of God that it will choose self-destruction before it will trust in His incredibly gracious plan for us. The heart is beyond cure. You can't develop a mental exercise, or a magic pill, or a special chant that will cure your heart. The only hope is a new heart. We were born in need of a heart transplant. Is there a donor anywhere to be found?

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV) 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Jesus will give us His own broken heart if we are willing to receive it. It comes with selfless concern for others, a willingness to lay down your life, and most of all, a will to please the Father. Will you receive it?

Consider: Do I have that new heart, or am I trusting in the old one?

December 14

1 John 1:6-7, 9 (NIV) 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

God is light. There is no darkness in Him at all. If we claim to be in vital communication with God, and yet reserve an area of darkness for ourselves, we lie. We are not living in truth. God will not tolerate that darkness. It will have to go, or it will keep you from God.

When we give up those areas of darkness, we find we are free to share our lives with one another. We no longer have anything to hide. Jesus in our brothers and sisters challenged us to forsake the darkness. That is why we avoid being with them when we have those reservations. We make all kinds of excuses about their problems, but the real problem is that Jesus in them challenges us to give it all up.

In fellowship with the body of Christ, our lives are continually cleansed and transformed in an ever-increasing way. When we see that darkness has invaded our thoughts or desires, we should confess and forsake it. Then we experience forgiveness and increasing purification. You can know that God will always be faithful and just to honor what Jesus did for you on the cross. Don't fall for the condemnation of the enemy. Stay in fellowship with God and your spiritual family.

Consider: Are you making excuses to avoid fellowship with the body of Christ? Whatever your excuse, it will not stand the litmus test of Scripture. Examine your own heart for areas of darkness. Walk in the light. Walk in fellowship with God and His family.