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I’ve been working on decluttering. It started when I decided to tidy up my diet. It spilled over into activities and over-involvement, then finally my home. No matter how much attention I place in these areas, there is consistent work to ensure it’s maintained. We all know how easy it is to slowly add junk food back into our diets, to say yes one too many times, or let a small pile build up on the counter.

Our thought life is no different. Like the mess in our homes, it needs to be cleaned up by regular attention and care. It’s easy to get busy and not set aside the time needed to declutter. A little bit of junk food here, a bit of compromise there, a small pile of unattended ideas left to mount, and suddenly, things get messy.

Cleaning up sounds so simple, but it takes diligent work. It requires we stop other pursuits long enough to examine ourselves, to listen, and pray in order to regularly deal with the clutter of thoughts, false motives, and sin that builds up on a daily basis. Adding to the challenge, the clean-up effort can easily be compromised by the enemy’s efforts to distract, deceive, distort, and detract from our identity and purpose in an attempt to destroy us.

Distraction

The enemy of our soul wants to keep you preoccupied to ensure you don’t see your faults. He knows that once you recognise your failings, you have the opportunity to change. With that, comes healing and power and he wants none of that for you. He works diligently by enticing you to fill up on junk food so you fail to ingest the riches of the kingdom. If you don’t indulge in his offerings, he will go to great lengths to further distract you with busy work to try to ensure an unexamined life.

Deception

This is the attempt to ensure we overlook the mess or fail to see sin for what it is. If distraction failed, Satan tries to deceive us into thinking we’re perfectly fine. In this proud state, we disregard our own faults because we’re too busy finger-pointing with one hand and patting ourselves on the back with the other. Even if healing is offered, Satan tries to prevent it by veiling us from our faults and keeping us preoccupied with our good works.

Detraction

This is the attempt to beat us down, make us forget who we are and how much we are worth. This compromised state often comes amid Distraction, as the result of too much junk food and not enough time with the One who aides the clean-up effort. Self-esteem wanes as pieces of our identity are chipped off and added to the mounting mess.

Distortion

Satan bombards the believer with lies, truth-twisting, and accusations in an attempt to utterly destroy them and their faith. He wants us to believe we are beyond help, the mess too chaotic and ugly to be cleaned up.

Destruction

Satan will stop at nothing to ensure our ruin. We are warned to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). Destruction may come in the form of lost hope, crippling fear, disabling illness, shattered faith, poor choices, or relational breakdown to name a few. Though there may not appear a solution to the mess, there is still a way out.

Deliverer

God delivers us out of disastrous messes, even if we made them and even if we failed to do our part in the clean up. He responds to willing hearts turned to Him, and in His extraordinary mercy, sometimes He performs clean-ups even before the mess-maker fully notices Him.

We do well to be mindful of mounting messes, taking inventory on a daily basis and an active role in the areas God shows us require attention. But take heart, even if you have a mess on your hands, know that you have a Helper ready and willing to remove the clutter in order to free you from disarray and discouragement.

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  1. Set aside regular time for clutter control. You could pray this prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24)
  2. Are there things in your life creating unnecessary distraction from time with God? Is it possible they are filling a need that can only be filled by God?
  3. Bring any messes to God and watch how He makes beautiful spaces in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” ~ John 10:10-11

I’ve noticed a pattern. Maybe you have too. It is regular and systematic and happens daily without fail. It is assumed by our sworn enemy who is bent on our destruction. He slinks around, enticing us with the promise of false happiness. He offers calculated suggestions, deceptions, and rationalizations in an attempt to entrap us. He doesn’t particularly care how long it takes, but if we partake, the full impact of the action has immediate effect.

As we reel in remorse, the ever-ready accuser begins his second assault by piling on condemnation. Now he comes with a flood of lies of a different nature. They are no longer laced with temptation, but are a soul-searing arsenal of words whispering things like: You’re a fool! You don’t deserve grace. Why don’t you just give up? Any of those sound familiar?

There’s a vast difference between the way that Satan comes at us and the way God approaches us in our sin. Satan arrives as the condemner. He is a thief bent on nothing short of our destruction. We are advised to “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11)

Satan would take your life; Jesus gave His in your place.

With this realization, you have a choice to repent and be rescued from sin’s grip. It’s surprisingly simple. You confess your sin, ask to be forgiven, and choose to follow, or continue following, Christ. The promise that “you may have life and have it abundantly” remains, and Satan’s power is defeated. God provided a remedy through Jesus. Because of this, the battle is already won.

Just in case you’re feeling as though you’re already partially “devoured”, take comfort fellow sojourner. You are never too far from God’s reach, never too messy for His grace, never too spoiled for His loving touch. You can be pulled from the mouth of the lion, healed and made new again. His love, forgiveness and grace is limitless.

May you be reminded, through the words of John 3:16 paraphrased here, that God loved you so much he gave his one and only Son, so that if you believe in him you will not perish but have eternal life.

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  1. Where are you most tempted? Invite God’s help, strength, and strategy to stand firm.
  2. Where have you fallen short? Remember that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

 

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