Good day sweet friends! Have you all brushed your teeth today?!?! :)
We are supposed to brush our teeth every morning and every night, right?! ;) And if we are really good to our teeth, we gargle, rinse and floss those pearly whites too! As I was doing this last night (the brushing part mind you…not the “extra” because I was too tired), the Lord brought to mind a simple, but very powerful truth I’m excited to share with you. I LOVE it when He does that!
Last night when I got home from Bible study I walked into the kitchen to say hello to my husband when I saw “joy” in a wrapper. On the kitchen counter was a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter OREO COOKIES! – yes…chocolate peanut butter Oreo cookies…who knew two tantalizing flavors could be wrapped up in one tiny package!??? OH MY! And before I knew it I had downed two in a blink of an eye. TWO! I have issues…don’t judge!
Before things got out of hand, I headed to the bedroom and brushed my teeth! That usually does the trick for me because I can’t stand the taste of most foods in a clean, minty mouth. Especially coffee…which is why I just can’t brush before my first cup! Again…don’t judge…or kiss me in the morning!! LOL!!
Have you ever done that??!!? When you know there might be yummy food or dessert temptations after dinner have you ever brushed your teeth to curb the temptation? As soon as those teeth are clean, whatever you were tempted to eat just doesn’t sound as inviting or delicious! Especially when you know you’ll just have to brush again before heading to bed! My minty, cool and refreshing mouth becomes a reminder that I don’t want to handle the sweet temptation anymore.
Then it hit me…that’s how we need to treat real, spiritual, fleshy temptations! It’s such a funny example, but it makes SO much sense and is such a fun picture you can even talk to your kids about it during their next tooth cleaning. I knew I wanted to share it with you so whenever you brush your teeth, you can be reminded of this simple truth and ask yourself…
How fresh and clean is my heart!?
Is it refreshing? Do other people enjoy the aroma that comes from it?! Does God delight in the condition of it? ;)
Or is it filled with Oreo cookie crumbs?! – which taste good now, but will eventually end up on the hips and land me in a dental chair if I don’t say no. Are the crumbs all stuffed into the cracks and crevices of our hearts (molars) so that people can’t see them on the outside, but as soon as we open our mouth…yuck! – the evidence of our hearts (or our sweet cravings) is there.
When was the last time you had a deep heart cleaning? Is it starting to smell like 3 day old morning breath? Ewww!! But it’s real people! And, what’s funny about morning breath is everyone else can smell it but you! – just like our hearts. When they are filled with even a little sin and we keep trying to cover it up, everyone else can see it but us.
My mouth is happiest when it’s clean! – and so are we when our hearts are pure before the Lord, worshiping His glory. I want to be in that place all the time. BUT, the temptations come.
It’s hard to say no to sin sometimes. The enemy knows our weakness and plays it out before us all the time! Sometimes we stumble into it without thinking then are left with guilt, consequences and a messy heart. Our life will never be free from temptation…there will be trials! But we don’t need to fall into it as often. The Lord has a solution!
When our mouth is minty clean, that Oreo cookie of temptation doesn’t sound very good. When our heart is minty clean and refreshed in the Word of God, those same temptations we struggled with won’t seem as tempting anymore!! It’s His WORD sweet friends that brush out the shadows and darkness of our heart and usher in the light…the clean refreshing breeze that brings us joy!
If that simple truth wasn’t enough, the Lord brought scripture to my heart through my morning devotions with the kids. I was reading Luke 11:37-12:7 in our NLT One Year Bible (we read just the NT, Psalm and Proverb section of the day). Jesus gets invited to one of the Pharisees home for a meal and the Pharisee can’t believe Jesus doesn’t wash his hands by performing the custom hand-washing ceremony. Jesus just dives in and starts eating! LOL! I love that! – although I am slightly a germaphobe so I can see where they were coming from!! LOL! But after what Jesus says, I don’t want to be in their sandals…I need to work on my issues!
Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.” (and He goes on from there with more!)
Graves are full of dirt and death. What a strong word He gave to the Pharisees. Here are the most religious and “squeaky” clean guys in all of Jerusalem, but inside they are corrupt, full of death, greed, lies and corruption. Those pearly whites were so clean, but when they opened their mouths, oreo cookies were caked into their teeth! :)
In the Bible, when the Prophet Samuel first sees the tall, good looking first born son of Jesse he thinks this guy is perfect to be King of Israel! “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God wanted David to be King (the littlest and youngest) because he had a heart after God!
Back to the Pharisees. Jesus rebuked them. He gave them truth and a chance to humble their hearts and respond…to admit the pride in their hearts. This is the first step to being cleaned! – acknowledging you need a scrubbing otherwise what’s the point of a bath?! But what is their response?
Verse 45: “Teacher…you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.”
And Jesus goes on and condemns them again for not knowing the prophets the Lord has sent and for killing them and says He holds that generation responsible. And guess what they do?? – are they broken by their sin and ready to repent now?
Sadly it says in verse 53, “…the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile…” They started planning ways to trap Jesus instead of responding and thinking about the condition of their hearts. Is this how we respond to a rebuke from the Lord? Do we defend ourselves, or humble our hearts and find grace?
We live in the richest, cleanest part of the world…yet, how are our hearts? Have we neglected the most important things? I dare say I have at times.
Are we about keeping the rules and the law and judging others who don’t? – or are we hanging with the hurting, broken, lost and poor helping to refresh and mend their hearts because we see them as Jesus sees them and because we have been refreshed and know what it feels like to be wrapped in white, purified from our sins and we just want others to feel the same way!??
So, how do we get the “oreo” cookies out of our hearts so we can see God, be used by Him and bring glory to Him?!
By putting the “sword” (the Word of God – Ephesians 6:12) into our hearts and allowing the exacting words of Jesus to penetrate, dig out the dirt and heal us so we are refreshed and able to refrain from temptation.
“Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee!” (Psalm 119:11)
It requires a humble heart ready to open the Word and say, “Lord, show me where the scrubbing needs to happen…where the tarter has built up and become hard.” It says in James 4:6 “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and will show us grace and move us from glory to glory! Oh what precious promises for those with a humble hearts.
There’s a great Old Testament story that pictures this truth perfectly! It’s a perfect story for kids because it’s got gross stuff in it!! LOL! My son loves it and my daughter’s cringe…but everyone understands it’s truth. Grab out your Bibles and read it tonight with your kids…they’ll like it!! LOL!! It’s found in Judges 3. It’s the story of a “Jaba the Hut look alike” named King Eglon and a left handed swordsman named Ehud. To summarize, the children of Israel had been forced to serve this Moabite King Eglon for 18 years due to their sin and rebellion. The people were crying out for a deliverer. God sends Ehud, a leftie, into the kings presence to deliver a gift to satisfy him. Ehud tells the king he has a secret message from God so King Eglon sends everyone out of his upper chamber so he can speak to him privately. Ehud gets nice and close to Eglon then thrusts the small sword he has hidden on his right side, into the folds of his fat stomach. And guess what happens?? The sword get swallowed up in the fat and out spills dirt and intestines!! EWWW!! – I know! – see!!??? Your boys will love it! King Eglon dies and the children of Israel are free because the sword went in and the dirt came out.
It’s a perfect picture! The more time we allow the Sword of the Spirit to penetrate deep into our heart and cut away the dirt, the more we feel the grace and joy of God.
“But that sounds painful Jessica” you may be thinking. Yes, it can be. But its also freeing! Have you been burdened too long? You were not meant to walk in darkness. You were not meant to carry your own sin.
When we abide in Christ, we take on His nature. As we humble our hearts and allow the work of the cross to cleanse us and His spoken word to penetrate deep, the rototilling begins. Seeds get planted, fertilizer gets spread, the water and sun begin to feed us and fruit begins to blossom from our branches. The great and compassionate Gardener begins pruning us and caring for us to help us grow into great, strong branches that can bear much fruit. The people around us begin to feel nourished, refreshed, covered, satisfied by us because they are experiencing Christ in us. The fruit is not for us…it’s for your family, your friends, your loved ones, your neighbors, your enemies. We cannot and never will produce fruit on our own apart from the True Vine. Read John 15. It’s amazing and full of precious promises!
So…today, morning and night, brush your heart with the Word of God. Then watch how abiding in His word with a humble heart to know Him will clean your heart, bring you great joy, allow you to forgive and forget, calm your anxious heart and help you to bear fruit that will change the lives of the people closest to you. It’s His word…the power of the name of Jesus Christ!
Here’s to clean teeth and an even cleaner heart!!
Much love to you!
P.S…if you need some great resources to help you read the Bible daily, check out the following:
New Living Translation (NLT) One Year Bible, Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evenings”, “Streams in the Dessert”, “Jesus Calling” and “The Daily Bread”. Those are a few we use a lot here in our home and make it very easy to get started!