Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Removing decay from our lives

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Hosea 7, 8, 9

Hosea 8:12 (NIV)

12 I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien.

Matthew 9:10-13 (NIV)

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Good morning!

I have a hard time visiting the dentist. It is on my top ten list of my least favorite things I do every six months. I’ve been blessed with healthy teeth for the most part. I’ve only had four fillings in my life, and each filling came about as a result of a pregnancy. I’ve had more than my fair share of orthodontia. I sported braces, head gear and rubber bands for five long years – all during junior high and high school. After five extractions and the surgical removal of four impacted wisdom teeth, the braces came off just six months before my wedding. The doctor begged me to wear a retainer, but I was far too vain for that. Over the years, my teeth have slowly shifted to a modified, imperfect alignment.

The dentist’s job is to identify and manage tooth decay. He does this by probing each tooth with a sharp instrument designed to locate weak spots in the enamel. He scrapes plaque build up and identifies areas of gingivitis along the gum beds. The exam can be torture, especially for someone like me. I tend to produce an awful lot of plaque. It’s a hard thing to expose my weaknesses to the dentist. After he completes the initial examination, a dental hygienist begins the process of cleaning my teeth. This sometimes takes up to an hour. The removal of built-up plaque is painful. The cold spray of the water makes each tooth ache. I brush and floss twice a day, so I often find myself wondering how this can build up so quickly. Once the torture ends, I leave the dentist office with a clean and shiny smile, happy to have survived yet another office visit.

The removal of sin and decay in our lives is a painful process. God’s Word is the probe that locates and identifies the sin that causes eternal decay in our lives. When His Word exposes our sin for what it truly is, the experience can be quite embarrassing. Hosea spoke God’s Word to His people, but they thought it had to be meant for someone other than them. After all, they were keeping their daily checkups with God. While going through their daily rituals and sacrifices, it wasn’t enough to keep the build up of sin and decay away. It would take more than just a daily habit to change their hearts and heal the sin that had eroded their lives.

The Pharisees could not accept a Savior who spent His days eating with tax collectors and sinners. Why would Jesus associate with them? The Lord heard the Pharisees’ words and replied, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Like a double-edged sword, the Word of God is intended to identify the decay in our hearts. We deceive ourselves when we believe that our daily ritual worship is something precious to God. He expects to see a healthy change emerge as a result of our daily worship and praise. Only He can break the hardened shell covering our hearts by the power of His redeeming love. God wants us to have mercy, compassion, feeling, and a genuine sense of caring for the world around us. We are all His children, and He expects us to love each other in the same way He loves every one of us.

Once the dentist eliminates the decay from our teeth, we celebrate a clean mouth and a fresh, healthy start once again. When God’s Word identifies and removes the sinful decay in our hearts, we become the grateful beneficiaries of a new life, a fresh start, and a softened, merciful heart.

God’s Word is not just for your neighbor. His Word is meant for you and me today. Won’t you open the Book and allow Christ to remove the decay and stains that have built up in your heart for far too long?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding


Pray for: a good scrubbing! God can scrape out the decay and buildup of sin in your life. He can remove it if you will let Him. The Word of God speaks! Won’t you let the Savior of the world spend some time probing your heart this morning?


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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