Devotions, Retail Ready

A Whole New Wardrobe

(The following excerpt is taken from “Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce”, available for purchase on Kindle for $7.99 or in print from Amazon for $9.99.)

Read: Colossians 3:1-17

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” – Isaiah 64:6

I looked up from my conversation as a sandy haired cowboy strode through the double doors, his clothes covered in muck. In farming and ranching country, we get an awful lot of muck covered customers (many wearing that special men’s cologne “Eu de Cow”), but this poor gentleman looked as if he’d fallen into a pond of it and rolled around a few times.

“I have to be somewhere in an hour and I don’t have time to go home. Would you help me with some clothes?”

His tone was urgent and I readily walked with him to the clothing department where we began the process of selecting an entirely new wardrobe. Retiring to the changing room, he tried everything on at once, then folded his dirty clothes and headed for the check stands where I faced the distinct challenge of ringing up his purchase.

Doubtless, the two of us were quite a site as I attempted to remove each of the security tags from his garments. Our de-tagger was firmly attached to the counter and he had to perform the work of a contortionist in order for me to remove each security device! Having completed the sale, I gave him one final look over, then released him: a new man.

Scripture tell us that we, too, became “new men” when we placed our faith in Christ. Our old man has been crucified with Him and we, like my customer, have exchanged the muck-covered garments of our sin for the spotless new wardrobe of His righteousness.

Challenge: Are you still dressed in the righteousness of Christ or are you struggling with the temptation to put on the “muddy” garments of your own best efforts once more? This week, find someone to partner with you to help keep you accountable to God and encourage you to rely on His work for you rather than upon your own efforts!

Devotions, Retail Ready

Paint Pigment and Sesame Street

(The following excerpt is taken from “Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce”, available for purchase on Kindle for $7.99 or in print from Amazon for $9.99.)

Read: 1 John 1:5-10

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah 64:6

I was terribly excited when my first employer decided to teach me to mix paint.  I had spent plenty of time watching the other employees use the fancy color matching machine, gazing over their shoulders with fascination as they added pigment to the white base inside of the paint cans, creating an exact match for the color which our customers had chosen.

Perhaps it was thanks to my intense interest that I picked up on the process quite easily.  In a very short period of time, I had taken to mixing colors like a pro and was feeling pretty confident in my skill.  There was, however, one warning which they had inadvertently forgotten to share and the mess which resulted from my lack of understanding was about to have a noticeable affect upon my weekend.

It was a busy Saturday afternoon and I had retired to the back to mix up a gallon for a customer.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the last person to use the machine had not cleaned it properly and the pigment nozzles were clogged.  It didn’t seem to matter how much pressure I applied to the levers, I could not get the small metal tubes to squirt out any pigment at all.  Digging through the supplies, I found a nail and began to follow the prescribed procedure for clearing the nozzles.  Shoving the nail up into the tiny hole, I pulled it out again with a wad of dried pigment attached.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned wad of pigment was not all that was in the hole.  The wad had formed a sort of scab on the end of the nozzle, preventing some of the liquid pigment involved in the previous mixing from leaving the chamber.  When the wad was removed, this liquid pigment saw its opportunity to escape and, within seconds, my hands, arms, and shins were covered in a shade of blue that would have made a Muppet proud.  (To this day I do not recall how I managed to get the pigment all over me like that.)  I finished mixing the paint and, while it was in the shaker, I wandered into the bathroom to wash off the mess. And it was here that I discovered that pigment is less like paint and more like permanent dye.  Thanks to this, I spent the rest of the day and a good part of the next week looking just like Grover from Sesame Street.

Scripture teaches us many truths about sin and, one of the most important is that, like paint pigment: it doesn’t take much to cause a great deal of damage.  While the stain of paint pigment eventually does disappear through time and exposure, the stain of sin isn’t quite so “easy” to remove.  The Bible tells us that only the cleansing blood of Christ is strong enough to remove sin from our lives and return us to our intended state!

Challenge: Are you indulging sin in your life?  Remember that God’s rules are there to protect us.  Confess your failures to God, let Him remove the spots, then commit to living a life of obedience to His Word.