I WAS IN TROUBLE. I remember one time when I was a teenager and I got into trouble – I was in trouble a lot back in those days – but this particular time one of our neighbors had heard about it and he said, “It looks like Steve got himself into a little hot water!” I had borrowed my sister’s car, and ended up in a minor accident. And she had just gotten it painted, and she LOVED that car! I was of course, being a typical teen aged boy driver, not paying attention like I should, and ended up pulling out in front of another car. The guy that hit me immediately got out and said he didn’t want to call the cops, and didn’t want an accident report. It turned out that he was married, but was over in our town visiting a girlfriend – he had a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine in his front seat – so I wasn’t in trouble with him, or with the law, but what scared me was for my sister and parents to find out, which they did!
I was in definite hot water with them! I had to ask her forgiveness and promise to pay for getting her car fixed, which more than took all my money, and had to deal with my parents who decided maybe I wasn’t mature enough to drive – and threatened to make me quit my part time jobs! I needed to work! I had a job at a local business and also was working as a session musician at a recording studio more than an hour away from where we lived! I promised to do better, but that wasn’t good enough.
I had nowhere to turn but to God. I promised Him I’d do better, that I’d behave myself, that I would drive better, that I would be in church more, that whatever He wanted, I would do – you know, the same kinds of prayers a lot of people pray when they are in hot water. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. I was desperate, as you might imagine.
Sometimes Christians DO get into hot water. And, God lets us sweat it out. He sometimes lets us stew in our own juices for a while. Why? Because He doesn’t care? No, because He DOES care. He cares about what we’re doing and what we’re becoming. He says in Rev. 3:19, “As many as I LOVE, I rebuke and chasten…” To chasten literally means to clean up, to make good, or to make clean.
I have to tell you, my dad would not give me an answer that night. I was awake all night, thinking about how I had let myself get distracted at the time – I had a couple friends in the car – and I kept thinking a out how dumb I was to do that, and how I would never do that again. It was late the next morning before my dad said I could keep my jobs, and could drive to my 2 jobs, but it had to be straight there and straight back, No more recreational or unnecessary driving. I was so grateful, believe me!
Over the next couple of months, he gave me back the full use of my old junker car that I had bought with the money I had been earning. I was so happy for that!
And, with God’s help, I kept my promises to Him. I really DID try to do better. I prayed more, I started reading my Bible, and following God’s instructions. I KNEW it was only His goodness that moved on my dad’s heart.
I also realized that I had been liking the wrong things too much. That is one reason God let me get into hot water. I was liking the wrong things too much. Spending too much time, attention and money on things that either weren’t right in the first place, or that were just a waste of time and money. And, I had been loving God too little.
You might’ve gotten into hot water for the same reasons. It’s pretty common to get all caught up with the good things or the people that are in our lives, and then to neglect God. In Romans the first chapter it talks about us liking the gift more than we like the giver. We love the blessings that He has given us more than we love Him. Maybe you do the same thing. It’s easy to do.
It’s not talking about it being bad or wrong things. Actually, it might be good things that get us distracted. Believe me, I know all about being easily distracted!
It could be anything, sports, hunting, fishing, biking or other fun things that we like and engage in to the point that we don’t have time for the Lord, and aren’t available to Him when He wants to use us to reach someone or to help someone. We can just be too busy to fit in one more thing.
We can like all our online activity so much that much that it takes away from God time that is rightfully His. Like, if we are going to call Him our Lord, it DOES imply that He DOES have SOME claim on our life and our time!
Anything that bumps God out of the Number One spot in our heart is something that will need to be put back in its right place in our priorities. It’s easy to crowd God out, and put anything and everybody ahead of Him on a day to day level. We might still TALK about how He’s first in our lives and that nothing’s changed. But, in actual practice, we are praying less than we used to, not spending time with Him in prayer like we did in the past, and not really interested in reading His word, spending time in the scriptures. And, it CAN be that we’re missing more church and these other things of God than we used to, and it doesn’t even bother us like it once did.
For me, getting back to the house of God regularly was really important. God would use my Pastor to bring correction and direction in my life, in ways that I really needed it. He didn’t know he was speaking to me, but the Holy Spirit would speak to my heart, and reveal to me the direction that I should go. And also things and situations to beware of. You want to really listen to what God is saying to you when this happens.
Another thing God wants to wash out of our lives is covetousness. That is a long Bible word that means we want more and more. We want better and better things, the things that we see that the influencers have. We live in a consumer society that teaches us that the best life is only possible when we have the newest and best things that celebrities and stars have. We don’t appreciate what we DO have, what God HAS blessed us with, because we want things that He hasn’t blessed us with. S we aren’t even grateful for the good things He already gave us. I had to find out that if I wasn’t grateful with what He had already given me, I wasn’t in a position for Him to give me more and better. Jesus said that the person who is unfaithful in the little things would be unfaithful in the many things.
Even some churches and ministries get heavily into covetousness. They are never satisfied. They want more and more and more and more. More and more people, bigger crowds, and more and more money. It is never enough! And God calls it covetousness and tells us not to have it in our hearts. That is why they get themselves in debt with their mega-buildings and celebrity lifestyles, and then pressure the people of God to pay for it.
It's more than just things. You can have an abundance of possessions, clothes, whatever and also have a lack of joy. The people of God have enjoyed the prosperity and abundance of God to the point that a lot of them don’t remember what it is to be satisfied with Jesus alone. To “just be saved” isn’t enough anymore. We feel slighted if we see an unsaved person with more of this world’s goods than what God has seen fit to bless us with. We get upset if we don’t have the newest, the greatest, the biggest, the best and forget that Jesus told us not to store up treasures in this world, where thieves break through and steal and moths and rust destroy them. Jesus said to instead store up treasures in Heaven.
Since God knows what covetousness can do a person’s spirit, God may clean us up in a hot water bath, to bring us back to that place of joy in Jesus and comfort and satisfaction in Him alone. Jesus Himself said for us to “Beware of covetousness.” He said that in Luke 12:15.
Compassion. Another thing that God wants to wash us up from is a lack of compassion. For a lot of people, once they’ve experienced being saved and cleansed by the Spirit of God, they too easily forget what it was like to be lost, hurting and weak.
Then, when they meet with some of the poorer Christians, they look down on them, like we’re something, and the other person is despised, or lazy, or defective. They meet with those who are hurting and weak, and forget that they were weak too. When that’s the case, you can hear God’s hot bathwater running! That bath is being prepared!
Here’s another one. Slackness. Lazy in the things of God, and in doing what He left us here on the earth to do. So many Christians are prime examples of laziness in the work of God. They’re not lazy in THEIR work. Or on their interests. But they are totally lazy in the work of God and in HIS interests!
You know, so many Christians have eyes to see with, brains to think with, tongues to speak with, but no heart to work for God! People sit in front of TV or their electronic devices when they have no right to – not when there are hurting people that they know, unreached people they could reach and people who need help but it never crosses their minds to help that person who is struggling and needs maybe just a little good input from someone else. Actually, there are people who sit in their church services who have no business just sitting there. Not when there are classes that need to be taught, but no one interested in helping out, or there’s a group of hurting teenagers that no one has the heart to reach out to.
Those are signs that we need a spiritual cleansing from the Lord, to purify our hearts, minds and spirits.
And, sometimes God lets a person get into hot water to keep us OUT of sin, before we even get entangled in it. He sees where things are heading, or where you are headed, and He speaks to you, He deals with you, to stop it before it can cause you so much pain, hurt and do damage. You might be in a “hot water situation” now and say, “but I haven’t even done anything wrong!” And the Lord is actually intervening in your life, because He loves you, and is helping to keep you from getting soiled with the things that would otherwise cause you deep pain and hurt. Not just you, but others, who would be affected by it.
We’ll never know this side of Heaven how much we have been saved from by the “hot water” blasts of God! Where we’d been ready to jump in, in the deep end, and then feeling the heat, we jump back onto solid ground!
One day, we’ll be able to look back and say, “God, I thank you that by putting me in a little hot water, you saved me from so much that would have caused more trouble and more pain…and would have been so much more dangerous to me and to others. Thank you, Lord for being there for me, guiding my steps and my path!”
You need to take comfort in this. When you’re in a trial, when you’re in hot water, know that GOD STILL LOVES YOU. Remember that He Is working in your life because of His love for you. Hebrews 12:11 says it like this: “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but it grieves us. All the same, afterward it brings the sweet peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who had been cleansed, chastened, cleaned up.”
I want you to know that God doesn’t change. He is being just as kind, just as good to you when He is cleaning you up, as when things are going smooth and easy. He is as good to you when you are aware of it as He is when it seems like He isn’t working in your life. The question is, “Are you His child?” If so, then, you can know that He is dealing with you in love, with caring and He is working to bring good into your life.
This is a good time to draw near to God. When God lets you get into hot water, it’s never to drown you; it’s always to cleanse you! Job 5:17, “Blessed or Happy is the person that God corrects: therefore don’t despise or get discouraged by the chastening, the cleansing of the Lord.”