Category Archives: Sin

May 10; One Thing I Ask Of The Lord

Psalms 9, 10, 27, 37; 2 Samuel 15:37, 16:15

I read a few of these psalms a couple of times this morning because I found myself thinking about the state of the world instead of the condition of my heart. I found myself identifying the “wicked” as those who are fighting against the Truth, people who are killing Christians, others who blatantly sin and then condemn those of us who speak against it.

Yes, there are evil people in the world. And yes, God wants His Church to defeat Satan in the worst of them. But I’m reminded God can’t change the world until He changes my heart.

The “wicked” David wrote about were flesh and blood people to him. To me, the “wicked” is Satan, my own inclination to sin, anything that keeps me from having the best relationship with God. David says this is Psalm 37:4:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

He continues to tell us what that looks like; Commit your way to the Lord. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Refrain from anger and turn away from wrath. In Psalm 9 David tells us to praise the Lord with all our hearts, to be glad, rejoice, and sing praises.

Warning: if you think Psalm 37:4 is the magic formula to getting something you want, think again. This verse is absolutely not saying that if you do this, this, and this you can rub the magic genie lamp and have that windfall show up on your doorstep. I have little patience with people, including preachers, who say if you praise the Lord, raise your hands, shout your praises it will somehow result in you getting a material blessing.

For me, the key is found in Psalm 27:4:

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

Notice David doesn’t say, “One thing I ask of the Lord is that my enemies drop dead around my feet.” Or “that I will win the lottery, or beat a physical illness, or that my political party controls the nation.”

David says to God, “The only think I want is just to be with You, to gaze upon Your beauty, to seek You in Truth.”

Is that the one thing I ask of God? Is that the desire of my heart? Is that the thing that is my focus, my goal, my joy – just to have God near me? Why wouldn’t it be? There is love in His Presence. There is strength, comfort, rest, protection, joy, peace. No material blessing, no amount of money can buy what God can – and wants – to give His people who are delighting in Him, to those who are His through the blood of Jesus.

And it is from there that God and I can change the world – one redeemed soul at a time.

May 9; Parenting For Heaven

Psalm 3, 4, 11, 12, 23, 26, 36; 2 Samuel 16:1-14

Recently I read an article about how we need to be raising our children – and especially our daughters – to be “empowered.” It said we should be telling them they are strong, special, perfect, capable, and beautiful every day. On the surface that sounds right. We certainly shouldn’t be telling them they are ugly, worthless, and useless, right?

But is training our children to be self-aggrandizing how God wants us to train them? Psalm 12 starts out by saying there are no godly people out there. The faithful, David says, have vanished. Everyone lies. Everyone flatters. They say, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips – who is our master?”

Empowerment.

Psalm 36 continues with this thought concerning the “sinfulness of the wicked.” They do not fear God. And then verse 2:

“For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his own sin.”

Is that how we are teaching our children? Parents and Grandparents, you have got to raise your children to understand their sin problem. And they all have a sin problem. Let’s face it, even your child is not “all that.” There are times even your child disobeys you. Your child has lied to you, kicked the dog or bitten the neighbor kid. And sometimes the tantrums your child throws drives you up a wall. Be honest.

I believe it is at those moments your children need to know who really has the power.

If we don’t teach our children to be sorry for – ashamed of – disobedience, or selfishness, or meanness, we are teaching them they don’t need to detect or hate their own sin. If they don’t fear you, how do you think they are going to realize their need to fear God?

It saddens me when I hear Christian parents say they don’t spank their children, or raise their voices to their children, or show anger toward their children. I want to tell those well-meaning parents to put down the psycho-babble and open their Bibles. Do you think Dr. Spock and the “positive parenting” gurus have a better handle on child-rearing than God?

Ask yourself how your child’s Heavenly Father reacts to disobedience. I’ll tell you right now, when the Jewish people obeyed God, they obeyed because they were afraid not to. Can your children say they obey you for the same reason? They should. Fear is not the opposite of love. Fear is a good thing. Fear is the loving thing. It’s Scriptural.

The Bible tell us God hates sin. Hates it. He considers sinners His enemy. But He died for those enemies, He died for your child. But your child will have to make a decision to repent of sin, to ask for forgiveness, to accept what Jesus died to give him or her while they were yet sinners. How do you expect them to do that if they don’t even recognize sin in themselves? It’s your responsibility as a parent to teach them what that means.

And that means teaching them that their disobedience is sin, that dumping the food on the floor is a sin, that taking a toy another child has is a sin, that slapping you is a sin. That there are consequences for sin. It means teaching them that there is forgiveness for sin when they ask for it, and not before. It also means that they can count on your love, and that your love is why you discipline.

Please raise your children to recognize their need of God. Help them to understand they are vile sinners before a Holy God. Raise your children to want to ask God for forgiveness as soon as they understand they are sinners. Raise your children to go to heaven. The alternative is unthinkable.

 

May 7; First Things First

2 Samuel 5:13-16, 13:1-5:6; I Chronicles 145:3-7, 3:4-9

Amnon committed a sexual sin with his sister Tamar. What he did to her was vile and inexcusable. There should have been severe consequences for his behavior. But we don’t read that David, his father (and Tamar’s), said or did anything to Amnon.

Did David remember his own sexual sin he had committed with Bathsheba? Did the fact that the king had taken many women into his own bed prevent him from taking a stand against the sin Amnon committed?

Years ago I had a friend whose 18 year old daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My friend was not happy about it, but she threw up her hands and said to me, “How can I say anything? I did the same thing when I was 18.”

I wonder if she was giving her daughter permission to commit EVERY sin she herself ever committed, or just that one? I’ve come to believe that having committed sins in our past, then repenting and experiencing God’s forgiveness for those sins, gives us every right to speak up. I’d go so far as to say it gives us the responsibility to speak up. David took the easy, the comfortable way out and kept silent.

It angers me that Amnon was allowed to go on with life as though nothing had happened. Yet Tamar, the victim, ended up living in her brother Absalom’s house, “a desolate woman.” For whatever reason, Amnon’s sin was never addressed by David, and Amnon never repented.

Well it angered Absalom, too. Because two years later, Absalom had his brother Amnon killed. Yet another example of someone committing a sin to pay back a sin. When will we learn? What we see is another sin that is never addressed.

Absalom takes off and hides in Geshur. Good riddance, right? I mean the guy murdered his brother. Nope. Scripture tells us David “mourned for his son every day.” But even mourning his son’s absence didn’t prompt David to confront the sin. I believe that’s why, when the woman from Tekoa came to David, she could easily convince David to take Absalom back.

I mean, she invoked the name of God, so what she said must be true, right? “Send for poor Absolom, Bring him home. Accept him. You’re like an angel of God, David. You’ll do the right thing,”

So David, without asking God what he should do, invites Absalom home. Sounds like the Christian thing to do. I mean, who are we to judge?

What is glaringly missing from this account is any repentance on the part of Amnon or Absalom. Amnon died without asking for forgiveness. And Absalom doesn’t admit guilt, doesn’t ask for forgiveness for the murder of his brother.

Yet we read that eventually, David welcomes Absolom with open arms and kisses anyway. We will read more of this story, and see how embracing an unrepentant sinner will effect David and his entire kingdom.

Folks, welcoming sinners into the Church body is as destructive as David welcoming Absalom into his home. I believe Scripture is clear that repentance HAS to come first. The church that embraces sinners (who in reality are God’s enemies), the church that accepts sin, and refuses to keep the fellowship holy, is doomed for destruction. I know this is contrary to what most of us believe because it sounds so harsh, so unloving. But in reality, it’s the only loving thing to do.

I believe with all my heart that churches aren’t dying because of the hymns they sing on Sunday morning, or the lack of fancy technology, or a foyer with no coffee shop. Churches are dying because of sin in our midst. God will not bless sin. God cannot be present where sin is allowed to exist. Making our churches a comfortable place for sinners to come is counterproductive. That has never been what church was intended to be.

I think the account we see here of David’s life is an example of what happens when sin is allowed to exist without being addressed. I see Scripture telling us we need to keep the Church holy, undefiled, an exclusive organization for believers only. But I also believe Scripture is clear that we who are members of God’s Church need to be out there loving on people who haven’t dealt with their sin, spreading the Gospel, leading people to the Savior, making disciples, THEN inviting them to church.

First things first. And repentance has to be the first thing.

 

 

May 3; It’s Your Turn

Psalms 21, 51, 103; 2 Samuel 12:24-31, 8:2-8, 23:20a; I Chronicles 11:22a, 18:2-8

David’s guilt over his sin with Bathsheba, and the death of his son, seems to have paralyzed him for a time. Joab led the army into battle against Rabbah the Ammonite, and won a great victory. Then he sent a message to David, telling him in effect to get back to work.

The first thing that strikes me about this is that Joab could have turned this victory around and exalted himself. But he didn’t.

Along with that, I am reminded that fighting God’s enemy is not a one man job, nor is it about gaining notoriety for ourselves. We are an army, each with gifts and responsibilities working together to accomplish God’s goal.

God’s goal.

I love that Joab went about caring out his own responsibilities, and that he confronted David for not doing his own. I love this picture that demonstrates that God has given each of us a job to do, one of which is holding each other accountable.

I remember Dad telling stories about being a Marine in WWII. He said it was frustrating when a Marine wasn’t doing his job. That one man, not pulling his weight, made it harder for the others to do their jobs, and often put a whole platoon in danger.

You are that important in our war against Satan.

Let me just say that if you are attending church on Sunday, and that’s all you do the rest of the week, it’s time you start pulling your weight. Your uninvolvement in this battle makes it harder for the rest and, frankly, puts the mission of the Church in jeopardy.

Let’s muster the troops – all of us who know Jesus as our Savior – and win this war. Let’s all of us be obedient to do the things God asks of us. Let’s get off our couches and get out there and talk to people about their Savior, ministering to the needs of people who need Him. Your pastor can’t do it all.

He’s not supposed to.

The reality is that other soldiers in God’s army have planted seeds. God is working in the hearts of sinners even right this minute. A battle or two have been won by others.

Now it’s your turn.

May 2; Forgiven And Cleansed

Samuel 11:2-12:24; Psalms 6, 32, 38

What would you say was the worst sin you’ve ever committed? Are you living with the consequences? Have you asked God to forgive you?

We read about David’s doozie of a sin with Bathsheba, his attempt to make her husband Uriah believe he was the father of her baby, and when that didn’t work David arranged Uriah’s death. For David, one sin led to another and another and another.

God punished David for these sins. God also forgave David when he repented. But I wonder if David was ever able to look into the eyes of Bathsheba and not see the face of Uriah. Sometimes you just can’t escape the consequences of sin.

We read the psalms David wrote during this time and can’t help but feel his anguish. He tells us even his bones were in agony, his guilt overwhelmed him, the light had gone out of his eyes. It sounds like David was in the throws of a deep depression. David knew what it was like to hit rock bottom because of his sin. David also knew what it was like to be lifted up from those depths.

Psalm 32 describes this beautifully. It begins:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

David had tried to cover his own sins, by committing more sins. He learned that no matter how he spun it, he could not undo what had been done. He couldn’t hide it hoping others wouldn’t know his guilt. The psalm continues:

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When you think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed, have you been honest about it with God? Have you confessed it all? David tells us God covers that sin and does not count it against you. Can you imagine?

You might beat yourself up every day because of that horrible sin. But I John 1:9 tells us this:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Forgive AND cleanse!

David goes on in Psalm 32 to say God not only covered his sin, He forgave David’s guilt of that sin. If you are holding on to guilt over past sin, please read this psalm. Let David assure you that the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds you, surrounds all of us who trust Him.

I asked you to think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed. But the truth is, every sin comes with a death penalty. Every sin separates us from God, and should cause us to feel guilty and ashamed. And every sin is forgivable if we confess it to God who died on a cross so we could be forgiven.

Earlier I wondered if David was ever able to not see Uriah’s face when he looked at Bathsheba. I hope so. I hope when he looked at her he was reminded instead of God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s amazing love. Because when David confessed his sin of adultery and murder, he was

Forgiven and Cleansed.

May 1; Regroup

2 Samuel 23:8-12, 21;19-22, 10:1-19, 11:1; I Chronicles 11:10-14, 20:1a, 5-8, 19:1-19; Psalm 33

Here’s what I believe Scripture tells us about our enemy. At those times when we can enjoy a victory in a battle for our souls, Satan doesn’t just give up. Our enemy is never one and done.

Like Israel’s enemies in 2 Samuel 10 and I Chronicles 19. When the Israeli army soundly defeated them, they “regrouped.” (2 Samuel 10:15). Our enemy doesn’t waste time licking his wounds, either. His arrows don’t stay sheathed very long. And, like the passages we read today, we end up fighting one battle after another.

I love that Psalm 33 is included in our reading today. Our hope is in the Lord, the Creator God whose eyes are always on those who fear Him. The truth is, God doesn’t always remove the threat before we go into battle. Sometimes we have to go through that difficulty, struggle with that sin.

Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. But, as His children, we know the war itself is already won.

I am challenged today to learn something from the enemy. Instead of giving up when I find myself losing a battle with sin, when I commit a sin I’ve already confessed, when doubts and fears begin to take over, I need to regroup. I need to prepare to fight another day.

I need to get my Bible out, to get on my knees in prayer, to reach out to an ally to pray with me or fight alongside me. My hope is in the Lord, and He never fails.

We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in You.
(Psalm 33:20-22)

April 24; Expect God’s Silence

Psalms 69, 86, 131; I Samuel 28:3-25

Sometimes we humans hurt so badly we might get to the point we’d try anything to make it stop. David cries out, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my  neck.”

Have you ever felt like you are drowning in debt, in depression, in unfair treatment, jealousy, anger…? Been there. Done that.

Saul was out of his mind with fear, and he did what David always did: He went to God about it. How often do we read where David, in the midst of suffering, went to God and received forgiveness, strength, shelter. When Saul goes to God, though, he is met with silence.

Saul does not give up easily. So we read that he goes to a medium who will conjure up the dead prophet Samuel. If God won’t talk to Saul willingly, Saul will try to force God to give him answers.

Not a good idea. This sin is going to cost Saul his life.

Now here is where I think God is pointing me today: Saul, instead of asking why God was silent, instead of dealing with the sin that separated him from God, Saul tried to manipulate God. He tried to get to God through a back door.

Dear one, if you are feeling God is silent, don’t blame God. The only thing that separates you from God is sin. The only thing.

And the only thing that can bridge that gap is the cross. If you have unconfessed sin in your life, don’t expect God to jump when you say “jump.” (don’t expect that anyway). I think I can confidently say, if you have unconfessed sin in your life – you can expect God’s silence.

I know sometimes we don’t get the answers we are looking for. I know God doesn’t snap His fingers every time we ask Him to, even if we stand before Him wearing Jesus’ righteousness. But I believe with all my heart, that at those times when the answers aren’t coming, God is anything but silent.

It’s during those times that God speaks His love in other ways. He gives us the strength we need to wait with confidence. He gives us the chance to bless someone else. He reminds us that He does all things well, and we can trust Him. He gives us Himself.

If you are where David was in the psalm we read today, if you feel like you are drowning, go to God. Tell Him what is on your heart, share your hurt and frustration, ask for His help. But first, confess your sin. Because I believe Scripture tells us if you don’t…

expect God’s silence.