Category Archives: Sin

(Psalm 2) Chains? Or Lifelines?

Verses 1-3: This psalm paints a picture of a wild animal fighting against the chains which hold him captive. Snarling, writhing, pulling this way and that with teeth bared. But he is only hurting himself.

He doesn’t understand why he is chained. He just knows he wants to be free of them.

Verses 4-6: The one who has placed the chains on the beast sits back and waits for the beast to wear itself out. He knows those chains has placed the beast under his control, not the other way around.

Verses 7-9: In fact, he gets his authority from the owner of the beast, the big boss. The owner has made him his son! He’s been given the power to control the situation, extending to the ends of the earth.

Verses 10-12: The beast is better off in the hands of his captor, under the protection of the one given authority. Instead of fighting against him, the beast would do better to submit to him. “All who take refuge in him are happy.” (verse 12b)

Here’s what the beast doesn’t understand. He is chained for his protection. There are enemies out there stronger than he, determined to kill him. While he is under the protection of the one with authority he can move around, enjoy freedom within the safe boundaries set out by the one with authority.

Warren Wiersbe says: “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.” (Be Worshipful; David C Cook Publisher; 2009; p 24)

Let me say that again. “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.”

We are seeing a society of people racing toward destruction because they want to throw off the shackles of Truth, of rules, of religion. They want to create their own truth and will fight anyone who disagrees. Anarchy leads to destruction.

I’m not just talking about society in general. The same is true of the modern Church. We want the freedom to worship like we want, believe what we want, live like we want. Throw traditional dogma out and be free. Anarchy leads to destruction.

But there ARE rules. There IS Truth. There IS right and there is wrong. You may consider them chains. I see them as lifelines.

I am sure most of you get it. This psalm is talking about Jesus, the One given authority by the Father. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus who tells us to follow Him, to be holy, to believe and be saved.

Jesus is not a bully-captor holding us back with cruel chains. He is the lifeline!

All who take refuge in him are happy!

(Job 29-31) Prejudice

Do we get a glimpse at the less-than-righteous side of Job here? I have no doubt the man was a good, generous, upright guy who truly loved and feared God. God Himself called Job a righteous man, and God doesn’t lie.

But this man, who gave to the poor and fed the traveler, encouraged those who mourned, and received respect and honor from others, might have been a bit prejudice. In speaking of the young men who were harassing him, Job said this of their fathers:

I wouldn’t have put them with my dogs. They were emaciated, ate tree roots and shrubs like animals. These fathers weren’t fit for human society, and everyone treated them like thieves. They howled like wolves, and were forced out of the land.

Then Job says:

Now I am mocked by THEIR songs. I have become an object of scorn to THEM. THEY despise ME and keep their distance from ME. (30:9-10, emphasis mine)

Job is indignant at the very thought that the dregs of society would dare look down on him. But my question is, Job, why consider anyone throw-away?

I ask the same thing of us. ALL people are equally precious in God’s sight, and should be in the sight of all of His children: the unborn, the physically and mentally handicapped, the poor and the rich, the homeless and those living in luxury, homosexuals and those who reject that lifestyle, people with different skin color and nationalities, people with differing opinions, tattoos and piercings, grey hair and wrinkles.

We can be doing all the “right” things, we can be generous and loving and devoted to God. But is there a bit of prejudice in us, too? Because the truth is, ALL people need Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus, no matter what kind of life they are living!

God is asking me to do a prejudice check in my own heart. Might He be asking you to do the same?

(Job 25-28) Answers to Questions

Question: Who is the shortest person in the Bible? If you answered Zacchaeus, you would be wrong. The shortest person in the Bible is Bildad the Shuhite (shoe-height).

Groan.

Job and his friends have been talking about sin and righteousness, judgment and blessing. We know none of them have a lock on any of it. Once in awhile, though, someone will say something that resembles truth.

Like when Bildad, while comparing God’s greatness to man’s insignificance, asks the questions:

How can a human be justified before God? How can one born of woman be pure? (25:4)

The implied answer to those questions is – we can’t. You and I can’t compare our righteousness, our goodness, our love to God’s. A maggot can’t make itself pure any more than we can make ourselves pure before our holy God.

Then Job, as he has done consistently, points us to God, God’s vastness, power and perfection. We must bow to God. He doesn’t bow to us.

Yet we want to understand. We want to know what He knows.

So Job tells us, if we really want answers:

The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding. (28:28)

So many people want God to “show up,” to reveal Himself, give us a sign, change a circumstance. But God is telling us wisdom and understanding is available IF we go to Him on His terms: Fear Him, and repent of sin.

And if you go to Him on His terms, either answers will follow, or you’ll realize having the answers isn’t all that important, anyway. That’s wisdom. That’s understanding. And both are gifts from God to those who follow Him.

(Nehemiah 9-13) Spiritual Integrity

Regarding Nehemiah’s harsh treatment of foreigners and sinners, the commentator in my Apologetics Study Bible used the words, “spiritual integrity.” In order to protect the holiness of God’s people, their spiritual integrity if you will, Nehemiah expelled those who didn’t worship God in truth. He kicked them out, and not all that gently, either.

Nehemiah knew the “negative spiritual ramifications” of accepting non-believers into the family of God. I don’t think we understand those spiritual ramifications today.

Even our pastors encourage us to bring sinners into God’s house. Worship leaders use Bethel and Hillsong music, inviting false teaching into our fellowship. We try so hard to look like our unsaved neighbors we no longer stand as a beacon in a dark world.

What are the negative spiritual ramification? Too many of us, too many of our churches, have lost our spiritual integrity. And you know something that makes me sad about that? Some of you will say that’s a good thing.

(Nehemiah 4-8) The Joy Of The Lord

As I read about the worship service in the square in front of one of the gates in the newly repaired wall around Jerusalem, a couple of things occurred to me.

One is that worship was expressed in two ways – with the raising of hands, as well as the kneeling of people with their faces to the ground. I believe there is a place for both in our worship of God still today.

The other thing that spoke to me is how the people reacted when Ezra read Scripture, and when God’s Word was explained. When they understood what was read, they grieved. Their reaction to the Truth was an honest look at their failure to obey it. And it broke them.

Ezra and Nehemiah encouraged the people with, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (8:10b)

It wasn’t that their grief was wrong. But there is a time to recognize sin and repent of it, and there is a time to get up off our knees and allow God to strengthen us to worship and serve Him with joy.

Just being sorry for our sins isn’t enough What you do with that grief is just as important.

When you are faced with your own sin, I pray it breaks your heart; that you realize what your sin does to our precious Father; that you fall on your knees and ask Him to forgive you. Just don’t stay there in your sorrow.

Accept what Jesus offers – complete forgiveness – then get up and allow His joy to fill and strengthen you. Worship Him with gladness. Serve Him, obey Him, submit to Him with joy.

Because the joy of the Lord is YOUR strength.

(Nehemiah 1-3) One Man

Nehemiah wasn’t a builder or an architect. He drank wine for a living. But Nehemiah heard of the crumbling wall around Jerusalem, realized the need, and got busy leading the rebuilding project.

He didn’t do all the work himself. A lot of the Jews picked up hammers and lugged heavy bricks, too. But it took one man to have the vision and the drive to rally people to get it done.

Sometimes I think the walls are crumbling around today’s Church, too. The enemy has an open door into our lives and into our fellowships. Some well-meaning Christians believe that’s a good thing. I don’t happen to be one of them.

The walls around our families, our society are crumbling as well. Some well-meaning Christians think it’s time they do. I believe that’s a mistake, according to Scripture.

Read the book of Nehemiah and see what God was able to do when one man was obedient and led the way. Think about what one man (or woman) could do if he or she was obedient and led the way in your home, in your church fellowship, in our society, or in the Church.

Are you that person? I’m praying for you.

(Ezra 1-6) Not Just My Soapbox

A quote from the CSB Apologetics Study Bible, (Holman Bible Publishers of Nashville, TN, 2017, page 552) regarding 6:21:

“Spiritual holiness was expected of those who worshiped God. Today’s church could learn from this early community. Church discipline has fallen by the wayside as contemporary congregations attempt to shed their image of exclusivity. However, God expects to be served by a holy people. The church today must demand that church members conduct themselves according to certain spiritual standards that honor the faith community and God. (Romans 12:1-2, I Pt 1:13-16)” ( emphasis mine)

I boldly and unapologetically say, “Amen.”

(2 Chronicles 32-34) Pray For Revival. But Be Warned.

What is a revival? Is it an evangelistic effort to present the Gospel so unsaved people find the Savior? That has become the accepted definition in the Christian realm. But in the true sense of the word, isn’t it more a re-awakening? Doesn’t it mean that something dead is brought back to life? Isn’t it more of a transformation from “what is” to “what is better?”

We see a revival here in the life of King Josiah and Judah. The king was already a believer, a follower of God busy doing great things in the name of the Lord. But something happened to Josiah when he read the Scriptures for himself.

He was convicted of sin. He woke up to the truth. He was revived, energized, and began to serve God with a new determination. The result of his personal revival was that it spread throughout Judah so that the nation began serving God anew, too.

I think we need to be praying for revival in our world. But it’s the Church that needs revived. It’s a dead, weak, ineffective Church made up of dead, weak, ineffective believers who need a wake-up call.

Of course unsaved people need Jesus. Of course the world’s problems would be solved if people loved and served God according to His Word. But that won’t happen until a revival happens in the pews first.

Let’s pray for revival. But be warned. When you do, you’re praying that your relationship with the Savior will be revived first, that you will confess and repent of sin in your own life, that you would boldly throw off the chains of this world and stand apart in the truth of Scripture.

Yes, Christian. I am praying for your revival and mine. I’m just warning you.

(2 Chronicles 25-28) Sacrificing Children

Sometimes when faced with their sin, instead of repenting, people dig in their heels. That was the case with King Ahaz of Judah. He was told by the prophet Obed that he was guilty of many sins.

“Listen to me and return the captives you took from your brothers for the Lord’s burning anger is on you.” (28:11)

I would think the words, “burning anger” would have been enough for the king to repent. But instead, to arm himself against an angry God, Ahaz plundered the Lord’s temple and gave the treasures to the king of Assyria to buy their protection. Verse 22 tells us:

“At the time of his distress, King Ahaz himself became more unfaithful to the Lord.”

Scripture tells us he went as far as sacrificing his own children by throwing them into fire on altars of pretend gods. If you aren’t appalled by that I suggest you check your heartbeat.

But are we any different today? People still dig in their heels when confronted with sin. And sadly, they are still sacrificing their children.

“You say homosexuality is a sin? I’ll teach my children to love and accept everyone.”

You say abortion is murder? I’ll teach my children, ‘My body. My choice.'”

“You say marriage is between a man and woman? I’ll teach my children they can’t help who they love.”

“You say it’s a sin to worship other gods? I’ll teach my children they are their own god, powerful, capable, strong, worthy, and that their truth is truth.”

This is going to sound cruel, but King Ahaz threw his children into a fire that eventually killed them. The searing pain those precious babies felt while they died stopped hurting when they took that last breath. What people are doing today is throwing their children into an eternal fire, apart from God, and a searing pain that will never stop. An eternal fire without hope of it ever ending.

If you aren’t appalled by that, check your heartbeat.

Call it what you want: wokeness, progressiveness, love…

What it is is sacrificing children to the god of this world.

(2 Chronicles 7-9) Come to Jesus

We all know that Solomon was wise and rich. In fact, he was arguably the wisest and richest man who ever lived. But it occurred to me today that it was the people who flocked to him – ordinary people as well as kings – that is the message here.

And it was the man, Solomon, they came to see. It speaks to me about how the Gospel is presented these days. Do we invite people to come to God for the benefits of knowing Him? Things like health, wealth, peace, heaven?

Or do they hear an invitation to come to the Man, the person of Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world? Lay aside the material blessings associated with knowing Him. Lay aside the feelings, even lay aside eternity. Don’t we want people – don’t I want you – to meet Jesus Himself?

I guess I want people drawn to Jesus when they observe my relationship with Him. Not necessarily my lifestyle, or my attitude, or my faith. I want them to see that I have a real relationship with the King, and then want a relationship with Him, too.

The Queen of Sheba remarked how blessed Solomon’s people must be just being in his presence. I’d like people to be able to recognize how blessed I must be as I live in the Presence of God.

And ultimately, I want them to want to live there, too.