Category Archives: Sin

This Is How You Talk… (Jeremiah 3)

God is patient and merciful. But sometimes I think people misinterpret that as being tolerant and weak. God is neither tolerant nor weak in any shape or form.

We are watching the rapid decline of our society. We are witnessing blatant immorality to the point that anyone who dares speak truth is immediately shut down, and labeled a hater or a bigot. There is a growing portion of the Church that has exchanged its Glory for a feel-good experience, stopped worshiping a Holy God and instead worships a sweet old grandpa who pats his disobedient children on the head.

Many of us are pleading with God to stop this downfall toward destruction. But here’s something that stood out to me this morning in Jeremiah 3:3b-5:

Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame. Have you not just called to me; “My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?” This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.

Yes, we are calling out to God to heal our land. But are we dressed up like prostitutes at the same time? Are we asking God to save us, while we live our lives in disobedience? Do we say all the right words, yet continue in sin?

Throughout the Bible God tells us He insists on obedience. He demands that we come to Him by His rules. He promises to bless His children IF…

…If we humble ourselves, confess our sin, and repent, turn, change, unless we are transformed by the Holy Spirit and walk the talk. Then God will hear our prayers, and not before.

I hope you are praying for our nation and our world. We are on the brink of something big. I know Satan thinks He’s got this. But we who know God know that Satan doesn’t have any power over God. And if God moves, the “something big” we are heading for just might be the greatest revival history has ever seen.

I believe Scripture tells us over and over that God will unleash His power when His people are, first of all, obedient. Dear one, let’s stop dressing up like prostitutes, looking like the world, compromising the Truth that God revealed in His Word. Let’s throw off sin, and put on Jesus’ righteousness.

Then let’s pray that God will heal our land. Repent, pray, and stand back and watch God work! You ain’t seen nothing yet!

A Godly Leader (2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chronicles 34-35

A godly leader can turn things around. King Josiah was not afraid to stand up and read Scripture to the people. He didn’t send a priest to do it. He did it himself, and the hearts of the people were moved.

Josiah had been confronted with the truth of Scripture, and it broke him. He humbled himself before God, then went on to live the life of a man dedicated to God. But he wasn’t satisfied with a personal experience. He wanted his whole country in on the blessing. So he read them the same Scripture that had spoken to him. Lives were changed.

Oh, for a godly leader in America. I think we have a president who isn’t afraid to stand up to the masses. He says and does what he believes whether or not it is popular with any of us. But wouldn’t it be amazing if President Trump got up and read Scripture at his next press conference? What if his tweets were Bible verses? What if he started standing for right and Truth, and didn’t get into word wars with game players?

Never happen, you might say. But are you praying it will? God’s arm is not too short, nor is He too weak to break the heart of Donald Trump, to do a work in our president’s heart that would turn him into a godly leader.

Are you praying that Donald Trump will accept what Jesus died to give him, then follow the Lord in a pubic, zealous way like King Josiah did? I don’t care if you are a Republican or Democrat. Are you a Christian? Then you should be praying for our president. Remember, God is not going to answer a prayer not prayed, and if we want our country to turn around, we’d better be praying for a godly leader.

 

Key To Victory (2 Chronicles 32-33)

The King of Assyria was coming with a vast army to take Jerusalem by force. King Hezekiah built a dam, repaired the wall around Jerusalem, and replenished the army’s weapons. He assembled his troops, then said something to them I think we might need to hear ourselves:

Be strong and courageous! Our enemy has only the arm of flesh, “but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” (32:8)

Scripture tells us the Assyrian army was defeated in a miraculous way.

Man can assemble their strongest, bravest, and wisest. Communism, riots, looting, murders in the streets, corruption in government, an entertainment and news media industry backed by evil, can join forces. But the arm of flesh can’t win over the arm of God. Not even a virus can defeat our God.

But let’s not forget before Hezekiah said these words here in chapter 32, before God defeated the Assyrian army, Hezekiah had humbled himself, repented of sin, and Israel was once again worshiping God.

Oh, God can heal our land. I am 100% sure of that fact. But the key to victory lies right in your lap and mine. Are we willing to do what we need to do before God even hears our cries for help? Are you and I ready to confess our sin and repent, to take a stand for the God of Truth? Are we humbled before, and committed to God alone?

Our society, our freedoms, our lives are facing a powerful arm of flesh. Will you join me in serving in God’s army of obedient soldiers in our battle for Truth? The key to victory is God, and we can join Him in this battle when we stand with Him through His Son, Jesus.

 

 

 

 

…so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59-63)

Once again I read God’s Words and see life in 2020 America. Read chapter 59 and see if you don’t agree. Hands are stained with blood, no one pleads his case with integrity, acts of violence are in our hands, they rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood, truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

Isaiah could be a reporter for a cable news network today and say the same thing.

But like always, God has a way of making His Word personal. And He never lets me off the hook. I first read these chapters with our society in mind. But I got finished and realized God rarely talks to me about “them.” So I asked Him to speak to me about my walk with Him today, and started to read the chapters again.

God slapped me with 59:2. It’s MY iniquity that has separated me from God, MY sins that hide His face from me so that He will not hear my cries for help. Where do I get off thinking I can live my life to suit myself, AND expect God to jump when I call? How much nerve does it take to ignore God until I need Him, then blame Him when things go south?

Maybe you should ask yourself the same thing.

I know you can’t expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian. But I think it’s time we Christians started acting like true Jesus-followers. It starts with confessing our own sin every time God brings a sin to our attention. It involves loving our neighbors, doing good to those who harm us.

But it also means putting on the armor of God and standing on the Truth of Scripture. No compromise. No picking a verse here and there to support our own agenda. No “living and let live.” Being a true Jesus-follower means going to war. It means holding each other accountable, telling people about their sin problem, and introducing them to their Savior.

God doesn’t hear us while we hold on to sin. God doesn’t hear the Church, and God doesn’t hear me unless and until I deal with my sin problem by repenting and asking Him to forgive me.

Do I want God to heal our land, erase the virus, stop the riots in the streets and the insanity in our government? Do I want Him to hear me?

Then I had better deal with my own iniquity, my own sin. I can pray all day and all night long, but if I am living with sin He will not hear.

COVID19 on the Cross (Isaiah 49-53)

Isaiah clearly says in 53:5, “by his wounds, we are healed.” I watched a YouTube video of a popular preacher who insisted that Christians should not be struggling with physical illnesses because Jesus nailed our diseases to the cross. He quoted a partial verse (Isaiah 53:5b) to support his opinion.

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful picture of Jesus, so accurate in every way, and Isaiah is speaking in the past tense – which is thrilling to me! Our Savior was despised, rejected, beat up and pierced. Why? Because of my sin and yours. God laid on Jesus the inequity of us all. (vs 6)

If you don’t read anything else today, I hope you’ll take time to read Isaiah 53 and fall in love with Jesus all over again. But also notice the emphasis, the “why” Jesus did what He did. I challenge you to find any reference to physical illness, unless you distort verse 5b like some do.

The whole sentence says it was our transgressions, our iniquities, the punishment we deserved for sin was upon Him, and by those wounds incurred from the beatings and the nails piercing His flesh, we are healed from those transgressions, iniquities, and free from the punishment our sins deserve.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to make you happy or physically immune from sickness. You aren’t cured from COVID19 at the cross. But you are cured from the disease of sin there. Sin no longer has any power over you when you kneel at the cross.

I hate to tell you this but you might get COVID19. You might get cancer, or dementia, or you might break a leg, or lose your eyesight. That has nothing to do with the grace of God that forgives sin when we confess our sin. The cross was and is about sin.

I’m not going to ask you if you have any COVID symptoms. I will ask you if you have any symptoms of sin. I won’t ask if you have been healed from cancer or a virus or a booboo. I will ask you if you have been healed from sin by accepting what Jesus did for you on the cross. I won’t ask you what you know about COVID. I will ask you if you know the Savior that Isaiah so beautifully described in this chapter.

Jesus died with your sins on His shoulders. I pray you’ve met Him at the cross, and allowed His grace to flow over you, healing you from the disease of sin.

You Can’t Have Children (Hosea)

When I started to read the book of Hosea today, my mind went immediately to the Church in 2020. It’s easy to see the connection between Israel and the Church; blessed yet unfaithful, ignoring God’s laws yet claiming to be His children.

But I didn’t get very far before I felt God nudge me. “I have something to say to you today, Connie, about your own walk with Me. This is not about “them.” I’m talking to you.”

Reading Hosea’s words is not fun when you look at it like that. It speaks to me about my own fickleness. It points out my tendency to listen to other voices besides God’s, to get along with the world rather than obeying Him. I remember times I sowed “the wind and reap(ed) the whirlwind.” There is a lot, sadly, in the lives of the Jews during Hosea’s time that I can see in me.

But what stood out to me this morning is found in 9:11-13. Verse 10 is such a tender expression of love. I hear God say that when He looks at me it’s like finding a grape in the desert, early fruit on a fig tree. It’s that “apple of His eye” thing. God adores me.

But then He challenges my commitment to Him. Israel flat out worshiped Baal. I don’t flat out deny God. Yet there are times when I don’t block out the call of the world, times when I might ignore a sin, or rationalize a sin (which are forms of idolatry and adultery in my relationship with Him).

And God tells me if that is the case, my glory will fly away. No births, no pregnancy, no conception.

No problem! I’m way beyond child-bearing years. But that’s not what He’s talking about. And what He is talking about should drive me to my knees.

God is speaking to me about spiritual children, those I could introduce to their Savior.  Read this chapter in that light and I think it will break your heart.

I have known women who long for children, who go to desperate measures to conceive. And I’ve seen the agony when time after time, their greatest desire is not realized. I’ve seen the crushing blow hit when they are told they will never have their own children. It’s a pain that is often inconsolable.

Now God is telling me I’ll never have children. If I allow my relationship with Him to weaken, my glory, my ability to shine the light of Jesus will fly away, and I will not have any part in the salvation of another soul. Does my reaction to that news mirror that of a woman unable to conceive a child? Am I inconsolably devastated at the idea of never leading someone to Jesus?

I should be. And so should you.

Exactly! (2 Chronicles 30)

God was very clear about how the Old Testament Jew was to approach Him. There were strict laws to follow, including a very important purification ceremony. They were not to participate in the Passover unless they first went through the process of purification spelled out by God Himself. These rituals were important and pointed to God and the coming Messiah.

So when a bunch of Jews came to Jerusalem to celebrate the first Passover since the Temple had been restored, they got there too late to do the purification thing. They jumped right into celebrating the feast without going through the prerequisites. Not good.

So King Hezekiah prayed God would forgive “everyone who sets his heart on seeking God… even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” (verses 19-20)

I had to stop and think about that because God has made it pretty clear that He has set the rules and His rules stand. You don’t just get a free pass if you are sincere. Yet these people seem to have been given a free pass because of their sincerity.

Is that what I should take from this? Does God accept any and all worship if a heart is sincere? NO! That is not the lesson here at all.

As I was thinking and praying about this, God brought to mind an example in my own life. Years ago I was the choir director at a Christian Church where salvation through baptism was preached. In fact, there were some dear people in that congregation who firmly believed heaven was being prepared for people of that denominational affiliation only.

Anyway, one Sunday I was shocked when, after the invitation during the morning worship service, two teenage boys went forward to pray to receive Jesus and be baptized. (The baptismal was always full and ready to go.) The pastor got on his knees with the boys at the altar and quietly prayed with them. He took a minute or so to have a private conversation with them, then stood up to face the congregation.

Now this is what shocked me: he announced to the congregation that the boys agreed to come back to be baptized during the evening service instead of right then at the end of the morning service. We sang a hymn, and the service ended.

I spoke with the paster after church. He had plans that afternoon and didn’t feel like he had time to baptize the boys and get to where he needed to be on time. I asked him if that wasn’t a bit hypocritical, seeing he preached you can’t be saved unless you’ve been baptized. What if the boys die this afternoon without being baptized?

He answered, “Well, then God will judge their hearts.”

EXACTLY!!!

I feel God brought that memory to mind today to emphases that fact. I think in the case of the Jews for whom Hezekiah prayed, God is giving a glimpse of the New Covenant, His rules after the cross. Salvation is NOT found in religion, or in religious activities, not in sacrifices, not in baptism, or church attendance, or reciting prayers, or doing things like carrying a Bible, abstaining from alcohol, not shopping on Sunday, or whatever else one thinks looks Christian.

God judges the heart.

Here’s the other thing, though. The Jews in these verses weren’t sincerely worshiping Baal or some other figment of imagination. They were sincerely worshiping the God of the Bible. Not religion. God.

The point is, God sees the heart. He alone knows which of us have confessed our sins and accepted the gift of grace through the blood of Jesus. That is salvation. Whosoever believes. (John 3:16) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

It’s not a religion. It’s not a ceremony. It isn’t even praying a certain prayer. Hezekiah prayed for everyone who “sets his heart on seeking God.” It’s all about God.

So I ask you: Are you sincerely seeking God? If you are, you will have to look into His Word, seek Him as He revealed Himself in those pages of the Bible. You might have to give up your preconceived notions of ceremony or the rules of the sanctuary or denomination you attend.

But God promises that if you seek Him with all your heart you WILL find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, among others) He isn’t hiding or playing games here. He wants you to know Him. And He wants to forgive your sins if you’d just ask.

Let’s not get so caught up in religion that we miss the most important thing: our hearts’ condition before a Holy God. He knows what is in there. And He will judge us accordingly.

 

Do You Hear It? (Isaiah 27)

Isaiah continues to talk about God’s judgment on sin. But he also reminds us God will protect His children from the outcome His enemies will face. I love this picture:

“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (2b-3a)

I am part of that vineyard, God’s Church, through the blood of Jesus. God says He protects it, waters it, guards it against harm. I know that a healthy vineyard goes through pruning, and harvest, and that’s not always comfortable. But God assures us He’s got our backs even when we face the trails of life. It gives me such peace to know the One who cares for me.

Then God says something that I need to remember. Listen to verse 4:

“I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.”

This verse should terrify some. God will pass judgment on anything and anyone who tries to harm His Church. And it will not be a gentle tap on the wrist. The idea of God going to battle against anyone, or condemning someone to that fire should throw fear into hearts. But God is not motivated by anger. He is motivated by love, and here’s how I know that:

“Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (verse 5)

Do you hear God’s heart? I do. God’s will is that no one die without Him. He WANTS everyone to come to Him, to accept what He died to give. He WANTS to protect and defend and nurture and ultimately to spend eternity with each and every one of us.

Some people will go to hell. But that’s not what God’s heart wants.

Do you hear the tenderness in verse 5? He says He will destroy His enemies, but He’d would rather not. “Let them make peace with me.”

Have you ever heard the words, “I love you,” from that special person in your life? Those three words can bring such joy when you know the sentiment is true. What happens then, when that special someone repeats those precious words a second time? Maybe slower, softer, emphasizing each word?

“I love you. I. Love. You.”

That’s what I hear in God’s voice as He said these words in verse 5, as He talks about people who position themselves as His enemies. As He readies to go to war against them, to mete out that final judgment, His heart still cries out:

“Make peace with me. Oh, make peace with me!”

Is there someone I know who needs to make peace with God? May I hear the anguish in the heart of my Savior as He pleads with them to come to Him. May I be faithful to tell them how they can do exactly that, to introduce them to the Savior who loves them so much.

But sharing Jesus isn’t just about helping someone avoid hell. It’s about hearing God’s heart. Do you hear it?

 

 

God’s World (Isaiah 13-17)

We who know God through His Word understand that this is His world. It’s His creation. And He makes the rules. He has made it plain that he demands and blesses obedience. His judgment on disobedience is without mercy.

But here’s what touched my heart today. In the midst of warning the nations about the upcoming judgment on their sin, God says this:

My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth. (16:11)

God grieves when anyone has to pay the price for sin. Because no one has to! That account is already paid in full. God has done everything He can, short of taking away our ability to choose, in order that no one need pay for their sin.

And He hurts when we don’t accept what He offers.

It must be a little like loving an addict, sitting by while you helplessly watch them give in to their addiction, knowing you’d do anything to make them whole, yet having no control over their choices. You know there is an answer. But the choice to accept the help has to be their’s. You can’t force them.

Friend, God loves you. He wants to have a relationship with you, but it has to be on His terms. He has done everything He can to make that possible, to heal you from your addiction to sin. In fact, He paid your death penalty. But He won’t force you to accept it.

God grieves every time any of us reject Him. He laments from His inmost being, an anguish that is unspeakable. He certainly doesn’t take pleasure in meting out judgment on we who are created in His image.

This is God’s world. You are His creation. And He loves you enough to die for you. Will you bring Him joy today? Or grieve Him by rejecting Him?

I’m praying for you.

Unrecognizable (2 Kings 16)

I am shocked at the nerve King Ahaz had in regard to the Temple of the Lord. He had been to Damascus, and liked their place of worship (which, by the way, was a pagan temple). So he went home to Jerusalem and had an exact copy of the Damascus altar built, put it right next to the altar of God, and proceeded to offer the “right” sacrifices upon it. He ordered the priests to use both altars.

The king didn’t stop there. Do you remember how carefully God had given the blueprints for His Temple? No detail was too insignificant in His design, and the Temple had been built according to God’s specifications.

Ahaz decided to make changes. He redecorated the Temple and removed much of what God had placed there. Read about it. It’s appalling.

And here is what has my blood boiling today. Ahaz did all this, “in deference to the king of Assyria.” (verse 18)

I haven’t stood on my soapbox much lately, but my blood is boiling. As shocking as what Ahaz did, we’ve done the same.

Now, I know God didn’t ordain order-of-worship, or worship styles. But let’s look at what we’ve done in our own remodeling of the Church. We removed hymns, taken crosses off the walls. We no longer have altars, we have stages. We’ve thrown organs into the trash, and removed the word “sin” from our vocabulary. We’ve taken steeples off our buildings, and given our fellowships cutsie names to hide our denominational affiliation. We’ve removed “Reverend” in front of our pastors’ names and encouraged them to come to church in ripped jeans and dirty sneakers. We no longer have Sunday evening or Wednesday worship services, and many churches have removed the choir loft.

I had a teenager tell me that her peers did not come to services on Sunday because they didn’t like the name “Sunday School.” Her parents agreed with her. Let’s change that hour to “Life Groups.” That’ll bring in the kids! Really?

Why all these changes? Were they done in deference to God? Hardly! The God who told us we have to be set apart, cannot be honored when we try to fit in. The God who is serious about sin cannot be honored when we refuse to talk about it.

These changes were done in deference to unsaved and unchurched people, like Ahaz making changes in deference to a pagan king. And none of the changes made in the last thirty years has done anything to strengthen the Church.

Growing up, church was the single most important activity in my life. We arranged our weekly schedules around our church’s schedule, not the other way around. Our priorities were: Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, Youth Group an hour before Sunday evening worship, Bible quiz practice an hour before Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer time. Does any young person devote half that time to God these days? Do any adults?

No. Church, for many, is nothing more than another social gathering, no more than an hour or two a week, and only if there isn’t something better to do like baseball games and fishing trips. The Church that once was is unrecognizable today.

That makes me angry, and sad. I can only imagine how God views the redecorating of His Church.