Category Archives: Sin

A New Identity

Genesis 31-34

Why did the angel ask Jacob his name before blessing him? He was an angel so I imagine he knew who he’d been wrestling with all night. I believe there is a lesson in the question.

Fast forward a few thousand years. Jesus is in the middle of His short ministry as a human on Earth. He healed thousands. He forgave sins.

Take Bartimaeus for example. He was obviously blind, yet Jesus asked him to state his request. To the paralytic at the pool Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” When a woman touched the hem of his garment, Jesus demanded she identify herself.

Do you see the pattern? Very often in Scripture, we see Jesus requiring people to state their need. Say the words. We see the necessity of confession. It’s not so God is informed of our need. It’s so we know exactly what we need, admit it, and go to the only one who can meet it.

Here in Genesis we see Jacob wrestling with God. Who hasn’t, right? We know what is right, but we want to have our own way instead. A battle ensues. It’s a tug-of-war until we do what? Admit our sin and allow God to change our wants to His.

In my experience – and in Jacob’s – God won’t bless until I confess. When the angel asked Jacob his name, he had to reply: “I’m the deceiver, the holder of the heel, the supplanter.” That’s what his name meant. And we know Jacob had lived up to his name.

Jacob had to admit who he had been before God could give him a new name: Israel. According to the Abarim Publications, Israel means “He retains God,” or “God is upright.” Jacob’s new name reflected God. His new identity honored God.

Jacob received a new beginning, as do all of us who confess our sins and allow God to forgive us and give us new life. Jacob had lived for himself and had committed sins to fulfill his own desires. God was giving him a chance to turn that all around, to live for God and make choices that fulfilled God’s desires for him. That’s awesome!

May that be true in all of us. Some people think they are Christians because they go to church and live good lives. That’s not true. Being a Christian involves a change of heart, saying the words, admitting guilt. And receiving God’s amazing grace.

If God has laid a finger on any sin, if you (or I) are wrestling with that sin, hear God ask “What is your name? What do you want me to do for you?” Then confess. Repent. Be forgiven, and receive a new beginning!

Not Too Late

Genesis 25-27

I see me in Esau. He wanted his father’s blessing. He just wanted to live life on his own terms, too. He hadn’t really taken his father all that seriously, until it was too late.

So often I want God to bless me. But I also want to live life on my own terms, like Esau did. I read God’s demands in Scripture, but I don’t always take them seriously. I think both Esau and I are counting on our Father’s love to overlook our selfish choices.

The thing is, no matter how much He loves us, God CAN’T overlook our choices that go against His rules. He is holy. He demands holiness of us. He won’t let the guilty go unpunished. He wouldn’t be holy if He did.

Esau missed out on the best his father could offer. He was given a blessing of sorts in the end, but oh, what he’d given up because of disobedience.

I am blessed much more than I deserve. I thank God that when I confess and repent of my sin, He gives me the greatest blessing of all – HIMSELF! It doesn’t get better than that.

Esau reminds me that in order to receive all the benefits from that precious blessing, I need to obey. I need to humble myself, let go of the reins, and let God have His way in my life. My Father wants to bless me beyond what I can ask or think. He only asks me to follow His rules.

It was too late for Esau to receive the blessing he was hoping for. It’s not too late for me. My gracious Heavenly Father is eager to shower me with the blessings of His presence and care, His joy and salvation. May I be ready to receive all He has to offer, as I submit to His will, and let go of mine.

Name Your Source

Job 21-28

The Life Application Bible I am using this year to read through the Bible does a comparison of the wisdom expressed by Job and his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Eliphaz seems to believe he’s figured God out by observing how God works in lives and in Creation. Bildad says he just needs to learn from those who have lived before us. Job’s observation is that God’s revelation of Himself to man is directly related to the humility of man and the trust man puts in God.

But it’s Zophar who got my attention this morning. He seems to have the idea that he is one of a very few who have an ‘in’ on wisdom. His wisdom has no other source than himself.

Yep. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m pretty sure we are living among a bunch of Zophars: people who claim to be the sole authority of their own wisdom. “If I say my truth, you are obliged to accept it as truth.”

We have a society that accepts the rantings of internet influencers as truth, people whose main objective is to get noticed, liked and followed by millions, people who sit in their cars and act like they are authorities, then go home to their bedrooms in their parents’ homes. These are people with opinions, passing them off as truth. So I decided to scroll through Instagram (and believe me I couldn’t scroll fast enough).

There was a girl with rainbow colored hair and face piercings explaining why I should use her made-up pronouns when addressing her. I watched long enough to see her work up some tears as she talked about how threatened she is by people who wanted to call her “she.”

A bearded young man dressed up like a girl started to name all the different genders I am supposed to embrace. I scrolled pretty quickly past him.

A woman who looked like she was in her fifties used some pretty foul language as she told me how phobia-filled I am because I refuse to accept the fact she identifies as a cat. She had a pretty good vocabulary for a feline.

I guess all you have to do these days is turn on a camera and download nonsense in order to be an influencer or authority on just about any subject. Speak the lie, and it’s out there in cyber-space forever. Oh, someone might “fact-check” you and determine what you said is not true. But it’s impossible to pull in the reins of a lie already on the net. One “share” and it’s off and running again.

Sadly, as I was scrolling through some of these posts I paused and read comments that seem to support the sinful choices these people are making. Many of them have hundreds if not thousands of “likes.” Are people actually swallowing this garbage? Evidently.

Once again, I am reminded that all of us need to hold to the Truth that God inspired in His Word. It is the only Truth. And Job will tell us the first step toward wisdom is a healthy fear of Almighty God.

I have been tempted to throw up my hands and say, “Come back Lord!!! End this insanity once and for all.” But as I was scrolling through Instagram a simple phrase passed by:

What Satan intends for evil, God can use for good.

That was taken from something Joseph said to his brothers after they had sold him into slavery. I believe the same can be true today.

The voice of evil is getting louder. Maybe this is just what the Church has needed to happen in order for us to use our voices once again. We’ve been silent way too long, and look what’s happened as a result. Maybe God wants to use this to get us motivated. Let’s start to speak up. Deny the lies. Speak Truth in such a way as to be heard.

Many have been praying for a revival in our country and in the world. I think we are on the verge, forced into repentance by the breaking down of truth. But it might be our last chance at redemption. If we don’t get on our knees right now, then stand together for Truth, we might be looking toward a time when we have no voice.

What is the source of your wisdom, of your truth? All I can say is, it better be the Bible. If it isn’t, you have no more wisdom than that chair you are sitting on. Your truth is a lie if it doesn’t align with Scripture… no matter how loudly or how often you say it.

So tell me what you believe. Name your source. Then I’ll check your source with mine before I believe what you are saying. Satan might think he’s got the Church backed into a corner. But God can turn the tables, if we are faithful.

Let’s be faithful!

Heaven

John’s Revelation

Think about it: God will wipe away our tears. No more night. No more heartache and sin. No more cares and worries, sickness or death. And we we look upon the One who loves us with a love we cannot fathom right now.

I don’t know if there will be a thousand calendar years before we enjoy our eternal home. It doesn’t really matter if John’s revelation has a material interpretation or whether it is meant to be interpreted spiritually. This book, to me, is about hope.

It’s about redemption. It’s about Jesus and the fact that one day I will be in His Presence! I’ll look into those eyes, study that face, see those nail prints in His hands and know at last I am home.

I have no doubt about that. I know it is a fact because I have died, and God raised me to new life in Him. How? I admitted my sins and repented of them from a humble heart in need of a Savior. I’ve accepted the redeeming work of Jesus, His death and resurrection, and I know I can stand before the Holy God without fear because Jesus paid my death penalty and placed His holiness on me. It wasn’t my doing. It’s all Jesus.

Tomorrow marks a New Year, a new beginning for many. I pray that you will welcome in 2023 with Jesus, your Savior, at your side and in your heart. I pray that you will grow a relationship with Him by reading His Word every day, praying every day, resisting Satan every day.

Who knows if the ball will drop on 2024? It may, or may not. Reading God’s Word reminds me when Jesus returns (and He will) it will be too late to change your mind, too late to repent of sin and accept the Savior. Too late.

There is a heaven for God’s followers. And there is a hell for anyone who hasn’t accepted God’s saving grace.

Choose Jesus. And have a blessed 2023 as His precious child.

Love Like God’s

Jude 17-23

Jesus told us that the second greatest commandment, after loving God with our whole being, is to love one another. It’s that important. People will know we are followers of Jesus if we love one another.

But the modern Church has perverted the meaning of love to mean tolerance and acceptance with a “do not judge” theology that is antichrist. I hope you’ll read what God has to say through Jude in these verses. Pay special attention to verse 23:

Show mercy to still others, but do so with caution, hating the sin that contaminates their lives. (NLT)

HATING THE SIN THAT CONTAMINATES THEIR LIVES.

You might say, “Hate is a pretty strong word.” It’s not my word, it’s God’s. He tells us to hate sin. HATE.

Why would God use that word in regard to sin? Well, sin leads to hell, and He doesn’t want anyone to go there. The only way to avoid hell is to deal with sin, not tolerate or accept it. That knowledge should make every Christian hate sin.

There are progressives who call themselves Christian and will tell you they have a deeper understanding of Scripture than the rest of us. So I laughed out loud today when I read what John said about that in his Revelation. In regard to false teaching he said:

‘deeper truths,’ as they call them – depths of Satan, actually. (Revelation 2:24)

These ‘deeper truths’ people are claiming to have are, according to Scripture, deeper into Satan’s theology. Beware!

I will stand by Scripture that tells us to love people enough to address the sin in their lives so they can repent of it. I stand by Scripture that tells us there is no other way.

Real love, God’s kind of love, is NOT tolerant or accepting of sin, according to Scripture.

It’s Not Their Fault

1 John 1-2

I hope you’ll read John’s introduction to this letter. You can feel his love for Jesus, and his desire for you to love Him, too. John saw Jesus, the Creator God, with his own eyes, touched the flesh and blood body of Jesus, and knew for certain that Jesus is the Word of life!

Then John says this:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all. (1:5)

At all.

We can look at what is happening in our world and recognize the darkness. John told us that people love darkness rather than light. Why? Because their deeds are evil. (John 3:19)

Today, they don’t even hide their sin in the darkness. It’s out in the open, in our government, on our phones, and forced on innocent children. It is out of control. The world is corrupt. Satan is on a roll.

Is it because Satan is getting stronger against God? Or is it something else? I think John has the answer there in 1 John 1:5. There is no darkness in God, only light.

You understand darkness NEVER wins over light, don’t you? Where there is light, there cannot be darkness. Not in your living room, not in your hearts, and not in the world. But there’s a problem.

So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness, we are not practicing the truth. (verse 6)

Jesus told us that we are the light of the world,

A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glory your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

And there you have it.

The world isn’t getting worse because sin is winning. It’s getting worse because Christians aren’t shining the Light, not exposing sin, not showing sinners the way into the Light through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

John goes on to say all of us need to admit our sin, repent of it and accept God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (2:6)

So the fault of our world’s sinful condition does not lie on the shoulders of sinful people. It lies squarely on believers who have stopped shining the Light of Truth. It falls on Christians who want to blend in with the world and wonder why the world doesn’t recognize the light in us.

Darkness isn’t winning. Christians have just stopped living in the Light.

Next time you lament over the increasing darkness in the world remember:

Darkness CANNOT exist where Light is.

The question is: what are you doing with the Light you’ve received?

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 1-4

This morning, a dear lady from my church entered the rest the writer of Hebrews describes. She may have struggled to take her last breath in this life, but she is now breathing freely in the arms of her Savior. The cares of this life are over for her, because she followed Jesus in the midst of heartache and physical pain, with the joy of the Lord.

But her’s is not the same end for those who choose to live this life apart from God. These chapters in Hebrews not only explain who Jesus is and what He did, it explains who it is that can receive the eternal blessing He offers, and who will never receive that blessing.

Today when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (4:7b)

You might want to believe there is nothing after this life. But there is.

You might want to believe everyone goes to a better place when they die. Not everyone does.

You might want to think that identifying as a Christian is your ticket into God’s rest. It isn’t.

Ii might be a good idea for all of us to take time to read the book of Hebrews because the lines between right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil are becoming so blurred we are all in danger of falling away. “Don’t harden your heart” applies to you.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. (4:12-13)

A Church Divided

Colossians 3

I’m sure it grieves God when there is division in the church. It ought to grieve us all. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, has some ideas about that. I think we all should hear him out.

Since God chose you to be a holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony, And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (vv 12-15)

First of all, the responsibility of harmony in the church is yours. It’s my responsibility. It’s the responsibility of every individual Christian.

“But she criticized my parenting.”

“But he took the elements to the nursing home when he knew it was my turn.”

“She thinks she’s such a good singer, but she can’t carry a tune.”

“He dresses like a farmer when he comes to church.”

Whatever! Any petty complaint left unchecked will grow into a full-fledged war. All you need is one person to agree with you, then to pass it on until they find someone to agree with them, and so on, and so on.

I’m not talking about theological differences. Any false teaching must be addressed immediately and forcefully. Paul will address that elsewhere. From this text in Colossians, I believe Paul is talking about something quite different.

Any division in a church begins with sin. Pride? Deceit? Look at Paul’s list:

sexual immorality, lust, evil desires, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language.

These things aren’t going to heal themselves. And, in fact, become a cancer that destroys. So what does God through Paul say we should do about those things?

Put them to death! Get rid of them. Strip off your old nature and all its wicked deeds.

But wait. Doesn’t God automatically take care of that for me when I’m saved?

Nope. Not usually.

But He promises to give us the strength to take care of those things. The doing is up to us.

Then, and here’s the kicker, we must replace those things with other things. Look back at verses 12-15. Put on mercy, kindness, gentleness, patience. And forgive.

Can you imagine a church where Christians wore those things instead of hurt feelings and pride?

“But she doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.”

Maybe not. But God deserves your forgiveness of her.

Paul leaves us with the following. Are you concerned about division in your church fellowship? Then I challenge you to…

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (vv 16-17)

Woke Is No Joke

Acts 21

Man, we have not changed in 2,000 years. The parallel between what happened to Paul in Jerusalem, and what is happening today is unmistakable. Someone started a rumor using a half truth (which is a whole lie), and a mob formed; an angry mob that wanted to cancel Paul. (Ok. The wording in Scripture is actually “kill him.” But you get the picture).

I am convinced the Woke mob of the 21st Century are up in arms over lies. And that movement wants to cancel anyone who dares point that out. I couldn’t begin to list all the lies they’ve adopted as “their truth.” But it ranges from sexual identity to racism, global warming to the very definitions of love and truth.

They blindly follow the liars who tell them that when they are “woke,” they are free from the restraints of bigots, religion, white men, and capitalism. But these woke folks are walking in their sleep. Their eyes are tightly shut, even as they are told they are seeing for the first time. They join a mob of the blind leading the blind.

1 Corinthians 3:19a says:

For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight.

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2-3)

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about fools (which I interpret as woke). Google Bible verses about fools if you want to know what God has to say about people who think they know more than He does.

Fools, how long will you love being ignorant? How long will you make fun of wisdom? How long will you hate knowledge? (Proverbs 1:22)

The mob in Paul’s day wanted to kill him. And they were wrong in their belief.

They were wrong.

And so is anyone who bases his or her belief on anything other than the authority of God’s Word.

Wokeness is foolishness whether it’s proclaimed by people wanting nothing to do with God, or by people calling themselves Christians. And, like the mob that wanted Paul dead, the woke mob is dangerous. They may want to silence the Truth, may want to silence you and I who proclaim the Truth, but they are mostly a danger to their own eternal souls.

This is serious. Woke is no joke.

How Much Is It Worth?

2 Corinthians 8-9

The TRUTH of God’s Word must be shared. It’s urgent. We see so many Christians, so many churches, stepping away from God’s Word, and the result is evident today in our ever increasingly perverted society. It is frightening.

Christians are leaving churches where the Gospel is preached, and are attending the churches that make them feel good, make them feel spiritual and religious. They don’t have to repent of sin. Sin is never addressed because someone thinks it’s offensive to tell someone they are wrong, it’s not loving if you don’t accept and include everyone.

Good churches are closing their doors for lack of members and financial support. Worthless churches are seemingly bulging at the seams, their pastors driving Mercedes and living in luxury.

I know that’s a broad generalization. I know that’s not true in every mega-church. But you and I both know that is the case way too often.

Paul is thanking the Corinthians for their financial support of the church in Jerusalem. Their support to the ministry is invaluable for a couple of reasons.

So two things will result from this ministry of giving – the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. (verses 12-13)

The needs of the people are met AND God is glorified in the process. Win. Win.

Every year our church takes up a Lottie Moon offering for foreign missions in the SBC. Our pastor encourages us to pray that God will give each of us a number, an amount He is asking each of us to give as individuals, and then to be obedient to give what God has laid on our hearts. That’s different than me looking at my bank statement and coming up with an amount I think fits.

It’s easy for me to throw in a few dollars, and feel like I’ve contributed to this important ministry. Then I hear God say:

Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly, And give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have. (verses 11b-12)

Ouch. That number just went up.

I am not saying that giving money should replace my responsibility to go and make disciples of the people in my life. But I hear God remind me of the responsibility and privilege I have of supporting those who are making disciples around the world, too.

I am also reminded of the responsibility and privilege of financially supporting my local church, to write that monthly check joyfully and eagerly, sacrificially without strings attached, out of what I have, not out of what I don’t have.

(Are we to give that 10 percent out of the gross or net? Is 10 percent my limit so that I am operating just barely in the black on my church-giving ledger? Or should we throw out the 10 percent and, like the widow, give all we have? Or something in between? The debate goes on.)

If the Church is going to survive, and I would assume most of you reading this believe it is important that it does, then along with our prayers, our service, our witness, our worship, it will increasingly need our money.

“But,” you say, “inflation has taken a chunk out of my income and expenses.”

It’s taken a chunk out of the church’s finances, too.

Can you trust God with your finances? Read what Paul has to say about that here in his letter to the Corinthians.

I think the question we all need to ask ourselves is, “What is my salvation worth in dollars and cents?”

Can you put a price on what Jesus did for you there on the cross? He died so that all people can have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven, and enjoy a relationship with Him forever.

How much is that worth?