Category Archives: Sin

(Jeremiah 17-19) God Doesn’t Do Useless

We who have met Jesus at the foot of the cross, and accepted His death as a substitute for our own, want to serve Him. We want to obey. We want to live lives that bring Him joy and show how much we appreciate what He’s done on our behalf. We want to be the clay jar; clean, emptied, ready and eager to be filled and poured out for His purposes.

We want to.

But we convince ourselves a little smudge here and there can’t do harm. A tiny crack is no big deal. The pot can be used for a lot of things, even if it doesn’t hold water, right?

Wrong.

God says He will take that corrupted clay jar and shatter it. 19:11 tells us He shatters the potter’s jar that can never again be mended. Shatters it.

Just this week a dear friend posted a picture on FaceBook of two coffee mugs, filled with dirt and a few plants, she’d set on her window sill. Those mugs had been her husband’s favorite mugs, mugs he used every day for years until his death 18 months ago. It’s a sweet picture, a tender memory of this man she misses so much. She re-purposed those mugs in a creative and even useful way.

God doesn’t do that.

God doesn’t place a useless pot on the shelf to admire, or to remember how useful it used to be. He shatters it, destroy it, gets rid of it.

Now that’s not to say that God can’t perform a miracle and restore that useless pot to it’s original state. That’s a lesson on repentance, and that’s not the lesson God is speaking to me about today.

I hear God telling me not to entertain sin in any form – not in thought, not in a careless word, not in action. Because each smudge, every crack has the potential of rendering the pot useless.

And God doesn’t do useless.

(Jeremiah 14) Accountability

Let me make something perfectly clear: I have never seen a sixty foot Jesus, I have never heard God’s audible voice, I’ve never received a new revelation from God. This blog, my entire walk with the Lord is based solely on the words God inspired men to write thousands of years ago – the Bible.

That being said, I am a teacher. I read God’s Word every day, and do so with an ear to hear God speak to me through it’s pages, to teach me what I need to know for today. God’s voice is heard in the written Word as a verse that stands out as I read, or when I read something in a passage that applies to me in the moment, or when a parallel Scripture comes to mind and reenforces what I need to consider.

Then I often share what I’ve learned in this blog, or when I teach a Bible Study or Sunday School lesson. But I take the sharing of those lessons very seriously, because God takes it very seriously. And judgment is severe for those who claim to speak for God but are “prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their minds.” (14:14)

Makes a person think twice before taking on a teaching ministry. Or it should!

But as always, I encourage you not to read the “them” as you read the Bible. God has a warning for all of us who sit under the teaching, or read the opinions of Bible scholars, teachers, and preachers. God is very clear to tell us that when the false teachers are judged for their lies, those who believe their lies will be judged as well.

Brian Houston, Brian Johnson, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Jospeh Smith, Peter Popoff, Joyce Meyer, Buddha or Krishna or Mohammed, etc. Do you know what they preach? Do you believe what they say?

You are responsible for what you believe. God told Jeremiah it didn’t matter that the people were being fed lies. The problem was the people believed the lies.

Dear One, there are a lot of lies being tossed about these days under the guise of Christianity. They are being preached and sung in churches all over the world. Maybe in your own church. Don’t just sit there and accept it just because it sounds Christian. A lie is a lie even if it makes you feel good.

And you will be held accountable for what you do with that lie.

Thank you for reading my blog. Now put it away, and open up your Bible to Jeremiah 14 and read for yourself what God says. If my opinions align with Scripture, accept them. If they don’t, throw them away and let me know why you did. I need to know so that if I am wrong, I can recognize it as sin and repent of it.

Whatever you do, don’t accept everything I say, or what your preacher says, or what that praise song says without first checking it for yourself in the pages of Scripture. Because you will be held accountable for what you believe.

And you won’t be able to blame someone else if you believe the lie.

(Jeremiah 5-9) His Heart Is Breaking

People who have the audacity to question God’s love on the basis of evil in the world and judgment for those who deny Him, haven’t allowed themselves to hear God’s heart in Scripture. Reading these chapters today, I cannot help but recognize His pain as He watches His children make choices that will end up destroying them.

Yes, that destruction will come from His hand. Yes, that judgment is inevitable. But our Holy God – who can’t NOT be holy – wants us to know He will only go so far before judgment comes. He loves us enough to warn us about the dangers.

He’ll send people to speak the Truth. He’ll show Himself in nature, His power in circumstances of life. He’s given us His Word. But He won’t make you love Him. He won’t force you to obey Him.

He’s very clear to tell us if you don’t choose Him, He won’t relent and simply suspend your death sentence. You will pay severely for your rejection, and your rejection will (and does) break His heart.

If you listen, you can hear His heart breaking in the pages of the Bible.

(Jeremiah 4) You’d Be Foolish

God’s judgment is real – and without mercy. He doesn’t want to sentence anyone for crimes committed against Him. In fact, we know He Himself paid our penalty, took on Himself the sentence our sins deserve. But He will judge those who reject Him, and they will be found guilty.

As devastating as impending judgment will be, God is anxious and willing to forgive anyone at any time – if they surrender to Him. Obedience, a repentant heart, putting on the righteousness of Jesus renders my guilty sentence paid in full. Someone paid my debt!

Chapter 4 likens surrendering to God by five actions. It’s like plowing the ground to receive the seeds, like performing heart surgery, joining the army, taking a bath, like growing up. In each instance, the person is changed. And God demands we change. (from Warren Wiersbe’s With The Word, Chapter by Chapter Bible Handbook; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 499)

God wants to be very clear – judgment is inevitable. It’s coming for you. The question is – are you going to take it on your own, or are you going to surrender to the Judge and allow His Son to take your death sentence for you? That is a decision you need to make BEFORE you meet the judge. Standing before Him after you are dead will be too late.

Don’t be foolish. You don’t want to take your own punishment. You don’t want to serve your own death sentence. That is one sentence from which there is no parole. And there is no need to serve it, if you only surrender to God and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as your own.

He’s willing to make that happen. Choose Jesus! You’d be foolish not to.

(Isaiah 61-64) A Loving God

How can a loving God send anyone to hell? If God really loved us, why is there so much evil in the world? Isaiah seems to get what so many of us don’t.

Would it have been more loving if God had created you without the ability to make choices? Would it be love if we HAD to love Him, if we were incapable of not loving Him?

When I was a child I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. Barbie didn’t move without me. She only spoke the words I said. I loved playing Barbie dolls. But that love was not returned. Barbie was not created with the ability to choose love.

We are not Barbie dolls.

God is much more loving that He’s given credit for. Without Him there would be no love. God expresses His love to good people as well as to bad people, and really no one deserves His love considering the way we treat Him. Yet God loves us enough to want us with Him. And He loves us enough to let us choose to be with Him. He won’t make us love Him.

Read Isaiah and hear what rejecting Him costs. Read Isaiah and hear what obedience gains. God, in His love, has spelled it all out. There are no hidden rules. No secret punishments. Choose God and live forever. Choose anything else and suffer the consequences. He won’t send anyone to hell who doesn’t reject Him.

It’s a loving God who lets us choose.

(Isaiah 60) Everlasting Light

I long for heaven. I long to be where God’s splendor outshines the sun and moon. I long to be where there is no war, no threats of harm, no illness, no hate, a place where peace reigns and righteousness describes our conduct. I long to be caressed by God like a mother holding her nursing child.

Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. The sun will no longer by your light by day, and the brightest of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. (vs 18-19)

I long for heaven. And I know that one day I will be there, because I have repented of my sin and accepted Jesus’ work on the cross, the penalty I deserved for my sin. I am as sure of my future life in heaven as I am of my life today on earth.

I pray you can say the same. This amazingly peaceful, safe, pure, holy, place filled with love, and void of sorrow is real. It’s reserved for those who know God according to the words He inspired men to write, to those who come to Him through Jesus.

I hope to see you there, where God Himself is our everlasting light.

(Isaiah 53) It Is Enough

God has hidden many of the gory details of Jesus’ suffering. Yet He has given us enough of a glimpse to understand the horror, the excruciating pain Jesus must have endured in order to save each of us.

The New Testament tells us Jesus’ captors beat Him, pulled out His beard, thrashed His back with scourges. Isaiah tells us Jesus was beaten so severely He no longer even looked like a human. I think Jesus must have gone through much more than any of us realize.

Did you watch “The Passion of the Christ” without looking away during the scene depicting Jesus’ beating? I couldn’t watch it. But as I sit here today I remember the sounds of those lashes tearing His flesh. It haunts me. And that was merely Hollywood’s imagination as to what went on.

I looked up what constituted a scourging (truthmagazine.com, The Scourging of Jesus, by David McClister). Maybe you know this. Three leather straps about three feet long were tied together, each with either a sharp stone or bone attached to the end. It was designed to lacerate, to cut deep. The victim was tied to a pole, stripped of his clothing, and a strong man would begin to swing the scourge at the back of the one being scourged.

The victim was “lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15)

They ripped open Jesus’ back and exposed His internal organs. No wonder He was unable to carry His cross. We know that after this brutal beating, they crucified Him, nailed Him to a cross and watched Him die a slow and painful death.

Now, in my thinking, this is what makes what Jesus did so incredible: at any moment He could have disappeared. He could have struck down the soldier wielding the scourge, turned those leather and stone straps into spaghetti. He could have called ten thousand angels to wipe out the entire city of Jerusalem. Yet He chose to stay. He chose to feel each wound. He wanted to save you more than He wanted to escape.

In fact, I don’t think escaping ever even crossed His mind. He loves you that much.

So my question is, why would anyone think what Jesus did isn’t enough to save? Why would anyone think you need the cross plus something else: baptism, church attendance, good deeds? Can you seriously look Jesus in the eye and tell Him what He did was not enough?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say except through me plus anything.

If you have not yet looked upon the wounded Jesus and known He did that for love of you, I pray you will do that today. God is able to forgive your sins because Jesus paid your account in full. Jesus took upon Himself your sins and took those lashes you deserved so that when you repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, you will be saved.

Because what He did that night is enough.

(Isaiah 47-59) Go Ahead And Choose

Throughout Scripture we are told that, since we have the God-given ability to choose, we must choose wisely or face the consequences. We see that played out in the history of God in Israel in the Old Testament: the Exodus, the taking of the Promised Land, the years Israel was led by one king after another, etc.

We hear it from the mouths of the prophets of God. And we hear it in the New Testament from the mouth of God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ:

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Isaiah tells us to go ahead and make the choice to follow our own way, make up our own rules, live by our own wisdom and means. That is our privilege as people created by God in His image. But Isaiah, speaking for God, also warns us that if we choose to do our own thing, we won’t like what comes next.

Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with torches; walk in the light of your fire and of the torches you have lit! This is what you’ll get from my hand; you will lie down in a place of torment. (50:11)

You can argue all day about whether or not there even is a God. You can twist Scripture to fit your world-view, to justify and tolerate sin. You can even flat out reject the whole thing. That, in God’s Sovereignty, is your privilege.

But your choice is not without rewards and/or consequences. God is very clear about that. You can choose Him and obey His rules and receive His blessings both now and eternally. Or you can choose something else, and receive His punishment.

Choose obedience. Choose Truth. Choose God.

If you have read this today, you WILL make a choice. Not choosing IS choosing to reject Him. Right now, this minute, you are faced with a life-changing choice.

Go ahead and choose.

(Isaiah 36-39) One And Done

Satan is never one and done. And his tactics haven’t changed since the days of Hezekiah.

First, the evil one tried intimidation to get Hezekiah to surrender to him. Hezekiah went to the Lord, and stood firm.

But the devil isn’t easily deflected. He sent his army. This was war! Hezekiah went to God and in one night 185,000 of Satan’s soldiers were killed as easily as I can wipe out an entire ant colony by stepping on it.

So Satan attacked Hezekiah’s body. The king was sure he was going to die. But instead of giving up on God, Hezekiah went to God. And God gave the king fifteen more years of life.

Take THAT, Satan!

Intimidation, war, physical illness, – none of those altered Hezekiah’s devotion to God. But Satan is never one and done (or three and done). This time Satan used flattery.

No threats. No arrows. Satan used a smooth-talking group of his representatives, and made Hezekiah feel important. Their flattery awakened pride in Hezekiah and he couldn’t wait to show off his accomplishments. More flattery.

Hezekiah never went to God when the Babylonian envoy came for an “innocent” visit. Why would he? It certainly didn’t look like an attack. It didn’t sound like threats. There could be no harm in being cordial, right? Satan (and God) were the furthest things from Hezekiah’s mind.

But this led to Hezekiah’s sin. A sin that would not only effect him, but his family, and the nation for years to come. Big mistake, Hezekiah.

Don’t think Satan isn’t interested in bringing you down, either. You might not be at war, you might not feel threatened. You might be in the best physical shape of your life, successful, respected, adored by many. But beware.

If you aren’t going to God every day, in every situation, if you aren’t discerning and on high alert for Satan’s tactics, you need to stop. There is danger ahead that could take you by surprise, and bring you down.

Because Satan isn’t one and done in your life or mine.

(Isaiah 9-12) That’s Fair

God is fair. He is patient and loving. He calls us to Himself and blesses us when we obey.

God is demanding. He will accept nothing short of complete obedience and holiness. And just like He blesses us when we obey, He punishes us when we disobey.

That doesn’t make Him unfair. In fact, the accepted belief today is what is unfair:

“What’s right for me doesn’t have to be right for you.”
“All roads lead to God.”
“I am master of my life and you are the master of yours.”
“I come first, and what I want trumps what you want.”
“Good people should go to heaven and bad people should go to hell. (But my definition of good and bad doesn’t have to be the same as your definition of good and bad).”

God has set the bar pretty hight – holiness. Then He inspired men to define His holiness so there would be no question as to what He demands. He was fair enough to also tell us in no uncertain terms the results of our obedience, and the punishment of our disobedience. We have no excuse. We don’t have to suppose, or learn by trial and error. God put the rules in place before we were born.

I played pickle ball for the first time this week. Even before I hit a ball, my sister went over the rules, pointed out the boundaries, explained the serve, and how to keep score. Even before I hit a ball, I knew what was required to play the game.

Now, had she handed me a paddle and served a ball to me and expected me to figure out the rules on my own while we played and kept score – that wouldn’t have been fair, would it?

Or if she had made up her own rules while we played, changed them with each serve so she’d have an advantage, and expected me to make up my own rules at the same time, would that have been fair?

Believe me, if I could have I would have made the serving area much bigger on her side of the net. But that wouldn’t have been fair.

You might not like God’s rules. Too bad. You aren’t going to change them, making up your own rules won’t work. He is very clear about that.

And that’s fair.