Category Archives: Sin

October 6; CANNOT

Matthew 5:21-7:29

Every verse in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a precious Truth that blesses and challenges me every time I read it. Today, however, it was one word that jumped out at me.

The other day I was convicted as I read that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives has to show Himself in a change in our lives. (September 30; Baptized With The Spirit). There is no room for sin in the life of a believer because God does not stay where sin is.

I was reminded of that when I read 7:18, “A good tree CANNOT bear bad fruit, and a bad tree CANNOT bear good fruit. (emphasis mine)

Jesus was talking about recognizing false prophets. They look righteous, sound righteous, but they are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, Satan dressed up like a Christian.

I am once again reminded how important it is that my actions align with my profession of faith, that I am a light in a dark world, that I am able to address the speck in my brother’s eye because I have dealt with the plank in my own.

God CANNOT bear bad fruit. God CANNOT sin. God CANNOT think those thoughts, say those things, do anything which hurts or angers Himself. He CANNOT.

And if Jesus has really taken up residence in my heart, I can’t either, and be ok with it. If Jesus lives in me He WILL be seen.

Jesus said, “Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” (verse 19)

People CANNOT NOT recognize Jesus if He lives in me.

October 5; He’s Not Laughing

Mark 3:1-19; Matthew 12:9-14, 3:7-19, 4:23-50; Luke 6:6-16

He (Jesus) looked around at them in anger and, deeply¬†distressed at their stubborn hearts…”

What is God’s take on stubbornness, disobedience, rebellion? It makes Him mad.

I think sometimes we picture God like a dad who tells his child, “No,” then giggles when the child does it anyway. We might hear the dad say something like: “I was the same way when I was a kid.” Or “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

When I read God’s Word, I am aware that God never giggles at sin. He was never like us as a kid. And we nuts have fallen so far from the tree it isn’t funny.

All of us need to understand that our sin – in thought, word, or deed – angers and deeply distresses our Heavenly Father. The price for each one of our sins is death, separated from God forever.

Just the idea of us being separated from Him angers God. We need to understand that when we sin, He’s not laughing.

October 3; Hometown

John 4:27-46; Mark 1:14-15, 21-45; Matthew 4:12-17, 8:1-4, 14-17; Luke 4:14-15, 30-44, 5:12-16

Many of us Baby-Boomers grew up going to church, Sunday School, Bible Schools, and often Wednesday night prayer meetings and youth groups. We were raised with at least a knowledge of God in a country that honored God in many ways. Even the shops were closed on Sundays.

For many of us, our association with all things Christian became more than church attendance. We made it personal when we repented of our sin, and invited Jesus into our hearts and lives.

Fast forward fifty years. Things have changed, haven’t they?

We didn’t give our children the same Biblical foundation. We encouraged them to find truth for themselves. We sacrificed Sunday worship for baseball and soccer games. We stopped meeting on Sunday nights and Wednesday evenings. We chipped away at the foundation that our own lives had been built on. Now our children are raising our grandchildren with no foundation at all.

I know that is a vast generalization. I hope you who are reading this are not described by it. But when I look at our country and our world, I think too many people are.

I got to thinking about this today as I read about Jesus’ ministry in His hometown. Scripture tells us He couldn’t do a lot of great things there among the people closest to Him, ¬†people who had watched Him grow up.

Jesus reminded them that in Elijah’s day there were a lot of starving widows in Israel, but God had to go to Sidon to find a woman of faith. There were plenty of lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha. But it was Naaman the Syrian who had the faith to be healed.

I am reminded it’s not exposure to Jesus, not church attendance, or familiarity with creation, or a belief in a higher power that saves. Living in a house where believers live does not save. You can know everything there is to know about Jesus. But that knowledge won’t save you.

Please don’t assume your kids and grandkids will be saved because of your faith. They, like us, will have to decide to accept grace for themselves. Don’t assume your children know Jesus just because they know about Him. They will have to establish that relationship with the Savior themselves.

Our children can be living in Jesus’ hometown, so to speak, and never put their faith in Him. And God cannot do great things in their lives if that’s the case.

Are we giving our children and grandchildren a chance to build their faith on the Truth of Scripture the sure foundation of Jesus, the Holiness of God, and the only way to the Father? Or are we ok with them watching Christianity from the cheap seats?

People in Jesus day could say, “Yeah. I’m from Jesus’ home town. I grew up with Him.” In our day we can say, “Yeah. My Mom knows Jesus. I grew up in church.”

It’s just not enough.

September 26; It’s Sin

Nehemiah 13; Joel 1-2

Sometimes when we read God’s Word we tend to think, “this account was written to people long ago,” or “this one is about things in the future,” and we neglect to realize God is able to speak to us concerning our lives in 2019 through every word He inspired men to write in Scripture.

I have to confess I was reading Joel this morning trying to put the prophet’s words into either the past category, or the future category. It was a bit frustrating. Now, I’m not saying Joel wasn’t speaking about historical events, or events that had not yet happened when the prophet allowed God to use his pen to write His words. But my prayer every day is that God would speak to me, too, through His Word about my walk with Him. And He always answers that prayer.

So I started to read it again, and in verse 2 God seemed to ask me, “Has anything like this happened to you?”

“Like what?” I thought. “Locusts?” God prompted me to think again.

Verse 4 stood out as a picture of devastation. One bad thing happened, then another, and another. Has anything like that ever happened to me? Have I felt at a loss with nowhere to turn, crushed by life’s hardships?

Yes. Who hasn’t at one time or another? “Then read on,” God seemed to say. “Wake up and weep, you sinner. Sin has invaded your life.”

“Now wait a minute,” I argued. “I’ve repented of sin. You promised to forgive me. I am wearing Jesus’ righteousness. What sin are you talking about?”

As I continued to read I saw that sin has invaded God’s creation. At prayer meeting last night, someone prayed that God would shatter the teeth of Satan, and here in verse 6 God reenforces that idea by saying the enemy, sin, has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. It is sin that has destroyed what God created as good. It is sin that brings the heartache and loss. Sometimes we experience the consequences for our own sin, but sometimes we are hurt as a result of living in a fallen, sinful world. It’s my sin, your sin, the sins of the world.

God seems to be saying, “Wake up! Call sin sin. Identify the enemy. Don’t pretend it isn’t there.”

“So,” I think, “Social reform isn’t the answer? Tolerance isn’t going to bring peace?”

“Exactly,” He seemed to say. “Sin has taken the joy of mankind.”

“So, what is the answer, Lord? Where do we find that joy again?”

I read words like mourn, grieve, despair, wail. And I ask myself if I am truly broken over sin in the world, and in my own life. Am I truly grieving the state of hearts that are dried up, withered, ruined because of sin?

Then in verse 13 God says, “Come.” He asks us to fast and pray, go to church and cry out to God. To turn to Him to come and heal our land, which is really the lives of people in our families, and communities, and the world.

“Heal our parched and worthless lives God, when we turn to You according to Your Word,” I pray. “To you, O Lord, I call, for sin has devoured our hearts, sin has burned up all the good You created. We, Your creation, pant for you. You alone are the answer.”

It’s not about luck, or Karma, or positive thinking, or tolerance. It’s sin that is the problem, and the repenting of sin that is the answer. It is sin that causes all the bad, and only through the blood of Jesus can there be any hope of anything good.

We have got to stop playing around with sin. It is the enemy. It is the cause of all the bad that happens in this world. And God, through Jesus, has destroyed sin’s hold over us. We just need to turn to Him according to His Word.

So today, God has brought some personal sins to mind, and I have repented. I want my heart to be fed and nourished by the living water that is Jesus. And God has challenged me to stand up for what I know is true according to His Word. I don’t want to take lightly the very thing that is destroying the people I love and the world God created.

It’s not God that is causing bad things to happen. It’s sin. It’s not God that is to blame for hardship and loss. It’s sin. My sin. And yours. What are we going to do about that?

 

September 24; Keep It Going

Nehemiah 9:38-11:36

The people we read about in the book of Nehemiah weren’t satisfied with building the wall, then putting their feet up and relaxing. What we read in these chapters is their determination to serve the Lord after the job of repairing the wall was complete.

And once again, we see many people chipping in and contributing to the work. They even organized a schedule for people to provide the wood needed for the burnt sacrifices. No detail was too small. They had worked on their individual sections of the wall until it was complete. Now they were going to take on individual responsibilities to keep God’s work going.

Yes, Church. That’s a picture of us, or it should be. Are you doing your part, or are you allowing a faithful few to pull the weight of ministry in your fellowship? You and I are needed to further the Gospel through the body of believers with whom we worship. God has commanded us to go into our communities to tell people about Jesus, and to make disciples. Churches have been doing that work for 2,000 years. Will we keep it going?

September 23; The Point of the Matter

Psalms 146-147; Nehemiah 7:73-9:37

Is God interested in you? Does He give a thought to the tiny details of your day, or consider those things that lay heavy on your heart? The writer of Psalm 146 tells us to praise the Lord, to put our trust in Him, that the Creator God blesses those whose hope is in Him alone.

Then the psalmist says this about God: He upholds the cause of the oppressed, feeds the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over aliens, and sustains orphans and widows. The psalmist assures us the Lord loves the righteous, and He is always faithful.

Let’s not hold God to being a God of material blessings only. We can look at the list above and argue that there are starving people and blind people in the world. There are prisoners and destitute orphans, so either the psalmist didn’t know what he was saying, or God is a liar.

Well, let me make this perfectly clear. The psalmist wrote the words God breathed through him, and God CANNOT lie.

I’m reminded of the account of Jesus’ ministry as recorded in Mark 2, when a paralyzed man’s friends went to the extreme to bring him to Jesus who had been healing people’s physical ailments all day. The friends cut a hole in the roof above Jesus, and lowered the man right down in front of Him. Jesus took one look at the paralytic and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

What? They expected the guy to get up and walk. No one said anything about sins.

Jesus used this situation to make an important point. The physical healing was a bi-product of His real purpose. He never came to earth to give sight to blind eyes, make broken bodies whole, or cure cancer. The point of the matter is Jesus came to save sinners. He came to forgive sin.

I go back to the psalm I read today and see an important word I almost overlooked. God loves the righteous. Not just nice people, not people who do good things and don’t break laws. We are righteous who wear Jesus’ righteousness.

God loves people who accept what Jesus’ blood bought us – forgiveness of our sin. Then and only then, our eyes are open, we are free and fed, no longer aliens and strangers. We are His children, loved, protected from Satan, with the assurance of eternity with Him. We place our trust in Him, our hope in Him alone.

Then yes, God cares about the tiniest detail in the lives of His children. He knows our thoughts, our struggles, our fears. And because we have heard Him say, “Your sins are forgiven,” we can get up and walk, trusting Him to do all things well.

And He does.

September 22; Out Of The Depths

Psalms 121, 122, 128, 130, 134-136

What does it mean to cry “out of the depths?” How low does one have to go in order to be considered being in the depths? The author of psalm 130 has come face to face with his past sins, and they seem to have him feeling pretty low. Now, looking at a Holy God, he realizes he has no hope.

I believe having no hope is what is meant by crying out of the depths. There is nothing left when there is no hope, only despair.

Yet the psalmist cries out to God, “Hear me. Be merciful to me.” He recognizes that what he needs, what he longs for is God’s forgiveness for his sins.

So the psalmist waits. He waits patiently, and puts his hope not in himself, not in good deeds or positive thoughts, but in the Lord. He knows that God’s love is unfailing, that God’s redemption is full. And he knows God will redeem Him.

I pray all of us will consider our past sins and know what the psalmist knew – that before we accepted God’s forgiveness we had no hope. I pray that if you have never asked God to forgive your sins, you will consider those sins and realize you have no hope, either. But know this: God loves to forgive our cries from the depths.

I know that, because He forgave mine.