Category Archives: Sin

Is God the Enemy? (Lamentations 1:1-3:36)

What had been beautiful and blessed now stood in ruins. The people who had been protected by God were now in captivity. Those who had been respected were suddenly targets of scorn. How did things get so bad for the Old Testament Israelites? Listen to what the writer of Lamentations says:

The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading. (2:14)

In other words, the people had exchanged the Truth for a theology that didn’t require them to repent of sin. And they liked it.

But the consequences for disobedience were without mercy. In fact, the writer says this sad statement: “The Lord is like an enemy…” (2:5) Then he goes on to say things like God had laid waste His dwelling, destroyed His place of meeting, rejected His altar and abandoned His sanctuary. God had withdrawn from Israel.

It’s a sobering thought to think God is like an enemy when He is punishing sin. This patient, loving God who pursues each of us, woos us, throws out one sign after another to reveal Himself as the One True God, has a limit to His mercy. And His final judgment without mercy is worse than any of us can imagine.

The thing is, God wrote down all His requirements so that there would be no question about what is expected of us. Then He spelled out what His anger and judgment looks like so no one could say they didn’t know. But He also tells us in His Word that He Himself provided the way for us sinful people to go to Him, receive His mercy and forgiveness, and live not as an enemy, but as a beloved child now and forever.

If God is the enemy it is only because we have embraced our own “truth,” refused to deal with sin according to Scripture. We’ve listened to false prophets who tell us a relationship with God means health and wealth, that worship of God should be an experience, that Jesus isn’t God, that there are many ways to approach God, that a loving God doesn’t send anyone to hell.

And if God is the enemy, we are in serious trouble, my friend.

Check Your Weapon (Jeremiah 46-48)

Do you get tired of this spiritual warfare you are fighting? You face the enemy, you resist temptation, flee from sin, and God gives you a victory. But you turn around, and there’s Satan again at the door with a new arsenal ready to lead yet another attack using another temptation, then another, and another.

God, through Jeremiah, is talking about judgment on the nations that rejected Him. The truth is, anyone who rejects God faces judgment. And every time we sin, we are rejecting God.

That’s why I don’t read about “them” in Scripture. What was true in Jeremiah’s time is still true today. Like this:

Ah, sword of the Lord,” you cry, “how long till you rest? Return to your scabbard; cease and be still.” But how can it rest when the Lord has commanded it, when he has ordered it to attack Ashkelon and the seacoast?” (47:6-7)

If you aren’t weary of the spiritual warfare, you aren’t fighting the spiritual enemy. How can you think about resting when God has commanded it? Hear what He has to say about that:

A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s business! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed! (48:10)

How clean is your sword? Is it stained with Satan’s blood because you have stood up for Truth, you’ve resisted temptation, you’ve introduced someone to the Savior? Do you go to bed at night spent, exhausted from being a soldier in God’s army, doing this and that, going here and there, speaking to this person and that person, tending to the needs of others God brings to mind, studying God’s Word, growing, maturing, being stretched and pulled as He transforms you into someone who isn’t afraid to strike a blow in the heart of Satan?

Or are you lax in doing God’s work? Have you put away your sword and are content to leave it there shiny and new? I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where God retires his soldiers. I don’t see an age limit to picking up your sword and using it in the fight for the kingdom of God. I don’t see any army or any soldier in Scripture who went home after winning one battle. This is war!

Check your weapon. I pray it is nicked, and stained, and ready for another battle. I’m checking mine.

The Promise of Obedience (Jeremiah 41-45)

I confess that I can wake up in the morning and, before I get out of bed pray, “I give you this day, Lord. Anything you want me to do I will do it! I’m ready.”

But then when God lays on my heart the name of a person I need to call, I know I should, but I don’t. God nudges me to change the channel from an ungodly TV show, but I don’t. He prompts me to speak to someone about sin, but I talk myself out of it. I overeat, I gossip, I think bad thoughts, I get jealous. I don’t love like Jesus loves.

I am like the Jews who told Jeremiah that they’d do anything God told them to do. But when Jeremiah told them what God wanted them to do they said, “anything but that.” They flat out disobeyed God, and they paid the consequences.

I am reminded that God doesn’t want me to promise to obey Him. We demands that I obey Him. He doesn’t want me to say the words I think He wants to hear, He wants me do the things He asks me to do. God is not impressed with my promises, or my good intentions. He tells me to be holy, to love my neighbor, to go and make disciples, to flee temptation, and be set apart.

He will accept nothing less. And neither should I.

Be Still For A Minute (Habakkuk)

Habakkuk couldn’t believe God was going to use the wicked Babylonians to punish Israel for rejecting God. The prophet prayed that God would send a revival, that God would spare the Jews from impending doom.

But God seemed to be quiet. Habakkuk had some questions and wanted to know the answers. You can almost hear the frustration in his voice.

So when God finally answered, He started out by saying, “Pay attention, Habakkuk. Write this down, then share what I tell you with everyone.” God proceeded to remind Habakkuk of the sin in Israel: Pride. Greed. Thievery. Victims and Oppressors. Cheats. Dishonesty. Violence. Drunkenness. Murder. Idolatry.

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (2:20) A Holy God cannot tolerate sin of any kind, and sin was running rampant in Israel. You want answers? Then you’ve got to be still for just a minute and listen.

Habakkuk had to admit that whatever came, Israel deserved. But he also reminded God of His mercy in the past, and believing God continues to be merciful, Habakkuk said this:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (3:18)

Folks, we deserve the unrest in this country. Can you say we are not guilty of every one of those sins God pinpointed when he spoke with Habakkuk? I’m not talking about the USA as a whole. I’m talking about Christians in the USA. Do you see yourself in any of those sins? One is too many. Are there people you know who call themselves Christians, yet hold on to sin in their lives? That’s the problem.

Once again I am convinced God is calling us to repentance. Not a big evangelistic movement where unsaved people come to know Him by the thousands. I don’t believe God “sends” revival. I think revival comes when individuals confess their sin and repent, when lives are changed and we walk with God. I believe God is calling Christians to confess our sins, to get right with Him, to stop blending in with the world and start to stand apart, to call sin sin and demand purity in each other.

We serve a Holy God. And if we are not holy, He will not bless. I know from Scripture that if we humble ourselves, He will hear and heal our land. If the Church (that’s you and me) gets right with God, this unrest will cease. There will be unsaved people coming to know Jesus, perhaps by the thousands.

But maybe it’s time we are still for a moment, that we have that private conversation with God, that we go to Him on His terms, and reignite a personal relationship with Him. There are so many things vying for our attention these days, maybe it’s time we turn off the TV and open our Bibles and quietly allow God to reveal Himself again.

I pray each of us will be still, and ask God to reveal sin in our lives so that we can repent. I pray each of us will quiet our hearts, and know God in Truth. My prayer is that we all will take responsibility for each other. How can we convince a non-believer they have to confess their sins if we we don’t demand the same of our Christian brothers and sisters?

I think this country is heading for disaster. You and I, Christian, are the only ones standing in the gap. What are you going to do about it?

I Will Be Found By You (Jeremiah 29)

The Israelites were in captivity. God was punishing them for years of all kinds of disobedience, including idol worship. They were prisoners, but God told them He would free them in seventy years…

For I know the plans I have for you,declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (verse 11)

God is talking to His children. This promise was not for just anybody. And, because I believe all Scripture is given for us here in 2020, this promise is not for people who don’t know God through His Son today. If you are a Jesus-follower, no matter how bad your circumstances seem, God has a plan for you that includes hope and a future. You may have to go through a period of bondage. Israel was captive in Babylon for seventy years. But be assured, God has a plan to get you through to the other side in amazing fashion.

Then listen to verse 12-14a:

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…

Again, He is talking to His wayward children in Babylon. But there are many verses in the Bible that help me understand the same is true for us. Verses like:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

God is telling us that whoever believes in Jesus is saved, free, with a hope and a future. And He is telling us that if we seek Him, He will not hide from us. He will be found if we go to Him through the cross of Jesus.

I don’t know if your circumstances have you feeling like you are alone and in bondage, drowning and helpless. If you are His child, take heart, dear one. He will not forsake you. Go to Him. Trust Him. There you will find hope.

You might not have a relationship with Jesus today. But I know that if you humble yourself, go to God and ask Him to forgive your sins, if you repent and accept what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross and rose again from the grave, you will find God in a way you can’t imagine.

I believe He is telling you today that if you seek Him, “I will be found by you.”

He’s Got His Reasons (Jeremiah 10-14)

Jeremiah was fed up. He was following God, warning the Jews about consequences for sin, doing what God asked him to do to show the Jews they needed to repent, but they ignored him. Instead of repentance, sin ran rampant, and Jeremiah had had enough.

“Drop them off like sheep to be butchered,” he prayed. “Set them apart for the day of slaughter. Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name.” (12:3; 10:25)

I mean, he’s got a point. People who reject God, those who flaunt their sinfulness and persecute we who follow Jesus ought to be wiped out, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Right? “Get ’em, God! They deserve it.”

I’m reminded of James and John who wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who had disrespected Jesus. Jesus’ answer? “Move on, boys. Let’s leave these folks alone.”

Really? Jesus let them get away with treating him so badly?

Yes.

Yes He did.

And here’s why: After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Apostle Philip went to Samaria and shared the Gospel. Many Samaritans were saved as a result. Most likely some of those James and John had wanted to incinerate came to know Jesus as their Messiah!

I guess the lesson here is, let’s go about our day doing what Jesus told us to do. Let’s love our neighbors, do good to those who mistreat us, pray for our enemies. Let’s go and make disciples, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Then let’s let judgment up to God. He’s got His reasons.

 

Holding On To Dross (Jeremiah 4-6)

Dross: foreign matter, dregs, or mineral waste, in particular scum formed on the surface of molten metal. Also used in regard to something worthless; rubbish, i.e: “there are bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross.”

My concern for the Church in America grows every day. Jeremiah, while talking about the Jews of his day, said that God was pruning them to get rid of sin, performing surgery to cut out sin, and putting them in the refiners fire in order for them to eliminate sin and become pure, all with the intention of making it possible for the Jews to return to God.

Jeremiah says to God: You struck them but they felt no pain; you crushed them but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. (5:3)

The prophet found that to be true not only in lay people, in the regular folk who might not have had the opportunity for higher education concerning God’s Law, but he found the same to be true in church leaders. They all knew better, but they chose to ignore God’s correction and His plea for their return.

Jeremiah used the example of refining fire burning away dross from metal to purify the metal, leaving something precious and valuable. Jeremiah said if the people are the ore, they are clinging to the dross while rejecting the silver. They are holding on to the worthless and ignoring the prize.

Are we Christians doing the same thing here in 2020? Are we rejecting the precious and valuable Gospel for a worthless theology so compromised it has no value? Have we clung to tolerance, and acceptance, and eliminated anything that could offend, instead of holding to the Truth of God?

It happened in Jeremiah’s day. What makes us think it can’t happen here and now? If we think we are immune, I’m afraid we’ve already grabbed hold of the dross.

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.