Category Archives: Sin

July 6; It Won’t Happen To Me

July 6: Isaiah 19-21

As I look at Isaiah’s prophecy – not only  through the lens of a microscope concerning peoples and nations thousands of years ago, but as the living Word of God relevant in 2019 – I recognize me. God lovingly has inspired men to write His thoughts, His demands, His heart down on paper so that there can be no excuse. I have been warned.

God is no fool. His will will be done. If I obey He will bless. If I don’t, He will demand an account. There is no middle ground.

“But it can’t happen to me,” I say. And I would be wrong.

I wish our country – our world – would figure that out, too. The warning God gave to the nations through Isaiah can still be applied today. If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat that sordid history ourselves. If we don’t read the Bible, know the history of the Jews, and our own history as a nation, we set ourselves up for repeating the mistakes, and suffering the consequences our ancestors experienced.

I guess I’m thinking about that this morning as I read God’s Word in light of recent events in our country. Do you know our history enough to know that Kaepernick is wrong about the Betsy Ross flag, that he has single handedly made a fool of an entire shoe company, and the 2020 presidential hopefuls of an entire political party? And many in our nation are cheering them on.

I am flabbergasted. It’s insane.

But God has been warning us for centuries. There are liars out there, He tells us. There are manipulators, false gods, nice people who are working for the devil and would lure you away from the truth with smiles on their faces. And God is telling us it’s our responsibility to recognize them.

“Look at Me,” God says. “Know Me. Listen to My voice. Obey Me.”

We might wonder how the nations in Biblical times could be so gullible, how they could disobey God so blatantly when they could see His heavy hand on His enemies.

“But it won’t happen to us,” they said. And they were wrong.

We in the USA might think we are untouchable, too. I believe God is saying we would be very wrong to think that. Read His Word, and let that sink in.

July 5; The Answer

2 Chronicles 29:1-31:1; Psalms 66-67

I believe that, as the Jews were worshiping pretend gods, deep inside they knew something was not quite right. Something was missing. Then, when Hezekiah cleaned house, restored the temple, reinstated the Passover and worship of God, the Jews could hardly contain their joy.

They came from all around, traveled many difficult miles to get to Jerusalem, to go to where God was.

Have you ever been really, really thirsty? Your tongue probably felt like it was made of cotton balls, you might have begun to see stars. When you took your first sip of water – what was it like? Could you feel the moisture slide down your throat? Were you aware of every drop as it worked its way through your body, refreshing and energizing you down to  your fingers and toes? With each swallow you began to return to your former state of health.

I think that was kind of what the Jews must have experienced as they returned to God.

I look at our present day world full of restless people. I see them worshiping all kinds of pretend gods: science, self, religion, money, relationship, excitement, whatever. And I know the reason they are restless is because deep down they know they are missing something. They are dying of thirst.

Using my analogy, I see these restless people trying to satisfy their thirst by eating potato chips, or drinking toilet water, or convincing themselves they aren’t really dying of thirst.

They make new idols, thinking that’s the answer. Or they turn their attention within themselves believing they’ll find what they need. They might tell themselves they’ve found what they were missing, but deep down inside they keep looking. The restlessness continues.

Friend, I know the answer to the world’s problem. I know it’s exactly the same answer we read about in the lives of the Jews under Hezekiah. It’s what Jesus called, “Living Water.” It’s Jesus Himself.

You might disagree. But that doesn’t change what is true. You might choose to continue to try to find fulfillment making pretend idols, and trying to quench your thirst with pebbles. But I am here to tell you, the answers you are looking for are written to you in love from God Himself. It’s in the pages of the Bible.

I know that if you read it, if you accept who God says He is, and allow Jesus to change you, you will find the answers you were looking for all along.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that (His) ways may be known on earth, (His) salvation among all the nations. (Psalm 67:1)

 

July 4; Evil Didn’t Have To Be A Thing

Isaiah 13-16

We read of Satan’s fall from grace. This angel, a created being with the ability to think and choose, decided he wanted to be his own god. That, not what happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is the first recorded sin.

God didn’t create Satan evil. In fact, this angel we know as the devil was once known as the morning star, son of the dawn. But he took what God had given him, and twisted it until it died, and he was thrown out of heaven never to return.

Some people ask why a loving God would place evil in the world, why He would create sin. The answer is: He didn’t.

Ezekiel 28 seems to indicate that Satan made his decision to sin after the world was created. It would appear Satan enjoyed the garden as a perfect creation of God – until “iniquity was found” in him. Was Satan jealous of the relationship God had with Adam and Eve, and wanted them to worship him, too? (thoughts taken from “When Did Satan Fall From Heaven?” by Eric Hovind, creation today.com)

God didn’t create evil. He created choice. And with the ability to choose Him, we have the ability to choose to reject Him. We have the ability to choose to follow the Truth, and we have the ability to choose to follow our own twisted interpretation of the Truth. That’s where evil comes from. From me. And you, when we choose to deviate from the Truth of the Creator God.

When God created us with choices, He knew some would choose against Him. He knew there had to be consequences for that choice, serious consequences. And before day one of Creation, He knew He would do everything possible to help people choose Him, even as far as going to the cross in a human body to pay the ultimate price for sin Himself so we wouldn’t have to.

So no, evil didn’t have to be a thing. It still doesn’t. But it will continue as long as we who have the ability to choose between right and wrong, between evil and good, continue to choose sin.

You are going to make choices today. Are you going to make evil a thing?

 

July 3; God and gods

2 Kings 17:3-41, 16:19-26, 18:1-2; Isaiah 5:1-30; 2 Chronicles 28:26-27, 29:1; I Chronicles 4:34-43

The Assyrians had captured the Jews and hauled them off as slaves. Now the king wanted to repopulate the land with people from neighboring nations. These people, of course, came with their portable little gods in tow.

But the king also made sure the new inhabitants were taught about the “god of the land,” and assigned a priest to tell the people how to worship God.

I think the people probably tried to understand about the God of the Jews. But 2 Kings 17 tells us each national group made its own gods. Later in chapter 17 it says this:

They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

Let’s not let that describe us. Oh, I’d be surprised if many of you bow down every day to a shiny little statue sitting on your bedside table. I doubt you sacrifice a child in the fire Sunday morning before you head off to church. But God is asking, what or who is it you and I truly worship?

A relationship? A career? A bank account or fame? Do we spend more time manicuring our lawns than we do serving God? Does our time in God’s Word compare with our screen-time? Are we trying to worship God and something else at the same time?

We need to consider our worship. It is an eternal question each of us must answer. But here’s the other thing that stood out to me this morning.

Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

I think we need to consider that. We love our children. We adore our grandchildren. And they are taking their cues from us. Ask yourself this: Is my idol of self, or money, or health, or anything else worth my eternal soul, and the eternal souls of those precious people in my life?

Are we going to serve God or gods? Do we want our children worshiping gods… or God?

 

July 2; Shape Up

Hosea 10-14

History tells us Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, who captured the Jews and made them slaves. The Bible tells us that before that happened, God warned them of that very thing, and gave them a chance to repent, to avoid the devastation and hardship their sins had bought them. To shape up.

“What sins?” you might ask. Warren Wiersbe (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books, 1991; page 576) breaks it down for us. Here is what Warren (and I) have to share:

  1. Ingratitude (11:1-4). They were God’s people, chosen to reveal to the world a Holy God who has the power to bless beyond imagination. God had rescued them, given them victories, provided them with land flowing with milk and honey. How did they repay God for all these blessings? They turned their backs on him and chose to worship idols. That’s gratitude for you.
  2. Hardness of heart (11:5-11). They became so involved in their worship of pretend gods, they gave no attention to God when He warned them, when He disciplined them, even when He turned His back on them. And with each rejection, their hearts became harder and harder, ignoring Him became easier and easier.
  3. Deceitfulness (11:12-12:6). Hosea used Jacob as an example. I’m sure none of the Jews appreciated being compared to the scheming deceiver Jacob, but Hosea said they were no different. However, Jacob changed when he had an encounter with God. That’s what God wanted for the Jewish people Hosea was speaking to, too.
  4. Boasting (12:7-14) “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished. I certainly don’t need some spirit in the sky telling me what to do. I’m my own person, writing my own story.” Hosea is warning them to get ready to see exactly what their efforts will bring. And it won’t be pretty.

Let’s not just read this Scripture as God’s interaction with a group of people thousands of years ago. Let’s use it to examine our own hearts, to check our own levels of gratitude, our own hearts’ condition, our honesty before a Holy God, and our submission to Him.

God was warning the Jews that if they didn’t shape up, things were going to get really bad for them. I believe the same thing is true today.

July 1; Reaping and Sowing

Hosea 5:8-9:17; 2 Kings 16:10-18, 15:30-31, 7:1-2; 2 Chronicles 28:22-25

God doesn’t mess around with disobedience. And He doesn’t stay where He is not honored. Hosea 5:15 says:

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.

That pretty much sums up the history of man. And the history of me.

The Jews entertained worship of pretend gods. Idolatry was often tolerated, and sometimes became the nation’s religion. They knew better. They knew God (or should have). Their ancestors had walked with God. They knew God blesses obedience, and punishes disobedience. Certainly they had heard the stories.

Sometimes the Jews chose disobedience anyway. That disobedience was always met with disaster of one kind or another. But I think the most devastating consequence for disobedience was when God removed Himself from their presence, when He left them to their own devices.

Famines were bad. Plagues were awful. War was brutal. But life without God has to be the worse.

What we see in almost every book of the Bible is people sinning, people going their own way, and God disciplining their disobedience. Sometimes that discipline involved God turning His back on them; but He always did that with one purpose: for them to seek Him in their misery, in order to bring them back to Himself.

The Bible also reveals a loving, faithful God who forgives His children every time they (we) repent.

Galatians 5:7-8 comes to mind:

Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

I’ve found all of that true in my own life. I know what it’s like to be totally void of His Presence when I’ve held on to sin, when I reap the fruit of sin. I could put on a Christian front, but my fellowship with God was severed. That, my friend, is the definition of lonely.

I also now what it’s like to fall on my knees and beg God for forgiveness, to feel His Presence one again when I am washed by the blood of Jesus. I know what it’s like to reap the fruit of the Spirit.

So, how does your garden grow? What are you reaping? You will reap what you sow.

June 30; Hear It

Isaiah 7:1-10:4, 17:1-14

We’ve already established that Ahaz was an evil king. Yet in the chapters we read today, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to go to Ahaz and give him a word of encouragement. And, to prove God was true to His word, Isaiah told Ahaz he could ask for a sign – any sign – and God would do it.

Ahaz replied, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Sounds rather pious, doesn’t it? Well, neither Isaiah nor God were impressed.

The truth is, God is always giving signs to prove His existence, His power, His Son. Some people flat out say, like Ahaz, “I don’t want to hear it.” Period.

I see this attitude in tons of literature written, and the multitude of “experts” on TV who attempt to disprove God, or to get around God, or to make ourselves God. I see it in the lives of people who live like there is no God. Yet God continues to reveal Himself day after day after day.

I bet the sun rose where you are this morning. I bet your heart is beating, that your lungs are filled with oxygen. I bet the tide came in sometime today, went out, and will come in again just like it did yesterday. And I bet, if you let yourself, every time you held a newborn baby, you recognized the amazing work of God with awe and wonder.

Did you know it was to Ahaz that God inspired Isaiah to pen the famous prophesy about the coming of Jesus?

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel… For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…

That was written about 500 years before Jesus’ birth. That and so many other prophesies written and fulfilled concerning the Messiah prove without a doubt God is who He says He is, and that Jesus is the Son. For those of us who know Him, we read these prophesies and our hearts soar, our love for Him overflows.

Please don’t be one who refuses to accept the signs, or who rejects His word. My prayer for all of us today is that we will not only WANT to hear it, we will look for it in nature, in the face of a loved one, in the peace that comes from His presence, and the overwhelming joy of sins forgiven through Jesus’ blood.

Oh, He’s out there. He’s throwing out sign after sign to get our attention. Don’t ignore it.

Hear it. Hear Him.