Category Archives: The Gospel

To Be Like Jesus

1 Kings 2

In our love-crazed, tolerant, accepting, empathic world of 2022, it’s hard to read about Solomon’s handling of law breakers. His execution of his brother Adonijah for simply wanting to get married, and the executions of Joab and Shimei, may seem unnecessarily harsh.

But Solomon, as the hands of God, pronounced judgment on those who defied God. Adonijah’s request for a wife came from a rebellious heart. His rebellion led to his death sentence. Joab was an unrepentant murderer, and Shimei had sinned against God’s anointed, King David, then defied King Solomon’s grace. None of them were innocent.

There’s a lesson here. When it comes to sin, God may be patient, but that doesn’t mean He turns a blind eye to sin. I believe God views sin much more seriously than any of us realize. And I think that’s a problem.

Of course, God doesn’t zap us the first time we sin. On the contrary, when we sin we feel remorse, guilt. We come under the lovingly convicting hand of God who wants us to repent of sin and accept His forgiveness. He doesn’t execute the guilty immediately.

In fact, God executed His own Son so the guilty can go free and never suffer the death penalty our sin deserves.

There are certain buzz-words going around these days, even proclaimed by some preachers and Bible teachers, and used by Satan to make Christians feel guilty for taking a stand against sin in any form. Those buzz-words are: Empathy. Tolerance. Love. Acceptance.

“If only we would put ourselves in one another’s shoes.” “If only we would be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and actions.” “If only we would love everybody.” “If only we would just accept all people as equals before God.”

Sounds Christian. But is it?

As I was preparing for this week’s Sunday School lesson, I read something that has stuck with me. So often today we are told to use Jesus as our example of love, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. And I agree.

But too many people are twisting Jesus’s life and ministry on Earth to be something it was not. The fact is, Jesus did NOT accept everyone. He came down hard on some. And, although He IS love, that love sent Him to the cross because of the serious consequences of sin. It didn’t simply erase sin. Jesus’ love paid a high price for the forgiveness of sin available for anyone who will receive it.

So this week I read someone who said something like: I want to be as tolerant of sin as Jesus was – and He never tolerated sin.

Chew on that for a minute.

If Jesus is our example, we will love each other enough to be honest about sin, and the serious consequences of sin. If Jesus is our example we will not tolerate sin, but rather point the sinner to the Savior, to their only hope.

Solomon’s death sentence for the three men I read about this morning may seem harsh. But I’m telling you it is not as harsh as the sentence God imparted on them after they died.

To be like Jesus is to take sin and the consequences for sin very, very seriously.

Quitting Is Not An Option

Psalm 51; 78

I want to quit. I haven’t felt like I have anything worthwhile to post on my blog these days. I have failed to share Jesus when I’ve had the opportunity. I recognize the fact I’m not doing a good job at my children’s ministry responsibilities. My heart is not in playing the organ at church any more. I’ve sat back and been carried along by popular opinion rather than standing up for what I know is true. I’m a hypocrite.

I guess you could say I’m in a funk. And the lower I go, the easier it is to sin in thought and deed, and the further away from God I am. It’s a downward spiral I’m afraid I don’t have the energy to fight.

And that’s right where I need to be.

I read some psalms this morning and was encouraged to remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past. And He has been faithful! I can look back and recognize the many blessings that have come my way through good times and bad, through open doors and closed doors. I can remember times when He answered my prayers, when He showed up in undeniable ways.

As I re-read what I’ve just written, I am convicted at how often I use the word “I.” I am so focused on me and my failures that it’s no wonder I’m in a funk.

I took a break from writing this just now, and spent some time pouring my heart out to God. The truth is, I love having Him in my life. The truth is, He is patient and gracious and forgiving. The truth is, He delights in me as I submit to Him. I know the truth, so why am I falling for Satan’s lies?

So I confessed my sin, I admitted my helplessness, and asked Him to…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-11)

Here’s what I notice about those verses:

  1. The need to confess my sin and allow God to cleanse me whenever He reveals sin in me. Even my feelings of failure can be a sin if they are not from God, but from Satan who wants to discourage me. And if I am focused on myself, I’m focusing in the wrong direction. That’s a sin that needs confessed.
  2. The importance of a steadfast spirit. God never promised lollypops and roses. Life is hard. I will succeed and I will fail. But quitting is never an option when I am determined to follow my Lord.
  3. God’s presence is available. I don’t have to go it alone. God, in all His power and awesomeness WANTS to walk with me today. The Holy Spirit is my guide and protector. The question is, am I paying attention?
  4. Joy isn’t a result of good times, but rather in the fact that God has saved me through the precious blood of His Son Jesus. It’s a joy the world doesn’t understand because it’s a gift from God Himself.
  5. I need to be willing to let God do His thing in me. I need to be willing to submit to Him, to trust Him, and to get out of His way and let Him be in control.

No, quitting is not an option. And right now I am thanking Him for hearing and answering my prayer. I sit here with a clean heart, knowing He’s forgiven me, and my resolve is to serve Him with everything He gives me. I’m not alone. I am not defeated because God has and will continue to give me the victory for His sake and His glory.

Please understand, this is not about the power of positive thinking. This is all about the power of God in me as I submit to Him and allow Him to be everything I need in every situation. There is a huge difference.

Living With The Presence of God

Psalm 36:5-9

We were talking about Hell last week in Sunday School as we studied Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The horror of an existence without God is truly frightening, Our minds can’t even imagine the excruciating pain that will be.

People who reject God in this life, who fashion a god of their liking, or who convince themselves there is no God have no idea what their choice is going to cost them. Some think they’ll be able to handle whatever God throws their way. Scripture tells us they won’t have a choice about that. They will have to handle it forever. But it will be far worse than anything they’ve experienced in this life. Far worse.

Right now all people, all of creation, exist in the Presence of God. Verse 6 of Psalm 36 says God cares for people and animals alike. Verse 7 says all humanity finds shelter in the shadow of His wings, that God feeds us all, gives us all drink, life, and light.

Did you wake up this morning, shower, eat breakfast, and enjoy a cup of coffee? That was God. Did you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the birds sing, smell newly cut grass? That was God. Did you hug your child, kiss your wife, say hello to your neighbor? You were able to do all of those things because God is in the world.

Have you ever cut yourself, broken a bone, had a headache, or survived a serious medical condition? You healed because you live in a world where God exists. Have you gone through loss, experienced difficult circumstances, felt discouraged and alone before things worked out for you? If you can look back and say you’d never want to go through those tough times ever again, hear me…

You got through those things because God is present in this life, whether you acknowledge Him or not. You are living on the coattails of His Presence.

Take it all away. All of it. No light, no taste or smell, no touch or laughter. No birds or breeze or healing, no love, and no hope of ever experiencing any of it ever again. Total isolation, total darkness, and total agony, all because you decided you didn’t need God while you had Him.

C. S. Lewis said that there are two kinds of people. Those who, in this life say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom, when this life is over and they face the judgement, God will say, “Thy will be done.”

If you haven’t repented of your sin and accepted what Jesus died to give you: forgiveness and eternal life, please do it. Please don’t face eternity without God. Nothing is more important than your submission to God while you have the chance, while you are still living in His Presence on earth.

Calling All Godly People

Psalm 12

I read this psalm and think, “I get it, David. We are facing the same thing in 2022.”

It’s not just our neighbors who lie. It’s governments, the media, preachers, parents, teachers… the list goes on. They say:

We will lie to our hearts content. Our lips are our own, who can stop us?”

Right now I wonder if ANYONE can stop them. Like David, I too wonder if the godly are vanishing from the earth. The godly are the only hope for this world.

I could get on my soapbox. But instead I’m going to pray that those of you reading this post will recognize the lies you are being fed every day. Whether it’s your preacher saying worshiping God should be fun and make you feel good, or someone saying tolerance is love, or truth is relative, or the government promising illegals free stuff and a good life, or anyone saying a person can choose their sex, or that abortion is not murder, or the media isn’t biased, or global warning is a result of poor stewardship of the earth…

Oh man, I just stepped up on my soap box, didn’t I? I won’t go on. Instead I’m pleading with the godly people out there:

Pay attention.

Stand up for the truth according to Scripture.

Don’t accept what the loudest voices are saying. BE the loudest voice.

Once again, I am speaking to godly people, not just “Christians.” People are being told that a Christian is someone who believes certain things about Jesus. That’s a lie.

If you haven’t confessed your sin, repented (which means to turn from sin), if you aren’t growing more holy every day by of the choices you make as a result of your relationship with God through the blood of His Son Jesus – you are not a Christian. Therefore, this post does not apply to you.

Harsh? Yes. But I for one am tired of the lies. The truth hurts. But it is the truth.

If we who KNOW the truth are out there making ourselves heard, if we are living the godly lives we are called to live, if we are leading people to the saving grace of Jesus, there may be hope for this world yet,

even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.

Calling all godly people! It’s up to us.

Follow My Example?

I Chronicles 29

King David gave generously from his own treasures toward the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then he went to the people and challenged them to follow his example.

That spoke to me today. God has give me so much, blessed me way beyond what I deserve. Not financially, necessarily. Although I have enough to be comfortable. But I certainly don’t have the equivalent of tons of gold and silver to throw around.

Yet God is reminding me how truly rich I am.

I have my health, a working brain. I have hands and feet and a voice. I have Jesus! I have the forgiveness of my sin, and the gifts of having the Spirit of God in me: love, joy, peace…

I have God’s own words at my fingertips!

The questions then, are these: Am I using these things generously toward the building of God’s Church? Am I investing in people, introducing unsaved people to their Savior?

And, would I ever in a million years suggest you follow my example?

I’m wondering if I’d want you to put in the same amount of time I put into serving God; if I’d want you to use your talents in the same way I use mine for the glory of God. I wonder if I exercise my faith in a way I’d want you to exercise yours, or am I serving half-heartedly, giving only what I think I can afford, hoping you’ll not notice?

David said, “follow my example.” Can I say that to you?

If not, why not?

David’s prayer in verses 10-19 reminds me that everything I have belongs to God. It all came from God in the first place. I own nothing. I am nothing. But I am a steward of everything He’s given me.

May God, when He examines my heart rejoice when He finds integrity, when He finds me giving away with both hands what He’s given me, so that someone will come to His saving grace.

I pray the same for you.

Proof Enough

Judges 6

Gideon needed proof. But he had proof.

When he realized he had been entertaining the angel of God, I would think that would have been proof enough. But a doubtful Gideon asked for another sign.

Jesus tells us it’s a wicked generation that asks for a sign. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Yet some people think they need the experience of speaking in tongues, or witnessing a miraculous healing, or seeing feathers fall from the rafters in order to believe that God is who He says He is.

Yet these same people often don’t take time to watch the sunrise, or may fail to marvel at the tiny fingers and toes of a newborn. They aren’t blown away at how God heals the scratch on their arms, or at seeing His strength in the wind. A changed life when a sinner repents ought to speak of the existence, will, and working of God in our lives and in this world.

But for some, that’s not enough.

Foolish and wicked.

We tend to look at the sky, at current events, at man’s opinions to find proof that Jesus is coming soon, when God has given us His word that He is coming again. That should be all the proof we need.

Jesus Himself spoke of heaven and hell, of grace and judgment, of holiness and sin. It’s pretty foolish to question Him or doubt what He said is true. Look at His birth, and His life on earth. Look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. All proof that He has the authority to speak for God.

Do you need proof God exists? Read what He says about Himself. Trust that the Bible is true. Obey what it says. Seeking a sign or an experience is self-centered and anti-Christ.

Seek Him. He’s not hiding. He’s given you all the signs you need if you’ll just get out of the way, and pay attention.

He is proof enough.

The Most Important Word in The Bible

Deuteronomy 13

God gave specific instructions to the Jews concerning worship, sacrifices, how to treat one another, caring for the poor, etc. The nuts and bolts of it were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross so today we don’t sacrifice animals on a stone altar, and we don’t kill idolators. But God’s instructions to the Jews speaks volumes to us today.

Deuteronomy 13:18 is the lesson God wants us to understand from His instructions:

The Lord your God will be merciful only IF you listen to His voice and keep all His commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases Him. (emphasis mine)

Gods words in Deuteronomy are still true today, and only through the substitutionary work of Jesus can our sins be forgiven without the physical sacrificing of animals. Without blood, there is still no forgiveness of sin. Jesus shed His own blood as the ultimate, perfect substitute.

What we read in Deuteronomy is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross. He became those sacrifices for us. And therefore, the same principle applies:

God will show mercy IF we obey Him.

We can’t expect God’s blessings unless we do ALL His Word demands. That’s a tall order on our own.

IF I accept Jesus as my Savior I am obeying the Law spelled out in Deuteronomy. And IF I live my life like Jesus spelled out in the New Testament, then and only then can God bless me.

And, oh what blessings!

I think “IF” might be the most important word in the Bible.

Again?

Numbers 20

It’s so frustrating how often Israel whined about going back to Egypt. So often when they got uncomfortable, hungry, dissatisfied they would complain to Moses, which in reality was complaining about God. Their act of rebellion was a sin. Yet time and time again, they revisited that same sin.

Before starting my time in God’s Word this morning I had to confess a sin I’ve committed over and over. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked God to forgive me for the same thing. I have victory for a while, then eventually I’m right back to doing the thing I said I wouldn’t do.

Didn’t Paul address that in Romans 7? I, like Paul, delight in God’s Law. But there is another law in me making me a prisoner. How can I ever be free of it?

Romans 7:25. Jesus! Thanks be to God.

So today I confessed my sin once again, and I know God has forgiven me once again. I’ve been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Will I stay that way? Probably not. Will I revisit my recurring sin? With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray not.

Just because I know God forgives me doesn’t make my sin any less serious. It comes with a death sentence like all my sins. That little act of rebellion cost Jesus His life. It grieves my Lord and angers Him. It separates me from Him as much as if I’d murdered someone.

I need to pray today that God will help me fight my enemy and resist temptation. I’ll need to pray the same tomorrow and the next day (maybe later today, too). I just know I don’t ever want to have to go to Him again and ask forgiveness for the sin He forgave today.

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating in me a clean heart this morning when I confessed my sin and asked you to forgive me once again. I pray that you will renew a steadfast spirit in me, determined to obey You in every way. I want to please you, not myself today. I thank you for the cross, for forgiveness, and for You!

Shame On Us

Leviticus 18-19

Happy 2sDay, 2.22.22 falling on a Tuesday. Such a fun fact for a day that won’t come around again for a hundred years.

Anyway, these days I’m reading in Leviticus and, sometimes the reading is hard. I find myself wanting to just get through this book and get on. But then I realize Numbers is next and I know I’m in for more of the same. So my prayer is that God will speak to my heart on 2.22.22 and grow me into a woman who knows Him better, loves Him more, and serves Him more effectively.

We can read these chapters and say, “That was then. This is now. What applied to them doesn’t apply to us in the 21st century. After all, we live under grace.”

I wonder.

18:22. What do you think about what that verse says? People say if we want to shove that verse down people’s throat then we need to hold each other accountable for all of it. You can’t just take a verse to make a point and ignore other verses you don’t like.

Exactly.

If we say homosexuality is detestable according to Scripture, then we must also condemn marrying a step-sibling, divorcing your wife and marrying your sister-in-law, or having sex during a woman’s period. In today’s world that is all legal.

Chapter 19 covers things like disrespecting your parents, insulting a deaf person, gossip, holding grudges, getting tattoos…

So where do you draw the line?

19:22.

Holiness.

Not just decency or moral conduct. Not just goodness. H.O.L.I.N.E.S.S.

Simply obeying the letter of the law doesn’t guarantee salvation. We who live after the cross understand that salvation comes only through Jesus’ work on the cross. But obeying the letter as well as the intent of the law should be evidence of our true salvation. Jesus didn’t tell us we could murder someone so long as we didn’t hate them. He didn’t throw out the law. He showed us the spiritual aspect of following the law.

This whole thing can be confusing. There is no way any of us can follow the law. But does that mean the law isn’t there for a reason, that because it’s hard we should just ignore it? I thank God Jesus paid the consequences for my failing to follow the law. But does that give me liberty to disobey?

Common sense tells us if people obeyed these laws spelled out in Leviticus we’d be better off. Our world would not be in the state it’s in.

And, Christian, if you aren’t holding yourself to the same standard God has laid before us… holiness… then we have no one to blame for the state of our world, or the state of our families, than the person staring back at us in the mirror.

Shame on us.

Mistaking Grace

Leviticus

Sometimes I think we mistake grace for an eraser. We think it negates the requirements of acceptability to God, or that God’s grace just wipes away our sins…”Just As If I’d Never Sinned.”

What we read in Leviticus are the rules for addressing all kinds of impurity. It’s not a fun read. In fact, it’s tempting to just skip over the whole thing, thinking it doesn’t apply to us in 2022. But did God change the rules? Or are the requirements spelled out in Leviticus still a thing?

God’s law has not changed. The difference is after the cross the fulfillment of those requirements were transferred to Jesus. So, yes, the blood of bulls is still required. Jesus provided His own blood. The doves, the lambs, even the scapegoat are still required. Jesus became all of that to fulfill each requirement.

Now don’t go out and kill some unsuspecting farmer’s livestock. Jesus already did what was required once and for all. That debt has been paid in full by His own precious blood.

But just because the fulfillment of the Law was complete in Jesus, don’t skip over these chapters in Leviticus. I know they don’t apply to you in the material sense. But they do apply to you. It gives you such detail about what Jesus did for you. It’s a lot!

I challenge you to read these chapters carefully and let God reveal Himself to you as you do. There is much more to Jesus’ death on the cross than you might think.

We can, because of grace, stand before God “Just As If We’d Never Sinned.” But the fact is we did sin. And God’s grace cost Jesus a great deal. A great deal. He didn’t simply erase our sin. He painfully fulfilled all the requirements needed for the forgiveness of our sin .

Grace is not an eraser. It’s a gift that cost more than you or I may realize.