Tag Archives: confessing sin

May 24; If God’s Answers Prayer

2 Chronicles 6:1-7:3; I Kings 8:22-61

When I read Solomon’s prayer for the dedication of the Temple, I can’t help but think of our world, the Church in 2019, and the USA. Solomon prays believing God answers prayer, and knows he is speaking to a forgiving God.

Solomon says, “when,” not “if” we sin. Everyone sins. And God punishes sin. Solomon is asking God to forgive sinners when they repent, something we know God loves to do.

Solomon is praying on behalf of the nation. It’s something we should be doing, too. “God, forgive us. Send revival to  your Church. Return this nation to one truly ‘under God.'”

We pray for us, for them. But do we pray for “me?” It’s easy to pray for the big picture. Sometimes not so easy to make it personal. We can pray all day long that this nation will humble itself and seek God. But you and I are not responsible for this nation.

We are, however, responsible for our own hearts’ condition before a very Holy God. Do you pray, “Humble me, Lord?” That’s actually kind of a scary prayer when you think about it.

Do you pray that God will deal with sin in your own heart, or just the sin of abortion in the land? Do you pray God will convict those caught up in the sin of homosexuality, and ignore His convicting hand on some sin in your own life?

Oh, I believe with Solomon, that God can hear from heaven and forgive… and return us to the land. God can turn things around in this nation, in His Church, and in the world.  But it has to start with you. With me.

If God is going to answer prayers for this world, it will be because you and I have humbled ourselves first. I believe God can turn things around, one repentant soul at a time.

Might as well start with you and me, right?

 

May 2; Forgiven And Cleansed

Samuel 11:2-12:24; Psalms 6, 32, 38

What would you say was the worst sin you’ve ever committed? Are you living with the consequences? Have you asked God to forgive you?

We read about David’s doozie of a sin with Bathsheba, his attempt to make her husband Uriah believe he was the father of her baby, and when that didn’t work David arranged Uriah’s death. For David, one sin led to another and another and another.

God punished David for these sins. God also forgave David when he repented. But I wonder if David was ever able to look into the eyes of Bathsheba and not see the face of Uriah. Sometimes you just can’t escape the consequences of sin.

We read the psalms David wrote during this time and can’t help but feel his anguish. He tells us even his bones were in agony, his guilt overwhelmed him, the light had gone out of his eyes. It sounds like David was in the throws of a deep depression. David knew what it was like to hit rock bottom because of his sin. David also knew what it was like to be lifted up from those depths.

Psalm 32 describes this beautifully. It begins:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

David had tried to cover his own sins, by committing more sins. He learned that no matter how he spun it, he could not undo what had been done. He couldn’t hide it hoping others wouldn’t know his guilt. The psalm continues:

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When you think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed, have you been honest about it with God? Have you confessed it all? David tells us God covers that sin and does not count it against you. Can you imagine?

You might beat yourself up every day because of that horrible sin. But I John 1:9 tells us this:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Forgive AND cleanse!

David goes on in Psalm 32 to say God not only covered his sin, He forgave David’s guilt of that sin. If you are holding on to guilt over past sin, please read this psalm. Let David assure you that the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds you, surrounds all of us who trust Him.

I asked you to think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed. But the truth is, every sin comes with a death penalty. Every sin separates us from God, and should cause us to feel guilty and ashamed. And every sin is forgivable if we confess it to God who died on a cross so we could be forgiven.

Earlier I wondered if David was ever able to not see Uriah’s face when he looked at Bathsheba. I hope so. I hope when he looked at her he was reminded instead of God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s amazing love. Because when David confessed his sin of adultery and murder, he was

Forgiven and Cleansed.

January 29; When You Look Into His Eyes

Genesis 42-44

It had been Judah’s idea to sell Joseph into slavery, rather than killing him. He was part of the cover-up, to take Joseph’s coat, splatter it with blood, and tell their dad Joseph must have been killed by wild animals. Judah and his brothers watched their dad’s soul die that day. Jacob would never get over losing Joseph.

Now years have passed. The boys are grown with children of their own. But I wonder what Judah thought every time he looked into his father’s eyes, and saw the unspoken grief that was always there. Judah had to know he was responsible, and that he had the ability to return hope to his father, if he told the truth.

Something had changed in Judah according to what I read today. Where earlier, his father’s welfare was of little concern to him, now his father’s welfare was his only concern. In fact, Judah was willing to give up his own life to protect his father from any further grief.

Have you ever done something shameful, or hurtful toward your parents, and seen the hurt in their eyes? Have you ever watched your mom’s shoulders slump, or your dad silently fighting tears, knowing their pain was a direct result of something you’ve done? Have you watched your parents grieve, knowing you could change their grief into joy if you’d only make a different choice?

Then I want you to look into the eyes of your Heavenly Father. You might think the choices you make to sin has no effect on Him. But look closer. Our Dad is heart-broken, and we have the ability to do something about that.

If you’ve never repented of sin, do it. If you are a Christian battling a sin, confess it. Put on Jesus’ righteousness bought for you with His blood.

Then look into the eyes of your Heavenly Father, and see the love, the forgiveness, and the pride He has in those of us who choose Him.

Isaiah 5-7; My Vineyard

Did you read these chapters and see what God has to say to you today about your walk with Him? I did. When I read chapters 5-7 I realized I am the vineyard Isaiah is talking about. As a Jesus follower, God established me on rich, fertile ground. He did all the work to clear that land when Jesus died on the cross.

What He offers me is pure, perfect, and prepared in advance for me to produce good fruit. (Ephesians 2:10) He gifted me with abilities to serve Him. He built a hedge of protection around me to guard my heart. He is the watchman who protects me from Satan’s arrows. He gave me everything I need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)

Then God turns over the vineyard to me, and waits for me to start producing good fruit. After all, He did all the hard work to get it ready for me so that I can go and make disciples, so that I can be a light to the world, so that I can share the Good News of Jesus with lost souls. The potential is endless!

But it didn’t take long for me to feel the sting of conviction today. Verse 2b: but it (me) yielded only bad fruit.

Then God asks, What more could I have done? The answer sadly is, Nothing.

Verses 4-7 are sobering when you consider yourself as the vineyard who isn’t producing fruit. God won’t stay where He’s not wanted.

I hope you read the “Woe to’s” in chapter 5 and let God speak to you about choices you make, attitudes you have, whether you tolerate sin in yourself and ignore it in others, whether or not you think you have all the answers apart from God.

When Isaiah came face to face with Jesus he cried, “Woe to me! I am ruined for I am a man of unclean lips…”

Now I don’t know what kinds of problems Isaiah had with what came out of his mouth, but this is what spoke to me this morning. Look at 8:6-7. When Isaiah confessed his sin of speech, God sent an angel to touch Isaiah’s lips! God met Isaiah at the point of his need. Isaiah confessed a sin. God forgave that sin.

Another thing I see is, that cleansing hurt. Most of the time, it takes a broken heart to repent, turning from sin is not always easy. Sometimes it really does hurt to admit you’ve sinned, to humble yourself, to accept grace. And sometimes separating yourself from that sin means giving up some things and people you really like. Ouch.

I think God wants us to know that as we read His Word, asking Him to speak to us about our walk with Him, He’ll point out sin. He’ll reveal things to us about our hearts’ condition before Him. He’ll talk to us about our vineyard.

Don’t forget this: If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (I John 1:9)

Every. Time.

So, read God Word and allow Him to put a finger on the problem. Confess. Repent. Allow Him to cleanse you. Then go back to the vineyard and get to work. Turn that precious property into something beautiful, and useful in God’s kingdom.

Isn’t God’s Word amazingly personal and relevant? I love it!

Psalm 50; Get Real

Well, I didn’t come close to reaching my goal of studying five psalms a day today. I couldn’t get passed Psalm 50. While I was reading it, God seemed to be emphasizing some verses, so I read it again. And I read it a third time. God seemed to be asking me to think on these things. So I did.

Here are my thoughts. I pray they are His.

God summons all of us from sunrise to sunset. Every minute of every day all of creation is proclaiming that God Is. And God tells us He will not stop revealing Himself to the entire world as long as the world exists. It reminds me that His will is that no one perish without Him. His will is that anyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.

God summons all of us to be judged by Him, our Holy God, our Righteous Judge, the only one who can judge fairly. Asaph addresses two groups of people being judged by God here in this psalm.

The first group is made up of His children, those who have recognized that He is who He says He is, and have accepted His forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus.

Now back in Old Testament times, before Jesus shed His blood, they were required to offer sacrifices often. In fact, so often that the ritual became a no-brainer. The sacrifice itself became the goal. Listen to what God says about that:

“Are you kidding me? Do you think I need your goats? Do you think I eat steak from your sacrificed bulls for dinner each night? Those sacrifices are meaningless unless your heart is broken by the sin in your life. Those sacrifices are merely an outward expression of what needs to be going on in your heart.” (obviously a paraphrase)

Makes me think about religious people; people who go through the motions of worship every Sunday, maybe come away feeling good about their worship experience. Worship becomes the goal instead of the One who demands our worship. Maybe they teach Sunday School, refrain from vulgar language, have a fish attached to the back of their cars. But their hearts are not moved, their sins are not confessed.

God is saying:

“Are you kidding me? Do you think I need you to attend church? Do you think I give out attaboys for good behavior, put a star in some crown when you get your perfect attendance pin? Your service is meaningless unless your heart is broken by the presence of sin in your life. Not just broken once the day you confessed your sin and accepted the gift of salvation bought at the price of My Son Jesus. But broken over what you did or did not do yesterday, over the impure thoughts you think, or the unforgiveness you harbor toward someone. Unless your service in My Name is a result of your broken heart and the confession of sin, it’s meaningless.” (again, paraphrased)

Then God turns His attention toward those Asaph calls “wicked.” Those who can quote the Bible, who claim to be believers, yet align themselves with thieves, who gossip and slander those closest to them.

I think of so many people, whole denominations, who take God’s Word and twist it to make them feel religious without having to deal with sin. Those who deny Jesus’ godship, or who tolerate or condone sin that grieves our Holy God.

The thing is, according to verse 21, God doesn’t zap people who claim to be believers but aren’t. God doesn’t burn down churches where heresy is taught. And because God seems to be silent, they think He’s just like them. They mistake His silence for approval.

But be warned. God will accuse you to your face. He will tear you to pieces with none to rescue. (vs 22) God seems to have complete disdain for those kinds of hypocrites.

If you aren’t following God according to the Bible plus nothing, if your heart is not His through the blood of Jesus when you repented of sin, stop calling yourself a Christian. The consequences for using Jesus’ name in vain are serious, eternally serious.

The thank offering in verse 23 speaks to me of an intentional attitude of humility, recognizing that all I have and am are unmerited gifts from a Holy God. It’s the giving of myself, all of me, to the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. It’s recognizing sin in my life, and repenting, asking Jesus to forgive me. And it’s serving Him out of a grateful heart for the privilege of knowing Him. Listen to God’s Words about those who come to Him with thankful hearts:

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (vs 23)

I am reminded that God is not fooled by religious behavior. Saying you’re a Christian doesn’t make you one. And God knows the difference, and will judge us accordingly.

But to those who are real, those who come to Him on His terms, those who honor Him, He guides, directs, protects, all the way home.

 

Psalms 32-39; Crush Me, Lord

In the psalms I read today I noticed a recurring theme. David, a man after God’s own heart, didn’t get away with sin. God didn’t turn a blind eye toward any sin this godly man committed. And God dealt with David’s sin harshly.

David, under the heavy hand of God’s conviction, said:

When I kept silent (rather than confessing sin), my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (32:3-4(comment mine from vv 1-2)

Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. (38:3-4) (emphasis mine)

He uses phrases like these: (38:5-14)

My wounds fester and are loathsome

My back is filled with searing pain…

I am feeble and utterly crushed…

I groan in anguish of heart.

My strength fails me…

The light has gone from my eyes…

Don’t ignore the fact that David makes a direct correlation between what he is experiencing, and sin. (38:3) He continues with expressing his pain, his grief, the weight of guilt over sin. God is not going to let him get away with it. He’s not going to let us get away with it, either.

And I am talking to we who have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Conviction is a good thing. And if dealt with early on results in blessing. But if left unchecked, it can lead to some pretty painful times, emotionally, physically, relationally.

The more we ignore the conviction over sin in our lives, the further we get from God. Don’t expect Him to be ok with that. He is going to try to get our attention one way or another, to restore the sweet fellowship He longs to have with us.

Some of the other psalms I read today speak of the blessing of walking with God, of being righteous, forgiven, restored. I hope you’ll read these psalms today and let God speak to you about sin, and about what He longs to do when you repent of them.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (34:18)

I don’t want any sin standing in the way of my relationship with my Savior. I want to be sensitive to the convicting Spirit, then confess my sin and repent. Whatever it takes, I want my walk with the Lord to be as close as He deserves.

Crush me, Lord.

 

 

 

 

1 Kings 1-2; You Can Fool Some Of The People…

I’m always impressed when I read how David handled the bully Shimei as recorded in 2 Samuel 16. He ignored the mean things Shimei did and said. Then, in chapter 19 we see Shimei coming back to the king, asking him not to hold that whole bullying thing against him. David promised he wouldn’t kill him. And the bullying seems to have stopped.

But now David is at the end of his life. Solomon is king. And we read in 1 Kings 2 the advice David gives his son. I have to say I was a bit surprised that David included Shimei in his list of people for Solomon to beware of. He even told Solomon not to consider Shimei innocent, and suggested Solomon “bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.” That’s harsh.

What is it about Shimei that I’m not seeing? He said he was sorry, didn’t he? I went back to read 2 Samuel 19:16-20. What I notice is an admission of guilt, and a request that David let bygones be bygones. “Just forget it,” Shimei seems to say.

I think I’m seeing a “Sorry” on the level of a child being forced to apologize for hitting his sister, followed by an unspoken, “Not.” The words are there. But was Shimei’s heart in it? Evidently David didn’t think so.

God does let us into Shimei’s real character as we read in 1 Kings 2:36ff. Shimei agreed to terms set forth by King Solomon. But as soon as it suited him, Shimei reneged. Rules just don’t apply to you, do they, Shimei? Solomon ended up teaching Shimei the ultimate lesson.

As I sit here and think about old Shimei, I asked God what He would say to us through him today. I thought about the number of times I’ve gone to God and asked forgiveness for a sin I knew I’d commit again. I thought about apologies I’ve made to get myself out of trouble, not necessarily because I was truly sorry for what I’d done. The words were there. But my heart wasn’t in it.

David wasn’t fooled by Shimei’s confession. And God is never fooled by mine.

When I was a child there was a kids’ show on TV. The host ended every program with the words: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time. But you can’t fool Mom.

Well, moms, you know that probably isn’t always true. But, dear one, rest assured we might fool each other with right words, but God sees our heart.

And He is never fooled.

_______________________

We are still waiting for Hurricane Irma to do its worse on the coast of Georgia. Do you want to hear the good news first, or the bad? Good news is that the eye of the storm looks like it will stay far enough to the west that our part of the world will be spared the brunt of the storm. Still expecting heavy rain and wind, with some flooding. Some trees are already down according to reports. Thats the good news. The bad news? I decided to evacuate to a small town just east of Atlanta, directly in the projected path of Irma. I think she’s following me.

In reality, this storm is nothing to joke about. There are millions of people who are being impacted by this deadly force. Please continue to pray. May God have mercy.