Tag Archives: confession

September 14; The Gold Scepter

Esther 5:1-9:17

Esther went uninvited to the king. People didn’t just do that. It could cost you your life if you went barging into the throne room without the king’s permission. But Esther had a problem, and went to the only one who could help her. Instead of receiving a death sentence, Esther received the King’s acceptance when he pointed the gold scepter toward her.

Our King on the throne of heaven is to be feared much more than anyone feared King Xerxes. Yet it’s nothing for some to go barging into His throne room with complaints and demands as though the King were subject to them. I think the Bible tells us God takes a dim view of that audacity.

Do you pray? I hope so. But have you first accepted the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus’ blood? If you have not, I think you might need to consider who it is you are approaching. Barging into God’s presence is serious business.

As a child of God, I can go into that throne room any time I want to or need to. You see, I am wearing the royal robes of Jesus’ righteousness. My King is my Father my Savior who holds out the gold scepter to me, then gathers me in His arms. He knows me. He loves me.  He wants me to talk with Him.

And when I, as his beloved, have a problem, I can go to Him without fear, without hesitation, fully trusting that the answer I seek is right there in the throne room. In fact Scripture tells me I can go boldly.

And I do.

 

June 5 – Attitude Check

Proverbs 7-9

It’s Sunday morning and I’m getting ready to go to church. I hope you are, too.

As I read these chapters in Proverbs, God has nudged me to consider my attitude before I walk through those doors today. Solomon tells us a foolish man gets angry when faced with the truth of sin in his life. He goes so far as to say don’t even bother to reprove a scoffer, or that scoffer will hate you. It seems to be the kill-the-messenger mentality.

Solomon also says that when a wise man is corrected, he increases his learning. So when I enter the Lord’s House this morning, I want to go as one who is wise, one who is ready to hear the truth even if it hurts my feelings. I want to have the attitude that invites the Lord to convict me of sin so that I can confess, repent, restore and strengthen my fellowship with Him.

I want to walk out of church cleaner, wiser, better than I was going in. But in order to do that, I must check my attitude.

Am I worshiping today as a wise person, or an idiot?

May 12 – Confession Before Petition

Psalms 65-67, 60-70

If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear. (Ps 66:18)

I think too often we think God is our celestial bellboy. We call – he jumps to fulfill our requests. And if we think that to be the case, we can get pretty angry at God for not answering our prayers.

As I consider this Bible I love so much, I realize the only prayer God answers every time is the one from a repentant heart: Father, forgive me.

I John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Every time.

But when we go to God with our demands, or beg Hm for answers, yet harbor hatred toward someone, or tolerate sin, or live in disobedience, the psalmist seems to be saying: save your breath.

In my experience, when I confess my sin and go to God out of a pure heart with a request, I can ask, even plead, then leave my request at His feet and trust Him completely to answer for my good and His glory. His answer might not come like I’d imagined, but His answer is always right.

The psalmist reminds me today that , before I go to my Lord with any request, I need to check my heart. Confession needs to always come before petition.

Border Wars

I have to admit I don’t know Middle-Eastern geography. I am not familiar with nations and cities on today’s maps, much less those in Old Testament times. So when Joshua is naming territories that were given to the Jews to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham, my eyes glaze over. Not only do I not know where these places are (or were), the names of these places are hard to pronounce.

What can God possibly say to me through this geography lesson?

One word kept repeating itself as I read Joshua 15 and 16 this morning: borders. The Jews were given the Promised Land, but it didn’t come without clear borders. Those borders were necessary to separate the people of God from everyone else. The Jews were to live inside the borders. The enemy’s influence was to stay on the other side of those borders.

Do we have borders as 21st Century children of God, living in the blessed Promised Land of fellowship with God? Let me share just a few borders God has laid on my heart:

Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Be holy as I am holy.

Resist the devil.

Flee youthful lusts.

Pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.

Preach the Gospel.

Confess sin.

Present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.

Study to show ourselves approved of God.

Now, none of these will earn us favor in God’s eye. None of these will buy our salvation. The privilege of living in the Promised Land is a gift of God, it’s ours by the grace of God, it was bought by the blood of Jesus, the only way to the Father. No, these borders can’t allow us to get around the cross. But living within these borders is amazing, like living in a land flowing with milk and honey.

These borders, like the borders Joshua spelled out for Israel, separate us from the rest of the world. It’s within these borders we find fellowship with God himself, life and peace, and help in our time of need.

But there is a war on our soul. Satan wants to tear down the walls, blur the line, enlarge our borders by telling us lies like: God wouldn’t send a good person to hell, there are multiple paths to God, there are big sins and little sins and little sins are overlooked by God, you are ok just the way you are, laughing at sin on TV or neglecting study of God’s Word or keeping your faith to yourself is no biggie, intelligent men and women reject the Bible as inerrant.

I am challenged to guard my borders. The walls around my heart can’t be too high, my resolve can’t be too strong, my dependance on God can’t be too complete. I want to live within the borders God has given us in his Word. There is nothing outside those lines that can compare.

Father in Heaven, thank you for lovingly identifying the borders. Thank you for providing peace and joy and comfort and blessing to those of us who walk inside those borders. Forgive us when we fall for Satan’s tactics to blur the lines, to step outside your perfect will. I pray for your people today. May we let you identify the borders as we read and study your Word, and may we be willing to fight to keep those borders secure. This is war. You give us the victory. Thank you. 

Our Scapegoat

Have you ever had a bad day… or year? You are frustrated, disappointed, angry, unhappy, and maybe you have a headache on top of everything. Then someone close to you says something stupid and you erupt. You let them have it with both barrels and say things that are just plain cruel. But when you get right down to it, they didn’t really deserve all that. It’s not their fault you are miserable.

You made them your scapegoat.

God instructed the Israelites to use a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16) They symbolically put all their sins on this goat, then released the goat into the wilderness.

It’s a picture of what Jesus did at Calvary. God wants us to put all our sins on Jesus. All of them. It wasn’t his fault that we sinned. He doesn’t deserve our punishment. But God says, give them to Jesus anyway. Then, release them.

Too many of us put that scapegoat on a leash. We let it have some lead, but then we occasionally call it back. We feel the guilt. We may even repeat the sin.

But God, through this picture in Leviticus, and through his Son, tells us to let it go. (I saw Frozen this weekend and, even though I don’t know all the words to the song, I think the tune is going to be in my head all day!)

Let God remove that sin from the camp, from our lives. Cut the chord.

But, you say, my sins are too heavy. My sin is mine to carry. My sin is too ugly to place on Jesus. Where in the Bible does it even hint at such a thing? The only sin God can’t forgive is the unconfessed sin.

Jesus told the parable of the seed. (Mark 4) Here is a better use of your effort: Repent of that sin, and let the Scapegoat take it away. Then dig in, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and bear fruit. Love, joy, peace…

So much better than clinging to a goat.

My Dear Scapegoat, thank you for removing my sin, for taking it upon yourself and taking it away. Forgive me when I continue to call those sins back. Help me to do what you intend, and that is to allow you to remove my sin as far as the east is from the west, never to be used against me… ever. Thank you Jesus. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for allowing me to live my life free from the guilt and pain my sins deserve. May I be rooted in Scripture, and may I bear fruit for your kingdom. Help me to allow you to remove my sin, to let it go, and enjoy sweet fellowship with my Savior.

Piece of Cake

I was reading in Matthew 9 this morning where Jesus said that forgiving the sins of a paralytic man was easier than healing the man’s paralysis. He said this before he went to the cross, so as far as everyone there knew, forgiveness from sin required an animal sacrifice. Yet here was this guy, granting forgiveness and there’s no blood being shed.

I can understand why the people were shocked, why they questioned Jesus about it. This went against everything they had been taught up to now. Jesus, to prove he had the power, healed the sick man. But he said that act was harder than the forgiving of the sick man’s sin.

Yesterday at church, the pastor spoke about God’s ability and desire to forgive our sins. He reminded us that there is no such thing as a sin too great for God’s forgiveness if we just go to him and ask. Being washed clean by God is not all that complicated. Ask. Receive.

That forgiveness was bought at a very high price – the painful death of Jesus on the cross. He could forgive the paralytic because, for one he is God, and he knew he was willing and able to pay the price required of that man’s sin.

Today, forgiving us is a matter already done. My sins, your sins, are forgiven. Period. Jesus doesn’t have to go to the cross again and again each time we disobey him, each time someone goes to him with a repentant heart. He’s been there, done that.

God doesn’t require any of us to do something, pray a number of prayers, beat ourselves, or carry a wooden cross to make up for some deficit his own death couldn’t cover. Forgiveness is already ours (John 3:16, I John 1:9) Receiving it requires confession of sin, a repentant heart, and a request.

Us: Jesus, will you forgive me?

Jesus: Sure.

Piece of cake.

Jesus, I don’t want to minimize what it cost you to purchase my forgiveness. I read about what you went through at the hands of your murderers and I shutter to think you did that for me. I don’t want to minimize your holiness, your fierce hatred of sin, your demand that I be holy before you, a holy God. But I want to thank you for your grace, for the simple act of asking you to forgive me, knowing you already have and are just waiting to shower me with your love and forgiveness. Thank you for making it so easy to come to you. Forgive me when I try to make it so difficult. 

Joy

I am a sinner. And if I read Scripture correctly, so are you. Romans 8:28 says ALL have sinned so I’m pretty sure that includes us both.

Sometimes the guilt that comes from sinning is overwhelming. David, in Psalm 32:3 says: When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away and I groaned all day long.

Have you experienced that intense grief over what you’ve done? The sad thing is that some people get used to living in that state. Conviction turns to grief which leads to depression which convinces that person they deserve to be miserable. And they get so used to feeling miserable they are a bit afraid to try joy.

Someone once said, I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.

What a tragic place to live.

Here’s what David says in verse 5 of Psalm 32:

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord”.  And you forgave me!  ALL MY GUILT IS GONE!!!

David goes on to say that God is his hiding place, his protection from trouble, his song of victory. David reminds us God promises to guide us and watch over us. Unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord! Then David tells us to rejoice! Be glad, all who obey God.

We have reason to live in joy. My heart breaks for those who choose to live in great sadness because of a sin they refuse to confess, to let go. Understand that Jesus is waiting with open arms to take you in. He’s already died for that sin. He is just asking you to accept his forgiveness.

I pray that today will be the last day you live with the guilt of unconfessed sin. Let God wash you clean of whatever it is. Repent. Then you can say with David, All my guilt is gone! 

Father, I pray for people who are overwhelmed with guilt. I pray that guilt will drive them right into your waiting arms. I pray that they will confess, repent, turn from that sin and know the release that comes from being washed in your blood, wearing your righteousness, forgiven. I pray for those who have lived with that guilt for years, maybe decades. I pray that today they will come to you and know the joy that comes from giving it all to you. Thank you for what you are going to do in hearts and lives today.