Tag Archives: consequences

February 8; Rules

Exodus 19-21

We come to the part where God lays down the law. Verse after verse of rules and regulations for EVERYTHING. Some of the punishments for breaking the rules are harsh – like the death penalty for cursing your parents. Many include some sort of retribution.

In fact, in regard to injuring a pregnant woman we read, “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (21:23-25)

In regard to your neighbor’s bull, you break it, you buy it.

Now  I am aware we live under grace. But does that mean we should throw out the rules? Does God’s grace negate consequences?

A while back I was talking to the 3-5 graders in our Good News Club about rules, and asked them what our club would be like if there were no rules. It was an interesting, lively conversation. After trying to picture what a club with no rules would look like, we decided rules aren’t such a bad thing after all.

Rules are boundaries that make life better.

But we live in a society that’s nibbling at the rules. In fact, we are encouraged to live by our own rules. Can a society survive without rules, or with an infinite number of rule-sets? Can you picture what that would look like?

Oh yeah. I saw it on the news last night.

God gave the rules we read here in Exodus for a reason, so that the Jewish people would enjoy a safe, and caring lifestyle. God’s rules made life better for them.

And they still do for us. I don’t have a bull, or a slave. But if I read these rules God specified, and apply the principles to my life and in my dealings with people, my life and theirs would be better.

Rules are not meant to be broken, but rather followed, and taught. Without them, our world would be nothing but chaos. Without rules, our society will crumble.

Thank God for rules.

Joshua 6-7; Quit Crying

When you were a kid, did you ever hear the words, “Quit crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about?” I have to admit I heard it more than once from my dad, the father of five girls. ‘Nuff said.

I have a great nephew who I adore. When he was younger, and didn’t get his way, or was disappointed about something, his voice would go up about two octaves, he’d scrunch up his face, and he’d whine. One time, during one of these delightful episodes, I asked him if he ever got his way when he whined like that.

“No,” he whined. (good on you, parents) I smile.

You do know we have raised a generation of whiners, don’t you? You can’t watch the news without seeing some millennial whining about something. It’s embarrassing.

The Israelites had just watched Jericho crumble. God had given them such an amazing victory, they seem to have felt invincible. “Let’s get Ai,” they decided.

So Joshua sent some men into Ai to check out the lay of the land. They came back with a glowing report. “Piece of cake. Send a few soldiers and we’ll take that city with no problem.” Hoo-rah.

Well, Joshua did send only about 3,000 soldiers. And they were soundly defeated. Routed. Crushed. They went running for their lives like cockroaches when the lights turn on.

When Joshua heard they had lost the battle, he tore his clothes and fell face down on the ground before the ark. He stayed there all day like that. The elders followed suit.

Then Joshua prayed something like this: Why God? We should have never crossed the Jordan. The Canaanites think we’re a joke now. They’ll attack and defeat us. They’ll wipe us out. It’s not fair. (I can imagine his voice was a couple octaves higher, too)

I love how God answered that prayer, and I can almost hear my dad’s unsympathetic voice as God says, “Get up. Quit whining.”

God goes on: “Israel has sinned. Do you honestly expect me to give you victory when you treat me like that? You know better. A deal’s a deal, and you’ve broken your end of the bargain by your disobedience. Don’t come crying to me. This is on you.”

That’s rough. Where is compassion? Where is tolerance: Where is this love that everyone is talking about?

God’s compassion and love are never directed toward sin. God never looks at a sin and weakens because of a tear in our eye. He cannot and will not tolerate sin. His holiness demands that.

I think God would have us take Him very seriously concerning this sin thing. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. No grey areas there. Not only will God not tolerate sin, He cannot bless sin, either. The consequences for sin are serious. Deadly. I hope you read all of chapter 7 today. It’s not pretty.

It is futile to whine about God’s view of sin. You might think He’s unfair. In reality, He is absolutely fair. He hates your sin as much as He hates mine. And what is sin for you, is also sin for me. We don’t have to guess. He’s absolutely clear about that.

I can’t help but think of the movie, League Of Their Own. I’ve never watched the whole movie, but I’ve often seen the part where the frustrated coach of a girls’ baseball team tells a weepy player, “There’s no crying in baseball.” In life, as in baseball, there are rules. Three strikes and you’re out. Beat the ball to the base and you’re safe. Obey God and you are blessed. You can whine about the “unfairness.” But it doesn’t change the game.

Get over yourself, dear one. If you are holding on to a sin, and think God ought to bless you in spite of it, think again. If you want God’s blessing, repent, get rid of the sin, obey Him according to Scripture.

Quit crying. You just might find yourself with something to really cry about.

June 20 – Parenting 101

Ecclesiastes 7-12

Just reading over these chapters doesn’t do justice to the wisdom here. I find the book of Ecclesiastes to be one I need to read slowly, and take time to digest it all. I don’t have the time, or even the desire, to dissect every verse on this blog. But I would like to share one verse that God used to get my attention today.

Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I guess I am still thinking about parents and parenting. Here is God’s advice for parents, given through Solomon in 8:11:

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to evil.

1) Don’t do that. 2) I told you not to do that. 3) How many times do I have to tell you to stop? 4) If you do that again, I’m going to spank you. 5) Do you want a spanking? 6) Did you hear me? 7) I’m tired of telling you to stop. 8) Stop!

Sound familiar? Your child willfully disobeys you. Not once, eight times in this example. And what you’ve taught your child is that they can break your rules eight times before they have to obey. Sometime your child learns they never have to obey because your threats are meaningless.

WHAT YOU ALLOW, YOU TEACH. Not only does the guilty child learn that lesson, so does everyone within hearing distance.

Look at the crime rate here in the US compared to countries that hand down swift and harsh punishment for breaking the law. What you allow, you teach.

Parents, it is your responsibility to raise children who are not “given fully to evil,”  as Solomon says. How you discipline your child for disobedience makes all the difference in the world.

And it’s a lesson your child just might take into eternity. It’s that important.


June 9 – WHACK!

Proverbs 19-21

When I was in junior high (about a hundred years ago, I think) it was not uncommon to be sitting in the classroom and hear the door open just a crack. We could hear one door after another all the way down the hall open in the same way. We’d all sit up a little straighter, eyes wide open, and no one, not even the teacher most of the time, would speak.

Then we would hear that dreaded, WHACK. Sometimes we would even hear it again, WHACK! Often we’d hear a teacher scolding the guilty student in such a way there could be no mistake. A rule had been broken, and this is what happens when rules are broken.

Solomon says: When a scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise… (21:11) You can bet more than one student learned an important lesson from those paddlings back in junior high. I know I did. I never wanted the student in the hall to be me! I became a rule-follower. It seemed the wise thing to do.

Those days are long gone because someone was more concerned about the guilty child’s ego. I find myself wanting to get up on my soapbox. Especially in light of the recent convicted rapist, Brock Turner’s light sentence, the unbelievable statement he read at sentencing, and his own father’s statement after the fact.

Let’s make it personal. Parents, do your children know the rules of your home? Are the rules enforced consistently? Are the consequences swift and painful? Hear me when I say if we don’t teach them this truth on a small scale, they won’t understand it on a larger scale. And they’ll grow up to think the consequences for breaking God’s rules are no big deal, either.

I shudder to think about the lesson other young people have learned from the judge’s decision in the Turner case. Because lessons have been learned. The doors of the classroom were opened, and instead of hearing the WHACK, they heard the teacher pat the guilty child on the back and send him on his way.


The way you discipline your children, the way our society disciplines law-breakers, is done in a classroom occupied by others. When the guilty are punished, the naive become wise. That’s what Solomon said through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that we are raising wise children instead of children who will remain naive. Just the other day we learned that naivety is a death sentence.

It’s that serious.


March 2 – Can’t Win For Losing

Numbers 16&17; Psalm 90

Some of the Levites were jealous. Who did Moses think he was, anyway? We’re good men, too, they told themselves. “All the congregation is holy.” (16:3)

So in their rebellion, they decided to do the work of the priests, to offer the incense in the censors made holy by God’s Presence. Long story short… the earth opened up and swallowed them whole.

Now that’s not what spoke to me today. It’s what happened the next day. The Jews got together, went to Moses, and said, “Now look what you’ve done.” Moses can’t get a break.

And sometimes, neither can we 21st Century Christians. The world is paying for their own rebellion against God. Wars, disease, murders, prejudice, unrest, fear, need I go on?

Yet who are called haters? Christians. Who are considered intolerant and judgmental? We who stand for the truth of Scripture.Who’s fault is it that some poor guy feels repressed in his male body? You get the picture.

In the chapters we read today, God continues to demonstrate His power, His right to be worshiped and obeyed. I’m not so sure He won’t open up the earth and swallow us whole. It’s not like He hasn’t done it before.

Psalm 90 addresses this, then asks God to teach us to number our days that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. I like that idea.

May God’s majesty be seen by our children. May His favor be upon us as He confirms the faithful work of Christians as we obey Him. May we continue to be a light in this dark world of sin. May we express His joy in the midst of trouble.

And may we continue to pray for a world that so desperately needs Him.

Jan 2 – The Lesson Of The Flood

Genesis 4-7

It’s hard to read about the flood. It’s hard to imagine millions of people, including babies, drowning. It’s frightening to realize how intense is God’s anger toward sin. He even said He was sorry he’d ever created man, and he was grieved in His heart.

Some people will shake their fists at God and rant over the unfairness of a world-wide flood. Some will shake their heads and deny it ever happened. Both are wrong. And both miss the point.

If we look for signs that the earth was drenched in water, we might find it interesting. It might even confirm that the Bible is true. But even that misses the point, which is: GOD HATES SIN!

He HATES my sin. He HATES your sin. He HATES the lie I told, the “adult” entertainment you watch, my anger, your coarse language. He HATES it.

And unless we have faith in Him like Noah had, we will die in our sin, like all those people died in that awful flood.

God has provided an escape plan, however. In Noah’s day it was the ark. Today it is Jesus. But read Genesis, dear one. There was… and is… only one means of salvation. Just one.

For myself, I never want God to be sorry He created me. I never want to grieve His heart by the choices I make to sin. I want to resist sin, accept His provision of salvation, and live every day I have on this earth as one who clings to the God of my salvation.

I want the same for you.

Dear Savior, it’s a new year and many of us consider it a new beginning. I pray that as we make our way through 2016 we will do so holding on to You, pleasing You, loving You, and riding the waves in the safety of Your salvation. May we not forget how much You hate sin. And may we allow You to help us resist the temptation to sin every time. You are faithful. May we be, too.

Renewed Days

I read Lamentations this morning. God was unresponsive to the cries of the disobedient nation of Israel. There was a famine in the land and the Jews were not spared. In fact, the actions of some to survive are unimaginable. How desperate they were! Why did God reject his people?

Woe to us, for we have sinned. (5:16)

The last two verses of this sad book caused me to pause. Here’s what they say:

Renew our days of old, unless You have utterly rejected us, and are very angry with us.

The truth of the matter is God was angry, and they were rejected because of their disobedience.

Psalm 119 reminds me how important is God’s Word, how necessary it is that we obey it. God’s not playing around. He’s serious about sin. And so should we be. He has spelled out His demands, His Law, and has demonstrated the severe consequences for disobedience. This psalm challenges me to love Scripture and obey it. There is evidence of God’s holiness, power, and love on every page.

Then I read the beautiful letter Paul wrote to Philemon, and I am reminded what Jesus did for me. I sinned against God, like Onesimus sinned against Philemon. Philemon had owned Onesimus, but Onesimus walked away from him, may have stolen from him. God created me to be His, but I, too, walked away when I sinned. Onesimus owed a debt he could not pay. There’s no way I could pay my sin debt, either.

But Onesimus repented. He became a follower of Jesus, a helper to Paul. So Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus, to accept him as a brother, to place any debt of Onesimus’ on Paul’s account. And Jesus did the same for me. He paid my enormous debt, asked the Father to forgive me, and accepted me as His child when I repented, too .

My days are renewed and I am not rejected, thanks to Jesus. I pray you can say the same.

Our Treasure

Isaiah 33: 6b says: The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

Fear? Why doesn’t Isaiah say, “love’, or “grace”, or even “presence”? He talks about God reigning in Jerusalem and “providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge”. Then he says fearing God is our treasure.

I wonder how well we really know God. This Scripture tells me that being saved, receiving wisdom from above, and learning who God is, leads to fear of him. I wonder, if we were polled, how many Christians would say that God scares them.

I loved my dad and was loved by him. But I made certain choices in my life based on the fear of disobeying him. He wore a belt that was a reminder of painful consequences for disobedience.

I don’t see many children fearing their parents. I see some parents fearing their children, afraid to hurt their egos if they say, “No”, or if they swat their bottoms, heaven forbid. I don’t see many Christians fearing God, either.

The Bible teaches that fear and love are not mutually exclusive, and both are necessary for healthy living. We can’t preach God’s love and ignore his holiness, his demand to be obeyed.

We’re foolish if we neglect to remember that the consequences for disobeying him are painful and eternal.

Holy God, you scare me. When I really try to picture your holiness, your power, your anger toward sin, and when I realize how serious you are about being obeyed, I am afraid. I am afraid of the consequences, afraid of disappointing you or angering you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for saving me. Help me to live with a healthy fear, and a realistic look at who you are. Give me your righteousness, and strengthen me to live a life pleasing to you. I love you. I praise you. I worship you in all your holiness.

July 4

Isaiah 13:1-16:14

I have to admit I don’t know Jewish history. But I know that every word God gave Isaiah is true. The flesh and blood nation of Israel was heading for trouble. The surrounding nations were going to find out what rejecting God would cost them, too. The Moabites, Philistines, Assyrians, the Babylonians were given notice along with the Jews.

But every once in a while Isaiah throws out a little hope. “The Lord has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.” And “In love a throne will be established…”

Yes, God cannot tolerate sin and the consequences are devastating. But God continues to remind us that he is our refuge. He is our hope. 

As we read Isaiah together let’s not lose our focus. It’s not so much about material events that either occurred hundreds of years before Christ or those that some believe will occur in the future. The focus needs to be on what is happening in my heart and life right now in 2013. What would God say to me about sin, obedience, purity and holiness?

May he find our hearts open to what he would say through the pages of his written Word today.

P.S. Have a safe and happy Independence Day. And for those of you who don’t live in the USA, grill a hotdog and light a sparkler or two with us!

April 14

I Chronicles 9:35-44, 5:7-10, 5:18-22, I Samuel 15:1-16:23

God told Saul to go to battle and not take any plunder. Nothing was to come back with the Jewish soldiers. But the livestock were healthy. Saul let his men bring back healthy sheep and goats.

When Samuel called him on it Saul said he thought he would use them for sacrifices.

Once again we see an example of someone trying to go to God on their terms and not God’s. God instructed Saul to destroy everything in that city. Saul thought he had a better idea.

Let’s beware of the temptation to rationalize sin or try to convince ourselves that a sin can be used for God’s glory. It just can’t happen.

Because of his disobedience, God took the kingdom away from Saul. Samuel left Saul and never saw him again after that. Was God serious about taking no plunder? What does Scripture tell us?

Father, it’s not always easy to obey you. Sometimes we are tempted to justify a sin and still think we can serve you. Help us to realize that you mean what you say and you tell us to be holy as you are holy. You tell us to flee sin and if we entertain sin in our lives we are disobeying. Help us also to realize that the consequences for disobedience are great. We want to be a people who love you and who serve you on your terms, not ours.