Tag Archives: conviction

It’s My Fault (2 Samuel 24, I Chronicles 21)

Warren Wiersbe says of these chapters of the Bible, that David’s sin was pride. David counted the fighting men in Israel and Judah, which demonstrated the Jews’ superiority over other nations, and revealed David as the most powerful king. But according to Wiersbe, he did not “connect the census with the redemption money,”  as was directed in Exodus 30. (With the Word by Warren Wiersbe; Oliver-Nelson Books; 1991; page 194) It would appear this census was motivated by David’s pride.

What I like about David is, when he recognized that he’d sinned against God, feeling the heavy hand of God’s conviction, he prayed: “I have sinned greatly.” He didn’t blame anyone else, he didn’t make excuses, he didn’t rationalize his behavior. He recognized his sin, and he confessed it to God. have sinned.

We must never ignore the feeling of guilt, or learn to live with a heavy conscience. We must confess our sin, because when we do God is faithful to forgive! What joy!

But there is a lesson here. Forgiveness doesn’t automatically cancel out consequences for our sin. And that’s what spoke to me today.

The consequences for David’s sin didn’t just affect him. The entire nation paid for what David had done. For days, David watched while the people charged to his care, the nation he loved and fought for and led, suffered. Tens of thousands of them died, and there was nothing David could do but sit back and watch it happen, knowing it was his fault.

We all have people we care about: our children, our siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, our friends, co-workers, neighbors, adults and kids whom we love, fight for, and nurture. We all have people for whom we are responsible in one way or another. Isn’t it hard to watch these dear ones go through hard times, suffer illness and loss while you stand helplessly by? It’s a horrible feeling.

But what if the things they are going through are a direct result of sin you’ve committed? Your family loses their home because your drinking ends up costing you your job. Your adolescent child is having trouble dealing with losing you through divorce. Your company goes under because you embezzled money, putting your co-workers and friends out of their jobs. Your family lives in fear because you don’t control your temper.

Even if you confess your sin and receive God’s grace, consequences don’t magically disappear. That is an important lesson for all of us. That sin we are committing has far reaching fingers.

I don’t think there is a much worse feeling than watching those dear people suffer for what you’ve done. I remember the first time I saw my dad cry. We had been out for a family hike at a nearby state park. We’d walked for a time when Dad and I ran ahead and climbed a steep hill to hide from Mom and my sisters. But when they finally came into view, they weren’t even looking for us. So Dad kicked a rock, thinking that would get their attention. The rock rolled down the hill, hit another, larger rock, and went airborne. We watched in horror as that rock was hurled into the eye of one of my sisters.

Blood everywhere. Screams. Panic. Dad ran, picked her up, and ran to the car, Mom trying to get the others of us there as quickly as possibly. We crammed into the car and Dad sped to the nearest hospital.

My three sisters and I waited in the car while Mom and Dad took Peggy to the emergency room. I don’t know how long we sat there before we saw Dad come out of the glass doors. With head down, he walked slowly toward us. He opened the driver’s side door, sat down, then dropped his head onto the steering wheel and cried.

It wasn’t a whimper. The sounds coming from him came from a place very deep inside him. He moaned, and sobbed, it seemed like forever. Peggy had nearly lost her eye. And Dad knew it was his fault. He was responsible, and there was nothing he could do about it now. She would be scarred for the rest of her life.

Dad’s agony came from a place of innocence. And yet he always carried the guilt of that day. It was an accident. But that didn’t prevent Dad and Peggy from suffering the consequences.

How much worse, to know that the suffering of our loved ones comes as a result of our choices, our pride, our willfulness, our rebellion, our sin. How much worse when we are faced with the reality that there was something we could have done to prevent it.

Like confessing that sin, repenting, turning from it before it was too late.

I would encourage us all to be sensitive to the convicting hand of our Lord. If you are feeling guilty over a sin, no matter how small you think that sin is, confess it immediately. Ask God to forgive you BEFORE things get too far, and consequences begin to touch others. Repent before your stubborn pride boils over and burns the people you love.

I don’t think there are more bitter tears than ones that come from knowing:

It’s my fault.

Convicted (Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122)

These psalms have a lot to say about the forgiveness of sin. David said that when he lived with his sin, God’s hand was heavy on him. He had no strength, he groaned all day. David’s experience (and my own) tells me that the force of God’s conviction affects every part of our lives.

But when David confessed his sin, God forgave him and surrounded him with songs of deliverance. Instead of feeling the guilt and shame of his sin, David could confidently say this:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (32:1-2)

David knew that when he confessed his sin, his whole life was changed:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. (51:7)

And, instead of  being weighed down by guilt, David could pray:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (51:12a)

David’s groaning turned to real joy when He asked and received God’s forgiveness. He knew God wasn’t interested in religion, or in David’s animal sacrifices any more than God is interested in our good deeds:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (51:16-17, emphasis mine)

This God who lays a heavy hand of conviction on us who sin, doesn’t make us miserable because He is mean or vengeful. Listen to David describe God:

You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. (86:5)

David could say those things with confidence about God, even when the guilt of his sin caused him sleepless nights and agony. David knew…

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (86:7)

Are you being convicted by a sin you’ve not confessed? I would urge you to bow your head right now, and ask God to forgive you. Turn from that sin and toward our God who is abounding in love to those who call on Him. He will answer your prayer. Then, with David, you will be able to say:

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. (86:13)

Amen!

 

October 11; Stop Sinning… or Else.

Mark 5:21-43, 6:1-6; Matthew 9:18-34, 13:53-58; Luke 8:40-56; John 5:1-15

The Jewish leaders saw a man walking around, carrying a mat on the Sabbath. They knew him as a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Now he was walking around as if nothing was wrong.

But he was carrying a mat.

I shake my head at the Jews who were witnessing a miracle right in front of their eyes, yet pounced on the guy for breaking the Law by carrying his mat on the Sabbath. Legalist much?

The healed man answered them, “The guy who healed me told me to pick up my mat.” And when the Jews asked the man to name his healer, he had no idea. Jesus had slipped into the crowd without leaving his business card.

But here’s something I noticed today: when the man ran into Jesus later, Jesus told him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man immediately went running to the Jewish leaders who’d questioned him earlier, and identified Jesus as the one who had healed him and told him to carry his mat on the Sabbath.

Typical.

At least of me, and maybe you. Oh, we are thankful to God for His many blessings. We praise Him for good medical reports, for paying our bills, for keeping our kids safe. But don’t tell me I’m a sinner.

Don’t mess with my screen time, or my anger and jealousy. Don’t point out the times I use language that dishonors you, or when I gossip, or lie, or blend in with the world. Bless me Lord, then leave me alone.

Now maybe I’m reading too much into this passage. Maybe the healed man went excitedly to the Jewish leaders, thinking he’d share the good news of Jesus Christ with people who would be excited about Him, too. I don’t know what he was thinking.

I just don’t read that he repented of the sins Jesus addressed.

I want to always praise God for every blessing in my life. He is unbelievably good to me. I want to share Him with others, people for whom He died, people He loves as much as He loves me.

But I also want to hear Him say, “Stop sinning… or else,” and be quick to do what He says.

August 1; When Is Enough Enough?

Jeremiah 7:1-8:3, 11:1-17, 15:10-21, 22:18-23

It bothers me when I hear God tell Jeremiah to quit praying for the Jews. I mean I get it. For hundreds of years God spoke to them, begged them, disciplined them, ignored them, and even blessed them in order to get them to obey Him. But even when they turned to Him for a time, they always went back to their stupid idols and living life the way they wanted to.

I mean, I get that God was done with them. But it bothers me.

In Bible study the other night our teacher pointed out that its’s not just that the Jews sinned, repented, and sinned again. It was that each time they went back to sin, their sins became a bit more vile, a bit more blatant and bold. The people were on a downward spiral, and God was done with them. After all, how low can a people go before God washes His hands of them?

Fast forward to 2019.

I received a prayer request recently from a church I used to attend, concerning a sister church in another state. I don’t know all the details, but the request was for a young youth pastor who, because he didn’t address a boy in his Sunday School class by the feminine name the boy had chosen for himself because he identified as female, is in serious trouble. The community is up in arms, picketing the church and causing a media frenzy.

Did I mention the child is Ten. Years. Old?

Christian, we need to pray for this man and his church, that they will stay strong, obedient to God and His Word during this time. It won’t be easy for them. Let’s pray for this situation, and for other churches facing, or who will face the same persecution – including your church.

Do you know who the Recabites were? They were a family who obeyed with unwavering loyalty. Their granddad had told them he didn’t want anyone in his family to ever drink wine, build houses, or plant vineyards. And this family obeyed. For generations!

God, in Jeremiah 22 said, if they can obey a grandfather like that, why can’t God’s people obey Him?

Really, why can’t we?

If you know me at all, you know I am not going to leave this study with a “we.” I don’t believe God is just talking about disobedient nations, families, or even churches. God wants me to hear Him say He expects obedience of me. And that isn’t a suggestion.

What makes me sad, and a bit fearful, is hearing God tell Jeremiah He can be done with the Jews, knowing He’s saying the same thing to me about me. My disobedience is not a little thing at all. And He wants me to know there may be a time when He’ll think enough is enough.

I may complain when I face consequences for sin. But as long as God is disciplining me I know He’s trying to get my attention. I may be uncomfortable when under conviction of the Holy Spirit, and wish God would leave me alone. But if I don’t feel conviction, that might mean God has washed His hands of me. And I really don’t want Him to leave me alone. Not really.

I want to remember that playing the repetitive Old Testament Jewish game of obedience, disobedience, repentance, is a downward spiral. With each act of sin I get further and further away from my Heavenly Father. I don’t ever want Him to think enough is enough.

Let me say I am not going to stop praying for myself, my loved ones, my church, my country, and the world because I still believe God is faithful and just to forgive every sin confessed. I’m going to pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to do His work in my heart, and yours, and will place a heavy hand of conviction on each of us. I will continue to pray that God’s people will obey Him with all our hearts.

And I’ll keep praying until the day I meet Him face to face.

Isaiah 1-4; It’s Personal

Honestly, I think it’s a bit unfortunate when people read books like Isaiah’s as merely an historical account, or a glimpse into the future, Yes, there was sin in Israel. Yes, they were captured by the Babylonians. Yes, Jesus is coming again. But I don’t want to miss what God wants to say to me in these pages about my walk with Him in 2018.

When I read this, I hear hear Him ask me why I am sometimes miserable, why I can feel defeated. He tells me it’s because I persist in rebellion, I’ve let foreigners (sin) in, and sin is stripping me of the blessings He would love to shower on me.

I hear Him tell me He’s sick of me going through the motions of serving Him when my heart isn’t in it. The He says in 1:18-20:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.

In other words, “Come on, Connie. Use your head. Your sins will be forgiven, you will be washed clean…

If.

I must be willing and obedient. I must stop resisting and rebelling. Then He can bless me. There is order to His plan.

As I continue to read these chapters and make the “you” personal, I understand that God means what He says. Look at 2:5:

Come, O house of Jacob, (of which I am a part through the blood of Jesus) let us walk in the light of the Lord.

That’s God’s will for my life. To walk in His light, not the opinions of men, not in theologies or philosophies. God wants me to walk with HIM!

Isaiah points out that the world seems to have it all, but there will come a time when every man and woman who has ever lived on this planet will be required to face God. Judgment will come to those who reject Him.

I know that in a general way. But God can convict all of us of the personal struggles we have with sin as we read this book. He can convict of us embracing pagans, or considering views other than those in Scripture, or aligning ourselves with ungodly people. He can convict us of tolerating idols, or making idols out of our families or careers or ourselves. He can convict us of arrogance and pride as we read what Isaiah penned so long ago.

I challenge you to read the book of Isaiah with me, and make it personal. What is God saying to you about your walk with Him? Let’s not miss it.

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.

 

 

 

 

I Samuel 18; Expect To Feel Miserable

Wow. I just had a wrestling match with Scripture. Have you ever questioned something you read in God’s Word that you could not get past? I had that experience in verse 10 of this chapter:

The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul.

I don’t know about you, but major questions come to mind when the Bible tells me anything evil came from God. Verses like I John 1:5, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all,” and James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone,” come to mind. But here it is in black and white. An evil, or distressing spirit FROM GOD was thrown at Saul.

I went to commentaries on my shelf and on the internet to try to makes sense of this. And  I’m glad I did.

Why would the Spirit of God come upon Saul in a distressing way? I was reminded that Saul had chosen sin over obedience. He chose his own desires over repentance. And in doing so, the Spirit of God had left Him. (16:14)

Here is what I think God would have us consider today: When we disobey, when we choose sin over purity, and then when God removes Himself and His blessings from us, we should expect to feel crummy about it. We should never imagine that God is going to watch us walk away from Him and not convict us.

Saul was under major conviction. His soul was at war within him. Of course Saul was distressed.

Friend, God does not cause anyone to sin. He is Holy. But He is not going to sit back and watch you throw your life away. Expect conviction. Expect distress. Expect to feel uncomfortable, depressed, anxious, if you are harboring sin in your life.

Saul’s response to this great conviction from God was to pick up a spear and throw it at David. Saul held on to his jealousy and anger instead of repenting. As we read on, we’re going to find out this is not the last time God will send His convicting Spirit to Saul. God is never one and done. (I praise Him for being the God of second and third… chances)

God is working in the hearts of every person on this planet. Don’t think that doesn’t mean you. God loves you enough to make you feel miserable when you sin.

Expect it. Then repent and experience the joy that will follow, the sweet fellowship with the God of the Universe who loves you to death.