Tag Archives: dealing with sin

May 18; Clinging To The Altar

I Kings 1:1-2:12; Psalm 25: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; I Chronicles 29:23-30

Warren Wiersbe said something about this passage that has me thinking today. (With the Word; Oliver-Nelson Books, 1991; page 197). David was old and dying. God had told him Solomon would succeed him as King of Israel.

However, another son, Adonijah, had other ideas. Adonijah gathered support, including some of David’s top men, and made himself king before David died, and before Solomon was anointed in their father’s  place.

As soon as David heard what was happening, he took matters in hand and made Solomon king in a very official, very public way. Then he had King Solomon sit down on his throne in front of the world.

When Adonijah and his cronies heard the news, they panicked and ran for the hills. I’m sure the words “treason” and “death” were ringing loudly in their ears. Adonijah ran, too. But he didn’t run for the hills, he ran to the altar of God, grabbed hold of the horns of the altar, and stayed right there. He wasn’t there to offer a sacrifice for his sin. He wasn’t there to meet God. He was there because he thought the altar was as safe a place as any. Surely Solomon wouldn’t kill him while he clung to the altar of God, would he?

Wiersbe likens this to people who cling to their religion. “Adonijah fled to the altar for safety, not for sanctity.”

Some people feel “safe” if they attend church, write a check, volunteer at the church’s food kitchen or clothing closet, if they take communion, or pray a row of beads, if they’re baptized, or sing in the choir. They cling to the horns of the altar without letting the altar do its work in them, to change them, to deal with the sin in their lives.

I want to ask you a question today. Are you religious? Or do you have a personal relationship with God through the blood of Jesus? I’m asking myself the same thing.

May 13; The Truth Hurts

Psalms 64, 70, 84, 141, 143; 2 Samuel 18:19-19:43

Absalom is dead. The son who did everything in his power to steal the throne from his father, David, was killed in a battle he was fighting with the intent to destroy David. David wished he’d been the one to have died instead.

Now, I dealt with a lot of middle school parents who thought their precious children could do no wrong, even when presented with evidence to the contrary. But David takes the cake.

David went into a very public, very agonized mourning over the death of his son. I’m not saying he was wrong to be sad. He was a father. But David’s mourning went to the point his own soldiers – those who had been loyal to him when his own son betrayed him – were ashamed to have fought the battle. The solders went into mourning.

So Joab, the leader of the army, went to the king and shook some sense into him. We, of course, can’t hear Joab’s tone of voice. But we can read his words. And it doesn’t appear that he was joking. These are some harsh words. Truthful words. But Joab doesn’t seem to be worried about hurting the king’s feelings.

David was wrong. David acted badly. And he had to be told in no uncertain terms.

I’m not a very good Joab. Confrontation is not my strong suit. Oh, I can write a script in my head. I can imagine what I would say to someone I think needs to hear the truth. But actually saying those words out loud is not something I do.

God is convicting me about that today.

Joab realized that what David was doing was hurting other people, and jeopardizing David’s kingship. I can watch a loved one making similar choices, choices that perhaps hurt others, or worse – jeopardize their relationship with God and eternity.

David needed Joab’s firm honesty. My loved ones need mine. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But sometimes the truth hurts. I don’t want to lose a relationship with them by making them upset with me. But God is asking me if their liking me in this lifetime is worth their eternity without Him?

Man! I do NOT like what God is saying to me today. But He speaks the truth.

And the truth hurts.

February 11; Steps For Serving

Exodus 28-29

I love how the Jews we read about in the Old Testament actually lived out physically what we who live after the cross live out spiritually.

If you notice, the primary thing Aaron and his sons did was serve the Lord. (28:1,3,4,41) Serving God needs to be our number one priority, an umbrella over everything we do.  Paul emphasizes this in I Corinthians 10:31. Whatever we do, our purpose is to glorify God. I ask myself if that’s my motivation behind everything I have planned for today. It doesn’t matter if I’m mopping my kitchen floor, or teaching a Bible study, or taking food to a shut-in, or having lunch with a friend. Is what I’m doing glorifying God?

Aaron and his sons were to be sanctified to minister to the people In Exodus 29 we see them first of all dealing with their own sin, then being clothed in sacred garments. After that they were to deal with the sins of the people.

We Christians should follow this blueprint. It’s tempting to spend our efforts pointing out sin in others, and conveniently overlooking our own sin. Didn’t Jesus tell us to take the plank out of our own eye BEFORE we point out the splinter in our neighbor’s eye? Aaron and his sons demonstrated what that needs to look like in our lives.

I ask myself if I have removed the plank from my eye, if I have asked God to forgive my sins, if I am washed in the blood of Jesus, if I am clothed with His righteousness. Then when I have fulfilled those requirements, I can be about helping someone else deal with the sin in their heart, the splinter in their eye. The first step is as important as the second. And both are necessary in serving God.

I also notice in these chapters in Exodus that the priests stood together in ministry. I think that’s a picture of what our churches should look like: God’s kingdom of priests, standing shoulder to shoulder, each one doing what God has equipped us to do to reach a lost world…

For His glory.

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.

 

2 Chronicles 33-36; There Is No Time Like The Present

A few weeks ago my pastor, who is doing a series of sermons through the Gospel of Mark, shared a heart-felt, heart-wrenching sermon on the unforgivable sin. We all went away from there knowing one of two things: either we would not commit that sin because we have already accepted God’s gift of grace through the blood of Jesus, or we were guilty of that sin because we are rejecting Him.

A couple of days later I was at our Good News Club at a local elementary school. The leader was helping the kids with our memory verse, John 3:16. “Jesus died,” she said, “so that anyone anywhere who believes in Him will be saved, and have eternal life.”

One boy raised his hand. “My pastor says some people run from God. They say, ‘I’ll get saved later. I want to live life my own way first.'” The boy and his family have been attending our church for several weeks. I rejoiced that his youngster understood what he was hearing.

I thought about that as I read the last chapter of 2 Chronicles this morning. Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, a good king who did mostly what was pleasing to God during his reign. But when Manasseh became king, he wasted no time undoing the good his dad had done. Under Manasseh’s leadership, the Jews did more evil than the pagan people around them.

Manasseh eventually quit running from God, humbled himself, and repented. Then, with as much fervor as he’d had doing evil, he began to clean up his mess. He got rid of foreign gods, restored the altar, and told the people to start serving God.

All good things. But his years of defiance took its toll. His son Amon, who became king after Manasseh died, totally defied God his entire reign. Manasseh may have given his life to the Lord, but his son who had lived in his house during Manasseh’s rebellious years, never did. Manasseh had time to clean up the mess he’d made of the nation, but the time to repair the damage he’d done to his son ran out.

Sometimes I think we forget that our influence, our actions and attitudes, effect those closest to us in a very real way, for a very long time. If you are holding anything back from God, don’t think that isn’t effecting the dear ones who live in your home, or who love you and are loved by you.

I certainly hope you aren’t one who is saying, “I’ll get right with God later.” Don’t be living with that unforgivable sin hanging over your head. And for goodness sake, don’t give your children the impression that’s ok. They are watching your example, and learning from you.

Let our loved ones see that NOW is the time to deal with sin, to humble ourselves before God, and accept His forgiveness. Model for your children what a Christian looks like, by the things you do, the places you go, the things you say, the attitudes and passions you have.

There is no time like the present.