Tag Archives: forgiveness of 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 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.

February 20; Not Diseased Any More

Leviticus 13:47-15:33

Don’t read these chapters while you are eating. It’s pretty disgusting to read about leprosy and mold and body fluids with a spoonful of cereal in your mouth. Trust me.

But don’t let that stop you from reading these chapters. God has some serious warnings, and a beautiful promise for us to hear through His Word today.

Scripture often uses leprosy or disease as a physical picture of the effects of sin in our lives. (Ps 147:3; Isaiah 1:5-6; etc.) So as I read chapter 13 I see that sin goes deep into our souls. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us:

The heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked. 

Paul even said in Romans 7:18:

For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) no good thing dwells.

If you believe in the innate goodness of humanity, you would be wrong.

The diseased person was considered unclean, and anyone coming in contact would also be considered unclean. So lepers were forced to live in isolation, outside the city. Even then, if a person would come near, the leper had to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn them not to get too close.

The Bible tells us sin isolates us. Oh, we may enjoy hanging out with other sinners, but your sin is your sin, your hangover your hangover, your venereal disease destroying your body. And, be warned: Hell is the ulitmate isolation. Don’t count on receiving an invitation to a party there. Don’t expect to even be chained to the wall next to your buddy. Your sin, your choice to isolate yourself from God, will isolate you from everyone and everything, including God, for eternity. Not into nothingness, but into an eternal state of knowing you are unclean, and without hope.

Don’t stop reading with chapter 13. There is a sweet picture in chapter 14 of forgiveness, of cleansing. I love how the former leper is pronounced clean. It’s a description of Jesus Himself; confined to a clay jar of flesh and bones, blood shed and applied, then He rose again! It’s also a picture of me: bound in a clay jar of sin, accepting the blood of my precious Savior, and free to fly, free from the disease of sin!

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) That’s a promise you can count on!

Oh, another thing. Notice in chapter 14 the priest went to the leper. The priest defied the “Do Not Touch” order and went to where the leper was. Does that remind you of anyone?

I love Jesus so much!

Chapter 15 reminds me of my responsibility to others. There is nothing sinful about bowel movements, sex between a husband and wife, (or a sneeze). But allowing myself to do those things without cleaning up, can be harmful to those with whom I have contact. It involves a washing every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

God tells us to be holy, like He is holy. That doesn’t involve a bath, or baptism, at some point then assuming you’re fixed for life. Every time God points out a blemish, a sin, I need to throw it under the blood. I need to repent, receive His forgiveness, let Him clean me up. And once that is done, I am not diseased any more. And I need have no fear of spreading the disease of sin to anyone else.

Thank you, God for drawing us this picture in Your Word. Some of the details of the diseases, the creeping crud, the body fluid are disgusting. But I’m reminded sin disgusts you even more. Thank you also for the picture of forgiveness in the two birds used for the cleansing ceremony. Thank you for the truth that once I was lost, diseased, disgusting, I am found, heal, and holy in your sight because of what Jesus did for me. I love you!

 

 

2 Corinthians 7-12; Examine Yourselves

Do you consider yourself a Christian? On what do you base that belief? Paul tells the church in Corinth:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”

Sadly, the name, “Christian” is almost meaningless these days. Some people consider themselves “Christian” if they go to church occasionally, or if they were baptized as a child, or if they aren’t an atheist or Islamic. But Paul goes a bit deeper and asks if we are “in the faith.”

Maybe that is the litmus test. Have you put your faith in the person of Jesus Christ? Have you confessed your sins and accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross? And did that confession change you?

Consider where you have placed your faith. Is it in yourself? In a preacher or philosopher? If you haven’t placed your faith in Jesus, I wonder if you should be wearing His name.

Paul says, “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless of course you fail the test.”

Here’s the test: Romans 3:23 tells us we are all sinners. Romans 6:23 says the price of our sin is death. But God sent Jesus to die for you while you were still a sinner (Romans 5:8).

That is where your forgiveness – your justification lies. (Romans 3:24) God justifies freely through the redemption that comes by Christ Jesus. Not in right living. Not in church attendance. Not in volunteering at the homeless shelter.

Unless you have a relationship with Jesus through His precious blood, you fail the test. And if you fail the test, don’t wear His name. “Christian” doesn’t apply to you.

Examine yourself whether you’ve been calling yourself a Christian or whether you’re not sure where you stand. Take the test. It’s a matter of life and death.

Job 29-31; Job’s Final Thoughts

The difference between Job and me is that I can look back on my life and recognize the multitude of sins I have committed. Job seems to be able to look back on his life and see none. I don’t know which is worse.

Let me just get it out there: I AM A SINNER. I know that I am. If I tried to list all the sins I remember committing I’m not sure I’d get to the end before the middle of next year. And that doesn’t include the sins I’ve conveniently forgotten.

Besides, I don’t want to spend that much time considering the “old nature,” because I am forgiven and Christ has made me a new person.

Some people allow their old nature to hold them back. I know you’ve sinned. God knows you’ve sinned. Maybe you are living with painful consequences for that sin.

But if you’ve repented, asked God to forgive you, you are washed clean. That sin, in God’s eyes, doesn’t even exist any more. Stop beating yourself up about it. Jesus has already been beaten up for you.

Paul told the Philippians (3:13-14):

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

He is talking about knowing Christ, pursuing a relationship with Jesus. If I am actively walking with the Lord I don’t have time – or desire – to continually look back. If I draw near to God, He draws near to me, and with Him comes joy, peace, comfort, and help to know Him more and serve Him better.

Job spent a lot of time defending himself. He couldn’t come up with one sin he’d committed. He was, no doubt a good man. God Himself called Job His servant, a blameless and upright man. (1:8)

Job did many good things for his family, his friends, his neighbors, his servants, his enemies, and even his land. He spent his life using the blessings God gave him to help others. But does that mean he was sinless?

Romans 3:23 tells us everyone has sinned, everyone falls short when compared to God. Yet there are people who rationalize or ignore sin in their lives. They convince themselves if they are religious enough, or if they meditate, or volunteer at a soup kitchen, or don’t murder anyone, somehow that  covers up or equalizes the bad things they’ve done.

Friend, the only thing that can cover up your sin is the blood of Jesus. The only way you can be good enough is by accepting the fact that Jesus is good enough, and let Him stand in your place when you repent of your sin and ask Him to forgive you – something He’s dying to do.

So whether you are living in the past and are paralyzing yourself over past sin and guilt, or if you have convinced yourself you are ok as is, let God tell you what He thinks about your life. Let Him remind you that He recognizes your sin and loves you anyway. Let Him lead you to the cross where your sin debt was paid. And let Him make you new, clean, free from the bondage of sin. Then know the joy of having His Presence living in you, and blessing you with Himself.

I’m praying for you.

 

I Kings 9-12; Golden Calves in 2017

Jeroboam could have been a great king, on the order of King David. (11:38-39) God was giving this son of a slave the kingdom, and would have blessed him… IF.

Jeroboam did become king over ten Jewish tribes. And even though God had handed him the throne and promised to bless him, Jeroboam seems to have doubted God could or would pull through.

Jerusalem was located in a part of the nation still ruled by Solomon’s son, the rightful heir. Now it was time for the people to go to Jerusalem for the feasts God had commanded them to celebrate. Jeroboam was afraid if his people went back to Jerusalem to worship, they would switch their allegiance to King Rehoboam.

So the first thing Jeroboam did as king was to make two gold calves, place them in convenient spots for the people, and declare that the statues were their gods to be worshiped. “Why go all the way to Jerusalem when you can worship in your own back yards? Does it really matter who you worship so long as your worship is sincere?”

Well, for one, God commanded the people to worship in Jerusalem. Two, gold calves never have and never will hear your prayers. And thirdly, the worship of anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a sin.

Now here’s what makes me sad about this story: the people went along with Jeroboam’s plan. They worshiped the idols on the same day, in the same manner God had instituted for His people. Their’s looked like the worship services going on in Jerusalem. But their worship was meaningless. And Jeroboam’s shortcut, and the people’s acceptance made God really mad.

Is this a picture of the church in 2017? The name “Christian” is worn by many who go to a service every Sunday morning. They sing songs and hymns, hear a lecture based on a Bible verse, get a pat on the back, and forget it all until the next Sunday.  Folks, there is no shortcut to God.

Here’s the Truth: Sin is keeping you from God. Sin: anything you think, do, or say that doesn’t please Him, stands between you and a Holy God who demands holiness of us.

Sin and God cannot exist together. It’s like trying to unite two magnets by their north poles. Ain’t gonna happen.

I can say with confidence if you attend a fellowship that doesn’t talk about sin, that doesn’t call sin sin, and doesn’t preach forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, you are looking at a gold calf. Get. Out. Now.

True worship of God was never designed for your convenience, or for your delicate sense of self. Worship is about God, and there are no shortcuts to worship that He recognizes, no shortcuts that He will bless.

_________________________

I am back home after Hurricane Irma, and the extent of the damage to my property is a smashed mailbox. I don’t know why God spared me again. I am humbled and grateful, as I realize how many people lost everything, including loved ones. Please continue to pray for those effected by Harvey and Irma, and pray for our country that we might come together, and that Jesus will be glorified.

Joshua 22-24; God’s Compassionate Discipline

When you feel the sting of God’s discipline, do you ever consider it a sign of His compassion? 3:1 tells us God allowed the enemy nations to live with the Jews in Canaan “to teach warfare” to His children. Living among the enemy would require skills, stamina, and strategies. God, because He loved them, wanted them prepared to battle.

Maybe you’re like me and think it sure would be nice if, when a person becomes a Christian, God would just straighten out the path, remove all sickness and heartache, and make life a bed of roses. But that’s not realistic. As long as we continue to have the ability to choose, we will choose sin once in a while. That’s how we are wired.

Think about it. God shows His compassion every time we sin, and He doesn’t kill us. He shows His compassion when He disciplines us, refines us through the fire, so that we can have fellowship with Him instead of being cut off from Him.

The next time you identify sin as the reason you are going through a difficulty, thank God. Our compassionate Father is giving you a chance to get right with Him.

I think of the beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace.” The second verse says that it was God’s grace that taught us to fear Him, and it’s the same grace that erases our fear of Him. How amazing is that?

God is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalm 145:8)

Thank you, God, for loving me enough to discipline me, to prepare me to battle my enemy Satan, for giving me opportunities to confess sin and accept your amazing grace. You are worthy of my praise, no matter what circumstances I find myself in. You love me more than I can comprehend. I worship You.