Tag Archives: forgiveness of sin

That Same Jesus

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

The touch of His hand healed everyone. (Luke 4:40b)

Jesus offered Living Water to the woman at the well, and told her if she drank it she would never thirst again. (John 4:14) In fact, He told her, it would bubble up inside her like a spring bringing eternal life.

The demons knew who He was, but they had no power to resist His demands.

He called ordinary men to follow Him, and turned them into extra-ordinary forces for the Gospel, the good news that Jesus is God, the Savior of the world.

That same Jesus is alive today, continuing to touch diseased souls, giving eternal life, and calling His followers to be extra-ordinary forces to share the Good News.

That same Jesus.

Here I Am!

Isaiah 65

There is an old 35mm home movie of me at my parent’s Sunday School class’s Christmas party. I’m probably four or five at the time. Each year “Santa” would make an appearance and bring presents (provided by the parents) to pass out to the kids.

We’d usually sit on the floor in front of the jolly old man, and excitedly wait for our names to be called. All of us, dressed in our Sunday best. Me in a dress, hair ribbons in my braids, and my Mary Janes.

Santa must have called my name (it was before sound made it into home movies. Yes, I’m that old) because you see me jump up and hurry to stand in front of him. You can see him holding the present and looking to his left, totally ignoring me! “Connie,” you can see him call out again.

You can see my mouth move: “Here I am,” I say, my eyes looking intently into his face.

Santa looks to the right, still holding the present. “Connie, are you here?” he says.

This time you can see my little hand come up to my chest, pointing at myself, and watch my mouth say, “This is me. I’m right here.”

But the old guy still doesn’t seem to see me, even though I am nose-to-nose with him. He looks over my head and once again calls out my name.

You can see the look of disappointment and confusion on my young face, until he looks down and with surprise says, “There you are!” My face changes from disappointment to gladness in an instant. I walk back to my place on the floor, present in hand, and a smile on my face.

I thought of that this morning as I read the first verse of chapter 65.

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call my name.

So many people are looking for Truth, when Truth is standing right in front of them. Many are searching for God, when He is nose-to-nose with them. They look to the right, lean into the left. They look to science, philosophy, preachers and musicians. They look to politicians and influencers, and some even look to themselves.

Friend, if that describes you, hear God say, “Here I am, here I am!” Then run to Him. You’ll find His arms open wide. Submit to Him. You’ll find forgiveness and cleansing. Trust Him, and you’ll find eternity.

Can you hear Him?

“Here I am, here I am!”

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

It’s Still Wrong

Judges 19-21

In my opinion this is one of the most disturbing passages in Scripture. Homosexuality, brutal rape, murder, the mutilation of a dead body, retaliation, war, kidnapping. It’s disgusting.

But something that I may have overlooked before spoke to me today. Part of their justification for sin was that “the people felt sorry for Benjamin…” because they didn’t have enough young women within the tribe who could be wives for their young men.

Never mind the fact that the men of the tribe of Benjamin were responsible for starting this whole mess because of their lust and the violent murder of a woman. But because the other tribes felt sorry for them, an arrangement was made for the kidnapping of innocent girls who were then forced to go with the Benjamin men and marry them.

The hopes and dreams of these girls were shattered. They were ripped from their homes. They were expendable because people felt sorry for the men. Does that get your blood boiling? Everything about this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

If this angers you like it does me, let me ask you something. Where do you stand on the issue of abortion?

We feel so sorry for women with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies that we deem their innocent children expendable. We rip them from their homes inside their mother’s bodies. Any hopes and dreams for these children are shattered because someone feels sorry for their mothers. Never mind the mother’s responsibility for the pregnancy.

We come up with one excuse after another why we should feel sorry for them, rationalize why that innocent child is expendable. That gets my blood boiling.

Now let me say that if you are carrying the guilt of having had an abortion, God can forgive your sin. In fact, I hope that if you have had an abortion you have asked God to forgive you, and allowed Him to turn your life around. I wish nothing less for you.

But if you are pregnant and considering an abortion, stop. Your baby is a life deserving to hope and dream, to make mistakes and succeed, to find the Savior and walk with God on this earth. They are not responsible for your mistakes.

They aren’t responsible any more than the girls we read about in these chapters of Judges in the Bible. Those girls had nothing to do with the savage murder of a woman, or the brutal war that took the lives of most of the young men in the tribe of Benjamin. They had nothing to do with it. And neither does an unborn child have anything to do with an unwanted pregnancy.

It’s wrong to make a child pay for his mother’s choices. There are people who would love to put their arms around moms of unborn children and help them do the right thing. There are parents who are aching to fill empty homes with the laughter and love of a child.

Your baby deserves that.

I pray that if you or someone close to you is considering an abortion, you will reach out to compassionate, loving people who will walk this journey with you. There are crisis pregnancy centers in most areas, or people in churches who can point you in the direction of help. You have options.

What happened to the girls in Judges is wrong. There is no justification for the actions of the adults around them. The same is true today in the question of abortion. There is no justification for the actions of the adults who choose to destroy the lives of the innocent.

It was wrong back then. It’s still wrong.

The Most Important Word in The Bible

Deuteronomy 13

God gave specific instructions to the Jews concerning worship, sacrifices, how to treat one another, caring for the poor, etc. The nuts and bolts of it were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross so today we don’t sacrifice animals on a stone altar, and we don’t kill idolators. But God’s instructions to the Jews speaks volumes to us today.

Deuteronomy 13:18 is the lesson God wants us to understand from His instructions:

The Lord your God will be merciful only IF you listen to His voice and keep all His commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases Him. (emphasis mine)

Gods words in Deuteronomy are still true today, and only through the substitutionary work of Jesus can our sins be forgiven without the physical sacrificing of animals. Without blood, there is still no forgiveness of sin. Jesus shed His own blood as the ultimate, perfect substitute.

What we read in Deuteronomy is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross. He became those sacrifices for us. And therefore, the same principle applies:

God will show mercy IF we obey Him.

We can’t expect God’s blessings unless we do ALL His Word demands. That’s a tall order on our own.

IF I accept Jesus as my Savior I am obeying the Law spelled out in Deuteronomy. And IF I live my life like Jesus spelled out in the New Testament, then and only then can God bless me.

And, oh what blessings!

I think “IF” might be the most important word in the Bible.

It’s Worth About A Penny

Leviticus 9

When I read God’s instructions for the various sacrifices, I try to picture the scene. I am often struck by the gruesome death of one animal after another; blood splattered layer upon layer on the altar, then poured on the ground at the base; Aaron and his sons wearing blood on their ears, hands, and feet.

So much blood everywhere.

But God, in His Sovereignty determined before the creation of the world, that blood would be required for the forgiveness of sin. Without the blood no one could have a relationship with Him, no one could be saved from the consequences of their sin.

Friend – blood will be required when you face the Holy Judge, God Himself. And like it or not, believe it or not – you WILL face Him when this life is over.

We who have accepted in this lifetime what Jesus did on the cross will stand before the Judge wearing Jesus’ blood on our heads, hands, and feet because Jesus’ blood covers our sin. God will look at the blood of His precious Son and say, “Debt paid in full.” Our eternity will be in God’s sweet Presence, too amazing to be described by words.

But if you stand before God expecting to pay for your own sins with your own blood, you’d be putting about a penny toward your billion dollar debt. Far, far from paid in full. And owing the cost of sinning against God will be an eternity of horror you can’t even imagine right now, too painful to be described by words.

Our Holy God wants each of us to know Him, so He Himself came to earth, lived, died, and rose again to make a way for that to happen. You are a sinner. You are piling up a debt of sin against God that you cannot pay. So Jesus paid it for you.

Have you accepted it? He’s offering His blood to cover your sins. Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer. But God has given you the privilege of choosing for yourself. If you think your penny will cover the cost of your sin, then take the gamble and choose that.

I’m praying you’ll choose Jesus.

Don’t Be Ridiculous

Genesis 44

The other day I was having lunch with a friend, and she picked up the tab. I wasn’t expecting that. I argued for a minute, but she held the bill. I thanked her, and she paid for lunch.

It looked like Benjamin would have to be a slave as punishment for stealing a silver cup. Knowing how devastated their father would be at the loss of his youngest son, all ten brothers volunteered to give up their freedom and become slaves, too.

Joseph the governor of Egypt (whom they didn’t realize was actually their long lost brother), insisted that because Benjamin was “guilty,” Benjamin would have to serve his own punishment.

Then Judah, one of the brothers responsible for selling Joseph into slavery, offered himself. The punishment had to be paid, and Judah wanted to take on that punishment for Benjamin.

It’s a picture of grace, isn’t it? Unlike Benjamin who was actually innocent of stealing that cup, you and I are guilty. We are sinners. We have disobeyed and dishonored God more times than we could count. The wages, or the just punishment of sin is death.

We deserve to die an eternal, painful, unrelenting death for the sins we have committed. But Jesus stepped in, picked up the bill, went to the cross where He died, and paid our death sentence.

Now, wouldn’t it have been ridiculous for me to go to the cashier at the restaurant the other day and pay my portion of the bill after my friend had already paid it? No one in their right mind would do such a thing.

It’s as ridiculous for anyone to pay their own death sentence, too, because Jesus has already paid it in full! I had to accept my friend’s generosity at the restaurant. And because I did, I was able to walk out of there without it costing me anything.

If you haven’t accepted what Jesus has already paid, I urge you to do that today. It would be ridiculous not to.

(Micah 1-4) The Truth Behind the Words

I believe we spend so much time trying to assign date and time to prophecy we miss the point. There is no eternal value in predicting future events. We need to live as though today is the day we will meet God face to face.

Some people breathe a sigh of relief, thinking Jesus is going to set up a material kingdom for 1,000 calendar years, so they have plenty of time. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take, and not a chance I’d encourage you to take for yourself.

God, through the prophet Micah tells us who live in the 21st Century some things we need to hear. It’s the same message the people in Micah’s day needed to hear.

  1. God punishes sin. No one can escape His judgment. We are all found guilty before the Judge. Do you wonder what constitutes sin? Micah, in 2:6-11 tells us covetousness is a sin, or idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Rejecting God’s Word is a sin (Micah 2:6-11) Paul, in the New Testament gives a short list in I Corinthians 6:9-10. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it is specific: idolators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Jesus said that if we even entertain thoughts about sin, we are guilty of that sin. (Matthew 5) So, my friend, listen up. YOU ARE A SINNER. And God punishes sin.
  2. There is hope. (Micah 2:12-13) Yes, the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). Paul, after listing the sins in I Corinthians 6 says this in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

That’s the message I believe God wants us to hear through the words of Micah. You can pick apart Micah’s word pictures if you want. Just don’t miss the Truth behind the words.

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(Daniel 4-5) Don’t Give Up

Yesterday I was saddened that King Nebuchadnezzar’s knowledge of God didn’t reach his heart, didn’t change him. He remained the same arrogant, self-satisfied, ruthless king he’d always been, even after recognizing the power and authority of God.

But I saw something today that blesses my heart, makes me love God all the more, and encourages me to continue to pray for my loved ones who don’t know Him. Here it is:

God never gives up on any of us.

Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, God gave Daniel the interpretation, the horrible events of the dream came true. Then Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself before God, and God blessed the king greatly because finally, his knowledge of God had reached his heart.

I guess I want to encourage us all to keep praying. Our resistant loved ones may have to experience horrible circumstance (read what Nebuchadnezzar experienced) before they humble themselves.

But take heart. God isn’t going to give up on them while they are still breathing. Don’t you give up, either.