Tag Archives: forgiveness of sin

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.

(Isaiah 53) It Is Enough

God has hidden many of the gory details of Jesus’ suffering. Yet He has given us enough of a glimpse to understand the horror, the excruciating pain Jesus must have endured in order to save each of us.

The New Testament tells us Jesus’ captors beat Him, pulled out His beard, thrashed His back with scourges. Isaiah tells us Jesus was beaten so severely He no longer even looked like a human. I think Jesus must have gone through much more than any of us realize.

Did you watch “The Passion of the Christ” without looking away during the scene depicting Jesus’ beating? I couldn’t watch it. But as I sit here today I remember the sounds of those lashes tearing His flesh. It haunts me. And that was merely Hollywood’s imagination as to what went on.

I looked up what constituted a scourging (truthmagazine.com, The Scourging of Jesus, by David McClister). Maybe you know this. Three leather straps about three feet long were tied together, each with either a sharp stone or bone attached to the end. It was designed to lacerate, to cut deep. The victim was tied to a pole, stripped of his clothing, and a strong man would begin to swing the scourge at the back of the one being scourged.

The victim was “lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.” (Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, chap. 15)

They ripped open Jesus’ back and exposed His internal organs. No wonder He was unable to carry His cross. We know that after this brutal beating, they crucified Him, nailed Him to a cross and watched Him die a slow and painful death.

Now, in my thinking, this is what makes what Jesus did so incredible: at any moment He could have disappeared. He could have struck down the soldier wielding the scourge, turned those leather and stone straps into spaghetti. He could have called ten thousand angels to wipe out the entire city of Jerusalem. Yet He chose to stay. He chose to feel each wound. He wanted to save you more than He wanted to escape.

In fact, I don’t think escaping ever even crossed His mind. He loves you that much.

So my question is, why would anyone think what Jesus did isn’t enough to save? Why would anyone think you need the cross plus something else: baptism, church attendance, good deeds? Can you seriously look Jesus in the eye and tell Him what He did was not enough?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say except through me plus anything.

If you have not yet looked upon the wounded Jesus and known He did that for love of you, I pray you will do that today. God is able to forgive your sins because Jesus paid your account in full. Jesus took upon Himself your sins and took those lashes you deserved so that when you repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, you will be saved.

Because what He did that night is enough.

(Psalm 25) For The Sake Of The Name

LORD, for the sake of your name, forgive my iniquity, for it is immense. (v 11)

Sometimes I think we spend too much of our worship thanking God for the blessings of home and family and comfort and peace and health and heaven, all of which are amazing benefits of knowing Jesus. We ought to be thanking God for all of that and more!

But David reminded me that none of it compares with the Name. None if it even comes close to equaling Creator God, the Person of Jesus Christ, or the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul, in Philippians 3:8-11 says:

I count everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in himthat I may know him…

We are saved to be a gift to the Savior, not so the Savior can gift us with things. Paul tells us that anything short of Jesus Himself is rubbish!

The other thing about this verse is David’s admission that the sins God forgave him were “immense.” I can’t help but say the same of my sins.

Immense.

But God forgives me, cleans me up, dresses me in purity, and gives me as a gift to His Son.

I am saved for His sake! And I am blessed with Jesus Himself in return.

(Nehemiah 4-8) The Joy Of The Lord

As I read about the worship service in the square in front of one of the gates in the newly repaired wall around Jerusalem, a couple of things occurred to me.

One is that worship was expressed in two ways – with the raising of hands, as well as the kneeling of people with their faces to the ground. I believe there is a place for both in our worship of God still today.

The other thing that spoke to me is how the people reacted when Ezra read Scripture, and when God’s Word was explained. When they understood what was read, they grieved. Their reaction to the Truth was an honest look at their failure to obey it. And it broke them.

Ezra and Nehemiah encouraged the people with, “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (8:10b)

It wasn’t that their grief was wrong. But there is a time to recognize sin and repent of it, and there is a time to get up off our knees and allow God to strengthen us to worship and serve Him with joy.

Just being sorry for our sins isn’t enough What you do with that grief is just as important.

When you are faced with your own sin, I pray it breaks your heart; that you realize what your sin does to our precious Father; that you fall on your knees and ask Him to forgive you. Just don’t stay there in your sorrow.

Accept what Jesus offers – complete forgiveness – then get up and allow His joy to fill and strengthen you. Worship Him with gladness. Serve Him, obey Him, submit to Him with joy.

Because the joy of the Lord is YOUR strength.

(Numbers 26-30) Priorities

There seems to have been a lot of livestock and wheat among the nomadic Jews there in the wilderness. If you count up the things required for daily sacrifices, not to mention the special occasion sacrifices, there’re a lot of cattle, lambs, goats, as well as bushels and bushels of grain.

So why was it necessary for God to provide manna? Why would the people complain about being hungry? I mean, surely not all of the livestock was unblemished. Couldn’t they have eaten the less-than-perfect animals?

As I was thinking about that this morning, I remembered when Moses told God there wasn’t enough cattle in the world to feed all the people for even a month. At that time God sent quail to satisfy their desire for meat.

This is what I feel God wanted me to see in these chapters today: priorities.

God had given specific instructions concerning the sacrificial system. They weren’t suggestions, they were demands. Their sin required those sacrifices be made… and often.

If the people had exhausted their supply of livestock and grain for food, there would have been no animals to sacrifice, no hope of being forgiven of sin. So what do you do? Do you eat like a king for a month? Or do you protect your relationship with God?

The Jews had their priorities straight. As tempting as it must have been to grill a steak or bake a cake, they ate what God provided in the form of manna. It was more important for them to be able to give to God what He demanded.

And here’s the lesson: when we get our priorities straight, when we put God first, when we deal with sin in our lives first, He will supply our needs. Nothing is more important than having a right relationship with God. That which comes after is icing on a manna-baked cake.

That’s how to get our priorities straight.

(Exodus 1-4) Even Moses

Did God really want to kill Moses? 4:24 tells us He really did. Why? Wasn’t Moses going back to Egypt because God told him to? Hadn’t God said Moses would deliver the Israelites out of bondage? It seems odd that God would decide to kill this man.

If you read 4:21-26 you read the Gospel. Yes, Moses was going through the motions of obedience, but the fact remained he hadn’t been circumcised. That was disobedience. That was sin. And sin comes with a death penalty, no matter who you are, no matter how much you might appear to others to be following God.

It wasn’t until Moses was circumcised, until blood had been spilt, that God let him go. The same requirement is in effect today. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. (Hebrews 9:22)

After Jesus, His is the blood that brings salvation. No one needs to be circumcised or cut or killed in order for sins to be forgiven. But make no mistake, blood needs to be applied in order for God to pardon a death sentence.

And that’s the Gospel.

Our bodies don’t need to be circumcised, but our hearts do. That involves a true repentance, an acceptance of God’s will. Forgiveness doesn’t happen until the blood of Jesus is applied to a surrendered heart. Then, and only then, will God “let (us) go” as He did Moses here in Exodus 4.

You can do all the religious stuff, and go through the motions of obedience like Moses did. But even Moses had to address his sin.

And so do you and I.

The Charges Against You (Matthew 27, Mark 14)

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and couldn’t get back to sleep. After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, I finally gave up, turned on the light, and finished a Christian fiction novel I had begun reading a couple days ago.

The main character, who had given her life to the Lord about three-quarters into the story, had been drugged and sabotaged by her conniving assistant. When the truth came out, the assistant, flanked by two police officers, stood before the main character. The guilty assistant was facing prison time for her crimes.

“Do you want to press charges?” one of the officers asked.

Then, because she realized how much God had forgiven her, the main character looked at her assistant and felt sorry for her. “No,’ she replied. “I won’t be pressing charges.”

Sounds very Christian.

Until you read the Scriptures I read this morning.

Sometimes we are led to believe that when we ask Jesus to forgive us, He simply erases the ledger. He doesn’t press charges. But that is not true. Those sins you confess don’t just go away. Each one comes with a death sentence, and saying, “My bad,” doesn’t make them disappear, no matter how sincere you are.

There is a price your sins and mine demand. It’s an awful, painful, serious price to pay. And a Holy, Just God demands payment.

Jesus paid.

He heard every lie, every insult. He felt every fist, every thorn, every lash, every nail. His blood poured out of His body like yours or mine would have flowed. He died a very painful death. His death was our death sentence.

Jesus didn’t go through all of that to simply let you off the hook. He endured that pain to pay for your sins and mine. Every sin. The debt ledger wasn’t erased. It was paid in full.

If you confess your sin you will be forgiven. But the charges against you have been made, and you have been found guilty. Accepting Jesus as your Savior means accepting the fact that He paid your death sentence. He took on Himself the punishment you deserve.

I pray you have received what Jesus died to give you, the forgiveness of your sin. But never think what He did was merely dropping the charges. It cost Him much more than that.