Tag Archives: forgiveness of sin

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.

(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.