Tag Archives: forgiveness of sin

(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.

Chosen Or Not? (Matthew 22)

Does God choose to save some people, and choose to not save others? Matthew 22:14 says that is clearly the case. Like it or not, God in His Sovereignty clearly accepts some people and not others.

BUT… do not take this verse and expect it to stand on its own. Read the first 13 verses of this chapter, too.

The invitation to the king’s banquet went out to everyone. Some people rejected it on their own. Others dropped what they were doing and accepted the invitation. But one who accepted the invitation was rejected by the king.

Why was this man rejected? Had he received the invitation by mistake? Was the invitation never meant to be extended to him because the king didn’t have him on the guest list? No! The man was rejected because he had come to the banquet on his own terms, not wearing the clothing provided by the king.

The man wasn’t rejected because the king didn’t want him there. The man was rejected because he himself had rejected the king’s provision.

Here’s God’s plan of salvation: Jesus died to pay the death penalty for every sinner who has ever lived. Forgiveness and eternity is extended to ANYONE who accepts it. Jesus died once AND FOR ALL. And God chooses to save anyone who comes to Him on His terms.

Also in God’s sovereign plan is the invitation. Scripture tells us God is drawing all men to Himself. He came to seek and to save that which was lost – and we are all lost because all have sinned. He continually reveals Himself to the world through nature and the Gospel so that no one has an excuse when on that day, every person will give an account for their response to God’s grace.

God doesn’t write anyone off until they stand before Him wearing their filthy rags instead of His own righteousness through the blood of Jesus. Many are called. But only the few who accept His invitation according to His demands are chosen.

That means you! If you have never gone to God on His terms, through His Son Jesus, by repenting of sin and accepting forgiveness through His blood, God has chosen to reject you. No one goes to the Father except through the Son. That’s God’s sovereign plan. He’s very clear about that.

But rest assured… if you come to Him today and accept what Jesus died to give you, you will stand before the King of kings wearing the proper attire, the righteousness of Jesus!

I’m praying for you.

Seeking and Sought (Mark 4-5)

Jesus went to the people. We see Jesus going through a storm to get to the demoniacs. These men, possessed by awful demons needed Jesus, so Jesus sought them out and healed them.

The people went to Jesus. Jairus for one, then a large crowd, then a woman who had been ill for twelve years all sought Jesus. They recognized their need and sought out the One who could meet their need.

John MacArthur, in his study entitled “Twelve Ordinary Men,” and in the chapter on the Apostle Philip talks about the “classic tension between sovereign election and human choice.” Both, Dr. MacArthur says, exist in perfect harmony.

Jesus Himself said this: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

We see our God, tirelessly revealing Himself, drawing all men to Himself, not willing any should perish, seeking us, calling us.

We see us, created with a God-sized void in our lives, trying to fill that void with all kinds of worthless idols. Idols of self, positive thoughts, money, relationships, alcohol…

We seek. God seeks.

And when our seeking meets God’s seeking, His sovereign plan is fulfilled. We are saved.

What a wonderful Savior. What a loving God.

Friend, I hope that if you have not yet received the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus’ work on the cross, you will recognize that is exactly what you are seeking. That is exactly what you need and what your soul longs for. And I hope that you understand that God Himself is seeking you! He wants you to know Him. Will your seeking meet His today?

That is my prayer.

Convicted (Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122)

These psalms have a lot to say about the forgiveness of sin. David said that when he lived with his sin, God’s hand was heavy on him. He had no strength, he groaned all day. David’s experience (and my own) tells me that the force of God’s conviction affects every part of our lives.

But when David confessed his sin, God forgave him and surrounded him with songs of deliverance. Instead of feeling the guilt and shame of his sin, David could confidently say this:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (32:1-2)

David knew that when he confessed his sin, his whole life was changed:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. (51:7)

And, instead of  being weighed down by guilt, David could pray:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (51:12a)

David’s groaning turned to real joy when He asked and received God’s forgiveness. He knew God wasn’t interested in religion, or in David’s animal sacrifices any more than God is interested in our good deeds:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (51:16-17, emphasis mine)

This God who lays a heavy hand of conviction on us who sin, doesn’t make us miserable because He is mean or vengeful. Listen to David describe God:

You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. (86:5)

David could say those things with confidence about God, even when the guilt of his sin caused him sleepless nights and agony. David knew…

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (86:7)

Are you being convicted by a sin you’ve not confessed? I would urge you to bow your head right now, and ask God to forgive you. Turn from that sin and toward our God who is abounding in love to those who call on Him. He will answer your prayer. Then, with David, you will be able to say:

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. (86:13)

Amen!

 

Call It What It Is (Leviticus5)

Sometimes we can rationalize our sin. We call it a mistake, or an accident, a momentary weakness, or lack of will-power. We might feel better about our transgressions – but God is not looking at our sin for anything other than what it is:

Sin.

That truth occurred to me this morning as I read what God said to the people who could not afford to bring an animal sacrifice. He told them they could bring a handful of fine flour and give it to the priest. BUT… they were to bring the flour without adding oil or incense to it. Just the flour.

They were not to try to dress it up, or to make it smell better. They were to offer the flour in its natural form. It was their sin offering – not a mistake offering.

Let’s stop trying to camouflage our sin. Because unless we confess our SIN, I’m not sure God forgives us. I don’t read anywhere that Jesus died for my momentary weakness or for your lack of will-power.

Jesus died for sin. We need to confess our sin. Let’s call it what it is.

December 6; Giving the Most Precious Gift

Romans 8:18-11:10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…foe “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

I hope you remember that experience in your own life, the day you confessed and believed that Jesus is the risen Savior, the day you became a child of God as you called on the name of the Lord. I hope you think about that day often, and celebrate the truth that your sins are forgiven, and eternity with God is ahead.

We are in the midst of getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Most of us have our shopping lists, the names of loved ones written next to the ideal gift we plan to give them. But Christmas is more than that, isn’t it? It is about Jesus.

If you have not called on the name of the Lord, and allowed Him to forgive your sins, to rescue you from eternity without Him, let me encourage you to do that today. In the hustle and bustle of the season, take a minute, and picture that baby lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds, kings, and angels. And understand there is only one gift He wants. He wants you.

You are the most precious gift you could ever give to Jesus, the one who loves you more than you know.

December 4; Double Paying A Debt

Romans 2-4

God, through Paul, tells us all  have sinned. No one reaches God’s glory, His holiness. We can’t come close.

God’s holiness is the plumb line, and all of us have deviated from that line of perfection. If you believe you haven’t, you are delusional. That deviation is called sin. And we will find out in chapter 6 of Romans that the penalty for sin is death.

It is therefore impossible to make up for sin by doing good things. Doing good things is not death. And sin demands death.

Now, think through this with me. If all have sinned, then you and I are sinners. If the consequence for sin is death, the only way you or I can pay for our sin debt is by dying, which would mean going to hell.

Paul tells us Jesus paid what it is impossible for us to pay in this lifetime. You cannot die to pay for your own sin, then live again. But Jesus can – and did!

You can’t die, spend some time in hell to satisfy your sin debt, then wake up one day and continue life on Earth debt-free. But Jesus did exactly that for you!

The only thing you or I have to do in this lifetime is to take what Jesus died to give us. He paid the price for our sin, yours and mine. He’s standing there holding a “Paid in Full” receipt. Yet some will ignore what is right in front of them, and pay their debt themselves. They would rather face judgment on their own, instead of wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

That’s like double paying a debt. I’m six months from paying off my car loan. That would be like me writing that last check, then going to the bank and saying, “I’d like to pay for my car again.” That would be crazy.

But I think refusing what Jesus died to give you is crazy, too. You can live a debt-free life right now, forgiven of sin, with an unimaginably fabulous eternity ahead. Or you can plant your feet and take on the challenge of paying your own debt.

Just understand, you’ll have to die to do it.