Tag Archives: forgiveness

Quitting Is Not An Option

Psalm 51; 78

I want to quit. I haven’t felt like I have anything worthwhile to post on my blog these days. I have failed to share Jesus when I’ve had the opportunity. I recognize the fact I’m not doing a good job at my children’s ministry responsibilities. My heart is not in playing the organ at church any more. I’ve sat back and been carried along by popular opinion rather than standing up for what I know is true. I’m a hypocrite.

I guess you could say I’m in a funk. And the lower I go, the easier it is to sin in thought and deed, and the further away from God I am. It’s a downward spiral I’m afraid I don’t have the energy to fight.

And that’s right where I need to be.

I read some psalms this morning and was encouraged to remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past. And He has been faithful! I can look back and recognize the many blessings that have come my way through good times and bad, through open doors and closed doors. I can remember times when He answered my prayers, when He showed up in undeniable ways.

As I re-read what I’ve just written, I am convicted at how often I use the word “I.” I am so focused on me and my failures that it’s no wonder I’m in a funk.

I took a break from writing this just now, and spent some time pouring my heart out to God. The truth is, I love having Him in my life. The truth is, He is patient and gracious and forgiving. The truth is, He delights in me as I submit to Him. I know the truth, so why am I falling for Satan’s lies?

So I confessed my sin, I admitted my helplessness, and asked Him to…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-11)

Here’s what I notice about those verses:

  1. The need to confess my sin and allow God to cleanse me whenever He reveals sin in me. Even my feelings of failure can be a sin if they are not from God, but from Satan who wants to discourage me. And if I am focused on myself, I’m focusing in the wrong direction. That’s a sin that needs confessed.
  2. The importance of a steadfast spirit. God never promised lollypops and roses. Life is hard. I will succeed and I will fail. But quitting is never an option when I am determined to follow my Lord.
  3. God’s presence is available. I don’t have to go it alone. God, in all His power and awesomeness WANTS to walk with me today. The Holy Spirit is my guide and protector. The question is, am I paying attention?
  4. Joy isn’t a result of good times, but rather in the fact that God has saved me through the precious blood of His Son Jesus. It’s a joy the world doesn’t understand because it’s a gift from God Himself.
  5. I need to be willing to let God do His thing in me. I need to be willing to submit to Him, to trust Him, and to get out of His way and let Him be in control.

No, quitting is not an option. And right now I am thanking Him for hearing and answering my prayer. I sit here with a clean heart, knowing He’s forgiven me, and my resolve is to serve Him with everything He gives me. I’m not alone. I am not defeated because God has and will continue to give me the victory for His sake and His glory.

Please understand, this is not about the power of positive thinking. This is all about the power of God in me as I submit to Him and allow Him to be everything I need in every situation. There is a huge difference.

Again?

Numbers 20

It’s so frustrating how often Israel whined about going back to Egypt. So often when they got uncomfortable, hungry, dissatisfied they would complain to Moses, which in reality was complaining about God. Their act of rebellion was a sin. Yet time and time again, they revisited that same sin.

Before starting my time in God’s Word this morning I had to confess a sin I’ve committed over and over. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked God to forgive me for the same thing. I have victory for a while, then eventually I’m right back to doing the thing I said I wouldn’t do.

Didn’t Paul address that in Romans 7? I, like Paul, delight in God’s Law. But there is another law in me making me a prisoner. How can I ever be free of it?

Romans 7:25. Jesus! Thanks be to God.

So today I confessed my sin once again, and I know God has forgiven me once again. I’ve been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Will I stay that way? Probably not. Will I revisit my recurring sin? With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray not.

Just because I know God forgives me doesn’t make my sin any less serious. It comes with a death sentence like all my sins. That little act of rebellion cost Jesus His life. It grieves my Lord and angers Him. It separates me from Him as much as if I’d murdered someone.

I need to pray today that God will help me fight my enemy and resist temptation. I’ll need to pray the same tomorrow and the next day (maybe later today, too). I just know I don’t ever want to have to go to Him again and ask forgiveness for the sin He forgave today.

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating in me a clean heart this morning when I confessed my sin and asked you to forgive me once again. I pray that you will renew a steadfast spirit in me, determined to obey You in every way. I want to please you, not myself today. I thank you for the cross, for forgiveness, and for You!

Mistaking Grace

Leviticus

Sometimes I think we mistake grace for an eraser. We think it negates the requirements of acceptability to God, or that God’s grace just wipes away our sins…”Just As If I’d Never Sinned.”

What we read in Leviticus are the rules for addressing all kinds of impurity. It’s not a fun read. In fact, it’s tempting to just skip over the whole thing, thinking it doesn’t apply to us in 2022. But did God change the rules? Or are the requirements spelled out in Leviticus still a thing?

God’s law has not changed. The difference is after the cross the fulfillment of those requirements were transferred to Jesus. So, yes, the blood of bulls is still required. Jesus provided His own blood. The doves, the lambs, even the scapegoat are still required. Jesus became all of that to fulfill each requirement.

Now don’t go out and kill some unsuspecting farmer’s livestock. Jesus already did what was required once and for all. That debt has been paid in full by His own precious blood.

But just because the fulfillment of the Law was complete in Jesus, don’t skip over these chapters in Leviticus. I know they don’t apply to you in the material sense. But they do apply to you. It gives you such detail about what Jesus did for you. It’s a lot!

I challenge you to read these chapters carefully and let God reveal Himself to you as you do. There is much more to Jesus’ death on the cross than you might think.

We can, because of grace, stand before God “Just As If We’d Never Sinned.” But the fact is we did sin. And God’s grace cost Jesus a great deal. A great deal. He didn’t simply erase our sin. He painfully fulfilled all the requirements needed for the forgiveness of our sin .

Grace is not an eraser. It’s a gift that cost more than you or I may realize.

It’s Not Enough

Genesis 9

It’s not enough to confess your sins. Simply saying, “I’m guilty,” doesn’t always indicate repentance. Pharaoh said, “This time I have sinned. ” Yet his actions proved his confession didn’t translate into a changed life.

Have you prayed what we refer to as “the Sinners’ Prayer?” I hope so. But don’t believe for a minute saying the words guarantees God’s forgiveness. You must be born again. You must repent of the sins you confess, which means to turn from them, stop doing them, flee them. If saying those words doesn’t come from a changed heart – you are not saved.

We are wrong to guarantee heaven to someone who prays the prayer. You and I can’t guarantee heaven for anyone because we can’t know anyone’s heart but our own. Only God can do that.

Pharaoh confessed his sin but was not saved. His heart was unchanged. I pray the same isn’t true for you.

A Blessed Emotion

Job 34:37

Elihu told Job he was “adding rebellion to (his) sin.”

We all sin. And sin separates us from God. When we sin, God convicts. We take God out of it when we call it simply a guilty conscience without considering where it came from. The guilt you feel comes from the hand of a loving God who wants you to repent. It’s His gentle way of restoring us to Him.

But we get pretty good at either learning to live with a guilty conscience, or denying it and refusing to feel guilty, telling ourselves things like: He started it. They deserved it. It’s no big deal. At least I didn’t kill someone.

Refusing to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Which is a sin in itself. Now you have two sins to confess, two sins to feel guilty about instead of just one. Every time you refuse to repent you add another sin, and another, and another.

Consider guilt a blessed emotion. Those feelings are meant to draw you to God. Don’t dismiss them. Don’t stuff them deep inside. Don’t rationalize them or minimize them. Let guilt do what it’s intended to do.

Ask God to forgive you. Repent of the sin you feel guilty about. Turn from that sin and toward God who loves you enough to make guilt a blessed emotion that can lead to forgiveness, and sweet fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

Do The Wicked Really Prosper?

Job 24

It’s tempting to believe that wicked people prosper and good people struggle. Only the good die young, right? In our minds, people should get what they deserve, and we, like Job, complain and question God when we think life is unfair.

A dear lady in my church got a cancer diagnosis this week. She is a godly, sweet, hard working member of our church family, involved in Bible Studies and serving on committees. She sings in the choir and is someone who radiates God’s love. We might think she doesn’t deserve the struggle ahead. I think she’d tell us we would be wrong to think that.

She deserves much worse. And so do I. So do you.

I for one am glad we don’t get what we deserve in this lifetime. Because we all have sinned. We all have offended and rejected our Holy God who is very plain to tell us His standard for us is holiness. What is man, dear God, that you would even give us a thought? We are broken and disobedient and self-centered. We deserve your anger.

But Psalm 145:8 tells us:

God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

One day we will get what we deserve, but don’t start keeping score in this lifetime. One day I, and my friend, will face God wearing the holiness of Jesus because we have accepted what Jesus did on the cross to save us. Our sins, though they are many, are forgiven by God and He won’t remember them ever again. On that day, we will get what Jesus deserves: our presence with Him forever in paradise.

But some of you will also get what you deserve as a result of rejecting what Jesus did. Try standing before a Holy Judge and rationalizing your sin. It can’t be done. And your “goodness” won’t come close to meeting His standard of holiness. The consequences you receive will be what you deserve, and it’ll be worse than you can imagine.

While you are living this life on planet Earth, be thankful we have a compassionate God who is not wanting you or anyone to face Him on their own. He wants you to accept the forgiveness that is yours through His Son, if you’ll just turn from your sin and live for Him.

Oh, you might get a cancer diagnosis. You might face loss and hardship. Some good people struggle, and some good people don’t. Some wicked people struggle, and some wicked people don’t. But it’s not a matter of fairness.

It’s a matter of grace. It’s a matter of a God who is slow to anger, and loves you with a steadfast love.

Do the wicked prosper? Some perhaps, according to the world’s standard. But this life isn’t the end. And the prosperity they enjoy here will not go with them when they die.

Don’t compare your bank account with someone else’s, or your health against another’s. Are you God’s child through the blood of Jesus? That’s the only question that really matters. And God is faithful to forgive anyone who comes to Him in repentance.

That’s what’s fair.

Death at the Hand of God.

Genesis 38

Does God lie in wait to take out evil people like an army sniper? That seems to be the case with Judah’s sons Er and Onan. Scripture is very clear: these were bad men – and God killed them.

So are we to assume this is God’s MO? That if you are bad enough He just mows you down, gives you cancer, or a bullet in your head?

Yes. And no.

God wants us to know death is a part of the curse handed down because of Adam’s sin. God causes death for every human being because all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. But common sense – and life – tells us there are some very evil people in the world living to a ripe old age.

So no, God doesn’t make it a habit of killing sinners, Aren’t you glad? We don’t know why God chose to kill Er and Onan like He did. And He doesn’t owe us an explanation. But what happened to them is not a blueprint for God’s dealing with people.

In fact, Scripture repeatedly shows us how patient God is with us sinners, how quick He is to forgive a repentant heart, how He longs to save whosoever believes. Look at how many chances God gave the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Read in the New Testament what Jesus did for sinners when He went to the cross.

I think the lesson here in Genesis is that all of us will die at the hand of God. Some will die young, others will live to be 100 years old. Our deaths won’t have as much to do with whether or not we were good or bad, as it will have to do with God’s Sovereignty.

Death will end life on Earth for all of us unless Jesus comes back first. That is His Sovereign will.

I see Er and Onan dying in their sin, because I believe had they repented we would be reading about that. That makes me want to warn us all. Because we are going to die.

My prayer is that we will be ready to die by accepting the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. Your death could come today. My death could come today.

The question is: are we ready?

Our Birthright

Genesis 25

How seriously do you take your birthright as a child of God, a co-heir with Jesus? We read how easily Esau gave up what was his in order to not “starve” (which I would bet was a gross exaggeration to begin with). Esau gave up the blessing in order to satisfy a physical longing, sold something eternal for something temporary. The man would get hungry again a few hours later. But the blessing was gone forever.

What does our birthright look like? Eternal life for one. Forgiveness of sin. A relationship with God. The Presence of God. His strength and power and grace and mercy.

Yet sometimes we get hungry for something else.

We know we shouldn’t encourage that friendship with a married co-worker, but “he understands me.” We know we shouldn’t look at porn – but it’s harmless. It’s not like I’d actually do those things. One drink, one compromise, one thought or dream can’t hurt. So what if I don’t read my Bible today, or if I skip church once in a while?

We shake our heads at Esau and think “What a fool he was to sell his birthright for soup.” But maybe we should spend less time looking at Esau and more time looking in the mirror.

Do you value what is yours by God’s grace and through the blood of His Son, Jesus? What does that look like in the choices you make every day? If it’s worth something to you – it’s worth protecting.

Is It A Lie?

Genesis 20:1-18

Is a half-truth a whole lie? Abraham and Sarah were brother and sister. So was it so bad that is how he introduced her to the king? Was the tiny detail about a wedding important if it meant the difference between life and death?

Abraham didn’t lie exactly. He just didn’t tell the whole story. What’s the big deal?

In our age of situational ethics, we may applaud Abraham for doing the safe thing. We may say in this instance it would have been foolish for him to admit Sarah was his wife and take the chance of being killed because of it. Besides – what is truth anyway? There are certainly no absolutes. What is true for you doesn’t have to be true for me.

Well, my friend, that kind of thinking is anti-God. Our Holy, Unchanging, Creator God has a lot to say in His Word about Truth – and nothing He says hints at situational truth – or multiple truths for that matter.

So yes. A half-truth is a whole lie as demonstrated here in Genesis. And a lie is a sin that comes with a death sentence. You may read this chapter and say that Abraham got away with it, so God must not think it was a big deal. But did he get away with it? There were consequences even though you and I might think he got off easy.

The bigger lesson here is the grace of God who can forgive your lie, too. That’s the truth.

Why The Tree?

Genesis 1-3

We can question why God placed that tree in the middle of the garden knowing it represented sin and separation from Him, when He created us to fellowship with Him. We could, as some do, accuse God of playing a sinister game with the victims of His creation.

Or we can recognize and be thankful for the fact that He created us with dignity, intelligence, the ability to choose to do the right thing. Yes – He knew given the choice, we would sin. But He didn’t leave us hanging.

He did what needed to be done so that when we do the right thing – when we choose Jesus – He looks at us through the perfection and holiness of His Son.

Right from the start God began painting a picture of His plan to redeem us. He placed a tree in the center of the garden. Then He very clearly said that tree was the difference between life and death. Choose wisely, He warned.

There is another tree in the center of your life. God very clearly tells us it’s the difference between life and death. I’m sure you know that tree is the cross of Jesus. And I want you to hear God’s clear warning:

Choose wisely.

Today is the first day of 2022. I hope you know Jesus as your Savior and have made Him the Lord of your life. But if you haven’t, today would be a great day to do that. Begin this year with a clean slate, a pure heart, forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ who died on a cross to save you.

That’s why the tree. Choose wisely.