Tag Archives: forgiveness

(Ezekiel 15-17) Jesus In Ezekiel

The parables Ezekiel used to convey God’s message point to Jesus in every way. Yes, the physical Old Testament nation of Israel was going to face judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were going to be punished by God because of their blatant rejection of Him. But God wove a thread of redemption throughout the narrative that has everything to do with you and me.

I read 16:62-63 as for the first time today:

I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed… (emphasis mine)

He had said in verse 60:

But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, AND I WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT COVENANT with you. (emphasis mine)

Then, in the prophetic song of verses 22-24 He talks about the sprig that becomes a majestic cedar, bearing fruit and sheltering birds of every kind! It’s all about Jesus!

And it has everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross when He atoned for – paid the death penalty for – my sin and yours. It has everything to do with the New Covenant.

Rejoice! Our sins are forgiven!

If you place your faith in Jesus, His blood will be applied to you, and you will find shelter in the shade of His “branches.” Don’t squander what Jesus died to give you.

That New Covenant assures that whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16), that if you call on Jesus you will be saved (Romans 10:13), that if you confess your sin you will be forgiven (I John 1:9). There is no maybe here. That’s God’s sure promise to you. That’s the permanent New Covenant.

It’s a covenant sealed with the blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Doesn’t get more permanent than that.

(Jeremiah 46-49) Doing The Lord’s Business

God’s not a fool. And we are foolish if we think He is. We might go to church, teach a Sunday School class, visit the sick, give generously. But if we have not confessed sin, if we do those things with any other motive than to be obedient to our King, God says this to us:

The one who does the Lord’s business deceitfully is cursed. The one who withholds his sword from bloodshed is cursed. (48:10)

Bloodshed? Surely not!

Actually, Jeremiah was speaking of war, of destroying God’s flesh and blood enemies. But thankfully, after the cross, we are not told to kill anyone! We’re told to love our enemies.

Yet what Jeremiah said can and does apply to us. We need to destroy sin in our lives, cut it out, without mercy. Satan is the enemy that applies here. And we cannot withhold bloodshed against him by ignoring sin in our lives.

We can do all the right things and be first in line to volunteer for a ministry. But if we haven’t dealt with our sin at the foot of the cross, we do God’s business deceitfully. And we are cursed.

Jesus Himself addressed this in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?” Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!

The lesson for us here in Jeremiah and in Jesus’ own word in Matthew is: Deal with the enemy of your soul first by confessing your sin and accepting God’s grace through Jesus’ blood…

THEN get busy doing the Lord’s business! For His sake and His glory!

(Isaiah 1-3) I Feel Sorry For Him

God is always speaking to His children. He’s either revealing Himself through His Word, or through His creation, or sometimes in circumstances of life – both good and bad – and sometimes He speaks through the words of a friend.

God spoke to me through the words of a dear friend this week, and then reinforced what He wanted me to understand through the vision Isaiah wrote about in these chapters I read this morning. The other day my friend, who is reading in Genesis, said she realized how much sin breaks God heart; how He created a perfect world for Adam and Eve whose sin destroyed the perfection; how He started over with Noah and his family whose sin once again destroyed what could have been the perfect relationship with God.

My friend said she felt sorry for God because we just keep failing Him. I agreed with her, knowing I’m guilty of failing Him, too.

So when I read Isaiah this morning I read what God thinks about sin, and about His judgment. I heard anger and frustration in God’s voice. But then I read what Warren Wiersbe said on page 453 in “With the Word” (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 1991):

“Sin breaks God’s heart, cheapens a nation or an individual, and invites the judgment of God. God graciously offers His forgiveness if we will repent. (1:18-20)”

So I re-read what Isaiah shared in chapter one, and I heard God’s heart breaking. Instead of reading anger, I read a Father’s pleading with His children to come to Him, to obey and be blessed by Him rather than having to be punished by Him. And then to know that He Himself took on the punishment my sins deserve. I am overcome.

Sin breaks God’s heart. My sin. Your sin. The sin of a nation. Are you ok with that? Am I? We might think our sin is no big deal. Maybe we need to look at our sin through God’s eyes. Shame on us if we don’t. Shame on us if we allow our choices to break His heart.

(Proverbs 7) Temptation and Sin

Sex. Yes, I’ve said it. That intimate act designed by God as a uniting bond between a husband and wife, born of their love for each other; the physical fulfillment of that love intended to satisfy, to bring pleasure not meant to be shared with anyone else. It is the joyful uniting of two bodies which produces life.

Until it’s abused.

Solomon speaks of the temptations of a young man to have sex with another husband’s wife, the seductiive power of it, and the ultimate ruin it brings. Now, ladies, don’t think this doesn’t apply to us just because Solomon used a young man as an example. Sexual temptation is everywhere and touches all of us.

We could see the prostitute here as pornography, books we read, TV we watch, movies, the internet. Satan uses sex to tease, tempt, lure his victims into hell. And some people live a hell-like existence right here because they gave into the temptation.

I don’t think anyone watches that first sex scene in the movies, hoping it will lead to a sexual addiction. The first click on an x-rated website usually isn’t done with the intention that it will become a habit, just a quick peek and nothing more. No one begins reading a pornographic magazine hoping it will lead to becoming a rapist or child molester, or an unfaithful spouse that destroys a family. But those things happen, may have happened to you or someone you know.

The wisdom of Solomon tells us:

He follows her impulsively like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer bounding toward a trap until the arrow pierces its liver, like a bird darting into a snare – he doesn’t know it will cost him his life. (vs 22)

It will cost him his life.

How close do you think you can get to “the street near her corner,” or to her bed covered in perfume with “myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon” to cover the stench of her sin before it pulls you in? How close can you get to the sin before you fall in?

Her house is the road to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death. (vs 27)

You may not be tempted by sexual sin. But you are tempted every day to sin one way or another. These verses can apply to whatever tempts you. And yielding to that temptation, committing that sin, leads to hell. It’s nothing to play around with.

I think Solomon’s wisdom tells us to put distance between us and the temptation. Run!

PS. If you are in the snare of sin, let me assure you that God is ready to forgive. Repent. Ask Him to forgive you, and to help you resist the temptation, to turn from your sin. Let Him begin a work in you that will free you from the sin that has you imprisoned.

(Psalms 120-125) Walking With God

There is so much in Scripture about walking with God. These psalms remind me of the blessings that come from a right relationship with the Lord. God is with us, protecting us, guiding us, loving us. It is truly a blessing to walk with God.

But these psalms also remind me that there is judgment to come for those who go their own way in this life, those who walk away from God instead of beside Him. They may seem to be enjoying the pleasures of this world. And many are. Their smiles are genuine.

But there is a reality that will bring such pain and agony for them one day. It breaks my heart to think of it.

I am thankful that there is still hope for them while they are alive on this earth. God welcomes every repentant heart, forgives, and blesses each one now and forever. Life might not get easier walking with God. There are still hardships and trials in this life for all of us.

But walking with God is amazing, and will be even more amazing when our walk is with Him in heaven. I pray that each of you who read this post will experience a blessed walk with God.

(Psalm 32) There Is Joy

Have you experienced the joy of sins forgiven? There is nothing like it, is there? Guilt gone, replaced by peace. Shame replaced with joy. Lies replaced with Truth.

Yet sometimes sin creeps in and begins to steal our peace and joy. We put smiles on our faces and lie to ourselves and others that we’re fine. But the truth is not in us.

Day and night God’s heavy hand of conviction is upon us, our strength, our resolve to follow God is drained. It isn’t until we confess our sins and receive the grace of God’s forgiveness that we can once again know the joy that comes from being absolutely clean.

Therefore, let everyone who is faithful pray immediately. (vs 6)

We must not let sin gain a foothold. The moment God brings a sin to our awareness, we must pray immediately. The longer we wait, the easier it is to wait, and the harder our hearts become the harder it is to repent.

Look to God who says, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” (vs 8)

Then, with David we can “be glad in the Lord and rejoice.”

There is joy for us who have been made clean by the precious blood of Jesus. I pray that you will know that joy today.

(Ruth) It’s Not Just About Love

I usually look at the book of Ruth as a lesson in love, and it truly is that. But today, I see it mostly as a picture of redemption. I think this book could easily have been named, “Boaz.” Because without Boaz’s act of redemption on behalf of Naomi and Ruth, they would have had no hope. The would have continued in their poverty for the rest of their lives.

It wouldn’t have mattered how much they’d loved each other. Their love could not have saved them. Only the work of the redeemer would take them from curse to blessing, from bitterness to joy, from death to life.

Get the picture?

We can talk about love all day, but without the redemptive work of Jesus, we are without hope. Love cannot save until it is nailed to the cross.

Do you love God? Great! Do you know He loves you? He does! But His love without His redemption will not save you.

The book of Ruth isn’t just about love. It’s about redemption.

The Gospel isn’t just about love, either. It’s about redemption.

Ruth laid everything at the feet of her redeemer, Boaz. In that act she became totally dependent on him to save her. That’s the Gospel: Putting everything we have, are, and hope to be at the feet of Jesus, becoming totally dependent on Him, confessing our sin and turning from it is our only hope of salvation. Otherwise there is no saving.

Only the work of Jesus, our Redeemer, can take us from curse to blessing, bitterness to joy, death to life. Only Jesus.

Only our Redeemer.

How Long Has It Been? (Matthew 26, Mark 14)

I believe Peter loved Jesus, that he was convinced Jesus was the Messiah. I believe Peter meant it from the depths of his soul when he said he’d rather die than ever deny Jesus. But as much as Peter loved Jesus and was determined to follow Him to the bitter end, Peter failed. He denied he even knew Jesus not once, but three times.

Then, when faced with his sin, Peter broke down and wept. Something tells me he didn’t just shed a few tears here. I think the word “wept” means the damn broke.

How long has it been since you were that broken over sin in your own life? You’re a believer. You committed your life to God, promised to love and obey Him – and you meant it.

But a temptation presents itself and you end up sinning anyway, in thought or deed. Oh, you probably whisper an apology, “Please forgive me, Jesus,” and you know He will. That’s the beauty of our Savior. He is gracious and merciful, and faithful to forgive.

But are we truly aware that our sin is a denial of Jesus every bit as much as what Peter did? Can we look Jesus in the eye and still believe our sin is no big deal just because we convince ourselves our sin is not as bad as some? We can read this portion of Scripture and point a finger at Peter. Can God be pointing a finger at us?

Your sin – and mine – is personal to Jesus who endured the agony of the cross to forgive it. Yes, that sin you are thinking about right now ought to drive you to your knees in uncontrolled grief. That sin that drove a nail into the precious hands of Jesus. That sin that denies your relationship with Jesus.

Just because we are assured that God forgives our sins shouldn’t blind us from the seriousness of them, or what it cost Jesus to even offer forgiveness. And every sin should grieve us for what we do to our Savior. It’s a slap in His face, a denial, a choice to place that sin above Him.

How long has it been since you wept over sin in your life? I’m asking myself the same thing, and I’m not thrilled with my answer.

Choosing God (Luke 15)

Our God-given ability to choose is a funny thing. For most of us, it’s hard to marry human choice with the Sovereignty of God. And today, I’m not even going to try.

But there is something about our ability to make decisions for ourselves that has me looking at our Sovereign God with adoration as I read the three parables in chapter 15. Hear me out.

We make choices every day that effect our relationship with God; a thought we choose to entertain rather than putting aside, a little white lie we tell to cover ourselves, listening to gossip or being the gossip even when we disguise it as concern or by asking for prayer, an unforgiving heart, whether to speak up for the truth or stay silent. Many seemingly meaningless decisions we make every day impact our relationship with a Holy God.

It’s not just the “big” choice of choosing God or rejecting Him outright, although that is certainly a huge part of it. We make choices all the time and none of them are insignificant.

The three parables we read today has me thinking. One lamb among hundreds, or one coin among 10 doesn’t seem that big of a deal. But look at how the keepers of those things reacted when something so small was lost. They dropped everything and actively pursued that which was lost.

Look at the father in the parable of the prodigal son. That dad had been searching the horizon for his son. Scripture doesn’t say but, considering what we see in the other two parables, I have to believe that lost boy’s father searched the horizon every day the boy was gone, ready and eager to welcome him home.

Have you ever watched a baby take his first wobbly steps? Very often one parent will stand behind the child, bent over, both hands on either side of that precious one, ready and eager to catch him when he falls. The baby moves to the left, the parent moves with him. He moves to the right and teeters, the parent adjusts her hands to provide that extra safety.

I’ve seen a parent scoop up his child in his arms, with pride and excitement, when his wobbly baby falls to the ground after taking a few steps. I’ve watched the joy and love given and received between parent and child when that happens. That’s the picture that came to me today as I considered our Heavenly Father and the independence He has given us.

God wants us to grow to maturity, to step out, to make decisions for our good and His glory. And, because He has allowed us to do so (or not) He stands at the ready to catch us, to find us when we get lost. He is there to scoop us up into His arms, to rejoice with the angels when we come back to Him.

I think I love Him more today than I did yesterday as I get another glimpse of how much He loves me. My Heavenly Daddy has my back, has His arms stretched out to catch me when I fall. And I do fall.

I don’t always make choices that honor Him. The prodigal son certainly didn’t make choices that honored His dad, either. But the boy made a choice. The dad let him go. But that dad never gave up and was there to welcome the lost boy once again into His embrace, when the boy chose to come home.

I praise God for His unending love that is expressed to me in many ways I don’t even consider half the time. I am that lost lamb, that silver coin, that parodical son. The choices I make to step away from Him are never met with indifference. God remains right here, working behind the scene, steadying me, looking out for me, and rejoicing when I choose to fall into His arms in surrender and faith.

I have the ability to choose God with all that entails: forgiveness, eternity, blessings, and obedience, surrender, humility. I have the ability to choose to reject or ignore Him with all that entails: pride, unforgiveness, missing out on the blessings, judgment.

But in either case, while we have breath, God is going to pursue us, to look for us to come to Him, to do everything possible including die for us, to give us every opportunity to be found by Him, and rejoice when we choose Him.

I choose God. I pray you choose Him, too.

Forgive? But… (Matthew 18)

When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray (Matthew 6), He told them to ask for the ability to forgive as they had been forgiven. What does that even mean?

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells the parable of the unmerciful servant. The master called the servant “wicked” and threw him into debtors prison even though he’d already forgiven the servant’s debt. Why?

Because, after having been forgiven an enormous debt, the servant turned around and refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a few bucks. The wicked servant had had a debt of millions of dollars forgiven! Then he refused to forgive someone who owed him a few dollars.

We who are believers in Jesus have had our enormous debt forgiven. Our sins demanded a price we could not pay without dying for them. We had no resources from which to draw, no hope of ever being able to pay our sin debt in this lifetime. Yet because we accepted God’s grace through Jesus, our outstanding balance reads ZERO!

Now we are told to offer the same mercy to others. Not as easy as it sounds sometimes.

Forgiving like we are forgiven doesn’t happen if we still hold a grudge. The old. “I can forgive, but I’ll never forget,” is just another way of saying, “I will never forgive you,” if we are really honest. If we are to forgive like we’ve been forgiven we must throw those memories, those things we claim to forgive into the ocean, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and remember them no more.

That’s what God did for us. That’s what we are to do for each other. Jesus, in verse 35, says we are to forgive each other “from your heart.”

Has someone wronged you? Is what they did so awful, so unthinkable you believe you will never get over it? Do they deserve to be forgiven? You hear people tell you you need to forgive them, but you automatically think, “But…”

I am very glad God didn’t forgive only some of my sins, like lying to my fifth grade teacher, or not returning extra change at the grocery, or being jealous of someone, but couldn’t bring Himself to forgive the awful, unthinkable sins I’ve committed against Him. When I asked Him to forgive me, HE DID. 100%. And He isn’t holding a grudge, either.

And that’s what He is telling me I need to be doing toward anyone who has wronged me, no matter how small or how big the transgression. Forgive from my heart. And there’s more:

In verse 35 Jesus warns that if we don’t forgive like we’ve been forgiven, there will be severe consequences. The master in the parable threw the unforgiving servant into prison until he could pay the once-forgiven, multi-million dollar debt himself.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

So the next time you know you need to forgive someone and think, “But…” think again. Giving forgiveness from your heart doesn’t just benefit you, it is obedience.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.