Tag Archives: forgiveness

August 20; Sin’s Debt

Jeremiah 52; Psalms 74, 79, 85

Today’s Scriptures continue with the Babylonian captivity, and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. God’s disobedient children were being punished. The psalmists asked God for mercy because the hand of God was heavy on them.

God will always punish disobedience. There has never been a time, nor will there be a time, when God gives His creation a free pass. Every disobedient thought or action, every sin committed comes with a death sentence. Every sin.

I think sometimes people think that when a person becomes a Christian, God cancels our sin debt, somehow erases the ledger so we stand before Him guilt-less, just as if we’d never sinned. But I don’t think that’s the case.

When I look at the cross I know my sin debt wasn’t just canceled. It was paid for by the Savior who painfully shed His blood, and died to pay the price my sins deserve.

I love Psalm 85. God forgave us and covered our sins, but He did it with Jesus’ blood. He set aside His anger toward us and directed it to His Son instead. His unfailing love granted salvation – but it cost Him a great deal.

His peace is ours, but not because we are sinless. It’s ours because we are forgiven. The sin I committed yesterday doesn’t just disappear when I ask God to forgive it. It’s a sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

If I can tell myself God simply erases my sins when I ask for forgiveness, I don’t feel quite as bad about sinning. I mean, I use erasers all the time. No big deal.

But if I remember that sin cost Jesus great physical suffering and death, that lie or that jealousy or that dirty thought takes on a different meaning. It becomes a very big deal. It makes me ashamed to have contributed to Jesus’ suffering, and I don’t want to be a part of it any more.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. (Ps 85:10-11)

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. (verse 7)

But may we never forget what that salvation cost Jesus, may we never take for granted that our sin debt was paid for us on the cruel cross of Calvary by Someone who wasn’t guilty.

I pray you know Him and have accepted what Jesus died to give you. He took the punishment you deserve for every sin you’ve ever committed. You sin debt is paid in full. Please accept it.

 

July 29; Disobedience Kills

Psalm 81; Jeremiah 47-48; 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-36:1

Josiah was a good man, a great king. He loved God and served Him with enthusiasm. His example bore fruit in the lives and hearts of the Jews who, because of King Josiah’s example, turned from idolatry and worshiped God.

So, don’t you think God could have cut him some slack, maybe ignored a tiny little disobedience in this good man? It wasn’t like he bowed down to an idol. Or did he?

Josiah’s death always makes me sad. The guy died way too soon. There was so much good he should have been able to do in his lifetime. So why did God “take” him at such a young age?

Well, first of all, God didn’t “take” Josiah. In fact, God told him to stay away from the battle. God threw a roadblock in the king’s way, and Josiah just barged right through. It was Josiah’s disobedience that killed him. Had he put the idol of “self” back up on the pedestal? Why else would he have gone against what God said, and done his own thing? It was Josiah’s will, not God’s, that caused his death that day.

If good works, a public stance for the Truth, being an upstanding person was what God requires, Josiah would have been golden. He might still be alive in 2019 for all we know. He was that good.

But here’s what I believe God would have us understand: Disobedience kills. Period.

Disobedience doesn’t only kill rapists, thieves, and terrorists. Disobedience kills moms and dads, preachers and missionaries, and really, really nice people, too. And not just physical death. That’s not even the worst of it.

Your disobedience may be slowly killing any relationship you have with God. It may be causing a gradual hardening of your heart toward the Truth. It’s disobedience that leads to an eternal death.

Has God laid a finger on an act or attitude of disobedience in your life? Friend, you had better deal with it. Ignoring it, or holding on to it will have devastating results. If God speaks to you about an area of disobedience, and you don’t ask Him to forgive you, you’ve placed yourself above Him, put yourself as your own god. That’s idolatry.

And God has a pretty dim view of idolatry.

Throughout the Bible God is very clear: He blesses obedience. He will not tolerate disobedience. Not in me. And not in you.

Disobedience kills. But thank God, that through the blood of Jesus we can be forgiven, when we repent of that disobedience. Then in receiving God’s grace, we can have abundant life in this world, and in eternity!

July 28; Trusting The One We Fear

Nahum; 2 Kings 23:1-28; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum reminds us that God is to be feared… and trusted. Feared because His judgment is harsh and inflexible. Trusted because He never places judgment on anyone who doesn’t deserve it. What is sin for you is sin for me.

And the wages of sin is death. He’s pretty upfront about that.

But here’s what else Nahum says about God: He is slow to anger.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (1:7)

Yes, God protects His honor and holiness with jealous zeal. Yes, there are devastating consequences for those who don’t play by His rules. But don’t get stuck there. Because the same jealous and avenging God took on Himself His own wrath, His own death penalty so you and I wouldn’t have to.

You might think God isn’t fair, and you would be right. It wasn’t fair that Jesus took your sins to the cross. He never committed even one sin. Yet our Savior endured the cross, didn’t give a second thought about the shame – for love of you!

Yes, the Creator God, Almighty, All-knowing, Eternal and Holy, is a God to be feared. You can look at Jesus’ death on the cross and get an idea how serious God is about sin, and what it cost His Son to take the punishment you deserve.

Look at the cross. That should be you up there. If that doesn’t make you fearful, I don’t know what will.

Then look into the face of your Savior, and know He can be trusted:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (I John 1:9; emphasis mine)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24; emphasis mine)

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8; emphasis mine)

We have reason to fear God. And we have every reason to trust the One we fear, when we are His children through the blood of Jesus.

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.

 

 

 

July 11: Right Where I Want To Be

Psalms 87, 125; Isaiah 1:1-4:6

Reading what God has to say to His people through Isaiah, I can get a bit fearful. God is no one to mess with. It’s His way, or the highway. He refuses to even listen to the prayers of we who are sinful.

But then God throws in verses like Isaiah 1:18-19:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land…”

Yes, God is to be feared. His judgments are harsh and devastating. Those who do not know Him will suffer greatly, and eternally. But He’s not just warning those who blatantly disobey.

God warns against religion, against simply going through the motions of obedience. Of that He says:

Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong! (Isaiah 1:16)

He calls lip-service, or hypocrisy evil deeds. That means church attendance, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, or whatever kindness and good works you do without first repenting of sin in your life. Evil deeds.

But as fearsome and Holy as God is, He delights in forgiving a repentant heart. He longs to turn sinful lives white as snow. And he does, whenever anyone accepts what Jesus did on the cross when He paid the harsh judgment for my sin and yours.

The psalmist says this in Psalm 125:2:

As the mountain surrounds Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

I do not need to fear God’s judgment. That mountain around Jerusalem protected His people from the enemy. They were hemmed in on all sides.

And that’s right where I want to be. Right there in the middle of God’s protection, under His wings, safe, secure, loved both now and forevermore. So I repent of sin. I ask God to forgive me for impure thoughts and actions, for harboring anger and jealousy, for gossip and hypocrisy. I lay it all out there and ask Him to forgive me.

And He does.

Then, and only then, am I His child, surrounded by His love and protection. Yes, my friend. That’s right where I want to be.

July 7; Healing This Land

Isaiah 22:1-23:18; 2 Kings 18:7b-8; Micah 1:8-3:12

God said this in 2 Chronicles:

If my people who are called by my name (Christian) will (1) humble themselves and, (2) pray and, (3) seek my face and, (4) turn from their wicked ways, then I will (1) hear from heaven and I will (2) forgive their sins and, (3) heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, parentheses mine)

God was calling the Jews, and He is calling us to repent. We’ve built a pretty good, pretty strong nation in the USA. What started out as a nation under God gradually turned into a nation built by the sweat of our brows, and has evolved into a self-satisfied nation standing on our own without acknowledging God at all.

God told the Jews in Isaiah 22 that they’d done the same. They stored up water, built a reservoir, strengthened the wall, but they didn’t look to the Creator or have regard to the Sovereign God. Isaiah goes on to say the Lord Almighty called them out on their sin of self-satisfaction and told them it was time to humble themselves, time to weep and wail, to tear their hair out and mourn over their sin.

How did the Jews respond? Isaiah said with joy and revelry, feasting and partying. Their theme was, “Let’s eat and drink… for tomorrow we die.”

I kind of see a parallel in our nation. It’s not like there aren’t people who are proclaiming the truth. But the voices of opposition are getting louder and stronger.

“Humble ourselves? Turn from sin? That might be your truth, but it isn’t mine. And I will shut you down if you offend me again,” seems to be the theme of many today in our country and our world.

I believe God still has His offer on the table. If we who are Christians will humble ourselves, if we pray, if we truly seek to know Jesus, if we confess our sins and turn from them, HE WILL HEAL OUR LAND. That promise is straight out of His mouth.

Let’s not make the same mistake the Jews made in Isaiah’s time as they kept on doing what they were doing, ignoring God, partying like there’s no tomorrow. There is a tomorrow. Whether we live another day on this earth or spend our first day in eternity, there is a tomorrow. And God is seriously telling us to shape up. The alternative is unthinkable.

 

July 1; Reaping and Sowing

Hosea 5:8-9:17; 2 Kings 16:10-18, 15:30-31, 7:1-2; 2 Chronicles 28:22-25

God doesn’t mess around with disobedience. And He doesn’t stay where He is not honored. Hosea 5:15 says:

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.

That pretty much sums up the history of man. And the history of me.

The Jews entertained worship of pretend gods. Idolatry was often tolerated, and sometimes became the nation’s religion. They knew better. They knew God (or should have). Their ancestors had walked with God. They knew God blesses obedience, and punishes disobedience. Certainly they had heard the stories.

Sometimes the Jews chose disobedience anyway. That disobedience was always met with disaster of one kind or another. But I think the most devastating consequence for disobedience was when God removed Himself from their presence, when He left them to their own devices.

Famines were bad. Plagues were awful. War was brutal. But life without God has to be the worse.

What we see in almost every book of the Bible is people sinning, people going their own way, and God disciplining their disobedience. Sometimes that discipline involved God turning His back on them; but He always did that with one purpose: for them to seek Him in their misery, in order to bring them back to Himself.

The Bible also reveals a loving, faithful God who forgives His children every time they (we) repent.

Galatians 5:7-8 comes to mind:

Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

I’ve found all of that true in my own life. I know what it’s like to be totally void of His Presence when I’ve held on to sin, when I reap the fruit of sin. I could put on a Christian front, but my fellowship with God was severed. That, my friend, is the definition of lonely.

I also now what it’s like to fall on my knees and beg God for forgiveness, to feel His Presence one again when I am washed by the blood of Jesus. I know what it’s like to reap the fruit of the Spirit.

So, how does your garden grow? What are you reaping? You will reap what you sow.