Tag Archives: forgiveness

No Excuse (Joshua 8-9)

It’s devastating to see the lengths to which jealousy can take a person. Abimelech may not have been treated equally to his brothers. His mother was a slave. Maybe the seventy sons of Gideon’s legal wives bullied their half-brother. Maybe Gideon himself showed favoritism toward his legitimate sons. It’s possible Gideon’s seventy sons lived in luxury while Abimelech lived like a slave. We don’t know the details. But after Papa Gideon died, Abimelech showed his true colors.

He convinced the citizens of Shechem to make him ruler. Then his first order of business was to publicly execute his seventy brothers. I wonder if Abimelech felt vindicated after that, or if killing his brothers brought him a sense of peace. Let’s just say, I doubt it.

I wonder if any of us reading this today are harboring ill feelings about the way we were raised, the way we were treated by our middle school classmates, the fact we were overlooked for a promotion at work, or that our neighbor’s kid is captain of the football team, and ours is last chair saxophone in the high school band.

What do we do with those feeling of inequity, or jealousy, or resentment? Do we feed them? Grow them? Use them throughout the day to justify a bad temper or depression?

I’m projecting because the Bible doesn’t tell us Abimelech’s motivation behind the murder of his brothers. But common sense tells us he didn’t act the way he did out of love, or from a place of forgiveness.

There isn’t one of us reading this who hasn’t been mistreated or treated unfairly, who hasn’t been bullied or been made to feel inferior some time in our lives. Yet some of us still feel the anger, resentment, and jealousy years later. Some of us let our past justify our present, which causes even more ill feelings. Which can lead to destructive behavior.

The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to be mistreated. He knew what it was like to be homeless, penniless, hated and physically abused. Maybe in some people’s minds, he had a right to get even, or to feel anger or jealousy toward his abusers. But hear what Paul had to say about it all:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 8-9)

Paul didn’t have time for a pity party. He didn’t feel the need to get even. In fact, he called his abuse “treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us.” (verse 7)

Your past may have been truly awful. Some people imagine childhood abuse, you may have really lived it. People may actually treat you unfairly, actually do mean things to you. But none of that is an excuse for you inflicting harm on anyone else, even those guilty of hurting you.

In fact, none of has an excuse for hurting others. Not with the words we say or the things we do. And holding on to jealousy or anger or bitterness is only hurting you. You do that to you.

We who know Jesus can, with Paul, look at the inequities of our lives and say confidently that we are not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, or destroyed. Why? Because we have the Spirit of God living in us, and He is none of those things. In fact, the Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control with Him.

The Bible tells us that “all things work together for good” for those of us who love God. Do you believe that? I believe with all my heart that the good God brings out of our difficult circumstances is Himself. And we as His children have the privilege of revealing His “all-surpassing power” when we love instead of hate, when we do good to those who harm us, when we forgive as we have been forgiven.

Those of us who have the Spirit of God living in us have no excuse to do otherwise.

 

Savior or Executioner (Judges 3-5)

Sisera was running from his enemies, the children of Israel. Jael gave him shelter, AND guarded the door. Sisera was thirsty and asked for water. Jael went one better, and gave him milk. I can only imagine how that sweet liquid felt to Sisera as it hit his tongue. Sisera was weary. Jael provided him with a warm bed.

Yet with all the kindness Sisera received at the hands of this Jewish woman, Sisera remained an enemy of God. He did not repent. And the one who had lavished him with grace and mercy became his executioner.

We must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted. The sun rose today on everyone. There is oxygen to breathe in every corner of the world. Working limbs, hearing ears, love and laughter are enjoyed by the vast majority. And to top it off, Jesus died for the sins of every individual. For God so loved the world!

Yet some who are enjoying the grace and mercy that is ours at the hand of a very patient and loving God, will one day meet Him as their executioner. Some who accept His blessings in this lifetime will die His enemy unless they accept what is their’s through the blood of Jesus.

Yes, God is a loving God. He is slow to anger. He is actively working in the hearts of people everywhere to come to Him, to love and obey Him, to repent of sin and know Him.

But one day we will look into those eyes and see our Savior, or our Executioner. There is no third option.

Quit Crying (Joshua 5-7)

The Jericho walls had just come tumbling down on Israel’s enemy. Why wouldn’t the Jews assume God would continue to give them the victory? But things didn’t turn out so well for them at Ai. Their defeat put the Jews in a deep depression.

“WHY?” they asked. “Why would God do this to us?” They tore their clothes and fell on their faces, crying out to the Lord. But God was not moved by their tears.

“Quit crying! You have sinned. You have violated my commands.” Then to cap it off, God said, “I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” (7:12)

I’m on FaceBook, and read post after post of people calling us to prayer concerning this pandemic our world is facing. Many of the blogs I follow are asking people to fast and pray that God will move among us, stop the virus. I want you to know I am praying.

However, today I realize I can fall on my face and cry out all day for God to have mercy, for God to heal our world, only to hear Him say, “Quit crying! You, Connie, have sinned. You, Connie, have violated my commands. And I will not be with you until you get rid of the sin in YOUR life.”

It’s easy to pray for our world, to plead with God to stop the spread of this disease. But the disease that concerns God the most is the disease of sin in my heart- and yours.

I think God would have us search our hearts, to allow Him to break our hearts over our own disobedience, to get right with Him as we confess our own sin and accept His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. More than the stop of this virus, God wants us to be healed of sin.

I hope you will continue to pray for our world and the stop of this virus. But hear God say you and I both need to deal with the sin in our own lives before He will be moved by our prayers for the world. Oh, there is a fatal disease out there spreading faster than covid19. And there is a cure. His name is Jesus.

Uninterrupted (Leviticus5-6)

I’m not sure what prompted men to make a Nazarite vow. It was most likely to honor God, or as a testimony about their devotion to God. Whatever the reason, it was a serious thing to do, a commitment God took very seriously.

If you made the Nazarite vow, you had to do it God’s way – no exceptions. Not even if something unexpected happened to that person. If for any reason he was exposed to uncleanliness, the vow was voided, and he had to start over again. Making the Nazarite vow could not be interrupted.

The vow required complete obedience. And that has me thinking about my vow to God as His child. My vow to follow Him and serve Him requires complete obedience. It’s not a vow that I can honor on Sunday, and ignore on Thursday, if I want to please God. It’s not a vow that I can put on when it’s convenient.

Now the man whose vow had been interrupted had to start over. I don’t lose my salvation every time I sin. But – and this is what God is saying to me today – I cannot let sin in my life go unaddressed. Not ever. When I sin, I need to confess that sin and allow God to forgive me. In a sense, I guess it’s like starting over, with a clean heart and a determination not to repeat that sin.

God tells us to be holy as He is holy. I am praying that each of us will vow to be everything He wants us to be, that we will follow His rules, and with His help be a man or woman totally dedicated to Him…

uninterrupted.

 

Knowing God (Job 40-42)

“Well, when you put it like that, Lord…”

After months, maybe years of heartache and loss, with questions unanswered, God finally speaks to Job. But God doesn’t answer one of Job’s questions. Instead He asked questions of Job (and us) which we should not ignore. In those questions is exactly what God wants us to know about Him.

I hope you’ll read Job 40-42 today. And instead of wondering what a behemoth was, or if a leviathan was a fire-breathing dragon, hear what God wants you to know about Himself. Don’t just see bronze-like bones, or lightning-producing sneezes. See God! See the God who is more powerful than anything He created.

Then, I hope you will respond like Job responded. Don’t miss 42:5-6.

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

Job had thought he knew God. But his knowledge about God wasn’t enough. When Job finally was faced with WHO GOD IS, he could only fall on his face before Him, despise himself for things done and thoughts thoughts, and repent of it all.

My prayer is that all of us will do the same.

 

December 11-14; And The Winner Is…

Revelation 11-14

When I read the book of Revelation as a picture of life, I see that life is messy. It’s chaotic. There are disasters and sorrow and struggles. Let’s face it. Satan is powerful and will continue to fight God, using us as pawns, until the final day when He who was, and is… has come!

I read about the battles, and Satan’s tactics to take as many of us as he can with him into hell. But then in chapter 14 I see the Lamb! I can almost hear the song of the redeemed, and I know we win! One day the earth will be ripe for harvest. That sickle will swing and life as we know it will end. Oh, how I long for that day!

But if you don’t know the Lamb, if you haven’t accepted the forgiveness of your sin through the blood of Jesus, you should be terrified at the thought of that day. Because you will not win. You will drink the wine of God’s fury.

As 2019 winds down, as we look forward to a new year, and a new decade, I pray you will be on the winning side, worshiping the Lamb who was slain for love of you. May God bless you, draw you to Him, and give you strength in the days ahead. Life’s not easy. We are at war. But be assured…

The winner is you, if you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

December 5; Delivered

Romans 5:1-8:17

Can a Christian sin? Paul certainly sounds like he struggled with sin. I John 1:8 tells us we deceive ourselves if we say we don’t sin. Galatians 5:17 says there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. Plus, I don’t have to look farther than my nose to know Christians can sin.

But believers in Christ have something non-believers don’t have. We have victory. We have the Holy Spirit right there inside us, eager to help us resist temptation. We have the very power of God to fight our enemy, and the grace of God who forgives us when we ask.

“What a wretched man I am!” Paul exclaimed. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (from 8:24)

The sin of a Christian is no less serious than the sin of an atheist. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Your sin. And mine.

The answer to Paul’s question, “who will deliver me,” is found in verse 25:

Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God will deliver you, too, if you ask. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He is faithful and just to forgive us all when we confess our sin. Thanks be to God!