Tag Archives: forgiveness

June 21; That’s Harsh

2 Kings 9:1-11:3; 2 Chronicles 22:7-12

Jehu obeyed God, as hard as it might have been. Every person in Ahab’s family from the oldest to the youngest was executed. All the priests of Baal were also killed. These were enemies of God, and they had to be eliminated. Sin had to be removed at all cost.

It’s tempting to think God through Jehu is too harsh, the penalty for being related to Ahab too severe. But that’s because we don’t understand how much God hates sin, no matter how small or how innocent we think the sin may be.

God abhors sin. God cannot exist where sin is; not in a nation, or a heart. Until we see sin through God’s eyes we will allow God’s enemy to live.

I’m certainly not talking about killing people. Jesus died so sin can be eliminated through His own blood, so no one ever has to die for sin ever again. But in order to receive the forgiveness Jesus bought there on the cross, we have to make that choice and accept it.

We have to put sin to death in our own lives, sever relationships if necessary, turn off the TV and computers, put down that glass or that bag of chips, forgive…

Hear God say to us that He is deathly serious about sin in all shapes and sizes. Hear Him say He will not tolerate your sin or mine. Hear Him as He shows us in His Word how He views sin, and how He deals with sin. His own Son died, took the penalty for every sin we’ve ever committed. God is that serious about sin.

It is harsh. You might think it’s too harsh. But you aren’t God. And the truth of the matter is, that harsh penalty was paid by Jesus on your behalf. I pray you accept it, embrace Him, and look at sin through His eyes.

June 11; A Look In The Mirror

I Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 10:1-9, 11:1-4, 13-17

Sometimes I read accounts like the one in today’s Scripture and I find myself shaking my head. The audacity of some to openly defy God, the in-your-face rejection of Him, astounds me. Jeroboam heard God’s Word, saw evidence that God was true, then turned around and did exactly what God had condemned.

This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall, and to its destruction from the face of the earth. (I Kings 13:34)

We can obviously make a connection to our own government. We can also see examples of this in the modern church. But, as always when I look into God’s Word, it’s like looking into a mirror. And sometimes I just don’t like what I see looking back at me. It hurts when God puts a finger on my heart.

I’d like to share what He is saying to me today. Number one, He has put His rules and expectations in writing. He has given clear instructions for living. He has proven Himself to be true over and over. I can make no mistake about it, God is holy and demands to be obeyed. Period.

Secondly, God hates sin. God punishes every sin. God cannot exist in harmony with sin. He makes it clear that our choice is either sin or Him. It can never be sin AND Him.

I know these things. Yet there have been times when I, and probably when you, have chosen sin over holiness, have neglected to do what He asks of me, and times when I knowingly, with an in-your-face attitude, have defied Him.

Like the foolish prophet, there have been times when someone who claims to have heard from God, says something that sounds right. Something inside of me questions whether or not it is truly Scriptural. But this someone says he’s a spokesman for God, and who am I to question that, right?

This morning as I look into the mirror of Scripture I am reminded that the only Truth is that which is written in the pages of the Bible. Anything, or anyone who adds to or contradicts what God inspired men to write down is straight from Satan.

And, if I believe that Scripture is true, I’d better be doing what it says. Because the Bible paints a holy, fearsome, powerful God who punishes every sin with death. It also clearly paints a picture of the cross. This harsh judge who has the power to condemn all of us, came to live with us in a human body, suffered and died on the cross, condemned Himself to the death we all deserve.

And He stands with open arms to receive any and all of us who go to Him.

Today, as I look in the mirror of Scripture I see a sinner saved by grace. I see a woman who was lost, now standing there wearing the holiness of the Savior. I see a woman who chooses Jesus.

May 31; Joy and Health

Proverbs 14-15

My prayer for you today is Proverbs 15:30. May you have joy in your heart regardless of circumstances. May you be surrounded by people who love you and love the Lord. May their smiles put a smile on your face. And may you be encouraged and strengthened with the Good News that your sins are forgiven, that Jesus is your Savior, that God is your Father, and that His Spirit lives in you.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

May 24; If God’s Answers Prayer

2 Chronicles 6:1-7:3; I Kings 8:22-61

When I read Solomon’s prayer for the dedication of the Temple, I can’t help but think of our world, the Church in 2019, and the USA. Solomon prays believing God answers prayer, and knows he is speaking to a forgiving God.

Solomon says, “when,” not “if” we sin. Everyone sins. And God punishes sin. Solomon is asking God to forgive sinners when they repent, something we know God loves to do.

Solomon is praying on behalf of the nation. It’s something we should be doing, too. “God, forgive us. Send revival to  your Church. Return this nation to one truly ‘under God.'”

We pray for us, for them. But do we pray for “me?” It’s easy to pray for the big picture. Sometimes not so easy to make it personal. We can pray all day long that this nation will humble itself and seek God. But you and I are not responsible for this nation.

We are, however, responsible for our own hearts’ condition before a very Holy God. Do you pray, “Humble me, Lord?” That’s actually kind of a scary prayer when you think about it.

Do you pray that God will deal with sin in your own heart, or just the sin of abortion in the land? Do you pray God will convict those caught up in the sin of homosexuality, and ignore His convicting hand on some sin in your own life?

Oh, I believe with Solomon, that God can hear from heaven and forgive… and return us to the land. God can turn things around in this nation, in His Church, and in the world.  But it has to start with you. With me.

If God is going to answer prayers for this world, it will be because you and I have humbled ourselves first. I believe God can turn things around, one repentant soul at a time.

Might as well start with you and me, right?

 

April 22; Practical Atheism

2 Samuel 22; Psalms 14 & 53; 1 Samuel 26

I love reading God’s Word. I look forward every day to opening my Bible and reading what God says to me. I believe every chapter, every verse, every word is included in these precious pages for an eternal reason.

So when He inspired men to repeat a phrase, or an entire story, I sit up and take notice. I figure God must think there is something there He doesn’t want me to miss.

Today I read two psalms that are almost identical. Sources say it wasn’t unusual for musicians to adapt a song to their own style, much like contemporary artists who re-work hymns to their own styles. But why would God inspire men to include two versions of the same psalm in the Bible? I took a closer look.

Both psalms being with,”The fool says in his heart there is no God.” In reality, these fools are corrupt and vile.

I get that. People who deny the existence of God are flat out God’s enemy. How much more vile can a person be who refuses to acknowledge the Creator? That’s the definition of “fool.”

But the psalms go on and say God is looking for anyone who understands and seeks Him. They say things like, all have turned aside, all are corrupt, no one is good. Not even one.

Now wait a minute. Does the psalmist dare to put all people in the same category as a vile atheist? Even me? Say it isn’t so.

I went to some of my trusted commentators and read what they had to say concerning these psalms. The term, “practical atheism” was a common theme among the writers. Matthew Henry, on page 633 of his Commentary In One Volume, says this:

“Atheists, whether in opinion or practice, are the greatest fools in the world.”

Opinion or practice.

I guess you don’t have to verbally pronounce you believe there is no God. How you live might be expressing the same belief just as clearly.

The psalmists put people in two categories. Fools, and those who understand and seek God. I am reminded that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Hebrews 11 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

So I ask myself: Can I be a Christian and live like I’m not? Can I be a Christian and not read my Bible, pray, serve God, love God, and obey Him?

When I think about it, I don’t see anything in the Bible about God recognizing a mediocre, or a half-Christian. Scripture repeatedly tells us it’s all or nothing. If we’re not for God, we’re against Him. We can’t serve two masters.

God must think it’s important for us to consider whether or not we are in this with Him, or we wouldn’t be reading the same psalm twice. A fool says there is no God, either by speaking the words, or by living as though we think there is no God. A practical atheist is no less an atheist than one who proclaims “There is no God.”

So what might practical atheism look like in my life? Putting something or someone ahead of God in my life. Dishonoring God’s name. Not living a life set apart, not making disciples. Complaining, jealousy, selfishness, thinking myself more highly than I should. As I sit here and think about what practical atheism looks like, I come to realize that allowing any sin to exist in my life gives the message that I don’t really believe in God as He is presented in the Bible. Isn’t that what an atheist is?

I thank God for the latter verses of these psalms, and for the Truth of Jesus Christ. Because there was a time when I was corrupt, vile, evil, and lived like I thought there was no God. That is, until I accepted Jesus as my Savior and became His precious child.

Now, I want to live my life acknowledging the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I want to live my life understanding and seeking Him, loving Him with all my heart, soul, and strength, diligently pursuing Him. I want to recognize sin in my life and repent of it immediately, understanding that God will not tolerate any sin.

What does your life say about God? That there is a God you love and serve, a God who you seek diligently above all else. Or does your life say that you don’t really believe in God even though your words say you do?

Practical atheism? That’s so foolish.

March 26; It Ain’t Easy

Joshua 7-9

If you are a Christian, I’m sure you pray that God will reveal sin in your life. Those of us who love God want to please Him, and we know sin in any form does not please God. But I’ve found sometimes I pray that God will reveal sin, hoping He doesn’t. Because when God puts a finger on sin in my life, it requires me to do something about it.

There was sin in Israel, and what I see here in Joshua is that God pealed away this sin one layer at a time, until He got at the heart of the matter. Then the Israelites had a choice. Deal with it, or do the easy, humane, “loving” thing and allow the guilty to survive. I can’t think it was easy for any of them to remove the sin from among them.

If you ask God to reveal a sin, He will do it. That’s a prayer I’m sure God loves answering because that sin builds a wall between us and God that He wants removed for love of us. So don’t pray that prayer unless you are ready to address the sin. No matter the cost.

If you are a Christian, if you are interested in having your relationship with God be everything it can be, then ask Him to reveal sin in your life. Let Him peal away the layers, get rid of all your defenses until He gets at the heart of your sin. He will do it.

Then ask Him to forgive you. Be ready to change, to walk away, to stop doing that which God calls sin. Sometimes that’s not easy to do. But faced with the reality of your sin, and not repenting is a very serious thing.

The example in Joshua tells us they eliminated sin completely, didn’t hold on to any piece of it. And they were blessed because they did. It couldn’t have been easy. But it had to be done.

Let’s determine the same. It ain’t easy.

But it’s worth it.

March 13; No Admittance

Deuteronomy 1-2

God inspired Moses to give a history lesson to the Israelites poised and ready to take the Promised Land. None of these Jews remembered the Exodus from Egypt forty years earlier. Most of them hadn’t been born when their parents and grandparents crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. Many of them weren’t even born when their parents refused to take the Promised Land forty years earlier.  So Moses wanted to be sure this generation knew the truth, knew exactly why their parents had turned about a two week walk from Egypt to Canaan into forty years of bouncing around in the wilderness.

Their parents were whiners. But it wasn’t their persistent complaining that caused God to shut the door on the Promise.

Their parents were disobedient. But their disobedience wasn’t the reason they were kept out of Canaan.

Their parents worshiped idols. But it wasn’t even their idolatry that caused them to die in the wilderness.

Moses wanted this generation – and ours – to know that the reason none of their parents and grandparents stepped foot into the Promised Land was because of unbelief. They closed the door themselves when they refused to trust God.

And that’s still true today. The only thing standing between an unsaved person and God is unbelief.

Do you believe God when He says Jesus is His Son, and the ONLY way to God? You may be a liar. God can forgive that. You may be an adulterer or a homosexual. God can forgive that. You might be angry, hateful, jealous, dishonest… All forgivable. You might even consider yourself agnostic, atheistic, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist… all of which God can forgive…

if you believe. If you repent while your heart is still beating.

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

But, friend, you will not see God or know what it’s like to walk with Him in this lifetime if you don’t believe in Jesus, if you don’t accept God’s forgiveness bought for you when Jesus died on the cross. The truth of Scripture as seen in the Old Testament and the New is that there is a “No Admittance” sign on the gate of heaven for anyone who has not believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your past doesn’t matter. But what you do with Jesus really does.