Tag Archives: Jesus

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(Hosea 4-8) I Want That, Too

Sometimes I can almost feel God’s heart breaking. Even as He spells out the judgment to come, even as He expresses His anger over the continued disobedience of His children, He says, “I want to redeem them.”

If only they would repent. If only they would obey. If only they would let Him, He would save them. He wanted to redeem them. But because they’d rather hold on to their idols, He couldn’t.

God threw out a lifeline, but they were still drowning because they couldn’t let go of their sin. And it broke His heart.

I don’t think I can fully understand the extent of His pain because I can’t fully understand the depth of His love. But as I read God’s message to us through Hosea, I know I don’t want any part of adding to His pain.

I want to repent of sin the moment God reveals it to me. I want to resist temptation, and obey Him with every breath I take. I want only to bring Him joy. My redemption cost Jesus so much. I don’t want to waste a single drop of the blood He shed paying the death penalty for my sin.

There isn’t an idol, a sin, that’s worth a fraction of the cross. I hear God say, “I want to redeem Connie.” And I want that, too.

(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 4) You’d Be Foolish

God’s judgment is real – and without mercy. He doesn’t want to sentence anyone for crimes committed against Him. In fact, we know He Himself paid our penalty, took on Himself the sentence our sins deserve. But He will judge those who reject Him, and they will be found guilty.

As devastating as impending judgment will be, God is anxious and willing to forgive anyone at any time – if they surrender to Him. Obedience, a repentant heart, putting on the righteousness of Jesus renders my guilty sentence paid in full. Someone paid my debt!

Chapter 4 likens surrendering to God by five actions. It’s like plowing the ground to receive the seeds, like performing heart surgery, joining the army, taking a bath, like growing up. In each instance, the person is changed. And God demands we change. (from Warren Wiersbe’s With The Word, Chapter by Chapter Bible Handbook; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 499)

God wants to be very clear – judgment is inevitable. It’s coming for you. The question is – are you going to take it on your own, or are you going to surrender to the Judge and allow His Son to take your death sentence for you? That is a decision you need to make BEFORE you meet the judge. Standing before Him after you are dead will be too late.

Don’t be foolish. You don’t want to take your own punishment. You don’t want to serve your own death sentence. That is one sentence from which there is no parole. And there is no need to serve it, if you only surrender to God and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as your own.

He’s willing to make that happen. Choose Jesus! You’d be foolish not to.

(Isaiah 60) Everlasting Light

I long for heaven. I long to be where God’s splendor outshines the sun and moon. I long to be where there is no war, no threats of harm, no illness, no hate, a place where peace reigns and righteousness describes our conduct. I long to be caressed by God like a mother holding her nursing child.

Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. The sun will no longer by your light by day, and the brightest of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. (vs 18-19)

I long for heaven. And I know that one day I will be there, because I have repented of my sin and accepted Jesus’ work on the cross, the penalty I deserved for my sin. I am as sure of my future life in heaven as I am of my life today on earth.

I pray you can say the same. This amazingly peaceful, safe, pure, holy, place filled with love, and void of sorrow is real. It’s reserved for those who know God according to the words He inspired men to write, to those who come to Him through Jesus.

I hope to see you there, where God Himself is our everlasting light.

(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.

(Song of Solomon 5-8) Love Is Not All There Is

Yesterday my prayer was that I would love God like He deserves, with a passionate, all-consuming, pure kind of love. Today, I am reminded that’s not enough.

I need to act on that love. A former pastor always said, “Love is something you DO.” So reading these chapters today I realize how important it is that I GO when He calls, I need to INVITE Him to come to me. I need to GIVE to Him, SHOW my love in private and in public, LISTEN to Him, choose to STAY with Him.

I am reminded that simply feeling love for and even feeling loved by Him, isn’t love at all. I mean I love my piano. But if I don’t play it, it’s just furniture gathering dust.

My prayer today is that my love for my Beloved Savior will be something you could notice in the words I say, the things I do, even the look on my face. Let it be known that I love the Lord. Let me show you what that looks like.

(Proverbs 3-5) My Worldview

My apologetics study Bible includes an article written by Ronald H Nash entitled, “What is a Worldview?” (CSB Apologetics Study Bible; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville; 2017; page 752). Got me thinking about how I would define my own worldview. Using the five elements in a worldview according to Nash (what people believe about God, ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics, and human nature), here is how I view the world:

My worldview can be summed up in John 3:16-17. It begins with God – not a god. It begins with God who loves.

God’s love is a blanket covering our world, and nothing can separate us from that love. But there is more. God gave His Son Jesus to live in this world, and die on a cross. Why?

Because we humans are sinful. My worldview acknowledges that no one is born good, then learns to be bad. Humans are born with a sin nature, a “want to” to have our own way, to be our own god. And because sin separates us from Holy God, Jesus (God in human form) offered Himself to pay our sin-debt so that it’s possible to connect to our loving God in a very real way.

Jesus’ death on the cross and the forgiveness of sin is available to anyone. Jesus didn’t die for some people and not for others. The “whosoever” of John 3:16 applies to children and elderly, to nice people and evil, to rich and poor, to Americans and Iraqis, to nurses and serial killers. Jesus died so that ANYONE who believes in Him will be saved. Period.

There is absolute Truth and there are lies. There is one way to God, not many. There is right and there is wrong which are not subjective or fluid or societal. Jesus (again God in human form) tells us plainly that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one goes to the Father except through Him. My worldview cannot make provisions for other beliefs and religions because God doesn’t make provisions for them.

My worldview extends beyond the physical and material and into eternity. My worldview is limitless, and those who believe in Jesus will live forever with Him. My worldview also understands that there is an eternal existence away from God for those who refuse to believe- and it’s devastating.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. The world is already condemned. Jesus came to save the world, one repentant soul at a time.

These chapters in Proverbs reinforce my worldview. And it all centers around God; trusting Him, obeying Him, enjoying Him, believing His Word, accepting His discipline as an expression of love, worshiping Him, and treating others in a way that makes Him look good to a world lost without Him.

I want to view the world through God’s eyes. We are people loved by Almighty God, invited to join Him through the blood of His Son Jesus, and are promised that when we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us, cleanse us, and make us His own. We can know that when we believe on Him we will not die. We’ll change our address and live forever in His Presence.

It’s an amazing view, sharing God’s worldview!

(Psalms 137-140) Crossing The Line

I sometimes have trouble reading some of David’s violent psalms. His prayers concerning his enemies are filled with horrible things he asks God to do to them. The truth of the matter is, though, people who reject God and mistreat God’s children will suffer worse things than even David could imagine. It’s a hard truth to grasp.

I think we need to be careful how we pray. Many of us, me included, pray that God will stop the evil in the world, do away with terrorists and abortion doctors. We pray He will strike down transgenders, persecutors of Christians, and people from the “other” political party than we. Some of us could have written David’s psalms with the same vengeful attitude toward our own enemies.

But I’m reminded Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us. That doesn’t mean He wants us to turn a blind eye to their sin, or that we should pray that they will enjoy success in their lives. We need to be praying for their salvation.

It is sin which drives our enemies. We should pray they repent of those sins. The world’s problems would disappear if those people we consider enemies met their Savior.

It’s a fine line between hating sin and hating sinners. But it’s a line we need to draw. It’s a line we cannot cross.

(Psalm 84) Is Happiness Even Possible?

Who doesn’t want to be happy? The psalmist tells us where true happiness originates. He sets the stage in verse two:

“I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”

What is it you long for? Money? Success? Relationships? Self-awareness? Health? How is that working for you? The psalmist will tell us that those who long to know God, to walk with Him in a right relationship, those who are not satisfied with a casual relationship but desire all that God is, find their happiness in Him.

“How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.” (verse 4)

Happiness comes from constant communication with God. Happiness comes from knowing God never leaves, never forsakes, and is continually blessing those who love Him. Happiness is found in praising God for who He is, what He has done in the past, what He will do in the future. And happiness comes most preciously when our focus is on God continually. When Paul and Silas praised God while chained to a prison wall, God showed up, didn’t he? He still shows up when we praise Him.

“Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on a pilgrimage.” (verse 5)

Verse 6 tells us that is true even when we are walking through times of sorrow and pain. The lies we believe about finding our own strength, about thinking we need to handle things on our own, that we are capable and powerful, contribute to the unhappiness so many people feel. Because the truth is, you aren’t strong enough all the time. And that’s ok. God is! The psalmist tells us if our hearts are set on the “pilgrimage” of knowing God and looking forward to heaven, if we surrender our wills to His, we will go “from strength to strength.” (verse 7). We can consider God our “shield” according to verse 9 as we look to Him.

“Happy is the person who trusts in you, Lord of Armies.” verse 12)

It doesn’t say happy is the person who is living a peaceful, successful, trouble-free life. In fact, the psalmist calls God the Lord of Armies because this is war! There will be trouble. There will be hardships and disappointments and illness and loss. There will be temptation and sin and consequences. But happy is the one who trusts in God, not in himself, not in science, not in religion, not in good deeds. Happy is the one who trusts in God. Period.

Jesus said, in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” (emphasis mine)

May you be truly happy today. It’s possible.