Tag Archives: repentance

Choose Me (Ezekiel 42-43)

He was so willing. God would have forgiven Israel for every evil thing they ever did or even thought. “Here I am,” He said. “Here is my throne and a place for the soles of my feet. I’m not going anywhere.” They just needed to turn from their sin, put away their idols, and He would live among them forever.

Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple… its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. (43:10b-11)

He was so willing. But they couldn’t do it. And neither can we.

Sometimes connecting with God’s heart breaks mine. This morning as I read these chapters I could hear His longing, and could almost feel His pain. “Choose me!” He pleads.

He’s done all the work. That altar and its regulations were fulfilled perfectly when God sacrificed Himself on the cross. “Just choose me,” He cries.

I pray that you have, at some point in your life, chosen God, that you have repented from sin, turned from your idols, and turned to the Savior. But I hope that isn’t the only time you’ve dealt with sin in your life.

Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin. He tells us He made a conscious decision to “die” every day, to put aside self and sin, and choose God. Every. Day. “To live is Christ,” he said.

Choosing God isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. Choosing God comes with sacrifice, hardship, selflessness. Choosing God means getting out of our comfort zones, going to battle, loving people who don’t agree with us, and praying for them. Choosing God goes against everything we’ve come to believe is true; that we should be wealthy and healthy, that we deserve to be happy, that as “children of the king” we should live the high life.

Scripture tells us that Jesus knew the world would hate us for choosing Him, because they hated Him first.

But choosing God is the most amazingly wonderful choice you will ever make. Choosing God is choosing something better than anything this world offers. Better than money, or fame, or a home on Easy Street. Choosing God is choosing love and forgiveness, help and encouragement, purpose and fellowship, and eternity more wonderful than any of us can imagine.

“Choose me,” God is saying to you. “Choose me today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Choose me this hour, this minute. Choose me and I promise I will never leave you, I’ll plant the soles of my feet in your heart and bless you with Myself.”

I choose God today. I’m praying you’ll do the same.

God Is Revealed (Ezekiel 38-39)

God’s punishment for sin will always be evident in this world, because there will always be sin in the world until He comes again. Natural disasters will happen. Evil men will do evil things. There will be disease, and war, and heartache and suffering. There will continue to be times when God removes His protection, and even His children will suffer because of their sin.

But!

There will always, ALWAYS, be times of grace, of mercy, of victory when people humble themselves and repent of sin. God will always, ALWAYS bless those who obey Him.

Why? So that the world and everyone in it will recognize that God is Holy. God is Sovereign, God is who He says He IS and there is no other. This world is about God.

As I read His Word I understand that Truth. And here is the best part of that. God wants a relationship with me! God wants to protect and bless me as though I was His only child. Like a loving Father, He will discipline my rebellion, correct my self-centeredness, punish my disobedience. And like a loving Father, He will always, ALWAYS forgive me when I come to Him, humble myself, and repent.

May God be seen in me through every circumstance of life. May people recognize the Holy, Just, Fierce, and Forgiving God He is by watching Him work in my life. May I be a living example of His grace because:

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

Everything that happens, the good and the bad, happen to point people to Jesus, to reveal God in all His holiness and goodness so that they will come to Him for forgiveness, and enjoy a relationship with the Sovereign, Holy God He is. I love to think that I may have a part in His plan, to reveal this wonderful God to a world that needs Him!

Is God the Enemy? (Lamentations 1:1-3:36)

What had been beautiful and blessed now stood in ruins. The people who had been protected by God were now in captivity. Those who had been respected were suddenly targets of scorn. How did things get so bad for the Old Testament Israelites? Listen to what the writer of Lamentations says:

The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading. (2:14)

In other words, the people had exchanged the Truth for a theology that didn’t require them to repent of sin. And they liked it.

But the consequences for disobedience were without mercy. In fact, the writer says this sad statement: “The Lord is like an enemy…” (2:5) Then he goes on to say things like God had laid waste His dwelling, destroyed His place of meeting, rejected His altar and abandoned His sanctuary. God had withdrawn from Israel.

It’s a sobering thought to think God is like an enemy when He is punishing sin. This patient, loving God who pursues each of us, woos us, throws out one sign after another to reveal Himself as the One True God, has a limit to His mercy. And His final judgment without mercy is worse than any of us can imagine.

The thing is, God wrote down all His requirements so that there would be no question about what is expected of us. Then He spelled out what His anger and judgment looks like so no one could say they didn’t know. But He also tells us in His Word that He Himself provided the way for us sinful people to go to Him, receive His mercy and forgiveness, and live not as an enemy, but as a beloved child now and forever.

If God is the enemy it is only because we have embraced our own “truth,” refused to deal with sin according to Scripture. We’ve listened to false prophets who tell us a relationship with God means health and wealth, that worship of God should be an experience, that Jesus isn’t God, that there are many ways to approach God, that a loving God doesn’t send anyone to hell.

And if God is the enemy, we are in serious trouble, my friend.

A Godly Leader (2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chronicles 34-35

A godly leader can turn things around. King Josiah was not afraid to stand up and read Scripture to the people. He didn’t send a priest to do it. He did it himself, and the hearts of the people were moved.

Josiah had been confronted with the truth of Scripture, and it broke him. He humbled himself before God, then went on to live the life of a man dedicated to God. But he wasn’t satisfied with a personal experience. He wanted his whole country in on the blessing. So he read them the same Scripture that had spoken to him. Lives were changed.

Oh, for a godly leader in America. I think we have a president who isn’t afraid to stand up to the masses. He says and does what he believes whether or not it is popular with any of us. But wouldn’t it be amazing if President Trump got up and read Scripture at his next press conference? What if his tweets were Bible verses? What if he started standing for right and Truth, and didn’t get into word wars with game players?

Never happen, you might say. But are you praying it will? God’s arm is not too short, nor is He too weak to break the heart of Donald Trump, to do a work in our president’s heart that would turn him into a godly leader.

Are you praying that Donald Trump will accept what Jesus died to give him, then follow the Lord in a pubic, zealous way like King Josiah did? I don’t care if you are a Republican or Democrat. Are you a Christian? Then you should be praying for our president. Remember, God is not going to answer a prayer not prayed, and if we want our country to turn around, we’d better be praying for a godly leader.

 

Convicted (Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122)

These psalms have a lot to say about the forgiveness of sin. David said that when he lived with his sin, God’s hand was heavy on him. He had no strength, he groaned all day. David’s experience (and my own) tells me that the force of God’s conviction affects every part of our lives.

But when David confessed his sin, God forgave him and surrounded him with songs of deliverance. Instead of feeling the guilt and shame of his sin, David could confidently say this:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (32:1-2)

David knew that when he confessed his sin, his whole life was changed:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. (51:7)

And, instead of  being weighed down by guilt, David could pray:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (51:12a)

David’s groaning turned to real joy when He asked and received God’s forgiveness. He knew God wasn’t interested in religion, or in David’s animal sacrifices any more than God is interested in our good deeds:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (51:16-17, emphasis mine)

This God who lays a heavy hand of conviction on us who sin, doesn’t make us miserable because He is mean or vengeful. Listen to David describe God:

You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. (86:5)

David could say those things with confidence about God, even when the guilt of his sin caused him sleepless nights and agony. David knew…

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (86:7)

Are you being convicted by a sin you’ve not confessed? I would urge you to bow your head right now, and ask God to forgive you. Turn from that sin and toward our God who is abounding in love to those who call on Him. He will answer your prayer. Then, with David, you will be able to say:

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. (86:13)

Amen!

 

Slow To Learn (I Chronicles 3-5)

In one place we see God’s people defeat their enemy “because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.” (5:20)

Yet a few verses later, we see those same people unfaithful to God, worshiping idols, and living in harmony with the very people God had defeated earlier. Why would God bother to answer their prayer during the battle when He knew it wouldn’t be long before they turned from Him, and joined the enemy?

Because that is who He is! God is faithful to answer the prayers of a repentant heart every time.

We read that the Jews will pay a price for choosing sin. But what speaks to me is God’s faithfulness to His children. To me.

The truth is, God always blesses me, always defeats my enemy, always draws near to me when I trust Him and am obedient to His Word. It’s at those times when I choose sin, even in the privacy of my heart, that God removes His blessings, and I must face the consequences.

I can shake my head at the rollercoaster ride the Jews lived in the Old Testament, and wonder how they could trust God one minute, and blatantly sin the next. But God is reminding me today that they aren’t the only ones slow to learn.

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 28; What Will It Take?

Revelation 6-10

What will it take for people to turn to God? John’s vision contains some frightening events like hail and fire, a blazing mountain thrown into the sea, stars falling to earth, locusts as big as horses, death and destruction all around, yet 9:20 tells us:

The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood…

The people in John’s vision had witnessed unimaginable horror, seen evidence of the mighty power of God, yet held on to their worthless beliefs, idols that cannot see or hear. They would not repent.

What did it take for you to admit your sin and your need of a Savior? Was it hardship? Loss? Devastation? Or were you drawn to God because of love, a realization that life is incomplete without Him?

If you haven’t dealt with sin in your life, if you haven’t accepted what Jesus died on the cross to give you, what will it take for you to do that? The Bible tells me God will stop at nothing to get your attention, to prove Himself to you. Don’t be like the people we read about today in John’s revelation.

What will it take?

November 23; Be Sanctified

I Thessalonians 2:17-5:28; II Thessalonians 1

What does it mean to live a holy life? Paul tells us it is God’s will that we be sanctified in order to please God. Then Paul tells us what that looks like:

that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. (I Thessalonians 4:3b-6a)

So is holy living, or sanctification, restricted to sexual behavior? Remember, Jesus told us that we commit adultery when we lust. It doesn’t have to involve bodily contact. Sin comes in all shapes and sizes.

Trying in our own strength to do what Paul is telling us to do only leads to failure. We can’t muster up courage, or find strength inside us to defeat the power of sin. It’s impossible. A sinner can’t sanctify a sinner, so I can’t sanctify me.

But the Holy Spirit can! When we humble ourselves and accept the gift of God’s grace, the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, when we place our faith in God, the Holy Spirit is given to us. Then we can avoid sexual immorality because the Holy Spirit gives us His strength and His desires. We can control ourselves in holy and honorable ways because the Spirit in us is holy and honorable.

Paul tells us it is the work of the Holy Spirit to grow believers, or to sanctify believers. But he also says it is possible to “put out the Spirit’s fire.” Then he tells us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (5:19-20)

Then Paul prays: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (5:23-24)

Does that thrill your heart? Yes we have responsibility in our walk with the Lord. But the good news is that the Spirit within us gives us wisdom, and the ability to hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. The Spirit within us gives us exactly what we need to be sanctified.

He is faithful. And He will do it!

 

November 15; Even the Gentiles

Acts 9:32-11:15

I am so thankful for the Jews. They were the ones through whom God chose to bring salvation to the world. God had stuck with them even when they disobeyed, protected them even when they put themselves in danger. They didn’t deserve His kindness, but God knew that He would come to earth through a Jewish woman. And in spite of the Jews who rebelled, Jesus was indeed born of Mary.

It’s no wonder the Jews felt Jesus was exclusively their’s. For centuries they knew they were chosen, set apart, and they felt superior to anyone not Jewish (known as Gentiles). The Holy Spirit had come to the Jews there in Jerusalem. Salvation through Jesus was their’s.

So Peter’s vision and subsequent encounter with Cornelius, a Gentile centurion, was met with criticism. “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” (11:3)

What were you thinking, Peter?

But I love that when Peter explained his vision, shared what happened when the Holy Spirit was given to non-Jewish believers just as it had been give to them, the once horrified Jews “had no further objections.” Then this:

(they) praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” (11:18)

Yes. Yes He did. Even Gentiles. Even me!