Tag Archives: repentance

August 1; When Is Enough Enough?

Jeremiah 7:1-8:3, 11:1-17, 15:10-21, 22:18-23

It bothers me when I hear God tell Jeremiah to quit praying for the Jews. I mean I get it. For hundreds of years God spoke to them, begged them, disciplined them, ignored them, and even blessed them in order to get them to obey Him. But even when they turned to Him for a time, they always went back to their stupid idols and living life the way they wanted to.

I mean, I get that God was done with them. But it bothers me.

In Bible study the other night our teacher pointed out that its’s not just that the Jews sinned, repented, and sinned again. It was that each time they went back to sin, their sins became a bit more vile, a bit more blatant and bold. The people were on a downward spiral, and God was done with them. After all, how low can a people go before God washes His hands of them?

Fast forward to 2019.

I received a prayer request recently from a church I used to attend, concerning a sister church in another state. I don’t know all the details, but the request was for a young youth pastor who, because he didn’t address a boy in his Sunday School class by the feminine name the boy had chosen for himself because he identified as female, is in serious trouble. The community is up in arms, picketing the church and causing a media frenzy.

Did I mention the child is Ten. Years. Old?

Christian, we need to pray for this man and his church, that they will stay strong, obedient to God and His Word during this time. It won’t be easy for them. Let’s pray for this situation, and for other churches facing, or who will face the same persecution – including your church.

Do you know who the Recabites were? They were a family who obeyed with unwavering loyalty. Their granddad had told them he didn’t want anyone in his family to ever drink wine, build houses, or plant vineyards. And this family obeyed. For generations!

God, in Jeremiah 22 said, if they can obey a grandfather like that, why can’t God’s people obey Him?

Really, why can’t we?

If you know me at all, you know I am not going to leave this study with a “we.” I don’t believe God is just talking about disobedient nations, families, or even churches. God wants me to hear Him say He expects obedience of me. And that isn’t a suggestion.

What makes me sad, and a bit fearful, is hearing God tell Jeremiah He can be done with the Jews, knowing He’s saying the same thing to me about me. My disobedience is not a little thing at all. And He wants me to know there may be a time when He’ll think enough is enough.

I may complain when I face consequences for sin. But as long as God is disciplining me I know He’s trying to get my attention. I may be uncomfortable when under conviction of the Holy Spirit, and wish God would leave me alone. But if I don’t feel conviction, that might mean God has washed His hands of me. And I really don’t want Him to leave me alone. Not really.

I want to remember that playing the repetitive Old Testament Jewish game of obedience, disobedience, repentance, is a downward spiral. With each act of sin I get further and further away from my Heavenly Father. I don’t ever want Him to think enough is enough.

Let me say I am not going to stop praying for myself, my loved ones, my church, my country, and the world because I still believe God is faithful and just to forgive every sin confessed. I’m going to pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to do His work in my heart, and yours, and will place a heavy hand of conviction on each of us. I will continue to pray that God’s people will obey Him with all our hearts.

And I’ll keep praying until the day I meet Him face to face.

July 20; Wake up! I Mean It!

Isaiah 51-55

I will confess I am not usually a morning person. I’m better now than I was as an adolescent, but I still stay in bed until the very last minute every chance I get. My parents had the challenge of getting five girls up and ready to catch the bus every morning during the school year. I’m pretty sure they’d tell you that was not fun.

Our dad finally had had enough. “Time to get up, girls.” “Get up, girls.” “You’ll be late for school, girls.” “Get out of that bed RIGHT NOW.” And we would turn over and go right back to sleep.

So one day we heard, “Either get out of that bed right now, or I am going to pour water on your head.” And I turned a deaf ear, rolled over and went back to sleep. I’m pretty sure I was in a deep sleep the first time I got drenched with cold water. Let’s just say I got out of bed.

And, after that when Dad told us it was time to get up, all he had to do was turn the faucet on in the kitchen, and our feet hit the floor! “I’m up!” We learned that when he said, “Wake up,” he meant it.

I remembered that today as I read God saying, “Awake! Awake!” in Isaiah 51:9, then again in verse 17, and a third time in 52:1. It sounded rather urgent, so I decided to look at what else God was demanding of His children (just in case He had a glass full of water at the ready).

The first thing was, “Listen to me,” (51:1 and 4). Like a mom who takes her child’s face in her hands and is face to face with that little one. “Listen to me,” God says. “What I have to say is important.”

Then He says in 51:7, “Hear me.” And both here and in the verses above God is telling us His righteousness is unchanging, His salvation is forever. Just listening to the words is not enough. God wants us to take it in, to understand it, to pay attention.

When He tells us to “Awake,” He also tells us to get dressed. Clothe ourselves with strength. And in verse 2 of chapter 52 He tells us to free ourselves from the chains on our necks. Wake up… and get moving.

52:7 says we are to “Depart, depart, go out from there!” There is an urgency here for us to leave sin behind, to come out from among it and be pure.

In 54:1 He says, “Sing.” Burst into song, shout for joy. And in verse 4 He tells us, “Do not be afraid.” God is true to His Word. That is reason to rejoice, and put aside any fear.

I love that, in 55:1 God bids us to “Come.” Think about it. The Creator God wants you and me with Him so that He can bless us.

And lastly, He invites us to “Seek the Lord” (verse 6). Call on Him. Turn to Him and He will have mercy on us.

Friend, that is the Gospel in a nutshell. God has given us His Word. He has repeated the Truth over and over, given example after example, and tells us to pay attention. Listen! Hear!

Wake up! It’s time. It’s time to repent, to depart from Satan, to come out from the presence of sin and be separate. Because when we do, He gives us reason to sing. Our sins are forgiven, our hearts are clean.

And we need not fear. God is greater, more powerful, more loving than we can imagine. And He WANTS us to come to Him. He gives food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. We have reason for joy.

Then, as a sinner saved by grace, we can continually seek Him, read His word, pray, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and be blessed.

In the middle of these chapters is the beautiful description of Jesus. (chapter 53) Jesus, the center of God’s plan to adopt each of us into His family. Jesus is the Gospel, the good news!

Listen. Hear. Awake. Depart. Sing. Fear not. Come. Seek.

I pray you are awake. God means it.

 

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.

June 26; Sin is Sin

Amos 2-6

It might be tempting to believe that when I give my heart to the Lord, confess and repent of sin, and accept God’s grace, my sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. Israel seemed to think that because God “chose” them, they could live like they wanted to live. God tells His people that is not the case.

All sin – even their’s- comes with a death penalty. “For three sins of Israel, even for four I will not turn back my wrath.” (2:6)

I hope everyone reading this post today is a Christian. I trust all of you will read these chapters in Amos today and allow God to speak to you. And I hope you take sin as seriously as God does.

God’s forgiveness of your sin and mine, our position as children in His family through the blood of Jesus, is not a license to sin. He hates the lie you told as much as he hates the rape of a child or the defiance of an atheist. He hates it.

And God is very honest to say there are consequences for sin in this lifetime – and in eternity.

May each of us recognize the sins in our lives and be quick to throw them under the Blood, to ask God to forgive, to turn from that sin never to repeat it. And let’s be as quick to thank God for His promise to forgive us when we ask Him to.

Sin is sin. Even yours.

June 24; The Truth Hurts

2 Kings 14:7-14, 5:1-7a; 2 Chronicles 25:11-24

The truth really does hurt sometimes. Especially if the truth reveals a sin or proves us wrong. It’s like looking in the mirror first thing in the morning. You just don’t like what’s looking back at you.

So often in the Bible we read about God’s prophets proclaiming the truth, then being persecuted for it. But what spoke to me today as I read God’s Word is that the men of God didn’t back down or change their message to make life easier for themselves. The truth was more important than their comfort, or acceptance, or even their lives.

We might look in that mirror in the morning and throw it crashing to the ground. But breaking a mirror doesn’t change what that mirror revealed. You still have that sleepy morning look. You just don’t have to look at it.

Being angry at God, or throwing out His Word doesn’t change what is revealed there, either. That sin God laid a finger on is still a sin. And until you repent of it, you will pay, whether or not you want to admit it or not.

Dear Ones, we need to know what the Truth is. We need to know what the Bible says. And we need to keep proclaiming it, even if it makes us uncomfortable, or results in persecution.

Because the Truth also heals. It is life-altering, wonderfully beautiful, and worth any grief we might receive in sharing it. God hates sin. God loves sinners. Sin comes with a death penalty. Jesus died. Grace is ours for the taking.

Speak the Truth, even if it hurts. Let’s be as faithful as the prophets we read about today, no matter what.

June 12; There Is Still Some Good

I Kings 14:1-18,22-28; 2 Chronicles 11:5-12,18-23, 12:1-12; Psalm 89

When Solomon’s son Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah repented after having sinned as a nation, God did not destroy them like He said He would. When they humbled themselves, God delivered them. Their sin resulted in some consequences they had to live with, but God spared them.

Here is the verse that jumped out at me this morning. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 12:12, and it says:

“… Indeed, there was some good in Judah.”

I think this verse stood out to me because I think there is still some good in the USA, too. There are churches standing true to God’s Word, people being led to their Savior, Jesus Christ. There are state legislators who are taking a bold stand for life, and national leaders who are vocal about their faith in God. There are local fellowships reaching out to the lost, the needy, and the unloved in Jesus’ name.

Yes, I know that evil is rampant, that Satan’s lies are being proclaimed in the media, in our government and universities, and even from some pulpits. Yes, I know there are people killing people every day, and those who stand for the Truth of Scripture are being harassed. Our country is in serious trouble.

But Satan’s troops have nothing on the army of God. Evil can’t win when God is in it. When God’s people (that’s us Christians. What follows isn’t expected of non-believers) humble themselves, when we Christians repent of sin in our own lives, when those of us who say we follow Jesus REALLY follow Him, God will deliver us. He’s done it countless times before as recorded in the pages of His Word, and in the pages of history. He can do it again.

In fact, I believe He wants to do it again.

So come on, Church, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s do it! Let’s get on our knees and humble ourselves, one soul at a time. Then let’s see what God can do with the good that is still here in the USA.

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.