Tag Archives: repenting of sin

Taking Us Down (Obadiah)

One of Satan’s most effective weapons against God’s people is the sin of pride. You see examples of this many places in Scripture, like in the lives of Adam and Saul. You see it in history as nations have been brought down because of pride like in Hitler and Napoleon.

But Scripture also tells us how God views pride:

“See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. (Obadiah 2-4)

What is the best nation in the world? Who has the best economy, the best hospitals and universities, the strongest military, and the most successful citizens? For my entire life we could sing, “Proud to be an American,” knowing the USA was the best place on earth. The American dream was something that people of every nation wanted for themselves.

God is telling us that we who live on the heights and soar like eagles need to beware. The pride of our hearts can very well deceive us. I see this every time I turn on the news. But we who say to the rest of the world, “You can’t touch this,” need to understand that from there, God can and will bring us down.

I don’t believe God is speaking to unbelievers here. We Christians are not immune to the sin of pride. “My church is the best.” “My relationship with God puts me above you who do not have a relationship with Him.” “I’m a child of the King!”

It will only be God’s people humbling ourselves and seeking His face, that will save this country from going the way of Edom. It will only be because we have confessed our sinful pride and asked God to forgive us that the Church will be instrumental in keeping America a nation under God, blessed and protected by Him.

Dear one, we have got to be in God’s Word, on our knees grieved over sin in our own lives and in our nation, seeking God’s face and doing His will. Because if I read the signs correctly, God is getting ready to take us down.

A Smoke Screen (2 Samuel 10, I Chronicles 19)

Why didn’t they just admit they were wrong, and ask for forgiveness? When the Ammonites realized that what they had done put them on Israel’s bad side, instead of apologizing, they ran to the neighbors, got the neighbors riled up against Israel, and joined forces to fight the very people they themselves had offended.

The Bible tells us 40,000 men died that day, and it was because the king of the Ammonites couldn’t humble himself and admit his sin. No, he actually made the people he’d sinned against (Israel) appear like they were the enemy. The Ammonites tried to make their victims look like the aggressors. And it ended in death.

I sin. You sin. Sometimes we like the sin we sin so instead of repenting of it, we start pointing fingers at other people’s sins. We rally the troops against abortion, against homosexuality, against racism, against corruption in government. Maybe we “ask for prayer” for someone we know entangled in sin, pointing our fingers at their need hoping no one will recognize our own. It’s like we throw out a smoke screen and think that will hide the truth of our guilt.

What Hanun did by not accepting responsibility for his sin caused the death of many. Which makes me consider how many people are suffering consequences because I refuse to repent of my own sin. My life touches many lives. I don’t sin in a vacuum, even if I think no one sees or no one gets hurt.

I want to be clean before my Lord because I know that is when I enjoy my best life, my closest relationship with God, and am blessed beyond what I deserve. But today I realize I want to be clean before my Lord for your sake, too, for the sake of my family and friends, my church, my community. May it never be said that God can’t pour out his blessings on those people I love because I refuse to admit my sin and don’t ask Him to forgive me. And a more sobering thought, may it never be said that anyone else suffers the consequence for my pride, my arrogance, my sin.

Jesus said people will know I am His disciple if I love you. Until today I never considered that maybe one way I can show you I love you is to repent of sin, to allow God to bless and not have to punish me, and in turn you, my neighborhood, maybe even my country. Maybe God is telling me the healing of our land begins with me humbling myself and asking Jesus to forgive me.

Maybe God is saying the same thing to you.

 

 

 

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.

It’s Time (Joshua 9-11)

God promised to give the land to the Israelites. But accepting that gift meant going to war. It required bloodshed and obedience. God went before them, fought for them, even miraculously brought victories on occasion. But the land wasn’t simply handed over to the Jews.

Scripture tells me Jesus died for the sins of the world. But that doesn’t mean the whole world is saved. Accepting God’s gift of redemption requires obedience.

God promises to never leave or forsake us, that He works all things together for our good. But to receive the blessing of these promises, we must obey.

I’ve heard it said in regard to this pandemic, “God’s got this.” That seems to be a common response when people go through difficult or uncertain circumstances. And absolutely our Sovereign God not only has got this, He’s already on the other side of it. Yes He’s got this. But do we?

Satan may have used his limited power to get this virus going, believing it would throw the world into a tailspin, that it would close church doors, and cause people to blame God. He’s not wrong, really.

But what if every quarantined Christian pulled out his or her Bible and began to read, to pray, to search, to get to know God again, to allow God to put a finger on sin in our lives, to break us, and heal us. What if during this forced isolation, Christians regained our first love, and were revived as we renew our faith through God’s own Words?

I know the temptation is to pick up a good commentary or study guide, or to read our favorite author. And I’m not telling us not to do that. But if you have time to read Josh McDowell or Joel Osteen or John Grisham, you have time to read the Bible. And, dear ones, we all have a lot more time than we did before this virus scare.

I know without a doubt that our world could experience the greatest revival of our history if Christians, if you and I, spent time reading the Bible, and asking God to do His thing in our lives as a result. Revival isn’t only possible, it’s a sure thing if we obey.

What Satan intended for evil, God can turn into something amazing. Think about it. When this time of isolation is over, can you imagine the impact revived Christians will make on our world? Can you picture what the Church will be when Christians are right with God? Can you even dream how our world would be changed if Christians change?

Is revival possible? I guess that depends on you and me. God’s giving us the land. Will we take it?

I think it’s time we did.

 

Purge (Deuteronomy 20)

I’m not what you’d call a hoarder, necessarily, but I will admit that I tend to hold on to things longer than I should. I have a closet full of clothes I haven’t worn in years, some of which I can’t even fit into any more. But I like them. So there they hang.

Others I know have a difficult time letting go of anything. They live in houses so full of things there is only a path from one room to another. Magazines thirty years old, food that has long outlived its healthfulness, toys that haven’t been in the hands of a child in decades, things stacked from floor to ceiling.

Sometimes the thought of purging is terrifying. So when I read God tell Israel to purge the evil from among them by destroying entire cities full of idolaters and people doing detestable things, I can’t believe that was easy to do.

“…do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them…”

But if the Israelites wanted God’s blessings, they had to obey 100%.

Now let’s be clear. The Bible emphatically declares our enemies are no longer flesh and blood this side of the cross. (Ephesians 6:12). We are NOT commanded to kill people who reject God. But the Bible says we do have enemies we need to purge from our lives.

Our enemies are spiritual forces of evil, powers in this dark world. Our enemy is Satan. Our enemy is sin. And that’s what we are to purge, destroy, annihilate.

I don’t know what enemies look like in your life. An addiction to video games? Pornography? Alcohol? Gossip? Lying? Putting your job above serving God? Yourself?

Whatever sin you are identifying in your life right now is something God is telling you to purge. Don’t let a remnant survive. You might have to sell your TV, erase some apps from your phone, change jobs, stop drinking if God leads you to that.

But God also told the Israelites over and over that if they obeyed Him, if they went to war against their enemies He would go before them. He would fight for them. And He’ll do the same for you.

God doesn’t want us to purge the sin from our lives because He is against fun. He invented fun. God wants us to purge sin from our lives so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him, free from any bondage.

I’m going to use my closet as an example. Right now I walk into that space and have to step over boxes, shoes, a pile of clothes I am considering donating. I have to force clean blouses onto the rack because there just isn’t room for another hanger. I long to go into my closet and be free to walk from one end to the other without tripping over stuff on the floor, to pull out a pair of slacks and not have to iron them because they’ve been smashed onto the rack between a dozen pairs of slacks and are wrinkled. There is nothing fun about that.

But when (notice I said “when” not “if.” I’m thinking during this virus quarantine, I have no excuse not to clean my closet) I purge myself from the things that are holding me back, entering my closet will be so much better. Do I dare say fun?

Is it time for you to purge, to repent of sin, to get rid of the evil that is keeping you from an unhindered relationship with God? Do it!

October 11; Stop Sinning… or Else.

Mark 5:21-43, 6:1-6; Matthew 9:18-34, 13:53-58; Luke 8:40-56; John 5:1-15

The Jewish leaders saw a man walking around, carrying a mat on the Sabbath. They knew him as a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Now he was walking around as if nothing was wrong.

But he was carrying a mat.

I shake my head at the Jews who were witnessing a miracle right in front of their eyes, yet pounced on the guy for breaking the Law by carrying his mat on the Sabbath. Legalist much?

The healed man answered them, “The guy who healed me told me to pick up my mat.” And when the Jews asked the man to name his healer, he had no idea. Jesus had slipped into the crowd without leaving his business card.

But here’s something I noticed today: when the man ran into Jesus later, Jesus told him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man immediately went running to the Jewish leaders who’d questioned him earlier, and identified Jesus as the one who had healed him and told him to carry his mat on the Sabbath.

Typical.

At least of me, and maybe you. Oh, we are thankful to God for His many blessings. We praise Him for good medical reports, for paying our bills, for keeping our kids safe. But don’t tell me I’m a sinner.

Don’t mess with my screen time, or my anger and jealousy. Don’t point out the times I use language that dishonors you, or when I gossip, or lie, or blend in with the world. Bless me Lord, then leave me alone.

Now maybe I’m reading too much into this passage. Maybe the healed man went excitedly to the Jewish leaders, thinking he’d share the good news of Jesus Christ with people who would be excited about Him, too. I don’t know what he was thinking.

I just don’t read that he repented of the sins Jesus addressed.

I want to always praise God for every blessing in my life. He is unbelievably good to me. I want to share Him with others, people for whom He died, people He loves as much as He loves me.

But I also want to hear Him say, “Stop sinning… or else,” and be quick to do what He says.

October 10; Pigs and Demons

Mark 4:30-5:20; Matthew 13:24-52, 8:23-34; Luke 13:18-21, 8:22-39

A friend of mine visited my church on the Sunday my pastor spoke on this passage in Mark. She was not raised in a church that encouraged the reading of Scripture, so this was the first time she’d ever heard about the demon-possessed Gadarene and the herd of pigs. The whole thing really shook her.

Myself, I have heard and read this account of Jesus’ ministry many times and had become de-sensitized to the horror of it. My friend had me looking at this passage through new eyes. I’m grateful for that.

I’ve only seen the movie “Poltergeist” once. But after that experience, I remember jumping into my bed from the middle of the room – for much longer than I care to admit. I was an adult. It was a movie. I knew it wasn’t real. But it scared the living daylights out of me.

What we read in the Gospels about this demon-possessed man isn’t make believe. I can only imagine the people who witnessed it must have been scared out of their minds.

Think of it. Legions of demons pouring out of a man. What did that look like? I can’t imagine it was gentle, or calm. Think of seeing those demons racing toward a herd of pigs, and the pigs going mad. Mad enough to run off the cliff into the sea. Hollywood has nothing on God! No wonder the people wanted Jesus to leave them. That had to be one frightening experience.

That got me thinking. I’ve always felt a little sorry for the pig owners. They lost their livelihood when they lost that herd in such a violent fashion. I’ve wondered why God would do that to people who were just trying to make a living.

I looked on a map, and read what Matthew Henry had to say about it, and was shocked to realize the area of the Gadarenes was right in the middle of the Promised Land. The sea in this account is the Sea of Galilee. Those were most likely Jewish pig owners.

Now all of a sudden I don’t feel quite as bad for them. God had declared all-things-pig to be unclean for His people. There should never have been a herd of swine anywhere near there. That herd was a symbol of a great sin that was being lived in the area of the Gadarenes. When those pigs went mad, God was disciplining sin.

I’ve always read this account and been in awe of Jesus’ command over evil, and of His healing power. Today I am face to face with His fierce judgment.

As a child of God, I need to understand that God will not tolerate sin in my life. And if I don’t deal with it, He will. Sometimes those consequences are very devastating and very public. I can understand why the people wanted Jesus out of there. He’d revealed their sin in a very devastating and public way.

I’m very sure this wasn’t the first time God had spoken to them about their sin. I am very sure there wasn’t a Jewish pig-owner that didn’t know they were breaking God’s Law. But even after this demonstration of God’s seriousness concerning sin, they didn’t repent. I think down deep they knew they deserved it. Even the people who didn’t necessarily own pigs, but allowed the pig-owners their “right” to own them, didn’t repent. Scripture tells us they told Jesus to get out of town.

My prayer today is that whenever God puts a finger on a sin in my life, I’ll repent immediately. I don’t want to wait until He takes matters in His own hands. I want to be like the healed Gadarene who wanted only to be where Jesus was, cleansed, free, and changed.

 

 

July 2; Shape Up

Hosea 10-14

History tells us Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, who captured the Jews and made them slaves. The Bible tells us that before that happened, God warned them of that very thing, and gave them a chance to repent, to avoid the devastation and hardship their sins had bought them. To shape up.

“What sins?” you might ask. Warren Wiersbe (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books, 1991; page 576) breaks it down for us. Here is what Warren (and I) have to share:

  1. Ingratitude (11:1-4). They were God’s people, chosen to reveal to the world a Holy God who has the power to bless beyond imagination. God had rescued them, given them victories, provided them with land flowing with milk and honey. How did they repay God for all these blessings? They turned their backs on him and chose to worship idols. That’s gratitude for you.
  2. Hardness of heart (11:5-11). They became so involved in their worship of pretend gods, they gave no attention to God when He warned them, when He disciplined them, even when He turned His back on them. And with each rejection, their hearts became harder and harder, ignoring Him became easier and easier.
  3. Deceitfulness (11:12-12:6). Hosea used Jacob as an example. I’m sure none of the Jews appreciated being compared to the scheming deceiver Jacob, but Hosea said they were no different. However, Jacob changed when he had an encounter with God. That’s what God wanted for the Jewish people Hosea was speaking to, too.
  4. Boasting (12:7-14) “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished. I certainly don’t need some spirit in the sky telling me what to do. I’m my own person, writing my own story.” Hosea is warning them to get ready to see exactly what their efforts will bring. And it won’t be pretty.

Let’s not just read this Scripture as God’s interaction with a group of people thousands of years ago. Let’s use it to examine our own hearts, to check our own levels of gratitude, our own hearts’ condition, our honesty before a Holy God, and our submission to Him.

God was warning the Jews that if they didn’t shape up, things were going to get really bad for them. I believe the same thing is true today.

April 6; They Refused

Judges 19-20

The man was a Levite, a church leader. This story is bad enough, but considering this Levite’s association with the church of that time, it is all the more despicable. He was sidetracked by the temptation to “enjoy himself,” “refresh himself.” It looks like he “partied” with his father-in-law for five straight days. Don’t get me started.

Then, when he was threatened by a group of sexually perverted Benjamites, he tossed his concubine at them instead. They raped her, abused her all night. And she died as a result. Does that make you as angry as it does me?

You can read for yourself what happened. It’s just too disgusting.

Later, when the Benjamites were confronted with their sin, when their brothers told them to rid themselves of the evil, they refused.

THEY REFUSED!

Thousands of people lost their lives because of that refusal. Thousands of people lost their lives.

Chapter 19 begins with, “In those days Israel had no king.” That explains it. When people are allowed to do their own thing, make up their own rules, come up with their own definition of morality, people die.

Yes, we are seeing babies die, kids killing kids, addictions taking lives, wars both abroad and on our own streets. People die every day because too many are living like there is no king, or that they are their own king.

But there is a King. And the King established the rules, defined morality according to His holiness, laid out consequences for breaking His laws, and He has not changed one bit since He inspired His Words to be written down thousands of years ago.

I wonder if we are becoming a bit like the Benjamites. When confronted with our own sin, what do we do? Do we repent, get rid of the evil? Or do we refuse? (and you do know that ignoring a sin is a form of refusal, don’t you?)

The Bible tells us thousands of people died because the Benjamites refused to deal with their sin. I wonder how many people will die today because of their own refusal? I’m not even talking about the physical death. I’m talking about that awful, eternal death that comes from refusing to obey God. How many people will die today without any hope?

Once again, God isn’t satisfied with me thinking about “them.” Generalizing a lesson from Scripture is sure a lot more comfortable than making it personal. But if I am serious about my walk with God, I need to allow Him to make it personal.

I feel God is asking me how many people are going to die that eternal death today because I refuse to eliminate sin in my own life. How Benjamin-like am I? My life touches so many who associate me with the Church, they know I’m a Christian. What do they see that draws them to their Savior? Or do they see things in me that make them want to run?

If I refuse to deal with a sin God reveals to me I know it effects my relationship with Him. I know that I am treading on thin ice. What I’m seeing today is, I may have invited others to join me there on that thin ice without even realizing it.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… then I will teach transgressors your ways so that sinners will turn back to you… My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:10,13,17)

May I never refuse to repent of sin brought to my attention. For my eternal soul. But also for yours.

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.