Tag Archives: salvation

(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.

(Psalms 120-125) Walking With God

There is so much in Scripture about walking with God. These psalms remind me of the blessings that come from a right relationship with the Lord. God is with us, protecting us, guiding us, loving us. It is truly a blessing to walk with God.

But these psalms also remind me that there is judgment to come for those who go their own way in this life, those who walk away from God instead of beside Him. They may seem to be enjoying the pleasures of this world. And many are. Their smiles are genuine.

But there is a reality that will bring such pain and agony for them one day. It breaks my heart to think of it.

I am thankful that there is still hope for them while they are alive on this earth. God welcomes every repentant heart, forgives, and blesses each one now and forever. Life might not get easier walking with God. There are still hardships and trials in this life for all of us.

But walking with God is amazing, and will be even more amazing when our walk is with Him in heaven. I pray that each of you who read this post will experience a blessed walk with God.

(Psalm 25) For The Sake Of The Name

LORD, for the sake of your name, forgive my iniquity, for it is immense. (v 11)

Sometimes I think we spend too much of our worship thanking God for the blessings of home and family and comfort and peace and health and heaven, all of which are amazing benefits of knowing Jesus. We ought to be thanking God for all of that and more!

But David reminded me that none of it compares with the Name. None if it even comes close to equaling Creator God, the Person of Jesus Christ, or the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul, in Philippians 3:8-11 says:

I count everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in himthat I may know him…

We are saved to be a gift to the Savior, not so the Savior can gift us with things. Paul tells us that anything short of Jesus Himself is rubbish!

The other thing about this verse is David’s admission that the sins God forgave him were “immense.” I can’t help but say the same of my sins.

Immense.

But God forgives me, cleans me up, dresses me in purity, and gives me as a gift to His Son.

I am saved for His sake! And I am blessed with Jesus Himself in return.

(Job 29-31) Prejudice

Do we get a glimpse at the less-than-righteous side of Job here? I have no doubt the man was a good, generous, upright guy who truly loved and feared God. God Himself called Job a righteous man, and God doesn’t lie.

But this man, who gave to the poor and fed the traveler, encouraged those who mourned, and received respect and honor from others, might have been a bit prejudice. In speaking of the young men who were harassing him, Job said this of their fathers:

I wouldn’t have put them with my dogs. They were emaciated, ate tree roots and shrubs like animals. These fathers weren’t fit for human society, and everyone treated them like thieves. They howled like wolves, and were forced out of the land.

Then Job says:

Now I am mocked by THEIR songs. I have become an object of scorn to THEM. THEY despise ME and keep their distance from ME. (30:9-10, emphasis mine)

Job is indignant at the very thought that the dregs of society would dare look down on him. But my question is, Job, why consider anyone throw-away?

I ask the same thing of us. ALL people are equally precious in God’s sight, and should be in the sight of all of His children: the unborn, the physically and mentally handicapped, the poor and the rich, the homeless and those living in luxury, homosexuals and those who reject that lifestyle, people with different skin color and nationalities, people with differing opinions, tattoos and piercings, grey hair and wrinkles.

We can be doing all the “right” things, we can be generous and loving and devoted to God. But is there a bit of prejudice in us, too? Because the truth is, ALL people need Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus, no matter what kind of life they are living!

God is asking me to do a prejudice check in my own heart. Might He be asking you to do the same?

(I Samuel 1-2) The Bargaining Prayer

It sounds like Hannah is making a bargain with God. If you… then I will…

Is that what are witnessing here? I wonder.

I remember when wearing seatbelts when driving became a law. I, like many, took awhile to get into the habit of buckling up. One morning, as I was heading to work, I was involved in a minor accident. The police were called. And I, who had not been wearing my seatbelt prayed, “God, if you’ll help me not get a ticket for breaking the seatbelt law, I promise I will never drive again without buckling up first.”

Turns out I didn’t get a ticket. And I began fastening my seatbelt every time I drove after that.

Did God accept my deal? Did He accept Hannah’s? We both got what we wanted.

A famous Bible teacher tells of her “salvation experience” by saying that as a divorced mom, she had a driving need to be with a man. Men. She confessed she lived a very sinful lifestyle that made her miserable. She said she didn’t know much about God, but at her lowest point she prayed something like, “God, I give you men, I give you my sons. Do what you will. Just give me peace.” Then she goes on to say at that moment she received the “Prince of Peace.”

Friend, that is NOT salvation, I don’t care who claims it to be. You don’t bargain with God. You don’t trade your sons for peace. Show me in Scripture where that prayer has anything to do with being saved. Scripture tells us peace comes when we humble ourselves, repent of sin, and receive what Jesus died to give us. Not promising to never sleep around again just so you can feel peaceful.

I believe there is a lot we can learn from Hannah. She was evidently a devout believer, a true worshiper of God. The prayer we see her praying was deep, and intimate with the God she loved. And her will, her wants and needs aligned with what God wanted for her.

What I see here is that she wasn’t bargaining with God as much as she was agreeing with Him. My seatbelt prayer, and the prayer of the teacher I sited above weren’t that. We were trying to trade something we had for something we wanted God to do.

Do you want God’s blessing? Then get to know Him. First of all humble yourself, confess that you are a sinner, and repent of sin. Accept the grace of God that is available when you believe the fact that Jesus lived, died on the cross, and rose again so that you can be forgiven. Accept His forgiveness.

Read the Bible. Pray. Worship Him in spirit and truth. Get to know His heart. Set your desires aside and seek His desires for you. Then when you receive the desires of your heart, you’ll realize those were His desires for you all along.

I don’t believe the fact I didn’t get a ticket, or the fact that Hannah got pregnant are signs that we can bargain with God to get what we want. Rather, I believe God blessed us both because of our relationship with Him.

Please don’t bother praying a bargaining prayer. If you need God to do something for you, go to Him on His terms. You have nothing He needs or wants except YOU.

(Ruth) It’s Not Just About Love

I usually look at the book of Ruth as a lesson in love, and it truly is that. But today, I see it mostly as a picture of redemption. I think this book could easily have been named, “Boaz.” Because without Boaz’s act of redemption on behalf of Naomi and Ruth, they would have had no hope. The would have continued in their poverty for the rest of their lives.

It wouldn’t have mattered how much they’d loved each other. Their love could not have saved them. Only the work of the redeemer would take them from curse to blessing, from bitterness to joy, from death to life.

Get the picture?

We can talk about love all day, but without the redemptive work of Jesus, we are without hope. Love cannot save until it is nailed to the cross.

Do you love God? Great! Do you know He loves you? He does! But His love without His redemption will not save you.

The book of Ruth isn’t just about love. It’s about redemption.

The Gospel isn’t just about love, either. It’s about redemption.

Ruth laid everything at the feet of her redeemer, Boaz. In that act she became totally dependent on him to save her. That’s the Gospel: Putting everything we have, are, and hope to be at the feet of Jesus, becoming totally dependent on Him, confessing our sin and turning from it is our only hope of salvation. Otherwise there is no saving.

Only the work of Jesus, our Redeemer, can take us from curse to blessing, bitterness to joy, death to life. Only Jesus.

Only our Redeemer.

(Joshua 11-15) Move Right In

All of those cities had been built and were inhabited by men, women, boys, girls, grandparent, aunts, uncles. Yet all of them refused to bow to God. They had heard about Him, how the Jews had crossed the Jordan, how the walls of Jerico tumbled. They just couldn’t let go of their pretend gods, even when faced with the truth.

Not all of them were killed at the hands of the Jewish soldiers. Some were merely driven out of their homes and towns. They lost everything they’d worked for, everything their parents had worked for. Their gods could not save them.

The Jews who knew God, walked right into those towns and went house hunting. They moved into homes they did not build, took over businesses they did not start, enjoyed the comforts they didn’t earn. Is that fair?

The big picture here is God. Any of those residents of those towns could have at any time surrendered to God and been dealt a different hand. It was their stubborn refusal that brought about that judgment. What they had built, using their own devices, could not withstand the hand of God.

The same is true today. Many people have built themselves a comfortable existence, worship who and how they want, refuse to submit to God, and are ok with that. But just as the people of the land had done, they have created a life that cannot last. Those ancient people had lost it all, as will any of us who refuse to surrender to God. Be warned.

On the other hand, the Jews who had submitted to God received blessings from Him they didn’t deserve. And so have I. I don’t deserve God’s grace and mercy, His forgiveness, His Presence. I haven’t earned a second of His favor. But He gives it to me because I have surrendered my life to Him.

The fair thing would be if I was made to pay for my sins, as the ancient people we read about today paid for their’s. I’m guilty. I sin. I’m no better than the rest. But Jesus loved me enough anyway to go to the cross, pay what I owe, and freely gives me Himself when I surrender to Him.

The reality is, the Jewish people moved right into the land God had given them. In a very real sense I did, too. They went through the water of the Jordan. I went through the blood of Jesus. But that which is on the other side is blessing after blessing.

My prayer is that you have surrendered to Jesus and know what it is to live in the Promised Land of His Presence and blessing. If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Understand that what you are building your life on apart from Him will not withstand the hand of God.

Surrender your life to the God who loves you enough to die for you. Then move right into to a relationship with Him and enjoy what Jesus paid to give you.

(Leviticus 6-14) Speading Disease

If you think this is about COVID, you would be wrong.

God, through Moses, refers often to a place “outside the camp.” It was where the unclean parts of a sacrificed animal were burned, where unclean stones and plaster were thrown, and to where unclean people were banished.

We who live after the cross see thy symbolism as Jesus was crucified outside the city when our sins rendered Him who knew no sin, unclean.

But something else spoke to me today about these chapters. I, as a Christian, am commanded to be holy because God, whom I represent, is holy. That means I need to remove everything from my life that isn’t holy, and throw it away, burn it up, and never revisit it – ever.

My problem is I try to hold on to a bit of sin. Or I confess it, but don’t really repent of it. It might be an impure thought, a feeling of unforgiveness or resentment or hate, a habit, laziness, and sometimes flat-out disobedience. The list goes on. All of which prevents me from holiness and purity. Yet holiness and purity are God’s requirements.

I see, through the picture Moses paints here in Leviticus concerning disease and mold, the result of my disobedience. Even if I put on a hat to disguise my disease, or a coat of paint on a wall to cover up mold, it doesn’t render me clean. If I put a smile on my face and carry my Bible, it doesn’t cover up the fact my heart is diseased, unclean. And my infection can and does spread to others. I can call my sin a mistake, a choice, an accident, or convince myself it’s no big deal, but my unclean life touches the lives of others in my home, my church, my community, and I become responsible for my sin disease spreading to them.

It also reminds me of what is happening in God’s Church. We’ve convinced ourselves that sinners in our midst is a good thing. We should welcome them, embrace them, make them a part of our fellowships. But God, here in Leviticus, tells us to banish the diseased person to outside the camp until – not before -they are clean.

Sounds cruel. Sounds un-Christian. But the fact of the matter is, their disease can and does spread within the church. Their disease of sin can and does spread to holy people, who then themselves become unholy. It has nothing to do with loving or not loving our neighbor. It has everything to do with keeping the Church holy, protecting the holiness and purity God demands of us.

The Church is not pure, we are not holy as long as we tolerate unrepentant sinners in our midst. Should we be inviting our unsaved friends to church? Not if we want to keep God’s Church holy.

Jesus said, “Come to me…” He didn’t say come to the synagogue. He didn’t say come to church. Jesus told us to GO, make disciples. He didn’t say sit back and invite them into His House, hoping our holiness will rub off on them and make them clean. It doesn’t work that way.

We need to get off our couches and get out into our neighborhoods and introduce unsaved, unclean people to their Savior. Then, and not before, we should welcome them into our midst to worship God with clean hearts. God does not accept worship any other way.

Unrepentant hearts cannot worship God. And that bit of disease in our churches can and does spread. Don’t think it doesn’t.

Last Days (2 Timothy)

Paul’s words to Timothy are still words to live by in 2020. There is no doubt we are in the “last days.” Paul told Timothy he was living in the last days, and we are 2000 years closer to the end than Timothy was.

The following verses describe life in Paul’s day. I believe he is describing 2020, too:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (3:2-5)

Sound familiar? I bet you saw most of those behaviors on the news last night. Maybe in your own family. Maybe when you look in the mirror.

Oh, there’s more:

(They are) always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (Verse 7)

It reminds me of the present day “Woke” movement. It reminds me of modern academia, our “cancel culture,” Bethel worship.

Here’s the thing. We can shake our heads, point fingers, even pray for Jesus’ quick return because things are so bad. Or we can do what Paul told Timothy to do:

I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (4:1b-2)

Paul goes on to tell Timothy and us that eventually people will not put up with sound doctrine. And the movement will be huge.

But, dear one, it’s not enough to recognize our circumstances in God’s Word, in verses such as these that Paul wrote Timothy. Recognizing that our world is in serious trouble is important in so far as it motivates us to share Jesus with lost souls. If it is true that Jesus’ return is around the corner, then the window of opportunity for people to be saved is closing. Does that bother you?

Paul encourages us to be in the Word, but then to use what we’ve learned to evangelize:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (3:16)

Do you believe we are in the last days? Then God is asking us to patiently correct, rebuke, encourage each other. We need to be training people in righteousness, not just right living. People need to know Jesus and accept His righteousness.

We are celebrating the birth of Jesus this week. What better time to start a conversation with our unsaved loved ones about what that birth means. Jesus was born to die for them!

These are no doubt the “last days.” What are you and I doing about that?

My Response (Hebrews 10)

Mom would have been 96 today. I would have enjoyed celebrating with her. But since she’s in heaven, she has no age, no birthday, no need for candles or cake. She’s in glory!

Reading her Bible today gave me a special connection with her. I love that woman! I was touched my some verses that touched her. Chapter 10 talks about the amazing work Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice and what it means for my life and my eternity. Here is what she underlined:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (22-25)

I want my response to Jesus to be exactly that! A sincere heart, full of the assurance of my faith in Him, a guiltless conscience because of the decisions I make as His representative. I want to hold unswervingly to the hope I have, even when my hope is not politically correct or “woke.” I want to encourage you even more as we see the very real possibility that the end of life as we know it may be coming to an end. Let’s stand together in the Truth that is Jesus!

I hope you’ll read Hebrews today. It always makes me love Jesus more every time I read it. He did it all. The old is gone, the new is come. I want my response to His sacrifice, to bring Him joy.