Tag Archives: shame

September 11 – A Lesson From Former Priests

Ezekiel 44-45

The Levites were sinful men. Some of them had done things that resulted in God’s taking away their positions as priests. In this life, they had to bear their shame for the sins they committed. Yet God gave them other responsibilities in the care of the temple and the temple services.

All of us bear the marks of the sins we have committed. Some of us publicly bear the shame and embarrassment of past choices. Broken marriages, addictions, abortions, and the like never go away. We remember. Others remember.

And sometimes those sins can exclude us from certain parts of ministry. But I am thankful that God doesn’t just write us off.

God has things for us to do in service to Him. He forgives every sin we bring to Him and dresses us with Jesus’ righteousness before the Father. So if that particular sin we’ve committed excludes us from serving as a deacon, we can serve as a grounds keeper. We can visit the sick, or care for widows. If our past prevents us from being a pastor, we might help with the food outreach or keep track of the church finances.

I know there will be some who disagree with me on this. Doesn’t God forgive and wash us clean? Absolutely! We are whiter than snow before our Holy God when He sees us through the blood of His Son.  I think of Matthew, a dishonest tax collector, or Paul, a killer of Christians, both of whom served God in incredible ways after they met Jesus. I am forever thankful for that fact.

A murderer still faces the consequence for that murder, even if he or she comes to the Savior while behind bars. They are free from the law of sin and death. But they are not free to walk out of that prison. A child who was aborted does’t automatically come to life when the parent confesses that sin. People hurt by the actions of an addict don’t automatically heal just because the addict asked God to forgive him or her. Sometimes we just have to live with consequences for sin.

But that’s not an excuse to quit serving. Ezekiel tells us the former priests took on other responsibilities to keep the ministry of the temple running. They could no longer serve as priests because of the sins they had committed, so they got busy serving in other ways.

I guess I’m just suggesting that, if your church fellowship feels led to take away a ministry you’ve participated in, don’t get mad and walk away. Find some other way to serve. Serving God is not about you, anyway.

 

A Twinge or an Amputation. Your Choice.

The older I get, the more frequently my body aches. Just yesterday I felt a twinge in my knee as I got up from the couch. It hurt when I put weight on it, so I intentionally kept my foot straight, my hips in line, as I walked. I didn’t want to do damage by twisting it. And, after a bit, it stopped hurting.

Then I read Hebrews 12:12 this morning and had to smile at God’s timing. Because I had put the whole knee-thing out of my mind and am sure I would not have given it another thought had I not seen what was written there:

“…make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” (NKJV)

I am not kidding. Coincidence? I think not! I am blown away at how intimately interested God is in me, how personal, and how He longs to teach me every day.

So what is the lesson here? The writer of Hebrews is talking about God’s discipline of His children. I think the example in 12:12 says that when we sin, it can result in something like a twinge in the knee. God’s discipline could be in the form of guilt, or shame, or regret. But if I keep repeating the sin I cause damage. The discipline, then the consequences become more and more intense.

But if I intentionally walk straight, repent of the sin, if I resist repeating the sin, there is healing. There is forgiveness. And that’s what Jesus died to provide. That’s what God wants for us.

If you continue reading Hebrews 12 you’ll see that Esau is used as an example of this. Esau sinned for a bite of food. And in keeping with my analogy, he didn’t just get a twinge in his knee, he lost his leg. No amount of tears could bring that leg back.

Sometimes God’s discipline is a twinge. But if we choose to ignore it, we could lose the whole leg. Sometimes God’s discipline feels like guilt. But if we choose to ignore it, it could cost us so much more. And we might find ourselves living with devastating consequences of a sin that could have been stopped at the twinge.

Dearest God, I pray that we will recognize that twinge of guilt as Your discipline when we sin, or even think about sinning. Guilt doesn’t feel good. Yet so often we ignore it and continue in the sin. Thank you that you don’t amputate the first time we sin. We’d all be limbless! I pray that we will be sensitive to the way You work in our lives, that we will be quick to learn from Your discipline so that we won’t have to suffer further consequences for our bad choices. And, God, thank you for reminding me today how intimately interested you are in each one of us. I love you.

Blushing: A Lost Art?

When King Josiah heard the Law of Moses read (2 Kings 22), he ripped his clothes in grief. He recognized God’s Sovereignty and his own guilt, and understood God’s righteous anger. Josiah repented. But it didn’t deter God from punishing a disobedient nation. What Josiah’s repentance did was to protect him from God’s wrath.

Repentance does the same today. When faced with our own sin, when driven to our knees in despair over our own guilt, and after accepting Jesus as Savior, we, too, are protected from God’s wrath. Oh, not from hardships during our lifetime on earth, but the greater expression of God’s wrath – eternal hell, separation from God forever. We who have humbled ourselves will only know his love and presence – forever!

But in our society it’s getting harder and harder to convince people of their need of Jesus. Sin is considered normal, fun, an alternate lifestyle, or a right. 

Confess what?

Jeremiah, in chapter 5 of his book, talks about how low the people had become. Verse 15 says, “Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all – they don’t even know how to blush!” 

Isn’t that true today, too? Acts of sin are so blatant we can become desensitized. When was the last time you blushed at the sight of sin on TV, in a song, in your own life? Why is that? What does that say about your heart’s condition before a holy God? What does it say about mine?

God, I confess that I have become hardened to the presence of sin. I have seen so much, accepted so much, I have forgotten how to blush. Remind me, Lord. Help me to see sin the way you see it. May I be grieved, may I repent, may I turn from sin, and honor you with my life every minute of every day.