Tag Archives: sin

December 11; The Danger In Gentle Breezes

Acts 25:23-28:10

I love how the experiences of people we read about in Scripture are life lessons for us today. Please don’t read the Bible merely for the information. My prayer is that you will allow the living Word of God speak to you and change you every time you open its precious pages. I’d like to share what speaks to me about Paul’s experience at sea.

Paul was a prisoner, heading to Rome for trial. The centurion in charge of Paul booked passage on a ship. There were guards on board, but so, evidently were some of Paul’s friends.

The ship landed at a place called Fair Havens after a difficult first leg of the journey. It was a dangerous time of year to be sailing, but Fair Havens was not a good spot to dock for the winter. Paul warned the centurion that there was danger ahead if they set sail.

But the centurion didn’t listen to Paul. The pilot of the ship, the one with experience sailing in all kinds of weather, the one who’d most likely traveled this way before, the assumed authority on the matter, assured the centurion they could make it to Phoenix, a great place to hold up during winter.

“Look at the calm sea, feel that gentle breeze,” he may have told the centurion. “Things are looking good for sailing if we leave now.” He may have even added, “Trust me.”

The Bible says they set sail. But it wasn’t long before the gentle breeze turned into a raging storm, and totally consumed the ship and its passengers. For days they fought a losing battle against the wind and waves.

Friends, I see a picture of sin here. Too often people, even Christians, listen to so-called authorities, and ignore what God says in His Word. Whether it’s parenting, worshiping, mental health, gender issues (the list goes on), there are people passing themselves off as authorities on any given subject, and going against what God has said in His Word. But because people, even Christians, listen to those so-called authorities, they jump into the boat. They put their faith in something or someone other than God. Their course is doomed.

People don’t normally jump into the boat while the storm is raging. They step in when the water is calm, and the breeze is gentle. They adopt one innocent sounding idea and make it their own, even if the Bible takes a different view on the subject. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

Maybe they are confronted with temptation, but someone somewhere has said if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s not that bad. One little white lie, one peek at porn, one cup of coffee with a married co-worker. It’s a gentle breeze. Besides, others wiser and more experienced than I tell me I deserve this. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

I know you know that gentle breeze turns into a raging storm pretty quickly. And you find yourself in a sinking ship, battling something you never would have had to battle  if you’d  listened to the voice of God and stayed ashore.

Let Paul’s experience serve as a warning. There is only one authority. And He has written His wisdom down in Scripture.

Let Paul’s experience give you hope, too. Even if you are caught up in the raging sea of sin, all does not have to be lost. Just like God provided one way for the sailors and passengers to be saved from that storm, He has provided one way for each of us to survive, too. His name is Jesus.

The only way you will get out of this storm, the only way you will get out of this life alive, is through God’s provision of His Son. It’s only the cross that saves.

Don’t take my word for it. I am not an authority. But let God’s Word be the authority it is. There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life. And God wants you to know that for yourself.

There are those who would encourage you to feel that gentle breeze of temptation and sin. But, dear one, there is real danger in that gentle breeze.

December 10; Respectful and Firm

Acts 23:12-25:22

Paul was in prison, although he had not committed any crime. His incarceration, totally unjust, came from the jealous hearts of evil men. Paul was a victim.

But it was because of his imprisonment Paul was able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with kings and rulers. Paul never turned down an opportunity to talk about Jesus. His example still speaks to hearts 2000 years later.

What example? In the face of a conspiracy of lies, Paul didn’t lose his cool. He didn’t strike back. Even when the crowd was in a frenzy, Paul did not react in like manner.

But Paul didn’t roll over and play dead, either. He respectfully and firmly demanded his rights. He respectfully and firmly faced his accusers and called their bluff. “Prove what you accuse me of,” he said. They couldn’t prove a thing because he wasn’t guilty of anything.

Paul’s example speaks to me today as I consider the climate in the US. We are a nation of reactionaries. We actually believe we have a right to get even, to shout louder, to destroy property if someone says something we don’t like. It’s insane.

Do you like the climate in our nation? We who hold the Truth need to respectfully and firmly proclaim it. And keep proclaiming it. Paul went to prison doing that. Are any of us willing to do the same?

Paul was able to look his accusers in the eye and challenge them to prove him guilty. Are we living our lives in such a way we could do that, too, and be confident there was nothing they could hold against us?

Christian, America’s hope lies in us. I think it’s time we were respectfully firm, and demanded our rights to proclaim the Truth of Jesus Christ. But here’s the thing:

What if the future of the Church in America, and the nation of The United States of America depended on you. Just you. Take a good look at your life, your commitment to Jesus and the Truth of Scripture. If we depended on you to be respectfully firm, what would our future as a nation be?

I’m asking the same of me, and I really don’t like what I’m finding.

May God raise up people like Paul who was respectful and firm when he stood up for the Truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. I want to be counted in that number.

December 6; Giving the Most Precious Gift

Romans 8:18-11:10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…foe “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

I hope you remember that experience in your own life, the day you confessed and believed that Jesus is the risen Savior, the day you became a child of God as you called on the name of the Lord. I hope you think about that day often, and celebrate the truth that your sins are forgiven, and eternity with God is ahead.

We are in the midst of getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Most of us have our shopping lists, the names of loved ones written next to the ideal gift we plan to give them. But Christmas is more than that, isn’t it? It is about Jesus.

If you have not called on the name of the Lord, and allowed Him to forgive your sins, to rescue you from eternity without Him, let me encourage you to do that today. In the hustle and bustle of the season, take a minute, and picture that baby lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds, kings, and angels. And understand there is only one gift He wants. He wants you.

You are the most precious gift you could ever give to Jesus, the one who loves you more than you know.

December 5; Delivered

Romans 5:1-8:17

Can a Christian sin? Paul certainly sounds like he struggled with sin. I John 1:8 tells us we deceive ourselves if we say we don’t sin. Galatians 5:17 says there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. Plus, I don’t have to look farther than my nose to know Christians can sin.

But believers in Christ have something non-believers don’t have. We have victory. We have the Holy Spirit right there inside us, eager to help us resist temptation. We have the very power of God to fight our enemy, and the grace of God who forgives us when we ask.

“What a wretched man I am!” Paul exclaimed. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (from 8:24)

The sin of a Christian is no less serious than the sin of an atheist. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Your sin. And mine.

The answer to Paul’s question, “who will deliver me,” is found in verse 25:

Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God will deliver you, too, if you ask. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He is faithful and just to forgive us all when we confess our sin. Thanks be to God!

 

December 4; Double Paying A Debt

Romans 2-4

God, through Paul, tells us all  have sinned. No one reaches God’s glory, His holiness. We can’t come close.

God’s holiness is the plumb line, and all of us have deviated from that line of perfection. If you believe you haven’t, you are delusional. That deviation is called sin. And we will find out in chapter 6 of Romans that the penalty for sin is death.

It is therefore impossible to make up for sin by doing good things. Doing good things is not death. And sin demands death.

Now, think through this with me. If all have sinned, then you and I are sinners. If the consequence for sin is death, the only way you or I can pay for our sin debt is by dying, which would mean going to hell.

Paul tells us Jesus paid what it is impossible for us to pay in this lifetime. You cannot die to pay for your own sin, then live again. But Jesus can – and did!

You can’t die, spend some time in hell to satisfy your sin debt, then wake up one day and continue life on Earth debt-free. But Jesus did exactly that for you!

The only thing you or I have to do in this lifetime is to take what Jesus died to give us. He paid the price for our sin, yours and mine. He’s standing there holding a “Paid in Full” receipt. Yet some will ignore what is right in front of them, and pay their debt themselves. They would rather face judgment on their own, instead of wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

That’s like double paying a debt. I’m six months from paying off my car loan. That would be like me writing that last check, then going to the bank and saying, “I’d like to pay for my car again.” That would be crazy.

But I think refusing what Jesus died to give you is crazy, too. You can live a debt-free life right now, forgiven of sin, with an unimaginably fabulous eternity ahead. Or you can plant your feet and take on the challenge of paying your own debt.

Just understand, you’ll have to die to do it.

December 3; Struggles and Saints

2 Corinthians 11:16-13:14; Romans 1

Sometimes I think we look at people like the late Billy Graham, or Ravi Zacharias, or Charles Stanley and believe they are super-Christians, immune to Satan’s attacks. We see them as godly, put-together, strong men in the Lord, and we forget they are (or were) as human as we.

Paul listed, rather embarrassingly, his achievements and the many ways God demonstrated His Presence in Paul’s life over the years. A person could look at that and think, “Wow! Paul is really special!”

Including Paul, evidently. The apostle admitted he struggled with pride, so God allowed Paul to carry a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. Paul freely talked about his weaknesses. He was human.

But I love that Paul used even his failures and struggles to learn something about God. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” he heard God say. (12:9)

Then in verse 10:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s strength wasn’t within himself. Paul’s strength was from God. And Paul learned that truth through the struggles.

Even saints struggle. That’s why we need to keep praying for each other. Have you prayed for your pastor today? He struggles. Have you prayed for your Sunday School teacher? What about the music minister, the nursery worker, the sweet elderly lady who makes the best banana pudding in the world?

A person can stand before thousands and preach the Word of God with power, and still struggle. A person can sit quietly in a pew week after week, smile and shake your hand, while battling Satan in her heart.

Let’s determine to pray for each other, even if the outside appearance is put together. If you struggle, so do they. That’s why today, I have prayed that God will do a work in the hearts and lives of any who read this post, especially those of us who are struggling.

Dear God, I pray that You will wrap Your arms around your people today and give strength to those of us who are struggling. I pray for victory over Satan’s attacks, joy over sorrow, wisdom over foolishness. And I pray that because of whatever it is we are going through, our relationship with You will grow sweeter and stronger. Thank you for your Presence, and your strength for struggling saints,

 

 

November 26; Don’t Even Eat With Them

I Corinthians 5-7

Where do you stand on the subject of sin? Is your definition of sin in line with God’s definition of sin according to His Word? Or is it based on something else?

Dan Cathy made the news recently when he announced his company, Chick fil A, would no longer financially support the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two organizations that take a Biblical stand on homosexuality. Franklin Graham went to the source and asked Cathy personally what that was about.

I certainly don’t know all the details, but I have read that Cathy told Graham that yes, Chick fil A would no longer donate to those two organizations, but assured him that didn’t mean they were bowing to pressure from the LGBT community. Cathy told the evangelist his company will give to whoever they want, and they have decided to contribute to organizations that address homelessness and education.

You mean like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes?

Cathy can proclaim all day that the LGBT pressure had nothing to do with his decision. But I find it telling that the two organizations he is dropping are the two with the strongest and most vocal adherence to God’s standards according to the Bible. In fact, from what I have read as I’ve researched this this morning, I’m beginning to see this is something that has been coming for some time. Some of the organizations Chick fil A already supports and will support now are openly pro-LGBT activists. (see CBNNEWS.COM article by Mat Staver responding to Franklin Graham for one)

I thought of this today as I read what Paul said to the Corinthians concerning a brother caught in sin. Have nothing to do with him, Paul said.

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you. (5:11-13)

Now I am not saying Cathy is personally an idolater or slanderer or swindler or anything like that. But I take issue with a brother making a public stand that has the appearance of evil like Mr. Cathy has done. He can say it has nothing to do with the LGBT community, but it certainly appears that it does.

I kind of chuckled that Paul used the words, “don’t even eat with them,” considering we’re talking about a restaurant. But the reality of this issue is anything but funny. I haven’t heard Cathy say why they made the decision they made. Just that they made the decision. I just can’t imagine a God-honoring reason, though.

I just believe that if one person thinks this is a win for homosexuality, or that this is a loving act toward homosexuals, it is not a decision that glorifies God. The reality is the loving thing to do is to call sin sin, and to point all people to the Savior. Because if sinners don’t repent, their eternity is set. (6:9-11)

Being anti-homosexuality is not hate. Being anti-homosexuality and introducing a sinner to the Savior is love. Someone sexually immoral, or a greedy person, a drunkard or swindler is a sinner in need of the Savior. I was a sinner, too.

But I was washed, I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (from 6:11) It’s my goal that all sinners experience that, too.

I’m not saying I’ll never eat at a Chick fil A ever again. I don’t know. I haven’t been inclined to recently. I can go to Burger King or Taco Bell. Neither claim to be Christian based. God, through Paul, says it’s not up to me to judge them. But I can judge Chick fil A. And right now I judge them guilty of selling out.

If you are a homosexual reading this, I have nothing but love for you. In fact, I love you enough to tell you that Jesus is standing ready to forgive you, to cleanse you, to give you victory over sin if you ask Him. I would say the same to an adulterer, a thief, a gossip, a swindler, a liar, a murderer, or a glutton.

But I will stand on God’s definition of sin according to Scripture, and tell you sin has a very devastating and eternal consequence. And I pray that you will accept what Jesus died to give you: forgiveness and eternity with Him!

May God find all His children standing firm on the Truth of Scripture, even in the face of opposition and pressure. And may we do it with love, without anger, representing Jesus who loves sinners enough to die for them, who loved me enough to die for even me.