Tag Archives: sin

Funeral Arrangements (Job 1-5)

I’ve never known anyone who suffered the same devastating losses Job did in one day. I certainly haven’t come close to that magnitude of loss. But I have experienced loss. And so have you. And there is something we can learn from Job’s example.

After hearing that his crops, livestock, and children were all suddenly gone, Job affirmed his trust in God. Most of us are familiar with Job’s response to this great loss. He said, “I came into this world with nothing, and I’ll leave here with nothing. Everything I’ve ever had was given to me by God, and it’s up to Him whether I keep them or not. May the name of the Lord be…

praised!”

Really? Not questioned? Not accused or discarded? Not shaken a fist at or maligned?

The Bible tells us that in all his losses, Job didn’t sin by charging God with doing anything wrong. Later, in 2:10, Job even says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job didn’t sin by anything he said, even when most of us would say we’d understand if he had.

Are you experiencing loss? Maybe not even a recent loss, but a loss from your past that has kept you at arms length from God? I pray you will read what God would say to you today through these chapters in His Word.

I think Job’s example tells us to go ahead and mourn. Tear your clothes, shave your head, or scrape your skin with broken pottery (figuratively, of course). But in that period of mourning don’t sin, don’t make matters worse by cursing God when all He wants is to be your comfort and strength. Job praised God in the depths of deep pain and suffering. We can praise God in the depths of ours.

I want to share something I heard yesterday at the funeral of a young woman whose life was cut short as suddenly as Job’s children’s lives were cut short that awful day. One of the pastors, this woman’s cousin, reminded us that her death came at no surprise to God. And he assured us that God welcomed that precious woman home the moment her spirit left her physical body. We can trust God even in our mourning and through the “what ifs.”

We mourn. She rejoices. We weep. She sings. We are paralyzed with grief. She is dancing before the Lord. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One day, because this girl at the age of six made her funeral arrangements by accepting Jesus as her Savior, we will see her again if we have made the same confession, accepted the same forgiveness for our sin, and placed our funeral arrangements in the hands of God. Death has no power over those of us who know the Savior.

That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not some fairytale made up by weak people to get us through hard times. It’s a fact. You and I will both die one day. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave here the same way.

Except for one thing. I’m leaving here with a robe of righteousness placed on me by Jesus. I’m leaving here with confidence that my sins are forgiven by the precious blood of my Savior. My funeral arrangements are made. And when I leave this life, I’m going to go live with Jesus. Forever.

I’d like you to come with me.

December 11-14; And The Winner Is…

Revelation 11-14

When I read the book of Revelation as a picture of life, I see that life is messy. It’s chaotic. There are disasters and sorrow and struggles. Let’s face it. Satan is powerful and will continue to fight God, using us as pawns, until the final day when He who was, and is… has come!

I read about the battles, and Satan’s tactics to take as many of us as he can with him into hell. But then in chapter 14 I see the Lamb! I can almost hear the song of the redeemed, and I know we win! One day the earth will be ripe for harvest. That sickle will swing and life as we know it will end. Oh, how I long for that day!

But if you don’t know the Lamb, if you haven’t accepted the forgiveness of your sin through the blood of Jesus, you should be terrified at the thought of that day. Because you will not win. You will drink the wine of God’s fury.

As 2019 winds down, as we look forward to a new year, and a new decade, I pray you will be on the winning side, worshiping the Lamb who was slain for love of you. May God bless you, draw you to Him, and give you strength in the days ahead. Life’s not easy. We are at war. But be assured…

The winner is you, if you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

December 25; The Reason

Hebrews 13; I John 1-2

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

As we celebrate the Baby in the manger today, let’s not overlook why God became a flesh and blood baby 2000 years ago. The Apostle John tells us this:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (I John 1:8b)

We call it a season of love, of hope, and peace. And it is absolutely all of that! God’s love motivated Him, and love is a byproduct of His appearing. Hope is ours because He came, and peace the world cannot understand rests within His children because that Baby born in Bethlehem grew up to die.

We celebrate everything that Christmas represents. But let’s not forget Jesus came because of the ugliness of sin. Your sin. And mine. Jesus came to destroy Satan’s hold on us. This precious Baby was born to save.

I pray you will realize the seriousness of the season as well as the joy of it all. The reason Jesus was born is…

YOU!

December 21; A Charge

2 Timothy 2-4; Hebrews 1

I hope you will read Paul’s charge to Timothy and hear God speaking to you. The fact is, the time of Jesus’ return is 2,000 years closer than when Paul wrote these words. We may be 2,000 years before that blessed event yet today, but Scripture tells us to be prepared. It could be 2,000 years from now. It could be today.

This is Paul’s charge from chapter 4:

  1. Preach the Word
  2. be prepared in season and out of season
  3. correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction
  4. keep your head in all situations
  5. endure hardship
  6. do the work of the evangelist
  7. discharge all the duties of your ministry

Friend, our relationship with God has to be intentional. It cannot be mere emotion, or something we put on a shelf like a trophy. You and I need to be using our minds, keeping our heads in all situations.

In chapter 3 Paul talks about the evils of the last days and warns us about those who live lives of greed, pride, disobedience, slander… He tells us to have nothing to do with them. Why?

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires… 

Now before you men start to feeling smug here, I’ve known some pretty gullible men, too. I don’t think I’m going out of bounds to suggest this warning is for all of us. None of us are immune from the wiles of the devil.

And I can’t help but think evil is worming its way into our homes through the internet and cable TV. Be ware!

That’s why my prayer is that any who read this blog will be encouraged to be in the God’s Word every day. Reading. Studying. Praying about it. Memorizing it. Re-reading it. And obeying it. Please let God grow you and strengthen you through the pages of His precious Word. And take Paul’s charge to Timothy as your own.

 

 

December 17; The List

I Timothy 3-6

What is sin? Or is there such a thing? Is calling something “sin” being judgmental? Is something a sin only if it hurts someone else? Are there degrees of sin?

Well, first of all sin is anything that deviates from God’s holiness. A thought, an action, a word that isn’t absolutely holy is a sin. That’s not my definition. It’s what God has told us in His Word. And every one of us have sinned.

Sin has nothing to do with whether or not your feelings get hurt, or if you are directly effected by the wrong actions of another. But it has everything to do whether or not you’ve offended God. The Bible is clear – any time we deviate from God’s holiness, He is hurt. It grieves Him to the core.

Is it judgmental if I tell you that?

If I tell a liar his lies are a sin, am I being judgmental? If I tell an adulterer her affair is a sin, am I setting myself up as her judge?

Paul says this: “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them…” (5:24)

If some sins are obvious, there must be a list somewhere that defines sin. And you would be right to think that. God has inspired men to list obvious sins repeatedly throughout the Old and New Testaments. For instance, I Corinthians 6:9-11. In fact, Paul not only gives us the list, he offers a solution. I hope you’ll read those verses today.

I would rather take the chance of hurting your feelings by pointing out a sin, than having you spend eternity separated from God. If your sin is reaching judgment ahead of you, I’d like to stop you in your tracks, and share with you how you can be transformed. You don’t have to follow your sins to hell.

Changing the definition of sin doesn’t change the reality of the sin. Calling homosexuality normal doesn’t take homosexuality off the list. Justifying an adulterous relationship by saying you can’t help who you love doesn’t take adultery off the list. Believing that spreading gossip under the guise of “you have the right to know” doesn’t take gossip or slander off the list.

And calling sin “sin” is not being judgmental. It’s reporting the obvious.

But, Paul has some good news for us sinners. He tells us, after listing some pretty obvious actions that deviate from God’s holiness, in other words “sins,” that some who have sinned have been washed, sanctified, justified in the name of Jesus!

I hope that is true for you. But if it isn’t, if you haven’t faced your sin and allowed Jesus to do His thing in your life, I pray you will do that today. Sin is sin. The wages of sin is an eternal death separated from God, more horrible than any of us can imagine.

I’m not judging you. Sin has judged you. The list is pretty self explanatory.

But there is forgiveness through Jesus! I’m praying for all of us today.

 

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.