Tag Archives: sin

(Malachi) Something’s Gotta Change

When you read 2:19, do you think of our modern society? Aren’t we living in an age when evil is applauded, and we’re told if there is a God, He accepts everyone equally?

Malachi says we have “wearied the Lord with (our) words.”

God’s prophetic words go on to say there will be a judgment, and NO ONE will be able to face the judge on their own merit, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves of their own worth. We need only to look at Jesus.

“Who will be able to stand when He appears?”

I’ll tell you who: those of us who have bowed to the one and only God of the universe; we who have accepted what the perfect Jesus did when He died in our place on the cross of judgment. It won’t be Connie God sees when I stand before Him. He’ll be looking at the righteousness of His Son because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and have repented of my sin.

Dear Ones, there is good and there is evil. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There is Truth and there are lies. Like it or not, believe it or not.

God has not changed. So we better.

(Haggai) What You Believe and What You Choose

In reference to the words of the prophet Haggai, my study Bible says this:

“To acknowledge the Lord as God has implications for ordinary decisions of life. It is to live before One who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and who has an agenda. He has a plan that impinges on the details of our lives.” (CSB Apologetics Study Bible; 2017; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, TN; p1143)

Do you believe in God? Then how does knowing He knows all, sees all, and has a plan for you that requires your obedience, effect the choices you’ll make today? I’m talking about your choice of clothing, the places you choose to go, the thoughts you allow yourself to think. How does your belief in God impact your day-to-day?

Haggai brings up an important point. It has to do with how close we choose to live with sin before we ourselves become stained with sin. He paints a picture of someone in dirty clothes rubbing shoulders with someone clean. Does the cleanness ever rub off on the filth so that the filth becomes clean?

Have you ever hugged a dirty, smelly person, and watched the dirt fall from their clothes, and their stench replaced by the scent of your shower gel? The answer, of course, is NO.

But, if you hug that dirty, smelly person, you walk away with smudges on your clothes, and the lingering scent of body odor on your skin. You walk away needing a bath yourself.

You catch diseases by being close to the diseased. But they never catch your health by being close to you.

Choices. You and I will make them today according to what we believe about God. And your choices will impact whether or not God’s will will be done in your life today.

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.

(Micah 1-4) The Truth Behind the Words

I believe we spend so much time trying to assign date and time to prophecy we miss the point. There is no eternal value in predicting future events. We need to live as though today is the day we will meet God face to face.

Some people breathe a sigh of relief, thinking Jesus is going to set up a material kingdom for 1,000 calendar years, so they have plenty of time. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take, and not a chance I’d encourage you to take for yourself.

God, through the prophet Micah tells us who live in the 21st Century some things we need to hear. It’s the same message the people in Micah’s day needed to hear.

  1. God punishes sin. No one can escape His judgment. We are all found guilty before the Judge. Do you wonder what constitutes sin? Micah, in 2:6-11 tells us covetousness is a sin, or idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Rejecting God’s Word is a sin (Micah 2:6-11) Paul, in the New Testament gives a short list in I Corinthians 6:9-10. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it is specific: idolators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Jesus said that if we even entertain thoughts about sin, we are guilty of that sin. (Matthew 5) So, my friend, listen up. YOU ARE A SINNER. And God punishes sin.
  2. There is hope. (Micah 2:12-13) Yes, the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). Paul, after listing the sins in I Corinthians 6 says this in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

That’s the message I believe God wants us to hear through the words of Micah. You can pick apart Micah’s word pictures if you want. Just don’t miss the Truth behind the words.

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(Hosea 4-8) I Want That, Too

Sometimes I can almost feel God’s heart breaking. Even as He spells out the judgment to come, even as He expresses His anger over the continued disobedience of His children, He says, “I want to redeem them.”

If only they would repent. If only they would obey. If only they would let Him, He would save them. He wanted to redeem them. But because they’d rather hold on to their idols, He couldn’t.

God threw out a lifeline, but they were still drowning because they couldn’t let go of their sin. And it broke His heart.

I don’t think I can fully understand the extent of His pain because I can’t fully understand the depth of His love. But as I read God’s message to us through Hosea, I know I don’t want any part of adding to His pain.

I want to repent of sin the moment God reveals it to me. I want to resist temptation, and obey Him with every breath I take. I want only to bring Him joy. My redemption cost Jesus so much. I don’t want to waste a single drop of the blood He shed paying the death penalty for my sin.

There isn’t an idol, a sin, that’s worth a fraction of the cross. I hear God say, “I want to redeem Connie.” And I want that, too.

(Hosea 1-3) A Real Life Object Lesson

Hosea lived a dramatic object lesson. It’s so dramatic there are people who believe he never actually married a prostitute. They would tell you God simply gave Hosea a parable to tell to the people, the lesson being what their unfaithfulness looked like to a faithful God. Their reasoning is that God would not tell a priest to marry a prostitute because that was strictly forbidden by God’s law.

Myself? I believe Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer in obedience to God, just like other prophets obeyed God by running around naked, or lying on their side for months at a time, or digging through walls with their bare hands, or burying leather belts. I believe the Jews’ rejection of God was as unthinkable as a priest marrying a prostitute, and that was the point of the object lesson. It was a lesson the Jews wouldn’t miss because Hosea married a real life prostitute.

I see myself in this object lesson – faithless, unclean, disgustingly drawn to sin, yet loved by a faithful God who longs to forgive and restore me to Himself. I see a God who blesses me even though I don’t deserve it, blesses me even though I might be faithful today, yet knowing I’ll fail Him tomorrow.

I want to recognize myself in Gomer, as filthy as she is, and learn a lesson here. Rather than pointing a finger at her, I want to recognize God pointing His finger at me:

“You are a sinner, Connie. But I love you. You are unfaithful, Connie, but I want to forgive you. Come to me, Connie. I long to bring you home.”

So today, as I read this first part of Hosea I am encouraged to return God’s love from a purity that isn’t mine. I want to be the woman he sees in me. I want to please Him rather than myself, love Him like He deserves, and run from any sin that would separate us.

I don’t want to miss what God wants me to learn through Hosea’s real life object lesson.

(Daniel 1-3) Do You Believe In God?

King Nebuchadnezzar believed that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was God above all gods. How else could it be explained that the three men were thrown into a blazing fire which killed some soldiers, that four men were seen taking a walk inside the fiery furnace, and that the three came out of the fire unharmed? They didn’t even smell like smoke!

Nebuchadnezzar shouted praises to God, and made it a law that no one could say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Saying anything offensive against God resulted in a death sentence, according to the King’s new law.

I think Nebuchadnezzar really believed. But Scripture tells us even demons believe. And believing God is who He IS, has demons shaking in their boots! (James 2:19)

Acknowledging God is God, believing Jesus God’s Son died on a cross and rose again, just isn’t enough. What you do with that knowledge has everything to do with salvation, with eternity. Without surrendering to God, your knowledge of Him has no more to do with the forgiveness of your sins than believing the earth is round, or that Thursday follows Wednesday.

King Nebuchadnezzar makes me sad. But my heart breaks at the thought that some of my family and friends are satisfied with the fact they believe in God. It’s not enough.

Hear Jesus’ own words:

Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Do you believe in God? I hope so. Now, what are you going to do about that?

(Ezekiel 24-28) It Isn’t Me

The thing about Scripture, I believe, is the amazing way there is always a spiritual interpretation relevant to 2021, even as there is a material interpretation relevant for the people living at the time it was written.

Is God, in chapter 28, referring to a human king of Tyre, or to Satan, or to prideful disobedient people in the 21st century? The answer is yes to all three!

I believe that is the awesome beauty of Scripture. These verses tell us that God didn’t spare a prideful angel from the irrevocable consequences of sin, nor did He spare a prideful king from the same. And God won’t spare me, either, if pride doesn’t stay in check, if I allow pride to come between me and God.

Satan wanted to be God. But He wasn’t even close – and God condemned him to hell. The king of Tyre considered himself a god. But he wasn’t even close, either. And God condemned him to hell.

What does that tell me about pride in my life? Yes, the word of the day is that I am powerful, deserving, smart, capable, that I can determine my own truth that supersedes your truth. I am my own god, so I’m told to believe.

But I’m not even close. And if I allow myself to think I am, God will condemn me to hell.

There is one God. It isn’t Satan. It wasn’t the King of Tyre. And it certainly isn’t me.

(Ezekiel 15-17) Jesus In Ezekiel

The parables Ezekiel used to convey God’s message point to Jesus in every way. Yes, the physical Old Testament nation of Israel was going to face judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were going to be punished by God because of their blatant rejection of Him. But God wove a thread of redemption throughout the narrative that has everything to do with you and me.

I read 16:62-63 as for the first time today:

I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed… (emphasis mine)

He had said in verse 60:

But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, AND I WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT COVENANT with you. (emphasis mine)

Then, in the prophetic song of verses 22-24 He talks about the sprig that becomes a majestic cedar, bearing fruit and sheltering birds of every kind! It’s all about Jesus!

And it has everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross when He atoned for – paid the death penalty for – my sin and yours. It has everything to do with the New Covenant.

Rejoice! Our sins are forgiven!

If you place your faith in Jesus, His blood will be applied to you, and you will find shelter in the shade of His “branches.” Don’t squander what Jesus died to give you.

That New Covenant assures that whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16), that if you call on Jesus you will be saved (Romans 10:13), that if you confess your sin you will be forgiven (I John 1:9). There is no maybe here. That’s God’s sure promise to you. That’s the permanent New Covenant.

It’s a covenant sealed with the blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Doesn’t get more permanent than that.