Tag Archives: sin

September 23; The Point of the Matter

Psalms 146-147; Nehemiah 7:73-9:37

Is God interested in you? Does He give a thought to the tiny details of your day, or consider those things that lay heavy on your heart? The writer of Psalm 146 tells us to praise the Lord, to put our trust in Him, that the Creator God blesses those whose hope is in Him alone.

Then the psalmist says this about God: He upholds the cause of the oppressed, feeds the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over aliens, and sustains orphans and widows. The psalmist assures us the Lord loves the righteous, and He is always faithful.

Let’s not hold God to being a God of material blessings only. We can look at the list above and argue that there are starving people and blind people in the world. There are prisoners and destitute orphans, so either the psalmist didn’t know what he was saying, or God is a liar.

Well, let me make this perfectly clear. The psalmist wrote the words God breathed through him, and God CANNOT lie.

I’m reminded of the account of Jesus’ ministry as recorded in Mark 2, when a paralyzed man’s friends went to the extreme to bring him to Jesus who had been healing people’s physical ailments all day. The friends cut a hole in the roof above Jesus, and lowered the man right down in front of Him. Jesus took one look at the paralytic and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

What? They expected the guy to get up and walk. No one said anything about sins.

Jesus used this situation to make an important point. The physical healing was a bi-product of His real purpose. He never came to earth to give sight to blind eyes, make broken bodies whole, or cure cancer. The point of the matter is Jesus came to save sinners. He came to forgive sin.

I go back to the psalm I read today and see an important word I almost overlooked. God loves the righteous. Not just nice people, not people who do good things and don’t break laws. We are righteous who wear Jesus’ righteousness.

God loves people who accept what Jesus’ blood bought us – forgiveness of our sin. Then and only then, our eyes are open, we are free and fed, no longer aliens and strangers. We are His children, loved, protected from Satan, with the assurance of eternity with Him. We place our trust in Him, our hope in Him alone.

Then yes, God cares about the tiniest detail in the lives of His children. He knows our thoughts, our struggles, our fears. And because we have heard Him say, “Your sins are forgiven,” we can get up and walk, trusting Him to do all things well.

And He does.

September 22; Out Of The Depths

Psalms 121, 122, 128, 130, 134-136

What does it mean to cry “out of the depths?” How low does one have to go in order to be considered being in the depths? The author of psalm 130 has come face to face with his past sins, and they seem to have him feeling pretty low. Now, looking at a Holy God, he realizes he has no hope.

I believe having no hope is what is meant by crying out of the depths. There is nothing left when there is no hope, only despair.

Yet the psalmist cries out to God, “Hear me. Be merciful to me.” He recognizes that what he needs, what he longs for is God’s forgiveness for his sins.

So the psalmist waits. He waits patiently, and puts his hope not in himself, not in good deeds or positive thoughts, but in the Lord. He knows that God’s love is unfailing, that God’s redemption is full. And he knows God will redeem Him.

I pray all of us will consider our past sins and know what the psalmist knew – that before we accepted God’s forgiveness we had no hope. I pray that if you have never asked God to forgive your sins, you will consider those sins and realize you have no hope, either. But know this: God loves to forgive our cries from the depths.

I know that, because He forgave mine.

September 15; Ups and Downs

Esther 9:18-10:3; Ezra 4:6-23; Psalm 105

The history of the Jews is a picture of life, isn’t it? In the book of Esther we see a great celebration lasting days. They had enjoyed a great victory over evil, and they were on top of the world.

But when they got busy rebuilding Jerusalem, they were stopped in their tracks. Scripture tells us the Persians “compelled them by force to stop.” (Ezra 4:23)

I find it the same in my life. I may have victory over a sin, or am able to successfully navigate a difficult situation. I may get a raise at work, or get a “thumbs up” medical report. Things in my life may be working out. I feel blessed!

Then I run into a roadblock, a temptation, a hardship, and I don’t feel blessed at all.

It’s interesting that the organizer of the chronological Bible I am using places Psalm 105 after Ezra’s account of the work-stoppage.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him… (vs 4)

It just reminds me that life has its ups and downs. Good times and bad. Successes and failures. There is only one constant.

God.

And I am reminded God is good all the time. God deserves praise all the time. And I can rest assured that He does all things well, all the time. May I, may we, sing His praises from hearts that are overwhelmed with WHO He is, circumstances aside. Because life will be hard some time. Life will be great sometimes, too. We will have victories, and we will blow it.

But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Praise Him.

September 12; Don’t Praise The Lord

Zechariah 10-14

Are you careful about what kinds of things you attribute to God’s hand? I have seen people (and have occasionally been one) who are quick to say, “Praise the Lord,” and “God has blessed me,” when their actions bring into question whether or not God really did have a hand in it at all.

Like the shepherds God refers to through Zechariah in chapter 11. They were slaughtering their flocks for personal gain, and covering up their sin with, “Praise the Lord, I am rich!”

I hope you’ll read what God thought about that.

God does bless us, doesn’t He? And I hope you are quick to praise Him when he does. But always remember, God blesses obedience. Let’s not use Him to rationalize actions that don’t really honor Him. Let’s not try to justify sin with a, “Praise God.” He deserves better than that.

Besides, He will not turn a blind eye to any sin just because we give Him praise. Rather than using praise as a cover-up, just don’t praise the Lord. He knows when your praise is real.

September 11; I Choose God

Psalms 118, 129, 148-150; Ezra 6:19-22; Zechariah 9

I’ve sat here with my Bible open in front of me for some time this morning, wondering what God would say to me through these psalms of praise. These psalms talk about God’s enduring love, His power over the enemy, His goodness and salvation. “This is the day God made, let’s rejoice and be glad.”

But God made September 11, 2001, too. Are we to rejoice and be glad for the day 3000 people were murdered by Muslim terrorists? How do you reconcile that awful scene seared into the memories of all of us who were around that day, with a God of love?

So I started to re-read the psalms, asking God to teach me, and He pointed my attention to 118:4-9:

Let those who fear the Lord say; “His love endures forever.” In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (emphasis mine)

God is good. And this good God DID NOT place in the hearts of those evil men a sinister plan to fly commercial planes full of innocent people into buildings full of innocent people in the name of Allah. God did not do that.

What God did, however, was remove His presence and protection from a nation that had removed ourselves from Him. The psalmist tells us God’s salvation is tied to our position in Him. Do I fear Him? Do I walk with Him? Because if God is with me, I need not fear any man, or terrorist cell, or Satan himself.

But hear this: if I reject God, I have every reason to fear.

I wish I could say we Americans learned our lesson that day eighteen years ago. We said we’d never forget. We’ve not only forgotten, we’ve made the evil of the Muslim religion look peaceable. We’ve elected Muslims into our government. Islam is more revered than Christianity to some in this country. We’ve made Muslims our heroes, and a former president even apologized for the USA inciting them against us.

We didn’t learn to embrace the God of the Bible. We’ve made Him the enemy.

I remember standing in front of a classroom full of sixth graders when I heard the first plane hit one of the towers in NYC. I remember one frightening event after another reported that morning, and looked in horror as the Twin Towers crumbled to the ground, picturing the terror those inside must have felt before they died.

I heard people cry out to God, saw churches filled, flags proudly flown, promises made.

But that was eighteen years ago. Things change.

Dear one, 9/11 is only a glimpse at what can happen when a nation turns from God, when He removes His protection. Are we any closer to Him than we were back then? Are our churches teaching the Truth, our brothers and sisters in Christ rejecting Satan’s lies? Our we praying for our nation, our neighbors, our families to fear God and serve Him?

Do we want God to protect us? Then we had better be running to Him, obeying Him, loving and serving Him on His terms. Otherwise, He’ll let us to our own devices.

Our choice: Ourselves or God?

I choose God.  I pray you say the same.

 

 

September 3; Don’t Assume

Daniel 8:1-27, 5:1-31, 9:1-27; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

I’m very thankful for the truth God laid on my heart yesterday. He is such a patient God. He’s always working in hearts, always revealing Himself in so many ways every day. And He lovingly breathed His Words into what we call the Bible to encourage us, convict us, give us hope, and warn us about the price of disobedience. He laid it all out there so there would be no question.

Yesterday we saw God warn Nebuchadnezzar, then gave the king a whole year to come around. When the king still refused to repent, the events God had warned him about came true, and Nebuchadnezzar paid the price for rejecting God.

Today God is reminding me another aspect of His Holy judgment. Nebuchadnezzar’s son was king now. Belshazzar, like his father, defied God, worshiped idols, and “set (himself) up against the Lord in heaven.” (Daniel 5:23)

So God warned him in a very direct, very dramatic way. God wrote the writing on the wall. “You are going to lose, Belshazzar.” And that very night, Belshazzar died. The end. The beginning of a devastating eternity without God.

Here is where God has directed my thoughts this morning; He has revealed Himself to every one of us whether or not you want to acknowledge that, so that no one has an excuse. No one can say they didn’t know He is God. He has even put in writing His demands and His plan of rescue. God is very clear: it’s His way or we pay severe consequences. Let there be no misunderstanding. He will be worshiped.

And as patient as God is, there comes a time when He gives people what we want. You want an eternity with Him? Accept His Son and you’ve got it. But if you want life without Him, He’ll give you that. And you’ll be without Him for eternity, too.

Here is a stark reality: God did give Nebuchadnezzar a year to humble himself after the warning. Belshazzar wasn’t given a year to obey. He died that same night God wrote the warning on the wall.

Friend, you aren’t guaranteed a year, a month, a day, not even a next breath. The fact is God has been tugging at your heart, maybe shaking your shoulders trying to get you to look at Him, to hear and accept Him on His terms. You have been warned about what is ahead.

Don’t assume you have time to listen to Him later. You have this minute. Right now.

I certainly don’t know your heart. But if you have been putting off obeying God, hear Him today tell you how much He loves you, that He died to save you. Hear Him tell you you are lost without Him, that there is no other way. No other way. Humble yourself. Ask Him to forgive you. Repent of your sin and invite Him to be Lord of your life.

Don’t assume you have tomorrow.

September 2; True To His Word

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

It wasn’t like he hadn’t been warned. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and the interpretation to Daniel. In essence, God told the king to repent. And if he refused to repent, he would lose everything.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent. He was prideful and self-satisfied, and he liked it that way.

Now here’s what spoke to me this morning. God gave the king a whole year to repent. I’m thinking the man must have thought about what Daniel had told him during those twelve months. He’d already seen proof of God’s power before, so it wasn’t like he could just blow it off.

But a year after his dream, Nebuchadnezzar lost everything because he didn’t heed God’s warning. He lost his kingdom, his wealth, and his sanity. God was true to His Word.

The truth is, God is always throwing out warnings to people. We hear the urgency in His voice as we read His Word. We see His fury in a storm. We witness his tenderness and mercy in the face of a new born baby, and in the face of a new born Christian.

And God is patient. He will continue to work to get our attention, to demonstrate that He alone is worthy of worship. Do not take Him lightly.

Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that eventually the king would bow down to God. And after seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar did just that.

God will be worshiped by you, too. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us ,”that one day, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day you will know God is True, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He was trying to get you to love Him all your life. I pray you will come to that belief during this lifetime, before you look into His eyes for the first time. I pray that when you do bend your knee on that day in acknowledgment of the truth and glory of God, you will do it out of a heart that has been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and not out of a heart that refused to accept him while you had a chance.

Please heed God’s warnings. He is true to His Word.

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Another hurricane, another evacuation from this island. Please continue to pray for all who are in the path of Dorian. We thank you.