Tag Archives: the Gospel

Signs of Repentance

Jonah

The King of Ninevah sent a decree out to the citizens of his city. He had heard Jonah’s warning and believed God was angry enough at their sin, to destroy the city. At that realization, the king repented and put on sack cloth and ashes, a visible sign of his repentance.

This is what the king said to the Ninevites:

No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

So they did, and God didn’t destroy them.

Should the Church come together in repentance? Should Christians fast, put on visible signs of mourning? I wonder if we all wore black arm bands to signify our own turning from sin. Can you imagine the conversations we would have, the opportunities we’d have to share Jesus?

We might not be 40 days from God’s judgment on our nation and the world. But God’s judgment is coming. Are you satisfied knowing at least you’d go to heaven? Or do you share God’s burden for all those who will not, all those who still need to surrender to Him before it’s too late?

The only thing that will stay His hand is repentance, obedience, surrender. Are you wearing visible signs of your own repentance? How you look, what you say, where you go, how you treat people, how you stand for God’s truth are visible signs I hope you are wearing.

Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

To Be Like Jesus

1 Kings 2

In our love-crazed, tolerant, accepting, empathic world of 2022, it’s hard to read about Solomon’s handling of law breakers. His execution of his brother Adonijah for simply wanting to get married, and the executions of Joab and Shimei, may seem unnecessarily harsh.

But Solomon, as the hands of God, pronounced judgment on those who defied God. Adonijah’s request for a wife came from a rebellious heart. His rebellion led to his death sentence. Joab was an unrepentant murderer, and Shimei had sinned against God’s anointed, King David, then defied King Solomon’s grace. None of them were innocent.

There’s a lesson here. When it comes to sin, God may be patient, but that doesn’t mean He turns a blind eye to sin. I believe God views sin much more seriously than any of us realize. And I think that’s a problem.

Of course, God doesn’t zap us the first time we sin. On the contrary, when we sin we feel remorse, guilt. We come under the lovingly convicting hand of God who wants us to repent of sin and accept His forgiveness. He doesn’t execute the guilty immediately.

In fact, God executed His own Son so the guilty can go free and never suffer the death penalty our sin deserves.

There are certain buzz-words going around these days, even proclaimed by some preachers and Bible teachers, and used by Satan to make Christians feel guilty for taking a stand against sin in any form. Those buzz-words are: Empathy. Tolerance. Love. Acceptance.

“If only we would put ourselves in one another’s shoes.” “If only we would be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and actions.” “If only we would love everybody.” “If only we would just accept all people as equals before God.”

Sounds Christian. But is it?

As I was preparing for this week’s Sunday School lesson, I read something that has stuck with me. So often today we are told to use Jesus as our example of love, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. And I agree.

But too many people are twisting Jesus’s life and ministry on Earth to be something it was not. The fact is, Jesus did NOT accept everyone. He came down hard on some. And, although He IS love, that love sent Him to the cross because of the serious consequences of sin. It didn’t simply erase sin. Jesus’ love paid a high price for the forgiveness of sin available for anyone who will receive it.

So this week I read someone who said something like: I want to be as tolerant of sin as Jesus was – and He never tolerated sin.

Chew on that for a minute.

If Jesus is our example, we will love each other enough to be honest about sin, and the serious consequences of sin. If Jesus is our example we will not tolerate sin, but rather point the sinner to the Savior, to their only hope.

Solomon’s death sentence for the three men I read about this morning may seem harsh. But I’m telling you it is not as harsh as the sentence God imparted on them after they died.

To be like Jesus is to take sin and the consequences for sin very, very seriously.

Calling All Godly People

Psalm 12

I read this psalm and think, “I get it, David. We are facing the same thing in 2022.”

It’s not just our neighbors who lie. It’s governments, the media, preachers, parents, teachers… the list goes on. They say:

We will lie to our hearts content. Our lips are our own, who can stop us?”

Right now I wonder if ANYONE can stop them. Like David, I too wonder if the godly are vanishing from the earth. The godly are the only hope for this world.

I could get on my soapbox. But instead I’m going to pray that those of you reading this post will recognize the lies you are being fed every day. Whether it’s your preacher saying worshiping God should be fun and make you feel good, or someone saying tolerance is love, or truth is relative, or the government promising illegals free stuff and a good life, or anyone saying a person can choose their sex, or that abortion is not murder, or the media isn’t biased, or global warning is a result of poor stewardship of the earth…

Oh man, I just stepped up on my soap box, didn’t I? I won’t go on. Instead I’m pleading with the godly people out there:

Pay attention.

Stand up for the truth according to Scripture.

Don’t accept what the loudest voices are saying. BE the loudest voice.

Once again, I am speaking to godly people, not just “Christians.” People are being told that a Christian is someone who believes certain things about Jesus. That’s a lie.

If you haven’t confessed your sin, repented (which means to turn from sin), if you aren’t growing more holy every day by of the choices you make as a result of your relationship with God through the blood of His Son Jesus – you are not a Christian. Therefore, this post does not apply to you.

Harsh? Yes. But I for one am tired of the lies. The truth hurts. But it is the truth.

If we who KNOW the truth are out there making ourselves heard, if we are living the godly lives we are called to live, if we are leading people to the saving grace of Jesus, there may be hope for this world yet,

even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.

Calling all godly people! It’s up to us.

The Most Important Word in The Bible

Deuteronomy 13

God gave specific instructions to the Jews concerning worship, sacrifices, how to treat one another, caring for the poor, etc. The nuts and bolts of it were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross so today we don’t sacrifice animals on a stone altar, and we don’t kill idolators. But God’s instructions to the Jews speaks volumes to us today.

Deuteronomy 13:18 is the lesson God wants us to understand from His instructions:

The Lord your God will be merciful only IF you listen to His voice and keep all His commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases Him. (emphasis mine)

Gods words in Deuteronomy are still true today, and only through the substitutionary work of Jesus can our sins be forgiven without the physical sacrificing of animals. Without blood, there is still no forgiveness of sin. Jesus shed His own blood as the ultimate, perfect substitute.

What we read in Deuteronomy is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross. He became those sacrifices for us. And therefore, the same principle applies:

God will show mercy IF we obey Him.

We can’t expect God’s blessings unless we do ALL His Word demands. That’s a tall order on our own.

IF I accept Jesus as my Savior I am obeying the Law spelled out in Deuteronomy. And IF I live my life like Jesus spelled out in the New Testament, then and only then can God bless me.

And, oh what blessings!

I think “IF” might be the most important word in the Bible.

Again?

Numbers 20

It’s so frustrating how often Israel whined about going back to Egypt. So often when they got uncomfortable, hungry, dissatisfied they would complain to Moses, which in reality was complaining about God. Their act of rebellion was a sin. Yet time and time again, they revisited that same sin.

Before starting my time in God’s Word this morning I had to confess a sin I’ve committed over and over. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked God to forgive me for the same thing. I have victory for a while, then eventually I’m right back to doing the thing I said I wouldn’t do.

Didn’t Paul address that in Romans 7? I, like Paul, delight in God’s Law. But there is another law in me making me a prisoner. How can I ever be free of it?

Romans 7:25. Jesus! Thanks be to God.

So today I confessed my sin once again, and I know God has forgiven me once again. I’ve been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Will I stay that way? Probably not. Will I revisit my recurring sin? With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray not.

Just because I know God forgives me doesn’t make my sin any less serious. It comes with a death sentence like all my sins. That little act of rebellion cost Jesus His life. It grieves my Lord and angers Him. It separates me from Him as much as if I’d murdered someone.

I need to pray today that God will help me fight my enemy and resist temptation. I’ll need to pray the same tomorrow and the next day (maybe later today, too). I just know I don’t ever want to have to go to Him again and ask forgiveness for the sin He forgave today.

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating in me a clean heart this morning when I confessed my sin and asked you to forgive me once again. I pray that you will renew a steadfast spirit in me, determined to obey You in every way. I want to please you, not myself today. I thank you for the cross, for forgiveness, and for You!

Mistaking Grace

Leviticus

Sometimes I think we mistake grace for an eraser. We think it negates the requirements of acceptability to God, or that God’s grace just wipes away our sins…”Just As If I’d Never Sinned.”

What we read in Leviticus are the rules for addressing all kinds of impurity. It’s not a fun read. In fact, it’s tempting to just skip over the whole thing, thinking it doesn’t apply to us in 2022. But did God change the rules? Or are the requirements spelled out in Leviticus still a thing?

God’s law has not changed. The difference is after the cross the fulfillment of those requirements were transferred to Jesus. So, yes, the blood of bulls is still required. Jesus provided His own blood. The doves, the lambs, even the scapegoat are still required. Jesus became all of that to fulfill each requirement.

Now don’t go out and kill some unsuspecting farmer’s livestock. Jesus already did what was required once and for all. That debt has been paid in full by His own precious blood.

But just because the fulfillment of the Law was complete in Jesus, don’t skip over these chapters in Leviticus. I know they don’t apply to you in the material sense. But they do apply to you. It gives you such detail about what Jesus did for you. It’s a lot!

I challenge you to read these chapters carefully and let God reveal Himself to you as you do. There is much more to Jesus’ death on the cross than you might think.

We can, because of grace, stand before God “Just As If We’d Never Sinned.” But the fact is we did sin. And God’s grace cost Jesus a great deal. A great deal. He didn’t simply erase our sin. He painfully fulfilled all the requirements needed for the forgiveness of our sin .

Grace is not an eraser. It’s a gift that cost more than you or I may realize.

It’s Worth About A Penny

Leviticus 9

When I read God’s instructions for the various sacrifices, I try to picture the scene. I am often struck by the gruesome death of one animal after another; blood splattered layer upon layer on the altar, then poured on the ground at the base; Aaron and his sons wearing blood on their ears, hands, and feet.

So much blood everywhere.

But God, in His Sovereignty determined before the creation of the world, that blood would be required for the forgiveness of sin. Without the blood no one could have a relationship with Him, no one could be saved from the consequences of their sin.

Friend – blood will be required when you face the Holy Judge, God Himself. And like it or not, believe it or not – you WILL face Him when this life is over.

We who have accepted in this lifetime what Jesus did on the cross will stand before the Judge wearing Jesus’ blood on our heads, hands, and feet because Jesus’ blood covers our sin. God will look at the blood of His precious Son and say, “Debt paid in full.” Our eternity will be in God’s sweet Presence, too amazing to be described by words.

But if you stand before God expecting to pay for your own sins with your own blood, you’d be putting about a penny toward your billion dollar debt. Far, far from paid in full. And owing the cost of sinning against God will be an eternity of horror you can’t even imagine right now, too painful to be described by words.

Our Holy God wants each of us to know Him, so He Himself came to earth, lived, died, and rose again to make a way for that to happen. You are a sinner. You are piling up a debt of sin against God that you cannot pay. So Jesus paid it for you.

Have you accepted it? He’s offering His blood to cover your sins. Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer. But God has given you the privilege of choosing for yourself. If you think your penny will cover the cost of your sin, then take the gamble and choose that.

I’m praying you’ll choose Jesus.

It’s Not Enough

Genesis 9

It’s not enough to confess your sins. Simply saying, “I’m guilty,” doesn’t always indicate repentance. Pharaoh said, “This time I have sinned. ” Yet his actions proved his confession didn’t translate into a changed life.

Have you prayed what we refer to as “the Sinners’ Prayer?” I hope so. But don’t believe for a minute saying the words guarantees God’s forgiveness. You must be born again. You must repent of the sins you confess, which means to turn from them, stop doing them, flee them. If saying those words doesn’t come from a changed heart – you are not saved.

We are wrong to guarantee heaven to someone who prays the prayer. You and I can’t guarantee heaven for anyone because we can’t know anyone’s heart but our own. Only God can do that.

Pharaoh confessed his sin but was not saved. His heart was unchanged. I pray the same isn’t true for you.

A Blessed Emotion

Job 34:37

Elihu told Job he was “adding rebellion to (his) sin.”

We all sin. And sin separates us from God. When we sin, God convicts. We take God out of it when we call it simply a guilty conscience without considering where it came from. The guilt you feel comes from the hand of a loving God who wants you to repent. It’s His gentle way of restoring us to Him.

But we get pretty good at either learning to live with a guilty conscience, or denying it and refusing to feel guilty, telling ourselves things like: He started it. They deserved it. It’s no big deal. At least I didn’t kill someone.

Refusing to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Which is a sin in itself. Now you have two sins to confess, two sins to feel guilty about instead of just one. Every time you refuse to repent you add another sin, and another, and another.

Consider guilt a blessed emotion. Those feelings are meant to draw you to God. Don’t dismiss them. Don’t stuff them deep inside. Don’t rationalize them or minimize them. Let guilt do what it’s intended to do.

Ask God to forgive you. Repent of the sin you feel guilty about. Turn from that sin and toward God who loves you enough to make guilt a blessed emotion that can lead to forgiveness, and sweet fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

Do The Wicked Really Prosper?

Job 24

It’s tempting to believe that wicked people prosper and good people struggle. Only the good die young, right? In our minds, people should get what they deserve, and we, like Job, complain and question God when we think life is unfair.

A dear lady in my church got a cancer diagnosis this week. She is a godly, sweet, hard working member of our church family, involved in Bible Studies and serving on committees. She sings in the choir and is someone who radiates God’s love. We might think she doesn’t deserve the struggle ahead. I think she’d tell us we would be wrong to think that.

She deserves much worse. And so do I. So do you.

I for one am glad we don’t get what we deserve in this lifetime. Because we all have sinned. We all have offended and rejected our Holy God who is very plain to tell us His standard for us is holiness. What is man, dear God, that you would even give us a thought? We are broken and disobedient and self-centered. We deserve your anger.

But Psalm 145:8 tells us:

God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

One day we will get what we deserve, but don’t start keeping score in this lifetime. One day I, and my friend, will face God wearing the holiness of Jesus because we have accepted what Jesus did on the cross to save us. Our sins, though they are many, are forgiven by God and He won’t remember them ever again. On that day, we will get what Jesus deserves: our presence with Him forever in paradise.

But some of you will also get what you deserve as a result of rejecting what Jesus did. Try standing before a Holy Judge and rationalizing your sin. It can’t be done. And your “goodness” won’t come close to meeting His standard of holiness. The consequences you receive will be what you deserve, and it’ll be worse than you can imagine.

While you are living this life on planet Earth, be thankful we have a compassionate God who is not wanting you or anyone to face Him on their own. He wants you to accept the forgiveness that is yours through His Son, if you’ll just turn from your sin and live for Him.

Oh, you might get a cancer diagnosis. You might face loss and hardship. Some good people struggle, and some good people don’t. Some wicked people struggle, and some wicked people don’t. But it’s not a matter of fairness.

It’s a matter of grace. It’s a matter of a God who is slow to anger, and loves you with a steadfast love.

Do the wicked prosper? Some perhaps, according to the world’s standard. But this life isn’t the end. And the prosperity they enjoy here will not go with them when they die.

Don’t compare your bank account with someone else’s, or your health against another’s. Are you God’s child through the blood of Jesus? That’s the only question that really matters. And God is faithful to forgive anyone who comes to Him in repentance.

That’s what’s fair.