Tag Archives: the Gospel

(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.

(Daniel 8-12) Is It Time?

If God sent an angel to interrupt prime time regular programing with a message that the world would end in 1,290 days – what would you do? How would you spend the next 3 1/2 years? Would you live it up with partying, sex, and drugs? Would you marry your sweetheart (or maybe divorce your spouse)? Would you buy a yacht and sail around the world, or would you climb Mt. Everest?

Maybe you’d live the high life for the first 2 1/2 years, then clean up your act just in time for the end. Or maybe you’d hit your knees, repent of sin, and spend the remaining 3 1/2 years of life on earth praying that people would turn to God. Maybe you’d be more bold when speaking to your friends and loved ones who need Jesus.

Would you take the angel’s warning seriously if you were sure he really was sent from God?

Well, my friend. That angel HAS appeared. That message HAS been sent from God. We don’t know if we are living in day 1,289 and have years and years before the end, or if we are actually living day 0002. But God, through the vision he gave Daniel, wants us to understand the day of the end has been set. It’s going to happen. There is no doubt, no alternate plan.

Many people are looking for signs of the end. Many try to figure out who or what the “last days’ will look like. I mean, you don’t want to get ready too soon or too late, right? I think their focus is misdirected.

The point is: it’s time. Now. Today. It’s time to clean up your act and get busy because the day is coming when the last chance to be saved will be past. Jesus IS coming again. And when He comes, judgment will follow. And eternity will be set.

Heaven? or Hell? There is no third option. And there will be no change of address a few millennia down the road.

Quit looking for signs. Quit postponing a decision to submit to God. He has spoken. The end is much nearer today than it was last week. You have this lifetime to make a decision that will determine your eternity, an eternity where you will be conscious of your every moment. A very real heaven or a very real hell await each one of us, depending on what we do with Jesus in this lifetime.

Friend, it’s time to choose. Choose wisely. Eternity is a very long time.

(Daniel 4-5) Don’t Give Up

Yesterday I was saddened that King Nebuchadnezzar’s knowledge of God didn’t reach his heart, didn’t change him. He remained the same arrogant, self-satisfied, ruthless king he’d always been, even after recognizing the power and authority of God.

But I saw something today that blesses my heart, makes me love God all the more, and encourages me to continue to pray for my loved ones who don’t know Him. Here it is:

God never gives up on any of us.

Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, God gave Daniel the interpretation, the horrible events of the dream came true. Then Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself before God, and God blessed the king greatly because finally, his knowledge of God had reached his heart.

I guess I want to encourage us all to keep praying. Our resistant loved ones may have to experience horrible circumstance (read what Nebuchadnezzar experienced) before they humble themselves.

But take heart. God isn’t going to give up on them while they are still breathing. Don’t you give up, either.

(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 29-32) I AM The LORD

Egypt was never identified with God. They worshiped idols. They were the enemy of God. Yet the Israelites went to Egypt for help instead of going to God. Big mistake.

But here’s what spoke to me today: God repeatedly sent word to Egypt, warning them what the consequences of rejecting Him would look like. Why? Why would God continue to warn His enemies about the devastation that was ahead for them?

“Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (28:23,24,26, 29:6,9,16,21, 30:8,19,25…)

I am reminded that God doesn’t want anyone to die without Him, that whosoever believes on Him will have eternal life, that anyone who believes on the name of Jesus will be saved.

It reminds me how God continually works in the lives of every man, woman, and child to bring them to the realization that He is the Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one goes to God except through Jesus.

It reminds me that instead of praying God would take away the “plague” of COVID, I should pray that this virus will show the world that He is Lord. Simply praying that God will somehow say the word and the virus would disappear, might be praying against His will that we who have turned our backs on Him will humble ourselves, turn from our sin, so that He can heal our land.

Whether it is a virus, or war, or hurricanes and earthquakes, alcoholism, or cancer, or divided families and churches… whatever the consequences of sin might look like… may it do what God intends it to do.

May we hear Him say in the midst of it all:

I AM the LORD.

(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.

(Ezekiel 8-11) God Is On The Move In Your Life

The whole time God is talking to Ezekiel about the coming judgment on disobedient Israel, He is moving. My study Bible identifies ten times the Glory of God moved in chapters 9-11, in Amos 7&9, in Proverbs 21, and in Micah 6. Ten time God was on the move to show us that He actively and anxiously waits for His children to come back to Him.

He continues to do that very same thing. He continues to reveal Himself in this situation and that, in this event of nature and that, in this person and that, so that no one HAS to die in His judgment.

“Here I am,” He seems to say, “And here. And here. See me. Come to me and be saved.”

God is on the move today. He has never just sat on His throne reading the newspaper or playing checkers with angels until a few souls should straggle in. He goes before us. He directs us from behind. He stands beside us, always moving, always calling, always working in each heart and life to give us all every chance to decide to submit to Him and to be saved.

I am overwhelmed this morning by the thought of how passionate God is about saving me, a worthless sinner deserving His judgment. I am overcome with love and thankfulness at how much attention He gives to my walk, every decision I make, every minute of every day.

God is on the move in my life. And yours. Because He doesn’t want either of us to face judgment without Him.

Hear Him say, “I’m here. And here. And here.” Then run to Him and be saved.