Category Archives: Sin

January 17; Putting Yourself in a Position to be Blessed

Job 40-42

The Lord continues to speak to Job in the storm. He continues to remind Job that there is one God, and it’s not Job. Job’s reaction is:

I am unworthy. I spoke out of turn. I thought I understood You, but now I really see who You are. I’m sorry.

This past Sunday the pastor spoke about putting ourselves in a position to be blessed by God. I think Job does that here. Job emptied himself, confessed his sin, and repented. Then God blessed him.

Yes, Job received material blessings after this. But please don’t make this about material things. The pastor reminded us that putting ourselves in a position to be blessed means humbling ourselves before our holy God, recognizing sin and repenting, allowing Jesus to do what He died to do.

Then God will lavish us with the greatest blessing of all. Himself.

He’ll forgive you. He’ll break the hold sin has over you. He will walk with you every minute of every day. And one day, He’ll welcome you home.

I believe Job knew how blessed he was when he said:

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. (42:5)

Have you seen God? I don’t mean have you face-timed Him. Have you recognized God for who He IS? Have you had the experience of total surrender to the One who died to save you? If you haven’t, I pray you will do that today. Put yourself in a position to be blessed. Get on your knees and ask Him to forgive you.

Then brace yourself. God in your life is a blessing like you’ve never experience before.

January 13; Spiritual Inventory

As Job was taking inventory of his life, I am encouraged to do the same. Can I, like Job, lay it all out there and know in my heart I have done what is right and good? Join me as I look at my heart’s condition before my God.

31:1-4; Job determined not to lust after another woman. This takes an intentional act of will.  So I’m checking my own lust-level. I can hardly watch TV without something popping up to try to get me to think about sex. Sex sells. God is asking me if I intentionally guard my heart even in front of the tube.

31:5-8; Job tells me he didn’t “walk in falsehood,” or hurry “after deceit.” Again, speaking the truth, living the truth is a choice. God is asking me how important it is to me to always speak the truth, even in these days when the truth is something to be laughed at and denied, and when people think there’s such a thing as a “white lie”.

31:9-12; Jealousy. Can I really be genuinely happy for my neighbor over their good fortune without longing for what they have? Job says jealousy is a sin to be judged.

31:13-15; Job reminds me that everyone is born in the exact same way. So, how do I treat people? If I consider myself more important, or better than someone else, I will be called to account.

31:16-23; Job tells me he had compassion, that he gave to needy people. God is prompting me to check my heart’s ability to feel, and my resources to do. I don’t want to be so desensitized that I can ignore someone who is hurting, or in need of something I have the ability to provide.

31:24-28; Job didn’t put his trust in wealth, or the universe. How faithful am I to God? If my bank account becomes more important than my relationship with God, that is a sin to be judged. If I entertain the idea that God plus anything is worth worship, I am unfaithful to God, and that is a sin to be judged.

31:29-34; What is my attitude toward an enemy? If I find myself even a little glad someone who wronged me is facing a trial or a hardship, I cannot please God. And Job reminds me that I don’t even need to express my feelings out loud. Trying to hide any sin is a futile effort. God always knows what’s in my heart and mind.

31:35-40; Job challenges me to look at my stewardship. God has blessed me. Am I using what He has given me to be a blessing to others? I am reminded I am blessed for that purpose. How am I doing?

Aren’t these things that Job spoke about the things that should identify us as God’s? I know that nothing I do – no matter how sacrificial – can make up for even one sin I’ve committed. I don’t believe the lesson here is: do good so God likes you better.

But as a woman who is saved by grace, a child of God through the precious blood of Jesus, I want my life to be above reproach. After all, I wear His Name. I want my testimony to be true, my heart in tune with God’s.

Thank you, Job, for helping me take inventory. Help me, God, to address the things You have laid on my heart. I want to represent you well today. For Jesus’ sake.

 

January 9; Is There A Target On My Back?

Job: 15-19

Job brings up a hard truth about God that we often try to ignore. We can talk all day about God’s love, His grace, His forgiveness, kindness, acceptance. But we don’t like to even think about His wrath.

Now, to be perfectly clear, chapter 1 tells us Job’s suffering is not a direct result of sin. God is not punishing him. In fact, Job is an upright citizen. God even calls him “righteous.” Yet awful things are happening to Job.

In chapter 16, Job says he feels like God has placed a target on his back. Job feels God’s anger as though God were ripping him to shreds with gnashing teeth. Job says he’s tried to bind his wounds himself, he’s cried endless tears. But Job realizes his helplessness to combat God and win.

It’s easy to say Job didn’t deserve this. But here is what God impressed on me: if Job, descried by God Himself as a “righteous man,” has no defense against God, I’m in serious trouble.

Paul, in Romans 3:23 tells me everybody has sinned. Romans 3:10 actually quotes some Old Testament verses that tell me there isn’t a righteous man or woman anywhere. Not even one.

(I have no problem hearing God call Job “righteous,” then reading more than one Scripture that says no one is righteous. Job never lived like he was sinless. He continued to offer sacrifices for his sins and for those of his children. “Righteous” described Job because he had dealt with his sin.)

Scripture repeats these words, or words like them: Every sin is punished. Every sin deserves death. Every. Sin.

That’s why I think we should probably remove the word “deserve” from our vocabulary when talking about circumstances of life. We are all sinners, and God hates sin. Hates it. It’s hard to hear, but God considers sinners his enemies. (Romans 5:10; Philippians 3:18; James 4:4; I Samuel 12:14; and others)

Being sinners, we “deserve” God’s wrath. And, friend, you can’t handle God’s wrath.

As I look at the theme of worship in the book of Job, I am blown away that this man who is so lost, so grieved and alone, still looks to God. He begs God for an audience, not to give God a piece of his mind, but to present his case before God. Job longs for an advocate from heaven. Listen to this:

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. (17:19-21)

Read that again and let God speak to your heart. Hear Job’s confidence that there is Someone who is on his side, someone who pleads with God on his behalf like a man pleads for his friend. And Job had never even heard the name of Jesus. My soul is overwhelmed at the beauty of this truth. I love it so much.

Here’s something about God’s wrath: It’s real. And it’s frightening. It’s harsh and relentless. And we are absolutely, totally powerless against it.

But Jesus!

Jesus took God’s wrath directed at you and me. He faced God’s fierce anger – AND IT KILLED HIM.

But He didn’t stay dead! He defeated the last enemy – death. Now, by His grace, I can stand before God – not an enemy – but as His precious child. Not because of my own righteousness (which is non-existent) but because I’m wearing Jesus’ righteousness through the blood He shed on the cross.

God is no longer my enemy. He’s my Father. He calls me His friend!

Please understand that unless you have accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are an enemy of God. You can try to bandage your own wounds, you can try to stand before Him in your own strength. But you don’t have any hope of winning that battle. No hope.

I don’t know what the circumstances of your life are like right now. But I know if you are blessed, you don’t deserve it. If you are suffering, you deserve much worse. You might feel like there is a target on your back, and you might be right.

But read again what Job said in the quote above. And know there is Someone in heaven who would love to be your advocate. Someone who would love to cover that target on your back with His own blood. Someone who wants to turn you from being an enemy of God, to being His most precious child.

 

Hebrews 9-13; Make It Stop

Have you ever felt the sting of God’s discipline over a sin you were holding onto? Dishonesty costs you your job. Infidelity costs you your family. Alcohol or tobacco costs you your health. Sin costs you peace of mind, you cannot feel joy. Conviction bring anxiety, depression, anger, or confusion.

Then you cry out to God, “Make it stop!” “Why is this happening to me?” “I can’t take this any longer.”

When I read Hebrews 12 I hear God say, “I love you as sons and daughters. Therefore, I will discipline you when you are wrong. Don’t expect it to be pleasant.”

I think sometimes when we are experiencing those painful consequences for sin, we pray the wrong prayer. Instead of praying, “Make it stop,” we should be praying, “Help me to stop,” Instead of praying for God to make us comfortable, we need to pray that He will make us clean.

“…God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” (12:10b)

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the very real privilege of going to God Himself through our mediator, Jesus Christ. We can boldly approach the throne of grace and know that we will receive that grace to help us in our time of need.

God doesn’t discipline His children because He likes to see us suffer. He disciplines us to drive us to our knees, so that we can share in His holiness, so that one day we will be able to spend eternity with Him. He disciplines us because of His great love for us.

 

 

 

I Corinthians 1-5; A Little Yeast

It occurred to me as I read this portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we Christians are concerned about the state of the world; we lament over the blatant sin, the disregard for Christianity, the increasing ungodliness accepted as normal. And we are right to do so

But Paul is talking about caring for the temple. I wonder if we’re as concerned about that as we are about the world. It’s easy to point fingers, to talk about “they.” It’s not as easy to point those fingers at ourselves.

Paul tells us we ourselves are God’s temple. (3:16) He asks us to consider our foundation, and our building materials. Are we building our faith on the standards of the age, the wisdom of the world? Or is our foundation Jesus Christ, our faith built on Scripture, God’s wisdom? Is our temple built by we who are servants, obedient, faithful?

Paul warns us not to go “beyond what is written.” Do we even know what is written? Building and protecting this temple called Connie involves reading and studying God’s Word apart from anything else. It means obeying God by keeping myself pure, by listening to His voice and sharing Him with others. Caring for this temple, where God lives on earth, involves effort, intentionality, humility.

Now, I believe if we Christians took better care of our temples, our own lives and relationships with God, then our world wouldn’t be in the state it’s in.

But God pointed out something else to me this morning. We Christians aren’t taking very good care of God’s Church, either. I guess that’s a direct result of not protecting ourselves from sin. But Paul addresses the problem of ignoring sin in the church. He even said the church in Corinth was proud of the fact that they embraced a man guilty of a sexual sin. “Shouldn’t you rather be grieved over this sin,” he asks?

I can’t help but think of whole denominations that embrace homosexuals in their congregations and their pulpits. Shouldn’t God’s people be grieved instead? But Paul doesn’t stop with the sexual sin this particular church-goer was guilty of. Paul includes, “greedy, an idolator or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler” in his list of people who should not be comfortable in our pews.

Paul goes so far as to say they shouldn’t be welcome in the church. I know that goes against what many of us believe these days. But I think we need to consider the truth of what God inspired Paul to write.

I remember years ago, after the contemporary movement was introduced as a result of surveys given to unchurched people about what they would like to see in churches that would encourage them to attend, Ravi Zacharias said something to this effect:

Church should be the last place a sinner feels comfortable.

And I believe that. A church that prides itself on tolerance, on open doors, on a come-as-you-are-and-stay-that-way approach, isn’t a church at all, no matter how involved they are in their communities. It’s a social club. I think I’ve shared about the “church” that advertises by saying, “Come worship with us. We won’t tell you what to believe.” Is that where we’re heading?

It is if we don’t start protecting our temple, caring for our churches. It has to start with each of us individually. But it also has to spill over into our churches. Do we allow sin into our midst, hoping that somehow it will turn into purity? Paul says beware, a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast.” (5:7) I think that is true both for my heart, and in my church.

If I accept a little sin here and there in my life, it doesn’t stay little. It grows, and it invites its friends in. If we accept, or ignore, a sin in our church it won’t stay little there, either. One sin becomes two, then four, and we end up with an unusable batch of dough. Paul challenges us to become “bread without yeast,” a fellowship without sin.

I hope you’ll read these chapters in I Corinthians. There is so much here. Some of it is hard to hear, some of it will thrill your soul. Let God speak to your heart today, and may it change us. May it change the Church.

Romans 6-9; The Struggle Is Real

Do you relate to Paul? I sure do. I’ve been a Christian long enough to know there are some things I should do, and some I shouldn’t. There are thoughts and actions that honor God, and some thoughts and actions that go against everything He stands for. I know this. So why do I find myself committing the same sin He’s already forgiven dozens of times before?

Paul says it’s a battle. I relate. As I’ve been thinking about this passage for a couple days I found myself wondering why it is Christians sin. I’m tempted to use the every popular excuse, “Because we’re human.” But it has occurred to me that with the Spirit of God living in me, I’m not just human.

I have a daily devotional book, “What Every Christian Ought To Know Day by Day” by Adrian Rogers (BH Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 2008). I read today’s thought, (November 23, page342) before reading Romans and was once again blown away at how God reveals Himself. Because Adrian and Paul were singing the same song.

Dr. Rogers says our struggle with sin is a result of our understanding that God forgives. We pray that part of the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our sins.” But we don’t understand the “lead us not into temptation” part. Rogers says:

“The reason we have to come back to God so many times asking forgiveness is that we have not put on His protection that would keep us from falling so repeatedly.”

If we continue to read in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he will tell us often that the Spirit in us is more powerful than the temptation to sin. So why aren’t we putting on that protection?

Yes, God is faithful to forgive 70×7. So going to Him with a repentant heart will result in forgiveness every time. But be warned. Paul makes it pretty clear that our actions are a result of what is in our hearts. And if we continue in sin, we need to consider whether or not we’re really children of God.

I would encourage you to read all of the chapters today. But at least look at 8:5, 11, 13-17, and ask God to speak to you about what is there.

If you find yourself under conviction for committing a sin you’ve already asked Him to forgive, ask for forgiveness one more time. Then ask God to put that protection around you that will keep you from that temptation. Ask God to remove the temptation, or cause that temptation to have no effect. Ask God to give you strength and desire to resist that temptation. He’ll be happy to answer that prayer!

Yes, Paul admitted it was a struggle. But he never tells us to give in to the struggle. He never tells us to go ahead and sin because God will forgive it anyway. In fact, God through Paul tells us it’s very important that we not only ask for forgiveness, but that we turn from that sin, that we die to that sin, that we flee from the devil.

Don’t forget, if you know Jesus as your Savior you have the Holy Spirit. Take advantage of that. Don’t ever think you are helpless because you are “only human.” You are a human with the Spirit of God living in you!

Luke 8-10; A Subtle, Yet Significant Difference

Jesus sent out seventy-two missionaries into “every town and place where he was about to go.” (10:1) He gave them this message: “The Kingdom of God is near you.”

Plus, Jesus gave these missionaries power to heal the sick and cast out demons. These seventy-two came back on a mountain-top, filled with joy and excitement as they shared how God had blessed their ministries.

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” How awesome to have been a part of God’s work in those cities.

But Jesus said something to them that struck me this morning. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven… do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

What caused Satan to fall from heaven? Pride.

And Jesus said, in essence, to the seventy-two, “Wait a minute. Those demons didn’t submit to you. They submitted to me. Don’t allow what I do through you cause you to be prideful. Pride is what sent Satan to hell. If you rejoice in anything, rejoice in the fact your sins – which are many – are forgiven.”

There is a subtle difference between saying, “God used ME,” and “GOD used me.” You may say, “but I am humbled God used ME.” But that sounds like what you are really saying is that you are proud of your humility.

Through this Scripture today, God has prompted me to look at my own attitude toward service. As I write this I started to list the ministries I am involved in to make a point. But all of a sudden it turned into a subtle “Look at me.” “Look how God is using ME.” When in fact, God is reminding me He is the one at work. I am only a tool.

I feel like I need to encourage us to take ourselves out of the mix all together. Look at what God did. Forget the “through me” part of the sentence. We tend to put so much emphasis on the servant when, in fact, God could use a monkey to accomplish the same thing if He wanted to. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s never was.

Let’s not miss recognizing what God is doing, when we subtly turn the emphasis on ourselves. Pride is pride. And it’s a sin even if it’s cloaked in humility, or excitement, or praise. Can we just say “Praise God for working, for doing, for revealing Himself in this situation,” without adding anything about us who were His instrument?

What a shame if we allow our “selves” to prevent us from giving credit where credit is due. What a shame if we would sin while serving. How tragic if we would allow pride to creep in. Yes, it’s a subtle difference. But it’s a difference Jesus felt was important enough to address.

That makes it significant.