Category Archives: Sin

Job 29-31; Job’s Final Thoughts

The difference between Job and me is that I can look back on my life and recognize the multitude of sins I have committed. Job seems to be able to look back on his life and see none. I don’t know which is worse.

Let me just get it out there: I AM A SINNER. I know that I am. If I tried to list all the sins I remember committing I’m not sure I’d get to the end before the middle of next year. And that doesn’t include the sins I’ve conveniently forgotten.

Besides, I don’t want to spend that much time considering the “old nature,” because I am forgiven and Christ has made me a new person.

Some people allow their old nature to hold them back. I know you’ve sinned. God knows you’ve sinned. Maybe you are living with painful consequences for that sin.

But if you’ve repented, asked God to forgive you, you are washed clean. That sin, in God’s eyes, doesn’t even exist any more. Stop beating yourself up about it. Jesus has already been beaten up for you.

Paul told the Philippians (3:13-14):

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

He is talking about knowing Christ, pursuing a relationship with Jesus. If I am actively walking with the Lord I don’t have time – or desire – to continually look back. If I draw near to God, He draws near to me, and with Him comes joy, peace, comfort, and help to know Him more and serve Him better.

Job spent a lot of time defending himself. He couldn’t come up with one sin he’d committed. He was, no doubt a good man. God Himself called Job His servant, a blameless and upright man. (1:8)

Job did many good things for his family, his friends, his neighbors, his servants, his enemies, and even his land. He spent his life using the blessings God gave him to help others. But does that mean he was sinless?

Romans 3:23 tells us everyone has sinned, everyone falls short when compared to God. Yet there are people who rationalize or ignore sin in their lives. They convince themselves if they are religious enough, or if they meditate, or volunteer at a soup kitchen, or don’t murder anyone, somehow that  covers up or equalizes the bad things they’ve done.

Friend, the only thing that can cover up your sin is the blood of Jesus. The only way you can be good enough is by accepting the fact that Jesus is good enough, and let Him stand in your place when you repent of your sin and ask Him to forgive you – something He’s dying to do.

So whether you are living in the past and are paralyzing yourself over past sin and guilt, or if you have convinced yourself you are ok as is, let God tell you what He thinks about your life. Let Him remind you that He recognizes your sin and loves you anyway. Let Him lead you to the cross where your sin debt was paid. And let Him make you new, clean, free from the bondage of sin. Then know the joy of having His Presence living in you, and blessing you with Himself.

I’m praying for you.

 

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Job 20-21; Zophar, Part 2

Let’s get one thing straight. People die. Godly people die. Ungodly people die. There are godly people who live to a ripe old age, and there are godly people who die young. The same can be said for ungodly people.

Furthermore, no matter what Zophar would have you believe, there are wicked, evil people who are living long lives of luxurious, seemingly carefree lives, while there are godly people without homes or food. The opposite is true as well.

It’s tempting to equate God’s blessings with the things we can see. I will say God blessed me with a career for 37 years which has allowed me to live comfortably in my aging years. God has blessed me with good health, a loving family, a precious church fellowship. The sun is shining today. The sky is blue. And I have eyes that can see it all.

I could go on. But you get the picture. Some of the blessings I enjoy today come as a result of choices I made along the way. I don’t apologize for that or feel guilty because someone else made different choices. But I clearly know nothing I have, no blessing that I’ve been given is deserved. God doesn’t owe me a good life.

In fact, if I did get what I deserve, I would be one miserable lady.

I guess as I read the conversations between Job and his friends, I am reminded that it is useless to try to explain why things happen in this life. I mean, I can say the reason someone gets lung cancer is because he smoked for forty years. But then how do I explain the one who gets lung cancer and never smoked?

Here’s what struck me as I read Zophar’s second speech and Job’s reply: If I really thought only ungodly people receive devastating doctor’s reports, why am I not stopping everyone from undergoing chemo, and instead get them to accept Jesus? Why don’t I pray with all the homeless people I see so God will give them houses?

I should be talking to cancer patients and homeless people (and neighbors, co-workers, family members) about Jesus. Not for anything they can see. But because their eternity depends on it.

Zohar was right about one thing. “the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts for a moment.” In light of eternity, the “blessings” people enjoy on this earth are merely a blink of an eye.

Do you believe that? Regardless of bank accounts, health reports, popularity, or influence, we all will stand before a Holy God one day and give an account for the choices we made while we were enjoying, or struggling with, life on planet Earth. If you know Jesus as your Savior, that’s all God will need to know. Account paid. Good job, dear one. Let the party begin.

But if your choices haven’t included asking God to forgive you, and accepting what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, you’re on your own. Good luck trying to defend yourself before a Holy God. Do you honestly think you’ll match up? Really?

Let’s not get bogged down by things we can see. Let’s not waste time trying to understand God’s ways. His ways are not like ours. But let’s look at the true, and eternal blessing that comes from knowing Him personally. And let’s makes sure others know how they can be blessed in the same way.

 

Job 18-19; Bildad, Part 2

I had a pastor one time who said that when he was younger he gave his heart to the Lord after reading the book of Revelation. He said it scared the faith right into him.

I think Bildad’s speech here in chapter 18 is every bit as terrifying, if not more so.

It’s nighttime. You are lying on your cot, almost asleep in your tent. A lantern flickers on the floor next to you, the embers of a campfire glow outside your door. Suddenly both fires go out, and you are in complete and utter darkness.

You stumble outside, only to trip and fall into a net that has been placed there to catch you. Immediately you feel a metal trap clamp down on your heel, holding you immobile. A noose slips over your head, then tightens around your neck.

Every sound terrifies you in the blackness of night. Something you can’t see begins to eat your flesh. It rips your arm from your body.

You are snatched away by soldiers, who take you to stand before the king, to give an account for offenses you do not know.

Your house is destroyed so that nothing remains. Your very life is ebbing away without hope. You’ve been driven from the light into unspeakable darkness, alone. Totally alone.

People are repulsed by the memory of you. The thought of you horrifies them.

(The only thing missing is a guy holding a chain saw, and wearing a mask)

Then Bildad implies… That’s what you deserve, Job.

Now that’s just mean.

Job knew first-hand what it meant to be crushed, unjustly accused, and absolutely alone. Why his friends thought they had to keep throwing salt into his wounds, I don’t know.

But Job, living in the horror Bildad described, demonstrates a faith that blows me away. Listen to what he says:

Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!

I  know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me(19:23-27, emphasis mine)

I’m so thankful Job’s words were recorded like he wished. Job believed he would see God in the flesh some day. And Job longed for that day! In the midst of devastating pain, Job was confident in the fact that he had a Redeemer, alive, and coming to earth. Job wanted to look into those eyes.

We know the name of Job’s Redeemer. His name is Jesus. And He’s your Redeemer, too. Do you know Him with the same confidence Job displayed here? No matter what your circumstances, you have an advocate, one who died so you can live, one who sits at the throne of God and prays for you, draws you to Himself, loves you beyond what you can even imagine.

My dear Redeemer, Jesus, Lord, thank You for the reality of You! Thank You for taking my sins upon Yourself, for suffering what I deserved, for forgiving me. And thank You for the knowledge that You are alive, and one day I’ll look into those eyes of Yours and know for the first time, just how much I am loved. I praise You. I adore You. I worship You.

Esther; An Edict Not Revoked

Whenever I read this book I wonder, when I get to the part where the king who condemned all Jews to death, why he doesn’t just rescind his order and let them live once he discovers the truth. Why doesn’t he send out an updated edict and let the Jews off the hook? Instead, he gives the Jews a way to survive the death sentence.

Today Warren Wiresbe (With the Word Bible Handbook) put a light on the subject that helps me see things a bit more clearly. If you have read other posts of mine you know my strong conviction that all Scripture is given us by our loving Heavenly Father for the expressed purpose of revealing Himself to us. So what can a book that doesn’t even mention His Name teach us about God?

His Sovereignty. His dealing with prideful people. The fact He blesses obedience. And this:

JESUS!

Dr. Wiresbe reminded me God, from the time of Adam and Eve, has proclaimed an edict: Sin requires a death penalty. ALL sin, every sin comes with a deadly price tag whether we think that’s fair or not. And God is not going to revoke that edict.

Every impure thought, every vulgar word, every unkind action, all disobedience condemns you. You’re not going to talk God out of it, either.

Just like the Jews in Esther’s day were condemned to die, we are condemned to an eternity of death, separated from God.  But God provided a way for us to survive. He didn’t revoke the edict – He FULFILLED it! Jesus died so we don’t have to. That was our death sentence Jesus took on Himself.

Now here’s the other thing: The king didn’t write the new edict allowing the Jews to be saved, then lock the paper up in a vault. He sent couriers out into the land to tell the good news to everyone!

We need to be doing that, too. Your neighbor, your brother-in-law, your co-worker might need to know that they have a death sentence hanging over their heads, and that salvation is their’s for the asking! Jesus paid what they cannot pay. And they can have eternal life through the precious blood of their Savior.

Our Holy God cannot rescind the edict. Sin=Death. But Praise God that He Himself provided a way of salvation from the penalty of death my sin requires. I live because Jesus died. Praise God.

He did the same for you!

Nehemiah 1-3; It Starts At Home

The conditions of Jerusalem grieved Nehemiah. His reactions to the news of that great city, reduced to rubble, was to fast and pray. His sorrow was a “sadness of the heart,” as observed by King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah left the comforts of living in the palace of the Persian king, and went to Jerusalem to see what could be done to rectify the situation there. There are so many spiritual truths tucked into this precious book: How to go about beginning a project, how to handle opposition, what a healthy church looks like. This book is rich.

Here’s what came to mind this morning as I thought about these three chapters: So often I hear people lament the condition of the world, the corruption in our government, the immorality, the blatant sin, the disrespect for God in our society. I hear people grieved at the condition of the Church, bemoaning the fact the Church is losing its influence. I believe some are as grieved about the state of things today, as Nehemiah was at the state of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, rallied the people to action, and the job got done. And here’s how:

People took care of the conditions in their own back yards.

Yes, the wall was rubble all around Jerusalem, an overwhelming task for any individual. But each person picked up a shovel and cleaned up the part of the wall closest to them.

Yes, the world is in sad repair. Yes, the task of cleaning it up seems too monumental. But I believe God would have us understand if we want our world repaired, it has to start at home.

You aren’t responsible for the world’s condition. But you are responsible for the condition of your home, which occupies a portion in the world.

Parents, do you hold your children to a Biblical standard of behavior? Kids, do you read the Bible and long to be right before God? Are you obedient? Adults, do you participate in drunkenness, pornography, vulgar language? Are you a watered-down version of what God demands?

Let’s not just shake our heads at the depraved condition of our world. We can change this world, one back yard at a time.

Ezra 4-10; Seriously Seeing Sin

What do you do when you are forced to face a wrong you have done? Do you accept the reprimand thankfully, do you take responsibility, ask forgiveness, and try to rectify the situation? Or do you get angry, place blame elsewhere, or blow it off?

Adam blamed Eve. And for most of us, that is our first inclination, too.

Not so Ezra and the Jews we read about in these chapters. Ezra prayed, and wept, and threw himself down on the ground in front of the temple. He met the truth of sin with agony and sorrow. The Jews followed his example.

With their repentance came drastic action. How do you correct the effects of a grave sin? Do you commit a “lesser” sin to rid yourself of the “greater”?

I’ve read several sources and their’s are varying opinions of the actions taken by the Jews. Some say, “Yes, of course. God commanded they not marry foreign women. Anyway, it was merciful to divorce them. The law provide for stoning them. They got off easy.”

Others say, “No way. God hates divorce. Marriage is forever. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Honestly, I think both sides are right to a degree. Which makes this a very confusing passage in my mind. I notice Scripture does not use the words, “God said…” in reference to this drastic action. It seems to come as a response to a great revival, but not a direct order from God.

And I notice that each case was reviewed individually. Each marriage carefully examined before sentencing. I think that might imply there were some foreign wives who abandoned their idols and worshiped God with their husbands. Those marriages may have survived the cut. (purely my opinion)

What is undeniable is the seriousness with which God looks at sin. God inspired Ezra to name names. Every man who had married a foreign wife is listed here at the end of Ezra’s book. Name after name of the guilty is recorded for us to read thousands of years later.

What this Scripture says to me is that first of all, I need to be careful about going off half-cocked following an encounter with God. I want to be led by the Spirit, and not get ahead of what God is doing in my life.

Secondly, I need to take sin as seriously as God does. Sometimes He requires drastic action to purge sin from our lives. But if we never commit the sin in the first place, the drastic acton won’t be necessary.

Remind me of that truth, Dear Lord. Make me so in tune with You that I recognize sin before I commit it, and run! But when I sin and You point it out through Your Word or through the voice of one of Your children, help me to accept it graciously, and repent. Father, if there is drastic measures You need to take to purge sin from my life, do it. But I’m going to need You to help me every inch of the way. I only know I want to be a woman who sees sin as seriously as You do

2 Chronicles 33-36; There Is No Time Like The Present

A few weeks ago my pastor, who is doing a series of sermons through the Gospel of Mark, shared a heart-felt, heart-wrenching sermon on the unforgivable sin. We all went away from there knowing one of two things: either we would not commit that sin because we have already accepted God’s gift of grace through the blood of Jesus, or we were guilt of that sin because we are rejecting Him.

A couple of days later I was at our Good News Club at a local elementary school. The leader was helping the kids with our memory verse, John 3:16. “Jesus died,” she said, “so that anyone anywhere who believes in Him will be saved, and have eternal life.”

One boy raised his hand. “My pastor says some people run from God. They say, ‘I’ll get saved later. I want to live life my own way first.'” The boy and his family have been attending our church for several weeks. I rejoiced that his youngster understood what he was hearing.

I thought about that as I read the last chapter of 2 Chronicles this morning. Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, a good king who did mostly what was pleasing to God during his reign. But when Manasseh became king, he wasted no time undoing the good his dad had done. Under Manasseh’s leadership, the Jews did more evil than the pagan people around them.

Manasseh eventually quit running from God, humbled himself, and repented. Then, with as much fervor as he’d had doing evil, he began to clean up his mess. He got rid of foreign gods, restored the altar, and told the people to start serving God.

All good things. But his years of defiance took its toll. His son Amon, who became king after Manasseh died, totally defied God his entire reign. Manasseh may have given his life to the Lord, but his son who had lived in his house during Manasseh’s rebellious years, never did. Manasseh had time to clean up the mess he’d made of the nation, but the time to repair the damage he’d done to his son ran out.

Sometimes I think we forget that our influence, our actions and attitudes, effect those closest to us in a very real way, for a very long time. If you are holding anything back from God, don’t think that isn’t effecting the dear ones who live in your home, or who love you and are loved by you.

I certainly hope you aren’t one who is saying, “I’ll get right with God later.” Don’t be living with that unforgivable sin hanging over your head. And for goodness sake, don’t give your children the impression that’s ok. They are watching your example, and learning from you.

Let our loved ones see that NOW is the time to deal with sin, to humble ourselves before God, and accept His forgiveness. Model for your children what a Christian looks like, by the things you do, the places you go, the things you say, the attitudes and passions you have.

There is no time like the present.