Category Archives: Sin

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.

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2 Chronicles 29-32; You Are Invited

King Hezekiah did some house cleaning. He not only rid the temple of any pagan worship, he re-established worship of the One True God. Many Jews tirelessly worked to restore what had been lost due to the disobedience of former kings, and the Jewish ancestors who followed them.

A couple of things stood out to me as I read these chapters this morning. One is the Passover feast was delayed because the priests had not done what they needed to do to consecrate themselves for the work of the Lord. The church leaders seem to have been dragging their feet. Why, when so many Jews were tearing down idols, and getting the temple ready for worship? Why didn’t the priests get ready, too?

We can only guess. Maybe they were working with the people, restoring the temple and just lost track of time. Maybe they were holding off to see how far this transformation would go before it got stopped in its tracks. Maybe they were reluctant to let go of their own idolatry. What we do know is, King Hezekiah was not fooling around. And he did not let the priests off the hook. They eventually went through the consecration requirements so the Passover could be held.

It makes me wonder if, on occasion, our church leaders might not be dragging their feet, too. Even pastors and elders get comfortable. Even pastors and elders can have sin in their lives they aren’t confessing. Could this be one of the reason so many churches in our country are closing their doors?

Now before we start pointing fingers and laying blame, the other thing I noticed is that when the invitation to come to celebrate the first Passover observed in years, some people blew it off and even made fun of the ones who brought the good news. Maybe they thought observing Passover was “old school”, or maybe someone used the word “tradition”, so they turned up their noses.

Once again it would seem the people had become comfortable in their sin, and weren’t about to change. Well, some of them felt that way.

But a large crowd did gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Sacrifices for sin were offered, and God was worshiped like He demands. Thousands of animals were slain, and the feast was extended an additional week. The peoples’ hearts were turned to God, and God blessed them for it.

I can’t help but think of the ones who refused the invitation. Did they care that they were missing God’s blessings? Did it occur to them that they were disobeying God? They received the same invitation everyone else received. They just didn’t accept.

I come away from reading these chapters today with a realization that I have the responsibility and the privilege to extend God’s invitation to the people in my world to come and worship Him. I must first ready myself for the work of the Lord. I need to address sin in my own life, I must allow God to clothe me with Jesus’ righteousness. And I must yield myself to His will, trusting that He will be my strength in the mission.

Then I need to get out there and deliver the invitation, regardless what people might think of me. Yes, I believe Jesus is God in human form, that God has established only one way in which we may come to Him, that Jesus died to pay what my sins demand, and that I am saved completely and eternally through the precious blood of Jesus. It is a gift of God, it’s grace, and it’s mine from a repentant heart.

You might think that’s old school, that you are enlightened so therefore have a more inclusive approach to God. You might snicker and roll your eyes when I tell you you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that your eternal soul will experience the worst possible pain beyond imagine if you refuse the invitation God is extending to you. You might even write me off as a lunatic when I tell you your decision concerning Christ is the single most important thing in your life now and forever.

But I’ll extend the invitation anyway. I pray you’ll join us in worshiping God as His child, saved by grace.

2 Chronicles 25-28; It’s None Of Your Business

Have you ever been obviously blessed by God, and thought, “Wow. I don’t deserve that”? First of all, that should be our response every day. Every breath we breathe, every beat of our hearts, are blessings we don’t deserve.

But I trust you have enjoyed the direct blessings of obedience, too. Maybe God lays on your heart to give sacrificially to your church, then your boss gives you a raise. Or you visit that cranky neighbor when God nudges you, and you have the privilege of leading that person to the Lord. The Bible is full of examples when obedience results in great blessing.

But before you get too satisfied with yourself because of the amazing ways God has blessed you, read 2 Chronicles 28. Israel had just had victory over their brothers in Judah. 120,000 soldiers in Judah were killed, hostages and plunder taken. But the Israeli army, on their way home after God had blessed them so dramatically, were met by the prophet Obed. Listen to what he said to them:

Because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand… But aren’t you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God? (verses 9-10)

In other words, listen up boys. You aren’t “all that.” You were blessed because God was disciplining Judah. Don’t get too comfortable. You are just as guilty as they. And God always punishes disobedience.

Sometimes we might be tempted to be jealous when some jerk seems to get all the breaks, while you struggle. And you’re so much better than he.

What God reminded me today is that I don’t know the whole story like He does. How God is dealing with someone is none of my business. God draws people to Himself through good times, and bad times. And He never lets me in on His methods of the heart.

If I am focused on someone else’s fortune, or if I become too prideful with God’s blessings in my own life, I need to brace myself. Sin is knocking at the door. I’d better confess it, ask God to forgive it, and be the person He wants ME to be. Anything else is none of my business.

 

 

2 Chronicles 14-16; Not A Happy Ending

I hate it when a movie or book ends badly. The star-crossed lovers remain star-crossed, or the hero dies, or Rhett walks away from Scarlett. Have you ever wanted to throw your shoe at the TV or chuck your book into the fireplace? I have. In fact, if I wasn’t holding the Holy Word in my hand, I might want to toss it out the window after reading Asa’s story.

Asa, son of Abijah, king of Judah, was a good king. Asa did what was good and right in the eye of the Lord his God. (14:2) And because of his obedience, no one wanted to go to war with him during three years of his reign. God gave Asa and the Jewish nation rest. The blessings of obedience!

But something happened in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. For whatever reason, King Asa struck out alone, forsaking God. Did he get too comfortable in his relationship with God? Did he become prideful? Was Asa more interested in what people thought than what God demanded?

Scripture doesn’t tell us why. It only tells us this man of God chose badly, and paid consequences for it.

Dear one, guard your heart. Listen to what God told Asa, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” (15:2)

Hear him say the same thing to you today.

2 Chronicles 11-13; Not Blessed

There is a repeated theme in Scripture: Obey God and be blessed. Disobey God and He will remove His blessing.

Rehoboam’s life demonstrates this truth. He and the Jews over which he ruled enjoyed three years of peace and prosperity when they were following God.

But I can almost hear you. “I am a Chrstian. I live for God. I pray. Yet I struggle. Where’s my blessing?”

I’m going to say something you might not want to hear, something you probably already know: God never promised we wouldn’t struggle. In fact, He told us to expect hardship. They hated Him. They persecuted Him. And Jesus said we can expect the same.

Remember our enemy is not flesh and blood. It’s not the landlord who is threatening eviction because you don’t have rent money. It’s not the thug who sells drugs to your daughter, or the boss who refuses to give you the promotion you deserve. Our enemy is Satan who delights in making us miserable.

Satan loves to get our eyes off Jesus, and focused on that person who hurt us, or that difficult situation we are facing. He loves to hear us questioning God, or considering chucking it all and living like the world when the world seems to have it all.

When we read things like Rehoboam’s story we might be tempted to believe a right relationship with God equals easy living. It worked for Rehoboam. Why not me?

Because God wants to give you more than just temporary comfort. What comes out of a right relationship with God? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

You can’t buy that stuff.

When you have that precious relationship with God, you have encouragement like what we find in Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who can be against us?

What about Hebrews 13:5? Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:19, But my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory.

The Bible is filled with promises like these for those of us who have confessed our sin, and accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. However, you might be tempted to say, “It’s easy for you to say, Connie. You had money to pay the bills this month.” And I did.

I know many of you are going through unspeakable hardships. Health issues. Money problems. Family heartache. Persecution. And more. I will not promise you that a right relationship with God will erase the troubles in your life.

But I am suggesting that, even in the midst of the darkest days, you are blessed if you know Jesus. Don’t miss it. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy, or your peace, or your confidence in the One who loves you and gave Himself for you. Don’t let Satan blind you from seeing the ways in which God, who does all things well, is working in your life and is standing with you in your troubles.

And I believe that God will open doors that can bring about a solution to your problem, maybe even perform a miracle on your behalf. You might get an unexpected check in the mail.

Or not. Obedience is not the ticket to getting what you want. It is the ticket to getting what God wants for us.

God delights in blessing us. But He can’t if we hold on to sin. Whether it’s during the days of Rehoboam or today in 2017, obedience = blessed. Disobedience = not blessed.

May we confess our sins, and be blessed.

 

 

2 Kings 21-25; God’s Delight

Jewish history as recorded in the Old testament is full of reports of hard times, disease, wars, famines, slavery. Weren’t these God’s chosen people? Wouldn’t that mean they’d be living on Easy Street?

As I read this morning, my mind kept going to my pastor’s Bible Study from last night’s prayer meeting. We’re going through the Psalms, and last night he spoke on 18:6-19, pointing out three things God delights in:

God delights in our prayers.

God delights in responding to our prayers, answering our prayers.

God delights in me. In you.

So as I read 2 Kings today, it occurred to me that God does NOT delight in punishing His people. Oh, discipline is part of His love for us. He will never turn a blind eye to sin. He rejects those who reject Him.

But He doesn’t like it.

He’d much rather enjoy a relationship with us, pure and holy, as we allow Him to clothe us with Jesus’ purity and holiness, through His blood. When I read the accounts of all the bad kings in Israel, and all the ways God disciplined Israel for disobedience, I find myself feeling bad, not for them, but for God. I’m sorry He had to distance Himself from his disobedient people when He so longed to wrap His arms around them and protect them.

And I am sorry for the times He has had to remove Himself from me because of my own disobedience, for the times I have robbed Him of fellowship with me because of my pride, or my neglect of Him, or some sin I haven’t confessed.

Nothing can separate me from His love. His love is a given. But my sin can separate me from a relationship with the One who loves me and gave Himself for me, from the One who delights in me.

As I thought about last night’s Bible lesson, I was reminded that this month is Pastor’s Appreciation Month, and I hope you make it a point to let your pastors know what it is you appreciate about their ministries. I’ve shared that I am blessed to be a part of two fellowships, one in Georgia, and another in Ohio. And I am blessed to call Pastor Whit and Pastor Bill my pastors.

Both men have blessed me, challenged me, and encouraged me to go deeper into God’s Word through their sermons. Both men have demonstrated examples what it means to be ready and eager to share Jesus with people in our communities.

So, Pastor Bill. I appreciate you. I appreciate your heart for the people of Bellville. I appreciate how much you do for our little fellowship, how available you are, and how true to God’s Word you are. Your time in God’s Word speaks to my heart every time I am privileged to hear you share what God lays on your heart. I pray for you and Kris, and for your ministry. May you see the fruit of your efforts in a mighty way, and may God be glorified. I know that is the prayer of your heart.

Pastor Whit, I appreciate you. You inspire me to find ways to share Jesus. I appreciate how you take us verse by verse through the Bible, even those hard passages. I appreciate how God’s Word excites you. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I pray for you and Wendy and the kids, as you serve our Lord on this island. (I love how you love our island!) And I pray that God will continue to guide you as you lead our fellowship into this building  project. May we not just grow a building, but enlarge the church for Jesus sake. I know that is your prayer, too.

Pray for your pastors, and not just because it’s Pastors Appreciate Month. When I read God’s Word I am reminded how important leadership is, not just in nations, but in our fellowships as well. God blesses obedience. Pray that your pastor will be obedient. God blesses true worship. Pray that your pastor will lead you to worship God in Spirit and Truth. God blesses the humble. Pray that your pastor will continue to humble himself before the Lord. Pray for your pastor’s relationship with God.

Pray that God will use your pastor to speak to your own heart, to encourage your own obedience, to prompt you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with lost souls.

And may our fellowships be those which God can delight in as we pray, as we recognize answers to our prayers and give Him the glory, and as we serve Him out of grateful hearts. Remember God delights in YOU. God wants to bless YOU, God wants to fellowship with YOU. He would rather not have to discipline you.

May we delight in the One who delights in us. He certainly deserves it.

 

 

2 Kings 14-16; In Deference

As I continue to read through the history of kings, I notice some repeating themes. Like I said the other day, most of the kings follow in their fathers’ footsteps. Good kings influenced good kings, bad kings influenced bad kings.

It seems those who took on the position of a Jewish king may have had a death wish. Whether they reigned two weeks or twenty years, someone was always plotting to kill them and steal the throne.

Good kings followed God in varying degrees. Bad kings didn’t follow Him at all.

We get to King Ahaz in these chapters today. He was not a good king, even though his father Jotham had been. Scripture tells us Ahaz made a treaty with the Assyrians, sworn enemies of God’s people. We read that Ahaz remodeled the Temple, removed the basins, the canopy, and the royal entryway, he moved the walls and the Sea, “in deference to the king of Assyria.”

“When you show deference to someone, you make a gesture of respect. The noun deference goes with the verb defer, which means ‘to yield to someone’s opinions or wishes out of respect for that person.'” (Vocabulary.com)

Has the Church made a treaty with the enemy? Look at what has been removed from our places of worship: altars, pulpits, Bible reading, hymns, organs, steeples, pews, the list goes on. We’ve remodeled our sanctuaries much like Ahaz remodeled his.

I read this invitation this morning: “If you are looking for a spiritual home that is full of love, acceptance of all, and truly tolerant of all beliefs, ask me about…”

I think too many churches have removed sin from their vocabulary, they don’t talk about God’s holiness and His righteous judgment. They’ve removed so much of what makes the Church God’s house, in deference to whom? Non-christians? Christians who want to feel good about going to a Sunday service without the responsibility of living a separate life during the week? Satan?

It’s time to break our treaty with the enemy, and defer to God instead. God who is Holy, Fierce, Unchanging, who went to the cross because of sin; God who accepts those who accept Jesus, and rejects those who reject Him.

Holy God, I thank you for pastors and churches who are standing on the Truth of Scripture. I thank you for congregations of people who are not afraid to resist trends and political correctness. Bless their fellowships in a mighty way. I pray for those who are caught up in the treaty between your people and the enemy. Convict hearts, Lord. Drive us to our knees. And may Your people worship You in spirit and in Truth, according to Your Word. Then, Father, enable us to get out there and do what You intend the Church to do, introduce lost souls to their Savior, Jesus Christ.