Category Archives: The Gospel

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.

Job 8-10; Bildad

Now Job hears from another friend whose intent is to help Job through this difficult time. Eliphaz had talked to Job about sin. Bildad’s theme is more about God’s justice.

Bildad’s argument includes examples from nature about God’s order. Cause and effect. God, who created an orderly world, is right in his dealing with men. Sin=Punishment. Sinlessness=Blessing.

Job’s reply? You’re right, Bildad. “But how can a mortal man be righteous before God?” (9:2) The best, the smartest of us have no defense before a Holy God. None of us is innocent.

The Creator has no equal. His holiness renders us defenseless. And our finite minds will never understand Him.

Job, in his despair, is ready to give up trying.

Bildad tells Job to buck up, put on a smile, things will get better. Job tells him that putting a smile on his face would make him a hypocrite. His grief is real and unrelenting.

Some of you have been there, may be at that point now. I don’t want you to miss the precious truth found in 9:29-35. Job longs for a helper, someone who can bridge the gap between God and himself. He knows he can’t do it. He might not be the worst guy on the planet, but Job knew he could not approach Holy, Righteous, Creator God.

If only…

Friend, we have that One who touches God and touches us. One who can remove God’s “rod” from us. His Name is Jesus!

If we truly saw ourselves as Job saw himself, as helpless, hopeless sinners accountable to the God of Creation, we’d feel exactly like Job felt. You have no standing before God. I certainly don’t. You deserve hell. And so do I.

But Jesus.

Job longed for the One who is standing next to you, arms opened wide, ready to accept you as you surrender to Him.

Do it!

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!

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.

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.