Tag Archives: consequences for sin

Ezekiel 21-25; What We Deserve

One thing about God is, as patient and loving as He is, there is a limit to what He will take from us. Sin in our world, in our country, our homes, our churches, our hearts will not go unpunished. And God, through Ezekiel’s example, tells us to quit whining about it.

God is a righteous Judge. And we’re only getting what we deserve:

“I the Lord have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct, and your actions,” declares the Sovereign Lord. (Ezekiel 24:14)

Yes, I know this was written to the flesh and blood nation of Israel during Ezekiel’s lifetime. But what makes us think God has changed His position concerning sin in 2018?

Another thing about God is, as right as He is to pass judgment, as justified as He is to punish us, He is still willing to forgive. Not just willing, but longing to forgive. And He Himself took on His own severe punishment so we wouldn’t have to.

If we repent.

Repentance isn’t just a quick, “I’m sorry,” to hear, “Oh, that’s okay.” It’s not an apology with no intention of changing. Repentance involves drastic change.

It’s not just putting idols in a closet, but destroying them never to bring them out ever again. It’s denying sin in any form, resisting the devil, fleeing youthful lusts. It’s living without even the appearance of evil. It’s a choice every day to die to self and live for God.

Doesn’t it feel as though our world is on the brink of a great disaster? The examples in the Bible tell me that’s not what God wants, but what our sin demands.

So, dear one – QUIT SINNING! Quit condoning sin, or ignoring it. Quit giving lip-service to worship and start obeying God with every step you take.

If we don’t, and judgment comes, we’d best not cry about how hard life has become. It’s only what we deserve.

Ezekiel 6-10; Know that God is the LORD

When I read about the devastation that God’s children were about to face, I can get caught up in the brutality of it all. God was relentless in His discipline of His disobedient people. But I’m reminded that the discipline, the severe consequences for their sin isn’t really the point.

I was struck at the number of times God said these awful things were going to happen so the people would KNOW that He is the Lord.

Friend, there are severe consequences for sin. There is no getting around it. But God would rather you see Him. He reveals Himself in those hard times. But He also reveals Himslef in nature, in blessings, in the beauty of life, in His written Word. And the God I know would rather you see Him in the good times, recognize Him as the One True God, and make Him Lord of your life before He has to punish you. He would much rather bless you as His child.

Read God’s Word. Get to know Him. Look for the ways He is trying to get your attention. Then bow before Him, obey Him, and allow Him to pour out His blessings on you.

The alternative is devastating.

Jeremiah 32-34; Freedom, Part 2

A couple thousand people gathered at the pier last night to watch the colorful – and loud – fireworks display over the Atlantic Ocean, celebrating our nation’s freedom. Live music, glow sticks, bubbles, laughter, and the aroma of hamburgers on the grill made it a fun evening. We do have a lot to celebrate in this country.

Yesterday as I read God’s Word, I was reminded of the freedom we Christians have in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin! We have reason to celebrate!

But today as I continued to read in Jeremiah, I am reminded of another freedom that gives us reason to grieve. 34: 17 says:

…So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord – ‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine…

That freedom doesn’t sound very fun. And God wants us to know it really isn’t. God goes on to tell Jeremiah that there are severe consequences to we who have the freedom to choose God, but ignore or disobey Him. He gave us the freedom to choose. He did not give us the freedom to decide on the outcome of our choices.

It’s like, as an adult I have the freedom to smoke if I want to. I do not have the freedom to decide whether or not I get lung cancer. I have the freedom to carry a gun. But if I use it to rob a bank, I don’t have the freedom to decide whether or not I go to jail.

There is always a flip side to freedom. Maybe we are seeing that played out in 2018 America. Freedom without responsibility seems to be destroying us.

Our God-given ability to choose is a precious thing. He wants us to choose Him. But He won’t take away our freedom to make that choice for ourselves. That’s up to us. But know, without a doubt, that choosing to follow God comes with blessing. Choosing to follow anything else comes with devastating consequences God would rather you didn’t experience.

You’re free to do what you want. So is God.

Jeremiah 11-15; Should We Stop Praying?

I hate what’s happening in the United States. I feel like we’re riding inside a snowball, bounding down a  mountain, picking up speed, and getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s out of control. So many mindless people are joining this self-entitled, hate-filled movement. It’s scary.

I thought it was interesting that God told Jeremiah there is a conspiracy among His people. (11:9) I think there is today, too. Satan is conspiring to destroy us every bit as much as he was working to destroy God’s people then. And he uses people to do his bidding. Don’t laugh at the very real possibility that there is an intentional movement in our country today to undermine Truth. And it’s working.

Here’s an important warning. Look at verse 18:

Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me… (emphasis mine)

Jeremiah himself was being led astray. Jeremiah, the prophet of God was falling for the seemingly innocent plan of the wicked. So many people today are being led to the slaughter, and give about as much thought to where they are going as a sheep, just following the crowd.

I am burdened for our country, as was Jeremiah burdened for his. I pray God will lift the veil, that people will see their sin and be appalled by the things they’ve done. I pray that sinners will repent, that Satan will be defeated, that people will stop and think before allowing themselves to be led down a path that will lead to destruction, and I pray that this country will take a bold stand for the truth of Scripture.

But then I read in Jeremiah and hear God say, “Don’t bother praying for these people. I’m not listening. I’m done. And it’s time for them to pay for rejecting me.” (11:14)

Then He says it again three chapters later! (14:11)

What does Jeremiah do in response? He keeps praying. And so will I.

I still believe God is not willing that anybody die without knowing His Son Jesus. I still believe John 3:16-17. I still believe 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

You might ask, what can one person do? That verse is the answer for those of us who are called by Christ Jesus’ name:

  1. Humble yourself.
  2. Pray without ceasing.
  3. Seek God every day by reading His Word.
  4. Repent of sin in your life.

And here’s what God promises He’ll do:

  1. He’ll hear you.
  2. He’ll forgive you.
  3. He’ll heal our land.

We deserve God’s punishment. He has every right to hate us for the way we treat Him. I don’t blame Him if He’s done with us like He was done with His children in Jeremiah’s day. But as long as I have breath, I will beg Him to have mercy. I will plead with Him to soften hearts, to bring about revival in His Church, to accomplish what He wants to do in the hearts of those who do not yet know Him.

Please, don’t stop praying.

 

 

Judges 9; What Will People Say?

Abimelech was not a nice guy. Not only did he weasel his way into become king, he hired some low-lifes to be his muscle. I guess he gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Then to top it off, he killed his seventy brothers, one at a time, gruesomely, and very publicly. You didn’t mess with Abimelech. Violence accompanied his “reign.” They were into idol worship, leaving God entirely out of their lives.

Now here’s what spoke to me today: When Abimelech was dying, his only thought was, “What will people say about me?” The most important thing to him as he entered eternity was that no one could say he’d been killed by a girl. No regret for an evil life. No repentance. Just what will people say?

Sometimes I think we give too much thought about what people think about us. We have to be politically correct, we want to blend in, we don’t point out sin for fear someone won’t like us. And there are some who live like Abimelech, as though they have no eternal souls, as though there is no God to whom they will be accountable.

Abimelech’s story is tragic. And right this minute, he is living a horrible consequence for his choices made thousands of years ago. He now knows that living a sinful, ego driven life isn’t worth it. Oh, he believes in a Holy God right now. But it’s too late.

Friend, where are your priorities? Are they made with an eye on people, or position, or lifestyle? Or are they made with an eye on eternity?

Because in eternity it won’t matter what people are saying about you. It will only matter what God says about your relationship with Him.

September 11 – A Lesson From Former Priests

Ezekiel 44-45

The Levites were sinful men. Some of them had done things that resulted in God’s taking away their positions as priests. In this life, they had to bear their shame for the sins they committed. Yet God gave them other responsibilities in the care of the temple and the temple services.

All of us bear the marks of the sins we have committed. Some of us publicly bear the shame and embarrassment of past choices. Broken marriages, addictions, abortions, and the like never go away. We remember. Others remember.

And sometimes those sins can exclude us from certain parts of ministry. But I am thankful that God doesn’t just write us off.

God has things for us to do in service to Him. He forgives every sin we bring to Him and dresses us with Jesus’ righteousness before the Father. So if that particular sin we’ve committed excludes us from serving as a deacon, we can serve as a grounds keeper. We can visit the sick, or care for widows. If our past prevents us from being a pastor, we might help with the food outreach or keep track of the church finances.

I know there will be some who disagree with me on this. Doesn’t God forgive and wash us clean? Absolutely! We are whiter than snow before our Holy God when He sees us through the blood of His Son.  I think of Matthew, a dishonest tax collector, or Paul, a killer of Christians, both of whom served God in incredible ways after they met Jesus. I am forever thankful for that fact.

A murderer still faces the consequence for that murder, even if he or she comes to the Savior while behind bars. They are free from the law of sin and death. But they are not free to walk out of that prison. A child who was aborted does’t automatically come to life when the parent confesses that sin. People hurt by the actions of an addict don’t automatically heal just because the addict asked God to forgive him or her. Sometimes we just have to live with consequences for sin.

But that’s not an excuse to quit serving. Ezekiel tells us the former priests took on other responsibilities to keep the ministry of the temple running. They could no longer serve as priests because of the sins they had committed, so they got busy serving in other ways.

I guess I’m just suggesting that, if your church fellowship feels led to take away a ministry you’ve participated in, don’t get mad and walk away. Find some other way to serve. Serving God is not about you, anyway.

 

June 20 – Parenting 101

Ecclesiastes 7-12

Just reading over these chapters doesn’t do justice to the wisdom here. I find the book of Ecclesiastes to be one I need to read slowly, and take time to digest it all. I don’t have the time, or even the desire, to dissect every verse on this blog. But I would like to share one verse that God used to get my attention today.

Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I guess I am still thinking about parents and parenting. Here is God’s advice for parents, given through Solomon in 8:11:

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to evil.

1) Don’t do that. 2) I told you not to do that. 3) How many times do I have to tell you to stop? 4) If you do that again, I’m going to spank you. 5) Do you want a spanking? 6) Did you hear me? 7) I’m tired of telling you to stop. 8) Stop!

Sound familiar? Your child willfully disobeys you. Not once, eight times in this example. And what you’ve taught your child is that they can break your rules eight times before they have to obey. Sometime your child learns they never have to obey because your threats are meaningless.

WHAT YOU ALLOW, YOU TEACH. Not only does the guilty child learn that lesson, so does everyone within hearing distance.

Look at the crime rate here in the US compared to countries that hand down swift and harsh punishment for breaking the law. What you allow, you teach.

Parents, it is your responsibility to raise children who are not “given fully to evil,”  as Solomon says. How you discipline your child for disobedience makes all the difference in the world.

And it’s a lesson your child just might take into eternity. It’s that important.