Tag Archives: forgiveness of sin

I Kings 9-12; Golden Calves in 2017

Jeroboam could have been a great king, on the order of King David. (11:38-39) God was giving this son of a slave the kingdom, and would have blessed him… IF.

Jeroboam did become king over ten Jewish tribes. And even though God had handed him the throne and promised to bless him, Jeroboam seems to have doubted God could or would pull through.

Jerusalem was located in a part of the nation still ruled by Solomon’s son, the rightful heir. Now it was time for the people to go to Jerusalem for the feasts God had commanded them to celebrate. Jeroboam was afraid if his people went back to Jerusalem to worship, they would switch their allegiance to King Rehoboam.

So the first thing Jeroboam did as king was to make two gold calves, place them in convenient spots for the people, and declare that the statues were their gods to be worshiped. “Why go all the way to Jerusalem when you can worship in your own back yards? Does it really matter who you worship so long as your worship is sincere?”

Well, for one, God commanded the people to worship in Jerusalem. Two, gold calves never have and never will hear your prayers. And thirdly, the worship of anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a sin.

Now here’s what makes me sad about this story: the people went along with Jeroboam’s plan. They worshiped the idols on the same day, in the same manner God had instituted for His people. Their’s looked like the worship services going on in Jerusalem. But their worship was meaningless. And Jeroboam’s shortcut, and the people’s acceptance made God really mad.

Is this a picture of the church in 2017? The name “Christian” is worn by many who go to a service every Sunday morning. They sing songs and hymns, hear a lecture based on a Bible verse, get a pat on the back, and forget it all until the next Sunday.  Folks, there is no shortcut to God.

Here’s the Truth: Sin is keeping you from God. Sin: anything you think, do, or say that doesn’t please Him, stands between you and a Holy God who demands holiness of us.

Sin and God cannot exist together. It’s like trying to unite two magnets by their north poles. Ain’t gonna happen.

I can say with confidence if you attend a fellowship that doesn’t talk about sin, that doesn’t call sin sin, and doesn’t preach forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, you are looking at a gold calf. Get. Out. Now.

True worship of God was never designed for your convenience, or for your delicate sense of self. Worship is about God, and there are no shortcuts to worship that He recognizes, no shortcuts that He will bless.

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I am back home after Hurricane Irma, and the extent of the damage to my property is a smashed mailbox. I don’t know why God spared me again. I am humbled and grateful, as I realize how many people lost everything, including loved ones. Please continue to pray for those effected by Harvey and Irma, and pray for our country that we might come together, and that Jesus will be glorified.

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Joshua 22-24; God’s Compassionate Discipline

When you feel the sting of God’s discipline, do you ever consider it a sign of His compassion? 3:1 tells us God allowed the enemy nations to live with the Jews in Canaan “to teach warfare” to His children. Living among the enemy would require skills, stamina, and strategies. God, because He loved them, wanted them prepared to battle.

Maybe you’re like me and think it sure would be nice if, when a person becomes a Christian, God would just straighten out the path, remove all sickness and heartache, and make life a bed of roses. But that’s not realistic. As long as we continue to have the ability to choose, we will choose sin once in a while. That’s how we are wired.

Think about it. God shows His compassion every time we sin, and He doesn’t kill us. He shows His compassion when He disciplines us, refines us through the fire, so that we can have fellowship with Him instead of being cut off from Him.

The next time you identify sin as the reason you are going through a difficulty, thank God. Our compassionate Father is giving you a chance to get right with Him.

I think of the beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace.” The second verse says that it was God’s grace that taught us to fear Him, and it’s the same grace that erases our fear of Him. How amazing is that?

God is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalm 145:8)

Thank you, God, for loving me enough to discipline me, to prepare me to battle my enemy Satan, for giving me opportunities to confess sin and accept your amazing grace. You are worthy of my praise, no matter what circumstances I find myself in. You love me more than I can comprehend. I worship You.

Deuteronomy 16-17; Bread of Affliction

Moses, in 16:3, called unleavened bread, “the bread of affliction.” Remember, the Jews were to eat only unleavened bread during Passover. The bread was to remind them about their ancestors’ time of slavery in Egypt, and how God told them to flee Egypt in haste.

As a non-Jew, I don’t think I’ve given enough attention to that symbolism as it applies to my own life in 2017. I don’t know about you, but there are just some things I’d rather forget. So why were the Jews commanded to remember the darkest time in their history, the days of affliction and slavery? And is this suggesting I remember my own darkest days, the days I was a slave to sin?

I think there are two reasons why this is exactly the case:

1.  If we don’t remember our mistakes, we take the risk of repeating them. “History repeats itself” is sadly true way too often.

2.  Remembering my past sins helps me to recognize what a great salvation is mine through the blood of Jesus, and how far I’ve come with Him since I asked Him to forgive me.

But didn’t Paul say, “Forgetting what lies behind…”? So which is it? Are we to remember the past or forget it?

Yes.

There is a difference between remembering the past, and living there. As awful as the things I did in my past, I don’t want to just forget them and pretend they never happened. I don’t want to ever do those things again. But I don’t want to continue to beat myself up for things God’s forgiven me for, either. That’s why Paul said he lets the past live in the past, but then he presses on toward the goal of knowing Jesus today.

I want my relationship with my Savior to be a realistic one. That’s why I have those memories of past sins, to recognize how much it cost Him to pay for each and every one. I want to live my life out of gratitude for so great a salvation. And I want to remember what being separated from Him because of my sin felt like, so I never go back to those dark days.

The Old Testament Jews were told to leave Egypt quickly, and completely. They weren’t told to go back, or even to revisit their place of captivity. But they were also told never to forget what it was like to live back there.

I am reminded Jesus called Himself, the Bread of Life. No longer the bread of affliction. He is the life-giver, the sin-forgiverer, the One who redeems by past and makes something beautiful out of my ugliness.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me today what it was like to live in “Egypt.” A slave to sin, with no hope. A woman condemned to life and eternity without You. And thank You for being the Bread of Life, who has forgiven me for every sin that I’ve committed, who sees me as Your child, Your friend. I am in awe. I am humbled. And I am grateful for what Jesus did for even me, as He hung on that cross. May I never forget what it cost Him, may I never forget where I’ve been, and may I never go back there. I give you my past, and press on toward the future with You, my Savior and my Lord.

 

 

 

Numbers 28-30; Old Testament Sacrifices and Jesus

I’m sure I say this every time I read passages describing the required Old Testament sacrifices but… there was so much blood! Thirteen bulls one day, twelve the next, then eleven, etc. Not to mention two rams and four lambs a day for a week. Oh, and don’t forget the daily goat sacrifice.

That’s a lot of blood being shed there at the temple.

We talked about the cross yesterday in Sunday School. Jesus did what the blood of millions of bulls could not do. His precious blood was shed once and for all. He laid down his life willingly, intentionally, painfully, and gloriously for the forgiveness of every sin every person has ever committed or will commit.

“It is finished,” He cried. Debt paid. Period.

All the requirements of Old Testament sacrifices were fulfilled in that one amazing act. The Old Testament sacrifices paint a picture of what Jesus did there on the cross. Sin is serious business. The consequence for sin is death, and without the shedding of blood God cannot forgive sin.

Praise Jesus! His blood was shed so that you and I can know the freedom that comes from accepting His grace, receiving the forgiveness He bought, and walking with the God of Creation, having Him living right in us.

Thanking God for the cross today.

 

Leviticus 2-4; Many To One

Maybe it’s because we are approaching Easter. But I can’t help but think of Jesus as I read the instructions for the Old Testament Jews’ sacrifices for sins. The yeast, the oil, the lamb without defect, the blood.

So much blood.

The sinner had to lay his own sacrifice on the altar. And so do I. My godly mother’s faith couldn’t save me. I had to obey God myself.

The dear people in the Old Testament had to repeat those sacrifices year after year. There were many, many sacrifices made on those altars. But Jesus fulfilled the requirements for the forgiveness of sin with His own precious blood.

Jesus became my sacrifice that day He hung on the cross.  One perfect sacrifice.

I am overcome with love and gratitude for my Savior.

September 30 – God Hates

Malachi

The Lord declares, “I have loved Jacob, and hated Esau.” Yet Jesus Himself said God loves the whole world and forgives whoever believes in Him. How can the God who claims to love everyone say He hates anyone?

Esau and Jacob were both the sons of Isaac. In fact, they were twin sons. Was God’s choice to love one and hate the other an arbitrary choice? Was Esau doomed to be hated from the start? Were Esau’s descendants considered God’s enemies just because they were Esau’s descendants?

Here’s what I know about God who is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL people come to Him:

Jacob and Esau started out on equal footing. One chose to obey God, the other chose his own route. God would have us know He loves those who follow Him. But He views those who reject Him as His enemies. He hates them.

That’s something I don’t like thinking about, much less saying outloud. I am devastated thinking there are people I love who are hated by God. He’s that serious about disobedience. People who reject Him are God’s enemies.

But they don’t have to continue in the hate column. Jesus died to bridge the gap, to provide a way for us to get from the category of Enemy of God, to Child of God. We can’t go from one to the other on our own. We are enemies of God by virtue of unforgiven sin. We can only be God’s beloved by repenting, by being forgiven by the one we have sinned against, by accepting God’s grace through the blood of Jesus.

God, who throws a blanket of love over the world, woos and pokes and prods his enemies in order to get them to come to Him. He works tirelessly to draw all people to Himself so that He can forgive them, and demonstrate His love in a personal way.

Esau could have been loved by God just as much as Jacob was IF he had turned from sin and obeyed God. The same can be said of us. That’s why it is so important that we who know the Savior be telling others about Him, and leading them to the loving arms of their Savior, too.

 

August 6 – God’s Anger

Nahum

Nahum begins his oracle by telling us how jealous, vengeful, and angry God is. Nothing PC about that these days when we’d rather talk about God’s love. Nahum tells us the Lord “will by no means leave the guilty go unpunished.” (1:3)

Some of us, when we hear that think, “Good! ISIS will get what they deserve. Homosexuals, atheists, Michigan fans (ok, it’s a joke. I’m from Ohio and it’s almost football season) will get what’s coming to them. I hope they suffer!”

But God is talking about you, too. He won’t let any of YOUR sins go unpunished, either. But, you say, “I’m not a terrorist, haven’t committed adultery or stolen anything big. I’m a nice guy, a good neighbor, a church goer.” That may be well and good. Except for the fact that the Bible says ALL have sinned, ALL have fallen short of God’s standard of holiness. And, dear one, you are included in ALL.

You have sinned. That makes you guilty. And God has said more than once that He will not let the guilty go unpunished. sin=guilt=punishment.

Period.

Scripture tells us that Jesus felt the extent of God’s wrath, He took on Himself God’s vengeance, and went willingly to the cross to take your punishment because YOU ARE GUILTY. God was angry at YOU for the sins you commit. But He took His anger out on His guiltless Son instead.

Oh, you don’t have to accept His forgiveness. (Not sure why you’d want to face God’s wrath on your own, though) But rest assured that your sins demand God’s wrath. Your sins.

My prayer is that you’ll accept what Jesus did for you when He felt the pain of the Father’s anger toward you. There is no reason why you need to feel that anguish or pay that price when it’s already been done for you. And all you have to do is ask God to forgive you, to repent and let God change you.

He will. And then, instead of His anger, you’ll really understand His love!