Tag Archives: forgiveness

2 Kings 6-8; The “Eyes” Have It

Roman philosopher Cicero said, “The face is a picture of the mind, as the eyes are its interpreter.” The French have a saying, “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.” We’ve all heard it said, “The eye is a window to the soul.” Even Jesus spoke to this in Matthew 6:22&23 when he said, “The light of the body is the eye…”

My dad was a great story teller. But the older I got, and the more I heard his tales, the more I was able to recognize the truth or fiction in what he was saying by the twinkle in his eyes.

Have you ever run into someone and asked the question everyone asks, “How are you,” hear them say “Fine,” like everyone always says, but can see in their eyes they are anything but fine? There really is something about the eyes, isn’t there?

God uses “eyes” several times in the chapters I read today. The first is found in 6:16-17. The king of Aram is out to get Elisha. The prophet and his servant, fearful for their lives, are hiding out in Dotham. When the servant steps out the door, he panics when he sees they are surrounded by the Aramean army. Elisha tells the servant not to be afraid. Then he prays that God would open this man’s eyes. What the servant saw then was God’s own army, horses and chariots of fire, enveloping Elisha, ready to defeat Elisha’s enemy.

Are you facing a battle that threatens to defeat you? Are you panicked at the impossibility of victory when you look at the hopelessness of your situation? Ask God to open your eyes, that you might see glimpses of truth He has for you. He might reveal His Power and Presence in any number of ways. But if you are His child, and if you ask Him, I believe He will give you the assurance you need. He did for Elisha’s servant.

The second time “eyes” are mentioned is in the very next verse. The Aramean army is at the door, unaware that God’s army is also there. Elisha didn’t pray that God would destroy them. He prayed that God would blind them. And He did. As a result, the army was rendered useless for battle.

Then, and I love this, Elisha led them to their salvation. The man they would have killed, took them out of danger (away from the army of God set to do battle – and we know who would have won that one), and led them to dinner before releasing them.

No one died that day.

Friend, non believers ARE blind. Many hate us because of our love of God, and devotion to Jesus. And some would rather see us dead than hear what we have to say.

First of all, I think God would have us know His army is surrounding us, ready to fight our enemy, to give us victory over those who would do us harm. But I also think He wants to remind us that He wants to save them, too, that Jesus died for them as much as He did for us, and that anyone who believes in Him will be saved. God wants us to lead them to the cross.

If Elisha had fought that day, people would have died with no hope. But because Elisha asked God to blind them, he was able to lead them to the place where their lives were spared. Remember Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, turn the other cheek, do good to those who mistreat us, and make disciples (you do know He didn’t tell us to go into the world and pick out just nice people to make disciples of, don’t you?)

Another reference to “eyes” is found in 7:21. This time it’s a sad message. The army officer questioned God’s power. Oh, he eventually witnessed that power up close and personal. But he wasn’t allowed to share in the blessing.

I am reminded that at the Name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. For some it will be too late to receive the blessings of heaven. That truth breaks my heart. I can imagine how it effect’s God’s.

8:11 refers to “eyes” again. This time it was a gaze that bore right into Hazael’s soul, and caused him to be embarrassed. Elisha looked deep into Hazael’s eyes and saw the evil there, and Hazael knew Elisha wasn’t fooled by his outward behavior.

I think some people don’t want to get too close to God for that very reason. They’d much rather live their lives concealing the truth within their evil hearts, than looking into God’s eyes and know He sees that truth. They go through life avoiding eye contact with God, as though if they ignore Him, He won’t see what they are hiding. They can fool people into believing they’re ok, but try looking into God’s eyes. That’s a different story.

People who study human behavior say that, generally speaking, you can tell if people are lying by watching their eyes, you can recognize fear, love, anger, joy by the brightness and shape of their eyes. Eyes just might actually be a window into our souls.

So, what are your eyes saying about you today? Have you allowed God to reveal His Presence in your life? Can you see His hand at work, are you praying and seeing answers to your prayers? Are you assured that He is right beside you, ready to help you defeat Satan?

Or are you walking around blind, hoping someone will lead you to salvation? Do you question, or are you rejecting God’s Truth? Understand that rejection, that unbelief may be leading you to an eternity without hope.

Are you avoiding God because you know His gaze will make you face your sinfulness? Dear one, that same gaze will assure you of His love and forgiveness if you ask Him.

This is my prayer for you; that you will look forward to the day when you look into the eyes of Jesus Himself, and see His love and acceptance because you accepted Him as your Savior while you were on this earth.

Those are the eyes I am anxious to see!

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1 Kings 1-2; You Can Fool Some Of The People…

I’m always impressed when I read how David handled the bully Shimei as recorded in 2 Samuel 16. He ignored the mean things Shimei did and said. Then, in chapter 19 we see Shimei coming back to the king, asking him not to hold that whole bullying thing against him. David promised he wouldn’t kill him. And the bullying seems to have stopped.

But now David is at the end of his life. Solomon is king. And we read in 1 Kings 2 the advice David gives his son. I have to say I was a bit surprised that David included Shimei in his list of people for Solomon to beware of. He even told Solomon not to consider Shimei innocent, and suggested Solomon “bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.” That’s harsh.

What is it about Shimei that I’m not seeing? He said he was sorry, didn’t he? I went back to read 2 Samuel 19:16-20. What I notice is an admission of guilt, and a request that David let bygones be bygones. “Just forget it,” Shimei seems to say.

I think I’m seeing a “Sorry” on the level of a child being forced to apologize for hitting his sister, followed by an unspoken, “Not.” The words are there. But was Shimei’s heart in it? Evidently David didn’t think so.

God does let us into Shimei’s real character as we read in 1 Kings 2:36ff. Shimei agreed to terms set forth by King Solomon. But as soon as it suited him, Shimei reneged. Rules just don’t apply to you, do they, Shimei? Solomon ended up teaching Shimei the ultimate lesson.

As I sit here and think about old Shimei, I asked God what He would say to us through him today. I thought about the number of times I’ve gone to God and asked forgiveness for a sin I knew I’d commit again. I thought about apologies I’ve made to get myself out of trouble, not necessarily because I was truly sorry for what I’d done. The words were there. But my heart wasn’t in it.

David wasn’t fooled by Shimei’s confession. And God is never fooled by mine.

When I was a child there was a kids’ show on TV. The host ended every program with the words: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time. But you can’t fool Mom.

Well, moms, you know that probably isn’t always true. But, dear one, rest assured we might fool each other with right words, but God sees our heart.

And He is never fooled.

_______________________

We are still waiting for Hurricane Irma to do its worse on the coast of Georgia. Do you want to hear the good news first, or the bad? Good news is that the eye of the storm looks like it will stay far enough to the west that our part of the world will be spared the brunt of the storm. Still expecting heavy rain and wind, with some flooding. Some trees are already down according to reports. Thats the good news. The bad news? I decided to evacuate to a small town just east of Atlanta, directly in the projected path of Irma. I think she’s following me.

In reality, this storm is nothing to joke about. There are millions of people who are being impacted by this deadly force. Please continue to pray. May God have mercy.

I Samuel 15-16; The Problem With Interior Decorating

Saul was King of Israel. Remember the handsome, tall young man who looked exactly how everyone thought a king should look? The Bible says no one was his equal. (9:2)

Even though this same hunk hid from Samuel because he was afraid. He still looked the part.

But when Saul had an encounter with God,  God changed Saul’s heart. No longer cowardly, Saul prophesied when the Spirit of God came upon him in power. (10:10) Saul became a fearless warrior, a formidable leader of the Jews.

Several times in Scripture we see where the Spirit of God came upon him, and Saul obeyed. But we also see evidence that the change in Saul didn’t go very deep. It didn’t overcome the temptation to feel self-sufficient, and we see Saul’s gradual decline from being God’s anointed king, to being a man who God will reject.

In chapter 15 we read where Saul is given the opportunity to repent of sin. Samuel confronts Saul with the evidence of his sin, but Saul only gives Samuel the lame excuse, “they made me do it.” Then Saul makes matters worse when he says, “I kind of disobeyed, but my intentions were good. I was going to give the best of the spoils to God.”

Neither excuse could balance the guilt of his sin. So Saul, knowing he’d blown it before God, says, “I have sinned. But please, Samuel, honor me in front of the people.”

Oh Saul. That was bad enough. But did you have to go on and say, “so that I may worship the Lord YOUR God”? Wasn’t He your God, too?

I’m going to try not to judge Saul’s heart except through the evidence we see in Scripture. Saul’s heart had been changed, even to the point where the Bible says he was changed into a different person. (10:6) God was with him in a very visible way. But by the end of chapter 13, God had rejected him, the kingdom taken away from Saul because of disobedience.

I like watching renovation shows on TV. Sometimes the changes in the remodeled homes is amazing. Run-down houses get a makeover that transforms them into modern, beautiful homes.

But as I watch these shows I realize that there is a difference between cosmetic and structural changes. You can put paint on rotting wood. It will make it look nicer. But it won’t fix the problem, and the rotting will continue beneath the paint.

Fixing the problem often means tearing down walls and rebuilding from the ground up.

If I can use this analogy in Saul’s life, it would appear that Saul allowed God to do a cosmetic change in his life. The change was real. It just didn’t go very deep. In the end, God turned His back on His anointed one. The Spirit of God left him. (16:14)

I pray that you have had an encounter with God that has changed your life. But I would ask you to consider how that change has effected you. Have you allowed God to get in there and tear down walls, to eliminate the rot, to fix the problem of sin in your life?

Or have you only submitted just enough to God so that you look better to other people?

I pray that all of us will turn ourselves over to God 100%. Because how we look on the outside is meaningless unless we have been changed from the inside. I don’t want God just to be my Interior Designer. I want a total rehab, overhauled, made brand new through the blood of His precious Son, Jesus Christ.

Joshua 8-10; Wax or Clay?

The Israelites had a reputation in Canaan. Or rather, the God of Israel had a reputation. The people inhabiting the Promised Land had heard the stories. Plagues in Egypt. Impressive victories in war. The Jordan River crossing. City walls collapsing.

Not only that, but the Canaanites knew the amazing God of the Jews had promised His children their land. If that happened, the Canaanites knew they would lose everything, including their freedom, maybe their lives. What to do?

The Gibeonites decided to go to the Jews and form a treaty. Five other kings decided to join forces to fight the Jews. One king heard the truth and chose surrender. Five kings heard the truth and chose to defy God.

Matthew Henry reminds us the same sun melts wax, and hardens clay.

It’s the same with truth today. I don’t need to give examples. You see it every day on a work-wide level, in our nation, our schools, in some churches, and in hearts of people close to us. We saw it when they hung Jesus on the cross.

Truth: There is ONE GOD, the creator and supreme ruler over all creation. Jesus is GOD’S SON, eternal God in human form. God is HOLY. He demands holiness of anyone who will come to Him. But we have sinned against Him. ALL OF US have sinned against Him. So in and of ourselves, there is NO HOPE, because the penalty for every sin is DEATH, eternal separation from God. But Jesus went to the cross to die, to pay the debt of our sin, of my sin, of your’s. And whether you want to believe it or not, Jesus is THE ONLY WAY to God.

Does that truth melt your heart, or make you angry? Do you want to surrender to God, or deny Him? Do you want to accept the truth, or fight against it?

I hope you’ll read these chapters in Joshua today. Find out for yourself what happens when people surrender, then enjoy God’s protection from the enemy. And find out what happens when people refuse to surrender, when they take up arms against God. They didn’t stand a chance.

Holy God, I surrender. I am a sinner who deserves your wrath. I deserve to die for the sins I’ve committed. But I’ve heard about You, how powerful and awesome You are. And when I hear You say there is only one hope of salvation, I believe it. So, God, I accept Jesus. I repent of sin, I turn my life over to You. Because the truth is, when I stand before You on that day, I don’t want You looking at me, seeing my sin. I want You to look at me and see Jesus. He is my Savior. And He is the Savior of anyone who surrenders to the truth.

Deuteronomy 30-34; The Law and Grace

What is your definition of grace? When you think of God’s grace, what comes to mind? Jesus? The cross? Forgiveness? Eternal life? What about, the Law?

I’ve heard religion criticized for being a list of rules, of “don’ts.” And actually, Moses reminds us it is. The Law is a very big part of this thing we call Christianity. Even though we know the Law is powerless to forgive sin.

The Law reveals sin, though. And in doing so, it points us to our Savior.

I guess God could have left us to our own devices, not defined sin for us, then sat back and watched us unknowingly crash and burn. Like a cop who knows the speed limit sign is missing, then pulls over unsuspecting drivers and tickets them for driving too fast.  Sorry, boys, not knowing the speed limit doesn’t change the speed limit.

Not knowing what sin is doesn’t change what sin is.

But God is full of grace. In Romans 7:7, Paul tells us he would not have known what sin even was if it had not been for the Law. I wouldn’t know what light was except for the darkness, what health was if it weren’t for sickness, what joy was but for sorrow. I wouldn’t know what forgiveness was if I didn’t know I needed to be forgiven.

Deuteronomy 33:3 tells us God loved the people, He held them in His hand, they worshiped Him, and God gave them the Law as a possession, an inheritance. God gave them the Law as something precious, not because they deserved it, but because He graciously wanted them to know their boundaries so they wouldn’t cross over them. Then He could bless them, like He longed to do.

The Law is still in effect today. Those boundaries are still in place. Idol worship is still a sin. Adultery, lying, dishonoring parents are still sins. And because the wages of every sin is death, God wanted to spell it all out so we would not be caught unawares.

He wanted to give us life instead of death. A life, as sinners, we don’t deserve. That’s grace. And in a very real way, the Law plays a big role in God’s grace.

Grace greater than all our sin.

God, thank you for letting me see your Law as an act of grace. You want us to know what sin is so that we are quick to repent of it, to accept what Jesus did on our behalf, and to enjoy unbroken fellowship with you. That’s grace. Thank you for grace that is even greater than my sin.

Numbers 19-20; No One Gets A Free Pass

Not even Moses. You remember Moses, the one God used to deliver an entire nation from slavery, the one who performed miracles, the one with whom God entrusted His Law, the man who could be in God’s Holy Presence and live. Who in all of history has done more, seen more, had conversations with God more than Moses?

Yet when God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come rushing out of it, then Moses tapped the rock instead, God didn’t look at all the good Moses had done and balance that against his sin and say, “The scale tips toward good so you get a free pass.” Even Moses had to suffer the consequences for his sin.

Even Moses.

The Bible is clear that every sin comes with a death sentence. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) Every sin.

I hope you are busy doing good things in our world. I hope you are honest and kind, that you are involved in a Bible believing church, that you volunteer at the homeless shelter, recycle, and support a child in Africa.

But don’t think that any of that can substitute for accepting Jesus as your Savior, for admitting and repenting of every sin God reveals in your life. The sin you commit will be repaid with death. That’s why Jesus died.

Because no one gets a free pass.

Numbers 5&6; Do You Trust Me?

As a woman, I had a hard time reading God’s instructions for a jealous husband. If a man thought his wife had been unfaithful, he could drag her to the priest who would make her drink dirty water that, if she was guilty, would render her infertile painfully and publicly. If she was innocent, the dirty water would do no harm.

The husband needed no proof of infidelity. He just had to be jealous. Doesn’t seem fair. What if a woman was truly innocent and her body reacted to the poison anyway?

And here’s the kicker: Regardless of the outcome for this woman, “the husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing…” (5:31) Plus, no mention is made of the guy this woman was supposed to have had an affair with. Let’s organize a march on Washington or block traffic or something.

But God doesn’t let me go off on tangents very long before He sits me down and reminds me of the Truth. Today I felt Him ask, “Do you trust Me?” If He gave the order, He’s not about to fail to make it work. So I am absolutely 100% sure that not one innocent woman – not one innocent woman – ever reacted to the dirty water.

And I am reminded that just because the male offender isn’t mentioned here, doesn’t mean God doesn’t address adultery elsewhere. God is very specific about sexual sins in both the Old Testament and the New.

So why institute this public judgment on adultery?

  1. It reminds us God takes marriage seriously. Marriage is a picture of His relationship with His church. And He will not tolerate unfaithfulness.
  2. Private sins have far reaching consequences. How many people do you know who are living with disease, abortion, raising children alone, or even poverty, as the result of sins they thought were private?

Then God reminded me that He is able and eager to forgive. We might bear consequences in the flesh, but God can make us pure in His eyes and able to bear fruit for His kingdom. Yes, He is serious about sin. Yes, the guilty will not go unpunished.

But thank God, through His Son Jesus, we can know the forgiveness of any and every sin we’ve ever committed, no matter how bad we think that sin is.

 

The lesson for me today wasn’t so much about the way guilty adulteresses were revealed, although at first I thought it was. The bigger question for me was, do I trust God to do all things well?

The answer is yes, I do.