Tag Archives: sin

2 Kings 9-10; Pride Isn’t Pretty

It is believed Jezebel was a very beautiful woman in her youth. In fact, one source I read said she may have been the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. But let’s face it. Age does something to beauty. Some women age better than others, but we all age; wrinkles appear, skin thins, dark spots pop up, and our hair grays. Not too many of us like what we see. The cosmetic world thanks us for that.

Jezebel may have been beautiful on the outside, but she was a very wicked woman, too. She was a murder, a persecutor of God’s people, and an idolator. You did not want to be her enemy. I’m not so sure you’d want to be her friend.

In the chapters we read today, Jezebel is no longer young. She is a grandmother, a widow, a former queen, living off her son. Kinda a has-been, so to speak. Jezebel knew that Jehu was coming to town, and he wasn’t on a social call. He was coming to make her pay.

So Jezebel “painted her eyes, arranged her hair, and looked out a window,” positioning herself to be seen when Jehu walked through the gate. “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

We, of course, cannot hear the inflection in Jezebel’s voice. One source said the poor old woman thought she could flirt with Jehu, and win him to her side that way. (Norma Desmond comes to mind, and if she came to your mind, too, I know something about your age! or at least your taste in classic films ūüėČ ) Another said she was playing the innocent, sweetly teasing Jehu out of rendering judgment.

But it does appear the delusional former queen was still thinking she’s got it, made up to look like a clown, and not even realizing it.

I’m not going to pretend I know what Jezebel was thinking. Scripture doesn’t tell us. But it does tell us her tactic: Deflection. She, whether using her feminine wiles, or feigning innocence, in reality attacks Jehu by calling HIM the murderer. It’s a passive aggressive technique intended to remind Jehu that he’s no better than she.

A dear friend of mine shared with me a conversation she had with a co-worker this week. Both profess to be Christians, so very often their conversations center around spiritual things. The co-worker shared a problem he and his family are having, and he showed my friend a text he had sent to his daughter-in-law, telling her how he felt about the conflict. My friend was shocked to read her co-worker used vulgar language toward his daughter-in-law in that text, and she called him out on it. “Do those words represent Jesus?” she asked him.

His response was to attack my friend, and question her faith. Deflection. Later, he texted her and continued to point out every flaw he could think of in her walk with the Lord. He never addressed the real issue, which is his own sin.

When a brother or sister in Christ lays a finger on a sin in our own lives, what is our reaction? Jesus Himself said we are to address the speck in our brother’s eye, once we have addressed sin in our own lives. So, when that person is obedient and holds us accountable, what do we do? Do we humble ourselves, take the correction, and confess our sin to God? Or do we play the deflecting game, and refuse to face the evil in us?

Jezebel never humbled herself. She held on to her pride right to the very end. And she died a horrible death. It was not pretty.

My friend’s co-worker will one day be held accountable for his actions. I pray he will humble himself and ask God to forgive him before He stands before Jesus on that day.

Just like no one really likes looking in the mirror and watching the effects of aging staring back at them, no one enjoys having a sin revealed, either. We can justify, rationalize, make excuses for our sin, or compare ourselves to that sinner sitting in the pew behind us. But until we humble ourselves before our Holy God, and accept forgiveness that is our through the blood of Jesus, we are guilty. No amount of “makeup” is going to fool God, no pointing out the sins of someone else is going to make you innocent.

Has a fellow believer pointed out a sin in your life? Instead of being angry with them, or trying to make them look guilty, I pray you will humble yourself, confess your sin, then go and hug that person.

Because pride just isn’t pretty. And it certainly doesn’t represent Jesus. Isn’t representing Jesus the goal for all of us who wear His Name?

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2 Kings 3-5; Taking A Knee

Got your attention, didn’t I? This whole protest drama against our flag, our National Anthem, and our country is on the news 24/7. And social media is having a hay day. We Americans just love living with a reality TV show mentality.

I, like everyone else in the world, have an opinion on the matter. But I’m not going to spout my opinion about that here. I’d much rather talk about Naaman and Elisha, and what Naaman had to say about taking a knee.

You know the story. Little Jewish servant girl tells her mistress how the master, Naaman, could be healed of leprosy if he’d ago see God’s prophet, Elisha. Naaman goes. Elisha refuses to meet with him but sends word to Naaman how he could be healed. Naaman is insulted, and turns to go away. One of his men talks sense into Naaman, who then goes to the Jordan River, dips under the water seven times, and is healed.

Now here is what I want us to consider today. Naaman, probably dripping wet, goes back to Elisha. The prophet seems to be waiting for him. Naaman tells Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (5:15) He promises to never again worship any other god but the Lord. Naaman is not only clean on the outside, he’s a new man from within.

Then Naaman says this:

But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also Рwhen I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this. (5:18)

Naaman worked for the king of Aram, a man who worshiped the false god Rimmon. The king sounds like he might have been feeble, because he leans on Naaman to get around. And that would include going into the temple of Rimmon, taking a knee so his master could bow in worship.

Now some of you will say Naaman should have just quit his job, maybe refused to go into that sinful place, or just stayed with Elisha where he wouldn’t have to take a stand at all.

“Judge not,” dear one.

I believe this is the true interpretation of the most misquoted verse in the Bible. Please read Matthew 7:1-5. There is much more to Jesus’ message than verse 1.

Naaman had taken care of the plank in his own eye, the sin in his own life. Then, according to what I read in 2 Kings, he is going back to minister to the king of Aram.

Paul, in I Corinthians 9:19-23 talks about becoming all things to all men. Why? So everyone would like him? So he could get ahead in life? No. He identified with everyone in order to introduce them to their Savior.

In a sense, Naaman is asking Elisha not to judge him if, in his association with the king, he goes into the pagan temple and actually takes a knee. In fact, Naaman is asking Elisha, and God, to forgive him for what will appear to be sin.

“I’m going to be doing my job, Lord, not worshiping that idol.”

And just maybe, the king will notice a change in Naaman and ask him to explain the hope he has, may ask him about Naaman’s God, and may even come to faith in God because of Naaman’s willingness to address the speck in the king’s eye, now that the plank is out of his own.

If God is leading Naaman back to the king of Aram, don’t judge Naaman for not doing what you think a believer should do.

HOWEVER… if you’re using I Corinthians 9 as an excuse to hang out at bars, or associate with dishonest people, or any number of sinful activities stop right there. Because Scripture also tells us to resist evil, live separate lives, not to be linked with unbelievers. It certainly doesn’t give us permission to sin, thinking that is a way to represent God to people who need Him.

Here’s where the “don’t judge” thing comes into play. The only ones who know your heart are you and God. If He hasn’t called you to serve Him by representing Him among the partiers, or the ungodly, or… whoever… then you need to go where He IS calling you. Really calling you.

Can a person associate with sinners and not sin? I believe Scripture is saying exactly that in the verses we’ve looked at today. But I also believe there is a dangerously thin line between associating with sinners for the right reasons, and participating in the sin. Just beware.

I won’t judge your heart. But I will call you out if you are sinning, if that speck in your eye needs addressing. And I want you to do the same for me.

2 Kings 1; Who’s To Blame?

I’ve heard it said a lot lately, that this world is corrupt, and it’s only going to get worse, that evil people will continue to gain momentum. I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Did you read about how Elijah spoke to the men King Ahaziah sent to get him? A captain and fifty armed soldiers told Elijah, “The king says, come.” Seems harmless enough. But remember who Ahaziah’s parents were. Ahaziah knew exactly who this man of God was: the prophet responsible for the death of his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. I doubt their offspring wanted to invite Elijah to tea.

Elijah would have nothing to do with Ahaziah or his men. In fact, to demonstrate that Elijah was a man of God, he said fire would come down from heaven and consume them. Fire from heaven came down and consumed them.

Ahaziah sent another fifty soldiers to go get Elijah. They died, too. It wasn’t until the third captain humbled himself before Elijah, and in turn before God, that God told Elijah to go with them. Then, standing before the king, Elijah did not back down. He stayed true to God’s Word. No compromise here!

Thirty or so years ago, there was a trend for churches to hire outsiders to come into their fellowship, survey members, talk to people in the neighborhoods, learn the “demographics,” then recommend changes the churches needed to make to grow their attendance. As a result we’ve got “contemporary” worship styles, the removal of pulpits, altars, hymns, and organs. We’ve come up with clever little names for our fellowships because being identified with a denomination “turned people off.” We’ve adopted a casual approach to worship so everyone feels comfortable, a laid back atmosphere so people don’t feel threatened, entertaining worship services so people go away feeling good, and Starbucks in the foyer.

We’ve also seen the word, “sin” replaced with “lifestyle” or “tolerance,”¬†“acceptance,” and of course, “God’s love.”

Many churches did see a marked growth, more bodies in the chairs each Sunday, or Saturday night if that’s more “convenient.” The mega-church was born. We may have compromised a bit. But numbers don’t lie.

Or do they?

Let me ask you this: Is our world better than it was thirty years ago? Is there less crime, less evil, a mega turning to God since the church implemented these changes? I’m not asking if there are people coming to your church. I’m asking what impact your church has had on our world. Are drug dealers, thieves, child molesters, drunks, soccer moms, and CEO’s coming to the Savior because your church is out there actively winning souls?

I would say, after reading the news, I doubt it. Now, if you are involved in a church that IS making a difference and seeing people repent of sin and come to the Lord, understand I know I’m preaching to the choir. But, from what I see in our country and the world, the Church is failing in our mission to go and make disciples.

Here’s why my thoughts went here today. Read what J Vernon McGee had to say about 2 Kings 1, and Elijah’s firm stand:

There is much talk today¬†about the fact that we should learn to communicate and learn to get along with everybody. May I say to you that this is not God’s method. The compromise of the church and its leaders has not¬†caused the world to listen to the church. As a matter of fact, the world is not listening at all. They pass the church right by. Why? The world will not listen until the church declares the Word of God. If the church¬†preached God’s Word, there would be communication.¬†(p 157, Through the Bible commentary, I & II Kings)

Dr. McGee wrote those words in the middle of the trend I spoke about earlier. His words were prophetic. If the world didn’t listen to the Church back then, it laughs at the Church today.

Do you know why I believe what Dr. McGee said is true? God has said that His Word would not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) Our world is not in the shape it’s in because Satan is so strong. It’s because the church is so weak. We refashioned ourselves to look like the world, to the point they don’t see their need to change. We have neglected God’s Word, and in turn, have harnessed His power to save souls. And we read about the result of this in the news every day.

And don’t even tell me it’s God’s will. Jesus didn’t tell us to go into the world and preach the gospel until things got tough, then sit back and let evil take over because He’ll rapture the church before things get really bad. We’ll dodge that bullet, too bad for everybody else. If that theology makes me mad, I can imagine God’s opinion of it.

Our world is in bad shape. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. I pray that the Holy Spirit will revive the Church, that Christians will see sinners through Jesus’ eyes, that we will stand firm on the Truth of Scripture, and proclaim it from the mountaintops, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods. I also pray that Christians will live lives that attract people to their Savior.

Oh, dear Christian. Don’t sit back and blame Satan, or the media, or a president for the state of things in our world. We have the God of the Universe ready and eager to step in. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

 

I Kings 13-16; Ping Pong

Reading these chapters is a bit like playing ping pong. We read about a northern king, then a southern king, back to the north, then the south. Bad king. Bad king. Bad king. Good king. Bad king…

After a while my head spins.

Now you probably know I have a firm conviction God doesn’t include details like these for the sake of the details. It might be interesting to line up the kings of the two nations of Jews. You might even get a sense of accomplishment if you can name them all. But if that’s the only reason God inspired men to include this history, I say skip it and get on to the meat.

But don’t skip over these chapters in God’s Word. I challenge you to read them slowly, and ask God to help you get past the obvious and reveal the Truth within. You’ll find Jesus in these verses. You’ll see that God is serious about sin, that He punishes sin, and that He blesses obedience. You might even hear His heart’s cry that His people repent, turn to Him, and accept His grace. And you might realize He’s wanting the same for you.

As I read these chapters this morning, I thought of my Ohio church family who are conducting Revival Services this week. Will you pray with me for them, that the Holy Spirit will move in a mighty way, that Jesus will be glorified. They are a small congregation with a heart to reach their community. Will you pray that God will draw many into that building this week as the Word is preached and God is worshiped?

Reading I Kings reminds me how faithful God is when we obey. May it be true in Bellville, Ohio. May it be true in me.

Heavenly Father, I do pray for 1st Baptist, Bellville this week as they conduct revival services. First I pray for the faithful few. May they attend with hearts eager to hear from you, to be strengthened in their resolve to follow you. I pray that those in that community who have received an invitation will be drawn to the services this week. May souls be won, hearts changed, and your children strengthened to carry on Your work in Bellville. Bless them, Lord, and continue to make them a blessing.

And I want to thank You for Your Word, even the parts that seem a little dry as we read them. Father, help us to consider why You have included all these verses in Scripture. And may we learn, be challenged and strengthened, and as always, Lord, may You find us faithful.

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.

_________________________

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.

II Samuel 2-3; A Fool Died Today

There was a bitter history between Joab and Abner. After all, Abner had killed Joab’s little brother. ¬†Now Abner was in Hebron, a city of refuge, and Joab couldn’t touch him.

So Joab goes to Abner and whispers in his ear, “Step into the gateway where we can talk privately. I have something to tell you.”

Now picture this: The man guilty of murder leans into his victim’s Avenger of Blood (the only person with a right to kill him in retaliation) to hear him whisper, “Step outside the safety of these walls just for a second.”

AND HE DOES!

I’m sure you know what happens. Abner dies.

David mourned Abner’s death. But he also recognized it as a needless death. Listen to what the King says at the funeral:

Should Abner have died as the lawless die? Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered. You fell as one falls before wicked men. (3:33)

In other words, No one made you go outside these walls, Abner. You made a ridiculous choice. A fool died today.

Friend, if you have confessed your sin and asked God to forgive you, you are safe from the evil Satan would love to pierce you with. But hear the warning:

Satan will no doubt come to you and whisper in your ear, “Come with me. Just for a second.” He’ll put temptation out there, and you’ll find yourself thinking, “What can it hurt?”

Understand that when you step away from God, Satan has the advantage. And sometimes all he needs is a second. Don’t be a fool. Don’t think Satan can’t get to you. Guard your heart and mind. Cling to the Savior. Do not step away because Satan is like a lion, prowling around, waiting to devour you.

When I finally meet Jesus face to face, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I certainly don’t want to hear the words, “A fool died today.”

2 Samuel 1; Saul’s Sin Killed Him

Remember in 1 Samuel God had instructed Saul to go to war with the Amalekites, and wipe them out. 15:2-3 says:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.

But Saul only almost obeyed. He defeated the Amalekites,¬†“But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good.”

Saul didn’t wipe them out exactly the way God had instructed him. And God was not happy.

The end of I Samuel and II Samuel 1 seem to contradict each other. Who really killed Saul? I’ve been of the opinion that the man we read about in II Samuel tried to cash in on Saul’s death, that he found the king already dead, took his crown and arm band, and ran to David to be rewarded for taking care of David’s enemy. But I might be wrong.

The story we read in II Samuel might not contradict I Samuel after all. Consider this: Saul, being mortally wounded, falls on his sword to commit suicide. His armor bearer sees him do that, watches his king fall, then commits suicide himself. However, Saul is only mostly dead at that point.

The young man in II Samuel comes up to Saul and hears the king whisper, “Kill me,” and he does. Saul was a dead man walking. He most likely would not have survived his wounds. The young man just accelerated the inevitable. Saul, at the end of I Samuel was dead for all intent and purposes. As you turn the page, you see him finished off.

That’s what I’ve come to believe after studying what others have said about the subject. It’s an opinion that doesn’t really matter in light of eternity, and I recognize it as an opinion. But J. Vernon McGee opened my eyes to a spiritual truth we can learn from this that does matter in light of eternity.

Remember Saul’s sin way back in chapter 15? he didn’t completely destroy the Amalekites like God told him to. Now, years later, it’s an Amalekite who ends up destroying him.

Could Saul have actually survived his wounds? We’ll never know because the young Amalekite killed him.

In Sunday School this past Sunday we were studying Psalm 32, written after David received forgiveness for some pretty awful sins. His sin with Bathsheba was bad enough, but David’s efforts at covering up that sin resulted in more sin, and more guilt until he felt crushed to the bones. You can hear David’s relief at being freed from that guilt here in this psalm.

I shared something I found written by John Dunn. And I was reminded of it as I read this chapter in I Samuel this morning. Dunn calls sin a serpent. He says when we cover up a sin, we’re just keeping it warm so that it may sting more fiercely, infect us with more venom.

When we don’t deal with sin, when we don’t eradicate it, turn from it 100%, we are only protecting it. And it will bite us in the end.

Let’s not be nursing sin. Let’s not ignore it, or cover it up. When God reveals sin in us, let’s fall to our knees and repent immediately.

Otherwise, that sin could be the very thing that ends up destroying us.