Tag Archives: sin

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.

Joshua 6-7; Quit Crying

When you were a kid, did you ever hear the words, “Quit crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about?” I have to admit I heard it more than once from my dad, the father of five girls. ‘Nuff said.

I have a great nephew who I adore. When he was younger, and didn’t get his way, or was disappointed about something, his voice would go up about two octaves, he’d scrunch up his face, and he’d whine. One time, during one of these delightful episodes, I asked him if he ever got his way when he whined like that.

“No,” he whined. (good on you, parents) I smile.

You do know we have raised a generation of whiners, don’t you? You can’t watch the news without seeing some millennial whining about something. It’s embarrassing.

The Israelites had just watched Jericho crumble. God had given them such an amazing victory, they seem to have felt invincible. “Let’s get Ai,” they decided.

So Joshua sent some men into Ai to check out the lay of the land. They came back with a glowing report. “Piece of cake. Send a few soldiers and we’ll take that city with no problem.” Hoo-rah.

Well, Joshua did send only about 3,000 soldiers. And they were soundly defeated. Routed. Crushed. They went running for their lives like cockroaches when the lights turn on.

When Joshua heard they had lost the battle, he tore his clothes and fell face down on the ground before the ark. He stayed there all day like that. The elders followed suit.

Then Joshua prayed something like this: Why God? We should have never crossed the Jordan. The Canaanites think we’re a joke now. They’ll attack and defeat us. They’ll wipe us out. It’s not fair. (I can imagine his voice was a couple octaves higher, too)

I love how God answered that prayer, and I can almost hear my dad’s unsympathetic voice as God says, “Get up. Quit whining.”

God goes on: “Israel has sinned. Do you honestly expect me to give you victory when you treat me like that? You know better. A deal’s a deal, and you’ve broken your end of the bargain by your disobedience. Don’t come crying to me. This is on you.”

That’s rough. Where is compassion? Where is tolerance: Where is this love that everyone is talking about?

God’s compassion and love are never directed toward sin. God never looks at a sin and weakens because of a tear in our eye. He cannot and will not tolerate sin. His holiness demands that.

I think God would have us take Him very seriously concerning this sin thing. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. No grey areas there. Not only will God not tolerate sin, He cannot bless sin, either. The consequences for sin are serious. Deadly. I hope you read all of chapter 7 today. It’s not pretty.

It is futile to whine about God’s view of sin. You might think He’s unfair. In reality, He is absolutely fair. He hates your sin as much as He hates mine. And what is sin for you, is also sin for me. We don’t have to guess. He’s absolutely clear about that.

I can’t help but think of the movie, League Of Their Own. I’ve never watched the whole movie, but I’ve often seen the part where the frustrated coach of a girls’ baseball team tells a weepy player, “There’s no crying in baseball.” In life, as in baseball, there are rules. Three strikes and you’re out. Beat the ball to the base and you’re safe. Obey God and you are blessed. You can whine about the “unfairness.” But it doesn’t change the game.

Get over yourself, dear one. If you are holding on to a sin, and think God ought to bless you in spite of it, think again. If you want God’s blessing, repent, get rid of the sin, obey Him according to Scripture.

Quit crying. You just might find yourself with something to really cry about.

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.

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.

 

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.

Leviticus 17-20; Opinion or Fact?

I have been sharing my opinions on Scripture with you for several years now. I know I am not an authority. I know there are those who have studied and researched God’s Word much more than I. I understand that what I share is often personal. But I pray every day that what I share doesn’t deviate from the Truth God inspired men to write to us here in 2017.

The past couple of days I have been researching, reading various opinions, looking at opposing positions trying to get a handle on a very explosive subject. When I tell you I did not go into this looking merely for people who agree with my position, that would be true. In fact, I read more from people with different views.

But, with all the opinions out there. I will let the Bible be the final authority. I will be careful not to change the wording to fit my point of view. I will not tell you what it means contrary to what it says. I know it was written thousands of years ago. I know we don’t live in the same culture as then. I know the Greek and Hebrew words can be difficult to put into English. However, my final take on this subject will be what the Bible I have in front of me says. Not what I want it to say. Maybe not what you want it to say.

The hot topic is homosexuality. I wanted to look at this from as many angles as I could because some people I love have accepted the “Progressive” or “Reformed” view and believe committed homosexuals can be Jesus followers. Is there something to their opinion? I set out to see for myself.

The verses that address this in these chapters in Leviticus are 18:22, (reinforced in 29) and 20:13. In both cases it uses the words “lie with a man,” and “detestable.” Both are part of a long list of sexual behaviors God is speaking against, including incest and sex with animals.

I find it interesting that many of the opinions I read wanted to talk about things like Paul’s direction to the church that women should be silent, and that men should have short hair, and no tattoos. I’d like to stick with what the Bible says about homosexuality. I’d rather not chase a rabbit trail.

I could find no provision for a homosexual relationship, committed or casual, in the Bible. I can’t even find implied consent. The verses I could find in the Old Testament use the words “detestable” or “perverted” in relationship to homosexuality. Some would rather believe that Sodom wasn’t destroyed because homosexuality was practiced openly in that city. I can find verses that make a direct link between homosexuality and the fire that fell on them. I cannot find a verse that says otherwise. If you know of one, I hope you’ll share.

Not implied. A specific verse that contradicts the ones that say homosexuality was a cause of the city’s punishment.

And I would also like to find a verse that says homosexuality is NOT detestable to God. If you know of one that specifically says it, please share that one, too. I can find several that call homosexuality detestable, even a perversion. I can’t put a finger on one that contradicts that.

Some of the resources I looked at said that Jesus came to fulfill the law, so that these specific commandments look different after the cross. They say that because Jesus didn’t address the issue specifically, it implies that He didn’t consider it a big deal after all.

Perhaps. Or maybe it implies He thought we’d know better. Like we know that incest, and having sex with animals are sins, too. He didn’t speak directly about those, either.

Paul had some things to say about homosexuality. For instance, in Romans he called it “unnatural.” In I Timothy he said it was “contrary to sound doctrine.” These verses are specifically speaking about homosexuality as plain as anything.

From what I can see, the Bible is consistent in calling homosexuality a sin. The next question is, can a person knowingly living in sin be a Jesus follower? I can find a lot of verses that talk about dealing with sin, avoiding sin, repenting of sin. I can’t find one that addresses condoning or allowing sin to exist in our lives.

Again, help me out if you know of a verse that speaks about God overlooking sin, or turning a blind eye to sin, or changing His mind about sin.

It’s hard to let the Bible be the final authority when there are so many opinions out there. I have come to the conclusion, however, that as politically incorrect as it is, homosexuality is not acceptable behavior according to Scripture. It is a sin. But it is a sin Jesus died to forgive.

I Corinthians 6:9-11 gives us hope. In these verses, Paul listed people caught up in sin.  Idol worshipers, thieves, drunks, homosexual offenders. Then he said that is what some of them WERE. “But you have been washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Sin is forgivable. All sin is forgivable, except the sin of refusing forgiveness. I am not a homophobe, or a hater of homosexuals. In fact, I love them enough to be truthful in the face of all the lies out there. Believe it or not, approve of it or not, homosexuality is a sin. You cannot follow Jesus if you harbor sin in your life. You just can’t. Not the sin of lying, or gossip, or adultery, or homosexuality.

The Bible teaches that when we sin we can confess that sin, and God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I love Him for that!

So here is yet another post of my opinions on a matter. I have tried to base my opinion on the facts presented in Scripture. I pray that you will recognize that I want the Bible to be the final authority. If what I have shared is contrary to God’s Word, please forgive me. Please correct me. I want only to know God and be true to His precious Word.

Because my opinions are worthless if they are not based on the Truth that God has revealed in the pages of the Bible.