Jesus Deals Gently with Our Sin

JesusDealsGentlyWithOurSins

My devotions were in Mark Ch 9. This is the Transfiguration chapter, in which Peter, Paul, and John witness some of the glory of Jesus as He speaks with Elijah and Moses. When they come down from the mount, they encounter the rest of the disciples with a father and son. The father asks Jesus if He can cast the demon out of his son (quotable quote: “I believe! Help Thou mine unbelief!”). The disciples later ask why they couldn’t do the task themselves, and Jesus answers, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9.29)

This is some pretty powerful stuff the disciples are witnessing and doing and talking about.

Then, there they are, walking along. They arrive at their destination, and Jesus asks them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” (v 33)

The disciples don’t answer. Verse 34 says, But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

The disciples were immediately convicted. They knew they had done wrong. They knew that Jesus knew. Their pride was hanging out all over the place.

Look how gently Jesus handles their sin:

35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

They’re still not getting it, evidenced by what John says next. He changes the subject!

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.”

Jesus lets him change the subject, and answers wisely and gently. But then He brings the teaching back around to His initial probing: (v 43) And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea… He continues giving illustrations as to how it is better to cut off that which causes one to sin, than to sin, than to be cast into hell, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

He closes, wrapping up His lesson on pride in verse 50, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

Jesus mentions twice in this chapter (once with just the three disciples, and once to all of them) that He is going to rise from the dead. They don’t answer Him, or ask what He’s talking about; they’re afraid (v 32).

Jesus lays some pretty heavy stuff on these men. He knows their hearts; he knows they have pride and sin in those hearts. But He chose them, and He works to soften those hearts. Just like He chooses us.

As you read through the gospels, notice how differently Jesus speaks to His chosen ones than He does to the Pharisees and Scribes (Matthew 23.27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.).

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t love every person He ever created; He does! But He knows whose hearts The Father has chosen to soften; He knows just how to speak to each of those hearts to guide us and direct us to His glory and our peace. He knows His sheep, and He knows that His sheep hear His voice.

Listen to Him.

Jeremiah 10. 23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24 O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Isaiah 40. 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Rejoice and Praise With Me

This is the third and final post in a series. The first was Grieve With Me; the second, Repent With Me.

We have sinned. We have confessed our sin and grieved for it. We have repented. What happens next?

We deserve to die (Romans 3.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God). We have sinned and our just deserts is eternal death: damnation apart from God (Romans 6.23a For the wages of sin is death). (We have never experienced being apart from God, so we cannot imagine such a miserable and terrifying existence.)

Only God can forgive sin (whether we’re talking about the Old Testament or the New Testament). The Pharisees knew this, as evidenced in the Luke 5.21 passage: And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

In light of the righteous punishment, how does God deal with our sin?

Psalms 103 says it best: As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us! Imagine that! God REMOVES our transgressions from us!

Jehovah is a Holy God; He is a just God, in Whom is no unrighteousness. How can a sinful person stand righteous before God?

Through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (the full verse of Romans 3.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)

But even in the Old Testament, before Jesus was born, God gave promise to His people that He would provide a Savior. Those who believed on that promise were able to grasp hold on it and praise God for His forgiveness, His grace and mercy. King David was such a one. David knew all about sin; he knew all about his God, too. David was a man after God’s own heart, and God loved him.

Just as He loves you.

We may have life! Eternal life, and life here abundantly! (John 10.10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.)

Let us praise our Great and Mighty God for His gracious riches in His Son, Jesus Christ! He daily showers us with blessings (Psalms 68.19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.)

God’s Word is the perfect medium for rejoicing and praising our glorious Savior. Receive the freeing forgiveness that God offers, and praise God with me:

Matthew 5.4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Psalms 103. 1{A Psalm of David.} Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 19The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. 20Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Hosea 14. 1O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. 3Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. 4I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. 5I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. 7They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. 8Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. 9Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

Isaiah 44. 21Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. 23Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. 24Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Psalm 34. 15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. 20He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Psalm 32. 1{A Psalm of David, Maschil.} Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. 7Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. 9Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. 10Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. 11Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

1 John 1.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalms 45.1{David’s Psalm of praise.} I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. 3Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. 4One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. 5I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. 6And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. 7They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. 8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. 10All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. 11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; 12To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. 14The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. 15The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 16Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. 18The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. 19He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. 20The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. 21My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

We shall go out with joy and be led forth with PEACE! Praise God!

Isaiah 55.12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Repent With Me

This is post #2 in a series of three. Click here to read the first post, Grieve With Me.

Once we have confessed that we have sinned, that we were born in sin, and are daily sinners in the hands of an Almighty and Holy God, we must repent of our sins.

In the Old Testament, people would fast and put on sackcloth & ashes when they were repenting. There’s something to be said for that. Sometimes we need outward appearances to remind us of what’s on the inside.

Fasting is good for the body and for the soul. I highly encourage a full or partial fast when preparing to come before God Almighty. Fasting helps us cleanse.

Of course, God looks on the heart. It’s what’s inside that matters to Him, and to us. But many times, what’s on the inside manifests on the outside.

Repentance involves admitting to oneself and to God that we sinned (confession) and that we wholly desire to turn away from that sin and toward God.

(This is not to say that we promise to never sin again, or even to never commit that particular sin again. We cannot see into the future, but we can know that we will sin again.)

But repentance is a heart for God, to covenant to live in His ways instead of our own. That means a change. We agree with God that His ways are best, and we agree that we want to serve Him (and not serve ourselves).

God’s Word is the source of wisdom for repentance.

Jeremiah 10. 23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Psalms 6. 1{To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.} O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. 3My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? 4Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. 5For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? 6I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. 8Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. 10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Psalms 25. 1{A Psalm of David.} Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 12What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 13His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. 14The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. 15Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. 16Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. 17The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. 18Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. 19Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. 20O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. 21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. 22Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Joel 2. 12Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Stay tuned for my next post, as we explore how God deals with our sin. In the meantime, repent with me.

Grieve With Me

Sometimes I stroll or skip through life, all is fine and happy; I am content.

Then someone says something, or looks at me a certain way, or I read something in my devotions, or there is simply a heaviness in my heart.

Even though I have my daily devotions time with my Lord, I am not always in tune with my sin. Yes, I confess daily. But sometimes, I am dragged down by the weight of my sin before a Holy God. I am grieved by the sins of myself, my nation, my world. We have done so much wrong.

When we stand before Almighty God, and recognize His presence and power, we must fall on our faces and cry with Isaiah (6.5), “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

We have sinned. All have sinned. We have grieved the Spirit of our Lord and we have brought calamity upon ourselves. We have brought grief upon ourselves, and we cannot save ourselves.

Confess with me, and grieve:

Ezra 9.3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.  6And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens… 10And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments… 13And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; 14Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? 15O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.

Daniel 9. 5We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:

Ps 60.1. O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again. 2Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh. 3Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Ps 6. 6I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Hosea 14. 1O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. 3Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

Psalm 106.6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

Psalm 51. 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 38. 3There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

Ps 32. 3When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.

Lamentations 5. 16The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! 17For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.

Stay tuned for my next post, as we explore what to do with our awful sin. In the meantime, grieve with me, for sin is a dreadful thing.

The Tug of Egypt

TheTugOfEgypt

As I read through Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus in my daily devotions, I am again drawn to the lessons God has for us in all the books of the Old Testament. I understand that:

  1. The Old Testament is God’s Story to show us our need for Him.
  2. The Old Testament shows us our sin state.
  3. Egypt is a picture of sin.
  4. Joseph is a prototype of Jesus.
  5. God wants to show us that, without His intervention, we could not, would not leave Egypt/sin.

Questions arise as I read:

  • If Joseph is a prototype of Jesus, why did God use Joseph to invite his family to Egypt? I don’t think Jesus invites us to sin.
  • After Jacob and all the Israelites moved to Egypt, life was good. But then a new Egyptian ruler came to power. The Egyptians slowly but surely put the Israelites under subjection and forced them into slavery. Why didn’t the Israelites escape while they could, and go back to their homeland? Why didn’t even a few families decide that they should return to Canaan instead of staying in Egypt?
  • After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and all the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes the power and magnitude of God, why, when any little problem popped up, did they cry to return to Egypt?
  • What is God’s lesson to me when the spies went into the Promised Land? Only two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) gave a favorable report and encouraged them to go because God would be with them. And all the people sided with the scared reports; they spoke of selecting a captain to lead them back to Egypt (Numbers 14.4).

As I prayed and continued reading, God brought these lessons to me:

Jesus doesn’t invite us to live in sin. He goes before us, to prepare the land so that we may live there in God’s grace. God knows we choose sin (Genesis 6.5), and that we will be enticed into more sin, and that we will want to stay there. As Joseph was placed in Egypt to prepare for the Israelites to live there, Jesus came to Earth to live in our sin with us, to show us how to live and give us hope; and, ultimately, to show us that there is a way out if we obey Him.

The Israelites did not escape from Egypt while they could. It is the same with us and sin. We are enticed to live in sin. It looks good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Life was good in Egypt. Jacob and his sons, the first generation of Israelites who lived in Egypt, established a home there. They had children who grew up there and had children and grandchildren of their own. They considered Egypt their homeland. The new pharaoh began putting stiffer and stiffer burdens on them. Still they did not leave.

Look at the Jewish people in Germany and surrounding countries in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. They did not try to escape their homes, even after they were required to wear the Star of David. They couldn’t imagine the evil to come until it was too late.

Look at the Jews exiled in Babylon. Even after they were allowed to return to their homeland, many stayed in Babylon.

Look at America. We live in a sinful culture. We are sucked into it: television shows we shouldn’t watch; products we shouldn’t buy but we do because we’re enticed by the ads and we believe they’ll make our lives better somehow; clothing we wear or allow our children to wear; jobs we take; music we listen to; movies we watch; ministries we assume without consulting God; friends with whom we associate and how we associate with them; Internet sites we visit, and amount of time online, both of which detract from our walk with God; words we use or continue to listen to that do not glorify God. These are every day sins we don’t even think about because they are an integral part of our lives, and EVERYBODY DOES IT. We are using our families and friends and neighbors and media as our plumb line, instead of God.

Is there any escaping this? To where do we flee? We haven’t a “homeland” as the Israelites did, no physical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. My heritage is Irish and Czech, among others; am I supposed to try to go back to one of those countries, to live with “my people?” I was born an American, and this is my home. Just like the children of Israel: they were born in Egypt, their families were born in Egypt, and that was their home. They became slaves to Egypt / slaves to sin in a subtle way, and then there they were, crying to God to save them. [I think, in America, many of us have not yet come to the point to realize that we must cry out to God to save us. We have it too good, and we don’t want to be saved.] [We, as Christians, do have a homeland, by the way: it is the Person of Jesus Christ, and God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We get to carry our homeland with us all the time, and go to it for all eternity.]

God allowed the children of Israel, living in Egypt, to come to the point of crying out to Him. He needed them to understand their need for Him, to know that they could not save themselves; but to know that they needed to be saved. [God still works the same way. He brings each of us to the point where we know we must cry out to Him, know He is the only One Who can save us because we are slaves to sin and cannot save ourselves.]

After God displayed His glory to Egypt and the Israelites, after He saved His people from bondage, after His people witnessed miracle after miracle, proving that God loved them and had in mind a beautiful life for them; after all that, when the Israelites faced hardships and seemingly insurmountable odds, they cried to return to Egypt. (Exodus 14.11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Numbers 14.1-3 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?)

In our own lives, we easily forget the power of God that saved us, and that same power that is still available to us. The lure of sin is strong. Sin is our comfort zone; it’s where we lived for a long time, and we had conditioned ourselves to arrange our lives around it and make do. This new life of blind obedience to God, depending on Him for our daily need is too scary. We can’t see what it will look like, so we go back to what we knew before. The Israelites could not see into a future with God, could not imagine His glory in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

As modern Christians, we are fortunate to have God’s Word at our fingertips. We are infinitely blessed to have God’s very Holy Spirit living within us! Even with what God has given us, it is a hard thing to live in day-to-day obedience to God and depend on His mercy and grace. It takes strength to step out in faith all the time, and to depend on God to provide whatever we are going to need. We can empathize with the Israelites in their desires to go back to what they knew.

[Sometimes it’s not we, ourselves, who are struggling with sin and the desire to return to it. Sometimes it’s a loved one. We can see it in someone else’s life. We must have compassion on those who struggle with sin. It is a strong force. Thanks be to God, He is stronger; but we must have patience, and pray for those who struggle.]

When the Israelites had finally reached their promised destination, when they were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land, when they had traveled in the wilderness for months, when they had lived day-by-day upon God’s provision of water and manna and protection, when they saw the gorgeous fruit of the land they could have; they gave up. The spies came back with a scary report, and everyone believed that the giants living there would swallow them up. They really thought that all this was for nothing, and they wanted to return to Egypt.

REALLY??? Well, yeah. It’s hard to believe that sin has such a strong a pull on us. Hard to believe unless you’re in the throes of temptation, yourself (or love someone who is). Whether it’s finances or sex or power or tobacco or alcohol or drugs or language or anger or fear or bitterness or food; we hear that siren call of sin – the one that’s personal to us. We’re ready to give up all the promises God gives us for the future, in order to have that one little taste again of the past.

If we want sin, God allows us to follow it.

FALL ON YOUR FACE BEFORE GOD, just as Moses and Aaron did so many times. Beg for mercy, beg for grace and forgiveness and strength and guidance. When faced with temptation, turn around and face God. Embrace Him instead of the sin. Ask Him. He’s there. He longs to jump in to save you from whatever it is.

But we must obey God.

Remember: God created the universe, and He created you. We live by His rules. [Also remember, His rules are for our good, and because He loves us.]

God is holy. He will not compromise; but He will forgive.

Read, ingest, swallow and digest God’s Word. He gives it to us for our good, because He loves us so much.

Read what God has to say. Learn His ways. Obey Him. God always blesses obedience.

“I Am Free” on Alethea’s Mind blog

When I read Tosin’s testimony on her freedom in the Lord, I got one of those physical reactions that you get when God is speaking powerfully; when the Holy Spirit within you is connecting, resonating, with His Holy Spirit in a beloved sister.

I will let Tosin speak in her own words here. The link is https://aletheasmind.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/i-am-free/

A lot has led to this piece below. It’s a journey of many years, but a journey that has now come to an end. This is my testimony, and I am proud to share it unreservedly:

I have been a victim, but I have also played the victim.
I have had low self-esteem, but I have also lowered my esteem.
I have suffered from the words of others, but I have also battered myself with my words.
I have longed for the approval of others but hardly approved of myself.
I have sought for love in all the wrong places but barely loved myself.
I have lived in the fear of rejection when daily I rejected myself.
I have watched others try to dim my light but I’ve never allowed my light to shine.
I have been molested but molest myself daily living in the shadows of my past.

I have belittled myself so you can pity me, I project weakness only to identify with you. When did I believe it was okay to muddy myself in your dirt so I can look like you?

I commend you by portraying a weaker me in comparison to the strength you seem to display, but deep down inside I’m wondering why I just can’t commend your strength and simply walk away.

I have also pretended to walk among the strong while my legs were shivering in weakness, only to keep up appearances, even when no one was really watching. It’s sad the reality of life when one chooses to live for the eyes of me, neglecting the One who truly sees all.

The devil thought he won the battle on my identity, but the Cross is his permanent defeat. All those years of attacking my mind from my childhood up to this point, trying to destroy and pervert all the God made has failed.

I AM FREE!!!

I have been free but didn’t accept my freedom to live in the truth of it, but today, everything has changed.

I am free from playing the victim
I am free to live my God-esteem
I am free from the words that caged me
I am free to be who God made me be
I am free from the shadows of my past
I am free to shine His light
I am free from my fears of rejection
I am free to enjoy the greatest love of all
I am free from rolling in the mud of others
I am free to stand strong
I am free to walk forgiven
I am free to forgive

I am OluwaTosin, I am God’s child . . .
I AM FREE!

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Ploughmen have ploughed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” Psalm 129:1-4

Change Your Past (Revisited)

Originally posted Sept 1, 2018

Change Your Past

I’ve heard so many times that we can’t change the past. While I agree that we cannot change the events that actually happened, we can change our perspectives, our attitudes, and our emotions in relation to events.

I have my own memories, good and bad. I’ve re-written many of them. Consider the following scenarios, as they may reflect anyone’s memories (plug in your own):

*     *     *     *     *

That so-called friend who didn’t stick up for me: I didn’t know she was afraid to say something, that she thought of five great things to say later, but thought it was too late, so she never said anything, and she really missed my friendship after that, even though she felt she deserved me ditching her.

That time I said those hurtful things to my neighbor: they really were hurtful, and I meant to hurt her. But I can look back at that now, see that, even though I thought (and still think) that she deserved it, I was hurtful. I can apologize and ask for her forgiveness. If I can’t do that with her, at least I can confess to God.

That one who abused me, over and over and over: It was wrong, he was twisted. I hated him. I can forgive him, even though I will never trust him or tell him; and I can grieve what was lost for him and for me.

All those times I failed my child: I can tell him how proud I am of him; I can ask forgiveness for issues I remember or that he brings up. I can tell him and show him I love him.

That parent who was never really a parent: I didn’t know what he (or she) went through as a child, what was learned, the situations impossible to handle; maybe I never got it that he (or she) was simply incredibly selfish, that it was never about me, always about him (or her).

*     *     *     *     *

While we are stuck with the memories, God’s gift is that we can soften the edges; we can change how we remember; we can receive or ask or bestow forgiveness; God can work in the hearts of others, and in us.

Those personal memories I mentioned: some of them still hurt. I’m still embarrassed by some of them. Anger still sparks. I’m working on them. How do I work? I bring them to God. As I wrestle with the thoughts, the condemnation in my head, I bring the fight to God.

I got hurt. I hurt others.

God can redeem!

And, while God may change my heart, how I see things, how I handle memories; I may not see a change in the heart or attitude of the person I’m dealing with. That’s okay. Yes, really. I can ask forgiveness, and it may or may not be given. I may forgive someone, with or without telling that person, and the relationship may evidence no change. That’s okay.

Because God is in control. My responsibility is to stand before God with a clear conscience. I do all that I can to fulfill that, and leave the rest to Him.

So yes, I believe we can change our past, through obedience to God, letting Him work in our minds and hearts and attitudes.

Because God can redeem.

What Kind of Sin?

WhatKindOfSin

It is generally agreed that the essence of sin is to do that (or not do that) which displeases God – to disobey Him. And sin separates us from God. It’s not that God turns His back; it’s that we turn our backs on Him when we disobey and choose our own way instead of His.

The remedy for sin is repentance, to turn around from our own path and direct ourselves to God.

In the Old Testament, God laid out several different types of sin, and several types of sacrifice to symbolize repentance.

Now that Jesus Christ has become our Final Sacrifice, we no longer follow the Old Testament sacrifice covenant – it is no longer needed, since Jesus paid the price for sin in full when He died for us.

In 1John 1.9, God tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we sin, it is important to recognize that we have sinned, acknowledge our sin, confess it to God, and repent. Why is this necessary, if God has already forgiven us through Jesus? Because when we sin, we distort our relationship with God; and we want a right relationship with Him so that we may live life abundantly. (John 15.10, 11 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.)

Be aware:

  • Sin in ignorance
    • We don’t even know we sinned, but we did. Examples: Our words may offend when we say something without knowing the situation. We leave the store with something stuck in the cart that we forgot to show the cashier. We forget a loved one’s important date.

For these, we must ask the Spirit to convict us where needed, and confess that we sin in ignorance. Ask the Spirit to show you how to rectify, if needed.

  • Give in to temptation
    • Sometimes we sin because we are weak.

Ask the Spirit to strengthen you, that you will live in the strength of Him.

  • Sometimes we sin in rebellion. (I don’t care if this is wrong! I want it anyway!”)

Pray Psalm 51.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

  • Sin from selfish ambition
    • We see something we want (or don’t want to happen), and we manipulate to achieve our goals.

Pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done, O Lord.”

  • Sin in our hearts
    • When we judge others, it is a sin in our hearts. Other examples: We have a dirty rotten attitude toward a friend or family member and think we’re not sinning because we’re still smiling and being “kind.” Looking with lust. Imagining illicit activities.

Memorize Scripture, let it fill your thoughts. Psalm 119.11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

  • Sin in emotional struggle
    • Whether in anger or heat of passion, in turmoil or pain, we can say or do things that normally lie outside our personal makeup.

Proverbs 4.23 Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.

If your heart is pure, then what comes out in a squeeze will be pure.

  • Bringing someone else into sin
    • We have no right to entice or drag anyone else into sin. Examples: luring someone into an affair; sharing your drugs or pornography or alcoholism; talking someone weaker into evil / having someone do our dirty work.

1 John 4.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

  • Sin from evil ambition
    • In our hearts, we wish destruction or evil on another.

Pray Matthew 6.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

  • Defying God
    • Some people willingly, openly, and brazenly act to defy God. They blaspheme the Holy Spirit and set themselves up as gods.

Matthew 12.31 says, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

1John 5.16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

  • Sin of omission
    • If we simply forget to do something, this falls under the first item in the list, Sin in ignorance.
    • However, if we know to do something right, and decide not to, that is sin of omission. (James 4.17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.) Examples: We feel directed to pray for a certain circumstance, and decide not to. God guides our attention to someone in need, and we ignore the need. We know our duty, and neglect it (i.e., reading our Bibles or attending church). Ingratitude falls in this category (1 Thessalonians 5.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.)

Pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5.17).

  • Sin of deceit
    • Any one of the types of sin may involve deceit, whether we are attempting to deceive others or deceive ourselves. We may purposefully “forget” to do something we know we should. We may lie to ourselves that “giving in this once” won’t matter. We may lie to people in order to stir up dissension or get something we want.

Proverbs 12.20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who devise evil, but the counselors of peace have joy.

Fall on your face before our mighty and gracious God. Search your heart. Ask God to search your heart: Psalm 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Look up Psalm 51. King David wrote it, and he knew sin in his heart. He also knew Who to give it to.

Change Your Past

Change Your Past

I’ve heard so many times that we can’t change the past. While I agree that we cannot change the events that actually happened, we can change our perspectives, our attitudes, and our emotions in relation to events.

I have my own memories, good and bad. I’ve re-written many of them. Consider the following scenarios, as they may reflect anyone’s memories (plug in your own):

*     *     *     *     *

That so-called friend who didn’t stick up for me: I didn’t know she was afraid to say something, that she thought of five great things to say later, but thought it was too late, so she never said anything, and she really missed my friendship after that, even though she felt she deserved me ditching her.

That time I said those hurtful things to my neighbor: they really were hurtful, and I meant to hurt her. But I can look back at that now, see that, even though I thought (and still think) that she deserved it, I was hurtful. I can apologize and ask for her forgiveness. If I can’t do that with her, at least I can confess to God.

That one who abused me, over and over and over: I didn’t know at the time that he was abused, himself, that he learned those things from someone he loved and trusted. It was wrong, he was twisted. I hated him. I can forgive him, even though I will never trust him or tell him; and I can grieve what was lost for him and for me.

All those times I failed my child: I can tell him how proud I am of him; I can ask forgiveness for issues I remember or that he brings up. I can tell him and show him I love him.

That parent who was never really a parent: I didn’t understand what he (or she) went through as a child, what was learned, the situations impossible to handle; maybe I never got it that he (or she) was simply incredibly selfish, that it was never about me, always about him (or her).

*     *     *     *     *

While we are stuck with the memories, God’s gift is that we can soften the edges; we can change how we remember; we can receive or ask or bestow forgiveness; God can work in the hearts of others, and in us.

Those personal memories I mentioned: some of them still hurt. I’m still embarrassed by some of them. Anger still sparks. I’m working on them. How do I work? I bring them to God. As I wrestle with the thoughts, the condemnation in my head, I bring the fight to God.

I got hurt. I hurt others.

God can redeem!

And, while God may change my heart, how I see things, how I handle memories; I may not see a change in the heart or attitude of the person I’m dealing with. That’s okay. Yes, really. I can ask forgiveness, and it may or may not be given. I may forgive someone, with or without telling that person, and the relationship may evidence no change. That’s okay.

Because God is in control. My responsibility is to stand before God with a clear conscience. I do all that I can to fulfill that, and leave the rest to Him.

So yes, I believe we can change our past, through obedience to God, letting Him work in our minds and hearts and attitudes.

Because God can redeem.

What to do with Sin

Job and David understood sin. They were humble enough to bow themselves before God and acknowledge His sovereignty, His right to decide what is good and what is sin. They also understood that God loves them completely, and that they can put themselves in His hands.

Job 40. 3, 4: Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

Psalm 51. 2, 3: Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

This brings me to my knees.