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Archive for the ‘repentance’ Category

If there is an enduring obstacle to your pursuit of a settled life, perhaps there is an unjust decision in your past, whether made by you or someone close to you.

If you believe in God, then you have to believe that people will always — eventually — face consequences for unjust decisions that harmed others.

You and I won’t encounter restitution decisions on the scale faced by King David in this passage, but the principle remains the same.

If we do wrong against others, particularly if it violates an oath made to God, somebody someday will suffer the consequences until there is a restitution/reconciliation effort.

The offense mentioned in this passage regarding King Saul violated Israel’s oath during the Promised Land conquest to not kill Gibeonites. It’s a long story recorded in Joshua 9 but the point is this: If we break a promise, even generations later, God will see to it that we face consequences.

Promises are very important to God.

It’s all about integrity.

Good thing, too.

We’re sure counting on God to keep His promise of eternal blessing to us.

Let’s do our best to live in ways that pours blessing into others’ lives, not broken promises.

And if we encounter a life obstacle that just won’t go away — whether individually or as a family or congregation — let’s pray for wisdom to see if a broken promise or residual, unrepentant sin is perhaps the cause.

A settled life moving unhindered toward eternity is a much better outcome.

As always, I love you
Martin

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King David’s life showed us a number of ways to do things that please God.

The shepherd/warrior also showed us a number of ways to displease God.

Of course, we want every day of our lives to be characterized by the former, not the latter.

But, sadly, our pride sometimes gets in the formula and we fail.

We displease God.

You do.

I do.

So what then?

What do we do when we’ve fallen short of the glory of God, when we’ve missed the mark, when we’ve disobeyed the pattern for living that God provides in the Bible?

We tell God we’re sorry, that’s what, and actually mean it.

We repent.

God doesn’t let us off the hook in terms of consequences, but He does let us off the hook of condemnation.

You’re quite familiar with the costs of David’s adultery.

David had another major mess-up in 2 Samuel 24 (you’ll want to read this passage by clicking here).

It was driven by a combination of pride of how many men he had in his army and by fear of other nations and the desire to know that he had enough military strength to make up for his lack of trust in God.
David had opportunity to avoid the sin, but he stubbornly proceeded until the desire had given birth to sin.

Then his conscience’s voice was finally heard:

“But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing.’” (2 Samuel 24:10)

So when you have sinned by doing _______________ and your conscience begins to bother you (though you ignored it before), do you think the words of verse 10?

Are the words, “‘I have sinned greatly by ________________. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing” on the lips of your heart?

We each need to sin less often and hopefully our faith is maturing and we are becoming more like Christ. But when transgression does occur, let’s do what David did.

Let’s repent.

I John 1:9 tells us that God WILL forgive us if we confess our sins.

What a great promise for giving us hope despite our weakness for failure.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Repenting isn’t fun.

After all, who thinks apologizing to God is a happy time?

But everybody sins.

And that means that everybody should repent before God for doing what we shouldn’t have.

Hopefully, as we mature in faith, our repentance becomes less frequent because our sin becomes less frequent.

Like you, I’ve found that it’s much more pleasant to sin/repent much less often.

You have your list of recurring sins just as I have mine.

Thank God that He is gracious and leaves opportunity for us to repent our way toward restoration of intimacy with Him.

Let’s reject Satan’s lie that repentance is an unreasonable demand of a cloud-based control freak.

Let’s remember that Satan refused to repent and was condemned to eternal suffering as a result.

Acknowledging our failure and our need for restoration through God’s mercy and Christ’s blood is a pain but without it, we won’t experience the gain of peace with our Father who was previously pained by our choice to ignore Him.

Here’s what repeatedly repentant King Solomon wrote about repentance in Proverbs 14:9…

“Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.”

Peace with God is always awaiting us on the other side of repentance.

When you sin — and we all do — please run down the path of reconciliation.

God will always welcome and restore a repentant heart.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The book of Amos is one of those minor prophets’ writings at the back of the Old Testament and is characterized by many warnings of pending punishment by God if the Hebrews would not repent of their incredibly sinful actions and attitudes.

It’s not easy reading of the looming hammers of justice that will fall upon so many if they continued refusing to fall at the foot of God’s throne, either during their cushy lives or when faced to the soon-to-be-unleashed rod of correction from on high.

Yet, even in the midst of all the exhortation to escape the wrath of a repeatedly offended and mocked God, the gracious nature of our heavenly Father still shines through.

As the Apostle Peter would write centuries later, God is long-suffering and not desirous of seeing anybody perish to hell, but instead for all to come to repentance and, as a result, salvation.

Here’s what Amos was directed by the Holy Spirit to write in the midst of all the warnings:

“Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed.” (Amos 5:14)

The Lord God that commands untold numbers of powerful angels within His army is the same God that wants you and me to live forever. Though Amos’ words were speaking of physically living rather than being wiped out in a population purge of defiant Hebrews, spiritual life was involved as well.

And so it is with us.

If we do what is good and run from evil, we’ll not only find ourselves less often in harm’s way physically, but we’ll also be in the center of God’s path for living spiritually … eternally.

I like the promise that God will be my Helper and that I am to claim that hope as a possession.

Satan will certainly tempt me to run toward evil.

But Jesus showed me the path to run.

I just have to do what is good and run from evil.

Let’s run that path together, OK?

Let’s embrace Psalm 119:105 and read the Bible more because it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We’ve all seen the young males on powerful motorcycles zooming between cars on the freeway.

And we’ve all read the tragic stories about how many of them end up dead or disabled because of accidents attributed to their irresponsible speeding.

My wife Lori works in a hospital and has seen the calamitous consequences of such misbehavior far more than she’d like to remember.

The sad fact is, however, that young males who behave in such fashion on two wheels believe that they are OK in what they’re doing or they wouldn’t be doing it.

A 22-year-old guy who pops a wheelie at 80 miles an hour in the midst of traffic doesn’t do so with the direct expectation that he’s committing suicide.

It’s just that he isn’t thinking of physics and the statistical probability of being crushed by a truck that isn’t agile enough to avoid the rider if the bike goes down.

Here’s the point — we can’t trust that our perceived abilities will always overcome the mistakes and mishaps of life.

Our opinions don’t control physics and they certainly don’t control other drivers’ behavior.

More importantly from a spiritual perspective, our opinions — and even the opinions of peers — don’t define what God has ordained as right and wrong, as kind or cruel, as selfless or selfish, as moral or immoral.

Listen, a person might think he or she is acting in an exciting, stimulating and “no harm” manner, but still be terribly wrong.

I could go on for hours about the tragedy of people thinking that life and eternity will be determined by their opinions and abilities rather than the Word of God, but I’m going to presume that you accept the truth of the following passage:

“People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

Please, my friend, join me in trying to live according to the Matthew 6:33 principle that says every thought and action should indicate that God is first in our lives.

That way, we won’t have to suffer tragically because we thought we could pop wheelies of sin at 80 mph in the belief that spiritual physics of scripture didn’t apply to us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s a very good thing when good-hearted, God-hearted people join in a church building for worship.

God is exalted, people are encouraged and equipped and the collective lighthouse of faith shines more brightly.

But that’s not all of what God wants to happen when church members gather.

He’s wanting more than the “woo-hoo!” moments of praise.

He’s also wanting to see the “boo-hoo” moments of repentance.

You see, we all sin. We all fall short of God’s glory.

We all hurt God’s heart with our recurring choices to ignore His Word.

Hurting God’s heart should prompt a hurting of our hearts.

Knowing we’ve sinned should prompt us toward godly sorrow.

For until we feel that “boo-hoo” in our hearts, we won’t feel a need to repent.

When our “boo-hoo” leads to a plea for God’s forgiveness, “woo-hoo!” won’t be far behind.

We all know what it’s like to experience the freedom of forgiveness in our important earthly relationships.

Much richer, though, is forgiveness from the One who created us and who wants to fellowship with us forever.

King Solomon knew well about the “boo-hoo”/”woo-hoo!” progression of faith.

In fact, his dedication service for the Jerusalem Temple emphasized the role of repentance and forgiveness of the Israelites.

In II Chronicles 6, nearly half the chapter addresses a plea of Solomon that God forgive the people over and over and over whenever they repented and turned their hearts back to God.

It’s interesting that so much of the dedication service involved the acknowledgment of future sin and the need for future forgiveness.

Solomon knew there could be no “woo-hoo!” of sincere praise if there were not “boo-hoo” of sincere repentance.

Please read this section of scripture to appreciate what Solomon was praying to God.

For your eyes just might be opened to the importance of “boo-hoo” moments in your church’s worship service.

I’m not talking about sin-prompted sobbing at the front of the auditorium, although there’s nothing unscriptural about that. Instead, I’m talking about those private conversations of the soul with the Spirit of God, conversations during meditation time or before/after the service.

I’m talking about the sort of thing I do during communion meditation moments each week when I review the sins I remember from the past week and repent of them before the Lord.

I don’t like the fact that I have such “boo-hoo” moments but I know that without them, my “woo-hoo!” moments will ring hollow before the Lord.

To attend worship without taking time to repent of sin would have been like Solomon dedicating the Temple without making any sacrifices.

That would have been incredibly dumb and would have missed the whole point of seeking God’s mercy and the entire meaning of all the Messianic promises.

Here’s the wrap-up… Church is about the “woo-hoo!” and the “boo-hoo.”

Let’s do our best to live in ways that the former far outweighs the latter.

As always, I love you
Martin

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July 17, 2013

As little kids, we were so glad when we were allowed to come out of the bedrooms to which we had been sent because of misbehavior.

Nobody likes “time out” time away from the good graces of the family.

When Mom or Dad called us to them, explained why it’s important to follow family rules and then gave us a loving hug, life was “all better now.”

Over time, we not only learned how to be better-behaved, but we also learned how much our parents loved us.

To a far greater extent, this is the same dynamic as what happens in our relationships with God.

We stop thinking of what our Father wants and start focusing on what we want and, inevitably, we digress into sin.

Because of love, God sends the Holy Spirit’s voice to convict us of our sin.

If we’re wise, we respond quickly and repent.

If we’re pridefully stubborn, we respond more slowly and suffer more needlessly.

For most Christians, though, repentance does eventually flow when the spiritual math makes it clear that we’re losing more than we’re gaining in so many ways.

That’s when we run to our Abba Father.

That’s when He embraces us and assures us of His love.

That’s when He reminds us that He’s already paid the price for our sin and was just waiting on our choice to receive it through repentance as we have done so many times before.

That’s when restoration’s joy fills our hearts just like the joy of the child hugged by Daddy and reminded he or she is loved by Daddy and then is sent out to play with the other kids.

Here’s a passage from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible that reminds us of the amazing love and grace that flows from the God we serve.

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven,whose sins are put out of sight.

“Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4:7-8 NLT)

Remember the joy of your restoration from sins past, my friend. Cherish those memories of being in the loving, nurturing, gracious arms of God.

For it is the recollection of how much God loves us that compels us to please Him more and serve ourselves less.

And that will be a very good thing with a lot less drama.

As always, I love you
Martin

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