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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

We’ve all seen the cartoon drawings of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand and we’ve thought “How foolish.”

If only we’d never been as that ostrich when it came to our attempts to hide from accountability for poor choices.

Oh well. There’s always the opportunity for improvement.

I’m reminded of how Adam tried to hide from God after the tragic decision to believe the serpent rather than to believe God.

As if God couldn’t see through the bush that He had created.

God saw through those leaves.

He saw through Adam’s finger-pointing blame of Eve.

He saw Adam’s real need — an atoning sacrifice of blood so that Adam wouldn’t have to die for his sin.

All because of divine love for the one who made a foolish choice.

We’ve made foolish choices.

All of us.

And sometimes, we’ve even tried to hide from God in the bushes of skipped church, ignored prayer, worldly partying, workaholism, perhaps even obsessive hobbying.

It never worked.

God still saw us.

We were still in sin.

We still needed an atoning sacrifice of blood so that we wouldn’t have to die for our sin.

God still loved us, despite our foolish choices.

It is this set of facts that we should have in mind when we read passages such as the one for today from The One-Year Bible:

“But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)

Whether it’s the pledge to turn our lives over to the Lord when we’re saved or the pledge to tithe or the pledge to be faithful in church attendance and volunteerism, let’s do our best to keep our word.

It’s never good to tell God we’ll do something — or not do something — and then we break our promise.

Excuses don’t make good masks when it comes to how God sees things.

Let’s keep our promise to serve and to give and God will keep His promise to bless.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If I’m breathing, sooner or later I’ll want to be eating.

It’s the way of the flesh.

We’re organisms and as the ad jingle used to say, “Ya gotta eat.”

It’s not just eating food that we need until we die.

We also need forgiveness.

You see, our appetite is not only for food but also for sin.

Too many times when tempted, we act as if we’ve forgotten where the “No!” word is in our vocabularly.

We’ve told ourselves before that we were NOT going to repeat a particular sin and, for a time, we kept our word.

But that dreaded “Oops!” moment returns when we realize we’ve again dropped our guard and bitten the forbidden fruit of whatever.

Everybody has their stumbling blocks. You have yours and I have mine.

It stinks.

Not just for us but for God, too, who wants better for us.

This is why it’s vital that we keep a well-worn path to the throne of God, not just for worship but also to plea for forgiveness.

We all sin. We all need grace. And we all will until we die.

That means the spiritual discipline of repentance and rededication is to be a daily pattern for living rather than a random choice when we determine if we’ve messed up enough to feel unworthy.

Let’s follow the principle taught in Leviticus 6:13 where the Israelite priests were told by God to NEVER let the fire go out on the bronze altar of sacrifice. You see, God told the priests that guilt offerings are to be placed on that fire. And since with millions of Israelities being present, there was always guilt in the camp that needed forgiveness.

Because God’s desire is for restoration of the soul, the fire had to keep burning in order to complete the guilt offering sacrifices ordained by God.

If the priests chose to let the fire die, it would be because they stopped believing that sins were occurring or they stopped believing that sins needed forgiveness.

The day eventually came when priests did neglect the altar fire and Israel suffered terribly.

We don’t have bronze altars at churches now, but our need for forgiveness is just as real today.

Let’s remember that our going to God to gain forgiveness for our sins should be even more important to us than is going to the fridge to gain food for our stomachs.

Let’s never let the hunger for forgiveness fade.

For unlike food that can sustain us until we die, forgiveness can carry us through this life into the next.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There’s no question that God’s Word is infinitely powerful.

It’s just a matter of if we’ll let our will plug into His.

Just how powerful is God’s Word?

Check this out….

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created.” (Psalm 33:6)

Oh my.

The entire universe poofed into existence via a spoken word of God.

Sure lines up with the concept of a big bang beginning, doesn’t it?

Something from nothing.

All because God willed it and spoke it.

That’s a powerful word.

That same God with that same power is waiting to launch a “big bang” moment in our lives.

His Word has already spoken of the power awaiting us to create where nothing was before.

If the unsaved person embraces the Word of the Gospel, a new life in eternity will be created.

If the saved person who has fallen into sin embraces the Word of grace through repentance, restoration will replace corruption.

If the discouraged person embraces the promise that struggles + scripture + prayer + surrender = strength, renewal will be created in the place of despair.

There is so much that God wants to do for us and has already promised in His Word. We just have to receive that power so that He can create within us a new heart, a new vigor, a new perspective, a new hope and a new desire to share each with those who also need to hear His voice.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some things about our Christian faith are really fulfilling and even thrilling.

These are what I call the “magnets of faith.”

But there are a few other things, however, that are far from being magnets.

They’re actually more like fender-bending guardrails.

They’re designed to keep us from driving off the cliff spiritually.

They’re not endearing.

But they are essential.

A segment in today’s devotional reading from the One-Year Bible explains why:

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I don’t know anybody who enjoys feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit about a poor choice of behavior or a carnal pattern of thought.

But when we consider that alternative — a life without the spiritual guardrail of spiritual conviction — we should rejoice that we feel guilt when we lie or lust or gossip or covet or steal or resent or whatever sin over which we stumble.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t warn us.

And He certainly wouldn’t have sent Jesus to the cross as atonement for those times we wouldn’t listen.

We know for a fact that Satan doesn’t love us.

In fact, he hates us.

How do we know this?

Does he ever warn us of danger?

Has he ever tried to steer anybody you know away from the cliff?

Let’s thank God when our consciences are goaded by God.

It’s a powerful sign of His love.

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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I was reminded by my computer this morning that I am a sinner.

Thanks alot, iMac.

It’s not fun to be confronted with a failure of faith.

In fact, it stinks.

But it’s better to get the bad news now and turn again to the Good News than it is to ignore the Good News now and be stuck forever with bad news.

You have certainly experienced the frustration of telling your computer to do something it was created to do and programmed to do, yet the blinking cursor mocks you and ignores you as if it is a defiant adolescent.

You paid a lot of money and put a lot of time into that computer and here it is treating you as irrelevant.

Something has failed and only frustration is resulting.

NEWS FLASH!!!! You and I are that computer in God’s sight.

He has put a lot of resources and thought and time and His Son’s sweat, tears and blood into creating us and programming us what to do, yet we sometimes ignore Him as if we’re blinking cursors, as if defiant adolescents.

He gives us instructions and we don’t do them.

We’re temporarily the “dumb computer!”

Disobedient is more accurate.

And that’s when we’ve sinned.

I am a sinner.

There are times that I realize I should have been praying more about a certain situation instead of leaning too heavily on my abilities or the abilities of others.

Knowing that I should be praying more but not doing it is a sin.

Ouch!

Do you fail in the same way?

Lest you think I am embellishing the cost of my neglect, look at what James writes in his biblical letter:

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17)

Oh my.

Whether it’s prayer or making an encouragement contact with a struggling church member or forgiving a co-worker who gossiped about you or catching up on your tithe checks at church that you didn’t give because you didn’t like what the preacher said — or whatever you know you should have done — please get back to the spiritual place God wants you to be.

I need to do the same.

Life is better when we’re saying “Yes” to God.

Really, there’s no good reason not to.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are three sticks of behavioral dynamite that are sure to blow up any Christian’s testimony.

  • Slow to listen
  • Quick to speak
  • Quick to get angry

If people in our families or workplaces or neighborhoods see us displaying these tendencies on a recurring basis, our Christian influence will vaporize into a frozen-in-place fog of failed testimony.

This does not have to be.

The world already has plenty of people characterized by the above.

What is needed are more people who do the opposite.

For don’t we all want people to treat us in such a fashion?

Willing to listen to us first before telling us what they think about our ideas or actions?

Willing to think carefully about how their words will be understood by us before they open their mouths?

Resisting the temptation to get angy just because a decision or conversation didn’t go their way?

James summed it up this way in the first chapter of his biblical letter:

“You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (verse 19).

It doesn’t matter how many scriptures we quote to others or how “churchy” we dress on Sunday or how many happy hour invitations we forgo, if we don’t heed James’ counsel here, we’re still gonna blow up our testimony.

And that means less people will see and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and that means fewer people will consider becoming Christians.

Let’s do our best to do what James said.

For God’s sake.

As always, I love you
Martin

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