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Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

Many years ago, a comedian named Flip Wilson hosted wildly popular TV variety show that featured a character he played named Geraldine Jones.

Geraldine was a churchgoing lady who lived in the fast lane of worldliness.

Her signature wardrobe in the church service was a miniskirt which in the early 1970s was unheard of in a church service.

Geraldine didn’t want to hear about spiritual accountability for her choices, though, and whenever confronted about a choice, she’d use the line Flip Wilson made famous — “The devil made me do it.”

The Geraldine character always got lots of laughs when she’d throw out that line.

But making a joke of sin is never a laughing matter.

The fact is that the devil doesn’t make us sin.

We choose to do it.

If he could make us sin, then every Christian would never worship God, never give to God, never pray to God, never give money to those in need, never forgive those who need mercy and perpetually choose flesh over faith.

Sin is a choice. Always has been and — until Jesus returns — always will be.

Our choice.

Adam tried to shift blame for his sin in the Garden of Eden over to his wife, but that was a stupid choice.

Eve didn’t hold Adam down and force the fruit into his mouth.

Why was the tree holding forbidden fruit put in the middle of the perfect garden? Have you ever thought about that?

It was there for one reason — to test Adam’s and Eve’s loyalty and trust toward God.

It was a measuring tool that would explicitly reveal their need for God’s grace if they disobeyed.

They were clearly warned in advance of what the consequences would be if they didn’t remain loyal to God.

You know what happened.

And, no, the devil didn’t make them do it.

It was their choice.

They had no excuse.

Neither did the Old Testament Israelites wandering in the wilderness whenever they ignored the commandments given them through Moses.

Satan couldn’t make them do anything. But he sure could lure them into believing lies and choosing to embrace sin.

Millions didn’t enter the Promised Land as a result.

Listen, sin is always a choice.

We opt into that which dishonors and disobeys God and devalues our spiritual testimony.

There is no excuse for our sin.

No matter what culture and social media sources and Hollywood megastars say.

God gave us the Old Testament Law and the teachings of New Testament scriptures so that we would know and follow the right path.

We have to know that there are no excuses for sin as Romans 3:19 tells us.

In fact, the Apostle Paul said the Law was given to us so that we wouldn’t rely on excuses for sin.

Throwing out excuses might impress other people and even prevent us from consequences with family or friends or employers.

But they also block us from the one remedy that can solve our sin problem with God.

That remedy is repentance.

When sin occurs in your life and mine, it’s vital that we avoid excuses and confess our failure to God.

It’s vital that we repent and pledge to avoid repeating the sin.

Geraldine might think sin is a laughing matter.

But God and His Son who died on the cross to pay the price of atonement sure don’t.

As always, I love you
Martin

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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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Fruit trees do better when they’re pruned.

Gardens do better when weeds are pulled.

And vehicles get better gas mileage when unneeded weight is removed.

You’re seeing a trend here, right?

Whatever gets in the way of productivity needs to go.

And so it is with our spiritual lives.

We don’t “get efficient” once and then we’re set for life.

And we don’t get spiritual once and then we’re set for eternity.

Far from it.

Fruit trees need pruned yearly.

Gardens need weeds pulled weekly.

Vehicles need dead weight removed daily.

You and I need pruning every so often in order to remain fruitful.

We need to pull weeds of sin and distraction in order to provide more bountiful service to the Lord.

And we all could probably benefit from getting rid of “dead weight” habits or hangups that, at best, slow us down and, at worst, leave us broken down on the side of life’s road.

The author of Hebrews gives us needed advice:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Every person has a stumbling block sin that keeps tripping up him or her.

I’m talking about that sin that we say we’re not going to repeat but then, guess what?

We repeat it.

Self-hatred is not the solution although it can be hard to avoid as illustrated by the Apostle Paul’s autobiographical cry, “What a wretched man I am!”

Determined vigilance and deep humility are vital in this struggle between flesh and spirit.

We must always remember that we avoid the ditch when we stay between the lines of God’s Word and will.

And that happens when we keep our noses pointed down the centerline of the “straight and narrow” rather than seeking after those things that we can pursue only if we let go of God’s hand.

Listen, if we never take the first step toward the ditch, we won’t fall into it.

Recall the steps that have led you into the stumbling block sin. And resist taking even the first one.

Paul told Timothy it’s not enough to consider and then abstain from youthful lusts.

The young man needed to flee youthful lusts.

We’ll each be better off as we run away from temptation rather than thinking we can manage it.

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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Nothing is hidden from God.

His flashlight is on everything.

As kids, when the light was on and an adult was watching us, we behaved in school or at home or at church.

When we thought nobody was watching, however, sometimes we didn’t.

We’re all guilty of this, of course.

It’s so much better when we choose to behave as if in the light and in the sight of somebody bigger.

“Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord.
How much more does he know the human heart!” (Proverbs 15:11)

Hopefully, you’re in the middle of the narrow path of Christlike living and don’t have secret behaviors you’re trying to hide from God.

Because you can’t.

Just as I can’t.

Let’s do all we can to be like Jesus.

His life was an open book.

And since heaven is granted only to those in the Lamb’s Book of Life, let’s do all we can to walk in a way that shows we are living for Him.

And when we do mess up, prompt repentance will get us back on the path that keeps us on the pages of that book. Romans 8:1-2 promise so.

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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Dirty diapers are a very small price to pay in return for the joy of parenting a baby.

And what successful athlete wants to give up competition simply because it takes time to work out and practice?

The fact is that life is a series of trade-offs. If we want the rewards and blessings, investment of effort, patience, resources and cooperation are required.

A successful life is not built upon the shifting sands of luck but instead upon the bedrocks of determination and cooperation.

Part of determination is staying with the task even when circumstances stink.

Sometimes, even literally.

King Solomon owned many thousands of horses and oxen so he knew something about stalls.

He knew that fields weren’t plowed and harvests weren’t transported unless there were oxen to pull the plows and wagons.

With oxen, life was ultimately more affluent.

Even though oxen make big messes in their stalls.

It was a trade-off people were willing to make.

The better lives were more than worth the stinky mess that had to be tolerated and regularly carried away.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (Proverbs 14:4)

Listen, dealing with certain people at work or church or school — sometimes even at home — can really stink on occasion.

But if we’re not willing to deal with people who aren’t perfect in word and deed according to our perception, then are we being the kind of people God has called us to be?

What if others decided to avoid us unless we behaved perfectly in their view?

The person who never wants kids in their home or only invites over white-gloved clean freaks or who expects others to never say or do anything of a faux pas nature is going to be a lonely person.

We all make messes that sometimes stink.

Let’s make sure that our lives are beneficial for others so that our blessing to them is more evident than our “messing” of a relationship.

As always, I love you
Martin

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