Followers

Friday, April 30, 2021

Whatever Happened to Sin?

Many moons ago, when I was a freshman in high school, smoking was about the worst thing kids would do. By the time I was a senior, it was “going all the way,” if you catch my drift. Perhaps that’s when sin began to be erased, or at least the idea of sin.

 

Since then, humans have worked tirelessly to accept, normalize, and even protect sinful actions. What we once knew as sin—because the Bible said so and because our consciences made us feel it—no longer has that label.

 

Think about it. What thing was considered wrong and sinful when you were young is fully accepted today?

 

The big one I mentioned earlier hits a bit closer to home:  sex outside of marriage, aka sexual immorality, or fornication, as some Bible translations call it.[1] Not only was it wrong, but we knew it was wrong and tried to hide it. (I didn’t come to Christ until I was married with two children, so that should explain a lot. And I take full responsibility for my part in the dissolving sin—which is why I’m writing.)

 

Living together, or shacking up as my parents called it, was taboo. Nowadays, it’s the norm. And since the ’70s sexual revolution, no one is shocked by it, nor do we want to broach the subject. If we dare say this is against God’s law, we are chastised.

 

But that isn’t even the worst of it. Lately, if you are a person with a deeper skin tone than what is considered “white,” you can commit a crime—pass bad checks, take drugs, resist arrest, and be touted as a hero. If you are a Lieutenant in the military, you can set up your smartphone to record a video after evading cops for over a mile, refuse to get out of the vehicle when ordered, and still be commended by your branch of the service. This type of insubordination would not be tolerated if this military man disobeyed his superiors. But when it’s a police officer giving the orders, that’s another story.

 

And more recently, in Columbus, Ohio, you can even wield a butcher knife, wrestling someone intending to stab them, disregard repeated orders to drop the knife, and then be considered a wonderful young woman. Yes, this girl did lose her life because of her stupidity, and any death is terribly sad. But why do the public and the media make the one protecting the people from this maniac, the criminal?

 

I say it’s because sin is no longer sin.

 

God speaking through the prophet, Isaiah, said, Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine…mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man!”[2]

 

And the worst thing about this upside-down thought is that when sin isn’t sin, there’s no fear of eternal punishment AND no need for a Savior.

 

Now I realize some unbelievers have always been this way, considering the Isaiah passage, but it feels worse now. The numbers are growing, the age of criminals younger, and the crime more intentional and vicious. There’s no concept of wrongdoing—pride, arrogance, and entitlement have taken over. And while our focus is America, this thought is throughout the world, just in different forms.

 

So, how do you convince someone they need a Savior if they don’t believe the wrong (sin) they are doing is actually wrong (sin)?

 

Only God can, for Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…”[3]

 

But how do we know they are being drawn? Maybe the Share Jesus Without Fear question is a good place to start. “If you were to die today, where would you go?”[4]

 

Pray, and go in the LOVE of Christ,



[1] II Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19

[2] Isaiah 5:20-23

[3] John 6:44

[4] http://www.sharejesuswithoutfear.com/

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Same God

 

 

I love it when I find the Gospel in the Old Testament. To me, it confirms the Scriptural Truth that God does not change—He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.[1] And for some reason, I need this understanding settled within my heart to function in my daily life.

 

Lately, Job has been sort of my go-to book when I was feeling down. No matter how bad things got, it wasn’t as bad as it was for Job. Amid the horrific disasters God allowed Satan to perpetrate on Job’s life, even killing his children, Job did not charge God with wrong. In fact, he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”[2]

 

I find that fascinating—and so unlike me.

 

It’s possible in my rantings this past year, I did charge God with wrong. I pray I didn’t, but if I didn’t, I think I came very close. And I wasn’t really suffering.

 

Only God could have placed those words on Job’s lips and in his heart. But how does one cope with such personal pain and loss?

 

Job sunk into depression, despised his life, and wished he’d never been born. Afterward, Job recounted his days, his actions, and how he honored God in everything. This man even offered sacrifices for his children just in case they sinned. Moreover, God Himself declared Job blameless and upright—a truth Satan did not refute.[3]

 

Job’s heart was kind and compassionate. He loved God and did every good work he knew to do to please Him and avert this type of calamity. So, to Job, his suffering was unfair.

 

Why did God allow misery in Job’s life?

 

From the text, God’s exact reason isn’t clear. Still, I believe it was much more than proving a point to Satan. I think it was so Job could gain a deeper understanding of the Almighty and so God could correct Job’s thinking about sin.

 

Everyone at that time understood works righteousness:

good deeds = blessings        sinful deeds = misfortune.

 

And each time Job’s friends expressed their disgust at Job’s reluctance to admit he had sinned—that his current situation was God’s punishment, Job countered, saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.”[4] Job longed to plead his innocence before God, but he knew God was not a man. And even if they could go to court together, there was no mediator Job could see.[5]

 

When the three older men finished their statements, a younger man began to speak. Elihu spoke truth but had no insight into the underlying cause of Job’s physical and emotional pain. Yet, Elihu told of a messenger, a mediator, to show man God’s uprightness. By this one, man could see himself in comparison to a holy God. And faced with God’s Holiness, man confesses, “I have sinned…” In those moments, the grace of God delivers his soul from the pit because the Almighty found a ransom—a cover—a redemption price [6] to pay the condemned man’s sin,[7] in the merits of the mediator.

 

For Job, God himself became his Mediator—the One for whom Job longed. In the testimony box, Job sat while God proclaimed His glory and power and said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Four chapters later, Job understood his sin nature, the insufficiency of works to save, and he repented. God then, in His mercy, restored Job.

 

How great is it that our Triune God is the same today as He was in Job’s day? We also have God as our Mediator AND our Ransom—His name is Jesus, God the Son. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…”[8]

 

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!



[1] Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8

[2] Job 1:21

[3] Job 1:8-9

[4] Job 13:15

[5] Job 9:32-33

[6] Strong’s Concordance

[7] Job 33:22-30

[8] I Timothy 2:5-6

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The LOVE of God


The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. The wand’ring child is reconciled by God’s beloved Son. The aching soul again made whole, and priceless pardon won.”[1]

 


A few weeks ago, we sang The Love of God in worship, and it stuck with me. Kim Knowles led worship that Sunday and as always, the Holy Spirit flowed through her and she effortlessly ushered us into the presence of God. Thanks, Kim! 💗

 

Since I’ve been singing this song all month, I did some research. The lyrics are beautiful, especially the refrain: “O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.”[2] (Are you singing yet??)

 

Verse two seems to speak about the times in which we live—human thrones, kingdoms falling, and people refusing to pray. But confirms God’s love is sure, it shall endure, and His grace will resound. Glory to God!

 

Nevertheless, it was verse three that really caught my attention. “Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole tho stretched from sky to sky.”[3]

 

What great word pictures and what truth. John 21:25 says, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”

 

But can you write of God’s love for us without understanding who He is? I don’t think you can. So, I was shocked to learn that “lines similar to verse 3 are found in the Qur’an (18:109 and 31:27) and Akdamut, an 11th-century Jewish poem. Frederick Lehman, the song’s author, said the English rendition included in his song had reportedly “been found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.”[4]

 

Reading all this, I was reminded of a radio interview I heard last week. “The one thing Muslims need to know is the love of God. There is no LOVE in the Qur’an—Allah.” But if verse three is similar to the Qur’an and the song says “the love of God,” doesn’t that contradict the interviewee’s statement?

 

Back to the internet. Surah Al-Kahf – Qur’an, Chapter 18, Verse 109: Arabic and English Translation: “Say: ‘If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid.’ (Translation by Yusuf Ali)” Well, no LOVE there.

 

What about the Akdamut?  This poem, written by Meir ben Yitzchak Nehorai in the 11th century, has been incorporated into Jewish liturgy. Aviva Sterman explains, “the Jews make G-d their chativa, object of loverecite the Shema twice a day…study the Torah constantly, and since by doing so they follow the Divine will, G-d accepts their prayer.”[5]

 

The closest the Akdamut comes to the love of God is saying, “the Jews are chaviv, dearer, to G-d than the angels because they praise G-d regularly.”[6]

 

Neither Islam nor Judaism understands our One True and Living God. Sadly, some Christian denominations believe Muslims worship the same God we do, but they don’t. Our God IS love.[7] Allah is a counterfeit. And Jews completely misunderstand when the Lord says in Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an EVERLASTING LOVE.”[8] Why? Because they don’t have God’s complete Word. They refuse to see that “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[9]

 

And my heart breaks.

 

The only reason we love God is because He first loved us.[10]


Do you know the love of God?

 



[1] Hymn:  The Love of God (vs. 1) by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917, https://hymnary.org

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] I John 4:8

[8] Jeremiah 31:3

[9] Romans 5:8

[10] I John 4:19

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men

 

This morning, sunshine streamed through my windows. Compelled to see this first-hand and soak up some much-needed vitamin D, I rushed out the back door without my coat. The brightness in the sky made me think of warmth. But frigid air jolted my senses. Everything within view was covered with snow or white frost.

 

Standing on my back stoop, I gazed toward the sun. Its early morning brilliance, hindered by the frosty sky, appeared to be shining through a translucent disk. Light hit the trees casting shadows and creating beautiful contrasts to darkness. I took a moment to pray, thanking God for His creation—that He quickly confirmed was passing away.[1]

 

I lasted about a minute outside and then scooted back in. Checking my phone for the outdoor temperature shocked me. TEN degrees! Brrr!

 

I thank God for the cold because I know it kills many germs that would seek to harm us come spring. Still, peering out my window and seeing that beautiful sun fooled me into thinking it was much warmer than it was—warmer than the date on my calendar suggested. Suddenly, the Lord impressed upon my heart:  physical eyes are easily deceived. What we see isn’t always spiritual truth.

 

TRUTH is God’s Holy Word—Jesus Christ the Living Word.

 

I understood. Some seeing with physical eyes may view our nation’s current situation as warm and inviting like I did the sunshine. But right now, the spiritual reality is the exact opposite. All things will happen according to God’s plan. Only He knows the end from the beginning and how long we have until Jesus returns for His church. But Jesus did say, when these things begin to happen, we should look up and lift our heads because our redemption draws near.[2]

 

As frigid temps gripped me this morning, so did the thought of how many hearts grow cold toward our God. The falling away has commenced and is rapidly increasing.[3]

 

HATE is strong in our nation, just as Longfellow wrote on Christmas Day 1863 after he had endured personal tragedies and when the American Civil War was in full swing. Yet he ended each stanza with a portion of Luke 2:14, “…peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Commentaries and other translations imply the KJV scholars mistranslated this verse. They say the PEACE offered by the angels was only for those upon whom God’s favor rests. While I know the PEACE of God that surpasses understanding[4] may be conditional, their interpretation of Luke 2:14 flies in the face—defies—what I know of my great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Through Scripture, we learn our Almighty Triune God loves His creation,[5] and SIN grieves Him.[6] “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” was given to a dark world in the fullness of time.[7] God’s holy angels announced the birth of the One who would bring in everlasting peace. Through Him, through His physical, human birth, giving God, who is Spirit, the ability to die as our substitute, PEACE was offered to EVERY man, but is only imparted to those who believe and receive Him.

 

Wondering why I’m referencing a Christmas verse when we are over a month past Christmas? Well, with the current state of our Union, PEACE is shattered. Chaos ensues. And it feels as though another civil war is raging.

 

Father God, the signs are here. Your great wrath upon SIN is fast approaching.[8] We live in a dark world desperate for Your PEACE. Help us to love our enemy, pray for their salvation, and to be Your beacon of light as long as we can. Move us, O Lord, to seek first the kingdom of God and Your righteousness, for You are our strength.[9] Grant us good cheer[10] as we navigate our troubled times—this prelude to the 7-year tribulation—coming upon the whole earth.[11] Lord Jesus, provide Your comfort and PEACE—as You promised, saying, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

 



[1] I Corinthians 7:31; I John 2:17

[2] Luke 21:28

[3] II Thessalonians 2:3

[4] Philippians 4:7

[5] John 3:16

[6] Ephesians 4:30

[7] Luke 2:14; Galatians 4:4

[8] Isaiah 28:22; I Thessalonians 1:10

[9] Matthew 6:33; Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 121

[10] John 16:33

[11] Revelation 3:10

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Seventeen Days of Prayer - Day Seventeen - January 20, 2021

 

DAY SEVENTEEN

 

Most High God, how glorious and majestic is Your name above all the earth. As the snow-covered mountains seem to touch the sky, I stand at the base feeling very small. I am so grateful You are my Rock, for You are the One who speaks, and the earth shakes. You alone are worthy of praise. You created all things, and in You, Jesus, all things hold together.[1] So…

 

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass. For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”[2]

 

O Lord our God, we fall to our knees before You. We have now for these seventeen days humbled ourselves, prayed without ceasing, sought Your face, and with Your help, we have turned from our wicked ways. So, this morning we are asking for You to honor Your promise. Hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.[3]

 

Father, we are overrun with uncircumcised Philistines who have taken over our government and nation. They strive to discover where our Great Strength lies, intending to crush it and strip it from us. They plot to bind us with cords, put out our eyes, and make us slaves[4] by way of chaos and a pandemic.

 

These evil ones are slithery and sly and as seductive and persistent as Delilah. They seek to CHANGE our PERCEPTION of REALITY, so we willingly divulge our secret.

 

But Lord, we are not like Samson, a Nazarite, whose source of power was Almighty God evident in his never-cut hair. We, Your true children, are filled with Your Holy Spirit. We will gladly and openly proclaim our SECRET because it is FREE for everyone.[5] Yet, who will believe our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?[6]

 

The enemy has blinded their eyes, O Lord. They have become futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts have darkened. They refused to glorify or thank Jesus for His unfailing Gift,[7] and now, maybe, their doom is sealed.

 

You warned us night was coming when no one can work.[8] And it feels as though night is here. But cutting our hair, seizing and blinding us will not remove Your Spirit, nor will it give these people what they expect. Because VENGEANCE is Yours—You will repay.[9] DELIVER US FROM EVIL O God of our heart.

 

Sadly, their end will be worse than their beginning if they refuse to repent.

 

So, Lord God, while our physical power seems restrained for now, we are strong in the power of Your might. In Jesus’ name, we, like Samson, pull down the strongholds of this evil forced upon us, and we push over the pillars of their Communist/Marxist plans. Let this false god’s temple fall upon them in judgment, and bring Glory to Yourself this day.

 

In the precious and Holy name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, we pray, Amen and amen.



[1] Psalm 8:1; Psalm 57:5;  Isaiah 2:19-21; Colossians 1:15-16

[2] Deuteronomy 32:1-4

[3] II Chronicles 7:14

[4] Judges 16

[5] Romans 6:23

[6] Isaiah 53:1; John 12:38

[7] Romans 1:21

[8] John 9:4

[9] Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30

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Whatever Happened to Sin?

Many moons ago, when I was a freshman in high school, smoking was about the worst thing kids would do. By the time I was a senior, it was “g...