Tag Archives: sin

Cascading Dominoes of Forgiveness

ImageRecently there was a domino contest to see how many dominoes could be erected and then sent cascading down one upon another.  The Guinness world record was shattered when 275,000 dominoes fell one after another revealing a stunning picture before the audience of onlookers.

How long a line of dominoes have we erected of those whose sins we are unwilling to forgive just as the wicked forgiven servant in Matthew 18 did? He erected his own set of dominoes and kept adding to them one at a time. He had the power to topple them by just echoing the one word “forgiven” just as he had received from the Master—but he refused to do so. He failed to look back and see his line of dominoes not standing but lying for the Master had graciously and mercifully chosen with a flick of His finger to send them toppling to reveal a beautiful picture of forgiveness and cleansing.

The question then before us is; will we keep erect the dominoes of other’s sins against us as a reminder of their hurt or will we willingly offer the cup of cold water, the words of forgiveness to God’s chosen people who have also been forgiven by Him? Listen to Jesus: “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven times; unlimited times!” [Matt 18]

Let’s dig deeper. Suppose we asked God to do as David did by asking Him to examine us in the night. Would our dominoes remain standing or fall? Look at what David said: “you have examined me during the night. You have carefully evaluated me, but you find no sin. I am determined I will say nothing sinful.” When we can pray those words back to God each domino we have erected will fall one after another until a beautiful picture of total forgiveness lays before us and others.

So today, Beloved, gather your dominoes and with a flick of the finger send them cascading into the beautiful pattern of forgiveness. Let them lay there for awhile as you muse what God has truly done. And then you can recite Ps 17:15 as your prayer to God for this new day: “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.”

Remember these wise words when you consider your choice. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “the Gods we worship write their names on our faces; be sure of that . . . thus, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.”

Beauty Out of the Ashes

ImageHow beautifully the Spirit led Dr. Luke to record for us the witnesses regarding the Son of God. We begin our study today by seeing the subterfuge of the religious leaders and end up with the confession of the criminal. What a contrast! Only by the Spirit of God could one chapter hold so much that grabs our attention and cause us to fall upon our knees in humble adoration for the Messiah who gave all that we might worship Him alone.

As we walk through the streets of Jerusalem to the Praetorium where we meet Pilate we are jostled about by the very pilgrims who shouted Hosanna to now are shouting Crucify Him, Crucify Him!… and all being led by those who were given the privilege of treasuring and imparting the sacred scriptures. These leaders had been called, chosen, and anointed with the blood of a ram that they might be cleansed and surrendered to the will of God. And yet, it is not the outward cleansing but the cleansing of the heart that God desires. Rightly Jesus pinpointed their inner heart problem: Luk 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” God desires instead that we Heb 10:22 draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, ….having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience..” 

Contrast this scene to the one criminal on the cross who recognized and submitted to the Son of God. Listen to his words “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong…Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” In that one brief interchange Dr. Luke transcends earth to heaven so that beauty may come from the ashes of sin and we learn of the plan of salvation. First one must revere God, Secondly, one must recognize that they are a sinner in need of repentance, Thirdly we are justly condemned for our sin; Fourthly we must seek His face and His forgiveness. We lay ourselves open to Him and He responds: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Note the promises: it happens today not in the future. We will be with Him! We will be in paradise 2Ti 2:12 “If we endure, we will also reign with him..”

Beloved, forest fires burn off the dross so that the beauty may come forth as new vegetation and that is God’s promise. We who are weak “will be lifted from the dust, from the ash heap and seated with Him in glory” [1Sa 2]  We will be “righteous, like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” [Is 61]  Will you keep the embers burning in the fire of the “deadly d’s” or remove them one at a time and allow Jesus to take the ashes and bring beauty out of the barrenness?

MY GOD…..

ImageFrom chapter one in Luke we have come across the question that was being asked about Jesus by the religious leaders, the political leaders, and the followers of Jesus. All were asking “who is he?” The psalmist in Psalm 7 had no problem with this question whether in times when he was at peace within himself, recognizing sin within himself or facing foes. Always he could say “O Lord “my” God”—-Jehovah, the existing one. God was his personal and close confidant to whom he could turn at all times and at all seasons of life.

God was his shelter and his deliverer but also God who disciplined and chastised when sin was noted. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”[ Heb  12:6] Although it is painful at the moment it brings us closer to holiness for it is then that we see our depravity in sharp contrast to His holiness.

God was faithful who rescued David from himself as well as outward enemies. He knew that God would be as close as a whispered prayer or a song sung or a voice proclaimed loudly. Boldly he came to God to change him from within that he might live a righteous life and that should be our goal as well. “The righteous by faith will live.”

As we ponder and meditate upon these attributes of God and see ourselves may we come boldly before the throne of grace seeking His deliverance from sin that we may emulate His righteous character so that when people ask us “Who is God?” we can boldly answer as David: He is “my” God whom I Iove and serve.

“Our Father, we pray that we may immerse ourselves in this marvelous book of experience and find here not only that which speaks of our own moods and attitudes, but also that which answers them in grace. We thank you for this revelation, written not merely with pen and ink, but with blood and sweat and tears, heartache and sorrow, happiness and joy—in the lives of men and women like ourselves. In Christ’s name. Amen.” [R. Stedman]

God is LIGHT!!! (1John 1)

ImageEach morning it seems that the darkness wants to claim this world but God’s clock and His timing say “sun arise!” There really is something marvelous about that initial sunrise with its glimmer of light that dispels the darkness. First the birds begin to chirp welcoming us to a new day, then the first rays, then the beauty of the clouds emerge as the stars slip into the sky to wait for their later appearance. Finally the sun itself touches our world. As the sun creeps up over the horizon more of God’s creation is revealed and it is marvelous to behold. What  must it have been like for the Apostle John as he heard, saw, beheld, and touched the very Light of God in Jesus? A sunrise can never compare to the beauty of our Savior but each day as we experience the welcoming light of day we are using the same adjectives John used in his painting his picture for us: hear, see, behold, touch. John is so emphatic that he paints this picture three times! And this is why he is writing to us, that we may not miss this marvelous image.

From that image John moves to his message which he has heard from Jesus himself: God is light and in Him there is no darkness. This reminds us of the verse in Rev 22:5 “Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever.” Even in the northern most part of our globe where there are places with many hours of light in the summer months, there is at least a portion of darkness, but here in Revelation John tells us that there will never be darkness! NEVER! 

From that beautiful image, John paints three contrasting statements beginning with “if.”

  1. If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness we lie to ourselves. BUT, if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship. That must be what heaven must be like, full of illuminating light 24/7. Not one drop of darkness for darkness represents sin and sin and God cannot co-exist.
  2. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves; the truth is not in us. BUT, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. If we had no sin there would be no need for the sacrifice of Christ but since there is sin within us we need cleansing and it is His blood that is the cleansing agent.
  3. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar. Did you notice that first we lie to ourselves and then to God? What does God say about lying? He hates it! Prov 6 says God hates a lying tongue and a false witness. This is one of those “OUCH!” statements.

God’s light has shined in our hearts, are we allowing it to shine forth as a new sunrise?  [2Cor 4]  Even though we live and move in darkness, is the Lord our light? [Micah 7:8]  

 

The Path of God…Prov 23

ImageIn the book of Esther we meet two men who were faced with choices which ultimately determined their destinies. The first man, Haman, loved riches and power and was filled with hate for God’s people. Ultimately, Haman’s choices led him to dine with a ruler and found himself hanging from the gallows he had prepared for a man he hated. The second man, Mordecai, made a choice to obey God and prepare his niece Esther for living a life that honored God. As queen, Esther was used instrumentally to preserve the Jewish people from Haman’s hatred and plan of destruction. Mordecai reminded Esther that God had uniquely allowed her to “achieve royal status for such a time as this!” Fast forward to the year 1846 and we meet Lewis Cass, Sec of State under Pres Buchanan, who wrote:  “God, in His providence, has given us a Book of His revealed will to be with us at the commencement of our career in this life and at its termination;” We see the truth of that statement in Haman, Mordecai and Esther’s life.

Each person is presented with choices that will determine their destiny both here on earth as well as their eternal place with or without God. Today in our reading [Proverbs 23] we find that King Solomon gives wise counsel for the here and now. Summarizing this chapter we find some principles we can apply to our daily walk with God:

  1. Vs 1-3 Avoid overindulgence in your appetite; you might find yourself swinging from the gallows! On the opposite side of the coin, avoid indulging at the table of the stingy person or you may end up paying the check!
  2. Vs 1,6,20-21,27-28 Be discerning in the company you keep; be wise in choosing friends, acquaintances and mates for life. If you choose wrongly, you bear the cross of shame and troubles; if you choose wisely it leads to peace, wisdom and prosperity
  3. Vs 12, 15-16, 19 Learn something new each day, it will benefit your mind and your disposition towards trials.
  4. VS 17 Envy of sin is a fleeting activity but zeal for the Lord is a passion that will only grow stronger as you meditate upon his Word.
  5. Vs 30-35 Over imbibing brings disastrous consequences; it ensnares and corrupts “Do not be caught by its beautiful color in the glass. Much sin enters the soul through the avenue of the eye,” [Fausset]
  6. Vs 22, 24-26 Honor thy parent for it is the first commandment with a promise. A parent rejoices when a son/daughter demonstrates wisdom in life’s choices.
  7. Vs 4-5 Beware of expending your life to gain riches; they make wings for themselves and fly away. Instead lay up treasures in heaven. God calls a man a fool who “stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.” [Luke 12] and wise who “accumulates for themselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” [Matt 6]
  8. Vs 9 Don’t waste your time with fools; those who seek not God but whose god is self-righteousness, and self-sufficiency. Shake the dust off your feet from those who deny God. [Luke 9] Instead “Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.” [Hosea 6:3]

So today, listen and be wise, God will guide you on your way [Prov 23:19/Ps 32:8] God chooses the path, you choose to follow or ignore the path He has chosen.

Photo courtesy: angelverses.org