Mundane Monday: A Watchman’s Joy

Ezekiel 4:4-6

“Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you–390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days–I have assigned one day for each year.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Matthew 18:33

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

This image of Ezekiel, a watchman for Israel, lying on his left side for 390 days then on his right side for 40 additional days, eating exactly 8 ounces of food each day is tortuous.  Even moreso when we consider that he did not deserve such treatment.  It does not make sense to us, but the purposes of God are higher than our own.

We do not like to be inconvenienced in today’s culture.  Our flesh recoils at the idea of suffering for our own actions and the ensuing consequences, but to do so for someone else?  Not something eagerly desired.  Even a child will cry out “not fair” or “it was not my fault” when blamed for an action he did not commit.  This makes sense to us – no one should have to receive unfair judgment.  Still God’s righteous laws demand payment for our unrighteousness.

Ezekiel was a watchman appointed by God Almighty.  He was a covering for the Israelites.  The blood was on his head if he did not warn them, and by suffering symbolically, he, more than anyone, would have a zeal to warn His fellow people after catching a glimpse of what was to come.

This heart for God’s people and for the lost sheep is the very heart of Christ, who willingly chose to bear the iniquity of those who were unable to bear it themselves.  In fact, it was for the “joy” set before Him that He endured the cross.  Wow. Jesus had an unspeakable joy that his actions would deliver the entire world from the grip of sin and the sting of death.

At the height of suffering I have lamented for self, miserable that I have had to bear consequences for another’s actions, but Christ thought of us.  He chose rejection and suffering – I did not.  This revelation reveals the selflessness of Christ and our need to follow in His steps – serving others and considering them above ourselves.  Humbling and freeing at the same time.  We cannot accomplish this on our own, but we can ask God to open our eyes and to work in our stubborn hearts.

He is still calling servants today to be watchmen for His people.   It might be uncomfortable or inconvenient – forcing us to lay down our idol of comfort, but like Ezekiel, God needs humble servants willing to roll up their sleeves and bear iniquities on their knees for others still today.  No, we cannot wipe away the sins of others, but we can stand in the gap, pray and warn people of the devastation of sin.  When the sting of sin’s aftermath and its stigma is fresh in someone’s life, we can stand with them and guide them to God’s Word and the faithful forgiveness and love of Jesus.

Encouragement in the face of a fallen world might be the very catalyst to turn one from repeating the same sin or serve as an example for another to abstain from walking that path of sin at all.  The voice of truth might not be welcome today when absolute truth seems nonexistent, but more than ever the world needs to hear this voice of God’s people, uniting to be watchmen for the glory of God.  The temporary cost might be more than we want to pay, but the rewards are eternal.

Lord, forgive us for being lulled into complacency.  Help us to care for those around us as you do and to be faithful in the calling of watchmen for You.

Truthful Tuesday: Exposed in His Presence

Photo Credits: julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com

Photo Credits: julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com

Leviticus 10: 1-3

Then Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan and put fire in it, set incense in it, and presented strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them to do. 2 So fire went out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them so that they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke: ‘Among the ones close to me I will show myself holy, and in the presence of all the people I will be honored.”  So Aaron kept silent. 

Leviticus 11:44a-45

“For I am the LORD your God and you are to sanctify yourselves and be holy because I am holy… 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, and you are to be holy because I am holy.”

Nothing is hidden from the LORD.  It is folly to try to conceal anything in the first place, but we easily go astray and are deceived into thinking we can rationalize our unfaithfulness and make it acceptable in the sight of the One Holy One.

He is the same God today – still Holy in a new covenant.  He still wants our first fruits, our best – and is worthy of such an offering.  Somehow we buy into the philosophy that this amazing God of grace will wink His eye at our futile attempts because we “tried”.  It is this lukewarm washed down mentality that condones sin as being what is common and yet there is a cry in our souls that we are to seek to be Holy as He is Holy.  He who gave His very best, His only Son, expects such a sacrifice from those Who would receive such a mighty gift.

Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu were serving the LORD.  Not sure what the strange fire was, but it was straying from what God commanded.  What a privilege it is to serve in God’s house.  Not because of position, but because of His incredible redemption – taking rebels steeped in self and sin and changing them to humble servants, seeking to do His will.  So what happened?  How did Nadab and Abihu stray?  Were they placed there in a position that they were not qualified for because of relationship?  Did they have accountability?  There is not much that I detest more than seeing one of God’s children failing spiritually.  The ensuing disillusionment for many affected is devastating – all over choices made to gratify self instead of pleasing a Holy God.

The example of Aaron’s sons terrifies me because I want to be found faithful but see the same capability in myself. Corruption is the natural course for us all, apart from accountability, the grace of God and the fear of God firm in our hearts. Could this sin have been avoided?  We can try to blame Dad, but his sons were all grown up by this point.  Maybe something was lacking in their training and they could have filled a two-part series on Oprah about the struggles of being PK’s.  I don’t know, but I do know that we have no one to blame for our own faithlessness other than ourselves.

In the struggle of humanity, His grace is still available to all who would reach for it.  The problem is we often do not see our need of it.  The lavish grace and blood spilled out on our behalf was not so we could just be saved and live apart from Him, but His pure, Holy sacrifice serves as a vivid reminder of the depravity of our soul when left to our own devices.  It cost HIm His life.  Back to Aaron’s sons.  They were there, offering sacrifices – right in front of them the reality of sin’s consequences – blood spilled out to cover sins – and it became merely ritual to them, something they could do their way.

This same attitude is in the church today.  Elements of the church service are fought over as different perspectives over how each aspect of our worship service should be done.  Wow, has the body of Christ missed it big time.  It is all about Him. How can we reveal His love and glory to those coming, hungering for more of Him?

In our desire to serve God and share His salvation with a lost world, we can easily get lost and forget in the midst of our programs and plans that we still serve a Holy God.  Familiarity with the church service can become religious dogma, but God is watching to see who acknowledges Him and His holiness in the midst of our routine.  Maybe routine is a distraction that can cover our nakedness before the LORD.  It is easier to go through the motions than to lay our hearts transparent before Him to do surgery.  Don’t get me wrong – order in our services is a framework that can really glorify God, but God help us to never allow that framework to become mere duty.  Nothing is routine with Him and He wants to fill our churches with His presence.

This weary world is spiraling out of control.  Judgment is coming and it starts with us – with God’s church.  The time to quarrel about techniques and perspectives is over.  The days are evil.  We must be all about cooperation and God’s glory. If we rend our hearts and set aside trying to sanitize our waywardness and instead expose our desperate need for a Holy God, in that beautiful place is liberty and true worship of our King.  He reveals our sin that we might confess our sins and find incredible mercy in His presence.

Worshipful Wednesday: Worshiping the Grumbles Away

Photo Credits: fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Psalm 105:1-5

Give thanks to the LORD! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! 2 Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds! 3 Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 4 Seek the LORD and the strength he gives! Seek his presence continually! 5 Recall the miraculous deeds he performed, his mighty acts and the judgments he decreed.”

Psalm 106:1, 7, 12,13, 20-25, 29, 35-45

Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his loyal love endures! 7 Our ancestors in Egypt failed to appreciate your miraculous deeds, they failed to remember your many acts of loyal love, and they rebelled at the sea, by the Red Sea. 12 They believed his promises; they sang praises to him. 13 They quickly forgot what he had done; they did not wait for his instructions. 20 They traded their majestic God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They rejected the God who delivered them, the one who performed great deeds in Egypt, 22 amazing feats in the land of Ham, mighty acts by the Red Sea. 23 He threatened to destroy them, but Moses, his chosen one, interceded with him and turned back his destructive anger. 24 They rejected the fruitful land; they did not believe his promise. 25 They grumbled in their tents; they did not obey the Lord.  28 They worshiped Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead.  29 They made the Lord angry  by their actions, and a plague broke out among them. 35 They mixed in with the nations and learned their ways.  36 They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. 38 They shed innocent blood – the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. The land was polluted by bloodshed. 39 They were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions. 40 So the Lord was angry with his people and despised the people who belong to him. 41 He handed them over to the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them; they were subject to their authority.  43 Many times he delivered them, but they had a rebellious attitude, and degraded themselves by their sin. 44 Yet he took notice of their distress, when he heard their cry for help. 45 He remembered his covenant with them, and relented because of his great loyal love. 

The saga of the broken down cars began to ebb away on nerves yesterday.  I confess I had a pity party.  Alright, I grumbled.  We are all entitled to a little grumbling every now and then, right?  Hmmm . . . maybe not.  I was praising Him in the storm on Monday and ready for the trial to be over by Tuesday.  Patient, aren’t I?  This morning I was so thankful for a correction in my attitude from a loving God.  His Word is just as effective and able to speak to us from a message spoken thousands of years ago to some other grumbling spirits . . .

The sea was parted for them to cross and God defended them like no other, but they were bummed over the food God provided.  While I have judged them in the past, the same whining and ingratitude can flow in my veins, IF I let it.

We were made to praise God.  Our hearts need to praise the living God, the One Who is far greater than ourselves.  We need to thank Him, sing to Him, boast about Him, seek Him and remember all that He has done for us.  This thankfulness expressed to God changes us.  But what if we don’t?  What if we choose to complain about what God has allowed in?  This passage truly is a sobering one and injects the fear of God in me.  When we do not praise God, we are not doing what we were created to do, but the consequences of ceasing to thank God at all times are devastating, as well.

The destruction of a people began because they failed to appreciate what God had done.  That simple.  They also forgot God – the One who made them.  They chose to focus on what they felt were unfair circumstances and replaced the glory of God for complaints about things that don’t matter in all of eternity.  Ultimately, they forgot how important it was to be a grateful people.  How do we fail to appreciate God?

Thinking we deserve more than what He has allotted to us is perhaps one of the chief causes.  I remember being caught off guard by a brother who, when I asked him how he was doing, he said to me “better than I deserve”.  I recognized in that moment the humility and grace to be able to say such a statement.  Could I say that with the same sincerity?

It is easy to be religious and say the typical statements associated with ascribing glory to God, but God knows our hearts.  The words fall flat when my being is not completely about bringing Him glory but is distracted, instead by bitterness, unforgiveness or irritation over our discomfort.

The root sin long ago and today is the same – a lack of thankfulness and not purposing in our hearts to be faithful to acknowledge the God Who gave us everything.  Like Jonah, who grumbled when God took away the vine He had previously provided, we must hold all that He gives us loosely and be thankful for all he has given and done for us, even when He chooses to remove the blessings He has provided, too.

God help us to see our need of Him.  How quickly our spirits can go from worshiping Him to making our worship a thing of mere duty.  Slowly time with Him can be crowded out and before you know it, gratitude is replaced with a distrust in God, if we are not careful.

The enemy is ready to take us down the lane of ingratitude.  He knows the ending result – our demise.  But we do have a choice, as powerful as emotions can be.  To be thankful even when the chips are down, to love even when someone has hurt us and to forgive as we have been forgiven.  These actions are catalysts for sincere worship and gratitude to our God, Who is so very worthy of our praise!

Lord, we take so much for granted.  Please forgive us for the many times we have chosen grumbling over gratitude.  Spur us on to worship You in all circumstances.

Mundane Monday: The Discovery of Hidden Sin

it-is-what-it-is-saintintraining-net

Leviticus 4:27-28

“If any of the common people sin by violating one of the LORD’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty. 28 When they become aware of their sin, they must bring as an offering for their sin a female goat with no defects.”

Psalm 90:8

“You are aware of our sins; you even know about our hidden sins.”

Psalm 19:12

“But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”

Proverbs 28:13

“The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy.” 

John 3:20

“”For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”


“I did not mean to” is the common plea of our hearts when we are caught in a sin.  Somehow we perceive our guilt is lessened if we did not intend to sin.  We judge our intentions always in the best light, but our actions betray us.  Funny this is, when we perceive someone else’s sin we can be quick to assess their actions and assume the worst in their intentions.  We condemn, but we would never want such a judgment upon ourselves.

We are often taken aback when we become aware of sin in our lives.  The surprise over the revelation of our sin is possibly due to our inability to recognize our own sin unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us and our perception of ourselves is biased.

We would rather sanitize our sins with excuses or rationalizations than face the shocking reality that we are guilty.  Guilt is heavy and we cannot escape it.  It has to be dealt with and our flesh resists accepting the blame.

I confess that Leviticus is not my favorite book of the Bible.  Something about blood being splattered left and right for people’s sins is gruesome.  But then, so is sin.  The progression of the list of unintentional sins committed by various people – the commoner, the leader, the High Priest, the congregation of Israel – at first seems repetitive, but God has a purpose for every word in His word.

All have sinned.  All are accountable.  No one escapes the gravity and consequences of sin.  We all fall short of the glory of God and all must bear the penalty for our sin.  I am amazed at how kind God is to show us our sin and to ensure that every sin is covered.  Our hidden sins matter just as much as our known sins.  God does not want us to be deceived.  He wants all to be free from slavery to sin.

Sometimes we really are ignorant that a thought or an action is sinful.  God gave us the law to help us understand, but also to cause us to see our need for His salvation.  In His incredible mercy, God knew that we often do not see our sin and He fulfilled every law Himself.  How different this is from trusting man to cover our sins.  A person might be able to sympathize with our shortcomings, but could never pay for them.

When we see sin, there are two different responses.  Conviction is different than condemnation.  The revelation of sin is oil on our head and a blessing.  Even though it hurts, thank God for His mercy in convicting us of sin.  Condemnation is judgment without mercy.  The enemy loves to accuse us.  We are, in fact guilty.  No way around it.  But the soul who is teachable and receives instruction from the Holy Spirit is no longer under the law, for grace has come to all who will accept it.

His grace is free to all, but came at a great cost. The guilty go free and are proclaimed as innocent, but Jesus did not pay that cost so we could continue in our sin – that would not free us at all.  He paid it with His great love and compassion so we could look up from the mud pile we are in, step out of the miry clay and into the grace of God to see and know the greatest joy of this life – Himself.

The moment of the revelation of sin is a crisis we all will face.  We might want to resist facing up to our sins and owning them, but that is a miserable occupation.  Covering our iniquities with excuses never feels as good as repentance and God’s covering.  Give up.  We are all caught, whether in a known or hidden sin – caught by the loving arms of God, if we let Him.

Lord, You are worthy of praise!  Thank you for showing us our sins, that we might confess them, turn from them, find mercy and know the God of this universe!

Thoughtful Thursday: Whose Fault Is It?

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Proverbs 11:5-6

“The righteousness of the blameless will make straight their way, but the wicked person will fall by his own wickedness.  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.”

Proverbs 12:12, 21

“The wicked person desires a stronghold, but the righteous root endures.  21 The righteous do not encounter any harm, but the wicked are filled with calamity.”

Genesis 4:7

“Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Romans 6:12-13

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.”

James 1:15

“Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.”

Jeremiah 19:5

“They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind!”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”


Daily we bear the sins of one another as well as our own.  In vanity we scramble to attempt to cover our shortcomings, but underneath is the same intent and heart.  In all the stress of our messy lives, a sinless Lamb covered all of the sins of the world and yet our hearts somehow still can blame Him.

Every day sin captivates mankind and every day the consequences of those sins are born and the blame is cast.  Sin ravages our souls and is often permitted to do so by the very ones whose lives it wreaks havoc upon.

A sane mind would not seek to suffer purposely, yet that is exactly what we do when we give in to sin’s deception.  God’s laws still stand whether or not we pay heed to them.  Like gravity, our decisions will affect the course of our life and the weight of sin will be felt, much like the joy experienced from the fruit of obedience.

God hates sin.  He hates what it does to us.  Our flesh hates the rules and boundaries set, thinking we are being deprived. All the while God wants to spare us from the spreading cancer which threatens to steal our joy and imprison us.

Time and time again throughout history God’s people are lured away by sin’s promises deceitfully dressed up in an attractive array.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.  How is it we cannot recognize the same strategies of the enemy and refrain from indulging our flesh?  Especially when we have seen in history the effects of sin on this weary world?

Deception.  Lust of the flesh.  Distrust.  Rebellion.  Self-reliance.  If in the moment of temptation we cry out to God, He will provide the grace and strength we need to overcome.  But all too often we don’t.  He makes a way out and we rationalize that our way seems better.  Or maybe we doubt God’s goodness or His ways and choose to be our own God.

While the prevalence of sin in our culture can be discouraging, there is still hope.  We can stop blaming others or God and put no confidence in our flesh.  We can turn away from sin and ask God to help us recognize it for what it is.  We are left without an excuse, but God forgives us anyway.  What kind of grace would choose to bear our blame?  Selfless, Holy grace – from the Only One Who can grant it.

Lord, help us to recognize sin in our lives and to turn away from it, the enemy of our souls.  Thank You for Your gracious covering and for setting us free!

Worshipful Wednesday: Owner of the Nations

Psalm 82:8

Rise up, O God, and execute judgment on the earth! For you own all the nations.

psalm-83-confederates

Psalm 83:4-6

4 They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation! Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more.” 5 Yes, they devise a unified strategy; they form an alliance against you. 6 It includes the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites,”

Psalm 83:16-18

16 “Cover their faces with shame, so they might seek you, O LORD. 17 May they be humiliated and continually terrified! May they die in shame! 18 Then they will know that you alone are the LORD, the sovereign king over all the earth.”

As I read from my Bible plan this morning, I could not help but see the Scriptures above as being fulfilled right now during our time.  Upon examination, looking into the history of each people group mentioned as enemies of God’s people, it is amazing to see how small choices can impact families, people groups, nations, the world and all eternity.

Esau and Ham were both cursed for a moment of weakness indulging their flesh.  Esau was the favored son of Issac, but he was lazy and and took for granted his position… all over Lentil soup.  I am thinking it would have taken some more prized food than that to tempt him away from leaving behind his identity in Christ.  Tricked out of his birthright, he ended up an enemy of God’s people.  It hardly seems fair, and yet God knows the heart and His choice was Jacob.

Noah knew his son’s heart, and though it was a moment of indiscretion and mockery, Ham was foolish and not who God’s promise would be through.  His descendants apparently did not learn a lesson from their ancestor regarding walking in wisdom and restraining the curious sins of the flesh.

Lot just dumbfounds me.  He was spared by God because of the faithfulness of Lot’s uncle, Abraham, and his prayers on his behalf.  Yet his descendants became enemies of God’s people.  He surrounded himself by a godless people and grew comfortable there.  Given a choice as to where he would live, he inched closer and closer to Sodom and Gomorrah until he was smack dab in the middle of a fleshly, lustful environment.  He even offered his own daughters up to wicked men as potential sex slaves when the wicked men of his city wanted to molest the angels who were visiting Lot.  No wonder his daughters did not know right and wrong and opted to inebriate their father and bear his children.  Moab and Ammon resulted from their sin and are also modern day enemies of God’s people.  Keeping ourselves unpolluted is not enough. Our children need to be taught what it means to fear the LORD.

Enter the Hagites and Ishmaelites, who come from Hagar, who was Sarah’s backup plan when it seemed like God was taking too long to fulfill His promise.  The root from Sarah’s and Lot’s daughters’ decisions was impatience and a lack of trust in God.  What if they had not acted on their desires and just waited on God?  We will never know.

What a mess.  Oh how the heart of God grieves over the sinful choices man makes in His attempt to rule himself.  The consequences for decisions made outside of God’s will are painful and long lasting.  Distrust in God and impatience for the unfolding of His plan will not produce blessings, only hardship and pain for those who come behind us.  The motivation for acting outside of God’s will is idolatry – our desires become our god.

But what intrigues me the most are the Assyrians -they were not who I expected to be the enemies of God.  Surrounded by lands who worship false gods, the modern-day Assyrians are Christians in a land we are familiar with, that was once Ninevah.  Jonah’s obedience still paying off, perhaps?  How is it that Christians, who were grafted in to God’s promise to Israel, could ever be an enemy of Israel’s?

Ultimately, all of the enemies of God’s people are enemies of God.  They do not remember that He is the Father of all nations, the One Who made us all.  They want the favor of God their way and the fruit of their deeds goes before them and will be judged by the God of our universe.

Be ready.  The pieces are moving into place and the nations surrounding Israel think their plan is firm, but the One Who owns it all has a plan and it will stand.  Isn’t He amazing?  He gave us free will and we made a mess of things, but in the end He will work everything for good, because He can!

Lord, I am amazed at You.  Our hearts can fear when we see the circumstances in the world today, but to know that You are sovereign and in complete control is our source of everlasting comfort.  Have Your way, LORD, and defeat the enemies, as David prayed, that they might seek You and know You as the One true King who rules over all.

True Freedom – Happy 4th of July!!

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.”

Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;” 

Romans 8:1-2

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

Many images come to mind when I contemplate what freedom means.  Imagery of a soldier, willingly choosing to fight to keep our land free from danger; thoughts of our founding fathers, tirelessly making sure our constitution protected our rights and freedoms; and an innocent God-man, choosing to lay down His life to purchase our freedom.

Freedom is not cheap.  It is the most expensive gift someone can give and receive.  Yet after it has been received it is often quickly forgotten what sacrifice was given to provide such a gift.  We can begin to deviate from what that freedom really was intended for if we are not mindful.  Freedom FROM sin, not freedom FOR sin.  Freedom to live in freedom, but not to use that freedom to infringe on other people’s freedoms.

As we remember the hard fought for freedom in the United States of America – won on the backs of those who laid down their lives so we could become a new nation, may we never forget the chief purpose – to be able to worship freely.  They saw a bigger purpose for our nation than just the American Dream of living lavishly.  We can still be a lamp to the world if we will remember the true freedom we were meant to have in this land – freedom to worship our living God.  We cannot let this hard-fought-for freedom die so easily.

Political correctness threatens to stifle our consciences and silence true Christianity, replacing it with dead religion that offers no hope nor true freedom.  In the name of freedom we are told people should have freedom of speech, yet Christians are told they cannot pray, the ten commandments are removed and a marine is disciplined for not removing her Scripture from her desk.  In the name of freedom, people demand offensive cakes be made and sue the ones who will not make it, denying the freedom of choice and conscience that the bakers have.  In the name of freedom, people proclaim their right to murder the unborn for their convenience, while the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves are silenced forever.

Our freedom is being taken from us little by little.  Do we perceive it?

We can still be a source of light to the nations if we do not forget our heritage.  Christ is the hope of all the nations and the only One Who really sets us free.

The ultimate freedom is the freedom from sin.  Freedom from bitterness.  Freedom to choose righteousness.  Freedom to love your enemies.  Unlike the freedom this world affords, the freedom Christ purchased is forever.  May true freedom reign in our hearts and our land.  To God be the glory!

Lord, thank You for setting my heart free twenty-seven years ago – I will never be the same.  Heal our land, LORD! Capture our hearts again and revive our hearts for you, Jesus.  Have mercy on our sins and make this nation Yours!

Thoughtful Thursday: Job’s Lessons – Trusting God in Affliction

Job 8:5-7

“But if you will look to God and make your supplication to the Almighty, 6 if you become pure and upright, even now He will rouse himself for you and will restore your righteous abode.  7 Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish.”

Sitting in handcuffs, dazed and shocked, I wondered how this could happen to me.  I was innocent.  But in that moment the LORD spoke to me clearly.  “Guilty by association”.  Associating with one who had lied to me and placed me in a mess. You’re a modern day Job, lady”, the police officer told me sarcastically, yet laced with compassion.  Me?  Job?  No, I could not compare my sufferings with his.  Or could I?

Life has some crazy turns in it – many we would rather avoid, but traveling down those roads leads us to unexpected places with cherished lessons learned.  Job’s counselors all speculated that some hidden sin caused his demise.  Why would a good God allow such suffering in, after all?  I am sure Joseph felt similarly.  He was only prophesying what God placed in his heart, only to find himself at the bottom of a well and then a betrayed slave.  What was God thinking?

Staring at the spot on the ceiling of my hospital room, I wondered how I got there, too.  Worried faces of doctors unsure of what to say, I laid there and trusted.  Patiently.  In the midst of that hard place, a resolve began to form that was not from me.  Even in that horrid place, God spoke to me.  Would I be willing to let Him use me in this way?  Yes, God.

Back to Job.  He questioned himself, examined what could be the cause of such difficulty in his life.  He did not know that Satan had asked if he could mess around with his life.  Job’s chief sin was in doubting God and in justifying himself rather than God.  When we cannot figure out what God is doing, we can cry out to God to trust Him and place our faith in Him. Lack of understanding is not wrong, but doubting God’s goodness and purposes are.  Introspection at times of confusion is a great gift – an opportunity to pause and clarify our lives before God.

In the end, God blessed Job more than he was before.  Sometimes we cling to what we knew as the past, wondering if we will ever see God’s goodness again.  Our view of the past just might not be all that we thought it was, either.  God has new heights, new blessings for us.  His idea of a blessing might be different than ours, but He and His ways are always good.

Lord, when we don’t understand, help us to draw near to You and to trust You fully.  Be glorified in our mess – You Who makes sense of everything, almighty, sovereign LORD!

The Price of Negligence

Photo Credit thecounselingnetwork.org

Photo Credit
thecounselingnetwork.org

Leviticus 5:1

“When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”

Leviticus 5:5

“When an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned.”

Leviticus 5:17

“If a person sins and violates any of the LORD’s commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”

I love how reading passages over and over again there is always something to glean from God’s Word! Leviticus is often thought of as being dry and a lot of jargon about offerings and prescriptions for dealing with sin. It couldn’t apply to us today, could it?  As a mother of five children, I have often heard the expression, “I didn’t know”, or “I forgot”, or “It was an accident”.  What strikes me in the verses above is that there are no excuses given for the offender’s lack of knowledge of their own transgression.  Instead, there is a prescribed solution, and the One to whom we are accountable paid it.  We cannot take care of our sin our way, though.  It must be in accordance with the One with Whom we will give an account.  While it is difficult for our generation to understand the slaughtering of animals for the propitiation of our sins, both for known and unknown sin, we have the same sins going on today and the same excuses.  Acknowledging our shortcomings is just as necessary and required by our Holy God.

We are good at making excuses for ourselves in this generation, but the idea of the scapegoat has been around a long time.  In Hebrew, the word scapegoat is Saʿir La-ʿazaʾzel, (one interpretation is “a goat for Azazel”, which means strong God).  This refers to a goat being used to bear the sins of Israel during the ritual of Yom Kippur.  The scapegoat has been used in most cultures, ironically.  Whether the goat was sacrificed or set free to bear all of the iniquities, it did not have a choice – it was chosen to take away the people’s sin.

Mankind recognizes it has a need to have sin dealt with, if we are honest with ourselves.  But we often create our own solutions as to how to remedy our sinful status.  We can also come up with excuses, rationalize or placate our guilt.  Maybe the standards were to high, or maybe someone else is responsible or to blame. But not in God’s economy. No fig leaf is sufficient to cover our shame or guilt and redefining our guilt to make ourselves feel better really doesn’t.  We still need covering for our hidden and known sins today, but we do not have a scapegoat – we have the Lamb – who chose to bear all of our sins.

Recently, I became aware of negligence in an area of my life.  It was hidden from me in that I did not recognize it as sin, just an inability.  Becoming aware of something as sin is not fun and we can easily dismiss it as maybe we are not talented in a certain area or lack understanding.  It can be easier to avoid it rather than face accountability.  Maybe it is not a sin, after all.  But once I are aware, I am culpable.  No more ignorance to hide behind.  Although it is difficult to have to work on those areas of our character that are challenging for us, we cannot pretend any longer that we do not know.  We must instead ask God to help and to strengthen us in our areas of weakness.

I am grateful that God exposes our sins.  He does so to free us.  The deeper we go, the more unrighteous we may appear, but cooperating with the Holy Spirit when He illumines our hidden sins, which we often couch as inabilities or habits that are a part of our personality, is ultimate victory.  True, we each have our own unique challenges in our perspective walks with God, but He is sufficient to help each of us in our time of need.

Thank You, Lord, for lifting the veil so we could see and gain access to You.  Thank You for Your grace and love, which always seeks to rid us of the cancer of sin and draw us nearer to You.  Praise Your Name!

Passing the Baton of Righteousness

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Jeremiah 32:17-19

17 ‘Oh, Lord God, you did indeed make heaven and earth by your mighty power and great strength. Nothing is too hard for you! 18 You show unfailing love to thousands. But you also punish children for the sins of their parents. You are the great and powerful God who is known as the Lord who rules over all. 19 You plan great things and you do mighty deeds. You see everything people do. You reward each of them for the way they live and for the things they do.’

Jeremiah 34: 14b-15a, 18a

‘But your ancestors did not obey me or pay any attention to me. 15 Recently, however, you yourselves showed a change of heart and did what is pleasing to me.’  18 I will punish those people who have violated their covenant with me.’

Ezekiel 18:20

‘The person who sins is the one who will die. A son will not suffer for his father’s iniquity, and a father will not suffer for his son’s iniquity; the righteous person will be judged according to his righteousness, and the wicked person according to his wickedness.’

Exodus 20:5-6 (also Dt. 5:9)

‘I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.’

Deuteronomy 24:16

Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.’

Ezekiel 18:20

‘The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.’

Generational sin.  Like a prison cell you are confined in and cannot escape – or can you?  A child is born into a household in which the father is abusive.  Is the child at fault?  Will he suffer for his father’s sins?  Will he be just like his dad?  It breaks my heart when children are told that it is seemingly impossible for them to escape the sin handed down in their families, as if they were destined for them by a wicked legacy they cannot escape.  The righteous requirements of God’s law require that God punish evil. When evil is unpunished, it begins to grow and thrive.  But what is meant by the Scripture which says children are punished for the sins of their parents?

Taking all Scripture together and knowing God’s character that has been revealed to us, we know God would not be so unjust as to punish one who is innocent of sin.  But what is meant by the Scripture above which says God “punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”?  Certainly if one is born into an ungodly environment it will affect him adversely.  He will also bear consequences if he does not recognize the sin all around him and chooses to live a similar lifestyle.  We have possibly all witnessed the effects of sin in a family which continue generation after generation, whether for righteousness or evil.  But is a child at fault if that is all he knew?

I was once in darkness, until one day when God opened my eyes.  The Holy Spirit revealed sin in my heart and my need for salvation.  No matter what had happened to me or what I was surrounded by, God in His justice and mercy convicted me of my sin nature.  The Holy Spirit convicts all of sin and righteousness (John 16:8).  We are all without excuse.  Innately we all have different struggles in the flesh that we must master, before sin masters us.  We cannot blame our predecessors for our weakness, but admittedly the influence of sin can have a profound affect on us.

No words exist to adequately convey the gratitude I have that the LORD revealed the sins of my family and in my own heart.  Apart from this revelation, I could easily have continued in the sins before me and would not been saved.  The blame for our own sins lies within each one of us.  We are also not culpable for other people’s sin, but if we cause someone to sin, we will bear judgment from God (Matthew 18:6).  But what a difference choosing to walk in obedience to God can make for your life, your children’s lives and their children’s lives.  To a thousand generations.  Wow.  Notice that the judgment from God is only a few generations for those who hate God.  But a thousand generations for those who love God and keep His commandments.  God is merciful.  He is kind.  He reaches down into the individual steeped in sin and offers forgiveness and enlightenment to live a different way.  Your past does not define you, nor your upbringing!  You can CHOOSE this day whom you will serve.  Amen!

Thank You, God, that you are just, kind, merciful and forgiving!  Praise You that You reveal our sins to us.  Help us to walk blamelessly before you that we might pass on a legacy of righteousness and hope to those who come behind us.  May we be found faithful, testifying to Your great salvation.