“Saul’s Death”

Salvation Graphic

1Chronicles 10 Was it God’s will for Saul to die is a question that comes to mind as we read this short but vivid chapter. In vs. 14, we learned that “the Lord killed him,” so the answer to that question is yes. God willed that Saul should die because he was unfaithful. He did not obey the Lord’s instructions. He tried to use a witch to determine his safety. These are hard words for us to swallow, and we would like Saul’s end to be like many of our fairy tales; they lived happily ever after. But, Saul chose his path and his destiny just as we do. God’s grace is ever-present because He is longsuffering even to the point of death.

Preparing for our entrance into eternity is as simple that a three old can understand it: Admit you are a sinner in need of redemption; Believe and trust in God. Confess your sin to a loving and holy God who will cleanse you in preparation for his glory. We stand on the threshold of eternity every day. The gospel is God’s power for salvation, and the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith. It is also true that since creation, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature – have been seen and understood through creation. Therefore men are without excuse for not knowing. Saul knew it, and men today know it.  

What do you want on your tombstone? This: “well-done thou good and faithful servant” or this: “he/she was unfaithful.” It really is your choice.  

Graphic: https://bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation

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What do you think of sin?

Do you casually dismiss what God says about sin? Learn from this sad interlude in the life of Joshua.

Joshua 7  Joshua 7 john-mark-smith-2aJoshua may have been the ‘never.look.back’ man, but even he faced trials and like us, he too sometimes fell flat on his face seeking answers. Take the case of the sin of Achan. The victory at Jericho spurred Israel on and after scouting out the territory of the next city, felt a small force could take it. How wrong they were; 36 men died in that battle and the residents of Ai had a victory party.

Joshua fell on his face before God and his prayer is an echo of what the Israelites had said to Moses over a 40 yr period as they wailed and complained to God. But God was less than happy with his chosen leader and responded “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?” Sometimes God has to do that with us as well. It isn’t God’s fault that we are in this pickle, but our own sin. Unbeknown to Joshua, there was sin in the camp. God challenged Joshua to take steps to eradicate the sin and the sinner and we must do likewise. Even though the Israelites had heard of God’s directive of the ban on all things in Jericho, Achan had casually dismissed it. How like us. We know what God desires but we fail to think ahead to the consequences of disobedience. Do you dismiss sin? Do you think “God will understand.”  Unlike us, God does not dismiss sin but demands purity and righteousness. We foolishly think our sin only affects us. Be forewarned; “be sure your sin will find you out.” [Num 32:23]

Learn from this sad interlude. Allow the Holy Spirit to prick your heart of any sin that lurks there so that God can bless us.

Photo courtesy of: John-Mark Smith/Unsplash + caption

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Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out!

When you sit back knowing that you are complacent do you ever wonder who pays the price?

numbers 32 question2as

Numbers 32 “Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out”

This verse should be a warning to all of us because hiding, disclaiming and denying sin brings serious consequences either here or in eternity. This warning is one of 3 lessons we can glean from this chapter.

The second lesson is that complacency is contagious. When Moses heard of the request of the Reubenites, the Gadites and then the ½ tribe of Manasseh to live on the eastern side of the Jordan River, he assumed that they were ready to settle down and not enter the Promised Land because it would lead to others following their footsteps. In today’s world that is also true when we are content to sit idly by while others do the work of the church.

Thirdly, we don’t know when these tribes either changed their minds or if they had this as the first order of business but Moses did not see it that way. All appearances are deceiving if we do not share up front our thoughts so we are not misconstrued. They did respond with words of faithfulness to obey Moses to cross over and join the others in conquering the Promised Land but it was a costly choice which lasted at least 7 yrs.

No question; complacency and sin are contagious.

Be steadfast in your walk with God.  

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

James 4 mirror2If you are not too old you  remember the fairytale story of Snow White  depicting good and evil. The evil part is played by, you guessed it, a prominent queen, much like Queen Athaliah of OT fame; obsessed with beauty and power. To be sure she was always the most beautiful she would stand before the magical mirror each day and ask: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” and would hear “Thou, O Queen art the fairest of them all,’—that is—-until the day it responded: “Snow White is the fairest of them all.” Immediately her false façade was shattered and her pride was revealed.  The reader sees the real queen, beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside. Both the fictional queen and the real queen Athaliah were intent upon proving the mirror wrong, Both set out to destroy their rivals.

Sometimes we are like the queen. When God’s mirror,  His Word,  reveals our true person,  we seek to cover our warts, scars. and imperfections because we don’t like what God’s Word reveals. We do not want to admit our imperfections and we seek to cover them through works without faith much like the Laodicean church.  But, the fact remains, we still have imperfections, called sin,  because God’s mirror does not lie. He still sees us as we truly are.

On the one hand we say, yes I am a believer but we live as if we are not. But if we want the mirror to say we are ‘perfect, wanting nothing,’ then we must submit to God and stop saying we haven’t sinned.  To say we have no sin is essentially saying God is a liar for He hath said: “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”   Could that be a reason God does not answer our prayers?  Could it be that our motives and our inner person  are like the queen’s? We want to hear we are the fairest of them all  but fail to admit our shortcomings and change our ways.

God’s mirror answers who is the fairest of them all. It is the ABC’s: One who admits their sin, believes that God’s plan for sin redemption is through His son and confesses their sin seeking forgiveness and cleansing from God.

The question remains: Are you like the queen or Snow White? What is God’s mirror revealing about you?

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Psalm 51 “Sin, Forgiveness and Grace”

psalm 51 forgiveness2Had King David remembered:  “sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it” he would not have experienced an adulterous affair with Bathsheba nor committed murder to cover it up. Yet David concealed his sin and why  God sent Nathan the prophet to him. As David realized this, a profound thought came to him as he confessed before a Holy God. “Against You, You only, I have sinned.”

No matter who the persons are involved, the sin is in reality against God and Christ who saved us and washed us from our sin.  Like David, we think our sin is concealed or it does not impact anyone other than ourselves but this is a lie out of the pit of hell. Galatians reminds us that God will not be mocked and we reap what we sow. God told David, “ Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.[ 2Sa 12:10]

When David repented he heard Nathan the prophet say, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” Reflecting on this, David entered the house of the Lord and experienced God’s  greatest gift and mystery called forgiveness. All we have to do is to ask God to “Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin!” Open hearts are ready to receive God’s grace and lovingkindness and understand more clearly God’s grace.

How do we know that transaction of forgiveness has taken place? Like David, we will experience peace and joy even as we face the consequences that follow.

 

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Dead People Don’t Sin

rom 6 dead to sin2Jeremiah  noted  that  we  have  lived  so  long  in  our  sinful  state  that  we  don’t  even  blush  at  sin!  Yet  as  he  reminded  the  people  they  were  standing  at  a  crossroads  and  they  should  consider  their  path.[Jer  6]  Paul  is  giving  us  similar  advice  by  saying  that  we  are  not  to  remain  in  sin  for  we  are  now  alive  in  Christ  not  because  “works  of  righteousness  that  we  have  done  but  on  the  basis  of  his  mercy,  through  the  washing  of  the  new  birth  and  the  renewing  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  “  [Titus  3]  Sin  now  has  no  mastery  over  us  UNLESS  we  purposefully  yield  to  it.  Beloved we are to “not  let  sin  reign…do not  present  your  members  to  sin  as  instruments  to  be  used  for  unrighteousness!”

If we do the words of John should echo in our ears: “The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.” So  the  test  is  really  this:  if  we  are  living,  moving,  and  enjoying  sin  we  might  want  to  check  our  status  and  see  if  we  are  living  a  life  that  is  merely  a  charade  because  he  who  is  alive  in  Christ    “is  a  new  creation;  what  is  old  has  passed  away  –“  [2Co  5]  and dead people do not sin.

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For What Are You Thirsting?

psalm 42 mt 5 6 thirst2We are not asking about a casual thirst but a deep desperate thirst for which one must have it or will physically die. But there is another kind of thirst and that one is spiritual. It is a deep longing that only God can fill.

In John 4 we meet a woman who came every day with her waterpot to the well in Samaria. She was physical thirsty but Jesus looked beneath and saw within her a deep spiritual thirst. So when Jesus offered water that that he could give by which she would never thirst again she asked: “”Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” But the water he would offer would be living water which would quench not her physical thirst but her spiritual thirst for it will come from the living God, the Living Water.

The psalmist thirsted for God, for the living God. His too was a deep desperate thirst which only God could supply. Drinking from God’s well is the fountain of life and only from it is the soul satisfied. Those who seek the living water will be blessed for they hunger and thirst not for water but for righteousness. [Mt 5]The true Living Water that satisfies the deep heart longing became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus’ promise is that he “will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” Have you come to drink from the fountain of the Living Water today?

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The Compassion of Christ

Mark 1 compassionate christaAs we are walking through Passion Week and soon will celebrate Resurrection Sunday it is important for us to step back and look at the life of Christ and the writer Mark will be our guide. As we begin we see that Mark reveals the urgency of Christ’s message to a world wallowing in sin. He shows us His authority over the physical elements of sin. He shows us His compassion over us who are held in the grip of sin.

It is this last element that grips our hearts this week as we see our blessed Savior hung on a cruel cross because men were blind by choice to who Jesus truly was. He was a man yet he was God in his humanness. He was as the demoniac said “the Holy One of God” to show us His goodness and His love for mankind. He was a man who walked, talked and saw the effects of sin yet with a heart of compassion. It was this character quality we see as he silenced the demons, with gentleness lifted an ailing woman from her sick bed, reached out to a leper to heal him not just because he was able but because he was willing. This is the gospel or good news we are to proclaim this week for we have the message, we have been touched and healed.

Beloved there are people all around us who are wallowing in sin and Christ is the authority who can heal them because He is the Compassionate Christ. May we take time this week to show and reveal compassion to another.

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Deny Self, Live Righteously, Look for The Return of Jesus

Titus 2 living in god grace2 When having conversations regarding a person’s lifestyle  I have encountered one of these responses  which leads me to wonder— has this person really accepted the Word of God as His final and absolute standard? Here is what I have heard both recently and in the past when I asked why a person chooses to do thus and so:  (a) I do not care, (b) I like what I am doing, or  (c) God will understand.   How do you continue to dialog with someone who has one or all three of these components in their understanding?

Paul left Titus on Crete to deal with new believers and to teach them how to live amongst the Cretans who by their own words are “liars, evil and lazy.” Our world today reflects much the same in attitude and behavior.  But, as believers are we not called to live and behave differently?  I think the answer is yes.  When we fail to live differently we fail to realize the price of the precious “grace of God which has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.”  This precious grace instructs us in three areas:

First we are to deny ungodliness…that is to deny that which is anathema to God’s view and standards.  When we deny the absolute standard are we also in denial about how God views our lifestyle?

Secondly we are to live righteously and godly…that is to live and model the righteous life through the power of the Holy Spirit, which must be an ever present attitude and behavior. Does my life model Christ’s?

Thirdly we are to be looking for the return of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus at any moment in time.

When we fail in any or all of these three things Paul emphasized we also fail to realize the depth of this verse: Heb 10:31 “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Our life and our words reveal our true understanding and love for the sacrificial grace of God that has been bestowed upon our lives. We therefore must be deny self, live righteously, look for the return of our Messiah.

So here are some questions to consider: How am I doing and how are you doing? Are we really ready to meet the Lord in the air and to stand before Him? When He asks why we responded in one of those three ways (that is I didn’t care what your Word said, I liked what I was doing and was not willing to change, or surely  you understood, right God?) what will our response be? Are we, am I living differently?

 

 

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Father Forgive….

ImageMark carries us through the drama of the last day of our Savior and reveals to us each person who has the same opportunity we have: to accept or reject the King of the Jews as The Messiah. Open your ears to hear. Open your eyes to see, but mostly listen and look into your own heart. Then stop and ask yourself: did Jesus die a needless death or did he die for our sin?

The crowd had recently shouted Hosanna now jeer and the momentum has reached a crescendo as one by one they cry “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” The religious leaders lead the chant and seek not the release of one who is innocent but one who has a heart of murder as theirs—Barabbas. Interestingly his name literally means “son of the father.” Earlier Jesus had condemned the religious leaders: “You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires” [Joh 8:44] and now Jesus will show the reality of that prophecy. He will take the place of condemned Barabbas that he might be free and He will take your place that you might be free; free from sin. In the midst of all of this He will offer the sweetest prayer to heaven: Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.

Mark shows us the hearts of true followers. First there is Joseph of Arimathea who will step out of the shadows to boldly go to Pilate to request the body of Jesus seeking what only a family member had the right to do and yet Pilate would alter the rule that Jesus might fulfill: Isaiah 53: 9 “They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.” There is Nicodemus who joins him, according to John’s gospel, as well as the women who had faithfully ministered to Jesus in his lifetime along with one other—John, the beloved disciple. These will become the first witnesses to the truth: Jesus died on that cross and announced once and for all: It is finished! Sin has been conquered and the ransom paid.

The enemy, the father of lies, Satan himself, would have us think that Jesus did not die and yet the evidence reveals the truth. There is the centurion who proclaimed “Truly this man was God’s Son!” Later he will be called to affirm the death to Pilate while Joseph waits for permission to take down the body of Jesus. The religious leaders and false religions would say he just swooned or the body was stolen but these witnesses tell a different story. The list of witnesses includes the centurion, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the women and John. All will die with this truth upon their lips: Jesus died that I might be free.

What does your heart affirm? Does it say: yes, Jesus died and paid my debt? Do you hear: Father forgive me for it was for my sin that Jesus died?

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