Abiding, Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Scripture, Sin

SIN TRAVELS 

MICAH 1:9 

“For her wound is incurable, for it has come to Judah; it has reached the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” 

It is unfortunate, but our sin does not just affect us. It has the nasty side effect of infecting other people. I can remember “leaking” my sin on others. Before I came to Christ, my lifestyle was not good. I led others into the same sins I was committing. For that I am forever sorry. I have spoken to most, if not all, of those individuals and asked them to forgive me. 

Israel’s sins made the journey to Judah. They were influenced by their pagan worship. They, in fact, welcomed it. So, now the punishment that was going to fall on Israel would also come upon Judah. Sin is always followed by judgment. It may not happen right away, but it will come. 

APPLICATION 

It just makes sense to not spread your sin. Better yet, just don’t sin. Right? Well, that’s easier said than done, Carl. Oh, how I know. I try every day to avoid sin, but it always seems to find me. It just jumps on me. I am like a sin magnet. My heart is to avoid it and run to God. Most of the time I am successful doing that. But there are times… 

So, when your sin travels down the road and affects someone else, what do you do? One – you ask the Lord to forgive you. Two – you ask the person you affected with your sin to forgive you. Three – you put things into place to help you avoid that situation again. 

We may not be able to avoid all sin, but we can sure do our part to put barriers in front of it. I truly believe we can live lives that honor our Lord without the guilt of sin. If we are seeking Him with all our hearts and spending time with Him each day, the Holy Spirit will lead us in godly living, not sinful behavior. What barriers do you need to build today to protect yourself from that? 

O Lord, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit convicts and guides me. Help me to listen quickly. 

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Abiding, Accused, Apologies, Bible, Blessing, Consequences, Forgiveness, God's Will, Scripture, Thoughts, Truth, Understanding

MISUNDERSTANDINGS

JONAH 4:6

“So the LORD God designated a plant, and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head, to relieve him of his discomfort. And Jonah was overjoyed about the plant.”

Don’t you hate it when you have a misunderstanding with someone? They did something, but you took it wrong. Words are exchanged before the real motive is revealed. Then when it is, you feel embarrassed that you overreacted. This happens all the time.

Well…Jonah had a misunderstanding with God about this plant. He was “overjoyed” that God had provided this miraculous, fast-growing plant to give him shade. He mistakenly took that to mean God was favoring him and his actions. God was favoring him, but not for the reason Jonah thought. God wanted Jonah to sit right there and watch Him work according to His plan, not Jonah’s wishes.

APPLICATION

Perhaps you have had a misunderstanding with God. You may think you are God’s gift to mankind. You think He has favored you above everyone else. You would not be wise to think that. God does show us favor, but it is usually not because we have done anything to deserve it. He just loves us.

Or perhaps you think God does not love you because He has not blessed you. Your understanding of God depends on God giving you stuff. God will bless us according to His will. But once again, it is not because of anything we have done.

We all need to have a correct understanding of God. That begins with understanding that without Jesus as our Savior, we are all doomed to eternal destruction. But once we make that all important decision to follow Jesus, we are in God’s family. He will protect and defend us. He will bring us through the hard times. And yes, He will bless us. Aren’t you ready to follow Him today?

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You. O my soul rejoice.

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Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Apologies, Bible, Consequences, Devout, Discipline, Examples, God's Will, Judgment, Modeling, Promises, Testimony

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

AMOS 9:8

“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will eliminate it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally eliminate the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Are you a good promise keeper? We have all broken promises at some point in our lives. It may have been a small, minor promise, but it was still a promise. I try not to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

Failure was and never will be an option for our God. He had made a promise to Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob. He promised him a land, a son and a nation. Now, as the nation of Israel was deserting Him and facing judgment, God reminds them of that promise. Jacob (also known as Israel) would be remembered and not totally destroyed.

APPLICATION

Let me encourage you today to keep your promises. Maybe you only promised your child an ice cream cone. Go get it. Maybe you promised your spouse a weekend away. Go! Maybe your promise is more serious like your wedding vows. Those must be kept.

Whatever promise you made, keep it. A vow made should be a vow kept. After all, as a believer, you are representing your Savior. How you keep promises reflects on Him. I think if we understood that fully, there would be fewer promises broken.

Aren’t you glad God keeps His promises? One of my newest, favorite verses is found in Joshua. Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” You can take God’s promises to the bank. They are for sure.

Lord God, I am so thankful Your promises are true and faithful. I rest knowing I can count on You.

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Abuse, Apologies, Bible, Conceit, Condemnation, Guilt, Judgment

FLIP FLOPS

AMOS 8:6

“So as to buy the helpless for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”

I remember getting my first pair of flip flops. You know those shoes that just have a place that fits between your big toe and your second toe and is usually made of rubber. I loved those flip flops. I loved the way they sounded when you walked in them. That distinctive flip flop, flip flop could be heard all around. One thing about those shoes, though. The cheap rubber ones didn’t last very long. They weren’t worth very much.

I don’t know why, but that’s the image I got when I read this verse today. The rich and powerful people in Israel were treating the poor and needy like a cheap pair of flip flops. Use them and them throw them away. They looked down on them and really abused them. This was another reason God was judging them.

APPLICATION

I pray you would never treat someone like a cheap pair of flip flops. It’s demeaning and cruel. But people do it all the time. Even people in the church can be guilty of this. People in positions of power can take advantage of those who serve under them. Instead of shepherding them, they abuse them.

We need to see everyone through God’s eyes. He sent His Son to die for every single person we encounter. There is not a soul on planet earth who wasn’t the object of God’s love when Jesus came to save us. If God values them that much, shouldn’t we do the same.

The older I get the more I see the sins of my life. I have been guilty of looking down on others. It may be in jest to begin with, but it can rapidly become a serious thing. I have asked the Lord to forgive me for those actions in the past. Will you do the same? Ask Him to reveal your sins to you. He will and then make them right.

O Lord, my God! I beg Your forgiveness for every belittling one of Your creations. Help me see others as You see them.

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Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Commands, Condemnation, Evil, Failures, Holiness, Modeling, Prophesy, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin

EVIL INFLUENCE

AMOS 2:12

“‘But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets, saying, “You shall not prophesy!”’”

Have you ever influenced someone to do evil? It’s not something to be proud of. Unfortunately, before I was a Christian, I did that. I don’t need to say what I did or to whom. Needless to say, I am so sorry for doing that. I have since apologized to those to whom I did that. You see, sin is so easily corruptible.

The Israelites were guilty of doing the same. The Lord says here that they made the Nazirites drink wink, which went against their vow to not let anything from the fruit of the vine touch their lips. They also commanded the prophets to not speak the word of the Lord. They didn’t want to hear it. The Lord rebukes the nation for these acts.

APPLICATION

Why do we do these things? Because we want to look better than others. The Nazirites lived holy lives. That shined light on the Israelites sins. They couldn’t have that. Prophets spoke against their sins. They couldn’t have that either. We are the same way. We don’t want others pointing out our sins. We don’t want others living lives that “show us up.”

However, we are in need of conviction. The Word says we all have sinned. That’s a fact. We need someone to point out our sins. Too many preachers today fail to do that. They gloss over sin. They condone sin. They openly accept the sins of others. That’s too sad. And it’s against what the Lord expects. God expects holy living among His people.

So, what’s it going to be for you? Are you going to influence towards evil or towards holiness? I may not always do the right thing, but it is my prayer that I always point others towards Christ. I pray they see Him in my walk. I pray they hear Him in my speech. May God continue to convict me when I fail Him.

Lord, I am so sorry for the many times I failed You. Continue to use Your Holy Spirit in my life to point me in the right direction.

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Apologies, Asking, Bible, Brokenness, Confession, Forgiveness, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

IT TAKES WORDS

HOSEA 14:2

Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all guilt and receive us graciously, so that we may present the fruit of our lips.’”

Apologizing to someone can be quite humiliating. Depending on what you are apologizing for, it can be hard to get the words out. I’ve known people who just couldn’t say they were sorry. It seemed impossible for them to form those words with their mouth. But to truly apologize you must. You have to tell that person just how sorry you are for whatever it was you did or said. Anything less just isn’t an apology.

Hosea gives Israel some good advice here. “Take words with you.” In other words, tell the Lord that you are sorry for your sins. Tell Him you want forgiveness. Tell Him you need Him. Israel was stubborn and rebellious, though. They thought they were okay just because they were God’s chosen. But God’s chosen can fall short too.

APPLICATION

When’s the last time you came humbly before your Lord asking for forgiveness? I pray it was today. You need to do this every day. I am reminded of David’s words at the end of Psalm 139. He asks the Lord to search him and show him his sins so he can confess them to Him. Have you ever done that? Try it.

I practice the ACTS method in praying. It’s just my habit. A-Adoration, C-Confession, T-Thanksgiving, S-Supplication. This method keeps me focused in my prayer time. Do you know what I’ve found out by doing this? When I spend all that time in adoration, confession and thanksgiving, I have less supplication. It’s more about me talking to God than asking from Him.

Will you join me in prayer today asking the Lord to reveal to you the sins you have tucked away? Come to Him in humility asking Him to cleanse you. As Hosea said to Israel, take words with you and return to the Lord. And come knowing He is waiting to receive you. He wants you to come home.

Father, forgive me today of those sins I have committed against You. Forgive me and cleanse me so that I can be Your vessel to be used to advance Your kingdom here on earth.

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Anger, Apologies, Battles, Bible, Choices, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Holiness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

SMOLDERING EMBERS

HOSEA 7:6

For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like flaming fire.”

If you have ever been camping, you know the danger of leaving a campfire with even a few embers. You have to take great care to make sure all those embers are out. You can use water or dirt, but you need to ensure there’s not a chance of the wind kicking that fire back up. That could lead to a wildfire which could destroy acres of timber and perhaps even endanger homes.

The people of Israel had smoldering embers of anger. Hosea said they plot, giving those embers a flame that burned. Anger is dangerous, especially when it is directed toward God. The Israelites were angry at God for their punishment. They didn’t think they deserved it. After all, they were God’s chosen people. How could He judge them?

APPLICATION

How’s your anger? Are you smoldering about something? Let me be quick to say that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus showed a righteous anger in the temple when He overturned the tables. He was mad at how they had turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. But how many times is your anger righteous?

We tend to get angry about the dumbest stuff – traffic, the price of gas, our neighbors. You could probably name a few yourself. Don’t let that anger rule you. Let it go. There’s really no room for it in the life of a Christian. It doesn’t reflect Jesus. It doesn’t solve anything. And especially deal with any anger you have towards God.

Carl, I would never be angry at God. Oh really, well I have been. When I was going through my last stem cell transplant process, there were a few days that I was angry at God. I was tired of feeling sick and wanted to get better. I realized, though, that I was being refined. God was making me more like His Son through that trial. If you are dealing with anger towards God right now, stop and ask Him why. He will show you. I promise.

Rid me of any anger towards You, Lord, or anyone else. Let me heart be like Yours. Give me insight into why I am angry and lead me into repentance.

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Accountability, Apologies, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Confession, Following, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

UNWANTED SACRIFICES

HOSEA 5:6

“They will go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them.”

Have you ever tried to make amends to apologize to someone who wouldn’t accept it? It is really a difficult situation. You may be entirely sincere, but the hurt the other person is feeling is so real to them. They just can’t forgive. You are in a helpless situation. You can’t make them accept your apology. You have to prove yourself to them over time.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah could do nothing at this point. God wasn’t interested in their sacrifices of their flocks and herds. All the shed blood of their sacrifices could not appease God. His judgment was sure. They had to pay for their sins. He may forgive them in the future, but right now He was holding them accountable.

APPLICATION

What do you do when you have sinned against God? You need to make quick confession. We know that we should never sin intentionally against the Lord. But we may sin unintentionally. Sin, no matter how it is committed, must be confessed to our Lord. We need His forgiveness. We desire it. And the Lord is quick to give it.

Isn’t forgiveness sweet? Recall the feeling that comes with fresh cleansing from the Lord. There is nothing like it. I could write a list of analogies to compare it, but if you have experienced it, you know no words can really express it. If you haven’t come to Him lately to seek His forgiveness, come.

Let me remind you that when we choose not to seek forgiveness, we only put another brick in the wall that prevents us from hearing the Lord’s voice. The longer we go without confessing, the dimmer His voice becomes. Come to Him today. Confess all your sins to your Lord now and feel His warm embrace.

Father, never let me stray from the sound of Your voice. I want to stay “confessed up” and near to Your heart.

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