Tag Archives: sin

An Unimaginable Trade

An Unimaginable Trade

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.  Romans 5:14

Before Martin Luther penned his 95 Thesis, John Hus, had already been burned at the stake because of His faith in Jesus.  He was a “pre-reformation” reformer who loved the Scriptures. Speaking of Christmas, John Hus said, “Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal men may live in eternity. Rejoice, because the rich Lord of the Universe became poor, that He may enrich us needy ones.”

Jesus came to right the wrong that the first Adam had started… Rebellion, pride, sin. Because of our personal sin and our sin nature – both a result of Adam’s sin – we needed Jesus. The “one to come” in the above verse was Jesus.  He came for us and that is why we celebrate Christmas!

  • Jesus left the throne of Heaven and traded it for a lowly feeding trough.
  • Jesus left the bright light of Heaven and traded for the dark lighting of a stable/cave.
  • Jesus left the splendor of Glory and traded what many would consider the “slums” of earth.
  • God took on human flesh. He became man and walked among men for 33 years!

This is a trade that Jesus made because of love.  Jesus was sent by God the Father and He willingly embarked on a mission of mercy to seek and to save the lost.  We are lost in our sins and Jesus made the way for salvation.  He was born to die.  He came to earth to be the only sacrifice the Father would accept for the forgiveness and atonement for our sin.  Jesus traded riches for rags that we might be eternally rich!

Be thankful for Jesus.  Whatever this day is bringing your way – trouble, pain, difficulties, busyness – stop everything and thank the Lord Jesus for making this trade – for coming to this earth for us.

By the way – there is one more trade we cannot forget.  Jesus traded our sin for His righteousness.  He took our sins upon Himself and paid for them on the Cross.  He washes away the sin of the believer and when the Father sees a Christian – He sees the righteousness of Jesus.  What a great deal for us!  It really is an unimaginable trade!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bodies Were Still Warm

The Bodies Were Still Warm

Blame.  Who is to blame?  500+ people shot, nearly 60 dead. The worst shooting scene in American history.  The dead bodies of the concert goers were still warm when people began to play the “blame game.”

Politicians began to politicize.  The Media began its narrating and spinning. Conspiracy theorist started to make their guesses.

Some blamed Isis.  Others blamed the US Constitution and the Second Amendment.  Still others even went so far as to blame Christians.   Other ideas from “white males” to the President, drugs, and even money were brought up.

What was the shooters motive?  Was there only one shooter?  Is there more to the story? How long did it take to plan for this?  Early news reports are just that – early.

Some commenting on this event are so violent (in their mind) that they even suggested that “white colored, country music fans” deserved to be killed because they were most likely Republican!

Vilifying one another, casting blame, and trying to legislate morality does not actually address the deeper issue here.

Why do bad things like this happen?

Sin is the cause of all heartache, pain, loss, suffering, and death.  Sinful thinking leads to sinful deeds.  Theologians call this “Origional Sin.” That is the problem. All. Problems. Stem. From. Sin.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  What is in the heart of man is what eventual comes out.

Adam and Even introduced sin into this world.  Mankind is to blame for our own sin.  God is not the originator of sin.  He allows mankind to make choices.  Adam chose rebellion and disobedience. He chose sin.  We have had to live with the consequences since then.

While you may never take another persons’ physical life, Jesus taught that hating people is the same as murdering them.  Read the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Try, with God’s help, to live that way.

How did we get here?  How is it that new records of evil and atrocities are being recorded in our lifetimes?   Where we live?  How?

Romans 1:21 tells us: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Instead of valuing God, we value money.  Instead of valuing truth, we value what is convenient.  Instead of loving our neighbor, we are loving ourselves… to death.

Examine your heart.  Are you living in spiritual darkness?  Those who commit such acts have been living in darkness for some time.  Come to the light today.  Believe in Jesus.  Become a Christian and then enjoy a daily relationship with Him.  God is love!  He wants us to love one another.

No matter if we ever find the motivation, or if accomplices are ever uncovered, we can know that our fallen sinful nature is blame.

As a whole, these United States are no longer submitting and yielding to Jesus, the author of love and peace.  As a result, we are divided.  People are being unkind to one another. And sadly, more tragedies will unfold.

Pray. Ask the Lord to help us to turn back to Jesus.  Turn to your neighbor with love and kindness. And look for ways to show kindness to your fellow man.

If you have not yet believed in the Gospel, please go to the “How to go to Heaven” section on this site to learn how to be forgiven of your sins and be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sour Life

The Sour Life

A little sour goes a long way with me.  A little lemon is good, not a lot.  Do you like rhubarb/strawberry pie?  Grandma Harness used to make that a lot.  I also enjoy rhubarb crisp.  Each year we harvest our own rhubarb and are sure to put a lot of real sugar in the crisp  because of how sour the rhubarb is! I even like some of the “Sweet and Sour” candies made today.  Sour foods taste bitter, acidic, and tart.  My palate can handle only so much.  I like sweet much better.

When it comes to relationships, sour, is not something that you want your life to be described as.  Christians do not want their outlook to be “sour.”  Our relationships should not taste sour and our emotional/spiritual perspective should not be bitter.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…” Hebrews 12:15

One funny story goes like this: “Two writers who were bitter rivals were both attending the same party. One had recently had a book published, and the other commented to him, “I read your new book and liked it. Who wrote it for you?”

The other replied, “I’m glad you liked the book, who read it to you?””   (6,000 Plus)

Two simple observations of the devastating effects of bitterness include:

  1. Bitterness troubles the one who is bitter. This includes a guilty conscience, irrational reasoning, with confused anger and responses to others.
  2. Bitterness affects the people around the one who is bitter. A husband affects his wife.  A wife affects her husband.  Parents will impact their kids. While some believe a self-propagated lie that “my bitterness only affects me” – the truth is “many be defiled” by one person’s bitterness.

Some people are bitter about their childhood and upbringing.  Some are still angry with their parents for schooling, sports, discipline, and other areas.  Some people are bitter towards childhood acquaintances from school, church, or teams they played on.  Others develop hatred in college, towards their “first romance” or even in the first real job.  Some are in relationships with people right now and are allowing unresolved issues, anger, selfishness, pride, or misunderstandings sour their outlook on life.

A basic practice of Bible Christianity is “self-examination.”  Considering the Word of God, are you harboring any level of bitterness towards someone?  Here are several identifiable characteristics of bitterness that can help you in your self-assessment:

  • Obsessive thoughts of revenge
  • Sarcasm
  • Critical or unkind comments
  • Self-righteousness
  • Conflicts with others
  • Aggressiveness in relationships
  • Controlling behavior

Bitterness will wreak havoc on a person and their family.  Being bitter will bloom into many other areas of sin; neglect, hostility, and wrong thinking.  The fruit produced by bitterness will be a life of regret, an outlook of despair, and a heart of hatred.

If any of the characteristics of bitterness are found in you, do everything you can, with God’s help, to get it pulled out of your life.  What should a bitter person do?

  • Confess the bitterness as sin.
  • Identify the source: jealousy, anger, rage, fear, pride.
  • Ask other people to pray for you. This demonstration of humility makes it clear that you mean business.
  • Ask for another Christian to hold you accountable when you exhibit any of the characteristics of bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those you have impacted directly with bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those who were indirectly impacted because of your bitterness.
  • Restore your relationship with God. The vertical relationship with Jesus is directly impacted by your horizontal relationship with other human beings. Getting relationships right with others is one way to get your relationship right with God.
  • Be happy in Jesus!  Don’t live “the sour life!”

 

 

(“Characteristics of Bitterness” – Guide to Biblical Counseling.  Clinton and Hawkins.)

 

 

 

 

The Defeated

The Defeated

I could not believe it.  Our team lost.  Having gone undefeated through the entire softball season, the playoffs were not that much more challenging.  After all, our team had generally won most of the games by the “mercy rule.”

Now in the last inning of the conference championship game, our team is ahead by several runs.  I played the catcher position.  I had the best vantage point of what was about to take place.

The pitcher tossed the ball and the first hitter hit the pitch and ran safe to first base.  Then the next batter made contact.  Before long, the bases were loaded.  A run was scored.  A pop up was caught.  A ball was dropped by a fielder.  Another out was made on a ground ball.  A walk loaded the bases. Another hit.

In the last inning that season, our team had 2 outs with the bases loaded and by that time, the score was tied.   Eventually the other team caught up and tied the game which we were not used to.

The final pitch tossed was smacked over an infielder, and the “go ahead” run scored.  We lost the game.  The undefeated team was now defeated.

No one likes to lose.  “Second place is the first loser!”  What about the Christian life?  No one likes to come up short, and yet we come up short frequently in the Christian life.  That is OK.  That is why Jesus came.  However, some Christians avoid admitting when they have been defeated by Satan, the flesh, or the devil.  Admitting failure is OK.  In fact, it is a requirement for the Christian to grow.  Correction of what is wrong cannot be made until confession is expressed.

When we are defeated, our pride can cause us to not admit, confess, or seek to get things right with God.  When this happens, we feel guilty, restless, and comfortless.  That is what Jesus is speaking about in the famous Sermon on the Mount, when He says “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).

There is no comfort until there is confession.  There is no confession until there is contrition.  Contrition is being sorry for your sin.  Expressing you were wrong is the best place to start in restoring your fellowship to God or to others.  Humility is the greatest quality to have, and yet it is found the least in mankind.  God does not grant peace of mind and heart, or comfort, until we are sorry for our sin.  Even to the point of mourning over our wrong.

Do you ever feel down right defeated?  Perhaps your mind is programed to the default mode of “guilt, trouble, anger, discouragement, and what is wrong with life.”  The Christian need not live a life of continual defeat.

A perpetually defeated mind is an indicator of wrong thinking.  Perhaps a bad experience has not been forgiven correctly or the event/circumstances continually “pop up” in your mind.

Time can remove the distance from your defeats, but it cannot remove the perpetual pitfalls and ruts your mind sinks into.

We need more help what will power or letting time go by can give.  We need the Bible to shape our thinking.

After reading the following Scriptures, pause a few moments and meditate on how these verses can change the defeats in your life and get your heart and mind back to winning thinking.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
  • Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
  • Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

With God’s help, you do not need to live in perpetual defeat.

 

 

 

Scripture Shaping

Scripture Shaping

I have always found amusing the scenario the Sadducees connived in their minds and spoke to Jesus about.  This story they dream up is funny in several ways.  Read on.

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”  Matthew 22:23-29

After the second or third brother married her, you would think the next brother in line would hesitate or wonder, “What is she feeding him?”  The next brother would ask: “What did she do to him?” or “how did he die?”  or “Does she have a knife or poison?”  You would think that by the time the seventh brother is to be married to her, he would be running the other direction.  How old is this woman?  How old are the brothers?  It is a statistically unlikely story.  It is one they made up in an effort to trap Jesus in His teachings.

The Sadducees were the some of the most wealthy and ultra-educated people of Israel.  They had a conceit and arrogance about them.  They denied anything supernatural such as: the resurrection, rewards for doing good, and even denied that angels existed.  They were frequently in quarrels with the Pharisees who believed in the supernatural.   The Sadducees adhered to the Law of Moses while the Pharisees added oral tradition to the Laws of Moses.

After Jesus took to task the Pharisees and said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” the Sadducees thought they could trip Jesus up with their unusual question about marriage and “who’s” wife will this woman be in Heaven?”

Interesting to note:  These religious people did not believe in the resurrection.  They did not believe in Heaven or Hell.  They are trying to get Jesus to say something that would confirm their faulty belief system.  If they could get Jesus to say there is no Heaven or Hell, that could help them undermine His ministry.

Notice how Jesus responds in Mathew 22:29-33.  Jesus says that in the resurrection and by extension – in Heaven, people are not given to each other in marriage.  Think about how the church is the bride of Christ.  There is no need for individual marriage in Heaven like we need on earth for a help meet and “completion.”  Jesus continues to talk about the resurrection and says that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  These Sadducees were “astonished” at His doctrine.  And rightly so.  Jesus is always right.

Before His explanation of their contrived dilemma – Jesus says in verse 29: “Ye do err, now knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”   They asked a foolish question.  Their pre-suppositions were faulty.  Their thinking on the matter was not right.  An entire paradigm for life was incorrect because they did not know the Bible.

Could it be that as modern Christians we do err, not knowing the Scriptures?  Look in your own life to the times when you made a bad choice.  Could it be that you are so proud to not even admit a wrong choice?  When the bad choices were made and the outcome was not what you hoped and the problem grew worse – could it have been because you did not know the Scriptures?

Our minds need the refinement of God’s Word.  This is an everyday process to let the Word of God develop your mind.  Let the lines of the Bible write on and guide the thoughts of your mind.

We could call this the “Scripture Shaping” of the mind.  How many times have you reasoned in your mind selfishly instead of Scripturally?  How many times have you tried to beat a bad habit or a sinful habit and failed? Our minds and desires err when we do not know the Scripture.

These affluent, educated, and socialized men could not think right.  We can have similar issues today.

Self-justification, ill-rationalization, and incoherent thinking are directly impacted and informed by what we know – or do not know.  I encourage you to let the Scriptures Shape your thinking. We err when we do not know the Scriptures.

 

 

 

 

Better or Worse?

Better or Worse?

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Romans 6:6-7

Trips to the eye doctor!  Getting new eyeglasses or fitting contacts can be a good thing.  Being able to see or understanding why headaches are more frequent and that these sight issues can be treated are terrific.  I am amazed at the new machines and the visual tools that the eye doctors of today utilize.  Place your face against a big “mask looking thing” and look at the image on the wall.  Sound familiar?

What does the eye doctor say to you?  You are looking at a wall with letters of all sizes on it.  Then after looking and talking down the list the doctor says “Is that better or worse?”  He flicks a button and the lens in the tool he is using changes and he says it again: “Is that better or worse?”  Over and over again he says the same thing until he arrives at a lens that you declare is working well for your set of eyes to see better.

Eye doctor visits are visual “resets” that help us see better after getting the proper contacts or glasses.

In the aftermath of the Islamic terror strikes on America on 9.11, many Americans had a “reset” in their spiritual vision.  Many people started to consider eternity and getting things right with God.  The attacks shook our world in many different ways, from economics, military, public safety, and even spiritual considerations.   We learned about terror groups that hate Christians and that want to kill those who live with the “western ideology.”  What I am saying is that some people hate the American way of life and the American way of life was initially rooted in Judaic/Christian Values.  The attacks and this hatred we endured changed our perspective.

People changed for the better.   Living with God in mind is living with a better perspective.  Church congregations grew.  People prayed and read the Bible who had not done either practice in years.  Folks said they were turning back to the Lord.  Some people trusted Christ for salvation and were born again and others became religious for the next several weeks, months, and even years.  Priorities, motivation for life, and service to God became key components of the lives of many people.

Then time goes by.  Just like our eye vision, sometimes over time we do not see as well as we once did.

Each human is composed of three components: Body, Soul, and Spirit.  We are a trichotomy.  We are free to choose what we believe and how we will live.  Just like we go to the eye doctor when we need an eye exam, we all need to take time to examine our spiritual lives.

I like the following quote from William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) who said: “Christianity promises to make men free; it never promises to make them independent.”

It seems like people living in America today want to be free. Many want to be free to do what they want to do.  God would rather us be free to do what is right rather than what is wrong.  We are free, but as Christians, we are not independent from God.  If you are a believer in Jesus, you must be totally dependent on Jesus.

Romans 6:6-7 gives us great insight to the old nature and the new nature.  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. 

Your body, the flesh, wants to do wrong.  This is our human nature.  As Christians, God has given us a new nature.  You are a new person in Christ Jesus.  God is not saying to destroy your body in these verses; He is saying to not let the old nature control your life.  When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He made it possible for you to live in true freedom.  You have freedom to no longer follow the mandates of your sinful, fallen nature, but to joyfully live life for the Lord Jesus Christ.  The old nature was crucified too.  Backslidden Christians are allowing the old nature to “revive” and control their lives instead of enjoying the freedom Christ afforded over that old nature.

Jesus gave us real freedom when He died on the cross.  Our lives must reflect the victory that He purchased at Calvary.  As we remember 9.11 once again today, consider your life in retrospective: “Is life better or worse?”  Am I still free to do right, or am I claiming my freedom to do what my old nature wants for me to do.

We don’t have to look far to realize that a giant pendulum of morality and godliness in society is swinging far away from the side of righteousness.  People who once saw clearly their need to seek the Lord are now no longer interested in the things of the Lord.  Even if they are Christians, they have fallen into the traps and fallen for the lies of Satan to “live the way you want to live.”

Why not seek a “spiritual reset” today?  Just like when you go to the eye doctor to get help, go to church this Sunday and discover what you have been missing and see how you can honor the Lord once again with your life.

Are you “better or worse” in your walk with the Lord than you were 14 years ago?  “Better or worse” than you were a month ago concerning spiritual things?  How about today?  As time goes on, the temptation is to “let things go.”  Examine your life.  Make changes for the better… starting today.

The Sinking Effect

The Sinking Effect

“Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.”  Lamentations 2:9

With terrible grief and an abundance of tears, Jeremiah laments about the condition of Jerusalem.  The people had long abandoned following the One True God and their nation was being judged.  The nation was already divided and the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were both overthrown.  The Babylonian Empire had come to Jerusalem and totally leveled it.  The year was 586 B.C.  It was a difficult time to live in the holy land.

This ancient, historical, and holy city was utterly flattened.  The king is gone, the temple is destroyed.  As Jeremiah surveys the scene, we find the words of Lamentations 2:9.  The pride the people because of the city walls for protection and the arrogance of relying on their gates for safety were a source of pride.  Watch out for pride.  Sometimes in the pride of life, we substitute our sense of safety and the stuff we have for trusting the Lord.

Jeremiah describes the aftermath of the defeat of Jerusalem.  In his description, the city gates have sunk into the ground.  If you go to the old city of Jerusalem today, you will discover that the city gates that were built during the time of the Old Testament can be found about 25 to 30 feet below where the current walls and gates stand.  “Her gates are sunk into the ground.”  Wow.  Just like the Bible says.  The wall and gates Jeremiah saw were rebuilt several times in later days, but it is something to consider while standing outside Jerusalem today to think about the old walls and gates buried below the surface.

God is always true, and His judgment is always right.  The city of Jerusalem fell because of their rebellion and sin.  Sin does this to us.  At the sight of this devastation, Jeremiah cries to the Lord.  He sheds real tears and demonstrates real grief for the condition of God’s people.  They were away from the Lord.

We must understand that our spiritual lives have a direct connection to our emotional lives.  He cried hard because of the spiritual problems his people had.  When was the last time you shed real tears before the Lord on behalf of a brother in Christ?  How about for the condition of your city or state?  Many Christians tend to only show the emotion of anger while others only show the deadness of apathy.  These are not the right responses.  Jeremiah’s spiritual life affected his emotions.

His solution and remedy for the effects of sin is simple:  be sorry for your sin.  Jeremiahs speaks of the “mercies of God” being “new every morning” in chapter 3 verses 22-23.  He says that there is hope for Jerusalem.  This is great news for us as well.  He confesses the sin of the people and begs the Lord for restoration.  He asks the Lord to “renew our days…” (Lamentations 5:21).

As we look around our nation and around this world, people need to receive hope.  Hope is real because of Jesus Christ.  Jeremiah said in Lamentations 3:26 “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”  Hope and waiting quietly are part of the solution to that sinking effect that is caused by our sin.

Pride will lift us up and because it is sin, we will be brought low.  The city gates sunk down into the ground and could no longer help.  What should I do when “the sinking effect” comes my way?

  1. Repent of sin and ask for restoration (forgiveness).
  2. Keep hope alive in your heart. As devastating as life was back then, Jeremiah kept hope that God was in charge and that God was willing to give new mercy every single day.
  3. Keep serving. “Waiting” on the Lord involves time, but it also includes service.  Sitting around and doing nothing in our Christian life does not help anyone nor does it glorify the Lord.  Find ways to share the Gospel, help your church, and serve the Lord today.

While waiting for God to take us home to enjoy our eternal salvation, let’s be faithful to avoid “The Sinking Effect” that sin can bring about.