Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Sins’

The Crux of the Matter

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

~~ Psalm 22:14-18 (KJV)

These five verses seem to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus. “I am poured out like water.+ He has become our drink offering, poured out for our sins.

We are taken through the physical traumas that the Lord experienced on the cross, through the throngs of evil men around Him, clear to the casting of lots for his garments.

God gave David a vision, the words of this psalm. A picture of our salvation.

Our salvation was sealed at the foot of the cross of Christ. Without it, we have no offering to God. Jesus became our sin offering so that we could come to God without any other mediator.

It is through Jesus, and Jesus only, that we can come to the Father with the assurance that He sees us only through the saving blood of Christ.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the price of our redemption. Make us mindful of the enormity of Your love for us and the sacrifice of Jesus. Keep us humble and unassuming when we come to You with our prayers.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First published 9 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.
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The Lamp of the Lord

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.  ~~  Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)

In Genesis, the opening of creation is God’s “let there be light.” it is not only the beginning of creation, it is the beginning of our understanding of ourselves.

When we allow God to shine the light of His love into the dark corners of our hearts, we learn what we’ve hidden there. Sometimes we find our sins – of omission or commission – that we’ve left un-repented. And seeing them, we are given the opportunity to repent and set things right.

Sometimes we find the dregs of discouragement or disillusionment. In the light of God’s love we can see them for what they are – temporary setbacks designed to grow our faith and patience muscles.

Occasionally we find the scars of hurts and injuries we’ve suffered in the past. Perhaps they are inflamed and swollen because we’ve not completely forgiven the offender, but simply stuffed the emotions. God’s light can help us to see the offender through His eyes – as a beloved child who has strayed.

When we cooperate with God’s investigation of our spirit, we are enriched. He doesn’t search our hearts to be informed. He searches our hearts to inform us.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love in my heart today. Help me to see those things that You would have me see and to correct those things You would have me correct.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

First Published 19 May 2009 in Garment of Praise.

The Way of the World

12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. 

16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

26 In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. 

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. 

34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

from the 14th chapter of Proverbs.

The way of the world is not necessarily the Lord’s way.  I look at the nation and where we are going, and I am appalled – but not surprised. The Lord told us things would be this way. The world has always been in the realm of the prince of the air.  Even our church hierarchies are not in agreement with one another. Many of them are following a social gospel, not The Gospel of Christ.

This, too, is no surprise.  It’s in the Book.

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.  Mark 13:22

For those who love this land and our Lord, there is only one answer.  It is to be found in Chronicles.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Who?  My people – those who claim the name of Christ. We’re not talking about the rest of the world here. We are talking about those who follow the Risen Lord.  It is our responsibility.

What?  This has four parts.

The first is “humble themselves”. That means to recognize our own sins and stop thinking of ourselves as better or superior in any way.That doesn’t mean we stand mute in the presence of sin. It simply means that we speak the Lord’s truth simply and lovingly, without further debate.

The second is pray. We must be on our knees daily in petition for ourselves and our nation.

The third is “seek my face”. To seek God’s face means to look for Him. We need to seek his face, searching for Him alone, not the things He can do for us. His presence is all we need.  It the world goes to hell in the proverbial hand basket, we will be safe as long as we are in the presence of God and in right standing with Him. That right standing is accomplished only under the cover of Christ’s blood.

Fourth is “turn from their wicked ways”. We all have wicked ways in our habits that we must shun and be on guard not to fall into again. God sees the heart and knows when we strive to do well. Salvation is not a reward for doing well. Doing well is our response to salvation.

There is a promise at the end.  He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.  We need not spend time decrying the things that are wrong in our world. That time is better spent on our knees, seeking the Lord.

Father, God,

Teach us to pray as you would have us pray for our land. Grant us the humility to seek only your face, your presence. Help us to turn from our wicked ways. Give us the grace to speak Your truth in love to all around us and the wisdom to stay away from argument.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Joy Fruit

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)

Those of us who were raised in a church environment remember the acronym for JOY:  Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. That’s pretty good, as far as it goes.

You see, joy is a precious commodity. It is more than happiness.  The old English teacher in me ( and my grandmother’s discipline ) send me to the dictionary for understanding.

1 – a :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :  delight

b :  the expression or exhibition of such emotion :  gaiety

2 :  a state of happiness or felicity :  bliss

3 :  a source or cause of delight

Aha!  Joy is an emotion and a state of being. But where does it come from?  It comes from the knowledge of who God is, and who He says we are.
The children of Israel had been in captivity and exile. But the books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the return of the Israelites to their homeland, the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. Then Nehemiah read the books of the law to the assembled congregation. The congregation was moved to tears.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
The joy of the Lord – the joy that comes from knowing who the Lord is and who He says you are. That foundation is the basis of our joy. We can have joy in the midst of sorrow. We can have joy in the midst of hum-drum. We can have joy at all times as we remember who God is and who He says we are.
Joy is the fruit of keeping our eyes on Him.
Father, God,
Thank you for showing us who we are in You. Thank you for loving us. Help us to love you so much that it spills over onto others.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

 

Purpose Of Wrath

Focus verses: Ezekiel 24:1-14

It seems that we have been forever in the litany of Israel’s sins and God’s retribution. Today, however, He talks about the pot.

This pot is a cooking utensil. You eat the things that cook in it. And when those things are all gone, the pot is to be set on the fire until it glows. Until the impurities left in it are burned away.

The fire represents the wrath of God. It will burn hotter and hotter toward the unfaithful nation until all the dross and impurities are burned away. Then His wrath will cool, and He will restore to them their inheritance. They will not be clean again until His wrath against them has subsided.

And His wrath will not subside until they are clean again. The two events are mutually dependent.

I wonder how much longer we can endure this smelting of the wrath of God. This word is for us as well as for the Jerusalem of old. Let us lean into the fire, until we glow as the impurities are melted away from us.

Father, God,

In Your holy wrath, we submit ourselves to Your fire. Help us to be purified as a nation. Pour out Your wrath until we are again clean and worthy to be called Your children.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Who Is Like You

Focus verses: Micah 7:14-20

Despite the sins of the people. God is eager to forgive as soon as they return to Him. His anger does not burn forever. He is a merciful God.

That does not mean that we can presume upon His mercy. We cannot assume that He will forgive the unrepentant. We have seen the destruction of the wicked.

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. The reward of fidelity and obedience to God is His favor. The reward of disobedience and faithlessness is separation from God.

“Who is knocking at the door of my heart?”
Pleading, “A lonely little sin.”
“Slip in” we whisper.
And all of hell is in!

Disobedience and faithlessness is sin. And it doesn’t matter if the sin is a big one or a little one. Sin is sin, and it’s always bad.

But repentance — a real change of heart and action — appeal to God’s mercy and forgiveness.

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 – paraphrased by me)

No one is like God. We have a hard time forgiving even the repentant. But God is eager to forgive at the first sign of repentance.

Father, God,

Show us Your mercy. Help us to realize the all-or-nothing-ness of obedience and faithfulness. Keep us faithful to you. And grant us the heart to forgive others as You have forgiven us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Kings Without Consent

Focus verses: Hosea 8:1-14

God has spelled out the sins of His children. You see, He created man with a free will, and He will not override that freedom. That is the only place where we can limit God. Our free will is a double-edged sword.

If we choose wisely, we can live in God’s approval. If we choose wrongly, we reap His disapproval. It’s a frightening thought.

They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.

This passage looks like it was written for the United States in these days. We leave God out of our politics and business dealings. We have done so for many years. We set up goals – all based on money in some fashion. Our politicians are not public servants as the early presidents were, but many are seeking self-aggrandizing power. Our businesses are built on greed. The consequences for this behavior are dire.

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour.

In Kansas, we know the whirlwind. It’s power is terrible, and it’s path seems capricious. It is unpredictable. If one comes your way, you can only take shelter and pray. If it hits, you can expect enormous destruction. The hail that frequently accompanies those storms can thresh a field of wheat as it stands so that there is no harvest for the sower.

Do we not see the parallel? When we neglect God, when we put other things ahead of Him, we can only expect negative consequences.

Father, God,

Show us the right paths. Keep us seeking You and Your instructions at all times. We would be faithful, not faithless.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.