Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Transgression’

Restoration Is Expensive

Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God,

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. ~~ Ezra 9:1-8

It is never a good idea to do what you have expressly been told by God not to do. But we all do it from time to time. The Israelites in exile took wives from the neighboring peoples. God had expressly commanded that they not do this from the time they first entered the promised land.

Like willful children, they did it anyway – not all of them, but some did. Returning to Jerusalem, they are returning to the laws of Moses as well. They needed to purify themselves to worship the Lord again in the temple. So they decided to send the foreign wives and their children away.

We are not told where these women and children went. Could they go back to their own families? What would have been their status in their own countries? I can’t imagine that these women and children would have had easy lives after being sent away.

Did you ever notice that when man tries to make things right he sometimes messes up something else? God had told them not to do it. They did it anyway. Then when they try to fix their disobedience, they cause trouble for someone else.

The community of Israel spent two months looking at individual cases. We’re not told how many, if any, were allowed to keep their foreign wives, but there is that possible inference in the text. Otherwise why judge individual cases.

How much simpler it would have been, had they just obeyed God in the first place. How much mess they made when they decided that they knew better than God.

Are we ever guilty of thinking we know better than God? Do we do things in disobedience that require fixing later – things that cost someone else?

Father, God,

Help us to remain ever obedient to You commands, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Remind us that we see only fragments while You see the whole picture.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Remember No More

Focus verses: Isaiah 43:16-25

Wallowing in the regrets of the past is counterproductive. When we keep thinking about what is gone or lost, what we have done or have failed to do, we have neither room nor energy for going forward and developing the new things that God has planned for our lives.

God wants us not to dwell in the past. He specifically asks us to look for the new things He is doing. In the old hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” we sing in the chorus “Morning by morning new mercies I see.” That’s the ticket.

Thomas O. Chisholm, the writer of the lyrics of this hymn, evidently knew very well God’s desires as expressed in our focus verses. The hymn is filled only with evidence of God’s faithfulness. Nothing of man’s past appears until you get to the third verse: “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.”

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. At one of the hardest times in my life, when I thought grief would drown me in the sea of sorrow, that hymn would well up from the middle of my spirit, and I would be comforted.

Verse 25. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” God distinctly remembers forgetting our sins when we have confessed them. He doesn’t hold them against us once we have dealt with them. Each confessional brings a new beginning. The slate has been cleaned. And God can write upon our lives the new things He has planned for us.

Father, God,

We thank You that You are so generous with us, that You want the past to be the past and not some chain to hold back the future. Help us to rid ourselves of the arrogance that our memories are more important than Yours. If You forget, help us to forget — not the lesson learned — but the sin itself.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Presumption

Focus verses: II Chronicles 26:16-21

King Uzziah (also known as King Azariah just to help confuse us) was a successful King. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord — except, he did not tear down the high places where the people sacrified to idols.

He became powereful and prideful — a dangerous combination. He went into the temple to burn incense to the Lord. But only the priests were assigned and allowed to burn the incense. Uzziah had overstepped the bounds.

Worse than that, when the priests rebuked him for this transgression, he ranted and raved at them. But the Lord had the last word. Even as he was speaking leprosy broke out on his forehead.

Leprosy excluded one from all society in those days. Lepers lived in segregated valleys. If they were on the road they were required to call “Unclean, unclean” so that people would not come near them.

Uzziah was striken with leprosy as a punishment. I don’t believe it was as much because of his attempt to burn the incense as it was because of his raging at the priests who tried to correct him.

Presumption is a terrible quality. It oversteps its bounds and refuses correction. It stiffens an unteachable and recalcitrant spirit.

Father, God,

Keep us open and malleable and teachable. Let us not fall into belief that our deeds, however good, entitle us to be more than You created us to be. Help us to be the best we can be at what You created us for.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.