The Fruity Aroma of Repentance

www.bible.com/1713/mat.3.8.csb

I’ve noticed a lot of things are supposed to have a fruity aroma, like fine wine or gourmet coffee. Beers and liquors too boast the same. It’s like they are all trying to smell like they are repenting of something. Hmmm.

Of course today’s topic is repentance. Repentance is not a one-time, one and done task. Like faith and confession, repentance is constant, needing to be redone often in order to stay pure. Repentance is recognition before a holy God that you have sinned against Him, but also an active desire to resist those same sins that got you into trouble. Have you really repented if you go right back and commit them again? Hebrews 12 speaks of the sin that easily entangles, so yes there are sins we are frequent in. But our attitude of repentance should remain vigilant.

Should you be caught in a sin, the Bible clearly says to confess it. 1 John 1 says He will cleanse your heart from all unrighteousness. Confession of sin reveals its seriousness. When you name it before God, you acknowledge both your own sorrow over it and your understanding of how serious it is and how it drives a wedge between you an God. Repentance is the Spirit-assisted resistance to temptation to that sin again.

Do you have the fruity aroma of repentance? Of heart actively resisting temptation because you know how much it cost Jesus for those sins? Humility and worship both exude a fruity aroma before God.

I encourage you to have a blessed day. Now go forth and be fruity!

God bless.

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Built on Grace

www.bible.com/1713/heb.4.16.csb

In Will Ferrell’s “Elf” he gets very angry with a fake Santa Claus in the toy department at Macy’s. Will’s “Buddy” knows the real Santa Claus and can spot this counterfeit, so he announces to the crowd gathered to see “Santa” that this man sits “on a throne of lies”. Ouch!

When describing the throne of God, the Hebrews writer chooses an interesting word. He doesn’t use “judgment” for example. He doesn’t apply “justice” or “punishment” as a moniker for this throne. He calls it a “throne of grace”. Approaching God with confidence is made much easier because He sits on a throne of grace. There is love here and joy. But instead of judgment there is grace.

This verse goes in the explain the reason, to give us grace and mercy in our time of need. Have you ever needed grace? It’s funny, when I need grace, it’s when I have fallen into sin. When I am in sin, going to God is the last thing I want to do. I feel shame and guilt. I don’t want the God of the universe to see me like that! But that is precisely when the invitation is made. He invites us to His throne of grace, His very presence, at the very time we are trying to avoid Him. But it is an invitation to put our sin and guilt aside and run back into His arms. God did not call us to a life of guilt, but grace. We present to Him our brokenness and He restores us. He welcomes us, but we have to make the hard walk back into His presence. It is up to us to shuffle our feet, turning from the siren song of sin to the throne of grace.

God bless you today!

Bad News

www.bible.com/72/rom.3.23.hcsb

I hate being the bearer of bad news. I would rather be the one who brings good news, or as the Bible says, “beautiful are the feet of them that bring good news.” But news is not always good, and sometimes it takes bad news to truly understand how good the good news is.

This is a truth in the gospel story. I have become a bit annoyed at the constant spreading of the “good news” about grace and love and peace through Christ. It is all I ever hear from my church and others. All of that is well and good. But frankly it is meaningless without the bad news, that we are all guilty of sin. I have no way to measure God’s grace without knowing the measure of my guilt before Him. As Jesus said, “those who are forgiven little, love little.” (Luke 7:47) I am afraid that we are raising a host of Christians who aren’t guilty so much of sin as they are “illness” or “bad decisions” or “addictions”. They have been offered change and healing, but what meaning does forgiveness have for someone whose life stresses are defined as being a victim instead of being responsible for the hurt he suffers?

It is very frustrating to see that people aren’t seeking salvation from sin, death and judgment, but from bad life choices. Weakening the role of sin, rebellion against God’s righteous standards, doesn’t help us appreciate His grace more. Thus we emphasize the role sin plays in our lives to the point that we have been spared Hell and given much grace. We act out of gratitude for God’s sparing us from the horrors of eternal damnation. Our preaching needs a bit of Hell’s fire to help us understand the stakes of our salvation. It strengthens the cross and the blood of Jesus, the love of God in sending Him to DIE in our place.

Last night in our Bible Study, we were looking in Acts 24. Paul was regularly called to the court of Felix the governor. Felix liked to listen to him until Paul starting about about three things: righteousness, self-control, and judgment. These messages aren’t popular today either. May I submit that as people of God, we always keep the message of God on our lips, always love and be gracious. But never water down the good news of Jesus by leaving out the bad news.

God bless you today.

Prayer of Petition

www.bible.com/72/psa.51.1-2.hcsb

Nothing hurts like a broken conscience. It’s when you can’t look a person in the eye anymore, or stand straight before others. When the burden of sin is a constant reminder that you are not a good person. It staggers the walk and stutters the speech. It points to depression and self-harm as the best answers for inner pain. Guilt will force you into decisions that you never thought you would make, and circumstances beyond your control. Who will save us from this body of death?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He heals the broken conscience and forgive even the hidden sins. He gives joy for sorrow and love for guilt.

Make today the day He heals your broken and contrite heart. Don’t carry your burdens any longer. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

God bless!

Be a Do-Gooder

www.bible.com/72/1th.5.15.hcsb

Ugh. I really don’t like that word. A “Do-Gooder” just seems bland and cliched. In he same vein, a “goody two-shoes” comes to mind, which I found out last week was an actual person, and now used as a paragon of virtue, an example for others to emulate and point to. Be again, it smacks of cliche and unreality. Real people have bad days, difficult times where they slip. A real human being has real human problems, which seem so unlike the stellar phrases above.

And yet here is this text stating back at us. Do good. Always seek to do good, and do not repay evil for evil. If I may, I understand this to be an instruction to us, do good rather then evil, especially when evil is expected. I am human. Because I am human, I more often am prone to react in anger when threatened or wronged. This comes with a choice. I can choose to react violently and “fly off the handle” or I can choose not to, and do something else. I used to not have that choice. Because before I started to follow Christ and received His Spirit into my life, I didn’t have that check on my temper. But now, however brief a time I experience it, it is there, and my renewed conscience comes back into play, so that I am now conflicted. I want to react in evil, hurting the one who hurt me. I know better. And that has made all the difference. This verse reinforces that which I know to be true, but I still need to hear it. I hope it has helped you today too.

God bless!

Another Thought, Another Day

www.bible.com/72/2co.10.5.hcsb

So it’s Tuesday. The old Norse called it Tyr’s Day. Tyr was the god of war, so it seems appropriate that we go to war today, against our own thoughts. You see we have a battle going on constantly in our heads over who gets to run the body. On the one hand is the high-minded and righteous blood-cleansed spirit given aid and comfort by the Holy Spirit who has chosen to dwell within us once we had come to faith and been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And the there’s the opponent. The old man, the corrupt flesh that still plagued us with its desires and “needs”. It plagued us with its needs because its needs call for no righteous solution, but by any means necessary. Sex is needed. Food is needed. Clothes are needed. Sleep is needed. Air is needed. But the flesh doesn’t care that there are good and righteous ways to acquire each of these. The flesh wants what it wants. The desires of the flesh run counter to the desires of the spirit. Thus we are at war with our flesh and the tempting thoughts it produces.

“Do you see that nice-looking lady over there? Do you see her? Doesn’t she look nice?”

“Don’t even go there brain. I am happily married to a wonderful woman who satisfies me and I her. I have no need for anyone else. Besides, you’ve seen enough broken marriages, hard-hearted children and evil consequences resulting from such thoughts. God doesn’t want this, and neither do I.”

“Alright, alright, all I am saying is that she looks nice. Jeesh!”

It’s a never ending battle. Always be on your toes.

God bless you today.

Effective Prayer

www.bible.com/72/jas.5.16.hcsb

Ever feel like your prayers are ineffective. I know I do. I heard a long time ago that God offers three answers to prayer: yes, no, and wait. It’s hard to tell the difference between the third and the first two sometimes. I know there are many who feel like their prayers don’t reach past the ceiling, that God isn’t listening at all. I do know from 1 Peter 5 that sometimes God leaves us alone for a while in order to test our resolve. But there are others who don’t pray enough or at all.

This verse stresses righteousness for powerful and effective prayer. It presents this in the context of forgiveness for sin. Here is a definite contrast between sin and righteousness. Those who have sin, confess it to a fellow Christian. Allow that Christian to pray for you (this is in light of the previous verse about being physically ill). And pray for one another. James poses here that physical illness may in fact have something to do with spiritual sin. And that confession and prayer have the power to effect healing.

There are some illnesses, we call them psychosomatic, that directly link one’s emotional state to their physical well-being. When you feel uneasy, your stomach starts to churn. When you are under stress, you get a headache. Tell what guilt does? Tell me what shame does to the body? Sometimes, extended shame and guilt lead to unexplainable physical illnesses. When the doctor can’t figure it out, maybe it calls for confession and prayer. That’s why we include Chaplains in our healthcare system, just to make sure all of our bases are covered. Include your pastor and your church in your health care. It might make a difference.

Just s thought for a Wednesday.