I Didn’t Do It

www.bible.com/1713/jas.4.17.csb

You had me until here, James’ little book about being a Christian. James is always challenging. James reminds us this morning about sins of omission. What is that? A sin of omission is when not doing something is the wrong thing to do. Wait! How can I her in trouble for NOT doing something?

A few days ago I attended a workshop on elder abuse and negligence. Sometimes adult caregivers do not provide food, bathing, or adequate care for their elderly relatives. This is called neglect. It is not an active abuse, but a passive one. Elderly patients need help to do normal, everyday tasks, like going to the bathroom, eating, getting dressed and so on. To withhold assistance in a clear case of need is neglect. A person can be charged with a crime if they neglect the care of an elderly person. Yes. You can get into trouble doing nothing.

The Bible takes it a step further. To withhold good when it is in your power to do so is a sin. This always convicts me when I pass a homeless person, or see the chance to participate in a anti-abortion event. It may also include attending a church, or praying for someone in need, or any number of things I haven’t thought of yet. Once we’ve conquered the realm of sins we can commit, there’s a whole other world of sins we commit by doing nothing.

Thanks James. Well, I guess I have something new to think about today. God bless in your journey this Monday!

Which One Are You?

www.bible.com/1713/rom.8.6.csb

Paul divides people into two broad categories with this text. On the one hand are those who are led by their flesh and its desires. They are motivated by the world and what pleases themselves. On the other hand are those motivated by what pleases God and they follow the desires of the Holy Spirit. These he says are fundamentally incompatible.

For the one led by the flesh will find himself on the path to death. I’ve seen this in heroin addicts. As an extreme example, the heroin addict is addict to a substance that gives them extreme pleasure, but consumes the rest of their lives. Everything else is forfeit, family, relationships, job, personal health, everything is sacrificed for the sake of heroin. It is that powerful a god. But the god being served is self, because self demands the pleasure that comes from the substance. And often these end in overdosed and death. To a greater or lesser degree, every addiction to self, whether it be substances, lifestyles, work, and even family and church, all of these are pale imitations of what we really need, and this fail to satisfy.

So what were we made for, if none of these other things bring us life? We were made for God, and only God can satisfy our deepest needs. We need belonging. We need relationship. We need satisfaction and contentment. We need trust. We need truth. It’s not your typical needs list, is it? But imagine your life without them.

Every one is offered to a greater or lesser extent by the world. And the world fails to deliver, always demanding more. Yet God delivers on these needs from day one. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, the path of life become clear, and Jesus fills your heart with what you really need, the satisfaction you’ve longed for from all of earth’s pale imitations. With God you belong. With God you have peace and contentment. With God you have genuine, honest, loyal love. God will never lie to you. You may not like what He has to say, but God will always tell you the truth. It’s a powerful thing.

The path of following your own desires leads to death. The other path, following what God wants, leads to real living. There really are only two paths. Which one are you?

Free From Sin

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.8.32.csb

Again, in the case of this verse, context matters. Jesus and the Jewish leaders are talking about slavery to sin in this passage. Jesus announces that those who follow Him will be set free. The Jews announced that they are not slaves. Jesus affirms that this freedom is from slavery to sin. Jesus doesn’t offer freedom from slavery per se, but freedom from sin. Sin is a powerful taskmaster, forcing us to cover up things and live a lie, pretending to be something we aren’t. Jesus offers freedom from guilt, sinful oppression, and living in shadow.

Important to remember that Jesus doesn’t offer freedom from consequences, or freedom to commit more sin. He offers freedom from sin itself. And we are all privileged to enjoy it.

I want to encourage you today to live in the freedom Jesus offers. Make today your liberation from bondage. Jesus loves you and hates to see you living under a burden He died to take from your shoulders. Will you let Him? Will you repent and confess those sins to Him so that He can take them? Pray today for that relief.

Faithful and Just

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.1.9.csb

Good morning. Another selection from 1 John reminds us that confession and forgiveness are an ongoing reality for Christians. Even after we have been forgiven from sin, we still need this reminder of where we come from. We have always been wont to sin. Temptation dogs our heels everywhere we go. While we live, we will always be tempted, and often we sin. This reminder is here to tell us that God forgives sin. If you have sinned, if you’ve fallen, and especially if you think you can’t get up, God offers forgiveness. He is faithful and just. Jesus has paid the penalty for sin. Justice has already been met. We have only to ask and sin is forgiven. Jesus paid for all our sins. Forgiven is guaranteed, but it is not always felt.

If you fail victim to a particular sin, like gluttony or pornography or something equally damaging, it can be hard to experience God’s forgiveness because you’ve gone back to that well so many times. I think this verse here is a reminder that there is still forgiveness. There is still hope for those who think they are beyond help. For those caught in the trap of addiction, this verse is hope. God forgives. God’s chief goal is to have you in heaven with Him. Because Jesus has paid the penalty for sin, forgiveness is guaranteed. But for your sake, for your own sense of need, ask.

A burden shared is a burden lightened. A burden shared with God is a burden lifted. That’s why He tells us to confess our sins to Him. Sins are a terrible burden to bear. He knows all about it. He calls us to share the burden of our sins, to face the reality of them, to be accountable for them, so that we unload that burden to Him. Confession is good for the soul.

I hope you all have a great Monday. Let the worship and filling from Sunday overflow and fill your week. God bless!

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.

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.