Archives For Sin

That Weight Or Sin

March 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

Do you have a weight or a sin to set aside? If so, Jesus loves you too much to leave you where you are. The scriptures teach us that we must put off the old, be renewed in our minds and put on the new life that is found in Christ. Paul spoke in terms of dying daily. As Christ-followers, we must continually look ahead to the end goal of standing before Christ faces-to-faces.

Standing before Christ on Judgment day doesn’t have to be a thing of dread. Daily we can judge ourselves as concerning any weight or sin and do something about it right now. We can confess anything to God with a heart of repentance and He will forgive us of all unrighteousness. We are called to lay aside weights and sin!

Growing up my Father owned his own business. Each year, he would take the men and their kids on a fishing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I have incredible memories of those fishing trips. My Father loved making His on sinkers out of lead. He had all kinds of molds for different shapes and sizes. He would take a block of lead and melt it down and pour it into the different molds. I used to love watching him make the sinks and the best part was he taught me how to do it also.

One year he had several of the young kids put the weights on the fishing poles in advance of the trip. His thinking was it would save time by putting the weights and hooks on before we got to the Other Banks. All of us kids had fun tying the weights on the line, but the big mistake was no one checked the knots to make sure all was correct. The first day on the pier was a funny one! We had prepared about seven rods in advance and from all indications, it was going to be a great start to the week.

Each of use took a rod and prepared to cast them for the first time. Carefully checking behind us we each brought our fishing rods back and then propelled them forward to cast. Four of the seven rods gave us a surprise! The lines let go of the weights and all we could do was watch them fly through the air on a path to the deep blue grave of the ocean. As the fishing lines loosely fluttered in the wind, splashes in the ocean told the story of knots being tied wrong. Needless to say, we finally got everything right and had a great week but the point I want you to see, the illustration I want you to hold is the picture of the weight being let go to never been seen again.

If there is a weight of sin in your life today that is keeping you from moving forward with God, then you need to bring your spiritual fishing rod back and propelled that weight or sin into the deeps of his forgiveness to never see it again.

 

 

Guilt Can Be A Good Thing

January 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

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Guilt can be a good thing if it’s helps you to see you have sinned against God. However, please hear this…guilt will never forgive you or heal you. The goal of course is to break free from the sin that so easily entangles you. After all, our calling is to be conformed to the image of God. God is shaping our character to reflect Him and His kingdom virtues. We are supposed to be salt and light to a world crying out for healing. We can’t be salt and light while living in open lifestyle sin.

When you sin against God and ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit you grieve Him. Since our path is narrow according to scripture, any other path leads away from God. To surrender to temptation is to choose to walk a path not intended. The aftermath of that choice is often guilt. Guilt only becomes bad when it leads you away in self-pity and self-seeking healing. Runaway Guilt is Adam and Eve running and hiding from God. Convicting guilt is from the Holy Spirit and leads to life.

What then is the answer after the fall? The answer is conviction. Conviction is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Conviction is the voice of reconciliation. Conviction draws you toward God to receive forgiveness from any and all sin committed. I’ve often said there is a difference between a man facing the cross and asking God to forgive him, than the one who is facing away from the cross trying to hide it all.

Hiding leads to guilt in the shadows and the weight of sin remains. Guilt that faces the cross leads to life and forgiveness. A great example of facing the cross is Peter. When Peter sinned, he confessed, and God forgave him. Adam on the other hand blamed God while trapped in guilt and tried to hide it. The desire of God is for each of us to bring our guilt to him. On the cross, Jesus died for your sins. He was the innocent for the guilty, so it is only at the foot of the cross that guilt is relieved. Now drop that fig leaf and be healed.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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N.T. Wright once said, “Moral reformation which leaves the heart untouched is about as useful as tying bunches of grapes on to a briar-bush.” I  totally agree with his assertion.

Adding more good things to your life in the effort to become holier than the next guy without heart transformation can only lead to more darkness. God is interested in our relationship with Him as the source of our light.

Often, someone trying to prove to God and others how good they are, end up becoming obnoxiously zealous with a spiritual stink.  You can never walk your way into a deeper relationship with God by moral reformation that is self-generated.

Moral reformation is birthed out of a surrendered relationship to the potter who alone can shape you into His own purpose. Any and all enduring reformation comes from time spent with God.

He is the vine, and we are the branches. We must allow the fruit to grow from the perfect source. We can’t grow our own fruit without Him, and we can’t offer our own fruit back to Him as something special.

Morality isn’t ultimately an individual thing for the Christ follower. Morality is found in the soil of a fierce relationship with the creator.

Do you have a spiritual stench?

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I’m starting to understand more and more as I grow older the better question to trouble in the world and evil in the word is “How long?” and not “Why God?”

I’ve arrived at a place where I no longer have to have an answer for trouble; nor do I have an unquenched need to have God give me an explanation for all things wrong and evil.

Instead, I’ve learned to live in the direction of healing and correction of all the wicked and evil in the world. After all, that is what the Christ follower is called to do.

We are called to follow the Price of Peace. My prayers are prayers for God to bring an end to all the evil and turmoil. The message of the Bible is God has promised to end evil, and I just stand, walk and believe. “One day,” will become “The day” all evil ends.”

I trust in the fact that God is perfect love and has a perfect power, and yet things often look out of control and dark. However, I don’t have to look for answers to why evil. I just have to look at the answer for evils final defeat, and that answer is Christ.

I’m not called to understand the evil of this world. I’m called to be a light in it until the light of Christ and His glory floods the earth forever. I don’t have to understand evil, and I don’t have to accept evil. I’ve accepted Christ, and He alone is the undefeated King.

Christopher Wright writes, “Evil has no proper place within creation. It has no validity, no truth, no integrity. It does not intrinsically belong to the creation as God originally made it nor will it belong to creation as God will ultimately redeem it.”

Now my beloved Christ followers…go and live the light and watch as darkness slowly dies. WE WIN!

Revelation 21:1
21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

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I learned my first two cuss words in the second grade. Yeah, I know that’s early, but it’s how I roll. Anyway, I was sitting in class, and the teacher had to go out for a while and said she would be back in fifteen minutes. She put a monitor in charge and out the door she went.

Two of my best friends were sitting next to me, and one of them without warning got up and walked right to the chalkboard. He picked up a stick of chalk and wrote two cuss words on the board. I was shocked! The class was shocked! I didn’t even actually know what they meant, but I knew they were bad.

I was sinfully intrigued. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and reading. My friend took his seat, and the class just kind of looked at him in disbelief. No one moved, and no one was saying a word. The teacher soon came back and was shocked and blown away. She ran to the front of the class and erased the words. However, it wasn’t erased from my mind.

Our teacher interviewed a few kids and finally got the name of my friend. Needless to say, he got into big time trouble. The day finally ended, and I took the bus ride home. I couldn’t get the words off my mind. I knew they were wrong, but I was being pulled in. Once I got off the bus I made my way to my dads shop to do my after school chores. He always had me clean up the tool room and sweep.

While doing my chores, I came across some black spray paint. Now don’t ask me how I connected black spray paint and cuss words, but I did. An idea was birthed faster than a squirrel moving out of the way for an oncoming car. Before I could think it through, I had the can in my hand and had found my way behind my dads shop to perform my first and last graffiti project.

I stood there, and I could feel my heart beating in my chest. I knew it was wrong what I was about to do, but I couldn’t help myself. I had my own metal chalkboard in front of me, and I wanted to feel what my friend felt when he wrote those cuss words. I shook up the can and began to write both words. I painted them tremendously big, and when I was done I stepped back to view my handy work. Everything was quite as I looked at what I had just done.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the voice of my Father calling my name. I went into full panic mood! I threw the can away in the bushes and took off running in what I thought was the opposite direction of his voice only to run headlong into him. I looked up and there he was looking back at me with the eyes of a Father who know something was up.

I was breathing heavy and sweating from running. He asked me, “What were you doing back here Stevie?” “Nothing Dad,” came my reply. He then took hold of my hands and pulled them up toward his face. He then asked me, “What is this black paint doing on your hand?” I began to cry. I knew I was caught. I also knew my punishment would be much worse than what my teacher did to my friend.

He took me by the shoulder and turned me around and said, “Show me what you painted.” I was horrified but knew I had to show him. As we made our way back to the wall I had painted my heart was racing, and I was crying even more now. Shortly we came to the spot and there it was for the whole world to see. My two cuss words I had painted stood big and tall on the metal wall.

I felt my dads hand tighten on my shoulder. I knew an old fashion country woopin was a coming. I deserved it! I had it coming. I knew I had done wrong, and punishment was the right thing to do. I was going to have to man up and take it. However, what happened next I will remember forever.

My dad’s hand loosened from my shoulder. He bent down beside me and whispered in my ear, “You spelled one of the words wrong.” I felt my heart melt. I looked him in the eyes, and he looked back into mine. I felt my tears drying up, and I felt grace and mercy for the very first time in my life. It felt better than anything I had ever experienced.

That day my Father showed me the grace of his Father, which was Christ. My Father died when I was 18, but I will never forget that day. Maybe you have done something wrong today or yesterday, and you need grace and mercy. You will find it with the Father. He knows what you have done, and He is ready to forgive if you will just turn to Him.

Romans 5:20

20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

Your Anger Blew Up Again?

January 10, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Anger is an emotion and emotions serve a purpose for good if we submit them to God.  Anger can find solutions to a problem or it can add destruction to a problem. For example, if you are angry at a certain behavior in your child that needs to be corrected, anger is an emotion that is telling you something is not right. Anger is not the problem. How anger is allowed to manifest is the real issue. Anger can be useful or hurtful.

Not long ago, I lost my temper with one of my children. I allowed anger to determine an unhealthy way of handling the problem. I started out calm enough, and my correction seemed to be going okay. Then something happen that caused me to raise my voice.

At that moment, whether I want to admit it or not, I lost my influence for good and turned into the old fallen man that doesn’t reflect the long suffering of God, nor his patient love.  In my heated moment, I forgot that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

The more I allowed my angry to run out of control the more it consumed all the grace, mercy and reflection of God away from my child. I could see the fire of anger burning but instead of throwing water on the fire, I just threw more gas. The frustrations of my adult world that I should take to God in prayer and leave at His feet found their way out and projected onto my child.

My anger had become harmful instead of constructive and redemptive. I’ve heard it said before, and I believe it to be true, “Anger becomes harmful when you don’t regard it as a signal to fix the cause.” The bible declares in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”

I got the second part of that verses right. Before the sun went down, I had apologized to my child. The next time I want to get the first part of the verse right. In my anger,  I don’t want to sin. When I honestly think about what I did, I concluded I was exceedingly mad at myself more than what my child was doing. I had  some unresolved stress in my own life that I had allowed to come out in the form of anger and onto my child. I had failed to protect my child from me.

If you have ever had a similar experience and need to apologize, here are a few tips.

1. Leave your pride at the door.

2. Just say you were wrong. Don’t include any excuses.

3. Look your child in the eyes and say I’m sorry.

4. Ask for forgiveness. Let them decided if they want to give it. Don’t demand it.

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Exodus 8:8-10

8 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said,  “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.

Pharaoh said to Moses, “Tomorrow.” That is just crazy. Pharaoh was covered up with frogs, and the man of God offered to take them away and Pharaoh responded by saying, “Tomorrow.”

As Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Today and not tomorrow is the best time to let God take the frogs out of your life. Now I know that Pharaoh was an enemy of the people of God, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two from him.

If there is something in your life that needs to be removed, and God wants to remove it, then today is the day…not tomorrow. When God offers to deliver you, take it and be free.

Are there any frogs in your life?

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Temptation! We all can relate to temptation. We all share the topic in common. We have all been tempted. Temptation had its first appears in Genesis with Adam and Eve. We know the story all to well. They listened to the voice of temptation and gave themselves over to its seductive call.

Temptation is a serious subject. Temptation seeks to lead you away from THE WAY.

Temptation is the invitation to let go of the hand of God and follow your own way. However, there are two things I want you to know up front.

1. There has never been a temptation without an exit sign close by.

2. God will help you escape the temptation if you don’t let go of His hand

When I was a young man one of my jobs was to feed the cows hay. It was a cold and raining January and my Father reminded me, I needed to take care of my job right after school. Because it had been raining for days, he warned me not to take the tractor through the big muddle puddle, but instead take a new path he has made for us. He looked at me and said it really slow and deliberate. “Son, don’t take the old path through the mud, take the new one I’ve made for you. You will get stuck if you go the old way.”

After school,  I jumped on the tractor and went about my business. I came to the mud, and the temptation was right there smiling at me. It was speaking to me. “Go for it! You can make it through this little bit of mud on that big tractor.” I thought to myself, that’s right! This is a big tractor. This tractor can make it through with no problem at all. My Dad is just wrong about this. I can do this.

Now before I finish the story, remember what I said earlier. Temptation is the invitation to let go of the hand of God and follow your own way.

Well, as you might imagine I went for it. The front wheels went in the mud and came out. The back wheels went in the mud, and they came out. I won! I did it! I went on to feed the cows and on the way back temptation said, “Do it again.” The front wheels went in and came out. The back wheels went in…THEY DIDN’T COME OUT!

When we give in to temptation, we must let go of the hand of God because temptation is the invitation to let go of the hand of God and follow your own way.

So, what does the bible say about temptation?

➢    Where does it comes from?

➢    How do we deal with it?

➢    Does God understand our struggle with it?

 

James 1:13-14 (ESV)

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

➢    God doesn’t temp. We have a tempter.

➢    We fall to temptation when we let go of God’s hand and follow our own way.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

➢    You are not going through a temptation no one has ever faced

➢    God’s faithfulness sets a limit- His power of love can always be found in the middle of your temptation.

➢    He Will provide and exit.

Hebrews 4:15(ESV)

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

God can sympathize with you. He understands your weaknesses.

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV)

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said,  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 4:1 (ESV)

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

I love the fact that Jesus faced temptation and won on a personal level. He was 100% God and 100% man. He faced temptation with the power of the Spirit and with the Word of God. He won on a personal level.

The next time you are tempted. Pause for a moment and allow God’s love in that moment to give you the strength to say no. The greatest weapon against temptation is to know that God loves you completely. Then, embrace that love at the moment of temptation and win.

Christ won over temptation in the wilderness; let Him do it again through you

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Complaining feels like the right thing to do, when my world is falling apart. Complaining makes me feel like I’m fighting against injustice in my life. Complaining is something I falsely think I can control and direct in any direction that makes me feel a little better.

What about you? How do you view complaining? Do you like it? Does it feel good to complain when your world is not lining up the way you expected?

We like to complain because it seems to get the discontentment that is on the inside of us out. However, complaining is just downright wrong to do, and it changes nothing.

Complaining will never change the problem or problems you are facing. In fact, complaining most often causes more problems. Complaining spreads discontentment through your spirit faster than anything else I know.

The most devastating fruit of complaining is it keeps me from obeying God’s word and trusting Him with all of my life. When you complain, you reach into the hand of God and take little bits and pieces that you think should be changed the way you see it and not the way God see’s it.

In Philippians 2:14 we are instructed to “Do all things without grumbling…”

Notice the two words, ‘all things.’ That certainly sums it up! We are not to complain because God is in control of our lives. When we complain it is a form of non-trust in God’s working in and through our lives. When we complain, it is disobedience and unbelief. Worst of all, Complaining  gives place to the enemy to work stronger in your life.

So, what is the answer? What must we do?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 gives us the answer and what to do. It tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For more on Complaining and some practical steps, see this post.

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Psalms 86:5 “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

God is ready to forgive. Are you ready to receive His forgiveness?

Many times a Christ follower who has sinned stays hidden behind their guilt for far to long. It’s like they want to punish themselves until they felt a hint of worth, which will allow them to step out into God’s mercy.

Mercy doesn’t work that way. God’s mercy doesn’t have to be primed in order to receive it. The Lord is good and ready to forgive. His eyes watch for you to  return.

Max Lucado once said, “The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.”

You never have to earn God’s second chance. You just need to embrace each chance as the gift it is. Grace will follow abundantly, and with a beauty that you can’t fully explain or fully understand. His mercy is plenteous and is available to all who call upon Him.

I once heard a pastor say, “Sometimes I realize that you need to preach on judgment as well, but sometimes you can preach on judgment until you are blue in the face, and then preach on mercy and it’ll touch some heart that preaching on judgment never would touch. The love of God, the mercy of God, touches hearts.”

Have you recently messed up (sinned against God) and found yourself in the pigpen of life? Then, like the Prodigal Son, get up and return home. Mercy and Grace are waiting.