Friday, August 11, 2006

Sins and Confession

Consider the first 5 verses of Psalm 32.

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'--and you forgave the guilt of my sin."
What strikes me is that forgiveness is extended in the OT. Even two nights ago in class someone talked about how forgiveness is new in the New Testament because they didn't have baptism in the OT. This is a common thought, especially in our heritage. In response to this comment during class, I was reminded of this passage (Psalm 32). I couldn't recall where it was, but I stumbled across it. [Total side note: Funny thing is that I should have read Psa 32 on Wed morning according to the Bible reading schedule. If I had, I would have been able to mention this when I taught class on Sunday night. That's what I get for getting behind in my reading.] sin and transgression is forgiven in OT. I even read that the guilt associated with sin is forgiven. Holy cow! How does this happen? Well, God is in the business of forgiving.

But here is what seems to happen BEFORE forgiven comes: acknowledgment of sin...confession of transgression. If this doesn't happen, we see the Psalmist (and I know this from personal experience) wasting away. His affliction was deep down to the bones. His strength was gone because of the weight of sin he was trying to carry as if he were hiding it from God.

Once we confess our sins to God, the weight of them is lifted. God is a gracious God. He will forgive. Your lack of honestly before God weighs down everything you (and myself included) can't fool God into thinking you are a good person. He knows. Confess it to him and let the healing begin.

Here is what I found in this Psalm this morning: be honest with God; even confess your sins to him or they will weigh you down so much that you are not an effective instrument for God to use.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


This morning I got up an extra hour early because Kayla had been waking up just as I sat down to read the Bible. Well...that hour came early sure enough. Right as I woke up and went to the bathroom, I entertained the thought of sleeping in another 30 minutes.

I sat on the edge of my bed trying to turn my attention toward God. Surprisingly enough, I was able to. But, I decided to put my head back on my pillow fully aware that this is what I was doing. Right as I did this a song came to my mind. "Jesus is tenderly calling...come home...come home...calling oh sinner come home." I don't know the song really well, but those verses kept coming to mind. I sat there for about 15 more seconds before another thought occurred to me: "I will keep you strong." More thoughts raced in my mind as I sat up in bed again. Am I going to die today? Can the Lord really keep me from being tired all day long? Doesn't the pillow sound so nice? Is Jesus calling me right now? Am I going to ignore that call to experience his presence.

I decided that I would spend the next 15 minutes being attentive to God. I kept hearing the song in my head, but it didn't bother me. As I sat there, I realized that expecting God to "show up" the first time I did this is ridiculous. After doing this every day for a while, I might be blessed with an incredible awareness of God's presence.

As I sat there on the edge of my bed, I was quiet before the Lord. He began my day. My tiredness quickly subsided. As I took a shower another cool series of thoughts occurred to me. "The home to which Jesus is calling me is the home of eternal life right now. It is home for Christians to know that their life really transcends this life that we think of as life. Life for Christians goes far beyond normal life. It is an eternal kind of life. It is a life in the presence of God right now. Jesus is calling me home to eternal life today. I can experience fullness of life today through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit."

The Lord will sustain my day because he is able. I look forward to doing this more often. May you be blessed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Samson's Subservience

Every time I read the story of Samson, I am intrigued with how his story is connected with God's; throughout the narrative he is God's instrument. God uses his desire for a Philistine woman, for example, as a way to confront the Philistines (Judges 14:4). The spirit of the Lord comes on him when he is killing his enemies, the Philistines. The Lord opens a place for him to get water (15:19).

What strikes me is that Samson's life doesn't seem like the epitome of God's servants. He kills people right and left, the sleeps with a prostitute, and he defiles himself by touching an unclean lion carcass. But, even though this is the case, God is close to him. The Lord uses him for greater purposes. God has a plan and he carries it out in spite of Samson.

It reminds me of our relationship with God. Not that sin does not matter, but God uses us because his plans are bigger than us. It is an image that God uses sinners. Think about it...who else could he use? Non-sinners? No one on the face of the earth fits that description.

Let's fall to our knees praising God for him using us to accomplish his purposes in the world...sinners that we are.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Joseph and God

I am amazed at how God uses Joseph. I wouldn't want his life looking at the things that happen to him. His brothers try to kill him by throwing him into an empty cistern. Then they decide to get something out of it by selling him to Midianite merchants who take him to Egypt. Once there we see that the Lord was with him (Gen 39:2), but someone else is out to get him: a woman. Because of her position with the powers that be, she returned Joseph's refusal to sleep with her with prison time. But, "the Lord was with him" (Gen 39:21, 23). There is more, but this is what I was reading this morning.

When I read this story, I always wonder how Joseph felt during these things. Did he just accept it? Did he lose his cool? Did he try to defend himself? Surely there was some of that...he was human.

I would be bummed about this stuff happening to me. Sure, I would probably get over it and accept it because I couldn't do anything else, but I would still be bummed about it.

This story, however, encourages me to know that God can be with us. In fact, he IS with us if we are Christians. God is not just watching our situation from a distance. He is WITH us in the situation. We have received God's Spirit and he resides in us. Our bodies are his temple (1 Cor 6:19-20). Be encouraged today. God is with you in your trials, not just watching you.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

God did it!

As I was growing in the Lord, I felt like lashing out at God at times. At least those were my initial thoughts, but then I came to my "spiritual senses" and refrained from saying such things against God.

This morning when I read Job 19, I am confronted with a man who could truly blame God. God was the one who did it. Here Job says it. "...God has wronged me and drawn his net around me....He has blocked my way so I cannot pass...he has stripped me of my honor...he tears me down on every side...I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth...the hand of God has struck me."

Unlike my comments recently about Ruth, the story of Job tells us that it WAS God who did all these things. So Job is rightly directing his comments toward the divine.

I am encouraged to direct my objections toward matter how harsh they may seem. God can handle it. I am honestly opening my whole self to him. I am not acting as if I don't think these thoughts. In time, because of my honesty, I might understand more of what happened or I might not.

A word of caution about honesty: I have seen people use 'honesty' as an excuse to continue to be bitter and hateful, even reject God altogether. Honesty as I see it always needs to be accompanied with love. I love God; therefore, I am honest with him (even when it hurts). I don't think the bitterness and hatred should remain in a healthy relationship with God...that will produce a chasm that might hurt the relationship. Honesty is a by-product of the love in the relationship. Bitterness and hate can be just doesn't remain.

Gotta address this: The question of 'why' continue to linger throughout the story. Job demands an answer of God, though he will never get one. In the end we see Job saying...never mind...I don't want an answer. Perhaps we can get to a place in our relationship with God where we say the same. I probably say more about this as the story continues.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dwell in the House of the Lord

Psalm 27:4 - "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."

When I read this entire Psalm, I get the sense that the psalmist had an intensely close relationship with God. No matter what was happening he never waivered from his trust in the Lord. It was in the Lord that he found his well-being, not in the circumstances of life. In due time, the Lord would come through.

Dwelling with the Lord gives me an image of contentment. If I dwell at someone's house, I have bags packed and am staying a while. It is not like one of those, "Hey, I'm just stopping by to say hello." It is one of those visits that says, "I want to know what it is like living here." We are dwelling with the Lord in contentment.

Let's make an effort today, this week, this month, this year, and this decade to dwell with the Lord.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Perspective on Life

The small book of Ruth is a great little book in the Bible. When I read it today I found myself drawn to how Naomi looks at life. Her husband and two sons die. One daughter-in-law leaves and the other, Ruth, commits to stay with her. Even as she tries to convince her daughters to leave, she blames God saying, "It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord's hand has gone out against me." (1:13)

A little later, she doesn't even want to be called Naomi (which means 'pleasant'), but Mara (which means 'bitter') "because the Almighty has made my life very bitter." Again she places God at the center of blame. And she doesn't stop there. She continues:

"I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."

Who can blame her, right? Her world, her identity, her well-being is threatened without the men in her life.

But that is when God uses the most unlikely person, Ruth, to bring his blessing upon Naomi. By the end of the book we see Naomi as the one who all the other women talk about. They are the ones who see God working. God is still alive. He has not abandoned her. "The woman said to Naomi: "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer..." (4:14)

Sometimes our circumstances force us to blame God. "How can God...?" "God is against me..." "God has abandoned me..." While this is okay for a season, God continues to work. It is good to read Naomi's story. It is good to know that friends are there to point you back to the Lord. He will hear your cry. He has not left you without. Take courage...God is faithful.