Ezekiel was called to speak truth to a hard-hearted and rebellious people, but God gave him the strength he needed and told him, “Do not be afraid of them!”
We live in a time when people have similar attitudes and responses to truth. Sometimes we suffer persecution, not just for what we say or do, but for who we are. Darkness hates the light. Sometimes our persecutors can be people close to us, even our own family members.
What can we learn from Jesus about persecution? And what did Peter, who once denied his Lord, learn that can help us trust God and have the strength to do what He’s called us to do? Continue reading →
Hypocrites! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders with that accusation. Could we be guilty of hypocrisy, too? And what about our parenting? Is the goal to have well-behaved children and could we be in danger of raising little hypocrites? How does understanding the deeper issues help us point our children to Christ?
Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember that 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.
Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us, we can ask God to show us what He has for us. There are always nuggets if we are willing to dig for them.
The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).
Ask Him to help you see, “Is there a command here that I need to obey? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”
4 ‘Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.
Sometimes we sin, either by speaking harshly or in some other way, and the Holy Spirit convicts us. What we do at that point is so important. Do we harden our hearts and refuse to repent or are we quick to repent and seek forgiveness from God and others we’ve sinned against?
¹ And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor …
Anytime we sin, we’re not just sinning against people, we’re sinning against the Lord.
But I’d like to focus on 5.5 today:
“And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”
Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was not enough. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.
How does that verse speak to us today?
How many times have we been guilty of doing all the outward acts associated with Christian living and yet in our hearts we were filled with doubt instead of faith? Or gone to church and lifted our hands in worship while there was anger and bitterness in our hearts toward a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend?
Were we just “playing church,” as if that would make us right with God?
How many times have we insisted that our children say “I’m sorry” to a sibling when we knew it was not genuine?
True repentance involves “confession,” that is to agree with God that what we did was sin. It’s more than, merely, saying “I’m sorry,” because I was “caught” or as if it’s some form of penance. It’s about heart change. That is, a change in thinking which leads to a change of actions.
“Hypocrites” is an ugly word, but that’s what Jesus called those who did “religious things” outwardly without true worship from the heart. If that’s you today, go to God, seek His forgiveness and cleansing. Ask Him to make you a true worshiper.
And the next time you’re tempted to tell your child, “Say you’re sorry!” Think about it … are you teaching your child to be a hypocrite? You need to take the time to help him see that what he did was sin. Use the Word of God to share with your child, prayerfully asking God to convict his or her heart.
Saying “I’m sorry,” certainly isn’t the only way we teach our children to be hypocrites. We may inadvertently do so any time we address behavior without addressing the heart issue behind it.
In last week’s post, Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex’s, we talked about some of the reasons for conflict and the beginning steps of working toward a better relationship with an ex-spouse. We discussed the need to first seek God’s help to have the right heart attitude and then to do some self-examination (Matt. 7.3-5).
I suggested making a “log list” of ways you’ve sinned against your ex without focusing on what he or she has done or not done.
This week in “Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession,” we’ll look at the next step.
God puts a high priority on peace and reconciliation in our relationships.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone (Rom. 12.18 NLT).
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5.23-24).
He doesn’t say seek peace with everyone but your ex, but rather do “all that you can” to live at peace with “everyone.” Certainly, there are some people who won’t be at peace with us, but unless there is some reason (like physical abuse or safety issues), we should be willing to do our part.
The next step is seeking forgiveness for the things on your log list.
This can be challenging if you believe your ex-spouse is the one who should be asking for forgiveness, but remember, you are only responsible for you. What the other person has done is between them and God.
Seeking Forgiveness God’s Way
Seeking forgiveness requires three things: repentance, confession, and asking.
Repentance is a change of thinking that leads to a change of action. Confession is to agree with what God says about something and asking is more than saying, “I’m sorry.” It is a sincere request to be released from a debt.
Address Everyone Involved. As a general rule, you should confess your sins to every person who has been directly affected by your wrongdoing. Note that since all sins offend God by violating His will, all sins should be first confessed to Him.
Avoid If, But, and Maybe. The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt.
Admit Specifically. Specific admissions help convince others that you are honestly facing up to what your have done.
Acknowledge the Hurt. Your goal is to show that you understand how the other person felt as a result of your words or actions. Although you should not dwell excessively on feelings, it is important to show that you understand how other people feel and to express genuine sorrow for hurting them.
Accept the Consequences. The harder you work to make restitution and repair any damage you have caused, the easier it will be for others to believe your confession is genuine.
Alter Your Behavior. Explain to the person how you plan to change your behavior in the future. This could involve describing some of the attitude, character, and behavior changes you hope to make with God’s help.
Ask for Forgiveness (and Allow Time). Ask, “Will you forgive me?” Be willing to allow the person some time to work through things.
Examples of biblical confessions:
“I realize I have not been treating you fairly and I want to change. Specifically, I have made it hard for you to pick up the kids and I have frequently brought them to your house late, cutting into your time with them. I plan to make every effort to have them there on time and ready when you to pick them up at my house. I’d like to make it up to you by allowing you to have them for Thanksgiving, even though it’s my turn. I want you to know that I’m sincere and I hope to prove it to you. Will you forgive me?”
“I want to ask forgiveness for lying about you in court. I told the judge that you were not a good mother/father. I also lied about how much money I make. I have damaged your reputation and cheated you out of child support. I plan to write the judge a letter and I will give a copy to you and both of our lawyers so the child support can be adjusted. Will you please forgive me?”
Some of you probably gasped when you read the second one. Taking responsibility for things like that runs contrary to the adversarial nature of the divorce process. But we are called to live radical lives … radically pleasing to God. And remember part of sincere repentance includes a willingness to accept the consequences of our actions.
Push Back from Your Current Spouse
Even though you may be convinced of the necessity of confession and restitution, your current spouse may or may not be completely on board, especially where either contact with your ex or financial repercussions are concerned. Continue reading →