“If you died tonight …?” August 20

 

If you died tonight ...? - If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don't leave your eternity to chance!If you died tonight, do you know that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

 

If you died tonight …?

 

1 Corinthians 2.1-16:

The Power of the Gospel

 

Verses 1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

That is something we all need to remember as we witness to our friends and loved ones. We can’t “talk them into anything.” The power lies in the gospel and in God’s Word. We need to share the truth with them by pointing them to the Scripture.

bible johnMartha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, said that before she got saved her friends had told her to read the book of John, and to keep reading it until it made sense to her. She was depressed and pretty messed up, but she did. And one night after reading it several times, faith came alive in her heart!

We certainly don’t want to beat people over the head with the Bible, but we must realize that it is the Scriptures that contain the power of God for salvation!

 

If you died tonight?

 

What about you? Are you are reading this and wondering, “Would I go to heaven?” Please don’t push that thought away. Seek God about it. Pull out your Bible or get one. Begin reading the book of John. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You can read more about the gospel and salvation here.

Or maybe you have been in church for a long time or you went when you were younger. Maybe you “prayed a prayer” once, joined a church, got baptized … but you still have doubts. The aging Apostle John said this about why God had him write the book of 1 John:

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5.13).

Did you notice that phrase? “…that you may KNOW”! God wants us to have confidence and peace in knowing that we belong to Him. He wants us to understand eternal security. Read more here. We can have eternal security, but it is not based on what we do, rather it is a faith transaction.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2.8-9).

Leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with a solid biblical church in your area if you would like to talk to someone about your eternal destiny (I won’t publish your comment). Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

If you died tonight ...? - If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don't leave your eternity to chance!


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 31 & 32:

If … If … If

 

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (Job 31.1, 9), if I had not been generous (Job 31.16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (Job 31.13), if I had trusted in wealth and not God (Job 31.24-25), if I had hidden my sin (Job 31.33), if I had stolen (Job 31.39), etc., then I could understand all this.

We are often a lot like Job. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading

“Contagious Sins: Could You Be at Risk?” August 10

 

Contagious Sins: Could you be at risk? - We take every precaution with deadly diseases like ebola or zika, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?We take every precaution with deadly diseases like West Nile or Lyme disease, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 11 & 12
Psalm 94.1-11
Proverbs 22.24-25
Romans 10.1-21

 

Contagious Sins

 

Proverbs 22.24-25:

Could You Be at Risk?

 

Certain sins are easily caught from others. Could there be people in your life whose friendship is a danger to your walk with God?

“Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (vss. 24-25).

Anger is one; so are gossip, cursing, and other sins, especially those of the tongue. If you hang around people who practice those things, you will become less and less bothered by them and eventually begin to join in.

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’ ” (1 Cor. 15.33).

Jesus said we’re to live in the world, but not be of it (Jn. 17.14-15). And the Apostle Paul warned us about being closely associated with unbelievers.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6.14).

So while we are to have relationships with people outside the faith and use those opportunities to be salt and light, they should not be our closest friends and partners.

But it can be just as dangerous, maybe more so, to hang around with professing believers who act like the world!

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person (1 Cor. 5.9-11).

God, certainly calls us to try to reach our sinning brothers and sisters (Gal. 6.1-2; Heb. 3.13), but if there is no repentance we’re aren’t to continue acting as if it’s no big deal.

 

Contagious Sins: Could you be at risk? - We take every precaution with deadly diseases like ebola or zika, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 11 & 12:

Love Believes the Best

 

Now it’s Zophar’s turn to speak to Job about his troubles. He can’t believe what he is hearing. He is sure that Job is guilty of some serious sin, so he rebukes him sharply.

While Job agrees with Zophar’s assessment of God’s wisdom, power and sovereignty and he doesn’t claim to be perfect, he strongly condemns his simplistic conclusion.  Continue reading

“Could You Be Left Behind?” July 19

 

Could You Be Left Behind?

 

Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind.  Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-16

 

Could You Be Left Behind?

 

2 Chronicles 34-36:

Mercy … but Then Judgment

 

In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.

Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when he heard it. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.

So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.

 

God is Withholding His Judgment Today

 

Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of His faithful people, the Church! But one day …  Continue reading

“Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life?” July 15

 

Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life? - Stuart Scott says, “Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride … The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”

Our Old Testament reading gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with. So, where does pride show up in your life? Check Dr. Scott’s list of the manifestations of pride. You might be surprised.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 25-27
Psalm 84.1-7
Proverbs 21.4-5
Acts 19.1-20

 

Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life?

 

Proverbs 21.4-5:

A Proud Heart

 

Verse 4, “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.”

Over and over the Bible warns against the dangers of pride.

Stuart Scott in his powerful little booklet From Pride to Humility says:

“It is probably safe to say that humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it.”

He goes on to say we can’t be an effective witness, love and serve others, lead, communicate properly, or resist sin without it (Eph. 4.1-2).

“You cannot have humility where pride exists. Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”

 

Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life? - Stuart Scott says, "Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God's sight" (Prov. 16.5). He adds, "We all have pride ... The question is not 'Do I have it?' but, 'Where is it?' and 'How much of it do I have?'”He lists some of the manifestations of pride as:

1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God.
2. A lack of gratitude in general.
3. Anger.
4. Seeing yourself as better than others.
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts, and abilities.
6. Being focused on your lack of gifts and abilities.
7. Perfectionism.
8. Talking too much.
9. Talking too much about yourself.
10. Seeking independence or control.
11. Being consumed by what others think.
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism.
13. Being unteachable.
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading.
15. A lack of service.
16. A lack of compassion.
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting.
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong.
19. A lack of asking forgiveness.
20. A lack of biblical prayer.
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful.
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked.
23. Minimizing you own sin and shortcomings.
24. Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings.
25. Being impatient or irritable with others.
26. Being jealous or envious.
27. Using others.
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes.
29. Using attention-getting tactics.
30. Not having close relationships.

Some of those may have surprised you, as pride can be very subtle, masquerading as something else.

Remember, it’s not a matter of  “Do you or I have it?” but, “Where is it?” and “How much of it do I have?” So, it’s important that we learn to recognize it, confess it, and learn to go God’s way.

Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with …  Continue reading

“Do Good Works Save You?” July 10

 

Do Good Works Save You? - What makes someone a Christian? Do Good Works Save us?

Is our salvation based on taking certain sacraments or belonging to the right church? Is it based on living a godly life or doing good deeds? Does God have a divine scale where He’s weighing our good deeds versus our bad ones? Or is salvation based on something else?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 15 & 16
Psalm 81.1-10
Proverbs 20.24-25
Acts 16.1-21

 

Do Good Works Save You?

 

Acts 16.1-21:

What Part Do “Good Deeds” Play?

 

Chapters 15 & 16 record two situations concerning circumcision. The Scripture makes it clear that there was no requirement to be circumcised. But here in chapter 16 Paul had Timothy circumcised, not because it was necessary for Timothy, but so it did not become a stumbling block and shut the door on ministry to the Jews they were trying to evangelize.

In another situation, there was a disagreement over eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul said that though there was no harm in doing it (it was just meat!), he would rather never eat meat again if it made his brother stumble (1 Cor. 8.13).

But in chapter 15, the Judaizers were adding something to the gospel. They were “unsettling” the faith of the gentile believers by telling them they couldn’t be saved if they didn’t meet the requirements of the law.

 

Works of Righteousness

 

There are no “works of righteousness” which can in any way contribute to salvation. Paul said in Ephesians:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).

We are not saved through rituals, whether baptism or communion or any other sacrament. Neither are we saved through good works, religious service, or church attendance. Rather, we should have a desire to do those things because we are saved (Eph. 2.10). Good deeds are the fruit of repentance and genuine salvation, not the cause.

If you’re not sure about your salvation, I have a number of posts on the subject, but I would also be happy to answer your questions. Just add them to the comments section below. If you would prefer that I answer by email and not publish your questions (they don’t show up until I approve them), just let me know. If you have made a profession of faith in Christ, but struggle with that assurance, you might read this post.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 15 & 16:

The Only Time We Seek Him

 

As we saw yesterday God had done wondrous things through Asa as he worshiped and trusted in Him. After a great military victory over the Ethiopians, God sent the prophet Azariah to encourage him. His prophecy ended with these words, “… be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chron. 15.7).  Continue reading

“Parenting: Does A + B = C?” July 8

 

Parenting: Does A + B = C? -

 

From today’s New Testament reading: “Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone”—This truth is central to our faith and must be strongly guarded and taught.

And from our reading in Psalms: Is there a formula for godly parenting? If we do A + B (meet certain biblical requirements), does God promise us “C” (godly children)?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 11 & 12
Psalm 80.14-19
Proverbs 20.19-21
Acts 15.1-21

 

Parenting: Does A + B = C?

 

Psalm 80.14-19:

The Truth Will Follow Them

 

Verse 19, “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!”

As I read that verse, my first thought was, even though they constantly wandered away from God, they knew where their salvation could be found.

Many of us have done our best to raise our children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord,” only to have them wander from the faith or fail to make a personal commitment to the Lord. We are often confused and discouraged, because we saw parenting as something of a formula. If I do “A + B” (take my children to church, teach them biblical truth, send them to church camp, etc.), then God will give me “C” (believing, obedient children).

We back up our belief with verses like Proverbs 22.6:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

But this is not an iron clad guarantee that our children will serve God or that they will never rebel. Remember, God’s children rebel, too, and He’s the perfect parent.

What it means is they will not be able “to depart” from the truth. They won’t be able to escape what they know. They can choose to walk away, but the truth will follow them like their shadow and be there when they come to their senses as the prodigal son did (Lk. 15.11-31) and as the Israelites did on many occasions.


Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 11 & 12:

Direct Your Heart

 

Notice verse 12.14 about Rehoboam, “… he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.” The NASB says, “he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” Other translations of that word include “to direct” or “to stand upright” or at attention.

Rehoboam was a mediocre king because he had a mediocre relationship with God. He never completely forsook God, he just never sought Him wholeheartedly. He didn’t pray as his father did for the wisdom he needed to rule the kingdom. He didn’t search the Scriptures to know the heart of God and get His wisdom. Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says, “… he engaged not, his heart to seek the Lord …”

 

bible study

So how do we prepare our hearts to seek the Lord?

Our hearts, as the old hymn says, are prone to wander, we don’t automatically seek the Lord. We must purpose to do so. We first need to ask God for His help, then we need to read and study “at attention” and, finally, we need to set our minds, be determined, to obey those things He shows us.  Continue reading

“Why We Can’t Think Straight” July 5

 

Why We Can't Think Straight - Sometimes we truly "can't see the forest for the trees," as the saying goes. If we are made in the image of God, why do so many people come to wrong conclusions and false beliefs? Why can't we think straight?Sometimes we truly “can’t see the forest for the trees,” as the saying goes. If we are made in the image of God, why do so many people come to wrong conclusions and false beliefs? Why can’t we think straight?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 5 & 6
Psalm 79.11-13
Proverbs 20.13-14
Acts 13.1-25

 

Why We Can’t Think Straight

 

2 Chronicles 5 & 6:

The God of All Men

 

The temple has been completed and in chapter 6, Solomon prays and dedicates it to the Lord:

12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands 13 (for Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven); 14 and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.

18 … Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 19 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: 20 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 21 And may You hear the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.

He prays for the nation of Israel and then he prays for all who will come to the temple in faith:

32 “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; 33 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel …

Over and over we see God’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2.4) even here in the Old Testament.

 

He Alone Knows Our Hearts

 

Chapter 6.29-30, “whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men).”

“… for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men”—Jeremiah said it this way:  Continue reading

“God’s Love for Unborn Babies & Their Parents” May 25

 

God is the God of the Fatherless. He is also the God who restores those who have ended their babies lives, if they turn to Him in genuine repentance. God is a God of the fatherless, especially the thousands and thousands of babies who are killed in their mothers’ wombs every year in our country. He is also the God who restores those who have ended their babies lives, if they turn to Him in genuine repentance. He is the God who loves unborn babies and their parents.

If you have had an abortion or if you are the father of an aborted baby, there is grace and forgiveness. Go to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and restoration.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 21 & 22
Psalm 68.1-6
Proverbs 17.2-4
John 8.28-59

 

God’s Love for Unborn Babies & Their Parents

 

Psalm 68.1-6:

God of the Fatherless

 

This psalm of praise says God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows (v. 5). If we have His heart, He desires for us to be His agents in this. One of the greatest opportunities to do so is in defense of unborn babies whose fathers and mothers, while not physically nonexistent, are unable or unwilling to defend them.

I say unable, as well as, unwilling because I understand that there are times when women are coerced into abortions and times when fathers are left out of the decision altogether or unable to stop it.

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice - What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?If you have had an abortion or if you are the father of an aborted baby, there is grace and forgiveness. Go to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and restoration.

I would strongly recommend finding a biblical counselor to help you walk through it or go to someone who does post-abortion counseling. If you live in El Paso, you can contact the Pregnancy & Fatherhood Solutions, but most cities have Christian crisis pregnancy centers. Seek one out.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 21 & 22:

Divine Judgment

 

In chapter 21 we have the story of the seven sons of Saul being executed by the Gibeonites. This is divine justice being carried out, though it hardly seems fair that it would be carried out on the next generation.

One phrase may help us understand why God allowed His justice to be carried out this way:

Verse 1, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house …”

It appears that the violence was not limited to Saul, it may have been a predominant attitude among his descendants, as well, (remember Shimei who cursed David when he fled Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 16.9-12). Continue reading

“White Magic, Jesus & Resisting the Devil” May 13

 

White Magic, Jesus & Resisting the Devil - Is there any such thing as white magic? Is it OK for Christians to read their horoscopes or study astrology or numerology? Is there anything wrong with tarot cards, cleansings, Ouija boards, and palm reading? Have you ever dabbled in those things? Would you know how to talk to someone who has? If there is a spiritual world out there, should we be afraid of them? How do we resist those things?Is there any such thing as white magic? Is it OK for Christians to read their horoscopes or study astrology or numerology? Is there anything wrong with tarot cards, cleansings, Ouija boards, and palm reading?

Have you ever dabbled in those things? Would you know how to talk to someone who has?

If there is a spiritual world out there, should we be afraid of it? How do we resist those things?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 28
Psalm 61.1-4
Proverbs 16.6
John 3.1-18

 

White Magic, Jesus & Resisting the Devil

 

1 Samuel 28:

Mediums and Spiritists

 

This is one of the more bizarre stories in the Bible and difficult to understand at first glance. The chapter opens by telling us that Samuel has died and that Saul has banished all the mediums and spiritists from the land. Then when God won’t answer him, he resorts to seeking out a medium himself.

How about you? How do you respond when answers to prayer are slow in coming? Do you continue to wait on God or resort to your own solutions?

We can’t put God in a box or demand that He do things on our timetable. Just because we have decided to walk in biblical love and forgiveness toward our spouse, doesn’t mean God is, immediately, going to cause him or her to change.

Just because we give financially doesn’t mean all our debt will disappear or we’ll instantly have the job of our dreams. In fact, our expectations are often part of the problem. We are to obey God out of a desire to please Him, not to get some desired result. Instead, we need to trust Him for the right result. It’s not that blessings don’t come as a result of our obedience, but our attitude is not to be one of “giving to get something.”

 

White Magic

 

God has always forbidden His people to seek after spiritists and mediums.

Deuteronomy 29.29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

In fact, under the law anyone practicing such things was to be put to death! And God’s attitude about them has not changed. There is no such thing as “white” or harmless magic, witchcraft or spiritism, even if its practitioners claim to believe in God or talk about Jesus. It’s not the Jesus of the Bible. Remember, the devil Continue reading

“Are You Ready?” May 2

 

Are you ready? -

Are you ready? God is a merciful God. He has offered us the free gift of salvation. It’s available to any and all who will come to Him in faith and repentance. But there’s coming a day when He will return for His people and time will be up.

It’s important that we understand the balance between truth and grace in our lives. While we do live in an age of grace where God has offered the free gift of forgiveness through faith in His Son, and where we can trust the truthfulness of verses like 1 John 1.9, we should not and cannot live as if there will not be a day when Jesus comes back as the Righteous Judge.

At Christ’s second return, there will be many who say:

“‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then [He] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7.22-23). 

Are you ready?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 6 & 7
Psalm 55.1-8
Proverbs 15.14
Luke 21.20-38

 

Are you ready?

 

1 Samuel 6 & 7:

Golden Tumors

 

In yesterday’s reading God had allowed the Philistines to defeat the nation of Israel and to capture the ark of God. The Philistines mistakenly thought their god Dagon was responsible for the victory and that he had defeated the God of Israel, but they soon learned differently. When they placed the ark in Dagon’s temple, the statue of Dagon fell over twice and the second time its head and hands were broken off. And when they moved the ark, the people were plagued with tumors and death.

Ark of the Covenant - Are you ready?

They soon realized they needed to return it to Israel! So they made an elaborate plan to do so. Part of the plan was to include a sacrifice of five golden tumors and five golden rats as a representative of and payment for their sin.

Can you imagine having to announce your sin to everyone? It reminded me of the woman in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel The Scarlet Letter. She had to wear a giant scarlet “A” sewn to her dress so everyone would know she was an adulteress.

1 John 1.9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Aren’t you glad God made a provision for us to humbly come to Him and confess our sins, instead of commanding us to display golden images of our “tumors”? Jesus allowed Himself to be publicly displayed and humiliated so we don’t have to be.

There are times when we do need to confess our sins to others and rare times when our sin has affected a larger group and we need to go “public” with our confession and repentance, but the only sacrifice required is a contrite heart (Ps. 51.17).

Merely saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, though. We must humbly ask God and those we have hurt to forgive us. Then we are to bear the fruit of repentance (Matt. 3.8; Lk. 3.8)—make the changes necessary to demonstrate a changed heart!

 

Luke 21.20-38:

He’s Coming Back … Are You Ready?

 

Verses 25-33 talk about watching for Christ’s return.

Verse 34 says, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”

It’s important that we understand the balance between truth and grace in our lives. While we do live in an age of grace where God has offered the free gift of forgiveness through faith in His Son, and where we can trust the truthfulness of verses like 1 John 1.9, we should not and cannot live as if there will not be a day when Jesus comes back as the Righteous Judge.

At Christ’s second return, there will be many who say:

“‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then [He] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7.22-23).  Continue reading