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sin

“I give up!” he shouted as loudly as he could.
Turning from my computer to the door of my office, I saw a student who had been struggling to live a godly life. He was faithful in reading and studying his Bible, had a solid prayer life and did well in his classes. I was puzzled by his comment.
“What are you giving up?” I asked.
“Well, I was reading Psalm 119:3 and I just give up. That verse is beyond the reach of everyone. I can’t imagine who he is referring to – ‘They do not wrong but follow His ways.’ I do my best to follow His way but I still do wrong from time to time. I must not be a Christian.”
“Why don’t you sit where I am sitting and type this paragraph from this commentary? I need it for a class I’m teaching,” I asked.
He sat and began to type the long paragraph. It was not long before he finished and we went to the “spell checker” to see how well he had done.
“Oops – there’s a mistake,” I said. “O my – there’s another. I wonder,” I asked, “if you made two mistakes does that mean you do not know how to spell?”
“Of course not,” came the reply. “I know how to spell. I just made two small mistakes that I didn’t mean to make. But I can still spell.”
“Well,” I said, “it’s also possible for one who is a Christian to commit an incidental sin from time to time and still be a Christian. Besides, our God will forgive.”
Prayer: Our Father, help us to keep focused on You and to follow Your ways. But if we fail, please forgive us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:3 They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways.
“You know, Larry,” he began in a soft voice, “I’m troubled by the fact that all of the horrible things I see on TV or hear over the radio when I travel don’t bother me as much as they once did. What’s happening to me?” he asked.
We all wonder, at one time or another, how a group of people can watch a person being beaten or robbed, or fall ill in a crowded mall or on a busy street corner, and no one responds. We see the ravages of war, watch people die on a battlefield, see disabled veterans trying to adjust to life with artificial limbs and seem to accept it as “normal” in today’s culture. It seems as though the pain and suffering of others matter little to anyone except the one enduring the hardships.
The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 94 was troubled by the evil in the world. He looked around and saw people oppressed. He was aware of calloused leaders whose only concern was for themselves. He was troubled by the lack of concern for widows and children and asked, “God, if You created ears for people to hear, and eyes for people to see, why don’t You hear the cries and see the suffering of those whom You created?” Do something, God!
So, has God, like us, become insensitive to the needs of people and the condition of the world? Does He not care about what is happening to His creation? Indeed He does.
Eventually “He will repay them and destroy them for their wickedness” for harming His creation, says the Psalmist. But until He does, we are responsible to bring His hope and healing to the suffering.
Prayer: Please, Lord, open our hearts and eyes to see those who are suffering and reach out to them in love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:3 & 23 Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph? 23 He has brought on them their own iniquity, And shall cut them off in their own wickedness; The Lord our God shall cut them off.

Cleansed!

January 06, 2018
Recently there was an article tucked away in a newspaper about a young girl in Georgia who feels no pain. She suffers from a rare congenital disease that affects the nervous system. She and other individuals who are born with congenital insensitivity must be carefully guarded. They must be taught that fire burns or that if they fall a bone might be broken or if they are struck in the head it may result in a concussion. It is frightening to think of them having to live with no warning system to alert us to pain or sickness. It requires them to be under constant surveillance for their own protection.
There is another insensitivity, however, that is more serious – it is becoming insensitive to sin. Our minds become numb to the dangers of sin as we see degrading pictures of people improperly exposing themselves to attract attention to their sensuality. Or the constant stories of the happiness and pleasures that come from drinking alcoholic beverages. Then there are the endless stories about children being born out of wedlock to famous Hollywood celebrities and attractive pictures of them being praised and celebrated. Children, not old enough to understand God's plan for marriage, are taught that it is appropriate for families to have two moms or two dads. What was once identified as wrong is now right.
But thank God that His Spirit is alive and anxious to convict hearts and change lives. "Deliver us and forgive us our sins for Your name's sake," said the psalmist. If we awaken to the danger of sin and confess, God will forgive us.
Prayer: Open our eyes and give us sensitive minds, Father, to the things of this world that will destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.
Addictions – whether alcohol, another kind of drug, food or sexual addiction – will lead to certain destruction and finally death unless the addict completely stops engaging in the self-destroying behavior. As simple as that sounds it is not easy to do. Why? Because addicts must take “the first step” – admit their addiction, its pervasive power over every aspect of their lives and finally recognize their inability to control or stop their self-destroying behavior and surrender that addiction to God.
David said it one way and Paul another way. David said, “I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned.” And Paul said, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” Two powerful statements from two of God’s most honored servants that are different in words yet identical in meaning. Two men crying out to God in a moment of extreme desperation asking for God’s love, mercy, grace, salvation and healing. It describes their battle with sin, their inadequacies to be victorious over sin and their desire to please and honor God.
We can never underestimate the strong hold sin has in our lives. Nor do we recognize our powerlessness to overcome it in our own strength. Unfortunately, one of the most used talents Satan gives to us is denial. As long as we do not admit that there is sin in our lives we do not have to deal with or confront it. We too easily live with it, unaware that it is slowly destroying us.
Robert Burns said that it would be wonderful if someone could give us a gift that would enable us to see ourselves as others see us. God did exactly that in His Word and in the life of His Son. Now it is up to us to “admit what is” and call on Him for what can be.
Prayer: It is too easy, Lord, to deceive ourselves by denying the dominating power of sin in our lives. Convict us to confess it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
When the first railroad was built in Russia, the Czar wanted train tracks to be laid from Moscow to another city that he enjoyed visiting.
“Where do you want me to lay the tracks?” asked the engineer, unrolling a map before him.
After thinking for a moment, the Czar took a ruler and drew a straight line across the map from Moscow to that particular city and said loudly, “There!”
The Lord has drawn a “straight line.” We find it in His Word. It is a line that begins at our feet, goes through the cross and ends with Him in heaven. But that line is often difficult to follow. Even for King David.
“I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my inequity,” he wrote. Acknowledging this “sin” must have been difficult for him to confess. Hear his cry, “Day and night Your hand was heavy upon me.” He could find no relief from his guilt and God would not give him any peace. “Day and night your hand was heavy on me.”
When we sin and do not repent or ask God for His forgiveness, we can expect – and be thankful for – His “heavy hand on” us. Sometimes we “feel” His hand when we are emotionally unsettled, going through a period of sickness or sensing feelings of alienation. How fortunate we are – for this is God speaking to us, trying to get our attention because He wants us to “confess our sins.” Then He will remove our guilt, restore His peace and renew our relationship with Him.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving us a conscience that forces us to look at the sin in our lives and repent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 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.
The seminary professor stood quietly before his class as though he was waiting for a traffic light to change. Wanting the class to think deep thoughts about the greatness of God’s grace he asked, “Do you have any possession, do you have anything – anything – that you did not receive from the Lord?”
After a moment’s thought, Len spoke up and said, “Yes!”
Startled, the professor asked in a voice of disbelief, “What?”
“Sin,” came the reply.
Sin did not have its origin in God, but in Lucifer who became Satan. In Ezekiel 28:15 we read, “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” Satan and sin were not and are not eternal. But sin entered into the world through Adam. Paul wrote in Romans 5:12 that “sin entered into the world through one man.”
Sin, then, is a legacy – an inheritance – that is passed on from one generation to another. But it is an inheritance that we can choose to refuse.
David says we can be “blessed” if there is “no deceit in our spirit.” If we express true repentance and regret for our sins, God will certainly forgive us. How fortunate we are for His love, grace and forgiveness.
If, however, we have been born again and “miss God’s mark” by sinning, we can go back to Him in honesty, humility, sincerity and truth and repent.
Prayer: Cleanse us, O Lord, and keep us from all sin. And if we fall, convict us, forgive us and draw us closer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
“Are we sinners because we sin or do we sin because we are sinners?” asked the Sunday school teacher. An immediate debate erupted in the class as the members attempted to sort out the issues.
Finally, Jess quoted Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “Seems to me,” he continued, “that if everyone ‘falls short’ we must all be sinners because we all sin. Someone other than Jesus might have slipped through. Certainly, not me.”
In Psalm 32 David uses the words transgress and sin. Transgress means to step across or to go beyond a set boundary. It carries with it the idea of an athlete stepping out of bounds while competing in a contest. The word sin means to miss the mark – like failing a test or not meeting a specific standard.
If we recognize God’s laws as boundaries, we would all have to admit that we have stepped beyond the limits for right living that God set. And where is that person who can say that they have hit the target and meet every standard that God has set for them?
Though David speaks of iniquity, sin and transgression, he emphasizes forgiveness and the fact that our sins can be removed. He writes, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.” Paul quotes these same words in Romans.
Thank God that Paul explains what we are to do if we want our sins removed: “For by grace you can be saved – your sins removed – through God’s gift!”
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your salvation which is only possible through Your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
George Fox is recognized as the founder of the religious movement that was once known as “the Quakers.” They were given this name because they would “quake” if they saw someone who they thought was sinning or whenever they thought of “sin.” Once, while appearing before a judge for his beliefs, Fox admonished him “to tremble before the Word of the Lord.” The judge mocked him and called him a “quaker.” Their reputation for holy living was well known.
In Psalm 4:4 David said, “Stand in awe, and sin not.” Another way to translate this phrase is simply, “Tremble, and sin not.”
Today, however, there are many who do not understand what sin is or its very real consequences. We live in a culture that does not recognize nor respect the value of life. We live in a world that focuses on pleasure and entertainment, wealth and the abundance of things. The moral compass of many individuals is spinning out of control and has no reference to what is right or wrong, good or bad, decent or destructive.
In this psalm David uses the word “meditate” – which means “to consider, to reflect.” Too often the only time we spend with God is to tell Him what we want. We talk to Him without giving Him time to respond. Perhaps if we were willing to “consider” or “reflect” on His Word when we go to Him in prayer, we would realize how sinful our lives are and our need to “fear” sin.
Prayer: May we recognize Your greatness and glory Father, and wait before Your presence in deep humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 4:4 Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
It was a stormy night. The waves were high, the winds fierce and the stars hidden behind angry clouds. Suddenly, from the bridge of his ship, the captain saw lights in front of him in the distance. He immediately had his signalman send a message: “I’m the captain of a large battleship. Change you course ten degrees.”
Back came a reply: “I’m a seaman first class, Sir. You change your course ten degrees.”
“I said I’m a captain. You are a seaman. I order you to change your course ten degrees,” replied the captain.
“I would, Sir, but I’m on a lighthouse and can’t change my course,” came the message from the seaman.
We find some great advice in Proverbs: “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” The path that many travel may “seem right” but it is “not right.” It may offer many options and choices that seem exciting and require few sacrifices, but ultimately it destroys the soul and ends in death.
The right choice often requires hard work and difficult decisions, self-sacrifice and doing without. It may demand a change in lifestyle and force us to give up attractive surroundings and pleasurable experiences.
Giving in often requires giving up what matters most in life: living to please God and to be blessed by Him.
Prayer: Often in life, Heavenly Father, we know the right thing to do. But knowing what is right and doing it is often difficult. Give us strength, we pray, to “do right.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Some folk were called “Quakers” because they quaked at the presence of sin and the preaching of the Scriptures. David must have wished for a congregation of “quakers.” He said in Psalm 4:4, “Stand in awe, and sin not.” It means, “Tremble and sin not.” But many have reversed the verse. They say, “Sin and tremble not.”
Perhaps the greatest mistake in the world today is that men and women have lost their fear of sin. If you want to play with something dangerous reach into the heavens and play with forked lightning, or reach into the fireplace and play with hot coals, or reach into the forest and play with a rattlesnake, but don’t play with sin.
Two boys poked a piece of copper wire around a live rail on the subway tracks. There was a bright flash and a loud cry as ten thousand volts of electricity passed through their bodies. Was that dangerous? Yes, but not as dangerous as playing with sin. So pay attention to Psalm 4:4, “Tremble, and sin not!” And remember, where sin is mighty, the Savior is almighty.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to search my heart and to understand when I have sinned. Give me wisdom and help me to turn away from sin when the evil opportunity presents itself once again: in Thy Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 4:4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
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