In March 2009, a 62-year-old woman was charged with stealing more than $73,000 from her church in the state of Washington. When the detectives interrogated her, she told them: “Satan had a big part in the theft.” It sounds like she was saying that the devil made her do it.
Satan may have played a role in her choices, but she has some faulty thinking about temptation and sin. The devil tempts believers, but he doesn’t make us sin. James tells us that God isn’t to blame either: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). He is good and holy.
Whatever the sin might be, we have no one to blame but ourselves.But aren’t there sometimes when sin just sneaks up on you and it seems almost unintentional?Are we still guilty when that happens?Yes, but God has thought about that, too.During the time when Jehovah directed Israel through the wilderness, He gave them specific guidelines for dealing with all kinds of sin. The Old Testament is filled with instructions for feasts, sacrifices and offerings. There is even provision for “the-devil-made-me-do-it” sins. Although we might call them unintentional sins, they are sins nonetheless, and ALL sin disrupts fellowship with God. “Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses... the priest is to make atonement... and their sins will be forgiven.” (Numbers 15:22-25)
The word for unintentional meant wandering away, as a sheep might wander away from the flock. It referred to sin that stemmed from the weakness of human character rather than outright rebellion. Its part of what we inherited from Adam and Eve, the natural inclination to sin against God. We don’t mean to do it but it happens anyway. How frustrating is that!? To the devoted Christian it can heap guilt upon us every time it happens. As in the Old Testament, God has provided a way to handle those aggravations. Immediate confession brings immediate restoration! Deal with it the moment it happens and our Father extends His forgiveness and grace which is His natural response to repentance.
GospeLines Prayer:Merciful God, every time I sin it hurts me. Turn not away from me in my weakness; forgive my transgression and receive my confession and repentance. Restore our blessed fellowship and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Amen and amen.
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
In the Old Testament, the Lord chose the nation of Israel and exalted them above all others.However, Israel began to turn further and further away from the Jehovah toward their selfish desires and wants.Therefore, true to the New Testament Word of Christ, the Messiah who is to come, Israel was humbled.Amos 1:3 – 2:3(click the scripture reference to read it) depicts the Lord’s judgment befalling all of the rival nations of Israel, from Damascus to Moab; none are spared from the Lord’s punishment.
However, this act of justice soon takes a bad turn for His covenant people, Judah, as the Lord’s judgment is forecast over them as well.And who should follow after Judah in judgment?Israel herself, who had gloated in their special treatment by Jehovah!But the very important context to take away from that in every passage of judgment on the enemies of Israel, the Lord says: “I will not relent from punishing ___ for three crimes, even four…”
Israel had taken the exaltation from the Lord, and they had made it their own exclusively!They were exalting themselves before the Lord but they are now being humbled to the same state as their enemies!
So what is the point?Live humbly!Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and let Him exalt you!Do not exalt yourselves, and force the Lord to humble you in His sight!God’s lesson in humiliation may come to anyone, any nation at anytime.
GospeLines Prayer: “Father, give us the courage to deny ourselves and humble ourselves in Your sight. Lord, Your Word tells us that You will exalt us if we humble ourselves, but also that You will humble us if we exalt ourselves. Give us the wisdom to know this crucial difference and work out our salvation every day of our lives. Amen.”
S. I. C.Ryan McCammon
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, March 2, 2011
"A Day in the Life of a Snowflake"
It doesn’t snow much in Southern, CA, but it did last weekend. Children of all ages predictably went a little crazy as they frolicked in the white stuff, if even for a day.It must have been a sight to see…palm trees were drooping, spring cherry blossoms were covered with snow and the birds weren’t quite sure how to deal with it all.
I read the other day that snowflakes are made from ice crystals which form on dust particles as they fall gently from the heavens. Did you know that all snow crystals have six sides? But you shouldn’t expect to easily find a perfect six-sided snowflake. They occur only about 25% of the time. Why? Because a snowflake has a bumpy ride and difficult journey. Each flake is buffeted by wind, water and other snowflakes on the trip from the heavens to earth.
It reminds me of people, only in reverse. We are on our journey toward heaven, and along the way it gets bumpy and difficult, and we are pushed around by people and life. It may come as a shock to you but there are no perfect people. As we struggle toward eternity, we latch onto many different things for survival; sometimes we will attach ourselves to the dirt of the world. Anything that seems to be going in the right direction is a probable host but it may have an improbable ending.
News Flash: Jesus died for a lousy bunch of beaten up, pushed down, bumped around human beings just like you and me. He never asked for perfection from us. All he asked for is our souls. If we will attach (surrender) ourselves to Him, he will take care of the rest.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, sometimes the journey gets difficult and I find myself bruised and bloodied. There are days when I can become a really big mess. Thank you for overlooking my stumped toes and skinned knees and loving me when I am unlovely. Amen and amen.
Why would someone who promised, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 - NLT)also have cause to say, “I never knew you”? (Matthew 7:23 - NIV)
We are comforted and reassured by the words: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14: 1 - KJV); and, “I will never fail you.I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5 - NLT).So, why would Jesus ever say, “I never knew you…”?
Jesus promised that He would reply “I never knew you” to those who do not love Him.He also said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 – NASB).In other words, if we love Him, and if we show that love by keeping His commandments, He will recognize us as His children and we will never hear those condemning words - “I never knew you.”
But, what if we fail?We can’t possible keep all of His commandments all of the time.What can we do?
My beloved friends, you are not alone in this seemingly impossible dilemma.The Apostle Paul faced the same situation and asked the same question:
"I decide one way, but then I act another… I know the law but still can't keep it… I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.Is there no one who can do anything for me?” (Romans 7:14-25 - The Message)
Paul’s answer and our answer is Jesus Christ!His love and grace intercedes to set things right when we want to serve God with all our hearts, but are pulled by the influence of sin in a different direction.God loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.And, once you have given your life to Christ and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, nothing - not death or life, not angels or demons, not the present or the future, or any powers, not height or depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
Yes, He will be with us to the end of the age.He will strengthen and help us and uphold us with His righteous hand.He will never fail or abandon us if… if… we believe in Him as our Lord and savior and show our belief and love by living by His commands.
But, like Paul, we cannot live perfectly by His commands on our own.So, the way we “obey His commands” is by relying on Him.When we approach one of God’s commands, we ask Him to help us incorporate that command into our life.When we fail, we trust in His grace for forgiveness and ask Him for the ability to obey because, without His help and guidance, we would constantly fail.
God can change our way of thinking and behaving – He can make His commands the center of our lives.We rest in him, depend upon him, and enjoy the intimacy of knowing Him.
“We obey Him by IHIm by Hithe Spirit (Romans 7:6); our faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:5 – NIV) and in this way, we obey His commands and show our love for Him so that some day, we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
Samson was the last of the Old Testament Judges. His story is one of the strangest and most disappointing in the Bible. He was set aside as a Nazarite before he was born, then he was blessed with godly parents who taught him to honor Jehovah. He was endowed with supernatural powers which he often used for his own selfish purposes. As you read the story of his youth, he indulged in frivolous behavior, forbidden pursuits and immoral conduct.
When he is captured and blinded by his enemy, he becomes remorseful and disappointed, but no real piety is shown. He never understood his mission in life. Samson never measured up to his potential in becoming the man he might have been.
Many Christians never get it! Some people are abundantly blessed with opportunity to become a vital part of God’s work, but they squander the chance with a life of selfishness. Take a good look at yourself and discover the wonderful way God made you, not by comparing yourself to others; God has a plan just for you. He wants you to become the very best at what you do, and you can! If tragedy or disappointment has defeated you from living up to your potential, rejoice! God isn’t finished yet. He has been waiting for a moment like this to begin that unique work in you for which you were born.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I face the sunset of my life, I long to hear you say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Improve my serve so that I may live up to the man you intended when You made me. Amen and amen.