wavesMatt. 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

God’s word is not only living but it is powerful! Jesus told the Sadducees that they were making a mistake because they didn’t know (understand) the scriptures! But Jesus did end there? No! He went on to say they didn’t know the power of God. God’s words have the power to save … His words are powerful and guide one to salvation.

There is nothing more miraculous than the change that occurs after a person accepts Jesus Christ as his/her Saviour! The Bible speaks of that change in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

2 Cor. 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Have you experienced this change in your life? Did you get saved only to keep living your life in the same way? There’s a problem if you did … you didn’t experience the power of God’s word! You read it, you heard it, you may have even had an “experience” that produced temporary elation. But what about the long-term effects? Were there any? Did that experience result in permanent change as it relates to sin in your life? If you were a shoplifter, did you stop? If you were a chronic liar, did you find yourself under great conviction afterwards? If you were addicted to pornography, did you stop? If not, you did not experience the true salvation spoken of in the scriptures. The scriptures say that those old sinful ways of yours pass away. Some pass away immediately … other sins are a challenge but God sees you through with the power of His Holy Spirit and the scriptures.

Your relationship with God is now new and alive – your old ways are gone and behold new thoughts and ideas have entered in. These thoughts and ideas come from God’s powerful words in the Bible. They produce a change – they produce a desire to change. They produce a new person!

You may not be sinless, Christian, but you will most certainly sin LESS!  Your desire will be to follow Christ, not your old life. AND when you DO sin, you fall under extreme conviction and desire to make things right with your Saviour! If you cannot say this is true in your life, then you did not repent of your sin. Repentance brings about the change.  Saying you’re sorry doesn’t necessarily come from repentance. A thief can say he’s sorry but if he continues to steal, he did NOT repent. A repentant thief will steal no more … an repentant adulterer will abandon his sin and become a faithful husband … a repentant liar will lie no more. THIS is change … this is truly the renewed life life that Jesus spoke of in John 3:3 – being born again is depicted in the old sinful man being saved from his sin and coming out a changed and renewed man!

Eph. 4:22-32 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

~Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

~Galatians 1:13-14 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Paul was as religious as one could get and was zealous of the traditions of his fathers! Ah yes, I know so many who are going down the same path as Paul. He was heading down the path of religious suicide and so are they.  Obviously the traditions of his fathers were not leading him to salvation. I have so many friends and relatives who are zealous about their religion and they follow after the traditions of their forefathers. But when I encourage them to seek for themselves in God’s Word whether these things be true (Acts 17:11), I am accused of hatred. Really? Hatred? Why would I hate someone if I am leading them to the Bible? I dare say it isn’t hatred but love for those who are about to commit spiritual suicide 🙁

It is not religion that saves the lost. Only Christ can save the lost. (John 14:6)

~James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain.

What does your mouth say about your religion? Do you have to speak your mind? Do you talk and cuss like the world? These things don’t save you but they prove (they are a testimony of) your salvation. One who bridles his tongue won’t speak ill of his neighbor. One who bridles his tongue won’t lie.

~James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Maybe you don’t lie and you do bridle your tongue, does that make you saved? James continues on to give us evidence of the fruit of salvation. One who claims religion must claim that he is unspotted from the world. Can you claim this? Are you undefiled before God?

Religion is leading many to Hell, that’s for sure. Only Christ was perfect and it is His shed blood on the cross that takes away our sin and makes us undefiled before God. We cannot be spotless without Him.

~Luke 24:46-47 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Notice that repentance AND remission of sins should be preached! Today’s preaching doesn’t include repentance. Most preachers give the invitation and explain what one must do to be saved but they never add “and you must repent (turn away and give them up) of your sins.”

You cannot just say you’re religious because Paul was likely a much more religious person than you! It’s the repentance part that separates the “boys from the men”! You can “believe” the gospel but not live like it. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-18) gives us a clear understanding of the difference. To truly “believe the gospel” one must repent!

~Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Is it any wonder people are committing religious suicide today? They believe that their “church affiliation” is good enough to get them into Heaven.  They are sadly mistaken! Repentance is grossly missing from today’s gospel and it is evident in what it produces: an extremely worldly church with much of its membership just as lost as when they joined.

Don’t be as Paul was, on your way to committing religious suicide. But follow him after he “saw the light” on the road to Damascus. It was then that his eyes were opened to Jesus Christ, his (Paul’s) Saviour. It was then that Paul realized that his zeal for the traditions of his fathers and his own religion were not taking him to Heaven at all. His whole life was turned upside-down. He became the greatest Apostle and the Holy Spirit used him to pen most of the New Testament!

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

When one comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, His love begins a work in the heart. Now that work is nurtured is dependent on the individual Christian. Some Christians grow by leaps and bounds while others stay in spiritual diapers. It does not make them any less saved. However, it does give them a disadvantage when it comes to being able to put into action the wonderful gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to us.

Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Each of our gifts display the character of Jesus Christ in our lives. Unsaved people see the gift in action and they wonder what makes us so different from them. If you don’t know what gift the Lord has given to you, start serving where you are. Ask your Pastor where he needs help. Every Pastor needs help.

As you grow in Christ and allow His love to grow in you, you begin to experience God’s wonderful love and forgiveness. All those things you desperately hung on to (pet sins, habits, etc.) begin to fall away. As I witness the beautiful Fall season, I can’t help but meditate on those falling leaves. A falling leaf falls because the bud from the new leaf is pushing through and pushing that old leaf off. Isn’t that a wonderful depiction of our salvation? As we allow God’s love and forgiveness to take a hold of our lives, we start seeing the old things that we clung to start falling away – some we hardly even notice their passing! It’s not painful – it’s a delicate and simple process. However, the Christian must be willing to give the old nature up. It can’t be done over night but it can be done.

Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

As a Christian, I must allow myself to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. God’s will is found throughout the Scriptures. It is evident in most every page exactly what He desires for us. As we fill ourselves with the word of God, we gain wisdom and understanding which help us to walk worthy of Him! Our Christian walk becomes fruitful and we are strengthened in order to help others.

If you have stopped growing in the Lord and feel as though you have reached a plateau in your spiritual life, think about the leaf that falls from the tree because a bud of new life is pushing through. What areas in your life need pushing out? You know what they are, friend. God won’t take you  further in your walk if you cannot voluntarily release those dead leaves from your life. Think about it for a while and start shaking your spiritual tree of all the old dead leaves 🙂

Psalm 120-1-4, 7 [A Song of degrees.] In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. (1) Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. (2) What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? (3) Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. (4) I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war. (7)

Have you ever been in a quandary like this psalmist? Have you ever been in a situation where lies were spoken against you yet the liar refused to see the error of his ways? If so, how did you handle it? Who did you run to? Did you run to others to gather your defenses? This psalmist ran to the Lord and cried unto Him. This is the perfect place to start, isn’t it?! God will deal with this offender – God will allow judgment to fall on this offender. God is not mocked.

The Lord is clear in His word as to how to deal with liars – with those who seriously offend us. Matthew 18:15-18 outlines it out for us:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (Mat 18:15)But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Mat 18:16)

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Mat 18:17)

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mat 18:18 )

There is proper order to follow in Christ’s church. Go to the offender alone. If he doesn’t listen, take one or two with you. If he doesn’t listen, bring them before the church. If they still do not listen, they are to be regarded as a “heathen” (Matt. 18:17) or a “publican”! Verse 18 is even more interesting. Matt. 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The Lord says that the offender may have moved on from your church to another, but if he still has not repented, his actions are “bound in heaven”! Once this offender repents, it is loosed in heaven. This offender may have moved on, possibly serving in another church, but his actions are still recorded and are still bound in heaven. How can his ministries be blessed? They can’t, not until he repents and his actions are loosed in heaven. I have read these verses many times but never associated verse 18 with the previous three verses. This is serious business!

I recently heard a message on church discipline – it sure isn’t a topic you hear very often! It is a needed message in today’s world. Our churches are filled with lackadaisical Christians. They come once a week and think they’ve given God their all. You also have those Christians who are whited sepulchers – they appear righteous on the outside but their insides are like dead men’s bones. One of Pastor’s comments stuck with me. He said that the Lord put these verses on church discipline there so that we would learn to fear Him. Surely, we cannot believe that we can continue in our sin and get away with it. No, no one is perfect. We all sin. (Rom. 3:23) However, Matt. 18:15-18 deals with those who offend another and are confronted with it.

Have you been offended by one of your brethren? Have you told them so? It could very well be that they haven’t a clue that they have sinned against you. Before you complain about it, pray about it! You then have clear instructions on how to deal with it in Psalm 120 and in Matt. 18:15-18. When you have gone to the Lord first and asking Him for wisdom and a heart for reconciliation, then you can follow the principles outlined in Matt. 18. With this inspired process, you chance to win a brother over. That teaches those who are spiritually immature to grow in the Lord. It teaches us to give grace to those who see their error and forgive them.

But, on the other hand, if that person is unrepentant, the Lord provides direction in how to deal with that as well. God does not leave His children in the dark. He is the God of light and truth. (John 12:46) He provides the proper guidelines for us. I’m so thankful that we do not have to react as the world.

Early in my Christianity, I was overheard by a believer when I spoke what I then thought was one of those “little white lies”! I praise God for that believer’s boldness toward me. She pulled me aside and corrected me and showed me in the Scriptures what I had done wrong. She was firm – but she was not rude. I remember that to this day. I remember how convicted and embarrassed I was and the Holy Spirit used that to “grow” me. If I had been prideful and refused to listen, I would have hurt not only myself but those I affected with my “little white lie.” Of course, there aren’t any little white lies – they are all lies. That would be what the father of lies would have us to believe. (John 8:44) A lie is a lie and I found that out quickly.

I praise God for pastors like mine who do not fear to preach the whole counsel of God! I can’t help but think of Ananias and Sapphira and how Peter discovered their lie.  The repercussions were severe – they were struck down dead because of it. Did it stop there? No. God used it in His church. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (Act 5:11) As a church, we must fear the punishment that comes from sin and allow it to put fear into us of the judgment the Father would lay on us if we continue in sin. Pay day some day, as the old saying goes! The born again believer’s eternal security is secure but chastisement will come if we go unrepentant. Whew! This taught me not to mess around with God.

We don’t hear messages like this very much and we truly need to. The church no longer fears – we have lost our testimony to the unsaved world – we live like them and think that we will go unpunished.

Psalm 6

To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. 3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long? 4 Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. 5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? 6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. 8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. 10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

This morning’s Psalm is not only heartwrenching to me but what a beautiful depiction of repentant sinner! This Psalm was written when David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband, Uriah, killed! At this point in time, Bathsheba had given birth to the baby but the baby had yet to die. Today’s reading reveals a repentant David who is praying and seeking forgiveness. I think of Psalm 51 as well, another one of David’s beautiful Psalms of repentance.

I picture David on his knees pleading with God to forgive him! I see him crying and torn before his God and pleading to Him to save his son, even if it is the smallest possibility! I know that his son was not spared, yet David accepted God’s judgment and continued on. David truly repented of his sins and turned his life around.

I have been there right along with David. My sins have been forgiven but they also brought repercussions that will never go away. This is not the result of a merciless God, by all means. These repercussions are a result of my rebellion and my sins. God has forgiven me indeed but my sins have brought about an outcome that I cannot change.

Reader, are you wandering today? Maybe you are a woman who, like Bathsheba, has been unfaithful and is now expecting a baby. God has forgiven you but your baby will be a constant reminder of your sin. How about the believer who use to be a thief prior to salvation and in a moment of weakness steals again after salvation? If you are caught, you will suffer the legal ramifications and possibly have a criminal record. That record will follow you all your life and will affect your ability to get loans, jobs, etc. Repentance is a must but the repercussions of your sin will continue. It is no different with David’s situation in today’s text.

I know that my God stands ready to forgive me – He wants to forgive me! However, when I lead my life according to my own worldly desires, I will suffer the consequences as a result. God’s mercy comes shining through when one recognizes His judgment! How can one experience mercy if one doesn’t realize God’s judgment? There is a price to pay for sin for the believer. Yes, our sins are forgiven in a split second and remembered no more. But the results of a moment’s pleasure and weakness may last a lifetime.

Are you wayward today? Have you wandered far from God? Follow David’s footsteps and call on God for forgiveness and restore your fellowship with Him!

~1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

The religion of my youth was filled with “try too’s” and failures. As much as I tried to be good and not to sin, I failed daily. The guilt was unbearable! Granted, I found myself in the confessional trying to appease my guilt but I always turned around afterwards and repeatedly sinned. Obedience to my “faith” and its teachings was impossible! Why? Because I had not received my new nature. My inner man was not sincerely interested in walking with God or living for Him. I was not willing to repent. I merely wanted to have religion but did not want to practice it with sincerity nor did I desire true repentance. This was no different than the sacrifices offered in Samuel’s day for sin. I was no better than those that the Word is referring to in today’s text! I did my religious duties but was not obedient to the point of salvation nor was I willing to let go of my sinful ways.

This soul is no different than Cain of old whose sacrifice was of his own creation. He chose to disobey God – and the Word tells us that he never repented, even after God confronted him with his sin. God gave him the opportunity to repent, but Cain chose not to do so! Choice – do I obey God or not? Do I repent or not? It’s left up to the individual as God does not force His will on us! So how do you know whether you are practicing religion or not? The Word says that you must repent and believe:

~Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Simply believing does not do it. The devil’s believe but that does not make them Christians!

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Repentance is the key! Repenting means a turning away from the former sinful life and living for God! This is true conversion! Without repentance one will be no better than Cain with his own idea of religion and no obedience! That is why the devils will never enter Heaven! Rebellion thrives when there is no obedience!

Once we desire to repent from our wicked ways and are truly born again of the Spirit of God, our desire will be to obey God and His Word. We will not always be successful and we will be filled with remorse when we do sin. But we will not stay in that sin and will be quick to get back on the path. This daily renewal of the mind, this obedience to God’s Word, is what God wants from us.

~2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

~Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

~Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

God does not want sacrifice – He wants obedience! Putting obedience to practice daily will change that inner man. He will grow from a tiny mustard seed to a strong tree in his faith! Let your obedience speak for your actions and not the sacrifice of Cain. It is this obedience to repent and believe the Gospel that converts the soul and renews the spirit!

~Mark 12:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

One cannot put this verse into practice without true conversion. Without obedience, there is no repentance. Without obedience, there is no salvation. Without obedience, one is offering the sacrifices of Cain.

~Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Disillusioned people are everywhere! They have been told the “Gospel” … if you trust in Jesus and get saved, your life will be blessed with His goodness! Today’s Scripture is used to support their words. However, this is not the foundation on which a person must be saved. We do not get saved just so we can have God’s blessings upon us. That ulterior motive will bring great disappointment when trials come our way!

The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9) make it clear that the Gospel does not fall only on good soil. The Word of God falls on man’s heart – man being a sinner bound for Hell, Christ willingly taking on man’s punishment by coming to earth, and Christ’s death and resurrection are the payment for that sin. No where in the Gospel do we see that all things will be wonderful for this person if he becomes a Christian. In fact, Jesus said that He wasn’t here to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34-36). The minute we are saved, we have new enemies. So why tell people that everything will be peachy keen after salvation? That’s just not the truth! This person has an unrealistic view of salvation and the moment he encounters conflict because of it, he will forsake it. The Gospel has not taken root (as the Parable says) and he is easily offended.

The point of the Gospel is repentance. That’s not an easy thing to do but it’s required. It’s not just blabbing a prayer asking for salvation and never committing to it. Look at what the Word has to say about repentance? It’s not just for the Jew! Christ Himself spoke His first words in His ministry recorded the word “repent.” There are 22 verses with this word so it’s important:

~Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

~Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

~Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

~Mark 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

~Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

~Luke 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

~Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

~Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

~Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

~Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

~Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

~Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

~Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

~Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

~2 Corinthians 7:8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

~Hebrews 7:21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

~Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

~Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

~Revelation 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

~Revelation 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

~Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

~Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Something this important should be preached from the mountain tops. There are many out there who think they are saved but have not changed one bit since their salvation. They live a religious life, even a moral life, but they have never repented from their sin. Repentance is part of salvation. It is not something we can forsake! It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His first words EVER spoken in His ministry should be obeyed!

~Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Gleaning Gold

~Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Nuggets of Truth

This is a popular verse to show God’s patience with mankind.  Yes, He surely is patient for if He weren’t, I would surely be dead today.  But there is so much more to this verse, my friends.  The first part of the verse is the actual meat of this verse.  God instructs us to do something and then He will do something in return.

The Jews would tear their clothing as a sign of great grieving, distress and sorrow.  I read Joel 2:13 and I see that God wants us to go to this drastic measure with our hearts.  How convicting is this?  How truly sorrowful are we when we sin?  Do we grieve with intensity over hurting our Heavenly Father?  Are we distressed at what we have done?  Do we have honest sorrow in our hearts for our wickedness?  Yes, the born-again believer is blood bought and is saved from eternal damnation because of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.  But when we sin after salvation, our conviction should be intense!  This is what I believe the Lord is trying to tell us today.

As we glean from this verse in Joel today, let’s present our sins to God in the same manner.  Let’s look at sin the way our Heavenly Father looks at it – vile and despicable.

~Isaiah 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah brought this out.  Our sinfulness is so unclean that even the “good” things we do are looked upon as filthy rags in God’s eyes.  Strong’s defines the Hebrew word for “filthy” in this verse as:

From an unused root meaning to set a period (compare H5710 and H5749); the menstrual flux (as periodical); by implication (in plural) soiling: – filthy.

When a filthy rag is compared to this definition, it puts our sin into perspective and gives us a glimpse of God’s view of it.

Refining the Gold

As of today, let’s look at our sinfulness in a new light.  When we see sin as God sees sin, it helps us to glean from Joel’s words.  We must figuratively rend our hearts (tear our hearts) and be truly sorrowful for sinning against God.  When we prepare our hearts in this manner, we become truly repentant and are able to draw nigh to our God!  It is then that we see that He is:

…gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

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Stack of wood
~Ephesians 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

As I looked at this beautiful photograph taken by my friend Pam Banegas, I was led to meditate on my sin in comparison to each one of these pieces of wood in the wood pile. I discovered a few things:

  1. First, this wood is no longer living, but dead. Sin kills us and separates us from a right relationship with God. To the unsaved, it means eternal life in the Lake of Fire. To the believer, it means the days ahead will be filled with chastisement from the Lord. The believer’s punishment for sin has already been taken on by Christ with His death on the cross. Therefore, our chastisement is here on earth, not for eternity.
  2. Secondly, it takes quite a few logs to make a wood pile. Sin never sits by itself when one does not repent. It leads to other sins – one by one they begin to form a pile, a barrier if you will. Our fellowship with the Father is no longer open. There is a barrier, a wall in between us. It is not one a barrier that the Father has built but one that we are responsible for building.
  3. Lastly, the wood pile can come down but we have to bring it down for ourselves. Repentance restores our fellowship by tearing down the barrier between us and our Heavenly Father. We can once again see Him and experience His healing hand in our spirit.

Christ tore down the barriers between God and man by sacrificing Himself for us! Once we accept His saving grace, we become children of the King – eternally His. However, this does not mean that we will never sin again. We most assuredly will! But we know we have forgiveness. When we truly repent, we acknowledge our sin (each one of those logs in the wood pile) and we change directions. Most assuredly the path we had been following was not working for us because we managed to create a massive wood pile! Changing heart and direction and pushing forward with the light of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to guide us, is the by product of repentance.

Repentance is a grace, and must have its daily operation, as well as other graces. A true penitent must go on from faith to faith, from strength to strength; he must never stand still or turn back. True repentance is a continued spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing. ‘My sin is ever before me’.
Thomas Brooks

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