Tag Archives: sin

When Evil Shows Up

We were all shocked yesterday when we heard that a gunman entered a little Church in Sutherland Springs Texas and killed 26 people and injuring more.

I can’t even begin to fathom what was in that young man’s mind when he walked into that church. Understanding something like this is beyond us. What I absolutely know though is evil is rampant in our world and when it comes in to a place or personal life, the results can be devastating…even to Christians.

For some reason God’s people think we’re entitled to a pass from devastation and destruction. Exactly the opposite is true. Exactly the opposite is true (according to Jesus Himself) and that encompasses inside the walls of the church as well. Evil can exist and does exist literally everywhere. I wish God would protect us from horrible things happening, I wish we were all exempt from the experience of evil and sin. There was a time in my life when I expected God not to let me suffer anymore; I thought since I had been through some stuff, I’d had my turn and ‘land of milk and honey’ was my destination.  It shames me to admit that but after all, that’s what I was told when I got saved! Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Romans 8:35) I thought I’d failed as a Christian when bad or horrible things happened because I didn’t understand – now I understand better and I know that just because bad, evil things happen to us doesn’t mean God loves us less or has abandoned us in any way. (Romans 8:35-39)

Our hearts break just like everybody else’s. We lose people we love just like everybody else. We lose jobs and finances, material things that are important to us, and we feel it just like everybody else does. There is only one difference between us and people who don’t know Jesus and that difference IS Jesus.

I don’t pretend to understand how people will cope with what happened yesterday. I just know that Jesus is with them. I believe God weeps at the atrocities (He’s in us, with us, for us – he feels our pain, of course He does!) playing out now but I also believe He will comfort his people. He promises to do so, we must believe He’ll be true to His Word. In times like these His promises are all we have. Jesus himself said we will have (not might have) trials and tribulations but He’s overcome it all (John 16:33).

When we have pain we can go straight to Him and when we do, we can have that peace that passes all understanding – the peace only He can give. (John 14:27)  Miraculously through His Spirit that lives in us, His comfort comes. Those of us who have lived any time at all can testify to the fact that He eases our pain, He comforts our broken hearts and helps us by giving us His strength when we’re at our weakest so we can carry on through this Valley we’re walking through (2nd Corinthians 12:9). He will do the same for His precious people in Texas because he’s 100% faithful. He died so He could have a connection with us and that His Spirit could live inside of us for moments like these. He’s the Difference Maker. I’m quite sure many hearts are broken and many tears will be shed but I’m just as certain that the many hearts turning to God, seeking His touch will be comforted by His great presence and His matchless love.

In this world of uncertainty where evil seems to be out of control, where morals are definitely on the decline, and where there is nothing solid to hold on to we can rest assured, God is with us, walking us through these times of the unfathomable.  Jesus feels our pain and He’s right here to help us through it.

That’s all I know and today, that’s enough.

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Is It Bad Enough Yet?

Some doctors wait to treat an ailment when the pain becomes so severe the patient can’t tolerate it anymore. If a patient comes in knowing something’s wrong but can carry out their normal activities of daily living, sleep uninterrupted they’re told to come back when they can’t bear the discomfort any more.  The tests prove there’s a problem but sometimes that’s not enough.  Some doctors choose no treatment until the pain literally changes a person’s life.

You would think the opposite would be true.  You go to a professional because you know something’s not right and you want something done to prevent the problem from disrupting your normal life and leave frustrated because you’re told your pain – your inability to function – is what will bring relief.  “Come back when you can’t stand it anymore.”  Wait.  Isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid?

Some doctors want to jump right in and fix a problem before it gets to the point of altering our lives and we’re hesitant to move forward.  We talk ourselves into living with it.  “It’s not that bad; I’ve had it this long, I can stand it until, well, I can’t stand it anymore”, and we leave in the same condition we came in.

We deal with something as long as we can then we ask for help (from God, friends, etc), sometimes wanting someone (or something) to relinquish us from what we know is going to happen – yet we find ourselves, sometimes for years, dealing with the same thing, day after day, year after year and nothing changes.  It’s manageable; it’s not perfect but it hasn’t killed me…yet.  So we muddle on sometimes grabbing for spontaneous relief for the moment until the next time…and the next…

Do things have to be ‘that bad’ before we deal with them?  No. More often than not, we try everything (and everyone) leaving God as our last resort.  Need produces necessary action; that alone is often the “why” of why it’s happening.

Is ‘it’ bad enough yet?  Are you sick of the pain, frustration, depression, inaction, nothing ever changing?  Situations beg the question – “is it bad enough to turn to God”? Like doctors, sometimes He allows us to get to that unbearable place of no relief before we turn to him.  Why?  Because He knows sometimes we’ll only look to Him when our feet are inches from the cliff.  We can submit any time – way sooner than we do – and relinquish our pain and burden to Him.  Is it bad enough yet to give it to God?  It doesn’t have to be.  Let’s do it.  Now.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Surely You Won’t Die…or will you?

I think of the garden scene a lot.  Adam and Eve in paradise – or the closest thing to it on earth.  Heaven on earth.  Adam and Eve walked with God and talked with Him enjoying His presence constantly.  Everything they needed was in the confines of that existence, which is exactly how God intended it to be, perhaps even for us!

In my mind, I see hundreds and hundreds of trees yielding every kind of fruit we can think of.  I believe the garden was the place of perfection and what we all want life to be – no want of any kind and need.  I think desire wasn’t even in their vocabulary yet until that one conversation changed everything (Genesis 3).

“Surely you will not die!” (Genesis 3:4).  In other words, “He’s a liar.  He just doesn’t want you be rival to Him.  He wants to control you!  He doesn’t want you to be truly happy! One piece won’t hurt! What difference will it really make?  Die?  Pff – you’re not gonna die. “ Sound familiar?  With all we have, with everything God has blessed us with and everything He’s allowed us to live through and experience (both good and bad), we can’t seem to get to the place where we’re content with that.  Some are in a state of constant want: “If I could just…if I had…I want…if only…”.

God didn’t tell them not to partake of the tree to be mean or controlling. He did that for their protection because He knew the harm that would come to them.  He knew it would change them and their relationship with Him…and it did.  The same principal is true for us.  He knows what sin will do to us and our relationship with the Father. The things He warns against are all wrapped in “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1st John 2:16 NASB).  The Bible is full of caution for our protection! It’s not that He wants you to be without what you think you want…He wants you to be without hurt, regret or shame.

Toying, flirting with, considering doing what we know we shouldn’t WILL kill us in more than one way.  It causes something in us to die and could cause pain all around us.  From some consequences we may never recover. Are you willing to risk it?  Do you want to die?

Inconveniently Incompatible.

I’m training for a new job which uses similar software of my other job.  I was delighted to hear this and thought how convenient that would be in many ways, thinking I could use the same for both jobs and I’d be a step ahead in the training process because I was familiar with how to use it. When I clicked on my already installed program, I discovered I couldn’t get to where I needed to go for training.  Bummer. This meant I would have to have two separate operating systems and one computer won’t support that. True, I’m familiar with the software so that part of the training will be easier, but another computer is a necessity.  Convenient quickly became inconvenient.

In the quest to plant their feet in the Promised Land, Jericho was the first city designated to be taken. In Joshua 6 the Israelites were specifically instructed that after the walls of Jericho fell they were to kill every living thing in the city (with the exception of Rahab and her family) and to take nothing except certain things God instructed them to take (6:18-19).

Take nothing.  Take nothing.  They were told not to even look upon the plunder so they wouldn’t want it.  Apparently that wasn’t direct enough for Achan (7:1) who loaded up what he shouldn’t have.  When they got back to their camp God told Joshua the people had been disobedient and to go through family by family until the unfaithful one was found then burn what he took, everything he owned and kill his family, which is what Joshua and the Israelites did.

The punishment seems a little harsh for the crime, doesn’t it?  I mean, a whole city had just been destroyed.  They killed every living person and animal. They gathered what God said to gather. What’s a little extra?  Who would know?  So one person out of thousands disobeyed which had an effect on the rest of the people.

The second generation of Israelites were wandering in the desert, having grown up in the wilderness with no material possessions but the clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet.  It was all they knew.  They come into this destroyed city which God says is theirs and see all this stuff (although fire damaged) so from a human perspective, it’s easy to understand why they would be attracted to picking some of the spoil left behind and in another case that may have been fine…but God said to take nothing.

Sin and obedience, even when we think it’s insignificant and won’t affect anyone, are incompatible.  We may get away with our compromise for a little while but sooner or later if we don’t deal with it, God will.  To many living in the 21st century, this seems ridiculously harsh but these stories are in our Bibles to show who God is and how He deals with His people and (especially) willful disobedience.

Incompatible things won’t cohabitate well.  Try as we may to make them work, there is a glitch…an uneasiness…even if it looks and acts like it works.  Just like the software I mentioned, I probably could have found a way to make it work, but I was told I needed two separate applications of the program so I made the decision to get another computer.  Rather than bring problems upon myself and more importantly jeopardize the new job and maybe even my current one, I decided to be obedient.

If there’s some little persistent thing in our lives we think doesn’t matter rest assured, it does.  It could be the thing that robs us of the peace Jesus so wants to be ours.  More importantly, though inconvenient and perhaps embarrassing to deal with, our ultimate goal should be to live to please God, be obedient to Him so far as we can control.

Let’s do an inventory.  Where have we compromised?  What have we watered down?  What have we brought with us that we know we shouldn’t have?  Our obedience could very well be the gateway to our next blessing.  Don’t risk it.  Deal with it. When we do and ask for forgiveness there may be lingering consequences but there will always be God’s mercy and grace to help us through making it right.

What’s Your Jezebel?

Jezebel:  Noun.  Wife of Baal; Unchaste (relating or engaging in sexual activity especially of an illicit nature).

Allow me a little expanded thought on “Jezebel”.  There is something in every life that throws us off, gets our attention.  It may not be a person of the opposite sex, but there is something that entices us to stray.  Money?  Power?  Fear? Attention?  Depression? Illness? Let’s be honest.  What’s the thing you think about most, the thing you want the most or the secret thing you wouldn’t want anyone to know?

Revelation 2:20 says, “But I have this against you that you TOLERATE the woman Jezebel…” (emphasis mine).  It wasn’t that the church indulged in Jezebel’s sin, her immorality and false teaching…they TOLERATED her.  They knew who and what she was, yet they didn’t deal with her.  They let her stay and keep on doing her Jezebel thing uninterrupted.

Thus, my question.  What do we tolerate?  What holds us back?  We know it’s there, we know it’s a nemesis, yet we do nothing.  We think it’s not a problem, we justify, “well that’s just who I am, God knows my heart…” We’ve gotten numb to it and when it flares or rears its ugliness, we find that normal and push it back down.  Maybe we think it’s not a big deal – it only happens once in a while and then it’s not an issue anymore…until the next time…and the next.  At least we don’t “go there” all the time; it could be worse.  At some point, we have to decide who and what we want to be and if our Jezebel prevents that (if it doesn’t now it eventually will) then it’s time to call her what she is and make a committed choice to root her out.

Let’s deal with our Jezebel, once and for all.  Let’s call out our ugly and not let it snatch us anymore. One thing’s for sure…if we don’t eventually God will.