Who Can Change a Leopard’s Spots? God Can!

Leopard prowling, approaching its prey, Namibia. Scan from Velvia slide, XXXL

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 10 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0817 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

The context of this passage, and the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, is the impending judgment that is facing Judah and Jerusalem because of their sin. They had gotten totally out of control: God had sent prophets to them; God had sent judgment to them; but they did not get the message. They were too far gone. God was about to do something very big in and to Jerusalem. The Babylonians were about to invade. It would be perhaps the worst calamity to hit the people of God. However, the good news is that the judgment that would come would be the very thing that would cause the people of God to repent: to change their spots. The people seemed powerless to change on their own; but through the loving hand of judgment from God, the leopard would indeed have his spots changed.

Sometimes, I get so very frustrated with myself, particularly my inability to get victory over some of the recurring sins in my life. I am utterly powerless, it seems, to win the battle. However, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; and through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and through the loving correction of my Heavenly Father, my spots can also be removed. I can’t change my spots, but God can. Do you need a spot remover? God can do it. Yield to Him. Open your heart up and be willing to allow God to make the necessary changes in your life.

God can and will remove our spots, but there are some things that we can do to help God as He cleanses away the stain of sin from our life:

1 We first must acknowledge the fact that we have spots. We need to allow God to completely examine us and show us where the spots are in our life. We cannot withhold any area of our life. He must be able to thoroughly inspect us, and we must agree with His assessment. If He sees a spot, we must agree that it is indeed a spot.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – (1 John 1:9)

2 We must next be willing to submit ourselves to God’s cure for our spot problem. God may bring us through an uncomfortable process in order to accomplish His will. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He is the Great Physician. He knows just how deep to cut. He knows just how much we can handle. He may bring in some people to help Him. He may use a pastor or other counselor to help you as He works on you.

3 We must also be willing to continue down a prescribed path that will keep the spots from coming back in the future. We must stay in fellowship with God. We must daily spend time with Him through His Word and through prayer. He will keep His eye on us, and He will be able to quickly “spot” any new blemishes that may be coming to the surface.

Note – I must be careful to add that, if we are saved, God already sees us positionally as spotless, because He views us through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:7 & 8 )


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Circumcision of the Heart

Circumcised Heart

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0816 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Closed Eyes, Closed Mouths, Closed Ears“; and “To God Be The Glory

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9 & 10)

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jeremiah 9:25-26)

In this passage God is rebuking the people of Judah for their hypocrisy. Apparently they felt that they could do whatever they wanted to do, live anyway they wanted to live; and then go down to the Temple and participate in some type of religious ceremony or ritual that would make everything OK. These people were far away from God’s principles and commands, but they were trusting in their religion to save them. As I read these verses this morning, I could not help but think about the state of religion today in America. People commit all sorts of sin; ignore the clear teaching of the Word of God, and then come to church thinking that their participation in a ritual will save them. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that going to church is a bad thing for anyone; but I am saying that it is hypocritical to ignore God 99% of the time and then claim Him as your Lord on Sunday. I am also not trying to make the case that there is anyone out there, including myself, that is without sin (and lots of it). We are all sinners, and we all need God’s mercy; but to live completely in rebellion to the will of God without any conviction about it is another thing altogether.

The New Testament speaks about this as well:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1 – 5)

True religion, genuine faith will make a difference in your life. The Scripture is clear, “faith without works is dead”; “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature”. If you are truly a child of God on the inside, it will work its way out to your life on the outside. Too many in our churches today are Christians outwardly, but inwardly are very carnal and worldly. They are no different from the Israelites mentioned in Jeremiah: they were circumcised physically, but were uncircumcised in the heart.

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29)


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The Old Paths

old-paths-dan-etpr

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 1 – 3; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0815 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Catching Men” and “Fallow Ground

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – (Jeremiah 6:16)

Independent Baptist preachers can often be heard using the phrase “old-fashioned”. We refer to our churches, our congregational singing, our method of soul winning, and even our King James Bible as being old-fashioned. We consider it a complement to be considered old-fashioned in many aspects of our worship and service for the Lord. But I want to clarify a few things about the why I like being old-fashioned about a lot of things. First of all, I do not believe that just because something is old that it is necessarily good, and I do not think that all new things are necessarily bad. I enjoy using all of the latest technological gizmos that make our lives easier and more enjoyable today. When I refer to something being old-fashioned I am usually referring to the wholesome, Biblical traditions and methods of our past that do not need to be changed. I like our old-fashioned Bible. I enjoy singing the old-fashioned hymns from the hymnbook. I have seen many people get saved through the old-fashioned method of soul winning. I am glad my wife and daughters are old-fashioned in their modest dress. The old paths didn’t need to be changed. I have often said, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”.

In our passage, God is telling the people of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, to return to a time when they were closer to the Lord. In the old days they were a nation that refused the evil that surrounded them on every side, and they stood for the truth of the Word of God. They worshipped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and they obeyed the precepts of the Law. As a result of their relationship with God they were a greatly blessed nation, and God prospered them mightily, and protected them against any nation that would seek to harm them. But the prosperity that they enjoyed caused them to stray away from their God. They had become a very idolatrous and immoral nation. God wanted them back on the old paths.

The same thing can be said about our nation. We were once a nation that stood for the Truth. Our culture was filled with people that worshipped and served the Lord. God blessed our nation with a prosperity unequalled in the history of the world; but as it was with Israel, so it is with us. Our prosperity has spoiled us, and we have become an ungrateful people who have bitten the Hand that was feeding us. We need to get back on the old paths.


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Turn Around

U-Turn

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 21; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0814 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Before I share the my main thought from the Scripture this morning, I just wanted to point out from the passage that the writer, Jeremiah, was a hand made child of God that was uniquely designed by Him to be a prophet to Israel and Judah. (see Jeremiah 1:4 – 6) God has also made you and and I, and wants to use us in a special way to fellowship with Him, glorify Him, and fulfill His plan for the ages. We are not here by accident. We were specially created the way we are on purpose, and for a purpose.

Now for today’s main thought:

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

Throughout the history of Israel, the people of God have gone through periods where they would fall away from God. Here in this passage the word “backsliding” is used seven times. Here in this passage Jeremiah is pleading with the backsliding people of Israel to come back to the Lord. Our God is awesome! Who else but God would love these people and keep taking them back, even though they would turn against Him over and over. He never gives up on His children. I must confess that I have a tough time forgiving people in the same way that God has forgiven me. I want to write people off; but God is not like me. He continues to reach out to those who have forsaken Him. Notice what God required of the people in order for them to come back into a right relationship with Him:

“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:13)

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:” (Jeremiah 3:14)

God says that if the people would acknowledge their sin, and then turn, He would take them back. Turning means that they would put away all of the things that they were doing that God was displeased with. This is a pretty good definition of repentance, which involves more than just acknowledging.

The people of God today could follow this same simple formula in order to come back to their God. We must acknowledge where we have gone wrong. It may not be some deep sin or rebellion. It may be just apathy, coldness, or laziness. Then we have to confess it to God and turn away from it. God loves us deeply and wants more than anything for us to be in love with Him. If you have “slidden” away from God, return again to the Lord.


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Preach the Word

preach-the-word

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 58 – 62 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 17 – 18; Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0812 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,” (Isaiah 62:6)

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

All of my previous posts from this reading passage have had to do with Isaiah 62:6. This morning, I would like to consider a similar verse: Isaiah 58:1. I believe this verse, though originally given to Isaiah, is directly applicable to preachers today. I believe that there are three ingredients for sound Bible preaching found in this verse, and, unfortunately, these are also sadly lacking in our preaching today.

1 Notice the Passion of Preaching – “Cry Aloud …lift up my voice like a trumpet”

Preaching should be passionate. Perhaps not ever message, or every part of a message will be done with a loud voice, but Bible preaching should be very often be done with a loud, passionate voice. The volume of the preachers voice should reveal his passion regarding the truth of God and it should also demonstrate his compassion for the needs of the people. Many Christians shy away from passionate preaching, preferring devotional teaching. However, the preaching of the word should be packed with Bible truth, and delivered in a manner that reveals the seriousness of God.

2 Notice the Perfection of Preaching – “spare not”

Not only should the preacher not hold back any volume and passion when he preaches, he should also not hold back any truth. All too often today preachers are afraid to preach all the counsel of God because they are too concerned with offending and possibly losing church members. We must remember that our duty is to please the Lord, and to deliver His message, uncut, and uncensored.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” (2 Timothy 4:3)

3 Notice the Pointedness of Preaching – “…shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

Preachers must not be afraid to point out the sins of the people, even the ones that are very unpopular to preach against. In the culture that we are living in it is getting increasingly difficult to not be offensive. The world is rapidly moving away from God, which should cause the preacher to be more passionate, and more pointed. The world, however, and even many Christians, will be offended.

4 Notice the Persistence of Preaching“… shall never hold their peace day nor night:”, “… in season, out of season.”

Preachers need to preach all of the time: when it is popular and when it is not. This is especially true of the gospel.


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Look Beyond The Cross

theeffectsofthecross

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 53 – 57 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 15 – 16; Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0811 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – (Isaiah 53:6)

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” – (Isaiah 53:10)

This passage in Isaiah has always amazed me for a number of reasons. First, I am always in awe of the accuracy of the Word of God. Here the prophet Isaiah is writing several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, and yet paints such an accurate picture of the events surrounding Christ’s death. No wonder the Jewish people have removed this passage from their Scripture. It proves perfectly that Jesus is their Messiah.

Secondly, I have often thought about the phrase from verse 10: “it pleased the Lord to bruise him”; and then in verse 11: “he shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:” I can’t completely wrap my head around these verses. How could the horrible, agonizing death of His Son please and satisfy God? On a human level, I look at these verses and think to myself that there is no possible way that anything could be worth putting my son through the agony that Christ faced on the cross. But God saw something that made it all worthwhile. He saw you and me; and He saw a way that your sins and mine could be atoned for. He saw a way for fellowship to be restored between us and Him. To be sure, God was not pleased with the Cross in itself. I am sure it was the hardest thing for Him to endure; but beyond the Cross was salvation for you and I; and that pleased and satisfied God greatly. Thank you Father for being willing to watch your Son die for me. Thank you Jesus for being a willing participant in my redemption.

On a practical level, I want to offer one additional thought about the cross that you may be bearing right now in your life. You may be going through a difficult time in your life that is anything but pleasing or satisfying. By faith, look beyond the cross to what God is going to ultimately accomplish through your trial. God may be using you to help bring about the eternal redemption of somebody else, which makes all of the temporary suffering worth it. He may be refining you a little through the process; or He may be just glorifying Himself somehow. I know that He has a wonderful plan, and the cross that you are bearing today is part of it, and will be used by Him to “work all thing together for good.” You may not be able to see it now, but someday God will reveal something beautiful; something very pleasing and satisfying. All because you carried the cross that God placed in your life.

I just thought of another verse:

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus looked beyond the cross too.


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Bullheaded

Texas-Longhorn-880x400

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 48 – 52 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 13 – 14; Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read the “0810 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;” – (Isaiah 48:4)

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” – (Isaiah 48:10)

There is a man in our church who often tells me stories about his childhood, and his relationship with his dad growing up. His dad was a great man who had the uncommon ability to demonstrate love and tenderness, but could also be very strong, and was not afraid to correct his children when necessary. When this man was a teenager, he and his dad would sometimes butt heads. His dad would say to him, “Son, you have a pretty hard head, but that’s OK because I am going to soften it up for you.” I think this is exactly the idea found in our text today. God was telling Israel that they were “bull headed”, but He knew how to take care of that problem.

Stubborn, stiff-necked, bull headed: these are all words that are synonymous to the words that God used to describe Israel in Isaiah 48:4. They are also words that could be used to describe most of us. We are a stubborn lot by nature. We are very slow to learn, yet quick to declare that we are right. We are not very teachable, because we think that we know everything that there is to know. God oftentimes is forced to soften us up through the vehicle of affliction. Isn’t it amazing that we tend to learn much better while enduring a trial than we do when we are on the mountaintop. If fact, many people come to Christ at times in their life when they are going through a tough time. God often has to break us before He can teach us. If you find yourself going through an unusually difficult season in your life, it may just be that God is working “in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”. (Phillippians 2:13) He may be trying to get you to see something that you could not see otherwise. God loves you, but whom He loves, He corrects; and correction is good; it helps us yield to a God who knows much better about what is good for us.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – (James 1:2-4)

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” – (Hosea 10:12)


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The True God or a god of Your Own Creation?

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 44 – 47 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 11 – 12; Psalms 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “0809 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this reading passage – “Custom Design and “He’s the One and Only”

I noticed two recurring themes in the reading today. God states several times through the prophet Isaiah, that He is the only God, there is none beside Him. In fact, I thought it funny when He said “I know not any” (Isaiah 44:8). Consider again these verses from today’s reading:

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. … Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:6, 8)

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. … For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. … Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:5-6, 18, 21-22)

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” (Isaiah 46:9)

The other thought that is repeated throughout the passage today is that men are determined to keep making idols, little statues of metal and wood, and they pray to them and worship them, but these hunks of junk can’t do anything for them. Again, let’s look at the verses from today’s passage that demonstrate this:

“They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?” (Isaiah 44:9-10 – also vs. 12 – 20)

In Isaiah 44:12 – 20, God speaks about the folly of a man who plants a tree, then cuts it down to warm his home and bake his bread, and then takes the residue of it to fashion it into a god, an idol.

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.” (Isaiah 45:20)

“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.” (Isaiah 46:6-7)

Israel had the real God, the only God, yet they continuously chose to forsake Him and create gods of their own, little hunks of wood and metal. Now to be sure, there was real spiritual power behind all of these idols. Satan and his devils were the powers behind these false gods. However, when a man was bowing down and worshipping an idol, the devil was not physically present receiving the worship. He is not omnipresent as our God is. We sometimes make the mistake of assigning Satan and his demons the same attributes that rightly belong to God. Satan is powerful, certainly more powerful than a man, but he is minuscule compared to an omnipotent God. Most of the time, these idol worshippers of old were just speaking into the air, and the only One that really heard them as they were praising and praying to their idols was the true God whom they had forsaken, and He was not at all pleased that they had rejected Him and replaced Him with a hunk of wood.

Israel kept forsaking the Great God, the all powerful God, and replacing Him with these idols. Crazy! But don’t we do the same thing today? Oh, to be sure there are probably not many of us that have little statues around our homes that we bow before and worship, but we sure have a lot of idols. We replace God with all kinds of things that we worship: our money, toys, hobbies, careers, and even sometimes, our families – these are all good things given by God sometimes but they can eventually become more important to us than the God who gave them. We also sometimes dabble in sinful pleasures like immoral sexual activity, alcohol, drugs, etc. Like the idols of old, we thought we could manipulate and control them for our pleasure but eventually they enslave us and ruin our lives. When are we going to learn?

Let’s keep God – the Lord Jesus Christ – at the very center of our worship; not just on Sundays, but every day and in every aspect of our lives. Worshipping Him means that our lives are centered in Him. He is in control of everything we do. Let’s stop chasing the vanity of the idols of this world and pursue after God.


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Forgiving and Forgetting

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 41 – 43 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 9 – 10; Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “0808 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Tired of God?

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” – (Isaiah 43:25)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

The verses listed above are very encouraging to me. Each of these Scriptures speak of God’s forgiveness primarily to the people of Israel; but in a broader context, they apply to all who have “called upon the name of the Lord”. It is certainly a wonderful truth that God forgives our sin. Of course, forgiveness is only possible through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wrath that we deserved was poured out upon Him. However, God goes beyond just forgiving us: He forgets our sins as well. To forgive is one thing, but to forget is another level entirely. The phrase “blotteth out” has the idea that the record of our sin has been completely expunged (removed).

Now let’s try to apply this wonderful attribute of God to our own relationships. We are supposed to be like God, aren’t we? If we are saved we are being conformed to the image of Christ, and we have God on the inside of us transforming us to be like Him. If all that be true, then we should be able to forget like God forgets. We say that we forgive someone who has wronged us, but we often replay mentally (or re-tell verbally) the act that was committed against us. In other words, the act has not been blotted out completely in our minds. We store the thing that was forgiven in a special compartment where we can retrieve it again in case we need it. We often pull it back out when a new violation is committed. We are keeping score in our minds. God does not do this. He removes the record altogether. Real forgiveness will lead us to blot out the act altogether; not that their will be no consciousness of the act; but it will not be allowed to be dredged back up again for some future judgment against the offender.

I have one more thought. God not only forgives sin, and erases the record; but He also refuses to record any future violations. It is like getting a completely free pass from the penalty of your sins. Don’t believe me?

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:5-8)

Oh that we could be more like Him: forgiving, forgetting, and even determining that we will not hold against someone any future acts committed against us. We like to be the receiver of such treatment, but oh how we struggle to treat others in this manner.

God, help us to be more like you. Help us to love people like you do. Help us to truly accept the forgiveness that you offer us, and then help us to return the favor to someone else.

Perhaps as you are reading this, God has put someone in your mind that you are harboring unforgiveness toward. Why not determine to take that person out of your heart’s prison by giving them the forgiveness that God has given you.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – (Ephesians 4:32)


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Forsaking Future Generations

the-future-generation

Today’s Passage – Isaiah 37 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0807 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” (Isaiah 39:5-8)

I think that the last verse of Isaiah 39 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. King Hezekiah, who was one of the best kings that Israel ever had, makes a statement here that is extremely selfish. He is told by Isaiah that because he had opened up his kingdom and welcomed the Babylonian messengers that someday Babylon would come back and take away all that Hezekiah’s family owned, and would also take his family members into captivity. We know that this prophecy was literally fulfilled in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came down and destroyed Jerusalem, and had carried nearly the entire population back with them into Babylon.

Notice, however, what Hezekiah said when he got the news: “Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” Hezekiah was OK with the news that his children would be destroyed, as long as no destruction came while he was still alive. Very selfish indeed!

Hezekiah is not alone, however, in his selfishness. I find that many of us today are guilty of forsaking our future generations by some of the decisions that we make.

I’ll give you an illustration. Let’s say that John Smith is a lost man, living in sin, and beginning to reap the negative consequences of his worldly lifestyle. One day, he is confronted with his sinful condition, and is warned, not only of the eternal consequences that he will face, but also the problems that his children will have because of the course that he has charted. John is convicted of his sin, and realizes that he wants something better for his family. He trusts Christ as Saviour, along with his wife, and immediately begins to make some changes in his life. He brings his family to church every time the doors are opened; he removes many of the weights and also the sinful things from his home, and serves God with a passion. His family immediately begins to reap the benefits of his decisions. God is now blessing the family. He is meeting their needs, and is even giving them some of their heart’s desires. His kids grow up, and marry godly spouses. Everything is good. However, the next generation does not know, or perhaps doesn’t remember too well, what life was like before dad got saved. They are all saved also, but they don’t seem to fear the world and the devil like dad did, and they are not quite as zealous for the Lord as the first generation. They begin to allow some of the things that dad stood against back into their homes. They are not as consistent as mom and dad were about church attendance, either; and they do not feel like they should have to serve as much as their family did when they were growing up. Gradually and slowly they begin to pull away from what dad fought for. However, for the most part, life is still good: they are prospering financially, and they seem to have well adjusted families. Their children (generation 3), however, are even less interested in the things of God than generation 2 was. They hardly go to church at all now, and their children (generation 4) will not even be exposed to the gospel so that they could be saved like their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Life isn’t so good for them. They make a lot of bad decisions, and the consequences of sin have completely ravaged their lives.

You will notice in the above example that a complete circle has been made. You will notice that in every generation there were decisions made that affected either positively or negatively the next generation. Great Granddad made some decisions that prospered his children, but unfortunately his children decided to do some things (or not do some things) that adversely affected the third generation. That is exactly what Hezekiah did. He made a decision that benefited himself temporarily, but destroyed future generations.

Parents, please be careful. The decisions that you make today will either positively or negatively affect your children and grandchildren. Don’t forsake the future generations.


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