When God just can’t take it any more

Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.

Isaiah 1:13-14

God’s power is inexhaustible. When you reach a point in an action or attitude, that God, who is tireless and limitless in strength says, “I can’t take this… I’m weary of this…”

When God, who is love, who “suffers long”, who “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” says,  “I can’t endure this,” we need to pay attention. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:8 NKJV

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV

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Don’t hate yourself because of your sin.

Don’t hate yourself for your sin. You are a sinner, but God valued who you are so much that He died so He could redeem you and work in your life. He knew you would make mistakes, but He didn’t choose to throw you away.  He wants to SAVE you, and save the parts of you that truly define the real you (which is NOT your sinfulness).  There are things about you that make you truly unique and special, apart from the mistakes you’ve made, and THOSE are the things that make God so CRAZY ABOUT YOU.  Those are the reasons He said, “I just can’t give you up.”  He knows He can HEAL your sin and brokenness and TRANSFORM you into that person that you so desperately long to be.

Jesus loves you so much, just as you are. Come to His feet in your heart, right now.

Do you have a life?

I heard some of the New Year’s performances that were broadcast last night.  Beyonce singing about how she wants people to know and never forget that she was here.  Another artist singing about how they just want to celebrate and “live [their] life”.  There’s a lot of “pride of life” going on in these songs.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  (1 John 2:16)

One of the major themes of the first angel’s message in Revelation 14:6-7 is that God calls human beings to recognize the distinction between their Creator and themselves.  Worship God as the Creator and Source of life.  God calls us to acknowledge that we are not equal to Him as part of our act of worshipping Him.  After all, you can’t worship God if you don’t also acknowledge that He is greater than you.  And yet, people like Beyonce blast the message that they equate themselves with God.  If that sounds exaggerated, take a thoughtful look at the song lyrics of some popular songs.  Far from worshipping God, popular artists frequently worship themselves (and each other).

In a very real way, we can’t really say, like Bon Jovi, “It’s my life.”  It’s not our life.  Sorry to break it to any of these famous artists, or anyone else for that matter, but we really don’t own our lives.  As much as those who don’t choose to love, worship, and give their lives to God might want to express their rebellion and disdain toward Him, they still can’t escape the fact that their every waking moment happens only by His power and because of His grace, that they draw every breath they breathe from His nostrils.  The God they despise and seek to disgrace is the only reason they can exist.  There is no possibility of life apart from Christ, because He is life.  Every human life is a tangible, visible monument to the continued grace of God.

Sorry, Beyonce, Bon Jovi, and anybody else who uses the expression, “It’s my life,” to excuse their wrong behavior.  It’s not your life you’re living.  Your life is borrowed, not owned.  It’s ownership resides with the One who made it.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  (John 1:4)

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  (1 John 5:11-12)

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  (Genesis 2:7)

Paying More Than Death

For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (NASB)

Jesus didn’t just die for our sins – He suffered what we should have suffered. That means that to wipe my slate clean, to forever erase the otherwise indelible stain of my sin, more than death was required. Part of the payment was soul-shredding pain, grief, and sorrow to a degree we cannot fathom.

In my humanness, I cannot imagine so much as willingly accepting responsibility for someone else’s parking ticket, let alone being put on death row for someone else’s crime.

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. Romans 5:7

How could anyone be so good? Love like that is incomprehensible to me.

Heavenly Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, I am in awe of You.

The Magic Words of Salvation



John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4, NASB)

Have you ever heard a preacher on television or on the radio say something like this?

“If you want to be saved, repeat after me: I repent of all my sins. I accept Jesus as my personal Savior. That’s it! You are now saved!”

Of course, it is true that through repentance our sins can be forgiven. The prayer above can certainly be effectual if the words come from a place of honesty in the person’s heart. But sometimes, when we see an appeal like this on television, the preacher seems to be inferring that just repeating their words somehow saves us.

Is that true? Does the Bible teach that we can obtain salvation just by saying certain words?

The Word of God teaches that our belief and repentance must be deeper than that. Here, we will focus on repentance. Sin is a heart disease, and repentance requires a heart change. If in our hearts we are truly sorry for our sin, and confess it to God, then we obtain forgiveness (1 John 1:9). However, we cannot expect that a mere recitation of the words “I repent”, or any words for that matter, will in any way take the place of actual repentance.

This point might seem so obvious that it doesn’t merit mention. But is it really? Aren’t there people who even today believe that reciting specific words gains them some kind of favor with God? Throughout history many have fallen to this deception. In Jeremiah 7:9-10, we see that the Israelites were breaking God’s commandments – committing adultery, stealing, worshipping idols, even committing murder – and then entering the temple called by the name of God, thinking they had forgiveness, and a license “to do all these abominations…” They truly thought that because they were in the temple, they were automatically right with God; like they could recite some magic words and gain salvation.

So, it’s not so inconceivable that people might feel that the truths of the Word of God could be used in much the same way as a magic spell to make them right with God. It’s one thing to say the words. It’s another thing to mean them.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector who both enter the temple to pray. The Pharisee stood up and loudly prayed, thanking God that He was not like the tax collector, bragging to God about how good he was. The tax collector, though, simply threw himself upon the mercy of God, recognizing his utter helplessness. Between the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus said the tax collector was justified and not the Pharisee. (One translation says that the tax collector had been “declared righteous”.)

What did the tax collector do? Did he just casually ask for mercy? The Word says that he was beating his chest. This is what the Hebrews did when they were experiencing serious grief and mourning. Check out Jeremiah 31:19:

“After I strayed,
I repented;
after I came to understand,
I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.”

Beating your breast meant profound mourning, shame and humiliation. It signified a grief too deep for words. It was more than a casual request for mercy. He begged for mercy. He was desperate. He knew he was an abject sinner.

What did the tax collector do that the Pharisee did not? He begged for mercy (the Pharisee didn’t even ask); acknowledged his lowliness (the Pharisee was high on himself); and humbled himself before God. That Pharisee was being trite; the tax collector meant what he said with all his heart. Jesus summed it up by saying, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Now let’s take a look at the words of Solomon regarding what true repentance looks like:

“… if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You … saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul … and pray to You … then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place … and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You…” (1 Kings 8:47-50)

We can fool a lot of people, but we can’t fool God. His eyes see the darkest corners of our hearts, and he is aware of every motive within us even when we ourselves are not. If we are trite and unrepentant, there’s no guarantee God will even hear us (Psalm 66:18; 2 Chronicles 7:14).

Solomon was aware that when we as sinners go to God, we must do so with all our hearts and souls. Remember, repentance is about our relationship with God, and how we are seen in His eyes is what counts, not anyone else’s. If we’re just mouthing words, but not meaning them in our hearts, who do we think we’re kidding?

Heavenly Father, today let us experience true repentance not only for any unconfessed sins, but also for the sinful condition of our hearts. Let us feel Godly sorrow which leads to repentance and no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Once we are forgiven, help us to let go of the unhealthy guilt and give us Your peace (Romans 5:1). True to Your promise in Ezekiel 36:26, give us new hearts and put a new spirit within us.

Thank You!

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

photo by Jacob…K accessed via flickr