To Do, Or Not To Do?

James 4:17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is not enough to avoid doing things we should not do. We must also not leave undone the things we know we should do.

My Advice – You will not always be called to solve all the ills around you. But where you know that God is calling you to action and it is within your power to take action (and it will be because God always equips the called) make sure you follow through. It may not be easy, but it will be rewarding.

Your Sin Is Bigger Than My Sin

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John 8:3-12The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (NIV 1984)

Whether Great or Small – It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.

At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people.

However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the Cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life. (Billy Graham)

One Sin Makes You A Sinner – One leak will sink a ship: and one sin will destroy a sinner. (John Bunyan)

However, Your Sin Is Worse Than Mine? – A rather clever person once said: “Lord, help me forgive those who sin differently than I do.” (Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012)

The similarities between [your sin and mine] are different. (Yogi Berra)

My Musings – We have a tendency to believe our sins are more forgivable (less bad) than the sins of others.  That was one of the main points of the story of the woman caught in adultery.  The teachers of the law saw her sin as so grievous it deserved death.  Jesus taught (reminded) them that they were all in the same “leaking ship” in danger of sinking.  I am reminded of a somewhat similar scene from Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo and Gandalf are debating the sins of that miserable creature Gollum:

Frodo:  “It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance.”

Gandalf:  “Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death [cast the first stone] in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Frodo:  “I wish The Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.”

Gandalf:  “So do all who live to face such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

My Advice – As I’ve written in a previous blog, there is no sin so great (probably someone else’s) that Jesus did not die for it, and no sin so small (obviously mine) that He did not have to die for it.   So let’s not be too eager to “deal out death” to others.  The “similarities in our sins may be different” but we are all in need of God’s grace and forgiveness (“pity”), that is found only in Jesus. He was the only One who ever paid (or could have paid) for our sins. His sacrifice was the only thing that could “stay [God’s] hand” of judgment.  “All we have to decide is what to do with the [opportunity] that is given to us.”

Let’s not forget the second main point in Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery, that we have a tendency to gloss over.  Just because we do not have the right to judge the sins of others, does not mean they are not sins.  Just because we may think that our particular sins are not serious enough to deserve judgment does not mean they do not.  If we are in Christ, our sins are forgiven, let’s show our gratitude by following His admonition to “go now and leave [our] life of sin.”

Daily Encouragement

Hebrews 3:13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is easy to deceive one. It is harder to deceive two or more. That is why it is so important to have a number of friends in the faith.

My Advice – Make friends with other believers. It’s not that you cannot have friends that are not believers, but they cannot give you the spiritual encouragement that is so essential to living a Godly life.

Active Denial

Titus 1:16They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – How sad that so many Christians live their daily lives in manner that denies their relationship with Christ.

My Advice – Live your life and conduct yourself in a manner that affirms that you are a believer.

Milestones

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I Have Something To Say – My first blog was August 12, 2017.  Since then, I have written 591 musings.  This weekend, I got my 10,000th hit.  While the U.S. has over 90% of the hits (naturally), my site has been visited by individuals in 57 countries covering six continents (still waiting for Antarctica).  Other than the U.S., my top viewers are (in order of frequency) from India, Ireland, Canada, Indonesia, United Kingdom, South Africa, China, South Korea, Nigeria and Hong Kong.  Most of the other countries (like Australia, Fiji, Iraq, Myanmar, Qatar, Vietnam,  and Zambia) had only one hit.  At any rate, people in countries from A to Z have been shared The Word at least once.  Trusting that I really did have something to say, and that it was God who really sent it, it will not return without accomplishment.  Maybe I’ll get to meet most of you on the “other side” one day.  Many of you I know already know, (like my mom who probably has 8.999 hits – just kidding, kind of).  Thanks to all of you, especially my “frequent flyers.”

While these stats might seem like a lot to some, they are pretty modest compared to many other blogs I’ve seen and are following (they are an inspiration). But, they are encouraging enough that I will keep blogging “for the Kingdom.” For a bit longer at any rate.  My biggest disappointment so far is the lack of comments from those that read my blogs.  I have had a few, but I was looking forward to a bit of “iron sharpening iron” as comments go back and forth.

Thanks again, and I leave you with a re-blog of the one that started it all.

You Are Free

Genesis 2:16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Freedom (“you are free”), responsibility (“you must not eat”), choice (“when you eat”) and consequences (“you will surely die“). A complete package, all present from the beginning.

Freedom is not a license to act outside the will of God. While we may choose to do so, there will inevitably be consequences if we do.

My Advice – Be responsible in how you exercise the freedom that God gives you. Make wise choices that are consistent with God’s moral laws. This way you can avoid the consequences of wrong choices.

The Devolution of Man (The Termination of the Species)

 

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Terrible Times at the Last

2 Timothy 3:1There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is a bit sobering to go down this list and realize how descriptive it is of the times we live in today. It is also interesting that when describing how terrible the last days will be, he did not focus on war, pestilence, natural disaster, plagues, etc…. Rather he focused on the human condition.

My Advice – This is a laundry list of the ways not to be. The best way to avoid turning into any of these things is to focus on the last item and make sure that is what we are- a lover of God.

Brought Down or Rising Up?

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Proverbs 24:16 –  [F]or though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (NIV 1984)

Seven musings to inspire us to rise again and not be brought down.

Billy Graham – “Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.”
My Musing – The fact that we all make mistakes is not an excuse to repeat them or wallow in them.
Rick Warren – “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
My Musing – We are only prisoners if we choose to be, because Christ has set us free.
Colin Powell – “There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
My Musing – Like Paul, we need to press on.
Abraham Lincoln – “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
My Musing – What could be more dangerous than being content with our failures, with our life of sin?
Barack Obama – “The real test is not whether you avoid failure, because you won’t.  It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it.”
My Musing – We may not be able to avoid failure, but we can avoid situations that lead to failure.  If you don’t want to eat the apple, quit hanging around the tree.
C. S. Lewis – “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” — C. S. Lewis
My Musing – A steady upward progress is often difficult to measure except in retrospect,
Winston Churchill – “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
My Musing – Unfortunately we often keep going back to the same old tree.
My Advice – As Christians, our eraser (confession and repentance) that will always outlast the pencil (our sins).  But that does not give us license to sin.  And what a mess all those eraser crumbs can leave.  To obey is better than sacrifice (asking for forgiveness).