The Protest Is Not Over: Confusion in Confession

“The Protest Is Not Over: Transformation is Key to Reformation.”  Confession is good for the soul, unless, you’re doing it with the wrong person.  Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, November 12, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 11.12.2018” on Spreaker.

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

New Look at An Old Word

Repent! This is a powerful word; a word full of promise. In our common speech we don’t use this word much unless we are in a religious setting. Simply put, repentance is a gift from God. He makes us aware of where we have missed the mark of holiness. His Spirit gives us the godly sorrow for sin, and the resolve to do God’s will by faith. He leads us to make restitution  possible (Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

Let me share a familiar verse we have already used in this series: “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). The only way we are able to confess our sins (or agree with God’s perspective on our sins), is that the Holy Spirit brings conviction. The only way we can act righteously upon His bringing our need to mind is with His power. This is a gift from God. He is faithful to forgive us. Not only is He faithful to forgive us, but if we continue in the spirit and mindset of confession and repentance regarding the sins we do recognize with His guidance, He will continue to guide us, not hold our sins against us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

He has got us fully covered. There may be times, when we have stolen from or defrauded someone, that fruit of repentance will be manifest in restoring what we have stolen. In cases like these and others, we have an obligation to make amends with the injured or offended party. It’s only right to do so.

God Has Us Covered. Why Confess to People?

Notice the blessing of the passages we have cited thus far. In neither of the passages does it say that we must confess our sins to a human priest. All human beings possess a sinful nature just like we do. They did not say that we must journey on a wearisome pilgrimage to somehow expiate our sins. It does not say that we should await priestly instruction on what act of mercy, voluntary sacrifice, or act of service we will perform in order to receive absolution.

Confession and repentance are not predicated upon third-party human intervention, whether priestly or by church authority. This is critical. We are not subject to some earthly validating power in order to reconcile with God. We are not subject to the whims, behest, mercy, or self ascribed requirements of any human entity to receive the blessed gifts of forgiveness and cleansing from our unrighteousness. Do you believe it?

Gratitude for His Priestly Intervention

Thank God for giving us His Son, all sufficient and merciful; along with the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with our sin problems. Thank Him for not allowing human beings to control whether we are saved, lost, or want to attempt to earn our way into favor with heaven. Thank God for handling this dastardly beast, we call sin, all by Himself, and using faithful followers of His to guide us into His atmosphere, where we will find grace to help in times of trouble.

Amends Win Friends

Making amends is part of the sin recovery process. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, September 23, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 09.23.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus 22:10-15

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number eight of 12: “We made a list of all persons we have harmed and are willing to make amends.”

‘Fess Up

I cannot tell a lie. It is extremely difficult to own up to our wrongs especially if we have harmed someone through irresponsibility. I will give an example that may or may not apply directly to you, but please see the principle here.

What if you borrowed a vehicle from a good friend? You were driving down the road to the supermarket and did not see that there was a concrete block that had apparently fallen from a truck that is long gone. You see it too late and hit it, destroying the tire and front bumper cover. What do you do when it is time to return the vehicle? How do you explain what happened? Do you simply return the vehicle, hand over the keys, say that you made a mistake and go about your business? Is there a better way of handling this? Today’s thought is not about forgiveness, so we will not seek to apply that principle yet.

Level with Me

It is human nature for us to shirk responsibility. Some men sire children and walk out on the mother (for whatever reasons). Some people spread rumors on social media about others, and when they realize whatever they wrote was not true, they don’t even bother to make amends with the injured party or create a new post to clarify the error. Some of us borrow money or property, and if repaying becomes inconvenient, we expect our friends or loved ones to eat the deficit like they are banks who can charge off the debt and write it off on their taxes. And all of this is not to mention those of us who have had issues with substance abuse or general habits with stealing.

The point here is that we know there is cause and effect in every aspect of life. There is also an expectation that we will own up to our wrongdoing and make restitution. If you have harmed someone, abused their property, or owe a debt, seek out those you’ve harmed and come up with a plan to make things right. Every situation is different. The exact manner in which to handle it is different, but the principle is the same. Do your level best in the Lord, and make things right. You will be so glad you did even if there are consequences. The Lord is with you.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, and Other Hazards of Heredity

Sin Recovery Principles. Holy Spirit Makes Us More Aware. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, August 27, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 08.27.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 9:34-38

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number four of 12: “We are submitting to an honest self-inventory as the Holy Spirit makes us more aware.”

Come to Grips Sooner Rather Than Later

I know from experience what it’s like to suffer internal struggles due to heredity. Every person who was born of a woman, whether you know her or not, has to face the reality of your ancestors. This reality is that they struggled with pride, rage, hatred, pessimism, over ambitiousness, promiscuity, alcoholism, drug abuse, greed, envy, doubt, etc. The sooner you admit that to yourself, and that this accounts for half of your struggles, the other half being habits you have cultivated yourself, is the sooner you will be in a position to experience victory.

If your dad was an angry man, acknowledge that his anger may have had a negative impact on you. Acknowledge your mother’s crack addiction, that it may have had some negative impact on you. If your grandmother was a woman of the night and could not see a handsome man go by without soliciting him, acknowledge that this may have had some negative impact on your life. If your grandfather abandoned his family, accept the fact that this had a negative impact on your life.

I say all this not to give you a way to make excuses for maladaptive or sinful behaviors. I say this so you can take an honest self-inventory and perhaps identify some of what makes you tick. Yes, there are great qualities we also inherit from our foreparents, but obviously, we do not need to overcome those.

Parental Effects

What do you do once you recognize the impact of your ancestors on your life? Do you wallow in it? Is someone else to blame for your poor choices? Do you throw up your hands in despair because you feel like you got the short end of the stick in this thing called life?

Let me share an idea with you. Ask God to show you what negative impact the decisions and habits of your foreparents still has on your lifestyle choices today. Ask Him to nullify the effects of heredity to that drives you to do evil. God will manifest His love in your life so much that you learn to make right choices as a matter of consistent habit so you can bring Him glory. Ask God to adopt you into His family and give you a fresh, godly bloodline through Christ. Ask God how to be of service to the next generation.

Linger to Hear What the Spirit Says

Sin Recovery Principles. Honesty with Ourselves. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, August 26, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 08.26.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 9:1-3

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number four of 12: “We are submitting to an honest self-inventory as the Holy Spirit makes us more aware.”

Whenever the Lord honors us with the privilege of seeing ourselves as we are it is a blessing. As we have said multiple times recently, submission to God’s will is essential in these situations. Simply being able to identify and confess where we have strayed is not sufficient. Simply being sad when we have disappointed ourselves, and God is not enough. What we need is a change of heart and lifestyle, and only God can effect such lasting change in us.

Godly Sorrow a Gift

I find it more than a little interesting that in the eighth chapter of the book of Numbers, the people welcomed the reading and teaching of the Word in their lives. They not only welcomed it, but they were also saddened by how short they had fallen of God’s ideal. Their contriteness was an indicator of whose spirit was at work. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to experience godly sorrow for sin. And as the people displayed a contrite response to truth, God rewarded them with a message of hope and rejoicing.

Leaders encouraged the people to rejoice because they had heard and understood the Word of God. They were to celebrate because the joy of the Lord was their strength. God never leaves us in despair when we encounter the reality of our need to change. Their celebration was to culminate in a festival that certainly had immediate relevance, but more than that, directed the people’s minds to the fact that Jesus is presently preparing a place for each of His children, and one day He will return to receive us unto Himself so we can be together forever.

Patience While We Hear and Learn

If I had to cite one takeaway from today’s reading it would be related to how patient the people were, humbling themselves before the Word as they confessed their sins and sincerely worshiped God. They seemed to have no concept of the passing of time (they stood in God’s presence for quite some time). Lingering in God’s presence to learn more about what He expects from us and to receive power from Him is essential to recovering from sin addiction.

Try to incorporate time into your busy schedule; benefit a time of reflection, honest confession, and lingering in worship, looking forward to the day we will finally begin living in God’s presence forever.

Private Prelude to His Presence

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, July 15, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.15.2017” on Spreaker.

This is devotional thought number 23 in our devotional series, “Essentials of Faith.” Our subject is: Repentance and Confession.

Here’s the question for consideration: What happens if I confess my sins, and in heart, turn away from them?

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14–15).

Confession Refresher

A couple of days ago, we talked about the one thing that would block up God’s ears—unconfessed/unforsaken sins. Today, we will reiterate the point. We need a refresher course from time to time.

During the time of the Old Testament kings, God’s people had a habit of disrespecting Him. They did all sorts of unconscionable stuff; some of which would cause the heathens to blush. Besides the obvious impact their actions had on their own lives and nation, heaven was compelled to respond. Sometimes the Lord commissioned the heathens to chastise His people. Sometimes the chastisement spilled over into the holiest things among them, including the temple, its furniture, and the scrolls (book of the law).

Fast forward: During King David’s reign in Judah, he longed to rebuild the temple and dedicate it to the true and living God. The Lord honored his zeal, and said that it was great that it was within His heart, but He would use David’s son, Solomon to rebuild and dedicate the temple. So, king Solomon had the privilege of commissioning this awesome task. He arranged a worship service so incredible, as he confessed the sins of all the people before God, that the priests could not continue to minister in the presence of YHWH because the atmosphere of the Almighty (blessed be His name) was overwhelming.

Prelude to Divine Presence and Attention

Just prior to this treasurable experience, God promised that if His people would humbly seek His face, pray, and turn from their wicked ways, He would hear them and attend to their prayers. He promised He would open His eyes to cater to their needs.

God wants to replicate that experience in each of our lives. He wants to so flood our lives with His very real presence that it overwhelms our desires to sin. He wants to overflow our lives with the power of the Holy Spirit, such that the overflow will reach others so He can do the same in their lives.

What happens if I confess my sins, and in heart, turn away from them? God gives me the assurance of His presence and all the attention I need until Jesus comes.

Bold: Rolling Back the “Next Level” Sinning

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.04.2017” on Spreaker.

This is devotional thought number 12 in our devotional series, “Essentials of Faith.” Our subject is “The Sinner’s (My) Need for Christ.”

Here’s the question for consideration: What effect does my bold disobedience toward God have on me?

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1–2).

Road Block to Open Communion With God

You may or may not realize this but God really wants to live in open communication and communion with you. There’s one problem; maybe not with you, but with so many others: most take this too lightly. The one thing that gets between us and God if we don’t handle our business is unconfessed sin.

We have made it clear in many devotional thoughts, that God loves us. He wants nothing more than to save us. He is very clear about our sin condition and is not intimidated by it. Jesus came to save sinners. Remember that.

However, there are many of us who take “sinning” to that next level. Sinfulness is no longer just a condition of our birth having been infected by our foreparents’ genetic propensities. It’s no longer just that we all have actually practiced all manner of sin. I did not say, “just,” to minimize the seriousness of sin. God can handle it. What makes sin particularly egregious in some of our lives is our unwillingness to give it up in exchange for open communication and communion with God. Let me share a human example.

What makes sin particularly egregious in some of our lives is our unwillingness to give it up in exchange for open communication and communion with God.

Next Level Dirt

What if you were married and your spouse had sex with someone else? That would be horrible, right? Well, yes!

What if said spouse kept on cheating and bringing the lover into your house to do their dirty deeds? Would you say that adultery, in this case, had moved to the next level? Why?

You see, when we refuse to confess and forsake our sins (with God’s help), we are like the unrepentant, emboldened spouse. We flaunt our sinful thoughts and actions in God’s face. This destroys communication and communion with our heavenly Father. We are not on one accord. Why? We are not unified because we refuse to make amends with God.

Transformation Follows Confession

It absolutely does not need to be this way. God is merciful and loving. He is ready, willing, and available to welcome sinners into right relationship with Him. In fact, the Bible says, simply: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9–2:1).

What effect does my bold disobedience toward God have on me? This ruins our connection. God wants a wonderful relationship with us. He gave us all to make that possible.

The Last Thing “Good People” Want to Do

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, July 3, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.03.2017” on Spreaker.

This is devotional thought number 11 in our devotional series, “Essentials of Faith.” Our subject is “The Sinner’s (My) Need for Christ.”

Here’s the question for consideration: Am I guilty of sin?

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Well, today’s question does not require a lot of commentary after reading that verse, now does it? The Bible provides only one exception to this verse. Jesus was so submissive to His Father that He accepted all the help necessary to be completely victorious over sin. I’m going to tell you a quick story, and then give you a tip before we close.

Self-Reflection, A Sticking Point

I was giving a Bible study to someone many years ago. We were slated to cover about 15 lessons before the person’s baptism. I was intrigued that we had gotten through quite a number of projected sticking points with no problems. Praise the Lord, right? Then it happened: we read today’s verse.

The baptismal candidate shouted, “I’m not a bad person!” To make a long story short, I admitted that the verse was inclusive. We all have sinned. We all fall short of God’s intention for us. I explained, as tenderly as I could, that if we did not understand the depths to which humanity had fallen, we could not appreciate the supreme blessing of God’s gift of salvation. It’s not that I wanted to tell the person they were a horrible monster. The fact is that sin has done a number on all of us. We cannot trust even our good intentions without God in our lives. Jesus came to save sinners. If one wishes to be saved, one must accept the reality that we all need salvation from sin.

Taking the I out of guilt.

Here’s the Good News

Here’s the tip: ask God to help you recognize the startling reality of your sinfulness and give you the strength to submit to Him for help. The Bible says: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).

Am I guilty of sin? Well, yes! But I thank God that He loved us so much that He gave His perfect Son to save every sinner willing to be saved.

Clean-Up Time

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 12.7.2016” on Spreaker.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3:10–11).

It’s time to clean up (been time)! No, I am not talking about Spring cleaning. I am not talking about cleaning out your garage. I am not talking about getting your guest rooms tidied for visitors during the holidays. Here’s a verse: “Dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). There you have it. It is time for our lives to be clean!

soapy handI know. I know what you’re thinking: “How am I supposed to do that?” Good question. Here’s an example of a man who figured it out. He said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: And in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:5–7). Beloved King David knew how to get all cleaned up—ask God to do it!

I need not tell you that we are living during the final moments of earth’s history. Signs are rapidly fulfilling and shouting to those willing to listen, “Jesus is coming soon! Get ready to meet Him!”

So, without making this worship thought too dramatic, let me ask you to do yourself a favor in light of the times: Ask God to clean out your life from all the filth that displeases Him, then cooperate with Him in the process. Surrender pride, unholy thoughts, lazy Bible reading, absent prayer life, missing loveliness, unrighteous intentions, evil planning, and anything else He reveals to you. When the greatest trials hit the earth soon, you (and I) really need to be on the winning team in order to receive the promise resident in our theme text. God will say to those who embrace His command to persevere until the end, “I will be with you and keep you with my righteousness.”

Ask God to make you holy every moment of every day, teach you to live like Jesus, and persevere until He comes. Simple. Now, go do it.

My Bad: How to move past the blame game

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, July 2, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Genesis 31:45-55

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number 10 of 12: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong. The blame game mentality seems to be issued to every person who enters this battlefield called life. It seems we always want whatever happened or whatever was neglected to be someone else’s fault. Since we have been highlighting these recovery principles for some time now, it must be apparent that this is not good. The Spirit has been given to all receptive people to, among other things, help us understand the truth about ourselves. It is very important that we take this blessing seriously. It is when we are honest about ourselves that we can cooperate with God to leave the blame game behind and take ownership of our faults.

There is plenty of blame to go around in Jacob and Laban’s story. It is a story of deceit, greed, and paybacks. But I must be honest; it is also a great example of two men recognizing their wrongs and not being willing to continue down that path. As the Lord opened their eyes to assess their relationship, they recognized that they needed to call a truce. They would not allow their mistakes to dictate a destructive path going forward. They agreed not to cross that line again, as the Lord gave them strength.

Time to own up and pave a way forward

Are there boundaries you need to set as you assess your life on a moment by moment basis each day? Are there people you now realize you cannot visit, text, call, or associate with on social media? Are there mistakes about which you need to be honest with yourself so you can rectify them? Are there habits you need to abandon because they have gotten out of control? Are there conversations from which you need to refrain? Are there apologies that you need to make?

Ask the Lord to help you draw a symbolic line in the sand over which you will not pass as He gives you strength. Ask Him to give you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you, lifting the veil of self-deception so you will be able to recognize areas in your life that need to be modeled after His plan for you. If you make mistakes, quickly admit them to yourself, confess them to God, and if they involve others, make amends.

Inner Barometer

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, May 28, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 2:12-15

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number five of 12: “We confessed to God, and when necessary, to people we have offended, the exact nature of our offenses.”

Have you ever had that sinking feeling that something was wrong? I suppose all of us have. Even those who don’t have a clear understanding of God or the details of His Word are given an internal barometer that indicates whether we are on the right track or not. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, our consciences can be educated to alert us to the truth of our standing with Him. God promised that He would write His Law inside us to help govern us. And when things are going well, the Spirit bears witness to the fact. When things are not going well, the Spirit bears witness to the fact.

Since God has been so good to us by not leaving us to grope in darkness to understand His will, it is our privilege to thank Him for His grace. It is also incumbent upon us to do something else, having received this privilege—obey God’s Law. You see, God did not give us the corrective inner barometer to merely create an awareness campaign. He’s after much more. As the power of God is manifest in our lives to reveal that which has separated us from Him, that power is also provided so we can do God’s will. He wants us to become faithful doers of His will, and not forgetful hearers. This means we also need to become honest with God and others when we have offended them.