Tag Archives: sin

Mind Where You Walk

In two-and-a-half weeks’ time we will be heading for New Zealand. One of the things I still have to do is thoroughly clean the bottom of my hiking boots. Australia and New Zealand are very conscious of their ecology, their indigenous fauna and flora. They go out of their way to prevent any threat from microscopic organisms which might carry disease into their ecosystem. Many bacteria, fungi and protozoa are found in soil and mud and these are the ones that might be stowaways on my shoes. Once I’ve cleaned the soles, I have to mind where I walk and how I walk. The airport is fine with its hard floors but my garden is a no-no.

Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

The Bible talks about this. “Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people],“(Ephesians 5:15 Amplified Bible)

Although it is important how we walk, it is also important where we walk. It is not only the Aussies and the Kiwis that know that the places we go can contaminate us. We’ve all experienced the irritation of walking in doggy do or cow pats. If we hobnob with those who tolerate and enable evil, as the verse above puts it, it affects us like a bad smell following us around.

1 Galatians 5:16 tells us how to walk wisely. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” (NIV)

Of course we are but human and we will go astray and get our feet dirty.

When Jesus was washing the disciples feet, Peter suggested the Lord wash all of him. Jesus said, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (John 13:10 NIV)

We have been forgiven once for all through the death of Christ. We have had a bath. Nevertheless, as we go through the world we do sin and it is like picking up dirt on our feet. We need only to go to Jesus and confess and He will wash our feet again.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have atoned for my sin on the cross and imputed Your righteousness to me. Nevertheless, I have sinned today. My attitudes and thoughts have not been honouring to You. I have been selfish and done what I wanted without consulting You or thinking of others. Please forgive me. Amen.

The Last Day of January

JusJoJan 31 January

I made it. I managed to write a blog post every day for the month of January. Thank you to Linda Hill for this great challenge. I hope you do it again next year. Thanks also to my fellow travelers along the way. I got to know some of you a little better and met some new and interesting people. Well done to all of you who made it through January.

The word for today is facetious.

The word, “sin,” is one of those words that has lost its meaning in modern life. People use it facetiously in phrases like, “so delicious, it’s sinful” or “it’s a sin to pass by this great offer.”

Sin, as used in the Bible, is not something we do or anything we eat. It is an attitude of heart, a rebellion against God. It is basically saying to God, “You have no claim on me, I owe you nothing. I am the centre of my own life and those around me. I will live my own life, decide for myself what is right or wrong and be god in my own life.”

We all suffer from this rebellious tendency. It’s called human nature. We don’t like to be told what to do. We do what we feel like, regardless of how it affects others. The symptoms are all around us to see:- corruption, exploitation, greed, violence, murder, theft, rape, injustice, bigotry, envy, unforgiveness… the list goes on an on.

Christ died to free us from the entanglement of sin. “…he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” (2 Corinthians 5:15,17-18a ESV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I am fully aware of the rebelliousness that still lurks in my heart. Thank You for the cross. Please forgive my sin, come into my life and take over more and more each day. Amen.

The Alpha and the Omega

JusJoJan 8 january 2022

In the interests of variety, I am not going to start this post, “In the beginning.” I was tempted though, because both the Old Testament and the Gospel of John start with the words, “in the beginning.”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NIV)

In other words, Jesus is the centre of it all. He is the originator, the reason, the very light of life. Any world view that makes Man the centre of it all, is not Christianity. Yet we, born in sin, are wont to see everything with ourselves at the centre of the universe. When I was a little girl, I sometimes wondered if I was the only real person in the world and everybody else was a figment of my imagination only there to serve my interests.

When I became a Christian, I had to take my focus off myself as the centre of my life and put Jesus there, on the throne. They make it sound easy, those evangelists. It is not. My daily struggle is to remember who is king of my life. My sinful self has a habit of sneaking into the throne room and climbing back onto the throne.

Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13 NIV)

Life, like the Bible, begins with God and ends with God.

from Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, as I journey each day with You, may my life become less of me and more of You. Amen

Dust Collects Everywhere

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for today is “collect.”

Our neighbours are doing alterations – breaking down walls and eventually building new ones.

Anybody who has ever been involved in any kind of renovation or building will know that the dust collects everywhere. We can see it creeping over the wall.

Sin is like dust. Sometimes it’s easy to spot and we can avoid the area. At other times it is subtle and hardly noticeable until a shaft of sunlight reveals the dust that has collected on a surface. If we ask Jesus to shine the light of His Holy Spirt on our lives, we will see things that we hadn’t noticed, not blatant actions but tiny attitudes of mind, a grumbling spirt, a covetous thought or regarding our time/money/life as our own.

When Jesus washed the disciples feet, Peter objected. When Jesus explained that unless Peter allowed Jesus to wash him, he had no part of his Lord, Peter replied, “Not just my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (John13:9-10a NIV)

The roads in those days were dirt roads. Nobody could walk along them in sandaled feet without collecting a lot of dust on their feet – even if they had bathed and put on clean clothes for a special celebration like Passover.

We come to Jesus once in repentance and He forgives our sin, based on His atoning death. That is like the bath; but every day we collect the dust of sin on our souls and it is necessary to ask for forgiveness. That is like having our feet washed.

I am certainly not going to dust my house every day just because the neighbours are building but I will try to get my soul dusted every day.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, as You did to the disciples, please wash my feet and show me those little dust sins that collect in my heart. Amen.

Wish upon a Feather

Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

John 6:44 Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.”

He also said, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)

In other words, even coming to Christ is not at our initiation, but God’s.

Charles Wesley had a term for this action of the Father when He draws us to Christ. He called it “prevenient grace.”

Looking back in my past to identify signs of prevenient grace in my life, I remember an incident in my childhood which I count as my earliest possible memory of this grace.

I must have been quite young, but already at school, so possibly five or six years old. Somebody at school told me that if you stripped a feather of all but a top tuft of vanes and planted it in the ground, you could make a wish and the wish would come true. At that age I already felt inferior to others. I wasn’t as pretty, as comfortable socially, as interesting as other kids. I felt I was not good enough. My wish was that I could be good enough. In the back of my mind I had a sort of fairy story. I was actually a princess and had been swopped at birth and one day people would find out who I really was.

Peering back through sixty years, I can see that this was my first inkling that I was a sinner. At university I heard another variation on this theme from an Assembles of God pastor. “Wherever I go, I go too and spoil everything.”

I have now been a Christian for over forty years. I know that I have the righteousness of Christ since on the cross He exchanged my sin for His righteousness. Nobody can say that’s not good enough. Moreover, I know myself to be a daughter of the King of the Universe. In anybody’s book, that makes me a princess.

So it might have taken a while but my wish on a feather came true.

More Tomatoes

I’m not much of a gardener. If there was an opposite to green fingers, maybe brown thumbs, I have them. Pot plants come into my house at their own peril and they can count themselves lucky if they last three months.

A tomato plant grew itself in an old tin bath that had been used by the previous owners of the house as a sort of compost area. I was so excited to see tomatoes grow and ripen. Unfortunately the plant died before all the green tomatoes could ripen and we cut it off at the ground. Lo and behold , it sprouted again. Before we went to the South Coast last month, it had four green tomatoes. Inspired by this miracle of nature, I started putting suspect tomatoes in the bath and watched little seedlings sprout after a while.

Now I see my inspirational tomato plant is dying and it doesn’t look like we will ever get to eat the four tomatoes. The leaves have all withered and turned yellow or brown.

sdr

I googled it. Seems like my plant might be suffering from a fungal disease. I found some bright blue fungicide and sprayed not only the dying plant, which I don’t think I can save, but also the newer ones. Here’s hoping I might yet see some fruit.

Psalm 1 refers to a person whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV)

Sin is like a fungus which is easily spread and in the end is deadly. I would much rather live a fruitful life than a life characterised by withering leaves. According to Psalm 1, the secret is to delight in God’s Word, to meditate on it day and night. That is the fungicide.

Fortunately, God is a much better gardener than I am and I can trust Him to take any action He deems necessary to ensure that I live a fruitful life. However, I am neither a tomato plant nor a tree and the Father respects my God-given free will. I would need to submit to His care and love if I want to live the life described in Psalm 1.

My Prayer

Father God, you know I can’t live the kind of life you ordained for me on my own. Please forgive me for my inherent sin and human tendencies. Please continue to be involved in my life and take charge. Create in me a love for Your Word. May I delight in it and meditate on it constantly. Thank You. Amen.

The Nails

What kept Jesus on the cross? As He said, He could have summoned a thousand angel armies to release Him. What kept Him there? Was it the nails?

Yes, it was the nails, but not physical nails. It was the nails of my sin. I heard it brilliantly described recently by Tod Burpo as “attitude.” We all recognise it in our teenagers, the attitude that says to a parent, “You are stupid; you don’t know what you are talking about; I know how things should be done; I can make my own decisions; I don’t need you to tell me what to do!”

That’s how we treat God. We regard His values as old-fashioned and outdated. We think we can run our own lives and that’s what we do. The Bible calls it sin. We might call it human nature. Whatever it is named, it constituted the nails that kept Jesus on the cross.

Image by Marc Pascual from Pixabay

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday

Pandemics and Plagues

I read an interesting piece on our church’s website this morning called the Plague of Plagues by Michael Philips. It is quite long but thought provoking and very biblical and it turned my thoughts once more in the direction of viruses and sin.

I am a microbiologist by training and I learned a bit of virology, as well as a bit of bacteriology, mycology, immunology, biochemistry and assorted other -ologies. I have often linked in my mind sin to some kind of infection so let’s play and pretend sin is a virus. Unlike earthly viruses, this one infects the soul as well as the body.

Patients zero were Adam and Eve. The virus quickly spread through mother to child transmission as well as contact with other infected people and now everybody has got it.

The symptoms are obvious. Paul gives a list in 1 Cor 6:9-10. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? He then goes on to list some of the symptoms:- sexual immorality, idolatory, adultery, theft, greed, slander. There are other symptoms and they all fall into the category of ignoring God, His commands, His gifts, His love. Instead people want to do things their own way making themselves into gods.

Society down the ages has done their best to treat the symptoms, just like we might take decongestants for our cold. It will not cure us, only take away the symptoms. The Ten Commandments were a set of laws designed to treat the symptoms in society and model what cured people might look like. Other societies have laws and customs that do the same. With varying degrees of success they try to limit murder, theft, and antisocial behaviour with punishments which deter many from giving in to the tendencies which are symptomatic of the infection.

There is a cure. Think of it as a blood transfusion. …and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7b NIV)

Adapted from a Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay

If we get a blood transfusion with blood that contains antibodies to the virus, we will slowly get better as the virus is neutralised. It doesn’t happen overnight, but slowly we get better. This is a once off treatment. However, to be totally clear of the virus and to prevent re-infection, we need our bodies to make more antibodies. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to enable this process. We become sanctified. Again, it is a slow process and some of the symptoms take a long time to disappear because of damage that they have caused to our bodies and spirits.

John goes on to say in verses 8 and 9, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Imagine if, at the time of your blood transfusion, the doctor gave you a certificate saying you were no longer infectious, even though you might still have a symptom or two. This certificate could give you access to places you could not normally enter as an infected person. You could go through the screening processes with impunity. You could even have access to the Kingdom of Heaven which has a very strict anti-infection policy.

I’m sure trained ministers and pastors would pick holes in my analogy, but I had fun. Hope you did too.

An encouraging verse to leave you with as we all think about viruses, infections, quarantines, lockdowns, prohibitions, economic collapse and the like.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Who are We?

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4 NIV)

We have made amazing advances in technology, communication, medicine, astronomy and other fields of science. We have carried out successful organ transplants, put men on the moon, and have made information available to the man in the street with a click of a button.

Yet, at this time in history, our civil society and economic empires are crumbling because of a virus 125 billionths of a metre in diameter. One thing it has shown us, is that man is not invincible as he tends to think. We act as if we are God. We make the rules and mores. We decide what is fair and what is unfair. As history unfolds, morals and customs change according to the outward circumstances and who’s in power.

The nature of man has not changed, has not improved. Excellent systems are put in place. They all fail because of human nature. Give food parcels to the poor! We have seen how human nature has corroded that noble endeavour! We all think human nature is something other people have. Yet we are quick to confess, “I am only human. This is how I am. This is how my father was, I got it from him.” In this dysfunctional world, we tend to excuse bad behaviour by early experiences of brokenness.

We can do nothing to fix ourselves. All our technical advances can’t save us from ourselves.

However, amazingly, God has set His love upon us and for love of us Christ died to rescue us from sin.

I love the end of Psalm 91.

The Lord says,
“If you love me
    and truly know who I am,
    I will rescue you
    and keep you safe.
15 When you are in trouble,
    call out to me.
I will answer and be there
    to protect and honor you.
16     You will live a long life
    and see my saving power.”
(CEV)

The Foul line

Every Wednesday, my husband and I take part in a 10 pin bowling pensioners league. I am not particularly good but I have learned the rules, how to score and the etiquette. Or course, nowadays the bowling machine does everything for you – sets up the pins, counts which ones you knock down, gives advice on how to get the rest and scores for you. It even monitors the foul line, gives a loud beep if you overstep, and displays a big red F next to your score, discounting any points you might have otherwise earned in that frame.

Yesterday, for the first time since I’ve been bowling in the league, I set off the foul line alarm. Not once, but three times. The first time I would have got a strike. I thought I had got a strike until I saw the ugly red F next to my name. It’s not like I did it on purpose! There was something about my bowling style that was wrong. After the third time, I was almost in tears. When I heard the beep I froze and checked the position of my front foot. It was way behind the line. Someone suggested my ball was too low and setting off the alarm. I could barely bowl at all during that game getting my lowest score in a long time.

Some people think God is like a bowling machine, just waiting for you to break one of the rules. They think Christianity is following a set of commandments. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Christianity is about relationship. God longs to have a relationship with us but our sin- nature (wanting to do things our way and being gods of our own lives) causes a barrier between us. Jesus did away with that barrier by taking our sin-nature upon himself and giving us His righteousness, removing the barrier to relationship. That sets us free to have a relationship with Him.

Phil 2:13 reads, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

If God works within us making us want to and able to do things His way, we’ll probably find that we’ll end up keeping the commandments anyway, but that is a by-product. We already have His approval. We don’t need to earn it. It is a gift.