Crisis and Failure is Not Hopeless

Today’s reading

Genesis 25-26; Matthew 9:1-17

Selected verses

 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.”  Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”  Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.  Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.  Genesis 25:31-34

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”    Matthew 9:12, 13

Reflections

How do you face a crisis? How do you handle failure, sin, and guilt?

Isaac faced a crisis, a famine, to be precise. He considered immigrating to Egypt, but God appeared to him and reassured him of His presence and provision. Isaac rested upon God’s promises and stayed in the land. Isaac’s faith honored God and kept him from a bad decision.

Esau faced a crisis or two. He came home starved from his hunting trip. He gave in to his hunger and sold his birthright for Jacob’s delicious stew. Later, Esau wanted a wife. He married a local pagan woman rather than follow the family tradition of marrying within their clan. Esau could not tolerate any delay in the gratification of his physical needs in order to make wise and godly decisions. In both of these cases, his choices had devastating consequences for him and his family.

I admire Isaac’s faith and am repulsed by Esau’s undisciplined appetites, but it is easier for me to be like Esau than like Isaac. Do I consistently resist temptation and sin? No. I do not always choose to trust God and to endure whatever difficulty may come without complaining or choosing the path of least resistance

Yet Jesus gives me hope. He was observed eating with tax collectors and sinners, the low life of society. When questioned about this, He replied: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Think about it

We fail. We sin. But Jesus Christ came for sinners like us. He came to call us to repentance.  He came to heal us.  How do you deal with a crisis or the failure to deal with it well? Don’t be like Esau who failed to obtain the grace of God (Hebrews 12:14-17).  Seek to face a crisis with faith. When you fail, and you sometimes will, repent, confess sin, and find forgiveness from Christ. Get up, press on.

The Cost of Integrity

Those who stand for truth will find their integrity tested.  The Apostle Paul stood the test at great cost. Will you?

Today’s reading:

Acts 21:37-24:27

My selection:

Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”  And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” Acts 23:4-5

For more reflections on this passage, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Confession of Sin

Today’s reading: Daniel 7:1-9:27

My selection:

“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God,  while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.  He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding.  At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.”

Daniel 9:20-23 (ESV)

Confession of sin is not morbid introspection

On numerous occasions in the Bible we read of people whose close encounter with God brought them to recognize their unworthiness and sin.   God’s presence shines on the hearts of men and exposing their depravity.  Daniel experienced this, too, and was driven to a thorough confession of his sin and the sin of his people.

Confession of sin should not be morbid introspection driving us to hopelessness.  The Apostle John exhorts us:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)

Confession is a lifestyle

Confession leads to forgiveness and cleansing.  It is not a once-for-all event but a lifestyle which brings growth in both holiness and praise.  Be diligent in confession.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Confess Sin to God

How serious is sin?  Today’s reading (Psalms 51-57) helps us answer that question. We live in a time when even the concept of sin is politically incorrect, a relic of a bygone era.  Not everyone agrees.  A couple years ago, Huffington Post blogger William Bradshaw asked “What happened to sin?”  Bradshaw argued that society has gone off course as a result of ignoring God’s law.

David committed adultery, fraud, and murder.  He was caught and confronted.  To his credit, he confessed and repented.  His thorough heartfelt prayer is recorded for us in Psalm 51.  He gives us an example of the pain which sin causes and the remedy for it.

Sin is not just serious; it is lethal. But God calls us to confess our sin, to repent and to believe the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Asking God Not to Remember

“Mercy triumphs over judgment” wrote the Apostle James in chapter two verse 13b of his letter.  God’s mercy in Christ, triumphs over the judgment of the sins of our youth, sins which troubled King David in today’s reading (Psalm 20:1-25:22).  David appealed to God’s mercy and steadfast love, not his own merits or worthiness (Psalm 25:6-7).  We who live after the first coming of Jesus have an even clearer view of how great God’s mercy is, great enough to send His Son to die for the sins of His people.

Rejoice! Jesus saves.  God will not remember the sins of our youth or our old age, if we are His.  Keep trusting in the Savior and do not let Satan remind you of past sins and steal your joy.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Small Sin; Big Consequences

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 19:8-21:22

Despite the title above, there are no small sins.  Any sin is rebellion against a Holy God.  Yet there are sins which are subtle and often go undetected until they grow into a major problem.  Sheba, the rebel in today’s reading, exploited pride and jealousy (small sins?) and used it to mount an almost-successful overthrow of the kingdom.

Beware of small sins with big consequences.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Saul’s Stinking Legacy

Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 13:1-14:52

Saul was consumed with himself.  See what a price he paid for his pride, continual defensiveness, and paranoia!  As we will see in future readings, the difference between Saul and his successor, David, was not their sin but their repentance.  Saul left a stinking legacy (Ecclesiastes 10:1), but David is remembered as a “man after God’s own heart” (13:14).

How do you handle your sin?  Be thorough in repentance.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Good Intentions Gone Bad

Today’s reading: Joshua 22:1-24:33

When we make vows and commitments to the Lord, we need to be sure we are trusting Him for strength to fulfill them. Jesus’ teaching about abiding in Him like a branch connected to a vine is very instructive (John 15:1-11). God is not glorified by the failures of our good intentions, but He is glorified when we confess them and repent promptly.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Equality and Inequality in God’s Economy

Today’s reading: Joshua 13:1-15:63

While today’s reading includes long lists of geographical locations and the territorial allotments given to various tribes, there is an important spiritual lesson to be learned here. Don’t miss it!

Comparing ourselves to others (what we are, what we have) will inevitably result in either envy or pride. Envy and pride are enemies which destroy our ability to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives – to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Resist the temptation to compare yourself, your accomplishments, your possessions with others. Instead, focus your whole being on His glory.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God Uses Sin for Good

Today’s reading: Joshua 10:1-12:24

How much time have you wasted lamenting your sin and past mistakes? In today’s reading, we have an example of the proper way to look at past sin which has been confessed and forgiven. The foolish treaty which Israel made with the Gibeonites was used by God for a good purpose, the defeat of the pagan kings of the Promised Land.

How should we deal with sin? Repent, confess, trust God for forgiveness, live with the consequences, move on, but watch Him use it in unforeseen ways for good in your life.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].