Life

Big Sins & Little Sins

My kids love the movie Joseph: The King of Dreams. For a while, it was on repeat in our house. As I was folding laundry one day, I decided that we ought to study the story of Joseph. The kids were familiar with the details, so I figured why not spend our morning devotions reading a little each day about it. Coincidentally, Nathaniel’s Bible stories for school were about Joseph last week as well.

We just can’t seem to get away from Joseph.

There’s so much to that story. Jealousy, betrayal, resisting sin, honoring God, pain, heartbreak, and success. If you had ever thought that life in Bible times were boring, think again. They had their own fair share of drama and action happening in their lives.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Joseph. He was born with the special gift of dreams and was doted on by his loving parents. His father gave him a coat of many colors, which immediately caused jealousy to rise up in his brothers. In fact, his brothers plotted to kill him.

They decided not to go that far. Perhaps a twinge of guilt as they saw the genuine fear in Joseph’s eyes convinced them not to be so heartless. Indeed, they spared his life, but they betrayed him by selling him into slavery. I like to think that they had appeased their desire to be rid of their brother while still easing their conscience. Half sins, right?

We know there’s no such thing, but they thought so. Killing him was just too much, so they just sold him into slavery. It’s bad, but not too bad.

Don’t we view sin that way sometimes?

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There was still a price to pay for everyone involved. Joseph was removed from everything he had ever known and thrown into slavery. The brothers had to cover up their sin, so they dipped Joseph’s beautiful new coat in blood to make it look like he had been destroyed. They couldn’t return home and tell their father what really happened, so they made it look like a tragic accident. Jacob promised that he would go into the grave with grief over the loss of his son.

So, maybe selling Joseph wasn’t “so bad” in comparison to actually killing him, but the selfish decision of his brothers cost everyone. They willingly put their father through the worst pain a parent can know – the loss of a child.

Only Joseph wasn’t dead. His brothers had lied.

It was just as hideous as if they had killed him by their own hands.

When I was younger, I looked at sin in two categories: big sin and little sin. One great big sin would be murdering someone or stealing something from the store. A little sin would be telling a white lie to my mom. Little bitty sins didn’t ever hurt anyone, did they?

The Bible says that by one man, sin entered into the world. You know who I’m talking about. Adam and Eve. They ate that stinkin’ fruit and cursed all of mankind. A piece of fruit. It wasn’t too bad, but it cost our eternity.

As Christians, let us be careful not to look at sin as though it’s not the worst thing we could do. Let’s not put each sin on a scale and think it’s okay to commit because it’s not as bad as something really bad as killing a guy or something else.

Because at the end of the day, there is always a price to pay for sin. It will bite us in the tush. Thankfully, God is merciful and gracious with the promise to forgive us, but that doesn’t mean we may not have to endure the bitter consequences.

Joseph’s story has a happy ending with forgiveness and reuniting with his family. God was able to use Joseph and bless him in spite of affliction and trouble. It’s truly one of the most amazing stories of God’s provision even in the most impossible and frustrating of circumstances.

But even still, I can’t help but wonder if they mourned the time that was lost. The late nights young Joseph cried with homesickness for his family. Or how the brothers would sweat with guilt as they carried their secret about what really happened to their brother. Or the mornings where Jacob felt crushed by grief over the loss of his precious son.

All of that pain simply because of Joseph’s brothers’ selfishness and jealousy. God did amazing things through every bit of the trouble. He redeemed a horrible situation. It’s just sad that it ever had to go there.

Be careful with the decisions you make. Be vigilant of how you view sin or how you deal with others. Do not believe the lie that it’s okay to commit one just because no one will know or it doesn’t compare to the severity of another. It’ll still do it’s damage in one way or another.

Even if only one “tiny” sin was all that had ever been committed, it was enough sin to put Jesus on the cross. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus. You notice it didn’t say bad sins, but SIN in of itself.

Jesus paid the ultimate price at Calvary, taking our punishment and our cross. Let’s not forget that as we go through each day.

 

 

 

Life · Loss

This Hope is Enough

I figured out why I hate Walmart.

I thought it was the fact that I can’t ever go there without an awkward run in with someone from the past.

Or the fact that they have like 30 checkout lanes with only two open in the whole.stinking.store.

It could be the truth that I never leave with only what I came for. Everything is strategically placed to scream, “you might need me!”

Peopleofwalmart.com – need I say more?

Maybe one day I’ll share my grocery shopping adventures, but today I’m not thinking about food.

I’m thinking about the baby section.

I can’t walk past it without wondering how big my belly would be by now. I can’t walk past teeny sleepers without wondering if our baby was a boy or a girl. Because I know the joy of expecting the little one, I can’t help but miss that feeling that I was supposed to have.

For a while, I only thought about my miscarriage in clinical terms. I was one in four. It was likely a chromosomal abnormality that was incompatible with life. I am young, healthy, and can try again.

But then it becomes all too real. My belly is empty. June will come and go with no exciting addition to our family.

It really did happen.

I haven’t talked about my loss much recently, because I don’t want to bog people down. I want to be positive and share helpful, encouraging things. However, I know as well you do that we’ve got days where the tears keep falling.

Little things like the weather being similar to the day I miscarried or a thought about wishing I could have more … Just tiny triggers make my heart sink. I cannot handle sweet songs about Heaven half of the time because there’s a part of me there without me. I miss him or her and I only carried them for such a short while.

God has been gracious through it all. He’s comforted me with knowing I will see my baby’s face. Some days that’s all I’ve got.

2 Samuel 12:23 I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

David’s baby died a few days after birth and although I can assure you he was heartbroken, he held to this promise. This is what kept him going when his heart ached to hold that baby or to see his face again.

This brokenness I feel over losing my baby is overwhelming. All I have is this one hope.

This hope is enough.

This hope has carried me through hard days and bitter tears. It has filled me up when I became all too aware of my empty belly. This hope has sustained me.

I thank God for the hope and promise of Heaven, my home I dearly long for.

If you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, my heart goes out to you. I pray that you will hold to this hope and let the Lord be your strength as your heart heals. Let this hope carry you as you go through each day.

Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Legalism · Life · Uncategorized

Grace For The Saint

 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17

I used to think that if I gave up enough, I would finally be close to God. Or maybe if I did more for Him, He would feel nearer.

I felt better on my good days where everything on my spiritual to-do list was checked off. If I didn’t mess up a ton like normal, I was doing pretty well. To me, God was most pleased with me on those days where I achieved top-notch spiritual greatness.

On my bad days? Forget it. I’d wallow in self pity over how I couldn’t ever get it right. I’d ask for forgiveness, but wouldn’t really feel any better.

My standing with God depended more on me and what I could do than what He could do.

I was justified by grace through faith, but my sanctification was more about following a checklist of rules. If I appeared to have attained some kind of spiritual superiority, that meant I was growing. If I threw out CDs or rolled my eyes at that friend who listens to Christian rock, I was spiritually enlightened.

Well, God bless me. I’m somethin’ special.

Puhhhlease. Spare me.

This is a really ugly thing to see. It’s embarrassing to realize that my need for affirmation and pats on the back is what drove me to make a lot of foolish decisions early on in my Christian walk. I said I was serving God, but I was really more concerned about making myself happy and looking good with a big ole church girl sticker branded on my forehead.

I have so many regrets.

I’ve realized that I’m my absolute best day – I’m still a big ball of yuck. I’m still an old sinner; unworthy and unfit for the kingdom of God. BUT BY GRACE, I am saved. By grace, I’m still here. By grace, I am growing and learning.

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Coming to this realization has been really scary, because letting go of the checklist is similar to jumping off of a cliff. When you depend on the black and white rules for every jot and tittle of your life, it’s very scary to say “I don’t know if that’s right.” Words like compromiser and backslider come to mind and really, it’s quite terrifying.

The Bible speaks out against legalism, but mark it down, it still preaches against sin just as hard. The difference is this – when we are being sanctified, it is about God working through us. It is about getting in the Word and allowing it to transform our lives. It is about getting to the nitty gritty truth deep down inside that no one, not even us, knows about. Sanctification is not about adopting more rules. It’s about God changing our desires from the inside out and bringing about obedience through that change.

My pastor said it well last Sunday when he explained repentance like this: Wishing to do better isn’t repentance. God changing your desires from the inside to live righteously is repentance.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

God wants His people to be free. Free from rules or a moral code? No way. But free. We are imperfect sinners with a lot of growing to do – no matter how old we are. We will fall and will realize more and more as time goes just how much we need the Lord. How wonderful is it that we can go to the Lord for grace, forgiveness, and then “stand fast” in liberty to get back up and keep moving forward for Him. How amazing it is that we can bring our ugly to the Lord and He can transform it into something beautiful.

The devil wants us constantly beating ourselves up, doubting our salvation, and being afraid to even open our Bibles because ultimately – it gets our eyes off of the Savior. It destroys that abundant life that God desires for us to have. We may feel good with the initial checklist achievement, but eventually we our weighed down with the task of “trying to get it right.”

We can’t do it without Jesus. We can’t have Heaven without Jesus and we can’t be changed without Jesus. Vain self effort doesn’t only apply to the ones who unfortunately believe being good gets them into Heaven. It also applies to our sanctification. The entire Christian life is lived by grace, not just the moment we accept Christ.

Oh, this goes much deeper than the clothes you wear. And believe me, if your heart is being changed, then you will become more aware about what shouldn’t show. However, the goal isn’t to appear to be Christ like. It is to be Christ like. That doesn’t happen in a day and it doesn’t happen at the altar of salvation. It is a lifelong journey of growth in His Word and in prayer.

God set us free from the law. Jesus fulfilled it. It isn’t our job to try to live up to the letter of the law, because, well, that’s impossible. And if we could, we’d be the Savior of the world and Jesus’ job was vain. God wants to pull the lost from the miry clay and He wants to change and transform us as we draw closer to Him. That will produce outward change. That will cause a man to stop drinking and a woman to stop running around. Absolutely.

But God has to be the One to make that change.

When we have the victory over sin, we ought to praise the Lord. And when we fall, we ought to hold fast to that promise in 1 John 1:9 that says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Make it right and then praise the Lord for being free from the bondage of sin.

Thank God that even though you still have that old flesh, you can ask for forgiveness, stand in liberty and keep moving forward in the life God intended for you.

God is not impressed with the checklist. He isn’t impressed with you patting yourself on the back for how much Christian service you take part in or how much Bible you have memorized. He desires humility. He desires for us to be low, to see ourselves as weak without Him, and giving Him glory as He gives us victory over sin and life’s struggles. He wants us to come to Him and search His Word for answers and for help as we live this life.

Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of living by a checklist. Instead, stand fast in the liberty wherewith God hath made YOU free. If you fall, get back up. Walk in grace and praise God for it, my friends.