Posts Tagged ‘Confession’

Going too far © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 6 – GOING TOO FAR WITH GOD – Part 1 

I’ve got to admit my Western mindset doesn’t like to talk about God’s discipline. But God’s word indicates that God does discipline us, both those who are Believers and those who are not, but He does so with JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS and in order to get us back into relationship with Him and in tune with our destiny.  

IF THE LORD DOES DISCIPLINE YOU, HOW DOES HE DISCIPLINE YOU? 

  • Does He humiliate you by putting you in situations where you will fail? 
  • Does the Lord discipline you through accidents, sickness, pain, old age? 
  • Through natural disasters – fires, floods, drought or other catastrophes? 
  • Through losing your livelihood or your mental health, like Nebuchadnezzar who lost his mind for a time? 
  • Does God discipline you through losing those you love? 
  • Through satanic attack like Job? 

If the Lord has UNFAILING LOVE, how can He also be FAIR AND JUST in His discipline? 

R.B.Thieme writes “What righteousness demands, justice executes, and because God never violates His integrity, all actions He takes toward us (in terms of discipline) come from His justice. Justice can either bless or discipline; if righteousness approves, justice blesses; if righteousness disapproves, justice curses or disciplines.”   

WHY DOES GOD DISCIPLINE ME? 

If the Lord disciplines me as David says, what prompts Him to discipline me?  

Well, obviously, it has to do with my sin. Now there’s another word that people don’t like to hear and I don’t like to talk about.  

One man I spoke to said, “I don’t sin.” He lives in a world that prefers to deny the very existence of sin. His unforgivable sin is refusing to even consider a relationship with God or any claim God has in his life.  

Discipline may involve pain and suffering which always leaves me with a lot of questions as to how God dishes His discipline out. 

Some examples in the Bible indicate that those who are originally created in His image can go too far, and the patience and grace of God is rejected by people who prefer to come under severe discipline rather than consider repentance and forgiveness. 

SEVERE DISCIPLINE 

WAR  

During WW1 many people thought that it was the END OF THE WORLD – that God was bringing His FINAL JUDGEMENT – God’s discipline to humankind. It is easy to see why they would think that way given the horrors of the world war and the ravages of the Spanish flu in its aftermath. WAR AND PESTILENCE! 

People in the World War years knew their Bibles a little better than people today. They knew that occasionally God exercises severe discipline in the Bible on EXTREMELY WICKED NATIONS by having them defeated completely. Israel at one stage becomes His instrument of discipline, not that Israel is all that good. Just so they don’t become arrogant ….   

Deuteronomy 9:5 (NLT) says, “It is not because YOU ARE SO GOOD or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of THEIR WICKEDNESS, and to fulfill the oath He swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  

Many people died as a result of the Lord’s severe discipline.  

PLAGUE 

Israel was disciplined too on a number of occasions also for their wickedness, once WITH A PLAGUE that killed many people.   

2 Samuel 24:14-16 (NLT) says, “So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!””  

It appears that some sinful people got away with it with their lives still intact while many others died because of God’s discipline. God’s discipline can seem so severe to me. I don’t pretend to understand, but I trust that God knows what He is doing. 

EXILE 

Jeremiah 46:28 (NLT2) says ISRAEL WAS EXILED BECAUSE OF GOD’S DISCIPLINE, “Do not be afraid, … for I am with you,” says the Lord. “… I HAVE EXILED YOU, but I will not completely destroy you. I WILL DISCIPLINE YOU, but WITH JUSTICE; I cannot let you go unpunished.”” (The Message Bible says, “But I won’t finish you off. I have more work left to do on you. I’ll punish you, but fairly. No, I’m not finished with you yet.”)   

So the emphasis of God’s discipline is that it is absolutely fair, not according to our standards, because those standards are so fluid, but His, which are unchangeable. God is Immutable.  
 

NEW COVENANT?  

Some say, “That was the OLD TESTAMENT. We are under the New Covenant and God does not discipline us like this.” Let’s not be too fast in saying this. 

Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says, “For the Lord DISCIPLINES THOSE HE LOVES, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.”  

Revelation 3:19 (NLT) says, “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” If I am loved by God, apparently, I must also accept His discipline. 

THORNS 

In the New Testament Paul talks personally about how God disciplined him. 

2 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT) says, “… So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given A THORN IN MY FLESH, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” I wonder if that thorn in the flesh was a person rather than a sickness. 

DEATH 

Acts 5:1-10 (NLT) speaks about Ananias who was disciplined by God, in the early Church, who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.  

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”  

As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died...” Straight after this, Saphira fell down and died also for lying about the same thing. 

The Message Bible translates the last verse, “By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”  

HELL 

The ultimate discipline of God is total separation from Him, described in the Bible as Hell. I don’t like talking about Hell, but I’d be a fool to say in my heart that there is no God or there is no hell.  

The Lord, however, does not want anyone to endure the discipline of hell. Everyone of us has opportunity to respond to Christ. No-one else has come to save us. 

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 

So let’s be realistic. If you are someone who has read these words, you need to realise that God is waiting for you with open arms, not with a razor strap. You were created for a purpose, not for discipline. The first step is faith in Christand ignoring His claims is a disastrous choice. 

John 3:36 (NLT) says, “… anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” 

Pastor Ross 

 

Genesis 32:10-12 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 6

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-5).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? What do you do about it if your actions have caused the conflict?

  1. ADMIT YOUR PART IN THE CONFLICT

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© Unworthy but not worthless. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!” (Genesis 32:10 NLT).

He’s right. He is not worthy. He has lied to his father and cheated his brother. He left the country bankrupt because you can never achieve a worthy end with unworthy means. Finally, he starts to realize that he has lived his life making decisions apart from God. Perhaps he is saying, “Lord I am the younger brother. I didn’t deserve the birthright or blessing on my life because they were obtained through deception and not from Your Hand. They gained me nothing but exile. Despite being as unworthy as I am, when I have trusted You, You have only shown Your love and faithful provision for my life.”

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT) says “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” But now, in the crisis of this moment, Jacob makes himself subservient to God who has been with him in the process of a lifetime. He is unworthy but not worthless. He humbles himself before God just as he humbles himself before Esau. “Servant of all”.

This will test Jacob’s faith and character. Will he have what it takes for God’s promise to be fulfilled with integrity, humility and respect rather than try to gain the blessing from his self-motivated arrogant willfulness?

Recognising that we have a responsibility in owning our part in the conflict is important. Jacob is being real with God and Esau.

  1. BE SPECIFIC IN WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE HAPPEN

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© Specific Target. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 

But You promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count’” (Genesis 32:11-12 NLT).

Jacob gets down to the specifics. He’s learned a lot about God; His promises, His faithful love, not to mention an angelic army. He doesn’t have nearly as much regard for Esau. He fears that he and his family will be massacred.

As God’s diplomat, he has been appointed with letters of accreditation in the form of a promise which enables him to carry out his duties on behalf of the King of kings within the jurisdiction of this land. He is a servant and ambassador for God’s purposes. But right now he is wondering about his diplomatic immunity from Esau’s arrows.

In prayer, Jacob the deceiver reminds God about His promises, and no doubt prayer also had a way of reminding him about the faithfulness of God.

He will need to take proactive steps to restore his credibility with Esau. Not so easy. How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes? (Find out in Part 7, coming soon).

Pastor Ross  

Genesis 30:22-24 – HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

Regret, like an old injury, seeks to restrict your present and to destroy or control your future.

Confronting regret is like doing battle with a street fighter. He wants to dominate and cut you with a switchblade so that you bleed before you even have the chance to pray. He’ll badger you into doing yet another round and you’ll see the faces of those you have disappointed and hurt in the crowd that gathers. There’s no place to go.

You’ve done battle with regret before but this time you know you must think differently in order to overcome him. You may need to refuse to fight, apologise and seek forgiveness. You may need to spend some time admitting the harm that you have caused until the crowd makes room for you to move on. Rachel comes humbly before God with sin in her hand and places it, with her wounded heart, at God’s feet.

Something changed that day. A breakthrough of faith and the response of God’s mercy. God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children (Genesis 30:24 NLT). At long last, Rachel conceives and gives birth to a son; Joseph (and later Benjamin is added to her family). The mandrakes (love apples) she acquired from Leah had nothing to do with this pregnancy (Genesis 30:5); God hears Rachel’s prayer and gives her a son (Genesis 30:23-24).

She names him Joseph, which means either “to take away” or “to add” (POSB commentary). “God has removed my disgrace …” (Genesis 30:23 NLT). Rachel declares that God has taken away her reproach and added richly to her life. He has turned cursing to blessing. Some read this as referring to the disgrace of not being able to bear children, but no such disgrace exists except in the eyes of her culture. Rachel had much more in her life that was barren. This is a confession of a desolate existence lived without asking for God’s help, not only an account of her neighbours attitudes to her not being able to have children.

What do you do when your life is a trainwreck of regrets; jealousy and abuse and unfulfilled hope.

  • She agreed to marry an old man already married to her older sister.
  • She lived in a bitter jealous power play with her sister
  • She forced her maid servant to be a surrogate mother with Jacob so she could look good in the eyes of others
  • She trusted in superstitious love potions in order to bear children herself 

These choices only served to increase the barrenness between her and God. Our frantic search for happiness without God attracts the dry, famine producing winds that blow ever stronger with the power of regret. But now, as she submits to and is humbled before God, in the midst of her dysfunctional life, God answers her prayer and gives her a child. 

Joseph, her firstborn son, will remind her of the new life that issues like a newbirth as she trusts in God as her Saviour. Joseph will save his family from a terrible famine through the POWER OF FORGIVENESS. He will foreshadow a coming Saviour who will do the same for us. 

I may have to live with the consequences of my choices but I am reminded that there is no twisted dysfunction in my past that is too great for God to forgive, no damaged goods that cannot be redeemed and restored, no distorted perspectives that cannot be cleansed and re-viewed from heaven’s eyes, no regrets that can restrict my present or rule my future. 

Like Rachel “God has removed my disgrace” when Christ bore my sin upon the Cross. I can choose to live a life of grace and beauty as I trust in Him, today. 

Pastor Ross

Part 4 – Genesis 20:1-18 – BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT! 

It’s not my fault! I didn’t do it!

Part 4 – Genesis 20:1-18 – BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT! 

“IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT!” I remember my protests fell on deaf ears and I was made to go to my room without dinner until I confessed. My mother insisted that it was me, probably because of the lie my sister told her. I don’t even remember the crime I was accused of but I do remember vividly the confusing and frustrating feeling of being innocent and yet paying the consequences for someone else’s sin. There were plenty of things I did do wrong, but that day I was INNOCENT!

I guess the king in Genesis 20 knew what it was like to bear the penalty because of someone else’s sin, only the consequences for him were a little more serious than being sent to your room. 

If this was a movie the REAL STAR in this SOAP OPERA SCENARIO in Genesis 20 is NOT THE BEAUTIFUL 90 YEAR OLD BEAUTY QUEEN – SARAH. It’s not the BIG BUSINESS TYCOON with a LYING PROBLEM – ABRAHAM (He lies about Sarah, telling everyone she is his sister not his wife). The real hero is the UNDER-DOG who gets caught up in a LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE by mistake – ABIMELECH. Abimelech, probably thinking that he can form an alliance with Abraham who is a wealthy man, decides to take Sarah into his harem. Abimelech may be the CO-STAR in this movie but he deserves the Oscar. 

When God speaks to him in a dream and says that he is a dead man for taking Sarah into his harem, He says “Lord, I’m INNOCENT!” He wakes up in a cold sweat and immediately gives Sarah back. ABIMELECH is the man with MORE INTEGRITY AND CHARACTER than Abraham! HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THE BELIEVER THAN ABRAHAM THE LIAR!  

But there is no escaping. Not only does he have the death sentence hanging over him, but the only one who remains pregnant in this story is Sarah. Every other women in the camp becomes infertile as God takes His hand of grace off them and sin begins to threaten future generations big time. 

Now let’s get this straight – Abimelech DIDN’T SLEEP WITH SARAH, so what’s the big deal? Why do these women remain INFERTILE when Abimelech made an HONEST MISTAKE? IT ALL SEEMS UNFAIR! What is going on here? Why are the consequences are NOT REMOVED immediately when Sarah is returned? THEY HAVE NO FUTURE OR HOPE.  

That’s the power of sin. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Despite the fact that I declare my innocence, without Christ in my life, the sentence sticks. 

In this case, ABRAHAM IS THE CULPRIT! The perpetrator of this mess? And it all starts off with A MINOR SIN which escalates to something which threatens future generations. 

Abraham finds himself on the end of ABIMELECH’S REBUKE and rightly so. Unlike my sister, Abraham makes a series of CONFESSIONS which must have been humiliating for him but which are so honest and heartfelt, they change the course of the whole closing scene.

God obviously forgives Abraham, because He uses Abraham to pray for Abimelech’s tribe to be HEALED. Abraham caused all the trouble so God uses him to REPAIR THE DAMAGE. Kind of POETIC JUSTICE. Even so Abimelech pays a high price for his inadvertent sin. 

Like Abimelech, Jesus knew what it was like to bear the full penalty for someone else’s sin, only he paid the price completely by dying for us. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says “He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

Like Abraham, I am praying for your complete healing on the inside. I am praying that you would be restored and made right with God, though Christ. God bless you Church as you place your trust in Christ alone for your salvation. 

Pastor Ross