1 Kings 8-10, Psalm 96
Our walk in faith is like so many other areas of our life. I regularly go to a gym most mornings. Every January 2nd, all of the new members start after their New Years resolution to attend the gym. Unfortunately, most last 1-2 weeks and you never see them again. How many diets have we all started strongly, only to have blown it over a weekend, then in disgust abandon the diet and return to our normal bad style of eating. How many turn to God in a valley moment in their lives, when their world is crumbling. But soon after, they forget those moments with God and revert to their sinful lifestyles. The reality is our lives are a journey marked by times of forward progression and backward movement. Satan loves to whisper in our ears at those moments of backsliding that because we sin that our faith is not real, but that is a lie. One of the many beautiful things about our Father, God, is that He knows us better than we do, and knows our propensity to sin. Though we know from Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?", we also receive comfort in knowing Lamentations 3:22-23, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."
Notice Solomon's words in his prayer of dedication in 1 Kings 8. We read in 8:31,33-35, "When anyone sins against his neighbor...When your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers...When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You." Notice each time Solomon uses the word "when", not "if". He knows and God knows that for each of us it is not if we sin, but when we sin. Notice the honesty expressed in 8:46, "When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin)..." The truth is then as now, it is no different, we are all prone to sin, but we have a Father who is always ready to forgive those who come to Him with a contrite heart in a spirit of forgiveness. Each one of us has a tendency to sin, but each is tempted in different areas, as we read in 8:38-39, "...when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act...". It is important for each of us to know "the plague of his own heart." We should all understand our personal tendencies toward certain kinds of sin so that we can stay clear of tempting situations that could entice us to stumble. When we do, and we will all stumble, rather than dwell on our own sinfulness, we should repent, return to Him, and honor Him.
This sin problem was just as true for the Old Testament believer as it is for the New Testament believer in Christ. We read these words in 1 John 1:8-10, "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 that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." The one thing that all of us under the banner of Christ share with those outside of Him, is that we are all sinners. None of us have the ability to stand on our own goodness, no one. The difference between us and them, is that those of us who belong to Christ are forgiven whenever we repent. We can choose to condemn ourselves and wallow in our fallen state, or we can repent and bring them to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, where we read the words of Paul in Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." If any consider themselves outside the forgiveness of Christ, then the invitation is always there to join us, the forgiven. The gospel message is real, present and available to anyone 24/7. All anyone needs to do, is repent of their sins (not just confess, but change our minds about them), accept Jesus' finished work on the cross as payment, and make Him the Lord, or the most important One, in your lives. It is that simple but represents the beginning of a new life, not a one time emotional moment, but a real relationship, better than any you will ever experience outside of Him.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: