Thursday, February 22, 2024

           We all make mistakes.  We are all sinners.  No one, with the exception of Jesus, has lived a perfect life on this earth.  Paul chose the nickname “chief of all sinners” for himself (1 Timothy 1:15).  I am sure there are times when we could all raise our hands and say we think the same thing about ourselves.  I know I could.  The nickname seems fitting so many times, doesn’t it?  If we have turned to the Lord in repentance and faith, we have turned away from sin and the pursuit of sin.  Hopefully, we have turned away from even the desires and draws of sin.  We find a warning in Leviticus against the pursuit of sin.  This warning teaches us not to remain in sin or repeat sins.  Though this warning was originally intended for ancient Israel, it speaks to us today.  We read, “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. But I said to you, You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations” (Leviticus 20:22-24).  Warnings in Scripture are worth remembering and considering.  A word from the Lord commands our attention and obedience.  We do not dismiss His word in a careless fashion.  There are some good practical lessons that we can take away from these verses in Leviticus.
            First, God expects His people to obey Him and to walk with Him.  We are told, by God, to “keep all my decrees.”  Not just the ones we like or think we can support and obey.  No, obedience is not a multiple choice test or a pick-and-choose as you will.  Obedience is all or nothing.  God’s ways are not burdensome—they are life-giving.  God’s ways are better than our ways.  His ways are for our good.  God knows what happens when we pursue sin or become fascinated with the ways of the world.  There is no good outcome to experience.  God calls us to a life of obedience and devotion because that is the right pathway to follow. 
            Second, our standard for living is always God and His ways.  Israel, more than once, lived like the surrounding nations and craved the things that those nations had (like a king).  Changing cultural customs and impulses are never reasons to walk back from what the Lord has said and declared to be right, good and true.  We should never long to live like culture lives if culture is living sinfully and selfishly.  Living according to customs many times is living in conflict with Christ.  Choose Christ above customs and culture—all the time and every time.  Christ calls us to come, follow Him and leave behind all that entangles or ensnares us. 
            Third, Israel should have learned from the past sins and the consequences of those sins committed by the nations who possessed the land that God was planning to give to His chosen people.  These previous nations (read all about them in Joshua for example) lost their land because of their wickedness and waywardness.  Their idolatry and immorality were judged and judged severely by the Lord.  So much so, that God ordained their downfall and gave their land to Israel.  God stripped them of the very land that they had occupied for years.  The lesson for us is this—there is never a new way, an untried way or a safe way to engage and indulge in old sins.  We can rename, repackage, rebrand and redescribe sins any way we like but no amount of change will ever move the needle away from sin and to something good and acceptable before the Lord.  One lesson we have to learn and remember is sin is always wrong and to choose our ways above His ways is always wrong.  We can easily learn from the times where others (and we too) have thought they could toss God’s ways aside and live as they please with no consequence or fallout taking place.
            Fourth, our obedience to God is a form of gratitude and thankfulness for what He has given.  We cannot work for God’s forgiveness or salvation.  That comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  But we do work and perform good and righteous deeds as a response to our salvation.  We do not perform good works to be saved.  But because we are saved, we gladly perform good works.  And we live obediently as God has taught and made known to us in His Word.  If we are grateful for God’s blessings, gifts, provision, forgiveness and freedom from sin’s bondage and penalty, then we can express that gratitude by living obediently and devotedly.  Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”  When we build our lives on God’s Word and His promises, we are walking in light.  We know where to go and how to move forward in faith and victory. 
            Join us this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45am and worship at 10:55am.  We look forward to taking action on two exciting proposals...the purchase of a new bus for our church family and giving an additional $8500 to missions and the sharing of the good news of Jesus in word and deed.  Have a great Thursday!  Make FBCK part of your life this weekend!  

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