"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 27, 2011
A couple Sunday's ago, Pastor Phil made a comment that has stuck with me: "God doesn't excuse sin, but He does forgive sin."
When I was in high school, when we missed a day of school we had to bring a written note from a parent stating why we were absent, and give it to the principal; who in turn, wrote us a pass to show our teachers. I attended a small school, with only 34 in my graduating class. The principal knew my older sisters, so knew my family history. After Mama passed away, my sophomore year, he told me that when I was absent that I no longer had to bring a written note. He knew that my dad was working and busy, so to just come in and tell him and he would write me out a pass. So that's what I did from then until I graduated. Back then, we weren't limited to how many days we missed, and it really wasn't a big deal as long as we kept our grades up and made up our work. And I admit that I liked to miss school! Daddy really didn't care how much school I missed. I probably missed at least one day every couple weeks. I was rarely sick, so the reason I generally used was, "Needed at home." Mr. Bowlin never questioned me about how many days I was out or why. I was an A-B student and on the honor roll, was quiet and didn't cause any problems, and made up my work. So I was always excused for my absentees without any problem. I'm sure the principal knew that I wasn't needed at home that often, but out of all the students I was the least of his worries, so he turned a blind eye to my absentees and was fine with it.
I think sometimes we expect God to have that same attitude toward us when we sin. As long as make an attempt to behave ourselves then He will overlook our transgressions. If we don't commit any really big sins, then there's no problem and no need to repent or ask for forgiveness. After all, God surely has bigger things to worry about than our piddly little wrongdoings.
There are times that we act as if God will turn a blind eye to our sin. We think that God will understand that we had "no choice" but to sin. After all, we're human and make mistakes. If we're a good person, don't cause any problems, and work hard then God will overlook a few sins here and there.
A while back I was working in the yard and apparently got a splinter in my thumb. I didn't realize when it happened, because I was putting bags of leaves and limbs in the dumpster and some of the bags had sticks that were protruding through the bag. I was getting poked and scratched as I went from the back of the house around to the front carrying the bags, then lifting them up to toss them into the trash cart. I was also breaking up some fallen limbs so they would fit inside the dumpster. Later that evening my thumb started getting really sore. All I could see was one tiny black dot. I poked around at it, then had Jon look at it and try to get it out. But it was embedded so deep that we couldn't get it out, and apparently had gone in straight instead of at an angle. I tried putting peroxide on it, then alcohol. I felt so silly that something so minuscule that was barely visible to the eye could cause my thumb to be so painful. You almost had to get a magnifying glass to see the splinter. Yet it was causing my thumb to be red and sore. I'm sure Jon and I poking around at it wasn't helping matters any; in fact, it was probably making it worse. The next day I could feel a slightly raised bump where the splinter was. There was a tiny bit of white around it, and it looked as if it was becoming infected. I kept messing with it until I got it out. I truly felt like a wimp when it came out. It was so teensy that I could barely see it. But shortly after getting it out, my thumb stopped hurting and the skin where I had got it out began healing. It didn't matter how tiny it was; it was a foreign matter embedded under my skin that wasn't supposed to be there and my body reacted to it. I couldn't begin healing until it was removed.
Sin can be like that in our life. It may seem like something so tiny and insignificant, that surely God wouldn't want to be bothered by it. But if we don't repent and ask God to forgive, then it will begin to fester. What seems as if it's no big deal will become painful and hurtful in our lives. Until we get rid of it, we'll keep picking at it and what may have started out as something tiny will begin to grow into something bigger.
One definition for fester is: (of a negative feeling or a problem) become worse or more intense, especially through long-term neglect or indifference: (example) anger which festers and grows in his heart.
If we neglect to rid ourselves of a sin, then it's going to have an affect on us because it's something foreign in our life that doesn't belong there. Over time, it will begin to fester and grow into something much larger than it started out, whereas, if we had only asked God to forgive us in the very beginning then we would have moved on and that tiny sin would have been forgiven and we would be free from the guilt.
Matthew 7:3-5 says, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck from your eye"; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
It's so much easier to judge the sin that is in someone else, than it is to deal with the sin that is in our own life. Jesus is the One speaking when He says that first we need to deal with our own sin before we try to help someone else.
If a tree branch fell and a large piece of wood hit my eye and a piece of bark got lodged into my eye, and Jon only got a small speck of dust in his eye; how foolish would it be if I tried to tend to his eye and get that small speck of dust out when my own eye was bleeding and filled with bark? Would it not be much wiser and simpler if I first tended to my own eye? Yet we do that same thing with others. We look at their wrongdoings and judge their sin, when we have something much bigger in our own life. Jesus tells us that we need to first remove the sin from our own life.
Jon and I had set a goal of having our remodeling finished before Easter. We were both sure that we could have it done with no problem, so had invited family over to our house for Easter dinner. But that last week became very stressful. For about three days it seemed as if everything we tried to do went wrong; everything from the important to the mundane. For example, Jon had bought a new hammer drill in order to drill holes into the concrete to fasten the new toilet down. He drilled one hole, and the hammer drill apparently burned up and stopped working. And yes he did try other outlets before returning it. So we had to take the time to go back to the store and return it and exchange it for another one (different brand!). We were on our way somewhere on Saturday and made a quick stop at Lowe's. They had their Easter lilies marked half price, so I decided one would make a pretty centerpiece for my kitchen table. I pulled one off the shelf to make sure it look good, and about three others came with it and fell right on top of my head. I had on a navy shirt and was covered with the yellow pollen from the center of the flowers. I had yellow all over my shirt, my jeans, and my face, and it wouldn't just wipe off. We had to make a quick stop at the house for me to change clothes before going on. I was pulling off painters tape from the top of the baseboard tiles after Jon finished grouting, and a strip of the sheetrock paper peeled off bringing the paint with it. So I had to repaint that section of wall. It was just things like that over and over again that made it stressful for both of us. In fact, we had intended to sleep in on Saturday morning but both woke up at 4:30 and couldn't fall back asleep. There were a few times when I spoke out of my stress to Jon and it came out sounding unkind and hateful. I wasn't mad at him, but was just frustrated with the situation. Finally, I broke down and had a good cry and was fine after that. That's my stress reliever! Once we came to a place where we could laugh, then the stress didn't seem quite so heavy and burdensome. It would have been easy to excuse my behavior towards my husband, but in order to assure myself that everything was okay between us, I had to ask for his forgiveness and say, "I'm sorry!"
We can allow sin to continue in our lives and it can become very burdensome. We will lash out at God and take out our frustrations on Him. It may not be that we're angry with Him, but the guilt of our situation is weighing heavily on us. Instead of repenting and allowing God to forgive us, we make excuses for our sin and allow it to remain in our hearts. Why are we so stubborn when it comes to repenting? Is it because our pride gets in the way and we don't want to admit that we did something we shouldn't have? We spend more time trying to justify why what we did was okay, than it would take for us to just say, "Jesus, I'm sorry! Please forgive me."
If a parent excuses their child's bad behavior over and over again, when will they ever learn that there are consequences for their actions? There comes a time where there has to be discipline. The child has to learn to apologize and say, "I'm sorry," when they disobey. It's something that has to be taught. Many times the parent will have to prompt their child, "Tell so and so that you're sorry." And sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get them to say those words. Some people never outgrow that. As mature adults they have a really hard time apologizing and saying, "I'm sorry," to others.
Even more important than saying it to friends and family, it's more important that we learn to say those words to God. When we mess up and sin, instead of trying to excuse it, we need to humble ourselves and ask God to forgive us. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God will excuse our sin. He never says, "Oh that's okay! You don't need to apologize or repent!" But over and over again it does say that God will forgive us of our sins.
1 John 1:9 says it best. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
My first car was a '76 Camaro. I ran that poor car into the ground. It was good for a 16-year-old; I learned a lot about car maintenance and care, even if I wasn't very good at it. For the last year, I didn't dare to clean it. Several sections of the body were rusting through, but the dirt had clumped together enough to hold it in place. I was afraid if I did wash it, the rust would all chip off and there wasn't much left to hold the quarter-panels on.
God is faithful to cleanse us from unrighteous. But it can also be scary if we're afraid there isn't much left. If I'd taken more time to keep the car in repair; if I'd scraped it clean and re-painted it; if I'd kept it clean in the first place, I wouldn't have had any fear. And when it did get bad, I really needed to clean it, scrape the rust off, patch the holes, and re-paint everything. It certainly would have been worth it.
But the verse says that He will cleanse us. We don't have to do all the work alone. We participate, but it's not all up to us.
Hawaiian Grilled Pork Chops
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple slices
6 boneless pork chops (Jon and I only used 4 when we grilled -- leftovers are good!)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)
Drain pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Set pineapple aside. Combine reserved pineapple juice, soy sauce, oil, garlic, brown sugar and onion, mixing well. Place pork chops in a gallon-size ziplock bag; pour marinade in with the chops and gently shake to make sure they were well covered. (If you don't have a ziplock bag, place the chops in a large shallow dish, pour marinade over the top and cover with saran wrap.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours; but can leave them in the marinade overnight or all day. Remove chops, reserving marinade. Grill over medium coals 40-45 minutes (may not take as long, depending on size of chops), turning frequently and basting with marinade. The last few minutes of cooking, place pineapple slices on grill. Leave 2-3 minutes (long enough to get grill marks), then flip over. Place pineapple ring on top of pork chop to serve. (You can make a basting sauce for the pineapple to brush on before grilling: 3 Tbsp. Melted butter, 1 Tbsp. Honey or brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. Lemon or lime juice.) Jon and I used fresh pineapple to grill and serve with the pork chops and it was quite delicious!
Sometimes commercials can make things look fun and exciting, but the reality of it is not all it's cracked up to be. Jon and I have seen the recent commercials for the colored bubbles and both thought they looked like a lot of fun and were very cool. So for Easter, I bought a bottle each for my nephews, Devin and Jax. It rained all day on Easter, so there wasn't a whole lot that Devin could do for fun. Jax had fallen asleep in the car on the way to our house and napped for quite a while. I gave Devin his Easter basket with the bubbles in it, and my sister told him he could go outside on the back porch and play with them if he wanted. The bubbles were orange, and his shirt was solid white; at least to begin with. He accidentally spilt the bottle of bubbles and ended up with the front of his shirt and his light khaki pants covered in orange. The bottle had said "washable" on it, and thankfully it was correct. Both the shirt and pants came out of the laundry clean and spotless. I'm thinking that was probably not the best invention that Crayola came out with! And I'm thinking that is the last of the colored bubbles that I will be buying for the kids. Hmm.... maybe I should buy some for me and Jon!! Then again, I tend to be messy at times, so that's probably not a good idea either.
We are people of faith; not people of fear. - Vestal Goodman
We love you!
Loretta & Jon