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sin

17: A Colorful Covenant

 

They’re BACK! After more than a year since the earth was covered with water, the BNN crew reports on the end of the flood, as the ark lands on dry land. But has Brad Bartelloni survived?

Life with Lively: Confessions of a ROCK

 

I have something in common with Tad Schultz… I can’t swim. I wish I could swim; I’ve had lessons, but the moment the water hits me in the face, I panic. It sucks. I love splashing around in the pool during the hot 100 degree summer days, but there is something about the water in my face that just ends all the fun.

A couple of years ago, my wife (Lela) and the kids talked me into taking them to a local lake for the day. I dreaded the entire drive down there. We got to the swimming area, the wife and kids went straight to the water, and I sat on a towel and watched. It looked like fun. They were enjoying themselves and I was stuck in the hot sand.
“It wouldn’t hurt to just get my feet wet would it?” So I sat down at the water’s edge. It felt good, so I waded out a little further. Now I’m waist deep and throwing the football with the boys. The girls are lounging in their float rafts, Lela is swimming around, and we are having a good time. I waded out a little farther. Now I was pushing it. Courtney had called me over and I walked over to her. She was laying on a float raft, and I was standing beside her talking, the water level was striking me right at my neck.
Then it happened. The ground I was standing on disappeared from underneath me. I slipped in a hole and now, this 6 foot tall oaf, was standing in 7 foot deep water. I jumped up breaking the water’s surface and gasped for air. I realized Courtney’s raft was close enough for me to grab, but if I grabbed it chances are I’d tip her over and bring her under with me, making the situation worse. I hit the bottom and jumped up again. This time when I broke the surface, I saw Lela, about 30 yards away. “LELA!” I called, gasped for a breath and went back under, this time waving with my arms to get her attention.
My next trip to the surface I saw her swimming towards me. The final time I went under she grabbed my arm and drug me back to shallow water. Then she escorted me to the beach, sat me down, beat on my back to help me cough up the gallons of water I had swallowed; then she looked me in the eye and told me, “Don’t go back in the water.”

I spent the rest of the day reading a book.

Sin is a lot like that story. We all know we shouldn’t sin. But we sit on the proverbial beach and see people who live in sin every day, and seem to enjoy it. We know what they are doing is something we should not be a part of but it just looks like so much fun! Maybe if we just get our feet wet, that won’t hurt anything would it? So we dip our toe and realize it doesn’t feel so bad. So we wade in deeper. Soon we are up to our neck in it, just splashing away having a good time, and then it happens. Suddenly we are in over our head and can’t get out.
Our first reaction is to grab hold of the nearest thing that looks like it can save us. But quick fixes more or less make a bad situation worse. What we need is someone to come pull us from the sin, drag us to shore, and tell us: “Don’t go back in.”

Here’s the best part. Jesus is such a savior. His life, death and resurrection was all for the sole purpose of pulling YOU out of the water and saving YOU from sin.
This week’s devotional is being specifically written for someone. I don’t know your name, or your circumstances, but I know you are out there. You are in over your head in sin, you know it’s not where you should be in your life, but you can’t find a way out. I’ve been there, both physically as you have read above, and spiritually. But there is a Savior waiting to pull you to safety.

Accepting Jesus as your savior is simple. At my church we teach that salvation is as simple as ABC.

A is for Admit that you are a sinner and repent from those sins. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The first step toward treating any kind of problem is to admit that you actually have a problem. You cannot accept that God is offering you salvation, until you realize you have a need for salvation.

B is for Believe. Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.” John 3:16 says “Whosoever believes in me shall not perish but have everlasting life!” Salvation is that simple. Believe that Jesus died for you.

C is for Confess. This one confuses some people. It’s not about confessing your sins. You have already done that by admitting your sins. Confess in this context is simply this: “HEY WORLD! JESUS CHRIST IS MY LORD AND SAVIOR!” Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.

When we got home from our lake outing my dad called to see if we had a good time. The first thing I told him was how Lela has saved me from drowning. I was so grateful for what she had done I wanted to share it with everyone. This is the context we are using confession here. We should be so happy and grateful for Jesus salvation we should be ready to proclaim it to everyone we encounter.

Now, I’m sure that most of the people who watch the videos and read these devotionals have already accepted Jesus as their savior. This week God has laid salvation on my heart, and after 15 devotionals, I realized I’ve yet to cover the first and most important base. So those who are already Christians, just enjoy the story and tune in next week, this week may not be for you.

I just can’t help shaking a nagging feeling that somewhere out in the world-wide-web, someone is reading this who feels like they are in over their head. If you are that person, this message is for you: Jesus is waiting for you. He is there with open arms ready to pull you out of the water and radically change your life. Know that there are people praying for you, and there are churches full of people who have been exactly where you are right now, and would love to share their story with you, and help you grow closer to the Lord.

…And no Ray, I can’t even dog paddle, not even a little bit.

15: Quirky Local Builds Ark

Tad Schultz interviews a local man, who’s built a giant structure. EweTube speaks out on how God might destroy the Earth.

The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

(Genesis 7, NIV ©2011)

Life with Lively: Finding Grace


When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth: man, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them” (Genesis 6:5-8)


That’s a pretty heavy passage to read right after you watch or read the news. It seems not a day goes by without hearing a story about abuse, neglect, or perversion. Just today, I read a story about a school secretary who was caught making adult movies in her free time; how a local man was found guilty for beating his roommate to death, and of course all the latest news from the Libyan front. One could easily say that those verses in Genesis could easily apply today. There are days that it just seems hopeless.

But read on.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8)

Noah, one single man, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah, one single man, was enough for God to rethink his plan to destroy man. What was it about Noah that was so amazing?

These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)

Noah was righteous, he was a believer. He grew up with a great-grandfather whose faith and relationship with God was legendary. But not only was he familiar with God, he grew that into a deep relationship with God.

Noah was blameless among his contemporaries. Notice the bible doesn’t say Noah was sinless. But he was blameless. That means that among his peers, they could not find fault with him. He lived a relatively clean cut life.

Most importantly, Noah walked with God. This is the keystone of Noah’s life. Onethe one side, you have Noah’s legacy. He was raised in a family that believed in God. He took that knowledge and grew a relationship with God. And through that relationship, he lived a blameless life. Thereby, finding grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Salvation is really that simple. And through Jesus, it is available to us all. But the trick is it’s not a multiple choice test. You cannot achieve salvation through righteousness and living blameless. You cannot claim to walk with God, but live a wicked life. The three things go hand in hand. Finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, takes a full effort. Living righteous/blameless and walking with God go hand in hand.

I will admit it is difficult to do. Daily there are temptations to lead us into wickedness, but through having a relationship with God, we can overcome the wickedness.
And once we find favor with God, amazing things happen.

By faith Noah, after being warned about what was not yet seen, in reverence built an ark to deliver his family. By this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

Because of his relationship with God, Noah had the faith to do what God commanded, even when it seemed strange and unfathomable.

God isn’t going to come to us and tell us to build an ark, but he does come and ask us to follow him. Maybe it is to reach out to your neighbor, or someone who is suffering. Maybe it is to pack up your bags and move to a new place to serve where God needs you.

Faith is a powerful thing; when God knows that he can count on you, he can lead you to amazing things.

And it all starts by living righteous, blameless and walking with God.

I’ve got some work to do….

Life with Lively: Confession is Good for the Soul

Growing up, I always dreaded the first weekend of August, the weekend that my mom would drag us to the family reunion. We would show up to some tiny, community center where about 100 relatives had gathered and spend the first 30 minutes hearing, “Why Brocke! You’ve grown a foot since I last saw you. You remember me don’t you?” I would lie and say I did, hit the pot luck buffet and find the one or two cousins that I did know and we would sit and eat and talk about important things.
I have decided that there are people in this world who show up at family reunions just to get hugs. We always had some mysterious “aunt” who would run around hugging everyone, while talking about how much they had grown, then run to the next victim. I’d ask someone, “Who is that lady?” and I’d get the same response, “Um…that’s…Carol…I think.” Ok, so how is she related to us? “Um…she’s….well….you know it’s complicated.” It’s funny how the word “complicated” is used to describe a lot of family relationships.
This past week, one of those complicated relationships came to light in my life. My grandfather passed away at the age of 85. The last time I saw him was at my mom’s funeral 4 years ago. Due to some events I won’t bore you with here, it’s been about 14 years since we have had a decent grandfather/grandson conversation. I guess the best way to describe what happened is this: an immovable object was struck by an unstoppable force. In a nutshell, we were both stubborn and really held our ground on certain battles.
The argument we had is not important. What is important is following Christ’s example. In my last devotional I talked about Hosea, and how God instructed him to marry a prostitute. I mentioned that this is a hard book to study because it’s hard to accept the fact that in this story we are the prostitute. But there is a greater point to the story. God still loves us…in spite of ourselves. Hosea 14:4 says: I will heal their apostasy; I will freely love them, for My anger will have turned from him. We have a gracious and loving God who promises to love us no matter what.
But there is a catch.
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. –Romans 10:9-13
God’s love and forgiveness only comes when you confess your sin. Here is where Cain failed. You see, God knew that Cain had killed Abel, and he knew where Abel had been buried. God wanted Cain to confess his sin in order to receive forgiveness. But Cain wouldn’t budge. God’s anger was validated when Cain reacted with anger to God. “I’m not my brother’s baby sitter!!”
We worship a faithful and loving God. He has sent his Son to atone for our sins. He has promised us eternal life. He has promised us everything. But if we are unwilling to humble ourselves and confess our sins, God’s forgiveness is not available.
So it all comes down to humility, admitting that we were wrong. In Cain’s case, he should have admitted that he had acted in anger, and asked God for forgiveness.
In my own personal case, after 14 years, I’ve come to the place where I am ready to admit that I was wrong. I still say that my principles that I stood for that day were right. I will never denounce my belief in Jesus Christ. But the way I acted towards him was wrong. The way I steered clear of him afterwards, was wrong. As a Christian example I failed. Jesus did not spend his days avoiding those who disagreed with Him; a lesson that I really need to learn.

12: My Brother’s KILLER – Part 1

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Life with Lively: I Got A New Puppy

I got a new puppy!  Some friends of mine posted on Facebook that they had some puppies to give away.  I called them up and when I found out their heritage, I really wanted one.  The father of the litter is known around here as a super cattle working dog, and getting the chance to have one of his offspring was too good to pass up.

We brought him home Sunday night, and introduced him to my two other dogs.  Skeeter is an old Basset Hound that is enjoying the twilight of her life.  She took one look at him, growled and turned her back and went on her way.  My black lab, Bob, didn’t know what to think.  We’ve had Bob for 5 years; I got him about a month after Lela and I got married.  He knows he is my buddy and we’ve always had a one on one relationship.  But now there is this new puppy.  Bob still gets attention, but now he has to share it with Alf (the puppy).

Monday, I began the new puppy training routine, and Bob had to interject himself and prove that he could still do all the same tricks.  I would acknowledge him and try to go back to training Alf, but again, Bob would horn in.  Finally, I had to take Alf into the house to continue his training.  The entire time, Bob sat at the back door, looking in and whimpering.  He felt like I had chosen a favorite.

It is so easy to claim favoritism when we don’t understand the master plan.  Bob doesn’t understand why Alf is getting more attention, but as their master, I am trying to train them both to do as I ask.  Bob knows what I expect, and is a very good and obedient dog.  Alf is still a puppy; his maturity requires more attention, and more discipline.

The same thing is found in the story of Cain and Abel.  Cain was furious because God was not impressed with his offering.  It wasn’t just because God preferred livestock to grains.  It was because Cain’s offering wasn’t as sincere as Abel’s.

In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel also presented [an offering]—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast –Gen 4: 3-5

Notice that the Bible notes that Abel’s offering consisted of the firstborn of his flock, and their fat portions.  Abel gave God the very best.  Cain’s offering was just a portion of the land’s produce.  He didn’t save his first and best crops for God.

God expects the very best from all of us.  This was a lesson that Cain still had to learn.  However, instead of going to God and asking what he had done wrong, he got angry and took matters into his own hands.

So many times we make mistakes, and instead of trying to learn from them and correct them, we just make a situation worse. Many times, it’s what we do after we’ve sinned that matters most.