Oh no, not again!?! Red ants all over the kitchen counter again this morning. Yes,I know—I’d left a pan soaking in the sink. And yesterday Ron waged another battle with the bukbok (wood borers) that infest the kitchen cupboard as well as the piano and a few other things. We inject more kerosene into the bukbok holes, scribble poison chalk on the ant trails, fill gaps with sealant and glue and occasionally (if all else fails) a quick squirt of insecticide which I react to. But before long they’re back again—doing more damage, making a nuisance of themselves.
I have joked that they’re like the Enemy of our souls, never giving up, always plaguing us, finding new ways to get at us, destroying and damaging. But it’s not really a joke. Even if I may think I have them licked, my pride, worry, laziness and critical spirit keep popping out in new ways. Oh, woe is me! When will ever be done battling these?
Someday I may live in a different place without red ants and bukbok, but there may be other pests and problems to plague me. I do know Jesus promised that in heaven there will be no destructive moths, rust or thieves! And there I will no longer battle the sinful nature in me that distrusts, disobeys and distresses.
I praise You, Father, that Your power is greater. Please seal those holes with Your presence, Your grace, Your greatness and holiness. Keep me vigilant; don’t let my guard slip and give the Enemy a foothold.
It’s a new year, and I’m starting to read through a new Bible. (This one is the “God’s Word” translation. I enjoy reading different versions because it lends freshness. It will be given to one of my grandchildren later with all my notes and markings.)
Each time I re-read this precious Book, I ask the Author to teach me something I hadn’t seen before, or that I had forgotten. And He does! Here’s what I saw this morning in the first chapters of Genesis:
Did you realize that of the very first three people who lived on the earth, each of them were given special instructions by God about something they should not do, each chose to do it anyway, each was visited by God for reprimand and punishment (banishment)—but was not killed.
I think this chart helps me see it better:
What an amazing God we have—full of love, wisdom, justice and mercy!
Speaking of sordid stories—the current headlines have nothing on the final chapters of the book of Judges which I read recently with growing loathing. The “disclaimer” says, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (17:6 & 21:25) Since they had already turned away from God in favor of pagan gods, these are the sorts of things that seemed “right” to them:
Abimelech killed 69 of his half-brothers and convinced the people of Shechem to make him their king solely on the grounds that he was their relative. The whistle-blower went unheeded. After three years, the citizens finally caught on that they’d made a poor choice. Abimelech cared only for himself and for power, not for them. But when they resisted, Abimelech slaughtered them all and demolished their city. (He met his end when a woman dropped a big stone on his head.) (Judges chapter 9)
Micah stole 1100 pieces of silver from his mom. When she found out, she blessed him (!) and dedicated that silver to be made into an idol for him to worship! He made other religious trapping to go with it and even hired his own priest to serve his manmade religion—concluding that the Lord would bless him for it. (Chapter 17)
An unnamed man went to retrieve his runaway concubine. On the way back home, they overnighted in the territory of Benjamin. That night they were thronged by a gang of perverts who gang-raped the woman and left her dead. The man rounded up an army from all over Israel to take revenge on the Benjaminites, who refused to hand over the culprits. After three bloody battles, 40,000 of the Israelites were dead and 25,100 of the Benjaminites—all but 600 of them. Then, feeling sorry for their “cousins” whom they had almost wiped out, the Israelites sat down and wept and then took more drastic measures to procure wives for them. (Chapters 19-21)
That’s enough! Enough to make one sick! These are the kinds of things that happen when people do what they think is right. Are we any different today? Should we be surprised at how low society stoops when they have turned their backs on God?
One more story, though. After all the sordid stories of Judges, I turned the page and breathed a sigh of relief! There is Ruth, a bright spot of faithfulness and hope in the midst of all that darkness. God was still at work, preparing the way for the Savior who would be Ruth’s descendant. Interestingly, it was a foreigner (she was a Moabite) who showed this unfaithful nation the faithfulness of God.
What is sinful about sweet tomatoes? Now, the fruit that Adam and Eve ate may be called “sinfully sweet” because God had forbidden it. But tomatoes? Did God say not to eat sweet tomatoes? (My husband might say so in jest, since raw tomatoes are definitely not one of his favorite foods.)
We did a quick search of current usage of “sinful” on the Internet, yielding these results, among others:
Sinful Colors—a line of fingernail polish.
A certain kind of wine: “Delicious! So good it must be sinful.”
A recipe: “Wow, I don’t know if banana bread can get any better than this! Every bite was the ideal combination of sweet and salty! Sinful…fantastically sinful…”
What makes something sinful? Is the advertiser trying to imply —
–that sin is fun?
–that God doesn’t want us to do enjoyable things?
Either of these messages is blasphemous to the character of God who loves us, knows what is best for us, and gives us all good things to enjoy. It also perpetuates Satan’s lie in the garden that sin is fun, tasty, and cool. (After all, you’ll be like God!)
So if God provides you with sweet tomatoes, rich chocolate desserts or yummy banana bread—eat moderately and enjoy . It’s not a sin! On the other hand, if something is truly sinful (offensive to God), it’s better to make tracks in the other direction! Let’s not make the mistake of associating sin with enjoyment.
Did you ever play “password”? Each word on the list is obscured by red marks so you can’t read it. That is, until you insert the list into the blue plastic sheath. Then the red screen neutralizes the marks and reveals the true shape of the original words.
Take this as a picture of a human being marred by sin. But when that one is “in Christ” and covered by His blood, all that God sees is what He originally intended that person to be. No more ugly defacing sin—only Christ’s righteousness!