Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer may seem obvious. Consider the facts.

Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer seems obvious – No!

But hear me out.

I have a story that can help us answer that question — a question we each need to ponder.

Just to warn you a little, this is not a chicken nugget post. It’s more like filet. By that, I mean this question is meaty.

Worst Decision Ever

Many years ago I made the worst decision of my life.

I sat on a vinyl-covered barstool and walked away from God.

We’d come to an impasse.

The life I wanted didn’t match the life He seemed to want for me. So I told Him the time had come for us to part ways . . . at least for now.

I hadn’t stopped loving God. But He wanted me to surrender to Him, and I wanted Him to surrender to me.

Since we both refused to give in, I made the worst decision of my life.

Two years and painful scars later, I found my way back to God.

With relief and joy, I fell into His welcoming arms and surrendered to His will.

At least I thought I’d surrendered.

Here We Go Again

While my renewed relationship with God exhilarated me, my repeated failure to walk free from sin frustrated me.

Want what God wants. Want what I want.

Gain victory. Fall on my face.

Stand against sin. Run after sin.

Before long, I was digging my heels in with God. Again.

“You always get Your way,” I cried. “Please, this time, just do what I’m asking!”

The Pangs of Death

Ever patient, God spoke through His Word into my aching heart and clouded mind.

“Your way leads to destruction. Your path is paved with lies. Believe Me when I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

I’d been feeling the pangs of death, sure enough, but not the kind God meant.

I was killing my fellowship with God. I was fighting a battle I knew I’d ultimately regret but couldn’t seem to stop fighting.

As they say, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

They are so right sometimes.

Except it was like I had two hearts.

Two Hearts – One Battle

One heart wanted what God wanted as it overflowed with love for Him. The other heart wanted what my sin wanted, as it overflowed with desire for it.

I begged for relief. “Change me, God! Change my heart!”

Silence.

I understood why suicide seems appealing. Relief from pain and struggle in an instant.

God knew I didn’t need relief, though. I needed power. Resurrection power to follow the heart that desired God more than sin.

The funny thing about resurrection, though, is it only comes after death.

Finally, on a warm spring day, I sat on the soft grass in the shade of my Vitex tree and died.

“You win, God,” I said. “I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want You. I don’t care about anything else. Just give me You. I’ll do whatever You want, no matter what it costs me, even if You never bless me again. I don’t care. Just give me You.”

In utter weakness, I died that day. Yet, I rose up and walked into my house stronger and freer than I’d ever been.

God had won the battle, and I gained the victory.

The Verdict

It’s time for a verdict on whether sin can be good.

But first, let’s review the facts of my story.

Facts:

My love for God – as strong as it felt – didn’t draw me back to Him. The pain of my sin did.

My desire to please God didn’t open my eyes to the reality of how good He is or how perfect His law is. My sin did.

It was the devastating “rewards” of my sin that shook me awake to the truth that the path I was walking led only to destruction.

Sin’s agony sent me fleeing to Truth. Running back to God.

Without sin’s wretched grip, I may never have become desperate for relief. I may never have died that day and fully surrendered to God.

Instead, at the very best, I might have lived the rest of my life in exasperation, feeling doomed to a rollercoaster existence of failure, victory, failure, victory.

In view of the facts, I ask again: Can sin ever be good?

Verdict:

No!

No, it can’t.

Sin can never be good. It is unadulterated evil bent on destruction.

But God is good.

God is so good and powerful that He can and does use everything, including our most hideous sin, for His perfect purposes.

He used my wretched sin to draw me to Himself and teach me the truth we all must learn:

Jesus paid the full price (penalty) for our sin on the cross, BUT sin isn’t gone. It lives on inside us, and we are powerless to defeat it – by ourselves. But thanks be to God for His resurrection power over sin through His Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian.

Sin is Never Good. But God Is.

If you’re struggling with sin and feel powerless to defeat it, you need to know that only God can, and He will. Abide in Christ.

Trust Him to be your strength and walk in that trust.

If you’ve already reached an impasse with God and walked away, I pray you’ll return. God is worth more than anything sin or this world has to offer.

Sin’s “rewards” lie perched on a mountain of crumbling lies.

Because sin can never be good.

But God always is.

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Dine, Don’t Snack, on Scripture ~ Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 3


Does this ever happen to you?

Life gets busy. Too busy to do much more than the most urgent, like drink coffee so you can do everything else.

Reading the Bible falls off your plan for the day.

And the next day.

And the next.

Ugh.

You move through the week and lament that you haven’t had time to read your Bible. But you don’t do anything about it.


It used to happen to me a lot.

Then a well-meaning friend encouraged me to simply read a verse or two each day saying, “It’s better than nothing.”

Brilliant.

Instead of sitting down for an extended time of reading a few days a week, I faithfully read a verse or two every day.

It was better than nothing.

Or so I thought.

Over time I noticed my relationship with God growing more and more shallow.

I didn’t know why. I missed the connection.

The Enemy of Best

It seems logical that a verse or two is better than nothing. But sometimes better is the enemy of best.

Imagine a pediatrician saying to the mother of a toddler, “You’re busy. It’s ok if you just feed your child a couple of bites of food a day. It’s better than nothing.”

Technically, the doctor would have a point. Two bites are better than no bites. But it’s not best.

Making time to feed children just enough food so they don’t starve to death is better than not making time to feed them at all. But this better situation is no friend of the child’s best.

Taking time out of a busy schedule to feed children well every day so they can grow strong and healthy is always best.

Surely every pediatrician would agree.

Chapters and Verses Entice Snacking

Because the Bible has been divided into chapters and verses, it’s easy for us to stop reading at the end of a verse.

The man-made divisions hint at a break in thought or action and make it easier to stop reading, but this isn’t the best way to read.

We don’t need to go back and remove the chapters and verses from our Bibles. We just need to resist the temptation to snack on Scripture rather than dine.

Should We Abandon All Snacking?

Snacking has its place – both in food and in verses.

Every day I read, pin, like, and heart memes of Bible verses on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

And some days there really is no time for me to read more than a Bible verse meme. Let’s don’t abandon all spiritual snacking.

And certainly not edible snacks. I count the minutes until my 4:00 pm coffee and snack time. Sometimes I have it at 3:00 pm.

Hot chocolate chip cookies or fresh blueberries with a mug of coffee = Happiness.

But if the only food I ate every day was my 4:00 pm snack, my health would fail no matter how healthy my snacks are.

When scriptural snacks were my only source of spiritual nutrition, my relationship with God grew small. My faith, wimpy.

But once I began reading the Bible in all-you-can-eat buffet portions (and in context), my understanding of God and His character expanded. My walk with Him took off.

Imagine that.

My love for and faith in God hasn’t starved since. And they’re still growing as I keep dining on large servings of Scripture rather than snacking.

BTW, there’s no magic formula. No one can tell you how many verses are enough — except God. Let Him lead your time in His Word.

Is It Ever Good To Study Just a Verse or Two?

Absolutely.

It’s a great habit to dig deep into individual verses. To get to the marrow of its meaning.

I’m currently working my way through Romans. One verse at a time.

It’s taking a long while, but I want (need) to understand it better. So I focus each day on a few passages while remembering that reading verses in isolation rather than in context can lead to misunderstanding God’s message.

As I study Romans verse by verse, I also read a chapter or two to let the bigger picture of Romans soak into my mind. And I read other books of the Bible as well.

We shouldn’t become legalistic about our daily reading. It’s not a measure of our spiritual worth. We don’t win points with God when we read. Nor does He hand down demerits when we miss.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 ESV.

No condemnation. None.

But God’s Word blesses us – changes us – when we read it.

You may have to force yourself to read it at first. But eventually, if you read the Bible in order to know the God of the Word, you’ll begin to long for the Word of the God.

Time in God’s Word will become as enticing as that morning cup of liquid heaven. (That’s coffee for me. I don’t know what you strange non-coffee drinkers enjoy.)

No Time? Pray and Make Time

Life is busy. It’s not likely to slow down.

Deal with it. (Was that too harsh? Sorry.)

Pray and ask God. He’ll make a way for you. He may wake you early to read. Or He may open up time for you to read during the day or evening.

We should all ask God to make us aware of the time we already have that we may be misspending watching TV, piddling on Social media, or catching a little extra shut-eye.

Trust God to enable you to accomplish all you need to do each day. Then walk by faith and make time for reading your Bible – even if you don’t think you have time.

God will provide all you need. But you have to trust Him by sitting down with your Bible.

Don’t wait for Him to sit you down. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you voluntarily sit down rather than having God sit you down.

My mom once told me I was too busy. “You need to drop some of your activities,” she said. I told her it was impossible. A couple of months later I had to have surgery. Somehow everything got done without me. She smirked, and I dropped some of my activities. I got sat down, and I listened.

Just as you’d make time to serve a child three full meals a day, make time every day to serve yourself one full meal of spiritual nourishment from God’s Word.

REMEMBER: Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining. Make time to serve yourself a full meal from God’s Word by reading large portions of Scripture every day.

The Word of God Endures Forever

Chapter and verse divisions may not last, but the Word of our God will stand forever.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
~ Isaiah 40:8 ESV

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Enoch Walked With God and Had a Methuselah Moment — You Can Too (Part 1)

Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 1 via www.JeanWilund.comEnoch Walked with God

I’m so glad Enoch walked with God instead of ran. I don’t run.

Unless someone is chasing me or there’s only one serving left of the Mint Moose Tracks ice cream. Or Hurricane Irma comes knocking on our door. I’m running then! Otherwise, I’ll stick to walking.

Besides, walking is biblical.

“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
(Genesis 5:24 NASB)

Enoch walked with God, and then God just took him away. He didn’t have to experience death like the rest of us. Of course it took him 300 years of walking to get there. I wonder how many miles he racked up.

 

Enoch “obtained the witness” that he was “pleasing to God.”
(Hebrews 11:5 NASB)

Enoch walked with God and made it into the Hall of Faith chapter of Hebrews.

There you have it. Walking is biblical.

Yes, I know the Bible tells us to “run the race.” But I don’t want to talk about that now. Let’s learn to walk first.

Let’s discover the secret to how a Methuselah Moment led Enoch to such a close walk with God that, after 300 years, God said, “Enoch, We’re closer to My home now than we are to yours. Let’s just walk on home to Mine.”

Ok, God didn’t really say that. (At least it’s not recorded anywhere.)

But Enoch did walk with God in such a remarkable way, God made sure we noticed.

Who is this Enoch?

Enoch first appears in Genesis 5 in “the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1-7).

As we read through the generations, a pattern emerges:

“When so-and-so had lived blank years, he fathered blah blah blah. So-and-so lived after he fathered blah blah blahblank years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of so-and-so were blank years, and he died.

The pattern repeats itself until we get to verses 21-24.

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

Now you see him, now you don’t because Enoch walked with God.

Enoch lived 365 years — a year of years — but he walked with God for 300 of them.

What happened during those other 65 years?

Who was Enoch walking with then? Did he walk alone? Or with his dog?

All we know is when Enoch was 65 years old he became the father of Methuselah, and it was at that point he began to walk with God.

Enoch had a Methuselah Moment. He had — a moment in time that marked his life between when he walked without God and when he walked with God.

What was so special about Methuselah?

Most people who know Methuselah, know one thing. He lived longer than any other human — 969 years.

Few of us probably know the meaning of his name, though.

Biblical scholars of old say Methuselah’s name most likely comes from the Hebrew word meaning “man of the dart” or “man of the sword.” Its full meaning might be, “When he dies, it will come.”

Sort of the original Field of Dreams except this dream would be a nightmare because the year Methuselah died, God sent the Flood.

Not every Bible scholar is as quick to connect Methuselah’s name to a prophecy of the flood. But honestly, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that after Methuselah was born, Enoch walked with God. Not before, but after.

Something changed in Enoch’s heart after Methuselah was born. Something so big he had a Methuselah Moment.

Enoch’s Methuselah Moment set him off on a journey with the Lord — a journey he never left. And one we should take.

What happened in that moment?

What did Enoch learn as he walked with God that we need to know? 

And how can we have our own Methuselah Moment?

We’ll look at these questions in tomorrow’s post.

Until then, read more about Enoch in Genesis 5, Hebrews 11, and Jude 14-15.


Share this post and check back for tomorrow’s look at Enoch’s Walk with God & Methuselah Moment.

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Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 1 via www.JeanWilund.com




A Total Eclipse of Awe-Inspiring Faith & How to Find It

Total Eclipse of Awe-Inspiring Faith -- The One-Two Punch via www.JeanWilund.com

Ooh, Wow! Don’t Look at the Sun!

I think I said, “Ooh, wow!” and “Don’t look at the sun!” in my sleep last night.

If you watched the total solar eclipse, you know what I mean.

Ooh! Wow!

Especially if you watched it with small children.

Don’t look at the sun!

For about 2 1/2 overwhelming minutes, the moon utterly eclipsed our sun, a blazing ball of burning gas 400 times bigger than it.

That describes the faith I want. The faith I need all the time. A Total Eclipse of Faith.


The Awe of Eclipse

Viewing any solar eclipse is incredible, partial or total.

The moon blocking 90% of the sun is quite a sight. 

But 100%? That’s epic. Magical. Miraculous.

The birds and bees left my flower garden with the light and went to bed. Our street and porch lights came to life. The temperature dropped to an eery, comfortable coolness of evening.

All for 2 1/2 minutes.

Then the moon shifted over a hair.

The sun lit up the sky again. The birds and bees returned along with the blistering heat.

If you notice in the picture above, I’m wearing socks — bright white socks. But not for an awkward fashion statement or to keep my feet warm, but to keep them from burning on the scorching stone walkway.

After the total eclipse of the sun, all was as before — except for us. We stood in awe and wonder. Overwhelmed by the greatness of the experience.  

No photos or words do it justice. You have to experience it. And once you do, you’re Googling where the next one will be.


A Total Eclipse of the Heart

The next day I received a letter from a lady who’s struggling to fully surrender to God and hoped I had words to help. I related with her heart, eclipsed by doubts and fears.

As I sat to write her, I suddenly saw the solar eclipse as a great illustration for surrender to God.

Most of the world lives outside the path of totality for a solar eclipse. They see only a partial eclipse and long to experience a Total Eclipse.

Likewise, most Christians live in partial surrender to God, but long for a total eclipse of faith — faith that eclipses all their fears, doubts, and rebellion.


Do You Live in a Full or Partial Eclipse? 

I would imagine that many Christians live in at least 50% surrender to God.

We’ve trusted Him for salvation and thank Him for eternal life. But for this present life, our faith is weak. It doesn’t make much difference in our daily lives.

We attend church. Maybe not every week, but more than some. We own a nice leather Bible, and if you’ll give us a minute, we can find it. 

We do Christian stuff, but knowing Christ doesn’t seem to have transformed us because we worry just as much as our neighbor who doesn’t see a need for Christ in their life.

Christ is our Savior, but not much more than that.

We hope our faith will deepen and move to greater surrender. Maybe 75% surrender? But we don’t know how to get it to 100%.

We struggle.

Partial faith is exhausting. If we don’t get some answers, we may move back to 50%, and eventually down to negligible faith. Or none.


Oh, for faith to trust You more, Lord

How can we move our faith to where it eclipses all our fears, doubts, and rebellion?

I can’t speak for everyone, but two factors (a one-two punch) have allowed me to experience many amazing moments of a total eclipse of faith.

And the time between eclipses has shortened as I’ve learned to give my fears, doubts, and rebellion the one-two punch: Know and Obey God.


1. Know God

Any fears, doubts, or rebellion we hold are unfounded. God is always able to care for His children, and He does all things well. All things.

Since we can trust God enough to cause our fears, doubts, and rebellion to shrink in the face of who He is, why don’t we?

We’ll never trust anyone more than we know him.

We must come to know God — not just about Him.

Study the Bible, the Word of God. Look on each page to find Jesus and discover God’s character. Don’t study to know how to be a better Christian. Study to know God.

Learn His character. Treasure it in your heart where it will transform your faith in Him.

Check out my ever-growing list of posts on God’s Character.

The more we know God, the more our heart will believe we can trust Him, which leads us to the knock-out punch: Obedience.


2. Obey God

The more we know God, the more we’ll trust Him.

The more we trust Him, the more we’ll obey Him.

The more we obey Him, the more we’ll experience Him.

The more we experience Him, the more we’ll love Him,

The more we love Him, the more we’ll want to know Him more.

God reveals more light after we obey Him with the light He’s already given us.

Once we obey, we learn by experience that God is indeed everything He said He is. And we fall in love and grow in faith.

But it’s a process, like a total solar eclipse.


Bit by Bit, A Total Eclipse of Faith

Total Eclipse of Faith -- The One-Two Punch via www.JeanWilund.comBit by bit, as we obey, our faith will overshadow our fears, doubts, and rebellion until we enjoy a total eclipse of faith.

Then we’ll stand in awe and wonder at our Lord, the One who, by His kind grace, gives us faith. (Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8, I Timothy 1:13-14, Romans 10:17)

Pray and ask the Lord to give you a total eclipse of faith. Then obey Him in whatever He shows you to do, trusting Him to do in your heart what needs to be done. 

I wish I could say my faith is always at 100%, but each time I enjoy a total eclipse of faith, it inspires me to trust God more the next time. 

And unlike in a total solar eclipse, in a Total Eclipse of Faith, I can say, “Ooh, Wow! Look at the Son!”


Have you enjoyed a Total  Eclipse of Faith? Share your experience. We’d love to hear it.

If this post encouraged you, I hope you’ll share it. There are handy sharing buttons below:

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Life Is Either a Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All ~ Take It On!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Trust God and take it on. (Ephesians 3:20) via www.Jeanwilund.com

No Fear

The bodyboarder on the island of Kauai had no fear — or perhaps no sense.

He crouched on the beach and studied the waves.

Ignoring ones reasonable men would choose, he waited on the ridiculous waves. Waves that would tower over his head and possess the power to crush him.

Only then did he charge. Straight into them. Fearless.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
-Helen Keller

Some of us stand before crushing waves and see terror. Others see a daring adventure.

As a staunch member of the former crowd, I snapped the bodyboarder’s picture from the safety of shore.

In fact, I took all the pictures in this post from the safe sidelines.

Particularly at the Pipe Masters Tournament.

Pipe Master Surfer -- Life Is Either a Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All ~ Take It On! via www.jeanwilund.comI had a blast taking their photos, but I suspect they had more fun.


What if I Couldn’t Fail?

If I couldn’t fail, would I have charged into the waves, too?

Yes, I would. All. Day. Long.

But few people ever go from zero to hero in one day. It’s a journey. 

Life Is Either a Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All ~ Take It On! via www.jeanwilund.com

Oh, to have the courage and power to take on a wave. 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Ephesians 3:20


Life is a Big Wave — Take It On!

We don’t have to go to Kauai or the North Shore to face waves.

Life is a big wave.

God is teaching me the exhilaration of taking life on.

It’s not like we have much choice. In life, the waves find us.

But we have a tremendous surf instructor in the Lord.

You know that wave you’re facing that makes you want to run?

Take it on. Follow the Lord right into it. With Him, you cannot fail.  

You may land upside down at times, but it doesn’t mean you failed — or that God failed you.

Life Is Either a Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All ~ Take It On! via www.jeanwilund.com


Success Isn’t Always Neat and Tidy

Sometimes it looks suspiciously like failing.

The apostle Paul endured planned shipwrecks (Acts 27:27-28:5).

In fact, he endured much more than shipwrecks and all for a greater purpose than he could have experienced without the perceived failures (2 Corinthians 11:23-12:10).

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV

In the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, take on your wave.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Trust God and take it on. (Ephesians 3:20) via www.Jeanwilund.com

Fully expect God to do something great.

And hold on for the ride of your life.

Don’t worry about the scuffs or even an occasional body slam into the surf. 

If God is in it, it will all be worth it.

If God’s not in it, get out of the water! Just sayin’.

Life Is Either a Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All ~ Take It On! via www.jeanwilund.com

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Do you know someone who’s facing a wave and could use some encouragement? If so, I hope you’ll share this post with them.

Now, go and take on the day!