2 Chronicles 24:17-22 (6/13/11)
Did you ever play with bar magnets? If you match the ends up correctly, they pull each other closer. If you try to match the wrong ends together, they repel each other, and it can be almost impossible to get them to touch.
The main problem with sin is that it estranges us from God. Our scripture today puts this idea succinctly: “Why are you disobeying me and my laws? … You have deserted me, so now I will desert you.” Putting God and sin together is like trying to match the wrong ends of magnets. God’s nature and sin’s nature are completely repellant to each other. Sin forces us out of the presence of God.
Isaiah 59:1-4, 64:4-12 (6/14/11)
Isaiah says that when sin separates us from God, it’s not God’s fault. God is still able to give salvation; God is still able to hear prayer; God is still the only God. However, our own sin is like a soundproof veil between us and God. We can neither see him nor hear him.
Ezekiel 14:1-11 (6/15/11)
Have you seen the little sign that says, “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”? There’s another one that has a cartoon character rolling on the floor laughing and saying, “You want it when?” What these signs have in common is that if my request for help is unreasonable, it’s going to be turned down, and it’s my own fault!
God says that is unreasonable for us to estrange ourselves from him (by worshipping other gods or whatever) and then to expect his help in living our lives. “First turn around and come back to me,” he says. “Then we’ll talk. Then I can help you.” Lack of repentance on my part does not constitute hard-heartedness on God’s part. If I can’t get forgiveness, it’s my own fault.
Luke 16:19-31 (6/16/11)
Let me just say right up front that the Bible is not against wealth. What the Bible is against is the poor use of wealth.
The rich man in this parable used his wealth poorly by spending it all on himself when there was someone who needed help right on his own doorstep. He ended up permanently estranged and separated from God. Jesus compares the separation to “a great chasm” that no one can cross in either direction. You don’t have to take the story literally, because it’s a parable, but even as a figure of speech the chasm shows how far away from God we can get as a result of our own actions or inaction.
There was a rich man who wore expensive silk suits and linen shirts and had his own chef.
And there was a homeless man named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, with sores all over his body. He wanted to fill up on leftovers that fell from the rich man’s table; however, the dogs came and licked his sores. Eventually the poor man died and was carried by the angels to the lap of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried. Being tortured in Hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus in his lap. He cried out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue, because I am in torment in this fire.”
But Abraham said, “Son, remember that you got your good things while you were alive, and likewise Lazarus got bad things. Now he’s comforted here, but you are tormented. Besides, a great chasm has been established between us, so that anyone who wants to pass through it from over here to you – or from there to us, for that matter – isn’t able to.”
He said, “In that case, Father, I’m asking you to send him to my father’s house, because I have five brothers. Let him tell them what’s going on, lest they also come to this place of torment.”
“They have Moses and the Prophets,” said Abraham. “They should listen to them.”
He said, “No-oo, Father Abraham – but if somebody goes to them from the dead, they’ll change their way of thinking!”
“If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets,” he said to him, “neither will they be persuaded if somebody rises from the dead.”
Jeremiah 50:6-7; Ezekiel 34:2-12; Matthew 9:35-36, 18:12; Isaiah 53:6; Psalms 119:176 (6/17/11)
When we are separated and estranged from God by our sin, we are like lost and scattered sheep. We are in danger of injury, disease, thirst, hunger, and attack by enemies. Our pastors – did you know that “pastor” means “shepherd”? – bear special responsibility for ensuring our safety from these threats.
Fortunately, God is the good shepherd who seeks after his sheep, even when they willfully stray away.
Matthew 9:35-36 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and illness. Seeing the crowds, he felt sorry for them, because they were confused and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 18:12 “What do you think? If somebody has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, won’t he leave the ninety-nine in the fold and go look for the stray?”
More on The Law and Sin
will be coming soon.
The Law: Given by God
The Law: Civil and Criminal
The Law: Ethics, Morality, and Love
The Law: Written in Our Hearts
Sin: Breaking of the Law
Sin: Separation and Estrangement
Sin: Unfaithfulness to God is Adultery
The Doctrine of Original Sin
Dead in Sin
Copyright 2011, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
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are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
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