Friday, April 15, 2016

Lessons from Sam: Abominations, the Bible, and Praying for Our Nation

Sam Wiley is probably the nicest man you'll ever meet. Children and animals love him, and that's always a good sign. At 86 years old, he's not just nice, though. He's also wise. 

We were talking a few days ago about our culture and how crazy this world has gotten. Sam had an opinion that I thought was pretty good. I've spent a lot time pondering whether or not to write this, and I didn't want to, because I expect some flak. 

This morning, I've decided to proceed because Sam's opinion resonates with me. We don't have all the answers, but we know Who does. We can't solve all the problems of this world, but we know Who can. 

We can't fix the immorality so rampant in our nation, but we know that God promises to heal our land IF His people (not the lost people) humble themselves, seek His face, turn from their sin, and pray. That's what Sam and I try to do. We want to repent of our own sins and pray for our nation.

As a woman who came to Jesus with more sin than most of the people in the Bible, I'm convinced that Jesus can wash anyone white as snow, no matter what their favorite type of sin. I'm living proof of that. Jesus changed everything about me.

Sam feels the same about himself. He'd pretty much made a mess of things, just like me, before he met Jesus. That meeting changed everything, and Sam has never been the same again.

Maybe it's because we are both so familiar with our own sin, but Sam and I aren't interested in casting stones at fellow sinners. People could've thrown stones at us once, and we're glad they didn't. 

Someone asked me recently if I knew a particular behavior was an abomination before God. "What do you think about all this, Sam?"

"Well," he said in his slow Mississippi drawl, "I think a lot of things are an abomination to God. He's good and we're not. You know, I don't think folks read their Bibles any more. They just pick a verse here and a verse there and put them together. But it don't make it right. You've gotta take the whole Bible to get it right.

"My Bible says Jesus didn't come to condemn us. He came to save us. And He didn't stand up for His rights. He just laid them down and took the cross. Even though He didn't have to. Because He loved us. And He loved us while we were still sinning. People might want to think about that.

"God don't like no kind of sin. It don't matter what kind it is, he's agin it. Even mine. I try to remember that when I get to worrying about other people's sins."

It turns out that Sam was right. The Hebrew word translated as "abomination" occurs 117 times in the 39 books of the Old Testament. As it turns out, there are quite a few things that are an abomination to God.

Deuteronomy 22: 5 says it's an abomination for women to wear clothing that pertains to a man. Does that mean women shouldn't wear pants? I don't know. I wore a dress yesterday, but today, I'm wearing pants. It doesn't feel like an abomination, but maybe I need to reconsider.

Proverbs 6:16-19  tells us that seven things are an abomination to the Lord.  

"There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven things which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers." Proverbs 6:16-19 nasb

Proverbs 16:5 says, "Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord..."

Lest you think I'm justifying sin, I'm not. Take a look at Proverbs 17:15:

"He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord."

There's a lot of sin in this world, and I wish I had less of it than I do. I'm not in favor of sin at all. 

God created this beautiful world we live in, He sustains it, and He gets to make the rules. 

If God says something is sin, it is.

It's important to remember that there are many kinds of sin, but it's all unrighteousness. 

We're all sinners. Some of us have been redeemed by the merciful, grace-filled blood of Jesus and some of us haven't, but that blood is available to all.

I know people say that some sinners won't change, but that's what some people said about me. Until three women decided to pray for the worst person they knew. And that worst person was me. And God answered their prayers. Even when a lot of people didn't think He would. 

Neither Sam nor I have the answers to all the problems of the world. 

We don't know what's right in every situation. 

We don't know the best thing to do about every law or every decision.

We're not issuing an opinion on standing up or laying down. 

All we know is that Jesus gave up heaven for us, and, though He didn't enjoy doing it even one little bit, He took the cross for us because we couldn't stop sinning on our own. 

We try to think about that when we get tempted to start tossing stones.

In the meantime, we're trying to do what 2 Chronicles 7:14 says. Humble ourselves. Confess our own sin. Seek His face. Pray. 

That's what God says it'll take to turn this nation around, so we're hoping everyone in the body of Christ will do it. It'll make a difference. Try it and see. 

"...Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7 nasb

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb

In case you missed one of the Sam stories, here are the links:
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