Unringing the Bell

So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:62

Expungement is a legal term that means “to remove from general review.” It means that an offense against the law is sealed in a court record and therefore not viewable in the future. In short, the record of the offense is removed from a person’s legal record. For practical purposes, expungement erases the record of legal offense—except for one thing: the consequences of the act. Removing the guilt and punishment of an offense is one thing; removing the consequences is another.

Such is the case with our sins before God. The guilt and punishment for our sins has been removed; Christ has taken upon Himself our sins; Christ has died in our place. But the consequences of our sins remain. To use another legal expression, you can’t “unring the bell.” Once something is said, heard, or done, it cannot be undone. That happened in the case of David’s sin of adultery. A loyal soldier lost his life, a woman and a king lost their honor, and they both lost their child. All were consequences of David’s sins. God forgave David his sins but did not take away the consequences (Psalm 51).

Instead of hoping you can ring the bell of sin and then unring it, better not to ring it at all.

We are born in sin and spend our lives coping with the consequences.
John Blanchard


Dried Up Brooks

And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
1 Kings 17:7

Late one evening, businessman Allan Emery checked into a hotel after a long, delayed flight, and he was discouraged. He expected to lose his best customer the next day. Preparing for bed, Emery opened his Bible and said, “Lord, if You have something to say to me, some encouragement, let me have it now.” He turned to the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and read about how Elijah’s brook dried up. But the Lord had another mission for Elijah, and he was soon in Zarephath, witnessing another miracle that kept a family alive—a bin of flour that was never used up and a jar of oil that never ran dry. When the brook ran dry, the jar of oil started flowing.

God never leaves us stranded, forsaken, or abandoned. If the brook dries up, it’s because He has a jar of oil waiting for us. When a disappointment strikes us, we must trust Him for the next move. When a dream crashes around us, look for God’s direction and a new challenge.

There is always a next step with God; and there are always new blessings—grace upon grace—to claim from His guiding hand.

In the twenty years since that night I have had numerous “dried up brooks,” but my attitude toward them has been one of expectancy, for I know God is faithful to me just as He was to Elijah.
Allan Emery

Stepping Stones of Faith

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2-3

Think of the people in the Bible who faced the death of their dreams. Abraham dreamed of being the father of a great nation, but he was still childless in old age. Joseph dreamed of grandeur in Genesis 37, but he landed in an Egyptian prison. Prince Moses of Egypt dreamed of liberating his people, but he was thrown out of Egypt as a murderer. David dreamed of leading the armies of Israel, but he became their prey. Thomas dreamed of proclaiming the Messiah, but his Jesus was crucified. Paul dreamed of going to Spain, but was a prisoner of Rome.

And yet in each case, the setbacks became stepping stones; for in God’s will there is no failure, and out of His will there is no success. Our dreams sometimes die so they can be reborn in the image of God’s will.

Faith is trusting God’s promises when they are most needed, and going forward without a loss of enthusiasm. God provides the opportunity of having big dreams, but we must work according to His timing and will to achieve them. Along the way, if your dream dies, don’t let your spirits falter. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, count it all joy, and wait for Him to give the victory.

Failure isn’t so bad if it doesn’t attack the heart. Success is all right if it doesn’t go to the head.
Grantland Rice

A Biblical Work

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

“Over the past half century,” observed a pastor, “evangelicals have devoted vast quantities of energy and resources to the invention of novel church-growth strategies that tend to discount biblical preaching…. Many have borrowed their management philosophies from the corporate world; … their fashion cues from the entertainment industry; … imitated the communications styles of secular mass media; and … employed various bells and whistles from modern technology designed mainly to amaze and impress rather than to teach and edify.”

That’s a fair critique of some of today’s ministries. While we should use every legitimate tool at our disposal, we must pursue God’s work in God’s way. We can’t win the victory in worldly dress any more than David could confront Goliath in Saul’s armor.

God’s way is: Prayer; preaching of the Word of God, rightly divided; and the power of the Holy Spirit filling the one who is committed to Christ. That’s the only way to build a biblical work.

Preaching should take a Trinitarian form…. In so doing, it bears witness to the God who speaks, the Son who saves, and the Spirit who illuminates.
Albert Mohler


Takes Two to Tussle

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves.
Romans 12:18-19a

Al Hoffman and Dick Manning wrote a song popularized by Pearl Bailey in 1952: “Takes Two to Tango.” That title, based on the dramatic Latin American tango dance, has become an idiom in our culture. Just as it’s impossible to tango alone, so it is impossible to do many things in life alone. Just as it takes two to tango, it also takes two to tussle.

When David was anointed king over Israel by the prophet Samuel, the first thing he did was honor his predecessor who had tried to kill him—King Saul. He called together the men who had collected Saul’s body after battle and given him an honorable burial: “You are blessed of the LORD, for you have shown this kindness to your lord, to Saul, and have buried him” (2 Samuel 2:5). David could easily have sought to avenge himself by punishing Saul’s followers. Instead, he sought to make peace and honor the Lord’s anointed despite the error of his (Saul’s) ways. Love keeps no record of wrongs, delights not in evil, and thinks the best (1 Corinthians 13:5-7).

All quarrels and bitterness can be ended when one person takes the first step. It takes two to tussle, but only one to reach out in love.

The noblest revenge is to forgive.
Thomas Fuller