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May 18, 2018

Hershey Hotel tulips (Photo by Ester)
Tulips on the grounds of the majestic Hershey Hotel
(Photo by Ester)

"A Lesson From A Stiff Cat"

Message summary: Since the consequence of sin is not always immediate we may be under the illusion that all is well. But eventually our sin will find us out.

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"But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13).

We have been getting a lot of rain in our area. Although the dreary weather can be a bit wearying it sure does make everything green. The other day we mentioned how our border collie Mollie is terrified during thunderstorms. During a storm she looks for a "safe" hiding place, her favorite being the bathtub (though she hates taking a bath). But she also tries to get in the refrigerator or oven when she sees a family member open the door(s)! Anywhere to hide from the booming thunder!

On the other hand our 17 year old cat Dottie, shows no fear during storms but she does demonstrate characteristic cat curiosity, especially having a compulsion to check out any new place to lie down. However thus far she has had her nine lives and then some.

Yesterday we spoke at "Golden Nuggets" a senior citizen luncheon and shared the story about Mollie trying to find a safe hiding place during a storm. Jesse, an elderly friend, related a story that took place some 40 years ago.
(Note: this story may be distressing to some).

They had a cat, like ours, which demonstrated characteristic cat curiousity. He told about how one day their cat, unbeknownst to them, had managed to get into their upright freezer when they had opened the door. Sometime later he opened the door and found the cat curled up and frozen stiff, a literal expression of how "curiousity killed the cat".

In considering our friend's cat story we think of an Old Testament verse that applies to all of us, "Be sure that your sin will find you out." In this case that is just what happened for their cat when they opened the freezer door!

Now, any illustration from the animal kingdom is bound to have some deficiencies. After all, animals are not moral beings and although we may say "bad doggie or bad kitty" they really aren't sinning in the sense we sin when we disobey God.

But there is an aspect of sin related to curiosity expressed in these lines from a hymn, "prone to wander". In our fallen human nature we may wonder just how far down the road of sin we'll travel before facing the consequences. That's been a part of human nature since the Fall.

Let us examine the background to this verse. In Numbers 32 the new generation is camped east of the Jordan preparing to enter the Promised Land.  Leaders from the tribes of Reuben and Gad approached Moses and made a proposal to Moses that they would settle and consider as their inheritance the lands east of the Jordan, which they had already settled and found suitable for their livestock. Moses initially misunderstood their request, assuming they were attempting to dodge their responsibilities in the conquest of Canaan.

However, they further clarified their proposal, indicating that they would indeed be sending their fighting men to assist the other tribes and pledging that they would not return until the conquest was complete. Moses' tone changed with the clarification and he accepted their proposal, but in the first daily text he reminded them of the consequences of failing to keep their word. Tracking through the history of the conquest we see they did indeed fulfill their commitment and were commended by Joshua for their faithfulness in Joshua 22.

There's a lot of good teaching in this chapter but let me just focus on today's first text which has a timeless spiritual principle. Moses cautioned the tribal leaders about the consequences of failure to keep their word: "But if you fail to do this (what they had promised), you will be sinning against the LORD."  Ultimately Moses solemnly reminded them that the failure to honor their word in regard to their responsibilities to others is a sin against the Lord. The principle is the same for us and we do well to always keep that before us, especially when circumstances make it attractive to opt out.

Then Moses states, "and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." It's interesting the precise way this is worded, "your sin will find you out" and it is consistent in standard translations. We might expect it to read to the effect, "Others will find out about your sin" which is also the case. However the wording is significant due to self-deception. Sir Walter Scott stated it this way, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

I consider a parallel of how it is in our dealings. We may very well think we are getting away with something but we can be sure our sin will find us out, sometimes sooner, other times later. Since the consequences of sin are not always immediate we may be under the illusion that all is well. But eventually our sin will find us out.

The apostle Paul's word to the Galatians is so powerful in this regard, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:7-9).

Today let us live with the solemn realization that our sin will not go undetected by an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-present, holy God.  Indeed, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight." But we also live with the solemn blessing of His forgiveness when we go to Him with a humble and contrite heart.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Faithful Father, Your Word shows us that obedience brings about blessing but disobedience brings about dishonor. I want to honor You with my life, for there is nothing hidden from Your eyes. Help me to uphold the standards of truth and honesty as revealed through Your unchanging Holy Word; not by the standards of this world that customize "truth" to suit people's ever-changing whims, nor by my brothers and sisters of the faith who often come up short. When I'm confronted with my sin help me to have the fortitude and courage to deal with it. May I not cover it up, seek to justify it, blame others, procrastinate or deceive myself. Thank You for granting complete forgiveness to those who come to You with a contrite heart willing to lay down sin and take up righteousness. Amen.

Today's text is an example of what many have called the "sin of omission" expressed in James 4:17: "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."

Oren and Naomi Hofstetter
"Golden Nuggets" is a monthly gathering of seniors that has been going for some 15 years. My Mom enjoyed going for several years before she died in late 2005. It was established by Oren and Naomi Hofstetter who are still part of a team of dedicated volunteers who prepare a tasty meal and provide a wholesome program to honor seniors from the church and community. Oren and Naomi demonstrate great servant's hearts and representative of the millions of Christ-followers who serve faithfully in their local churches and communities with little to no fanfare.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Search Me O God"  Video  The Cathedrals, traditional version

"Search Me O God"  Video 
Maranatha Singers, country style!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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