CHRISTIAN MEDITATION – PART 1 – THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:7-9

One of the greatest disservices we as Christians do when studying God’s Word is actually take very little time of studying who God is in depth. Why is this such a great disservice? Well for one, it puts us in danger of a grievous sin in the making of a God of our own choosing, thereby making us no better than the children of Israel when they made the golden calf and worshiped it. Some reading this might be thinking in their pride “How dare he say such a thing!” Granted, we may have not melted down our jewelry and physically made an idol, but we have ignored God and His commandments and made Him not so big and mighty, that we might control him as our genie in a bottle to do our bidding whenever we so choose to call upon Him. But look at out opening quote / scripture this morning. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways, and right before that verse, God tells us to repent, although He does not use that very word here and is implied.

In the image of this mornings devotional, it comes from the wonderful book (which I recommend to ALL Christians) called Visual Theology and does a good job (yet humbly admits even they could not do the task of breaking down God’s attributes and justice) of God’s attributes and how they interact with His creation. Before we get down this deep theological journey, I want you to understand two very important pieces of information about God and His attributes, what are referred to as His Communicable and Incommunicable attributes. In the basic sense and form, God’s communicable attributes mean that He shares these attributes with His creation, whereas the incommunicable attributes are for Him and Him alone. For example, we cannot be Omnipresent, only God can, that is an incommunicable attribute of God. In this devotional we are going to focus on six attributes about God and hopefully bring a deeper fear (reverential and holy respect) for God, His Word, and the importance of daily applying it to our lives as His redeemed Children.

  1. Meditate on God’s OMNISCIENCE

    His eye is continually upon us; he has a window open into the conscience; our thoughts are unveiled before him. He numbers our steps, meaning He knows the number of days appointed to each and every person ever born. He know our thoughts long before we ever think them. He know the number of hairs on our head, yes, even the grey ones we may try to cover up 😉

    So why is it important to meditate on this attribute? Well, I believe if we knew and took serious the God of the Bible, it would help us be less sinful and take sin more serious. For example, if you needed to steal something, you would look around to see if anyone is watching or could positively identify you at the scene of the crime, and if you knew you would not be caught, you would commit the crime, right? Yet God knew that you would commit the crime long before you even thought about it. Knowing He is the greatest judge and jury we will all one day stand before, that should either scare us or bring us comfort knowing His justice will one day rid evil for ever!

  2. Meditate on the HOLINESS of God – Back to our opening scripture, God tells the prophet Isaiah to write my ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts. God gives us all things to know who His is through His Word, and God is Holy. 1 Peter 1:13-19 (emphasis on verse 16) – since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

    What benefit does it do the Christian to meditate on the Holiness of God? It would be a means to transform us into the similitude and likeness of God. God ever loves us, till we are like him. By meditation we are looking at the beams of holiness which are gloriously transparent in God. As we do, we grow like him, and become holy as he is holy. Holiness is a beautiful thing, Psa. 110.3. It puts a kind of angelic brightness upon us; it is the only coin that will pass current in heaven, The second half of Hebrews 12:14 “and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” By frequent meditation on this attribute, we are changed into God’s image.

  3. Meditate on the WISDOM of God – He is called “the only wise God,” 1Tim. 1.17. His wisdom shines forth in the works of providence; he sits at the helm, guiding all things regularly and harmoniously; he brings light out of darkness; he can strike a straight stroke with a crooked stick; he can make use of the injustice of men to do what is just; he is infinitely wise; he breaks us by afflictions — and upon these broken pieces of the ship, he brings us safely to shore.

    The effects of meditating on the wisdom of God: a. It would sweetly calm our hearts: When we see things go awry in public, the wise God holds the reins of government in his hand; and whoever would rule, God over-rules; he knows how to turn all to good; his work will be beautiful in its season.

    b. When things go ill with us in our private concerns, the meditation of God’s wisdom would rock our hearts quiet. The wise God has set me in this condition, and whether health or sickness, wisdom will order it for the best. God will make a medicine of poison; all things shall be useful to me; either the Lord will expel some sin, or he will exercise some grace.

    Right now in life is some of the hardest times many of us have seen. Yet, if we take the focus off of ourselves for a moment and look at others lives we might see things differently. Think for a moment of those who may be much older than us, might still be alive from the days of the depression era in the 1920’s and ’30’s. Or what about children who are too young to understand, yet see us living in panic or fear. Yes, things are bad to some right now, but to those who know God and trust Him, there is peace. We must trust in His Wisdom, His providence, and His Sovereignty to have peace and comfort during these trying times. These are other reasons why we must meditate on God.

    Be sure to come back tomorrow for our conclusion of meditating on the attributes of God. As a bonus, here is another article you can read that has a lot of really good points as well!

15 Amazing Attributes of God: What They Mean and Why They Matter

The Saints Spiritual Delight by Thomas Watson

Until then….

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIAN MEDITATION – THE GREAT DUTY

Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him.

Martin Luther

Yesterday I wrote about the upcoming theme for the next couple of weeks, and that is the important of one of the greatest and most helpful duties to the Christian, and that is the various purposes on meditating on God’s Word. I also believe it is very important to do so in today’s day and age of the overly busy, instantaneous lifestyles many live today. There are very few that study deeply, and hopefully meditating on God’s Word will draw the church back to studying God’s Word and being about the Father’s business.

When we think of the word duty, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some it might mean work, to others a form a service, still to someone else it may seem like something forced or demanded. When it comes to Christian duty, it is a good work, yes, and it is a form of service or of worship of God as the end goal. However, God does not want anything done out of force or reluctance.

No, He wants it done out of love, appreciation for what He has done in the sinners life, and growing them to be more like Christ Himself, to be merciful, gracious, kind, loving, giving, selfless, sacrificial, the very same attributes He showed towards us.

Now there are many duties in the Bible, and it is good for us to know these things. Some are very obvious, like in chapter 3 of Colossians where we have two main duties that are very obvious; put on our new (saved) self, and rules (duties) for Christian household living. Now these things are not going to come natural at first, and that is why we need to be about our good works (duties) daily, and not just act Christian (which is actually being a hypocrite) when we are around other Christians, the church, or some event. This is the main reason to meditate on the scriptures, that it becomes natural and we walk by the Spirit not by the flesh.

We also need to keep in mind as we are doing our Christian duties, we are NOT to show that we are better, more perfected, self-exalting ourselves at our tasks, thinking we are better or more special than others. We are not doing this for our glory, but for His. We are doing these things for we are to be obedient, yet humble, for He says “Be holy as I am holy”, and holiness is what we grow in and is the end goal as well. However, the only way we can get there is submitting our lives to the trusting care and guidance of God through His Word daily and the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells inside every believer.

As I said in yesterdays devotional. much of this on Christian meditation is going to come from Thomas Watson’s book titled The Saints Spiritual Delight. When the author open the introduction to meditation he says thus:

A Christian enters into meditation, as a man enters into the bath: so that he may be healed. Meditation heals the soul of its deadness and earthliness; but more of this afterwards.

That is why I chose one of my favorite scriptures in Isaiah 53:5, for there is no greater bath, no greater healing, than in the laver of blood at the cross of Calvary!

Pastor Watson then gives the two positions of meditation; it is either imposed or opposed.

  1. Meditation is a duty imposed – “Meditation is not arbitrary. The same God who bid us to believe, has bid us to meditate.” Joshua 1:8-9 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  These words, though spoken to the person of Joshua, concern everyone; just as the promise made to Joshua concerned all believers (Jos. 1.5 compared with Heb. 13.5).2 So this precept made to the person of Joshua, you shall meditate in this book of the law, takes in all Christians. It is the part of a hypocrite to enlarge the promise, and to narrow the precept; you shall meditate in this book of the law; the word you is indefinite, and reaches every Christian; as God’s word directs, so his will must enforce obedience to it.
  2. Meditation is a duty opposed – “We may conclude it is a good duty, because it is against the stream of corrupt nature. We shall find, naturally, a strange averseness to meditation. We are swift to hear, but slow to meditate.” Galatians 5:16-17 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

    Ephesians 6:11-13 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

To think about the world, if it were all day long, is delightful; but as for holy meditation, how the heart wrangles and quarrels with this duty! Now truly, no other reason is needed to prove a duty is good, than the reluctance of a carnal heart to do it. For instance, in the duty of self-denial: “Let a man deny himself,” Mat. 16.24. Self-denial is as necessary as heaven; but what disputes are raised in the heart against it! What! To deny my reason, and become a fool that I may be wise? No, not only deny my reason, but my righteousness! What! To cast it overboard, and swim to heaven upon the plank of Christ’s merits? This is such a duty that the heart naturally opposes and enters its dissent against it. Yet this is an argument to prove that the duty of self-denial is good. It is just so with this duty of meditation: the secret antipathy the heart has against it, shows it to be good; and this is reason enough to enforce meditation.

Like myself, I hope this excites you to go deeper into the Word of God, to meditate on all things that He has given us to know Him, to worship Him, to praise and glorify Him. In doing so, may it also help us to crucify the flesh, to repent of our many sins, to seek His grace and growth in holiness that only the Holy Spirit can work in us! Yes, we have duties to do, but it is God who does ALL of the sanctifying work in us!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

Be Still!

Prayer is when you talk to God;
meditation is when you listen to God.

Author Unknown

I have touched on the subject in past writings and think I am going to go back to it and this time go a lot deeper. The problem that has been proposed to new Christians and even those who have been acting like Christians for some time is “How do I know what God’s Will (for my life) is?” Now I put the for my life in parenthesis because there is the basic will of God for all Christians lives and then is a called will of God beyond those of the general call such as a Pastor or teacher of the Word of God.

So in the opening quote of this devotional, we see listed two very important points of God’s will for the Christians life, one of which we do a whole lot more than the other. The other point we need to clarify when we are talking about God’s will is we need to look at it from the standpoint of duty or of service to Him. Not that He “needs us” but He desires us to worship Him, glorify Him, make Him known to the world in which we live in. Also, when thinking about it as a duty, do not think of it as work or a menial task, something taken lightly, that would be sinful and disdainful towards God. Rather look at you as the adopted child of God that you are, you have been called to work in the King’s court and all of duties assigned to the King’s servants are of great importance and God honoring; both to God’s glory as well as the child of God’s daily living and survival as well. Sometimes spending a lot of time in the presence and glory of  God, is known as the Shekinah glory.

https://www.gotquestions.org/shekinah-glory.html

Now some of you who know me might think I am off my rocker and have switched to the word of faith movement, I assure you, I have not, and the link above clearly spells out what I mean by God’s shekinah glory. People who spend a great deal of time with God show evidence of it, not necessarily because they talk a good Christian walk, but because you can see they spend time in the Word of God often and you see what the Bible calls the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

So again, the opening quote speaks of the two what I would consider the most important duty of new as well as seasoned Christians, and that is prayer and meditation, and both of these need serious and humble attention if one truly wants to do God’s will. One of the jokes I have heard is “God gave man one mouth and two ears for a reason… To listen twice as much as he talks!” and there is A LOT of truth to that saying. Now I will leave the praying part up to you, but will give this one suggestion, don’t go to God with a laundry list of what you need, for He already knows the all situations in your life, and secondly, don’t try playing “Let’s make a deal”. But do talk to Him as your Father who has great care for you and your life, pour out your heart, cry your tears of sincerity, for He again knows. The part we are going to focus on the next two weeks is meditation (remember, listening) to what God is telling us. Here is the plan and the breakdown I am planning on using and comes from a section of the wonderful book by Puritan Pastor and writer Thomas Watson titled “The Saints Spiritual Delight” and you can either download a copy or read it for free over at Monergism books, a GREAT site for solid Christian writings and teachings. So Thomas Watson speaks in great detail the importance of meditation and what we should be focused on all the time, and that is God the Father, Christ the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

He starts out by saying “the subject-matter of meditation: what a Christian should meditate upon. I am now entered on a large field, but I will only glance at things; I will only do as the disciples did: pluck some ears of corn as I pass along. Some may say, Alas, I am so barren I do not know what to meditate upon. To help Christians therefore in this blessed work, I will show you some choice select matter for meditation. There are fifteen things in the law of God which we should principally meditate upon.” Here are the devotional / lessons for the next two weeks at least.

  1. ) Meditate on God’s attributes
    a) Meditate on the Holiness of God
    b) Meditate on the wisdom of God
    c) Meditate on the power of God
    d) Meditate on the mercy of God
    e) Meditate on the truth of God

  2. ) Meditate on the promises of God
    a) The promises of remission
    b) The promises of santification
    c) The promises of renumeration

  3. ) Meditate upon the love of Christ.
    a) It would make us love Him again
    b) It would cause out eyes to flow with tears for our Gospel unkindness
    c) It would make us love our enemies
    d) It woule be a means to support us in the case of Christ’s absence

  4. ) Meditate upon sin
    a) Meditate on the guilt of sin
    b) Meditate on the curse of sin

  5. ) Meditate on the vanity of the creature

  6. ) Meditate on the excellence of grace
    a) Grace is precious in itself
    b) Grace makes us precious to God
    c) Grace is the best blessing

  7. ) Meditate upon your spiritual estate
    a) Meditate about your debts
    b) Meditate about your will
    c) Meditate about your evidences

  8. ) Meditate upon the small number of those who will be saved

  9. ) Meditate upon final apostasy

  10. ) Meditate upon death
    a) Meditate on the certanity of death
    b) Meditate on the proximity of death
    c) Meditate on the unvertanity of the time
    d) Think seriously that dying is done but once

  11. ) Meditate upon the day of judgment
    a) Meditate on the solemnity of this trial
    b) Meditate on the universality of this trial
    c) Meditate on the impartiality of the trial
    d) Meditate on the exactness of the trial
    e) Meditate on the outcome and consequence of this trial

  12. ) Meditate upon hell
    a) Meditate on the pain of loss
    b) Meditate on the pain of sense

  13. 13) Meditate upon heaven

  14. ) Meditate upon eternity
    a) Meditate on eternal punishment
    b) Meditate on eternal life

  15. ) Meditate on your experiences
    a) Has God not provided liberally for you
    b) Has not God prevented many dangers
    c) Has not God spared you a long time
    d) Has not God often come in with assisting grace
    e) Has not God vanquished Satan for you
    f) Have you not had many remarkable deliverances

It is going to be kind of a lengthy, yet very profitable journey, one of which I am excited and yet nervous at the same time. I do not know about you, but times of growth are great for me, but sometimes can be painful too. For their may be sins that we have not discovered about ourselves or have covered for a long period time that rotten flesh has covered and needs to salve of the Gospel to properly heal. So I hope you will be sure to check back each day for the journey and growth in learning about true Christian meditation and the importance of this God given duty!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT GREAT A DISTANCE

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Archimedes

I am super excited this morning to write on this devotional! Why? Because when you get to be my age and you learn something new, you learn to appreciate it more, especially when it is ordained by God! 🙂 However, I must apologize ahead of time for any rambling or disconnects, but shall do my best.

The quote above comes from Archimedes who was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer and considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history. However, it was another great Greek mathematician who discovered how to figure out the circumference of the earth. Can you imagine the knowledge between these two alone, the hours spent studying, the discipline, and the contributions to what we know today, long before any supercomputers or other modern day methods. So what do two dead Greek math geeks have to do with God and today’s devotional? When you think about it and put it all together, everything!

First off, I would like to give credit where credit is due, for this new found and heart changing view of sin and forgiveness goes to my previous Pastor from Grace Christian Assembly in Smyrna TN, Pastor Jim McClarty, and the wonderful sermon – Be The Christian Part 4 – The Benefits. The whole be the Christian series is fantastic and there is A LOT of other deep theological teachings and resources available on the rest of the churches web site as well.

Okay, so paraphrasing from Pastor Jim in part of this sermon, Pastor Jim mentioned that he was thankful that God allowed King David to understand the basics of geography, because King David mentions in Psalm 103:12 – as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Okay, as if that is not amazing enough in itself, here is the teaching part that blew my mind!

What we know now, King David did not know then, and that was how big the world actually is. Back in that time they did not know about the rest of the unexplored world that had existed like modern day North American and other continents. As the world was explored and developed over thousands of years, in 1909 the North Pole was discovered, and two years later, the South Pole in 1911. Now that you got a free geography refresher, have you ever wondered why there are not east and west poles (I’ll let you research that one for yourselves 😉 Okay, back to Pastor Jim’s preaching.

So If one were to walk towards the North Pole and keep walking, they would eventually be heading south. However, if one were to walk due east or due west, they would always remain going in that direction with no directional change end. One would always either be heading east or always west. Now when you put that together with what Kind David said in verse 103:12, we need a deeper and more impactful context. So Psalm 103:8-14

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

Look at all of these promises! Merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love! He does not discipline us forever, nor keep His anger. He does NOT deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our inequities! King David comparing the heights of the heavens to the earth (perhaps a conversation for another time) is how great the Father’s love is towards those who fear Him! Have you ever experienced such love on earth? I have experienced deep love, sincere love, but never perfect love, until knowing God’s love; for we are all sinners and incapable of such a love. Then we get to the east from the west portion, and speaks of how far He (God) removes OUR transgressions (sins) from US. This is something that we cannot do for ourselves, and why Christ came to die.

Even years later, the self-professed (at the time) chief of sinners, the Apostle Paul who says to His pupil Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Christ came! Christ came! CHRIST CAME!!!! to save sinners, came for all hear of His great salvation. Yet, hearing does not mean saved. A changed heart, a changed mind by God and for God, that puts faith in us to believe that Christ is the Son of God. The gift of repentance and confession that God shows us how sinful we are and the heinous acts we have referred to as “transgressions” that we commit against Him daily, and not only give little to no thought to, we definitely forget quickly how far those sins are forgiven and forgotten for those that fear Him.

May this be of encouragement for you to read and meditate on Psalm 103 today, learn to fear God, trust Him completely if you do not already, surrender all of yourself to Him if you have not already, for He is Lord of all! And if you are a Christian, give thanks ALWAYS!! God loves that His children are happy and well taken care of, but likes that He too is thanked and praised because of the blessings given as well.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WRITE THEM!

History is a story written by the finger of God.

C.S. Lewis

Recently I turned a year older and with that more mature age also comes more opportunities to become more forgetful or absentminded. One of the things we can learn to do to help overcome being forgetful, is to write things down. Even throughout the Bible God has commanded people to write things down, so they would not forget. Can you imagine what kind of a mess the Bible might be today if man did not obey God and write it down, and it had been spoken by mouth only all of these years, there would be quite a bit forgotten and left out.

King Solomon, the wisest human king in all of the Bible even taught his children (as God did us by having the Holy Spirit inspire certain men to write down His Word) by writing it for their generations to know. They did not yet have the whole complete story of God as we do today, and we should be thankful and grateful to God that we do!

Writing things down is only the beginning. We must also meditate upon (meaning giving much thought) what we have read and many times it is more valuable and profitable to read smaller portions of scriptures that to overindulge, especially if we are not writing it down. Writing it down also gives us references points to look back to. Maybe it was a sin that God gave victory over, maybe it was spiritual growth, maybe a word of comfort or encouragement that got us through some rough times. But again… WRITE IT DOWN!

Proverbs 3:1-3 – My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.

If we read, meditate, think about God writing this to us, when we take our time, it is a powerful Word and promise. Where there are commas, we should take as much time as needed to let God speak to us. So for example, verse 1- My son, (pause). If we have read our Bibles much, studied, prayed, meditated much could be written about these two words alone. For me, I hear God telling me, His adopted child, these exact words of wisdom that He gave Solomon to his children. My son shows that He possesses me as His! I now have a relationship where I can trust Him who has called me His own, and the greatest promise that comes to mind quickly is Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” NEVER, let ne be more clear on that N-E-V-E-R EVER will He leave or forsake those who are His! MAN what a promise!

Next part of the verse he tells his child what to do. One thing that just came to mind (thank you Father) and most of us probably do not even think about is actions or lack there of. We who have children, and have asked them to clean their rooms or some other chore, what usually happens? Okay, in a minute, or I’ll do it later, okay. Then they forget! When we are to do something there is always an outcome, good or bad. Ever experienced someone’s wrath when you were supposed to get milk on the way home and no one had any for breakfast the next morning? Yeah, me neither 😉 But the author (which by the way is ALWAYS the Holy Spirit) says “do not forget my teaching,” (pause again).

If we were to speak this out, would you think any one part be more important than the other? Like DO NOT, forget… or do not FORGET… For stubborn people like myself, this is what I see… DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING. Oh dear reader, how much do we forget and for so many reasons! I have spoken with my wife numerous times and challenged us both to how much time do we spend with God, individually and collectively? Have you seriously asked yourself that question? I can tell you from YEARS of personal experience, that you will NOT learn from or enjoy God if you DO NOT SPEND TIME WITH HIM! (emphasis added). We are the ones who have forgotten, we are the ones who forsake, not only His commandments, but Him! We treat God like He is some modern convenience that we can pickup and put down whenever we need Him, but for many Christians it is only when they are in trouble, or “God, do this for me and I promise…”, or maybe to finally win that multi-million lottery. If the Word of God does not satisfy you, nothing meaningful and long term ever will either. For the things of this world come and go, moth and rust destroy, and grow strangely dim. Yet, God… everything about Him is as the day when He first created, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

As if all of this is not enough in the first sentence, God uses a conjunction (not sure what He calls them, but that is what our English teachers taught us 😉 God says, BUT (which means to pay attention as I am joining it to something of importance) let your heart keep my commandments. Again, depends on where you might need to place some emphasis on the word(s) to drive the point home. Again we can see the importance of an intimate relationship when the writer uses words like heart and keep, and what are we to keep? His commandments! Now stay with me a little longer as we are just about done. I just want to stress the importance of the heart metaphorically. In Hebrews 8:10 it is written – For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. You might be thinking “Well that’s all well and good, but that is a promise for the house of Israel.” Not so fast… It very well be a promise for Israel, but we must not “forget” the other promise, “never will I leave you or forsake you.” God repeats this same promise again in Hebrews 10:16, but let us look at the entire context starting at verse 9 and ending at 17. Hebrews 10:9-17

Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Now we do not have time to unpack all of this together, and have showed you some basic tools on getting to the meat of what God is telling and showing us, but we have to be a part of the relationship, and must be our first priority! If not, our other relationships will fail as well, and that should not be too hard to notice, nor where the problem lies… with us. Let us repent of our sins on how we have treated God, seek His forgiveness, and make it the TOP priority of having Him in our lives in ALL things. Why? Go back to the top of our opening scriptures and look at some more of His promises to His children 😉

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIANS ACTING OUT – PART 2

If men's religion prevails not to conquer and cure the wickedness of their hearts, it shall not always serve for a cloak. The day is coming when hypocrites will be stripped of their fig-leaves.

Mathew Henry

The first part of this is taken directly verbatim from the Merriam-Webster Website

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others.

Many people who falsely profess to be Christians knowingly and intentionally carry around and play the part of a hypocrite, and sadly for many of years has carried over into the church. Many have become infectious with this great sin because we do not spend time with God! We do not pray as we should, we do not study as we should, we do not examine ourselves and confess the sins the Holy Spirit shows us and God’s Word tells us about ourselves, and that my friends is the worst of all the hypocrites! In all honesty, we all have hypocrisy in us in some way, shape, fashion, or form. Now that does not make it right, and I believe God allows some to help keep us humble, kind of like the Apostle Paul and the thorn in his flesh. However, we should not be wearing this as a badge of honor, we like Paul should be begging, crying out to God, to have our flesh crucified and our spirits buffeted by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 12:4-6 –
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It’s part of the deal of being a Christian under the conforming and transforming power of God and His grace and mercy, it is part of the deal I am afraid, and we should lovingly praise and thank God that He is so merciful to us in that He could kill us instantly for such a sin if He wanted to. I mean if God killed both Ananias and Sapphira for grieving the Holy Spirit by lying about the sale of their land and keeping part of the money, how much more does the hypocrite deserve death a thousand times over!

The point is, let us become humble, loving, graceful, merciful as God has been to us. We are not judge and jury over others, and if we are about our own responsibilities, we will find that we do not have any time to worry about others sins as much as we do. Remember from Part 1, do not be a log inspector of your neighbors eye and be more of a speck inspector of your own.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

CHRISTIANS ACTING OUT – PART 1

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? - Mathew 7:2-4

Jesus Christ

Oh my oh my!!! Which thread to being unraveling this morning! One of the most sorrowful things I have ever heard this side of heaven as a Christian is people will not come to church because it is full of hypocrites! OH HOW SAD AND TRUE THIS IS AND SHOULD NOT BE! I promise if you were to think about and examine ourselves daily as we are commanded to do, and were honest with ourselves, it would not take long to smell the stench of hyprocrisy on our pristine worldly “Christian” image. Oh how we love to me speck inspectors instead of log lookers! Do you think I am kidding? Look at the following and see if any of this describes you? Again, examine your life, your actions, your attitude, and especially think about how you show yourself to others. Sure, the world is going to accuse us and condemn us, but what about our Christian brothers and sisters, the ones we will be with for eternity? The world should not be our primary concern, for the world hates us (the Christian) and loves its own.

Romans 2:19-24 – And if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

As if this is not enough to start to make us feel ashamed (and I pray it does Christian, because many of us need to be broken and thrown down off our high horses!) This is from my study time this morning and oh what conviction it brings we we ask God to show and reveal our many sins to us. Ask and ye shall receive!

1 Peter 2:1 – So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

One simple yet so powerful, so convicting sentence that consists of only 15 words!

The beginning of the sentence we are commanded (actioned with a verb) to do something, we are to put away, but not only that, in other areas of scripture, we are to continually strive against and to crucify our flesh and sins, and the only way is by the power of the Holy Spirit, anything less will not do and is more than likely hypocrisy. Look at the Apostle Paul’s words asking a the question…you who…do you? I promise you Christian brother or Christian sister, we sadly DO DO THIS! How do I know, well, based upon statistically data alone, by people who willing participated in Christian survey’s and said how much time they spent in the Word of God or praying, or worshiping God, it is a pretty good indicator to make an assumptive guess. However, I have also seen it with my own eyes, because I have seen and I know me! I also know that I have been the speck inspector and not looking at my own log.

But but but…. Yeah, truth hurts, doesn’t it.

Hate looking at and loathing your own sins, don’t you? You hate not being able to maintain your own little perfect life that you “think” you have control over but don’t. You find it easier, maybe even take great joy in pointing out the faults in others all the time because you don’t want to deal with you! But God… He does!

Let me give you a small, but crucial piece of advice if I may. If this is you, REPENT and fully submit your life to Christ whom you profess now, and be NOT like the world, but whom God is trying to make you to be, and that is molded in HIS IMAGE!

In the verse in 1 Peter 2:1 the Holy Spirit makes God point VERY clear as He inspired the Apostle Peter to repeat the word all three times and then conjoining each point with the word and four times. However, even before this verse, back in Chapter 1 of 1 Peter verses 15:16 he says “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Holiness this side of heaven is NOT perfection and is not possible this world, but we still strive in the Spirit of God by submission to Him, to desire to be holy, to be obedient, and that the world will know that we are Christians not by our words or even by our actions, but how we carry ourselves in our conduct overall. So many Christians today miss these crucial points because we are too busy being like the world! We slander other Christians because we are the perfect Christian, but they are not. They are the ones that envy, we do not, and they are definitely the slanders, because such words would never leave our holy lips. HOGWASH!! And this is what the world sees when it comes into the church, people acting just like they already act, so therefore they automatically think they are a Christian because we are all the same!

Does this not concern you? Does it not make you sad or mad that you and I act this way at times? Dear Christian, I do not say these things lightly or to condemn, rather to encourage us to run to the cross, run to those whom we have offended and to confess our sins one to another, so that we might be healed and the body as a whole strengthened! That is my hope and prayer, that we would repent of our worldliness, we would correct one another in grace and love, that we would be accountable, that we would sharpen with the Word, that we would burn with a passionate fire of the Holy Spirit within and say no to sin and foolish decisions and that God would grant great revival in the church for His glory. That droves would go out into the world and preach the Gospel, and thousands would be saved by Him, and that the number of Gentiles that only He has Sovereignly appointed to be saved would be so that Christ would return for His bride! God’s will be done, but we in the mean time, we too are commanded in many things to be about the Father’s business.

Are you?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

DEBT AND INDEBTED

“A man in debt is so far a slave.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To many people (myself included) live in debt because we are not happy with what we have or the way things are. We think by having the next greatest thing will make us happier. So we do whatever we can to obtain it, and are happy for a brief moment, then begin to feel the guilt and burden when that first bill comes due.

Even now or nation is going further and further in debt at an alarming rate trying to keep the economy afloat by borrowing money they cannot afford to borrow, and more than likely, create a debt so great, that it cannot be paid back and much, if not all will have to be forgiven. That scares me on how many generations these poor decisions all over debt our future generations will be heavily burdened by.

But even more importantly as we focus on our day to day world around us, I often wonder how often I and others think about the greatest debt of all, the debt of sin, and this debt is so bad, that it’s wages are death.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death.

This morning it reminds me of that Christian song “He paid a debt He did not owe” and look at the first few verses.

He paid the debt he did not own, I own the debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing grace”
Christ Jesus paid the debt I could never pay.

But let us look at this great debt that we owed in the form of the parable from the Bible in Matthew 18:23-27 –
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Now this parable speaks of a large volume of debt owed to a king, a debt so ridiculously large to drive home the point. But I also want to expand on it to modern day age, as like all debts, interests accrue. So back in the time when Jesus walked the earth he spoke of a man who owed 10,000 talents to the king, and back then it was a lot of money, but even more so today! That 10,000 talents today is an estimated $4,567,000,000! Yes, 4.5 BILLION dollars! And the debt in the parable is representing our sin, both individually, and collectively, and yet very few think of this, the greatest debt of all time and for all eternity!

This debt is so great that the second half of Romans 6:23 says this “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now let us not be like the second half of the parable where after this person was forgiven much debt and was released, found one who owed him little in comparison and has harsh with that person. When we become saved, we become indebted servants, and older version of the Bible use the term slave, unto Christ. Many hate those words and terms, but that is what it was like living in those days, and they are still words we can relate to. But being in service to Christ is not to repay a debt for a gift, for then it would not be a gift, and not only that, remember how heavy the debt was and the burdens it had upon us. No, we are to do good works, and part of those good works is telling others about the debt of their sins against a Holy and Righteous God, which is evangelism.

God does not save us so we can just sit around and wait to die! No God saves us that we might live! Live for His glory, live for the sake of our call, live for loving our neighbors as ourselves, and so much more! I pray that those reading today would take some time to seriously think about how much we sin daily, then compound that by the weeks, the months, the years, and then how old you are, and see how close you come to that 4.5 Billion sin debt, how much you contributed to it, and then think, are you truly thankful of being forgiven for so much Then think about, how do you reflect that forgiveness towards others. Remember I said in one of my others posts recently, forgiveness is hard! And yet, God willingly gave His only begotten not made Son, the glory of heaven, to come to earth to redeem sinful man! He paid a debt He did not owe, I owe the debt I could not pay.

There is a day of judgment coming, where all the debts owed to God will be called to reconciliation, one way, or another, and that debt is paid in full. That debt is either paid by you apart from Christ and your works and efforts will be judged and not good enough, and will be told “depart from me you workers of inequity”, or by Christs’ work on the cross of Calvary and God sees His Son’s precious blood covering us and we hear “Well done good and faithful servant”, because of Christ. Apart from God, apart from Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit, we have nothing good to offer God, yet, because of God, because of Christ, because of the Holy Spirit, we have ALL things good!

That is the reason we should be living like we are worth the price HE paid! For He is worthy to be praised, honored, and glorified in all things! The good times, and the bad! For he is worthy!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

IT’S NOT JUST THAT EASY

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14

The image above (minus my handy dandy “not” art work) was on a t-shirt by a famous Christian t-shirt company years ago, and sadly I used to own that shirt back when I was the “hip” Christian. Now I am all for using t-shirts or other means for the Gospel and get people to ask questions, but make sure it 100% focuses on making God the main thing, and not you. I also remember churches that put on their marquee signs “Christianity, so easy a caveman can do it (puke!)” These things greatly diminish who God is and makes His grace cheap. And if being saved is so easy, then why kill your only Son with such a horrible death!

Sadly this has been going on week in and week out for years in many of our churches!

Man (gender neutral) by nature, have the innate tendency to fully depend on and trust themselves once they get to a certain age. Out ability is to grow in self-confidence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency so that we can have self-worth. MAN, that sure is a lot of self pride!

One of the biggest, most silent, devious, diabolical, wicked, evil and very little contested things in the church as a whole today, is Easy Believism. Easy believism means up have the ability to decide to become saved, that God’s grace is made cheap by you bypassing His will and whom He has elected (chose) to reveal His will to, all because you heard about how bad hell is, or how great He will make your life more meaningful, or some other reason. Easy believism is also man manipulating man, to get him / her to do something in response. If you have been in church for some time or many years, you may have experienced the whole show of “With heads bowed and eyes closed, if there is any one here who does not know Christ, raise your hand. Walk the isle, say a prayer, sign a card.” You know the routine, right? Just because your name is on a card and some membership roll of a church DOES NOT make you a Christian in any way, shape, fashion, or form; Christianity is NOT that easy!

I have been listening to a wonderful series by my previous Pastor when I lived in TN, Pastor Jim McClarty of Grace Christian Assembly on the Christian life, and this message here, “Be the Christian” (nice shameless plug, huh 😉 which EVERY Christian needs to hear! One of the heavy hitting parts of the sermon is when Pastor Jim reminds the hearer that Jesus Himself says to His disciples in Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He wants me to do what! Yup, give up your life! Get over yourself, your pride, your self-sufficiency, your self-glory, your self-righteous, and follow me (Christ). Can you even begin to imagine what this nation would be like if Christians actually…. well, lived like Christians.

There are many other heavy words in the Bible for the Christian to do, for example; strive, struggle, sacrifice, be salt, be light, be a witness and a testimony for Him, walk in the Spirit, take up your cross and follow Him. Those certainly are not words of easy! God wants up to give up the things of this world, and trust Him in all things and give our lives (His really) back to Him in adoration, love, prayer, trust, faith, communion, service, and relationship.

I am one of the blessed ones that God revealed Himself over time. For in my earlier formation years, I too went through churches that their main theology was man centered, grace cheapening, theology lacking, and the like. Even though I was a member, I do not know how many times I went to the “alter calls” to be prayed over, but was not discipled for many years (and honestly still really have not), but by His true grace, removed me from such false gospel teachings!

Christianity is anything but easy and is very very narrow minded to the world! Remember in the opening, Jesus Himself said that the gate is narrow and the way to life (that is eternal) is hard. We in the western culture have had it far too easy (well most of us) for far too long and have come to expect much gain with little to no effort, and that is the same we expect from God. And times right now are beginning to get more difficult and fearful, and could possibly get much worse, and worry is setting in for many. If we who are professing Christians would read our Bibles, we would know that life has never been easy, and that trusting God in faith is key to dying to self and believing Him. In doing so, we become less fearful of this world and look more to the promised eternity to come. But the question you need to ask yourself and be completely honest, as your eternity does depend on it!

Has God called you, rasied you up from the dead sinful flesh, crucified on the cross of Calvary, and given you a heart to follow, honor, and glorify Him in ALL things? Or are you doing it all on your own? Again…

Hebrews 9:27 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

MENDING FENCES

Good fences make good neighbors.

Robert Frost

The quote above is most famously given credit to Robert Frost, but it actually comes from an old 17th century proverb. And what is the purpose of a proverb, to teach wisdom!

This weekend I watched my human daddy go it alone wrestling with my new kennel and trying to get it finished. The weekend before he got frustrated, angry, hurried and started pulling and tugging to unroll the chain link fence to my kennel and ended up damaging it and needed to repair it to keep it functioning it properly. Fences have many functions and purposes; some are low, and some are high, some are metal and some are wood, some are decorative and some keep things in or out. And when I think about fences in the Christian life, two things come to mind.

1) Those who are Christs’, He is their protection, their fence if you will, we are His sheep and He is our great shepherd. However, there is also a great enemy lurking about, looking to snatch away the weak sheep from the flock that they may be devoured, and unfortunately it happens from time to time. It is not because the shepherd did not protect the sheep, but the sheep did not eat or like to eat sheep food. Instead it settled for the things of the world which made the weak sheep lazy and lethargic, thereby making them easy pray.

2) These fences remind me of times when neighbors although separated for whatever reason, maybe like back in the days of the Old Testament, kept the property properly divided and the animals separate one flock from another, they served a purpose. Unfortunately, over time, these fences became too divisive, and the enemy has used them to make man greedy or even more secluded from his other neighbors, so again, they are easy pickings for the enemy. This is why fences need mending.

So why is this important, and how does it pertain to the Christians life? Well, first we need to define the word mend.

To mend something, means to be free from faults or defects, such as to improve in manners or morals, to be reformed. To be corrected or set right, to be put into good shape or working order, to improve or strengthened, to restore health, to be atoned for. Do these words not describe exactly the reason why Christ came to earth, to be an atonement for man, to make right and mend the broken relationship that sin caused between God the Father and Man. That Christ came to heal and cure the sickness and sin in those who repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in him.

This is the point of what James is trying to say in his epistle. Confess your sins one to another, pray for one another that you may be healed (mended). Like we discussed yesterday, when prayer is fervent, it is effectual, when prayer is meaningful, sincere, in love for God and for His truth, done in obedience and in the Holy Spirit, it avails much, and more than we know.

For to be truly healed, truly reconciled, man does not have the power to do so for himself and needs God.

We needed God to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to do His Father’s will, and that was to reconcile sinful man to His His Holiness and Righteousness. Christ blood shed atoned for the sinners sins, in that He was the propitiation, the perfect sacrifice acceptable by God for man to be not only reconciled, but Christs’ Righteousness imputed to us through being adopted into the Kingdom. Let us not also forget the Holy Spirit, the one who renewed us by removing the hardness and hatred towards God, the vile enmity the separated us. He who removed the heart of stone and gave us a heart of flesh, being renewed, invigorated, new eyes to see and ears to hear, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that call that tells all who are weary, to come, and He will give us rest. That reconciliation, that mending, is the best thing that could ever happen to a sinner, and that is why we too need to be fence menders. To show grace, mercy, and love to those who we have wronged and sinned against. To forgive and learn how to forgive, and in doing so, we will love our neighbors as ourselves.

So you have some fences that need mending? Do you harbor hate towards another, a grudge you have been holding on to for far too long. Is pride keeping you from being mended by God and mended to your neighbor? If so, confess these things, let them go, give them to God, for life is too short to continue heavily in these sins. Let us truly be reconciled one to another, for if we truly are is, we will be spending an eternity together in His glory, so we might was well get used to enjoying the blessing now.

#ToGodBeTheGlory