WHODUNIT PART 1

A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins, everything remains in the clear, but in the presence of a brother, the sin has to be brought into the light.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

My wife and I have started back to reading together before bed and I cannot tell you what a blessing it is before laying down and let the stress of the day fully release. We are currently reading the wonderful book by Jerry Bridges called The Pursuit of Holiness and I have included a link to it on Amazon should you be interested. I for one highly recommend it!

If you read yesterday’s blog post, we spoke about the wonderful gift of discernment that God gives His children insight beyond basic knowing right from wrong, but more importantly to see sin and He sees it, and the things He hates and finds as an abomination.  (what, you have not… well here’s the link – (Do You See What I see )

Today we are going to look at another great ability that we as Christians do such a great disservice to each other, and more importantly sin against God. But before we get into that, we must continually be understanding how Holy God is and how sinful we not only are, but are capable of being. Now I know that sin is not a very popular topic among the modern day church today, and many think that it is just not all that serious, can be swept under the rug or in the corner, or worse, ignore it and it will just go away (BIG mistake!).

When we look at today’s teaching from the book of James, we are going to be talking about (and hopefully learning AND applying this to our lives daily, starting today if we are not already) on confessing. This is probably one of the things that Christian do not like to do, and is also probably one of our greatest sins and do not even realize it! Secondly, this is also probably one of the biggest bonds of chains of slavery to that sin that Satan has bound us with! Why? Well 1 John 1:9-10 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Two things here. 1) No confession, no forgiveness, no cleansing from unrighteousness! 2) If we deny that we are NOT sinners, we make Christ to be a liar, and it shows others that the truth (the Word of God) is not in us.

So when we look at James 5:16 it starts with the word Therefore. My old Pastor in TN always pointed that out when reading texts and would tell the listeners that it was a BIG cue to make it obvious that it was marking the importance of what was about to be said, or as it he put it, why is the therefore there for (or something like that). Now if you do not already do this (and I highly suggest we all do), we need to study the Word of God, with intensity, diligence, prayer, and great care. Although it is written in our language, we should go back to the language it was written in to get the deeper meaning and context. I use the great free online resource at BibleHub

For example, when we look up the first word, Therefore, we get the following.

oún (a conjunction) – therefore, now then, accordingly so. 3767 (oún) occurs 526 times in the NT and is typically translated “therefore” which means, “By extension, here’s how the dots connect.”

Look! You may have also learned your first Greek word! So 526 times in the New Testament alone, God is trying to tell us “Therefore” and how to connect the dots!

Now here comes two words we normally avoid at all costs and cause us to sin (not confessing). What’s worse than confessing our sins to God, confessing them to one another! We don’t like to admit fault, we are too perfect to (yeah right!) We are flawless, self-righteous, too proud, haughty (remember that from yesterday and how much God hates it!) arrogant, slanderous, and the like. Wait a minute! You mean to tell me these things are sinful? I just thought things like adultery, murder, stealing, you know BIG sins (which of course I do not commit thank you very much) were the sins we were to confess, and since I do not do those things, I confess nothing to no one. Well, you may not commit those sins, but we all do commit many others that we probably do not even think about. Things like embellishing stories (lying), talking about the opposite sex in a lustful manner (Yup, Jesus says it is still adultery!), maybe something even as simple as not showing appreciation for a waiter or waitress for a job well job serving us and we have the means to bless them with a nice tip! Still have not even touched the tip of the sin iceberg. There is actually over 600 sins listed in the Bible, and just don’t have time to list them all here, the point is, WE ALL SIN!

So know that is out of the way, what are we going to do about it? Well, start by connecting the dots. We just learned what therefore means, but what does confessing truly mean and entail? Well, this is why it is very important to understand the meaning of words used in the Bible and the context therein. Confess can (and is) used in two different contexts in the Bible, we see here one in James 5:16, but what about Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Now the two ways are similar in that they mean “to acknowledge”, but in the Greek have two different words and meanings. To put it simply, the usage in Romans 10:9 is confessing, acknowledging Jesus in a covenant manner and believing who the Bible says He is and why He came as God in the flesh, leads to Salvation.

The confess in James means that we are admitting guilt, wrong doing, but let us see as God see, we S-I-N! Learn to say it, embrace your sinfulness, let it drive us as a hard taskmaster (at first, because we will go kicking and screaming) to the cross of Calvary. Learning to properly do this though brings many benefits! It helps to make us humble, to quit focusing on others sins and faults (NO ONE is more or less of a sinner in God’s eyes apart from being covered by the precious blood of Christ). We become more compassionate, kind, loving, caring, less cynical, and most of all, honor God in what He commands us to do!

It has been a little longer read than usual today, and I do hope you were encouraged and whetted your appetite, given you some new tools, and encouraged you to find ways to get into God’s Word more deeply and passionately. Thank you for reading, and hope you will come back for part two tomorrow as we finish this great lesson in the ability to confess.

Until then…

#ToGodBeTheGlory

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands
As darkness pulls the strings

From the song Slow Fade by Casting Crowns

I am going to warn you ahead of time, there is going to be an attempt at A LOT of terminology this morning to hopefully giving us a greater insight as well as learning about one of the greatest gifts, yet least used gifts, giving to His children. Probably too early for this, and not enough coffee, but here we go!

Let us first define clearly some of the words we are going to use as their definition can at times be wide, but this time will be narrow and fine pointed.

Hate – To express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility; to hate someone with great intensity.

Sin – An offense against religious or moral law. An often serious shortcoming; transgression of the law of God; to commit an offense or fault.

Practical – Of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal; being such in practice or effect. Capable of being put to use or account.

Discern – To detect with the eyes; to detect with senses other than vision. To recognize or identify as separate and distinct. To come to know or recognize mentally. To see or understand the difference.

So why these words for our foundation? Well, today, we want to learn (or learn more deeply) to see things as God sees them, and we can begin to do so if we use the greatest gift outside of salvation in Christ, and yet so few Christians do or pray for, and that is the gift of discernment. Now all people, in general (unless there is some major mental capacity of not being able to understand) were created to know the basics of right from wrong, and more importantly (hopefully) reinforced those values. For example, studies have been done in villages and tribes who did not know God or His Word, yet knew it was wrong to kill or steal, and their laws were much more strict and immediately enforced compared to western culture!

So today, we want to not only see with our eyes, but feel within our Spirit, what sin is against a Holy and Righteous God, and why it should matter. This is also one of the proof positives of the true Christian, and the fruits that are shown to others that they are God’s (You shall know them by their fruit).

Now in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 6, my heading says in about the middle, “Practical Warnings”. Remember from our definitions above, practical, and warnings should be pretty self explanatory. What we are about to get into is some of the harshest language in all of the Bible, must of which is clear to understand to the eye, but we want to discern with a heart like God’s!

Proverbs 6:12-19 –

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

The emphasis will be on verses 16-19, but I included 12-15 because it shows us who does such things and to stay away from them. You know ” Do not be deceived, Bad company corrupts good morals” 1 Corinthians 15:33

So it starts 6 things God hates, and all seven are an abomination to Him! Now if God hates, that cannot be good, and is a hatred that many of us cannot even begin to fathom because we do not have a proper view of His attributes of Holiness, Righteousness, Justice, and Judgment. Many think of God as love first, that He just sweeps sin away like some mystical maid cleaning up something like spilled milk. A true Christian could not possibly see sin in such an arrogant an dim manner! We should hate sin, our sin as He does! Yet, we hate others sins more than our own and pass judgment on them more than ourselves, and this should NOT be!

So what does this abomination mean? Something regarded with extreme disgust and hatred; loathing. Basically beyond just mere hatred.

So God inspires the writer of this proverb to go right for the jugular (metaphorically of course) to show us the reader one of the top things God hates; haughtiness – pride. The definition of haughty is – Blatantly and disdainfully proud : having or showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior. Yet the author uses eyes right behind haughty, telling us when we not only look down in disdain, pride, and arrogance, we are judging others. Don’t we Christians do a lot of that? People might not be as spiritually superior as us so we do not associate with them? 

The others are pretty self-explanatory, but still deeply think and meditate on them, praying that God will give us deeper discernment on these matters of our hearts, for they hinder us greatly from loving and ministering to others!

The last one says “One who sows discord among brothers”. What does discord mean?

Discord – A lack of agreement or harmony; active quarreling or conflict resulting from discord among persons or factions. Some synonyms include; disharmony, division, schism, strife, disunity.

Now this is where discernment (great wisdom from above) is greatly needed in the church. Why? Because people assume when others come into the church, that automatically qualifies them to be called brethren (a brother or sister in Christ). The Apostle Paul even gives warning in Galatians 5:14-15 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

May this give us ALL something to think about and pray about, that God would again give us wisdom from above, to use the discernment He wants His children to use, and let us honor Him by using this great gift in our lives to see ALL sins, not just these 7 (although they are very serious) to be honest with ourselves and ask for the Holy Spirits help to rid ourselves of anything that is impure and give them up for God’s glory. And in return, may He gives us a happier life in Him and less of this world!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

LIVING WITHOUT GOD

LIVING WITHOUT GOD

Wicked people will not seek after God, that is, will not call upon him. They live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many objects and devices, but think not of the Lord in any of them; they have no submission to his will, nor aim for his glory.

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on Psalm 10:1-10

Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.

Have you ever imagine what your life would not be like had you not ever known God, that there was such a person, creator, sustainer of all life? Well, many do daily without even realizing it, and not just people who do not believe their is a God, but so called Christians! Look at the opening quote by Matthew Henry and think of how many times it can be proven true that we live a life without God! We have thoughts, objects and devices that have none of the Lord in them! Does this truth hurt you? I am crushed and gives me much to reflect upon and cry out to be changed from my sinful ways!

But let’s go back to something simple for a moment. Let’s talk about true unbelievers in God. People who say He does not exist, or He did not create, or He does not sustain. Let’s think for a moment if God was not immutable (meaning He could change) and decided to say “You know, creation just isn’t worth it anymore. I am tired of trying, things aren’t working out they way I anticipated”, you know, negative stuff like we do all the time. So slowly God started to withdrawal His common grace. One day healthy people could no longer get out of bed, because God no longer sustained. Shortly after that, God turned out the sun, and all we had was our own fires burning to keep warm and give little light. Lastly, God turned off His air, that’s right, HIS! People would be dropping like flies in mere seconds! That’s just a small taste of what life would be like without God. Not only do we cheapen His saving grace, but we take for granted every day His common grace. We do not give thanks as we should that He does care about us, sustains, and especially loves us.

If you and I read 1 Timothy 6:8, can this be said of us? But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

What about Matthew 6:25 – Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Again, look back at the quote to show us again how more true these words are today than the day the were penned! “They have MANY thoughts, MANY objects and devices, but THINK NOT in the Lord in any of them; THEY HAVE NO SUBMISSION TO HIS WILL, NOR AIM FOR HIS GLORY!” 

Dear reader, if this does not speak to our flesh and show us even the minutest of our sins against God and prove we too are like the gentiles, the heathens, the God haters and deniers, are dare say one would be stone cold dead spiritually!

However, glory be to God! In that He IS IMMUTEABLE, He DOES NOT give up on His creation, He IS VERY gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and holds back the wrath we so deserve. Yet, there will come a day, and possibly sooner than we think or expect, and the God haters who lived like their was no God, they were their own gods, followed their own will, beat their own drum, and will no longer be anything more. Is that person you?

When you daily go our into the world, try perceiving in yourself what the world sees. Think before you speak or react, make sure you are being kind, patient, compassionate, loving, encouraging, or are you like one of the lights above in our picture? Unchanged, have not been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus, tired of doing things your way, juggling everything day to day, filled with fear, worry, doubt, etc. Then may I encourage you to go to Him in prayer, go confess your sins and shortcomings that your burdens may be lifted. Confess with your mouth that you have been on the wide road to destruction for far too long, been a prodigal, need to be cleaned up again. He already knows! Go back while their is still grace and mercy, and this time cling! Cling like there is nothing better this world has to offer. Cling as your life (your eternity does) depends on it. Ask God to teach you to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and how to love your neighbor as yourself. These things bring glory to God, and please Him when we are utterly and fully dependent on Him in ALL things.

If you are still having doubts that you have not sinned in this manner, let me leave you with this one more dire warning in the scriptures.

Walking in the light
1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Do you live with God, for the glory of God alone? Or do you live without God and for your own glory? Better fully determine that now while His grace still shines upon thee!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE MIRROR OF PERFECTION

THE MIRROR OF PERFECTION

It's hard to see your own face without a mirror.

Phil McGraw

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without mirrors? Me either… That is until recently. Take a think for a few moments, with deep intention and reflection (pun intended) on where we would be without mirrors and the importance of them. I mean after all, we probably think of more important objects in our lives, ones that have deep value, significance, meaning, purpose, value. Things like a car, a house, our cell phones, even the clothes we wear. Are you starting to see the bigger picture yet (okay okay, I’ll try to stop with the puns, but I won’t pinky swear 😉 All of the objects I mentioned might give a glimpse to others a reflection of who you are, but many times they do not show who you truly are. And that is where the importance of a mirror comes in.

I once read (but I do not remember where) that the laver mentioned in Exodus 38:8 where the basin and stand that were made from the bronze from the mirrors of the women who were ministering in the entrance of the tent of the meeting. Now glass mirrors had not yet been discovered or invented, and so they used pieces of metal to make mirrors back in their day, and have been discovered as far back as the Egyptian period. Which would make sense, and the Egyptians back then wore lots of makeup and jewelry, and spent much time preparing themselves for the day, even more so than women of today!

Now these mirrors were flawed in many ways. 1) they were just pieces of metal, so there were scratches and other flaws in the metal. 2) there was no curvature to them to give a good perfect reflection so they would only get a glimpse as to how they looked.

But let us go back to my opening question, have you ever thought about what life would be without mirrors. Well, for one, many of the photographs we have come to love and cherish might not exist. For inside the modern day camera were perfectly aligned mirrors that would capture the image through the lens and shoot it on to the film. There would be much of the universe in space that we would know nothing about, because of no telescopes. It would be hard to drive a car. I am sure you can think of many more. I even remember once of a little pocket mirror that gave out at school pictures in grade school to make ourselves look nice.

Ah, look nice. That sounds nice doesn’t it. We want to look out best, perfect, see what flaws we can hide from others. Enter the vanity mirror! Yup, like many other things in life, mirrors can be of use for good things and for bad, but the greatest mirror of all, people hardly ever use, and the mirror is the mirror of perfection, the Bible, God’s Word. Two of the most well know verses in the Bible when it comes to mirrors are:

1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

James 1:23-24 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

The Bible says very little about mirrors, but these two verses speak volumes! Me personally, I did not like to read God’s Word because I did not want to see myself the way I was. I already knew how much of a sinner I was and did not want to see or hear over and over how wicked, depraved, wretched, and sinful I was. However, the more I embraced that reality, it also allowed me to see the reflection of God more clearly in His mirror of perfection. His mirror daily removes my vanity, His mirror daily reminds me that I am made in His image, and one day will be perfected in glory like Him, sinless, perfect, because of His righteousness and not my own. Being in His mirror of perfection daily reminds me that I have many flaws and live in a not so perfect world, but being a representation of Him, I can (and should!) reflect His glory. Being in in His mirror of perfection daily gives me hope as I see each day passing by, I don’t have to be perfect in this world, that my physical looks keep changing, and learn to embrace those imperfections so I can embrace them in others as well, allowing me to love them, show them grace and mercy, walk with them in their trials and tribulations. Which is what James is saying, if we hear the Word of God only, and not Doers of the Word.

Do yourself a big favor today. Set aside a good amount of time for prayer and for looking in God’s mirror of perfection. Ask Him to show your flaws and to see through them. Ask Him to show you your sins and embrace them so you can confess them and seek to be forgiven and cleansed from all your unrighteousness. Ask Him to reflect Himself in you, and that too would be the radiance of His glory to a darkening and dying world. And above all, ask Him to remind you daily of what you look like when you use the world as your mirror instead of His mirror of perfection, in that you would give up more of the world to spend more time with Him.

The words from the now famed hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus remind me much of the dark mirror of this world, and the light reflected therein by Christ.


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the savior
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

Helen Lemmel, the writer of this hymn, wrote over 500 hymns, taught music, and eventually succumbed to blindness, and yet, I have a great feeling she still praised the Savior all the day long. And so should we, for we have a God who is greater than all of our circumstances and problems, so look daily into the perfect mirror so you too can have this peace that surpasses all understanding!


#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE SWEETNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD

THE SWEETNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD

Meditates ~ hagah – to murmur or mumble “Meditation is to the soul what ‘digestion’ is to the body. It means understanding the Word, ‘chewing on it,’ and applying it to our lives, making it a part of the inner person.”

Have you ever heard the saying “Honesty is the best policy”? Probably been awhile since you have heard that, right? Take some time to research where that came from some time, some thing that we all need to work on. But you might be thinking, what does that have to do with today’s devotional. Well, that is a rabbit trail for another time perhaps, but for today’s lesson, we need to learn to be very honest with ourselves when it comes to taking care of us spiritually, and to do so, we are going to have to be honest with ourselves, REAL honest!

Like many of you reading, I do not do the best job of taking care of myself in the physical sense. I consume more sugar than I should, eat more bacon than I probably should, let’s not even talk about the coffee intake (oh yeah, be honest with ourselves, sorry), very little physical exercise, poor sleep, and the list goes on. Does that sound like someone you might know? Unfortunately, bad habits like these carry over into other areas of our lives as well, especially our spiritual ones, you know, the one that we are supposed to be spending time with God spiritual life. Strike a spiritual nerve, kind of like a cavity on a physical tooth? Yup, me too, and that is why we are going to talk about changing those spiritual habits today!

Let’s start by asking ourselves a simple honest question, again, truthful. By being truthful God will show us our sins and heal us as well as help be honest with others (okay, enough of that rabbit hole 😉

What was the main topic of the last sermon you heard? What were some of the sub-points of the main topic? Like many others, most of the time we do not remember or can recall, and if we do, it is not for a very long period of time. We might be more worried about where we are going to go eat after church, or rush home to catch up on the big game, or some other thing of the world that wants to distract us from God’s Word. This is why proper meditation is needed. You want me to do what? Bend into all sorts of crazy positions that will take a team of doctors to untie me from, no thanks! No silly, that is NOT Christian meditation, and sadly many Christian not only meditate in the wrong manner, but have brought the worldly type into the church!

Christian mediation is a verb, more specifically an action verb, and it means to contemplate, think deeply about, study, wrestle with, ponder. So why is this so important to our spiritual life? Well, if it is anything like our physical life, we are in deep trouble! You know when we eat a poor diet like lots of sugar or saturated fat, what do we feel like? Sluggish, sleepy, lethargic, lack of focus, etc. Yup, that is the same way we are going to feel when we take care of (or lack thereof) ourselves in the spiritual manner.

When we do not digest the Word of God, we might as well be eating dirt and gravel and try to get through sinful dark world! Look back in my life, I cannot tell you how many times I said things like “God why did you do this to me” or “why were you not there when I needed you” You know, blameshifted our problems on to God, just like our federal parents Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. In reality, it is all us (I know I know, honesty!), because we never give much thought, if any, to what we were spiritually fed.

Just as bad, we also have a problem on the other side of the same coin, and that may be we had a poor teacher. Oh sure, we have some preachers who have the latest tips on how to be a more hip, cooler Christian by getting fired up over the entertainment the service opened with, maybe a mention or two of God’s Word, and spoke with great passion and eloquence, but all it was was sugar. Like our physical selves, you are going to have a quick high, and then…. CRASH!

This is why it is important we have a solid diet of God’s Word, that we have some substance to chew on to get us through life, and those tough times, the trials we all go through, and God’s Word tells us about and how to get through them. When we have the solid Word of God in us, it stays there when we meditate on it, we we are praying it, when we are preserving in it. Sadly though, many churches do not give much meat of God’s Word, and worse, some barely give any milk, and what they give is not of much spiritual nutritional value and spoils quickly. But again, we can blameshift (which is a sin by the way) the situation to our church or someone else, or we can be accountable to God for the Word He Himself not only inspired to be written down, but allows this nation to be free to study and talk about Him, and we waste those opportunities too! Imagine how different this world would and could be if the over 200 million professing Christians in this nation were reading, meditating, praying over God’s Word!

Hopefully I have given you much to think (meditate) upon and that you will work on changing your spiritual diet! We ALL have room for improving upon and growing in maturity in the Word of God. He is not going to force us to do it, but we also need to take accountability for ourselves and what we eat, just like we do physically. The question is, will you?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. - Habakkuk 2:1-3

The Prophet Habakkuk

I have written these past few days on Psalm 1, and spoken of both the blessed person and that who is wicked. This morning as I was reading some commentary on Psalm 1, I came across some interesting points to help drive these points home, and hopefully give you, the reader, some things to ponder for your own walk with God. We are going to look at two different viewpoints from two different prophets, Habakkuk mentioned in the opening quote, and from Elijah in 1 Kings. I will use Habakkuk to set the stage and Elijah and Psalm 1 to bring it all together.

Have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the wicked and the dishonest people prosper. Why do they get elected to the White House? Well, that is not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it.

Habakkuk’s name means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” As is usually the case, his name has something to do with the message of the book. I think it relates to the fact that he was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, then why do the evil prosper? What is God doing in the world? We discussed a similar thought coming from the Israelites in Zephaniah 1:12. They said God did not do good or evil. They thought God was not involved and so continued in their sin. Habakkuk is one of the good guys. He fears God and does what is right, but it is getting him no where. (Taken from Bible.org – https://bible.org/seriespage/8-habakkuk)

Here is also an outline we can use as we read for ourselves the Book of Habakkuk.


Title (1:1)

Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)

God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12;2:1)

God’s Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)

Habakkuk’s Prayer: After asking for manifestations of God’s wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch. 3)
(https://www.biblestudytools.com/habakkuk/)

So how does all of this matter between the Book of Habakkuk, Elijah, and Psalm 1? Patience dear reader, patience!

So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” – 1 Kings 18:42-22

Two things I would like to point out in these verses in 1 Kings. The first being at the end of verse 42 “And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.”

Not only did this prophet know what it took to be alone and away from the world and the problems therein, but Christ Himself, the GREAT Prophet, Priest, and King do likewise. Many times He would seek to get away to be with and commune with His Father (and ours who are truly saved), should we not be doing likewise if we are following Christ? The prophet Elijah also submits himself humbly. Not only did he bow his knees, but put his face between his knees. Could it be that he was so ashamed of his sins and that of his countrymen Israel? If so, when we seek God, should it not be the same for us, that we humbly submit and not hide our sins, rather our faces from He who is Holy?

The other part I want us to see and mediate upon is that at the end of verse 43 and the first part of verse 44 “And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

It has been said that at times, the number 7 mentioned in the Bible is referenced as that God is communicating the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness by means of the number 7, and I do believe this one of those times that God used Elijah to teach his servant how to look for God, wait on God, and that things happen in God’s timing.

Okay, great! So how does all pertain to Psalm 1?

Well, as we saw the past couple of days the compare and contrast of the blessed man and the evil man, we can conclude the following. The blessed man knows God for that is from whom all blessings flow, and he desires to spend all his time with God, not because of worldly blessings, but spiritual, whereas the wicked man is not interested at all in the things of God, but the things of the world are his false god.

2) In both Habakkuk and 1 Kings, we see there are times of properly questioning God, seeking His will and wisdom in what is going on in His creation, and waiting on His timing in all things, especially when it comes to; reading, knowing, and understanding His Word.

Let us learn from these two prophets and see what it means to truly be blessed by God! Are there times of struggle, doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, regret, etc. You bet!! But I dare say it is because we do not know God, trust God, spend much time with God, pray to God, etc. For it is these doings that bring peace by God, through God, and for our comfort. So the question still remains, are you spending time with God during these difficult times in the world today, or do we start out in frustration like Habakkuk did? Thankfully there is daily grace and mercy, that we can turn from our doubts and fears because of the world, and trust God, who is Sovereignly in control.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 2

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 2

Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. - Matthew 3:10

John the Baptist

One of the greatest ways that the Bible teaches us, the students who study the Bible, the way to absolute truth and wisdom is by comparing and contrasting.

We may have at some point in our lives heard the idiom of “Comparing apples to apples or Apples to oranges”, which means comparing things that are alike to each other or indifferent.

So it is with the Bible. Imagine if God the Holy Spirit inspired man to write everything in the viewpoint of nothing to compare the Word to. Granted, the purpose of the Word of God IS to lead and guide into ALL absolute truth, for God cannot lie. Yet, since the fall into sin was so great, and man so easily deceived, many times God teaches by comparing and contrasting to lead us to the truth. Vivid imagery like light and darkness, good and evil, hope and despair, love and hate.

Yesterday we started out with such a description in Psalm 1, and it starts out on a positive note, Blessed!

However, we are not automatically blessed, for the scriptures say “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”. Man is doing an action verb, walk(ing) and either in the ways of righteousness or in the ways of evil, and if walking in the way of righteousness, He is spending much time with God. If we too use our time wisely in study, prayer, meditation on the Word that we read, we will find we have less time for sin and are more at peace with God.

This psalm also has one of the most clear, most vivid descriptions of what takes place to evil wicked people, and this warning should get the attention of many, yet sadly does not.

Yesterday we read that the Blessed man, grows strong, bears fruit for the Kingdom of God, he does not wither, and continues to prosper in all that he does. BUT… The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff the wind drives away. Have you ever studied what chaff is? Chaff is the loose, outer covering on wheat and other grains that must be separated in the threshing and winnowing process of harvesting grain. Chaff is pretty much worthless and was either used in adding it to the feed of the livestock, for they were able to process it whereas humans cannot, or it was used for burning fuel, which would not last long for it was so lightweight and a quick burn time. God created ALL things with a purpose and of value, and like the chaff is to protect the grain within from damage and retain its purpose and value, so it is with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer, in that they (believers) will not be burned with the judgment of fire.

When we study intently the Word of God, we find out how chaff was cleared from the threshing floor. Sometimes the grain lightly tossed in baskets into the air to blow the chaff away, but many times it has beaten and threshed or tossed about by the winnowing fork, or as we know it today as a pitchfork.

If we look again at our opening quoted scripture, shortly after John the Baptist says this in Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This speaks of the final judgment to come which is also referred to at the end of psalm 1:5-6 ” Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

This psalm and these words are both words of comfort and of concern. They comfort those that are truly saved, and should be of great concern of the judgment to come! They should also be of concerned to those who are saved in that we have work to do to a dying world! We were not saved just for us to have a good life, to lay back in comfort until we die. Oh dear child of God, may it not be so that are hearts or so calloused, so cold, to those that will one day be threshed and beaten into damnation and judgment. We have good works, Gospel works, that we are called and commissioned to! I dare say if we are not about the Father’s business as Christ was, we too might want to not only read this psalm, but pray through it that God would gives us eyes to see, and spiritual hearts to compare and contrast our own lives to that of His Word. We are to be daily self-examining ourselves, judging ourselves to His Word, not others.

Dear reader, I hope you see not only the seriousness in these few words in psalm 1, but will continue to make the Word of God a daily part of your life. By doing so, He will bless you when you seek Him with all your heart, all your soul, all you might, and all your strength. He will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding, especially in these times of uncertainty, and one day will come for His bride.

So again, are you firmly planted, or are you easily blown away like worthless chaff? Only you and God can determine that.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 1

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 1

Spiritual growth depends on two things: first a willingness to live according to the Word of God; second, a willingness to take whatever consequences emerge as a result.

Sinclair B. Ferguson

This is beautiful imagery using an analogy of what a true Christian is like. First we have that the Christian is like a tree planted by streams of water. Trees when properly planted serve purpose, and are not haphazardly planted. Trees that are also planted with purpose means that there was a planter. God, the creator of all things, created us, planted us in our mothers womb, bore us, daily sustains us by giving us life. We were the greatest of all His creation on earth that we would reflect the glory of His image to the world, which brings us to the next point in the analogy.

It signifies there was a specific place to be planted, in this case by streams of water. There are many verses in the Old and New Testaments on living waters, but the main one that comes to mind is when Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well in John 4:10-11. Even more importantly Jesus Himself says later in John 7:37-38

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as  the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Now we know how important physical water is to survival of all creatures and humanity, more importantly is the spiritual waters, and in the case of John 7, Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit who had not yet, but who is yet to come after Jesus ascends into heaven.

Being planted near a stream also allows the tree to drink in a healthy manner without being drowned. If too much water is consumed too fast, it can have an adverse affect on the tree. Streams also representing a flow, a constant source of water, one that does not dry up. So it is with the Christian that is firmly planted daily in God’s Word, spending time and communion with their creator, being filled with the living water to withstand the challenges of their day.

As I stated earlier, these specifically planted trees have purpose, and in this case, they are supposed to bear fruit in yield its fruit in season. Newly planted trees do not bear fruit, but need to be properly tended to so that one day they will. More mature trees should be bearing much fruit as to also provide more good seed to plant other trees as well.

It is quite interesting that the Holy Spirit hear led the writer of this psalm to use the word yield, which is used in verb form eluding to the fruit having a purpose. When God invests in us, the planted tree, when He cares for, nurtures it, tends to it, He expects the trees to yield fruit. And not just any fruit, but that of the Gospel to the world.

Charles Spurgeon, the famous preacher and theologian quotes fellow Englishman and theologian, Adam Clarke “Fruit is expected, fruit is borne, and it comes also in the time in which it should come. A godly education, under the influences of the divine Spirit, which can never be withheld where they are earnestly sought, is sure to produce the fruits of righteousness; and he who reads, prays, and meditates, will ever see the work which God has given him to do; the power by which he is to perform it; and the times, places, and opportunities for doing those things by which God can obtain most glory, his own soul most good, and his neighbour most edification.”

We also see that the leaves of the tree do not wither. Just as the roots of the tree bring water into the base of the tree to give it growth and make it strong and firmly planted in the ground, the leaves also have a purpose. Just as in a natural tree is to gather in the sunlight and oxygen to help grow the branches and help in the bearing process for growing the fruit, the spiritual trees leaves gather breath from the Holy Spirit, and Gospel light from God the Father and Christ the Son. Without out these things, the tree will wither, dry up, and die.

However, a tree planted by God cannot wither and die, rather it will prosper. It is a prosperity that is not rich by means of this world, but is rich from the heavens above. For the things of God in the Christians life are far greater than anything this world has to offer. As the psalm starts out, so it will one day end, Blessed is the man!

But the question is, have you been planted by God?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THERE IS NO TRY, ONLY SUBMIT

THERE IS NO TRY, ONLY SUBMIT

This attitude of complete submission and complete trust is of course the key to working out our own salvation in fear and trembling and is the mark of a truly spiritual Christian.

John F. Walvoord

For many of us in the world, we live lives of modern convenience, and by this I mean, anything within (and sadly many times beyond) our means, in that we can have something whenever we want it. You want this style of clothes, you go to that particular store and try them on. You want this particular type of car, you go to that kind of dealership. You want to eat that particular style of food, you go to that restaurant.

Unfortunately that is how many treat the church, and worse, Christ today.

The majority of churches in the Western culture greatly vary in their teachings, worship, doctrines and beliefs from one another. One has this style and method, and another completely the opposite. Not that this is necessarily bad in and of itself, but we try church until we find something that fits our lifestyle rather than submitting to God for our lifestyle to change. After all, that is what Christianity is all about, us being changed from the fallen sin of the world in us, being made back whole again to the image we were created in, HIS!

Being a Christian is about being like Christ, and one of the greatest lessons He teaches is that of submission. That of laying our lives down for others, submitting to His will and not ours, dying to self, picking up our cross daily and follow Him. Yet, few of us actually do, and have you ever wondered why? My take is this, we love too much of the world and everything in it! I have said it in recent posts, but think it is well worth not only repeating, but memorizing these verses.

1 john 2:15-16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.

Don’t believe me that is a large part of our problems as Christians, then here is a very simple test, but it is going to take complete honesty and transparency on your part. If you want to share your results with others and encourage them to take the challenge, then do so.

Here is the challenge. For three consecutive days (longer if you so choose, but three days) keep a journal of everything you do and account for as much time as possible. So if you know you slept 8 hours, then 6 the next, write it is such. How much time you spent in leisure (and break it down specifically); social media, watching tv, playing sports, working out, etc. Now here is the difficult one! Write down how much time you spent with God. How much time reading His Word, praying, worshiping, maybe listening to Christian music thinking of Him, praising Him. This will give you an idea of how much time we submit to the world and not to Him, and when we are yoked to the world, we are not in submission to Him.

In the John’s first epistle he writes to the church, he repeatedly uses a specific word 16 times to remind the church what they should do, and that word is abide, which is a verb, one that is to be acted upon. This is where the rubber meets the road, are we truly followers of Christ, or like the things of the world, are we just trying Him out. Taking Him for a test drive to see if He will fit into our lifestyle and when convenient. This is NOT Christianity, and sadly, this is how many churches treat God.

Christ did not die so we could have more of the world. Christ died that we may be saved from our sins in the world, that we would submit to His ways by following Him. The scripture quoted in 1 John chapter 2 should be a wake up call to many of us in our slumbering of the world, cause great alarm and repentance, and to seek first the Kingdom of God in our lives. Two things are sure, 1) Our days in this world are numbered, and one day judgment will come. 2) He will not tarry for every and come back quickly. This should give us enough cause and concern to be about the business of the Gospel and quit loving the world with out time, talents, and treasures.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

LET THE REDEEMED SAY SO

LET THE REDEEMED SAY SO

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Romans 10:14-18

This has been upon my heart so much during these trying times of what the world is calling a pandemic and is using constantly and feeding daily reminders about what is being called the “new normal” and trying to get people conditioned and acclimated to what the world wants us to believe. If we are a logical and critical thinker, we would quickly deduce that the opposite of normal is not a “new normal”, like it is some sort of new soft drink, the opposite of normal is abnormal.

As I finished up reading the book of Revelation and know what one day (possible soon) will come, and a level of death that will be far far worse than what this pandemic has and will cause (for the death will be in the millions), the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be proclaimed more than ever today.

One of, if not the greatest and most important duties a Christian has, is that of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So many new believers struggle with knowing what God’s will is for their lives, and this is the first thing we are to do is go and tell others the “Good News” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So why is this duty of doing so important? Well, for one, not only as believers, but more importantly disciples of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to do so in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The thing is however, we cannot do something that we ourselves do not know and understand, nor are we capable of doing something that we are not, and in doing so, could very well be in danger of hypocrisy!

How can that be, and why would I say such a thing! Let’s look at an analogy right quick. Say you had the money (represents the great gift of proclaiming the Gospel) and you used the gift to purchase a nice leer jet. Now if you have the money, they will sell you a jet even though you don’t know how to fly it. So you get your jet and then go around bragging about all of the wonderful places you will go, but you cannot fly the plane without a pilot (the Holy Spirit), and you yourself do not have a pilots license. Yet, you go around and tell people you are going to go, but never do. What good is it to have this wonderful gift and not be able to use it?

That is the same way with many so-called Christians. They do not go because of one of two reasons. 1) They are not truly saved, nor have they counted the cost of what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ.

2) They have not been trained! How can a person be expected to do something they themselves do not know how to do? Sadly, this is how many churches today leave their so called converts (believers in Christ) and to those churches, more numbers and more money in the offering plate is all that matters. They will one day be held accountable to what God has given them!

Now many of your might be mad by now, and that’s okay, but I am being honest. And unless you do not see the importance of people’s salvation, true repentant, faith saving, truth believing salvation of others, then I would say you are mad for the wrong reasons. I am not saying these things our of judgment and condemnation, rather out of love and great concern for those going to hell. For the confession that I too have not done as I ought to be doing all of the time, and know I WILL be held accountable just as those churches will be! Why? Because we are ONE BODY and ONE CHURCH!

Just to give you a rough idea of what we are facing in the TRUE spiritual pandemic, that of unsaved people, here are some quick eye opening statistics from last year. Now mind you, these are combined numbers, meaning what the writer is referring to as “religious” not necessarily Christian, for the grouped together Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, etc. but this is just for number effect. We are also going to use the old church saying of “20% of the people do 80% of the work.

In 2009, there were an estimated 233 MILLION “Christians” that means there should have been on average 46,600,000 Christians doing God’s will! Do you think they were? Can you imagine how the world we be today if they were! 10 years later, there is a rapid decline of those who no longer believe (and I contest that many were not truly converted to begin with) 13 million people have given up on their faith! This is 13 million more people that are potentially bound for hell, and that is not even including the millions of others who are definitely not even saved! This is why proclaiming the Gospel is so important!

Lastly, as we see in our opening scripture of how will people respond to a call they have not heard, and how can their hear without someone preaching or proclaiming? Do you remember the old movie scenes where someone (usually a child) was standing in the public square on top of something yelling “EXTRA EXTRA read all about it” followed by the latest news headlines? That is proclamation, and that is how we need to be about the Father’s Kingdom business, and is not only our duty for those who are saved, we have been elected to do so, and willingly, not reluctantly, all for the glory of God alone. This is one of the greatest signs that both shows the dying world that you are Christ’s, and are not ashamed!

#ToGodBeTheGlory