Monday, October 29, 2012

For Those of Us Who Preach

For those of us who preach, we would do well 
to remember that we are nothing special, but His 
word is.  It is not our words that save, and heal,
and bless, and restore; but His.  It is not our
words that have power and cut to the heart, 
but His.  It is not our gospel, but His. It is not 
our eloquence, but His unction that moves 
the heart. We are earthen vessels who 
preach the unfathomable riches of Christ.  
We are not the attraction, but merely the messenger.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Prayer for Sunday...A Prayer for Worship

In the congregations I shall bless the Lord.
I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that
is within me, bless His holy name.
Psalms 26:12b, 22:22, 103:1

Lord, cause us to ever be mindful of
why we are gathered here today.  May
You be blessed in our praying, in our 
praises, and in the preaching; and may
all of these bring blessing to Your holy name.
To You and You alone, as Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit belong blessing, honor, 
and glory.  May blessing and glory be
given to You through us this day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Source of Sin

Battling sin and its accompanying temptations is an internal battle.  As much as the temptation might come from the outside of us, it is the inside of us where the battle takes place.  Sin always occurs in the heart, before it manifests itself in our actions or behaviors.  James 1:14 tells us this, "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust."  Notice here that is is not someone else's lusts that we are battling against, but our own; it is not someone else's lusts that we are dealing with, but our own. This was Paul's point in Romans 7 as he talked about indwelling sin.

Unlike the old comedy skit by Flip Wilson, where he cried out, "The devil made me do it!"; we are complicit in our sin, because it starts and ends with us.  The source of sin is within, within each one of us; and although we have been washed and made clean through regeneration, we still live in a body where sin lurks, and where it is all too ready to respond to temptation, all too ready to indulge its desires in both our flesh and our mind (Ephesians 2:3).  James paints a graphic picture for us in 1:21 where he tells us that filthiness and wickedness still remain with us, as part of us.

What's the point?  Be aware, be very aware of the ease with which we are tempted.  Be aware, of how easy it is to sin.  Be aware that we, as Christians, are still in a body of unredeemed flesh, in which filthiness and wickedness still remain.  This is why Christ was chiding His apostles when they could not even fight their flesh to stay awake; and told them to watch and pray that they might not enter into temptation, because even though their spirit was willing, their flesh was weak.  This is also why we are told in the Lord's prayer to  pray to be led away from temptation and to pray that evil would not have its way with us.

So let us not be lulled to sleep, let us not be deceived, as sin is still crouching at the door desiring to master us; just as it has done from the beginning (Genesis 4:7).  But let us be strong in the Lord, and the strength of his might, let us be watchful and praying, let us be ever diligent in awareness of our own weakness.  Let us who stand, take heed lest we fall.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Humor and Perspective

Not only do Atheists have no song, they also have no hope.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eternal Life

Eternal life is not only everlasting
but also shares the qualities of
the life of God Himself,  its
indestructibility and its joy.

I. H. Marshall
The Pastoral Epistles
Page 125

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Keeping Elections in Their Proper Perspective

One of the great blessings and freedoms we have in our land is the ability to vote and have a voice in those who occupy the places of decision and determination in the governmental system that rules over us.  We have that privilege from city to county to state to the federal level.  It is a freedom and blessing that we should not take for granted; and it is a responsibility that we should not take lightly.  As Christians, in considering elections, politics, and the state and future of our governing entity we should also keep in mind that in all of this the Lord is still sovereign over the affairs of man, including those who govern and what form the governing system takes,  from despots and dictators, to military juntas, to kings, and to elected officials.

So let’s start with understanding the sovereignty and providence of God as it regards governing authorities and countries.  First, Romans 13:1-7 tells us all governing authorities that exist have been established by God, and they have a God ordained purpose.  So governments are no accident, but necessary and purposeful.  Another good place to gain insight is in the book of Daniel, as he was held captive in the most powerful empire in the world at that time. 

Daniel 2:20-21 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.  It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings.  Here Daniel understands that the Lord is in charge of this kingdom, its king, and its time on the earth.

Daniel 4:24-25…this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: that you be driven away from mankind and your swelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.  This was Daniel’s pronouncement of God’s judgment on the king of Babylon, the most powerful king on the planet. 

God determines who rules, whether it is a king or an elected official or a military takeover.  Yes, we vote and campaign, but in the end it is the Lord who works in and through the process and determines the outcome.

What about the nations, their time and place in history, and their rise to power and fall from power.  Let’s look to Acts for this:

Acts 17:24 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.

Yes, just as the Lord removes kings and establishes kings, He also establishes nations and removes nations; having already determined the length of time of their existence and their physical boundaries. 

So let us keep the elections in perspective.  God is ultimately in charge and works all things after the counsel of His will in accordance with His eternal purpose, the one purpose which runs through the millennia of the ages and the one purpose to which everything works together to accomplish. 

Also, we need to keep the end in mind, the end toward which all things are working together.  The end in which our Lord Jesus Christ shall come back to earth to set up His physical kingdom.  This is pictured for us in Daniel chapter two, especially verses 44-45; and also in Daniel chapter seven  (Also, Revelation 17:12-18).  God is at work even now in bringing all this to pass, and our country has its own part to play in all of this. 

In praying about an election we should always ask the Lord for His mercy and compassion upon us in not giving us as a city, state, or country what we deserve in the way of leadership.  There is no such thing as a Christian city or state or country, as these entities are made up of the people that inhabit them.  As those people go morally, so goes their government.  We have seen this over the last couple of decades here in our country as sin and an anti-God attitude has taken the driver’s seat in our culture.  And as the church has less and less influence upon our culture, we see the exacerbation of immorality of every kind, and the loss of a Christian consensus in our culture.  Therefore, we see God’s judgment on the people of a nation as the outcome of their voting highlights the extent of their degradation and depravity.  God gives them the desires of their heart by giving them over to a deeper level of depravity.  So, in essence, they elect the person they both desire and deserve.  You can see this pattern in Romans 1:18-32.

With all of this, what should we keep in mind regarding the current election?

*We are electing a government official, not a pastor or a spiritual leader.
*The elections do not determine the spiritual course of our country, but are an indicator of the spiritual    condition of our country.
*As Christians, part of the way we are salt and light in this culture is through our vote.
*There is never a perfect person to vote for.
*However, decisions are never made in a moral vacuum.
*All officials bring their morality into the office with them.
*As such, we should vote for the person that would bring a greater level of morality to the position.
*We should remember that that elected officials also appoint officials of like mind and morality.
*As citizens, voting is part of our civic responsibility.
*As Christians, we should be a citizen of this country as unto the Lord, and therefore be the best citizen we can be.
*We must not pin our hopes upon man, any man, but on the Lord.  Regardless of who gets elected the Lord is in charge, and in His good providence this elected official is part of God's plan for the culmination of all earthly kingdoms into the kingdom of His Son.

Remember, that we are instructed in I Timothy 2:1-2 to include those who rule over us in our prayers; and should do this keeping in mind Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes."