Thursday, July 25, 2013

Praying for the Revelation of Sin in Our Life...Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24

What the Psalmist is really asking the Lord here is to show him his sin; and having shown him his sin, then to lead him away from that sin.  He asks the Lord to examine his heart, his thoughts, and his way of living.  In the context of this Psalm we see that the Psalmist understands that the Lord knows all about him, in fact knows everything about him that can be known, even to the point that the Lord knows what he is going to say before it is said.  So in the last two verses the Psalmist, in light of that knowledge, asks the Lord to examine him and lead him in His way.

In Romans 8:13 we see that we are to be putting sin, the deeds of the body, to death; or to phrase it as the Puritans would, we are to be mortifying our sin.  But the trick for many of us who have been Christians for a while is that while we have dealt with the obvious sins, the overt sins, what is left are the more subtle sins, the sins which are such a part of us that we don't see them for what they are.  Sins that we have gotten so comfortable with that we are not sensitive to them.  My wife calls them the sneaky sins.  

You know, before we can deal with sin, we must confess it as sin; and to confess our sin we must see it for the sin that it is, and call it as such.  This is why we must ask the Lord, just as the Psalmist, to show us our sin, and then to lead us away from that sin.  This is a prayer that we know the Lord will answer, because He wants us to be holy as He is holy, and He wants us to desire to be holy.  

We should never grow complacent in our walk with the Lord, and just because we are not aware of our sin, does not mean that we do not have sin in our life....oh, just the contrary.  But it is way too easy to say we know that we still sin while really not pursuing the destruction of sin in our life.  We must remember that sin is sneaky and deceitful all the while desiring to have dominance in our life.

So let us be like the Psalmist who trusted in the Lord enough to ask Him to reveal his sin, so he could be led out of that sin, could put that sin to death, could have victory over that sin by power of God.  In fact, if you will pray this prayer you will see the Lord reveal to you the sin He most wants you deal with right now.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Speaking Christ and Living Christ

...the light of Christian character is an
uninterpreted parable if we do not 
speak about Christ.  Equally, speaking
about Christ is futile if our lives do not
back up what we say.

Alec Motyer
The Message of Philippians
Page 134

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vacation, God, and Creation

For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice
that by the word of God the heavens existed long
ago and the earth was formed out of water and by
water, through which the world at that time was
destroyed, being flooded with water.
II Peter 3:5-6

My family and I just returned from an 9 day vacation in Wyoming and South Dakota.  It was a great time for us all, the diversity of beauty in Wyoming was incredible to behold, and the Black Hills of South Dakota were a very pleasant surprise.  One of the highlights of the trip was a two hour horseback ride in the Tetons.  On this ride we ascended over 2100 feet to one of the peaks in the area, and on the way up I couldn't contain myself and started singing "How Great Thou Art." And if you are not familiar with that hymn, the first two lines are as follows:

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
They pow'r thro'out the universe displayed.

When thro'the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

And the chorus is:

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee,
how great Thou art, how great Thou art. x2

As I was singing this, I was considering the greatness and grandeur of God's creation, and how the evidence of His handiwork is there for all to see; and, as a result, how all are without excuse for not seeking Him (Romans 1:19b-20), and to paraphrase something I read recently about how to reply to the atheist who wants evidence for God's existence, "You are standing on it!" 

Shortly after this, we were at the pinnacle of our ride on a peak about 8,400 feet high, and we had an uninterrupted 360 degree view of all the mountains and valleys around us.  Our guide, an old and gentlemanly cowboy named Doyle, was telling us about the other peaks and mountain ranges we were viewing, and he brought our attention to the mountain range to the west, which had several peaks around 11,000 feet high.  He then proceeded to tell us that those peaks were once part of an ancient seabed and contained fossils of seashells and marine life.  That is when II Peter 3:5-6 came to my mind.  Not only is there evidence that the world was formed out of water and by water, but there is world wide evidence of the flood, and it all  escapes man's notice.

Why does it escape his notice?  We see the answer in the one Greek word for escape notice, the word lanthano.  In the tense and voice used, this word means that man is willfully ignorant, culpably ignorant.  This is not a benign neglect on man's part, but a don't confuse me with the facts because I am being intentionally ignorant mind set.  It escapes their notice because they will it so.  It is hidden from them because they don't want to know the truth. In other words, it is a deliberate overlooking of the facts and their reality. It is the outcome of Romans 1:21, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

On the way back down I was thinking about all of this in light of the recent kerfuffle over the video of Al Mohler at the Ligonier conference a couple of years ago.  In this video Al makes the case for a literal reading of the creation account in Genesis 1-2, and therefore for a young earth.  You see, for us as Christians, it is a matter of faith (Hebrews 11:3) to take the Scriptures at face value, and to value the Scriptures above the science that man foolishly calls wisdom.  This is not a blind faith, but a faith in what God has chosen to reveal to us.  And, personally, I believe He has not revealed any more to us concerning creation than He has in order to test our faith.  You see, what we believe about creation is a matter of faith.  We will either place our faith in the Bible, or place our faith in science; and placing our faith in science is no more than placing our faith in man, for science is the wisdom of man.  Science is man's attempt to explain creation, and it leaves God out; and even the old earth and theistic evolutionists have given in to the wisdom of the world, and have subordinated the Word of God, to the wisdom of man.

My friends, don't be swayed by the prevailing wisdom of the day, but be persuaded by the eternal truth of God.  Look at creation, in all its diversity and complexity, and marvel at this God who created it all.  Then bow down with the hosts of heaven and proclaim, "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created." Revelation 4:11.  Amen, Lord, Amen!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Religion and the Soul of Man

...true religion is a union of the soul with God,
a real participation of the Divine nature, the 
very image of God drawn upon the soul, or,
in the apostle's phrase, 'it is Christ formed 
within us.'  Briefly, I know not how the nature
of religion can be more fully expressed, than 
by calling it a Divine life.

Henry Scougal
The Life of God in the Soul of Man
Page 44

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Ten Encouragements for Pastors to Not Grow Weary in Their Ministry

Fellow pastors, anything less than an eternal perspective is being short-sighted in our ministries.  Just as Rome was not built in a day, neither are lives of faith, lives that resemble Jesus Christ, built in a few sermons. So if we are building for eternity, it seems logical that the process that it would entail would be lengthy, as well.  We would all like spiritual lightning to fall so that lives would be completely transformed overnight, but we all know this is not the case.  We build up the body of Christ by building Christ into the lives of our flock one sermon at a time. (Which makes a good case for preaching 50-60 minute sermons, since that is the only exposure to the word most of your people are going to get each week)

I believe the Scriptural admonition to not grow weary in doing good is particularly applicable to us as pastors, as is its promised reward that in due time you shall reap if you do not grow weary.   Preaching rich biblical sermons each and every week is the greatest good we can do for our people; but as you know, in addition to being a great joy, there is a side that is demanding and laborious.  And it is good that it is demanding and laborious, because that forces us to depend on the Lord and His grace for our sufficiency.

From our standpoint, what is it that we are to to keep in mind to have the proper perspective and prepare for the long-haul of a preaching ministry.  In no particular order here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. We are to be faithful/trustworthy.
     I Timothy 1:12, I Corinthians 4:1-2
2. We are to watch our own life and doctrine.
     I Timothy 4:16, Hebrews 12:1, II Timothy 2:21, II Corinthians 4:1-2
3. We are be patient in our preaching (this keeps us from pressing for results).
     II Timothy 3:10, 4:2
4. We are to be realistic in our preaching.
     II Timothy 4:2-5
5. We are to be constant in our preaching
     II Timothy 4:2
6. We should always stay fresh in the word, so the word will stay fresh in us ( another benefit of preaching  consecutively through books of the Bible)
    II Timothy 2:15, 4:13
7. We are to expect hardships.
     II Timothy 1:8, 1:12, 2:3, 3:12, 4:5
8. Our gifts, ministry, and effects are all from the Lord, through the Lord, and for the Lord.
    I Corinthians 12:4-6, Romans 11:36
9. Our adequacy comes from the Lord.
     II Corinthians 3:4-6, I Peter 4:10-11, Zechariah 4:6, II Corinthians 4:7
10. We are to keep in mind, it is never about us.
     I Corinthians 8:6, II Corinthians 5:14-15, Colossians 3:24b, Luke 14:7-10, 
     II Corinthians 9:16-18, Ephesians 3:2, Colossians 1:25

So, fellow pastors, let us fulfill our ministry, let us fully carry out the preaching of the gospel, let us persevere until the Lord comes back or calls us home.  What a great privilege it is to preach the word of God and how beautiful are the feet that bring the great news of the riches of the love and grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ.  Be blessed by His word and His Spirit, be faithful to the work He has given you to do, and be thankful for His calling and choosing you for the noble task of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.