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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Don't Understand

It is easy to be the kind of person that reads something in the Bible and to dismiss it in an off-handed way because it just does not make sense.  I don't understand why I should not be permitted to do a certain thing; or, I don't know why I must do a certain thing.  I don't understand why this or that is important.

There are lots of reason why we may not understand something.  Our prejudices, our personal experiences, our ancestry, our lack of knowledge can all contribute to a lack of understanding.  Sometimes it is as simple as we do not want to understand.  Understanding brings responsibility.  Responsibility creates accountability.  Accountability brings us face to face with a day of reckoning!

Refusing to understand does not diminish accountability.  What we should know we will be responsible for knowing.  When it comes to Bible truth and especially how we should live it is important to understand one of the primary components of understanding:  Obedience.  That's right, if we hope to understand we have to be willing to obey!

Psalms 111:10 provides us with this foundational principle of understanding.

". . . . a good understanding have all they that do his commandments."

Human nature wants to understand what it is to do.  God want us to do what we may not understand.  Having obeyed we will be blessed with the understanding.  The fact is some things in the spiritual world only make sense after we do them.

As long as we insist on understanding before we obey we can never have any real hope of understanding.  This is the reason so many Christians find themselves in a vicious cycle of mediocre living.  They have no passion, or sense of daring.  Their only commitment is to be different from their fathers before them but not different from the world around them!

We have raised a generation of practical atheist.  They say they believe the bible but they live like the world around them???  The decline was commenced when we began to insist on understanding before we obey.  Because we elevated understanding above obedience we will never understand and we will likely continue to more closely reflect the world around us than the bible we profess to believe.

We have robbed ourselves of the adventure of being a follower of Christ.

We have exchanged the scripture admonition of "the just shall live by faith" for the human philosophy of "the smart believe only what they can understand".  Which, by the way, tends to be very little!

It is time to raise a tribe of people who will not be afraid to march around Jericho, not because they understand but because they are committed to obeying.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Remembering What God Remembers

Psalm 103:14 reminds us of a sobering truth.  It is a truth that is easily side-stepped and often does not impact our self-assessment.  Yet it is foundational and we are told that God remembers it, even if we don't!

The verse actually tells us something God knows and something he remembers.

He knows our frame.  That is he knows how we are put together.  He knows because he did it.

Knowing our frame he remembers that we are dust.  This is a deflating reality!  We like to think we are a lot of things but dust does not often rank at the top of the list.  We forget we are dust, God remembers that we are dust!

One of the most amazing verses in the bible addresses this very truth.  We read it and go past it because we don't want to remember our humble origins because we don't want to be humble.

Genesis 2:7 - And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, . . . .

He knoweth our frame because he formed us.  In fact these two words "formed" and "framed" are very similar in nature.  God did not make man of gold, or diamonds, or silver, but dirt!  I never think of this event without remembering as a little boy taking the gumbo clay of the Texas Gulf Coast and making little clay men.  When they sat in the sun for a few hours they would become hard like rock.  God made clay men.  He made man of the dust of the ground.

The verse goes on to say in Genesis 2:7 - . . . . and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

So God took the clay man and breathed into his nostrils the "breath of life".  When God did so the clay man shudder and came to life.  The breath of God, the life of God animated the clay figure.  The eyes popped open, the heart came to life.  God imparted to his clay man what I could never impart to my little clay men.

The animation did not change the little detail that it was still the dust of the ground that had been formed by the hand of God into a man.  It was, we are animated dirt.

We wash it, and dress it, and comb it's hair, and adorn it with gold, silver, and precious stones.  We educate it, we refine it, and we cherish it and we forget that it is dust.  Forgetting it does not change it.  Remembering it might change us!  We might not have such a tendency to parade around if we remembered what God does!

Genesis 3:23 - Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How The Apostates Do It

The following is from a message by C. H. Spurgeon entitled, Judas: The Betrayal

"Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss.  That is how most apostates do it; it is always with a kiss.  Did you ever read an infidel book in your life which did not begin with a profound respect for the truth?  I never have.  Even modern ones, when bishops write them, always begin like that.  They betray the Son of man with a kiss.  Did you ever read a book of bitter controversy which did not begin with such a sickly lot of humility, such sugar, such butter, such golden syrup, such everything sweet and soft, that you said, 'There is sure to be something bad here, for when people begin so softly and sweetly, so humbly and so smoothly - depend upon it - they have rank hatred in their hearts.'  The most devout-looking people are often the most hypocritical in the world."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What Will You Give Me?

The following is from a message by C. H. Spurgeon entitled, Judas: The Betrayer. 

(While holding out hand) Would you hold this for me while I go for a walk?"Let us notice the act itself.  He (Judas) sought out his own temptation.  He did not wait for the devil to come to him; he went after the devil.  He went to the chief priests and said, "What will ye give me?  Anything you like.  The Lord of life and glory sold at the buyer's own price.  What will ye give me?"  And another very prettily puts it, "What could they give him?  What did the man want?  He did not want food and raiment; he fared as well as his Master and the other disciples; he had enough; he had all that his needs could crave, and yet he said, What will ye give me?   What will ye give me?  What will ye give me?  Some people's religion is grounded on that one question - "What will you give me?"  Yes, they would go to church if there are any charities given away there, but if there were more to be got by not going they would do that.  "What will you give me?"  Some of these people are not even so wise as Judas.  There is a man over yonder who would sell the Lord for a crown, much more for ten pounds, as Judas did!  Why, there are some who will sell Christ for the smallest piece of sliver in our currency.  They are tempted to deny their Lord, tempted to act in an unhallowed way, though the gains are so paltry that a year's worth of them would not come to much.  No subject could be more dreadful than this, if we really would but look at it carefully.  This temptation happens to each of us.  Do not deny it.  We all like to gain it is but natural that we should; the propensity to acquire is in every mind, and under lawful restrictions it is not an improper propensity but when it comes into conflict with our allegiance to our Master, and in a world like this it often will, we must overcome it or perish.  There will arise occasions with some of you many times in a week in which it is "God - or gain"; Christ, or the thirty pieces of sliver"; and therefore I am the more urgent in pressing this on you."

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Self-love = Perilous Times

I Love ME!It has become popular even in Christian circles to propose that we need to have a healthy self-image.  We are informed that many of the problems today are the direct result of low self-esteem.  Our problem is that we do not love ourselves enough!  I am familiar with the arguments for such a position.  Twenty years ago I was moving in the direction of accepting that premise.  I was doing so because of the books that I was reading not because of what I was reading in the Bible.  It was something with which I was never completely comfortable.  It was a teaching that seemed destined to uproot my whole theological foundation.  It just seemed like all the intellectuals and "christian" authors and radio hosts were saying these kinds of things.  How could all these smart people be wrong.

When my whole theological outlook was on the verge of being influenced by this human philosophy I came across a book by Jay Adams.  He helped set everything aright in this area.  The things he wrote about this and other issues, while different from so much of what I was hearing seemed much more solidly rooted in Scripture.  I ended up reading about three of his books and several others that were written by people coming from a similar perspective.  Once again I was convinced I was on firm footing if not popular footing.

Our problem is not that we love ourselves too little or have a low self-esteem.  No! Our problem is that we love ourselves too much.  This premise can be often and plainly substantiated from the pages of Holy Scripture.  We really ought to be more concerned about self-control than self-image.

This morning in my Bible reading I was in 2 Timothy 3.  The first verse and first phrase of the second verse puts things in perspective.  "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, . . . ."  This should be a disturbing reality for proponents of self-love/healthy self-image.  Men loving themselves is put in a very disparaging light.  It is one, if not the first thing, that characterizes the perilous times of the last days.

In this passage loving one self is not presented as a virtue but a vice.  Consider its neighbors in the passage:  coveteous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.

What is interesting is how many of these expressions of wickedness can be traced right back to men being lovers of themselves.

What is true is that the last days are going to be perilous days and one of the main characteristics of these days it that men will be lovers of themselves.  What is tragic is that Christianity is a major catalyst of this destructive teaching.

Self-love = Perilous times!  Why would it not?