27 November 2008

Job 34.31-32 – 11.27.08

Job 34:31-32 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.

Here's another great statement from our man Elihu, as recorded in the book of Job. And it's very applicable to our lives as Christians. It is meet, it is fitting, it is suitable, it is a good thing for us to:

  • Recognize God's chastening when it has come into our lives as a result of our sin.
  • Learn from it and determine not to make the same mistake twice.
  • Humbly ask the Lord to reveal other sin in our lives so we can get rid of it without having to be chastened.

When's the last time you've done this? Have you ever done this? Let's not be so proud and deluded as to think we haven't ever or will never be in need of God's chastening. I believe it'd be safe to say that all of us will need and will experience it a number of times in the years that lie ahead.

So let's take this simple word of instruction to heart and decide how we're going to respond to God's chastening when it comes. Let us remember the words of Hebrews 12.

Hebrews 12:5-6, 11 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth…Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

And may we testify with David...

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

25 November 2008

Job 33.13 – 11.25.08

The book of Job might just be my favorite book in all the Bible. And a great character in the book is a young man by the name of Elihu. He held his peace for 29 chapters while Job and his 3 friends hashed it out but got nowhere. In chapter 32, he can't hold back any longer, and he speaks up. And the arguments he makes are based solely on the righteousness of God. Job 36:2-3 Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

What I'd like for us to consider briefly today is a statement he makes in Job 33:13 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. (see Daniel 4:35 for a cross-reference.

Did you get that? Here it is, plain and simple. God does not give account to us. He does not owe us an explanation. He is under no obligation to answer any of our questions. We have no business striving with Him.

Period. Case closed. End of argument.

Now, it's easy for me to say that at this moment. My life's going great. And the fact that Elihu wasn't the one sitting in dust, clothed in sackcloth, scraping his boils with broken pottery beside the graves of his 10 children made it easier for him to make this statement than it was for Job to accept it.

But I believe it would do us well to use the good times to make preparation for the bad times by firmly settling and establishing this truth in our hearts and minds. He giveth not account of any of his matters.

God is in total control (Daniel 4:17). He holds this universe together (Hebrews 11:3). Nothing escapes His grasp (John 10:29). Known unto Him are all HIS works from the foundation of the world (Acts 15:18). He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). And all things – good and bad – work together for good to those that love and trust in Him (Romans 8:28).

He doesn't answer to us. We answer to Him. He doesn't give account to us. We give account to Him. He demands of us (Job 38:3; Job 40:7). We don't demand of Him.

The comfort comes not only in the fact that He has all power but that He exercises that power in our best interest, according to His perfect knowledge (Job 36:4; Job 37:16). And though He's probably not going to answer our question, "Why?" He does offer all the grace and mercy we could ever need.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

21 November 2008

Bondage of Unbelief – 11.21.08

2 Kings 17:14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.

The 17th chapter of 2 Kings reads like the obituary of Israel, the northern kingdom. Here its capital city was finally sacked and its people taken captive to Assyria. The chapter explains why.

The root of the problem is in verse 14. Israel had been disobedient. They had rebelled. They had served idols. But God is merciful. He sent prophets and seers to turn the people from their evil ways. Problem was they wouldn't hear. They hardened their necks, and according to Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

And why wouldn't they hear? Why did they harden their necks? Because like their fathers they did not believe in the LORD their God. To me, that's an amazing statement. They did not believe in the Lord their God? The Israelites? God's chosen people? Didn't believe in God?

We have to recognize that knowing and believing are 2 different things. Surely they knew who God was. The prophets made sure of it. And surely they would have claimed to believe in the one true God. But their actions proved otherwise.

All too often, it's the same with us. We know God, and we're His children. But when we ignore what He has to say, it's simply proof that we really don't believe in Him. Not that we don't believe He exists, but that we don't believe He knows what He's talking about. When our lives are lived in disobedience to the word of God, it's testimony to the fact that we don't really believe in and trust in the one true God of the Bible.

For Israel, it meant the end of their existence as a nation. For a Christian, it means the end of your influence for the cause of the Savior in this world. It means the end of a life of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost. It means entanglement in something God has so graciously delivered you from.

2 Peter 2:18-20 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

19 November 2008

Biblical Friendship – 11.19.08

Judges 14:20 But Samson's wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.

Well, this situation didn't turn out real well for either Samson or his "friend." Samson lost his new wife to this guy, but he didn't enjoy that marriage very long either because in the very next chapter the Philistines burn the woman and her father with fire (not sure what else they would burn them with, but that's what it says in 15:6).

If there is anything that is obvious about Samson's life it is the fact that he cared about absolutely no one besides himself. And those kinds of people are never the right kind of friend. Because they're only your friend as long as it's advantageous for them to be so. As long as they get some kind of benefit out of the friendship.

The Golden Rule is a good admonition here. Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. If you've ever been "used" by somebody you thought was your "friend," then you know how badly it hurts. So whatever you do, be careful not to inflict that pain on someone else.

Now, here's a quick look at what the Bible says about true friendship.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

A true friend is someone who is genuinely concerned about another's well being, which concern is made manifest by his words and action. A true friend is someone who is not afraid to tell the truth, even if the truth is painful for you to hear. A true friend is someone you can go to and know they'll tell you what's right regardless of whether or not it's what you want to hear. A true friend is someone who rubs off on you – in a good way.

In light of these verses, here are a few thoughts.

  • Are you a true friend to those who think of you as such? The friend that sticketh closer than a brother lives within us, so we definitely can and ought to be.
  • Can you think of anybody you've "used" as your friend like Samson did? Then get that thing right.
  • Considering the great influence your friends will have on you, do you choose them wisely? 2 Corinthians 6 warns about an unequal yoke.
  • Do you have true friends after the biblical sense? Then thank God for them, and let them know you appreciate them as well.

14 November 2008

False Prophets – 11.14.08

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

I realize that we are Christians living under the new testament, and we are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). However, we must also recognize that there are those around us who either claim to be "prophets" or at least make predictions about the future without actually claiming the name. And it is only reasonable that we put them to the biblical tests.

The first of these is found in Deuteronomy 13. This passage concedes the possibility that the signs and wonders of a false prophet could come to pass but reveals that what makes that prophet a false one is the fact that he speaks of other gods, which thou hast not known. Can't you see this in the modern faith-healing, word of knowledge, prosperity gospel movement? They boast of signs and wonders, but they have another Jesus. They seem to have as much regard for the word of God as the parakeet has for the newspaper that lines its cage.

Note that these false prophets were to test the Israelites. Your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. If people really loved God as much as they sy they do, they'd read His word and believe His word, and recognize these false prophets for who they are.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

The second test for a prophet is given in Deuteronomy 18. The Lord told Israel that if a man makes predictions in the name of the Lord, and those predictions do not come to pass, then you can know he is a false prophet (under the law worthy of death). In this can't you see the modern prophecy movement? The Pat Robertsons? The Noah Hutchins's? And all the rest.

These people sell magazines and newspapers and DVDs and recordings predicting all kinds of crazy things THAT NEVER COME TO PASS. Then the next month they do it all again and Christians buy the stuff! These prophets ought to repent for deceiving God's people, and God's people ought to repent for being deceived!

Read the Bible. Love the Lord. Prove it by obeying His word, and turn a deaf ear to any person and any group that speak not according to this word…because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).

11 November 2008

The Deliverer – 11.11.08

It's a sad, sad scene in Exodus 32. We're not at all far removed from the Passover night and Israel's deliverance from Egypt (chapter 12) or God's drowning of Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea (chapter 14) or the water out of the rock or Israel's first victory in battle (chapter 17) or the people's covenant with God to obey the law God gave them (chapter 24). And here they're about to make a golden calf and worship it by dancing naked! How depraved is the human heart! How corrupt is man's sinful nature! How weak his determination!

Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Here's their first error. They credit Moses with bringing them out of the land of Egypt. And they're tired of waiting for him to come down from Mt. Sinai, not knowing what has become of him. So Aaron has them break off their earrings, and he makes a golden calf for them to worship. Wait a second. Why not pray for direction from the Lord? Why not wait a little longer for Moses to come down? Why not continue to follow the Lord even if Moses is dead? Don't you remember your promise! Guess not.

Exodus 32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Now they've taken it a step further. They credit this idol with bringing them out of the land of Egypt. Which was a pretty good trick since they're already out and Aaron just made it. How deceived is the human heart! How blind and ignorant is man's sinful nature! How stupid!

Exodus 32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

The Lord's response. He is ready to disclaim them. He calls them Moses' people and, like the Hebrews did, gives him the credit for their deliverance. In v. 10 announces His plan to wipe them out and start over with Moses.

But Moses intercedes on behalf of the people (and this wouldn't be the last time he does so).

Exodus 32:11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

Notice what Moses says in his prayer – that it was God Who brought His people out of the land of Egypt.

To me it was interesting to watch in that chapter how Moses and the golden calf and the Lord were all given credit for Israel's deliverance. And of course we know Whose power and mighty hand was behind it all.

The practical lesson and the challenge for us is not to follow in Israel's footsteps. Their problem? They failed to recognize and remember and thank God for what HE had done for them. Deuteronomy 32:15, 18 Jeshurun…lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation…Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

Christ has redeemed us (Galatians 3:13), freed us (John 8:36), delivered us (Hebrews 2:14-15), saved us (Romans 10:13)! Let's not let a day go by that we don't thank Him for it and render Him service from a thankful heart.

07 November 2008

Fake Repentance – 11.7.08

Exodus 10:17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.

Add Pharaoh to your list of people in the Bible who "repented," not because they were sorry they had done wrong but because they got caught and had to face the consequences of their evil deeds.

Think Cain, Genesis 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

And Esau, Genesis 27:34, 38 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father…And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.

In Hebrews 12:17 the Bible says Esau would have inherited the blessing, but he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Now don't misread this verse. Esau didn't unsuccessfully seek for repentance. He sought for the blessing but did not receive it because he found no place of repentance. He wasn't sorry for his fornication or profanity (v. 16), he was put out only because he didn't get the blessing.

My mind also turns to Saul, who was rebuked by Samuel for failing to follow God's instructions in the matter of the Amalekites. 1 Samuel 15:30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God. God saw straight through to this man's sorry (as in lousy, not repentant) heart and rent the kingdom of Israel from him and gave it to a better man.

What about Simon the Sorcerer. He was converted during that great revival in Samaria in Acts 8 (good thing the Lord didn't grant the request of Boanerges in Luke 9:51-54), but he was rebuked by Peter for offering the apostles money for the power to impart the Holy Ghost as they had done. And it's quite a rebuke (vv. 20-23). Simon's response: Acts 8:24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Here's the question. Can we add your name to this list? How do you respond when confronted with your sin – by the preacher, by a parent, by a friend, by the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, by the clear and simple truth of the word of God? What kind of sorrow works in your heart when somehow you get caught in wrong doing? Have you ever been glad you were found out so you could get the thing right and move on?

What made David a great man and a man after God's own heart was not the fact that he never messed up. It was the fact that when he did, he would genuinely repent and continue to seek after God.

The Bible says that even a just man falls seven times. But he repents, and he rises up again.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!

05 November 2008

OBAMAnation - 11.5.08

Well, it seems as if this once-great country of ours is drifting ever more quickly towards socialism and who knows what else. But I checked it out this morning, and these verses are still in the Bible:

Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

1 Peter 2:13-17 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Christian, you are a citizen of an heavenly country (1 Peter 2:11) under the dominion of the blessed and only Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15). You are His ambassador in this world (2 Corinthians 5:20), and you have been given a very important mission. What happened last night -- sad as it may be -- changes none of that.

So stay true to God's word (even the portions above) and preach the gospel. Amen.