30 June 2009

Why? – 6.30.09

Jeremiah 2:5 Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

You know the setting. Judah is backslidden and has been for hundreds of years. They're on the brink of being taken captive into Babylon. But God in his mercy calls a man to issue one final warning, to give one final urge to repent and escape the coming judgment. That man was Jeremiah, and he was faithful to his task though his message was mocked, ignored, and reviled.

In Jeremiah 2:5 he poses a very good question to the nation on behalf of the God he represents. What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

The question is as relevant today as it was back then. Because just like the nation of Judah, our churches today are full of saved people who walk after vanity – emptiness; want of substance; fruitless desire or endeavor; idle show; insubstantial enjoyment. They're going to heaven when they die, but in the meantime their focus and attention and affection and effort are directed towards all kinds of different things (sinful or not) that aren't going to matter a bit when they get there. They've got the right God (Judah had that) and the right scriptures (Judah had that), but they're careful not to get too close – they are gone far from me.

The question God asks is WHY? What iniquity have you found in me? When have I ever done you wrong? When have I ever led you astray? When have I ever had anything but your best interest at heart? When have I ever lied or broken a promise I made you? Why are you so afraid to get close to me? When have you every obeyed my words and not been blessed for it in the end?

Now, I understand that all flesh is grass, and we're all "prone to leave the God we love," but at those times when we begin to wander, let's remember to ask ourselves these questions. I don't want to get to the end of my life and have nothing to show for it in eternity. I don't want to spend the little time God has given me here in vain, empty, meaningless pursuits. The God that saved me deserves so much more!

25 June 2009

Isaiah 34:16 II – 6.25.09

Isaiah 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

OK, so maybe that last post was remotely related to the meaning of the phrase in its context, because best I can figure, it's a restatement of the prior phrase, no one of these shall fail, referring to the book of the Lord, in particularly the promises made in scripture. So when the Bible says none shall want her mate it's reminding us that no promise – whether of judgment (the context of Isaiah 34) or of blessing – will lack fulfillment.

And that's a good lesson for us to be continually reminded of. God's word is true. We know it's true. What God says will come to pass. Intellectually, we know it will. But sometimes we sure don't live like it. We ought to pray like the disciples, Lord, increase our faith (Luke 17:5) and by God's grace may our faith be increased to such an extent that we actually avoid what God says will be hurtful and get in on what He says will turn out right in the end.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Joshua 21:45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Joshua 23:14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

23 June 2009

Isaiah 34:16 – 6.23.09

Isaiah 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.

Interesting phrase in the middle of that verse, and to tell the truth, I'm not real sure what it's doing there – none shall want her mate. What I am sure about is that in its context the phrase has nothing to do with the topic of this post, but nonetheless it provides a perfect opportunity to take a look at what the Bible says about finding Mr./Mrs. Right.

Now, thankfully, this topic is not at all applicable to me. I started praying about the girl I would marry when I was about 12 or 13, and I was blessed to meet the girl of my dreams when I was 15 years old. We immediately became friends…and quickly grew to become best friends…and figured out by the time we were 18 that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together…and praise God we became husband and wife on December 16, 2006 (21 years old). And it just keeps on getting better.

I do realize, however, that things don't work out quite that way for everybody. I'm sure there are many fine Christian young men and women who love God and want to be married, but aren't. There are also some Christian young people who aren't yet ready to be married but want to be one day and might end up waiting longer than they'd like. So I'd just like to give you a few Bible principles to consider in hopes of being a blessing and an encouragement.

1. Marriage is a good thing. Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. In my personal opinion, Paul's 1 Corinthians 7 recommendation of the single lifestyle hinges on the phrase in verse 26, for the present distress… If there's a good chance I'm going to be eaten by lions in the coliseum tomorrow, maybe I'd better rethink getting married today.

2. God wants to give you good things. Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Psalm 34:10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

3. But He wants you to put Him first. Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. The these things of Matthew 6:33 are the temporal needs of this life. Brother, sister, if you're striving to serve God and you're putting His will first in your life, and you need a spouse – God will give you one. (And you'd much rather God give you one than you find one yourself.) The best thing to do would be to make sure you walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11), seek the Lord (Psalm 34:10), put Him first (Matthew 6:33), and trust Him to provide what you need on His timetable, not yours.

Bro. James once preached a message from Genesis 24 on "Choosing A Spouse." It focused on the qualities and characteristics to look for in a marriage partner, but there are two lines from that message that I will never forget. The first one is, "It'd be better not to be married and wish you were than to be married and wish you weren't." And the second went something like this, "If I were looking for a husband/wife, I'd be doing all I could to make sure I was the best God had to offer…"

There's probably nothing better in this life than marriage the way God intended it, and there's probably nothing worse in this life than a marriage that's out of sorts. If you want God's blessing (and you do) then be sure you do things God's way. Amen.

17 June 2009

God’s Favor – 6.17.09

Psalm 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

FAVOR is defined as:

  • Kind regard; kindness; countenance; propitious aspect; friendly disposition
  • Support; defense; vindication; or disposition to aid, befriend, support, promote or justify
  • Lenity; mildness or mitigation of punishment
  • Leave; good will; a yielding or concession to another; pardon
  • Advantage; convenience afforded for success

I believe you'd agree it'd be worth our while to obtain the FAVOR of Almighty God, and the book of Proverbs outlines 4 ways we can do so:

1. Being merciful and truthful

Proverbs 3:3-4 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

2. Seeking after wisdom

Proverbs 8:35 For whoso findeth me [wisdom, v. 1] findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

3. Doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God

Proverbs 12:2 A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

4. Marrying a wife

Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

It is an amazing and a humbling thing to think that the Almighty God of heaven would compass me with His kind regard…His support…His defense…His good will…His advantage…What a worthwhile endeavor it would be for each of us to court HIS FAVOR!

And praise the Lord for allowing me to get in on #4. I love you, Lauren!

15 June 2009

Summer & Sleep – 6.15.09

Proverbs 10:5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

Summer is upon us. Now, we've got an ambitious group of young people here at THE BIBLE Baptist Church and many of them are working jobs, taking classes, doing internships, or all of the above. But for the average student summer means quite a break in the load of responsibility. Summer means no school, no studying, no quizzes, no teachers, no tests. Summer means hanging out with friends, hitting the beach, going on vacation, swimming, snorkeling, shopping, sports, sleepovers, smoothies…you get the point.

But one of the most popular summer activities that I failed to mention also starts with s – SLEEPING. You ought to hear Bro. Danny Farley (pastor of Shady Acres Baptist Church in Houston, TX) correct the popular phrase "sleeping like a baby." He more appropriately describes it as "sleeping like a teenager." Teenagers can sleep! I mean out for 12 hours without moving a muscle, and nothing – not the rooster's crow, not the alarm clock's annoying ring, not mom's yelling or sister's piano practice, not the rocket launch, or the bomb that went off at the neighbors – is going to wake them.

Now, I'm all for getting a healthy amount of sleep. I'm not a real happy person when I don't, but there is a spiritual lesson here.

Summer is a great time to get in on gathering God's harvest. The summer time, when responsibilities are somewhat diminished and you've got some free time on your hands, is a great time to get involved in the outreach ministry of your church. It's a great time to take full advantage of the opportunities for you to fellowship with God's people and spread His gospel.

If your church is taking a summer mission trip or a summer youth trip – GO! If your church is planning a special evangelistic effort – GET INVOLVED! If your church is doing what it should and regularly reaching out with the gospel – PARTICIPATE!

Wake up and make your summer count.

1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

05 June 2009

Because Why – 6.5.09

Psalm 119:68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 119:73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

Psalm 119 – what a chapter! 176 verses (the longest in the Bible) and all but 2 directly mention the word of God (word, statutes, judgments, law, commandments, etc.). Its structure is curious. It has 22 sections, each with 8 verses. Each section corresponds to and begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet – in order. That is, the first section begins with "aleph," the second with "beth," and so on (see the headings in your Bible).

One of the many great things about the Bible God has given us is that it not only tells us what we ought to do, in many cases, it tells us just exactly why we ought to do it.

Now, God has every right to give us one of those parental BECAUSE I SAID SO'S – but he doesn't! The Bible is full of arguments and reasons for why we should do what's right. The individual who says that serving God doesn't really matter just as long as you're saved is obviously one who isn't carefully reading the scriptures.

For example, here in Psalm 119 the Lord very clearly lays out 2 very sound lines of reasoning as to why we should seek to learn and obey His word.

1. Because God is good (v. 68)

God is love (1 John 4:8). And somehow, someway, for some unknown reason, He has chosen to extend that love to us. His commandments, His instruction, His rebuke, His chastening, are only extensions of that love. If we could settle in our minds and hearts that God's commandments have been issued with the object of our well-being, it seems we'd do a much better job of staying in line.

See Deuteronomy 10:13; Psalm 34:10-22; Psalm 37:4, 23, 37; Jeremiah 7:6, 19, 23; Jeremiah 25:7; Micah 2:7; Acts 3:26; 1 John 5:3.

2. Because God is God (v. 73)

The fact that God made us argues very strongly for the fact that He's got things figured out a whole lot better than we do. I mean, do we really think that we know better than God? No sane person would ever admit that, but sometimes we sure act like that's what we're thinking.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

04 June 2009

Present With the Lord

My wife's grandfather, James Boyd Clayton, passed away last Saturday night at the age of 82. He had trusted Jesus Christ for his soul's salvation and now rejoices in the presence of his Savior, free from all heartache and pain.

It has been amazing to witness how God provides the grace we need just exactly when we need it. All the family, including his wife of 58 years, miss him terribly but are doing well.

Please pray for God's blessings on the funeral service this Saturday. My father-in-law will be giving the gospel and many that Mr. Clayton was concerned about and sought to witness to will be in attendance. What a blessing it would be to see them repent and trust in Jesus!

News Article

02 June 2009

Saved vs. Christian II – 6.2.09

The Bible contains many allusions to a courtroom situation. The great white throne judgment (Revelation 20); the judgment seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3); satan the accuser (Revelation 12:10), Jesus Christ our advocate (1 John 2:1); etc.

So in your mind, go ahead and place yourself in a courtroom setting and return to the question we asked last time. If you were put on trial and charged with being a Christian (not just saved), would there be enough evidence to pronounce you guilty?

Let's consider some of the evidence that might be used to determine the verdict.

  • What if your church attendance records were subpoenaed (Hebrews 10:25)?
  • What if your giving records and your bank statements were brought into the courtroom (Matthew 6:19-24)?
  • What if the court called in your job mates, your classmates, your neighbors, and your family for some cross-examination (Galatians 5:22-26)?
  • What if your internet service provider was asked to provide a listing of all the sites you visited in the past month? A copy of every e-mail you've read and sent in the past month (Ephesians 5:7-11)?
  • What if the court examined every photo, comment, and sticker on your facebook page (1 Corinthians 10:31)?
  • What if the court bugged your phone and listened in on all your conversations from the past month (Ephesians 4:25, 29)?
  • What if the court obtained a search warrant and came to your house and looked through your car? What about the books and magazines on your shelf? What about the music on your mp3? What about the clothes in your closet? What about the beverages in your refrigerator? What about that box stuffed away underneath a bed or in a drawer or tucked away in a closet that you thought no one would ever find?

You might think I'm meddling. You might think all that stuff doesn't really matter. But consider the standards used in court to determine a case. In civil trials, a guilty verdict would require either a "preponderance of the evidence" (more probable than not) or "clear and convincing evidence" (close to certain), but in criminal trials, the evidence must point to the defendant as guilty "beyond any reasonable doubt."

Now, I hope that the evidence in your life would point to a guilty verdict. I hope you could confidently plead "guilty as charged" when accused of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

If you can't, you just need to know and understand and believe that the God who saved you is a God who is worth serving.

Acts 11:26 …And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

P.S. Thanks to my dad for an excellent devotion given at Sweet Springs Baptist Church on May 24 that provided the basis for these last two posts.