Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Understanding death and suffering - from a Biblical view (aka Why do Bad Things Happen)

Why do bad things happen?

An earthquake strikes, a loved one dies with cancer, thousands of people murdered each year line the headlines of our newspapers, 4,000 babies are murdered each day in the United States through abortion procedures.  We hear about these and other similar stories and we almost can’t seem to help asking the question ‘Why?’.

Why would or how could a loving God allow these things to happen?  How could a God who IS love allow such suffering?

I would venture a guess that most Christians cannot provide a Biblical answer to that question.  Many Christian leaders go on national television and when they are asked about the issue of suffering, many of them answer by saying ‘Well, we don’t know why these things happen… we just have to have faith.”

And while it IS true that regardless of circumstances we have to have faith, we can provide a better answer that will at the same time show God’s Grace!  I don’t believe that anyone can fully answer such questions definitively.  No one but God knows the specific reasons that any thing happens at all.  But there is a broad reason that encompasses the existence of all ‘bad’ things.

Genesis 1, God creates the world in 6 days.  In 6 literal days, God has created EVERYTHING.  Fully formed and full functioning.  A literal paradise created for mankind to enjoy.  The work of creation done by God and recorded in the first 30 verses of the Bible is supremely vital to laying a proper foundation for your understanding of the ‘bad’ things that happen around us.

Genesis 1:1-3 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

God created everything!  From nothing!  First we see a picture there of an all powerful God.  When He speaks that something be created that it happens.  At the very command of His Word, things were created.  Let that sink in for just a moment.  Before He called forth water, water wasn’t even a real thing.  Before He called forth trees, or fish, or oxen… none of those things existed.  Now show me one person who can create anything out of nothing!  Have you ever fathomed that?  Just what type of power it takes to create something out of nothing?  It is truly mind blowing.

Then on day 6, He devotes a great deal of time and care to the creation of humanity.  Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; We are the only creation that God created in His own image.  According to His likeness.  Psalm 139 says that God ‘formed our inward parts’ He ‘knit us together in our mother’s womb’ and that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. 

Now God surveys all that He has made and declares it not just good as He had done at the conclusion of all the other days of creation, but He declares it ‘very good’.

Genesis 1:31 - God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

God created all things, very good.  Meant to be sustained forever.  No death, no pain, and no suffering.  None.  Now that is a picture of a world that is a FAR cry different than the world we live in today.

If you believe that the Genesis account of creation is not a literal history, that its figurative language… or you adopt into your worldview any type of macro-evolution then you will never be able to Biblically explain death and suffering to yourself or anyone else for that matter.

Two types of evolutionary beliefs I want to look at just briefly… I don’t want to dwell here too long…

Type #1 – Darwinian Evolution – If you reject God and believe solely in Darwinian evolution… someone who calls themselves an atheist or agnostic… death and suffering shouldn’t alarm you in the slightest.  In fact someone holding to those beliefs should cheer and be excited when cancer claims a life, or someone is brutally murdered… why would I say that?  Because according to their view life is chance, survival of the fittest.  Someone dying of cancer to them, if they are holding true to their own views, would be someone who was weak and they should be excited because it is all part of evolution taking its course.

In fact, the person who brutally murders someone else, they should give that man an award, he was merely demonstrating, according to their own beliefs, that he was stronger than his victim and that he was progressing up the evolutionary chain. 

The atheist can’t be upset about evil and immoral acts in this world because, if they are being honest with their own views, they can’t believe that there are such things as good or evil acts.  Everything is a chance.  You see when they remove God from their worldview; they lose the moral standards all together.  Without God, there is NO moral absolutes.  So they have no claim to what is right and wrong. 

So that offers us no solution to the question of death and suffering.  Other than to say, well that’s just how things happen.  That’s life.

Type #2 – Theistic Evolution – Theistic Evolution says that God created the world, but Genesis isn’t literal, it’s poetic.  God created the world using evolution and it wasn’t in 6 days, it was more like several million years.  Adam wasn’t the first man created, just the first man to walk upright, develop speech, the first stage of man that God chose to speak to. 

Now, could God have used evolution?  Well assuming that something like macro-evolution even existed then yes He could have… He’s God and He can do whatever He wills. He could have, but He didn’t.  IF God created the world using evolution then He contradicts Himself at the end of each day of creation.  It means that He considers death and suffering something that is “very good” as He stated in Genesis 1:31.

Think about this, if Adam and Eve evolved then there would have already been occurring millions of years of death and suffering prior to their account in the Bible.  The Bible tells us though that prior to the fall of man nothing died and nothing suffered.  If evolution were apart of God’s creation then when He pronounced the curse of death in Genesis 3, it wouldn’t have been a big deal to Adam and Eve because they would be well accustomed to death and suffering already.

So if evolution isn’t the answer, what does the Bible actually say?

On day 6 of creation God declares all things to be very good.  Meaning perfect and right.  There was no evil, no suffering. 

In Genesis 3; Adam and Eve chose to abuse the freedom God had given to them by choosing rebellion.  They chose sin.  As a result, sin entered into an otherwise perfect world through Adam.    

Genesis 3:17-19 - Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.  18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field;  19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

From that day until now, all of us have made a similar choice.  We have all sinned and rebelled against God, just like Adam and Eve.  In fact, Romans 5:12 says Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—

Sin spread through all humanity.  Always has, and always will so long as this world exists.  We have chosen to leave God out of our lives and live as we see fit.  So therein lies the problem of evil.  Sin entered the world through Adam.  As a result, God sentenced us to death as a consequence of the curse of sin.

We live in a sin cursed world.  Don’t think for one moment folks that any one of us would have chosen any differently than Adam.  We still choose sin over God from time to time.

The problem is sin.  Whose fault is sin?  Ours...  We live in a world full of suffering because of sin.  Death and suffering are normal in an abnormal world.  But consider God’s grace in the curse of death.  When Adam sinned, God could have chosen to immediately kill him.  Instead He cursed the earth and is patient with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to know Him.  Patient with us so that we can know Christ as Redeemer.

The suffering of the earth set the stage for God to implement His great redemptive plan.  Ultimately God would cause His Son to suffer and die on a tree.  To wear a crown made from thorns, thorns that were in existence because of our sin.  Jesus Christ would take Adam’s place, enduring the shame of the cross and the pain of our sins.

Christ didn’t enjoy the cross, He endured it.  Hebrews 12:2-3 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

He endured the cross, the wrath of God, why?  For the joy set before Him!  But what was that joy that was set before Him that was so great as to enable Him to endure the cross?  Hebrews 2:7-9 - “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;  8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. Jesus Briefly Humbled 9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

He was made lower than the angels, for just a short time so that redemption might be completed and He would be crowned with Glory!  Glory as of the Only Begotten Son of God!  The suffering of Christ gives us hope because we know that God is Sovereign and in control.

Isaiah 53:10 - But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

God was pleased to crush the Son for our iniquities.  He was cruised for every lie you’ve told, every time you’ve held hate in your heart, every time you’ve taken His name in vain.  All of those sins, laid on the Sinless Son of God and it pleased God to punish Him in our place.

All of us, like sheep, have gone astray.  Each of us has turned to our own way.  But THE LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on HIM!  ON JESUS CHRIST!

If it pleased the Father to bruise the Son, and we are in Christ, then our sorrow can work together for good.  And that can be a very hard thing to believe and understand sometimes.  I get that. 

Romans 8:28 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

We may never see the good on this side of life… But we must remember God’s words to Job.  God set the foundations of the world and He taught the Lion to roar and He set the boundaries. 

Job 38:1-11 - Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,  2 “Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge?  3 “Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!  4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding,  5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?  6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone,  7 When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?  8 “Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;  9 When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band,  10 And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors,  11 And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’?

And He goes on beyond that to question Job.  In short we see God expand on what He spoke through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:8-9 - “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.  Suffering is temporary.  Painful, yes, but temporary.  Even though it seems like the pain will never end and this side of life it may not.  Ultimately though, for those of us who are in Christ.  Pain is temporary. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 - Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;  13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

We are too rejoice!  Rejoice!  God made His Son to suffer, along with all of creation, for a HIGHER REASON! 

Now God let’s believers share in Christ’s suffering AND of the Glory to be revealed.

Listen, Romans 8:22-23 says that all creation groans and suffers pain and not only that but we groan within ourselves.  The whole creation, as a result of the fall of man… as a result of the sin that has entered into the world.

The problem of death and suffering is one of sin.  We live in a sin cursed world and WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SIN.  People often say that if God is all powerful then He should do away with evil and suffering.  But let’s define evil folks… What is evil?  It’s anything that is against God.  ANYTHING that is morally bad or wrong.  It's murder, rape, stealing, lying, cheating, hatred.

But if we want God to stop evil, do we want Him to stop it all or just a little bit of it? If He stops us from doing evil things, what about lying, or what about our evil thoughts? I mean, where do you stop, the murder level, the lying level, or the thinking level? You see we like to isolate some evil things out as worse than others and shake our fists at God for them and never stop to consider the evil of our own hearts.  If we want Him to stop evil, we’ve got to be consistent, we can't just pick and choose. That means you and I would be eliminated right? Because we think and do evil stuff. If that's true, we should be eliminated! But thanks be to God that Jesus stepped in to save us from our sin!

All creation groans as a result of sin.  Earthquakes, cancer, murder, hate, lust, adultery, gambling, addiction, pain, suffering, homelessness, hunger, abortion… all of these ‘bad’ things exist because of sin.

Does that mean that the earthquake in Haiti was because of the specific sins of the Haitians?  Not necessarily… Sin, in general, is the cause.  Without sin we’d still be living in Eden.  Is someone with cancer, whether they pull through it or God let’s the cancer take their life.  Was there some specific sin in their life that caused Him to allow it?  Not necessarily.  Cancer and death is a normal thing in a sin cursed world.

So don’t get too bogged down trying to explain the specific reason for this or that suffering.  Especially in relation to natural disasters.

RATHER use them as a means to tell about Christ!  As a sober reminder of the frailty of life and man’s wicked state.  Luke 13 tells us that a tower fell in Siloam and killed 18 people.  Certainly a tragedy.  Jesus told the Pharisees that those 18 were not any worse than anyone else.  Meaning they were sinners same as everyone else.  Then He said unless you repent, you will likewise perish.

All created beings… you and me, we have two things for sure in common.  We have a beginning, a time when our life started, and we have a time when our life will end.  The question isn’t how will I die, its when.  Because it’s a certainty.

But listen to this.  Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  He is eternal and does not change!

Since He is eternal, we must recognize that our relationship to Him has eternal consequences.  The pentalty for those who reject Him is eternal damnation.  For those who believe on Him, the reward is eternal life.

Since He is unchanging we can trust Him.  His character is proven!  His promises are certain!  Because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  Oh Christian, rejoice in your sufferings.  Christ suffered and then was Glorified.  So too will you suffer in this life and one day be made whole and perfect in Heaven.

Our sin caused all this, but God STILL provided redemption through the work of Jesus Christ and His atonement!

If though, you sit here this morning and you know that you have never forsaken your sin and trusted Christ.  You’ve never responded to the Gospel call to repent and believe.  This is the call, REPENT AND BELIEVE ON JESUS CHRIST and He will save you!

Will you respond?  Or will you once again walk out these doors in rebellion?  Will you once again choose the broad path today? 

If you are one of the people who say to themselves that you want to get saved but you are going to ‘do a little living’ first.  Enjoy some sinning and then get saved when you’re older or bored with sin.  Then you aren’t ready to come because you don’t understand the vulgarity of your sin. 

However, if you’re soul is weary from your sin and you feel the weight of it bearing down on you.  You are terrified at the wrath of God that awaits you and yet in awe of His love provided in Jesus Christ, then come.

At this moment, God COMMANDS all men to repent and believe that today is the day of salvation.  That you are to flee from the wrath to come.  Flee from the Law that condemns you to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who will give you rest.

Repentance is nothing more than giving up.  In your rebellion you’ve striving to live on your own, for yourself.  In your rebellion you’ve mocked God and placed yourself in His place.  Still He says to you… come.  A broken heart and a contrite spirit He will NOT deny.  So come.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The problem with the U.B.U video...

Ok, so watch the video first..


I don't care that the man 'rapping' in this video is Ed Young Jr.  I truly don't.  His issues, of late, with his church and the money and the house is truly no concern of mine and should be no concern of anyone who isn't an active member of that church.  Why do I say that?  Well the main reason is that it seems, at least to this point, that while he may be living in a way we don't necessarily like as far as the extravagance and his house is huge (which isn't in and of itself a sin)... while we may not like those things, he's not done anything illegal.  A few things his church won't be happy with?  Possibly.  But so far as I've heard he's not done anything illegal or defrauded the government on taxes or anything like that at all. 

That said, the issue isn't any of our business.  It would only be minimally the business of the public if he had done something illegal only because it would involve other tax payers. 

The issues between him and his church are just that.  The man who went to the news surely could have found a way to get the news out about the plane and such that wouldn't have involved the local news station.  WFAA is of course going to jump on any story of that nature.  Church related or not.  They eat stuff like that up, but folks... that ain't news.

I am not an Ed Young Jr. fan in any shape form or fashion and I'm fixing to explain why BUT pertaining to his spending and such, let's leave it to his church to discipline him over it and if they don't then they are getting exactly what they want (deserve).  

Now, Ed Young Jr. preaches the gospel of life change, which is no Gospel at all.  (Galatians 1:6-10).  That's why I would never recommend his church or his teachings.  

For him and his ilk (Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, etc) it's all about life change and feeling better about yourself and loving God because you're such an awesome person with a blessed life of health and wealth.  In this video he 'raps' about you being you (UBU).  

I know that his intent is to say, 'Don't try to be someone else, be who you are.'.  And while I wouldn't wholly disagree with that in the sense that I can't be anyone but who I am in the earthly sense.  I would suggest that perhaps a BETTER thing to convey to your congregation is that you need to be as little like you as possible!
I don't want to 'be me'.  Me being me is what got me into a condemned state over my sin.  I want to be as much like Jesus Christ as possible.  I can't even phrase this as saying I want to be as much like Christ as I can be.  Because I can't!  I can't!!  That's the whole point.  We need HIM for righteousness.  We make war with sin (Romans 8) and plead with Him to conform us to Him (Romans 12) so that daily we are walking in obedience (2 John 1:6) so that through Him we fix our eyes on JESUS CHRIST! (Hebrews 12)

That's the issue with much of modern day preaching.  Rather than esteeming and exalting God and showing man his true place as a sinner, it is raising the self-esteem of man.  The self-esteem of man is much like walking on ice. You may seem to be doing fine for a moment or for a season, but eventually your foundation of self will crack and you will fall and perish.  And ice cold water will be the least of your worries...

Repent and trust Jesus Christ and let HIM conform you to HIS will!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seek and Save the Lost!


If you are in a busy hectic place…shopping, six flags, sea world… something like that.  If you are in one of those places with small children you keep up with them do you not?  You watch them intently.  And if you look up and one of them has wandered off.  They’ve gotten out of your sight or they haven’t come back from where you sent them and something happens to get you worried about them.  Do you sit calmly and wait for them to find their way back to you?

No, that would be absolutely ridiculous.  You go search for that child.  You are concerned for their well-being.  You don’t want them to get injured or abducted or assaulted.  You search for them and if you’ve been in that situation where you don’t know, if even for a split second, where your child is you don’t just wander around looking for them.  You scream and run and search and do everything you have to do to get that child back to you.  True?  Amen?

That’s where I intend on taking this message because that’s what I see here in James’ implications.  ‘If anyone among you strays’ and he has in mind here a straying or wandering away from a very specific thing.  If anyone has wandered away from ‘the truth’.  We’ll look at the truth a bit more in a moment.  But if anyone strays from the truth, ‘and one turns him back’.  The implication is that there is a call to action.  To turn one back we have to pursue them.  He doesn’t make a case for waiting for them to wander back or hoping they do or anything else.  For us to turn them back means we go get them and bring them back into the fold.

This is a call for Christians to pursue those who are straying right now.  We know who they are, each of us has folks in mind I’m sure.  We can think back to over the years and come up with folks who may fall into this category.  We are to go get those straying sheep and not just invite them back in and wait.  That would be like a parent realizing their child had wandered away and then they just stand in one place shouting and looking without taking a step towards finding them.  We don’t only invite them and wait.  We invite them and if they don’t come then we pray and seek other means to restore them that come from Scripture.

We labor towards bringing them back.  This is very evangelistic in nature.  Going after the ones who are professors of the faith but are giving less and less evidence of bring possessors of the faith.  Saving faith, remember, saving faith that only comes from Jesus Christ, produces fruits.

Do you know those people?  I want you to be mentally making a list of those folks now and keep them on your heart for a minute here.  Do you know folks like that?  They used to talk about Honoring Christ but now they live in an overt sin giving little to no thought to God?  Those who, from all outward indications, have failed the test of whether they are in the faith?  I say outward signs because ultimately we can’t judge their heart.

We need to be concerned for those folks… why?  Above the fact that we are commanded to do it, we do it because it is the loving and merciful thing to do.

2 Peter 2:20 - For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

For those who know the truth and reject it, their judgment will be more harsh because they didn’t just die dead in their sins, they died having heard of the Redeemer who could spare them and they spit on Him rather than embracing Him as Lord.

You need to have compassion for the lost and straying.  If you don’t, then my friend you have never taken a long enough look at the cross of Christ.  You’ve never considered the depth of the interceding work done on your behalf by the Holy Spirit DAILY.

Romans 8:26-27 - In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We pray, but we don’t even know how to pray as we should, so instead the Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groanings too deep for words.  Have you not given thought to the mercy shown to you?  Don’t you desperately desire to see God pour out that same mercy on others around you?

There is an urgency folks.  An urgency to evangelize the lost and dying world.  We must!  How cold must a heart have grown to not care!?!  How ashamed of Christ must you be to not speak of Him?  It is the ultimate purpose of God!  To save souls and in doing so Glorify Himself!  Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. 

I want to ask you, have you ever marveled at your salvation?  Looked at sin and seen it for what it is.  Seen it as the creature, us, rebelling against the Creator God!  Coming from our desire to be independent of God and become like God.  Coming from our desire to steal the glory from the only One to whom it is due.

Have you marveled at His amazing Mercy and Grace?  Nothing can compare to His mercy.  Nothing can compare to His Grace, Nothing can compare to His Love!  Have you thought on those things!

When you see sin in that way, the awfulness of it becomes obvious.

Only the infinite love of God could conceive the thought of providing salvation, and at the high cost of the life of His Own Son, Jesus Christ!  But being in awe of God for your salvation becomes even greater when you remember that it doesn’t only restore the relationship with God that was lost through sin, but Scripture says that we are restored and we are now closed.  Not just forgiven but CLEARED of our sin debt!  We are now conformed to the very image of the Son of God!

Romans 8:29 - For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

We are now, because of Christ, those of us who are in Christ, are seen as Holy and blameless before God!  WOW!

Ephesians 1:3-4 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

Not because we don’t sin… Oh No!  That’s what is so much more amazing!  I’m not holy before God because I’ve obtained some state of perfection in this life.  The Holiness I’ve obtained came through that same Savior!  He imputed my sin to Himself and in return He imputed His righteousness to Me!  Those who have been saved have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light! 

1 Peter 2:9-10 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

You’ve been pulled from the grasp of death!  Don’t you have even the smallest desire to see others rescued as well?  James says that the one who turns a straying brother back will save his soul from death!  Not physical death, but spiritual death.

v20 - let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Since even one sin is enough to condemn a person to hell, James’ use of the word ‘multitude’ further illustrates the desperate situation of the sinner.

Those who do not heed the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Grace of God, and the Glory of His Power.

Would you sit idly by and watch someone walk off the edge of a cliff or die in a fire simply because you didn’t want to warn them?  Didn’t want to help?

You don’t do it because you want to judge them, you do it because you love them and if you are wrong and they are truly saved then they won’t get angry or offended.  A Christian, a true Christian, will appreciate your love and concern for them and they will use your words as an opportunity to examine themselves and be sure they haven’t slipped into some sin and become callous.  Listen, if you are approaching the situation with love and concern for them and you are bathing the whole thing in prayer and Scriptural exhortation, you don’t have to worry that you will push them away or turn them off to the Gospel.  Listen, if they aren’t saved, they are already turned off to the Gospel!  Do you realize that!  If they have never trusted in Christ they stand condemned already, they are dead in their sins already, enemies of God already… YOU can’t push them further…

We’ve got to see that they are in a desperate situation.  They are headed for eternal death and WE are the instruments that God has chosen to bring them back to Him!

You will be afraid, you will fight fear.  Your fear is a fear of man.  You need to pray and get others to pray for you.  Make war against that fear.  God will give you the words to speak.

The question isn’t ‘Do you care?’.  Of course we care.  The question is ‘Do you care enough’?

How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them about Jesus Christ and eternal life?  Do you care enough about them to warn them about God’s wrath and explain God’s offer of salvation?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is it important to seek Spiritual Wisdom?

Ephesians 1:15-23 – 15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,  16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;  17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.  18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might  20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
 
Why does it matter that we have spiritual wisdom and where does that come from?  Why is it important?

Paul says that he continually prays for the Church at Ephesus that they be granted spiritual wisdom and knowledge.  His desire was to see them develop a character that held to Godly standards.  To see them seek to have God grant them knowledge and insight in a way that only a Christian is capable of receiving.  In a way that only a sanctified mind can do.

A sanctified mind.  A mind that has been set apart for the purposes of God.  Someone who is truly devoted to God and has given their mind to Him.  He prayed that for them because to have that gift from God.  To have that spiritual wisdom, allows us to fully grasp the greatness of the hope and the inheritance that is our in Christ Jesus.
Go back just a little to Ephesians 1:3-14  - 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love  5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight  9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him  10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him  11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,  12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,  14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus! BLESSED BE!!!!  HE IS BLESSED!  The word used for Blessed here is made up of a greek phrase that means to praise or to commend.  Praising God.  It is the supreme duty of all creation.  To praise Him.  And how do we attain an understanding of that?  How do we get our lives so focused on Him that all we want to do is honor and praise Him?  By praying for this spiritual wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and insight.  Once we begin to see a picture of who God really is then we can’t help but to praise Him.

Jeremiah received his calling from God and he began to preach and he began to get discouraged by the naysayers and his so called friends.  But Jeremiah’s walk with God was such that his desire was to please God and not the world.  So much so that he said this of discouragement in Jeremiah 20:9.

Jeremiah 20:9 – But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

Even when he suffered and was persecuted Jeremiah said he could not keep from praising God.  A walk like that folks isn’t developed by going to church 2 days a week.  A relationship with God like that one isn’t built by going on every church trip.  It’s built by prayer… prayer to God that He would grant you a spiritual knowledge and wisdom.  So that you can walk in obedience to the calling you have received in HIM!

Why is that important?  Why have a spiritual wisdom?  Why have a view of who God is?  The easy answer is of course that we would know His will more and that we would be able to better avoid sinful behavior.  While those are very true things, I want to suggest to you tonight that we need to seek God not to provide some benefit to our lives, but we seek Him so that we might better praise Him with our lives.  That we would find more ways to praise Him.  He consumes more of our life and we eliminate more of the things that hold us back and we praise Him for the freedom.

There are times in my life when I find myself in such a desperate need for the hold of a loving God that I cry out to Him and the tighter He holds me the more freedom I feel.

It is a process of sanctification.  The word sanctify comes from Hebrew and Greek words that mean “set apart.”  So to be sanctified is to be set apart from sin. When you put your faith in Christ, you are released from sin’s penalty and set apart unto God. Yet the process of separation from the power of sin in your life has just begun. As you grow in Christ, you become further separated from the influence of sin and more consecrated to God. The sanctification that takes place at conversion initiates a lifelong process of distancing yourself further and further from sin and coming gradually and steadily more into conformity with Christlike righteousness.

The more you become like Christ, the more sensitive you are to the remaining corruptions of the flesh. As you mature in godliness, your sins become both more painful and more obvious. The more you put away sin, the more you will notice sinful tendencies you need to eliminate. That is the paradox of sanctification: the holier you become, the more frustrated you will be by the stubborn remnants of your sin

Monday, February 8, 2010

TREASURE & SERVE CHRIST ALONE!

Compared to the joy and sufficiency found in the Glory & Grace of Jesus Christ, the world is a trifling bore..Psalm 121; Heb 12:2

Joshua 24:14-15 - “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

No playing around… not dabbling in the world and dabbling in Christianity.  You either fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth OR you don’t.

People with a deep and intimate longing for the things of the world give evidence that they are not redeemed of the Lord.

1 John 2:15-17 - Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 

The word hostility in Greek is echthra (ekh-thrah)… it means hatred. 

Now just for a moment consider everything you do in your daily routines and weekend activities.  Are there any of those things that you know are sinful, things you know God has called evil?  If you can think of some things that fall into those categories, and we likely all can, and we for those of us who name Christ as Lord… Why don’t you give them us?  If Christ is truly your Savior then He is precious to you.  So much so that no worldly pleasure is worth bringing Him dishonor. 

What are you doing to put those things to death by the Spirit?  Because those sinful lusts are the roots of what causes troubles.  Or are you so blinded that you can no longer see that these things, whatever they are, are NOT more valuable than Jesus!

We can have good things in life and still not harlot ourselves to the world.  But when you set your heart on the world you become callous to Jesus Christ!  In the end you will conform to yourself, not the Word of God.  Those people, the Bible says, are enemies of God.

Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, - “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Taking up your cross, a call to die or a call to "give Jesus a chance"?

I saw an incredibly frustrating bumper sticker the other day. It read "Give Jesus a chance, He died for the opportunity." Could there possibly be a more frustrating characterization of the Gospel?  Did the Creator of the Universe, Almighty God REALLY clothe Himself in humanity and walk the earth, suffer the cross and, most importantly, take the full wrath of God on Himself for the sins of the world JUST so we could give him a chance?  A chance?  Are you kidding?  Jesus paid the price for lost sinners and He did it so that we could just give Him a chance...

I've got to be honest.. I think this bumper sticker is flat out blasphemy.  It mis-characterizes Jesus Christ!  He didn't die for an opportunity.  He died to redeem those who were chosen before the foundations of the world! Ephesians 1:4-8 NASB - "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love  5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,  6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace  8 which He lavished on us."

What do you think it means to carry your cross? It doesn’t JUST mean bearing burdens through life. Think about it logically for a second. Put yourself in the shoes of the disciples and see the cross the way they saw it.

In v38 Jesus says that those who want to follow must take up their cross and follow Him. Now when we hear that and get that visual image of the cross we see it differently than they did back then. To us the cross symbolizes our Lord. To us it means love because it was the way in which God showed His ultimate love for us in sending His son to die.

But since this was BEFORE Christ died on the cross they wouldn’t have gotten that picture. To them this would have been a scary statement. It would have brought to their mind images of a violent, degrading death. He was demanding total commitment even to the point of physical death. This same call to life or death devotion to Christ is for us today as well.

Matthew 16:24-25 – 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

This passage says nothing about improving your self-esteem or making you wealthy rich and successful. Christianity isn’t a matter of opinion. It is a matter of truth. What you want it to be, what I want it to be or anybody else makes no difference. It is what it is – by God’s sovereign will.

When Jesus said “take up your cross” to them, they thought of a cruel instrument of torture and death. In the Roman world, when you took up your cross to be put to death you might as well say goodbye to family, friends, everything you knew… because you weren’t coming back. They thought of dying in the most agonizing method known to man. They surely thought of poor, condemned criminals hanging on crosses by the roadside. Maybe they were picturing friends and people they had known who had suffered death by the cross.

Regardless, Jesus’ listeners understood that he was calling them to die for him. They knew he was asking them to make the ultimate sacrifice, to surrender to him as Lord in every sense.

Luke 9:23 records similar words of Jesus: 23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Notice the addition of the one word: “daily.” The life of a disciple invites persecution and therefore must be a life that is completely lived for Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (1 Cor. 15:31).

Paul exemplifies what Christ was talking about. Paul was so given over to our Lord that he didn’t care whether he lived or died. That’s an attitude practically unheard of in our materialistic, self–centered, selfish day. Most people today live for everything except what Paul was focused on.

Paul remained joyful as long as his Lord was glorified, even when he was threatened with death. All that mattered to him was that the Gospel was advanced, Christ was preached, and the Lord was magnified. The source of his joy was entirely related to the glory of the kingdom of God.

The idea of dying to your sinful ways and selfish desires does not mesh with the contemporary belief that believing in Jesus is a momentary decision. A true believer is one who signs up for life. This idea that Jesus is something we “Try” is ridiculous… and not only is it ridiculous folks. It isn’t Biblical. Jesus isn’t some product that you bring into your home for a 30-day free trial and if it doesn’t work for you, you can send it back. How insulting to our Savior. Let’s gain some perspective. That’s not real discipleship—faith is not an experiment, but a lifelong commitment. It means taking up the cross daily, giving all for Christ each day. It means no reservations, no uncertainty, no hesitation. Luke 9:59–61 – 59 And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." 60 But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and (B)proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." 61 Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but (C)first permit me to say good-bye to those at home."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Worship: Through the enjoyment of God's Word!

Worship through the WORD
Psalm 119:17-32

Psalm 119:17-32 - Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. 19 I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. 20 My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times. 21 You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Your commandments. 22 Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies. 23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. 24 Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. 25 My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. 26 I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes. 27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders. 28 My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word. 29 Remove the false way from me, And graciously grant me Your law. 30 I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. 31 I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! 32 I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.

This morning I want to talk to you about an aspect of worship that requires a little more discipline than just coming to church and singing songs. In fact it requires a ton of discipline to do it properly. But the wonderful thing is that the more disciplined you become in it, the more worship you bring to our Lord.

Let’s see how, 18 - Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.

The Psalmist is asking God to deal bountifully. He’s asking that in all aspects of his life that God would reveal Himself clearly. In both blessing and chastening.

There are wonderful things for us in God’s word. In fact, they are so wonderful that when you see them… I mean really and truly see them; you are changed. A change takes place in you that you can’t even control. Such that it could only be the work of an Almighty Creator. For you to be a Christian to begin with there has to have already been a profound change that took place. When you heard with your heart that you were a sinner, dead in your transgressions and that God’s wrath was on your head but Jesus died for your sins and you repented and trusted the Savior. Did that not radically change you? It should have. In fact, if it was genuine then it DID change you! If I have a flashlight with dead batteries and I change the batteries, if I really changed the batteries then the flashlight will turn on and give off light! If I lied though, and only pretended to change the batteries, then it will remain in its useless state.

And the Psalter is pleading with God for more and more of His Glory to be manifest in him.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Christian’s have nothing obstructing their view of Jesus Christ. His glory is revealed in Scripture. We see that glory in Scripture and we worship Him through disciplined study of it. We don’t need a high priest to go to God for us, we have a Great High Priest in Jesus Christ!

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. - Open my eyes… it literally translated means uncover my eyes. We are blinded by our sin and cannot see anything without God’s help. No one can see these amazing glories of God in scripture unless they have been revealed to them by God. And God doesn’t reveal them to those whom He hasn’t regenerated. As you study God’s word you’d be very wise to make your prayer before hand ‘O God please open my eyes to the wonders of Your word, because God if you hide your truth from me then I cannot burn for you.’ Jeremiah 20:9 – “But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name”, Then in my heard it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.

You can probably read the Bible and catch some meaning, but you won’t see the wonder, the beauty, and the glory of it without God’s help. Back up to Psalm 119:11… how do we live a life not sinning against God? By treasuring HIS words in our heart! God has to be our treasure. And as such you have to treasure His word. We treasure the most ridiculous things sometimes. We can quote lines from movies, TV shows, and songs… but ask us to memorize a portion of Scripture and we act as though the world is ending.

When we are dating someone we hang on to the letters they write us or the text messages in this generation and we just read them over and over… but we can’t find a desire to memorize and pour over the greatest love letter ever written.

You’ve got to treasure God’s Word. Speak about it in your homes. Discuss it with your family. Do you have a time each night that you sit down and study the Bible together? I don’t mean you on this side of the room and you on this side and you’re each just reading the Word… but I mean a time when you sit down together and pick a passage or topic and pour over God’s Word and pray together so that you might better understand it! So that you might better see His truth and apply His truth.

Jesus said it like this. John 17:17 – Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. SANCTIFY!! It means to set apart. If then we are sanctified by the truth and God’s word is truth, what should our response be? That’s shown in our text this morning. TEACH ME, SHOW ME, I want to understand!

19 I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. – I’m a stranger here. I don’t follow the morality standards of this world. Teach me YOUR commandments God because that’s where I find my moral code. My code of conduct. There’s a desperation in the words of the writer here. A desperation to be found in the Refuge of God! A sense that without the commandments of the Lord, there is no direction… without God’s word there is a great loss.

20 My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times. – My soul is crushed… Listen to him. My soul… is… crushed… More than food and water, this is what he longs for. He can’t get enough… I wonder how often we approach God’s Word with that type of longing. That type of desire!

21 You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Your commandments. 22 Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies. - He’s not being arrogant here. Because in verse 22 he admits that if those things are found in him to remove them because these things are barriers that will keep us from God. James 4:6 – But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. To the one who will humbly submit themselves to God, He will grant them grace upon grace!

23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. 24 Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. – Here we see a few things. One is that he’s being slandered for his faith. He’s following God’s word and he’s probably being called arrogant and pious.

The psalmist says that even though these people with lots of earthly value are criticizing you, I don’t meditate on their words. It means I don’t dwell on their words. I focus on God’s word.

There is an amazing thing that happens when God opens your eyes to His word. You begin to burn in your heart for Him. It is awesome. The more you study, the more you burn and the more you burn the more you are sanctified… and the more you are sanctified the more intensely that fire burns and you begin to proclaim His truth and stand on His word with more boldness… more unashamedly.

25 My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. – Do you see this recurring theme? Every time we find sincere worship happening in Scripture it is always preceded by what? The person emptying themselves before God and listening to Him through the study of His word and prayer.

We are so prone to cleave to dust… to the things of this world. We need God to grow us past the need for worldly wants. He says I’m worldly. I am too in love with myself and this world. I’m hanging on to things that just flat don’t matter… Things that will one day perish. He’s pleading with God to give His heart one single passion to live his life for. Here’s a side note for you, anytime you are facing a decision that you are praying about and you decide to only pray about it and not seek out what God’s word says, you are setting yourselves up for trouble. You should never simply trust your heart. The Bible says that the heart is deceptive and so we are to lean on HIS understanding. His understanding is found in His Word and reinforced through our prayers.

The Bible is the inerrant word of God. There are no errors or mistakes. I’m holding onto the world God, but Your word promises revival in my soul. Oh revive me God. I see Your promises vs. the world… I want more of YOU!

26 I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes. – He admits that in the past he’s tried to justify himself by holding up his works, his self-proclaimed goodness and here’s what happens. He says, I’ve told you of MY WAYS and YOU have answered me. If you are holding yourself up by your works then you aren’t truly seeking God. I say that because when we do seek God we always see that we need to empty ourselves of pride and lean on Him because HE IS GOD!

Isaiah 55:8-11 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares 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. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will MY word be which goes forth from MY mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

His word won’t return void. Every word is good for teaching, rebuke, correction…

Finally then, 27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders. 28 My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word. 29 Remove the false way from me, And graciously grant me Your law. 30 I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. 31 I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! 32 I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart. –All these words of God have been read with his eyes and understood with his heart and he wraps up by saying. God, continue teaching me and if I won’t listen then MAKE me listen. Get my attention and MAKE me listen. He weeps because of his sin and wants to be strengthened according to His Word. His response to God’s moving in His life is an energetic one. He says ‘I SHALL run the way of Your commandments!’

What beautiful worship comes from just simply dwelling on God’s words.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why does it matter how I treat God’s name?

Why does it matter how I treat God’s name? Matthew 6:9 – Jesus teaching on prayer said ‘“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.’

HALLOWED be Thy Name. Hallowed… In Latin, that phrase means ‘sanctified by Thy Name’. The song of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6, where they cried out HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. When the Angels announced the Birth of Christ, they appeared before the Shepherds singing ‘GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!’.

We set apart His name from common flippant use because He is Holy and He is worthy. From eternity past to eternity future, HE IS GOD!

They very God-ness of God means that He is separate from all things that are not Godly. That’s why we need Christ! Our sin separates us from God and the only hope we have of being restored in relationship to Him is through Jesus Christ!

He is in a class all by Himself. He is completely and wonderfully Holy! 1 Samuel 2:2-10 - “There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. 3 “Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the Lord is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed. 4 “The bows of the mighty are shattered, But the feeble gird on strength. 5 “Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, But those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, But she who has many children languishes. 6 “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 “The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. 8 “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He set the world on them. 9 “He keeps the feet of His godly ones, But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail. 10 “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; And He will give strength to His king, And will exalt the horn of His anointed.”

He is incomparable! His Holiness is utterly unique. It determines all that He is and all that He does.

His Holiness is what He IS as God. Which no one else ever has been or ever will be! So we esteem His name higher than anything else and only speak it with the reverence and respect that it deserves. Not because He told us to… but because He’s Worthy! He shouldn’t have to tell a Christian to use high language about Him. Because a Christian ought to esteem Him high above all things.

What should we do to honor and sanctify His name?
1.) Pray that God create in you a sound knowledge of Himself. – Take view of His excellencies as revealed in Scripture, His Holiness, His Goodness, His lovingkindness, His wrath.. The angels know God better than we do and so they constantly praise and honor His name. Let us strive and labor to know Him more and more to be God!

We may dread Him as Judge, but dreading His judgments will only produce legalism and self-righteousness if we don’t know Him as Father. We can’t honor Him as Father until we know Him as God!

2.) Pray that God would develop in you a sincere love for Him. A love appreciates and has in view the price that was paid on the cross for your sins. The Blood of Jesus’ that was shed so that you could be forgiven! All your sins washed and you are washed white as snow! You cannot honor Him if you don’t love Him!

When the seraphim proclaimed that the whole earth is full of His Glory it was because they could see clearly His Glory! Our view is limited by our foolish pride and inclination for self-gratification… Because of our sin, our view of God’s Glory is limited.

But He reveals Himself in His Word, and He shows us His Glory there. The trumpet will sound and God will one day turn away everything that competes for His Glory. And He will make His Glory known in awesome splendor to every creature.

Now, it is always wise to follow what Scripture says and frequently examine yourself to be certain that you are in the faith. It’s the method prescribed in 2 Corinthians 13:15. And one of the ways that God has taught me humility over the years has been for me to take whatever text I’m preaching and turn it on myself. Sometimes I might feel that I have a certain thing down pat and I’m just going to preach it and relay that word to the audience.

So I did that with this. I knew I wasn’t involved in these deceptive oaths. But the question kept ringing in my head. Do I esteem His name?

I sat in my office… thinking over and over… I need to esteem His name higher. I need to esteem His name higher… I… Me… then it hit me… I CAN’T!

I CAN’T LIFT HIS NAME HIGH ENOUGH. I can’t! I can’t lift His name High enough and I can’t make enough of who He is. I certainly can never make too much of the name of Jesus Christ of the Glory of God! I could list off every single word used in Scripture to describe the magnificence of God and still my human words, marred by sin, wouldn’t even scratch the surface of the fullness of His glory!

But it gets worse for us than that! We can’t even honor His Name at all without Jesus Christ! If it were not for the sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ on a bloody Roman cross… if not for the nails driven through His Hands and feet. If not for His being the substitute for my sin and His resurrection from the grave… If not for the Christ, I would not only have no hope but if not for Him I would have nothing but a vile and wretched black heart that did nothing but pour out venom and contempt upon the Holy Name of God! Contempt on His name with my blasphemy. Contempt on His Name with my lust, with my lying, with my stealing, with my hatred and covetous desires.

Don’t leave here today thinking that YOU can esteem His Name higher, leave here KNOWING that you need Him to teach you to Honor Him!

You need to pray and plead and agonize over His Word. Beg Him to reveal Himself to you and just like Jacob, do not let go, do not stop until He does it! Until the filth of your sin held up to the Beauty of His Grace leaves you in a puddle of tears of your own tears shed because you are beginning to see just how Great the cost was for Christ to pay for the sins of those who would repent and put their trust in Him!

And then cling to Him! Cling to the Savior! Because HE IS HOLY!

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