Life’s Big Adventure

February 25, 2013 at 11:28 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever shared the feelings of the writer of Ecclesiastes: that this earthly life (life “under the sun“) is just vanity? Is the best we can hope for just a little temporary pleasure between the pains? If so, the problem may be that you have a wrong relationship to God. Once you are correctly oriented in your thinking about God, you really can enjoy the good gifts that come from God. Certainly, for Christians, life under the sun is not vanity.

In fact, having a right relationship with God in Christ means that our lives can be filled with:

1. Adventure

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Ecclesiastes 11:9

It is fun to be around new Christians. They can be like young men in their youth, when everything is new and fresh and exciting. Things that – sadly – can start to seem routine to older Christians (soul-winning; Bible studies; prayer meetings; the Lord’s supper; praise and worship) are still thrilling to them. As older Christians, although we might not always feel the same exuberance we once did, we need to be challenging ourselves to step out by faith and serve the Lord in new and exciting (even scary) ways. When is the last time you stood up in a church assembly, or a group of strangers, and gave a testimony of God’s goodness and grace?

2. Appreciation

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

Ecclesiastes 12:1

The older we get, the more we appreciate what we might have been too worked up to truly appreciate the first time around. God is gracious to allow “do-overs.” Take advantage of these when the opportunity arises.

3. Academics

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

Ecclesiastes 12:11

There is pleasure in learning from experience – and in teaching others what you’ve learned. Athletes eventually get too old to compete in the sports they loved in their youth, but many find great fulfillment and excitement in coaching. Goads prompt you to keep going; nails are what you use to hold in place what you’ve already learned.

4. Accounting

When you recognize that this earthly life we live does matter, then it’s encouraging to know that Someone’s keeping score. The idea of being held accountable can be frightening, but it’s also reassuring, because we know God doesn’t miss it when we are faithful stewards. God is the One Who’s in charge of the rewards.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

The wisdom that comes from God is true wisdom, and the result of true wisdom is true riches.

Advertisements

Imagination in Marriage

February 22, 2013 at 10:11 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

I Corinthians 7:2-5 (emphasis added)

Previously, I have shown that Satan attacks the fortified walls of marriages with craftiness and deceit. We are to be ready for various types of attacks by:

1. Not being ignorant. Satan is going to attack in this area.
2. Facing up to the fact that his attack is going to be a fierce attack.
3. Realizing that this attack could come at unexpected times and from unexpected angles.
4. Preparing to recognize infiltrating spies, in which Satan utilizes worldly lies masquerading as common wisdom.
5. Preparing to recognize attacks in the form of burrowing under the protective wall around your marriage, in which Satan seeks to utilize our God-given sensual appetites to his own nefarious advantage.

Now, we will see that we must also:

6. Prepare to recognize attacks coming over the top of the walls.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

II Corinthians 10:3

The Bible does not say that Christians do not wage warfare. Just because our warfare is spiritual and not physical, it does not mean that our warfare is any “less real.”

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:4-5 (emphasis added)

If I cast something “down,” that implies that, before I get to it, it is something “higher” than me. When I think about my marriage, I need to be careful to identify things that might be sitting in a “high place” in my mind where they should not be. “Imagination,” in the sense we normally use that word, is not a bad thing. In previous lessons I have advocated using our creativity and imaginative thinking in making the romantic aspects of our marriage enjoyable. But “imaginations” as used in these verses are a reference to human speculations that cause us to wonder about or doubt things on our own that might already be resolved, revealed, or even restricted in Scripture. Those “bad,” speculative imaginations can easily include things like sexual thoughts – thoughts that seem to be so sudden and secretive that they come to us unbidden.

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

II Corinthians 10:6

Impure thoughts should make us downright angry and vengeful – if our minds are captivated by obedience to Christ. This is the “hard work” of spiritual warfare, and Satan does not believe that you are going to put up a good fight when it comes to how we think about sex in marriage. Therefore, he is very bold. He is trying to send these “exalted thoughts” right up and over your battlements. Next time I will identify three assailants that he will send to try to scale the fortifying walls of your marriage at the area we call “sexual fidelity.”

The Trap of Lust

February 20, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 12 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Samson was under a Nazarite vow. God had placed clear boundaries on his life. These boundaries were meant for Samson’s protection, not to limit his fun. But Samson unlawfully crossed these boundaries. Physically, he crossed the boundary into Philistia, not to serve God, but to satisfy his own appetites. Spiritually, he crossed the boundary of his own Nazarite vow for the same reasons.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Judges 14:1-3

Samson was so intent on having this woman for himself that he disrespectfully went against the wishes of his parents. What was it that he liked so much about this woman? He hadn’t talked to her. He hadn’t smelled her perfume. He hadn’t kissed her. He hadn’t even touched her. No, when he said to his father, “She pleaseth me well,” he meant, “I like the way she looks.”

Sinful lust is a dangerous thing.

To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

Proverbs 6:24-28

It is dangerous because it is so often associated with what we see, and temptation is almost everywhere. It is a trap that is often attractively baited, difficult to escape from, and brutally destructive. Note the close association between sinful lust and “looking:”

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16 (emphasis added)

The admonition to “guard your eyes” has become passé and legalistic-sounding in our modern society, but it remains eminently wise advice. Lust complicated the life of Samson, and many others around him. It tends toward heartache, pain, defilement, and shame. We must beware of it and avoid it in the power of Christ.

Are You Struggling?

February 18, 2013 at 10:13 am | Posted in Biblical Violence, Matthew, Salvation | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

Are you struggling to believe the truth about your sin? You need to know that the Bible says that your sin is against God (Romans 3:23; Psalm 51:4), and that God, Who is just, righteous, and holy, will not let your sin go unpunished.

Have you faced the truth about eternity? Your life here on earth will not be the extent of your existence. Your soul is going to leave your body when you die, and you are going to face God, Who will either welcome you into Heaven or cast you into hell.

Do you find it difficult to believe the Bible’s promise that the gift of salvation is a free gift that you must receive by grace through faith alone? You cannot earn it or pay for it or add anything of your own merit to it, and you do not deserve it.

If you are struggling with any or all of these truths, do not give up. Believing in Christ can be a time of violent struggle for many people. You will either struggle violently to get away from the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, or you will submit and be drawn to repent of your sin, and trust Christ. You may even be struggling violently against your own pride, or peer pressure, or some lie which has led you to believe you don’t need a Savior because you are not in trouble.

The fact is we are all sinners. We all deserve God’s wrath. None of us deserve to go to Heaven.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mark 16:16

The Kingdom of Heaven will suffer (“put up with”) your violence if you have the attitude of a desperate sinner in desperate need of a Savior. Salvation is a gift that Christ offers to you, but an offer alone does not make a gift. An offer must be received to be a gift. Will you receive it today?

The Stones of Curiosity

February 15, 2013 at 10:36 am | Posted in The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Joshua was leading a new generation out of the wilderness and into the promised land of Canaan. Only he and Caleb were still alive from the old generation to see God’s chosen people finally cross the Jordan River. Despite what many of the old hymns proclaim, this is not a picture in Scripture of making it to Heaven. There were still battles, wars, enemies, and obstacles to be overcome in Canaan; there will be no wars in Heaven. No, the crossing over into the promised land is a picture of believers claiming their inheritance in the Lord, and receiving the promises of confidence and assurance by faith.

The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went down into the Jordan and God stopped the waters like He had done at the Red Sea. The people crossed as on dry land. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to choose twelve men – one from each tribe – to gather big stones and put them in the river at the place where the priests had stood.

Some Bible scholars believe that this was to be a symbol of faith in the unseen. Once the stones were in place, the waters of the Jordan would cover them up, and future generations would believe by faith that they were there. Others argue that the stones would only become visible in times of drought when the water went down – to remind people to be faithful during hard times, and to trust God to send water – life-giving water – which would once again conceal the stones.

http://daughterbydesign.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/a-memorial-to-gods-faithfulness-josh-4.jpg?w=365&h=260

It is generally agreed that these stones were to be some kind of memorial, and, as they say, either of those interpretations “will preach.” As Christians today, we should set up memorials in our own lives to remind us of the great things God has done, but we must not make idols of God’s past accomplishments. God can do even greater things in the future.

What I want to do is look a little closer at the passage of Scripture.

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:5-6 (emphasis added)

We can imagine children asking their fathers, “Dad, what mean these stones? Dad, I want to know about those stones – there in the river. People still talk about them. Tell me again why they’re there.” But that is not precisely what Joshua 4:6 is telling us.

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:6 (emphasis added)

That’s the question for us today, dads, grandpas, Christian men. The question is not, “What do these stones mean?” The question is, “What do these stones mean TO YOU..?” Because that’s what our children are really wanting to know. “Dad, what does that Cross mean to you? Is it just a decoration? Just something to wear on a chain? Just a design on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker? A bookmark in your Bible? A tattoo for rock stars?” I don’t think we should ever stray from the theological truth of the Cross, but our children need more than a theological discourse. They need to know more than what the Cross means. They need to know what it means TO ME.

Whenever God has entrusted you to fulfill some responsibility for your family the right way, and you don’t want to do it, the devil or the world has someone waiting in the wings who will be glad to do it the wrong way. Satan could explain the theological meaning of that Cross far better than any of us could. He could tell us exactly what that Cross means. He could tell us more about that Cross than we ever thought we knew. What your son – your daughter – your grandchildren – want to know is, “What means this Cross TO YOU?”

“Why do we go to church, Dad?”
“Because of that Cross, and what happened there.”

“Why do you sing songs about God and Jesus, Dad?”
“Because of what happened to Jesus on that Cross – and what happened to Him after they took His body down.”

“Why do we do things differently from the other kids at school, Dad? Why can’t we go to those kinds of movies? Why can’t we listen to that kind of music? Why can’t we dress like everyone else? Why can’t we say some words? Why do have to have a Bible study in our house, Dad? Why do we have to say our prayers and pray before we eat?”
“Because of that Cross. Because of what that Cross means to me – and what I want it to mean to you.”

The King of this universe – the One True God – the Creator of everything – came to die on that Cross for me – and for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your children – your whole family – are not watching you. They want to know what is important to you. You must have a desire for your Father if you want to be “a” father.

We must bring the Cross of Jesus Christ into our daily lives and everyday conversations – especially with our children.

“Dad, they told us in school that the earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates.”
“That’s true, sweetie, but did your teacher tell you that the earth doesn’t just rotate – it ‘repents’ – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. Did she tell you about the moon? We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be ‘moonlight’ Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.”

You can have conversations like this with your children if you are prepared – if the “stones” that memorialize what Christ has done in your life provoke your children to curiosity.

A Word about the Word

February 13, 2013 at 11:24 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We are not sure which human instrument the Holy Spirit used to write Psalm 119. The consensus seems to be that it was David, but I have also seen it argued that it was Jeremiah. The psalm itself is about God’s Word. Like Psalm 112, it is in the form of an acrostic, but with eight lines for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Almost every line is a meditation on Scripture.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

It is not enough to have God’s Word in our hands, in our homes, and in our heads. We must have it in our hearts!

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

The Bible helps us stay clean. We pour it through our minds they way we pour water through a dirty vessel to purify it.

I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

Psalm 119:14 (emphasis added)

Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.

Psalm 119:111 (emphasis added)

I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

Psalm 119:162 (emphasis added)

The Bible gives us joy.

Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

Psalm 119:24 (emphasis added)

HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

Psalm 119:33-35 (emphasis added)

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105 (emphasis added)

The Bible gives us guidance.

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

Psalm 119:37 (emphasis added)

The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

Psalm 119:72 (emphasis added)

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103 (emphasis added)

Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Psalm 119:148 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us what is valuable.

I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

Psalm 119:58 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us how to pray.

ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

Psalm 119:49 (emphasis added)

The Bible gives us hope.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

The Bible gives us peace.

And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Psalm 119:45 (emphasis added)

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

Psalm 119:133 (emphasis added)

The Bible sets us free.

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

Psalm 119:73 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us what God wants us to do, and how to do it.

They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.

Psalm 119:74 (emphasis added)

Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.

Psalm 119:79 (emphasis added)

The Bible tells us how to pick our friends.

VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

Psalm 119:41-43

We must pray the Word, answer with the Word, and speak the Word consistently. The Bible gives us strength.

DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

Psalm 119:25 (emphasis added)

Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

Psalm 119:40 (emphasis added)

Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.

Psalm 119:88 (emphasis added)

Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.

Psalm 119:149 (emphasis added)

The Bible revives us.

I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

Psalm 119:7

Praise is good preparation for Bible study.

They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Psalm 119:3-5 (emphasis added)

The Bible shows us the difference between our ways and God’s ways.

Indulgent, Incompetent, or Industrious?

February 8, 2013 at 9:46 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

Some people work alone. Some people work “for themselves” (“self-employed”). But many people are what we call “employees.” They work for a company or an “employer.” Christians have a responsibility to be good workers or employees.

Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17

Good employees are focused on work, not eating and drinking, which Ecclesiastes likens to signs of childishness. If you work for an employer beware of the problem of indulgence – the tendency of an employee to use his employment only for himself and not for his employer’s enterprise.

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.

Ecclesiastes 10:18

Along with avoiding the problem of indulgence, we must also beware of the danger that we would be lazy and downright incompetent. It’s one thing to take your time and do a good job, but it’s another thing to take your time because you’re loafing.

A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Ecclesiastes 10:19

Most companies have a least one employee who is the “life of the party,” and because of his charismatic personality, even his employer thinks it’s cute, but, remember, as an employee your purpose is to make money for your employer.

Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

Ecclesiastes 10:20

A good employee is not one that never questions his employer, but he is one that is discreet. The desire to be hardworking and to improve the company for which you work will help defeat the temptation to be indulgent (“Who cares? I just work here.”) and to be incompetent (so too much won’t be required of you).

How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage

February 6, 2013 at 11:19 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Galatians | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last time, I discussed Satan’s infiltration strategy as he attacks our marriages. The devil comes up to the wall of your marriage as a tempter at the “sexual relations” section of the wall, but all his spies that tried to sneak through were summarily executed. So now he tries to burrow under – and he messes with your thought life. He borrows a shovel and some trenching tools from the worldly media and popular culture, and (because he doesn’t have the power to “create” new physical sensations the way God does) he appeals to the concupiscible appetite which is already in us. He’s not stupid, either. He knows that our concupiscible appetites, while given to us by God, have also been warped and bent by our sin nature. So he tries to get under the wall by making you think that the appetite itself is the thing to be served (worshiped), instead of the Giver of the appetite. He whispers in your (or your spouse’s) ear, and he says, “This feels good, so it is powerful – and it must be satiated more than your spouse wants to satiate it.” Then he whispers, “There are other ways out there to satiate it… There are things to look at and there are people willing to help…and God knows that you are not stronger than your concupiscible appetites, so God will understand – it’s not a big deal…” And he tempts and tempts and tempts! Remember, Satan is the master liar and tempter. He knows how to make sin sound and look very seductive.

So, will you look the other way when the tempter pops his head up through a hole in the ground on your side of the wall? Or will you remember that “your” side of the wall is really “God’s” side of the wall and that your marriage belongs to Him and not to you? My children used to like to buy those little coin-shaped tokens and play an arcade game called “Whack-A-Mole.”

https://i0.wp.com/timscogitorium.com/tinblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Whac-a-Mole-by-Robert-Dobalina-on-Flickr.jpg

Whenever a plastic mole popped his head out of a hole, they would smash it back down with a big toy mallet, and at the same time another mole would pop right up out of another hole. I’m not trying to be silly because we’re talking about a serious matter, but that is a picture of what we, as Christian spouses, are going to have to do in the area of glorifying God with our concupiscible appetites. We are going to have to watch for the devil to pop his head up in our thought lives, and then beat him back into the ground. The difference is, we have the authority in Christ Jesus to not only resist Satan (James 4:7) and to hammer him back down, but to pour cement in the hole so he can’t keep coming back – at least through that same tunnel.

How are we going to do this? We are going to do it Biblically – with the weapon that God has given us to control the concupiscible appetite. It’s called “temperance.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:22-24 (emphasis added)

Temperance is a Godly virtue, it is a Christian virtue, and it is a Gospel virtue. It is the virtue of controlling, mastering, and channeling the sensual appetites. Can it be done? Yes! By walking in the Spirit; by asking God to help you do it; by surrendering to Christ and accessing His power; by preaching the Gospel to our libidos. Now, those are principles that apply even if you are on your own when it comes to understanding the truth about Christian marriage. You can have victory in Christ even if your spouse is not on your side. I will say, though, that it is much less difficult when your spouse is on the same page. In a case where both spouses have bought into the truth of Christ-centered marriage, the concupiscible appetite is channeled, by and with the help of your loving and submissive spouse, into the God-ordained and Gospel-enabled arena in which it is to be freely satisfied. Because God made it that way, this is where it is to be freely satisfied and where it is best satisfied.

The Trap of Leaving Our Limits

February 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

People are not saved from the penalty of sin by obeying laws or keeping rules. However, Christians (those who have already been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ) should love God’s laws and should seek to avoid the traps that come with living as though God has not given us laws to obey. In this series of lessons, we will identify several traps of “lawless living” by looking at the account of Samson in the Book of Judges.

Samson’s death occurred when he pulled down a Philistine temple with himself and thousands of Philistines inside. Samson, who was empowered by the Holy Spirit, had the strength to make the most stable structures unstable, but, in a twist of irony, he himself was one of the most unstable men in the whole Bible. According to Scripture, the source of instability in a man is double-mindedness.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

Those who have the singleness of mind that comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit need not be so double-minded. A single-minded Christian will respect God-ordained boundaries, whereas a double-minded person crosses boundaries at his peril.

Samson was born in Zorah, a city in Dan, near the Philistine border.

And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

Judges 13:2

He was one of those babies in the Bible where his birth had been foretold to his mother or his parents, like Isaac (Abraham and Sarah); Samuel (Hannah); and Jesus (Mary and Joseph). Some servants of God are chosen in a special way before their birth.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:4

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Galatians 1:15

In Samson’s case the angel appeared to Manoah’s wife, and then to both of them together. Although Manoah’s wife was thought to be barren, the angel told her that the child was to be a Nazarite from birth. John the Baptist is another example of someone who was chosen by God to be a life-long Nazarite. A Nazarite vow was normally a voluntary vow for a stated period of time, but for Samson, it meant that he was supposed to refrain from drinking wine or strong drink all his days.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body.

Numbers 6:2-6

He wasn’t allowed to touch dead bodies or get a haircut, either. It is helpful to make a distinction between Jesus, who was a Nazarene (from the town of Nazareth), but not a Nazarite (which means consecrated or separated under those particular Old Testament requirements). These restrictions were Samson’s boundaries. Physically, he crossed the boundary into Philistia, not to serve God, but to satisfy his own appetites. Spiritually, he crossed the boundary of his own Nazarite vow for the same reasons. He went into a vineyard. He had a wedding feast involving wine. He touched the dead carcass of a lion he had killed.

Do we respect our boundaries as Christians? Or are we double-minded and unstable like Samson? Often we excuse ourselves by thinking that we don’t want to really do any harm – that we just want to have a little fun. We think we can just step over our boundaries a little.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.

Judges 14:1

Samson went down to Timnath, not to make war against the Philistines, which was his calling, but to look for a woman. We might say he was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Let us remember that God has ordained boundaries for our own safety. If we cross over into sin, we lose our ability to determine the consequences.

The Stones of Confirmation

February 1, 2013 at 11:01 am | Posted in Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It was the first day of the week, and a group of Jesus’s followers came to the tomb where He had been buried. Before Jesus’s death, He had predicted His own resurrection, but these followers weren’t going to see if Jesus had been resurrected.

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

Luke 24:1

Who were these visitors to the tomb of Jesus?

It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

Luke 24:10

They were all women, and it is almost as if this has turned out to be a prophecy of the modern church. Caring for Jesus’s body would have been a labor of love, but a very sad labor. There would be no steak dinner, no football game on a big-screen television, no exciting rock-concert-style music, no fiery emotional preaching, no motorcycle rally, no “boys’ night out” with a bunch of macho symbolism in the church fellowship hall. In other words, none of the things that are supposed to manipulate men into showing up for some of the mundane ministry tasks in the church, which usually wind up being done by women today. These women were going to be caring for the body of Christ and grieving – no fanfare, no accolades, no recognition. If you are reading this, and you are a man who belongs to a local church, are you guilty of being of being “all show and no substance?” Are you there for the “big men’s events” but not at the smaller Bible studies, the visitation times, the prayer meetings, the cleaning days? You might fool the congregation by showing up at the more “visible” events, but you are not fooling the Lord.

The women who undertook the task of visiting Jesus’s tomb to care for His body were rewarded when their grieving was turned to joy.

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

Luke 24:2

An earthquake and the power of God had rolled the stone away, but the stone itself did not cry out. It was God’s plan that people would deliver the good news about the risen Christ.

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

Luke 24:9

The stone that rolled away from the entrance to the tomb – although silent – still spoke very loudly. It was a stone that confirmed the truth of the Resurrection. It had been sealed at the entrance, so that only Roman soldiers could have broken the seal – and they never would have done so. The rolled-away stone is still silent today. It’s up to us to cry out the Good News.


Entries and comments feeds.