Beware the Fatigue of Failure

June 28, 2013 at 10:24 am | Posted in The Fives | 5 Comments
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And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

Luke 5:5

Simon Peter had a fishing boat. Jesus was speaking to a large crowd which was pressing in upon Him as He preached on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, so He climbed into Peter’s boat, finished His sermon, and commanded Peter to launch out into the deep. Once this was done, Jesus further instructed Peter and his fellow fishermen to let their net down and catch some fish.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But Peter had an objection. He had been using this method of fishing all night long, and hadn’t caught a thing. It is not possible for us to know Peter’s exact tone of voice when he said, “We have toiled all night.” Maybe it was just an explanation of what happened. Maybe it was said with a touch of humor at being told to do again what he had just finished doing repeatedly with no success. I suspect, though, that there was at least a touch of exasperation in Peter’s voice. I would imagine that when he followed up with, “nevertheless…” he did so with a sigh of resignation, not really believing that the exercise would be anything other than pointless.

There was a time (albeit a very brief time) in human history when manual physical labor was neither exhausting nor frustrating. When Adam was given a garden to tend and keep in Eden, sin had not yet entered into the world. It was only after Adam disobeyed God that God placed a curse upon the world and mankind, so that now our labor has become “toil:” something unpleasant, difficult, and often unproductive.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17-19

Working hard in a fallen world can still be rewarding, in a sense. Even the fatigue brought on by long tough physical labor carries with it a certain peace, and sometimes a feeling of accomplishment. But, if you’ve ever worked really hard at something, only to experience failure over and over again, you know that your mental state can really play havoc with your physical state. How is it that, when I was younger, I could play baseball in the middle of July from sun-up to sundown and still be full enough of energy to fight off bed time until the wee hours? But the following week, a mere four hours of painting the eaves of the house left me spent, drained, and irritable for the rest of the day? Physical activity is tiring, but somehow successful or fun activity seems way less tiring than physical activity ending in failure.

I suspect that this is what Peter was expressing in Luke 5:5. If he had spent all night catching fishing instead of fruitlessly lowering and raising empty nets, he would have been a little more eager to do as Jesus asked. However, the “nevertheless” which Peter speaks forth without any further urging is a good reminder to us to heed the words of Christ even when they may not be to our liking at the moment. “Toil” is not our preferred word for describing the work of our Lord, but neither is it an excuse for goldbricking. The Christian life ought to be a life of service, and service can make us weary, but, thankfully, we serve a kind and loving Master, and our spiritual labors, unlike our physical labors, will never be in vain.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:57-58

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Sampling Some Psalms

June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | Leave a comment
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class, we used the “quarter” system, whereby we studied through a different book of the Bible (or a grouping of shorter books) every three months. It requires a certain discipline to make it through some of the longer books in this amount of time, and, obviously, we couldn’t always go into as much detail as I would have liked, but I believe I always managed to make at least a few remarks about every chapter. Then we came to the book of Psalms. There are 150 Psalms, and I felt there was simply no way to teach through the whole thing in 45 minutes on 12 or 13 Sunday mornings. So we chose some “selected Psalms” and did the best we could. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to teaching through the ones that we left out. The Psalms are the Bible’s “worship” book, and they contain a universe of valuable truths, inspiration, and revelation about the character and attributes of our amazing and almighty God. Here are links to the lessons in the category called Selected Psalms:

1. Parallelism in Psalms (*)
2. Wise Watering (Psalm 1:1-4)
3. God’s Plan for Hurricane Preparedness
4. Give Good Advice: Avoid Sin
5. Give Good Advice: Delay Taking Rash Action
6. Give Good Advice: Vow to be Sincere with God
7. Give Good Advice: Inquire of Your Own Heart
8. Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans
9. Give Good Advice: Esteem the Lord as King
10. Light Is Attractive
11. Beware Foolish Functions
12. Danger + Weakness = Joyful Praise
13. Noisy Neighbors
14. Sweet Theology
15. God’s Revelation of Himself
16. Presumed Guilty
17. Preaching and Praying in Prosperity and Predicaments
18. Faster than a Speeding Shadow
19. Sheep Need a Shepherd
20. Are You Feeling Sheepish?
21. The Shepherd Knows Where We Are Going
22. How to Get High in Christian Ministry
23. There Are Some Absolutes
24. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
25. Light Gives Safety
26. A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy (Psalms 27:4, 73:25, 119:71)
27. Friends or Foes?
28. The Louisiana Flood of 2016 (Psalm 32:5-6)
29. Our Great Needs (Psalm 35:10)
30. Rest / Repentance
31. Water, Water, Everywhere…
32. Light Shows the Truth
33. Two Thrones (Psalm 47:8)
34. Clean and New
35. You the Man!
36. Catechism Question 6
37. The Lord’s Laundry
38. God Versus a Mud Puddle
39. Prayer, Protection, Praise, and Posture
40. From Garbage to Glory
41. Do the Righteous Really Suffer?
42. The Importance of Going to Church
43. Evil Angels 
44. Heman and the Master of the Universe (Psalm 88)
a. Open Prayer
b. Obstinate Prayer
c. Obnoxious Prayer
d. Obstetric Prayer
45. The Beauty of Holiness (Psalm 96:9)
46. Certain Uncertainties
47. The Certainty of Christ’s Deity 
48. The Crawl (Psalm 104:19-20)
49. The Other Ten Commandments
50. Leading instead of Watching
51. Creeping with the Enemy (Psalm 106)
52. Not Afraid of the Dark
53. Waiting and Training
54. The Great Rescuer
55. Two Sides to Every Blessing
56. Light Shows the Way
57. Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)
58. A Word about the Word
59. The Word for Sinners
60. The Bible on Trial 
61. A One-Question Quiz for Boys (Psalm 119:9)
62. God Knows Something about Everything
63. Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms
64. When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy
65. Mercy / Memory (Psalm 136:13)
66. A Closer Walk with Thee
67. Healing for Truly Broken Hearts
68. Even the Children (Psalm 148)

* most-read post in category

Spurgeon Was Old Enough to S.W.I.M.

June 24, 2013 at 11:00 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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There is an inimitable mellowness about the Christian who has grown old in his Master’s service. If you want to hear about the sea, talk to an “old salt.” If you want to hear about war, talk to an old soldier that has been in battle and smelt gunpowder — and knows what it is to have lost a leg. He is the man to tell you! And so, if you want to know about the real deeps, the truth, the vitality, the power of religion — you must not go to boys — you must go to those who bring forth fruit in old age because they can speak out of the fullness of their soul!

Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Trees in God’s Court”

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalm 92:13-15

Prep Time

June 20, 2013 at 11:25 am | Posted in Esther | 1 Comment
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Lord, help Your people to be dedicated to You, and help us to stand against the attack of the enemy. Give us the wisdom to know when we need to use the methods of confrontation or separation in dealing with our problems, but help us to deal with people always in love. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

God often uses people to accomplish His purposes. One example is the gift of the Gospel, which is a great treasure. God could appear to people in person and preach it directly to them, but He has entrusted it to us.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:6-7

This is possibly the most well-known and often-quoted verse in the Book of Esther:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

It shows the providence of God, but it also shows that we may miss out on the blessing when God accomplishes His purposes anyway without us.

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.

Esther 5:1-4

Esther was receiving Godly favor and influence. Why wasn’t she more direct with the king? There are some similarities in the way subjects approach an earthly king and the way God’s people approach the Heavenly King, but there are also many differences.

Esther prepared for her meeting with the king, including putting on her royal apparel. We should be thankful that God hears “emergency prayers” (Nehemiah 2:4), but most of the time we should make some preparation for our prayer time.

Honesty in Church

June 17, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 5 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
U.nction
R.esponsibility
C.ommunion
H.

The second “H” in C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “Honesty.”

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

Church should be the one place where we can be honest about who we are and what we’ve done. Everyone there should be a forgiven sinner.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16 (emphasis added)

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

One of the prerequisites for being a Christian is being a sinner. Our sins are forgiven in Jesus and He is our One Mediator, but we still need to bear one another’s burdens.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Galatians 6:1-3 (emphasis added)

We need to bear one another’s burdens honestly – not thinking that we’re better than the person who is struggling. We all struggle, and Christ has given us each other – and “church” itself – to help us.

Inhabiting and Investigating Your Marriage

June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 10 Comments
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In marriage – especially Christian marriage – there are certain duties owed by husbands to wives, and vice versa. Even more so, there are duties owed by both spouses to Christ, Who is supposed to be the Center of our marriages.

I. Duty to Inhabit

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2

Conversation” in the Bible means more than just how you talk. It refers to your daily habits – your “lifestyle.” Wives are supposed to live out their lives before their husbands in such a way that their “ways” can be observed. The Bible does not assume that a typical marriage is one where the husband is right with the Lord. Rather, it seems to envision a typical marriage as one where the wife is walking with Jesus, but the husband needs to be changed. Sadly, this has proven prophetic in our day and age, as many wives, by default, have been the spiritual leaders – or at least the main influencers – in the home. Clearly, I Peter 3:1-2 envisions a scenario where the husband not only is failing to obey the Word, but has not been “won” by the Word. Therefore, the exhortation to wives is to advertise a Godly lifestyle. This would prohibit nagging and the administration of a verbal “beat-down” or a sanctimonious manipulation to try to get the husband to change his ways and start committing to follow the Lord and attend church. The idea is that wives are supposed to be authentic in their expressions of love for Jesus and their husbands, and to depend upon the Holy Spirit to do the convicting and the changing. If you are reading this and you are a wife, does your husband see you praying, reading your Bible, going to church? He might see the results of these disciplines, but he will not see them being acted out unless they are done openly in his presence. And you can’t do those things in front of him if you are not inhabiting the same space as him.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them…

I Peter 3:7

Husbands should not live apart from their wives. We must inhabit the same household, and spend much time together.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3

God “inhabits” the praises of His people. He “dwells” there – He is in the midst of His people when they praise Him. We need to praise our spouses, and not just around others, but face to face, in the presence of each other on a daily basis. Praise and habitation must go hand in hand if a right spirit is to be present, honoring Christ in our homes.

II. Duty to Investigate

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as “behold” in I Peter 3:2 means more than just “to look at” or to “take notice of” which is what “behold” sometimes means. Here it means “to look intently at” or “to observe closely for a long period of time.” It describes the way an “overseer” of a project investigates the progress of the project that his men are working on every day to see how it’s going.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

In other words, one of our duties as husbands is to make a study of our wives. You need to know your wife’s likes and dislikes, her pet peeves and the delights of her heart. You need to know what she thinks about different topics and people. You need to try to learn how she’s going to behave in different circumstances. Find out what’s on her mind. Obviously, this involves the dreaded “talks about her feelings” that often get parodied when observers point out the differences in the approach of men (“How can I fix this?”) and women (“I need you to empathize with me and listen to me.”) in how they communicate about problems, conflict, and interests. But the Scriptural exhortation is way more than that. It involves making observations, noting them, remembering them, and even meditating on them. The worldly cliché is that women just can’t be figured out by men, so there’s no point in trying. Thankfully, God has not commanded us men to figure out women in general, but neither has He given us a pass on understanding our wives. This is a serious duty, and not one to be brushed aside with a chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders. Just as an aerospace engineer had better be familiar and extremely conversant with math and physics, so a Christian husband had better be an expert on one woman in this world: his wife.

The duty for wives in this area is likewise crucial: Your duty here is to make sure you are a chaste study subject. Remember the command to wives? “While they behold your chaste conversation…” When the investigation begins, you want your husband to be glad about what he finds, not worried. You want him to be investigating a life of holiness, not a crime scene. Your life should be more like a treasure hunt than an episode of C.S.I. “Coupled with fear.” I know the common sitcom trope about the wife who asks her husband how her dress looks, and then bursts into tears when he says something a little too honest, but in real life wives need to disregard the potential for comedy that comes from acting like you and your spouse are from different planets, so that the husband is left scratching his head like a buffoon. Wives: revere your husbands enough not to be hard to “figure out” on purpose.

Next time, we will discover the duties to influence and intercede.

Four-Dimensional Love (Part 1)

June 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

What is the most attractive part of a tree? Some people prefer the leaves, and they can certainly be beautiful.

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Some like the trunk – it’s sturdy and regal.

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Children tend to favor the branches (for climbing!)

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But if we were playing Family Feud, where they supposedly survey 100 people to get the most popular answers, and the question was: “What part of a tree do you like the best?” I think the number one answer would probably be: the fruit.

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Fruit usually looks pretty, often tastes good, and it contains within it the seeds for another tree. I could argue that the fruit seems to be the whole reason for the tree. It is the “product” of the tree – what it “produces.” (Which is probably why you can buy it in the “produce” section of the grocery store.)

If the leaves, trunk, branches, and fruit are the most attractive parts of a tree, what is the least attractive part..? Did you say the roots? Here in hurricane country it is not at all unusual to see an overturned tree with the roots (formerly buried and out of sight) protruding up out of the ground. They are gnarled, dark, and just plain ugly from most people’s perspective.

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Despite the fact that we find the roots of a tree not very aesthetically pleasing, I think that God might disagree. It may very well be that God finds the roots to be the most attractive part of a tree, because, when it comes to being “rooted in love,” Ephesians 3:17 and 18 say that rooted love is four-dimensional love.

First, the love that we get from being rooted in Christ is a love that reaches up – up to God. This dimension is called the “height.” Most of the time we limit our lessons on love to the horizontal plane, but loving God Himself is the best assurance of true salvation. No one can truly love God without first receiving Christ. It is impossible to truly love someone else without loving God, and it is impossible to truly love God without knowing Christ. To know the height of the love of Christ in your relationships with others, you must first have trusted and received Him as Savior.

The love of Christ not only extends upward to God, but it also reaches out to the sides. This is the “breadth” of which Ephesians 3:18 speaks. Love that is rooted in Christ is wide love. It covers the best and the worst. It covers good times and bad times. Do you love when you are loved first? Even the world shows this kind of counterfeit love. Anyone can greedily receive good things and respond with some degree of reciprocity. The real question is whether you look to spread out the love you receive from Christ no matter how far the person you love strays to the right or to the left. The love we receive from Christ needs to provide cool and refreshing shade for those who don’t feel loved. Everyone with whom we come into contact ought to feel peace and comfort and a welcoming influence as they pass under the shade of Christ’s outstretched love which radiates from us.

Love that is rooted in Christ also reaches out into the third dimension – toward others (the “length” referenced in Ephesians 3:18). True love – rooted and grounded in Christ – is never just passive. It is active. It extends toward others. The Bible knows nothing of “withdrawing love.” If you love something (or someone), so they say, set them free – and if they don’t come back, it was never meant to be. That is nonsense. Christian love pursues. Pursue those that the Lord has placed within your sphere of influence. Win their hearts. Imitate God: if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. If you draw near to others, then Christ in you may very well draw them near to you.

Are you satisfied with your capacity to love? Don’t be. Ask yourself, “To whom am I reaching out?” God so loved us that He sent… Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost… He went after a bride

Next time, we will look at the “fourth dimension” of Christ’s love.

The Trap of Leaning on Luck

June 10, 2013 at 10:27 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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Samson appears to have had a preoccupation with Philistine women. First, he wanted to marry one, then, in Judges 16, we find him visiting a Philistine prostitute.

Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Judges 16:1 (emphasis added)

Once again, Samson was tempted by what he saw, and the fact that he “went in unto her” means that he eagerly acted upon the temptation. While this was going on, his enemies, the Gazites, surrounded him during the night.

[And it was told] the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed [him] in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

Judges 16:2

Something roused Samson at midnight and warned him of the danger. Since there is no indication in Scripture that Samson had a special “spider-sense” like the comic book hero, Spider-Man, it seems likely that God in His providence woke Samson at what would seem to unbelievers to be a “fortuitous” time.

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And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put [them] upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that [is] before Hebron.

Samson 16:3

The fact that the very next verse tells of his “love” for Delilah indicates that Samson believed he was invincible. He does not give thanks to God for rescuing him. He does not heed the warning that his sin is repeatedly placing him in danger. He simply relies on the fact that he “somehow” keeps getting away with it, and continues to do it over and over again.

Have you ever escaped from a close call and found yourself “thanking your lucky stars?” Ever marveled at some blessing you received by calling it a “lucky break?” If we are not careful, we will forget the truth that in our God-controlled and -monitored universe, there is no such thing as “luck,” and, in the truest sense, the terms “accident” and “chance” are misnomers for the providence of the Lord. Samson kept defying God’s will for his life until his “luck ran out,” but what really happened is that he drove God’s presence from his life with such carelessness and defiance that the Spirit of the Lord finally left him (Judges 16:20).

We would do well to delete the term “luck” from our vocabulary and to banish the idea of random chance from our thinking. As Christians, we need to trust in the Lord our God, and – with eyes of faith – to see His invisible hand at work in all our circumstances, surroundings, appointments, and encounters.

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Proverbs 16:33

The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.

Proverbs 18:18

Beware Foolish Functions

June 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms, The Fives | 3 Comments
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We tend to think of foolishness as childishness or silliness: frivolous behavior that does not meet the standard of wisdom, but is ultimately harmless. I used to have a middle school teacher who would lightheartedly admonish the students whispering in the back of the classroom to “stop actin’ a fool!” God, however, takes a much more serious view of foolishness.

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Psalm 5:5

We must all seem extremely foolish to God when it comes to our intellectual capacities. After all, God is infinitely wise and omniscient, and there are times when we can barely remember where we put our keys! Here, though, as David the Psalmist prays to the Lord about his (and His) enemies, he is talking about a whole different level of folly.

You may note that the foolish men whom God will not allow to stand in His sight are sandwiched in the middle of verses that talk about God’s complete lack of pleasure in, and hatred for, the wicked, evil, and abhorrent.

You and I need to remember God’s passionate intolerance of sinful foolishness, and we need to especially remember it the next time we are tempted to gauge the seriousness of our sin by how silly, frivolous, or inconsequential it might seem to our biased minds. The Holy Spirit through David groups the “foolish” with those who “work” iniquity. Certainly God is judging us by our hearts, but our actions – those things in which we delight to participate – seem to be the best indicators of exactly what our hearts are embracing. Christians stand before God justified by the blood of Jesus, not by our works, but the application of that blood to our lives is supposed to result in holy living and sanctified functioning.

A Closer Walk with Thee

June 5, 2013 at 10:43 am | Posted in Amos, Biblical Walking, Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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Thank You, Lord, for overcoming so many obstacles in our lives. Help us to hear Your voice clearly as we read and study Your Word. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

In the Bible the image of “walking” is a picture of fellowship.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Amos 3:3

That’s a rhetorical question – a question to which the asker does not really expect a formal answer. It is a question for which the answer immediately comes to mind, and we can just assume that everyone would answer it the same way. So, when the Bible asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” the answer is obviously “no.” As we’re “walking” with God, God expects us to be in agreement with Him. We tend to focus on our fellowship with God from a perspective of how well we know Him. But it might be more helpful to acknowledge and remember how well He knows us. That’s one of the key themes in Psalm 139.

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Psalm 139:1-6

There’s no point in trying to hoodwink God. Is there anybody in your life with whom you can totally let down your guard? Anybody about whom you can say, “There is absolutely nothing they could find out about me that I wouldn’t want them to know.” Maybe your spouse, maybe even your parents or your child, but, even then, in human relationships intimate knowledge almost always carries a loss of respect, or at least reverence. Not with God, however. You’ll never find any “dirt” on Him. For Christians, our relationship with Him is clear: Loving Father and imperfect child; Creator and created.

There is no point in trying to keep secrets from God, and there is no use in trying to hide from Him.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:7-12

There is no corner dark enough, no dark alley, no barroom, movie theater, closet, or desk drawer that God does not see. Even under the covers in the middle of the night with your windows painted black, you are not invisible to God. Not only is He able to see you, but He is able to come guide you to safety or even deliver you.

In our fallen flesh, we are prone to cringe away from the truth that God sees us all the time – as if He were some malevolent totalitarian Big Brother hoping to catch you in a moment of unguarded freedom. The reality is that God’s omnipresence and omniscience are actually great blessings. Imagine if you could hide from God, what trouble you might get into.

If we’re going to walk with God, the best fellowship – the sweetest fellowship – and the most profitable fellowship – is going to be found walking where He wants to walk. Don’t make the mistake of contemplating the commission of something so shameful that it makes you think that God will depart from you while you do it, and make Himself blissfully ignorant when you’re done.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:18-19

The Corinthian church was as carnal as most churches today. They had members openly engaging in fornication. The Holy Spirit wrote to them through the Apostle Paul and told them, “You’re sinning outside of your bodies, you’re sinning inside your bodies, you’re even sinning against your own bodies.” They were joining the temples of the Holy Ghost with harlots. If there was ever a time the Holy Ghost was going to leave them, it would have been then. Instead, He informed them that they were grieving Him by bringing Him into proximity with their fornication. There’s no hiding from God – even in a harlot’s bed.

1. You can’t hoodwink God.
2. You can’t hide from God.
3. You shouldn’t try to hinder God’s plans.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalm 139:13-18

Since God formed us – since He fashioned us – since He made our bodies work – since He even knows the number of our days – how can we think we know better than Him how we ought to live our lives? Or what we ought to do with our lives?

One of the great things about walking with God is just seeing what he planned for us today way back before He even created us. We live in a day when the world says “life” is just a random event. We can allow it to happen or hinder it from happening if we want. Children in their mothers’ wombs – from the instant of conception – are human beings bearing the image of God. Abortion is not a “legal choice” or a “right.” It is the brutal unjustified murder of a baby in an attempt to hinder God’s plan for life.

1. We can’t hoodwink God.
2. We can’t hide from God.
3. We shouldn’t hinder the plans of God.
4. We shouldn’t haggle with God.

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:19-24

We will be much better off when we learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates, and to stop trying to convince Him that we know better than Him. We need to go ahead and submit ourselves to a thorough examination each day, but we are poor self-examiners. If I “search” me, I’m not going to be objective. I’m going to be very subjective, and I’m going to be ready to quickly cover my obvious and grievous sin-caused lacerations with Band-Aids of rationalization. But the Holy Ghost gives a more thorough examination than any doctor. If I ask God to search me – and pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 – He will do it. It won’t be fun, but it will lead to a closer walk with God. It will lead to a revival in my life every day.

Covering our sin is not prosperous for us. Confession and forsaking sin pleases God. Few parents get a kick out of chastening their children, but the hug afterward is well worth the pain. If you are a Christian, God loves you. He wants to walk with you “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), but He doesn’t want your sin walking along with you. Unconfessed sin means that we are not in agreement with God, and two can’t walk together unless they be agreed.

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