Our Own Worst Enemy

March 21, 2014 at 9:47 am | Posted in Micah, parables | 4 Comments
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Micah Chapters 1 and 2 contain warnings. Chapters 3 and 5 contain promises. Chapter 6 is a challenge. Micah sums up the attitude of the people when faced with the idea that God is displeased with their worship.

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Micah 6:6-7

You can’t build up a credit of good works with God while planning to sin. You can’t bargain with God: “If I do A, B, and C right, will You let me get away with X, Y, and Z?” The Lord is truly righteous. In Him is no sin at all.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14

No man will make God his debtor. The stealing of land or property by the rich and powerful from the poor and weak is a sin which seems to trigger God’s judgment.

Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Micah 6:13-14

God’s judgment sometimes begins slow like a train, but it always comes into the station right on time.

For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Micah 6:16 (emphasis added)

The sins of the “common” people are just as offensive to God as the sins of the leaders.

For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

Micah 7:6

Micah 7:6 is quoted in Matthew 10:36: “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Why would Jesus say this? There will be some families where some family members are saved and some are not. Those closest to you can be some of the worst stumbling blocks, and thereby your worst enemies. As Christians, we don’t hate our enemies – we love them – but there are times when our devotion to Christ calls us to separate from even parents or children.

According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.

Micah 7:15

When every enemy is united against God’s people – when we don’t have anyone else to trust – that’s when the Lord does great miracles of deliverance.

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19 (emphasis added)

The greatest victory God will ever win in your life will be the victory over you.

Four-Dimensional Love (Part 2)

July 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 11 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 (emphasis added)

In Part One I mentioned the height, the breadth, and the length of Christ’s love, but now I want you to see the depth – the “roots.”

Rooted love is not complacent about its depth. “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:19) In the love of Christ we have the potential to know the unknowable! To know what can only be known in Christ – and can never be known apart from Christ. How deep is the love of Christ? It is eternally deep – we will never get to the bottom of it. My relationship with other human beings who I love – even my relationship with my wife – when it comes to its depths, its richness – is dependent on my knowledge of God.

They say that loving human relationships (especially marriage) are hard work, but the real “work” of love should not be “toil.” It is joyous and exciting work. It is going down deep, but it is like digging for buried treasure, not digging a grave. If you have only a superficial experience of the love of God in Christ, let me plead with you to spend time alone – late at night if you have to – early in the morning if you have to – missing a meal or a nap if you have to – deep in the Bible – in Bible study and in prayer – getting to know God, and bringing up the treasures you find in His depths. Roots press down hard and deep, but they bring up sweet water and nutrients from the earth – up the trunk and down the branches – to strengthen the tree and make the fruit bountiful.

Most good Bible lessons contain warnings and comforts. The comforting part of this one is supposed to be that you now realize that the love of Christ is four-dimensional and that you can be rooted and grounded in it and it’s wonderful. But here is the warning part: Do not make the mistake of thinking that the reason to love your spouse or your friends is so that they will love you in return. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts, but it is not given to us to be used as a manipulation technique. Its purpose is not to teach you to give so you can get. That’s probably the major error in many otherwise good books on marriage, love, and relationships. The theory is that your “love tank” is empty. You feel empty because the special someone in your life doesn’t speak your love language or you haven’t learned to speak his or hers. You are from Mars, and your spouse is from Venus, so you need to learn to be a good alien, so your spouse will treat you right in return. Therefore, you can transform your spouse by serving him or her.

No! Jesus talked about this all the time and it always made people mad. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts…” “Even the sinners and the publicans and the unbelievers can do this…” These teachings of Jesus, which argue from the lesser to the greater, and contrast true love with superficial manipulation, have been adopted as principles for running businesses and winning friends and influencing people. “Be nice to others so they will be nice to you.” “Serve them and they’ll let you lead them.” When Jesus says that even the wicked understand the principle of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” He’s making a comparison, not setting the standard. You and I will get into big trouble if we take something good – service, self-sacrifice, selfless giving – and we use it as a means to get our needs met. News flash: You do have needs – but your spouse – or the person you care about – is not there to be manipulated into meeting those needs. Even if you are using very soft hands and very kind words in your manipulation, it is still selfish manipulation.

Your spouse or your loved one – by the grace of God – will one day make a very good spouse or best friend – and maybe they already do – but they are going to make a terrible Jesus. Your idols (the things or people you expect to meet your needs apart from God) will always let you down – and what you have idolized, you will eventually demonize.

As Christians, all our needs are met where?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Jesus showed the height of love on the Cross: He was “lifted up” so that He might draw all men to Himself. He showed the breadth: His arms were stretched out wide – open, inviting, welcoming. He spoke forth, showing the length of love: “Father, forgive them;” “Son, behold thy mother;” “It is finished.” He was nailed to a “tree” which was rooted to the Earth. He was both human and divine, and He wasn’t there suffering in order to evoke sympathy so they would come and take Him down. He was there to sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to love those of us who were not just undeserving but ill-deserving of God’s love.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Would You Rather? (Wisdom of Solomon Edition)

September 26, 2012 at 10:59 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 3 Comments
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Have you ever played the game “Would You Rather?” The idea is to take two equally unpleasant propositions (or, in a variation, two equally desirable propositions), and force the contestant to choose one. At least that’s how it was played at recess when I was a kid. “Would you rather get hit square in the face with a Nolan Ryan fastball or slide down a giant razor blade into a pool of rubbing alcohol?” Gross, huh? Well, I like to use the basic concept of this game in thinking about Ecclesiastes Chapter 7.

Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

Would you rather have: wealth or wisdom?

They say that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but that, if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. If we think of wisdom as only the means to acquire wealth, it might seem preferable to take the short cut and receive the wealth without the effort, but, according to the Bible, wisdom itself is the more valuable commodity. The caveat to the idea that learning to fish is better than receiving a free fish is: God is still the One Who provides the fish – and the rod – and the bait – and the water – and the strength to set the hook.

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Ecclesiastes 7:14

Would you rather have problems or prosperity?

This is a no-brainer for most of us. However, in a previous lesson we did learn that problems are an inevitable part of life, and in some ways, they are extremely beneficial when facing an uncertain future. So the caveat to this one is: We have to accept adversity from God without getting bitter at God for sending it.

All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

Would you rather have purity or pleasure?

As Christians we choose purity, which just so happens to contain real joy, which is far superior to temporal pleasure. But, again, there is a caveat: Beware of self-righteousness or pride.

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Would you rather have infamy or ignorance?

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

On the one hand, no one really relishes the idea of being ignorant, but on the other hand, do you really want to know what everyone is saying about you? Sometimes, they say, ignorance is bliss. Here is the caveat to this one: Only Christ can control our thoughts and tongues.

All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

Ecclesiastes 7:23-24

Would you rather have a God who is knowable or knowledgeable?

I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.

Ecclesiastes 7:25-28

If you are a lady, you are probably not appreciating the smug satisfaction my sinful flesh is taking in knowing that at least Solomon found one man out of 1000 with some wisdom, while not finding a single woman! (Sorry, just kidding.) The fact is, we have a God who is both transcendent and immanent. We can never truly know the depths of His glory, nor His secret counsels, nor the fullness of His wisdom. Yet He has revealed Himself to us to a degree that allows us to know Him intimately. The caveat to this is: We must accept that we can never know as much as God, and, left to our own devices, we tend to go astray.

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Ecclesiastes 7:29

Order in a Fallen World

June 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Ecclesiastes | 61 Comments
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God created everything ex nihilo (out of nothing). This does not mean, however, that God created Himself, for this would be an impossibility. God is self-existent and eternal. There has never been a time when God did not exist. Therefore, the statement, ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing, nothing comes), is also true. God created everything out of “nothing,” in the sense that He did not find external matter outside of Himself which He then began to fashion and mold. No, He created everything that exists out of Himself, and in this sense He is “all in all” (Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 1:16-17).

King Solomon, in his wisdom, understood more about the eternal nature of God than most of us, but even he could not truly fathom its depths.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-17

In Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 Solomon moved from looking at the natural order of life and things in nature, and he began to look at man’s institutions to see if there is anything man has organized under the sun that is not vanity.

1. Government

God has ordained government for the purpose of making society more peaceful than it would otherwise be, especially in a sinful world. However, human beings have been given the “charge” or “stewardship” of earthly governments, so, naturally, earthly governments are corrupt.

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

Ecclesiastes 4:1

2. Economy

Solomon sees one man who is hard-working, but who has no time for anything but work.

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 4:4

This man is working just to keep up with the neighbors. He is motivated by envy.

Then Solomon sees another man who enjoys the pleasures of life, but is lazy and does not work.

The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

Ecclesiastes 4:5

This person is too lazy even to provide for himself! He’s like one of my old friends who used to say, “I just love hard work – I could watch it all day!”

Finally, Solomon finds a man who is more balanced.

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 4:6

This man doesn’t have both hands full, but he’s not empty-handed either. The Bible teaches that a balanced life is important.

Then Solomon addressed the pros and cons of working alone versus working together

There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

It’s strange to me to think that we live a world with something like 7.7 billion people in it, and yet supposedly one the greatest mental health problems is loneliness. If you ever feel lonely, you can call my house and I’ll put you on speaker-phone. I have a wife and a five year old daughter, and it’s hard to be lonely in the middle of constant talking! But, seriously, God has put something in us that cries out for companionship – for togetherness – for fellowship. Social workers and child abuse experts will tell you that newborn babies in a neglectfully dysfunctional environment, who are not held, and who are kept in cruel isolation for long periods of time, have some of the worst problems and mental disorders later in life.

A summation of Solomon’s view on companionship in labor is that there is vanity in working for the wrong reasons, but it’s better to work hard than to be lazy, and that many hands make light work and lighter hearts.

3. Church

We would expect vanity and corruption in man-made institutions such as government and economy, but we should work hard to keep it out of our church congregations. There is no place for vanity in worship.

Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

Ecclesiastes 5:1

Keep thy foot = watch your step. Don’t take going to church lightly. When you get there, put more emphasis on listening to what God is saying to you, than on telling others what you want to say. We are guilty of “the sacrifice of fools” if we come to church and make an outward show of worship while we have unconfessed sin in our lives. It’s the sacrifice of fools because we are fools if we think we can deceive God.

… to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

I Samuel 15:22

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Ecclesiastes 5:2

This is a reminder to us to be reverent before God, and to take worshiping Him seriously.

Lord, I thank You that life is emptiness and vanity only from the perspective of “under the sun.” Please help us to keep our focus on things above (Colossians 3:2) – things that are good and edifying and Godly – and keep us from becoming preoccupied with the things of this world. Help us to put away our idols. If we can’t do it, Lord, tear them away. They’re only hurting us, anyway, by keeping us from You. In the Name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

LONGsuffering in Marriage

March 16, 2012 at 11:53 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 10 Comments
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And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:3-4 (emphasis added)

Christian love in marriage must be a love that suffers long. Suffering means:

1. Taking offense with a resolve to absorb it without getting even for it.
2. Taking offense without it affecting your own inward peace.

Suffering includes:

1. Inward self-control
2. Outward testimony of peace within the marriage union

I Corinthians 13:4 not only says that true Christian love suffers – it says that it suffers long. Suffering long means:

1. Putting up with deep and frequent offenses
2. Putting up with offenses for a long time without defending ourselves

Longsuffering demonstrates God’s love to the world.

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Exodus 34:6

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

Forbearance and longsuffering are extremely hard for fallen sinners to practice, because the “common sense” view is that forbearance and longsuffering only lead to more offenses. But, according to the Bible, when God is at work, forbearance and longsuffering actually lead to repentance – a change for the better!

Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

I Timothy 1:16

Christian marriage should show a pattern of God’s love toward the world.

Longsuffering produces gratitude, reminding us how much God puts up with from us. It also reminds us to be humble.

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

Ephesians 4:2

Furthermore, it helps us to see God’s hand in trials and circumstances.

And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.

II Samuel 16:5-13

We don’t like suffering, much less longsuffering, but longsuffering is a Godly habit. It is vital (paradoxical, but vital) to get into the true depths and richness of marital love.

The Breathtaking Wonder of God

January 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Micah, Salvation | 10 Comments
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Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19

Many times, when a person feels he is nearing the end of his life, he will begin to seriously consider his eternal soul. This will often lead to two main concerns, and, really, they are concerns that any reasonable person would have.

1. I understand that I am about to see God, and I have much for which to answer.

We should all be this honest – every day. For we all have a past. And not a one of us can go back in time and change that past. We have offended God with our sin.

In this world, when we offend someone more powerful than us, there is an instinct to run away from that person. This will not work with God. The only safe place to run when we have offended God is to God. Micah 7:18 asks, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” When you run to God for forgiveness, trusting in His Son, Jesus, He does not punish – He pardons. The Verse goes on to say that God passes by “the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” These are the people that He will make a part of His family.

A sense that we have offended God should lead to a desire to get right with God, and this does not anger God. “He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Take a moment to let that sink in: God delights in mercy. God is both just and loving. He is compassionate, forgiving, and merciful.

But that only answers one of our concerns:

Q. How will I get right with God when I can’t undo the past?
A. He will erase your sins from His accounting books for the sake of His Son if you believe the Gospel and trust in Christ, being born again.

The second concern is this:

2. How can I know He has done this?

The answer to that one is: You have God’s promise. He has given His Word. Jesus never lies. When He said He was God incarnate, He was telling the absolute complete truth. It wouldn’t make sense for every Word He ever said about Himself to be true – and then to lie to us about ourselves. Jesus was and is God, and God can not lie.

So, we have the assurance of His promise and the assurance of His victory over sin. When you find the power of sin broken in your life – when you find you can choose to love God more than you love sin – you will have additional assurance that you are truly God’s child.

In trusting Jesus Christ, you can claim the promise of Micah 7:19: “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

I once visited with an elderly gentleman in his home a few days before he died. He was battling an illness – I believe it was called COPD – which caused him to struggle for breath. It is heartbreaking to see a man struggling to breathe – to see such powerlessness over something most of us take for granted all day long. But it is so encouraging to see something more powerful come along and empower the powerless – and give them victory! I believe that I am going to see that man in God’s Holy City one day because of the saving power of Jesus Christ. I want to see him taking deep breaths of the breath of Life. I want to see every person reading this there one day, too. Whether we run for God, sing for God, or climb a mountain for God – we will never get short of breath there!

Leading Instead of Watching

May 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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Psalm 105 is remarkable in the way it extols the wondrous works God had done among and for His people without really making much mention of the failures of His people. As Christians it would be a mistake to completely ignore our past failures, but the focus of our praise should be on God, not on us.

You may have heard Christian testimonies which go to one of two extremes. On the one hand some Christians almost seem to be bragging when they talk about how “bad” or how “tough” or how “lecherous” they were before they were saved. They seem almost nostalgic as they go into too much detail about what prolific and skillful sinners they were. Sometimes this is defended by the testifier as necessary so that his or her lost listeners can better “identify” with the testimony, and so that they won’t feel like the person giving the testimony is trying to be “holier than thou” now that he is saved. The other extreme, of course, are the testimonies which overly minimize the pre-salvation sin of the Christian – possibly out of shame for past behavior and possibly out of a failure to recognize the true “sinfulness” of sin.

I have probably been as guilty as others of leaning toward one or another of these extremes myself at times. When I try to give a sober analysis of my state before Christ redeemed me, I am forced to admit that I was indeed a rebellious sinner, but there was nothing noble about my rebellion when I was lost. I was not like Robin Hood – robbing from the rich to give to the poor. I sinned because I liked to sin. When I was able to ignore my conscience, sin felt good to me, and I loved me more than God, and I wanted me to feel good, and I was able to rationalize it in my own eyes by saying it didn’t seem all that bad to me. The fact is, I was a degenerate – a filthy worm – but another fact is, that such a statement is probably not worth a lot of my breath. The Bible says that those of us who have breath should praise the Lord! We should talk more about how great He is than about how bad we were.

Psalm 106, though, is sort of an alternative view to Psalm 105. In order to extol God’s longsuffering and enduring mercies, the psalmist shows the magnitude of the people’s sins.

We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

Psalm 106:6 (emphasis added)

We, as 21st Century American Christians, have to stop blaming our parents for our situation. Yes, they (their generation) sinned, but we are responsible when we repeat those sins.

The most serious kinds of heart surgery are not easy to perform. The skin has to be slit open; the rib cage cracked apart; the organs sorted through. But sometimes that’s the only way to fix the problem. Spiritual heart surgery can be daunting and messy as well. We should spend more time looking within us for the source of our own sin, than looking around us or at the past.

Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.

Psalm 106:7

People who have been rescued and set free sometimes fear the responsibility of freedom. They want the old security of bondage. Bondage does not require faith. There were times when the Israelites wouldn’t follow God, but at least they would follow Moses. Are you a Moses or an Israelite? In other words, when it comes to walking by faith, are you a leader or a looker?

He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

Psalm 106:9-13

Are you leading by faith or are you just a spectator of God’s miracles? Vance Havner used to say that, in Christian ministry, we are not running a show boat; we are running a life boat. If you have been in church long enough, you have probably heard some preacher somewhere say the trouble is that too many folks are singing “Standing on the Promises,” while in reality they are just sitting on the premises!

We have developed into a generation of onlookers and spectators. You go into a department store, and when the clerk comes up and asks, “What do you want?” you say, “Just looking.” In the same way, all over our nation, there are television viewers sitting there in their living rooms “just looking.” There are children sitting in front of the internet “just looking.” People come to church, and someone asks them, “Did you come here to do business with God?” If many of these people were to tell the truth, they’d say, “No thank you, just looking!”

How the Fallen Are Mighty

December 9, 2009 at 11:12 am | Posted in Genesis | 13 Comments
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Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

I John 3:12

Cain was “of that” wicked one: the devil. Therefore, he would be a liar and a counterfeiter – and a blasphemous counterfeiter. “Slew” in I John 3:12 can mean to slaughter – as in the way a sacrificial animal was killed. There are some difficult passages in Genesis, and the New Testament many times clarifies the Old Testament.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Genesis 4:8-10 (emphasis added)

Verse 8 says “slew,” as if Cain was saying to God, “Okay, God, you didn’t like my first sacrifice – you wanted a blood sacrifice – a slaughtered beast – here you go,” in a very rebellious, very arrogant, very evil way.

So I John 3:12 may be revealing the demonic nature of Cain in his outright rebellion against God. And Genesis 4:9 (“I know not [where my brother is]”) certainly reveals his lying, which is also the way of Satan. How quickly sin – in the very first descendant of Adam and Eve – begins to completely reach its full depths of evil! Adam and Eve’s very first child turns out to be not just greedy, not just jealous, not just rebellious, not just dishonest, not just disobedient, but a murderer! And not just a murderer but a perpetrator of fratricide!

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Genesis 4:1

The name “Cain” meant “that which was acquired.” Cain was acquired from God, but obtained through a painful effort. There was a double curse of painful childbirth – the pain itself and the tendency toward a feeling of pride: “This child was given to me by God, but he’s mine, too – look how much effort I put into him, look how much pain it cost me to have him.” We must be careful to remember Whose children “our” children really are.

Think about all the questions God asks in Genesis 4:6, 7, 9, and 10: “Why art thou wroth?” “Why is thy countenance fallen?” “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” “Where is Abel thy brother?” “What hast thou done?” God gave chances to admit to sin to both Adam and Cain. Adam tried to avoid God; Cain outright lied to God. Then notice Cain’s selfish, Luciferean point of view:

And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

Genesis 4:13-14 (emphasis added)

And Cain continued rebelling against God:

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Genesis 4:16:17

God pronounced Cain a vagabond – a wanderer, a homeless person – but, instead of wandering, he founded a land – and called it “Wandering” – and tried to settle down there and build a city!

Jude v. 11 speaks of the “way of Cain.” In Genesis, starting with the life of Cain, we begin to see a clear division of the broad way and the narrow way, with the descendants of Cain following the way of Cain, and God raising up a remnant of believers in the line of Seth.

Cain had an Enoch in his line; Seth had an Enosh and an Enoch in his line. One line has a Mehujael; the other line has a Methusaleh. They both had a Lamech. Cain’s Lamech was the first bigamist.

The people in the city of Cain and his son, Enoch, had agriculture (Genesis 4:20). They had arts (Genesis 4:21). They had industry (Genesis 4:22). They had everything but God.

In Genesis Chapter 5 we see a clear separation in the line of Seth and the line of Cain. If there is “the way of Cain,” we could also say there is a “way of Seth.”

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Genesis 5:2-3

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

Seth’s Enoch was 300 when he had Methusaleh, and his life changed. He walked with the Lord. The birth of a child should make us walk with the Lord.

Enoch’s disappearance is a good picture of the rapture before tribulation. “Methusaleh” means “man of the dart,” which could refer to him being a good shot with the bow and arrow, but, being of Seth’s line, and not Cain’s, it probably reveals God’s intention for the lifespan of Methusaleh to be like a dart. A dart flies far from the person who launched it, but it eventually lands, and that is the end of its journey. It marks a spot – the end of something. Methusaleh lived to be 969. He holds the record for the world’s oldest human. When he finally died, God flooded the world. This shows God’s attribute of being longsuffering.

Even Warren Wiersbe Likes to “S.W.I.M.”

February 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Posted in John, Quotes | 4 Comments
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There is not space in these studies to plumb the depths, but I have tried to present the basic teachings of this marvelous book. The Gospel of John is simple enough for a child to wade in, but deep enough for the scholar and the most seasoned saint to swim in.

Warren W. Wiersbe

Spurgeon Liked To “S.W.I.M.,” Too

February 7, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Luke, Quotes | 3 Comments
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Let your intellect be exercised concerning the Lord Jesus.  Meditate upon what you read; stop not at the surface; dive into the depths.  Be not as the swallow which toucheth the brook with her wing, but as the fish which penetrates the lowest wave.

Charles H. Spugeon on Luke 2:19

Those who have believed on Christ Jesus in their heart, and who have called upon the name of the Lord, must dive into God’s Word and learn to “see what it means” (S.W.I.M.). In His Word you will find reasons to be grateful, and promises and comfort for the coming storms.

Ministry Addict

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