Preparing to Hear from God: Receptive

January 15, 2014 at 11:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Last time we thought about preparing to hear from God by intentionally getting R.eady. Now we will focus on being:

R.eceptive

Receptive means willing to receive. God doesn’t speak to people so that they can evaluate it and determine whether it might be true. We need to be receptive to hearing from God in two ways:

1. Accept what God says.

We need to believe – not reject – what God says. Jesus would sometimes say, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear,” because not everybody wanted to hear from Jesus for the right reasons. The Pharisees wanted to evaluate His Words or find fault with Him so they could accuse Him. His parables made sense to those who were ready to receive the truth.

2. Agree with God.

Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.

Ezra 10:11 (emphasis added)

Confession is not admitting you got caught. It’s agreeing with God – that what He says about anything is right, including what He says about you and me.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9 (emphasis added)

Next time, we will think about being responsive in our preparation to hear from God.

Confession and True Revival

November 15, 2013 at 11:05 am | Posted in Nehemiah | 3 Comments
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Nehemiah Chapter 9 contains one of the great prayers of confession found in the Bible. (Ezra 9 and Daniel 9 are two others.)

As the the people remembered God, they remembered that:

God is good.

And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;

Nehemiah 9:9

God is great.

Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

Nehemiah 9:6

God is gracious.

And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.

Nehemiah 9:17

God is generous.

And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.

Nehemiah 9:25

God is glorious.

Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

Nehemiah 9:5

God governs.

Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies. But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies;

Nehemiah 9:27-28

Nehemiah Chapter 10 presents the evidence of the sincerity in the prayer of Chapter 9. Are you asking God for a revival in your nation? In your church? In your family? In your own heart? A revival is not a religious show or a religious exercise. It is a surrender to the Word of God.

They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

Nehemiah 10:29

We must approach the Bible with humility, willing to admit there is much we do not yet know. We must also be willing to separate from the world as we immerse ourselves in the Word of God.

And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.

Nehemiah 10:31

The test of whether you are experiencing a true revival is not what you “feel” during a church service. The test is in how we live afterward. Many of us study Bible lessons on a regular basis – and that’s good – but then we quit. We need to study a Bible lesson, and then live a Bible lesson. We expect God’s blessings for keeping “part” of the covenant, but we ignore the fact that God isn’t likely to bless a disobedient child.

Post-Exilic Confession

November 13, 2013 at 11:17 am | Posted in Ezra | 2 Comments
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Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

Ezra 9:1-2

One of the most common areas where “exiled” believers fell into unholiness is in the area of sexual immorality. The Jewish men had lusted after foreign women – unbelievers – which was forbidden. We might say, “Well, at least they married them,” but that argument becomes preposterous when you realize that they divorced their Jewish wives to do it! (Malachi 2:10-16)

Ezra found out this was going on because people told him about it. Did this make them a bunch of tattletales or gossip-mongers? No, because the offenders were their spiritual leaders. Ezra did not ignore this information, or sweep it under the rug. He did not preach an ambiguous sermon about it. He did not rush out in anger and confront them about it. No, he began to pray, weep, grieve, tear his clothes, pull out his hair and beard, and confess.

Three of the Old Testament’s great prayers of confession are found in Ezra Chapter 9, Nehemiah Chapter 9, and Daniel Chapter 9.

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.

Ezra 9:3

Are we this shocked over the sins of God’s people and our own sins?

And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,

Ezra 9:5

Ezra experienced this “heaviness” as a result of his fasting, and he fasted not to obtain God’s favor, but because he was too sick to eat. Are we sickened by the sin of our spiritual leaders?

Father, I pray that we would return from any areas of our lives where we have been in spiritual exile, and that we would put to use the great gifts You have given us. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Beware the Fleeting Forfeiture

October 16, 2013 at 11:12 am | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
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Under the Old Testament Levitical system, provision was made for the atonement of sins in the form of animal sacrifices. Christian believers under the New Testament have had their sins atoned for already by the propitiating work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross. Therefore, we are prohibited from bringing any other sacrifice. However, we may still glean some principles from that which has been abolished.

Old Testament and New Testament believers alike were/are commanded to confess their sins with specificity.

And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:

Leviticus 5:5

Our confession of guilt before God means the forfeiture, not of a lamb, a goat, a dove, or a pigeon, but the forfeiture of our pride, because “confession” means that we are agreeing with God that we were wrong and He is right. The Old Testament required both sin offerings (for general areas of sinfulness) and trespass offerings (for specific violations of the Law of God). Christians certainly acknowledge their sinful condition which has been remedied only by the imputed righteousness of Christ the Lord, but we also need to get very detail-oriented in our prayers of confession and repentance, so that the Holy Spirit may help us to put aside the sins which so easily beset us. This is never easy, and it is often grievous, but the sooner we slaughter our pride on the altar of confession, the better off we will be and the sweeter our fellowship with God will be.

The Lord’s Laundry

July 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Psalm 51:9 (emphasis added)

When David pleaded for a “blotting out” he was asking the Lord for a miracle, because the Old Testament Law did not provide a sacrifice for the types of deliberate sins of which David was guilty. David appealed to God’s mercy and grace.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7 (emphasis added)

Under the Old Covenant, ceremonial cleansing would make a sinner safe for society and give others protection from the sinner’s defilement. “Wash me,” David prayed. I am the one in my household who does the laundry, so I know a couple of things about washing clothes. In fact, all that is required of the other members of my family is that they bring their dirty clothes to the hamper or the laundry room. There are certain kinds of stains that are tough to remove from garments – even for today’s high-tech washing machines. They require hot water, harsh detergent, and an agitation cycle. When we seek to be cleansed from our iniquities before the face of God, we need to be willing to submit to His chastening. For Christians, God is more than willing to wash our clothes, but we’ve got to be willing to bring them to laundry room.

David’s sins were against his family, his people, Bathsheba, and Uriah, but he also recognized that all sin is ultimately against God.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Psalm 51:4

The Holy Spirit used the poetry of Psalm 51 to inspire the revelation of the Gospel through the Apostle Paul.

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

When God truly cleanses, He also restores.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

51:10

A renewed heart must be created. It must come from God Himself. A tainted heart would continue to pump out iniquity, re-contaminating the whole body. David wanted to be cleansed and he wanted to be restored – so he could be used. He wanted to be an effective witness.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalm 51:13

David also wanted to be an effective worshiper.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Psalm 51:14-15

He wanted to be an effective builder.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 51:18-19

Those who have been broken and rebuilt by God can be used very effectively by God to help rebuild others.

You the Man!

June 29, 2012 at 10:24 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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Psalm 51 is a penitential psalm. It was written during a time of suffering. The suffering was a form of discipline used by God. The suffering in this case was the result of sin.

And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

II Samuel 12:1-7

Nathan told David, “Thou art the man.” There is a popular expression in our day where one man will congratulate another man on some superficially impressive achievement by telling him, “You the man!” That’s not the way Nathan was using the expression. David was “the” man – and David was “a” man – with all that implies concerning the condition of human sinfulness. We are all “the man” in the sense that, like the first man, Adam, we have sinned against God and deserve divine punishment. But God has made one Way – and one Way only – to escape what we deserve. Does that sound bigoted or intolerant to you? To hear someone proclaim that Jesus is the only Way to God? Jesus Himself is the One Who said this. Or do you find it strange that God would make only one way when there are so many people in this world who might be more responsive to other ways? I can tell you that the amazing thing is not that God made only one way. The amazing thing is that He made any way at all!

Here is the beginning of David’s prayer of penitence and repentance:

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.] Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1

When someone breaks down and admits that he has done wrong, we say that he “comes clean.” David’s prayer is not so much about what he did (explanation), but more about who he is (examination). When we sin, explanation about why we did it profits little. Examination of what our sin says about who we are may profit much.

David asked God to blot out his “transgressions.” We might think of “transgressions” as “going across” (trans) God’s boundaries with aggression. We have all done this. We have presumptuously crossed the boundaries marked out for us by God.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:2

Sin is “missing the mark” of God’s standard. We have all sinned and “come short” of the glory of God. You may have heard the illustration of the child who wants to ride a roller coaster at the state fair, but isn’t allowed to because her head doesn’t reach the line on the chart marked “height requirement.” None of us have come close to reaching the standard of God’s righteousness, which is moral perfection from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Transgression is crossing the wrong mark; sin is failing to meet the right mark.

“Iniquity” refers to the condition of being twisted, bent, or perverted. This is the totally depraved inherently sinful nature which we inherited from our earthly father, Adam, and from our spiritual father, Satan, prior to regeneration.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

If we are truly Christians, transgression, sin, and iniquity should make us feel dirty. Unsaved people, like pigs, don’t mind being dirty. In fact, they actually like it. It’s not that true Christians never get dirty with sin. We do – and far too often. But a mark of salvation is that you do not like being dirty, and that you want to get clean.

A word of warning, though: If you are a true Christian, be diligent about your confession and repentance when you sin. Each unconfessed sin is like a new layer of dirt, and each layer of dirt makes us more and more used to the dirt. How dirty I “feel” is not always a good indicator of how dirty I really am. The mirror of God’s Word (which is really what Nathan held up to David) is a better indicator of how dirty I really am.

Pre-existing Conditions

February 26, 2009 at 10:19 am | Posted in Biblical Doctoring | 2 Comments
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Doctors want an accurate medical history on their patients. This is an important part of diagnosis and treatment. Patient forms have spaces for admitting to a history of high blood pressure, heart problems, and prior injuries. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Each day we need to confess our faults and sins to our Great Physician. If you have truly trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, your post-salvation sins will not change your status as a child of God with a home in Heaven. However, there’s no use in trying to hide our sins from the Lord – He sees everything. An earthly physician wants an accurate medical history of past problems, but the Great Physician wants honest and sincere confession.


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