A Body of Idolatry

June 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Romans 12:1 commands us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. If we take this literally, and I think we should, then it will remind us that all our limbs and sensory organs are to be dedicated to serving and glorifying God. If we ignore this command we run the risk of living like idolaters.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

Psalm 115:4-7

A material idol, designed to act as, or represent, a false god, has a mouth that can’t talk, eyes that can’t see, ears that can’t hear, a nose that can’t smell, hands that can’t pick up anything, feet that can’t walk, and a throat with no sound. And then comes the kicker:

They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 115:8

These idols are made by the very people who are worshiping them! How can they be so self-deluded?! Imagine praying for deliverance to a little figure that needed you to even carve it into existence. Can people really believe that a god would be dependent upon its own “creator?”

It’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Logic, apart from the wisdom that comes only from the True and Living God, is not our strong suit. In fact, if we do not keep our hearts diligently focused on God, we will quickly fall into delusion and all sorts of idolatry.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Then, pretty soon, we will usurp the use of the mouths that God has given us, and start speaking disrespectfully, rebelliously, and deceitfully.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 4:24

Next we’ll stop looking for God’s beauty in His creation, and we’ll studiously avoid looking for people who are genuinely needy or who make us feel uncomfortable, and we’ll instead use God’s gift of vision for peeking at forbidden and ugly-but-seductive things.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Proverbs 4:25

Before we know it, our idolatrous feet will follow our idolatrous eyes and hearts right off of God’s safe path and into the world’s bramble of unfulfillment, heartache, addiction, danger, and desolation.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:26-27

We are poor identifiers of our own idolatry. Most of us think that our common sense would kick in somewhere around the time we started placing offerings into the hands (hands that we ourselves had fashioned!) of idols that could not hold the very things we were trying to give them. But, no, here we are, hopefully knowing somewhere deep down that we – and all of the complex creation around us – were made by Someone infinitely greater than us, yet still trying to give our time, talents, and treasure to man-made idols, such as political parties, houses, cars, electronic devices, investment portfolios, clothes, and entertainment. What a contradictory race of creatures we are, to desire to be “blessed,” but to want to dictate, design, and direct our own trivial blessings, while our Supreme Maker and true source of all true blessings, is relegated to the sidelines of our lives and largely ignored.

Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:11-16

The Path of Sacrifice

November 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Biblical Walking | 6 Comments
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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

Old Testament sacrifices weren’t living sacrifices – at least not for long. When a lamb or a goat or a dove or a bull was sacrificed, it was put to death – then it had no trouble staying on the altar. As New Testament Christians, we are called to present our bodies before the Lord, but I’m thankful we are not called to be dead sacrifices. We are called to be living sacrifices.

This means, among other things, that our bodies need to be God-oriented. They need to be focused on God, moving toward God, and moving with God. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to accomplish this yielding of our bodies by the renewing of our minds. Proverbs 4 tells us that it starts with our hearts, but it is the same idea.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

“Keep with diligence” is redundant, because that’s what diligence is: it is taking care of something by watching it closely. The “heart” has control over the more literal body parts.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 4:24

Guard your mouth from being froward – from saying something that will cause problems. “Perverse lips” means saying anything wrong – from telling lies, to being hurtful, to cursing.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Proverbs 4:25

Christians know their destination: He is Jesus. We have to keep our eyes on Him to move toward Him, and we have to keep our eyes on the Bible to move with Him.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Proverbs 4:26

Watch your step. Stay on the right path. It’s a narrow path. If you’re wandering all over the place, you’re not on it.

Let your ways be “established” – let them be made stable by leaning on the Rock – by “amening” – leaning your whole weight upon the Lord.

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:27

A little step in either direction takes you out of the path of being a living sacrifice. It makes you a living, but wandering, rebel. Continuing on in a direction, either right or left, will eventually bring you to the point of having made a 180 degree turn – the exact opposite direction.

Remove your foot from evil. People who wander in the minefield are going to get blown up – along with the children and wives and others who were following them.

Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans

July 23, 2012 at 9:50 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

Someone comes to you for advice. “Should I do this or should I do that?” What you have to determine – and what this person has to determine – is this: Is the reason you are contemplating doing this thing because you are not content with what God has given you? Or not content with where He has placed you? Or not content with what He is doing with you? Or not content because of what He is not doing with you? Or not content with what He is allowing to be done to you?

If you believe that God is perfect, then you must also believe His will is perfect (Romans 12:2). Some of us need to stop trusting what everyone else is doing or what “common sense” says to do, and trust in the Lord. If you don’t have a Bible reason for doing what you are thinking about doing – then don’t do it. It might feel right or it might feel wrong, but:

“Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving.
Our warrant should be the Word of God.
Nothing else is worth believing.”

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.ow to be sincere with God
I.nquire of your own heart
C.ontent yourself with God and His plans
E.

Give Good Advice: Inquire of Your Own Heart

July 9, 2012 at 11:33 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 11 Comments
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Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

I’m not saying our hearts can be trusted to tell us what’s right – or even to lead us in the right direction. They surely can’t (Jeremiah 17:9). What I’m saying is: A person who is seeking advice must examine his or her own motives. When you lie in bed late at night, and it’s just you and your thoughts, do not leave God out of the conversation. But do not leave the deepest, most secret caverns of your heart out of it, either.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Don’t go easy on your own heart. Don’t question it lightly. Subject it to an intense, searching cross-examination:

Heart, why are you not satisfied with what God has given us?
Heart, why are you going in the same wrong direction over and over?
Heart, who is really seated on your throne? Is it me or is it our Lord?

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/f3371-heart-in-hands-thumbnail.jpg

There is a heresy that says Christianity is “all about me.” That’s wrong. Christianity is about Christ and His Gospel. But there is also a heresy that says, “It’s not about me at all.” God so loved the world – people – that He gave His Son (John 3:16). He made your heart – and if you’ve been regenerated He made your new heart (Ezekiel 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17). He made it so that the issues of life flow out of it. Too many of us talk to God with the intellectual surface of our mind, and we too seldom really pour our heart out on the altar to be examined before God.

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.ow to be sincere with God
I.nquire of your own heart
C.
E.

learn your own heart

Give Good Advice: Avoid Sin

May 14, 2012 at 10:22 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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In my line of work I am often in the position of giving advice. I am thankful that the Bible gives us valuable guidelines for giving, and taking, good advice. Here is a key Scripture passage on the topic of Godly advice:

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

When someone asks you what he or she should do in a given situation, a good answer will always include the advice to: “Avoid sin.”

This advice involves more than just “not committing sin.” It goes even further: Do not go into areas where there will be a temptation to sin.

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

Proverbs 4:14-15

A good Biblical example of a man who heeded this advice is Job.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

Job 1:1

Job did not flirt with sin. He did not simply sidestep areas where sin might be lurking. He eschewed sin. In other words, he gave it a wide berth, and tried to avoid it like the plague. Many times, the solution to a difficult situation may appear to have many different possibilities. However, when someone asks your opinion about which possibility is the best, you can immediately rule out any course of action that is sinful or that leads near sin.

A.void sin
D.
V.
I.
C.
E.

The Early Bird Gets to Wait

March 25, 2011 at 9:07 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Biblical Teaching, Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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Teaching our children to begin each day by seeking the Lord sets the tone for the rest of the day. It will keep them focused and motivated, and will help to keep them from being distracted by non-essential things.

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 13:24

If we love our children we are to chasten them “betimes” – early and often. That principle applies not just to corporal discipline, but also to the teaching of Scripture and Biblical principles. Doing something early shows that we think what we’re doing is important. Many people disagree with me on this point, but logically it is better to plan on being early than on being right on time. If I’m planning to be right on time, I might end up being late, but it’s very unlikely that I will wind up being accidentally early. If I plan on being early, then my “late” could end up being the objective “right on time,” but it is far less likely that I’ll end up being late.

One of the problems with time is that it is beyond our control. What is often in our control, however, are the self-created problems that commonly prevent us from being early.

Here is some practical advice from the Bible that will help you be early.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

Proverbs 3:24

Try to get a good night’s sleep. If you are reluctant to go to bed early because you feel like you won’t be able to sleep, focus on the Scriptures and pray for a good night’s sleep. (Or you can read my blog – that’s sure to make you sleepy!) One of the things that interferes with our sleep is fear, but we know that God wants our sleep to be sweet.

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.

II Samuel 22:33-34

Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.

Psalm 25:4

Another very practical tip for when you have to go somewhere is to pray for guidance on the best way to get there. “Hinds’ feet” refers to the feet of deer, and we know how fast they can move!

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Proverbs 4:26

Ponder = seriously consider
Established = made strong or solid

Planning the night before makes for smooth sailing in the morning. Take some time to think about and plan your morning routine. There are some things that, even the night before, we just know we are going to need in the morning. (Shoes and hair brushes are safe bets!) We can control more than we think by how seriously we take our commitment to be early.

One of the things that people fear about being early is that they will have to sit and wait. We are conditioned in our hectic society and culture to think that “sitting around waiting” is one of the worst tortures imaginable!

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Biblical “waiting” isn’t sitting around doing nothing. It’s not loitering or just taking up space. “Waiting on the Lord” is waiting with expectancy – believing that something is going to happen. When you are early you can focus on the Lord. Be early to please Him, and He will meet with you while you wait. You can soar like like an eagle even when you’re merely running, and even plodding. That doesn’t sound logical to us, but obedience opens the door for divine intervention. People sometimes say that God helps those who help themselves, but really God helps those who want to be used by God.

Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

Psalm 143:11

The Recognition Admonition

February 11, 2011 at 10:29 am | Posted in Genesis | 6 Comments
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Lord, help us to be forgetful of ourselves and focused on others. Help us also to be focused on Your glory. Help us to be looking for opportunities to give You glory and to praise Your name. Just as Joseph wanted to introduce his brothers to the king of Egypt, I pray that You will show us ways we can bring our brothers and sisters closer to You, our King. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

Genesis 42:21-23

Joseph’s brothers left Simeon in Egypt and went back home to break the news to Jacob. They also had to tell him that they needed to take Benjamin to Egypt. They were also alarmed that the money they left with the Egyptian’s (Joseph’s) steward had been discovered back in their own sacks.

You may notice that Joseph’s request was kind of suspicious. From the brothers’ point of view, how would this Egyptian even know that the person they brought back was really their little brother?

We see in Jacob’s unwillingness to send Benjamin, and in his fear that “something might befall him” on the way, the consequences of sin. The sin of Joseph’s brothers was not just affecting them; it was affecting the whole family and all their people. My sin doesn’t just hurt me. It hurts my wife, my children, my fellow church members, the people to whom I’ve witnessed. Sin hurts the sinner, and it hurts others, too.

Joseph began to set up a series of trials and surprises all designed to do two things:

1. To make sure, having understood his boyhood dream to be a command from God as well as a vision, that he was doing his part to make the vision come to pass.

2. To make sure that his brothers were repentant over what they had done – so that true reconciliation could be possible.

Here is an excellent piece of advice from Joseph that we would do well to heed today: “This do, and live; for I fear God.” Those who fear God do not live in fear. They live in safety, knowing that reverence for God brings life. Joseph also teaches us to plan for reconciliation with those who have hurt us. Acknowledge the source of the problems we have with others. Consider what resources God has given you since the time of the conflict you had with someone else, to see if those resources may be used to resolve the conflict. Consider how you have grown and changed since the beginning of the conflict. The person you had the conflict with might not recognize you any more.

“Recognition” is a recurring theme in the story of Joseph. His brothers recognized him from afar in Genesis Chapter 37. Since they recognized him, they had time to plot against him. The brothers asked Jacob if he “recognized” Joseph’s coat. We see the theme in a different context in Genesis 38. Tamar asked Judah if he recognized his personal possessions. There is an advantage when you recognize something that someone else doesn’t. Haggai 1:5 says “consider your ways,” and Proverbs stresses the importance of recognizing where you will end up if you take a certain path. When Genesis says somebody saw somebody from afar, remember the principle of recognizing the Lord and turning from our ways to His ways before we take action.


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