Archive for the ‘sanctification’ Category

Responding to what you see and hear (Psalm 19; Jeremiah 43)

August 15, 2014

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” Psalm 19:14

“Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear.  For the Father up above is looking down on you…”  These words were edged into my mind as a child.  But they are not only for children, the words of this children’s song come directly from Psalm 19.

David is praising the Lord for what he sees and what he hears.

Think it through:

I.  In Vs: 1-6 David is viewing God’s handiwork (Creation)

As he views creation he is reminded of the goodness of God in creating all that we see and enjoy.  As he views creation he is reminded of the rebellion of man who plunged this world into a corrupt state.

II.  In Vs: 7-10 David is reading (listening) God’s Word

“The law of God is perfect, reviving the soul.  The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

David’s response to what he see’s and hears is amazing:  “Keep me from unconsciously sinning and keep me from consciously sinning!!!”

Now this is heavy stuff.

David’s desire is to both think and speak in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

Question:  “How can this be possible?”  Answer:  “Your mind and heart must be focused on both mortification of sin and magnification of scripture.”

God’s Word will cut out the sin in our lives and will fill our lives with wholesome things.

Our response:

We must first come to our Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, “He is our Lord, our Rock, and our Redeemer.”)  

We must desire to walk in His truth.  We will not be perfect but we will progress daily in our walk with the Lord as we sit at His feet!!!  We will also progress as we focus our eyes on His daily workings in the world.

It is my prayer that both you and I would see His handiwork and hear His word throughout each day and night!!!

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The answer for our fears (James 1, Isaiah 7)

May 9, 2014

“And say to him, be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” Isaiah 7:4

The king was in a fix, his enemies were coming from all sides. As he tried to stir up the confidence of his army, he saw their fear, anxiety, and mindset of certain defeat.  These people were so defeated in their minds and hearts, that God describes them as, “shaking as do the trees in the forest when the wind blows strongly.”

Question, “Does this describe your present mentality?”  I can honestly say, “There have been those moments when fear has gripped my life to the point that I was shaking on the inside.”

This morning we find the Kingdom of Judah in this very place.  Her enemies have surrounded and they know they are going down!  In the midst of all of this, “Great grace comes down!!!”

Think it through:

1.  God gives a corrupt people a clear message:

I am going to work for you (Vs: 1-9).  This is great grace.  All they needed to do was to simply stand firm in their faith.  God would do the work.

2.  God gives a corrupt people the Messiah:  Vs: 10

“a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Immanuel (God with us).”

In this moment I am amazed at God’s answer for our fear.  True fear comes as we realize our sin has put us at odds with a king who is greater than we.  Fear comes when we know that we are destined to hell without a way out.

But the release comes as we see Jesus who is our Immanuel.  He is the answer for all our fears.  This very day, I challenge you to look to this answer.

Our response:

We must look to the Messiah (first as our Savior).  We must look to the Messiah (Secondly as the one who is sanctifying us).  He is teaching us to turn away from sin and to walk in holiness.  One has no reason to fear, if he or she is walking in the steps of our Messiah.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:31

It’s growing

July 3, 2012

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” II Thessalonians 1:3

This morning, as I was talking with my accountability partner, I found myself engaged in a discussion about gardening.  Both of us were raised in the country and we had common experiences with growing many things in the garden.  Both of us readily agreed the hard part, was not in the eating of the harvest.  The hardest part was in the work that was needed in caring for and protecting the growth given by the Lord.  I spend many hours cutting weeds, hoeing the plants, and fighting bugs.  In the end, the result of the growth paid great dividends.

In a much more important way, the church in Thessalonica was growing spiritually.  As Paul addressed them in our More For Christ readings, II Thessalonians 1:1-2:8, we find both  his thankfulness for their growth and truth concerning growth.

Here was a church that was growing in both faith and love.  This church remained steadfast through all the opposition the enemy threw at her.

As I read these first 4 verses I was reminded of how we must strive to grow and we must remain steadfast as Satan opposes our growth in Godliness.  This very day you could be facing opposition to growth?  Be encouraged and stay engaged in the battle.  This is a part of your growth.

In verses 5-12 Paul reminded the church of several truths in regard to Godly growth:

1.  There will always be opposition to Godly growth, Vs: 5, Acts 14:12

2.  God will give you and amazing overflow of grace, Vs: 6-7.  In the midst of your growth you will find His grace as being sufficient to fight the good fight of faith.  God has promised relief from this fight in the end, Revelation 6:11, 14:13.

3.  God will some day return and be glorified among all men, Vs: 12

There will be a day when harvest will come.  Jesus will return and peace will reign on the earth. But until then, God is glorified among those who grow in the midst of suffering.  This very day, I know that as we labor in his fields that we will experience growth and this growth will lead to God’s name being made famous.

Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to be planted in your family.  Grow me as you see fit for your glory alone.

Fully Aware

July 2, 2012

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”  I Thessalonians 5:2

Question, “Are you fully aware of your surroundings and what is taking place in those surroundings?” Chances are, there are very few of us who have an understanding of all that is taking place around us. For example, “Recently John and I met a guy who happened to be staying in the same motel as we were.  We began to talk and discovered that we had been  at the very same hotel in the same city one year ago.  We had visited some of the same attractions and had eaten at the same places.  But because of our focus on our own agenda we did not notice each other.

This mornings, More For Christ readings focus on the last chapter of I Thessalonians.  In this chapter Paul informs the church at Thessalonica concerning two things they were to be fully aware of:

1.  The coming of the Lord

The first eleven verses speaks about that moment when Jesus returns to the earth.  Two things stand out in these verses.  First, “No sinner will escape judgment when the Lord comes.”  In these verses we see the seriousness illustrated with such terms as, “Thief in the night, Sudden destruction, and labor pains.” Second, “God’s expectations for the follower of Christ.”  We are to be alert and we are to be aligned to Christ.

Bottom line,  the church must be aware of its surroundings.  Jesus is coming again and all who are without Christ will stand before the judge and they will spend eternity apart from God in hell.  We as believers must align our lives so that the gospel is our priority.

2.  The completing of our Sanctification

In Vs: 24 we read, “he who calls you is faithful, he will surely do it.”  What will he surely do?  He will sanctify you completely.  When our Lord returns he will judge the sinner and he will sanctify completely the saint of God.  We will finally be perfected.

Brothers and sisters, this gives me great insight to my surroundings.  I suddenly am aware that all I am facing is God’s work of sanctification.  He is preparing me for the day I will meet Him.  I am aware that there is much I need to do (Vs: 12-22) and there is much I need  to commit myself to.

This day, I am fully aware that we as people are one day closer to his return and we must rejoice in and submit to his sanctifying process.  We also must reach out in the Spirit’s power with the gospel to those who are perishing.

My prayer is that all we have read together will make you and I fully aware of all that is taking place in us and around us.

Look, It’s Right In Front Of You!

December 12, 2011

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1b.

Yes, it is true, “There are times when I can’t find things that are right in front of me.”  I am always amazed when I look for something and cannot find it.  I ask Sherry, “Can you please find it.”  She will almost always come back with the item and say, “It was right where you were looking.”  Each time I leave the conversation with the same resolve, “I am going to give greater attention to intentionally looking right in front of me.”  However, I seldom do.

This morning, I find myself in this same predicament as I read Hebrews 12.  God has a specific race for the Child of God to run, but often we get distracted from the race.  This race is defined as follows, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord,” 12:14.

The fact is, we cannot have peace with people unless they know the Prince Of Peace.  The fact is, we cannot have peace with God unless there is a mediator between us and God (I Timothy 2:5).  In both these cases, we look to Jesus, “The Founder and Perfecter of our faith,” 12:2.

As followers of Christ we often lose sight of these facts.  This is why the writer of Hebrews informs us about God’s discipline of our lives (Hebrews 12:5-11).  Our God is always disciplining, chastening, and reproving His children in order that we might fulfill the task before us.

I was particularly challenged by two aspects of God’s discipline: 1) This is a painful process. Be assured, it hurts when God has to humble your pride.  It hurts when God has to discipline your wallet.  It hurts when God has to discipline your leadership.  It hurts when God has to discipline your selfishness.  Brothers and sisters this is just a short list. I only named what God is disciplining me in this day.  Certainly you have your list as well.  2) This is a productive process.  Only as we go through discipline do we become people who are producing fruit of righteousness (Holiness).

I want to challenge each of you who read this today, to never become discouraged in this process.  If you are saying, “It seems that the closer I walk the more blemishes I find,” this is a good thing.  This means that what is in front of you is now showing up and you have the blessed honor of confessing it to God and you have the joy of forsaking it and following even harder after Christ.

Here is how we should daily live in this process:

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28

A Fresh Start

December 5, 2011

To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:19

In just a few short weeks, our world will celebrate the ending of 2011 and we will be celebrating the beginning of a new year, if the Lord wills.  One of the things that people often do at the end of a year, is to take inventory of their lives.  Often people will make New Year’s resolutions.  But as is often the case, 75% of us will not keep our resolutions.

If you do not believe me, think back to the first of this year and the resolutions you made.  How many of them have you kept?  The fact is, “It’s hard to make a change on our own.”

This morning, I completed my studies in the book of Leviticus, 24-27.  These chapters complete God’s instructions to Israel concerning how she was to conduct herself in the service of the Lord.   These chapters are rich with detail and with foreshadow’s of Christ.

For example, in chapter 25 we find instruction concerning the “Year of Jubilee.”  This was celebrated every 50 years in Israel.  This year was a time when those who had fallen in debt, sold homes,  and entered into servanthood would have the opportunity to be restored.  Dr R.C. Sproul comments, “They were given a fresh start.”

However, for most of these people, they would end up back in their same state in a few years.  The problem was, they could not on their own change their circumstances of life.   The fact is, we see in the law, in the regulations, and in the commandments man’s inability to live up to what God required.  Here is God’s commentary in Hebrews 8:4, “For they did not continue in my covenant.”  

The only way any person can have a fresh start is if he or she comes to Jesus.  “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”  Hebrews 8:12.  In Christ we have a fresh start!  This fresh start does not become stale nor does it stall during the race of our lives.  In Christ we are able to become finishers because He is the one who carries us to the finish line (Phil. 1:6).

You and I do not have to wait for the Year of Jubilee to have a fresh start.  We do not have to wait until January 1 to have a fresh start.  We can have it this very day, in Christ alone.

So, I encourage the discouraged, “This is a day of fresh start in Jesus name.”  I encourage the disheartened, “This is a day of hope because He will finish what He started in you.” Remember He is your source through it all, II Timothy 1:12.  Also I plead with you to share the message of the gospel with those around you.  They so need Jesus Christ.

All We Need

September 22, 2011

This morning a group of people from our church are ministering at a food pantry in our city.  Each week different people from our community come to this centralized place with one thought in mind, “I have a need that others can meet.”  I must say, “Praise the Lord that we are able to meet their needs.”

This morning I was reminded of the blessings we have in Christ for the provision of all we need.  Here is how Peter describes this very fact, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”  

There are two things that I want to point out to you this morning: 1) God meets every need that “Pertains to life.”  Question, “what are your life needs?”  Certainly we could have much discussion concerning this subject.  But so that we do not have to argue opinions, lets just hear from Jesus, “Do not be anxious about your life because your life is about more than food and clothing,” Lk 12:23.  The fact is, God has promised to meet all the needs we have, but often we want more than what pertains to life.  In those moments we struggle because we are trying to take our provisions and waste them on wants.  In these moments we find ourselves desperate for what pertains to  life.  In these moments we cry out to God and we actually blame Him for so-called, “Letting us down!”  Nothing can be any farther from the truth.  God gives us everything that pertains to life.  So if our needs are not being met we need to look at what we are doing with what we are receiving.

2) God meets every need that Pertains to Godliness. Our God has promised to provide for us all things that will lead us to live a life of godliness.  Certainly there are those who read this who say, “this isn’t true.  I try to live for God and all I do is mess up.”  Question, “Have you received and have you begun to exercise with the tools God has provided you?”  You ask, “What tools?”  Here they are:

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love,” II Peter 1:5-7.

These are the very things we need to live a life of godliness.  God has provided us with the ability to excel, through the Spirit, in each of these areas.  When we do, we will become Godly in our lives.  Again the question would be, “What are you doing with what God has provided.”

Certainly there will be people who come to the food pantry who will take advantage what they are given, but many more will use correctly what they are given and I am convinced they can say, “It is all they need.”  Brothers and sisters God has given us all we need.  Isn’t it time we use what He has given in the correct way for His glory?

“Genuine”

September 15, 2011

The world we live in is filled with masks and disguises.  How often do we find ourselves being shocked at the things that are revealed about not only people but products. For example, a certain product has been know know to cause cancer.  A leader who seems to be genuine is discovered to have a double life.  Recently, while watching Fox News, a political analyst said, “A certain candidate is doing well in the polls today, but his enemies have not been able to sling dirt as of yet.”  It was as if this analyst knew there would be some dirt in this person’s life.

So, in a world of masks and disguises, who can we trust?  Here is what Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser,” John 15:1.  Jesus speaking of Himself said, “I am the genuine deal.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, what an amazing statement.  Our Lord is genuine.  We do not have to worry about digging up some dirt in Jesus life.  Peter writing about Jesus said, “He was holy, harmless, and without spot.”  Paul wrote about Jesus, “He who knew no sin.”  The fact is our Lord and Savior is genuine.

However the question that came to my heart and mind this morning is simply this, “How genuine am I in my faith?”  In this moment it would be easy for me to go down the track of self-improvement or to go down the track of trying to make myself suffer so that I could be genuine.  However, my heart and mind were kept in check by the word of God, “whoever abides in me and I in him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

The Word Of God teaches us that our genuineness comes from being “In Christ” alone.  Our genuineness comes from Christ alone.  It is His grace that has redeemed us from the curse of the Law.  It is His grace that has ransomed us form the penalty for our sin.  It is His grace that has freed us from our state of depravity.  It is His grace that has made us new in Christ and it is His grace that causes us to be genuine in our walk with Him.  Finally it is His grace that helps us to daily understand that our lives are to be lived in genuineness for His glory.

By this my Father is glorified, so that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.

When we live genuine lives the world sees the goodness of God within us.  Yes, the world will always be able to bring up dirt from our past.  But praise God, we are not living in the past.  We are living in the present of a forgiven life that is marked by a genuine change because of Christ.  Praise be to His name this very day.

It Smells Different

September 14, 2011

Those who know me well know that I often struggle with different types of smells.  There are times when I smell things that my wife does not.  For example, she will sometimes respond to my asking about a smell, “I don’t smell anything.”  At other times, she will then be made aware of a smell such as something spoiled in the fridge. Then there are times when we as boys, “Smell up the house.”

This morning I was reminded of this very subject as the Apostle John recounted the story of Jesus in the home of Lazarus in John 12.  Here we find Jesus, along with his disciples, gathered with a close family.  We know them very well.  There is the brother, Lazarus who has recently been raised from the dead.  Then we know the two sisters, Mary and Martha.  This family loved Jesus.

I imagine as one entered this home, the fragrance was different.  One could sense the love and fellowship that Christ brings into a family’s life.  On this particular visit, Mary does something amazing.  We actually could say, “She did something very costly.”  Mary owned  a very expensive bottle of perfume.  The value was as much as one years wages.  When Jesus sat at her table, she opened the bottle and anointed his feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  Here is John’s commentary, “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume,” 12:3.  

As I read this text, I could almost smell the love. I honestly found myself inhaling thinking I could smell the fragrance.  Here we have before us a simple scene of love for our Lord.  Now, at this point I feel compelled to ask a question, “How do things smell in your life and mine today?”  Are you filled with love for God?  If so, your smell is so different from the environment you live and work in. Now, it may not seem significant to you, but people are noticing your smell.

Here is how Jesus described this to his disciples one chapter later, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 13:35.   When we have God’s love flowing in us and from us, His fragrance will fill the world around us.

Now here is where it get’s really personal.  Our common enemy, knows this and he does everything he can to get you to stink up the place where you live and where you work.  Think about, what has already been thrown at you today, “People who have a negative smell, circumstances that offered you the opportunity to love or to become angry, and personal struggles that sometimes linger and become stagnate.”  These are only a few of the multitude of things that can destroy the fragrance of Christ in our lives.

I want to encourage you to do several things today: First, spend sometime smelling around in your life today.  Open God’s word to Matthew 5-7 and allow God to inspect your life.  Second, call someone you trust and ask for an honest opinion about how you smell.  Third, confess what smells bad as sin and commit yourself to loving Jesus as you should.  Fourth, forgive those people and those circumstances that have left you with the smell of bitterness.

Oh how I hope your day ends with the smell of God’s love!!!

 

The Agony Of Confrontation

August 26, 2011

No one, in their right mind, loves confrontation.  Consider having to sit down with someone to point out error in their life is not a welcomed assignment.  But it is a much-needed assignment for the development of our lives as followers of Christ.

Consider the Apostle Paul, “For if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it-though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.” II Cor 8:9. Paul is here making reference to a previous letter, I Corinthians, that he had written dealing with the problems in the church.

Certainly Paul did not want to have to speak harsh words of judgment against this church, but it was necessary.  Brothers and sisters it is also necessary for us to both be confronted and  to confront sin.  When we have sin, maybe even unaware, we need someone’s loving confrontation so that we might be restored in our walk with Christ.  When others are in sin, we need to lovingly confront them so that they may be restored in their walk with Christ.

The Apostle Paul clearly understood this truth, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repentance.  For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us,” II Cor. 7:9.  Brothers and sisters there will always be agony in confrontation but be assured Godly sorrow produces repentance that will not be regretted.

So if you are a mother who is struggling with the daily confrontational grind with your children?  Take heart because God is in this and it will pay off in the end.  If you are a brother or sister in Christ who is being led to biblically confront a brother and sister, do it for the glory of the Lord.  If you have been confronted by another brother, seek to know what God is saying in this moment.

Finally, I think it is important that each of us have people in our lives who will always genuinely, gently, and graciously confront us with sin.  Unless we have those people in our lives we will become believers who never understand the true process of sanctification. Certainly this is not easy, but it is necessary.

Weekly I meet with people who confront me and sometimes I really don’t like it and there are days when I run from it, but I have to say, at the end it was worth the agony.  So be encouraged today in knowing that even in the agony of confrontation we find God at work for His glory and for our good.