Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

When Justice and mercy meet (Psalm 85; Ezekiel 35)

October 2, 2014

“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  Psalm 85:10

There are those moments when the word just flows across the lips of the offender.  In these moments there seems to be genuine heartfelt sincerity behind the word.  But at other times the word flows across the lips as simply a way to get beyond the moment without any repercussions.

What is the word?  The word is “sorry.”  It is a common word in our society.  It is a word that is used time and time again to describe someone’s response to being confronted with their offense.  Question, “Have you ever used this word to describe your feelings toward God when you were confronted with your sinful condition?”

Think it through:

The Psalmist is praising God for restoring the fortunes of his people, 85:1.  He is lifting up the name of the one who has forgiven the sin of the people and has covered their sins.  He is thankful that God has removed his wrath from the people.

In this moment I wonder, “How did this happen?”  Did the Psalmist do something to change God’s mind?  Did the people do something to change God’s mind?  Answer, “no in both cases.”

Psalm 85:10 is the key to what really happened.  Our God is a just God who cannot tolerate sin.  This is why he is just.  But at the same time, he is the God who does not desire that any sinner would perish (II Peter 3:9).  So what must happen so that God’s justice could be honored and what must happen so that God’s mercy could be given?

Answer, “Jesus.”  R.C. Sproul writes, “Justice and mercy came together in the cross of Christ.” Cited from Pg. 812, “Reformation study Bible”

Jesus did more than say, “Sorry.” Jesus offered to God the sufficient payment for our sin, I John 2:1-2.  Because of his payment our coming to God to proclaim our sorrow has much more weight.

Our response:

This very day we must understand that all of our sorrow falls short of meeting the just demands of a holy God.  But if we couple of sorrow with the cross of Christ we will be forgiven.  This very day, I am sorry for my sins and I trust my life to the just payment of Jesus Christ for my sins.  This is why I call him Savior and Lord!!!

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Looking To A New Day (Jeremiah 32, Psalm 1-2)

August 4, 2014

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh.  Is anything too hard for me?”  Jeremiah 32:27

This morning I awoke with the feeling of being extremely tired!!!  Without a doubt, many who read this have the same feeling.  The last month has been filled with unending ministry opportunities at home and abroad.  I can honestly say,”It is a good tired that I feel.”

As I approached God’s Word I was brought face to face with a wonderful truth, “In Christ we have been brought to a new day!!!”

Think it through:

Israel is facing the judgment of God.  Since the moment they entered the promised land Jeremiah writes, “You did nothing of all you have been commanded.”  Wow, what a sad commentary.  Under the Old Covenant, Israel failed to accomplish the will of God.  But what hope did she have.

Jeremiah writes of a New Covenant.  This covenant would be different.  The Old Covenant was written on tablets of stone.  The New Covenant would be written on the hearts of the people.

I.  Jeremiah gives us a picture of this by purchasing a field, Vs: 1-15.

The land was about to be occupied by the enemy, but someday God would redeem this place.  Jeremiah gives us a picture of Christ would fulfill the right of redemption, Lev. 25:25

2.  Jeremiah reminds Israel of the promise, Vs: 16-44.

The people could not possibly come to a new day on their own.  It would be impossible unless an outside source accomplished this.

3.  Jeremiah understands that provision for the promise was in Jesus Christ, Vs: 40.

In Christ alone, 31:31-36, could this be accomplished.  Christ is the one who brings us to a New Day, Hebrews 9:12-15; 10:1-4, 10-18.

Our response:

Each day, as followers of Christ, we can arise knowing that because Christ lives we also live.  No matter what mountain we face, we know that victory is ours because of the power behind each new day.  So, for me, no matter how tired I am, it is  a new day in Christ!!!

Responding to the indictment (Jeremiah 25, Mark 11)

July 29, 2014

“The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against the nations, he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 25:31

Imagine the horror of receiving a summons to appear in court!  I have had to appear in court on two different occasions as a character witness for two different people.  I can still remember how nervous I was, even though I was not the one on trial.

This days scripture reading in Jeremiah reminds us of the following fact, “Someday the entire world will stand before God to be judged.”

Think it through:

The prophet of God is tasked with giving forth the indictment against Judah, Vs: 6, “you have not obeyed the voice of God’s Words.”

Israel would face 70 years of captivity because of her rebellion against God.  When Jeremiah read the indictment, there was no need for rebuttal because the indictment is truthful.  All that remained was for the sentence to be carried out.

Brothers and sisters, this same indictment is in our lives.  We have also rebelled against God.  We are awaiting the judgment to come.  We along with the nations of the world are facing the cup of God’s Wrath!!!

What is our hope?  What should be our response?

We have only one hope, “Jesus Christ.”  Our hope is that we can settle out of court!!!  We have the opportunity by grace to go free because of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus!  Check out I John 2:1-2

This morning I do not fear entering God’s court simply because I have settled out of court.

Your response:

Have you settled out of court?  If not, do so today!!!

Do others know, they can settle out of court? You and I must spread this news around the world.

Are you a part of the support group of people who have settled out of court?  If not, join one of these groups today.  These groups are called, “a local church.”

Losing what you worked for (II John 1, Isaiah 28)

May 27, 2014

“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward,” II John 1:8

Last evening I encountered a person, while on visitation, who said, “You Baptist’s have sent many people to hell by your doctrine.”  In particular he was referring to the theological stand on God’s ability to keep saved those in who He saves.

I was reminded of the conversation as I came to II John 1:8.

This is John’s second letter by which he is still proving the need of true faith in Jesus Christ as both the Son of God and the Son of Man (coming in human flesh).

John is once again warning his readers not to listen to false teachers who would lead them astray.

Think it through:

I.  True followers of Jesus walk in truth, Vs: 4

Such people love His commandments and they love each other.

II.  True followers of Jesus war in truth, Vs: 5

Such people are so versed in the commandments of God, that they know false teaching and false teachers when they hear them.

Case in point, “The person I was talking too simply was off base in what they were saying.”  They were struggling to understand true salvation.  True salvation is a work totally of God (Eph. 2:8-9).  This work is so complete that the person who is saved will stay saved because God has transformed their lives in order that they might live in a different way (I John 3:2-3).

But what about those who leave and seemingly lose what they have worked for?  I remind you of John’s earlier words, “If they had been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us because they were not of us.”  

We must be careful to understand true salvation.  But we must also be careful to understand true sanctification.  Once God places you in His family, you must both walk and war in your faith.

Our response:

“We will receive the reward for our work according to our labor,” I Cor. 3:8

Admitting the truth (Isaiah 10:5-34; James 4)

May 12, 2014

“Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness,”  Isaiah 10:22

It was hard to admit, “But her judgment was correct.”  My wife had spoken to my son about a certain failure in his life. At first he tried to deny the failure, but then there was no way around the truth.  Mom was right!!!

Brothers and sisters, “Is God ever wrong in his judgment of our lives?”  The quick answer is, “No.”  However, the long-term way of dealing with this truth can become sketchy.  How often do we attempt to deny or make excuses for the failures in our lives?  How often do we seek to justify our actions?

This day I was confronted with this strong reality in Isaiah 10.  Keep in mind the prophet of God is making a bold prophecy concerning Israel.  “Against a godless nation will I send Assyria…”  

Think it through:

1.  God judges His people for their Godless behavior, Vs: 6

2. God judges His enemies for their Godless behavior, Vs: 13

God’s enemies would be struck with a wasting sickness in which He would destroy both their bodies and their souls.  We see this same reality spoken of by Jesus in Luke 12:4-7.

God promised to restore His people after a time of judgment.  But those who would be restored were labeled as a remnant simply because so few would admit the truth of their sin.

Question:  “Have you and I admitted the truth, “Our hearts are prone to wander from God.”

In James 4 we see this battle clearly.  James writes, “The passions and desires of the world loom large in a struggling believers life, Vs: 1-4.”  Only when the believer submits his or her life totally to God does victory come.

Our response:

The victory comes as we admit the truth, “We are sinners who need to submit to God.”  When this submission comes, we are then able to resist the devil and draw near to God.

This very day, I admit I need the Lord in my life!!!  This very day I admit that I sometimes fail to place Him at the head of my moments.  Lord, I repent and I refocus my day in following your plan for me.

A Better Hope (Song of Solomon 8; Hebrews 7

May 2, 2014

“For the law never made anything perfect; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced; through which we draw near to God,” Hebrews 7:19

“I sure hope this works better than the last one we purchased.”  This was the comment Sherry made after our CD player was replaced.  To our surprise, one month later, the same thing broke on the new CD player.

Question, “How often have we tried the same things over and over thinking we will get different results?”

This morning we read of the difference between the earthly priesthood verses Jesus Priesthood.  The earthly priesthood represented the first covenant instituted by the law.  The law is good in its purpose of showing us God’s standards, but it could not according to the scripture, “make anyone perfect.”

Question, “Why would anyone need to be perfect?”  This is the requirement to be right with God.  This is why we need Jesus!  He alone is perfect.

Think it through:

Jesus is eternal God

1.  He is the Savior of every generation (He saves to the uttermost).

2.  He is the intercessory for all believers (We can draw near to God because of Jesus, Rom 8: 34).

Jesus is our exalted God

1.  His attributes are amazing, Vs: 26

2.  His accomplishment was once for all, Vs: 27

He is the better of hope of every man!

Our response:

Not only is Jesus the better hope of our eternity but also our daily lives.  Each day we need to follow His example and His teaching so that we will be successful. This is the better hope we have.  Far too often we live with our wits and our ways in which we get the same old results.  Challenge, “Follow Him in every way and you will experience the better hope.”

In The Days of The Flesh (Song of Solomon 5; Hebrews 5)

April 30, 2014

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his reverence.”  Hebrews 5:7

“You are in the flesh.”  This comment has often been used in our home when someone has conducted themselves in a sinful way.  More importantly, the scripture also designates our sinful life as in the flesh.

Question, “Have you been in the flesh lately?”

This question penetrated my heart as I opened God’s Word to Hebrews 5.  The context of this chapter is in the writer presenting Jesus Christ as our great High Priest.

The chapters first 10 verses are actually tied to 4:14-16.  We see a great contrast in these verses:

1.  We see man who is appointed as earthly High Priest, Vs: 1-4

These men are called by God to act on behalf of man.

These men are called by God to be gentle with men.

These men are called by God to offer sacrifices for their own sin.

2.  We see a man who is appointed as the eternal Hight Priest, Vs: 5-11

In these verses we see Jesus who was also called by God to act on behalf of men, but in a greater way!!

Think it through:

In the days of his flesh, He offered up prayers for our sins and He offered a payment for our sins.  His payment was accepted by God in that He raised Jesus from the dead.

In His flesh he did the following, “He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”

As God, He was and is perfect.  As Man he became one of us.  As the God-man he died in our place and rose again to give us victory over the flesh, hell, and the grave!!!

Our response:

As followers of Christ we should be seeking to live not in the flesh, but with the mindset that our lives are being conformed to Christ.  John wrote these words in Revelation 1: 6, “And made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

We should be living as one who is walking in the Spirit with the mission of sharing the gospel with all men.

It Must Be Okay (Proverbs 20, Colossians 3)

April 2, 2014

“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.”  Proverbs 20:27

“No one said anything, so it must be ok?”  These words were spoken by a young boy to his friend as they were eating the apples they had stolen from a neighbors orchard.

Question, “Have you ever rationalized a sinful action by this same theology?”  Sadly enough I have often encountered people who have simply believed their sin was ok because God had not punished them.

Israel felt this way according to the prophet Zephaniah.  “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, the Lord will not do good nor will he do ill.”  Vs:12

This morning I felt the weight of this truth as I considered my own life.  I thought, “How reckless would my life be, if I lived without the theological understanding of the future judgment of God.”

Paul writes, “Each will give an account of himself before God.” Rom 14:12

Some day every person will stand before God (Rev. 20:11-14) and give account of themselves to God.  Could it be possible that Paul had this in mind when he wrote, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek those things which are above.”

Think it through:

1.  Because of the coming judgment of God, you and I must put to death the earthly things of sinful practices, Col. 3:5-9.

2.  Because of the coming judgment of God, you and I must pursue the eternal things of God, Col. 3:10-14.

Our response:

Lord, help me to live every moment in light of eternity.  Help me to truly have the mindset of Paul, “Whatever I do, in word or deed, may I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving glory to the Father.”

 

Charge it to my account (II Kings 18, Philemon 1)

November 5, 2013

“If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account,” Philemon 1:18

This morning I could not help but get totally engaged in the scene before me in the book of Philemon.  Before us is the compelling story of a slave who has run away from his master.  But in his running away he actually runs into another Master!!!  So amazing is this new master, the slave surrenders his life to him.  At this point I need to back up before I get ahead of myself.

I want us to look at this scene in correct tools of Bible study:

1.  Discover the context:

The Apostle Paul is in prison in Rome.  He is writing a letter to his brother in Christ (Philemon) who has come to know the Lord through Paul’ ministry.  The gospel so affected this man’s life that we see him opening his home for a house church.  His testimony of love and faith was known throughout his home town.

Paul is writing to inform Philemon that his slave, Onesimus has come to Rome.  While there Paul presented the gospel to him and the Lord opened his heart to the gospel.  Now Paul is sending him back, not as a slave, but as a brother.  Paul’s desire is that Philemon would receive him as a brother.

Paul goes so far as to promise to pay any debt owed by Onesimus.

2.  Discover the content:

Two things stand out in the content:

1.  The impact of the gospel:

Each man has been greatly changed by the gospel.

2.  The investment of the gospel:

Paul was willing to pay for Onesimus to be reconciled to his owner.

3.  Discover the intent:

Brothers and sisters, it is the gospel that changes mens lives.  Brothers and sisters it is Christ who paid the debt we owed to God so that we could be reconciled to God.

Takeaway:

In this moment I cannot help but praise the Lord for paying my debt!!!  This encouragement teaches me to be willing to help others be reconciled, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” 

Living Without Hope (I Kings 4-5, Ephesians 2)

October 2, 2013

“Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3

I cannot image the sadness in a person’s heart who hears the words, “There is no hope.”  I think of those who hear this final statement from a doctor.  I think of those who find themselves trapped in catastrophic situations.  I think of those who stand by the bed side of a loved one who has been tragically injured in an accident.

In such moments there are no words to describe the hurt and pain.  This morning I found myself approaching a very familiar passage of scripture.  In this passage we see both the plight in life of those living without hope and those who live with hope.

In Ephesians 2:1-3 we see the plight of those living without hope.

Paul identifies these people in the following ways: They are spiritually dead, they are sinfully directed, and they are certainly depraved.  These words apply to everyone who enters this world including you and I.

In Ephesians 2:4-10 we see the plight of those living with hope.

This hope is founded on the mercy and grace of God.  Because of His mercy and grace, sinners are raised to life, given a home in heaven, and given assurance of His return for them.

Think it through:

1.  How does a person move from the living with no hope to living with hope?  One answer, “The mercy of God.”

2.  How does a person respond to this mercy?  He or she seeks to live according to God’s design (Ephesians 2:10)

3. How does a person, who is living with hope, reach out to those who are living without hope? He or she must reach out with a heart filled with heaven’s mercy and grace.