basic training

May 24, 2017

BASIC TRAINING

 

I met a young man todayt hat by 19 years of age had pretty much screwed up his life way beyond the chance of getting it back on track. So he went and joined the Navy, now one year later and home visiting his grandmother for the first time, the structure missing from his life has been found and he has never been happier.

 

 

We know we should read the Bible. We know we should want to read the Bible. But almost all of us find there are times when we can’t find the motivation to read the Bible.

 

 Fortunately, we can turn to the Bible itself to regain the motivation we need.

 Here are five verses that can stimulate our desire to read Scripture:

  1. To clarify the thoughts and attitudes of your heart (Heb 4:12)—When we find we’re not eager to read the Bible, our first question ought to be, “Why not?” The answer is likely to be revealed when we search the Scriptures. As Hebrews says, God’s Word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

  2. To experience joy (Ps 119:111)—The cure for a lack of motivation to read Scripture is to read more Scripture. The more we read the more it sinks into the marrow of our hearts and becomes for us, like for the psalmist, a source of joy.

  3. To build up our ability to stand firm against evil (Eph 6:11–17)—If we are not currently forced to confront evil, we soon will be. The only way to be ready is to prepare now by having the “belt of truth buckled around your waist” (v. 14).

  4. To become more hopeful (Ro 15:4)—The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who have endured suffering and been faithful in the face of adversity. They are examples for us of how we can be hopeful, knowing we, too, can endure.

  5. To show our love for Jesus (Jn 14:23–24)—As Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (v. 23). To love Jesus requires obeying his teachings, which requires that we have them embedded in our hearts through God’s Word.

  Still need more motivation? Other motivations to read the Bible are so we can: be set free (see Jn 8:32), know how to please God (see 1Th 4:1–8), become equipped for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16–17), know what God says is valuable (see 2Pe 1:21), grow with other believers into a mature community (Eph 4:14–16) and reject conformity to the world as we renew our minds (see Ro 12:1–2).

We can’t have a fulfilled life if we don’t have basic training, and only the serious study of the bible can do that.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Aimee, she entered hospice today

For Raymond, 23, and is a new dad today

Remember Joe and his shoulder

Dean and his battle with alcoholism

 

Constant Care

May 9, 2017

WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT HIS CARE

  The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:12).

  The Lord Jesus not only died for every sin in our life, but He lives for every second of our life. We cannot rest in Him until we realize that there is never an instant that He is not caring for us. It is as though each of His own were His only one.

So many saints are disturbed, so many are restless, because they are not living in the knowledge that they are under the care of the Lord; and then there is no power to walk. Why have you so little power in walk or service? It is because you are not yet clear that the Lord is caring for you, that He is in all watchfulness over you, that He has let down the strong pinions of His protecting care till they sweep the ground around you, and, if you are wise, you will creep up close under His wings, into the very down.

It belongs to the nature of our pilgrimage and life of faith, that we cannot see the land for which we are bound. If only thou hast bid farewell to thy past, have confidence in thy God; trust Him to bring thee into a better land than the one thou art leaving. Should we find that Divine things do not at present correspond with our hopes, we may be quite sure they will eventually exceed our expectations; we shall realize above all we ask or comprehend.

  “And a man shall be like an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; like rivers of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isa. 32:2).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.comfa

 

how hard are you ?

March 6, 2017

Image result for picture of a hard hat

I could have done this in parts, but what the heck, you can print it out and take your time and read over the course of a week.

Those who are lost are lost because they refused to repent and believe the gospel. And then, as Paul has frequently done in Romans 9-11, he backs up verse 7 with Scripture to show that he isn’t making this up (11:8-10). What Paul says in verse 7 is in line with all of God’s Word. He is saying here:

Either you have been chosen by God to hear, understand, and believe the gospel so that you are saved, or you will be hardened and come under His judgment.

Those are the only two possibilities! While this is not easy truth, it is spiritually nourishing for your soul. So ask God to give you insight into this part of His inspired Word. The bulk of the text deals with those who were hardened and came under God’s judgment, and so the bulk of this message deals with that.

  1. If you seek to obtain right standing with God on the basis of your works, you will be hardened and come under God’s terrible judgment.

Most of our text, 11:8-10, is taken from the Old Testament. Paul lets the Bible say the hard things so that no one can accuse Paul of making it up. That’s a good plan!

When I began preaching almost 40 years ago, I preached through 1 Peter. When I came to 1 Peter 3:1-6, I preached what the text says, that wives are to be subject to their own husbands. I tried to explain what Peter meant and did not mean in those verses. A few days later a single young woman came to see me and said, “You shouldn’t preach on things like that on Sunday morning!”

I asked her, “Did I misrepresent what the text says?” She replied, “No, you taught what the text says.” So I asked, “Did I teach it with a sarcastic or arrogant attitude?” She said, “No, you taught it with the right attitude.” So I asked, “Then what was the problem?”

“The problem,” she said, “was that I brought a friend to church who is a committed feminist, and she will never come back to church again!”

“Ah,” I said, “God has a way of bringing people to church on the very Sunday that they need to hear what His Word declares.” I added, “One of two things will happen. Either your friend will be convicted of her worldly, unbiblical views and come to repentance and faith. Or, she will reject the truth that she heard and be hardened in her unbelief. One day she will face God’s judgment.”

And so if I teach today what theses verses do not teach or if I teach with the wrong attitude, please let me know. I need to repent. But if I teach accurately and lovingly what God’s Word teaches, then you can’t quarrel with me. I’m just the messenger. You’re contending with God! Four truths will help us to understand what Paul is saying here:

  1. ISRAEL SOUGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD ON THE BASIS OF THEIR WORKS, NOT ON THE BASIS OF FAITH.

Romans 11:7: “What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained ….” What Israel was seeking, but did not obtain, was right standing with God, or righteousness. Romans 9:30-32says:

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.

He also adds with reference to the Jews (Rorm. 10:2-4):

For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For the most part, the Jews did not lack sincerity. The Pharisees and Sadducees were hypocrites (Matt. 23:13-33), but the majority of the Jews were sincere in their dedication to their religion. Nor did they lack commitment. They followed the prescribed rituals and laws with dedication that would put most of us to shame. Nor did they lack zeal. Look at Paul’s zeal before he was saved. He went to great lengths to try to keep the Jewish religion pure by eliminating those whom he saw as heretics. But if your religious sincerity, commitment, and zeal are misguided, they will only move you toward judgment with greater speed.

The problem, Paul explained, was that their zeal was not according to knowledge, namely, the knowledge that their own good works could never be good enough to atone for their sins or to commend them to the holy God. And they did not know that Christ was the final and sufficient Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for their sins. And they didn’t know that God’s way of salvation is by grace through faith, not by works. And so they did not obtain the right standing with God that they were seeking. That leads to the second truth:

  1. IF YOU SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON YOUR WORKS, THEN YOU DON’T NEED A SAVIOR AND CHRIST DIED IN VAIN.

If people are basically good and with a little effort and self-denial they can get into heaven, then why did Jesus need to die on the cross? While Jesus set a good example for us, that was not the main reason that He came to this earth. Jesus said (Mark 10:45) that He came “to give His life a ransom for many.” As He faced the cross, Jesus said (John 12:27), “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Jesus came to die for our sins to save us from God’s judgment. If we can get into heaven by being good people and doing good deeds, then Jesus died in vain.

  1. IF YOU SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON YOUR WORKS, YOU HAVE NOT JUDGED YOUR PRIDE, WHICH IS THE ROOT SIN.

The good works route is always wrong, because it allows human pride to play a role in salvation. This is the great danger of religion. People mistakenly think that by going to church or taking communion or giving money to the church or serving in the church or helping the poor or whatever, they will gain entrance into heaven. Martin Luther thought that by joining a monastery and treating his body harshly and confessing his sins and going to mass every day, he could gain right standing with God. But nothing brought peace to his soul. Why not? Because by pursuing salvation by works, he was negating God’s grace (Rom. 11:6).

To come to God for grace means that I come as a sinner who does not in any way deserve to be saved. I deserve God’s judgment. To come to God by works means that I come with the claim that I’m basically good enough to get into heaven on my own, or at least with just a little help from God. The works approach is shot through with arrogance before God. It does not understand His absolute holiness and it does not understand our wretched sinfulness. Pride is the root sin of all other sins. It is the sin that led Eve to eat the fruit, so that she could be like God. To come to God for grace, we must judge our pride.

Thus Israel sought righteousness before God on the basis of works, not faith. If we could come to God on the basis of works, then we don’t need a Savior and Christ died in vain. To attempt to come to God on the basis of works is to be filled with the terrible sin of pride. But now we come to the scary part:

  1. IF YOU SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON YOUR WORKS, GOD WILL HARDEN YOU AGAINST THE TRUTH AND BRING YOU TO ULTIMATE JUDGMENT.

Israel, seeking righteousness by works, not only did not obtain it, but Paul adds (11:7), “the rest [the non-elect] were hardened.” Hardened is a passive verb. Who hardened them? Verse 8 plainly tells us, “Just as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.’” That quote combines Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4. It also reflects Isaiah 6:10, where God is speaking to the prophet, “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” That text is so important that Jesus cites it in Matthew 13:14-15 (and the parallels, Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10) and in John 12:40; and Paul also cites it to the resistant Jews in Acts 28:26-27.

It refers to God’s judicial hardening of the Jews, who had heard so much truth and seen so many demonstrations of God’s love and power, but refused to submit to Him. In Deuteronomy 29:2-4, Moses said to all Israel after 40 years in the wilderness,

“You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.”

So even as far back as Moses, Israel had come under this judicial hardening, as seen in their continual grumbling against God and refusal to submit to Him. Later, they followed the idolatry and evil ways of the Canaanites, until finally God sent them into captivity. But even after being restored to the land, they continued to try to approach God by their works, so that they hated the Savior who came and convicted them of their self-righteousness and pride. And so in Paul’s day, the nation that had crucified the Savior came under even increased hardening from God that has lasted now for 2,000 years! The frightening words of the Jewish mob that was screaming for Jesus’ death have come true (Matt. 27:25), “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”

There are two ways in which we need to understand this judgment where God hardens hearts so that they cannot understand the gospel (I’m indebted here to John Piper, “The Elect Obtained It But the Rest Were Hardened,” on desiringGod.org). First, from God’s perspective, He is free to act according to His own counsel for His own glory and is not obligated to any creature. As we saw in Romans 9:18, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” God is not constrained by anything outside of Himself. If He chose to condemn the entire human race without providing a Savior, He would be free and perfectly just to do so. After all, He did this with the angels that fell.

Second, God’s hardening of the Jews was punishment for their sins. God did it as “retribution” to them (11:9) because of their disobedient, hard hearts (10:21) and “unbelief” (11:20). Israel had been given much light (9:4-5), but they stubbornly refused to respond to it. So God said in effect, “If you refuse to see, I’ll confirm that choice: Be blind. If you refuse to hear, be deaf!” How terrifying, to have God pronounce such judgments against you! And it stems, in the case of the Jews and of many other religious people, from seeking to be righteous by their own works.

We can only look briefly at the specifics of this judgment on those who turn from the light that they have been given. What are the characteristics of those who are under this judicial hardening? I’m going to put it in the second person as a warning to us all.

First, you will be spiritually dull and insensitive, unable to perceive and understand spiritual truth. “God gave them a spirit of stupor.” This refers to someone who is half asleep or who has been stunned so that he can’t think properly. I have shared the gospel with many people who just couldn’t get it, even though it is simple enough for a little child to understand. If you asked them later how a person gets into heaven, they would say, “By being a good person.”

Second, your blessings will become a curse. That is the meaning of the quote from Psalm 69:22(Rom. 11:9), “Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block and a retribution to them.” A table should be a place of nourishment and blessing, but David prays that it will become a snare for his enemies. God gives many blessings, even to unbelievers: material possessions, food, the joys of married love, children, etc. But if they do not honor God and give thanks to Him, then their foolish hearts will be darkened and these blessings will be a curse that keeps them from the supreme joy of knowing God (Rom. 1:21-32).

Third, you are headed for ultimate and final judgment. Romans 11:10: “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever.” The last word may be translated continually (in light of 11:25-26), but it may also refer to God’s permanent judgment that will come on the reprobate because they turned away from the light that they had been given. “Bend their backs” may look at bondage to the law. The Jews wanted to establish their own righteousness by works of the law, so they are consigned to that futile pursuit that can never obtain the righteousness that comes by grace through faith (see Acts 15:10-11).

Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm and so these judgments are ultimately aimed, not at David’s enemies, but at the enemies of Jesus Christ. Those who seek to be saved by works are really enemies of Christ, because if you can be justified by your works, you make the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of no effect. Any scheme of salvation that does not center on the cross of Christ exalts proud sinners and spits in the face of the Savior who gave Himself to redeem those who were under the curse of the law.

Let’s look briefly at the other side: How can you know whether you’ve been chosen by God?

  1. If you have been chosen by God, you will hear, understand, and believe the gospel so that you are righteous before God through faith in Christ alone.

“What Israel [was] seeking” but did not obtain (11:7) was righteousness before God (9:31). Then Paul adds, “but those who were chosen obtained it.” Two brief observations:

  1. THE SOURCE OF OUR RIGHT STANDING BEFORE GOD DOES NOT COME FROM US, BUT FROM GOD’S SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF US.

“Those who were chosen” is literally, “the election.” Paul could have said, “Those who believe obtained it,” which would be true. Or, he could have said, “The elect obtained it.” But he used a different word, meaning “the election,” a word that “serves to put special emphasis on the action of God as that which is altogether determinative of the existence of the elect” (C. E. B Cranfield, (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [T & T Clark International], 2:548). Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans: To God’s Glory [Zondervan], p. 27) explains that the word Paul used “emphasizes the one who ‘elects’ rather than any choice made by the people and so all the glory is to be given to God alone.”

So the believing remnant of Jews or the believing Gentiles could not boast in their faith, as if they had believed of their own free will or because of their superior intelligence (Paul specifically warns of this in 11:20). Rather, God had every right to condemn us for our sins, but in mercy He chose to save us. It’s all of grace. But, how can we know if we are part of God’s elect?

  1. THE RESULT OF GOD’S CHOOSING US IS THAT WE HAVE HEARD, UNDERSTOOD, AND BELIEVED THE GOSPEL, WHICH PROVIDES RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD AS HIS UNDESERVED GIFT.

A man who left this church years ago because he didn’t believe this teaching once asked me, “How can anyone know if he’s elect?” I replied, “It’s very simple: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised from the dead and that He saved you by His grace alone? Only the elect believe that truth.” And the Bible is clear that your faith did not cause or obtain God’s grace. If anything of merit in you caused God’s favor, then grace is no longer grace (Rom. 11:6). Rather, Paul plainly says that God’s grace caused your blind eyes and deaf ears to be opened so that you understood the gospel. God opened your heart to respond so that you believed it. God gave you right standing with Him through Jesus’ blood as a gift. So He gets all the glory (see 1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Conclusion

Please note that Paul does not explain his statement in verse 7 or see any need to defend it (except for the Scripture quotations that follow). He just says in passing, “What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.” It reminds me of Acts 13, where Luke reports that some of the Jews responded to Paul’s preaching by blaspheming and attacking him (13:45), but many Gentiles (13:48) “began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord.” Then Luke adds in passing, “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” No explanation. No defense. He just states it and moves on.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

JUST SAY NO

March 5, 2017

John-Wayne-p15

Paul warns us to “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Eph 5:15–16). So how can we do this? A good place to start is by learning how to say no.

 We can’t say yes to everything Jesus requires without saying no to other requests in our lives.

 By being selective about how we spend our time and energy, we can best dedicate ourselves to the one thing to which we should always say yes: becoming like Christ.

 Need some guidance in how to make “the most of every opportunity”? Check out the following strategies for saying no with grace and tact to best nurture your spiritual formation journey:

  ➤ Be direct—One of the most effective methods is to be polite but direct. When you say “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think I can do that” you leave ambiguity about whether you’ll say yes at a later time. Simply say, “Because of prior commitments, I won’t be able to do that.”

 ➤ If pressed, explain your “commitment”—Most people aren’t offended when you say no, but in some situations, you will be pressed to give a reason why you can’t add their priority to your to-do list. Explain your “commitment” by saying, “I’m unable to take on new tasks because I’ve made a commitment to spend more time on activities related to my spiritual formation.” Who knows, such a response might lead to a fruitful conversation!

  Although it’s not always easy, saying no to demands for your time and energy will allow you to spend more time praying or journaling or doing whatever activity you choose to bolster your commitment to becoming more like Christ.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Keep praying for Paul K and the fact that he has to wait till June for an operation to remove his kidney because of cancer.

 

MERCY

March 4, 2017

  “That He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23).

  Mercifully, day by day, He unfolds before our startled eyes the evil depths of the self-life. It is thus we come to know Him as the “God who is rich in mercy,” and ourselves as “vessels of mercy.”

  “Today sinful men, not angels, are entrusted with the preaching of the Gospel, and before they can be used of God must first of all have plumbed the depths of their own sinfulness, and have, therefore, discovered the heights and glories of God’s longsuffering. In this way they can become a pattern of His mercy, by means of which He can demonstrate His grace to others.

The power effectively to present Christ as Lord, is by means of revelation deep within us, bringing into being an unshakable knowledge of His authority and might, and making us content to accept our weakness and nothingness in order that we may see the pleasure of the Lord prosper in His hand (Isa. 53:10).

The more useful anyone is, the more he requires to be brought to an end of himself, and to find that his all is in the Lord Jesus. We find some of His servants deeply chastened at first, in order to prepare them for a useful course; and some after a useful period are brought low and afflicted in order that they might learn how truly and fully our Father is sovereign.

  “your fruitfulness comes from me.” (Hosea 14:8 NIV)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

huh?

March 3, 2017

HUH??

(today is the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing, so in honor of him, thank you for stepping in to be my dad)

 

 

SO MY GRANDFATHER WAS VERY HARD OF HEARING, AND EVERY SUNDAY WE WOULD GET DRESSED UP AND GO TO CHURCH; WE WOULD SIT ABOUT HALF WAY BACK ON THE RIGHT SIDE AND HE WOULD GO TO SLEEP AS SOON AS THE SERMON STARTED. IF HE DIDN’T SNORE OR THROW HIS HEAD BACK WITH HIS MOUTH WIDE OPEN GRANDMA WOULD LET HIM SLEEP.

 

 

WHEN WE GOT OUT TO THE CAR SHE WOULD ALWAYS ASK HIM; “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS FALL ASLEEP DURING THE SERMON”? HIS RESPONSE WAS ALWAYS THE SAME; ‘I CAN’T HEAR HIM’.

 

 

THEN MY GRANDMOTHER WOULD SAY, “WHY DON’T WE SIT UP FRONT THEY HAVE SPECIAL HEARING DEVICES IN THE FRONT LEFT PEWS AND YOU COULD HEAR THE SERMON”. FOR A MOMENT HE WOULDN’T ANSWER AND INEVITABLY SHE WOULD SAY, “WELL”.

AND THEN CAME HIS STANDARD RESPONSE, “I GO TO CHURCH BECAUSE YOU WANT ME TO, I DON’T NEED TO HEAR THE DAMN SERMONS AS WELL”.

 

 

I’D LAUGH AND GET THE LOOK.

 

 

IT WASN’T TILL YEARS AFTER HE DIED I FOUND OUT HE WAS RAISED IN A VERY STRICT (READ ULTRA) STRICT PENTECOSTAL HOME AND CONSTANTLY FOUGHT WITH HIS PARENTS ABOUT GOING TO CHURCH.

 

 

I CAME HOME ON LEAVE IN THE MILITARY WHEN I FOUND OUT HE WAS DYING OF CANCER, AND HE ACCEPTED THE LORD. I ASKED HIM WHY HE NEVER WANTED TO LISTEN TO OUR PREACHER, HIS COMMENT WAS,” I’VE HEARD ENOUGH SERMONS IN CHURCH AND AT HOME TO LIVE A LIFETIME”.

 

 

WELL NOW MY WIFE AND I ARE GETTING OLDER AND WE ARE LOSING OUR HEARING, AND OUR TWO MOST COMMON PHRASES ARE, “HUH” OR ‘WHAT DID YOU SAY’.

 

 

WHICH IS HILARIOUS BECAUSE WE USUALLY MISUNDERSTAND WHAT THE OTHER ONE SAYS AND COME UP WITH THE WRONG ANSWER TO THE QUESTION.

 

 

WHICH BRINGS ME TO OUR VERSE FOR TODAY;

 

PSALMS 135:17 They have ears, but cannot hear….

 

LET’S MAKE SURE WE DON’T GET SPIRITUALLY DEAF AND MISS OUT ON THE LORD SPEAKING TO US, IT CAN BE THROUGH HIS WORD, SONGS, FRIENDS, HECK IN THE OLD TESTAMENT EVEN A JACKASS SPOKE FOR THE LORD.

 

 

MY ADVICE LISTEN BETTER, LONGER, MORE OFTEN, WHICH BRINGS ME TO AN OLD CLICHÉ; “GOD GAVE US TWO EARS AND ONE MOUTH, WE SHOULD LISTEN MORE AND SPEAK LESS.”

GOD BLESS

 

 

REMEMBER SEND YOU PRAYER REQUESTS TO SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

 

 

AND WE ARE HAVING ANOTHER BIBLE GIVE AWAY. TELL US WHAT DEVOTION HAS REPOSTED THE MOST (REQUESTED).

 

 

 

ALSO HAS ANY ONE HEARD FROM MONOCHROMATIC?

 

He Restores my soul

March 1, 2017

THE PATH OF RESTORATION REQUIRES REPENTANCE.

Remembrance of God’s Word.

Luke 22:61King James Version (KJV)

61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord….

“Peter remembered the word of the Lord” (Luke 22:61). All repentance begins when we remember the word of the Lord. What does the Lord say about what I have done? That is the issue. Men may minimize my sin: “Don’t worry about it! Everyone slips up occasionally. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” But God’s Word is the final authority. It tells me that I have sinned.

  • Conviction of our sin.

The Lord’s look penetrated down to Peter’s conscience. Jesus didn’t have to say anything. Peter was deeply convicted in his heart. He didn’t try to paper over it or make excuses or rationalize it away. Conviction acknowledges that God is right and I’m wrong.

Godly sorrow over sin.

This will vary with the seriousness of the sin and the personality of the sinner, but when our consciences realize that we have sinned against a Savior who loved us enough to die for us, we will mourn over our sin. We won’t be flippant or shrug it off.

  • Appropriation of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin.

Jesus had already begun to suffer for Peter’s sins as He endured abuse at the hands of sinners. That sacrifice would be completed on the cross, where Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). We cannot atone for our sins by our sorrow or penance. Christ fully paid the penalty that we owe. We can only appropriate Christ’s sacrifice to cover our sins.

  • Appreciation of God’s abundant grace.

Christ’s look not only conveyed the pain He felt at Peter’s failure. It also communicated His great love and grace. Peter remembered the word of the Lord, which included the fact that he would be restored because of Jesus’ prayers for him (22:32). What amazing grace, that Christ chose Peter and us, knowing full well how we would fail Him! His grace saved us and it keeps us unto the day when we shall be with Him forever. If you say, “I’ve sinned too badly; I just can’t accept God’s forgiveness and grace,” you’re not trusting in Him alone. You’re proudly trusting in your own method of atonement. Christians believe in and thank God for His grace as the only basis for forgiveness. If you need to be restored, you must repent of your sin and trust again in God’s grace and mercy.

  1. THE PATH OF RESTORATION RESULTS IN RENEWED SERVICE.

As you know, the Lord personally restored Peter and did not kick him off the apostolic team. When the Day of Pentecost came, it was Peter who stood in Jerusalem, before some of the same people who had heard him deny Christ, and boldly proclaimed Him as Savior and Lord, risen from the dead. If Peter had clung to his pride, he would have said, “I’m never going to show my face in Jerusalem again. Someone else can preach, but I’m going back to fishing.” But thankfully, Peter recovered from the fear of what people thought and was restored to care about what pleases Christ. So he preached and God was pleased to save 3,000 souls.

The hymn writer Robert Robinson, was a wild young man who lived a debauched life as a teenager. At age 17, he went with some friends to scoff at the famous evangelist, George Whitefield. But Robinson was so impressed by Whitefield’s preaching that he got saved. At 23 he wrote the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” For many years he served as a Baptist pastor, but later in life he got involved with the doctrines of Unitarianism and strayed from the Lord.

One day he was riding in a stagecoach when he struck up a conversation with a woman. When she realized that he was well informed on spiritual matters, she asked him what he thought of a hymn she had just been reading. To his astonishment, he found that it was the hymn, “Come Thou Fount,” which he had written as a young man. He burst into tears and told her, “I’m the poor, unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago. I would give anything to have back the joy I knew then.” The woman assured him that the “streams of mercy” referred to in the song still flowed. Robinson was deeply touched, turned his wandering heart again to the Lord, and experienced His grace and forgiveness.

That same grace is available to all who have failed the Lord. If you will turn back to Him, He will abundantly pardon and restore you to fellowship with Him and to service in His cause. You may be a great sinner, but Jesus is a greater Savior!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

evil vs good (finale)

February 28, 2017

Image result for picture of good fighting evil

Psalm 73:15-26

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”

Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.

16 When I pondered to understand this,

It was troublesome in my sight

17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;

Then I perceived their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;

You cast them down to destruction.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment!

They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused,

You will despise their form.

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

24 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:1-26).

The turning point in Asaph’s relationship with God was brought about by a change in his perspective. The psalmist says his perspective changed when he “came into the sanctuary of God” (verse 17). I believe Asaph means by these words that he came into the tabernacle (the temple was later constructed by Solomon), and doing so changed his perspective.

How can going into the Tabernacle, the sanctuary of God, produce such a dramatic change in Asaph’s perspective? The tabernacle (and later the temple) were symbols that were an earthly picture of heaven. I get this from the writer to the Hebrews:

1 Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. 4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN” (Hebrews 8:1-5,).

The earthly tabernacle (and temple) were but copies of the heavenly reality. Thus, when Asaph (or anyone else qualified to do so) entered the tabernacle, he was immediately reminded of the heavenly realities not yet seen by man. From this heavenly perspective Asaph now views the temporary “success” of the wicked as just that, a very short-lived period of apparent blessing, to be followed by an eternity of judgment.

17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;

Then I perceived their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;

You cast them down to destruction.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment!

They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused,

You will despise their form (Psalm 73:17-20).

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;

You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You (Psalm 73:27).

An eternal perspective enables Asaph to see his spiritual condition, his present circumstances, and his future destiny clearly:

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

4 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory (Psalm 73:21-24).

Asaph’s envy of the wicked and his anger toward God was beastly: His earthly perspective failed to grasp spiritual and eternal realities. It was not God who was in the wrong; it was Asaph. The prosperity of the wicked did not turn them toward God; it turned them from God. Asaph’s suffering drew him closer to God. Not only was he assured of spending eternity in the presence of God; he was assured of God’s presence with him in the midst of his earthly adversities. His present distress made him more aware of the nearness of God.

Asaph’s problem boiled down to a proper definition of “good.” Initially, he thought that “good” meant material prosperity and a trouble-free life. Then, when his perspective changed, so did Asaph’s definition of “good” and “evil”:

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;

You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

That I may tell of all Your works (Psalm 73:28).

If “nearness to God” is our good, then whatever draws us to Him is good, and whatever draws us away from Him is not good. The prosperity of the wicked lures them away from God. The suffering of the righteous is intended to draw them into closer fellowship with God. When we look at life from a divine and eternal perspective, we can see that.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

 

evil vs good

February 26, 2017

Image result for picture of good fighting evil

PSALM 73 WHY THE WICKED PROSPER AND THE RIGHTEOUS SUFFER; PART ONE

THIS POST WILL SEEM LONGER THAN IT IS BECAUSE OF ALL THE SCRIPTURE GIVEN.

PSALM 73

1 Surely God is good to Israel,

To those who are pure in heart!

2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,

My steps had almost slipped.

3 For I was envious of the arrogant

As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no pains in their death,

And their body is fat.

5 They are not in trouble as other men,

Nor are they plagued like mankind.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;

The garment of violence covers them.

7 Their eye bulges from fatness;

The imaginations of their heart run riot.

8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;

They speak from on high.

9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,

And their tongue parades through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return to this place,

And waters of abundance are drunk by them.

11 They say, “How does God know?

And is there knowledge with the Most High?”

12 Behold, these are the wicked;

And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure

And washed my hands in innocence;

14 For I have been stricken all day long

And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”

Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.

16 When I pondered to understand this,

It was troublesome in my sight

17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;

Then I perceived their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;

You cast them down to destruction.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment!

They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused,

You will despise their form.

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

24 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;

You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

That I may tell of all Your works (Psalm 73:1-28, NAU).

Some may think of the psalmists and their words as “long ago and far away,” but it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to see the relevance of Psalm 73 to Christians today, and more specifically to American Christians in times like these. Let’s begin by taking a “bird’s eye” view of the entire Psalm, and then consider the message God has for us in these inspired words. Verse one is Asaph’s affirmation of faith in God’s goodness.  In a sense, it serves as both Asaph’s introduction and as his conclusion. It indicates where Asaph is headed in this psalm,1 and it is where Asaph will end up when all is said and done. From verses 2-14 Asaph confesses his sin (of envying the wicked) by describing how he viewed his circumstances from a merely human point of view. In verses 15-17 we see the point to which his observations led him – the temptation to give up his pursuit of God to live a sinful lifestyle that seemingly led to prosperity – and the turning point that set him straight in his thinking. In verses 18—26 Asaph is now able to view life through different eyes, and thus to articulate a divine perspective on the very things that had once troubled him. This led him to a greater love for God. Verses 27 and 28 summarize the outcome of his transformed thinking regarding living in a fallen world, where the wicked appear to be the winners and the righteous appear to be the losers.

Asaph2 is the psalmist here, and he confesses that at one point in time he was very unhappy with what he saw going on about him in Israel: the wicked appeared to be blessed, while the “righteous” seemed destined for suffering:

3 For I was envious of the arrogant

As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no pains in their death,

And their body is fat.

5 They are not in trouble as other men,

Nor are they plagued like mankind (Psalm 73:3-5).

Parenthetically, let me say that it is very difficult to see life clearly when seeking to do so through the tear-filled eyes of self-pity. Asaph overstates (all right, he exaggerates) the prosperity and ease of the wicked, and the suffering of the righteous as well. Nevertheless, his words accurately convey the way he once viewed life.

Asaph is right about one thing: from a merely human perspective, the wicked do seem to be succeeding in their sinful pursuits. Worse yet, they are emboldened by their apparent success. They flaunt their opulence, and they are more than willing to resort to violence. Through Asaph’s eyes, they take great pleasure in doing so. Indeed, they are inspired by their “success” to devise even more wicked schemes.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;

The garment of violence covers them.

7 Their eye bulges from fatness;

The imaginations of their heart run riot (Psalm 73:6-7).

The success of the wicked makes them arrogant toward their fellow men; they even become arrogant toward God:

8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;

They speak from on high.

9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,

And their tongue parades through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return to this place,

And waters of abundance are drunk by them.

11 They say, “How does God know?

And is there knowledge with the Most High?” (Psalm 73:8-11)

Asaph notes that the wicked seem to have concluded either that God is ignorant of their sin, or (worse yet) that He is indifferent toward it.

Before I become too critical of Asaph here, it would be good to consider some of the reasons for his mental and spiritual torment. Asaph knew that God is righteous, that He hates sin, and that He punishes the wicked. He also believed that God had promised to bless the righteous. This assurance of God’s hatred of sin, judgment of the wicked, and blessing of the righteous is based upon God’s words in the giving of the Law of Moses:

15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 “But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20; see also Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).

In Asaph’s mind, God seemed to be doing just the opposite. God appeared to be blessing the wicked, while at the same time He was punishing the righteous. God’s actions were perceived as inconsistent with His promises.

Looking back on his agony of soul, Asaph admits that his motivation and thinking were sinful:

1 Surely God is good to Israel,

To those who are pure in heart!

2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,

My steps had almost slipped.

3 For I was envious of the arrogant

As I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:1-3).

Asaph was envious of the wicked. Expressed in different words, Asaph had more affection for the gold (God’s material blessings) than he did for God. As I look at God’s commandments in the Law I see great emphasis on loving God, which motivates one to obey His commands. God is more emphatic about loving Him and thus obeying His commands than He is about the material benefits of obedience. Notice how a love for God should motivate our obedience to God, resulting in blessing, while turning from God (to other gods) leads to disobedience and judgment.

13 “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15 “He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16 “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17 “Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you (Deuteronomy 11:13-17, emphasis mine).

I can understand why the psalmist would be perplexed. Didn’t God promise to bless His people for their obedience to His law, and to punish those who disobeyed? We should remember that Asaph had written these words in Psalm 50:

14 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

And pay your vows to the Most High;

15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble;

I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

16 But to the wicked God says, “What right have you to tell of My statutes

And to take My covenant in your mouth?

17 “For you hate discipline,

And you cast My words behind you.

18 “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him,

And you associate with adulterers.

19 “You let your mouth loose in evil

And your tongue frames deceit.

20 “You sit and speak against your brother;

You slander your own mother’s son.

21 “These things you have done and I kept silence;

You thought that I was just like you;

I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.

22 “Now consider this, you who forget God,

Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver.

23 “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me;

And to him who orders his way aright

I shall show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:14-23).

Asaph’s earlier words in Psalm 50 certainly seem to promise salvation and blessings to the righteous, and judgment to the wicked. No wonder that Asaph is perplexed by what he sees. It would appear that God is not playing by the rules or, worse yet, that He is unaware or unconcerned by what is going on. Asaph is troubled to the point of considering giving up on persevering in the face of adversity.

If Asaph’s first confession is that of his envy of the material prosperity of the wicked, his second confession is that he began to think of his faith and obedience as a useless waste of energy:

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure

And washed my hands in innocence;

14 For I have been stricken all day long

And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”

Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children (Psalm 73:13-15).

This kind of thinking tempted Asaph to cast his faith aside and join the wicked in their evil pursuits (and thus to join them in their prosperity).

Part two tomorrow, Don’t throw in the towel.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SIMPLE SIX

February 25, 2017

Image result for free picture of the number 6

Many of God’s commands are framed as positive statements (e.g., “Love your neighbor”). But numerous commands also tell us what we should not do. A prime example is the 6 “do not’s” included in Paul’s instructions for Christian living in Ephesians 4.

 Here are 6 things Christians should not do:

  1. Do not lie (v. 25)—Soon after we begin to talk we learn to practice deceit; lying is one of the first vices of children. But when we become “born again” we must be mature, speak truthfully and renounce the devil, the father of lies.

  2. Do not let anger cause you to sin (vv. 26–27)—Scripture doesn’t forbid anger, but it requires that we put two checks on it. Paul is quoting the Septuagint version of Psalm 4:4 in the first check on anger: Don’t let anger cause you to sin in thought or action. If we do we allow the “devil a foothold.”

 The second check is to not let our anger fester and carry on for long periods of time. Paul’s words about not letting the sun go down while we’re angry is not to be taken too literally (if they were, people in Greenland, where day lasts above a quarter of a year, could be angry for a long time). What he intends is that we should seek a quick resolution to our anger.

  1. Do not steal (v. 28)—While we might not have to be told not to steal—because we don’t engage in overt theft—we might still need to avoid stealing indirectly, as in cheating others in our business dealings.

  2. Do not engage in unwholesome talk (v. 29)—As Christians, we must refuse to allow our speech to be obscene, vulgar or profane.

  3. Do not obstruct the Holy Spirit (v. 30)—The Spirit is grieved when we obstruct his work in helping us to obey God.

  4. Do not hold on to emotions that cause you to be unloving (v. 31)—When we hold on to these emotions they cause us to sin. We should, instead, be “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (v. 32).

You’d think it was simple, yet in these just 6 things how’d your week go with this report card.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com