THE CROSS

January 15, 2018

The Cross of Jesus Christ exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha’s hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.

Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?) And the more open I am in confessing my sins to fellow-Christians, the more I enjoy the healing of the Lord in response to their grace -filled counsel and prayers.  Experiencing richer levels of Christ’s love in companionship with such saints, I give thanks for the gospel’s role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows.

Scriptures used for the above conclusions, (our action plan, to read and know the scripture, to practice and believe and apply them to our thinking).

 Golgotha was the place where Jesus was crucified. John 19.” … and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. (18) There they crucified Him . . . . ” James 5:16. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. . . . .” Ephesians 3. “( 14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, . . . (17) . . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend Ephesians 1:4. “. . . He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (NKJV)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise report from Olivia, her health has been really good now for over a year, she’s gone from bedridden most days for weeks at a time to healthy productive, happy and married. God bless

 

Crushed

December 15, 2017

Isaiah 53:5

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

Chuck Swindoll brought up an interesting viewpoint today. “THE GOD WHO CRUSHES”. If He would do this to His own Son, what would he do to us?

So he quoted part of this anonymous poem, here it is for you to ponder.

When God Wants To Drill A Man

When God wants to drill a man,

And thrill a man,

And skill a man

When God wants to mold a man

To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart

To create so great and bold a man

That all the world shall be amazed,

Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects

Whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him,

And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which

Only God understands;

While his tortured heart is crying

And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks

When his good He undertakes;

How He uses whom He chooses,

And which every purpose fuses him;

By every act induces him

To try His splendor out-

God knows what He’s about.

Hopefully this helps or changes your viewpoint about our trials and hardships.

His goal is to have us like his Son.

See where I’m going with this?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Connie, her 4th miscarriage. She is devastated, so many emotions right now, keep her in prayer.

Pray for Ron K, Ron was in the porn business back in the 70’s, he accepted Jesus as his Savior yesterday. He’s in an accountability group, keep him in prayer, he is moving to a men’s camp for three months of discipleship and to stay away from the LA crowd.

NOTE: in our Pure Life Ministries we’ve seen dozens of folks associated in the porn business come to know the Lord. Some have gone on to have great marriages, others have stayed celibate, but if we can get them move away from the industry they make great strides in their growth.

HIJACKED

December 4, 2017

HI-JACKED

Susan Smith drowned her two toddlers by strapping them in their car seats and aiming her driver-less car into a lake. Political cartoonist John Deering drew a cartoon showing her car being hauled out of the lake, complete with a South Carolina license plate, a Baby-on-Board sign in the back window, and a Pro-Choice sticker on the rear bumper. There was no caption; there didn’t need to be. His point was clear: If it is wrong for a mother to choose to kill her toddlers, why is it not wrong to kill them a few months before?

A Planned Parenthood newsletter earlier this year ran an article titled, “Help Stop the Violence and Defend the Right to Choose.” The violence referred to was not killing babies, but killing abortion doctors. I’m against killing abortion doctors, but I’m also against Planned Parenthood which kills babies! Pro-choice means the choice to kill children who just aren’t as old as other children. The right to choose to kill your children should not be legal because it is not moral. Let’s drop the rhetoric.

The latest Planned Parenthood brochure says they are a good choice when it’s not convenient for you. Don’t wreck your plans your life call us when it’s inconvenient.

I want to recommend that you listen to Pastor Steven Davies, at Wisdom for the Heart ministries. And today’s sermon. 12/03/2017

He reads a speech by the president of Planned Parenthood, declaring that the services they provide are holy, sacred, and divine. That they are providing a sacred gift.

Ok, right now your blood pressure should have shot up, your fists curled and maybe a little cussing. Really, we can’t talk about our faith at work if you are a Christian, but an abortion clinic is holy, sacred and divine.

Dr. Walter Martin, the excellent author of the book “kingdom of the Cults.” Writes a great thesis in the beginning of his book, “we must agree what words mean.”

It started with Bill Clinton defining what sex meant, and now the language of God, of the Judeo-Christian world is being hijacked by abortionists. Do you want to know why? It because they are defying God, they are reprobates, their minds are darkened and they blaspheme God. It’s not politics it’s about the tower of Babel. What men think in their mind and imagination they will carry out against the wishes of their Creator.

Friends we need to pray for our country like never before and stop these ungodly people and their agenda.

if you have had an abortion, God loves you and forgives you.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I’M WITH STUPID

November 23, 2017

Image result for A PICTURE OF A BIRDHOUSE

A “do it yourself” catalog firm received the following letter from one of its customers: “I built a birdhouse according to your stupid plans, and not only is it much too big, it keeps blowing out of the tree. Signed, Unhappy.”

The firm replied: “Dear Unhappy, We’re sorry about the mix-up. We accidentally sent you a sailboat blueprint. But if you think you are unhappy, you should read the letter from the guy who came in last in the yacht club regatta.”

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a “customer” he would clean up on him so the other flies would not get suspicious. Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web. Old man spider called out, “Come in and sit.” But the fairly intelligent fly said, “No, sir. I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!” But presently he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. So he came in for a landing. Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, “Don’t land there, stupid! That’s flypaper!” But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, “Don’t be silly. Those flies are dancing. There’s a big crowd there. Everybody’s doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong!” Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot. Some of us want to be with the crowd to badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue?

Charles Swindoll

The one good thing about growing older is you make less stupid mistakes (hopefully).

I have a parishioner that doesn’t have dementia, but she loves saying outlandish things, making funny faces and sometimes being rather childish, if anybody says anything she just says; “dementia.” When I asked her why she said she had a very strict childhood and a dominating husband and this was her chance to break the mold.

Or the guy I met that passes anyone he meets with a card that has some weird made up medical term and an explanation that he will probably offend you, it’s a kind of Tourette’s syndrome, and at the bottom of the card it says ‘turnover’ and the other sides says; “I’m really just an a$$hole.

We all know people like this and yes you can train yourself to be stupid.

Self-destructive behavior is stupidity run amok, and as the comedian says; “you can’t fix stupid.”

And the bible agrees, the fool, the unteachable, the rebellious, the reprobate, all possibly bound for hell because they won’t stop being what they are.

So look at the things you do in your life and are any of them stupid. Then ask your self why you are doing such things. And just like AA, stop, get help.

Now I have to say there’s one caveat to this little rant, know the difference between stupid and careless. The latter can be fixed, and it really is a poor excuse that only makes you look…..(you got it) stupid.

So clean up your act, stop making excuses, stop saying it’s an addiction, just stop, you can, you’ve done it before. Is it hard, yes being obedient is always harder to do than being careless.

But ask yourself, right at this moment did God lead you to read this giant stop sign. It might be your last chance, you may want to think about.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

TOUCHED

November 20, 2017

THE NEED FOR TOUCH

I’m always amazed by how unloved people in the church feel. In one church we mentioned in the bulletin that on Thursdays you could come to my office from 9am to 9pm and just be hugged. There would be two other people in the room, usually my wife and I.

I was amazed at how many people “snuck” in for a hug and a prayer. Now I’m a big hugger, you gonna know you were hugged. No sissy, barely held you, nope you’re gonna get the works. What amazed is how many people just wept when embraced.

The other comment was “thank you for hugging me like a real man.” That puzzled me at first, but I always ask, “what do you mean?”

The most common answer was from married women who said how their husbands barely touched them any more and if they did they felt like they were being hugged by their sister not their husband.

Well the church all on its own started a hugging revolution. All the services had everyone hugging, before during and after. And then it spread outside of church. How did I know that? People started coming to our church to be hugged. We actually roped off two front pews with a sign that said “need hugs.”

Those two pews began to fill up with the threshold crowd, mentally ill, homeless, broken, and they sat there with a childlike presence waiting for someone to reach out and hug them. We actually had some parolees with warrants and one escaped mental patient call and said they would turn themselves in at the church if they could get a hug first. The police were shocked, but they cooperated, and I’ve lost count of the people that came in to be arrested if they were hugged first. And never a problem.

I try to stop by my son’s business at least once a week, we always hug and he kisses me on the cheek and we say “we love you.” Clients there will ask if we will hug them as well. And then so many ask or say about how loving every one there is. Or that they haven’t seen an adult son and father hug and kiss in forever.

When I leave my son and daughter in law will shout out again; “we love you Pop.” And the whole place goes silent waiting for my heart felt and loud, “we love you too.”

Friends, it might take you a while to get used to invading someone’s space but start hugging. And spouses start hugging.

People are surprised but filled with joy over a hug.

I have a big Aryan ex-con friend, all tatted up and everything pierced, he never wears a shirt just his biker vest. This guy is a muscled bound steroid abuser (ex) we meet every other month at a nice restaurant. He always gets there first so he can sit in their real fancy bar. And when I come in the door he rushes at me like he’s going to kill me. (a few people actually screamed a few times) but we give these huge bear killer hugs and he picks me up off the floor and always says. “I love you man.”

People need the Lord, and everybody needs touched. That was the hallmark of Jesus’s ministry he touched the unwanted. We need to touch everyone.

So spread the love.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

real world

October 28, 2017

1 Peter 1:1-9

1 Peter 1:1-9King James Version (KJV)

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

The way to overcome the world is never to fight worldliness. If you fight worldliness, you are bound to fail. The Bible never tells us to fight worldliness. The Bible says, “This is the victory, even our faith,” not our fight, but our faith. We fight the devil, but we do not fight the world. We flee from fornication, but we cannot flee from the world. The victory that overcomes the world is our faith. Now, people have to understand what they have in the Lord Jesus Christ, and if they don’t understand what they have in the Lord Jesus Christ, they have a hunger that they will try to fill with the world.

the Bible says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Now, it doesn’t say that he doesn’t love the Father because he loves the world, but it says if he loves the world, it is because the love of the Father is not in him. The love of the world is only the indication that you don’t know and love God; that your faith has not brought you into a vital relationship with the Lord. The victory that overcomes the world is your faith to understand what you have in the Lord Jesus

it always come down to a choice, choose at that moment of temptation, I can fulfill the lust of the flesh (sex, porn, masturbation, a larger piece of cake, looking to long at the checkout girl etc.) or exercise faith, remember your fight is in your mind, ‘capture all thoughts’ profess your death and resurrection, pray at that moment for the way of escape, like doing the laundry, rinse repeat, don’t sin.

 See the love of the Father. You have to see what you have in the Lord Jesus Christ. And, friend, when you understand what you have in the Lord Jesus Christ, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. When you’ve been feasting on Jesus, then you don’t have to hunger after the things of this world. And that’s the key, are you feasting on the things of heaven, listening to gospel music, reading wholesome books, one good thing about you tube I can watch all the old sermons of great preachers. (none were ever on Trinity Broadcasting Network). I like a real bible in my hands, but if it’s the electronic version you have and you will use it, then do so. One reason I like a real bible is that way I stay off ipads, and computers and anything else that would help me step off in the wrong direction.

The Bible teaches that the reason that people love the world is the love of the Father is not in them. They have never found satisfaction in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you really had a salvation experience? Did everyone assume you are saved because you’re the pastor’s kid, or you grew up in church. Do you know really know that Jesus is your savior? Does your life say you are?

Think about which you love most.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Karen and her husband, they had a huge argument and walk into his study pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. HE IS STILL A LIVE AND ALREADY BACK HOME.  They’re coming in for counseling. Really, you waited until this to get marriage counseling. Who knows, he said while he was in the hospital; “pastor, I’ve never given my heart to Jesus, is it to late?”

Talk about a second chance.

potato chips

September 15, 2017

MOST REQUESTED DEVOTIONAL FOR REPOSTING, WHICH WE ONLY DO ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR.

SO BECAUSE YOU ASK, WE RESPOND, BLESSINGS AND PEACE

SO WHO’S WITH ME, YOU WANT TO GROW UP AND BE A POTATO CHIP.

BETTER LET ME EXPLAIN, LAYS POTATO CHIPS THEY HAVE ONE THAT’S LABELED, ‘LIGHTLY SALTED; IN A WEIRD WAY IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT THAT EXPLAINS THE FOUR GOSPELS AND THE BOOK OF ACTS (NOT COMPLETELY BUT ALMOST).

GOD IS LIGHT, HIS SON IS LIGHT, AND WE ARE CALLED TO BE LIGHT. IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN IT SAYS THAT DARKNESS (EVIL, THE DEVIL) CANNOT OVERCOME THE LIGHT OR EVEN UNDERSTAND IT. THAT’S HOW POWERFUL LIGHT IS.

SO WE ARE CALLED TO LIGHT.

WE ARE ALSO CALLED TO BE SALT

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 5:13 SAYS WE ARE TO BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH. WE ARE TO BRING FLAVOR AND BE A PRESERVATIVE TO THE WORLD. BUT IF THE SALT LOSES ITS FLAVOR IT IS NO GOOD; AND THERE IS THE PROBLEM.

FOUR THINGS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO DO AS CHRISTIANS.ONE, BE LIGHT, TWO BE SALT, THREE BE CHRIST LIKE, AND FOUR BE MATURE.

WE CAN’T LEAVE ONE PART OUT, WE ARE TO SHINE IN DARKNESS AND LET THE WORLD KNOW A RESURRECTED CHRIST; WE ARE TO HAVE AN INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD THAT ACTUALLY STOPS OR RETARDS THE PEOPLE AND THEIR SINS (CONVICTION AND THAT GOD LOVES THEM). BE CHRIST LIKE IN ALL WE DO SO THE LIGHT SHINES FROM US. AND GROW UP SO WE CAN GROW OUT.

SO HERE’S MY PROPOSITION, SPEAKING JUST ABOUT AMERICA, WE HAVE PRETTY MUCH FAILED IN EVANGELISM, WITNESSING AND SPREADING THE HOPE OF GOD. SO EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN OUR COUNTRY IS PRETTY MUCH THE CHURCHES FAULT AND OF COURSE THE SINFULNESS OF MAN.

ONE WE HAVE NO CONTROL OVER, THE OTHER WE DO. DON’T BLAME THE GOVERNMENT, OR POLITICIANS, THE QUESTION WE HAVE TO ASK IS ‘HAVE OUR LIGHTS GONE OUT AND IS THE SALT GONE FROM OUR LIVES.

HOW MANY FAMOUS TV AND BOOK PASTORS ARE SAYING THE BIBLE ISN’T HISTORICALLY RELEVANT, IT HAS NO PLACE IN THE PLACE OF MODERN MAN. HOW ABOUT ALL THE CHURCHES THAT HAVE ONE GOAL ON SUNDAY, TO MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY AND GOOD ABOUT YOUR SELF (BIG NEWS FLASH, GOD DOESN’T ACTUALLY CARE IF YOUR HAPPY).

THERE IS A WELL KNOWN PASTOR NEAR HERE THAT TOLD ME HE HASN’T PREACHED A MESSAGE ABOUT SIN IN OVER 15 YEARS AND WOULDN’T BECAUSE HE THINKS THAT MESSAGE WOULD DRIVE THE CROWDS AWAY.

ASK YOUR SELF ‘WHY DO I GO TO CHURCH?’ HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU’VE WITNESSED TO SOMEONE, OR TRIED TO HOLD A BROTHER OR SISTER ACCOUNTABLE FOR SOMETHING THEY ARE HAVING A PROBLEM WITH.

BE BIG

BE BOLD

BE BRAVE

SO TODAY WILL YOU RENEW YOUR VOW TO BE A POTATO CHIP, VOTE YES.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com for questions, comments or prayer requests.

 

TINA THE EXOTIC DANCER

August 26, 2017

TINA THE EXOTIC DANCER

NO WAIT THAT’S REALLY THE TITLE

So there’s Mark, nice guy, shy, quiet and a young Christian. He meets this girl online, she cute, perky and funny. They start dating, she has more experience than he, they start having sex, it’s his first time, bang (pardon the pun) and he’s in love and proposes. She realizes he’s a nice guy, good job and he thinks he’s in love.

She starts coming to church knows the Christian lingo, he thinks she’s a Christian. Tell them marriage counseling is mandatory, bang they elope. Come back and his excuse for not following through “love can’t wait”.

Bang, six months into the marriage Mark comes in he’s shattered, she wants to go out dancing, have some drinks, seems a lot of guys at this club know her; he’s ashamed, for the first time ever he drinks, dances, gets a little drunk, and bang, she wants to bring home another guy to ‘spice things up’.

Bang, he wants a divorce, but hey in a Pentecostal church that’s like practicing birth control in a catholic church (sorry old school). Now he’s really ashamed that he’s gotten into this situation, she moves out, he’s heart broken and hears from a ‘friend’ at work his wife is already sleeping with someone else.

He comes in for counseling and here’s where we get controversial. (now thanks to google you can look this up, I did and I have to say there are some people that are twisting what I am about to talk about right out into outer space, so filter this through your theology and pray about this, don’t take this principle to far, and don’t over apply it to some sort of spiritual warfare and setting blockades against satan, because this isn’t about that.)

The prophet Hosea is told to marry a prostitute and she runs away and here is what God says he will do.

Hosea 2:6-7

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.

“Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her naked body.
10 So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands.

I told this story to Mark, and told him that if what he was saying was true and he really wanted her back to pray this prayer; a prayer of hedges around his wife and wait for God to do something; nothing less nothing more, just pray and wait.

The real principle here is believing God can do something, the second principle is to not feel powerless and try to do something in your own strength, the third is if God did this for Hosea cannot he not do it for you.

So we prayed that she would be unseen to other lovers, she would get no benefits from other lovers, no one would take care of her, and that as verse 7 says she will go back to her husband.

So what did Tina do, she went back to stripping (exotic dancing if you are more sensitive) and guess what, she was hired right back by her old boss because she used to be a great ‘producer’ (read cash cow, ouch that seems rather insensitive).

Six weeks later she’s fired, reason given by her boss, and I quote; “Tina, it’s like you are invisible, no one tips you, no one asks for lap dances (you are blessed if all this is foreign to you) it’s like you don’t even exist.

Ok no binding dominions, no commanding spirits or satan to let go just believing God can do his thing.

She comes back to Mark begs forgiveness and asks him to take her back. I caution him (because sometimes after being a prison chaplain I can really be cynical and I confess a skeptic, not always but sometimes).

Mark believes its God’s will to honor his vow he takes Tina back, it’s a bit bumpy at first but a year later she truly gives her heart to the Lord and is baptized (full immersion, still old school).

Guess what, they are still married and she’s expecting their first child.

Like an old time radio show, will it work out, will she truly stay ‘saved’. Stay tuned, and wait.

So also being a hopeless romantic and having some measure of faith I think it will.

And don’t believe that old saw about 50% of marriages failing, it’s the same 10 people getting divorced all the time.

God Bless

Stay in touch at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

PS, it’s five years later, they are still married, still coming to church and she’s a Sunday school teacher and he’s the principle at a Christian school. So for skeptics and cynics like me, it’s good to remember that God never changes but he can change us. No matter what.

It’s why we called this devotional site, scumlikeuschurch, because, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

STILL QUACKERS

August 2, 2017

Do you remember the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20? A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for their day’s wages, so they went to work. Mid-morning, he went out again and hired others and agreed to give them whatever was right. He did the same thing at noon and at mid-afternoon. Then, an hour before sundown, he found others and sent them into his vineyard.

When it was time to pay the laborers, those who came an hour before dark received a denarius. When those who had been working all day came, they expected to get more, since they had put in a long day’s work. But they also got a denarius. They grumbled about how unfair it was, but the landowner said, “I gave you what we agreed on, so take what is yours and go. But am I not free to be generous to these last men with what is my own?” That’s how God’s grace works. It is not dispensed according to merit. He gives it freely to whom He chooses. As Paul says (Rom. 9:16), “It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

The point that Paul drives home from Romans 1:18-3:20 is that we all are under sin. The pagans who do not know God are obviously under sin. But so are the religious folks (the Jews), who think that they are better than the pagans. All deserve God’s judgment and so all desperately need His grace (unmerited favor). The good news of the gospel is that God freely justifies and pardons every sinner who does not work, but believes in Jesus as the propitiation for his sins.

So in our text, Paul is reinforcing that point from David’s Psalm 32. The emphasis is on the blessing of God’s gracious forgiveness. (He uses “blessing” or “blessed” in 4:6, 7, 8, and 9.)

  1. The greatest blessing of all is to have God forgive all your sins.

To appreciate the blessing of forgiveness …

  1. WE MUST FEEL THE HEAVY BURDEN OF OUR GUILT.

A cartoon pictured a psychologist saying to a patient, “Mr. Figby, I think I can explain your feelings of guilt. You’re guilty!”

Ever since the fall, sinners have instinctively responded to their guilt by blaming others. When God confronted Adam, he blamed his wife and he even implicated God for giving him his wife (Gen. 3:12): “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” In effect, he was saying, “It’s her fault or Your fault, but don’t blame me!”

But blaming others doesn’t alleviate the guilt. True, if a person keeps denying his sin and blaming others for it, eventually he may develop a seared conscience (1 Tim. 4:2), where he feels no guilt, even for horrific sins. I read that the Cambodian dictator, Pol Pot, felt no twinge of guilt for murdering over a million of his countrymen! But even if the sinner’s conscience is seared, it doesn’t remove the reality that he will answer to God for his many sins.

So a guilty conscience is a good thing. It’s like the pain sensors in our body, which alert us to a problem. A person with leprosy can’t feel pain, and so he can burn his finger off without knowing it. If we suppress our guilt, it often leads to other emotional, physical, and relational problems. But guilt should get our attention by shouting, “You’re not right with God!” David suppressed his guilt over his sin with Bathsheba for about a year until the prophet Nathan cornered him with a story and then directly said, “You are the man!” You’re guilty!

Puritan Robert Bolton, who at first resisted the gospel, but later came to Christ after deep conviction of his sins, wrote (Instructions for a Right Comforting Afflicted Consciences, cited by Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], p. 128):

A man must feel himself in misery, before he will go about to find a remedy; be sick before he will seek a physician; be in prison before he will seek for a pardon. A sinner … must be cast down, confounded, condemned, a cast away, and lost in himself, before he will look about for a Saviour.

  1. C. Ryle (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], on John 4:7-26, pp. 204-205) put it,

Never does a soul value the Gospel medicine until it feels its disease. Never does a man see any beauty in Christ as a Saviour, until he discovers that he is himself a lost and ruined sinner.

Or, as C. H. Spurgeon put it when describing his own painful five years of conviction of sin before his conversion (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography [Banner of Truth], 1:54):

Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Savior. He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.

So for God’s blessing of forgiving all your sins to be the supreme blessing, you must feel to some extent the heavy burden of your guilt before Him.

We need to understand that when God forgives all our sins, it does not mean that He removes all temporal consequences for our sins. God forgave David, but He ordained some rather severe consequences on David and his family for the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:10-15). Sometimes God graciously softens the consequences, but at other times He uses them to teach us to hate our sin The fact that we experience difficult trials does not mean that God has not forgiven us. In fact, it is one evidence that He has forgiven us (Heb. 12:8-10).

Guilt over your sins can cause you to keep your distance from others and to try to hide from God. If you are not in Christ, you have legitimate cause to fear His judgment. But God offers every sinner the supreme blessing: He will forgive all of your sins and credit the very righteousness of Christ to your account if you will cease from your own works and trust in what Christ did for you on the cross. Trust in Christ and you don’t have to “remember the duck.” The guilt will be gone and you will know the supreme blessing of having all of your lawless deeds forgiven.

Questions, comments, prayer requests to the email address, please.

We seek forgiveness, His forgiveness.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

WHAT IF I CAN’T CONTROL MY CELIBACY?

 

The main reason Paul gives is that being celibate is a gift from God, and while he wishes that everyone had that gift, he recognizes that this is not so (7:7-9). You ask, “How can I know if I have the gift of being celibate?” There are three tests you can apply:

(1) Can you control sexual desires? Paul is quite practical and human at this point: “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn” (7:9). If you are single and find that fighting sexual temptation is a daily, constant battle, then you need to pursue marriage. Paul is not saying that it is impossible for a single person to resist temptation because he later says that in every temptation, God provides the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Every Christian can be pure in thought and deed. But if all your energy is directed toward fighting the battle of purity every day, the best solution is not more self-discipline, but a spouse. Of course you still need self-control even as a married person. But God has given marriage as a legitimate safeguard against immorality (7:2).

(2) Are you constantly lonely in spite of close relationships with the Lord and with other believers? I am going back to Genesis for this point, where we find Adam in a perfect environment, in unbroken fellowship with his Creator, and yet God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). To be lonely when you’re single is not necessarily a sign of a spiritual problem. If as a single you can reasonably control your loneliness through Christian fellowship, then you may be able to remain single.

(3) To what ministry has God called you? As mentioned already, if God is calling you to a place where it’s unsafe or unwise to take a family, then you should remain single. I’ve read the biographies of C. T. Studd and other missionary greats, who left their families to take the gospel to difficult places. As I recall, Studd and his wife, who was too ill to go to Africa, were together only a couple of weeks during her last 11 years. David Livingstone left his wife and children for years in order to pioneer in the interior of Africa. While God accomplished much good through these dedicated men, their families suffered great harm. I believe their witness was marred by neglecting their families.

Let me make it plain: If you do marry, it should not be for the purpose of self-centered fulfillment and personal happiness. While marriage and children are good gifts of God that bring great joy, you should marry because you can better serve Christ in line with your spiritual gifts as a married person. The idea of getting married and settling down in suburbia with your nice home, two cars, good job, weekend recreational hobbies, and, of course, a church for the weekends when you’re in town, is completely worldly. All Christians are to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. If you seek first your own happiness, you will come up empty (Matt. 6:33; 16:25).

  1. If you’re not gifted for celibacy, pray and look for a godly mate.

Paul’s words in verse 9 often frustrates a lot of folks. He makes it sound so simple and matter of fact: “Let them marry.” Okay, so how do I go about doing that? There’s a lot of living packed into those three words! I don’t have specific chapter and verse for everything I’m about to say, but along with the apostle Paul, I give my opinion as one who, by the mercy of the Lord, is trustworthy (7:25; of course, Paul was inspired in saying this; I’m not!). Five suggestions:

  1. FOCUS ON PERSONAL GROWTH IN GODLINESS.

You can use your time as a single person to sit around feeling depressed and lonely. You can waste a lot of time in a frantic search for a companion, where you fill all your spare time with being around people. Or, you can use it to seek the Lord in His Word and in prayer. If you use your time to read and study God’s Word, to read good Christian books, to pray, and to serve the Lord in some capacity, when God introduces you to your life partner, you will be mature enough for the responsibilities of Christian marriage. If you want a godly mate, you’ve got to become the kind of person the kind of person you want to marry would want to marry, namely, a godly person!

Burn it into your thinking: It is never God’s will for a Christian to become unequally yoked with a non-Christian in marriage (7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). For some reason, it is usually Christian women who get tangled up with nice (they’re always nice!) unbelieving men, rather than the other way around. I don’t care how nice he is to you, if he is not committed to Jesus Christ and if he is not denying self daily to follow Christ, then he’s living for self. You’re going to be miserable married to such a person. Your children will suffer. Your devotion to Christ will be hindered. Don’t do it! There is no such thing as Missionary Dating. PERIOD.

  1. GUARD YOUR MORAL PURITY.

As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality.” Your body belongs to God, whose Spirit dwells in you. Therefore, you are to glorify God in your body (6:19-20). Paul says that even if a man gets involved with a harlot, he becomes one flesh with her (6:16). This is more than merely a physical union. Physical intimacy, even in a so-called “one night stand,” creates the illusion of personal intimacy. But it clouds and confuses the real issues that need to be the foundation of a Christian marriage. It creates guilt. It carries the risk of venereal disease. It defiles you and your brother or sister in Christ. As Paul states (7:1-5), the sexual relationship is proper for marriage, but only in marriage.

If you’re going to guard your moral purity in our sex-saturated society, you’ve got to plan for it. If you visit the Grand Canyon and don’t want to fall over the edge, don’t go near the cliff. If you want to guard your moral purity, plan not to get yourself into tempting situations. As Garrison Keillor has the pastor in Lake Wobegon say in his talk on sexual purity, “If you didn’t want to go to Minneapolis, why did you get on the train?”

I would encourage you to challenge the American dating system. If you just go along with the system, you’re flirting with danger. The dating system is designed to foster romance and to see how far you can go physically. As Christians, you should be concerned about getting to know the person in the context of moral purity. If I may speak man to man, even if you don’t intend to go all the way, any scheming, men, on how you can get a date into a romantic setting to see if you can “make out,” is sin. Your purpose should be to build up your sister in Christ and to get to know her, not to indulge your lust. Plan for purity! (you may think I’m kidding but every “date” your child goes on is a supervised date, by you the parents.)

  1. STUDY AND DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER QUALITIES.

If you’re going to shop for a new car, you’d probably do some research. And yet many Christian singles never give any thought to what qualities they should be looking for in a godly mate! I’ve seen girls end up married to abusive men because their role models were movie stars or athletes, not men of God. If a man doesn’t show you respect, gentleness, self-sacrificing love, and other godly traits, don’t marry him. You’re not going to transform him! Men, burn Proverbs 31:30 into your thinking: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Know what you’re looking for (based upon Scripture) and pray fervently to that end! (if their apartment looks like a rat lives there run.)

  1. BE WISE, BUT NOT SUPER-SPIRITUAL.

By this I mean, God expects you to pray and wait on Him, but He also expects you to use appropriate means for finding a mate. Sometimes we get super-spiritual, thinking that God is going to rain down manna from heaven, when He expects us to plow our field and sow some seeds! (don’t read the wrong idea into that statement) There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself in situations where you may meet a godly mate. That can include involvement with campus ministry groups, attending conferences for Christian singles, getting a job at a seminary or other Christian organization, etc.

Also, even though godly character should take precedence, there’s nothing unspiritual about being physically attracted to someone. Read the Song of Solomon and you will discover that the couple isn’t extolling the finer points of each other’s personalities! In its proper place, there’s nothing wrong with physical attraction.

Also, don’t be so super-spiritual that you overlook liking the person. You’re looking for a companion, and a lot of companionship involves enjoying the person’s personality. You should have some common interests and be able to enjoy just being together without having to do things. You should be able to accept the person as he or she is, without major remodeling. Also, seek the counsel of those who know you well, especially your parents. Any strong opposition from parents should be weighed very carefully.

Seriously, visit the parents on the first date, see how that marriage is working, what you see is what you get, literally.

  1. Marriage is not the final solution to your problems; God is!

Marriage is a gracious, good gift from God. As Proverbs 31:10-12 exclaims, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Amen!

But at the same time, if God is not at the center of your life and your mate’s life, marriage creates more problems than it solves. Without the Lord at the center, marriage just brings together two self-centered people seeking self-fulfillment from one another. It doesn’t work. Put God at the center of your life. Pray that He will bring you a mate with the same commitment. Then joyfully serve Him together.

I’ve been married 44 years this year, and my wife and I often talk about the “luck” we had finding each other. One reason we “got lucky” was we did not violate God’s law regarding purity, not before and not after we met. I met her folks on the first date, she met mine on the second. We “courted” not dated. Plus our parents told us the plan before we started relations and seeking a mate.

To those that feel like they’ve blown it and are second rate goods and should take what they can get. STOP. Get good pastoral counseling and work on you image in God’s eye.

Regarding counseling, don’t believe the lie that a person is a Christian counselor just because they say so. Look at their training, if it mainly secular like a Masters in social working, run. They’re just niche’ marketing. Find a pastor who has trained to counsel according to the bible.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com