WILD FIRE

May 23, 2017

James 3:1-12

James has gone from preaching to meddling! He has just made it clear that genuine faith works. If God has changed your heart through the new birth, the saving faith that He granted to you will inevitably show itself in a life of good deeds. But now he moves from the generality of good deeds to the specifics of the words that you speak. Genuine faith yields to Christ’s lordship over your tongue. With David (Ps. 141:3), all true believers will pray, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” While the monster may never be totally tamed, if you know Christ as Savior, you are engaged in the ongoing battle to tame the terrible tongue.

In building his case that all have sinned, the apostle Paul zeroes in on the sins of the tongue (Rom. 3:13-14):

“Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness….”

It would be nice if conversion resulted in a total makeover of the mouth, but it is not so! Although we become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we also carry around with us the old nature or the flesh, which wars against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). The tongue is one of the major battlegrounds in the war. To become godly people, we must wage war daily on this front.

James is a savvy pastor who knows that we won’t gear up for the battle and face our own sins of the tongue unless we recognize the magnitude of the problem. We all tend to justify ourselves by pointing to others who are notoriously bad. In comparison with how they talk, I’m doing okay. But James comes in with vivid illustrations to open our eyes to just how serious our problem is. It’s interesting that he never gives any advice on how to control the tongue. He just leaves you reeling from his portrait of how huge this problem is. He’s saying,

To tame the terrible tongue, we must recognize the tremendous magnitude of the battle that we face.

It’s difficult to outline this section, but we can organize it under four truths that we must recognize to tame our terrible tongues:

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize that we will be held accountable for what we say (3:1-2).

Apparently the churches to which James was writing had too many men who were self-appointed teachers. In the Jewish synagogues, rabbis were highly respected and the office was often one that parents coveted for their sons. It was proper to respect the rabbis because of the sacred Scriptures that they expounded, but it was wrong to give men the honor that God alone deserves. Jesus confronted the Jewish leaders on this account (Matt. 23:6-11):

“They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”

There’s a certain inherent prestige in becoming a teacher. Presumably, you know more than those that you teach, which means that in some way they should look up to you. Because of this, there is the built-in danger that some will take upon themselves the office of Bible teacher for the wrong reasons, or that those who took the position for the right reason later will fall into pride. If a man goes into teaching the Bible because of a secret desire for status or recognition, he is doing it for self and not for the Lord.

Because of the Matthew 23 passage, for many years I was uncomfortable with people addressing me as “Pastor.” Why not call me by my name, like everyone else? While I’ve grown accustomed enough to the title now that I don’t ask everyone to call me by my name, I hope that if they call me Pastor, they are respecting the office. But I’m also quite comfortable with being called Steve! I’m only a member of Christ’s body whom He called to shepherd His flock and teach His Word. Christ is the Leader!

James’ point is that a man should not take on the role of teacher unless God has called him to it, because teachers will incur a stricter judgment. We who teach God’s Word will be more accountable, because our words affect more people. Any time that we teach, we should keep in mind the serious fact that we will stand before the Lord to give an account!

Verse 2 further explains verse 1 (“For”). James includes himself when he says, “For we all stumble in many ways.” We’re all prone to sin! One popular author and Bible teacher emphasizes that we should not view ourselves as sinners, but as saints who occasionally sin. Well, by God’s grace I’m a saint, but I’m a saint who stumbles in many ways, not just occasionally!

James then zeroes in on the tongue, saying, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” Perfect does not mean sinlessly perfect, but rather, mature. We can never achieve sinless perfection in this life, but we can grow to spiritual maturity. One important gauge of that is our speech.

One way to tame the tongue is to recognize that we all will be held accountable for our speech. Jesus said (Matt. 12:36-37), “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus was not teaching justification by works. But, like James, He was teaching that our works reveal whether our faith is genuine faith. Our words either validate that we are true believers or reveal that we do not know God. If we sin with our speech, we need to ask God’s forgiveness and also the forgiveness of the one we sinned against. Genuine believers have this sense of being accountable for their speech.

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize its power for good or for evil (3:3-5a).

James uses two analogies here to make the point that the tongue is small, but mighty: the bit and the rudder. A bit is a relatively small instrument, but when you put it into a horse’s mouth, you can control the entire horse. The same thing is true of a ship’s rudder. It is relatively small compared to the size of the ship, but with his hand on the wheel or tiller, the pilot can steer a mammoth ship, even in a strong wind.

James’ point of comparison is not so much the matter of control (the tongue does not really control the body), but of the inordinate influence of such a small part (3:5a): “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.” James is saying, “Don’t underestimate the power of the tongue, because if you do, you won’t be able to tame it.” There may be a comparison in the sense of influencing direction. If you control your tongue, it can direct your whole life into what is acceptable in God’s sight. If you don’t control your tongue, it will get you into great trouble!

Both the bit and the rudder must overcome contrary forces to direct the horse and the ship. A horse is a powerful animal that can do much useful work, but only if it can be directed. A ship is a useful means of transporting cargo or people, but if the rudder is broken, it will be at the mercy of the wind and waves, and could result in a shipwreck causing the loss of life and cargo. To work properly and accomplish good things, both bit and rudder must be under the control of a strong hand that knows how to use them properly. In the same way, the tongue must overcome the contrary force of the flesh and be under God’s wise control if it is to accomplish anything good.

James would vigorously disagree with the familiar children’s taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” James is steeped in the Old Testament, and it (especially the Book of Proverbs) has much to say about the power of the tongue, either for good or for evil. Proverbs 12:18 states, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Imagine that all of us here today were carrying into church an unsheathed, razor-sharp, two-edged sword. It would be a miracle if we got through the morning without anyone getting cut! The fact is, we all have a razor-sharp, two-edged sword—in our mouths! We should use them with the greatest care to bring healing, not injury.

Proverbs has many other references to the tongue. For example (16:24), “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” If we all would read Proverbs frequently and pay attention to its wisdom, we would be a source of sweetness and healing in our homes and our church!

So James wants us to recognize that we will be held accountable for how we use our tongues, especially those of us who teach God’s Word. He wants us to recognize the inordinate power of the tongue, either for good or for evil, so that we use it carefully.

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize that it is a humanly untamable source of terrible evil (3:5b-8).

James uses two more word pictures for comparison and contrast: a forest fire and tamed animals. Living here in Flagstaff in the midst of the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world, we are very much aware of the potential danger and damage of forest fires. All it takes is one tossed cigarette or one campfire that is not totally extinguished and thousands of acres of beautiful forest can be destroyed. Under control, fire is useful; out of control, it is frightening and devastating!

In verse 6, James states directly, “And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” Scholars debate as to how to translate and punctuate that verse, but however it is done, the point is clear: the tongue is a deadly, powerful source of evil that taints every part of our being. If we do not use our tongues with great caution, we are like spiritual arsonists, lighting careless fires that cause widespread destruction.

James says that the one who is careless with his tongue is the first to be defiled. An unchecked tongue is “the very world of iniquity,” that “defiles the entire body.” This goes back to James 1:26-27, where he said that true religion requires bridling the tongue and keeping oneself unstained by the world. “The sense is simply that since speech is the hardest faculty to control it is there that one first observes ‘the world’ in a person’s heart” (Peter Davids, New International Greek Testament Commentary on James [Eerdmans], p.142). Like a spark that lights a bigger fire, it not only defiles us, but also it “sets on fire the course of our life.” If you have a careless tongue it damages your entire life!

Then James goes one step further and identifies the ultimate source of the problem, “and is set on fire by hell.” Hell translates the Greek gehenna, which is a transliteration of two Hebrew words meaning, “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley, just outside the walls of Jerusalem, was where the Jewish worshipers of Molech burned their children as sacrifices to appease this pagan idol (Jer. 32:35). It later became a place to burn trash. The only other New Testament use is by Jesus (11 times) to refer to the place of eternal torment. James means that an evil tongue is set on fire by Satan himself.

Most Christians would shrink back from sins like homosexuality, molesting children, or murder as being satanically depraved. Yet we tolerate gossip, slander, deceit, half-truths, sarcastic put-downs, and other sins of the tongue as if they were no big deal. James says that all such sins have their origin in the pit of hell. They defile the one committing them. They destroy others. As a believer in Christ, you must confront these sins in yourself and you must be bold enough to confront them in others.

James goes on to use an analogy from the animal world. If you’ve been to Sea World, you’ve seen trained whales, dolphins, and seals. At the circus, you’ve seen trained elephants, lions, and tigers. But James says that there is one beast that cannot be tamed: the human tongue! He adds, “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Being restless means there is never a time when it sleeps. You must always be on guard against it. Being full of deadly poison, you should handle it as cautiously as you would a vial of anthrax.

James does not say that the tongue is untamable. He says that no one can tame it. It is humanly untamable. Only God can tame it. James does not state that because he wants us to get a clear view of the horrible monster that we must do battle with. When the Holy Spirit controls your heart on a daily basis, over time the fruit of the Spirit will appear. These include love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control, which all relate to the control of the tongue. To tame this terrible tongue, you must daily walk in the Spirit, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Ultimately, an evil tongue is the tool of an evil heart. That is James’ final point:

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize that its inconsistencies are rooted in its source (3:9-12).

James points out a gross inconsistency that he no doubt had observed. Christians say, “Praise the Lord” in one breath, and in the next breath they say evil things about another person, made in the likeness of God. They sit in church singing hymns to God and no sooner get out the door than they whisper, “Did you see so-and-so? She makes me sick! She’s such a hypocrite. Why do you know what she did?” Etc., etc. James gets very direct (3:10b): “My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

Then he points out that what often happens among Christians is contrary to all of nature. The same spring does not send out fresh water one minute and bitter water the next. He asks rhetorically (3:12), “Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh.”

His point is the same as that of Jesus (Matt. 12:34), “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Jesus also said (Matt. 15:18), “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” The mouth is simply the opening that vents whatever is in the heart. If there’s raw sewage in the heart, there will be raw sewage gushing from the mouth! That’s why Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Have you ever thought about how terribly embarrassing life would be if there were a direct open line between your thoughts and your mouth, so that you blurted out loud whatever you were thinking? Instead of your polite, “I’m pleased to meet you,” out comes, “I couldn’t care less about meeting you!” After listening to someone drone on about something, instead of, “Yes, that’s very interesting,” you blurt out, “How can I get away from this bore?”

I’m not suggesting that we should abandon politeness and become brutally blunt. I’m only pointing out that even if you control your tongue, you often have a heart problem. If you want to tame the terrible tongue, the place to start is with your heart. Work daily at taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Walk daily under the control of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:18). Renew your mind by memorizing Scripture (Rom. 12:1-2; Ps. 119:11). Memorize James 1:19-20: “This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Memorize Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome [lit., rotten] word proceed from you mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

inside out

May 20, 2017

Before I start this devotion, I want to point out one thing, there is not one unimportant word the bible, every syllable, every sentence, every word holds a blessing never forget that the bible is not literature to be studied, it is the Living Word of God and it is to be consumed.

Genesis 6, starting in verse one; “And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them that the sons of Gods saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all that they chose. And the Lord said, my Spirit shall not always strive with man for that he also is flesh, yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. And there were giants in the earth in those days and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.

“But”,  and I thank God for that little word but, “but, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” This is the first mention of the word grace in all of the Bible, and a marvelous mention, indeed it is. And we’re going to find some sweet truths about the Lord Jesus Christ as we study together.

First of all I want to say that the flood that took place in the days of Noah was an historical fact. As a matter of fact, the archaeologists tell us that all civilizations, everywhere have a record of the flood, they have their flood legends, their flood stories. Now, they do not come exactly as the story in the Bible because these legends have been handed down through the years and of course they’ve been corrupted. They’ve not been guided as the Holy Spirit guided the writers of the scripture, to record the precise story that took place. But, we know that all of these flood legends, all of these stories root to a common source. And someone might say, well, the Bible is just one more of those legends. No, the Bible reveals the truth out of which all of these other legends sprang and from whence they grew. And but not only does archeology tell us that there was a flood. Geology tells us that there was a flood and there is great geological evidence for the catastrophe of the flood. But, I want to tell you, I don’t believe in the flood because of archeology or geology. I believe it because of Christology. Jesus believed in the flood. Jesus said, in Matthew 24: “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the day of the coming of the Son of man.” And the Bible speaks of the time when the flood came in the days of Noah and Jesus utters these words from His own lips in Matthew 24:37 and following. Jesus Christ believed in the flood and Jesus said that the last days were going to be like the days that were before the flood—as it was in the days of Noah.

Now, what were the days of Noah like? Well, all of this is by means of introduction but the days of Noah were days of apostasy and the days of Noah were days of anarchy and the days of Noah were days of apathy. Those were the days of Noah. They were days of apostasy. I read here in the Genesis 6:1-3 how the sons of God took the daughters of men and there was an inter marrying between the sons of God and the daughters of men. Now, theologians, some theologians, say that these sons of God were demon spirits that actually took human wives and their offspring were giants, Nephilim, a mighty men of renown, grotesque, half demon, half human person. Others say that the sons of God were the descendants of the godly line of Seth, who intermarried with the ungodly line of Cain and that there was no longer separation and there was a unholy mixture and I do not have time or space in this devotion to go into that except to say this, that it was a time of apostasy. It was a time of unholy alliances. But not only was it a time of apostasy. It was a time of anarchy. I want you to notice verses four and following. The Bible says, “there were giants in the earth in those days and after, also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they, there bare children unto them, the same became mighty men which were of old men of renown.” But, mighty to do what? Renown in what? Well, look in verse 5, and you’ll see. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.” Why, these were mighty men to do wickedness. They were renown for their sin and for their lasciviousness.

And then it goes on to say that, “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Now, that word imagination is an interesting word. The scholars tell us that it comes from a root, a Hebrew root word which means to shape as a potter would shape things with his hands. That is, there were new philosophies that were being spawned. There were new ideas that were being molded. Actually, men were fashioning, they were molding wicked philosophies. And with these wicked philosophies, they were espousing filthy causes. What they were doing was trying to reshape and remold society. They were trying to get perversion and vice and immorality to become the acceptable norm. To say what was good was bad, and what was bad was good and to get the people of that day to be molded into their mold. And so it was a day of anarchy. And the same sins that produced the flood are reaching to heaven in our day and in our age. For Jesus said, “As it was in the time of Noah, it will be in the end of the age.” But, not only was there apostasy and anarchy, the time of Noah, but there was apathy.

Jesus there in the scripture that we referred to in Matthew 24:37 said, that just before the flood, I mean to the very day that the flood came, they were eating, and drinking, they were marrying, and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came. That is, in spite of the preaching of the prophet Noah, they joist simply yawned in the face of God. Oh, these were days when nothing seemed to shake them. They were just as assured as they could be that tomorrow was going to come just like yesterday had come. Well, after, in the context of these days the Bible says in verse 8, there was a man named Noah, he found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

 Now, the ark is a wonderful object lesson. And there are perhaps hundreds, and even thousands of things that we could say about the ark, but I’ll be content if God the Holy Spirit will help me to put three of them in your heart today. First of all, I want you to see this ark and it’s symbolism. I want you to see how the ark is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to see the symbolism of the ship And then the second thing I want you to see is the salvation through the ship. I want you to see how the ark is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore what Noah did is a wonderful of what we must do if we want to be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the symbolism in the ship, or of the ship, the salvation through the ship and then I want you to see the security in the ship. I want you to see that we are as secure and even more secure in the Lord Jesus Christ than, Noah was in good ship grace.

A very simple outline, there’s some marvelously wonderful truths that we’re going to see together. Now, the ship, the ark if you will, was a magnificent Old Testament type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter tells us that in 1 Peter 3. I’m not reading into this. The apostle Peter himself tells us that Old Testament ark was a prophesy, Peter uses the word type, a type of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And I had a good time just thinking and studying and of how this ark pictures and portrays in the Old Testament here, the Lord Jesus Christ because reminder, all of the Bible is about Jesus, all of it. The Old Testament, the New Testament. Jesus is the hero of the Bible.

Now, lets notice several things about this ark as we’re talking about the symbolism of the ship. Notice, well, lets begin reading here in verse 12 now, “And God looked upon the earth and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them. And behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” Now, lets just stop right there and talk about the substance of the ship—the substance of the ship. It was made of gopher wood. And what is gopher wood? Most scholars and commentaries tell us that gopher wood is cypress. And cypress, you know, is a wood that does not easily rot. Sort of an indestructible wood, and it has become a symbol of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, in the Bible wood is a symbol of humanity. And here I think, if the ark is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ, the very fact that it was made of cypress wood speaks of the indestructible humanity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You know, a righteous man is spoken of as a tree planted by the rivers of water and the Lord Jesus Christ himself is prophesied in Isaiah 53 as a root out of a dry ground and another place He is prophesied as a rod, a stem out of the stump of Jesse and so forth. All of these are figures of the Lord Jesus Christ who was God’s mighty tree who though was cut down in His prime, cut down in His youth. ‘And so, we see something of the Lord Jesus Christ right here in the substance of the ark but not only the substance the ark, I want you to notice the safety of the ark. Look again in verse 14, the last part. And the Bible says, “And thou shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” Now, what is pitch? That’s just sticky tar. And God said to Noah, now Noah, when you make this boat, not only do I want you to make it out of cypress, very durable wood that can take the water, but I want you just to go on the outside of it, I just want you to cover it all over on the outside with pitch. Then, I want you to go on the inside. And all over on the inside, I want you to put pitch. And of course, that was there to caulk the seams, to keep the water from coming in because you don’t want the ship to leak.

Certainly not a ship that has such a precious cargo. But now, the interesting thing, about this word pitch. It’s the Hebrew word kaphar, is that it is translated over seventy times in the Bible and other places atonement, atonement. Now, this is very important. What God said to Noah is, Noah, I want you to put atonement on the outside of the ark and atonement on the inside of the ark. It’s a wonderful, beautiful prophesy of the blood atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now, just keep your bookmark there in Genesis 6 and turn with me to Leviticus 17 and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. Leviticus 17:11. Here our Lord is speaking of the blood atonement. And he says in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” That’s the reason the Bible says without shedding of blood is no remission of sin. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood. And I have given it to you upon the alter to make an atonement for your souls.” Now, that’s exactly the same word that we just found over here in verse 14 that is rendered pitch. And I could just as well read it. I have given it to you upon the altar to make a pitch for your souls. For it is the blood that maketh an atonement or a pitch for the soul.

 The word atonement and pitch both mean covering, covering. It’s the blood that covers our sins. Oh, thank God, this is what He’s talking about. It is a covering, a seal, you see, what did the flood represent? What did the waters of that flood represent? God’s judgment. God was judging the world. And what was this atonement, therefore, to keep the waters of judgment out, you see. Oh, thank God, Noah was safe inside because not one of judgment could come through God’s atonement. I believe that’s what He’s talking about here, right here in the very first part of the, of this bookThank God for the atonement. Thank God for the covering. Thank God that not one drop of water, not one drop of judgment can come to anyone who is in the Lord Jesus Christ, the judgment cannot penetrate. But, not only do I want you to see the substance of the ship and not only do I want you to see the safety of the ship, but, I want you to see the size of the ship. Continue to read here, in verse 14, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood rooms shalt thou make in the ark,” just underscore that rooms shalt thou make and then verse 15, “And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the eight of it thirty cubits.” Now, folks, it was a large ship—three million cubit feet of space inside the good ship grace. Rooms shalt thou make in it. What is the lesson here? It was amply sufficient for all that it was intended to do. Now, what I’m trying to say here, is this dear friend, that the size, the immensity of this great ship is just God’s way of saying to you today, I believe, there’s room at the cross for you. There is room. There is plenty of room for those who will come. If you want the Lord Jesus Christ today, I say come and take because out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth and giveth and giveth again. Thank God for the size of the ship. Let’s go on and notice the shape of the ship, in verse 15. And He goes on to say or let me repeat, “And this is the fashion which thou shalt make of it. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits. The breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it, thirty cubits.” Now, notice not only the cubit volume, but the length, the height, and the breadth. Now this was not built like an ocean liner. The pictures that you see in the children’s storybook of boat with a prow that it comes to a point, that’s not what it was at all. It was built like a box. Built like a box. As a matter of fact, it was shaped like a coffin. That was the shape of the ship. It was shaped as a coffin.

The ancient people use to make their coffins out of cypress wood and I believe that it is suggestive of a coffin, because you see, when, if the ark represents the Lord Jesus Christ, He was born to die and not only that, when we receive Him as our personal Savior and Lord, we die with Him. We’re crucified with Christ. We are buried with Christ. This ark is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But, we die with Him, that we might live with Him. Jesus didn’t come to give us death, He came to give us life, and life abundant full and free. John 10:10 tells us. But, not only do I want you to notice the shape of it, I want you to notice the structure of it. Look in verse 16. “A window shalt thou make in the ark,” and “in a cubit shalt thou finish it and the door of the ark shalt thou set on the side thereof with lower second and third stories shalt thou make it.” That was the structure of it. And in the first place, I want to talk about the door and the window. God was to control the door. Noah was to control the window. It was God, as we’re going to see who shut the door. They entered into the door, which again is illustrative of the Lord Jesus Christ who said I am the door, by me, if any man enter in, he’ll be saved, and that again pictures the Lord Jesus Christ but there was a window. And Noah could look out of the window but the window was on top and when Noah looked out he looked up. You see, God closed Noah in and God shut Noah in that Noah might look up to God. He was closed in to look up. He wasn’t to have his eyes on all of the death and the degradation and the putrefication that was going on. He had a view of heaven.

 The Bible says that we are set our affection on things above, not on things of the earth. But, you see, if that ark pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, it was in the ark and through the ark and by the ark that he knew the Lord. You see, that he worship the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” I want to tell you the Lord Jesus is God’s window to heaven. I want to tell you it is through the Lord Jesus that you can worship, that you can praise, that you can look up to Him and set your affection on things above. Oh, how God’s people today aboard the good ship grace ought to be heavenly minded. But not only the structure, and incidentally, there were three stories—one, two, three stories in the ark. I believe that speaks to me of the body, soul, and spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. It speaks to me of the triune God—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Well, there’s the structure of the ark and then there was the sustenance on the ark. If you will look here in chapter 6, and let’s look in verse 21: “And thou shalt take unto thee all food that is eaten.” Notice, that all food that is eaten. Not just the just the black eyed peas but the strawberries. “And thou shalt gather it to thee and it shall be for food for thee and for them.” Oh, the sustenance of the ark. You see, not only did Noah find shelter, he found sustenance. For Jesus not only saves, bless God, He satisfies

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

KNOW FEAR

May 18, 2017

Know Fear

Yes, there has been much bad teaching about the Holy Spirit and yes the Charismatic/Pentecostal churches have probably done more harm than good. But one thing they did right was allowing genuine emotion to be a part of Christian Life. There is nothing worse than religion devoid of passion.

In my sober judgment the relation of the Spirit to the believer is the most vital question the church faces today.

Satan has opposed the doctrine of the Spirit-filled life about as bitterly as any other doctrine there is. He has confused it, opposed it, surrounded it with false notions and fears. He has blocked every effort of the Church of Christ to receive from the Father her divine and blood-bought patrimony. The Church has tragically neglected this great liberating truth—that there is now for the child of God a full and wonderful and completely satisfying anointing with the Holy Ghost.

The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people. There is nothing about the Holy Spirit queer or strange or eerie.

Unless you are convinced that it isn’t an added, unusual, extra, deluxe something that you have to go to God and beg and beat your fists on the chair to get, I recommend that you don’t do anything about it yet except to meditate upon the Scriptures bearing on this truth. You don’t have to persuade God at all. Dr. Simpson used to say, “Being filled with the Spirit is as easy as breathing; you can simply breathe out and breathe in.”

Before you can be filled with the Spirit you must desire to be filled. Are you sure that you want to be possessed by a Spirit other than your own? That Spirit, if He ever possesses you, will be the Lord of your Life! Do you want to hand the keys of your soul over to the Holy Spirit?

Again, are you sure that you need to be filled? Can’t you get along the way you are? But maybe you feel in your heart that you just can’t go on as you are. If you feel that there are levels of spirituality, mystic deeps and heights of spiritual communion, purity and power that you have never known, that there is fruit which you know you should bear and do not, victory which you know you should have and have not—I would say, “Come on,” because God has something for you.

Here is how to receive. First, present your body to Him (Rom. 12:1–2). God can’t fill what He can’t have. Now I ask you: Are you ready to present your body with all of its functions and all that it contains—your mind, your personality, your spirit, your love, your ambitions, your all? The second thing is to ask (Luke 11:9–11), and I set aside all theological objections to this text. He chooses to have us ask; so why not ask? Acts 5:32 tells us the third thing. God gives His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him. Simply live by the Scriptures as you understand them. Simple, but revolutionary. The next thing is, have faith. (Gal. 3:2) We receive Him by faith as we receive the Lord in salvation by faith. He comes as a gift of God to us in power. First He comes in some degree and measure when we are converted, otherwise we couldn’t be converted. But I am talking about something different now, an advance over that. I am talking about His coming and possessing the full body and mind and life and heart, taking the whole personality over, gently but directly and bluntly, making it His, so that we may become a habitation of God through the Spirit.

When the Spirit presents Christ to our inner vision it has an exhilarating effect on the soul much as wine has on the body. The Spirit-filled man may literally dwell in a state of spiritual fervor amounting to a mild and pure inebriation. God dwells in a state of perpetual enthusiasm. He pursues His labors always in a fulness of holy zeal.

The Holy Spirit came to carry the evidence of Christianity from the books of apologetics into the human heart. The Spirit of the living God brought an evidence that needed no logic; it went straight to the soul like a flash of silver light.

One blessed treasure we have missed is the right to possess the gifts of the Spirit as set forth in such fulness and clarity in the New Testament.

In their attitude toward the gifts of the Spirit Christians over the last few years have tended to divide themselves into three groups: those who magnify the gifts of the Spirit until they can see little else—those who deny that the gifts of the Spirit are intended for the Church in this period of her history—those who appear to be thoroughly bored with the whole thing and do not care to discuss it.

More recently we have become aware of another group—those who want to know the truth about the Spirit’s gifts and to experience whatever God has for them within the context of sound New Testament faith.

It is usually said that there are nine gifts of the Spirit. (I suppose because Paul lists nine in 1 Cor. 12.) Actually Paul mentions no less than seventeen (1 Cor. 12:4–11, 27–31; Rom. 12:3–8; Eph. 4:7–11). And these are not natural talents merely, but gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit to fit the believer for his place in the body of Christ. They are spiritual gifts.

For a generation certain evangelical teachers have told us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased at the death of the apostles or at the completion of the New Testament. This, of course, is a doctrine without a syllable of Biblical authority back of it. The result of this erroneous teaching is that spiritually gifted persons are ominously few among us. This frightening hour calls aloud for men with the gift of prophetic insight. Instead we have men who conduct surveys, polls and panel discussions. We need men with the gift of knowledge. In their place we have men with scholarship—nothing more. Thus, we may be preparing ourselves for the tragic hour when God may set us aside as so-called evangelicals and raise up another movement to keep New Testament Christianity alive in the earth.

The truth of the matter is that the Scriptures plainly imply the imperative of possessing the gifts of the Spirit. But I must also add a word of caution. The various spiritual gifts are not equally valuable, as Paul so carefully explains. Certain brethren have magnified one gift out of seventeen out of all proportion. Among these brethren there have been and are many godly souls, but the general moral results of this teaching have nevertheless not been good. In practice it has resulted in much shameless exhibitionism, a tendency to depend upon experiences instead of upon Christ and often a lack of ability to distinguish the works of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit. Those who deny that the gifts are for us today and those who insist upon making a hobby of one gift are both wrong, and we are all suffering the consequences of their error.

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration. Gifts and power for service the Spirit surely desires to impart, but holiness and spiritual worship come first.

One obstacle to the reception of power is a widespread fear of our emotions wherever they touch the religious life. Feeling and faith are opposed to each other in modern teaching. This anti-emotionalism is nevertheless an unwarranted inference, not a Scriptural doctrine. Where in the Bible are feeling and faith said to be at odds? The fact is that faith engenders feeling as certainly as life engenders motion. Faith as a cold, unemotional light is wholly unknown in the Scriptures. The Book of Acts is almost hilarious with joy.

Another hindrance is fear of fanaticism. Instinctive revulsion from fleshly excesses and foolish undisciplined conduct on the part of some who profess lofty spiritual attainments has closed the door to a life of power for many of God’s true children. They have made the mistake of putting all teaching concerning the Holy Spirit in the same category. Such victims must be taught that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, and is as gracious and beautiful as the Saviour Himself. The Holy Spirit is the cure for fanaticism, not the cause of it.

The doctrine of the Spirit as it relates to the believer has over the last half-century been shrouded in a mist such as lies upon a mountain in stormy weather. A world of confusion has surrounded this truth. This confusion has not come by accident. An enemy has done this. Satan knows that Spiritless evangelicalism is as deadly as Modernism or heresy, and he has done everything in his power to prevent us from enjoying our true Christian heritage.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

DO THE HARD PART

May 16, 2017

There are no secrets and there is no easy path.

Do the work, get the reward, that’s the only answer.

When we read or hear the words of Scripture, do we “pay the most careful attention” (Heb 2:1)? How often have you noticed that by the end of the week, you’ve forgotten the Bible reading you did only a few days earlier?

 Too often we attempt to build a framework for scriptural knowledge without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. To lay that groundwork check out this simple four-step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind:

  1. Choose a book of the Bible.

  2. Read it in its entirety.

  3. Repeat step #2, 20 times.

  4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

  The benefits of following this process will become obvious. By fully immersing yourself in the text, you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book, as well as your knowledge of the Bible as a whole.

 This method is adapted from the book How to Master the English Bible by James M. Gray, so we’ll let him explain the benefits in his own words:

  The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman . . . One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” . . . He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again. I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.”

  Here are three suggestions for putting this reading plan into practice:

  1. Choose shorter books—Because you’ll be reading an entire book of the Bible and not just a chapter or two, you’ll want to choose books you feel are manageable. You might want to start with a short book that has only a few chapters that can be read several times in one sitting. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help develop the reading habit. For example, a short book like John or Jude can be read four or five times in one sitting, allowing you to finish the entire 20 readings in less than a week. And then you always have the option to work your way up to more extensive readings.

  2. Read at your normal pace—Treating the material reverently does not require reading at a slower than normal speed. Read for comprehension, ignoring the division of chapters and verses and considering each book as one coherent unit.

  3. Stick with the process—After the eighth or ninth reading you’ll hit a wall similar to what runners face in marathons. The text will become dry and lose its flavor. You’ll want to move on to the next book or abandon the program altogether. Stick with it. Persevere and you’ll discover the treasures that repeated readings can provide.

  Keep in mind that not every book will be equally rewarding. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you if during one of your readings you find 2 John a bit redundant or Jude just plain boring. The Bible tells us “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (2Ti 3:16–17). Keep reading, and you’ll fully understand the truth of those verses.

The good news, it’s get easier and more exciting and more rewarding.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

never a miss

April 6, 2017

Image result for picture of a guy bowling all the pins

Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).

  Prayer to God must come from God. There can be no prayer in the full assurance of faith apart from the known will of God in the matter. “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will” (Acts 22:14).

I do not think that a petition that misses the mind of God will ever be answered (1 John 5:14). Personally, I feel the need of trusting Him to lead me in prayer as well as in other matters. I find it well to preface prayer not only by meditation but by the definite request that I may be directed into the channels of prayer to which the Holy Spirit is beckoning me (Rom. 8:26, 27).

When we once have the deep, calm assurance of His will in the matter, we put in our claim, just as a child before his father. A simple request and nothing more. No crying, no beseeching, no wrestling. No second asking, either.

The Lord may see it needful, for the trial (development) of faith, to seem for a season not to regard our supplications; yet, if we patiently and believingly continue to wait upon Him, it will be manifest in His own time, and way, that we did not call upon Him in vain.

  “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him” (Ps. 62:5).

Remember Quinton, he’s 2 years old and literally allergic to almost everything, his parents are frantic.

Pray for Quinton’s dad who is having hernia surgery and his wife Ann is freaking out.

Remember Joe r, and his shoulder

Steve L, and a peaceful spirit, and for his mom, 88 years old and is having lots of hurdles.

 

God Mind

March 27, 2017

Image result for picture of wise man

It has been said, “Any idiot can be complicated; but it takes genius to be simple.”Indeed, the most effective oral and written communicators are those who take profound truths and make them simple. This has bearing on every area of our lives. When we communicate with others either individually or corporately, we must be clear and simple. The well-known acronym K.I.S.S. (“Keep It Simple Stupid”) applies here.

Although the apostle Paul is a deep thinker, he always strives to bring his great learning down to common folks like you and me. However, the passage that we will be looking at has endured a most unfortunate history of application in the church. Almost every form of spiritual elitism, “deeper life movement,” and “second blessing” doctrine has appealed to this text; however, each of these is nearly 180 degrees the opposite of Paul’s intent. Unfortunately, this trend continues today. By appealing to “the deep things of God” and “secret wisdom” all kinds of false doctrines are being perpetuated and widely accepted. Therefore, we must be on the alert against this passage and others like it being abused. Our goal must be to understand why Paul has written this section of 1 Corinthians and how it applies to our lives.

The book of 1 Corinthians expresses Paul’s heart for a disunified church to become unified (1:10). Thus far, Paul has humbled everyone including himself. He has said to the Corinthians, “Your message is foolish (1:18-25), you yourselves are foolish (1:26-31), and I am foolish (2:1-5).” Outside of that everyone and everything is just fine. Now in 2:6-16, Paul states that the only way the Corinthians and you and I can live a wise life is by having the right perspective and power. He will argue that without the light of God’s Spirit, we’ll be in the dark. Paul begins by addressing the right perspective in 2:6-9.

  1. True wisdom is cross-centered (2:6-9). In order to be truly wise and to consistently exercise a wise perspective, we must have a proper view of wisdom. Throughout this overarching section (1:18-2:5), Paul has declared that wisdom is found in “the word of the cross.” Thus, in 2:6-9, Paul can write, “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, ‘THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.’” If you are a Bible student it is worth underlining the word “wisdom.” The word “wisdom” (sophia) is repeated five times in the first three verses. The apostles (“we”) speak the message of the cross to those who are “mature.” The “mature” are those believers who recognize and embrace God’s wisdom in the cross. Since Paul does not divulge who among them is “mature,” the readers must decide for themselves whether they qualify or not. This same principle applies to us today. Are you a mature Christian? If so, how have you arrived at that conclusion? Paul argues that we are only mature if we have the right perspective on the cross. Is the cross your solution to church conflict? Is it the means of unity? Then you are mature. Is the cross your solution to your marriage and family difficulties? Is it the means of reconciliation? Then you are mature. Is the cross your solution to work conflict? Is it the means of getting along with your boss and coworkers? Then you are mature. We never move on from the cross of Christ—only into a more profound understanding of the cross.

Although in the next chapter (3:1-4) Paul will discuss those who are immature and fleshly in their Christian walk, his expectation is that all Christians will live according to the right perspective. We cannot make excuses for ourselves and assume that maturity belongs to the spiritually elite. God’s heart for you is that you press on to a cross-centered life. Will you refuse to settle for stale Christianity?

In these four verses, Paul will tell us three aspects of God’s wisdom:

The wisdom of God is eternal (2:6). The wisdom that Paul declares is “not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away.” It is not like the wisdom that may come from Oprah, Dr. Phil, or influential political officials. The wisdom they utter is here today and gone tomorrow. However, God’s wisdom is eternal. Isaiah the prophet said it best, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa 40:8). Since God’s wisdom revealed through His Word is eternal, how can we not invest in it?

The wisdom of God is beneficial (2:7). Paul informs us that God’s wisdom is a “mystery.” The word “mystery” refers to truth that God had not revealed previously. The message of the cross is a further unfolding of God’s plan and purpose beyond what He had revealed and what people had known previously. Paul makes this clear when he writes that the cross is “the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory.” This stresses the plan and sovereignty of God. It also demonstrates that God has our good in mind—our glorification.

The wisdom of God is supernatural (2:8-9). The Jewish and Roman rulers responsible for Jesus’ death did not understand the purpose and significance of the cross, so they crucified “the Lord of glory.” The phrase “Lord of glory” implies the divine fullness. It also ties in with the saints’ glory (2:7). It is through union with Him that we will experience glory. Paul explains that the reason these authorities crucified Christ was because they lacked the supernatural wisdom of the Spirit. Paul then cites Isa 64:4. This passage is not about heaven, although it’s often used at funerals. It is clear in the context of Isaiah 64 that it means life, here and now. God wants to reveal these things to us. He has done so out of love. Trusting Him for understanding and cultivating this love relationship with Him means that we will grow in greater and greater understanding of wisdom. Yet, without the light of God’s Spirit, we’ll be in the dark.

[Paul has just said that the right perspective is to recognize that true wisdom is cross-centered. He goes on to share with us the right power in 2:10-16.]

  1. True wisdom is Spirit-directed (2:10-16). Paul will state that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals deep things to Christians. Therefore, if we want to grow to maturity in Christ we must rely upon the Holy Spirit’s power. In 2:10-11 Paul writes, “For to us [the apostles and mature Christians] God revealed them [deep thoughts] through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” The wonderful mysteries God has prepared for those who love Him are not knowable only by a select group of Christians. Any and every believer can understand and appreciate them because the indwelling Holy Spirit can enlighten us. However, without the light of God’s Spirit, we’ll be in the dark.

Paul informs us that the Holy Spirit searches the very depths of the heart and mind of God. He can do this because He is God—the third member of the Trinity. Paul’s point is that the Holy Spirit functions within the Trinity the way our human spirit functions within us. Our spirit is the innermost part of our being. It’s where our deepest, most private thoughts reside. To put it another way, no one knows you better than you! The reason is that you live with you. I don’t care how well your spouse knows you or how long you have been married, no one knows you like you do. No one knows your private thoughts and those deep internals struggles you keep hidden. Because we have a spirit, we are usually our own best interpreter. That’s why when two people get into an argument, one of them will often say, “Don’t try to tell me what I mean. I know what I am saying!”

Therefore, if you really want to know someone perfectly you would have to tune into his or her spirit. The Holy Spirit is tuned in to the deepest thoughts of God. He has access to the innermost workings of the Godhead. So just as no one knows the deepest thoughts of a person better than his own spirit, no one knows the deepest thoughts of God better than the Holy Spirit.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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

 

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