I recently had an interesting Twitter interaction. When I made a comment on someone’s Twitter feed I knew I was setting myself up for this sort of reply. I’ve decided that when I interact with someone in a format as this I will speak to them as if they were sitting in front of me. I’ve not always interacting with people this way, and I say that to my shame. It seems civil discourse has mostly become uncivil discourse.
The one thing that struck me about the interaction was this man seemed to operate under some sort of rules of engagement. He didn’t like what I was saying, but he was never nasty about it. He was critical of my worldview, he blasphemed God, but he wasn’t as ugly as some people I’ve encountered in the social network world. Now let me first say I’m not pinning a merit badge on this man, because as I just said he’s a blasphemer of God, and will be held accountable for every idle word he speaks, even though he doesn’t believe that (Matthew 12:36).
Let’s start where it all began.
2 Kings 2:23-25 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up from the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD, and two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. Then he went from there to Mount Caramel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
This is an interesting passage, and one that my friend used to show me that God is unrighteous. It’s a desire that most people have to justify themselves, and say “I won’t worship that God”. What happens is that mankind sets himself up as his own god so he can make his own rules. This man has a sense of right and wrong, there’s no doubt about that, but he decides what’s right and what’s wrong.
If we don’t have an ultimate source of truth, we have complete chaos. Like we see in government, the rules are always changing; the bar is ever shifting to the left or to the right. We all do this don’t we? We all have our view of what is right and wrong and when it doesn’t match up with God’s view we will justify our position, adjust it a little bit to suit our own needs.
So what about these bears mauling these “innocent” youths? What about God destroying all of mankind in a worldwide flood, or God allowing Satan to kill all 10 of Job’s children, what about Ananias and Saphira struck down dead because they lied to God? Is there unrighteousness with God? Some certainly believe that is the case.
Humans are so morally corrupt and our thinking is insidious (Jeremiah 17:9) because we have no concept of the righteousness of God. He is the creator, and He is the maker, and without Him you don’t even have life, but yet in our arrogant pride we shake our fist at Him and curse Him to His name. I was once told by a man that he would fight with God if he stood before Him in judgment. How many people think they will fight with God or explain how “good” they’ve been? I wonder if for a trial run this man would jump into a lion’s cage at the zoo, and fight against the lion first. That might give him some indication how he will stand against God.
Man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18) and because he does this it opens him up even more to all kinds of justifiable depravity. He will do anything and everything he can to say why the Bible is flawed and then they want you to chase them down a rat hole trying to explain why it’s not.
They put God on the judgment seat and say “prove to me why I should worship this God!” God has spoken to Believers through His word, and He sent His Son to live the perfect life we couldn’t live so some would be saved. He died a brutal death, bore the wrath of God so God’s wrath would be satisfied, this wrath that He is perfectly just in pouring out on anyone at anytime of His choosing. This is a hard truth to swallow.
Psalm 4:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
So what do we do with verses like 2 Kings 2:23-25?
We should fall to our faces and fear the One True Living and Holy God. We should desire to seek out and understand at a much deeper level why God does what He does. If we don’t understand things do we somehow think that makes God unjust? Maybe we are the ones to blame, not God? Maybe it’s our lack of knowledge that causes us to perish (Hosea 4:6).
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fool here is not someone that wears a goofy hat and dances around, he’s a fool in his heart because he denies God (Psalm 14:1) and makes himself his own god, and the most loving thing I can tell him is that he needs to repent and turn from his sin and live.
When our fear of a God that can take our life and send our soul to hell (Matthew 10:28) turns to a fear of awe and wonder of who He is, then we can be saved. If you don’t understand what it means to fear God then I encourage you to examine your life. See if you are indeed in the faith.
God’s word will slice you open to see the nastiness of yourself before Him. Like a leper dressed in a beautiful outfit, it doesn’t take long for the puss to ooze through the fine silk, and become stained and vile. Without Christ this is how you appear to the perfect God who made you.
My friend seems to have some understanding or at least some reading of God’s word, and I hope he’ll begin reading it with a desire to know the truth, not just his truth, but God’s truth. The gospel is the power to salvation (Romans 1:16) and there is salvation in no other name but Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). We have an empty tomb and a risen Lord that proves it (1 Corinthians 15:1-19).
Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
Trying to defend the bible is as useless as trying to defend a lion – you turn him loose and let him defend himself – Charles Spurgeon
Do you ever struggle to decide what to wear on a daily basis? I certainly do. I’m not the type of guy that spends a lot of time on my wardrobe, just ask my wife. In fact I’m the type of guy that doesn’t give up on a garment just because it has a little wear and tear. When I find something comfortable I stick with it.
What are the occasions you get dressed up for? Most people in this day and age get dressed up for very little, but there are certainly times when we desire to look our best. Funerals seem to be a time when most men will put on a jacket and tie.
When I was a little kid my parents would dress me up in one of those little Lord Fauntleroy suits for church, okay I’m embarrassed even writing about that. How about the person that dies at that funeral, they certainly dress them in their best attire don’t they? I wonder why? They’ve already stepped into eternity and they are now standing before the Lord of all creation.
How will they appear to Him?
Joshua is one of the greatest men of the Old Testament. He was a man of great faith. He’s a man that saw Jesus Christ and believed Him. The name Joshua is the 24th most popular boys name over the last 100 years according to the Social Security Administration. There must be something about this guy that was special right?
God must see him in a special way.
Joshua 5:13-15 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as the Commander of the army of the LORD, I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua is an experienced warrior and a man chosen by God to lead Israel. He is in many ways a man of privilege having been given this tremendous responsibility, and he meets Jesus Christ, and receives direct instruction from Him. This is mind blowing for me, certainly this man is righteous?
So what’s the point? What does this have to do with our clothing?
Zechariah 3:1-3 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan. “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
Joshua the man of privilege, chosen by God to do His work, the man of great faith was standing before God and was clothed in filthy garments. Can we grasp the gravity of this? What I need to consider, and what I desire you to consider, is how can anyone stand before the Lord and be clean? For us average folks, that don’t lead armies and conquer cities, that don’t have books of the Bible named after us, where’s our hope?
Since God is Holy, mustn’t we be clean to stand before Him? Don’t we have to be “good” to enter heaven?
Zechariah 3:4-5 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.
Today I implore you that your Sunday best clothing will not suffice as you stand before the Lord. There is not a suit or a beautiful dress you can wear that will make a difference. Your best acts, your most righteous deeds before God and man are nothing but filthy garments. (Isaiah 64:6) You are incapable of cleaning yourself up enough to be presentable before God. Joshua, Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and even Abraham were not clean by the perfect standard of God’s righteousness.
How do we stand a chance?
The Apostle Paul speaking about Abraham says this: Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Our dilemma is that what we choose to wear can never be good enough. Our righteousness, as seen by God, is without hope. We will perish in our own goodness.
But Christ is the solution to our problem. To be ‘justified’ in the sight of God He must see the garments given us by the work of Christ on the cross. Nothing else will do. To receive this free gift means we must repent, turn from our sin, and embrace Jesus Christ as the Lord of our life. Not just by saying something about Jesus, or claiming intellectual knowledge about God. Not belonging to a church, but sincerely recognizing a need for Christ to cleanse us and to take away our sin. Without Him all hope is lost.
If you don’t recognize your deepest need for Him you are trusting in yourself, you are in a sense clothing yourself in your best clothes expecting He will find you acceptable.
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Here is the answer to the problem. Let’s dump our Sunday best and clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ. He is the solution to the great problem mankind faces.
My dear friends and readers. I want to seek your forgiveness for a mistake on my part in this post. I inadvertently confused Joshua the High Priest with Joshua the son of Nun (Joshua 1:2), who took Moses’ place as leader of the Israelites.
As my friend James pointed out in the comments it doesn’t modify the main point of the article, which is “We NEED Jesus” to clothe us in righteousness however, it was sloppy exegesis on my part. It is extremely important to me that I properly explain and interpret scripture to bring glory and honor to God (2 Timothy 2:15).
Thank you for reading Uncommon Faith and I’m grateful that the Body of Christ can strengthen and encourage one another.
Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
I spent today away from my family in Cincinnati, OH. It’s not a bad place to be, but I would certainly rather be home. I miss Jen, I miss the kids and I miss my church family, as I think about them all gathering together today.
As I’ve heard said many times, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and I believe that.
The Lord has blessed me with more joy and thankfulness than I could ever imagine. I’m most thankful for the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He bore the wrath of God so I could be declared righteous in His sight.
What a gift and what a reason to give thanks and worship Him on this Thanksgiving Day.
I enjoyed a wonderful time with some friends today. They welcomed me into their home and showed me much love and generosity.
I greatly appreciated my friend Rob’s comment as I left, “I look forward to spending eternity with you”.
What a great thing to consider, that all Believers will spend eternity with one another, enjoying fellowship with the saints and worshiping Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:8-10 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
As a Believer and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ how am I to understand this verse? If you, like me, have ever discussed or had a confrontation with someone about their eternal destiny there is a pretty decent chance they’ve used this verse in retaliation. “Don’t judge me… only ‘god’ can judge…” is what they will say.
Now what? It seems that they’ve got you just where they want you. “Oh okay, I guess that’s the end of this discussion, right?”
Of course not, because to rightly divide the word of truth we must have an answer to this sort of a common retort. Scripture in the hands of those that want to twist and manipulate is a dangerous thing. Satan used scripture when he was tempting the Lord in the wilderness and as we consider the Lord Jesus Christ’s response we can see the way in which we must handle these very common uses of or misuses of the word of God.
Jesus was tempted by Satan three different times while in the wilderness and he used scripture to make his case. In each instance Jesus countered Satan’s use of scripture with scripture.
So why would we use any other approach than to imitate Christ?
So what did Jesus mean when He said Judge not, are Believers to judge?
The first thing we need to consider is that nobody has the ability to judge unto sentencing. In other words I have no authority or power to condemn someone. Only God has that ability but the sinfulness of man should be judged and for someone to say they don’t judge would be hypocritical. We all make judgments constantly throughout the day.
What most people are saying in these situations is they don’t appreciate any accountability to their sinful lifestyle and they certainly don’t want to hear what the Bible says about it.
Let’s look at what Jesus goes on to say. Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
To understand this in its context is the key to understanding what Jesus meant. Jesus is not condemning making judgments, He’s condemning hypocrisy. If I attempt to call someone to repentance for their sin, I had better not be entangled in that same sin myself. How can I call someone on their sin of adultery if I’m engaged in the same thing myself? I can’t without being a hypocrite.
But what if I’m not an adulterer; can I then tell someone they are breaking God’s law? Jesus certainly said I should.
Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sin against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone, If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it even to the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
So why should Believers judge? This keeps purity in the church.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!
How did Paul know this? Somebody judged this to be a sinful action and reported it to Paul correct?
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
So for the purity and sanctification of the Church of Christ, which He purchased with His own blood, we must judge those in the church.
1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
So now I know you are thinking, “Okay I’m not to judge those outside?” Well, again we can’t judge them unto condemnation, but we must warn them that the sin they are engaged in will lead them to hell if they don’t repent and turn from their sin.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
How can we truly care for people’s souls if we don’t tell them these things? This is not judging them but loving them. We risk being persecuted, reviled, despised and falsely accused of being judgmental so they can see their separation from a Holy God. Can we do this in a loving and gentle way rather than a harsh and finger wagging fashion? Of course and we must, but if you don’t warn them, if you don’t proclaim the remedy to their problem how will they ever know?
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Be gentle today and tell someone Christ died so they could be free from their bondage to sin.
Twist not scripture lest you be like Satan – Paul Washer
What an odd title to a blog post right? I’ve been struggling this week on a topic to write about so I went outside for a few minutes to take a look at a drafty window we have on the northwest corner of our house. I thought I might cover it with a piece of plastic to cut down on the air flow, and as I was contemplating this, I asked God for wisdom in declaring His truth.
This has been an odd week for me, usually I get up pretty early on Monday morning, head to Starbucks, read my Bible, and then write my article. The article is sent to my Pastor so he can ensure I’ve not made any huge theological blunders. I take seriously the charge to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 3:15) and that I’ll be held accountable for what is being taught (James 3:1). Then I’ll sit on it for most of Monday, review on Tuesday and make any refinements and then post it Tuesday sometime.
This week I caught a bad cold and I couldn’t drag myself out of bed Monday so I kept procrastinating and then again Tuesday… So now here I am Tuesday evening and finally sitting down to write and I can’t think of a thing to say. For those of you that know me I’m sure you’re wondering how that happened.
I’ve been a homeowner for approximately 22 years; well actually I’ve been buying a house from the bank for 22 years, but that’s a whole other article, and the thought occurred to me that there is a lot of maintenance to being a homeowner. Down through the years, we’ve replaced the roof, the hot water heater, had our basement flooded a few times, it’s a never ending job to keep things up.
As I gave up on my window project as quickly as I thought about it I realized how similar it is to what Scripture calls me to mortify my flesh, not to entertain sin in my life in anyway. It’s a never ending process. It’s like watching a gerbil on a treadmill; we run and run but seemingly never get anywhere. However, as with home maintenance and mortification of sin we must see some obvious signs of accomplishment or we must really examine our claim to Christianity.
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
If you gaze back on your Christian life do you see obvious signs of “accomplishment”? I use this word accomplishment lightly because it’s God that works in us and the progress is not our own yet we must fully participate in the process. Have you gained ground on your sin or do you continue to struggle with the same old stuff.
If my house is crumbling around me it would appear I’ve not been very diligent in keeping up with my investment. So clearly we can see the parallel can’t we? If I was to ask you how is your relationship with Christ I’d be every bit as interested in how is your relationship to your sin? Are you closer to it or further from it? Do you see your sin in a different light than what you once saw it?
Jesus Christ was the greatest preacher the world has ever known and one thing that made Him so good, beside the fact He is God, was His use of common everyday things in life that illustrated deep theological issues. He called these parables and in my “parable” I hope you’ll consider today if you are working at killing the desires of your flesh, i.e. keeping up the maintenance, or are those nagging sin issues still dragging you down.
Without the grace of God there is no peace and when sin stands between you and God there is no grace.
So today let’s put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh. Whatever sin issues you are currently dealing with you need to repent of that sin and then put it off completely. If you are a Believer you are entitled to enter the throne room and set it at the foot of the One that freely gives to those who humble themselves, but you must not count that grace as a common thing (Hebrews 10:26).
If you are a Believer that sin was nailed to the cross of Christ. So why would you continue in it? Let’s really think about that today.
Also wanted to announce our new radio show “Ask a Pastor”
Many people will say they want their child to be happy, or they want them to be successful in life or a number of different variables of this sort.
Then the other worldview is parents that desire their children to be saved. Perhaps these things are not mutually exclusive. As a Believer I want my child to experience happiness, but I would rather them experience joy. I want my child to be successful but what does success really mean? Does that mean financially or some other manners of what looks like worldly achievement?
Even in the world of Christianity most parents have a very strong desire for this type of thinking. They want their kids to get good grades so they can go to a good college and get a good job. But where does this lead them?
Does a good job provide lots of money to spend on things you “need”? I say that sarcastically.
In Kevin Swanson’s study of Proverbs He says “Over the last one hundred years in this country as well as in Europe, North America, and Asia the birth rate fell by half, while the average square footage of homes doubled in size. Evidently, the modern world has come to appreciate drywall more than children!”
I’ve been there, I understand that thinking.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your hose and on your gates.
These words which I command you today… For me this is strikingly clear. God has spoken and I must consider this a directive from the LORD. Not a maybe, or if you feel like it, but a clear and concise call to parent with all diligence my children.
It’s pretty easy to go through the rest of this and come to the conclusion that God is telling us is that our children are to spend the majority of their time under our supervision. I didn’t notice any exemptions, like you don’t need to worry about them when they are at their friend’s house, or when they go to public school. Doesn’t Proverbs 13:20 warn us about who they should spend their time with?
I realize there is going to be pushback when I make this declaration. Our worldview is challenged by this statement. My worldview was challenged by this statement.
God gives us direction for our own good doesn’t He?
Deuteronomy 6:11-14 …–when you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage… 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you…
We are a people on the earth that are full and we live in beautiful houses. How easy it is to chase after the gods of this world. We have been indoctrinated to believe that our children’s education must be left to the professionals, when God says “No”; I want you to do that.
Is home-education better by a worldly standard? Actually it is, How American Homeschoolers measure up, but this should not be the primary reason. My goal is training my children first and foremost in the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Teaching them to Fear the Lord and understand His goodness and righteousness in hope that He will grant them repentance.
I must also do this in light of the gospel. If I don’t train their hearts to understand the gospel I will only train little Pharisees. Proper education includes a healthy dose of their separation from a Holy God and also the remedy that He came to seek and save them and they must turn from their sin in faith and repentance.
This is the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ did the work. He paid the price to reconcile sinful man to a Holy God. Is Home-education a better option for your child? I believe it is but not for the reason most people think it is. It’s better because we have an opportunity to teach them diligently all day long without the destructive influences of a socialist institution that despises God.
May the Lord grant mercy as He shows us His design for education.
This past week I traveled with my oldest daughter Grace on a business trip to San Francisco. This provided many opportunities for her to understand the world on a much broader sense than she typically experiences. I’m very thankful for this, as home educators we are often accused of wanting to protect and keep our kids in a bubble. I certainly want to protect them, but I think allowing them not to see the sinfulness of the world would be a mistake and one of the biggest advantages to home-schooling is the opportunity for our kids to travel.
Certainly San Francisco provides many favorable circumstances to see man’s sinfulness on full display. The sheer number of people is overwhelming for one. When you spend time in a bigger city it challenges the mind with the incredible amount of activity; the noises, the traffic, the chaos and cacophony of different things swirling around you.
I had several things in mind as we prepared for our trip and one of them was to allow Grace to help us navigate the airports. I remember the first time I flew on my own and how intimidating an airport can be. We discussed lots of different ideas during this trip and having a focus on being attentive to her surroundings and getting a feel for human behavior were also key ideas that I wanted to help her understand.
Can she identify what different types of people she will encounter and are they a serious threat or not. As we spent the majority of our time in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, this is bustling with activity, mostly tourists, but lots of people that make their living there in various different ways, including the lifestyle of living on the street. What an eye-opening experience as Grace saw how sin leads to a life of rebellion and lack of a desire to belong in the norm of culture. It’s a sub-culture all its own and I’m convinced many of them want it that way. But let’s not think they are any worse or we are any better. Without Christ we are all the worst of sinners and held captive to our own desires.
We experienced men digging through and eating from garbage cans, and a man urinating in public in the broad daylight tucked behind a small building. These are some of the raw things we will not forget. The other wonderful memories we formed together were seeing God’s beautiful creation. The Bay Area is stunning in its natural beauty and as we looked over the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from a high perch above its incredible to think how God spoke and it was so.
Deuteronomy 6 tells me as I father I’m to teach Grace and my other children diligently the law of God as we live life together. There is not to be a time when we put God on the backburner and focus on more important things. He is the focus. He is the one that I need to constantly be showing and reminding my children that we are here to bring Him glory. Just as the gigantic redwoods glorify and show His wisdom, we must also give glory to the Creator.
My most satisfying moment on our trip came Saturday evening as we went to dinner. We entered a restaurant that I’ve frequented often and two people from the event staff were already seated. They invited us to join them and we had a nice conversation about various subjects. As the food arrived I announced I’d like to pray and ask the Lord’s blessing on this meal.
This prayer opened a door for us to discuss the purpose of home-schooling from a Christian Worldview and not simply that we think it’s a better education. I was able to discuss how Grace is learning about life and by spending time with her father she is learning wisdom as Proverbs 13:20 tells us. Grace did a wonderful job of allowing her father to speak, but also interjecting at appropriate times. She was able to beautifully articulate her education and engage two adults in a real conversation. She was engaged with them and not an electronic device as I looked around to see most of the adults conversing with their I-Phones and not the ones across the table from them.
I told her that night that I was very pleased with the way she handled herself and this is the way we can show the world Christ. Yes, we must speak and proclaim the good news but also the world will see a difference in our behavior and realize this is just not normal.
Monday morning the Lord opened a door for me to share my faith and really talk to a man I’ve known for quite a while. He was very honest in his lack of belief. As I told him that belief is a gift of God, but in no wise will this let him off the hook as he stands before God should he breathes his last breath. He and he alone will be accountable for his sin. I explained to him that he doesn’t believe because he likes his sin as we all did before God grants us repentance and I think he related to that on a certain level.
As I look back on these past days it will be a memory Grace and I will share as long as we live. It will be a time that I will cherish as her father. As she is growing so quickly into a woman I pray she will see how much her dad loves her and cares for her. But most importantly she will know how much her Heavenly Father loves and cares for her.
Last week I wrote about how a Believer will respond to trials and very often this exposes sin. If we truly “believe” we will respond as we should, but we don’t always do that, at least immediately. We must view this as chastening from the Lord and consider that He has a much higher purpose and reason for the situation. We can fight back at this trial or we can embrace it as a perfect gift from Him. It’s meant to refine us and purify us as pure silver or gold, not a cheap throw away metal.
All people are challenged with trials in their lives and this is not unique to Christians. However Christians should respond differently. Today I’m interested in exploring the trials that come directly through the preaching or teaching of God’s Word. The times when you just don’t like what you hear from the pulpit or directly from those called to shepherd your soul. (Acts 20:28, Hebrews 13:7)
We all have people in our lives that have come and gone. We love and have loved them. The church has poured a tremendous amount of resources into them. Then something happens. The consumer “christian” that loves the blessing of God and the church but when push comes to shove does not want the Lordship.
As I think carefully about the words I write today I must really challenge myself. Will there come a time that I won’t like what I’m asked to do? Will I be the one that justifies a certain position in my mind? A position that tells me I must walk away? This is very challenging to me and once I’ve written these words I’m accountable to them. I don’t take this lightly, I’m accountable to God.
John 6:60-61 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying: who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?”
Isn’t it clear from the teachings of Jesus that people will be offended? The “disciples” spoken of here are not the twelve; these disciples are simply “learners”. These are the multitudes of people that were following Jesus around. It was just back in verse 26 that Jesus said to them “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”
These learners were certainly interested in Jesus. They really liked the show, and were excited when they benefited from Him. They wanted to make Him their king because the bennies were great. He healed them, He fed them, He taught them… Not a bad deal right?
It’s really easy to see how this works as we read the pages of our Bibles but yet we can’t make the connection between what is so obvious to our own lives.
I’ve benefited from the meals brought to our home by the church…
I’ve benefited from the teaching and preaching of God’s Word…
I’ve benefited from the training of our children…
I’ve benefited from the wise counsel as I’ve worked through marital conflicts in my life…
I, me, me, me and I… It’s all about me right now.
But then, when I’m offended do I walk away? Do I say, “Well thanks a lot for all the great benefits, but say what? You want me to eat flesh and drink blood, no way!” That’s a hard saying, who can understand what you are asking of me?
Do you consistently live with a “one foot out the door” mentality as my good friend and brother recently confessed to me?
Believer, be challenged today. Be chastened by God’s Word if you’ve had this thought process in your life. Repent and turn from your sin.
I will never know if those that leave in this manner are truly regenerate or not, at least this side of heaven, but what I do know is their actions look eerily similar to this section of text. And the Lord didn’t go running after them because He knew they were not His, but let’s not think for a moment that those in rebellion are not fully accountable for their actions.
Their lives will eventually show what type of soil they are. (Matthew 13:3-9)
John 6:66-69 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
I hope you are being challenged in your Christian life, by God’s Word and by those that are called to shepherd your soul. I hope you will cling to God’s Word as the source by which you measure the teaching. I hope you will be convinced by the Word and by those that are accountable for your soul.
That will be profitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
The Christian life is no different from most lives in that Believers experience the ups and downs that are typical. We get sick, we have conflict with our wives or children and we are certainly not free from seemingly random things that occur. I say seemingly because Scripture tells us nothing is by chance and God has all things under His sovereign control.
I believe this and do not subscribe to health, wealth and prosperity doctrines that are so prevalent today. The one thing I understand is that God has purpose in everything He does. For the Believer this has eternal consequences because the way we respond in trials and tribulations is a very significant part of our testimony.
James 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
The old adage “it’s hard to see the forest for the trees” is applicable to the teaching of James, it’s stated very plainly, yet most often in the moment of trials we don’t want to see what God is doing in our lives because we are in pain at that moment.
We don’t consider it a gift when someone we love is sick or we wonder why God would allow this to happen… What if you are subject to rebuke or church discipline? Do you really consider God is treating you as a son or daughter?
If life or our circumstance is not as “we think it should be” the natural tendency is to be upset and angry. Maybe we won’t say we are angry at God, but the fact is we are exhibiting nothing but discontent.
And discontent is sin! (1 Timothy 6:6-9, Philippians 4:6, Matthew 6:25-34)
The opportunity to glorify God in a time or season of trial is a gift from God. Believer, do you believe this? I know we will agree to this when life is going well. But do you really believe it when you are facing a trial?
James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Let us examine ourselves today. Do you count it all joy? Why not, if not? I hope this is very succinct because I don’t see this as a complicated subject, yet how many that name the name of Christ despise His goodness?
James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
When Believers and I include myself in this conversation, do not consider trials pure joy we despise the good gift that God has given us. We have our own idea of an outcome and have no desire to allow God, through patience, to work His perfect work in our lives.
Call it what you want, discontent, frustration, anger, circumstance… Or call it what it is; distrust in God’s goodness.
I’m thankful for the trial that has recently come into my life, with our daughter Anna. It has given me an incredible opportunity to learn patience and leadership as I guide my family and my wife through a tough time. I’m being grown up, so that I can minister to others. I can’t lead without having been there myself and although in the grand scheme of life’s trials, this is small in comparison. Each good and perfect gift prepares us for bigger things.
Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Let’s consider the purpose of a trial, for some it may lead to repentance, for some condemnation.
How will you respond? This might show your condition before God.
The shortest verse in the Bible says “Jesus wept”. Have you ever wondered why? Was Jesus showing his humanness and His empathy for the human experience? This is the common understanding and we know it’s true from scripture. (Hebrews 4:15)
If you are like me you have probably read this verse many times and just thought, “Jesus has compassion for those around Him, especially Martha and Mary because He loved them”. The Jews that were there thought this also if we look at verse 36. I agree, He certainly had compassion and loved them, but I believe there is so much more to this verse than most notice.
John 11:14-15 – Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe, Nevertheless let us go to him.”
Here we see the purpose of Lazarus’s death, also affirmed in verse 4; Jesus says it’s for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. He did it so the disciples would believe and He would be glorified.
This seems hard for me to believe, yet this is what the Lord says. We are already well into Christ’s ministry, how is it they don’t believe?
John Calvin commenting – He does not mean that this was the first feeble commencement of faith in them, but that it was a confirmation of faith already begun, though it was still exceedingly small and weak. Yet he indirectly suggests that, if the hand of God had not been openly displayed, they would not have believed.
John 11:21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
John 11:32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Watch what happens next, as I find this fascinating and where I think most people miss the point of this verse.
John 11:33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, (professionals hired to cry at a funeral); He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
The word groaned here is – embrimaomai (to snort with anger); to have indignation on, that is, (transitively) to blame, (intransitively) to sigh with chagrin, (specifically) to sternly enjoin: – straitly charge, groan, murmur against.
Jesus was also troubled – tarassō – Of uncertain affinity; to stir or agitate (roil water): – trouble.
Jesus was clearly annoyed by the reaction of all of those around Him at the death of Lazarus and seems to be agitated to the point of anger. He knew He was going to raise Lazarus, so it can’t be that He doubted what would happen. Then it happens.
Jesus wept. – John 11:35
Why? Let’s consider a few other verses that might give us some insight.
Matthew 9:36-38 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stone those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
So why did Jesus weep? He had compassion for sure, but His compassion and his groaning was over the hard heartedness of man that lives in a self-absorbed sin saturated world. He wanted them to come in faith and repentance, but they refused. They wouldn’t acknowledge Him as Lord and as their King; despite the irrefutable proofs of His miracles. It was obvious wasn’t it?
Today we consistently see the same thing. There is nothing new under the sun, and you can show the un-believer sin and his hatred of God, yet he can’t see it. I can sometimes intellectually understand my own disbelief, yet I just can’t get out of my funk.
Does the Lord groan in His spirit over you or over me? Is He troubled by our lack of belief or our compassion for the lost? Does He groan when we live in willful rebellion to His Word? I am struck by the depth of this chapter as it relates to me. It’s easy for me to see the shortcomings of others yet fail to see my own sin. It’s easy to be critical and see how much they need Jesus, and they do, but I need Jesus.
I need Him more today than the day I was saved because if He didn’t weep for me, I’m lost. If He pulled His tears back from me I’d spiral into the depths of my own sin in moments. The closer I draw to Him the bigger and more wretched my sin becomes.
Men have always been ungrateful to God in the same manner, and continue to be so. If he does not grant all our wishes, we immediately launch into complaints: “Since he has been accustomed to aid us hitherto, why does he now forsake and disappoint us?” There is here a twofold disease. First, though we rashly desire what is not expedient for us, yet we wish to subject God to the perverse desires of the flesh. Secondly, we are rude in our demands, and the ardor of impatience hurries us before the time. – John Calvin
How about you?
If you can’t see your sin then I beg you to repent. Do you truly weep over your sin or are you merely a professional weeper hired to perform a service?
If you are a Believer do you weep and groan over the lost? How much compassion do you have for those around you that are without a shepherd?
May the Lord be merciful to those who can see their sin! It cost the One that paid the price dearly and that’s something we should weep about.