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AUGUST 2003

 

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Romans 2

1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

21Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

A hypocrite is an actor. An actor pretends to be someone he is not. Many of us are hypocrites when it comes to spiritual things. We are pretending to be righteous when in fact we are privately committing the very acts of sin that we are condemning. I have noticed that when a person gets really “preachy” about a certain moral sin, usually he or she has some kind of a problem with that sin. Either they have committed it and hate themselves for it; or they are committing it and hate themselves and everyone else for it; or they would like to commit it and resent those that do commit it and get by with it.

The Jewish people in the Roman epistle were doing just this very thing. They were not only committing the sins they were condemning but they were approving those who practiced some of this wickedness (Romans 1:32). God is the only one who is able to handle this sin issue in a right way. He loves the sinner but hates the sin. He bore our sin in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). But He called sin what it is, “sin”! In our society, we condemn the sin of homosexuality while looking the other way at people who live together without the benefit of marriage. It is my understanding that both are sins of fornication; that is, sins dealing with the immoral lusts of the flesh. Is one worse than the other? I will let you give the obvious answer to that.

We as Christians need to be true to the righteous standards of God but we should be careful when we preach the Gospel that we don’t make certain moral sins the targets of our Gospel preaching. Most of us who have not committed some of the sins that we preach against have committed other sins that are more socially acceptable but just as sinful in the eyes of God. Some of us would have committed some of these sins if we had been given the opportunity but, thankfully, opportunity and temptation never crossed our paths at the same time and we were spared.

The law was given that EVERY mouth might be stopped (Romans 3:19). That means that as we stand before our righteous Judge (the Lord Jesus), none of us have anything to say in our defense. But we can say that God is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:26).” The only One who has the right to be hard on sin is the One who gave Himself to put away our sin. He has the right to point out our sin because He has provided a solution. Many of us preach as though sinners can just quit sinning if we try hard enough. We can’t. We point out the sin but we do not provide a solution. The Lord not only points out the sin but He gives us the Holy Spirit to regenerate us (give us new life). We are not only forgiven but we are also given the power and motivation to control the evil tendencies in our lives. And when we do sin as Christians, He says that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9).

I like God’s way of dealing with sin. Man’s way is hypocritical. God’s way is sacrificial.

Week of August 3, 2003

Isaiah 65:24

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

During the blessing of the millennium, the Lord is never going to give His people the “silent treatment” or the “runaround” when they pray. The face of my cell phone has the reference Isaiah 65:24 there. People who ask me what the verse says tend to laugh when they find out because when you call a phone company, they don’t answer before you call. As a matter of fact, they will likely put you on hold, make you promises and then not keep them. When you call back, they will not be able to find any record of the promises that the first customer service representative made that they say he shouldn’t have made. Try calling any phone company or any large medical establishment or the government or an insurance company claims line and you may get very frustrated trying to “get through”. But our prayer life is not like that.

We who are saved are living in the Spiritual Kingdom (Colossians 1:13) and thus we should expect the blessing of the millennium now. What does it take to avoid a “busy signal”? Psalm 66:18 says that if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. Most interpret this to mean that if we have sinned against the Lord or against others and haven’t confessed it or if we are presently committing sin and haven’t repented or turned away from it, the Lord will not answer. I don’t think that is the interpretation here because those conditions would likely keep us from praying rather than keeping the Lord from answering. I think regarding iniquity in my heart has to do with asking for something that is sinful or would harm some one else. This is consistent with the new testament teaching that if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14). Also, if we ask in His name or according to His authority, He answers (John 16:23-24).

Another condition that hinders our prayer life is a lack of consideration and love in the marriage relationship (1 Peter 3:7). However, this situation like most of our problems in prayer stem from conditions that keep us from praying, not conditions which keep the Lord from answering when we pray. When the Lord taught His disciples how to pray he reminded them that “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matthew 6:8).” That sounds an awfully like the verse we are meditating upon which says that before they call, I will answer! We need to have faith in the fact that the Lord really does hear and is working out the answers to our prayers even when it seems like He isn’t. We need to believe the promise we have already mentioned, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15).”

Satan promotes two great lies with regard to prayer. He says that if our prayers are heard that we must be saved. But that isn’t necessarily true, Cornelius had his prayers heard before he was saved (see Acts 10:31, 11:14). Then after we are save he tries to convince us that the Lord doesn’t hear or answer our prayers. But we need to have confidence in the fact that while praying isn’t what we depend on for salvation, the saved can depend on the fact that the Lord does hear and answer their prayers.

Week of August 10, 2003

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

The hairs of our head our numbered by God (Luke 12:7) but our days should be numbered by us. When the Lord puts a number on each of our hairs, he is emphasizing their value. When we number our days (not when we count our days as in how many birthdays we have had) we are saying that each day has unique value. As I get older, I have begun to realize how much value each day has.

There was a unique day two thousand years ago that will never be forgotten or lose its value. That is the day when Christ died for our sins. The third day after the crucifixion was the day when God proved He was satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ by raising Him from the dead (Acts 2:23-36). Forty days after the resurrection, Christ ascended to heaven (Acts 1:3) and fifty days after the resurrection (Acts 2:1), the Holy Spirit began the church age. Pentecost, the feast day when the Holy Spirit descended on the church, was 50 days (apparently 49 the way we count) after the Feast of First Fruits. The days in these events coincide with important events on the Jewish calendar. Christ died on the Passover. He was raised on the Feast of First Fruits (the morrow after the Sabbath in Leviticus 23:11) and the Holy Spirit descended on the Feast of Pentecost. These are all important dates or days.

While the above days are important, we tend to forget that everyday in the life of the Lord was important. He didn’t waste or misuse His time. He slept, prayed, and rested but He also did was He was supposed to do in a little over 3 years if scholars understand the length of His earthly ministry properly. Most of us couldn’t accomplish in forty years what He accomplished in three and one-half. Perhaps that is because we don’t “number our days”. Some days just don’t seem to worthwhile to me and I know I tend to drift through the day without really recognizing the importance a day can make. We tell the unsaved to “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1).” But when we consider how fast time flies as we get older and how quickly opportunity to serve the Lord can be lost through accident or illness, we need to realize that EACH day is important. Knowing that each day is important should not bring us into the bondage of being spiritual workaholics (rest and meditation are also part of our responsibilities) but it should make us aware of how we are using each day. Do we number our days so that each day is considered valuable and a blessing from God?

Week of August 17, 2003

Psalm 92

1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:

2 To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night

Why we should be occupied with lovingkindness in the morning and faithfulness at night? Perhaps in the morning we need to have faith that God will be with us throughout another day while in the evening we need to give thanks for His faithfulness in having been with us through the day. In the morning we are looking ahead at the unknown and in the evening we are looking back at the tangible evidence of God’s mercy to us throughout the day. In the morning we are exhibiting faith in the goodness of God. In the evening we should be giving thanks for the faithfulness of God.

Morning reminds us of resurrection and of new hope. Morning is a time of anticipation. Morning is when we are rested and our minds our clear. That is a good time to express thanks for the loving kindness of the Lord. But the Psalmist is talking about “showing” not “saying” in verse 2. In verse 1 we give thanks but in verse 2 we show forth. How can we do that? If our thanksgiving is heartfelt, no doubt it will be seen in the way we act. We can tell if a person is happy or sad or angry without them ever telling us. We can tell by looking at them. When the Lord looks at us does He see someone that is happy because He has given them another day? At the end of the day, are we truly thankful for the faithfulness of God to us throughout the day .

One day last week I had a lot to do. As I started the day, I was driving in the middle lane of a three lane road where there was also an on-ramp on the far right. A sixteen wheeler came off the on-ramp onto the far right lane. I was parallel with the truck but just back of the cab. I happened to be watching the front wheels of the truck and I realized that they were crossing the white lines into my lane. The truck had just kept moving left and while I normally would not have been watching the truck because I would have assumed that he could see me, for some reason I was just uneasy about the way this truck was being driven. I quickly pulled to the left and the truck then occupied the space where I had just been. If a car had been on my left there would have been a terrible accident because I didn’t have time to check my mirrors. The Lord had preserved me. Later that day, I came off a freeway on a two lane ramp. The car on my right decided he wanted to go left and even though I was a little behind him in the left lane, he made his left turn right in front of me. I found out that my brakes are still dependable. Later that night I began to wonder how many things had happened that day that I hadn’t seen from which the Lord had protected me. The day had great promise in the morning but, apart from the Lord‘s faithfulness, it would not have been a good day. I must confess that I was not occupied with showing forth the loving kindness of the Lord that morning, but I did give thanks for His faithfulness that night.

Week of August 24, 2003

Psalm 130:3-4

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

One thing that marks a person who has genuine faith in the work, worth, and word of the Lord Jesus Christ is a sensitivity to the sin nature that is within. Paul could say, ”For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.(Romans 7:18-19).” Again he says, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ( Romans 7:24)?”

Obviously, we who are saved are not sinless even though we should sin less than we did before we were saved. John says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (John 1:8).” John is writing about fellowship with the Father here rather than about salvation. John’s solution to maintaining fellowship with the Father is given in the next verse, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Before I was saved, I knew I was a sinner that needed to be saved. It wasn’t until after I was saved that I really understood my depravity and the hold that sin has on me. I really didn’t understand my sin nature until I had a new desire to please the Lord and a new conscience about sin given to me through the Holy Spirit who came to dwell within me when I trusted the Lord (Romans 8:9). Thank God, there is forgiveness with the Lord.

Sometimes we think that we must not be saved because we still sin and we still have the desire to sin after we have trusted the Lord to forgive us. We know that all of our sins were placed on Christ when He died for us and, when we trust Him, all of our sins are forgiven as far as eternity is concerned. But our fellowship can be broken by sin that we commit after we are saved. Our prayer life suffers when that happens and our happiness suffers. But our fellowship can be restored by confessing our sin according to John 1:9.

We often say that misery loves company and it is encouraging to realize that we are not in this alone. Not one person would be able to stand in the presence of God if the Lord kept track of our sins. Many of us like to say, “I WAS a guilty sinner but Jesus died for me.” While sinners are changed to saints at the new birth, saints still have the ability to sin as we see in many of Paul’s epistles. So it would be better to say, “I AM a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me.” Sin keeps us humble after we are saved, but the promise of God is that He is willing to forgive so that he may be feared (or worshipped in a reverential way). Many fear unforgiving gods of their own making, but we fear the Living God who is a forgiving God. He knows our failures and yet He does listen to us and answers our prayers. He does forgive us. He does want our worship.

Week of August 31, 2003