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SEPTEMBER 2003

 

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  • Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

  • 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Be content. Those two words both encourage and rebuke me. If I were content, I would be satisfied. I wouldn’t be thinking about what I don’t have but I would be thankful for what I do have. I wouldn’t be envious or covetous or anxious when it comes to material things. Matthew 6:30 implies that those of us who worry are people of “little faith”. 1 Timothy 6 implies that godliness and contentment measure the profit of life and not money. Godliness in this passage must include an attitude toward money that is contrary to nature. We can’t love it and we need to be satisfied when we have been provided with food and raiment (1 Timothy 6:8). I am not going to explain how you do that when the bills are due and the bank account is empty even though you have not gone hungry. Nor am I going to explain how to do that when you are without a job and no one is hiring and your friends imply that it is your fault that you are not working.

This problem with stress involves wrong thinking about the Lord and about material things. Wrong thinking was a problem that we had before we were saved. The Bible said that salvation was by faith in the Lord through His grace (Ephesians 2:8) but we thought there was something that we had to do to be saved. In order to trust Christ our minds had to be changed to agree with God. When it comes to living by faith after we are saved, we seem to have the idea that we can and should control our circumstances and our futures. While the Lord expects us to be industrious, He really wants our trust and He wants to be first in our lives and affections. If we really could control our circumstances by our hard work, then we would be content or satisfied with self rather than with Christ. Many who been blessed materially have told me that they don’t fully understand why some things that they have done work and why some things that they have done do not work. Obviously, the Lord wants us to know that He is in control. The Lord constantly reminds us that our blessing comes from trusting Him.

There is a song that we sometimes sing as we worship the Lord. Part of it goes like this, “Now none but Christ can satisfy.” When we are singing that song, I usually refrain from singing that line because I know that many things have satisfied me in life besides Christ. But I can see that life would be a lot more enjoyable if I were always content and if the Lord really did satisfy. The key is probably godliness which would include modeling our lives after the life of the Lord and confidence in the promise that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. And that promise seems to be  primarily about our material needs. This is where great gain in life lies and this should be our goal. Then we would be content.

Week of September 7, 2003

2 Corinthians 3

15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. (When one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away--NKJV).

Do we have to understand the Gospel to have faith or do we have to have faith to understand the Gospel? Biblically it seems that faith gives understanding. Hebrews 11:3 says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” That does not mean that we can be people of faith without an object for our faith. That is, we have to have someone or something to believe in. I always tell those who trust in the Lord to find a verse of Scripture that assures them that they have believed the truth. However, faith does not come by understanding, faith comes by hearing according to Romans 10:17.

The other side of this truth is that sin blinds or hardens. Romans 1:21 deals with society in general and say. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that the god of this world blinds the minds of them that believe not.

In my mind, I think the Lord is telling us that until we see things His way nothing in life or about life is really going to make sense. As long as we try to prove scientifically that creation just happened and as long as we try to deny accountability to the designer of the universe, we are always going to feel confused. But the moment we find out that God is right even though that makes us wrong, we find ourselves understanding things that seemed confusing before. Is it no wonder that those who trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior often say, “I see, I see. Why didn’t I understand that before. It is so simple.” Nothing is simple when we oppose the truth, everything is simple when we accept the truth. The Truth is a title of Christ (John 14:6).

In general, this world is trying to find its way without accepting the truth that God has revealed to us in the Scriptures. As a result, things that should be obvious about morals, loving one another, science, and so forth are confusing. The Lord tells us that the fear of the Lord (or reverential trust in the Lord) is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). If we want to be “smart”, we need to believe God. It will probably raise our IQ’s. If we go our own way and oppose the truth of God, we will die in darkness and will never understand the love God that has offered to us though the Lord Jesus. Life will never make sense. But we will make lots of mistakes because we have not allowed our understanding to be opened by faith in what God says.

Week of September 14, 2003

Ecclesiastes 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

2 Timothy 1:12 For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

Solomon, the preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes, is very discouraged and depressed. He wisely tells us that living for time does not satisfy. One of the phrases that we read over and over in this book is “under the sun”. The book focuses on this life and on what we see and experience here. Solomon clearly experienced all that this life has to offer. In this book he mentions self-indulgence not self-sacrifice and his conclusion is that all is vanity (empty) and vexation of spirit (or a sense of emptiness).

Paul, on the other hand, is in prison and he knows that his execution date is near. He is about to die because of his faithfulness to his Lord. His friends have left him with the exception of Luke. However, he seems to be satisfied, content and even victorious. He has fought a good fight, finished his course, and guarded the truth and now is looking forward to his future reward. What is the difference?

Paul had lived for eternity and Solomon was living for all that the present world offered. He was living for time. Solomon knew that God had placed the world (or eternity) in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) but he had tried to satisfy the eternal with the temporal. Paul had wisely recognized that our time is this world is short and that all the temporary blessings of this world do not satisfy a soul that is eternal.

Perhaps some of our discouragements are because we have lived for time instead of for eternity. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, 17, 18, Paul gives us insight into how to be renewed day by day when he says, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Eternity puts the joys and sorrows as well as the victories and defeats of time into perspective. We are not ready to live in this present time until we have trusted Christ for eternity. We will not be happy in this present time unless our lives are lived for eternity. Time is temporary, eternity is permanent.

 

Week of September 21, 2003

1 Corinthians 6:20

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

 

God created us through Christ Jesus and therefore had the rights of ownership by creation (Revelation 4:11). Because of sin, we had to be bought back from the slavery of sin. Romans 6:22 (NKJV) says, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” So when Christ died for our sins, He paid the price of our redemption or ransom. Sin held us hostage and He ransomed us (1 Timothy 2:6). Sin had enslaved us and He bought us to free us from the slave market of sin so that we could serve Him according to Romans 6. What was the price that He paid? He paid the ultimate price, “He gave Himself” (Galatians 2:20). He didn’t give “of Himself”, He gave all. So the Lord has the right of ownership by creation and the right of ownership by redemption (purchase or ransom).

The Lord takes pride in His purchase. He calls those of us who trust Him for salvation His wife or bride. He nourishes and cherishes us and He wants to “present us to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:25-29). We are precious to Him. He paid a great price for us and He wants to be able to “show us off“.

When we buy something from someone so that we can have the rights of ownership, we often brag about our purchase. If it is a car, we often tell others about the “good deal” that we got. Sometimes after we have had the car a while, it may turn out that it wasn’t such a “good deal”. I wonder what kind of deal the Lord figures He got with us? Is the church corporately and are we individually as proud of the Lord as He is of us? Do we try to please HIM with our service or do we try to please US. Do we build our corporate worship around what we want or what He wants? Are we grumblers and complainers or are we thankful for the blessings that we have because we “are bought with a price?”

Week of September 28, 2003