Mar 8, 2014
Mar 8, 2014
I will bless the LORD at all times. Psalm 34:1
We all have a lot of anxieties and aggravations in life, but God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We have endless trials and troubles, but our Savior has overcome the world (John 16:33). Every day brings uncertainty, but God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Tomorrow’s events are unknown to us, but our eternal God knows the future as well as He knows the past (Psalm 139:1-4). For every blow, we have a fistful of promises from our Sovereign God—and not one jot or tittle of His Word will pass away (Matthew 5:18).
That’s why James 1:2 tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
In all the moments of life, we should be quick to praise the Lord and to bless Him at all times. When we have a good day, thank God for it. When the day turns dark and troubling, praise the Lord anyway, for His lovingkindness is fresh every morning and His faithfulness every night. Let’s bless Him every moment today.
When plans go awry, tragedy strikes your family, the work for which you labored disintegrates and falls apart, praise the Lord anyway. For when you praise the Lord, your attention is diverted from the situation and circumstances back to the Lord. Jerry Rankin
To help you understand the concept of “saved and sure,” here are three truths that indicate what the Lord wants for all people:
1. God wants everyone to be saved. He calls all men and women to Himself, but there must be a response to His invitation. When we answer His call to salvation, the Father makes us part of His everlasting family (Rom. 10:9-13). If we decide to reject the Lord, however, then we will eternally remain outside of His redemption plan for mankind.
2. God wants everyone to be saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 declares that our salvation is 100 percent the work of the Lord. It is His plan, His work, His gift. We have no responsibility whatsoever, other than simply receiving the free gift that He lays at our feet.
3. God wants everyone to be saved by grace through faith and sure of salvation. Lack of certainty can absolutely destroy faith. If you are not sure that you are saved, then the devil will use that seed of doubt to plague your spirit every time you feel you have done something unforgivable. In the Lord’s eyes, though, there is no such thing as unforgivable. He has already established the plan by which every one of us can join His eternal family, and He wants us to have confidence in our salvation.
Passages like John 3:16, 1 John 5:13, and Ephesians 1:13-14 all point to the complete certainty with which we can embrace our salvation. Does your faith fluctuate with your feelings and circumstances, or is it firmly grounded in Scripture?
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
There are many famous names in the history of religious thought—names such as Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, among a host of others. Each has a multitude of followers who pay homage to his name.
But there is only one name that saves eternally, the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of our text were spoken by the apostle Peter. In his epistle, John also stresses this fact: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). The apostle Paul wrote that all those “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
This exclusivity necessarily results from the fact that there is only one God and Creator of all men, and that all men have rebelled against Him. God Himself has become Redeemer and Savior, dying for the sin of the world and rising again. There can, therefore, be no other Savior than God Himself.
The Lord Jesus repeatedly stressed this truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
It is urgent, therefore, that anyone desiring forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation come to God through Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). HMM
The sad case of Samson reminds us of the warnings of the book of Proverbs, against that treacherous form of sin. Evil company is always dangerous, but association with persons of impure life is deadly. May the young men of the household lay this days lesson to heart; it has been hard to write, but a sense of duty forced it upon us.
Treasure up this warning as a precious thing, it may save you from a wretched old age.
Proverbs 7:2, 3
Have right principles at your fingers’ ends, and in your heart’s core.
Proverbs 7:4, 5
As good women are our greatest blessings, so are bad women among the worst curses in the world. Flee from them, listen not to their words. To shew how wicked they are, Solomon tells us a tale of real life, which we will read with earnest prayer, that none of this household may ever imitate the foolish victim.
Proverbs 7:6, 7
Without grace in his heart, or sense in his head,
He had better have gone miles round than pass the spot,
Proverbs 7:9, 10
Late hours lead to no good.
Proverbs 7:11, 12
Had she been a fit companion she would have been at home.
O the wickedness of those who mix up religion with their filthiness; but this was a part of the bait with which to entrap the foolish young man.
This was another falsehood, she cared no more for him than for anybody else. O beware of these deceivers.
What a servant of Satan was she! There are many like her, who take fools in their nets.
The ox has no idea of what is coming, or he would never enter the slaughter-house: wicked young men little know the terrible remits of sin,
The drunkard smiles when set in the stocks, as if it were rare fun; so do foolish men dream that sin is pleasure.
His vital parts shall suffer for his folly, pain shall succeed his pleasures;
The life both of his. body and his soul shall be ruined by his vice.
Strong language, but none too strong. If young people knew what follows upon unclean actions, they would sooner burn their flesh with fire, or sleep with venomous reptiles, than have any communion with unchaste persons. Young women should loathe those gay fellows whose actions will not bear to be spoken of; and both young and old, male and female, should abhor any indelicacy of thought, word, or deed, in books or mirthful play.
Galatians 5:19, 20
I pray that God is opening your eyes to see the works of the flesh from a new perspective. This is clearly very important; otherwise, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t have included this list in the New Testament. Each word selected by the Holy Spirit to depict the works of the flesh is pungent and powerful. There is no room for misunderstanding. The Spirit of God wants us to be able to identify the works of the flesh so we can prohibit their activity in our lives.
As Paul continues listing the works of the flesh, he next moves to the subject of “strife.” The word “strife” comes from the Greek word eritheia. It is very similar to the word eris, which is translated “variance” in the King James Version and was discussed in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem.
The word eritheia describes a self-seeking ambition that is more concerned about itself and the fulfillment of its own wants, desires, and pleasures than it is in meeting the same needs in others. When eritheia is working in someone’s life, it means that taking care of himself and getting what he wants is that person’s principal concern. In fact, he is so bent on getting what he wants that he is willing to do anything, say anything, and sacrifice any standard, rules, or relationship to achieve his goals. It is a selfish, self-focused attitude that is engrossed with its own desires and ambitions. It is so self-consumed that it is blinded to the desires or ambitions of other people.
When someone has this attitude, he is bound to hurt and to offend people. It makes me think of one pastor I know in the former Soviet Union. This pastor is so committed to his own cause that he can’t see anything but himself. If someone mentions a church other than his own, he immediately turns the conversation back to his own church because he can’t tolerate anyone talking about anything but his own work. This characteristic of his gives the impression of conceit. In fact, I know of no other pastor in the city where he lives who can get along with him! Other pastors have spent years trying to build bridges to this pastor, only to have him turn around and do something hurtful and offensive to everyone who has tried to befriend him. Simply put, this man’s flesh is out of control and has devastated many people.
If you hear yourself talking nonstop about your own projects, dreams, and aspirations, but you never stop to inquire about anyone else’s, maybe you need to get into the Presence of God and let Him speak to you about selfishness in your life. Do the people in your life know all about you, but you know nothing about them? If your answer is yes, what does this tell you about your attitude toward other people? Are you mindful of others? Do you think about ways you can be a blessing to them, or do you always think of how others can be a blessing to you?
It is simply the nature of carnal flesh to be self-consumed. Don’t let this be you! God’s Spirit is inside you—and if you will yield to the Holy Spirit, He will make you compassionate and caring about the needs of others. From time to time, you will have to deliberately speak to the carnal nature and tell it to be still so the life of Jesus can flow up from your spirit to recognize and then meet the needs of those around you.
The word “seditions” is derived from the Greek word dichostasia, which is a compound of the words dicha and stasis. The word dicha means apart, as in a separation, and the word stasis means to stand or to rebel. When these are compounded into one word, it means to stand apart, as one who rebels and steps away from someone to whom he should have been loyal. Thus, the word “sedition” gives the impression of disloyalty.
The word statis is used in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to describe the insurrection that Barabbas had led in the city of Jerusalem. His rebellious deeds deemed him a terrible and notorious criminal in the mind of the Roman authorities. He had led an insurrection, a sedition— an act of dichostasia. Barabbas defied the powers, rejected their authority, and stepped away from their rule, taking other rebels with him as he went his own way. As often happens when seditious flesh has its way, Barabbas and his companions eventually united all the rebels in the city together in an attempt to overthrow the government. It was the ultimate act of defiance or disloyalty to an established authority.
Paul lists “sedition” as one of the works of the flesh. It is important for you to know that the flesh hates rules, regulations, and any order that is imposed upon it. This is why children rebel against parents, wives rebel against their husbands, churches rebel against pastors, and people in general rebel against God. Defiance and rebellion to authority is the source of most world wars, civil wars, and regional conflicts. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s conflicts are due to flesh that refuses to be told what to do and thus rises up to defy the authority or the rules it doesn’t want to accept!
This is even the reason a beautiful little baby throws his food across the room! When a baby acts like that, it makes one wonder how in the world such an innocent-looking child could behave so badly. But the reason a young child can act so defiantly is that he is wrapped in flesh—and one of the works of the flesh is to be rebellious and defiant! The flesh simply doesn’t want to be told what to do!
So when you find your flesh rising up in anger because your boss, your parent, or your pastor acts like he or she has authority in your life, it’s time for you to settle down and mortify the deeds of your flesh! Don’t give in to your carnal desires by stepping away from your God-appointed leader. If you do, you may find yourself in a company of rebels like Barabbas, who got so caught up in his rebellion that he tried to lead an overthrow in the city of Jerusalem. Your loyalty is important; your disloyalty is hurtful and destructive. Stick close to those whom God has called to be your leaders, and be faithful!
“Heresies” is next in Paul’s list of the works of the flesh. This comes from the Greek word hairesis. In the New Testament, it has a meaning that is unique and used differently than in secular literature. It carries the idea of a person or group of people who are sectarian. The word “sectarian” refers to a group of people who adhere to the same doctrine or who ardently follow the same leader. The adherents of a sect are usually limited in their scope and closed to outsiders, staying primarily to themselves. In New Testament times, these groups were considered to be unauthorized because they were not submitted to the authority of the church leadership.
In today’s contemporary language, we might label these sectarian groups “cliques”—referring to groups of people who believe or conduct themselves as if they are exclusive. Such groups often function in secret to keep their dealings, associations, contacts, and interactions unknown to others. They give the impression that they are better or more enlightened than those outside the group or that they have a special assignment that no one else can know about. This is the reason they keep outsiders on the outside and allow so few to have an inside peek at their fellowship, meetings, conversations, or activities.
Although the word hairesis can describe different schools of thought, branches, or arms of a movement, it primarily suggests a division, a faction, or as noted, an unauthorized group. Because this type of group was viewed to be so disruptive to the Early Church and because it didn’t fall under the spiritual covering of church leadership, the apostle Paul viewed it to be heretical— which, in this sense, meant divisive. The adherents usually followed a leader who was not the pastor but who acted as if he had spiritual authority, even though authority had never been given to him by the church leadership. This leader usually demanded the highest commitment from group members, even demanding that his followers’ commitment to himself and to the group be greater than their commitment to the overall church body.
Let’s face it—the flesh delights in deceiving itself into believing that it is better, more spiritual, or more enlightened than anyone else. It thrives on being puffed up, prideful, and boastful. It enjoys thinking too highly of itself. It adores being selfish, self-consumed, and self-focused, and it takes pleasure in caring for its own selfish interests. And if allowed to do so, flesh will separate into a faction, a division, or a sect. It will gravitate to others whose flesh also wants to believe they are better than others. When all that flesh gets together in one place, they will inevitably form a super-elite clique inside the church that is so tight no one else will be able to get in it—including the pastor!
Paul was against spiritual elitism and even forbade it! He even included it in his villainous list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21.
Never lose sight of the fact that you are a part of the whole Body of Christ. God has not given you or anyone else a revelation or truth so special that it is only for a handful. You are a member of the Body of Christ, so act like it! Don’t let your flesh deceive you into thinking that you are a member of the higher spiritual class! Tell your flesh to come back down to reality and get busy loving and serving other brothers and sisters in the local church!
Lord, I don’t want these works of the flesh to be active in my life! I stand against them in Jesus’ name, and I yearn for the Holy Spirit to produce His divine fruit in me. Please help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and to the needs of others and to stay alert for those times when my flesh is trying to take me in one of these wrong directions!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have the mind of Jesus Christ and I think the thoughts of God! I crucify the flesh; I mortify its deeds; and I release the resurrection life of Jesus Christ in me! Although I live in the flesh, it is no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ lives in me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Most of us would like to do something noble or great. Perhaps have our names in lights…
We are captivated by outstanding speakers, renowned scientists, business tycoons, and athletes who seem to do the impossible. And we sigh because our lives appear to be so routine, pedestrian and unsung.
As I observe the men with whom I am involved, however, I often see nobility and true character being forged in them as they quietly work through extremely trying circumstances. These silent heroes of the faith are, for the most part unnoticed. Little appreciated. Rarely applauded.
One man has a son who is severely ill with a disease that will in all probability take his life within the next few years. The boy’s unimaginable suffering permeates the family. But there is a calm grace about the way they are handling it. No whining or grousing with God as they walk through their Gethsemane.
A second man is an executive in a company where the top management steps on anyone who excels or shows any evidence of genius. He refuses however to play the corporate political games that are necessary to garner the coveted positions. Brilliant in his field, he purposely remains understated as he unobtrusively facilitates his subordinates in order to ensure their success.
A third friend is enmeshed in an unsolvable marriage. Yet I never hear one word of complaint, as he chooses to exhibit compassion and graciousness toward his spouse.
These men probably will never have their names in lights. But in my book they are the real heroes! Heroes who are becoming Christlike.
My guess is that you too have your Gethsemane. You too have your cross. And your cross is not the gold-plated, smooth or shiny model. Rather, it is rugged and bruising, and with you all the time.
How you decide to respond to that cross will spell the difference between a life of crippling bitterness that diminishes your inner spiritual life, or a life of praise that enables you to surmount, and ascend.
“Each (man) shall bear his own private burden… Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you… because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (Galatians 6:5 – Wuest Translation; 1 Corinthians 15:58)