"Faithful are the wounds of a friend" - Proverbs 27:6
This Proverb is talking about the times when our friend or friends come to us and say things to us which - at first - may sting a little (or a lot) but ultimately serve our greater good. Notice it says "faithful" are the wound of a friend. When we confront someone with sin in their lives, when someone we know or love has veered off the straight and narrow, it is a faithful thing to try to bring them back towards the Lord.
But sometimes those words our friends bring to us in the form or rebuke or admonishion hurt - they are like a wound. Our carnal flesh, our sinful flesh will recoil at others who lovingly try to show us where we have gone wrong. Often, we take out our frustrations on them - attacking the messenger rather than dealing with the message. Wounds can hurt, but when viewed with a repentant heart, they are seen for what they really are.
This is what true friendship is all about, it's about helping one another remain faithful to God. Through our prayers, words and concerns we are to act as "our brother's keeper" in the sense of having each other's spiritual well-being in mind. True Christian friendship is sometimes best seen in this way - leading a fellow believer back into a plain and righteous path. If you are the one on the receiving end of this - remember faithful are the wounds of a true and godly friend.
"God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" - Deut. 4:24
The Lord is stingy when it comes to His worship. He reserves the right to accept no alternatives - we are to worship Him and Him alone. Anything we place in front of God becomes an idol. If the Lord is not first in our hearts and minds, when it is no longer the Spirit of God guiding us, but our own carnal nature - seeking after what it wants - we have fallen into idolatry. God is jealous for His own worship. It is sinful when we fail to give to Jehovah that which is His rightful due. What idols exist in your life? In what ways do the things of this world - the cares and concerns of wordliness - creep in and take His rightful place in your life? Where ever idolatry resides in our life, we are commanded to repent of it and turn in faith back to God. For how much better it is to find God merciful and full of grace, than a consuming fire, ready to destroy!
"For the Word of God is... sharper than any two-edged sword"
The other day, I was watching a video of a samurai swordsman demonstrating his skill by cutting through various objects. He could slice a pea pod lengthwise into two. This samurai could cut a golf ball thrown at him in half. And as one of his last exhibitions, he showed how sharp a samurai sword really is by cutting a piece of steel tubing in two with the greatest of ease.
This video illustrating the sharpness of a samurai sword reminded me of just how razor sharp God's Word needs to be to pierce through the hard hearts of men. If steel is hard, men's hearts can be all the harder. As sin sets in, it hardens like concrete. Our conscience becomes numb to the sin in our lives and we lose sight of what it good and true. And it takes something extra sharp to cut through the sin to free our souls.
Christians must become good swordsmen, capable of weilding the Word of God in such a manner as to help others cut through the sin which suffocates their heart. Trained in the art of swordsmanship, the Christian must begin speaking and living the Word of God in such a way as it comes into contact both with their own sin and the sin of others. If we will but be faithful in unsheathing God's Word, He will do the rest.
"He must increase, but I must decrease." - John 3:30
As John the Baptist gazed upon the Lamb which would take away the sins of the world, one of the only things he could utter was his own complete unwothiness to be in the presence of such splendor and glory. Surely as the man considered his own frame, his own sin and wretched heart, he knew that his ministry, his person must give way, that he must fade into the light that is Jesus Christ.
The role of the minister of the Lord Jesus Christ is an ever decreasing one. The purpose of the pastor is to point people towards the Savior. He is like a mirror, reflecting the person and work of Christ. He should not be seen for himself, but in the fashion of a John the Baptist, decreasing that Jesus might increase. This is a real challenge for any man who is placed in a position of popularity, respect and influence. John knew the temptation to seek his own glory. He had followers; those who would have probably went with him whether he followed Jesus or not. But John knew his purpose. His heart was aflame for the Messiah. And his only desire was to lead people to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ministers in the Church today would do well to check their motives, and their ministry. Are you leading people to Christ? When people look at you, are they immediately redirected to seeing Jesus? Does humility and deference define you as a person? John the Baptist understood and embraced his ever decreasing role in the presence of the splendor and glory of Jesus Christ. May we, as ministers of God, imitate the same.
"I am the LORD, and there is no other..." - Isaiah 45:5
At the time of this writing, the SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) is suppose to be deliberating over one of its most important and historic landmark cases – the right to gay marriage. With the decline of Christian based morality and the rise of modern secular humanism, this event has been long in coming. It was just a matter of time before this hot-topic issue would end up in front of the highest court in our God-forsaken country.
As most people look on with curious expectation, one has to pause and wonder about the passionate fury so closely associated with this movement. With all the crowds, yelling and signs, why are homosexuals relentlessly pushing for legal recognition of their wicked relationships? Why the unyielding legal pursuit to legitimize the “love which (used to) dare not speak its name”?
Here is why. The legalization of homosexual marriage isn't about the legalization of homosexual marriage. “What?” you might be asking yourself. Follow me here... This real issue behind the gay-rights movement has to do with ultimate authority. Or to put it another way - in answering whether gay marriage is legitimate or not - the SCOTUS is answering the question, “Who will be our god?”
What we’re failing to realize is the question of whether homosexuality is lawful or unlawful is eternally settled. Yet, modern secular man sees an opportunity to overturn the long standing law of God regarding this matter. As the culture continues to slip away from its long held heritage of Christian principle and law, the homosexual agenda provides arrogant humanists another opportunity to assert their divine like declaration over this matter. Marriage is a divine institution. The question is which "divine" will we serve?
This though is what the Christian’s perspective ought to be. No court of human law has the authority to overturn truth. When man makes something legal which God has declared illegal (according to His law), man’s law has no ground upon which to stand. We can say the same about abortion. Simply because the god-state of America has legalized the murder of innocent children doesn’t validate it in the eyes of God. The same holds true for unholy unions.
So again, please see what is really happening in your society. As abortion, gay-rights, or whatever sinful and evil practice is being legitimized through the laws and courts of this land, they are saying in effect, “We are god now!.” Humanistic morality is replacing Christian morality. God’s law is being usurped by man’s capricious dictates. And the corruptive and corroding results can be felt in every area of life.
But also remember dear saints, the Lord is God and there is no other. God is not mocked. Man will certainly reap what he sows. If we persist in sowing sin, then we will reap judgment. As we leave the sure foundations of law and morality and slide into the morass of cultural relativism, be aware beloved, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a mighty and righteous Lord.
A couple of days ago CNN host Piers Morgan made the controversial statement
the Bible is “inherently flawed” and it needs “amending”. Naturally this has caused something of an uproar in the broader Evangelical and Christian communities. Yet, most of what is coming out in the way of a response to this event is the typical emotive sentimentalism which has for too long described contemporary Christianity. This type of knee-jerk reply is and will remain an unprofitable answer to these kinds of attack on our faith.
So, what does constitute a profitable rejoinder to Mr. Morgan’s comment? Allow me to try to provide one. Whether he realizes it or not, Piers Morgan’s statement is deeply theological and points to an underlying issue that prompts the kind of rhetoric he espoused and it also obliges a firm but loving response from believers.
There can only be one supreme power or authority. It is either going to be God or man. Since the Fall of man, men have been vying for this position of supremacy. For eons there have been those who view mankind, not in light of his fallen nature, but as an evolutionary animal which has evolved into an intellectual and cultural phenomenon. In the minds of people like Mr. Morgan, humanity has ‘progressed’ beyond the barriers of the Bible. Therefore, because the Bible portrays man in a light diametrically opposed to that in which modern men paint themselves, contemporary men, men like Piers, have become convinced the Bible must be “inherently flawed”.
But as usual, the issue always comes down to truth. And in this case, the truth is -it isn’t the Bible that is inherently flawed - it is Piers Morgan. This situation is a classic case of psychological projection. It is where someone denies his or her own attributes, and projects them on someone (or in this case) something else, namely the Bible. Like all people, Piers Morgan is “inherently flawed”, tainted by the effects of sin, and under the Lord’s condemnation. Yet because of man’s own blindness to his condition, he fails to recognize this and seeks to ‘project’ his condition on God (or the Bible).
The truth about man is in the Bible for all to read. For example, in Jeremiah 17:9 the Bible reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; who can know it
?” King David admitted, “I was brought forth in iniquity
…” (Psalm 51:5). And Jesus teaches those following Him, “No one is good, but God
” (Matthew 19:17). Likewise, the Bible is also clear: Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil
The bottom line is, Piers Morgan is denying the truth about his own flawed condition and seeks to hide this truth by attacking the source: the Bible. Mr. Morgan wants to be in the place of judging God and His Word rather than God and His Word examining and judging him. By projecting his own condition on the Scriptures, Mr. Morgan hopes to rid himself of his own personal guilt before a righteous Lord.
Sadly this will never work. There is only one person who will ever allow us to project our flaws upon Him – Jesus Christ. Don’t run from the Bible Mr. Morgan, it isn’t flawed at all... you are. Therefore flee to the One who can restore you and heal your soul. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ the one man of whom the Bible says “Behold, the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world
“So you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness.” – Pr. 2:20
There is a lot of talk in the news recently of a “fiscal cliff”. The concern is, America is heading into rough financial times and tough difficult decisions need to be made to help secure our country’s economic future. The point seems to be, if radical changes aren’t made quickly, a proverbial cliff awaits our economic future.
Similarly, every Christian needs to be aware of the “spiritual cliff” which is always looms nearby. You are a work in progress and temptation to fall away lays waiting at the door of your heart eager to lead you back to an old life of sin and over the spiritual cliff which leads to death. Therefore may you stay near to God. As the Proverb states, always walk in the way of goodness. Don’t tempt the cliff, but maintain a safe distance from the edge. Keep to the paths of righteousness, for there are you are secure and close to the Lord.
Someone once said, “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” We have all forgot things. You might have even forgotten something today. Whether it's our car keys, our glasses, an appointment, or to take our medicine, our brains do not always remind us of the things we need to do. In other words, the idea of forgetting, the concept of not being able to recall or remember something is usually painted in a bad light. Forgetting is bad. Not remembering is not a good thing. It is true there will always be those things we need to remember, and when we forget them it causes us difficulty, hardship or could in some cases even be dangerous.
But the Bible speaks to a kind of forgetting which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact the Scriptures teach us there is a kind of forgetting which is, in a very real sense, required by followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The passage I have in mind is found in Philippians 3:13-14. Listen if you would as I read this Scripture verse to you and consider when forgetting is actually good.
"Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal."
I enjoy the game of soccer, and it can be a fast paced game. Decisions have to be made in an instant. And sometimes a player can forget a simple rule or skill; he can make a mistake and cost his team. At this point he has two choices, he can continue to dwell on his mistake, he can continue to kick himself for forgetting, or he can move on with the flow of the game and try harder to help his team win. The really good players can brush off mistakes quickly and resume his focus on what lies ahead.
Well, the Christian faith is must like this. Paul tells us here in Philippians, believers should forget the things which are behind. We cannot change the past. Our sinfulness, our lives before Christ, our lives even yesterday is what they are. And to spend time dwelling and regretting past mistakes, past failures is not the best use of our present time. The Bible says to forget the past, to once and for all, place the past behind us and let the past be the past. Bury it and move on from it.
Forgetting the things which are behind, the Bible says stretch forward to the things what are ahead. It's been said we cannot change our past, but we have full opportunity to change our future. As Christians we are to look forward to the life we are to life in Christ Jesus. We can make decisions everyday as to how we are going live our lives. We can stay back in the past; or we can press on towards the goal and the glory of what awaits the faithful children of God.
This is not to say we should minimize our past. But keep it in perspective. Remember Jesus has forgiven your sins. Remember He has forgotten your sins and you should too. Believe that Christ has absolutely forgiven! Our past often teaches us how to live in the present and prepare better for the future. So, our past has some usefulness. But we need to treat the past like we eat a watermelon - chew on the meat and spit out the seeds. Use what is good and forget the rest.
Sometimes forgetting can be a good thing. As Christians, we have a goal to press towards. We cannot afford to waste time dwelling in those things which are behind. There is too much awaiting us ahead! The idea here of "pressing" towards that goal means to make it our all consuming focus. Christ is to be our all consuming focus. Jesus is to be what fills our hearts and mind. There should be no room in spirit for the past; it should be filled with Him. Let us therefore, keep our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our minds fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. And press towards that glorious goal, the goal of a life completely surrendered to Him, and a home awaiting us in heaven.
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." - Heb 4:15
We often fear talking too strongly of Christ's humanity so as to not compromise His divinity. Yet Jesus was fully man. Had He not been Jesus would not be a satisfactory substitute on the Cross on the behlaf of man. Jesus became as unto man, that by faith, we could become likened unto Him.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Rom. 6:23
A minister friend of mine once told me that before you can save a person, you must get them lost. In other words, before a person falls on their knees in repentance and faith, they must first realize they're in need of grace. This verse in Romans accomplishes just that. It puts forth first a clear expression of every sinner - the wages of sin is death. Spiritual death. Separation from God. Everlasting condemnation. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore all are sinners. Therefore everyone earns the wages of sin. This get everyone lost.
The good news is we don't have to remain lost. Though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. The problem is, most people don't think their lost. They don't see their sin for what it is, therefore convincing them of their impending destruction is challenging. This is why the Scriptures often present the truth of redemption in this twofold manner. Law then grace, sin then forgiveness. Before you can present salvation to a sinner, they must come to know themselves as sinners. Before you can save a person, you must get them lost. Tell them the wages for their sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.