Friday, December 30, 2005

Praise! (Part 1)

My mouth is filled with praise, declaring your splendor all day long. (Psalm 71:8 NIV)
It is the custom of all churches to sing hymns of praise at worship services. It is not the habit of Christians to sing praise all day long.
I remember clearly the text that was preached the Saturday night in October 1947 when I received Christ. It was Psalm 40: 2:
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (NIV)
The result of my cry to God that night is expressed by verse three of Psalm 40:
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. (NIV)
Truly he put a new song into my mouth. Because of his new song, many have put their trust in the Lord.
Please make a habit of singing hymns daily if you have a new song in your mouth. Here are two hymns of praise:

All Hail the Power

All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall,
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all,
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race;
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all,
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all.


I Will Praise Him

When I saw the cleansing fountain,
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing
When He said, “Wilt thou be clean?”

Tho the way seems straight and narrow,
All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes
At my feet in ashes lay.

Then God’s fire upon the altar
Of my heart was set aflame;
I shall never cease to praise Him¾
Glory, glory to His name!

Blessed be the name of Jesus!
I’m so glad he took me in;
He’s forgiven my transgressions,
He has cleansed my heart from sin.

Glory, glory to the Father!
Glory, glory to the Son!
Glory, glory to the Spirit!
Glory to the Three in One!

(Chorus)
I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
For His blood can wash away each stain.

I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:10 NIV)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Creation

Psalm 33:6,9

6" By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth."

9" For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm."

I have been slightly acquainted with the Evolution/Intelligent Design discussion. From my middle distance perspective I have observed several things about the I. D. presentations:

1. They have had to dumb down the presentation to the level of understanding of the evolutionists. Apparently they have not dumbed it down enough.

2. Intelligent Design is the greatest understatement in history.

3. "Design" is singular--How many designs are there?

4. Design only has to do with the architecture/the drawings.

5. How about the contractor, the builder, the technician who implemented the design?

6. This contractor, builder, technician has no shop, raw materials, equipment, or machinery to implement the drawing.

Psalm 115:3

" Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him"

John 1:3

"Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lack of Joy

Here is an answer to a question posted on my comments for the post "Joy!"

Q: If sin has been confessed and forsaken, and joy is still not present (more of a dry, dusty, maybe-lost-in-the-wilderness-for-40-years kind of life, actually), what then?....

A: There are several possibilities for the dry, dusty, long life.

  1. You have confessed and forsaken the big sins but not all of the little ones that set you up for the big ones. "Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless,innocent of great transgression." (Psalm 19:13)
  2. You do not believe that God has forgiven you. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
  3. You are not obeying Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" That is a command. Disobeying it is sin. Confess and forsake the sin of not rejoicing.
  4. You do not think it is right to rejoice in forgiveness after such a sin.
  5. You believe you have to do some sort of penance for God to know that you really mean your confession.
  6. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." (2 Corinthians 7:10) There are two types of sorrow, Godly and worldly. There is no virtue in worldly sorrow. It is remorse. It leads to death. Godly sorrow leads to repentance which leads to salvation and leaves no regret. If you still have regret, then you did not repent. You did not repent because your sorrow was not Godly, it was worldly. If you still have remorse then you were not forgiven. If you were forgiven there would be no regret.
  7. There is a possibility that you are not saved. God has promised everlasting joy: "The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." (Isaiah 51:11) He has commanded joy now: "Be joyful always." (1 Thessalonians 5:16) The fruit of the Spirit is joy: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ..." (Galatians 5:22)

Whatever the reason, you are under some sort of chastening. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11) That is the only Biblical reason for no joy. Find out what it is and confess it. You will not find it by introspection. That is a downer. Come into God's presence! Have Him search. Don't you search.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

God's Joy

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
This is one of the great verses of God’s character expressed towards us. Most of us know that He is with us, that He saves us, and that He loves us. But there are two additional expressions that cause me to wonder:
He will take great delight in you.
That ought to help any Christian with a “poor self-image.” God delights in me greatly!
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Most of us love to sing praises to Him with joy. Here it tells us that He also sings with joy over us.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Joy!

Most of us can remember the joy we had when we received Christ. Perhaps some will have to make an effort to remember, simply because they no longer have joy.
A friend came to our home in Yokohama, Japan some years ago. He had been my roommate aboard an aircraft carrier, and during our time together he had become a Christian. On this visit he said, “I have that deep inner peace that I belong to Christ, but I don’t have daily victory. I don’t have daily joy.”
Of course something was wrong. It is basic that joy, as well as peace, are results of salvation. Our joy is in our salvation. Jesus promised in John 16:22b:
I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (NIV)
When the seventy returned from their evangelistic itinerary, rejoicing because of the power and authority they had and miracles they had done, Jesus told them their joy was misplaced…
However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20 NIV)
We tend to think that circumstances are the primary cause for having joy, but according to the prophet Habakkuk, this is not so:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17, 18 NIV)
Something was wrong with my friend in Yokohama. Whatever it was, he and I knew that it wasn’t circumstances. Joy is a state. It may be an expressive state, but it is not the same as pleasure. Pleasure and joy may be expressed in the same way. For instance, I can sing for joy or I can sing for pleasure. In the first case, singing is the result of the great joy; it bursts out into singing. In the second case, singing is the cause of the pleasure, not the result.
This is true with other forms of expression, such as dancing and laughing. I can sing or dance or laugh for joy, but singing, dancing or laughing will not bring joy. They might bring pleasure, and we might convince ourselves that this is joy or rejoicing.
In the texts quoted earlier we see that joy is directly related to the Lord and His salvation for us. Why then do we sometimes lack joy? We have an explanation in Hebrews 12:11:
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV)
Discipline comes from God (Hebrews 12:5, 6) because of unconfessed sin in the Christian’s life. But God intends discipline to be momentary. God’s loving discipline yields peace and a right relationship with Him to those who learn and respond to His discipline. If a person does not learn and is not trained by discipline, then the loss of joy continues; discipline is then not momentary and remains the cause for loss of joy. The right response to discipline for sin is the confession and forsaking of sin. Joy then returns.
One of the reasons we had great joy when we received Christ was that our sins were all forgiven. We had become clean after years of accumulated sin. If after our conversion we begin accumulating sins again and do not confess them, then we shall wonder where the joy has gone. We are under chastening, and it is not joyous. To walk in a joyful relationship with Him requires that we be honest with Him. God has promised His faithfulness to forgive and cleanse on one condition:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)
When my friend realized that it was a matter of instant confession for daily joy, he confessed his sins, and his joy was restored.
King David had been disciplined for his sin. He had lost his joy. Psalm 51 is a record of his confession; he prays,
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (Psalm 51:12, 13 NIV)
David knew that he could not teach transgressors, and sinners would not come to the Lord as long as he was without the joy of the Lord’s salvation. Think of those you know who are effective in evangelism. Are they people with joy? Are they people who know all the right answers on the plan of salvation, but who do not seem to rejoice? If we are going to draw water from the well of salvation, let’s do it with joy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

God's Grace (Part 2)

But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation¾ if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. (Colossians 1:22-23 NIV)

Notice the wonderful phrases, like these: holy in His sight, without blemish, free from accusation. This is in contrast to the phrases in the preceding sentence: alienated from God, enemies in your minds, evil behavior.
This is what reconciliation means. It changes our relationship with God. The change is not minimal, like from “aliens” to “friends,” but is overwhelming, i.e. “alienated from God” to “holy in His sight;” similarly from “enemies in your minds” to “without blemish” and “evil behavior” to “free from accusation.” Let us praise Him for His grace.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

God's Grace (Part 1)

His love has no limit;
His grace has no measure;
His power no boundary known unto man.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
--Annie Johnson Flint

Here are a few phrases from the Scriptures describing grace in quantitative terms:

...how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5:15 NIV)

...grace increased all the more… (Romans 5:20 NIV)

...God’s abundant provision of grace... (Romans 5:17 NIV)

...Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2 NIV)

But he gives us more grace... (James 4:6 NIV)

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16 NIV)

...and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33 NIV)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you... (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

...because of the surpassing grace God has given you. (2 Corinthians 9:14 NIV)

...in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us... (Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV)

God is not stingy with grace. He is not a miser. He does not dole out grace in driblets. As a result, we who know Him know Him as wealthy in grace.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Truth

Illustrations are an effective means of teaching truth or falsehood. They can be used to hammer home a truth and to make it easier to apply the truth. They are also easy to remember. They also make it difficult for the student to sneak by or ignore a strong command.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;' and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly,"Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37 NIV)


The expert in the law asked two questions; Jesus asked three.
Expert:
1. "Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
2. "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus:
1. "What is written in the law?"
2. "How do you read it?"
3. "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell
into the hands of robbers?"

The expert did not want an answer to his first question nor his second. He was testing Jesus with the intent that Jesus would fail the test.
Jesus gave the man two answers: "Do this and you will live,' and "Go and do likewise."

The truth was very clear in the command before the illustration and could not be avoided after it.