Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Through It All...

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

What a wonderful admonition from the Apostle Paul! Might it be the earnest expectation, and fervent labor of every genuine believer to have "the word of Christ" dwelling in us "richly in all wisdom!" However, it is the second part of this deep well of wisdom that I wish to pursue: Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

As I examined this verse my heart was immediately taken to the night the Lord saw fit to begin a work of grace in my heart. Some many years ago, in the midst of a horrible Winter storm I wandered into First Baptist Church in Irvine, Kentucky on a Sunday evening. I wasn't sure what to expect or what would happen, and then I was completely overwhelmed by the Spirit of God! It was not when Pastor Sherl Thomas began his stirring sermon on our Lord's death and resurrection. Rather, violent conviction began when they opened the service with a hymn, "How Great Thou Art!" I well recall feeling so small, so sinful, and so wicked as God's people lifted their hearts and voices to heaven to praise the Great God of all creation. By the time Pastor Thomas began preaching, I was more than ready to hear a message of redemption for my wicked estate.

Thinking of the many great hymns that God has used to influence me, I often think of Trust and Obey. What truthful, and powerful instruction is found in this great hymn! "Trust and obey. For there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey." How often I have needed to be reminded that my disobedience was causing the discontent and sorrow in my heart. Then upon hearing these words I'm reminded that joy returns when I turn from wickedness and pursue righteousness with all my heart!

One of my favorite hymns is "Grace Greater than all our Sin." I love and cling to the words, "Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace. Freely bestowed on all who believe." How often I've struggled with those things left behind, and have needed the reminder of God's everlasting love and grace.

How could I fail to mention the great hymn of our Christian testimony, "Amazing Grace." That first stanza revealing the truth of our initial experience with God's amazing saving grace. Now I'm currently living the third stanza, "Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." And oh how we long for the conclusion of our salvation when "we've no less days to sing His praise than when we first begun."

My favorite modern hymn writer is Andrae Crouch. I absolutely love "Through It All" and in moments of uncertainty and struggle, I often drift toward that great hymn for encouragement and reminder. Soon and Very Soon, The Blood Will Never Loose It's Power, To God Be The Glory... So many powerful and encouraging hymns from Andrae Crouch!

In closing, I thought I'd share one of my favorite hymns. I pray it encourage you as it has me!

Monday, July 5, 2010

God Knows Everything

In the scriptures, in order to help you and I better understand our God, certain attributes of God are described with anthropopathic and anthropomorphic language. Anthropopathic language consists of human emotions attributed to God in order to help us better understand Him. You might read, "It repented the Lord that He had done this." You might read "It angered the Lord." You get the jest. Anthropomorphic language consists of human attributes given to God to help us understand Him better. You might read "the hand of God" or "finger of God" etc.

With anthropomorphic language in mind, consider the following... In the 15th Proverb and the 3rd verse the wisdom writer declares, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." What a humbling and sobering thought this invokes. Everywhere we go, and everything we do is seen by the eyes of our Sovereign Lord! In the 33rd Psalm the Psalmist makes the following assertion, "The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works." From God's heavenly throne He beholds every work committed by the hand of every man, woman, boy and girl. There's is absolutely nothing you and I can do that escapes the eyes of the Lord.

God not only sees the actions performed by every living being, He also knows the very thoughts, desires, and motives of every human being. Consider carefully the words of David in the 139th Psalm and the first 8 verses, "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there."
A. God knew everything about David's daily living, including every thought he had.
B. Before David took any journey in His life's path, God already knew of that journey.
C. David understood that God's knowledge was far too great for him to ever comprehend.
D. David understood that there is no escaping God's knowledge. Every action, and every thought of man is clearly seen by God Almighty.

Not only does God know everything about human actions, and not only does God know everything about human thoughts, but God knows everything about everything! Note these words from the 147th Psalm and the 5th verse, "Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite." There is no end to God's knowledge of all things! Paul considered this great truth, and here was his conclusion of the matter from Romans 11:33-36, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

We can sum this all up by stating the following: God is omniscient. Simply put, God knows everything about everything! There is no limit to God's understanding and knowledge of all things. He truly is the I Am.

Now, we might be curious as to how God can know everything about everything. How can God know with certainty what shall happen tomorrow, or what we will do tomorrow? The answer is profound, and actually causes this writer to live in reverential fear of this awesome Creator we serve. Here is the answer from Isaiah 46 and verse 10, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Consider those words carefully dear friend. God knows what will happen tomorrow because He sovereignly created and declared everything that will happen tomorrow, when He created the beginning of all we know in the heavens and the earth. I must agree with Paul that when contemplating God's knowledge it leads me to declare, "The Lord's ways are past finding out! To Him be the glory forever, Amen!"

What is to be our response to these things? How do we as finite humans respond to such marvelous truths about God's omniscience?
1. Since God sees every action we perform, we should do all things to the praise of the glory of His good name. Our daily manner of living should consist of holiness, righteousness, and obedience to His truth. Whatever we eat, or drink, or whatever we do should be done to the glory of God.
2. Since God knows every thought, we must seek to flee from wicked influence, and we renew our minds with the things of God. Bible study, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and filling our minds with things that are lovely and true should be our daily routine. We should also avoid watching, reading, listening to, touching, or even keeping company with anything that is wicked and would lead to the pollution of our minds.
3. When we as God's children truly believe God knows everything, and that He is in sovereign control of all things, we should take comfort in Him. Our faith should increase, our trust should grow, and our fears should fade. Note these words from Isaiah 40:28-29 "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." Even as we pray Jesus reminds us, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of even before ye ask Him."
4. I believe it was RC Sproul who said that for the unbeliever the thought of God's omniscience should bring a reaction of genuine terror. After the Psalmist asks in Psalm 94, "LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?" he continues on to mention the evil boasting of these same wicked men who say, "The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." Yet the conclusion of the whole matter comes in verses 9-11, "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." The hearts of the wicked that think they can hide their words, actions, and thoughts from God are here reminded that God sees all they do, hears all they know, and even knows every wicked thought they have. Furthermore, a coming day of His judgment will deliver to each of them their just reward. The reward of the wicked is described by Paul as being a day of "flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." The wicked man's response should be fear, followed by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.

Consider these matters today. Pray about the matter of God's omniscience, and pray the Lord examine your heart and reveal if there be any unclean thing. What a great a mighty God we serve! He alone knows the depth of our hearts, and He alone is capable of cleansing us of all unrighteousness. Cry to Him today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What to do when struggling with a besetting transgression...

I was pondering this morning the various conversations I've had with others pertaining to particular besetting transgressions. What I mean by a besetting transgression is a re-occurring sinful action that one struggles with, and seems to be incapable of overcoming. All of God's children struggle with besetting sins.

In Hebrews 12:4 the scripture mentions our "struggle with sin." In Romans 6 the Apostle Paul says much of our struggle and warfare with the sin which seeks to entangle us, and competes against the Spirit of righteousness we have been granted as God's children. James even tells us that a besetting sin could be our failure to do what is right. Regardless of what our personal struggle might be, the scripture is clear in that we all struggle, wrestle, compete against, and make war with besetting sins.

So I began to ponder on how God, by His grace, has helped me with besetting sin. It might seem very simple, but I believe the following to be Biblical and practical. I pray the Lord use it to bless and encourage you...

1. Scripture. The Psalmist proclaimed it is God's Word that is hidden in our heart that prevents us from sinning against God (Psalm 119:11). Paul told Timothy that the Word of God was completely sufficient for correction, and for training us to do what is right (2 Timothy 3:16-17). James tells us that sin begins in the heart with evil thoughts, and then is manifested in evil actions. Yet when our hearts are filled with memorized scripture speaking directly to our particular struggle, we'll find the Holy Spirit using them to convict us and steer us away from transgression.

2. Prayer. Oh that we might cry out to God for grace! It is God that works within us both to be willing, and to perform the actions that are pleasing to Him. We look to self help books, twelve step programs, pop culture fads, and celebrity endorsed literature to help us "overcome our illness." The problem is not that we just have "a social illness," the problem is that apart from the grace of God we will do nothing but transgress! How much time are you spending broken before a Holy God, praying His grace transform your heart and life? "Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless things we bear. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer." The scripture speaks of sanctification performed within us by the Holy Spirit as we submit to God and flee from sin. Therefore, yield to Him in prayer, and plead for His Spirit to sanctify to strengthen you.

3. Repentance. Understand, I mean genuine repentance. Genuine repentance is a true change. It is from one direction toward another. If we are genuinely to repent, we must cease from the influences that tempt us to transgress. If a man's besetting sin is that he finds himself in a drunken stupor when around alcohol, then genuine repentance would lead him out of the bar! If a man's besetting sin is that he commits adultery by flirting with a waitress, then genuine repentance will lead him to eat elsewhere! Saying I'm sorry, and then continuing to be influenced by and frequenting those things which tempt us to sin is NOT repentance. Genuine repentance seeks to flee from all forms of ungodliness and unrighteousness.

4. Accountability. Not only from God, but from others. James tells us to "confess to one another our faults, and pray for one another." I have found that certain Godly men have been the greatest of treasure in my life as they have prayed for me, encouraged me, and helped to hold me accountable as I have struggled in various areas of besetting sin. I can not count the times that I have been in great battles with unrighteousness, but have had Godly men and women on the battlefield with me. Oh what a precious gift from God we have in the Church! Often we fail to use the church, one of our greatest gifts from God.

I pray these things have encouraged and helped you. I know they have helped me many times, and still do. Grace to you all.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter Bible Study Conference Jan 17

I am very excited for our 2010 Winter Bible Study Conference. This year's theme is apologetic as we tackle three very important questions many unbelievers wrestle with. I truly believe you'll be blessed tremendously as you join us for this year's conference.

The conference takes place Sunday January 17th and is broken into four parts. A teaching meeting at 10:00 a.m., one at 11:00 a.m., a question/answer time and free meal at 12:15 p.m., and the final teaching meeting at 6:00 p.m.

At 10:00 a.m. we'll be joined by Brother Jeff Ryder as he answers the question, "What is true, Evolution or the Biblical account of Creation?" Jeff's lovely wife Missy will be blessing us in song prior to the lesson.

In the 11:00 a.m. service Brother Sherl Thomas answers the question, "What must I do to be saved?" With so many opinions and philosophies, find out exactly how the Bible answers man's most pressing question. Prior to Brother Thomas preaching, the New Found Four gospel quartet will be ministering in song.

In the 6:00 p.m. service Brother Matthew Perry will be tackling the question, "Is the Bible truly God's word?" With all the attacks against Holy Writ in our new age society, Brother Perry brings much needed insight into the veracity and validity of the Bible. The New Found Four will again be ministering in song during this service.

We hope to see you there are we worship together on January 17th, 2010.