Saturday, November 29, 2008

Watch Your Attitude

I. God Notices Neglect

A. When ancient Israel confused Worshiped and worshiper, God found the thoughtless neglect wearisome. “But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” (Isaiah 43:22-24)

B. Ignorance of God and what He wants is functional atheism. “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” (Jeremiah 4:22)

C. Neglecting God and what He requires amounts to picking a quarrel with Him. “Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” (Hosea 4:1) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)

D. Forgetfulness of God is abnormal in a true believer.; the behavior is provocative. “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” (Jeremiah 2:32)

E. Avoid being provocative; to live intentionally for God is the safe way to live. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)

F. The safe way to live is also the most successful way to live. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

II. God Notices Bad Attitudes

A. Some things about God are so obvious that ignorance of them is insulting; God cannot be the product of His creatures. “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:23) “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts 17:29)

B. If God is God, then representing Him as if He were one of His creatures inherently misrepresents Him. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (Isaiah 40:18)

C. Assuming that God is marred with human flaws ignores His holiness and leads people to take dangerous and unnecessary risks with their souls. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” (Psalm 50:21 )

D. God also notices and appreciates good attitudes. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:7-12)

III. Bad Theology Compounds Problems

A. God has revealed what He wants people to know about Him and what He wants them to do; neglecting these things to focus on things God keeps to Himself inevitably causes problems. The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

B. Jesus made a point of telling His disciples that some things were none of their business. “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7 )

C. Theology which conforms to the spirit of the age produces unnatural loves which leave no room for the love of God. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Colossians 3:5)

D. Be cautious about letting ideas take root; not all theology is good theology. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

E. Avoid heretics like contagious diseases. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;” (Titus 3:10) “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” (Proverbs 1:10)

F. Organize the mind around what is virtuous and productive so that there is no room for what is not positive and productive spiritually. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God Is in Charge

Psalm 47 – We Win When He Wins

I. God Chose His People

A. God brings good times as He gathers all people to Him. To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” (Psalm 47:1)

1. The Bible is optimistic about God’s triumph. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

2. Sometimes joy and weeping come simultaneously, but no one can ignore the revival of God’s work. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:11-13)

B. Reality has no neutral zone outside the law and administration of God. “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.” (Psalm 47:2)

C. God takes the side of His people and He will certainly prevail. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.” (Psalm 47:3) “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

D. As God gave inheritances to His ancient people; He will provide what is best for believers across eternity. He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.” (Psalm 47:4)

1. The final victory has been part of the plan from the start. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Matthew 25:34)

2. There will be no question about the victory when the King seizes the kingdom. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

II. God’s Government Is Revealing Itself

A. The faithful hear the victory shout of the ascending King of Glory; the war has been won. God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” (Psalm 47:5)

B. The celebration of God’s victory does not have to wait for the future. “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.” (Psalm 47:6)

C. No place is independent and outside God’s control even at the present stage of history. “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.” (Psalm 47:7)

D. The world does not understand the Lamb of God and therefore it does not grasp that the Lion of God is even now triumphing. “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:5-11)

III. God Is King

A. Holiness is the standard by which God is reigning and that government extends over unbelievers as well as believers. “God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.” (Psalm 47:8)

B. All people will eventually acknowledge the Lordship of Christ. The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.” (Psalm 47:9)


Psalm 126:1-6; Luke 15:11-31 / Psalm 125:1-5

I. Hard Times Have Limits

A. The Babylonian captivity had limits; God brought His people home. A Song of degrees. When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.” (Psalm 126:1)

B. Distress causes actual believers to turn to God for what they cannot supply themselves. A Song of degrees. In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.” (Psalm 120:1) “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” (Jonah 2:2)

C. Hard times clarify the full measure of God’s grace; God is the helper of the helpless. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:” (Psalm 124:2-3)

D. Remember how God helped Moses when the leaders of Israel rose in rebellion against him. “And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” (Numbers 16:2-3)

E. There is room in the church for the returning prodigal. “And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:21-24)

II. Grace Is Great

A. Grace overwhelms; even nonbelievers marvel. “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” (Psalm 126:2)

B. When Ezra brought the people to Jerusalem, revival spread and the holy people flourished. “And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. (Ezra 3:11)

C. Even the ultimate collapse of the old order worked for good to the entire world as the gospel went out from Jerusalem to the nations. “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15)

D. God’s gifts spill all over. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” (Psalm 126:3) “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:5-6)

E. God is the source of hope and joy. “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” (Psalm 126:3)

III. Start Thanking God

A. Keep asking; do not let awareness of sin and punishment stand in the way of grace. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.” (Psalm 126:4)

B. Acting when the situation seems hopeless yields a joyful harvest; Christians are the ultimate contrarians. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126:5)

C. The hard times are times to plant and the crops planted then yield well. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)

D. Hard times always pass for God’s people. “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

E. God cannot be mocked and He will not forget His promises. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

The Real Problem

1 Kings 18:1-40; Mark 7:14-23 / Psalm 49:1-20

I. First Locate the Problem

A. Life’s problems come either from Providence in which case they are actually opportunities or they originate in the human heart and express sin. “And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.” (Mark 7:14-15)

1. The failure to trace sin to its source leaves a person or a culture limping between incompatible visions of realty, morally stalled. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21)

2. People who look in the wrong places cannot find their way to the godly life. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17)

B. The crisis of the times is not skin deep, economic, political, or environmental; it is the corruption of one’s own heart. “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” (Matthew 26:11) If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 7:16)

II. Perhaps My Case Is the Exception

A. On the surface Jesus seems to be wrong; why does Jesus dismiss the possibility that in my case someone else is at fault? “And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. (Mark 7:17)

B. Nothing will improve until people learn to distinguish between problem and opportunity. “And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” (Mark 7:18-19)

C. There are no exceptions; God keeps teaching the same lessons to those He loves until they learn. “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” (Isaiah 28:9-10)

D. Jeremiah succinctly explained why self-justification inevitably fails. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

III. Take Responsibility

A. Jesus traced sin to the human heart. “And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.” (Mark 7:20)

1. If the mind is the problem, the path to holiness must begin with the mind. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

2. The struggles and opportunities of life will unfold to God’s glory when the heart is right with God; without that focus everything will go wrong. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)

B. All the forms of evil behavior begin in the mind as it processes life. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,” (Mark 7:21) “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)

C. God encourages believers to entrust their hearts to Him. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

D. Jesus leaves no exceptions. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:23)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why Worry?

Psalm 46 -- Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

I. God Takes Care of His Own

A. Here is the psalm of holy confidence which Luther turned into the national anthem of German Protestantism. To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

B. God’s people have no reason to fear difficult times. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;” (Psalm 46:2)

C. No matter how great the problem, God remains faithful to provide for His own people. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” (Psalm 46:3)

II. God Takes Sides in Life’s Struggles

A. The world has violent storms and floods, but the City of God has refreshing streams. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” (Psalm 46:4)

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

B. God owns and resides in the house He provides to shelter His people. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” (Psalm 46:5) “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

C. Life’s great forces and terrors melt at God’s command; might is a matter of perspective. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” (Psalm 46:6)

D. God brings overwhelming assets to direct Providence. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 46:7) “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;” (Proverbs 30:26)

III. Watch God at Work

A. God made an inescapable point about His own power when He turned Sodom into the Dead Sea; the lowest point on earth remains a constant testimony to what God can do when people behave improperly. “Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.” (Psalm 46:8)

B. God sets limits for the terrible armies which bring death and disorder.He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” (Psalm 46:9)

1. Neglect of this doctrine kept Israel out of the Promised Land and obedience to it gave the land to Joshua. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.” (Joshua 11:6)

2. Eventually everyone must declare for God or for some weak substitute; in whom do you put your trust? “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

C. God is in charge and eventually all reality will recognize His government over all things; God’s works of providence are, His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) “Either by terror or love God will subdue all hearts to himself.” Spurgeon

D. The ultimate force protects the church of God. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 46:11)

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