Being Aware Of Fables … Believing And Living By The Truth

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

21Aug  The Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they willl turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

Have you ever read Aesop’s Fables or perhaps the Greek myths about Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, or Jason and the Argonauts?  When we refer to these as myths or fables, we mean that they are fictional, wild stories, and flights of fancy.  Most readers do not, for a moment, consider these stories real or factual.

But in the context of the New Testament epistles, the letters written by the Apostles, by men like Paul and Peter, John and Jude, “fable” (or “myth”’) is used in a far more serious light.  As we shall see . . .

“Fables”/ “myths” in the New Testament writings

Are synonymous with deceit, falsehood and lies.

In other words, biblically speaking,

A fable is anything that is

The antithesis of truth.”

Fables of this sort

Take people away from God’s truth

As found in His Word, the Bible,

And as revealed to us in

The person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Turning people away from truth

Goes hand in hand with

The embracing of myths and fables;

And to depart from God’s truth

Is very serious indeed.

We see, then, that “fable” is a very negative New Testament word, speaking of error – which is why the Bible portrays fables as anti-Christian!

The importance of spotting fables

Cannot be underestimated.

For once false teaching

Infiltrates a church

And takes hold of its people,

Great damage results:

God’s name is in danger

Of being blasphemed

And His glory is no longer

Evident among the Christian “flock.”

If unchallenged, those who have imbibed fables end up leaving churches in confusion, even falling away from the faith and forsaking God altogether!

The Importance Of Truth

It has been well said that the best way of spotting a forgery is to become very familiar with the genuine article – the real thing.  Banks train their tellers to identify forged currency by looking at and handling real, genuine paper currency.  In the same way . . .

Before we consider fables

(Doctrines that masquerade as truth),

It is helpful to remind ourselves of

What the Scriptures teach about the truth.

In the beginning this blog I noted that fables are contrasted with truth.  The Bible is clear that genuine Christians are those who “know the truth.”  For instance, the Bible says in 1 John 2:21, “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”

The Christian is identified as someone who knows the truth as it is in Jesus.  So, the Bible goes on to say in John 2:22, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ.  He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”  Certainly, the greatest fable of all is one which culminates in a denial of Jesus as the Messiah, whom God sent as the promised Savior of sinners.

Believing the truth means remaining true to the things that God and Jesus teach in the Bible.  The Bible says in 2 John 9, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”  In fact, this is so critical, that anything that could spoil our Christian testimony, or that could bring us confusion, should be avoided like the plague . . . Truth matters!

The danger of fables

The apostle Paul went to great pains to warn Timothy, a godly young pastor, of some of the dangers and challenges of Christian ministry.  He warned of a time to come when people would “will turn their ears away from the truth” and “be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:4), embracing heresy.  His solemn commission to his young protégé is highly relevant for all twenty-first century Christians.  It is recorded in 2 Timothy 4;1-4, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom: Preach the Word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

In an earlier letter, Paul had already advised Timothy to reject (have nothing to do with) “profane and old wives’ fables” (1 Timothy 4:7), advising him, instead, to exercise himself towards godly living.  In his second letter, Paul built on that advice and gave Timothy the solemn responsibility of guarding the church against false teaching.

False teaching is a constant

Threat to God’s people today too.

Therefore it is vital that pastors, church leaders,

Indeed all of us as Christians,

Are on our guard –

Recognizing and being engaged

For this battle for the truth,

For people’s minds and hearts,

Never lets up or ends.

As already mentioned, the turning from truth goes hand in hand with the embracing of myths and fables; and to depart from God’s truth is very serious indeed.  There are similar warnings elsewhere in the pastoral epistles.  For instance, Paul instructed Titus to rebuke those in the church of Crete who were becoming unsound in faith, “… Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:13-14).

The apostle Peter (in his second epistle) was also careful to distinguish his preaching and teaching methods from the false teachers of his day.  In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter is led to say, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”   Peter contrasted the fables concocted by the false teachers to the sure, prophetic Word of God, and the apostles’ eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ majesty.  In the same letter, he pulled no punches, saying outright in 2 Peter 2:15-16, “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray” … “these are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for who is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

Their teaching may be alluring, but fables and myths inevitably lead people into error.  This is why the church must be concerned to combat the insidious influence of evolution and other creation compromises in today’s world.

In our own day, there are many purveyors of devilishly clever fables in society at large and also within the church.  In fact, Peter had something important and relevant to say about “creation fables” that would arise in the last days.  He warned of false teachers – “scoffers” – who would follow “their own sinful desires,” denying the second coming of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:3-4) and mocking the biblical teaching on the future destruction of this world (2 Peter 3:7,10).

Specifically, he predicted that these mockers would deny that the world was created by God’s word and that the original world was destroyed in a watery deluge (2 Peter 3:5-6).  It’s a view that is indistinguishable from the teachings of those who argue for evolution over millions of years (a modern-day creation fable); the evolutionists’ rejection of biblical creation and Noah’s Flood goes hand-in-hand with their insistence on secularist doctrine.

How would Peter have viewed such ideas?  Taking his second letter as a whole (and remembering that he specifically addressed creation/flood deniers), it is safe to conclude that he would have regarded the philosophy of deep-time evolution as loud boasts of folly” or “great swelling words of vanity” (2 Peter 2:18) – that is to say, teaching that is ultimately void because it denies the historical nature of Genesis regarding Creation and the Flood.  Alluring they may be, but fables and myths inevitably lead people into error.

As an aside, it is heartening that even some avowed atheists are beginning to openly expose the modern evolutionary theory for the fable that it is.  One such person is Thomas Nagel (a professor of philosophy at New York University) who recently published a book with this subtitle: Why The Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.  Needless to say, such dissent has drawn a lot of fire from doctrinaire evolutionists!

Fables, then . . .

Are a grave danger

To the people of God.

A person cannot embrace fables

And at the same time

Keep a firm hold on truth!

Embracing fables always goes hand-in-hand with a departure from God’s truth.  To turn aside to consider fables is not merely a little unwise – it is to “wander off into myths.” Ultimately . . .

It is to court disaster,

Because it is impossible

To allow a fable

To have a place

In one’s mind

Without also

Rejecting biblical truth.

Fables result only in bad fruit.  Good cannot come from toying with this or any new teaching contrary to God’s Word.

It is through regularly reading and studying the Bible that we discern between God’s truth and fables.  Moreover, we will also be jealous guardians of the truth because we will see that the reputation and glory of God is at stake, as well as the eternal destiny of human beings.

With these things in mind, it is time to “call a spade a spade.”  According to the scriptural definition, those who espouse various kinds of fables are false teachers.  So, for instance, John has no qualms about describing those who actively deny the incarnation of Jesus (that He was fully God and fully man) as “deceivers;” worse than that, such a person is an actually an “antichrist” (2 John 7-8).

Indeed . . .

A careful consideration

Of all fables

(As biblically defined)

Leads to the unavoidable conclusion

That they have a spirit

Of antichrist about them.

Of course, many of the cults that have proliferated in recent centuries fall into this category – not only do they deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ but they also teach many fables which they claim are on a par with biblical truth.

Jude talks of those who have infiltrated churches unnoticed.  They have “crept in unnoticed” and “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).  That’s right! The unambiguous teaching here is that deceivers and Christ-deniers are not merely in society at large, but are inside today’s church!  This is why the New Testament writers warn so strongly about false teachers: “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 12-13).  Jude finishes his brief discourse by describing such people as those who are focused on what is “worldly” or “sensual,” causing divisions in the church because “they are devoid of the [Holy] Spirit” (Jude 19) – that is to say, they are not believers at all.

The Bible teaches clearly that genuine believers (those born of God) hear the truth and may discern it from error (1 John 4:5-6).  Nevertheless, because of the infiltration of false teachers into churches (1 John 4:1) Christians are to be especially vigilant.  Those who adhere to the Scriptures, praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will not go far wrong.  Listen to what Jesus says on the matter: ‘If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:31-32).

It is through regularly reading and studying the Bible that we discern between God’s truth and fables.  Moreover, we will also be jealous guardians of the truth because we will see that the reputation and glory of God is at stake, as well as the eternal destiny of human beings.  Jude says “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

We are living in momentous days.  All sorts of seductive, deceitful teachings are threatening to corrupt the glorious truth of God and draw people away from Christ (see 1 Timothy 4:1).  Here is excellent biblical advice:

“Test everything; hold fast what is good”

(1 Thessalonians 5:21).

This is a word for you because you have people in your circle that no pastor/preacher can reach.  Have you not been entrusted with the gospel?  In fact, your pastor/preacher is there to equip you to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12).

You need to hear the urgency of the Word in 2 Timothy 4:1-2,  “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word!  Be instant in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”  When this season of grace is over men and women will have to give an account of themselves before God.  Tell them now before it’s too late.

We need faithful, systematic biblical teaching and expository preaching, giving us the whole counsel of God.  We don’t need psychological pep talks and feel good sermons.  No, we need God’s Word – His way of thinking about this world!  Granted, it can be challenging to sit under God’s Word because it convicts you in areas that you might not want to have touched or addressed. The Word of God plainly spoken and simply taught has a way of invading places in your inner being that you have been trying to keep God out of. That can be very painful, and yet, it is so very necessary that God should do this work in us, for the Word of God is given to know about God and ourselves and how to get right and live right before Him.

That is why the church must remain committed to expository preaching.  When you’re preaching God’s Word, you are giving people answers to the real questions and issues in life.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Organically Grown

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

20Aug Unless you subsist solely on fast food, you have heard of organically grown food, which is grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.  Most grocery stores stock organically grown products, which are usually more expensive.

Did you know that the statement “organically grown” also applies to the Christian?  What I mean by this is the “vital” or “spiritual” union between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian believer, which is best illustrated in the Gospel of John.

The Bible says in John 15:1-5, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Our Lord’s teaching on the vine and branches perfectly illustrates just how the Christian is connected to Christ.  It is organic, not mechanical or superficial.  It is a living, vital union, where the believer (the branch) has been grafted into the vine (the Lord) and finds nutrients for growth through this organic connection.

Think about it this way . . .

Just as the branches of any tree or vine

Share in the nature and life of that tree or vine,

The Christian is united with Christ by faith

And shares in His nature and life.

Jesus final words in the passage above – “Apart from Me you can do nothing” – give us the sum and substance of the life of the Christian separated from the Savior.  Any perceived growth in a Christless environment is nothing more than behavioral change.

Anyone can change behavior,

But heart transformation

Only takes place

Through union with Christ.

It is a transformation which

Not only changes behavior,

But changes the believer as well.

When Paul said, “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21), he was making it clear that his union with Christ was the very life he was living.

So . . . how is your connection to Christ these days?  Are you plugged in and powering up?  Or are you somewhat disconnected and feeling a bit lethargic?  Make no mistake: staying organically connected to Omnipotence will keep you growing and producing fruit that will last all the way into glory.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Need To Recalibrate Our Perspective Of Life

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

19Aug  The Bible says in Psalm 73:23-24, “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

One of the most dangerous habits of thought

Among Christians is to underestimate God.

We underestimate His abilities, intent,

And His awareness in our lives.

Psalm 73 is a very powerful picture of one’s personal heart confusion when a Christian underestimates God.  The inspired writer looks at the ways of the world around him and sees a world upside down where evil goes unpunished (Verse 1–12).  In fact, the wickedness of the world seems to produce prosperity, pride, and persecution at the expense of the good.  Someone commented on the writer’s situation, “His heart calibration has slowly, but steadily, been ratcheted out of whack.”

Verses 12–16 give utterance to the confusion of his heart.  The conflict rages within as the psalmist says, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches.” Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence, for all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning” … “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me.” 

When the psalmist looked around he got confused.

It seemed that the wayward and wicked

Were thriving and happy –

The exact opposite of what he expected.

The key verse in the chapter is verse 17, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.”

In the presence of God,

The reach and sovereignty

Of the Eternal One

Comes into view.

Good will prevail, the righteous will be vindicated, and wickedness will inevitably be punished.  Learning from God’s Word about His nature helps the believer in recalibrating his heart.

The rest of the chapter

Is designed to provide

The reader with a window

Into the thinking

Of the repentant believer

As God recalibrates his heart.

Verses 21 and 22 spell out this repentance, which prepares the psalmist to be recalibrated to the divine standard.  The author lists four truths which reset the heart upon appropriate parameters, in verses 23 and 24.  The psalmists concludes his personal evaluation in verses 25 through 26 where he reviews the personal blessings from God true for every believer which lift the heart of the faithful ever higher in exultation.

The first calibration mark is the power of the presence of God.  The psalmist declares in verse 23a, “But as for me, I am continually with You.”

Do not dare to underestimate

The power of the presence of God.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8, “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you.  He will be with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”  Jesus gave us His promise in Matthew 28:220b, “And lo, I am with you always; even to the end of the age.”  And the Bible says in Hebrews 13:5-6, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”

The second calibration mark is the power of the will of God.  The psalmist states in verse 23b, “You hold me by my right hand.”

Do not dare to underestimate

The power of the will of God.

When we were children and effectively forced to follow the direction of our parents by a firm hold of our little hand.  As children of God, He has a sure grip upon us and is insistently drawing us to Him and prompting us along by His loving grasp.

The third calibration mark is of the clear perspective of the wisdom of God.  The psalmist proclaims in verse 24a, “You will guide me with Your counsel.”

Do not dare to underestimate

The power of the clear wisdom of God.

Wise parents reinforce their parenting with words of wisdom repeated throughout the upbringing of the children and throughout the remainder of their lifetime.  It is a blessed child who can freely come back to the refreshing spring of wisdom from godly parents.  We need to be reminded that God is the fountainhead of every refreshing spring of wisdom and we must look to Him, learn from Him, and lean upon Him.

The fourth calibration mark is the power of assurance of eternal life.  The psalmist confidently states in verse 24b, “and afterward receive me to glory.”

Do not dare to underestimate

The power of assurance of eternal life with God.

So many things in this life produces anxiety, fear, and worry.  How wonderful it is to be able to face the future and the unknown with certainty and confidence knowing that our sovereign Lord is in control and is working out everything for our good and His glory.  Live with eternity’s values in view.

What causes confusion and heartbreak in your life?  Can you identify the causes and your responses? Perhaps a recalibration is in order so that you can run true and not underestimate God.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

The Importance Of Christian Greetings

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme
16Aug  The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:1, “To Timothy, a true son in the faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Within our lifetimes, greetings have changed with the advent of e-mail, instant messaging, texting and twittering.  Our communication has become ever more perfunctory and truncated.  We don’t even write “Dear John” letters anymore.

Even in Christian circles

Our greetings are with curt superficiality.

Rarely do we retain

A spiritual agenda in our talk,

And when we do

We fail to go very deep.

We may get to the point in the conversation where we offer to pray for another but stop short of telling them specifically what we are asking God to do, let alone actually pray with them right then and there.

If the letters of Paul are any indication of the early church,

We have lost something very precious in the life of the modern church.

Paul characteristically greets individuals differently than he does churches in the New Testament.  He introduces himself and addresses to whom he writes in all his letters. But to individuals he greets them with something of a prayer and simultaneously an expression of blessing as he wishes them grace, mercy and peace.  Note the greetings to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon:

Philemon 3, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Timothy 1:3, “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”

2 Timothy 1:2, “…Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Titus 1:1:4, “… Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”

John has a very similar greeting in his second epistle.

2 John 3, “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

It may have been a formulaic greeting common among the saints but the sentiments are uncommon.  An unsaved person could only hope for such a benefit!  Allow me to explain what I mean by a quick review of these blessed terms.

The source of the benefit is “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  A Father’s love and a Son’s sacrifice are in view all in “God-size” capacity.

Grace is the manner and means in which God bears Himself toward the believer.  Grace is greater than love for it is love in action.  It is unmerited favor done by one for another, spontaneous and generous with no expectation of return.  It is illustrated by God’s free gift of forgiveness.  It is this which sanctifies the saint more and more in the walk of life.

Mercy is tasked with dealing with all manner of human misery as a consequence of sin.  It is a pitying love much like the phrase “God so loved the world.”  This term is expressive of the balm for the ailing soul of a saint beset by the cares of this life awaiting the final glorification.  Mercy enfolds the saint with divine arms of love.

Peace speaks of that which has been bound together after having been separated.  It is characterized by tranquility, comfort and well-being.  It is the sense of satisfaction with our Lord and satisfaction with our life based upon trusting God’s work of grace and mercy in our behalf.

Do you see what I mean when I say that an unsaved person can only hope for such certainty in relationship with his Creator?

Every genuine believer

Regularly needs a reminder

Of his unique

Privilege and provision

In the favor of the Almighty.

It was true in Paul’s day and so it is true in our day.

The next time you write a note to a brother or sister in Christ try to weave in this prayer of blessing as a reminder of God’s providential love.  But do not stop with letter writing. What about how you greet another believer?  And what about including these words in your prayers for each other?  Trust and obey.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What Does The Bible Say About The Cost Of Making God Wait For You?

Grace For The Journey

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15AugThe Bible says in Isaiah 30;18, “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

Do you recall the voice of your child saying, “I can do it myself!” meaning, “Stop helping, I can manage on my own?”  Remember how you would wait close by watching his/her little fingers make an ungainly attempt at imperfect self-sufficiency?  Parental waiting was a part of his struggle to grow up.  Your love for them meant you were there to lend a hand and guide him to success.

Parental supervision is a different story when danger lurks in the shadows.  The child’s desire to “I can do it myself” can have disastrous consequences and the child needs immediate intervention or destruction is assured.

The Children of Israel in Isaiah’s day were like willful children seeking to rescue themselves in the face of danger without coming to the Lord for help.  In their case they did not have the child-like excuse of innocence.  They were pursuing other avenues of rescue from the dreaded Assyrian enemy.

They were turning to other nations

And their own resources

Rather than

Turning in repentance and

Waiting upon God for deliverance.

The intervening verses between 15 and 18 display their own inept attempts and paint a picture of self-inflicted terror.  God tells them that though they seek fast horses to flee the enemy the enemy will also have swift horses to pursue them.  Judah will be upended by the fearsome ravings of a few and the story of their self-destruction will stand out like a lonely tree on a hill.

When God’s people do not rely on Him

They often trip themselves up spectacularly,

Not because God is not able,

But because they forgot God in their pursuits.

Verse 18 is the key of the passage.

God does not give up on His own people.

When we do not wait on God

The Bible says that He waits on us

And His waiting is so that

He may show His favor

Upon His own when it is just.

He is righteous, loving the right.

The word that Isaiah was led by the Holy Spirit to use to describe God’s seeming absence is the word “wait.”  It signifies the gracious heart of the Almighty toward His errant children because it means “to wait with an earnest expectation and longing, with a desire for something.”  How amazing to grasp the meaning that when God’s people do not “wait” upon God we cause Him to “wait” for us!

Allow me to share four things about this biblical concept.  As we consider this truth, our first thought is, “Why should He wait – Why does He not act at once?”  Because something in us hinders Him from working at this time.  We cannot enter into spiritual blessings till we are made capable of them by faith.  It would not be for our good to receive some temporal blessings until sorrow has done its work on us.

The great thought here is that

God has a right time for help.

He is “a God of judgment,”

This means, “He discerns our moral condition

And shapes His dealings accordingly.”

He never gives the wrong medicine.

Second, His waiting is full of work to fit us to receive His grace.  It is not a mere passive standing by, until the fit conditions are seen in us; but the Bible tells us that He ‘is exalted’ while He waits.  Literally this phrase means, “lifted up in the manifestation of His might, and by His energy in preparing us for the gifts that He has prepared for us.” Elsewhere the Bible reminds us, “He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God.”  

He who prepares a place for us

Is preparing us for the place.

He who has grace which He is ready to give us here,

Is making us ready for His grace.

The meaning of all God’s work on us is to form a character fit to possess His highest gifts.

Third, His waiting is very patient.  The divine husbandman “waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it.”  How wonderful that in a very real sense He attends on our pleasure, as it were, and lets us determine His time to work.

Fourth, God’s waiting is full of divine desire to help.  It is not the waiting of indifference, which says: “If you will have it-well and good. If not, it does not matter to Me.”  But “more than they that watch for the morning,’ God waits ‘that He may be gracious unto you.”

Some people think that we should come to God after we take care of everything first, or after things get just a little more out of hand, or when we are ready.  Those who think this way are, in effect, making God wait and ignoring the disaster that dogs their footsteps.

Believers are summoned to repent, obey, and wait upon God.  Do you know how to wait upon God?  Is there some aspect of your life where you need to practice waiting upon your Heavenly Father?  He promises, “Blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What Does The Bible Say About The Eyes Of God?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

14Aug  The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”

Someone has said, “The eyes are the light of the soul.”  I believe that the eyes can generally reveal what is taking place in the heart.  The eyes say a lot when someone is startled, joyful, downhearted, or angry.  In some lands there are superstitions regarding the color of “the evil eye.”  Our mothers had “eyes” in the back of their heads.  The eye’s design is one of the astounding miracles of the Almighty and in His divine purpose sight is one of the five senses we treasure.

It is no wonder that the Bible speaks of the “eyes of the Lord.”  Though God is Spirit and not confined to physical form there is no doubt that He “sees.”  The Scriptures refer to the sight of God in such phrases as “nothing is hidden” from Him, we stand “before Him,” and “He sees” the plight of those who fear Him.

Referring to the “vision” of God is a human way of saying that God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing).  In practical terms, He is all seeing, all sensing, all wise, all evaluating, all superior, all noting, all remembering, and either rewarding or judging as fitting to the circumstance.

In the Bible these signify two important aspects of God:

  1. His knowledge

Job 34:21 – “For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps.”

Hebrews 4:13 – “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things a naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

  1. His providence.

For good:

Psalms 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should; I will guide you with My eye.”

For evil:

Isaiah 3:8 – “For Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen, because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of His glory.”

Our text is interesting because it is found in the story of King Asa of Judah.  In 2 Chronicles 14:2–4 the Bible records that, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment.”  During Asa’s reign a prophet told him, “the Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”  Asa generally followed that advice, but towards the end of his reign he looked elsewhere for his security and found it from worldly sources without consulting God.  Because of this breach of God’s plain command is given.

Asa had forgotten the words of King David (his forebear) who proclaimed this truth in several of his psalm, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” … “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” … “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” (Psalm 32:8, 33:13–19, 34:15)

Why such an intense interest displayed by God?  It is in the affairs of men (created in His image) that God intentionally and personally acts in relationship to His revealed Word.

Those who yield in loyalty to His divine prerogative

Are treated to ringside seats to see displays

Of His strength, wisdom, sustaining grace,

And covenantal lovingkindness.

In Psalm 17:8 David says, “Keep me as the apple (pupil) of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”

With a pure heart and clear conscience the believer desires the approving “eye of God” to rest upon him in harmony with God’s all-wise and all-loving plan.

Are there things you do in your life

Which you wish God did not see

Of which you must repent and confess?

Do you make yourself available to God

And make it your daily request

That He demonstrate His strength

Through you as He pleases?

Do you desire for His eye to rest on you?

In this verse we find a picture of God’s eyes scanning the earth for those seeking God’s assistance.  The context of this passage is actually a confrontation of king Asa’s lack of reliance on the Lord.  Asa, who had once trusted in God, turned to Syria’s military might instead of God’s might for help.

Like Asa, we are confronted

With daily decisions of trust and reliance.

The eyes of man run to and fro throughout the earth looking for people and things it can rely on for support.  Asa chose to put his hope in another nation’s strength instead of God’s strength.  What do we put our trust in?  Our own strength and abilities? Our relationships?  Our savings account?  The stock market?  Our academic degree?  Our paycheck?  Our spouse’s affection?

The problem is that the minute

We put our ultimate reliance

On finite powers and things,

We are asking those things

To do for us something

They are incapable of doing.

Only God Himself can provide

True stability, life,

And support to us.

God is seeking to provide support to us not because He needs validation, but rather because He knows we need Him!  He beckons us to trust Him because He knows anything less than Himself won’t be enough and will let us down.

As our eyes run to and fro,

May our eyes meet

The eyes of the living God

Who is seeking to come

To our assistance!

He promises to not just give support, but strong support.  He doesn’t merely give you a pat on the back and whisper an encouraging uplifting word and then walk away, but rather comes with His mighty strength and support to help you and stand by you.

What does He look for?

A blameless heart.

A heart that knows

It can’t do it on its own.

A heart that knows it needs Him.

A heart that does not turn

Elsewhere for ultimate hope.

A heart that has put its faith (confidence)

Not in its own perfection & blamelessness,

But rather in Jesus and His perfect obedience

And atoning death on the cross.

The Bible teaches that those who turn away from their sin and self-reliance and put their trust in Jesus’ work for them are now found “in Christ.”  What does this mean?  It means that when God looks at us, He no longer see our sin and blame, but sees His Son and His blood.  He sees a blameless heart because He sees His Son’s heart in us.  This doesn’t mean we don’t sin anymore; it just means that God no longer counts our sin against us and is working in us by His Spirit to set us free from this sin more and more.  Because of Christ, you can cry out to the Father in His Son’s Name and in the Spirit’s power, knowing that God will not only hear you, but give you “strong support.”  What a miracle and what a privilege!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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How God Opens the Eyes of the Heart

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

13Aug  How does someone who is blind to the glory of God come to see Him for who He really is?  To be sure, the natural eyes and ears and brains are part of the process.  Without them we cannot even see or hear or construe the natural things that reveal God’s glory: creation, incarnation, the gospel, and Scripture.  But this natural seeing is not decisive in seeing the glory of God.  Jesus said in Matthew 13:13, “Seeing they do not see.”

Something more than the use

Of the natural eyes and ears

And brains must happen.

The way the apostle the Bible puts it is that you must have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know …” (Ephesians 1:18).  This too is strange – the heart has eyes!  But perhaps not beyond comprehension.

Most people do not speak of “the heart” as something more than the blood-pumping organ in our chest.  Such language is not foreign to us.  This “heart” is the real us. Intuitively we know that there is more to us than flesh and bones.  We know we are not mere chemicals in a sack of skin.  We would not talk the way we do about things like justice and love if we didn’t believe that.

Is it so strange, then, to add to this immaterial personhood the idea of immaterial eyes – “the eyes of the heart?”  This inner person, who is the real us, sees and knows things that are not identical with what the eyes of the body can see.  Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.  We feel it in a thousand things.”

There is a spiritual seeing through and beyond natural seeing.

There is a spiritual hearing through and beyond natural hearing.

There is spiritual discerning through and beyond natural reasoning.

How, then, may we conceive of what happens when the heart sees the glory of God?  I found a clue in the way Paul speaks of our knowledge of the glory of God in nature. On the one hand, Paul says that we all “know God.”

“Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Romans 1:21). That is astonishing. Everyone knows God! But in other places, Paul emphatically says that by nature people do not know God. For example, “In the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:21).  The “Gentiles do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:5).  Formerly “you did not know God” (Galatians 4:8; see 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 John 4:8).

So, what does Paul mean in Romans 1:21 when he says that all human beings “know God?”  To answer this, we might simply quote Romans 1:19-20, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

But is that all Paul means when he says, “They knew God?”  I think there is more.  In Romans 2:14-15, Paul says that people who have never heard of the law of God sometimes do what the law requires.  Their consciences witness to God’s will.  He puts it like this: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.”

So, here is what the Bible is teaching: “Knowing God” in Romans 1:21 includes this deeper heart experience of Romans 2:15.  The analogy that I find helpful is to conceive of the innate knowledge of God and His will as a kind of template or mold in the human heart.  This template is designed by God in every human heart with a shape, or a form, that corresponds to the glory of God.  In other words . . .

If the glory of God were seen with the eyes of the heart,

It would fit the template so perfectly

That we would know the glory is real.

We would know we were made for this.

When Paul says that every person “know(s) God,” or that everyone has the work of the law “written on their hearts,” he means that there is a glory-shaped template in every heart waiting to receive the glory of God.

We all “know God” in the sense

That we have this witness in our hearts

That we were made for this glory.

There is a latent expectancy and longing,

And the shape of it

Is buried deep in our souls.

The reason we do not see the glory of God is not that the template is faulty.  The reason is what the Bible calls “hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

This hardness is a deep aversion to God,

And a corresponding love for self-exaltation.

Paul said that the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God (Romans 8:7).  And Jesus said that “light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19).

Our problem is not

That we lack the light,

But that

We love the dark.

This is the hardness of our hearts.

This means that the hollowed-out shapes of the mold, which are perfectly shaped for the all-satisfying glory of God, are instead packed hard with the love of other things.  So, when the glory of God shines into the heart – from creation or Jesus or the gospel – it finds no place.  It is not felt or perceived as fitting.

To the natural mind – the mind whose glory-shaped mold is packed hard with idols — the glory of God is foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14).  It doesn’t fit.  As Jesus said to those whose hardness pushed them to the point of murder, “You seek to kill me because My word finds no place in you” (John 8:37).  Of course, they could hear His words, and remember His words.  But they could not understand them.  They heard the words, but they did not love them or surrender to them.  They loved the darkness that filled the template that was designed for the brightness of the glory of God.

The only hope for seeing the glory of God in Scripture

Is that God might cut away the diamond-hard,

Idolatrous substitutes for the glory of God

That are packed into the template of our heart.

The Bible speaks of this supernatural act in many ways.  For example, it describes this supernatural work . . .

  • As a shining into our hearts of divine glory (2 Corinthians 4:6),
  • As a granting of truth and repentance (2 Timothy 2:25),
  • As the giving of faith (Philippians 1:29),
  • As raising us from the dead (Ephesians 2:5-6),
  • As new birth by the word (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18),
  • As the special revelation of the Father (Matthew 16:17) and the Son (Matthew 11:27),
  • As the enlightening of the eyes of the heart (Ephesians 1:18),
  • As being given the secret of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:10).

When this salvation miracle happens to us, the glory of God cuts, burns, melts, and removes from the template the cement hardness of alien loves and takes its rightful place.  We were made for this.  And the witness of this glory to the authenticity of the Scriptures is overwhelming.  Where we saw only foolishness before, we now see the all-satisfying worthiness and faithfulness of God.  It is like John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  This is result of the supernatural work that God achieves in us through our repentance and faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ

No one merely sees or decides that the Bible, as the all-compelling, all-satisfying truth of one’s life.  Seeing and understanding is a gift of God.  And so, the full embrace of God’s Word is a gift. God’s Spirit opens the eyes of our heart, and what was once boring, or absurd, or foolish, or mythical is now self-evidently real and powerful to change us and lead us into the will and ways of God.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Do We See People As God Wants Us To See Them?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

12Aug  Because we are all made in the image of God, everyone matters.  Both believer and unbeliever alike are valuable, important, and needed.  Because God doesn’t make junk, every person has meaning and significance.  And that is why we should look at people – all people – as created in the image of our Holy God.  To be sure . . .

Sin has twisted and corrupted this image,

But the image still remains.

Every person bears the image of God,

Regardless of where they live,

How they look,

Or what they have done.

Think about the people Jesus hung around with.  In the eyes of the “good” and “valuable” and “important” people like the Pharisees, Jesus hung around with the wrong crowd.  He spent time with the dregs of society: prostitutes, tax collectors, criminals, the marginalized, and the outcasts of society.  He would have lived a far more comfortable and convenient life if He had invested His time in the socially acceptable and politically correct.  But He did not!  He was here for the down and out, not the up and in, and . . .

He would not let the opinions of others

Keep Him from helping the hurting

Reconnect and recapture their true humanity

As image bearers of the Most High God!

Only the power of the Gospel enables us to tear down walls of self-focus and self-protection, freeing us to see the image of God in every person we meet.

This is what empowers us to live beyond the borders of our own lives.

We begin living for the glory of God and the good of others.

We begin caring about people and for people

Who in no way can care about and for us.

Certainly they are in no position to benefit our lives.

Fredrick Buechner hits this proverbial “nail” squarely on the head in his book, The Magnificent Defeat  . . . “ The love for equals is a human thing – of friend for friend, brother for brother.  It   is to love what is loving and lovely.  The world smiles.  The love for the less   fortunate is a beautiful thing – the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely.  This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.  The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing – to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man.  The world is    always bewildered by God’s peoples.  And then there is the love for the enemy – love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer.  This is God’s love.  It conquers the world.

We love because we have been loved

And

We serve because we have been served

By the One who purchased us

With His precious blood.

As Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Don’t miss this . . .

Jesus knew we could never pay Him back

In any way for all that He did for us.

And . . .

Because of that marvelous truth

It changes us

And

Everything in our world.

For this reason …

  • Our purpose is built upon His will.
  • Our passion is structured upon His mission.
  • Our potential is connected to His power.

At this level of living . . .

Every person

Matters to us

Because every person

Matters to God.

God is in the process of making all things new, and in that process He has called us to live for something bigger than ourselves.  Everything we have belongs to God; therefore, we are to be using it all for the expansion of His kingdom, not our own.

When we care more about what God cares about,

We will care more about other people.

Mercy and love will be the distinctives of our lives,

And all those we touch will see a God who is both merciful and loving.

We make our God attractive

When we look for and acknowledge

The image of God in the souls God brings into our lives.

Jesus drove this point home in Luke 14:12-14, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteousness.”

I know this all sounds so radical and counterintuitive . . . but what would you expect from such a radical Savior who profoundly talked and personally walked such a different life and message?

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What It Means to Make Disciples

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10Aug Biblically, to be a disciple is to make disciples.  But if you were to ask the average Christian today what it means to make disciples, you’d probably get jumbled thoughts, ambiguous answers, and likely even some blank stares.  This is a problem.

If we’re going to know how

To do anything as Christians,

We need to know

How to make disciples.

So, what does it mean to make disciples?  Here’s my best attempt to sum up disciple-making based on Matthew 28:19.  There are four things we are to do to make disciple:

1. We Share the Word.

We speak about the gospel as we live according to the gospel.  We tell people how they can be saved from their sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.  There’s no question that this is the thrust behind Christ’s command to go and make disciples.

Jesus was not telling these eleven guys on a mountain to pair up and disciple each other.  He was telling them to reach people who have not been reached with the gospel. And Christian, remember:

This is why

You have

The Spirit of God

Inside of you!

To speak the gospel.

(Acts 1:8)

So, who are you speaking the gospel to?  Who has God put in your life that you can share the gospel with?  If not, what are you waiting for?  To make disciples is to go to people who don’t know the love of Christ and lead them to experience the life of Christ.

2. We Show the Word.

Once we share the Word and people put their faith in Christ, we baptize them.  Have you ever wondered why Jesus includes instructions on baptizing people in His command to make disciples?  

Because baptism symbolizes

Identification with the person of Christ

And inclusion in the body of Christ.

Disciple-making is not about sharing the gospel with people and then leaving them to figure out the Christian life on their own.  Instead, we show them how to follow Christ on a day-by-day basis.  This is why we can never limit disciple-making to a weekly meeting in a classroom.  Disciple-making is what happens when we walk through life together, showing one another how to pray, study the Bible, grow in Christ, and lead others to Christ.

And remember, God has designed disciple-making not only for the good others, but also for our growth in Christ.  If you lead a new believer to Christ, then how is that person going to learn to pray or study the Bible or share the gospel?  By watching you!  God has this thing rigged.

3. We Study the Word.

The Great Commission also involves “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added).  As followers of Jesus, we don’t just receive the Word; we reproduce the Word.  Now there’s obviously a sense in which some in the church are particularly gifted to teach (Ephesians 4:11–12).  However, every disciple of Jesus is intended to saturate his or her words with God’s Word.  We are teaching people all that Christ has taught us.

4. We Seek to take the Word to all the World.

Finally, obeying the Great Commission will mean not only taking the gospel to our neighbors, but also the world.  The Bible tells us we are to make disciples of “all nations” (panta ta ethne) (Matthew 28:19).  The word for “nations” here is not a reference to the approximately two hundred geopolitical nations, or countries, recognized in the world today.  The word “nations” refers “to tribes, families, clans, and peoples, what we call people groups today.”  We see this concept throughout the Old Testament, where God identifies specific people groups: Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

Today there over 11,000 people groups in the world.  These are groups of people that share a similar language, heritage, and cultural characteristics.  So . . .

This is not just a general command

To make disciples among

As many people as possible.

This is a specific command

To make disciples among

Every people group in the world.

Did you know that there are 6,000 people groups who still have not been reached with the gospel.  Making disciples of all nations necessarily involves intentionally going after these 6,000 people groups.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Desperate Need of This Generation

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

9Aug  Each generation faces a most serious dilemma. A disturbing pattern emerges from the chronicles of faith.  The conviction that blazes brightly in one generation becomes a torch, then an ember, and then cold ash in following generations.

This generational degeneration happens so repetitively in biblical history you can set your clock by it.  It is called “the third and fourth generation problem.”  It is written in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:5).  It lived out in the dark days of the Judges (Judges 2:10).  It led to the violent and immoral history of the Kings (1 Kings 11-12; Nehemiah 8-9).  It triggered the failure of every Christian (Hebrews 2:1-4).

Our personal history can also reveal the presence of generational degeneration today.

The sacrificial and passionate faith

Of the first generation

Is accepted as an important

Set of doctrines by the second.

The third generation continues

The traditions of the faith,

But they have little inner conviction

Or practical expression of it.

The fourth generation brings

The charade of faith to an end.

In four generations faith goes

From passionate, to important,

To cold, to dead.

Now, do you see the dilemma?  Are you in the same boat?  What will happen to our generation?  Or the next!?

Many local churches are made up

Of third and fourth generation believers.

Some are spiritually cold and growing restless.

The bold repentance and sacrificial

Faith of their predecessors,

Is being replaced by spiritual convenience

To accommodate a worldly lifestyle.

If history holds true,

The result won’t be pretty.

Yes, “the third and fourth generation problem” is . . .

A pattern, but it need not be a prophecy!

The fire doesn’t have to die,

It can be rekindled.

Every new generation can make a fresh and authentic commitment to worship the Lord their God and serve only Him (Luke 4:8).  But how?

Surprising lessons are learned from a generation who failed.  Their spiritual failure led to the horrific period of the Judges.  Their generation was blessed with more land, power and wealth than any previous generation, and they used them to create a hell on earth. Oh, they didn’t plan to destroy their society and ruin their children’s future.  They just failed to see the desperate need of their generation (are we in that same condition!).  Let me share three ways this generational problem can be overcome.

First, they have an urgent need to know the Lord personally.  The opening words of Judges diagnose the reason for Israel’s collapse.

The Bible says in Judges 2:7,10, “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LROD which He had done for Israel.  When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”

Israel had a generational problem.

It took three generations to go from

Courageously faithful to practically forgetful.

How could this happen?

Certainly, the parents shoulder some of the responsibility.  After all, Moses warned parents that their children didn’t see what God had done in delivering them from Egypt, they did not hear the thundering voice of God they heard, they did not see the many miracles He did in providing for them in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 11:1-9).  So, it was crucial that they model a wholehearted love and service to God (Deuteronomy 11:13-16), and it was necessary that they personally share the story of God with their children (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

The spiritual silence of one generation

Becomes the spiritual indifference of the next.

However, the children bear some of the blame as well!  When Judges 2:10 says, “they did not know the Lord” it does not mean they didn’t know who God was.   Eli, the priest, had two sons who illustrate the children of the Judges era.  They served in the Tabernacle daily.  They “went to church” all the time.  But, “the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12; a bookend with Judges 2:10; one starting an era, the next ending it.).

They knew who God was,

But they were driven by their pleasures

Not the principles of God’s Word.

They did not know

The Lord personally or practically.

It means the Lord didn’t matter to them.  He had no major influence in their lives.  They liked the ways of Canaanites!  They loved the idols of the land!  They found their security and pleasure from their possessions.

Every generation needs to rediscover

A passion to know the Lord,

Personally and practically

In every area of our lives.

But . . .

Wherever the social eclipses the spiritual

And the superficial is preferred

To the transformational,

You will find a generation

Of spiritual failures.

Secondly, this generation has a pressing need to live differently from the world. Today’s “Third and fourth generation” Christians know the world is a spiritual graveyard, and yet they want to dress and act like a corpse!  In the same way, Israel knew the Canaanites were under the judgement of God, yet they joined in their lifestyle and admired their idols.  God said in Judges 2:1-2, “Then the Angel of the LORD came u from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: ‘I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.’  And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their alters.  But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?”

Israel chose “accommodation” and “participation” with their world’s values, rather than separation from its ways!  Like the striking of a cymbal this message rings repeatedly in Judges 1.  Each family was charged to cleanse their home from influences that would compromise their morals and faith, “but they failed to completely drive out the inhabitants of the land” (Judges 1:19, 21, 27, 28,29,  30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35).

A troubling progression happens in Judges 1. The family of Ephraim compromises and allows the Canaanites to live “among them” (1:29).  But then the family of Asher gives in and just “lives among the Canaanites” (1:32).  And then finally, the “Canaanites” (Amorites) forced the family of Dan from their land all-together.  Israel’s compromise with the Canaanites led to the dispossession of the blessing of God!

God asks our generation the same question!  Through Christ’s redemptive work upon the cross and through the empty grave, we are rescued from the terrifying destiny of this world.  How then can we derive our pleasures from its values?  How can we align ourselves with its activities?  Are the delights of the Lord and the work of His kingdom not enough?

The way to spiritual life for this generation

Is not by accommodating

Our faith to our lifestyles,

But by conforming our lifestyles

To the faith (Romans 12:1-2)!

A generation that whines about how their religion is an intrusion to their happiness, is a generation headed for spiritual failure.  But, a generation that revels in the beauty of distinction will know the joy of spiritual life.

This generation

Doesn’t just need

To know something,

Or refrain from something,

It urgently needs to do something!

Thirdly, it needs to serve the Lord’s purposes, not its own.  The writer of Judges identifies this as a defining characteristic of a faithful generation.  He is led to writ in Judges 2:7-8, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.  Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten.”

“They served the Lord” is declared at the beginning of Judges, and it is answered by an opposite refrain at the end of Judges, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges. 17:6; 21:25).

Every generation has a choice.

Know and serve the Lord,

Or serve ourselves.

One generation can rejoice in a living faith, enjoy intimate communion with God, revel in the Lordship of Jesus over daily life, even delight to teach their faith to those closest them; yet, the next generation may come along and care nothing for all that.

Not that they will formally repudiate everything.

It’s just that they will know about the Lord

Rather than know the Lord.

They may remain within the church

In their cold, dead, formal way.

But there is no fire in their “faith,”

No warmth in love,

No joy from hope.

What Paul calls ‘the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3:8) sounds utterly foreign to them.  They cannot fathom it.  Our children must not merely mimic our faith – they need to be converted.

The pressing need of our generation is to make that choice.  At the end of the day are we more concerned with our glory or God’s; our kingdom or His, our work or His mission?  One path leads to the tragic return to the days of the Judges.  The other path leads to the useful life and hopeful death of Joshua.

With one breath God could have swept the Canaanites out of the land.  Why did God allow them to remain?  God tells us in Judges 2:22, 3:4, “So that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not” … “And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.”

Each generation must make the choice, “Will I live to know God and live for my God, or for this world?”  What choice are you making?

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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