Sunday, April 29, 2012

God Is Holy

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  ~Exodus 3:4,5
How do you approach this God Who is Holy?
There is a great deal written in the Scriptures about the holiness of God. Simply put, holiness is a term used to indicate sanctity, or separation from all that is sinful, impure, or morally imperfect. God is entirely free from moral evil, and all moral law resides in Him. God's holiness should produce in us reverence, adoration, awe, and fear. At Mount Horeb God appeared to Moses as the Angel of the Lord and called to him from the midst of a bush, burning with fire without being consumed by it. At the presence of the All Mighty, the very ground became holy.

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”   ~1 Peter 1:15,16

The Apostle Peter quotes this command given to the Israelites when God spoke with Moses and Aaron and it can be found in eleventh chapter of Leviticus. However, it is equally important for the Christian today; as the professed people of God, we should be like Him. The framework, with which we should build our lives in, should be the very character of God. He has called us into His kingdom and He has called us to be transformed into the image of His Son...

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  ~Romans 8:29

God's intent is to mold us and shape us so that our lives resemble the life of Jesus. As a potter molds and shapes clay, so God changes who and what we are. Those who are unholy and rebellious are conformed to the likeness of the One Who is holy and submissive to God. One of the ways by which God changes us is by knowing Him. This is not just an intellectual and general knowledge of God, but relational and experiential. The Apostle Paul understood this and prayed often for it to be realized in the lives of other believers...

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,   ~Ephesians 1:16,17

To know God in this relational way and to be conformed to the image of His Son is the evidence that we are the subjects of His grace and mercy. Separation from the world and personal holiness indicate we are recipients of His salvation. And one day, when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords returns, we shall be like Him...

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  ~1 John 3:2

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Responsibility of Truth

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”   ~1 Timothy 6:20
What are you doing with this today?

In the closing verses of Paul's first letter to Timothy, he exhorts the young pastor to guard what God had entrusted to him. What is that thing which Paul is concerned about? What is it that God had placed into the care of Timothy which might be corrupted or tainted by those who engage in foolish and godless discussions? When we are born again, we deposit into God's care our lives; it is then He deposits with us His truth.

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.  ~1 Thessalonians 2:3,4

As faithful stewards we have been entrusted with the truth and it is our responsibility to share and publish it among the lost. That responsibility extends beyond just sharing it, for we are to proclaim it without changing it in any way. There should be no flattery, no watering down, and certainly no deceit. It should not be our goal to find favor and approval among men, but to speak the truth in such a way that it will please our Father in heaven. Remember, God searches our hearts and knows our motives. May it be He finds our words motivated by love...

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.  ~Ephesians 4:15,16

There are many ways to speak the truth. It can be spoken in a harsh, mean spirited, and arrogant manner which will disgust and repel the hearer, or it can be delivered in a loving manner with a true concern for the lost soul. Proclaiming the Gospel should be approached as if we are throwing a lifeline to the lost not passing final judgment on the guilty. God indeed has given us something that is very precious. Truth is in short supply on the world market and it should not be treated lightly when found...

Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.  ~Proverbs 23:23

A sad and troubling trend has been sweeping across churches today; swapping the plain truth of God’s Word for entertainment, or man centered messages of wealth and self-fulfillment. Scripture must be treated with respect and care, and the church should be the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Too often the main concern is putting together a "rockin band" that will draw large crowds rather than how the Word of God is being handled in the pulpit. The most severe crime any church can be accused of is mishandling the Truth in such a way as to portray a false image of God. How do you handle the truth?

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.  ~1 Timothy 3:14,15

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Understanding Forgiveness

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  ~Psalm 32:1
Do you know with whom forgiveness can be found?
What is your understanding of God’s forgiveness? For the most part, people today treat God’s forgiveness of sin as an option to be exercised or an escape clause in a contract which can be forcibly invoked at the recital of some prayer. What is implied here in this verse (and clearly taught in the New Testament), is forgiveness of sin is a blessing, because we cannot obtain it for ourselves—forgiveness of sin is a gift.

You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.  ~Psalm 85:2,3

The psalmist has a clear understanding of God’s forgiveness of sin. As he contemplates what forgiveness is, he notes God is the One who has taken the active role, God is the One who forgives iniquity, covers sin, takes away His wrath, and turns from His anger. There is no active role we play in the course of this transaction. Forgiveness of sin is a gift; some call it grace.

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  ~Ephesians 2:8,9

A solid understanding of our sin being forgiven begins with grace. God does not owe us an opportunity for eternal life; in fact the only thing we have earned on our own is judgment and condemnation. People would do well to understand the facts before they begin demanding or expecting God to “make good” on what they think He owes them. If God were to do that, forgiveness of sin would not be a part of it.

For the wages of sin is death,  ~Romans 6:23a

The idea of God extending forgiveness of sin, as a gift, is an amazing thing indeed, and it is best appreciated against the backdrop of realizing we do not deserve it. When we can clearly see our inability to earn salvation, the word “grace” becomes a most precious thing. So many today have made such a light thing of God’s forgiveness; take some time today and think about it. I believe a good question to consider is, “what is my understanding of forgiveness?”

but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~Romans 6:23b