“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Romans 4.7
We are just a few short days away from Easter. Our minds and hearts begin to anticipate the events that surround the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ. One of the key questions that often arises at this time is this: “WHY did this have to happen at all? Wasn’t there some other way to satisfy the penalty for sin?” The short answer is “No” but one needs to look a little deeper into this event and see exactly what transpired. When the Law was established in the Old Testament and the day of atonement became a yearly necessity for Israel, what was happening when the blood was placed on the the mercy seat? The sins of the nation of Israel were rolled forward for one year – and this happened every year. So when Jesus went to the cross, the collective sins of the nation were waiting to be “covered” or atoned for. 1 John 2.2 states: “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” The blood of Christ literally “covered” the sins of the world. That act of sacrifice made it possible for you and me to receive Christ’s payment for OUR sin and to have a place in heaven for eternity. Other words for “iniquities” are wickedness, sinfulness, etc. So, after we come to Christ for salvation, although we still sin, God the Father forgives us because our “iniquities” have been atoned for … covered by the blood of Christ.
So, how are we blessed? We are blessed because God does not hold those sins against us because of the work of Christ on the cross. As we draw near to Easter, let us remember what this “sacrificial lamb” did for us and let us live lives of gratitude because we have been forgiven. Just My Thoughts …
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5.24
On the surface this simple sentence may not look like much, but when I see the word “crucified” I remember that the only thing crucifixion is designed for is death. So, what is Paul really saying here? If we BELONG to Christ, then the EXPECTATION is that we have “put to death” the things that our flesh loves and the things after which our flesh lusts. So what kinds of things are we talking about? Would it be a proper assessment to think that this statement relates to the things we USED to DO that made us “feel good” – you know, things that satisfied our flesh. Would it apply to the things we USED to THINK? Would it apply to the EXPECTATIONS that we had concerning of life?
Once I put something “to death”, there is NEVER an occasion when it is appropriate for me to try to RESURRECT it. Instead of acting and reacting to life in the flesh, my purpose in life is to ACT and REACT in the Spirit. For that to be a supernatural happening all the time, I must turn control of my life over to another power – the power of God’s Holy Spirit who now resides within me. So, if I am willing to SAY that I BELONG to Christ, I must also be willing to “crucify (put to death) the flesh with the affections and lusts.” That is a choice that only “I” can make for my life. That is a choice that only “you” can make for your life. So, what will it be? Crucifixion or appeasement? We must not appease the flesh at the expense of giving God’s Spirit the control for which He longs – so that we can glorify the Son of God in everything we DO and SAY. Just my thoughts …
“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27.8
Have you ever thought about what God means when He says, “Seek ye my face”? That is not the kind of phrase we would normally use today when talking to someone. So, let’s explore what God may be saying. When we are looking into someone’s face, we are close enough to them to see any expression on their face. We can discern whether they are glad or sad. We can see when they are weeping and when they are smiling. We can also see when they are looking directly at us or when they are looking away.
If we apply this to our Heavenly Father, we know we cannot see His physical face. But we also know when we are close to Him, we can sense how we actually feel when we are in His presence. If we are spending time with Him in His Word, we have some idea of what He expects from us. If we are listening to His Spirit within give us, we have some sense of the direction He wants our lives to take. So, when we kneel before Him and actually “seek His face”, His Spirit communes with our spirit, to enable us to know whether or not God is pleased with us. So the question becomes, “Am I actually seeking the face of God (a time of intimate conversation with God) so that I KNOW what the next step in my life needs to be.” Only you can answer that question. Once you determine where YOU are and where GOD is, you can make the effort to “seek His face”! Just my thoughts …
“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” Proverbs 15.16
There are a lot of things that I DON’T know. But Solomon here gives us a principle that I am learning and that will guide you if you will allow it. Let’s take a look: Once we begin to understand “the fear of the LORD” life takes on a completely new dimension. Again, the use of the word “fear” here is used in the sense of “standing in awe of Who God is.” Once we reach a place in our walk with God that allows us to understand something of God’s greatness, His power, His purpose for His children, and His great love for us, we can then BEGIN to trust Him FOR everything and IN everything. When we have “little” we still have the Lord. When we think we have everything we need or want but don’t have the “fear of the LORD,” we actually have nothing of lasting value.
The contrast presented of having “little” and having “great treasure” demonstrates different stages of life for many of us. We can REMEMBER when we had “little” and we may also be able to remember a time when we had “great treasure” and that isn’t always a reference to wealth. It could refer to relationships in life. The contrast is this … if we have great treasure and do not have the “fear of the LORD,” we have very little and that portion of life brings trouble. It seems to me that one of the important truths that Solomon is getting at here is the matter of CONTENTMENT. When we are walking in “the fear of the LORD,” CONTENTMENT is something that is a SUPERNATURAL result of that walk. If my heart is fixed simply on finding “great treasure” I am going to always struggle being content because my NATURAL self will ALWAYS want more of whatever I have. Wouldn’t it be good for us all if TODAY we could/would focus on having a proper view of Who God is in our lives? That will bring a sense of contentment that this world and even Satan himself cannot touch. Just my thoughts …
“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55.22
Some days I get up and my feet have scarcely hit the floor when I begin to realize that the WEIGHT of the day before me is MORE than I can handle. So when I read this verse this morning, my heart rejoiced – again – at the realization of the truth that “the LORD” wants to carry my burden FOR ME. If ever there was a child of God who was plagued with “burdens” it was David. Some of those burdens came from dealing with others, and some of those burdens were of his own making. But the verse does NOT say, “Just give me the burdens that others have put on you.” God told David, and He is telling you and me right now, “Cast YOUR burden on the LORD, and he SHALL sustain you.” I paid attention in English class and I remember learning that when you use SHALL in the third person, it becomes a very powerful statement of certainty. This promise from the LORD is a certainty – nothing is going to change His promise to us.
Look at the second phrase: “he shall (there it is again) NEVER suffer the righteous to be moved.” When you and I do what God asks in the first part of this verse, He does what He promised in the second half of the verse. The burdens we have given to the Lord are not going to weigh us down. The obstacles of the day that come are not going to make us circumvent the plan that God has laid out for us. The added issues that will come as our day progresses must be given over to the Lord. We must do the giving and He will do the protecting. That seems like a pretty good exchange to me. I give Him what I cannot handle and He steps in to protect me from whatever comes. I’m all good with that. How about you? Just my thoughts …
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6.2
Twelve words that could change the makeup of the body of Christ if we all took them personally. Paul’s instructions seem simple enough: “Bear one another’s burdens.” But what does that mean? How do I do that? What kind of burdens are we talking about? These are all legitimate questions. So let’s look at them. (1) What does it mean to bear one another’s burdens? That could mean a number of things, such as experiencing an emotional trauma – the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a broken relationship, a spiritual problem or extreme health problems. (2) How do I do that? It may be a simple as remembering to pray for them, or as demanding as taking time to minister to them in their home and anything in between that. If it is a spiritual problem, you could offer to help in whatever way they would need you to do so – praying, mentoring, coaching, loving them through a dark valley. If it is a job loss, you may be able to assist them in their job search. If it is a financial need with which you can assist, do what the Lord leads you to do. If they need food, again do whatever God leads you to do.
So what does all this have to do with fulfilling “the law of Christ”? If Christ were standing in your place and knew what you know about someone’s burden, what would He say to you to do? We find these words in James 2.14-16: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” That seems to me to be a Biblical response to “fulfilling the law of Christ.” Just my thoughts …
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Proverbs 21.2
One of the reoccurring phrases through out the Old Testament history of Israel is the phrase: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” When we fail to recognize that there really IS some One above us Who knows more than we do about our lives, we will fall into the trap of “doing what is right in OUR own eyes.” Solomon’s words here emphasize the tunnel vision that we develop when trying to chart our own course. It is of no comfort to know that we are NOT the only ones doing this. But it does reinforce the idea of our own stubbornness.
The interesting phrase in this verse is the last one: “but the LORD ponders the hearts.” Another translation says it like this: “the LORD examines their heart.” The Lord is able to do something with us that we are not able to do when looking at another person. That is, to examine the part of me that made the decision to go a certain way. He is able to discern my MOTIVE. We often look at others and say, “I know why he/she did that” because we think we KNOW their motive. But God looks at us and KNOWS exactly what our motive was in doing a certain thing. When God saved us, His purpose for us while we are down here on this earth was for our lives to glorify Him. So when he “ponders” our heart, He is discerning whether or not the motive for ANYTHING we do is to glorify Him or not. So, the question for me today is NOT, “Will this make me look good or feel good.” Rather the question must always be, “Will this glorify my Father in heaven.” If the answer is “No,” then it is not for us. Just my thoughts …
“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
I am sure someone will misunderstand what I am writing here, but my thoughts are not meant to be judgmental. We must remember that the words of 1 John are written to believers. John is warning them to be aware that there really FALSE PROPHETS who want to lead people astray. The religious culture in our world today has such a wide variety of “spiritual leaders” clamoring for our attention. Just because someone has a large TV following does not mean that they are teaching correct doctrine. Just because someone has a beautiful building and a large attendance does not mean that leader is preaching correct doctrine. We may often hear the phrase: “But pastor, they seem so sincere. I just love to hear them speak.”
When I was in Bible college, one of my classes was called “Apologetics.” That class dealt with how to properly study, understand, and apply the Scriptures. One of the oft-repeated maxims was this: “When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” John’s warning above is for us to examine what is being said or done in light of the Word of God. If God speaks about a subject on many occasions in His Word, but I only take one verse from the many that God has spoken and I seek to build my theology on that one verse, I will not come out with a proper Biblical conclusion. Let me illustrate with a humorous illustration. The Bible says, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” It also says, “Go thou and do likewise.” And finally it says, “And what thou doest, do quickly.” If I try to put those three particles of scripture and form a message for you or anyone else, I could conceivably get you to go out and hang yourself. That is a ludicrous illustration but it proves my point of not taking any verse out of context. So, when you hear something that SOUNDS like it may not be true, take time to go to God in prayer, ask Him to help you “try the spirit” and go to God’s Word and see what it really says. Just my thoughts …
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4.26-27
Most of us are quick to agree with Paul that we should “be … angry, and sin not.” We may struggle with DOING that but we know that is the right thing to do. But I want to call our attention to v. 27: “Neither give place to the devil.” There are many things that Satan will attempt to do TO us and WITH us if we allow it. We can all agree that Satan’s only battleground with us in our mind. That is where his attacks will come. We need to be aware of his tactics and his relentless spirit in seeking to defeat us. We know that he questions everything God tells us to do or not to do. He always wants to put a question mark (?) where God puts a period (.). So Paul’s advice to “neither give place to the devil” means that we must be aware of his attacks and do what James suggests in 4.7: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That is not my PROMISE to you. That is GOD’S promise to you. We “give place to the devil” when we permit him to attack us or make a subtle suggestion to us to challenge something God has said. At the first sign of his intrusion into our thought life, we need to rebuke him and not embrace anything that he has said. The next verse in James 4 says, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” The closer God is to us in our thought life the better we will be in resisting Satan. Paul gives us sound advice with these words: “Neither GIVE PLACE to the devil.” I pray that we will heed his advice today. Just my thoughts …
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. (2) Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” Psalm 119.1-2
I have never met a child of God that did not WANT to be blessed. WANTING to be blessed and BEING blessed are two very different things. The psalmist begins this 176 verse psalm with the words “Blessed are …” He proceeds to spell out for us those who WILL be blessed. There are four DISTINCT things in these two verses that will bring blessing. Here they are: (1) those who are “undefiled in the way”, (2) those “who walk in the law of the LORD”, (3) those that “keep his testimonies”, and (4) those that “seek him with the whole heart.”
What does it mean to be “undefiled in the way”? This word describes someone who is “pure,” whose life is NOT defiled with habits and practices that would cause them to be impure. One who walks ”in the law of the LORD” obeys everything he knows God wants him to do. He does not argue with God over something to which he objects. One who keeps God’s “testimonies” is in full “obedience mode” all the time. He WANTS to do the things God asks. The one who seeks God “with the whole heart” is continually in His Word, watching for instruction for his life, and asking the Holy Spirit to give understanding for the next step to be taken. So, if we want to be blessed, all that God is asking is that we are “serious” about our relationship with Him. WE PAY ATTENTION when the Word speaks. We LISTEN when the Holy Spirit is giving us direction. These are not IMPOSSIBLE things to do, but they do demand of us a certain level of attention to God, His Word, and His Spirit. Just my thoughts …