Friday, July 5, 2019

Living in a Fallen World

Psalm 59:2 NASB - "Deliver me from those who do iniquity . . .” 

As Christians we walk a dangerous line of demarcation in this world. There are clear boundaries which we must never cross, and yet, the temptation is always before us. 
Christianity is not a call to a monastic life of strict separation from this world. We have an obligation to interact with the people of this world. The Great Commission commands us to make disciples of the nations. This demands living among and interacting with them so that we can bring the Gospel to them. It demands that we make friends of lost people, but always with great caution. There is always the danger of being enticed by their ways. The Psalmist pleads for God to deliver him from workers of iniquity. Psalm 1 declares: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers.”

We must be cautious about the company we keep and how we interact with them. We must maintain the balance between Gospel engagement and Gospel holiness. We must always remain distinct, apart, and other than. We must never compromise the principles of righteousness. This is where we face the greatest danger. Standing apart can be most difficult, especially around those closest to us—lost family members, coworkers, and the many with whom we interact with on a daily basis. They do not have regard for the Law of God, and they will not understand our commitment to Christ. The tension is for us to take the path of least resistance, to make small concessions for the sake of peace and harmony. These small concessions quickly become full-blown sin. 

Sometimes, we face people in this world with whom fellowship is impossible. We must maintain strict separation to protect ourselves from becoming infected by them. Paul’s word to us is, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the LORD. And do not touch what is unclean.” On one hand we must follow the lead of our Savior who was referred to as a friend of sinners. On the other hand, we must avoid friendships that will lead us into sin. It demands from us great discernment.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The High Calling

As you continue to press on towards the high calling of Christ, don’t forget your great value to the work of the Kingdom. I’m afraid too often Christians float through life content without really understanding the wonderful life they’ve been given. They fail to recognize the glorious gift of reconciliation—that they have been made right with God. They fail to fully appreciate the wonder of their adoption—that God has actually made them a part of His family. And they fail to recognize their high calling in Christ, a call to holiness. When Jesus called His disciples “salt” and “light” He was speaking of the profound effect they have upon the world around them. Is your life really making a difference? 

Is your life a blessing to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Is your life a testimony to them in such a way that they are encouraged. When Paul suffered in prison it encouraged others who were suffering — “that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear" (Phil. 1:14). As your brothers and sisters in Christ observe your life, is it an encouragement or discouragement? Are they seeing your progress in holiness? Do they see your example as one to emulate—consistent in attendance and service at church; faithful in love, graciousness and patience? Do they see you as a person of high character and integrity, or do you compromise your principles easily. Are they encouraged as they see you face trials with patience and faith? 

What do the lost see as they observe your life? Too often, by the time some professing Christians finish making concessions and allowances there isn’t much left that would identify them as a follower of Christ. How wonderful it is when the world looks upon us and sees absolute commitment to Christ. How wonderful it is when they witness people who are loving, kind, gracious, and merciful. These are characteristics not often seen in this world. The person who possesses them will stand out. Such people will have a great effect upon those who do not profess Christ. Peter gives us great encouragement—“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (1Pet. 3:1-2). Peter is saying that our Godly lives can have a great effect upon unbelievers. May God help us to live such lives.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Our Only Hope and Strength

Isaiah 10:20 NASB - "Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel."  

Isaiah prophesied of a time when God’s people would look to Him alone as their source of strength and comfort. The prophecy comes in the context of the great threatening storm of invasion upon Israel. Did they look to God for their refuge? No, they looked to the Assyrians, the very ones who would oppress them. King Ahaz renounced his dependence upon God and sought the aid of the Assyrians. "Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, ‘I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram, and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me’” (2 Kings 16:7). It might have seemed like a reasonable course of action. The Assyrians were a powerful force. Perhaps they could deliver Israel from the invasion of the Arameans. In doing so they committed treason against the one true God. They abandoned the only one who could deliver them. When carnal wisdom replaces faith in God the results are always disastrous. God gave them over to their sin and crushed them under the very forces they had trusted. 

Isaiah looked forward to a time when God’s people would turn to Him as their only Deliverer. Isaiah is ultimately looking forward to the New Covenant. As God’s holy remnant, we have forsaken every earthly hope and have declared our dependence upon Jehovah God. We can say with King David, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust” (Psalm 18:2). As we sing in the great hymn, “Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand, Never foe can follow, never foe can stand; Not a surge of worry, Not a shade of care, Not a blast of hurry, touch the Spirit there. Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed; finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.” 

We are the chosen people of God. Nothing shall separate us from His love and care. Why would we look to another for our hope and strength? There is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved. Christ alone is our great Deliverer, our Savior and King, the Holy One of Israel.