Friday, September 30, 2011

Weak Without God

“Why are you like a man dismayed, like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet you are in our midst, O LORD, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!” (Jer 14:9).

The world would be a lonely place if we didn’t have our relatives and friends to support us. Life is much more “doable” when we are strengthened by the family ties and the bondage of friendship. It is easier to face the struggles we face with friends by our side to bring comfort and aid. Imagine the despair we would have if we had to face the obstacles of this world without help. Imagine the feeling of being left in this world alone.

Being alone in this world is as scary as a graveyard at midnight. But it is not even close to the terror involved with the feeling of being separated from God. This is the fear that Jeremiah faced as he pleaded with a nation to repent before their sin tragically separated them from their Protector. Although God promised to never forsake them, we must remember that God’s promises are conditional. That is to say that His promises demand a response from our heart. As Jeremiah preached the promises of God he revealed to Israel that they must be faithful to God, as God is faithful, and will not save the unrepentant sinner: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, cries out to this nation for repentance before God no longer hears them.

God is the same today (Hebrews 13:8). In His mercy He has given us His promises to help us persevere through trials. It is not a promise of avoidance of the world, but a promise of a safe passage through. His promise of safe passage comes with His assurance of His presence (Hebrews 13:5). His promise is given upon the condition of our faithfulness to His will. God cannot associate with sin so obviously His presence depends on our drive to be free from sin. We know we occasionally stumble, but if we are truly repentant “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The strength we have to be successful in our Christian walk comes from God. It is when we recognize our weaknesses that God can make us strong. Paul realized this and relayed that message to us: “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Our weakness is sin and our strength to overcome sin is through God’s power. If we try to eliminate sin by means of our own strength or our own plan, we will fail. Adam and Eve tried to hide their own shame by making their own covering, but God had to cover their sin for their shame to be removed (Genesis 3:7, 21). 

 The shame of our sin is never covered by our own means. Only God can forgive sin and He has given us the plan for His forgiveness in the Bible. Forgiveness comes through a response to God’s word in baptism, a repentant heart (Acts 2:38) and a plea to God for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s plan for salvation, His scheme to reclaim man’s soul. Our souls can only be reclaimed through the power of God’s forgiveness.
In His Grace,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Dedication

“Then Moses said, ‘Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD…in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today’” (Deuteronomy 23:29).

At our baptism we made a decision to dedicate our lives to God. It is a wonderful decision to follow God, but if we look back on our lives in the past year, it is certain we will find room for improvement. None of us are 100% perfect in our dedication, but if we are willing to improve, God will bless us. Taking our dedication to a higher degree will help get our life right with our Creator.

First, our attitude toward the assembly becomes right. It is sad that assembling to worship always seems to be the last priority on some people’s list. Some choose to stay home because they want to see something on TV, or maybe because they want to spend time with family. Whatever the reason, there are those that have placed assembling with the saints at the bottom of their priority list. The Hebrew writer shows this way of thinking is not in accordance to truth: “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Jesus taught His disciples the importance of a spiritually aligned priority list: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We have been taught to place our relationship with God as top priority with the reminder that judgment day is drawing near.

Second, with renewed dedication our attitude toward Bible study becomes right. Sometimes our lives become so busy we can’t seem to find time to sit down and study God’s word. The psalmist expressed the importance of dedication to the understanding God’s word: “Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word” (Psalm 119:169). When our dedication to God’s word diminishes, our understanding of God diminishes, and along with it, our love for God diminishes. His way can only be found by following His path (Jeremiah 6:16). Dedication to studying God’s word is of utmost importance if we want to travel down the “ancient paths.”

Thirdly, renewed dedication will make our prayer lives right. Paul speaks of a dedicated prayer life when he wrote, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He knew and wanted others to know the power of a dedicated prayer life. God’s ears are attentive to the person who is persistent in his or her prayer life because it shows an active faith in the promise of God’s power to work in the lives of the prayer. We can rejoice knowing God is faithful to His promises and will provide the power we need to change the direction our lives and love

Dedication is an important part of the Christian walk. God blessed the dedication of His Son to accomplish His will as Jesus conquered every obstacle that stood before Him. God will bless our efforts also if we will rededicate our lives to that same purpose.

In His Grace,
CubNew Dedication