Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sinful Pride

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Satan has always had a strong cache of artillery he uses to keep those who are striving to be faithful from reaching their goal. This is exactly what the Greek word for “sin” means, to miss the mark (or goal). He has always known our weakness as human beings and his strategy calls for an attack on ou...r weakest points. Pride is one of our greatest weaknesses and one of his strongest temptations to attack our souls. His sin of pride began his own demise. His pride caused judgment to fall on him and his aggravation from God’s judgment motivated his assault on mankind. He went right to work on God’s creation by tempting them with pride: “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Satan used Eve’s weakness of pride to cause doubt in God’s word and he will use it against us also.

Satan’s attack on our souls is always in opposition to God’s word. His desire is to plant doubt in us because doubt is the opposite of faith. Faith is what God uses to credit righteousness in the accounts of His followers: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Paul’s inspired point here is that faith depends on God’s power to save and never relies on our own abilities to earn salvation. When we try to earn salvation we find ourselves removed from the pattern of faith that pleases God. If we could earn salvation then the glory of success would go to us and cause us to doubt God. This is the tragic result of pride, a self-glorifying attempt to be right with our Creator. This philosophy always leads us away from God as pride is in opposition to God’s will. Solomon wrote, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18).

We allow pride to take us away from faith in many ways. We become prideful people when we think we know how to be saved without going to God for His instructions. Whenever we put man’s “I think so” before God’s “I say so” we become prideful people headed for a fall. Make sure you stay on your feet walking in the way of righteousness by being humble before God and receiving His counsel. God isn’t looking for people who are not humble. He looks for those humble enough to lay aside the deception of their own wisdom so they can be made wise through the understanding of His grace. Whatever we think we know about God can only be confirmed through faith in His word. To walk with the Lord, you must humble yourself to be led in the way of His righteousness (John 14:6).

In His Grace,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Proper Invitation

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

Can you believe that God would entrust the treasure of His truth to imperfect people like us? Well, believe it or not that is what He has done: “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14). His truth is the pillar of His church (1 Timothy 3:15), and the foundation in which the church was established (John 17:17). Truth is important to God’s church and the world around us needs to be able to see that conviction in us. It is through truth that the church can teach others how to be set free (John 8:32). So it is easy to conclude that when we invite others to come to worship services, we are inviting them to hear truth. But how are we going about inviting them? The psalmist shows us how we can be effective in our invitation.

First, we need to make sure we are asking them with joy. David said he was “glad” when they invited him to come. I have seen gladness from people who have just bought a new car or won the lottery. How much more glad should we be knowing we have been redeemed by our loving Savior? In the beatitudes, Jesus taught that faithful followers are “blessed,” a Greek word showing a gladness that is continually present in the inner being. It is present because of the work being done in them, not by them. Being a member of God’s church should always give us reason to rejoice (Philippians 4:4), and others need to see that gladness that comes from deep inside on the outside. They need to see how glad we are to be God’s children. They need to smell the smoke of a fire burning inside.

Also, we need to make sure we are inviting them to come “with us.” David said, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Anyone that has been to some place new knows how important it is to have someone there you know. If we ask someone to come with us, we need to make sure we are there for them. Although it is a familiar place to us, to others it may not be so familiar, and when people feel uncomfortable going somewhere they have a tendency to quit going. We are people of integrity and the ones we invite need to know they can count on us. We will be more effective in our invitation if we will make sure that those we invite know we are not going to leave them alone but will be there for them.

Thirdly, we need to make sure to ask them to come to Christ, not just “the church.” David was invited to go “into the house of the Lord.” Visitors to the assembly need to realize Whose assembly we are attending. It is not “our” assembly but an assembly of those who have been purchased by God’s own blood (Acts 20:28). They need to know they are not coming to a house of opinions, but a house built and sustained by God’s truth. We are not asking them to join us in a social club or political campaign. We are asking them to come to an assembly that the Lord Himself has put together, a place where the Lord is present. They need to know they will be attending a worship service that will look to serve God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). God’s house is a house of worship and the people we invite need to know how important God’s purpose truly is to us. They need to see in our hearts the conviction of the importance of the Lord’s house. These things will make our invitations more effective, and in turn will make our services more visitor friendly.

In His Grace,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Godly Decisions

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

The world is ignorant to God’s reasoning and this does not allow them to relate to Paul’s teaching in the passage above. We live in an “anything goes” kind of world that has lost its desire for godliness and the riches of the moral values of being right with God. The world is becoming a people who forget the great teachings of our descendants who lived here before us, even ones as close as our own parents. Most of them taught decent moral values and ethics, yet many in the world today still choose to live in opposition to their teachings because society now embraces ungodliness and even rewards the ungodly.

Children of God are different than those of the world because they still base their beliefs on what the Bible teaches. If God says not to do it, His children obey His voice because they demonstrate their love for Him through their desire to be like Him. Even though society may accept some disobedient ways, followers of God choose to be different and maintain a close relationship with Him. They value His teachings and guard His words in their heart: “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14). Paul knew the value of God’s truth and demanded that Timothy, as a preacher of truth, have the same regard for its value. The world is lost in ignorance because they see the world’s standards as more profitable than God’s truth.

So how do we discern what is good and what is not? First, we must know what is beneficial. James tells us God’s word is beneficial to salvation: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). We must be spiritual minded to understand the true value of God’s salvation. God’s Spirit has revealed a plan that cannot fail. When God’s word is implanted in our hearts, He is working within us to bring us to an understanding of His ways. We can then begin to remove the ugliness that remains in our hearts, even though the world may not view certain things as being ungodly. Because God sees ugliness in the world’s ways, those who are His also see it that way. Only when we see the world’s ways as opposition to God can we see the value of God’s truth.

Secondly, children of God do not let the ways of the world control them. Flesh desires the ways of the world, so we must make a godly decision to deny our flesh and its evil desires to allow God’s Spirit to control our hearts and minds: “[F]or if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13). Following the mindset of flesh will lead us right into Satan’s power of death. Giving God control assures the child of God’s eternal life.

We will always be faced with tough decisions that will try to pull us away from the foundation of our faith. Conquer the power of Satan’s pull by asking God to show you things in your life that are not beneficial to you or that are controlling you (James 1:5). Trust in His word knowing only His truth is our way out of the world of bad decisions.

In His Grace,