Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hymn of the Week - Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Christian Manhood - Work is Good

We’ve been looking at the idea of work and vocation from the point of view of the Bible. Today we’re going to look at 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12.

In verse 6 Paul commands the people to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly. Now at first glance when we see and hear the word “disorderly” we might think of some kind of outburst which disrupts normal civil society.

In verse 7 he urges them that rather than be disorderly they should follow his example because, he says, he was not disorderly among them. So, what was that example.

In verse 8 he tells us that “we did not eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden”. That is the example he gave as to how not to live in a disorderly way. In order to press his point he reminds them in verse 10 that he had commanded them that if anyone does not work he should not eat.

The reason this is important, he says, is because “we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” He goes on to tell them that they need to work in quietness and eat their own bread.

So what was the disorderly behavior that we are to avoid? It is being idle and then becoming busybodies in other people’s business rather than taking care of ourselves and doing our own work.

Let’s make sure that as faithful men we are examples like Paul was. We need to demonstrate what it means to live an orderly Christian life and thereby bring glory to God.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Christian Manhood - Vocation

As we continue to consider God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood I would like to think through the idea of vocation as a calling rather than merely a job. As we do that it is important to remember that work was given before the fall. God has always intended that we should have something profitable to do. Genesis 2:5 and 2:15 speak of tilling, tending and keeping before sin entered the world. After the fall work was to become toil and sweat would be the norm as we labor to get enough to eat and support ourselves. Also after the fall, things began to decay and wear out. That means there would be continued work to restore, maintain and rebuild.

God is opposed to laziness and sloth. I was interested to see that Psalm 104:23 speaks of man going out to his work for the day when the sun comes up and returning home when the sun is going down. Where were the unions then? And then in Exodus 20:9 God tells the people that they were to do all their work and labor in six days and rest on the seventh. It is a blessing of grace that God commands that we set aside one day a week for rest and worship. But from His point of view He’s thinking that we will be working and laboring the other six.

Consider these passages from Proverbs
10:4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.
18:9 He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer
20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
26:16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.

It seems obvious to me that God is telling us that work is a good thing and we should be engaged in it regularly and faithfully.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christian Manhood - Spiritual Disciplines

Besides laying aside things which hinder us as we talked about last time, God has given us several spiritual disciplines on which we should focus so that our lives grow and develop into greater Christ-likeness for His glory. Often in my life I have looked for the secret of victory or the three or four steps to greater spirituality. But it always comes down to the same things. There are no secrets here.

The first area of importance in the Christian life is the Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness. If Scripture is profitable for these things then obviously we should be spending time reading and studying it, unless of course we are not interested in being taught or corrected.

Along with the reading and study of Scripture is memorization and meditation. Joshua 1:8 tells us that with constant meditation on the Word of God comes success and prosperity. Now he is not talking about worldly success and financial prosperity. He is speaking of spiritual success and prosperity, the kind that are ultimately more rewarding and satisfying than anything the world can provide. Psalm 1 speaks of the same thing. The man who spends time meditating on Scripture is compared to a tree planted where there is plenty of water. His leaf won’t wither and whatever he does, prospers. This is compared to the ungodly man who is more like chaff that is dry and lifeless and blown away by the wind. Which kind of man do you want to be?

Another important spiritual discipline is prayer. Men are not usually as consistent at this as women, and yet Paul told Timothy that he would have men (as distinct from women) pray. It’s a special challenge to us as men to be the leaders in prayer for our families and churches.

While I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of how prayer works and why God answers some the way we want and not others, there are several key passages of Scripture that give us a picture of what the conditions are for answered prayer.
Matthew 7:7 Pray persistently
Matthew 18:19 Pray in agreement with others
Matthew 21:22 Pray believing
John 15:7 Pray while abiding in Christ
John 16:24 Pray in Jesus’ Name
I John 5:14, 15 Pray in the will of God.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Peace

The first verse in a series of three on the promised blessing of peace:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hymn of the Week - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
The King of creation
O my soul, praise Him
For He is thy health and salvation
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near
Praise Him in glad adoration

Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wonderfully reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings
Yea, so gladly sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth

Praise to the Lord
Who doth prosper they work and defend thee
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him
All that hath life and breath
Come now with praises before Him
Let the 'amen' sound from His people again
Gladly for aye we adore Him

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Christian Manhood - Glorifying God

As we think about God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood we are thinking through how we can reflect the glory of God. We were made in His image and likeness and are to make Him look good. As Christian men we need to think seriously about this. Paul said that when he became a man he put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11). We men tend to hang on to our childish ways. I’m sure most of us have seen the bumper sticker that says the only difference between the man and his boys is the price of the toys.

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, has compiled a list of 13 marks that distinguish a boy from a man. I would strongly encourage you to read over that list and evaluate your progress by some of the markers he includes there.

Another thing the Bible tells us to do is to lay aside every weight and sin that hinders us in our race (Hebrews 12:1) The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:4 that a good soldier does not entangle himself with the affairs of everyday life so that he may please him who has called him to be a soldier. The point is that we as Christian men need to avoid those things which entangle us and hinder us from being everything God would have us be for His glory. As you look at your life, try to think through what those things are that might be a hindrance. Once you have identified them, take steps to reduce and eliminate them from your life so that you can run the race God has laid out for you.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Christian Manhood - Loving God

We were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). We were made out of mere dirt in a form that would reflect God’s likeness. Think about that! That is why He made us – to show forth His glory. The fall, of course, messed up that likeness. God’s image is still there but there are many blotches on the image and it’s our responsibility to pursue Godliness so that the world will see what He is like.

God also wanted a relationship with us. There had been a loving relationship among the members of the trinity in eternity past and that relationship and fellowship was intended to extend to mankind. After the fall, when God came to walk and talk with Adam as He normally did, Adam hid himself. Sin had put a separation between God and man. (Isaiah 59:2)

Our challenge as men is that in the middle of a world marred by sin and with personalities wounded by sin, we are still to reflect God’s glory and have a relationship with God and with other human beings.

What then does God want from me? In Deuteronomy 6:5 God says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus added “and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. He goes on in Deuteronomy to say that these words are to be in our heart.

Loving God is a command. That means it’s not just an emotional warm feeling. It is something we are to do. It requires action. Loving God involves our whole being. If we are to love God with our heart, that implies the emotional side of our being. Loving with our soul implies the psychological side. Loving God with our strength means there is energy and power behind it. And if we are to love God with our mind, that means our focus and whole rational being is involved. The Scripture adds to the intensity of the command by using the word “all”. We are to love with all of our soul, all of our mind, all of our strength and all of our heart. That’s a tall order and one that should bring with it a great deal of humility as we realize how totally impossible it is to do this perfectly.

When we think about the chief ways to love God, we need to consider these passages: Deuteronomy 5:10; John 14:15; John 14:21 and Luke 6:46. I think if you read these verses carefully you will discover that loving God is closely associated with obedience. We can’t really say we love God and then refuse to do what He asks. So if we are to pursue loving God with our whole being, we are going to have to pursue obedience with our whole being as well.

Jesus said that the second commandment is to love our neighbor as our self. That too is a difficult assignment. Just think about the many ways we show love for ourselves. We make sure we are well fed and generally cared for. We make sure we have enough sleep and enough leisure. Jesus said that we are to look after our neighbor in the same way. Immediately when we hear that we begin to make excuses as to why He can’t really mean that since we do have to take care of our own job and our own home and that leaves very little time to focus on those same areas in the life of our neighbor. As I think about myself, I’m amazed that I have so little concern for those around me. It’s pretty convicting to think about, isn't it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening for Oct 2

This morning we read this evening's thoughts from Charles Spurgeon. What a tremendous encouragement this message is to us as God's children. I'm sharing it with you here. Remember, this was written a long time ago and so the English may be a little different, but don't let that stop you from receiving the encouragement.

"A man greatly beloved."—Daniel 10:11.
Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly beloved too? Must you not have been greatly beloved, to have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot? When God smote His only begotten Son for you, what was this but being greatly beloved? You lived in sin, and rioted in it, must you not have been greatly beloved for God to have borne so patiently with you? You were called by grace and led to a Saviour, and made a child of God and an heir of heaven. All this proves, does it not, a very great and superabounding love? Since that time, whether your path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies, it has been full of proofs that you are a man greatly beloved. If the Lord has chastened you, yet not in anger; if He has made you poor, yet in grace you have been rich. The more unworthy you feel yourself to be, the more evidence have you that nothing but unspeakable love could have led the Lord Jesus to save such a soul as yours. The more demerit you feel, the clearer is the display of the abounding love of God in having chosen you, and called you, and made you an heir of bliss. Now, if there be such love between God and us let us live in the influence and sweetness of it, and use the privilege of our position. Do not let us approach our Lord as though we were strangers, or as though He were unwilling to hear us—for we are greatly beloved by our loving Father. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of thine own heart, thou art greatly beloved. Meditate on the exceeding greatness and faithfulness of divine love this evening, and so go to thy bed in peace.