Monday, February 27, 2012

The Romans 52 - Week 8 - Romans 3:20

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hymn of the Week - A Debot to Mercy Alone

A Debtor to Mercy Alone by Augustus Toplady

A debtor to mercy alone
Of covenant mercy I sing
I come with Your righteousness on
My humble offering to bring
The judgments of Your holy law
With me can have nothing to do
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions
From view

The work which Your goodness began
The arm of Your strength will complete
Your promise is yes and amen
And never was forfeited yet
The future or things that are now
No power below or above
Can make You Your purpose forego
Or sever my soul from Your love

My name from the palms of Your hands
Eternity will not erase
Impressed on Your heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace
Yes I, to the end will endure
Until I bow down at Your throne
Forever and always secure
Forever and always secure
Forever and always secure
A debtor to mercy alone

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Romans 52 - Week 7 - Romans 3:10-11

Romans 3:10-11 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hymn of the Week - The Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

The Power of the Cross by Keith Getty

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Living the Truth - Conclusion

(Be sure to see the previous posts to get the context of this article.)

Let's take another example where focusing on the truth can help. What about general dissatisfaction with life circumstances. The truth of Scripture is that God is working all things together for good if you love him and are called according to his purpose, (Romans 8:28). God will not allow you to be tested above what you can handle, (1 Corinthians 10:13). God determined in advance where you would live and during which time period, (Acts 17:26).

Many aspects of your circumstances are or were not under your control. Other circumstances are a result of previous decisions you made. At some point you decided to go to college or not. You decided to marry this person or not. You accepted a particular job or changed your mind and took another one. All of these decisions are in the past. Some of them can be changed. Many of them cannot. But that is where the frustration comes in, isn't it. We want to be able to go back and change them. One of the truths of the world is that time moves only forward and you can't go back and change a decision to a different one. All of the mumbling and negative self talk isn't going to change any of it. So after you know that truth, you must accept it and act accordingly.

Maybe there's a way to change your job situation. You can put your resume out there to see what God brings along. You can move to a different part of the country where it may be more to your liking or where there may be more jobs. Those things you can do.
You cannot change many of the things related to your physical condition. But you can make healthy eating choices. You can exercise more. You can quit smoking. However, some results of past decisions will stay with you.

Now I'm not saying to take on a defeatist attitude. “I've made so many bad decisions, I'll always be this way.” That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that there is a lot you can do about the way you think and the way you approach life. So don't waste time and emotional energy on the things you cannot change or complain about the truths which serve as boundaries in life.

Finally, let's take a moment and look at worry about the future. Nothing in the future has happened yet and therefore isn't true. The Bible tells us to plan for the future, to set aside food and supplies for a time when things may not be going as well. But it also tells us not to take on the cares of tomorrow today. God has said he would never leave or forsake us, Hebrews 13:5. It also says that having food and clothing we should be content, 1 Timothy 6:8. God says that he will supply all of our needs, Philippians 4:19. So when you begin to worry, you need to tell yourself the things that are true. Tell your soul to accept those truths and then make decisions based on those truths. When you find yourself mulling over the fears of the future, tell yourself to drop it and purposely turn your focus to other things. If you have built a habit of worrying, it won't go away that easily. You will find yourself struggling actively against the worry. That is a good thing. Some people say they struggle with worry or some other sin but what they mean is that it has the victory. The actual battle comes when you stake your claim on God's truth and refuse to submit to worry or whatever else might have gained a foothold. It won't be easy. But God is faithful. He said he won't allow any testings that you are not able to handle. Grab a hold of that truth and let that be the starting point for victory.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Living the Truth - Part 5

(Be sure to see the previous posts to get the context of this article.)

How do these principles apply in interpersonal relationships? What are some truths to be found in this arena of life? 1) He who would have friends must show himself friendly. (Proverbs 18:24); 2) Treat others the way you want to be treated; (Luke 6:31) 3) Prefer others over yourself (Romans 12:10); 3) Be kind one to another (Ephesians 4:32); 4) A soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1); 5) You can't get inside another person to change them. There are many more.

So what are we to do with these truths and others like them? We need to accept them and embrace them and then live our lives and make decisions accordingly even if our feelings scream out at us.
What should you do about a person, let's say someone in your family or someone you have to work with, who irritates you. How are you supposed to respond so that you don't get frustrated and upset yourself. First you need to accept and act on the truth that you can't get inside and change them. So stop trying. When you speak to them, speak in a calm voice and an even tone even if everything inside you is telling you to be sarcastic or to respond with a certain tone that will let them know how much you are frustrated. Treat them with respect. Do kind things for them. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Show them genuine love and care.

Where are you supposed to get this kind of love? Since I'm directing this lesson toward those who claim to be Christians, your source of this kind of love is the same love which you found from Jesus Christ. He loved you when you were rebelling against him and were about as obnoxious as could be in the sight of God. And yet, he extended his grace toward you in incredible ways. Do the same to them.

But,” you may say, “If I do this, it will seem like I don't care that they are miserable people to be around.” So? Why do they have to know you think they are miserable to be around? Do you think a bad attitude toward them is going to change them? Does it actually make you feel better?
What if the person is my spouse and I really want them to change so that our marriage can be what it should be? All of the same truths apply. You can't get inside them to change them and you need to act toward them according to the truth that you are their spouse. So you need to act in love and encouragement and not with put downs and negative speech. Treat them the way you want to be treated. But what if they don't start treating me back the way they should? It might be difficult to accept, but you can't change that. You can only change yourself – and then only barely it seems.
Begin to live according to the truth and you will find your own attitude much more calm, patient and much less frustrated. The Bible promises that a spouse may change due to the attitude of the other. (I Peter 1:1-2.)

The Bible asks the question about where quarrels and fights come from. The answer is that we want something and don't get it, James 4:1. What do you want from your spouse that you're not getting? Why do you think you deserve it? How are you going to force him or her to give it to you? I'm guessing your spouse wants something from you. Give your spouse the very best. Give them love and acceptance. Give them time and attention. If you are the husband, love your wife like Christ loves the church, pouring your life into hers, encouraging her and building her up in the faith. Expect nothing in return. If you are the wife, give your husband love and respect. Respect him as the person whom God has made the head of your home and submit to his leadership. Expect nothing in return. be continued...

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Romans 52 - Week 6 - Romans 2:1

Romans 2:1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hymn of the Week - When I Can Read My Title Clear

When I Can Read My Title Clear by Isaac Watts
  1. When I can read my title clear
    To mansions in the skies,
    I bid farewell to every fear,
    And wipe my weeping eyes.
    And wipe my weeping eyes,
    And wipe my weeping eyes
    I bid farewell to every fear,
    And wipe my weeping eyes.
  2. Should earth against my soul engage,
    And hellish darts be hurled,
    Then I can smile at Satan’s rage,
    And face a frowning world.
    And face a frowning world,
    And face a frowning world,
    Then I can smile at Satan’s rage,
    And face a frowning world.
  3. Let cares, like a wild deluge come,
    And storms of sorrow fall!
    May I but safely reach my home,
    My God, my heav’n, my All.
    My God, my heav’n, my All,
    My God, my heav’n, my All,
    May I but safely reach my home,
    My God, my heav’n, my All.
  4. There shall I bathe my weary soul
    In seas of heav’nly rest,
    And not a wave of trouble roll
    Across my peaceful breast.
    Across my peaceful breast,
    Across my peaceful breast,
    And not a wave of trouble roll
    Across my peaceful breast.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Living the Truth - Part 4

(Be sure to see the previous posts to get the context of this article.)

I'd like to take these principles and apply them to some situations in order to explain the idea in more detail. I won't be covering all possible issues and so if your struggle is in a different area, you'll need to take the concept and apply it to your situation. Also, I will be oversimplifying these concepts. Each scenario could be the topic for a book but we're going to discuss them in less than one printed page.
For the first example, let's take personal finance. I know of many people who find themselves in a financial bind. The scenario I'm visualizing involves a normal working family who have a job, but find themselves struggling with their finances.
First we need to know the truths involved in this situation. A few of them are 1) Man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15); 2) My God will supply all of your needs (Philippians 4:19); 3) He who sows bountifully shall reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 2:9); 4) You can't continually spend more than you take in; 5) You can't spend the same money twice; etc. etc.
As we accumulate truths related to money, we need to embrace those truths and accept them as operational even for us in our own personal circumstances.

Now comes the hard part. We need to live life accordingly. If life does not consist of the abundance of my possessions, I don't need to accumulate stuff just because I want to. I might want the latest flat screen TV or electronic gadget, but since my life does not consist of these things, I don't have to purchase them. But here's where the battle comes in. Something inside me wants stuff. Why should I have to use an old analog TV when all of my friends have the cool digital kind?
Another truth is that I can't spend the same money twice. If I buy the TV, I can't use that money to buy shoes. I can't put it in the bank to save for a rainy day fund. I can't use it on my family vacation. I might wish with all of my heart that I could do it all, but I can't and I have to accept that fact. I need to learn to live within the bounds of the truth.

I kind of look at it somewhat similarly to a football game. The players can have a great time giving their all on the field. But suppose some kids are playing a pick up game and as they play the guy with the ball decides to run outside of the bounds and through the area where fans would be seated in a real game. He runs way out of bounds and around a couple of trees to avoid being tackled. Obviously that's not going to work well. We have rules for games so that participants can enjoy the game within certain bounds. Reality shows up when someone runs up against one of the rules. Life can be going along pretty well and we can be fairly contented, but when we begin to want something which lies outside the rules or outside the realities of life, that's when we get bent out of shape. If we learn to live within the bounds and be to contented with reality, life goes much better.

In explaining these things, I'm not saying that it is easy or that trying to do this will make all of life's pain and sorrow go away. That's not going to happen, but I am saying that you will find that you are able to maintain a much better spirit if you will think and accept the truth. When it comes to personal finance, you have to accept the fact that certain truths are in force. Acknowledging that and then basing your decisions accordingly is much more productive than either fretting about past decisions or worrying about future ones. be continued...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Living the Truth - Part 3

(Be sure to see the previous posts to get the context of this article.)

The third principle is Act on the Truth. This is perhaps the hardest of the three. It's not enough to know the truth and to accept it, you must act upon it. You must make your decisions, adjust your attitude, act out the part as though it is true even if your feelings are screaming at you. Now this is not the same thing as wishful thinking or positive thinking. We are not creating truth by wishing or hoping long enough or hard enough. We're talking about truths we know. Truth is something that is out there whether we believe it or not. Obviously we don't know all truth, but we do know some. The force of gravity is a natural truth. No matter how much you might wish it weren't true, it's still in effect. If you jump from a 10 story roof, the forces of nature will apply to you no matter who you are, no matter whether you believe in God or not. You might wish you could jump and soar like a bird among the buildings, but all of the wishing in the world does not make it so. Now there are other truths that also exist that will allow you to invent some sort of wings or parachute, but in all of these cases you are required to act according to natural truths or face the consequences. That's true in the spiritual life as well. God says that we should not be fooled. We will reap what we sow. We may not like it. We may wish it were different, but there is coming a day when the harvest will show what we've been planting. Another truth that is troubling is that we live once, we die once and after that comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

Sometimes you need to act out the truth almost as though you are acting a part. You may feel hypocritical doing this because inside your feelings aren't meshing with the behavior. For example a truth of Scripture is that we are to be kind to others no matter what they may have done to us. Acting kindly toward someone who has hurt you deeply may make you feel like a hypocrite. Inside you may not be feeling all of that kindly, but you are acting out kindness in spite of those feelings. If we live and act according to the truth, our feelings will catch up with us eventually. Feelings are real, but they can be deceptive. So live out the truth no matter what the feelings say.

An analogy is like the first time we learned to float during our swimming lessons. They told you that the water would hold you up if you just rested on it. They may not have told you that the water would hold you up after about 7/8 of your body was submerged, but it's still the truth. You can believe what they told you and you can even accept it. But when they have you lie back on their arms, it starts to be a different story. Then they tell you to relax and they begin to lower their arms to allow the water to take over. You continue to sink as their arms descend. If you're like me, you get to the point where you start thrashing with your legs and feet trying to find out where the bottom of the pool is. However, if you get to the point of actually resting on the truth that the water will hold you up, it's an exhilarating experience. be continued...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Living the Truth - Part 2

(Be sure to see the previous posts to get the context of this article.)

The second principle is Accept the Truth. You not only have to know what is true, you have to accept it and acknowledge that it is true. You have to believe, accept and embrace the fact that it is true. Getting from the knowledge step to the acceptance step is sometimes difficult. There are times when we know the truth, but we don't want to believe it or accept it. In order to get over that hump we need to be continually thinking on and speaking the truth to ourselves.

In Psalm 42:5, the writer does just that. He says, “Why are you cast down o my soul and why are you disquieted within me?” See what he is doing? He is talking to his own soul. He answers himself too! He says to himself, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him.” He quotes a promise of God to himself and acts on it with praise to God.

This is what we all need to do. When a circumstance comes up that we are having an issue with, we need to know what truth applies, and then we need to embrace it and tell ourselves that it is true and that we have the strength and power of God to deal with it and overcome our fearful or fretful feelings.
One of the things we need to be especially careful to avoid is proclaiming our feelings or commonly accepted statements as if they are true. I get extremely frustrated over the many statements I see online that are supposedly the truth, but contradict what God clearly says in the Bible. For example, we sometimes say, “I'm overwhelmed. I can't live victoriously over my circumstances. They are too much!” Yet God says, “I will not allow you to be tested above what you are able.” (1 Cor. 10:13) be continued...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Living the Truth - Part 1

Be sure to see previous posts to get the context of this article.

Here are the three principles I want us to look at:
        1. Know the truth.
        2. Accept the truth – believe, accept and embrace it
        3. Act according to the truth – make decisions, adjust your attitude, act the part

Let's dig deeper into these principles and then I will use them in some practical examples.

First then, we must know the truth. Jesus said in John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” This statement was not made in isolation however. Just before this, Jesus had said, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.” The principles we are talking about depend on our being true disciples of Jesus Christ. They depend on our abiding in the word of Christ. This means that we need to be taking in the Scriptures, thinking about what they say and basing our life decisions on them. All of God's word is truth. Jesus said in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” All of God's promises are truth. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “All of God's promises in him are yes and amen.” So become deeply familiar with the truth and promises of God. Know them!
In addition to the truth we find in Scripture we must know the truths of life – natural truths. You might think this is obvious, but a lot of people try to live life in contradiction to natural truth. Here are some examples:
Time moves only forward – so don't dwell on the past
You can't continually spend more money than you take in – so don't act like or wish you could
You can't change other people's minds for them – so just take care of your own attitudes; that's hard enough.
You can't add a day to your life by thinking about it (Matthew 6:27)

So the first principle is Know the Truth – both Scriptural and natural truth. be continued...

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Living the Truth - Introduction

This series of articles is taken from lessons I presented at Faith Baptist Church in January, 2012

One of the most important, yet arguably the most difficult habits to develop in life is the ability to live according to the truth. In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to think on the things that are true. In another letter he tells the Corinthian believers, “We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” (2 Cor. 13:8) So I take it that the best way to live life is to live it in accordance with the truth. In other words, there are realities of life – both physical and spiritual life that govern how we live. When we live in ways that are conflict with these truths, life will not go as well as when we are living in accordance to the truth. Many times our biggest battles are not out there in the physical world, but are conflicts and frustrations that arise in our minds. These conflicts increase interpersonal tensions, and give rise to worry and frustration.

One of the important principles that the Bible teaches us is that our lives can be transformed and that this transformation takes place by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) Paul, in his letters talks about being renewed in the spirit of our minds (Eph 4:23) and being renewed in knowledge. (Col. 3:10) Such transformation is something we should all want to see take place in our lives. But this renewal takes place in our minds through the things that we consciously think about. That's why Paul wrote that we should set our minds on and think about those things that are true.

Renewing the mind comes from meditating on God's word which is truth and then outside of Scripture forcing ourselves to operate with the truth of the way life is. We need to avoid living in a false world – a world that doesn't actually exist. We need to avoid relying on principles that are false either according to the Word of God or according to the nature of things.

Most of our problems of discouragement, depression, frustration, worry, anxiety and even many interpersonal relationships are a result of thinking things which are false.
What I plan to do in this article is give you three principles along with a short explanation of each one. Following that overview, I hope to examine a few areas of life in order to show you how to apply these principles. Hopefully the examples will be of help in applying these principles in other areas of life that I may not cover here.

Here are the three principles I want us to look at:
      1. Know the truth.
      2. Accept the truth – believe, accept and embrace it
      3. Act according to the truth – make decisions, adjust your attitude, act the part be continued...

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Romans 52 - Week 5 - Romans 1:21

because, although they knew God,they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hymn of the Week - Only Jesus Can Satisfy

Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul by Lanny Wolfe

The world may try to satisfy
That longing in your soul.
You may search the wide world over
But you'll be just as before.
You'll never find true satisfaction
Until you've found the Lord,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Yes, only He can change your heart
And make you whole.
He'll give you peace you never knew,
Sweet joy and love and Heaven, too.
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

If you could have the fame and fortune,
All the wealth you could attain.
Yet, you have not Christ within,
Your living here would be in vain.
There'll come a time when death will find you,
Riches cannot help you then.
So, come to Jesus, only He can satisfy.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul:
Yes, only He can change your heart
And make you whole.
He'll give you peace you never knew,
Sweet joy and love and Heaven, too.
Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Yes, only Jesus can satisfy your soul.