THE SNEAKY WAY OF SIN

We all like to do things that we enjoy.  Just watch children playing together with their Playdoh.

Grandchildren at table playing (C)

 Or watch children playing in the sprinkler during the hot summer sun!

playing in sprinkler

When the children get a bit older, what could be more fun than a multi-generational game of backyard football.  No refs and no goalposts, but fun nonetheless!

USED family playing football (C)

None of these things are sinful, in and of themselves.  But sin has an insidious way of breaking into our daily routine even when what we are doing is innocuous.  Indeed, even good things can become sinful if it results in disobedience to that which we know God wants us to do.

The other evening, we had finished supper, cleaned up the dishes, and descended the stairs to the family room where we watched television.  We had been discussing, that very day, about how we needed to rethink our meals and eating habits because we need to lose weight for any number of health-related reasons. 

Following our normal course, at 9:00 we had ice cream bars, low calorie bars so in our minds they are ok to have, especially since we had no dessert for dinner. So far, so good.

But then the program we were watching focused on a family in various humorous, although troubling, life situations.  At the end of their day, the teenaged children came into the kitchen and found the Dad sitting at the table, looking haggard.  He had something in front of him that was not really identifiable for the audience.

The television Dad looked up at the children and said: “want some cheese toast?”

At that the program ended, and at the same moment, my husband and I looked at each other and simultaneously said “Cheese Toast!” 

Within moments we had retrieved the toaster oven from over the freezer and were siding bread onto the rack while the cheese was being unwrapped and made ready for melting.

Cheese toast is certainly not sinful.  But, what struck me most was how quickly our dedication to the proposition that we should lose weight fell by the boards when we heard the words “cheese toast” even though it was 11:15 p.m. 

Not a word was uttered in support of dietary restraint.  We bounded up the stairs as quickly as we could, toting the toaster oven to the kitchen and grabbing the bread and cheese almost in one smooth, coordinated, motion. 

When sin beckons me, do I really run toward it like we ran to cheese toast?  What if Satan puts something else in front of me so as to tempt me to leave the Lord that I love … will I run to it as fast as I did to cheese toast?

Our culture has done a great job of inoculating us from the actions of Satan.  We think of him as a guy in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork, certainly nothing that we would be inclined to follow!  But that is not how Scripture talks of him.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

I have not been in the wilds of Africa to see a lion up close and personal however I  did see a lion in the zoo!  But, when the lion prowls around, I believe that it sneaks up on its prey, saving the roaring for after the kill.

In speaking of the false teachers who were misleading the Corinthian church, Paul says this about Satan:

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Of course, Satan’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the Church and all that Christ accomplished through His death on the cross.

“But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you–I, Paul, again and again–but Satan hindered us.”

1 Thessalonians 2:17-18

The good news is that Satan is not the victor – He has been defeated by our Lord and Savior Who is more than capable of holding on to us as His people.  Indeed, James put it this way:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7

If we resist Satan, he will flee because he understands that the only way we have the power to resist him is through Christ, and our Savior’s power far exceeds that of Satan any day of the week.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.

Jude 1:24-25

With that benediction I end this post.  Blessings to you, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.  Take heart – cheese toast does not win the day.  We can meet the adversary and sin has no controlling hold on us anymore.  We are still sinners, yes.  But now, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to yield to sin – we can resist it through the poser of our Lord and Savior.

Father, I praise Your Name for the gift of salvation through belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I praise Your Name that I am no longer a slave to sin and that through Christ’s power I can resist Satan and claim life with Christ for eternity.  Thank You Lord.

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, KINDNESS, part two

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 16

 KINDNESS – A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS TO HELP

PART TWO

So how do we show kindness to others – to whom should we be kind – what is kindness, after all?  What does the scripture tell us about these questions?

The greatest kindness we can do for another person is to witness to them of the Great King Jesus and lead them as the Holy Spirit directs toward their salvation and spiritual growth.  Most often, we do this by setting a good example as this is frequently the most effective witness of all, especially if, at the appropriate time, it is accompanied by our words telling of the gospel of the Lord Jesus as the Source of our life in Him.

For our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we help each other in faith and obedience and encourage each other when in trial or temptations.  We can bring spiritual joy and strength to each other as we seek to live for Christ before meeting Him in heaven.

What does Scripture say?

We as Christians are to be kind, not only in a spiritual context but also physically, to both individuals and the world, whether or not they claim Christ as their Savior.

We are told to help others in their difficulties and calamities.  See Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: 35-36.

Kindness for the Christian can be summed up as being kind in three specific ways:

  • By giving to them of those things that they need and we possess.

“Give and it shall be given unto you.”

Luke 6:38

  • By doing for them and making an effort to help them to improve their situation.

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”

I Thessalonians 2: 9

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do;”

Hebrews 6: 10

  • By suffering for them and assisting them in bearing their burdens and in doing everything that we can to lighten those burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”

1 John 3: 16

Now that we know that we are to be kind to others, who are the “others”? Or, another way to put it is, “to whom should we be kind?”

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to be kind to our neighbors, and it expands the definition of neighbor to anyone we meet along life’s way.  Luke 10:29 and following.

That parable, however begs the question: what kind of people are our neighbors so that we can be kind to them?

We are to be kind both to the good and to the bad.  Remember, the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ … we are to imitate God.  We should be kind not just those who we consider good in our own eyes.

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 5: 45

In this regard, Jonathan Edwards has said:

“Some are proud, some immoral, some covetous, some profane, some unjust or severe, and some despisers of God.  But any or all of these bad qualities should not hinder our beneficence [kindness], nor prevent our doing them good as we have opportunity.  On this very account, we should the rather be diligent to benefit them, that we may win them to Christ; and especially should we be diligent to benefit them in spiritual things.”

It also goes without need for elaboration that we should be kind to our friends. But this duty of kindness also extends to our enemies!

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Matthew 5: 44

And, we should be kind to the thankful as well as to the unthankful.   Again, this follows the example of Jesus.  Luke 6: 35 says He “is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil;” It is also consistent with the command that we should be merciful as He is merciful.  Luke 6:36.

How does this apply to my daily life?

We do not deserve God’s kindness and yet He is kind every moment of every day –as He showers us with His blessing and love in Christ Jesus, as He provides for our salvation and eternal life with Him, as He has given His grace and mercy in forgiveness of our sins, even the ones that we keep on doing and which He knows we will continue to do, yet in His infinite love, mercy and kindness He continues to forgive when we come to Him.

Please remember that the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ … and one of Jesus’ attributes was kindness that was extended to those he encountered throughout his life, even to his executioners, including you and me.  He died on the cross because of our sins, and we put him there as surely as any Roman spear or nail.  Such kindness freely given to us should result in an outpouring of love and kindness by us to others, not in our human power as just one more thing we have to do but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Kindness – it is such a common term, so flippantly used, and yet such a profound witness when it comes from a heart prompted by the Holy Spirit.  It is not a last minute thought or a flippant act of little consequence as the world describes; it is a life style of placing others first, of putting yourself in subservience to others so that their needs are met; it is going the extra mile and then some, because Jesus went all the way from heaven, to earth and then to the cross for you, and for me.  Such kindness cannot be repaid by any action on our part, but we can illustrate it to others as best we can, with prayerful praise and as a thankful witness for Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 5 LOVE, PART TWO

Continuing our consideration of LOVE, we are thinking about love from the Holy Spirit, therefore it is love as God loves … Agape love.  So we need to see what this love looks like, and then see if we have those characteristics in our life.

 

In Dr. R. C. Sproul’s teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit, CD Teaching Series; and Developing Christian Character, CD Teaching Series he identifies several characteristics of Agape love, the love that should be evident in our lives because the Holy Spirit is resident within us as Christians.

 

What does Scripture say?

  1. Agape love gives us the desire in our hearts to worship God.

 

Without the Holy Spirit’s involvement in my life, worship would be far from what I would want to do on a Sunday morning.  But the Holy Spirit changes all that.  The Christian wants to honor and worship God – why? Because God is living within her, the Spirit urges her to honor and worship God and she responds by doing so.   Jesus said:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

John 4:23-24.

 

  1. Agape love believes and trusts God’s Word.

 

Paul says:

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 

I  Thessalonians 2:13.

 

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, in John 17:17, he prays:

Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth.”

 

Agape love reads God’s Word, loves God’s Word, believes God’s Word, and trusts God’s Word.  If God’s Word sets forth a standard that is difficult to follow, Agape love mandates that such standard should still be followed even if society cries out against it.  God’s Word is inviolate, and the Christian gives it full credit and trust.

 

  1. Agape love recognizes God’s absolute right to govern us.

 

Sovereignty – this is something we in the United States don’t really understand culturally, but it is grounded in our psyche – God put a desire for a sovereign in our very being – not for a physical king, but for HIM.

 

Indeed, in the Old Testament, God was the King of His people Israel, leading them through the wilderness and preserving them as they encountered enemies along the way.  But then we read in 1 Samuel 8:5-7 that the people came to the prophet Samuel and demanded a king  so they could “be like all the other nations around them.”  Samuel objected to this demand but he presented the request to God.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”  [KJV]

What a sad comment from our God — “they have rejected me”.

 

David says:

“Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

Psalm 74:12

 

In 1 Timothy 1:17, Paul says:

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

 

Of course, we also have the promise of Romans 8:28-30 that God will work in all things to our ultimate good, specifically that we will be with Him for all eternity through Christ our Lord.

 

Agape love says that God is sovereign and that He has the absolute right to govern His creation in all things, and that, Beloved, includes even you and me.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

  • With Agape love in our hearts, we recognize that we are the creation, not the Creator. The Holy Spirit is in our heart and He is enabling us to worship and honor God as God.   We desire to worship Him.  We want to come into His presence and sing His glories, hear His Word and learn from His Spirit as it is preached to us.

The emphasis on our worship is God, not us.  With Agape love, I will not be saying “I didn’t get anything out of the sermon today” because I am not the one that is to be the focus of worship.  Rather, my prayer is that my worship has given God the honor and glory that He deserves.

 

  • With Agape love, we will want to read and study His Word. You would never fold a letter from your boyfriend or girlfriend and put it in your pocket without taking it out of the envelope and reading it.  Rather, you would virtually memorize it, not out of an obligation to do so but because you want to have the words in your heart to cherish for all time.

The Bible is God’s Word to us, a love letter, if you will, given for us to read and learn of God, what His character is like, what He desires for His people, what He wants in worship.  The New Testament continues the theme that began in the Old Testament, detailing the life of Jesus Christ, the fullest revelation of God that we could possibly ask for, the One who was fully man and fully God.  The One who revealed God and His nature to the fullest extent possible.  Jesus even explicitly saying:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

  • With Agape love, we will acknowledge that God is Sovereign. He has absolute authority over us, to send us wherever He wants us to go, to have us do that which He desires.  He is not a tyrant that He should gain glee in hurting His children.  Rather, His plan for us is far better than that which we could imagine, with benefits that are eternal, not just for the here and now.

Listen to Isaiah 43:11-13 as presented in the song entitled I Am The Lord, sung by Ed Kerr on Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song Album entitled Hope of Heaven.  Let the reality of these words sink into your mind and heart and think of them as you go about your daily activities.  Agape love – the first fruit of the Spirit.

 

 

We will look at additional characteristics of this fruit in the next post.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.