Monday, May 31, 2010

"The Ministry of Memorial"

(Friends: This was written early yesterday morning, to be send out today. Interestingly, I had almost finished writing before recalling that today is Memorial Day in the United States, the day we remember and honor those patriots who have sacrificed themselves in order to obtain and preserve our freedom. We'll conclude the series on confession of sin tomorrow and Wednesday. Thanks, Glen).

"And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial" (Exodus 28:12).

Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are endowed with priestly privileges to enter the presence of God for His glory and the benefit of others.

"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5).

As Aaron bore the names of the children of Israel "for a memorial," so may we do the same for those with whom we live our lives, and for whom we have responsibility to reveal the love of Christ. This presents to us a simple and effectual way of intercessory prayer. That is, we intercede for people by naming their names unto our Heavenly Father, trusting and affirming that He will work in their lives according to the perfection of His wisdom, knowledge, and purposes. This involves keeping a list of people, perhaps written on paper, or in a computer file. Family, friends, fellow believers, colleagues, neighbors, governmental leaders, and people we encounter along the paths of life can be added to our list and simply named to the Lord day by day. He knows each person perfectly, and He knows how to work in their lives in precise accordance with revealing and exalting the Lord Jesus, and with meeting their needs.

Upon this basis, our Lord will lead us to more involved prayer throughout the day for various individuals, as He sees fit. As the years pass, of course, the list will grow and it will take several minutes at least to utter the names of those whom we bear before the Lord. Only eternity, however, will reveal how our Heavenly Father worked through our daily memorial. There is a particular joy in this expression of the love of Christ working in us, and most importantly, He is glorified as we fulfill the priestly ministry of memorial made possible by the sacrifice of our great High Priest who commissions us to "bear their names before the Lord" in a simple but sublime way of loving our world for His glory.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior."
(I Timothy 2:1-3)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Visit Our New Location. . .

The Orange Moon Cafe is moving!

Our Special of the Day will remain right here, but our website will be moving to a blog format and will move from to

Please come visit us and tell us what you think!

Friday, May 28, 2010

"As We Confess..." Part 7

Confession of sin is a matter of faith, which by definition, is a matter of agreeing with God. This perfectly correlates with the definition of the word "homologeo," from which "confess" is translated in I John 1:9.

This is to be expected because at the root of all sin is unbelief. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). Before Adam partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he disbelieved the plainly stated word of God that death would ensue if he ate the fruit. Even more, Adam distrusted the character, nature, and way of his Creator. The same is true in us. Boil to its essence every act of disobedience to God, and a choice of inward unbelief will be found at the core. We choose to trust the world, the devil, and the flesh rather than our Lord, regardless of whether we realize the full nature of our waywardness.

It is not surprising, therefore, that agreement with God would be the way we access His remedy for our sins. We disbelieve Him in getting off track. We believe Him in order to get on track. Confession of sin means that we choose to remember and affirm the Bible's teaching in the matter of unbelief and disobedience. This series of messages has focused on the fairly broad issue of agreeing with God in order to experience His forgiveness and cleansing. What has He done, and what is He doing in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to make pardon available? How are we to respond in order to avail ourselves of His pardon? Discovering the Bible's teaching in this vital matter, and then choosing to believe the Truth in times of sin is God's means of maintaining our walk with Him in unhindered fellowship and a clear conscience. Again, we sin through unbelief. We are restored through faith.

This raises a vital issue. When we confess our sins, agreeing with God that He promises forgiveness through the blood of Christ, do we believe that He does in fact forgive and cleanse us? We must, because we add sin upon sin if we do not do so. In recent times, the false teaching has arisen in culture and the church that we must "forgive ourselves." This is a logical impossibility that has no basis in Scripture. It actually proceeds from choosing to disbelieve the mighty power of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus. If I feel that I still need to "forgive myself" after confessing sin to God, the truth of the matter is that I need to go back to the throne of grace until I have actually believed the One who sits on the that throne with nail scars on His hands and feet that proclaim the only mercy available for the atonement of sin. His forgiveness is all the pardon we need. We must believe it is all that we need.

Only God's grace received through faith in the finished work of Christ can forgive sin and cleanse our conscience of condemnation. When we adequately know and believe the truth of God's forgiveness, we have no need for any notion of forgiving ourselves. Indeed, His pardon is infinitely adequate to raise us up from any pit of sin and condemnation into which we have fallen. Growth in the Biblical teaching of the person and work of the Lord Jesus builds within us the confidence to "come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and to find help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). We shall not be disappointed when by faith we approach God's throne, finding that the sacrifice of "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" is far more than adequate to restore peace to our hearts, and strength for our feet to again walk the path of righteousness.

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
(Hebrews 10:22)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"I Want You To Have This"

(Friends: I suppose I need to create a special category called "The Jackson Chronicles" because of all the messages my three year old grandson has recently inspired. I'm sure as our granddaughter Emma gets older that she'll do the same, but right now, Jackson seems to frequently say and do things that speak of spiritual truths and blessings. Here's another one. We'll return to the series on confession of sin tomorrow. Glen).

Recently during a visit to our house, Jackson came up to me with a very serious look on his face. He stuck out his hand, and offered me a quarter. "I want you to have this," he said in a very solemn way, and then smiled as he placed the coin in my hand.

I'm old enough to remember when a quarter would get you a Coke, a bag of chips, a candy bar, and "Sir, I'll take a few pieces of gum with what's left." Nowadays, I don't suppose 25 cents will even get you the gum. Nevertheless, the quarter I received from Jackson possesses more value to me than words can express, and interestingly, the coin was minted in 2006, the year of Jackson's birth. "I want you to have this." I'm glad to have it, Jackson, and I'll keep it always.

I am reminded of our relationship with the God who is utterly without need (Acts 17:25). Our triune Lord is perfectly self-existent, and nothing we do for Him adds anything to His perfection, fulfillment, and infinite being. However, much that we do pleases Him, to the degree of delight.

"The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).

"The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

Because He doesn't need us, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is able to love us unencumbered by any selfish requirement or desire. The things we do for Him in response to His love are therefore appreciated with a purity of joy and pleasure for which we have no frame of reference. Like Jackson's quarter to me, an offering of love, faith, obedience and devotion given to God is a blessed gift to His heart despite the fact that He has no need for our gift. In fact, it is all the more blessed because He doesn't need it.

I can't buy a Coke, chips, candy, or even gum with the quarter Jackson so graciously gave to me. It is a treasure in my heart, however, and worth more than I have words to express. I am sure that this is far more true in God's heart whenever we trust and obey Him because we love Him, and because He so loves us. "I want You to have this." We can be sure that our offerings of love are received with love, and bring delight and pleasure beyond measure in the Heart we seek to bless.

"And He looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites." And He said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
(Luke 21:1-4)

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
(Hebrews 13:15)

"Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name: bring an offering, and come into His courts."
(Psalm 96:8)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"As We Confess..." Part 6

Having followed their unbelief and disobedience to God by the self effort of attempting to cover their own sin, Adam and Eve proceeded to shift the blame for their failure to others.

"Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (Genesis 3:11-13).

Our original ancestors would have been quite comfortable in our generation. Even among professing Christians, excuses for sin and blame-shifting rather than full acceptance of personal responsibility are now often the response to Biblically-defined waywardness. This is a grave detour from Truth, because the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ cleanses not excuses, but sin. God's inviolable Word has not changed, and the primary cause for every and all sin remains the fleshly refusal to respond to His light. Certainly different people have varying degrees of exposure to the Word of God, but the revelation of His Person and truth nevertheless fill the world to the degree that all are "without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

Agreeing with God when we sin means that we take full responsibility for our unbelief and disobedience. Eve and the serpent, as it were, are not the reason we turn aside despite the negative influence that others can be to us. As Nathan unequivocally declared to David in exposing the king's sin with Bathsheba: "Thou art the man!" (II Samuel 12:7). This is always the Holy Spirit's word to us in confronting our iniquities, and to the degree we respond by taking full responsibility, we will experience full pardon, forgiveness, and cleansing. Again, the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ cleanses sin, not excuses, and it does so to the wonderful degree expressed through the prophet Isaiah...

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
(Isaiah 1:18)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"As We Confess..." Part 5

To this point, the factors we have considered concerning confession of sin focus on God, and what He has done in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is always the divine order of the Gospel, namely, that His solution to our problem precedes and supersedes the problem itself. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound... the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Romans 5:20; Revelation 13:8).

We will now address over the next few days our proper response in availing ourselves of our Lord's forgiveness and cleansing. This involves a number of truths with which we must agree with God (again, remembering that the primary definition of the Biblical word "confess" is "to agree with").

The initial human response to sin was the attempt to hide its effects, and create a carnal means of covering.

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons" (Genesis 3:6-7).

Sin brought an increased self awareness to Adam and Eve, leading to knowledge of their nakedness, and the attempt to hide or cover it by their own efforts. Only God could have adequately clothed the man and woman after sin, and He did so by the sacrifice of an animal (foreshadowing the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary). "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). This reveals our first responsibility in the confession of sins. We must determine that only God can help us, and that only He can provide true forgiveness and cleansing.

This may seem an easy thing to do, and perhaps even too easy. However, true repentance involves overcoming the proudful delusion of our flesh, and the making of countless "fig leaves" formed in the attempt to absolve ourselves. Because we are the ones who commit the sin, we are prone to feel that we must do something about it. Every false religion promotes this error in some manner, and only Biblical Christianity truthfully portrays the dire seriousness of the matter, and the Divine solution that alone can redeem us. "There is forgiveness with Thee" proclaimed the Psalmist to God, and to no one else can this be said (Psalm 130:4). This is especially true of ourselves. No work, ritual, or attempt of our own to make ourselves genuinely contrite can provide absolution for our sins. Only the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can grant true pardon, and our reception of God's mercy begins with the faith that He alone can forgive our sins, and that we need none other.

"There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 2:5)

"If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
(I John 1:7)

Monday, May 24, 2010

"As We Confess..." Part 4

(Friends: today we continue our consideration of confession of sin, addressing the literal Greek meaning of "homologeo," translated as "confess" in I John 1:9. Rather than "to admit," the word means "to agree with," that is, to agree with God and His Word about our sins. This broadens the subject, and rightly understood, leads to a more meaningful and effectual experience of God's forgiveness when we sin.)

"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Romans 4:8).

The Apostle Paul's benediction concerns all who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. God "will not impute sin" to us, that is, He will not place sin on our account for any reason. We do well to remember and affirm such blessed truth as we confess, or agree with God and His Word, when we sin.

Our Lord relates to us as a Father in times of unbelief and disobedience. We are sons and daughters in Christ, and loving restoration rather than rejection and wrath are the portion meted out to us in even our most wayward times. This does not preclude discipline, of course, and every seasoned believer will acknowledge that God's woodshed can be a necessarily severe place. Our Father loves us enough to administer corrective difficulty if we do not quickly repent and agree with Him when we sin. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6).

Still, sins are not placed on our account as if we have created a debt with God. The Lord Jesus bore such obligation on the cross of Calvary when He was tortured to death, and forsaken by God and man to make atonement for our sins. They were imputed to Him, and His substitutionary sacrifice was so satisfactory in the sight of God the Father that He "will not impute sin" to His trusting children. Our relationship with God is founded on the solid rock of Christ's gracious mercy, and it is a loving Father with whom we agree, and to whom we confess.

Such understanding makes it far more likely we will approach God in times of even our greatest failures. This is vital because we do Him and ourselves no favors by wallowing in our sins. The person and work of the Lord Jesus is a powerful restorative for those who come to God on His terms. Agreeing with Him that He "will not impute sin to us" draws us to the the throne of grace where "we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). The Lord Jesus is the issue. To the degree He was condemned on the cross of Calvary, never will we be. Remembrance of such solemn truth motivates godly sorrow in our hearts, and merciful forgiveness will be found awaiting us just as wrath and rejection awaited the Lamb of God on His cross.

"He... bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
(I Peter 2:23-25)

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Fruit of Discipline

(Friends: we will return to our Confession of Sin series on Monday)

While being a blessed fruit of the Holy Spirit, discipline can also be an alluring temptress to the born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The fruit of the Spirit is... temperance (self control)" (Galatians 5:22; 23).

When contemplating discipline's place in the Christian life, the naturally disciplined may rub their hands together and think, "Ah, another challenge to overcome! The Christian life is perfectly suited to my personality and perspective!" Such ones may consistently read the Bible, pray, perform ministry, and fulfill the outward trappings of life and godliness. However, something is missing in their experience, namely, the apprehension of the person of God, and the warmth toward Him and others that can only flow from the living reality of the Holy Spirit. The disciplined often view with smug condescension those who do not possess their natural strength, and they may drive people away from the true Christ rather than to Him. Furthermore, when their self control fails them in a major way, the naturally self-controlled often never arise from the ashes of their failure caused by the carnal delusion that moderation is root rather than fruit.

Conversely, those who find discipline daunting will at the outset try their best then confronted by the false notion that believers live by discipline rather than the "faith, which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). The practical expressions and activities of godliness, however, will often seem more a burden than the delight of God's living presence they are meant to be. Too many missed devotional times and other omissions sap away at the joyful wonder that began the life of grace and peace when these Christians believed in the Lord Jesus. "What hope is there for me?" they cry, and after many attempts to overcome their natural tendencies, the naturally undisciplined often settle to a nominal Christian experience. As the Apostle Paul counseled the Galatians, "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3). The answer is a resounding "No!" Having been misled by false teaching of viewing discipline as root rather than fruit, these believers are paralyzed by the same deception that cripples their more self-controlled brethren.

When considering discipline, we must begin where all spiritual matters originate. We must "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). It is His discipline rather than our own that must lead and energize our lives of self sacrifice. The temperance of Christ alone can motivate the self control that glorifies God rather than ourselves, and that causes both living experience of His Person and faithful devotion to His way. Both the naturally disciplined and undisciplined bow at the same throne of grace that acknowledges the Lord Jesus alone as the executor of true spiritual moderation. As always, the triune New Testament dynamic of obedience must guide our steps - "I cannot! I can! Through Christ!" Any other discipline is a work of the flesh just as much is as the lack of discipline.

Self control will certainly be present in all who walk in the Spirit and truth of the Lord Jesus. Never, however, are we to perceive discipline as the source of His dynamic working and walking in us. Again, "the just shall live by faith," the faith that flows from God's grace revealed in all who affirm that we can do nothing apart from Christ, and all things through Him. Discipline is fruit, not root, and as it is increasingly manifested in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, genuine love for God and others is the blessed result.

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Rim: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
(Colossians 2:6-7)

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
(Philippians 1:9-11)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"As We Confess..." Part 3

"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).

As we confess our sins, or literally, as we agree with God about our sins, we must increasingly hold the same view of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ as does our Heavenly Father.

"Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us... now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:24; 26).

These verses always remind me of theatre marquees that read, "Now Appearing." The risen Lord Jesus ascended to Heaven and to the right hand of His Father to "appear... for us." That is, He exists in direct view of the Father, who beholds His beloved Son in a manner far differently than He did before the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection.

"And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends" (Zechariah 13:6).

It is a wounded Lord Jesus whom the Father sees. The prints of nails remain in the hands, feet, and side of our Savior - for us (John 20:27). They represent the power and efficacy of Christ's atoning work on the cross of Calvary, and the truth that all sin and every sin bows in the presence of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. His appearance before God the Father thus assures our salvation in the ultimate sense, and also provides the basis for specific bestowals of forgiveness and cleansing we will need as the we navigate the temptation-lined paths of a fallen world.

By faith, the Lord Jesus must "appear" in our hearts and minds as He does in the heart and mind of our Father. He perfectly sees His Son, and estimates His redeeming work to be infinitely more than adequate to provide restoration for all who will receive the blessed benefits of grace. We cannot perfectly see our Lord, of course, but we can "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). We can increasingly fill our understanding with the Bible's declaration of a Redeemer who is "able to save them to the uttermost who come to God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). We can more and more avail ourselves of the rivers of mercy that flow from that throne this is so rightly declared to be "the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). And as a result, we can find ourselves genuinely loving so wonderful a Father who gave so wonderful a Son, and who is now revealed to us by so wonderful a Holy Spirit and Word of God.

Sin is sadly abundant in the human race, and at times abounds even among God's trusting sons and daughters in Christ. Grace, however, does "much more abound!" How much more? A long eternity of witnessing our Savior appearing in the presence of God will not fully tell the story of such sublime glory. This day and this moment may require us to gaze into Heaven, as it were, and if so, we will see our Father's fixed attention on the wounds of His dearest and best. Let us see them also, and agree with Him that no sin can compare with the gracious mercy that flowed with the blood of the Lord Jesus as He died on Calvary. Yes, "Now Appearing In the Presence of God For Us..."

"If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
(I John 1:7)

"There is forgiveness with Thee."
(Psalm 130:4)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"As We Confess..." Part 2

In Biblical terms, confessing our sins means saying the same thing about them as God and His Word. This leads us to truth about His forgiveness and cleansing that predates our very existence.

"Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11-12).

God's redemptive work in Christ transcends time. He has forever known that the Lord Jesus would be required to die upon Calvary's cross for our sins, even as the Apostle John refers to the Savior as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Thus, before humanity existed, a solution for the problem of sin had been planned and determined. This is the first truth we must confess if we sin. We must agree with God that His supply precedes our need.

On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter faithfully represented this Divine order of redemption.

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23). Note the sequence. First the Lord Jesus is declared to have been delivered to the cross by the counsel of God. Then Peter indicts the human element of wickedness. The supply is declared before the sin that led to our need. This is always God's way with humanity, and every truly faithful presentation of the Gospel must begin not with the dilemma of the human, but with the solution and provision of the Divine. The person and work of the Lord Jesus is God's first thought concerning sin. It must be ours also.

This truth causes our establishes our confession of sin in God-centered terms. "Christ died for our sins," and "was raised again for our justification" (I Corinthians 15:3; Romans 4:25). We acknowledge and give thanks for our Lord's redeeming work on our behalf that has awaited our need from eternity past. We do not begin our confession of sin by focusing on ourselves because this misdirected emphasis is in some manner the very thing that got us into trouble in the first place. Our repentance instead originates by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). We begin with the Beginning, and a deeper and more genuine confession results, leading to a deeper and more genuine experience of God's forgiveness and cleansing.

It is one thing, a good and necessary thing, to honestly acknowledge our sins. However, it is quite another to remember and affirm that the Lord Jesus was tortured to death, and forsaken by both God and man in order to redeem us from our sins. The latter must precede the former, and when it does, a powerful restoration of grace and mercy ensues. The fallen believer arises with genuine godly sorrow and joyful motivation to once again glorify His wonderfully redeeming Savior, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

"Before they call, I will answer."
(Isaiah 65:24)

Tomorrow: The sufficiency of Christ's atoning work on our behalf

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"As We Confess..."

(Dear Friends: Every few years, I am inclined to address the following subject in a series of messages that takes about a week to complete. It's seems to be that time again, and I hope you will find this helpful. Thanks, Glen).

Part 1
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9)

The Greek word translated as "confess" in I John 1:9 does not mean what we normally think it does. "Homologeo" means "to say the same thing." Therefore, the Apostle's literal meaning is "If we say the same thing about our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Normally we think of confession as admission, that is, we acknowledge with honesty and contrition that we have disbelieved and disobeyed God. There is truth in this perspective. "I acknowledge my sin unto Thee, and my iniquity have I not hid" (Psalm 32:5). Certainly the confession of our sin involves the simple admission that we have strayed from the path of righteousness, and our fleshly tendency to hide or excuse our sins can make this a great challenge indeed.

However, to "say the same thing" implies far more than admission. First, with whom or what are we saying the same thing when we confess our sins in accordance with the meaning of "homologeo?" God and His Word are the answers. True confession of sin means that we are saying the same thing about sin as revealed by our Lord in Scripture. This greatly amplifies the consideration, and makes possible a far broader experience of God's forgiveness and cleansing that powerfully restores our walk with Him when necessary. For the consecrated believer who seeks uninterrupted faithfulness to the Lord Jesus, there are few more important understandings.

Over the next few days we will consider the meaning of "homologeo." What has God said about our sins in the Bible? The answer is multifaceted, and while every episode of confession does not require us to verbally express to God as much detail as we will address, the doctrinal teaching of Scripture concerning this vital matter is necessary if confession - and more importantly, our experience of God's forgiveness and cleansing - is to have the most vital impact in our hearts and minds. Our Lord loves to forgive, cleanse, and restore. The more we understand the blessed means whereby He does so, the more we will effectively avail ourselves of the rivers of mercy that flow from the Lord Jesus.

For today, let us begin by proposing that we will never ourselves desire forgiveness and cleansing as much as God desires to provide it. "He delighteth in mercy" declared the prophet, and just as the father of the wayward son in Luke's Gospel ran to welcome his beloved home, so will we find open and receptive arms awaiting us as homologeo, properly understood, paves the path of restoration (Micah 7:18; Luke 15:20). Indeed, the first thing we must say with our Lord and His Word about sin and forgiveness is that as much as our Heavenly Father hates sin, He far more loves to forgive and cleanse. His beloved Son bears wounds upon His hands, feet, and heart that sing the blessed anthem of mercy to us both now and forevermore...

"Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto Thee daily. Rejoice the soul of Thy servant: for unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For Thou, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee."
(Psalm 86:3-5)

Tomorrow: the first truth about sin

Monday, May 17, 2010

"As We Give"

We get as we give during our earthly lives, but never do we give in order to get.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38).

The love of the Lord Jesus Christ manifested in the hearts of born again believers makes self sacrifice the natural, or supernatural, course of our lives. As we walk in the sublime expression of God's character revealed in us, He ensures that we reap what we sow. However, this same character also motivates us to give not for the purpose of receiving tangible rewards in return, but rather for the pure joy of knowing we are glorifying our Lord and being a blessing to others. "Charity... seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5). We were made and redeemed for this, and perhaps the greatest miracle of salvation in Christ is the progressive transformation of our sensibilities from fleshly self-centeredness to God's otherness.

The love of Christ manifested in us is its own reward. However, God purposes to add to this infinite bounty of joy, and throughout our earthly lifetimes, we increasingly discover that we get as we give. The returns, as it were, may not always appear to be specifically related to the investments. Just as we seek to love in relationship to the recipent's need, so does our Heavenly Father reward us according to our own. A cup of cold water given may come back to us in a kindly word spoken by another when we are tempted to discouragement. An attitude of graciousness we express might return to us in a tangible gift of provision administered when we need it. An act of forgiveness on our part may result in wise counsel imparted to us by just the right voice, at just the right time. Or God Himself may be the portion received in return, that is, the nature, character, and person of our Lord realized within us may be more than enough to requite any form of sacrifice we have made by the leading and enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever the nature of the giving/receiving dynamic of Christ's love manifested in us, the result is the same: the glory of the Lord Jesus revealed, the heart of someone else blessed through us, and our own hearts filled with the receiving that accompanies giving expressed not for return, but in devotion to God and others. Again, we get as we give, but never do we give in order to get. Every aspect of our lives is governed by this Divine motivation and sensibility implanted in us by the Holy Spirit, who ever moves within us to reveal the self-sacrificial love of Christ, and then to return it to us as we do.

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
(I Peter 1:23)

Friday, May 14, 2010


"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (I Peter 2:11).

Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have no home in this present world. We may settle in a house, of course, and spend most of our lives in a particular place. However, our nature and spiritual being is foreign to the realm that is merely a passageway unto the God who is Himself our true abode. "Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations" (Psalm 90:1).

We live in bodies that originated in the world and that still long for its grass to grow under our feet, as it were. Our Lord therefore orchestrates and allows frequent discomfort for the purpose of reminding us that we are "strangers and pilgrims." He also commands that we avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. We deceive ourselves when we allow our earthly components to control us because the temporary rewards of carnality bring pleasure in the short run. Indulgence of the flesh, however, leads to delusion and a creeping paralysis of the spiritual dynamic whereby we increasingly understand that there is no solid ground in a world that "passeth away" (I John 2:17).

We do well to keep this truth as the forefront of our thinking, and to seek our Lord's continual guidance in the enjoyment of His tangible blessings, and in maintaining the determination to hold things lightly as we pass through this present lifetime. God alone is stable and unchanging, and He is the home of our hearts.

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
(Psalm 19:2)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"To the Artist"

Admiring creation without worshipping the Creator is like viewing the beauty of art while ignoring the creativity and work of the artist.

"The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20).

The eternal power and Godhead of creation's Maker is the most evident feature of all things. "The whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3). Missing the Creator is therefore a moral rather than intellectual error, as stated plainly in the indictment declared by the Lord Jesus Christ: "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

I was reminded of this today while visiting the incredibly beautiful Walden Pond, the site lived upon and written about by Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was a transcendentalist who was fascinated by nature, and believed it to be the expression of spiritual realities. He did not view a personal God as the heart of those realities, however, and saw creation in terms more akin to the pantheistic view that God and creation are one in substance, but different in expression. Thoreau saw the shadow of the Creator's hand, as it were, and knew it to be transcendent. He nevertheless determined to ignore the obvious Heart and Mind that moves the hand of God, particularly in terms of His relationship to humanity.

The Lord Jesus' indictment reveals that such neglect originates in man's desire to avoid the spiritual and moral intrusion of God upon our lives. A creator who merely makes a beautiful universe may be admired. A Creator, however, who commands our worship, faith, and obedience requires our acknowledgement of His rightful claim upon us. There is no kneeling before Thoreau's god. Before the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, however, the believer gladly kneels in both reverent awe and loving devotion. We lose our natural life in the act of such abnegation, but it is a damaged life anyway. We regain a new life in the process, a life that is wondrously united with the very life of God Himself through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 6:17).

Creation is a gallery of sublime wonder and beauty. It is far more a testimony to the Artist who made all things, and whose glory immanently fills all things. There is no greater tragedy - or sin - than to behold beauty while failing to acknowledge and kneel before the beautiful Artist whose exhibition is a beautiful universe.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."
(Psalm 19:1-4)

"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Open Eyes, Open Ears, Devoted Heart"

At a baseball game last night, we were fascinated by a young man who sat in front of us with a group of his friends. He never stopped talking from the time he sat down to the time he left in the 8th inning. He was reasonably intelligent and well spoken, and his friends seemed interested in much of what he had to say. However, I couldn't help but think that they must have felt distracted from the event they paid good money to see. I did, because the young man's incessant chatter was accompanied by a loud voice and regional accent that made him hard to ignore.

The Christian life often offers a similar experience. The godliest among us would confess that distraction is a frequent intruder into their hearts and minds. The world, the devil, and the flesh keep up a din of noise that can draw our attention away from the focus that deep in our hearts we know is the way of peace and joy. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3). This does not mean we have to be constantly thinking about God, of course, because the fulfillment of our responsibilities requires our full attention. However, there is a mind and heartset of "stayed on Thee" that keeps us ever ready to commune with our Lord in any available moment. It is this fixed expectation and determination that our spiritual enemies seek to disable by distraction.

The best counterattack to this temptation is the remembrance and affirmation that our Heavenly Father is never distracted from His perfect attentiveness to the details of our lives. "The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry" (Psalm 34:15). Our gaze Godward is always the fruit of our Lord's gaze toward us. Determination, dedication, and discipline flow from Heaven to us, and then from us back to Heaven. The order must never be reversed in our perspective, and if it is, we can be sure that we have been diverted from the spiritual dynamic that keeps us from distraction.

In this moment, our Heavenly Father perfectly sees the center and circumference of our being, and He is lovingly interested in every detail. We cannot match His attentiveness, but we can grow in the awareness that His open eyes are accompanied by open ears. Even more, His heart is devoted to us in an affection that keeps His mind stayed on us. Such remembrance will more and more direct our hearts toward home, that is, toward the heart of the God who sees us with perfect clarity, faithfulness, and love.

"His countenance doth behold the upright" (Psalm 11:7)
"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness."
(Psalm 17:15)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"An Unstable World"

Henry Thoreau said that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." By this, he meant that most people resign themselves to life as it comes to them, coping and preparing as best as they can, but always feeling that it would take very little for everything in their lives to crumble.

Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not exempt from this sense of frustration and doom. We live in an unstable world that continually moves under our feet. The path of tomorrow will be different than today, even if we have done much to prepare ourselves for life's contingencies. Earthly security is actually an impossibility, and our Lord Himself is the mover and shaker of the world's constant state of flux.

"The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the world passeth away" (I John 2:17; Psalm 29:8).

No amount of money, possession, health, or hoarding nuts for the winter, as it were, can stablize the ground of a fallen world when God commands it to shake under our feet. He does so in order to remind us that He alone is our rock and strong tower, and that He alone can lead us to still waters. "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). This understanding and determination is our only hope for stability. One day He will will still the earth - "Fear before Him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved" - but this is not that day, or that lifetime (I Chronicles 16:30). For now, believing the truth that the living and doctrinal knowledge of God is the sole stillness available to us will set our feet on the way of peace even as the way of the world quivers and quakes underneath us.

"He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
(Luke 12:16-21)

Monday, May 10, 2010

"I Cannot! I Can!"

Born again believers must not think either too highly or too lowly of themselves.

"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3).

"Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:1-4).

If we succumb to the temptation to think too well of ourselves, we grieve the God who "resisteth the proud" (James 4:6). Consecrated believers in the Lord Jesus recognize that He is the source and supply all goodness in our lives, and remember His word to the disciples: "Without me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Never is there a place for pride in our hearts, and never can any act of faithful obedience become a source of believing that we are, as my teen-aged daughter says, "all that, and a bag of chips" (or in my jargon, that "we are really something!").

Conversely, we must also not think too lowly of ourselves. God has already performed a profound work in our trusting spirits that has united us to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. In the present tense, the Bible declares that we are "alive unto God," and "created in righteousness and true holiness" (Romans 6:11; Ephesians 4:24). Failure to remember these and countless other affirmations of who we are in Christ can lead to a self- pitying spiritual paralysis that conflicts with the Apostle Paul's exultation that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (II Corinthians 5:17).

Christians are to have "no confidence in the flesh." We are also to affirm that we are "not in the flesh, but in the Spirit" (Philippians 3:3; Romans 8:9). We must join Paul in affirming, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:19). We do God no favors by failing to believe that we are mightily equipped to faithfully trust and obey Him through the Christ who so dyamically indwells us that He is our life" (Colossians 3:4). "I cannot! I can! Through Christ!" This is the sensibility of the believer who thinks neither too highly or too lowly of himself.

"I labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily."
(Colossians 1:29)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Getting In God's Way

Biblical Christianity does not involve the annihilation or removal of ourselves from God's working, but rather the redemption and incorporation of ourselves into His purposes.

Many believers, including myself, have said to our Lord in one form or another, "Heavenly Father, get me out of the way so You can work unhindered by the liability I am to You." There is truth in this sentiment because we can doubtless be an impediment to God's working. However, our Lord's primary purpose involves getting us "in the way" so that He can use our particular personalities, histories, and gifts to reveal unique facets of Himself to our world. "The Word... made flesh" began in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and continues as His Spirit lives walks in us along the paths of our particular lives and venues (John 1:14).

God's redemption of our humanity involves every aspect of our being. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:23). As we trust the Lord Jesus, and submit ourselves unto His work in us, our human faculties and components are redeemed for the purpose of the Holy Spirit's exaltation of the Lord Jesus. We are as the moon to God's sun, shining forth in different phases and glories as He positions us in the night sky according to His will. Rather than impede His light, we beautifully reflect it as our Lord gets us His way rather than out of it.

"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet (useful) for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Timothy 2:20-21).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"It's Me Again"

(Another Jackson story, Jackson my grandson, that is).

After an overnight visit recently, I called our grandchildren Jackson (3) and Emma (2) to tell them we had enjoyed their time with us.

Emma's not yet much of a phone person (give her time!), but Jackson is quite the little conversationalist. We had a nice discussion, and then he let me know he needed to go (important 3 year old matters to address, no doubt). "Bye, Granddaddy." "Bye, Jackson."

About 5 minutes after hanging up, my phone rang. "It's me again" said the little voice on the other end of the line. Jackson had thought of something else to tell me, and it absolutely thrilled my heart that he called again. We talked for another minute or two, told each other "I love you," and I hung up knowing that God had touched my heart in a most special way. "It's me again." There was just something about those words, and then it hit me.

"The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).

The believer's life is a continual saga of "It's me again, Lord," and God's response to us filled with far more delight than I experienced with Jackson. I am convinced we do not consider enough the joy our Heavenly Father finds in our communion with Him. We tend to focus on what prayer does for us rather than on what it does in Him. Since God is a being without need, and is perfectly fulfilled in His triune being, we may think that we bring little to the table of our relationship with Him.

Nothing could be further from the truth. God gave His Son to a cross of shame, agony, forsakenness, and death in order to secure a place in our hearts, and prayers from us that literally delight His heart. Hearing "It's me again" from my grandson formed a blessed memory that will be with me always. Hearing "It's me again, Lord" from His trusting children in Christ forms an even greater blessing in the heart of the Father who would say to all of us in this moment and forevermore...

"O My dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice."
(Song of Solomon 2:14)
"The Lord taketh pleasure in His people."
(Psalm 149:4)

"It's Me Again"

(Another Jackson story, Jackson my grandson, that is.)

After an overnight visit recently, I called our grandchildren Jackson (3) and Emma (2) to tell them we had enjoyed their time with us.
Emma's not yet much of a phone person (give her time!), but Jackson is quite the little conversationalist. We had a nice discussion, and then he let me know he needed to go (important 3 year old matters to address, no doubt). "Bye, Granddaddy." "Bye, Jackson."
About 5 minutes after hanging up, my phone rang. "It's me again" said the little voice on the other end of the line. Jackson had thought of something else to tell me, and it absolutely thrilled my heart that he called again. We talked for another minute or two, told each other "I love you," and I hung up knowing that God had touched my heart in a most special way. "It's me again." There was just something about those words, and then it hit me.
"The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).
The believer's life is a continual saga of "It's me again, Lord," and God's response to us filled with far more delight than I experienced with Jackson. I am convinced we do not consider enough the joy our Heavenly Father finds in our communion with Him. We tend to focus on what prayer does for us rather than on what it does in Him. Since God is a being without need, and is perfectly fulfilled in His triune being, we may think that we bring little to the table of our relationship with Him.
Nothing could be further from the truth. God gave His Son to a cross of shame, agony, forsakenness, and death in order to secure a place in our hearts, and prayers from us that literally delight His heart. Hearing "It's me again" from my grandson formed a blessed memory that will be with me always. Hearing "It's me again, Lord" from His trusting children in Christ forms an even greater blessing in the heart of the Father who would say to all of us in this moment and forevermore...
"O My dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice."
(Song of Solomon 2:14)
"The Lord taketh pleasure in His people."
(Psalm 149:4)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"A Perfect Mind, A Perfect Heart"

There are things hard to be understood that happen in our lives, or more literally, that are impossible to understand. God allows hard conditions, circumstances, and situations to come our way, and even directly determines some of them. All are known to Him before ever they happen, and our Lord's place and power in the universe means that if He chose to do so, He could stop every one of them before they reach us. Or then again, maybe He couldn't.

"As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).

Our Heavenly Father's actions are determined not only by power, but by character as well. His perfect way is the fruit of His perfect heart and mind. Therefore, that which He determines and allows must correlate with who He is, and with the eternal purpose in Christ that guides His every action. God is not capricious, nor does He act on whims or notions that pop into His mind. He rather works according to an understanding that the Psalmist declared to be "infinite," and a love that "passeth knowledge" (Psalm 147:5; Ephesians 3:19). His determinations and allowances all flow from this fount of a perfect heart and mind, and all things in our lives must be understood in this context.

Such truth is far more easy to assimilate mentally than it is to embrace in the everyday realities of life that bring us both blessing and difficulty. Trusting that God's way is perfect conflicts with our flesh, and our spiritual enemies scream and whisper to us that our Lord should act differently than He does. "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" said Martha, representing all of us who at some time or another question the Divine way we know in principle to be perfect, but which in practice is hard to embrace (John 11:21).

Our Heavenly Father is well aware of the conflict we face. He knows that we remain in tents of flesh that often flap in the winds of a fallen world. He knows that Satan and the world incessantly fight against our confidence in God's perfection. He knows. He understands. And so He speaks gently but with uncompromising assurance to Martha, and to us. "Thy brother shall rise again" (John 11:23). Or in context of our trials, "I know, My child, that you cannot understand why I let things die that are precious to you. And I know even more that it painfully tears your heart. But I know also that resurrections are better than healings, and the perfection of My way will not allow Me to be satisfied with anything less."

God's way is not merely good, or great, or wonderful. It is perfect. We can trust His heart and mind when we cannot understand His hand. As we do, we shall see our particular Lazarus come forth from the grave, revealing that the perfection of our Lord's determinations and allowances always lead to glories far beyond anything our minds can anticipate. "Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" was Paul's joyous affirmation of a perfect way that springs forth from a perfect Mind, a perfect Heart (Ephesians 3:20).

"He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He."
(Deuteronomy 32:4)

"By Christ Jesus"

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

Our present inheritance includes "all spiritual blessings," but not all earthly blessings.

"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:12-13).

In the perfection of His loving wisdom, God determines and allows both fullness and hunger, abundance and need during our earthly lives. We need experience of both because one of the great lessons we are presently learning is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the heart and essence of everything God gives to us. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Note the last three words: "by Christ Jesus." In some manner, our Savior is the true Gift of every gift. He created us, He sustains our being, and He is our life. Having Him, we have everything our heart will ever need, and thus, the fullness of our blessing at present is, as Paul declared, "spiritual" (John 1:3; Colossians 1:17; 3:4).

When we abound in earthly blessing and give thanks, we experience the truth that Christ is the gift of God. When we lack, but nevertheless trust God and give thanks, we experience the truth that Christ is the gift of God. Again, we need both aspects of life in order to fully discover the wonder of our heart-filling Savior, and we can be sure our Heavenly Father will orchestrate experiences of both as He reveals within us the truth of "by Christ Jesus." "He is thy life" declared Moses of old to Israel (Deuteronomy 30:20). How much more is such truth true for born again believers, in whom dwells the permanently abiding Holy Spirit?

Can the Lord Jesus fill and fulfill us in any condition, situation, and circumstance? Is He that present, that able, that willing, and that filling and fulfilling? Through the ages, testimonies ring from palaces and prisons, from mansions and squalid hovels, from soft pillows and painful sickbeds, and from full bellies and empty. Yes He is, and yes He can! This is the heart of Christian revelation, that human beings were made to be the spiritual temple of God. When we become that temple and the Spirit of God takes residence within us, His light shines in our personal Holy of holies regardless of what may be taking place in the outer courts. We must believe this truth with all our hearts because days of both abundance and lack are coming for us as they did for the Apostle who learned that contentment is Christ, known and trusted. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.

Fullness and emptiness. Abundance and hunger. Full cupboards and bare. All are venues wherein the glory of our Savior can be known as "by Christ Jesus" increasingly becomes our confession and anthem. Indeed, the believer need never suffer an empty heart because "all spiritual blessings" are already ours. Therefore, the only thing we cannot afford to lose, we cannot lose. Our Lord Himself is the heart of all blessings, and in the truest sense, we have all when we have Him.

"And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God."
(Acts 16:25)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Having More Faith?"

(Thanks to my dear brother, friend, and ministry partner Steve K. for inspiration on this one.)

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).

A good friend recently raised the issue of "having more faith." In a Sunday School class he attends, a lady confessed that she feels as if she needs an increase in faith. This led to a discussion as to how that happens in the hearts of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

While it is good and proper that we should desire to grow in our faith, the truth of the matter is that such growth actually requires that we direct our focus away from ourselves. Rather than "having more faith," we need to consider the faithfulness of God. "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). Our faith is directly proportional to His trustworthiness, and our knowledge thereof.

We trust a person to the degree we know them. When our children were little, I would only leave them someone whom I knew well enough that I could have much assurance of their determination to faithfully honor my trust. The issue did not involve my attempt to "have more faith" in my children's babysitters, but rather my knowledge and subsequent confidence in the babysitter's trustworthiness.

From womb to tomb, the faithfulness of God resounds in our lives, declaring that no one has ever trusted in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and been disappointed for doing so. And no one ever will. The more we relate to God by His Word, His Spirit, and the fellowship of our trusting brothers and sisters in Christ, the more our confidence in the Lord Jesus will grow and flourish. Faith will always be a challenge in our lives because our spiritual adversaries confront us on every front concerning this elemental aspect of relating to God. "Fight the good fight of faith" commanded the Apostle Paul, primarily because this is where the battles of life are most waged (I Timothy 6:12). In this sense, we do need to "have more faith" in the same way that a soldier needs enough ammunition. However, we arm ourselves not by attempting to arm ourselves, but rather by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). The more we know Him in both living and doctrinal terms, the more we will find ourselves - often to our own surprise - trusting the God who will not and cannot lie.

"Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly."
(II Thessalonians 1:2-3)