The Faithfulness of God – Micah 7:18-20

God ALWAYS Keeps His Word

18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.

Perfect Pardon

Unlike men, God is perfect in all His ways.  When God pardon’s our sin, He pardons it completely.  It is as if it had never happened:

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

God no longer holds our sin against us.  We who are in Christ, who have believed upon the name of the One and Only Son of God, have been cleared of all charges – past, present, and future.  God greatly desires that as former criminals we be reformed and act as He would desire, just as man wants former criminals to be reintegrated into society in a lawful and peaceful way.  Sanctification is the tool that allows that to occur.

Faithful Forgiveness

God is not a liar.  He is incapable of lying, for God IS truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

God is completely faithful to forgive anything that we have done, anything we bring before Him.  We must, however, turn from our sin and turn towards God.  When we ask for forgiveness and then immediately (and WILLFULLY) go back to what we were doing, we are basically like the child who says to dad and mom “I’m sorry (that I got caught, please spare me the consequences of my actions, I’ll be more careful to hide what I am doing from you going forward).”

God greatly desires to see us walk in His ways.  His faithfulness to forgive frees us from the fear of punishment that the un-Godly will encounter.  God is faithful in all things, for His very nature – His character – allows Him no other course of action when we approach Him in good faith, no matter how many times we stumble and fall.  Will a loving parent reject a child who falls down and skins their knee when trying diligently to walk carefully and cautiously?  If we would not, why would God?

Abated Anger

We are created in the image of God.  God has emotions.  He gets angry.  But God’s anger only lasts a little while.  God will not turn His face away from us forever in His anger.  God will not turn His face away from those who are faithful to Him.  He delights in His children.  God tells us to be angry and do not sin.  He also tells us that we should not let the sun go down on our anger.  God is NOT a hypocrite like men.  If God tells us to do something, will He then not model it for us?

Moved to Mercy

God’s heart is a heart of mercy.  Knowing that we are unable to do what He commands us to do, He took it upon Himself to pay our debt.  In His great mercy and compassion, He sacrificed His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear our iniquity and to receive our just and due punishment upon the cross.  He now has legal authority to show us mercy.  God greatly desires for all of us to come to Him.  But without His mercy, we are unable to do so.

God’s mercies renew every morning:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

We fail to remember the mercy and compassion of God because the enemy of our souls, when we transgress God’s law, tries to convince us that God will not forgive us.  It is that much more important that we seek out God and his mercy that we may be free from the bondage of sin – our guilt.

Fully Faithful

God is faithful in all that He does.  He cannot be unfaithful, for His very nature relies upon it.  Imagine that God’s faithfulness wavered.  Would not everything that He did be tainted by that?  Imagine if gravity only worked some of the time, and it was completely unreliable, working and not working randomly.  What would happen?

In the same way that we can trust that the Sun will rise every morning, that the Moon will rise every night, that the stars will cross the sky, that God is faithful in each and every thing He does, and in each and every promise that He makes.  God has made many promises to Jacob about his inheritance and descendants.  God will keep each and every one of these promises faithfully in just the right time and in just the right way so that God will be praised and glorified to the utmost degree.

Profound Pledge

God has pledged to Abraham millennia ago that He would love his offspring, care for them, and make them so numerous that they would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky:

17 “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

God does not lie, and He does not make promises that He cannot keep nor will not keep.  God keeps every pledge He makes, no matter how long He takes to fulfill it.  Since He has prophesied through His prophets about these things, He fulfills them at just the right time.  And the time has come when God is calling all men to Himself.  His angel has gone out into the world and proclaimed the Gospel to all nations. He is gathering His people as He promised to the land He gave to their ancestors, and He is bringing all things to a close.  Seek Him while you may find Him, for time as we know it is about to end.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I relying on the faithfulness of God through my trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are completely faithful and trustworthy.  Nothing and no one can cause Your plans to fail.  You have carefully engineered through millennia the circumstances that have brought about each and every prophesy that You have given to us.  Your word will stand now and forevermore.  Help me to trust You completely in my pain through my trials.  It is very hard to do so because of the lies of the enemy.  Stand strong for me and with me as I overcome all things in Your strength.  Give me everything I need to grow through my trials, and comfort me as I fend off the stinging rebukes of my enemies.  Holy Spirit, plead my case before the Father, and pray for me, for I don’t know how to pray through these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Dangers of Deception – Proverbs 26:18-19

Satan Is The Father Of All Liars And Deceivers

18 Like a maniac shooting
flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor
and says, “I was only joking!”

Just Joking

Have you ever been angered at what someone did, and their response was, “I was only joking!”  The good news is that this isn’t a new phenomenon – this has been going on for millennia!  The phrase “I was only joking!” is born out of the inspiration of the one who instigated the situation in the first place.  It is born out of desperation to justify the actions in the mind of the person responsible, as well as an attempt to pacify the anger in the intended recipient of the actions.  It is little consolation for the pain, heartache, and anger that result from the damaging situation that has just occurred.

Dangerous Deception

No one likes to be deceived.  There is an inherent desire in each human being to know the truth, and be told the truth.  Even when society and culture places snares all around us with the false promise of “happiness”, the moment that people take the bait and compromise themselves, the very people who placed the snares are the very first to point the finger and impugn their victim’s character, applying labels to destroy their reputations.  The motivations for doing this are many, too many to discuss here.  Some of the more obvious and insidious motivations are that people are looking for salacious headlines, they are trying to destroy a political opponent, or possibly even are out for revenge in vengeance.

Deception is very dangerous.  When discovered, it breaks the bonds of trust that we share with each other.  It makes it harder to develop trust with others in the future.  It sets up a stage where the economic potential of people can be adversely affected.  Deception undermines the unwritten rules of societal interaction.  And the very act of deception is born from a self-serving desire to manipulate the circumstances of others in order to gain a more favorable advantage in those circumstances.

While there are some people who actually receive great pleasure from the ability to deceive and rejoice in the consequences that others find themselves when they believe the lie, most people in their core feel shame once they have deceived another.  The writer of this Proverb likens the person deceiving as a maniac who randomly shoots flaming arrows of death.  That is a powerful word picture!  Only a maniac would shoot arrows, let alone flaming arrows of death, randomly into a crowd.  Deception affects more than just the person or persons who are the intended target; it affects the lives of everyone around them, and potentially, the lives of people who the targets will interact with in the future.  Deception does not only change the circumstances of the victims, but also of the perpetrator.

Satanic Source

Do not be deceived: it is Satan who is the father of all who lie and deceive:

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Deception is the application of the art of historical revisionism, i.e., lying.  There are many forms of deception:

  • The exclusion of facts necessary to make a good judgment concerning a situation and that falsely and adversely affect the true nature of the situation
  • The alteration of existing facts to fit a particular narrative so that it favors a particular person, entity, or cause
  • The fabrication of information that does not have any basis in fact whatsoever
  • The promotion of an alternative “truth” to salve our own conscience – the art justifying our actions

There are many more ways to deceive.  The Bible says that we are so evil, we invent new ways to sin.  And when the scholarly and lawyer-like ones among us look at a list, sometimes our very first inclination is to look for loopholes in the wording to see if there is a way we can get away with it and still adhere to the letter of law while murdering the spirit of the law.  And in even that, the Bible proves true when it states:

10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Eventual End

The eventual end of deception is that we obscure the truth, and in doing so, reap the rewards of what we have sown.  Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  He is the embodiment of truth, and in truth, there is no deception.  Truth sheds light on all that is evil, wrong, wicked, and deceptive.  The continued practice of deception will eventually cause us to have a seared conscience – a state where we are no longer able to recognize that some action we are taking is evil.  Those who lie and deceive do not have the truth in them, and they will eventually face judgment before the white throne seat of God.

But thanks be to God in Jesus Christ!  For He has overcome, and in His very public death, burial, and resurrection, through a perfect life, died for our sins so that we could be reconciled to the Father.  If you are caught in deception or deceptive practices, turn to God, confess your sin, and seek the help of The Lord God Almighty who does not desire that anyone perish, for Jesus has been sent to pay our penalty for sin.  Turn to the One who can save you, forgive you, redeem you, and change you through His great and mighty Spirit.

While there is breath, there is hope.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I engaging in deceit in any of my dealings with others, or even myself?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, and no sin will be permitted in Your presence.  Even now, we cannot look upon Your face, for we would surely perish if we did.  Thank You for Your love, grace, and mercy that You pour out into my life each and every day.  I know that I don’t deserve it, but I am grateful for it.  Show me, Father, where there is deception in my life.  Forgive me for my sin, and help me to do what is right in Your eyes.  Restore my conscience to a sensitive level, that I would know immediately when I am in danger of sinning against You.  Give me joy instead of sorrow, and help me to live in truth rather than the bondage of lies.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Meekness and God – John 2:13-17

Whips And Tables And Flying Change – Oh My!

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Body Building

There needs to be a preface to these scriptures.  Jesus was the firstborn child of Mary, stay-at-home mom, and her husband Joseph the carpenter.  However,being conceived by the Holy Spirit, they were not his biologically parents, but rather God’s chosen surrogate parents.  During the life of Christ on Earth, as the firstborn son, He would have been taught His father’s trade.  Carpentry at that time was far more intense than it is today.  Without the use of modern machinery, a carpenter would have to shape each piece wood using rudimentary tools.  This required a LOT of strength.  They would have to move beams and trees into position, cut them to their proper lengths, and further refine the wood into their final shapes, then use them in whatever fashion was required for the job.

There was a man in Pennsylvania who owned his own sawmill.  He was the only employee, a sole proprietor.  A man came in to his workshop one day to see about having some lumber that he and a friend had cut from a felled tree to be quarter-sawn into planks for use in building boxes and chests.  While he was talking, the sawyer picked up a huge tree with one hand that had just been sawn on the head saw, and placed it on the resaw to be cut into planks.  The tree section must have weighed well over one hundred pounds.  Most people would be unable to do this, but because the sawyer did this type of work every day, his strength was amazing.  He wasn’t a towering man, but extremely strong.  Now the stage is set.

Answer to Anger

Jesus never once sinned.  When He arrived at Holy Temple of God, he was the market that was occurring in the court of the Gentiles at the periphery of the Temple grounds.  This was a place where non-Jews could come and worship God.  Jesus became very angry.  But Jesus didn’t immediately go out and talk to the people who were desecrating the holy ground of the temple, like most of us would.  He did something else, something that each of us should learn – and do – when faced with a situation that infuriates us to the point of seeing red.  He paused.

Measured Meekness

Meekness is a word that is often misunderstood.  Meekness means “strength under control”.  It does not mean weakness, but rather a measured reaction proportionate to the circumstance.   The word of God doesn’t say that Jesus burst on the scene yelling and screaming.  He instead took the time to make a whip.  This is not a task that is usually done fast.  To braid a good whip, it takes manual dexterity, time, effort, and patience.  The word of God doesn’t say how long the whip was, but it gave Jesus time to reflect on how He would respond to this mockery and desecration of The Lord God Almighty’s house.

Many people believe that Jesus was merely a soft-spoken, wimpy, gentle guy who just loved everyone and exuded a form of effeminate weakness.  On the contrary – when the situation called for it, Jesus used His strength and powerful words:

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, … 34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

Jesus also said:

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Jesus didn’t mince words with those that were self-righteous.  These are not the gentle, kind words of a soft-spoken, timid man.  And when He saw His father’s house being used to cheat the people, and denying the Gentiles access to worship God in the temple, He also said,

Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

Mighty Mayhem

But Jesus didn’t only talk.  Let’s go back and remember the sawyer placing the cut log on the saw for cutting.  Jesus was STRONG.  He put his back into His labor because He never sinned, and everything He did, He did with ALL OF HIS MIGHT to the glory of God.  Years of carpentry would have chiseled His body into that of a bodybuilder.  Jesus, under those robes, would have looked formidable.

Now let’s go back to the court of the Gentiles.  Take a step back, and look at the scene through the eyes of an observer nearby.  All of the sudden, a Jewish teacher of the law appears in his white robe with a whip in one hand driving out the cattle, and the other hand overturning tables.  He was furious!  He wouldn’t have just toppled the tables.  Although the word of God does not describe exactly how He overturned them, it would be easy to picture this: with a whip cracking in one hand, and throwing heavy tables UP INTO THE AIR with the other hand, no one would have wanted to be in His path.  Anyone capable of throwing heavy furniture WITH ONE HAND into the air – and deftly using a whip in the other – would have been an amazing, if not formidable, sight indeed.  Everyone would have scattered – the money they would lose would not be worth the threat of their life with this whip-wielding, table throwing man rebuking them for desecrating the house of Almighty God.

Jesus was no wimp –  He was meek.  His formidable strengths were completely under His control.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When I am emotionally provoked, how do I respond?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word is amazing.  Thank You for showing me how to temper my anger.  Give me the courage and ability to ensure that the strengths that You have provided to me are kept under control at all times.  Instill within me the ability to react and respond to any situation that I may find myself in a way that honors and glorifies Your name.  Help me to properly channel my emotions so that they will not control me, but that I would use them in a constructive way.  Help me to always remember that You are a loving and kind God, but that when required, You will show Your strength and power.  Help me to yield myself to Your guidance in all things, that I would not dishonor You with my thoughts, words, or actions.  This I ask in the precious and mighty name of Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Unity in Worship – 1 Timothy 2:3-10

Let Us All Lift Hands Together In Holy Worship

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Everyone Everywhere

Paul points out God’s desire to see everyone come to a saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Peter confirms this as well:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

This is the intent of His heart; it doesn’t mean that everyone will:

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Jesus later goes on to explain that the soil is the condition of the hearts of people, and the seed is the word of God.  Jesus does say elsewhere that He will draw all people to Himself:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

The call to salvation is for everyone.  Any and all may come who hear its call and obey its message.  Let no one say that there is anything too difficult for God to forgive;  He has already dealt with that two thousand years ago on the cross at Calvary.

Only One

Paul goes on to remind us that there is only One God and One mediator: His Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  There is complete unity in the Trinity, and we are reminded that our focus and attention should be upon the one and only God.  When we do this, we are setting aside our personal differences, and joining together in a pursuit that ensures that we are unifying under One God and One mediator:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In this simple call, Jesus urges all to unify under Him, for He is THE only way to the Father.  And, because He has triumphed successfully over death and hell through His perfect life and death, He holds the keys to the death and hell.  And He has been crowned King of kings and Lord of lords.  Let us bow down in worship to the only one who is worthy – The Lord God Almighty.

Paul now goes on to address men and women to urge them in unified worship.  Each are given instructions on how to put aside their individual tendencies towards division and come together in unified holy worship.

Holy Hands

Paul first addresses men.  They are to lift holy hands without disputing or anger.  Men have a tendency to establish a pecking order of importance among themselves.  They tend to have their own personal goals and desire power in leadership and ranking.  Paul provides simple correction in this area, telling men to fight these urges and to come together with hands lifted high without anger or argument.  When men can set aside these things, they can powerfully join together in unity and accomplish great things.  Working together as a team rather than having contests establishing who is most important brings God the greatest glory.

Appropriate Attire

Paul then goes on to address the women.  It is no surprise that women have a tendency to establish their own pecking order by vying to be the most beautiful woman in the room.  Women dress up for women more so than men.  Paul urges women to adorn themselves with good deeds and appropriate attire.  This changes the way they view themselves and other women, and encourages them to focus on worship rather than on their own external appearance.

It is interesting to note that this was going on two thousand years ago in Middle Eastern culture – it is not a recent phenomenon nor does it have its origins in the modern Western culture of decadence.  And it still goes on today.  The entertainment industry and gossip magazines tout who wears what clothing and ranks people according to their appearance.  God does not judge by appearance, but rather by the heart:

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking unity with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have sacrificed Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could be reunited with You.  Give me the strength and desire to put aside any and all personal desire to be recognized so that I may, in unity, worship You with my whole heart.  Grant me the strength to put down my sinful desires and to desire that which Your heart longs.  Keep me from pride, and help me to be humble and yielded to You.  Father, give Your people a desire to be unified in worship, in each other, and in You.  Help us to overcome our natural desires so that we can be the people You desire us to be.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Love of God- 1 Corinthians 13:5-6

Love Seeks The Betterment Of Others

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Don’t Dishonor

Paul, in his famous treatise of love, provides insight into what can be gleaned from love by highlighting what love is not.  Love does not dishonor others.  Love believes the very best of people.  This is not to say that we don’t take reasonable precautions when interacting and trusting others; love does its best to seek the welfare of everyone:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Self-Seeking

Love is not self-seeking.  It is always other-seeking.  It seeks the welfare of our neighbors first.  The acrostic JOY helps us to remember our place in life:

Jesus
Others
You

It is only when we have our priorities straight that we are able to see clearly.  Self-seeking people are unable to see the priorities of life correctly, because they are blinded by their desire to fulfill their own needs and desires regardless of the injury to their neighbors.  This blinds us to reality.  We are told to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be added to us.  Provision by God is a natural extension of His love for us when we are providing for the needs of others.  God again reveals His character when we engage in it ourselves.

Steady State

Anger can be a useful tool.  It is a proper response to injustice and unrighteousness.  But because of the fall of man, we take anger to new levels.  We become angry for many reasons, but mostly because we have a perceived unmet need.  Our expectation of outcome is not met, and many times in selfishness, this displays itself as anger.  Think about the responses that any one of us would have in the following two scenarios:

  1.  You are walking along a crowed street in a strange city you have never visited before.  A person you have never met before walks up to you and says, “I hate you!  You are mean and don’t care about me!”
  2. Your spouse (or someone very close to you) walks up to you and says, “I hate you!  You are mean and don’t care about me!”

Most people in the first scenario would probably look quizzically at the person and in their inner voice say, “That was weird…”  But in the second scenario, there is a higher expectation of behavior from that person due to an established relationship, whether it is an accepted cultural expectation of behavior, or an expectation of behavior due to a cultivated relationship.  It would most likely cause emotional distress.  What is the difference?  Both people said the same thing.  It is our expectation of outcome that changes our emotional reaction.

We can choose how we react to situations, as shown in the above scenarios.  God chooses to wait to be angry for a while, giving us every opportunity to come to Him and make things right.  Even when we were sinners, Christ died upon the cross for us.  He had the view of eternity in front of Him always.   This assisted Him in being able to make such great sacrifices, and should encourage us to do the same.

Faithful Forgiveness

Paul goes on to say that love keeps no record of wrongs.  God, in His loving character, moves our sin as far from the East is from the West.  When we keep track of who has done what to us, we are in effect not allowing the grace of God to penetrate our hearts for what we have been forgiven.  We are, in effect, holding these wrongs against the other person.  This is not to say that we excuse bad behavior, but that when we choose to forgive someone of their sin, we don’t hold it against them.

In the same way, we should be prudent in how we exercise our judgment.  If the 16-year-old likes to party (it’s nearly impossible to control the behavior of children every second of every day), and shows poor judgment in how he/she lives life, it is unwise to provide him/her with the keys to the family car.  You still love them, you forgive them, you just don’t permit them to endanger themselves or others by providing access to privileges that require great responsibility to exercise safely.

Eschew Evil

Love does not delight in evil.  To do so would be a public endorsement of it.  In the same way, we don’t wear swastikas nor joyfully put our right arms out and publicly say, “Heil Hitler!”,  even in jest.  We don’t laugh at the misfortune of others in an effort to demean them.  God has a revulsion to evil, a true and deep hatred of it.  He despises evil.  In the same way, as our hearts become attuned to His through the washing of the word, we should have that same hatred of evil.  And while we must have compassion on those who engage in evil acts (remember Stephen’s cry to God to forgive the attackers who were stoning him to death), it is perfectly alright to hate the evil acts themselves.

Triumph in Truth

Instead, we should rejoice with the truth.  Love recognizes truth and is comfortable in it.  Love is a reflection of truth – the very nature of reality as it should be, rather than as it is.  Each of us view life through filters.  The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  It rightly sees things as they are, rather than as we think they are.  Only God, who is perfect, it able to truly see everything the way it really is.  And when we walk in love, a defining character trait of Almighty God, He reveals Himself to us in a greater way, and helps us to see things from His perspective.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I walking in Godly love?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You constantly display Your love for us each and every day through Your mercy, grace, and compassion.  You seek us when we stray, and woo us to You through Your kindness.  Help me, Lord God, to walk in Your love. Show me how to love You and others in the same way that You love me.  Give me a heart of compassion, mercy, and grace.  Help me to rejoice in the truth.  Remove the scales from my eyes that I would see clearly.  Guide and guard my heart in all things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sanctification of God- Colossians 3:8-10

Be Less Like the World and More Like God

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Shedding Sin

The Bible both generally and specifically tells us what we shouldn’t (and should) do.  Here are a few more things that we are told to remove from our lives:

  • Anger
    • In the Greek, orgEn, or angry indignation.  Have you every been indignantly angry at something or someone?  This has the appearance of pride – that you have been wronged – and the person or situation must be addressed to preserve your good name.  But Jesus was falsely accused, and did not defend Himself, but instead entrusted the issue to the One who judges justly.  We should do the same.
  • Rage
  • Malice
    • In the Greek, kakian.   Again, we are not even to entertain thoughts of retribution or desire that harm come to others.  Jesus says that we are to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those that curse us, and pray for those who do evil against us.
  • Slander
    • In the Greek, blasphEmian – we get our word “blaspheme” from it.  Our speech towards others should build up, not tear down.  Again, as with the other issues above, we should not take these situations into our own hands, but rather let God deal with them.  Sometimes God will deal with a person far more powerfully than we could ever do or even imagine.  But did not God also show us favor and woo us even when we hated Him?
  • Filthy Language
    • In the Greek, asischrologian.  When we use foul, filthy language, we do not show the purity of speech that God desires of us.  Who would want to be around someone whose speech consisted of every other word being a profanity?  While (darkly and shockingly) colorful, it both detracts from the beauty of whatever the person was trying to convey and sacrifices the power of the message for emotional shock value.  It may also indicate that the person may not have a sufficient command of their spoken language to express themselves with clarity and forethought.  Use of this type of language also shows a lack of maturity.  Imagine what the world thinks when a person uses profanity to convey the Gospel message!  Does God ever do that in the Bible when He speaks to people?

Talking Truth

Satan is the father of lies, and it is his native tongue.  We should no longer talk in his language when speaking with each other, but rather talk in the language that our Father speaks.  Jesus said:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If Jesus is the Truth, and the Word of God, should we not also speak the truth when we speak?  How can we properly bear God’s image to others when we don’t speak as He speaks?

Changing Clothes

We are told to put on our new self.  This is a conscious action, something that we must do.  We have already been provided imputed righteousness.  It is time that we begin to speak and act in accordance with it.  When we do not, it is like a person who says “Yes” to you but nods their head back and forth in a “no” gesture.  It sends mixed signals to the intended recipient.  Let’s ensure that our words and actions are in alignment with our positional righteousness.

To ensure that this occurs, we must continually renew our minds with the Word of God.  Only by studying and applying the lessons learned in the Bible can our minds be transformed into thinking the way that God thinks.  One of the most interesting effects of reading and praying over scripture is that we become aware of connections to other scripture that we have not seen before.  This reinforces scripture into our minds, and helps us to more obediently live in accordance with the Word.  And as we do that, God will reveal deeper truths to us.  He does this both broadly and with precision.

It is very interesting to notice that as we become obedient, God shows us nuances in scripture to prune us so that we can become more obedient. Do you yearn to grow in God’s Word?  Be obedient to the truth that God has already revealed to you.  It is through obedience that God shows us that we are ready to receive a greater revelation of truth.  Remember – you will be judged based on what you did with what you understood.  This should be a sobering warning to all who claim the name of Christ.

Once our mind operates this way, our actions will follow.  As we experience victory in areas of our life that were contrary to the Word of God, we should take encouragement that God is helping us to be better emissaries for Him.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I acting and speaking in a manner that properly reflects the righteousness of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You greatly desire that Your children represent You in their actions and words.  Grant me wisdom and discernment that my thoughts and actions would reflect Your holiness and righteousness in such a way that it brings glory to Your name.  Remove from me anything that would cause me to improperly represent You as I work out my salvation with reverential fear and trembling.  Help me to be reminded of Your character and nature before I do or say anything.  Bring to mind Your word that it would be a guide and example to me so that I will not stray and bring shame upon myself and Your holy name.  May my speech be seasoned with salt, and my life a light on a hill, that all who hear and see me would hear and see You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?