August 8, 2006
One of the realities of the Christian life is that while we see others sins so clearly, we frequently have trouble seeing our own. We hear a sermon, read a passage and instantly think–
of someone else.
So, we become ensnared in sin and hardened by its deceitfulness. It is like looking into a mirror in the morning and not noticing the mayonnaise on our face. Our sin is clearly evident, but we simply can’t see it (or won’t).
Brothers and Sisters, this does not have to be! Here are few principles that will help you see the sin in your own life so that by God’s grace, you can deal with it, find forgiveness and grow in holiness.
First, fellowship with God’s people. God specifically tells us that we should encourage one another daily so that we are not hardened by sin (Hebrews 3:12-13). We are exhorted to carefully consider one another, with the purpose of stimulating one another and encouraging one another. This happens when we faithfully gather together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Please don’t buy the lie that you can live the Christian life on your own. You can’t. You need other believers to encourage you. You need them to point out the mayonnaise on your face.
Second, actively seek rebuke. Remember, you can clearly see other people’s sin. Guess what. They can see yours too. The problem is most people don’t want to offer unsolicited help. So, you need to ask. Go to people who are close to you: your spouse, your children, a fellow member of your church and ask them:
- Are there any sins in my life that I am missing?
- Are there areas that you think I need to grow in to be more Christlike?
Third, learn to graciously and humbly receive correction. There are those rare brave people who will approach you about sin they see in your life. They love you enough to point out the mayonnaise. Please, let them help. Even if they are not totally right in every detail and at every point, there is probably some truth in what they are trying to tell you. Cultivate friends like this.
July 17, 2006
I always find it interesting when similar ideas show up in my studies. It is unpredictable and usually unexpected. Because I believe God is sovereign over every event of my life, I suspect that He is trying to tell me something through His Word and the ministry of other believers focused on His Word.
Lately, the theme of –relationships with unbelievers–continually confronts me. Personally, this is not an issue, since I am joyfully married. However, it is an issue that never seems to die in ministry to young adults and singles.
It began with a post from girltalk, emphasizing making the hard choice to obey Jesus over dating a non-Christian. You can, and should, read the post by clicking here.
It continued as I read Mark Dever’s sermon on 1 Kings in Promises Made.He points out that after a tremendous beginning of personal and national blessing, “Solomon’s non-Israelite wives lead Solomon into the worship of of false gods, just as God, through Moses, had warned would happen when Israelites married foreigners who worshipped false gods.”
Please pay attention! Entering or continuing a relationship with an unbeliever will be deadly to your spiritual life. Do you really think you are stronger and wiser than Solomon? Do you think you are smarter than God?
God has placed unbelievers off-limits for a reason. He knows that when you give them your heart, they will lead you away from Him. It may be hard, but for your own good and spiritual safety–Don’t enter or continue a relationship with a non-believer.
June 22, 2006
There is one truth that has always helped me when I have struggled with the difference between God's timing and my timing–and my resulting battles with impatience and resentment. It is found in one of my favorite verses, Psalm 84:11 "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."
Here is how I use this truth. Do I have the thing I want? If the answer is no, am I walking uprightly? If the answer is yes, the thing I want right now must not be good for me (at least for right now).
I find this a helpful exercise when I am tempted to desire things I don't have. It is my prayer that it will help you as well.
By the way, this is not original with me. I think I learned it from Rick Holland, the College Pastor at Grace Community Church, but I'm not sure who to give credit to.
June 21, 2006
I have frequently heard the statement, "We live in a microwave society." We want everything a few minutes ago. But, we seem to serve a crock-pot God. There are plenty of times He certainly doesn't seem to be in a hurry to give us the things we want, or even think we need. We long for God to bless us, to give us a husband or wife, a child, a house, a new job, a larger ministry–the list is endless. And, we wonder why it is taking Him so long.
Today, I gained a helpful insight in the battle against impatience. In Deuteronomy 7:22, Moses informs the Israelites that God is going to drive the nations out "little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly".
The issue is not whether God will drive them out–He will. The surrounding context makes that clear (see Deuteronomy 7:17-24). The issue is when. So why is God going to do it slowly? Because, if God drove the nations out all at once, the Israelites would not be able to occupy the Land quickly enough to prevent the wild beasts from taking over.
Here is the point. God in His wisdom knows exactly how much we can handle and when we can handle it. God knows that the blessing we long for may actually be a curse if He gives it now. We are simply not ready yet. We may be in time, but not now.
We need to learn to trust that our Heavenly Father is good, knows what is best for us, and knows when to give it. When we do that, the struggle against impatience will be easier.
May 31, 2006
Here are a few challenging and encouraging quotes I ran across while reading Paul Tripp's Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands.
I am afraid we have replaced love in our relationships with being "nice." Being nice and acting out of love are not the same thing. Our culture puts a high premium on being tolerant and polite. We seek to avoid uncomfortable moments, so we see, but do not speak. We go so far as to convince ourselves taht we are not speaking because we love the other person, when in reality we fail to speak because we lack love.—Paul Tripp, Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands, p.202
The truth is that we fail to confront, not because we love others too much, but because we love oursleves too much..—Paul Tripp, Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands p.202
Harboring bitterness against people is actually, confessing their sin to myself, over and over again. Anger is akin to confessing their sin to God, dissatisfied that he hasn't done something and placing myself in his position as judge. Gossip is confessing their sin to someone else.—Paul Tripp, Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands, p.229
"Truth that is not spoken in love ceases to be truth because it is twisted by other human agendas. Love that is not guided by truth ceases to be love because it is divorced from God's agenda." —Paul Tripp, Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands, p.232
May 25, 2006
In the post, Are You an Ambassador or a King? we considered our role as represenatives of Jesus and how our failure to understand that role creates conflict. Unfortunately, deciding to live as an ambassador instead of a king, doesn't solve our problems. Actually, it only increases them, because representing Jesus means we must love people in the context of "messy relationships."
Again, I'd like to point you to an observation Paul David Tripp makes in Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp:
relationships between sinners are messy, difficult, labor-intensive, and demanding but in that, they are desigened to result in God's glory and our good as he is worshiped and our hearts are changed. Effective personal ministry begins when we confess that we have taken realtionships that belong to God and used them for our selfish purposes. (Instruments in the Redeemers Hands, p120)
Here is the issue for us. Are we willing to extend the love of Christ to people in the midst of messy and difficult relationships? In order to do so, we need to make a number of commitments.
- We have to be willing to sacrifice our own plans and desires to enter their world and meet their needs. I'm sure it wasn't easy for Jesus to leave the glory of Heaven to seek and save sinners–but in love–He did.
- We have to understand that God is sovereign and puts people in our life for both their good and ours. The challenges of loving others reveal our own sin and need of grace. They are designed by God as part of the process of conforming us to the image of Jesus.
- We have to be willing to extend the same love, patience and grace to others that Jesus does to us.
This type of love isn't easy. It is "messy" and hard. But, it is the type of love Jesus calls us to.
May 24, 2006
I really enjoy reading Paul David Tripp. I am currently reading Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. In the chapter, “Following the Wonderful Counselor” Paul is developing the concept that as Christians, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2). Where it really gets personal is in the following quote:
We don’t really want to live as ambassadors. We would rather live as mini-kings. We know what we like and the people we want to be with. We know the kind of house we’d like to own and the car we want to drive. Without even recognizing it, we quickly fall into a “my desire, my will, and my way” lifestyle, where the things we say and do are driven by the cravings of our own hearts. If we were honest, we would have to confess that the central prayer of our hearts is “my kingdom come.” (p105)
Failing to understand our role as ambassadors makes conflict almost inevitable. We begin to view all our relationships through the lens of what others can do for us. We become consumed with having our expectations met. When they are not we make others pay. Even our prayers become self-centered, focusing on our will instead of God’s.
Instead of living as mini-king’s, let’s strive to focus on living as ambassadors. Let’s ask the question Paul Tripp recommends, “How can I best represent the King in this place, with this particular person?”
As we do so, we will find our lives far more fruitful and effective in both glorifying God and serving others.