And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thou Shall not be worldly, a paraphrase

Note to the reader: Here again I am publishing some of my rough draft study notes from the Sunday sermon. I hope these will fill in the gaps that time kept me from completing. I do apologize for their rough nature.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17


Coveting is about worship. It is the worship of things, experiences, honors, fantasies.
The 10 Commandments began with “you shall have no other gods”. It essentially ends the same way. (All the ten relate to the worship and faith of God)

Coveting involves worship of things with a faith that those things fulfill you. But our faith is in God, that is saving faith. So coveting is worshiping that which is not God in place of God. You will worship what you have faith in. You also will accentuate your life to that which you worship. It will involve your emotions, values, and drive. Even if it is a false dichotomy of God.

Thus it is an imperative that we worship in Spirit and in truth. As we know God we will have a drive, emotion, and value toward God, forsaking all others. It will grow our faith in God. Thus our worship will get better and better. Our lives will accentuate God throughout the week and when we come to worship God together it will be all the more wonderful. Here we see Him as Savior, Lord, and Love.

Coveting is an act of the heart. It may never have an outward expression, but defiles the mind and affections away from God nonetheless. Coveting is an affection. As Christians, Christ is our Savior, Lord, and Love. Coveting is a direct competition with love for Christ.

Coveting seems to be the acceptable sin of today in America, even in the church. Capitalism has bred a false use of wealth. Wealth was once the tool of spreading the Gospel, now it is a subversive idol.

True, other sins are part and parcel with worldliness. But it seems the accumulation of those things we covet, that is idolize, have snared us. We began this study with an inquiry of the Ten Commandments. In my staunch conservatives I wanted to make a moral stand that the Sabbath should be for rest and worship alone. My thought was fix the Sabbath and all else falls into place. Wrong. If you read my notes in this blog you will find my new perspective. Even moral theology can become an idol.

So coveting deals with idols. It may be things, such as a Ferrari or a House. It may be experiences, such as a trip to Disney or attending your kids ball game. I have watched a show called Hoarders. In it, people idolize junk. Trash, wood, hay, and stubble. They find security in this refuse, and though we may scorn it, we may too find security in boats, computers, and home theatres.

The cross puts this into the proper perspective……
• Lay up your treasure in Heaven…
• Christ, the man who had no home or place to lay His head.
• Consider the man who built bigger barns, only to die the night they were finished.
• Romans 8:18 Teaches that the sufferings of now are not worthy to be compared to what awaits us in the kingdom.
• 1 Corinthians 1:26 Implores us to consider our calling. Look at what a rare position it is to be bought by the blood of Christ and work in His calling.
• 2 Corinthians 3:5 our adequacy is not from mere possession, but from God. Thus nothing we own makes a difference.
• Colossians 3:4F Consider our life in Christ and dead to greed and evil desire.
• Philippians 3:7F Paul explains that because of the value of the Gospel, anything that does not help him gain Christ is a loss. It is dead weight in the race. Paul knew this from the Hellenistic/Jewish pinnacle of success.
• King Solomon in all his wealth, wisdom, and indulgence also said that all is vanity but
• The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Thus it is the cross that orders our values and affections into proper submission and glory of God. The world tells us differently. Just as the miracles Jesus did evidenced His ability to forgive sins as the Son of God, His teaching reveals His order for our sanctification.

Think about the ensnaring pursuits that keep you from the fullness of Christ and Him from doing the full work in you…
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

In Luke 14:18 people chose their things rather than the invitation to the banquet of the King.

Paul and Coveting
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:4-12

Here we see the law makes us aware, and the cross sets us free. So there is power to overcome sin. It is not in us, but in Christ.

The Sufficiency of the Cross
We all go around empty and condemned in our sin till we are saved by Christ. Afterwards we enter a process of sanctification, that is the putting to death the old nature. Habits are hard to break, so are the comforts we once knew. Some things are quite obvious that they are idols and hindrances to our Christianity. But stuff, worldly longings are often just as bad.

The cross is the measure and gateway to freedom in Christ.
Deny self, Take no provision….
Take up your cross, Your hands and labor are bearing the cross, not any other mammon
Follow Him. If He leads He will provide.

The bottom line is what Has God done to show His glory in your heart? What spiritual fruit are you bearing? Are you enslaved in any way? Is there idolatry?

If he is Savior, Lord, and Love, then Love for Him must certainly eclipse any love for things of covetousness that they categorically no longer can be described as a love.

It is not the appeal of self that should reign, “I want what my neighbor has because I I I I “, no it should be I love my God and He supplies me, I want my neighbor to know Christ. I want to glorify God in the lot He has provided.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Intense Discipleship

Just as a way of reminder....
Overcoming problems in life, especially those behaviors of the heart that keep us from moving forward in our spiritual growth (Sanctification) can see victory because of the cross. As I work toward my certification with the IABC, International Association of Biblical Counselors, I am finding a deeper appreciation for the person of Christ. As such, I continually want to help others find Christ and His truth, setting them free for His glory.

Often we struggle, but too often we self medicate. The big problem with this is much like when we becoming humble by our own efforts. When we try to become humble this way we often quit when we reach a self appointed limit. Thus when it gets to hard, or to a position of self management we quit. With Intense Discipleship Counseling, we can biblicaly work through those speed bumps, or mountains in your life. Instead of seeking mountain top retreats and forgetting the lessons a few days later, or reading a self help book and not finding change, seek ongoing discipleship.

If you need or desire such help, our church wants to be the church. Thus we want to help. The whole body is being built up together to support one another in the life of glorifying God. Give us a call, we are ready to journey together.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The folly of sexual indifference? How surrender to lust keeps us from true happiness. Part 3

Scriptures for Renewal of the Heart

These are further scriptures for study in our current topic. Please take time to mediate upon them. Repeating the same verses day after day is like watering a newly planted tree. First you water every day for ten days, then every other day for ten days, then as often as the soil is dry.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Co 10:12-14 NASB)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (Rom 12:1-3 NASB)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:9-10 NASB)

For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. (1Th 4:2-8 NASB)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Gal 5:16-25 NASB)

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Gal 6:1-9 NASB)

"Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah. "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, 'Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem Pollution has gone forth into all the land.'" Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jer 23:14-16 NASB)

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Rom 1:24-27 NASB)

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom 6:11-14 NASB)

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom 13:12-14 NASB)

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph 4:20-24 NASB)

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (Jam 1:12-16 NASB)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." (1Pe 1:14-16 NASB)

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
(1Pe 4:1-5 NASB)

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
(Mat 5:27-30 NASB)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The folly of sexual indifference? How surrender to lust keeps us from true happiness. Part 2

The Method of Seduction.

Looking at the Hebrew of this passage opened my eyes to see how cunning and misleading the lure of sexual pleasure can be. Just as this woman of Proverbs 7 is making advances, so does the simple innuendo of advertisements, logos, television, and directly the interweaving of the porn industry lure the vulnerable. Let us not be naive, let us flee from the very appearance of evil. To do so will require humility, as not to fall in 1 Corinthians 10:12, and wisdom, fearing God.

For men, and young men at that, this may very well be the most destructive and camouflaged sin. It is discreet in its ebb and flow, and is justified and flaunted by the world. J C Ryle does a great job in his book AThoughts for Young Men@ to warn them of these dangers, without being graphic.

In the area of putting off the old and putting on the new, this is one field of habit that must never stop being refined. Just a little dabbling in sexual sins can enslave a person to a life dominating sin. Its time for emancipation. Let us look at some of the actions taking place

And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, Passing through the street near her corner; And he takes the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness. And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She is boisterous and rebellious, Her feet do not remain at home; She is now in the streets, now in the squares, And lurks by every corner. So she seizes him and kisses him And with a brazen face she says to him: "I was due to offer peace offerings; Today I have paid my vows. "Therefore I have come out to meet you, To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you. "I have spread my couch with coverings, With colored linens of Egypt. "I have sprinkled my bed With myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. "Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; Let us delight ourselves with caresses. "For my husband is not at home, He has gone on a long journey; He has taken a bag of money with him, At the full moon he will come home." With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him. Suddenly he follows her As an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, Until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life.
(Pro 7:7-23 NASB)

The young man believes that he his acting without being noticed. I would do well to remember that God is always seeing me. The fact that the man lacks sense has been brought up by a friend of mine who is a hunter. He has said that he has never killed a buck without it first being distracted from harm by a doe. Here we don=t know if it=s the man=s intention to go by the woman=s corner, but in verse 22 we see that suddenly he gives in and follows. He listens to her reasoning, and possibly muddles over the pros and cons and gives in to her. This could very easily become his snare of life. He is near her corner. As stated above, we should avoid the very appearance of evil. He is not fleeing, but being playful with the sin. Curiosity has often been the downfall of great men in many areas. When it comes to David=s adultery with Bathsheba, I believe it was not a one time viewing. I figure that he either had seen her bathe before and knew where and when to look, or he may have looked repeatedly throughout the course of the season, looking at her, fleeing to his room, dwelling in thought of her, and then returning for a curious glance. This pattern led to his reputation forever being associated with this event. Further, is produced kingdom divided, murder, and most importantly the name of God mocked.

Our young man is visual. As all men are designed. The adulterous woman is dressed as a prostitute and wily of heart. Her very attire is chosen to arouse curiosity. She knows how to use her body to get attention. She wants to be worshipped. I do not have much information on the attire of such women in such an age, but we can be assured that just like marketing devices and internet tricks, she knew how to subtly get noticed. Her wily heart his pouring forth its contents. Her thoughts and intentions are intending to be worshiped, and we know from the text it does lead to death.

As a note, death should not be only thought of as physical death, though that is a certainty. But the joy of abundant life will be killed. Guilt and shame will come. Then there are diseases. We find that the marriage will not have the luster of purity that God intended. Separation from God is paramount here as it further hardens the heart and opens it to all other sins.

As we see that she is not at home and wayward, my thoughts go to understand how wide spread the seductions of sex are in the world. Video stores and newsstands are not the only places to avoid. I shall not list the facets of where to find arousal, as this is self explanatory.

We read of her in the street and in the market. Sex is big business. If you can get hooked, you will be as dominated by it as someone on drugs or alcohol. It seems that everyone has a penchant to some type of sin (James 1), and these days sex dominates the marketplace. Know that as a multi billion dollar industry, the people behind it are without restraint. If they would manipulate you this way, several other deceptions lie in store.

It tells us that this woman lies in wait. She is a convenience merchandise. She appeals to satisfying the selfishness of her onlookers. The sex industry is constantly looking for more ways to be come obtainable with greater ease and fewer restrictions. We must be on our guard. Quite often these temptations will grab hold of men simply on the basis of convenience. One may never ever go to a pornographic theater, but a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue at a newsstand may serve as well.

We next find our young (or even older) man descending the next step. He has come in contact with her as she seizes him, and she speaks to put thoughts into his mind. She becomes an advocate to the sinful thoughts he already has within. She talks of her “cleanliness@ as a way to say she is pure. Then she says that she has sought him out. In her efforts to be an idol, she appeals to the mans desire for admiration. He begins to think higher of himself than he is, as now this woman makes advances that elevate his manhood. Rationalization is always a step toward acceptance of sin.

Pornographic magazines, and perfumes for that matter, all use alluring titles to beckon. Its like a lure to a bass. Part of the trap is the bait. Here we see cinnamon, Egyptian linens, perfume. Each of the senses is aroused. The mind is affected and pushed. Once the mind has begun discerning things, recalling memories of pleasures, and evaluating we see that she (or temptation) begins to incite fantasy. ACome, let us take our fill of love till morning@ she says, Alet us delight ourselves with love@. This grieves God. Love here is perverted. This is eros outside marriage. It is not agape or phillo. It is taking a created beauty, made by God, and turning it into an instrument of idolatry.

Then we find that she is married, and unfaithful to her husband. I see that many men wrestle with right and wrong in these situations. But the thought of being ten feet tall and bulletproof, or being AGod=s exception to the rule@ takes over. Remember, God does not stain His holiness for anyone.

The man here again rationalizes his integrity. He fails to look at the big picture, and eternity. He lives for the moment. Most men do dumb things, ie fall into sin, because they were not thinking with wisdom.

Then we see that suddenly he does follow her. He commits to follow her. She has power over him because he chooses to find pleasure for the moment. He has crossed the threshold. Oh that we might establish boundaries to our lusts.

We then get God=s perspective of how giving into sexual temptation plays out. Words like slaughter (planned killing for the benefit of the diners), caught fast (as in a set trap), and arrow pierces liver (hunted down), and a bird in a snare, all show us that death occurs. That we are being lied to and taken advantage of. Our God is mocked and not feared by these.

So our man at the window gives us some advice. He has probably seen this behavior several times over. He then concludes four things that I see.

First, be attentive to what he has told us beforehand. Know that this applies to us. Put off the behaviors of the young man, and put on the behaviors of the one safe in his home.

Secondly, Do not let your heart turn to the ways of this woman. Know they are perverted and evil. It is a candy coating over poison.

Third, do not stray in her paths. Again flee the very appearance of evil. Avoid all known temptations. Pray, memorize scripture that you might not sin against God. Have a plan to purify your heart if somehow you are tempted or exposed to one of these steps to destruction.

Fourthly, remember. Be knowledgeable that strong men, mighty men it says, have fallen to seduction. Seduction is a plan of entrapment. It is a trail of crumbs to a snare. You may enter the path midway or at the beginning, but it still leads to death.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Co 10:12-14 NASB)