Brick #99 – 2 Peter 3

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Think eschatologically!

That is how I would summarize 2 Peter 3. What does that phrase mean?

Eschatology is the study of the end times. So “think eschatologically” means to think with the end of times in mind.

As Peter writes it has only been about 30 years since the resurrection of Jesus and His accompanying promise that He would return again. For the first century believers it seems like it has been forever. Peter writes to remind them of several things…

1) “That scoffers WILL come in the last days” (verse 3) – There will always be those who will scoff about our faith. Whether it is regarding the timing of Jesus’ return or something else. Scoffers will scoff. Here is a short list of things that scoffers scoff about in our day:

  • How can you possibly believe a book that is as old fashioned and outdated as the Bible?
  • How could a God that is so loving send people to a place like Hell?
  • Don’t you think it is pretty narrow-minded to suggest that there is only one way to Heaven?
  • Christians are so hypocritical!
  • Christianity is just a crutch for weak people.
  • If God is so good why is there so much suffering in the world?
  • In the Old Testament God sure comes across as a moral monster.
  • Science proves evolution and dispels the theory of creation. Why don’t you believe the science?

Scoffers will scoff. But as believers we can prepare ourselves for the scoffing and as Peter said in his first letter, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)

2) “The day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (verse 10) – Jesus is coming back! From God’s perspective 2000+ years seems more like 2 days (v.8). And He is patiently waiting because He does not want ANY to perish but for ALL to come to repentance. Is there anything that we can do to “hasten the coming of the day of God.” (v. 12) You betcha! Matthew 24:14 ays this, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

3) We should “be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (verse 14) – We should live with the anticipation that Jesus could return TODAY. And if He did would He find us ready? Would He find us yearning for His return? Would our first thought be when we see Him ” I’m so glad you’re back” or would it be “I’m not ready can you come back later?”

4) “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (verse 18) – As we wait and as we anticipate we should make it our goal to draw closer to Jesus. So the question I have to ask myself is this: What am I doing to make sure that I keep growing in my relationship with God?

May this brick help you to THINK ESCHATOLOGICALLY! 

Brick #98 – 2 Peter 2

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In chapter 2, Peter goes to great lengths to point out the danger of false prophets who have infiltrated believing communities of faith. What was true then is also true now. In fact, in verse 1 Peter said, “there will always be false teachers among you.” So in pondering this chapter I want to do 3 things: 1) Point out some of the characteristics of false teachers, 2) Mention some of the prevalent false teachings that have infiltrated the church of the 21st century, and 3) Share a few thoughts on how to recognize the red flags that often indicate false teaching.

Characteristics of False Teachers

  • “Secretly bring in destructive heresies”(v. 1) – False teaching is subtly slipped into orthodox teaching so that it sounds like it is true even though it is not.
  • “Follow their sensuality” (v.2, 14) – It is not uncommon for sinful sexual lifestyles to come to light in the lives of false teachers.  Not only does this call their teaching into question but as Peter says the way of truth is blasphemed along the way.
  • “In their greed they will exploit you with false words” (v. 3, 14, 15) – This seems to be a common theme among false teachers. They have learned how to use their silver tongues to accumulate silver for themselves. Often lots of it.
  • “They do not tremble as they blaspheme…” (v. 10) – You generally do not see a posture of humility present in false teachers. They are not intent on bringing glory to God as much as they are in bringing glory to themselves.
  • “They entice unsteady souls.” (v. 14) – False teachers take advantage of people. They tickle itching  ears, make people feel good about themselves, and then use them for their selfish purposes – often by coercing them to send money.
  • “They are waterless springs” (v.17) – They offer refreshment but for people’s souls but instead deliver emptiness and deadly teaching.
  • “They promise freedom but they themselves are slaves of corruption”  (v. 19) – False teachers make promises that they can’t keep because they themselves are enslaved to sin.

Prevalent False Teachings of Our Day

Universalism – Hell is not real and even if it was God is too good to send anyone there. All people go to heaven no matter what you believe.

Legalism – It was around in Jesus’ day and it is still around today. It essentially says that if you do certain things and don’t do certain things then you can be right with God. For example, real Christians don’t have tatoos. Real Christians don’t drink alcohol. Real Christians don’t smoke. Real Christians don’t dance. Real Christians only read the King James Bible.

Prosperity Gospel – The prosperity gospel tries to use God to get a believer what he wants – health and wealth and prosperity. It claims that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty.

“Just follow your heart” – We hear this a lot these days – the only problem is that the heart is “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) and will lead you places that you do not want to be.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – Probably the false teaching most prevalent among  our younger people these days. The five core beliefs of MTD are as follows: 1) A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth. 2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. 3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. 4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. 5) Good people go to heaven when they die.

Recognizing False Teaching

1) Get SO familiar with the Truth that when you hear NOT TRUTH you easily recognize it. This means becoming a student of the Word of God. As has been said, to spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine.

2) Ask discerning questions – What does the teacher say about Jesus? Does he preach the gospel? Does he minimize Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross? Does he talk about repentance? Does he focus on the love of God and rarely if ever make mention of the wrath of God and Hell?

3) Does the teacher’s character and lifestyle demonstrate humility and servanthood? Is there a constant asking for money? Does his lifestyle indicate a hunger for money or a hunger for God?

Again, as Peter reminds us, there will always be false teachers among us. But that doesn’t mean we have to be susceptible. Learn to discern!

May this brick help you to know the difference between false teaching and the soul nourishing Word of God.

Brick #97 – 2 Peter 1

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“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

I love the way that Peter intros his epistle. This little sentence is a great prayer to pray or blessing to speak on behalf of those we care about.

In chapter one, Peter reminds his readers of the importance of God’s Word. He wants to make sure they are paying attention “as to a lamp shining in a dark place…” (v.19) He is not convinced that they are paying attention and he has several reasons for his concern. 

  • He wants to help them to be fruitful and effective in their walk with the Lord and to equip them to live godly lives. (chapter 1)
  • He wants to make sure they can discern truth from the false teaching that is prevalent. (chapter 2)
  • He wants to make sure that they are ready for “the Day of the Lord.” (chapter 3)

All of these concerns are appropriate for 21st century believers. Not so much has changed. We still need help living godly lives. We are still susceptible to the false teaching that tickles our ears. And we are still ill-prepared for the coming of the Lord.

In verse 4 of this chapter Peter references God’s “precious and very great promises” as he seeks to encourage the saints to be men and women of the Word. Here are a few of God’s precious and very great promises that are well worth the time pondering so that when life is hard we have a sure and steady anchor to help us get through the storm. Note that the first promise is that there will indeed be storms to endure.

  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23-24
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
  •  But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
  • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5
  • Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

John Piper says that “we must day by day go to the Word of God and search for great promises. Fix one or two in your mind and hold them there before you all day. And use them to overcome temptation to sin and to incite you to daring acts of righteousness and love. 

May this brick help you to search God’s Word daily knowing the value that it provides in helping you navigate your way through this life and in preparing you for the life to come.

 

 

Virtue – moral excellence

Brick #96 – 1 Peter 5

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A few thoughts about verses 5-7…

 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…

 

First, a few definitions.

Humility is an honest assessment  of ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

Pride is a conspiring to steal glory from the only One that is rightfully due glory. It is a pursuing of self-glorification and a refusal to acknowledge dependence upon God.

With these definitions in mind you can understand why God so vehemently opposes the proud.

Two questions…

Question #1: What does humility look like in a believer’s life? Numbers 12:3 tells us that “the man Moses was very humble – more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.” So perhaps we can learn a thing or two about humility from him. 

In Psalm 90 we have recorded “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.” He gives us some clues in verses 12-17 of how humility expresses itself.

Humility is characterized by:

A teachable spirit – In verse 12 Moses prays, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Do we come to God each day with a willingness to learn from Him; with an understanding that we still need the Lord to instruct us how to navigate our way through this world?

A sense of dependent neediness – In verse 14, Moses prays, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Do we look to the Lord for our satisfaction and joy and happiness or do we try to find it through sources that the world provides?

A recognition of God’s glory and power – In verse 16, Moses prays, “Let YOUR work be shown to your servants, and YOUR glorious power to their children.” Are we first and foremost concerned that God gets the glory that is His due or are we more concerned about getting the recognition that we crave?

A longing for the favor of God – In verse 17 Moses prays, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us.” Do we long for God’s favor upon our life or do we seek primarily the favor of people.

A pursuit of God in prayer – This Psalm is an indication that Moses spent time in prayer with the Lord. Prayer in and of itself is an act of humility as we recognize our need for Him.

Question #2: Practically, how do we clothe ourselves with humility? In other words, how do we develop humility in our lives?

Philippians 2:5-8 is instructive here as we learn from Jesus. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We can learn humility:

1) By serving others – By nature we tend towards selfishness and wanting others to serve us. By “taking the form of a servant” we take our eyes off ourselves and focus of meeting the needs of others. A great question to ask the Lord each day is this: Who can I serve today and how can I serve them?

2) By being obedient to the Lord – Jesus was not thrilled with the idea of being crucified on a cross (Matthew 26:39) but obeyed willingly. We don’t always like doing what God’s Word commands but we learn humility every time we obey willingly because God sees our desire to please Him rather than pleasing ourselves.

May this brick help you to “clothe yourselves, all of you,  with humility.”

 

Brick #95 – 1 Peter 4

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I spent a lot of time this week pondering verse 1: “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking…”

Jesus was not looking forward to suffering on the cross. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals this… “If there is any other way… Yet not my will but Yours.” He was willing but that didn’t mean that he had to be excited about it.

None of us like the idea of suffering. I sure don’t. Suffering generally involves pain and I am not a fan of pain. In the 1st century suffering often involved physical pain because of the persecution that the early disciples were facing. In 21st century America, suffering might involve physical pain but it is just as likely to involve emotional pain or relational pain or financial pain. And because we don’t like pain we will often do what ever we can to avoid it. So we self-medicate and much of the time we self-medicate in unhealthy, sinful ways. We choose sin over suffering.

Example: Loneliness is a widespread problem in our culture today. There is a lot of emotional suffering that people are experiencing these days. Some of the ways that people self-medicate to avoid the feelings of loneliness might include alcohol or pornography or through vicarious relationships experienced on TV or Netflix that help people to forget what they are going through. People choose sin over suffering. I understand why. I am tempted to do the same. It is easier and it is a quicker fix and no one has to know that about our pain. But it is unhealthy and certainly unholy.

1 Peter in general informs us that we WILL suffer and that we need to be prepared to suffer. 1 Peter 4:1 informs us that the way to be prepared to suffer, and to be willing to choose suffering over sin, is to arm ourselves with the same kind of thinking that Jesus had. Here are a few verses to ponder that might help you to arm yourself with the mindset of our Savior…

  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
  • So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
  •  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
  • Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… (Romans 12:2)
  • This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
  •  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

May this brick help you to arm yourselves with the Word of God in a way that equips you to choose suffering when necessary over sin.

 

 

Brick #94 – 1 Peter 3

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The first word in chapter 3 is very key to understanding what has been a controversial passage. The chapter begins this way…

“Likewise…”

Two questions:

1) Likewise what? Likewise as in the same way that Jesus submitted to the Father and loved the church sacrificially by way of the cross.

2) In what way is chapter 3 controversial?  Verses 1-7 uses some language that when not understood in context has been used to make women come across as inferior to men…

  • “Wives, be subject to your husbands.” (v.1)
  • “women, submitting to their own husbands… calling him lord.” (vs 5-6)
  • “women as the weaker vessel” (v.7)

When you understand verses 1-7 in the context of the cross and especially when you use Scripture to interpret Scripture then these verses begin to make sense. Ephesians 5:21-33 and Genesis 2:18-25 are especially helpful.

I will say a few things that I believe are helpful to understand when talking about the roles of men and women in marriage:

First, it is the husband’s job to sacrificially love his wife as Christ demonstrated His love for His bride, the church. Husbands are to lead their into a sanctifying relationship with the Lord and to gladly do whatever it takes to make sure they are cared for, provided for, and honored.

Second, wives are indeed to submit to their husbands love and leadership. The best definition I have ever heard for the word submit goes like this: Submission is a wife’s willing and glad response to her husband’s sacrificial love. In other words, when the husband is doing his job then the wife’s job is a no-brainer. What wife would not want to gladly respond and follow the leading of a husband who is first and foremost looking out for her interests, her needs, her hopes, her desires, her dreams.

1 Peter 1:1-7 has to be understood in terms of the “likewise”. And it is kind of like everything else about the Christian life – when we rightly understand what Jesus did on the cross then the Christian life not only makes perfect sense but becomes a joyous and thrilling pursuit.

May this brick help you to again remember the cross!

 

Brick #93 – 1 Peter 2

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As I pondered this past week, my mind’s attention was captured by some of the little words in the first 12 verses. So, If, As, and But. Today’s Brick by Brick is just going to focus on that first one as there is much to ponder in that one word.

The chapter kicks off with this admonition…

So put away all malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander.”

The word “so” refers to what came right before it – “And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1:25) Peter is saying that our behavior is connected to our beliefs. How we behave is a reflection of what we really believe. Do we believe that the word of God is indeed good news? Do we believe that Scripture is indeed the “living and abiding word of God”? (1:23) Do we believe that “the word of the Lord remains forever”?( 1:25) We can always tell what we really believe by looking at our behavior.

Do you really believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that He speaks to us and uses His Word to nourish our soul? If so, does the amount of time that you spend reading and pondering Scripture each day reflect that this is true?

Do you really believe that God listens to and answers prayer? Does your prayer life reflect this? Do you spend more than a perfunctory minute or two with our Father before His throne of grace?

Do you really believe that people who have not put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus and in His redeeming work on the cross are desperately lost and eternally damned? If so, is there any sense of urgency to make sure that the people around you have heard the gospel and know about the hope that the Lord offers us in Christ?

Do you really believe that everything we have belongs to God and that we are merely stewarding the resources that we have been entrusted with? If so, does the way that you spend and give and invest reflect that your money is actually His money?

Do you really believe that God has chosen you for His holy purposes and that you have a God-given mission to pursue? If so, do you live each day with a sense of purpose and calling and are vigilantly on the lookout for God-ordained opportunities throughout the day for the Lord to use you as His ambassador to a despairing world?

Do you really believe that God calls us to be a holy people and that sin not only short circuits our relationship with Him but also declares to a watching world that faith in God doesn’t matter? If so, in what ways do you need to repent and turn from your wicked ways and seek the Lord’s forgiveness and a fresh anointing?

May the Lord use this brick to help you evaluate to what extent you really believe what you say you believe.

 

Brick #92 – 1 Peter 1

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There is so much that is ponderable in this chapter. So much! The one sentence in the ESV version that kicks off chapter one could keep you pondering for a week by itself…

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1:3-5)

And that’s just one sentence.

But there is another phrase that I want to focus on in this Brick. It is found in verse 13: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action…” I actually like the way that the KJV translates the verse because I think it gives a better sense of what Peter is saying. “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind…”

Peter is using military language here. When you went into battle you would take the lengthy robe that was part of the dress code of the day and tuck it (gird it up) into your belt so that you had freedom of movement as to better do battle. So what does it mean to “gird up the loins of your mind,” or to “prepare your minds for action”? Here are 4 thoughts…

1) We must be fiercely determined – Make no doubt that we are involved in a war. And the war begins in your mind. The enemy has done a great job of leading people to forget that we are at war – and therefore our determination to overcome the evil one is for all practical purposes tenuous at best and nonexistent at worst. Where is the fierce determination to stand firm against and boldly battle the enemy of our souls?

2) We must be vigilantly aware – A good soldier is constantly alert and continuously on the lookout for an attack. They live by the motto “When you least expect it, expect it.” It is often when things seem to be going well in our lives that we are spiritually blindsided because we have let our guard down just enough to give the enemy an opening that he can take advantage of. We must maintain a state of vigilant awareness if our minds are going to be prepared for action.

3) We must be adequately armed – John 10:10 tells us that our enemy wants to “steal, kill, and destroy” us. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that he is a roaring lion “seeking someone to devour.” It would be silly to try to defend ourselves against such an enemy weaponless. And yet, more often than not, that is what we do. We do not utilize the weapons we have been given We neglect the Word. We forsake prayer. We do not cling to the gospel. We respond in fear rather than in faith. The Lord has given us all that we need to fight the good fight but many believers have chosen to lay down their weapons in obsequious surrender.

4) We must be appropriately trained – Having the right weapons to fight the enemy is good. But being trained to use those weapons with excellence is much much better. So here are a few questions for you to think about as you discern whether you are appropriately trained to fight the evil one… or not.

  • Do you find that reading your Bible is a duty or a delight?
  • Do you regularly hear God speak to you as you read His Word?
  • Are you daily putting God’s Word into practice in your day to day life?
  • Do you experience prayer as sweet and sacred or as monotonous and mundane?
  • Do you regularly “preach the gospel to yourself” and remind yourself that “according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
  • In what ways are living “by faith and not by sight?” Would anything be different about your the way your life is practically lived out if God was stripped away?
  • Do you find that joyfully engage in worship or dutifully endure worship with other believers?

If you find that you need training in one of these areas I would be delighted to help. Just let me know.

May this brick better help you to prepare your minds for action as you anticipate going into battle today.

 

 

 

Brick #91 – James 5

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It is not uncommon to read a passage of Scripture that I have read many times, like James 5, and see something that I have never seen before. Verse 8 grabbed my attention this week – and especially one phrase in verse 8: “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” 

Two questions come to my mind: 1) why is the phrase “establish your hearts” linked to the coming of the Lord, and 2) how do you “establish your heart.”

James certainly believed that the Lord could return imminently. Even though it has now been 2000 years we should live with that same anticipation. We should live as if we will meet the Lord today. Why? Because we might. Maybe He won’t come  to us (or maybe He will) but we never know when we might go to Him. Many many people every day find themselves un-expectantly in the presence of the Lord. 1 Peter 3:15 says this: “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…”

James had some genuine concerns about the health of his reader’s hearts. Even a cursory reading of his letter to them will reveal this. He also knew that because of the persecution directed toward Christians that any day any one of them could find themselves in the presence of the Lord. No doubt James would have the same concern for the hearts of believers in 2021. So how do we make sure that our hearts are established – or strengthened (as the Christian Standard Bible says) – and ready for “the day of Christ’s appearing?

Heart health features several components:

1) Things you need to STOP doing because they are bad for your heart. You know what these are. You know the things that you are doing that are creating an unholy heart. The only real question is are you willing to STOP doing these things so that your heart can heal.

2) Things that you need to START doing because they are good for your heart. You know what these are as well: reading and pondering the Word, focused time in prayer, resolute obedience, fellowship with believers, worship with the saints of God.

3) Regular Check-ups. Twice a year I go to the doctor and let him listen to my heart and ask me questions about my healthy (or unhealthy) heart habits. Once a year I have comprehensive lab work done to try to spot anything that might need attention. Shouldn’t we be as diligent spiritually as we are physically? Who in your life has permission to ask you about the health of your heart? When was the last time that you reviewed your heart diagnostics? What would a spiritual check-up reveal about the health of your heart?

May this brick help you to establish and strengthen your heart so that not only are you able to run the race with endurance but also are prepared to to meet the Lord whenever that may be.

 

 

Brick #90 – James 4

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I am an adulterer! There, I said it. Unfortunately most of you reading this are also adulterers. James is writing to Jewish believers and in 4:4 he calls them out (and us) when he says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world makes you an enemy with God.” 

I think he is trying to shock his readers by using such graphic language – and he no doubt does a good job. He wants them to see themselves as he sees them – a people who are on the one hand trying to love God but on the other hand are having an affair with the world. This pretty much describes most believers today. But James does not just lambast them with the truth – he also tells them how to correct the situation. In effect, he gives them 6 tips on how to “affair proof” their relationship with God.

Tip #1: “Submit yourselves therefore to God” – First of all there has to be an acknowledgement that God is God and we aren’t. And because He is God He gets to set the rules of the game and we must play by His rules. The cool thing is that when we do play by His rules, when we obey what He says, we find ourselves experiencing and enjoying the blessings of God.

Tip #2: “Resist the devil” – The devil will work hard to get us to ignore the rules of God and play by his rules. He does a good job of conning us and making us think that his short term benefits are better than God’s eternal blessings. The word “NO” must become a regular part of our vocabulary when the devil tries to seduce us – and most of us are not very good at saying NO.

Tip #3: “Draw near to God” – It’s hard to have an affair with the world when your focus and priority is on staying close to God. It is when you separate yourself from God – stop going to church, stop reading His Word, stop spending time in prayer, stop fellowshipping with other believers – that an affair with the world becomes not only possible but probable. 

Tip #4: “Cleanse your hands” – We all mess up. We all need forgiveness. We all need to come to God and confess our sin and say “I’m sorry!” When we have no desire to make things right with God, that is when we are susceptible to the allures of the world. When we become numb to our sinfulness we make dumb decisions that often lead us down the road of no return – and adultery becomes an easy option.

Tip #5: Be wretched and mourn and weep”– Confession (Tip #4) is vitally important. But if it is not coupled with sorrowful repentance then it is meaningless. Repentance acknowledges that we have turned away from God but then deliberately and intentionally turns back to God with a desire to please Him and restore the broken relationship that our sin caused. True repentance grieves that we have grieved the heart of God who loves us so much and hates what sin does to His beloved children.

Tip #6: “Humble yourselves” – “Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” (CJ Mahaney). Humility demonstrates a posture of dependence upon God. We love to exercise our independence. Humility requires a day by day fight against the pride and self-assertion that is hard-wired into us from birth. Adultery (both spiritual and physical) is just one short step away when we declare our independence from God and decide to do what we want to do regardless of the cost to our relationship with God or others.

May this brick help you to guard your heart and keep you from entering into an adulterous relationship with the world – and/or help you to find your way back into the loving arms of your heavenly Father.

 

 

 

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