Tag Archives: goodness

Jan 23 – Good Old Boys

Genesis 32-34

I went on a Gospel Music cruise last week. (That’s why I’m playing catch-up with my posts today) We had a great time listening to great music and seeing a little bit of the world I’ve never seen before. Our hearts were blessed by the groups who sang throughout the week.

One group, the Dixie Melody Boys (I think) sang a song entitled “Good Old Boys”. Good old boys don’t get to heaven because they are good old boys. Living according to what someone thinks is right isn’t enough.

Simeon and Levi got revenge on Hamar and the whole city because Shechem had raped their sister. He needed to be punished according to what the brothers believed, so they gave what they thought was their right to give – death to every man, looting, stealing, kidnapping.

But their dad, Jacob, was not happy when he heard what his sons had done. Jacob didn’t shake his head and say, boys will be boys. He told his sons they had made a bad situation worse by their actions.

We humans tend to adopt our own standards of right and wrong. There are some people who refuse Jesus, yet are really nice folk. And some believe that should be enough to get them into heaven.

A verse ran through my head as I thought about this passage today. It tells us that there is a way that seems right by human standards, but in the end it leads to destruction.

The Bible is clear that there is only one way to the Father, one way to heaven. That is through the blood of Jesus. Only. It is by grace we are saved. Not of works so that no one can brag they’ve earned it on their own.

No, good old boys need Jesus just as much as the bad ones. All have sinned.

Yep. Even the good old boys.

How Good Am I?

“I am the Lord who makes you holy”

God’s instructions to Moses recorded in the book of Leviticus concerning the priests repeats that statement several times. The priests were given specific requirements to follow from how to wear their hair, what to eat, what to wear, to how to treat their wives. And so that they wouldn’t start to feel overly good about themselves when they followed all God’s rules, so that they wouldn’t get prideful and begin to believe they were “all that”, God kept reminding them that it was he – not anything they did- who made them holy.

It’s the same with us in 2014. Many good people give to the poor, care for their families, tell the truth, pay their taxes and are faithful to their spouses. Many Christians go to church, abstain from alcohol and don’t go to movies, they read the Bible and never take the Lord’s name in vain. But the Bible tells us no one is righteous – not even one! It tells us all people have sinned and fall short when compared to God’s standards. And God reminds us it is by grace we are saved, not of anything we have done, so no one can boast.

The set apart life, the good we do is a natural outflowing of receiving grace. None of that can ever be a payment toward God’s favor. So the answer to the question I posted in the title is: Not good enough.

It’s Sunday morning and I hope you are planning to go to a Bible believing fellowship of believers to worship the Savior. You may  teach a class or sing in the choir. You may have already written your check for the offering. But God would tell us this morning that none of that will get you closer to heaven. None of it. If you are going to church to get on God’s good side, you are going for the wrong reason.

“I am the Lord who makes you holy.”

Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding us today that it’s all about you. In and of myself, I am a sinner. I might be a good person. I might even attend church. But without your grace I am no better than the most wicked God-hater there is. I pray for your people today as we go into churches to worship you. May we do so with grateful hearts, humbled by your forgiveness, and determined to live lives pleasing to you. Not because we want you to love us more, but because we want to love you more and serve you because of your grace.

November 16

James 1:1-3:18

I’ve always been partial to the book of James. It is probably the one book of the Bible I have read the most. I think I first realized how rich its content when I coached a Bible quiz team from my church and we studied this book word by word. 

James starts with talking about godly wisdom and ends chapter three talking about the same thing. He invites all believers to ask God for wisdom and believe and not doubt that God will answer that prayer. 

So do you have godly wisdom? Here is James’ checklist. See if you see yourself here.

Wisdom considers it pure joy to face trials, knowing it works to mature the one who suffers. (1:2-4)

Wisdom is humble in whatever circumstance of life one is given. (1:9-11)

Wisdom perseveres under trials, knowing the end of this life is eternal life with God. (1:12)

Wisdom recognizes temptation is not from God. And wisdom doesn’t give temptation a second thought because the more you think about it the more likely that desire leads to sin. (1:13-15) Which is why I watch very little prime time TV that portrays sin as the new normal. I don’t want those subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) attacks on the truth of Scripture to have any place in my mind or heart. And I certainly would not watch those shows if I had young people in my home!

Wisdom understands that God is never changing. (1:16-18) The God of Abraham is the God of today and his demands for holiness has not changed in order to be politically correct. 

Wisdom is quick to listen and slow to anger. And it gets rid of all moral filth.  (1:19-21)

Wisdom listens to God’s Word and obeys. (1:22-25)

Wisdom keeps a tight reign on the tongue. (1:26, 3:1-12)

Wisdom looks after orphans and widows and keeps oneself from being polluted by the world. (1:27)

Wisdom does not show favoritism, but realizes the Gospel of Jesus is for everyone in all walks of life.  (2:1-13)

Wisdom demonstrates faith by how one lives, the good one does in Jesus’ name. (2:14-26)

Wisdom does not harbor bitter envy or selfish ambition. (3:16)

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (3:17-18)

So how did you do? Can you say, after reading these chapters today  that you possess godly wisdom? Or are there some things you need to talk to your Lord about? Remember 1:5-6 says:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Gracious God, thank you for your Word to us today. I pray that your children will seek your wisdom, believing you want us to be wise in light of Scripture. Open our minds and hearts and give us understanding of your Word. And may we accept your wisdom and live out your truths today. Make us wise. And use us to do your will for Jesus’ sake.