Tag Archives: holiness

(Psalm 93) Adorning the Temple

Our God reigns! He sits on His eternal throne and has absolute rule over His creation. There may be powers that would destroy what God has so lovingly and purposefully made, but God is greater than the enemy of us all.

We can put our confidence in our Eternal King because all He has said is true and completely reliable. What an incredible gift is His Word in print. We can know Him, hear Him, recognize His hand in our lives by spending time in the Bible.

We have reason to praise and worship God!

I have shared that our church fellowship is in the middle of a building project. For years we have met in the basement of a commercial building, but we are hopefully going to move to the north end of this island and occupy a brand new building with classrooms and our own parking lot before the end of this year. God is doing amazing things in and through this journey.

Warren Wiersbe said something in regard to verse 5 of this Psalm in his “Be Exultant” study (David C Cook Publisher, 2004, page 32) that I think could be engraved into the foundation of our new building if the cement wasn’t already dried:

“It is a holy people that makes the temple holy, and ‘the beauty of holiness’ (29:2) is the greatest adornment for any structure dedicated to the Lord.”

We, of course, want our new structure to be pleasing to our Lord. We want what happens inside those walls to matter for eternity. We pray that it will be a tool God uses to reach the lost. But the psalmist (and Wiersbe) reminds me it’s not about the building.

It’s about holy people. Not busy people. Not even worshiping people, or a people with great outreach programs.

Holy people are what makes the temple beautiful in God’s eye; people who have repented of sin and obey God from clean hearts and minds. Holy people, not just good people.

My prayer is that as we worship and praise our Eternal King, whether in the basement or sitting inside a structure smelling of cut wood and new paint, we will each of us be that holy person who adorns the building. I pray that our focus won’t be on the new church or even in the worship and programs inside, but on God alone from clean hearts: a holy people unto the Lord.

If holy people are what makes the temple beautiful in God’s eye, may it be true in the “temple” which will be Frederica Baptist Church on Saint Simons Island. Starting with me.

(Nehemiah 9-13) Spiritual Integrity

Regarding Nehemiah’s harsh treatment of foreigners and sinners, the commentator in my Apologetics Study Bible used the words, “spiritual integrity.” In order to protect the holiness of God’s people, their spiritual integrity if you will, Nehemiah expelled those who didn’t worship God in truth. He kicked them out, and not all that gently, either.

Nehemiah knew the “negative spiritual ramifications” of accepting non-believers into the family of God. I don’t think we understand those spiritual ramifications today.

Even our pastors encourage us to bring sinners into God’s house. Worship leaders use Bethel and Hillsong music, inviting false teaching into our fellowship. We try so hard to look like our unsaved neighbors we no longer stand as a beacon in a dark world.

What are the negative spiritual ramification? Too many of us, too many of our churches, have lost our spiritual integrity. And you know something that makes me sad about that? Some of you will say that’s a good thing.

(Ezra 1-6) Not Just My Soapbox

A quote from the CSB Apologetics Study Bible, (Holman Bible Publishers of Nashville, TN, 2017, page 552) regarding 6:21:

“Spiritual holiness was expected of those who worshiped God. Today’s church could learn from this early community. Church discipline has fallen by the wayside as contemporary congregations attempt to shed their image of exclusivity. However, God expects to be served by a holy people. The church today must demand that church members conduct themselves according to certain spiritual standards that honor the faith community and God. (Romans 12:1-2, I Pt 1:13-16)” ( emphasis mine)

I boldly and unapologetically say, “Amen.”

(Leviticus 6-14) Speading Disease

If you think this is about COVID, you would be wrong.

God, through Moses, refers often to a place “outside the camp.” It was where the unclean parts of a sacrificed animal were burned, where unclean stones and plaster were thrown, and to where unclean people were banished.

We who live after the cross see thy symbolism as Jesus was crucified outside the city when our sins rendered Him who knew no sin, unclean.

But something else spoke to me today about these chapters. I, as a Christian, am commanded to be holy because God, whom I represent, is holy. That means I need to remove everything from my life that isn’t holy, and throw it away, burn it up, and never revisit it – ever.

My problem is I try to hold on to a bit of sin. Or I confess it, but don’t really repent of it. It might be an impure thought, a feeling of unforgiveness or resentment or hate, a habit, laziness, and sometimes flat-out disobedience. The list goes on. All of which prevents me from holiness and purity. Yet holiness and purity are God’s requirements.

I see, through the picture Moses paints here in Leviticus concerning disease and mold, the result of my disobedience. Even if I put on a hat to disguise my disease, or a coat of paint on a wall to cover up mold, it doesn’t render me clean. If I put a smile on my face and carry my Bible, it doesn’t cover up the fact my heart is diseased, unclean. And my infection can and does spread to others. I can call my sin a mistake, a choice, an accident, or convince myself it’s no big deal, but my unclean life touches the lives of others in my home, my church, my community, and I become responsible for my sin disease spreading to them.

It also reminds me of what is happening in God’s Church. We’ve convinced ourselves that sinners in our midst is a good thing. We should welcome them, embrace them, make them a part of our fellowships. But God, here in Leviticus, tells us to banish the diseased person to outside the camp until – not before -they are clean.

Sounds cruel. Sounds un-Christian. But the fact of the matter is, their disease can and does spread within the church. Their disease of sin can and does spread to holy people, who then themselves become unholy. It has nothing to do with loving or not loving our neighbor. It has everything to do with keeping the Church holy, protecting the holiness and purity God demands of us.

The Church is not pure, we are not holy as long as we tolerate unrepentant sinners in our midst. Should we be inviting our unsaved friends to church? Not if we want to keep God’s Church holy.

Jesus said, “Come to me…” He didn’t say come to the synagogue. He didn’t say come to church. Jesus told us to GO, make disciples. He didn’t say sit back and invite them into His House, hoping our holiness will rub off on them and make them clean. It doesn’t work that way.

We need to get off our couches and get out into our neighborhoods and introduce unsaved, unclean people to their Savior. Then, and not before, we should welcome them into our midst to worship God with clean hearts. God does not accept worship any other way.

Unrepentant hearts cannot worship God. And that bit of disease in our churches can and does spread. Don’t think it doesn’t.

(Genesis 3-5) Because I Love You

I never considered God’s judgment on Adam and Eve an act of love before. Had He allowed them to continue to live in the Garden, and had they eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have been forced to live forever in their sin, struggling in this sinful world century after century, millennium after millennium. They would have had no hope of heaven, because they would not have died.

Yes, they were doomed to a difficult existence during life on earth. They were to experience sickness, loss, heartache, enemies, and death. Sin does that to a person.

But God, even as He sent them away, promised the Savior. God did not leave them without hope.

The writer of Hebrews, and Psalm 3:12 tell us:

the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

God always punishes sin because He loves us. He wants us to turn from sin so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him in this life, and forever. We can’t do that if we hold on to sin. He is holy. Holiness and sin do not exist together. God wants us to exist together.

God didn’t wash His hands of Adam and Eve when they sinned. When He threw them out of the Garden, He didn’t turn off the sun, or destroy creation to teach them a lesson They still enjoyed sunsets, smelled the flowers, tasted the food. God didn’t stop blessing them. I’m sure they laughed again, were excited about the births of their children, enjoyed a romantic get-away to the mountains occasionally. (Well, I’m not sure of that last one, really. I’m a bit of a romantic.)

I think they even enjoyed a relationship with God eventually, although much different than the one they knew before sin separated them. God still was involved in their lives as seen in His conversation with Cain, giving Cain a chance to repent. (4:6-7)

I’ve gone through times of discipline because of sin in my life. Our world experiences the judgment of God because of sin. And often our natural response is to ask, “Why?”

“Why is life so hard?” “What did I do to deserve this illness, or this loss, or this hardship?”

“WHY ME?”

And I hear God answer:

Because I love you.

Holding On To Dross (Jeremiah 4-6)

Dross: foreign matter, dregs, or mineral waste, in particular scum formed on the surface of molten metal. Also used in regard to something worthless; rubbish, i.e: “there are bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross.”

My concern for the Church in America grows every day. Jeremiah, while talking about the Jews of his day, said that God was pruning them to get rid of sin, performing surgery to cut out sin, and putting them in the refiners fire in order for them to eliminate sin and become pure, all with the intention of making it possible for the Jews to return to God.

Jeremiah says to God: You struck them but they felt no pain; you crushed them but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. (5:3)

The prophet found that to be true not only in lay people, in the regular folk who might not have had the opportunity for higher education concerning God’s Law, but he found the same to be true in church leaders. They all knew better, but they chose to ignore God’s correction and His plea for their return.

Jeremiah used the example of refining fire burning away dross from metal to purify the metal, leaving something precious and valuable. Jeremiah said if the people are the ore, they are clinging to the dross while rejecting the silver. They are holding on to the worthless and ignoring the prize.

Are we Christians doing the same thing here in 2020? Are we rejecting the precious and valuable Gospel for a worthless theology so compromised it has no value? Have we clung to tolerance, and acceptance, and eliminated anything that could offend, instead of holding to the Truth of God?

It happened in Jeremiah’s day. What makes us think it can’t happen here and now? If we think we are immune, I’m afraid we’ve already grabbed hold of the dross.

There’s no fool like an… (Isaiah 42)

If you read the history of God in Old Testament Israel, you will see one miraculous event after another. You will hear God declare Himself in no uncertain terms as Creator and Savior, Holy and demanding holiness. You will see him judge – and forgive – sin over and over again.

If you had been a Jew at the time, you would have experienced God in very tangible, first-hand ways. Even other nations witnessed God in Israel, and recognized Him as something uniquely powerful and real. Yet people still worshiped idols, carved wooden figures that could not hear, speak, or move to rescue. Even faced with the evidence that God is God, they continued to reject Him.

Not just Gentiles, either. Jews rejected God, too. This is what God says about that:

Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing. (42:18-20)

It is sad when a person is physically and medically unable to hear. But the deafness of a hearing person is foolishness. A seeing person who refuses to see is unimaginable, and foolish. Yet God accuses His people of choosing deafness and blindness when they were, in fact, capable of hearing and seeing what was right in front of them.

You’ve heard it said, “there is no fool like an old fool.” I think God is saying there is no deafness like the one who refuses to hear, no blindness like the one refusing to see.

God had spelled everything out, had demonstrated exactly who He was, made “his law great and glorious.” Yet instead of living with the blessings of bowing to God, they had become plunder to their enemies. Instead of living in peace, they lived with “the violence of war.” How foolish could they be?

Well, before I get too judgmental here toward the Old Testament Jews, I am reminded that God has revealed Himself in unmistakable ways here in 2020, too. For one thing, we have the benefit of holding His own Words in our hands, reading them whenever we want. We can listen to preachers and teachers who hold true to the Truth that is Jesus as found in Scripture. We have eyes to see His creation, ears to hear His still, small voice, or the thunder of His voice from the skies.

Yet some of us are still worshiping idols of our own making. We worship self, money, power, right-ness. We honor rock stars and athletes above God. We listen to politicians while we ignore what God says. We spend more time pursuing fun than we do in pursuit of God.

God would tell us today that there is no fool like a blind seeing person or a hearing person who refuses to listen.

Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? (verse 23)

Don’t Walk. Run! (Proverbs 7-9)

What is the temptation that, for you, is the hardest to resist? Greed? Lying? Gluttony? Pride? or something else? Solomon is using the picture of adultery to describe the seriousness of giving into the temptation Satan would use to entice you away from holiness.

The woman in 7:10 is loud and defiant and has no shame. She promises the young man that she has fancied up her bed with beautiful blankets and perfume. (She’s obviously not going to tempt him with the truth that her bedding has seen plenty of action and the perfume is an attempt to cover up the stench of sins committed there)

The truth is, you can dress sin up, douse it in sweet smelling rationalization or denial, but it’s still ugly, messy, dangerous SIN  that would reduce you to the level of an ox going to slaughter, a deer in a noose, a bird in a snare.

Gotcha!

Solomon tells us the woman’s house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chamber of death (7:27). Whatever pleasure she promises comes with horrible consequences she has no intention of discussing.

So, what is the temptation that’s hardest for you to resist? See it for what it is. It is not innocent, not insignificant, it’s not harmless even if you convince yourself at least it’s not on the level of murder. Behind the temptation is a lion seeking to devour you. Do you understand that? Satan is not playing.

Walk away. No! Run away! Your life depends on it.

 

Desperate (Psalms 89, 96, 100-101,105, 132)

So much praise in these psalms for our faithful, powerful, loving, deserving God! I hope you’ll read them and let them be the prayer of your heart.

Psalm 132 has me considering how desperate I am that God live in me.

I will not enter my house or go to my bed – I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob, (vv 3-5)

I wonder if  I am that focused on preparing my heart for the Presence of Almighty God. Do I provide His resting place, or do I invite Him into a cluttered, chaotic space? I wonder if God is comfortable in my heart? May it be so.

Lord, may You find Your resting place in me. Please create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Take away anything that would distract, anything that would compete, anything that would cause You discomfort. I want You to be at home in my heart, dear Lord. I won’t rest until You are.

What Am I Missing? (Joshua 16-18)

The thing that always hits me when I read these chapters is how the Jews allowed the enemy to survive, knowing God specifically said to destroy them completely. They not only allowed the enemy to survive, the enemy was allowed to co-exist with them in the towns God had given the Jews.

I am also struck when I read these chapters, and hear Joseph’s clan demand more land than what they’d been assigned. They said their numbers were too large to fit in that portion of land, so they needed more. Joshua called them out and, in effect, told them the problem wasn’t the amount of land. The problem was that Joseph’s clan was just too lazy, or too fearful to do what needed to be done. They had all the land they’d ever need – if they’d clear it.

Sure, the Canaanites were a formidable foe. But the Canaanites were no match for God’s army. Joseph’s clan just needed to quit whining and go to war.

God uses these chapters to ask me if I have allowed the enemy to co-exist in my life. Is there a sin I’ve gotten used to having around? Have I watched enough TV to be desensitized to the seriousness of sin? Do I turn my head and ignore sin in myself and/or in others close to me?

When I read these chapters God also reminds me there is land to clear. There are battles to be fought in order for me to enjoy the Promised Land of His Presence in my life; in order for me to embrace all of Him and receive everything He has in store for me. God reminds me I need to go to war.

It’s tempting to ask God for more of Himself, more blessings, more opportunity to serve Him, without even trying to defeat the enemy in our lives. People pray, “Heal our land,” when they should be praying, “Heal my heart.” People pray, “Send revival,” when our prayer should be, “Revive me.” The problem isn’t that we live in a sinful world. The problem is that we are sinful, living in this world.

When I read these chapters in the book of Joshua, I wonder what it is I am missing by not trusting God to help me take everything available to me through the blood of Jesus.  What blessings have I forfeited? What opportunities have I squandered? What joy have I missed?

Dear God, I want it all. I want everything a relationship with You can bring. I want to go to war against sin in my life. I want to clear my heart of any remnant of the enemy. Convict me. Break me. Strengthen me to win my battle over the enemy. Oh God, I don’t want to miss a thing.