Tag Archives: purity

Who Are Your Friends?

2 Chronicles 24

What kinds of people do you surround yourself with? The old saying, “You are who your friends are,” is true.

Ben Franklin, in his Poor Richard’s Almanac wrote: “If you lie with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

Studies show that people who hang out together eventually adopt each other’s clothing styles, opinions, hand and facial gestures, and even voice intonation. I bet you’ve noticed some of that in siblings. Do you recognize it in your group of friends? It’s probably there.

When King Joash hung out with Jehoiada the priest, he did amazing things for the Lord. The people restored the Temple under Joash’s leadership, and true worship of God was once again filling those walls.

But it seems the minute Jehoiada died, Joash moved on. He surrounded himself with the “leaders of Judah” (vs 17) and reinstated idolatry. The nation would suffer God’s judgment for that.

We ought to follow Jesus’ example. He went to sinners, ate with them in their homes, touched them. But He didn’t park there. He surrounded Himself with believers, those who had left their old way of life to follow Him.

Jesus commands us to GO and make disciples. But Scripture also tells us to be separate from unbelievers, to not neglect the fellowship with believers. We are told to join together as children of God so that we are ready to venture out into the world to share Jesus with the lost.

But we aren’t to look or sound like the world, not to accept or copy their sin.

I believe if we spend more time surrounded by non-believers, we run into the danger of looking and thinking like them. It’s human nature.

So again, what kinds of people do you surround yourself with? If your closest friends aren’t born again Christians, if you aren’t spending quality time in church and in small groups studying God’s Word with friends who will hold you accountable, you need to do better. Choose friends better.

You can pet a flea infested dog, you can feed it, and not get fleas. But if you lie down with a flea infested dog, you’ll get up with those little buggers on you.

And there’s a price to pay for that.

(I Corinthians 8-11) Who Is Your Example For Living?

Paul is one out of a handful of people who could confidently say, “Do as I do, AND as I say.” Not that he was perfect. He shared about his personal struggle with sin, confessed he had to intentionally die to himself every day. Paul never pretended the Christian walk was easy.

But Paul is an example of a man who was passionate about the Gospel of Jesus. He’s an example of someone whose own desires, needs, comforts, and popularity came in at a distant second to the Gospel. He was more concerned about the spiritual health of others than he was about whether or not he was compensated for ministering to them.

Say what you will about Paul, he was not a hypocrite. And he invites us to follow his example.

Passionate, focused, fearless, self-sacrificing are words that come to mind when I think about Paul’s example for living. Do any of those apply to me? Could I ever in a million years encourage you to follow my example?

The answer is, “NO!” Not out of humility, or the need to hear someone assure me how great they think I am. But because it’s true.

And I have to ask myself why, and what I’m going to do about it. Because as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and a believer in the Gospel, I ought to be an example for living to others. The whole “Do what I say, not what I do,” cannot be true in someone who wears Jesus’ name.

What about you? Who is your example for living? And for whom are you that example?

(Psalms 49-52) Going Through The Motions

The psalms are full of reminders that God isn’t interested in our “just going through the motions” kind of worship. He often asks the Jews, who were given the sacrificial system by God Himself, if they thought He actually needed those animals. He owns ALL the animals in the world, so why would they think He placed some special value on one of His own animals burning on an altar? The sacrificial system was never about the animal, except as a picture of Jesus. That sacrificed animal was about sin, about the sinner’s heart condition before Holy God.

Warren Wiersbe in his “Be Worshipful” commentary on the psalms said this in reference to 50:14-15):

“What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything. But the Lord doesn’t want ritualism or formalism. He wants our worship to come from the heart.” (David C Cook publisher; 2009; page 182)

I can hear all the contemporary worship proponents shouting WOOHOO! Told ya!

But haven’t we simply replaced tradition with a new tradition? We may have stopped worshiping with hymnals in front of us, but now we worship with screens in front of us. Where hands and heads used to be bowed in worship, we’ve replaced that with hands and heads lifted.

We’re told to smile, look joyful, move our bodies, be free (but they usually don’t mean you are free to worship with your head bowed and hands folded). We are no less concerned about ritualism, we have just changed how ritualism looks.

I believe that is no less offering God a “going through the motions” kind of worship than before. And I believe that is still worship that God rejects.

“Surely you desire integrity in the inner self…purify me…wash me…turn your face away from my sin…create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me...”(51:6-10)

“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit…” (vs 17)

Stop focusing on how people look when they worship. Stop organizing worship around what people like. We have got to focus on worshiping God with clean hearts, not upraised hands. We need to worship God in purity and not worry about whether people are clapping their hands or not.

You can have a rocking worship service, and still just be going through the motions.

The worship God accepts is only that which comes from people who have dealt with their sin problem first, who approach God in His holiness through the blood of Jesus. Clean hearts. Purified. Washed.

Anything else is ritual and formalism and simply going through the motions.

(Psalm 32) There Is Joy

Have you experienced the joy of sins forgiven? There is nothing like it, is there? Guilt gone, replaced by peace. Shame replaced with joy. Lies replaced with Truth.

Yet sometimes sin creeps in and begins to steal our peace and joy. We put smiles on our faces and lie to ourselves and others that we’re fine. But the truth is not in us.

Day and night God’s heavy hand of conviction is upon us, our strength, our resolve to follow God is drained. It isn’t until we confess our sins and receive the grace of God’s forgiveness that we can once again know the joy that comes from being absolutely clean.

Therefore, let everyone who is faithful pray immediately. (vs 6)

We must not let sin gain a foothold. The moment God brings a sin to our awareness, we must pray immediately. The longer we wait, the easier it is to wait, and the harder our hearts become the harder it is to repent.

Look to God who says, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” (vs 8)

Then, with David we can “be glad in the Lord and rejoice.”

There is joy for us who have been made clean by the precious blood of Jesus. I pray that you will know that joy today.

What About Today? (2 Chronicles 26)

I don’t care who you are, or how kind and giving you’ve been, or even if you have done great things in the name of the Lord. Sin is sin. And all sin comes with consequences. My sin. Your sin.

We see King Uzziah, a good king who obeyed God. During his reign Judah was blessed because of their obedience as they followed the king. People had jobs, the building industry was booming, the army was strong and well equipped, and Uzziah’s fame spread far and wide.

But as so often happens with us humans, Uzziah’s pride led to his downfall. Instead of being humbled by God’s blessings, the king became proud. And his sin led him to be unfaithful to God. I hope you’ll read God’s Word today and see what happened to him.

God didn’t give Uzziah a free pass just because he had obeyed God in the past. Uzziah sinned. And God punished the sin.

I was at a friend’s house yesterday and she had a plate of fresh fruit for us to nibble on. Colorful melons, plump, juicy grapes, tangy apples, berries that popped with flavor in my mouth. It was so refreshing on a 92 degree day in Pennsylvania.

Today I thought about that fresh fruit. It came at the hard work of farmers who planted and nourished and weeded and then harvested each melon, each bunch of grapes, each berry. Someone washed, then pealed, and cut the fruit she’d bought and displayed them on a serving platter. The end result of all that work was not only beautiful, it was so good!

But if you hid one rotten grape in the midst, one imperfect apple, one molded berry, it wouldn’t take long for that fresh fruit to rot, too. All the good work of those farmers wouldn’t prevent the fresh fruit from being ruined by just one rotten grape.

It’s interesting that if you put a healthy apple in a barrel of rotten ones, the barrel doesn’t become healthy. But if you put a rotten apple in a barrel of healthy ones, you’ll have a barrel of rotten apples in no time.

That’s like sin. The good things we did in our past, the times we were obedient to the Lord, brought us blessings at that time. Those blessings might still be felt years later. That’s how God works. But if you sin today, if you don’t obey God today, July 8, 2020, you will have put a rotten apple in your barrel of blessings.

The good king, Uzziah, died a leper. He was excluded from worshiping in God’s House toward the rest of his life, and couldn’t even be buried with the other kings because he’d been unclean. God did not give him a free pass just because he had been obedient in the past. Uzziah sinned that day, and didn’t deal with his sin.

So God did.

The same is true for each of us. My prayer is that all of us will deal with our sin problem today. Every time God brings a sin to our awareness, I pray we will fall on our knees and ask Him to forgive us. I pray that we will never be satisfied living with a sin, even just one.  Because one sin not confessed is a rotten apple that cannot help but spread.

You’ve been obedient in the past? Good! What about today?

November 14; To Change or Not To Change, That Is The Question

Acts 7:54-9:31

Simon believed he was someone great. He wasn’t the only one. It sounds like he had quite a following. His sorcery must have been amazing, because people even thought he was divine.

That is, until they heard Philip preach the “good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.” Many believed in Jesus, and were baptized – including Simon. Simon ended up following Philip around after that. Being a sorcerer, he was amazed at the miracles he saw Philip do.

Then when Simon witnessed Peter and John placing their hands on believers who then received the Holy Spirit, he wanted in on the action. He was willing to buy that ability. Peter recognized Simon for who he really was, and addressed Simon’s sin in no uncertain terms. “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right with God.”

Simon had believed in Jesus. But Simon was still the same old Simon. His heart had not changed.

Saul, on the other hand, was not only NOT a believer, he had dedicated his life to destroying the church by getting rid of anyone who did believe in Jesus. But his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed him.

Completely.

Saul became Paul who then dedicated his life to sharing Jesus with everyone, in hopes that everyone would believe. Paul’s belief in Jesus didn’t stop with the knowledge that Jesus is the Savior. Paul’s belief in Jesus changed his heart.

Do you believe? Scripture tells us even the demons believe, and shudder. (James 2:19). Belief is the first step, but it isn’t the only step.

If accepting Jesus as your Savior hasn’t changed you, let me suggest you check your heart. Is your belief head-knowledge, or a heart-changing, person-transforming, sin-defeating relationship with God Himself?

Change, or no change? That’s the question. And the answer is the difference between being a child of God, and being someone who has no part in His ministry, His kingdom.

Let your belief in Jesus change you.

June 1; Who Are You?

Proverbs 16-18

Solomon gives us a chance to do a spiritual exploratory surgery on ourselves. When you read these Proverbs, when you make each of them about you – what do you find? Who are you?

Proverbs 16 has us looking at our hearts, our motives, and attitudes. Are we committed to God, humble, loving and faithful, kind, honest, wise and discerning? Is what is in our hearts pure, so that what comes out of our mouths, and through our actions also pure?

Chapter 17 takes a closer look at our speech. Do we say wicked things? Do we lie, mock, gloat? Are we arrogant, gossips, quarreling people, perverse? Solomon says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Have we learned that truth for ourselves?

Proverbs 18 explores humility. Solomon calls prideful people unfriendly, fools, wicked, foolish. “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

God, through Solomon, tells that what is in our hearts is revealed by what we say and do. If I am prideful, is my heart pure? If I use vulgar language, or gossip, is my heart pure? If there is any wicked way in me, can my heart be pure?

I’ve had several surgeries in my lifetime, and I know it’s not pleasant. It hurts. But sometimes you just have to find what is making you unhealthy, and cut it out.

I hope you’ll do some spiritual exploratory surgery today. Who are you?

 

April 1; Completely

Judges 1:1-3:36; 17:1-13

One thing that stands out to me as I read about Israel’s take-over of the Promised Land is how easily they gave up. God had promised to GIVE them the land. Yes, they’d have to do their part and go to battle with the inhabitants. But those inhabitants were enemies of God. And He wanted them gone. He would give the Jews victory.

God’s instruction was for them to rid the earth of the inhabitants of Canaan – completely, Don’t let any of the evil survive. He even warned Israel that if they left any of the enemy remain, they’d be asking for trouble.

I count 17 cities – plus surrounding territories – where the Jews failed to eliminate the enemy. Ungodly people were allowed to live with God’s people, which was a total act of disobedience on their part. And by 3:6 we see that the Jews had intermarried with the enemy, and even served the enemy’s gods.

Why hadn’t the Jews rid themselves of the evil like God told then to in the first place? Sure the ungodly people were determined to remain on their own land in their own homes. Who could blame them? Sure, they were strong warriors with state of the art battle gear. But did Israel think any of that was too strong for God?

Why didn’t they step out in faith and let God do His thing, eliminate the sin that so easily entangles? They gave up on God.

I don’t know what sin God is revealing in your life. But I know He wants it gone. Completely. And I know that He is able to help you do the impossible, defeat the evil in your life. I believe God will give you victory – if you let Him.

What’s stopping you? Have you fooled yourself into thinking that one sin is no big deal? That you can handle it and not let it take over your life? Do you think eliminating the evil is too hard because you are too far gone? Or do you think God is either too weak, or too uncaring to defeat this enemy?

I believe God not only wants to, but can give you the victory over whatever sin He wants you to eliminate. Understand that if you decide to live with that sin, you’re asking for trouble. Serious trouble.

We’re going to see the results of allowing sin to exist in the lives of God’s people here in the book of Judges. They were one generation away from not even knowing God. That is the result of tolerating sin, of living with it, of not eliminating it from our lives…

Completely,

February 17; Guilty By Accident

Leviticus 5-7

I’ve been sitting here thinking about accidental sins, after reading these chapters in Leviticus. God tells us He takes those sins seriously. I confess I not only don’t take them seriously, I don’t give them a thought. I might have to reconsider that position.

J. Vernon McGee, in his Commentary on Leviticus 1-14 says this on page 64:

“We can’t be out in the world without becoming unclean by seeing things and hearing things and thinking things. We are unclean. We may not even realize that we have come in contact with the unclean. It may be hidden from us so we are not even aware of it. But we are not to rush into God’s presence until we are cleansed.” (Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, TN; 1991)

I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery and inadvertently read the cover of a magazine and saw the picture of a half -naked famous person. I didn’t pick it up to get a better look. I didn’t buy the magazine. In fact, I haven’t even thought about it until now.

The question I find myself asking is, can I be pure before my holy God with that picture in my mind? If I had gone on an internet site to purposefully view pictures like that I would have no problem identifying that as sin. But, God forgive me, I have that picture in my mind whether I meant to or not.

I John 1:9 tells us if we confess our sins God will be faithful to forgive our sins. But what if we don’t know we’ve sinned? Does God forgive sin even if we don’t confess? Are we guilty of sin when we sin, or when we know we’ve sinned?

Dear God, I am a sinner. I have pictures in my mind, thoughts going through my head, careless words coming out of my mouth, blowing off things I know I should do. I see things, hear things, think things that offend you. I sin. So, God, I ask you to forgive me the sins I commit without even knowing. Forgive anything that makes me impure. And if there are specific things you want me to deal with, please bring them to mind. I may sin accidentally, but I’m asking you to forgive me on purpose.

I Corinthians 6-10; Life in a Nutshell

Paul gives us many examples of what life should be for the Christian. And his descriptions are so politically incorrect, it’s almost laughable.

In his letter to the Corinthians he tells us Christians ought not to sweat the small stuff. We shouldn’t be making mountains out of mole hills. We shouldn’t be blowing up over trivial matters. The world is watching how we handle the small stuff. Does our example convict them, or does it validate their own bad behavior?

The Christian life should be pure. Yes, I know that’s an old-fashioned word. But purity should describe we who serve a Holy God. Again, the world is watching us. Do they see us with self-control, with unwavering morality? Or do they see the same depravity in us they see in themselves?

Christians should be content, faithful in marriage, busy serving God. If they see us sleeping around, divorcing because we fall out of love, or neglecting our families or our ministries, what is different about us than what they have in their own homes?

Paul challenges us again today to stop looking out for “number one,” and step aside for the benefit of others. Who cares if the new sanctuary color isn’t to your liking? Or if that lady in your Sunday School took your favorite pyrex dish home after the last pot-luck dinner? Who cares if Suzie got the choir solo you wanted to sing, or if you weren’t asked to sit on the AdMin committee again this year.

Get over yourself.

The world tells us to stop being a door-mat. The apostle seems to be telling us being a door-mat has its purposes.

Paul said he gave up so many rights to take on his ministry. He said he became whatever was needed in order to win people to the Lord. That must have been exhausting. He did it anyway. He denied himself a spouse, he turned down wages, he gave up the comforts of home. For what?

Time is running out, he told the Corinthians 2,000 years ago. And, friend, if time was running out then, it’s closer yet today. Paul didn’t have time to be self-absorbed when there were people who still needed the Lord.

Do we? Paul tells us to be single minded. Focus. You can’t live with one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in the world. Are you trying to make God mad? (10:22)

Life in a nutshell? Jesus said we are to love God and love our neighbor. (No mention of self-love, is there?) Paul tells us whatever we do, whether we are eating or drinking, “do it all for the glory of God.” (10:31)

Life in a nutshell is not about you.