Noticed by Men

April 29, 2010 at 8:23 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

Matthew 6:1-18.   I don’t really know why I preach.  Even I can’t sort out all the motives.  I have a passion for God’s Word; I want people to learn it, to know it and to apply it to their lives.  I want them to know God through his Word.  To this my life is dedicated.  However, when someone says it was a great sermon or that I am a good preacher, my pride swells, because I love to hear those things.  I get my strokes from such compliments.  So which is the real reason I preach?  I suppose both are true to some degree.  The passage I read this morning reminds me that every sermon preached for human feedback gets rewarded with nothing more than human feedback.  When my desire is to be noticed by men, then I have my reward in full.  Four times this passage talks about doing righteous things “to be seen by men” and what the reward for such activity is. (1, 2, 5, 16)  I realize that I am, at least in part, motivated by the attitude condemned here.

          I take comfort in two things:  First, I am saved by God’s grace and not by my pure motives.  Even the sin of selfish motivation is covered by the atonement of our Savior.  So in spite of my desire to be noticed by men, I am still God’s child.  I can only pray my motives grow more and more into what Jesus would desire.  Second, God’s Word will not return to him empty.  It does the work for which it was sent.  So even when I preach a sermon to get noticed, and getting noticed is my only reward, God can still use the truth presented in the lives of others.  Our amazing sovereign God has an incredible way of turning even our sin into something to be used for his glory.  It’s not about me; it’s all about Him!

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Bitter as Gall

April 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Wisdom | Leave a comment

Proverbs 5  This discourse on wisdom, the first nine chapters of Proverbs, lists some thieves that can rob us of wisdom.  They include things like acquiring debt (6:1-5); ignoring discipline (6:6-11); and using deception (6:12-15); causing dissention (6:19).  However, there is one thief more dangerous than all the others.  In fact, I am surprised that three of these nine chapters are dedicated to this one thing (5, 6, 7).  This dangerous wisdom taker is sexual immorality.  Of course, it is never presented that way in the media.  Sex is presented as exciting, fun, mature, and healthy.  In our culture, it is the fools who don’t participate.  However, God has a different measure of wisdom.  Read these chapters to get his mind on this critical subject.

          One of the protections against sexual sin is knowing the end results.  In this fifth chapter, those results are spelled out clearly:  bitter as gall; leading to death; at the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent … the brink of utter ruin; the evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of sin hold him fast; he will die for lack of discipline, lead away by his own great folly.  Read them again more slowly.  I don’t want to experience any of that.  Keep in mind the end results and the chance of sexual indiscretion is lessened.  I’ve seen too many men in my type of position ruined by one indiscretion.  I don’t want to be among their numbers.

          On the positive side, this chapter also tells us what we can enjoy about sex, and enjoy to the maximum.  Indeed, God created sex to be enjoyed in its proper context.  Rejoice in the wife of your youth; let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be captivated by her love.  I’m captivated by my wife, and I hope to always be.

The Lord Gives Wisdom

April 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Wisdom | Leave a comment

Proverbs 2 “The LORD gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  I often forget this; I live life as though wisdom could be attained by my own efforts.  Certainly the text says, “if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure,” but it first says, “If you cry for discernment and lift your voice for understanding ….”  All my efforts are nothing if I don’t cry out to God realizing true wisdom only comes from him.  The promises for those who do that are amazing: He holds victory for them; he guards, protects and shields their way; he saves them from wicked men; he saves them from adulterous and seductive women.  Those are the promises I want to live.  The key is working hard to seek wisdom coupled with crying to God because only he gives it.  God grant me that kind of wisdom.

The King’s Friend

April 13, 2010 at 9:17 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Wisdom | Leave a comment

I Kings 4:1-7 “King Solomon ruled over all Israel, and these were his chief officials.”  This passage contains the list of Solomon’s closest advisors – his cabinet.  The titles include priests, secretaries, recorder, and commander of the army; also listed are the men in charge of district officers, forced labor, and the palace; and there are twelve district governors.  These are not at all unusual, but the surprising thing to me about this list is one man titled the king’s friend!  “Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend.”  (v5 NASB) 

            If a president or king today appoints his close friend to a cabinet position, most might call it nepotism or personal favor.  But why shouldn’t a man in a trusted position have a close friend nearby to counsel him.  Maybe an old friend can keep a man’s head out of the clouds, can bring him down to reality, when the power of the position temps him to pride.  Rather than call it nepotism, maybe we should allow rulers to appoint one person to the position of “king’s friend.”  For that matter, all of us need a friend to keep our heads out of the clouds.

            I have in the past given the position of “friend” to some people; I have asked various men to be advisors or accountability partners.  Unfortunately, I have been burned two times by men who bailed out of the church I was pastoring without any warning to me why they were thinking that way.  Each was in the perfect position to counsel me on the matters with which they had problems, or to seek their own counsel, but those things never happened.  However, I still need accountability partners.  We are all in some positions of trust and need a “king’s friend” to keep us accountable.  I have recently been praying about who that might be.  Who is your “king’s friend?”

He Is Risen Indeed!

April 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Posted in False teaching, Questions for Pastor Glenn | 1 Comment

One Easter a young man in our conregation sent me the following note:

Dear Pastor Glenn,

            I read this article on MSN this morning.  Does it have any merit?  I know you studied the early church, so I was hoping to get your insight.  There are so many articles and opinions just flying around about Christ these days, most I’ve found are unsubstantiated, but it’s important for me to understand and try to decipher what’s true and what is not.

            http://www.slate.com/id/2249526/?GT1=38001

Thanks __________

Dear ________

            Thanks for your inquiry.  I appreciate your desire to discern the truth in these matters.  I will try to address the problems in this article as briefly as possible.  It might be best to look at a few major issues rather than the details of every point the author makes.

            The author begins by stating that “Christians in the first few centuries also had difficulty embracing the idea of a real, bodily resurrection.”  The first question you need to ask is what is his definition of a “Christian?”  If a Christian is anyone who claims to follow someone from the early First Century named Jesus, then everything he says in this article is true.  However, if a Christian is what the New Testament calls a disciple of Jesus, then there is much that isn’t true.  As an example, for some “Christians,” according to the article, “Jesus’ earthly body and his death were seen as illusory, the divine Christ merely appearing to have a normal body.”  But this is precisely what the New Testament claims is not a disciple of Jesus.  Read 1 John 4:1-6.  John wrote his letter against a Gnostic form of Christianity, saying it isn’t Christian at all.  Yet the article refers to these Gnostics as Christians (second page, second paragraph.  By the way, his point in this paragraph that those who believed in a bodily resurrection of Jesus were more willing to face martyrdom rather than acquiesce to the Romans is totally valid.  I just intend to show that he considers for his purposes that the Gnostics were valid Christians.)  Paul addresses a similar disbelief in 1 Corinthians 15:12-34.  Many of the NT letters were written to address misunderstandings of who Jesus really was or what he came to do.

            As one other example, the author states correctly that Judaism in Jesus’ day was divided over the question of resurrection.  As he says, the Sadducees were famous for their denial of any form of resurrection.  However, his inference that this division in Judaism carried over to the early Christians is mistaken.  In fact, it was the very idea of Jesus’ bodily resurrection that distinguished the genuine Christians.  I would point out how often the early church referred to the resurrection in their messages, particularly to Jews.  (In fact, every time they addressed the Jews they made reference to it – see Peter’s words in Acts 2:22-32; 3:15; 4:9-10; 5:29-32; and notice Paul’s trials in Acts 23:1-6; 25:17-21; 26:8)  It’s no wonder the Jewish authorities “were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4:2)

            Finally, I must point out that the real issue here, and, concerning all those theories about Christ, is one’s authority.  Or, stated more directly:  Are the NT documents reliable?  If they are, then there is no doubt about the bodily resurrection.  Those documents, without question, affirm Jesus’ death on the cross and his physically coming out of the tomb.  However, this matter is beyond the scope of this letter, and if that is a concern, it must be dealt with at another time.

            The article you referenced is introduced with these words “Easter Sunday represents the foundational claim of Christian faith.”  To that I say “Amen,”  and would add that without such a foundation, there is no Christian faith at all.  As Paul has said, “If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!”  (1 Corinthians 15:16-20)  He is risen indeed!

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