Lucia's Blog: 2020-03-01
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, March 6, 2020

THE ORIGIN OF SHAME AND EXCUSES

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?'  He said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself'"  
Genesis 3:7-10


Adam and Eve's eyes were opened, for they had acquired the knowledge of good and evil, but it was a knowledge that they wished they had never known.  God’s Word gives us discernment, and our eyes are opened to sin.  Today we call this the 'age of accountability’ or the age of understanding (Nehemiah 8:2-3).  Although man is often caught in sin, he seldom admits to it. He makes up all kinds of sorry excuses like Adam and Eve did. God always knows when we sin, the same way He knew when both Adam and Eve had sinned against Him.  God always does, and there is no way man can escape from Him.


I.   THE ORIGIN OF SHAME
  • Adam and Eve's Eyes Were Open:  (Genesis 3:7-10)
They have now acquired the knowledge of good and evil.  Now both Adam and Eve know, but wish they had never known.  As we mature and our conscience develops, and as we come to the age of understanding right and wrong through the discernment of God's Word, our eyes become open to sin.  Today we call this the 'age of accountability’ or the age of understanding.  Notice what Nehemiah says.
"Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law" (Nehemiah 8:2-3).

Understanding can only come with growth and discernment.
    • For Adam and Eve Knowledge Came Immediately:
This knowledge came fully grown at once just as they were created fully developed in an instant.  Take note that they were the first ones to experience Satan's lies and their dreadful consequences.

    • Both Adam and Eve Found Themselves Ashamed Before God and Man:
"They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:8-10). 

    • Nakedness Must Be Covered: 

What is the first thing that Adam and Eve realized when God called them?  That they were naked.  Their conscience was telling them they were wrong to be going around like that, naked. In other words, their conscience was accusing them.   In Romans 2:15, we read,  
"In that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them."

Only those who have the knowledge of good and evil and whose conscience has not been entirely seared have a sense of shame.  Likewise, they also recognize that they must cover up.
    • They Covered Their Loins:
Both Adam and Eve were aware of those parts of their bodies that needed to be covered.  When they realized they had to be covered, they made some coverings out of what was already available in the garden, mainly the leaves of fruit trees.  Can you see the effect of sin?  Notice that Adam was to dress and keep the garden, and now he found himself tearing at the trees to find something to cover himself with.  They covered their loins with leaves.  Adam and Eve knew something was wrong and that they had to do something.  They really did not know how to fix their problem.  They did the best they could think of at that moment.  They, in fact, thought they had done enough.  But until God called them, they did not realize that they had not really done enough.
    • Their Loins Were Not Covered Adequately Before God:
Adam and Eve thought they had covered themselves enough.  Therefore, they stopped adding more coverings to their nakedness.  But when they heard God was approaching them in the garden, they hid.  This leads me to the next questions:  If Adam and Eve had covered their loins enough, why did they hide when God called them?  What did Adam say in answer to God?  "Because I was naked, I hid."  Adam's knowledge of good and evil was enough.  This is what we ALL should do today.  If you are naked, do not exhibit yourself in public!  Evidently, both Adam and Eve knew they were not presentable.  Moreover, they knew that what they were wearing (covered with) was in no way appropriate and acceptable in the presence of God.  They were still naked.  So why is it that many think nothing at all of presenting themselves before God and man in the worst fashions of undress or even in unblushing nudity today?  The knowledge of the evil of public nakedness has been lost in these people.
    • They Tried to Hide From God:
Have you noticed that the guilty always flee?  Even when no one is pursuing them.  In Proverbs 28:1, we read, 


"The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion."

Although they tried to escape from God seeing and knowing their nakedness, God knew.
"How long is the land to mourn and the vegetation of the countryside to wither?  For the wickedness of those who dwell in it, animals and birds have been snatched away, because men have said, 'He will not see our latter ending."'  Jeremiah 12:4
"Am I a God who is near,' declares the Lord, 'And not a God far off?  'Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?' declares the Lord.  'Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?' declares the Lord.  'I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘'I had a dream, I had a dream!'"  Jeremiah 23:23-25

Today many behave in the same way as Adam and Eve or even worse because they don't have any reservations about parading their nakedness before the eyes of men and God.  They make no efforts to hide it.  They pretend that God can not see and does not know about their sins.
    • God Later Provided Them With Adequate and Lasting Cover:
"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."  Genesis 3:21
Although they knew that they had to wear something else that was more appropriate, they did not come up with the right answer.  So God gave them proper clothes.  God made them durable clothes to wear that were also modest.  It covered them properly.  And though they had covered their “loins,”  God made them garments called “tunics” or coats.  This was new to them.  It was proper clothing in both material and amount of body covering.  People in some parts of the world still wear this kind of robe as their typical clothing.
    • They Tried To Hide Their Sinful State:
Their nakedness was only part of what they were trying to hide.  They knew they were naked because they had disobeyed God.
"Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom."  Job 31:33
And although Adam tried to attribute his hiding to modesty, that was not all there was to it.  His biggest problem was guilt because he had sinned.  God knew they had sinned, yet they hid, hoping He would not find out or notice them.  The truth of the matter is that God always knows.  He always has and always will.
"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."  Proverbs 28:13
Adam tried to blame his sin on someone else like so many after him have done when they get caught.


II.   THE ORIGIN OF EXCUSES:

Although man is often caught in sin, he seldom admits to it.  He makes up all kinds of sorry excuses like Adam did.

"And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'  The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.'  Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'  And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate."'  Genesis 3:11-13
  • God Knew They Had Sinned:
    God always does, and there is no way that man can escape from Him.  Not only does God know that we have all sinned, but He has directly told us so, making us aware.
    "As it is written, 'There is none righteous, not even one."'  Romans 3:10
    "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23
    Yet, so many deny it.
    "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."  I John 1:8-10
    "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."  I John 2:1

    Like Adam, many today avoid the real question of why they sinned.  Man always evades serious problems by focusing on less serious problems.  Isn't it true?  What man does not realize is that this is a carnal and evasive tactic, and it will definitely not work with God.  In Adam's case, God confronted Adam with his sin.  God cannot be fooled or be distracted.  Let us take heed!
    "Then He said to me, 'The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, 'The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!'  But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.'"  Ezekiel 9:9-10
      • Man Tried to Blame Woman:
      "The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.'"  Genesis 3:12

      Even though Adam had received Eve, his wife, as a great gift from God, he, after a short time, accused Eve, this gift of God.  What Adam did not realize was that he was accusing God himself for the wrong that he had done.  This is amazing!
      "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.  The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.'  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.'"  Genesis 2:18-24

      Take note that when he accused Eve, Adam did not speak of her as his "beloved wife," but instead, he said, "the woman."  It is amazing to me how sin affects our relationships, even the dearest ones, by turning our hearts cold.  This reminds me of those that because of their cold hearts denied our Lord Jesus even when He had been so gracious to them. 

      Adam ungraciously admitted to his sin, not from conscience but only because he was caught.  Does this sound familiar?
        • Woman Blamed, After a Fashion, God Also:
        "Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'"  Genesis 3:13

        When God dealt with Eve, she also immediately blamed someone else.  She said it was the serpent's fault.  Notice that Eve did not mention tempting Adam and getting him to also eat.  She even went ahead and said, "Yeah, but it is not all my fault."  Isn't it something that man loves to blame others instead of himself?  Today, many hide from their guilt by saying that their parents were bad, and they had a difficult childhood.  They find excuses for their sinful behavior instead of repenting.  This perverse impulse is nothing new:
        "Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge’?  As I live,' declares the Lord God, 'you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore.  Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die."'  Ezekiel 18:1-4

        God had told them to stop sinning.  He is telling us the same thing today.  As sorry as Adam and Eve's excuses were (and you can be sure they were sorry excuses to God), my excuses and your excuses for the sins we commit are just as sorry.  Take heed!  Even worse still, all of our excuses are old and worn out!  They don't even have the novelty of being as original as theirs were!
        • Excuses Don't Excuse:
          In spite of all of Adam and Eve's excuses to justify sin, they lost Eden, the garden.  Consider the following:
          "Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.  But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.'"  I Samuel 15:20-21

          In the New Testament, the lawyer who questioned Jesus tried to justify himself.  What he did not know was that he was still guilty:
          "And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'  And He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?'  And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.'  And He said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.'  But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"  Luke 10:25-29

          What did the lawyer say to justify himself to Jesus?  He said, "And who is my neighbor?"

          So often, our confessions are more an account or announcement of sin rather than genuine repentance.  We must be ashamed of our sins, mourn them, and confess them, forsaking our transgressions to find mercy from God.  Remember, God searches, He sees, and He knows the heart of man and He cannot be fooled.
          "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."  Proverbs 28:13


          CONCLUSION:

          God's patience has a limit.  He will put up with our shameful excuses only for so long.  When God gives us instructions to follow, we must obey them rather than making excusesGod will not accept our excuses.  So we must stop making excuses and start obeying Him.  So when you are tempted to make excuses and ignore what God has commanded you to do, remember that God refused to excuse Himself from sending His Son; that Christ refused to excuse Himself from going to the cross and dying a cruel death; that the Holy Spirit refused to excuse Himself from revealing to us through the Bible how to be saved;  that the apostles and early Christians refused to excuse themselves from sharing the Gospel and doing God's will for salvation (even at the cost of losing their lives); and finally that many throughout history did not allow any excuses to keep them from obeying the Gospel to be saved. Salvation must be important, eternity is forever, our souls are very precious, the wages of sin is death, the devil is so ravenous, and this world of darkness is so wrong that we must remove all the excuses and barriers that stand in the way of our salvation.  Remember that wrong is always wrong.  So don't make excuses and repent. 

          As sorry as Adam and Eve's excuses were and how pathetic they must have seemed to God, my excuses and your excuses for sinning are just as sorry. Even worse still, all of our excuses are old and worn out through centuries of misuse by our ancestors. They don't even have the novelty of being original as they were when Adam and Eve used them. Excuses don't excuse! Despite all of Adam and Eve's excuses to justify their sin, they lost Eden, the Paradise Garden. Many years later, King Saul tried to justify his disobedience in the same way when the prophet Samuel corrected his sin (1 Samuel 15:20-21).

          When we come face to face with our sins, it is not a confession when we say or imply, "So what?" A true confession proceeds from genuine repentance and godly sorrow. We must confess and forsake our transgressions to find mercy from God.  Remember, God searches the heart. He sees and knows the heart of man and cannot be mocked!

          Therefore, let us stop making excuses and do our best as those who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9-12).  Let us resolve to live in newness of life in Christ Jesus, in the regeneration of our mind and soul (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:18; Ephesians 4:21-24; Colossians 3:10; Galatians 2:20;1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 8:2-6).  Likewise, let us stop making excuses and start walking in "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," which frees us from "the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). We must "fulfill the law of Christ." Let us start walking in "the fruit of the Spirit," which can produce in us the qualities of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  The Spirit influences men today by the Spirit-inspired Word (2 Peter 1:21).  Thus, let us stop making excuses, walking in the desires of the flesh, but let's engrave God's Word in our hearts and not use our liberty as a license to sin! (Galatians 5:16-25).

          May we never make excuses before God for our transgressions, but rather repent from a sincere heart.  May we never compromise our faith, making excuses for our sinful behavior.  May we always remember that wrong is always wrong, and sin is always sin, even when others approve of it and say it's okay. 

          Luci

          Thursday, March 5, 2020

          THE CALAMITY OF A FAILURE OF THE HEART


            "Nathan said to David, 'You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house... 13 David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said to David, 'The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.' 15 Then Nathan went to his house.'"
           2 Samuel 12:7-15


          We all have sinned and some more than others. One of the hardest things for us to do is to confront just how bad our sins are before our Holy God and truly weep for our sins.  Even when our God has forgiven us of our sins, the consequences of such sins are far-reaching and can change the course of our lives.  Let us notice the history of SIN in a forgiven man named David.

          2 Samuel 11-12 provides the background for Psalm 51 and the sin that David confesses.  This Psalm expresses David's great pain and godly sorrow after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, for David could not get away with his many sins.  Psalm 51 is the prayer that David lifted to God after the prophet Nathan confronted him with his adultery.  This is one of the most moving and powerful Psalms ever written.  In this Psalm, we see a man who is broken because of his sins and thus is pleading to God for forgiveness.  It presents to us a great insight into David's spiritual recovery from a place of denial, arrogance, and callousness toward God's laws.  David recognized that God's revealed character is one of love and compassion.  God has revealed Himself as the compassionate and gracious God who forgives sin.  David called upon God based on His merciful character and unfailing love (lovingkindness) toward those who fear Him and do His will.  Anyone who has ever felt the weight and the guilt of sin and the need for God's forgiveness can identify well with this Psalm.  What other pleas can a sinner make before an almighty and righteous God?

          In Psalm 51, we see the darkest picture of sin.  There can be no more tragic circumstances than the ones we see here.  Sins have piled up, one on top of another, creating an enormous mountain of wickedness.  It was so big and evil that it tested the strength of God's grace.  We also see a shameful picture of adultery, lying, murder, denial of guilt, and other sins to the point of consciously breaking half of the Ten Commandments It cannot get worse than that!!  

          You see, David was not caught up in circumstances beyond his control, for he had a choice. He had complete control over them.  He concealed his sin by plotting to use the battle as a cover for murdering the husband of his lover.  One sin that is committed and not repented of usually leads to more sins, making us a slave to sin.  This was David's case, for his slavery of sin finally crushed him when he was confronted.  Until then, David failed to have the courage to confess his sin and be broken with godly sorrow.  Nathan looked David straight in the eye and said to him, “You are the man!”  Nathan had to confront him with his sin to make David aware that God knew what he had done, he had sinned against Him.


          I.   DAVID'S DOWNFALL:

          One of the hardest things for us to do is to confront just how bad our sins are before our Holy God and truly weep for them.  Indeed, the guilt of sin is a heavyweight.   A broken man weeps bitterly over his sins and repents before his God, for he recognizes his spiritual poverty before Him. Even when our God has forgiven us of our sins, the consequences of such sins are far-reaching and can change the course of our lives.  The Lord exalts the one who keeps his heart pure with all diligence in a meek and lowly manner (Psalm 24:3-4).  The effort of a man can be hindered by one moral failure of the heart.  David is an example of someone who lost the ability to rule with authority when he fell into sin. His strength and effectiveness, both as a father and as a king, were fundamentally compromised.  He lost the respect of his people and children.  David became a compromiser when his closest friends and family committed the most unspeakable crimes.  David never got beyond the shadow of his ill, committed sin with Bathsheba!

          • David's Sin with Bathsheba:  (2 Samuel 11-12)
          A much older man now, David sends his army to go fight against the Ammonites while he decides to stay home in Jerusalem.  David's biggest mistake was to remain at home rather than going to battle like most kings did.  One afternoon after his nap, he decided to walk around on the roof of his house. While he was there, he saw a beautiful woman from his roof that was bathing on another nearby roof.  He was enticed by her beauty.  He immediately sent someone to inquire about this woman.  He learned that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a fine warrior in David's army.  But David had a problem!  He had gotten used to having whatever he wanted in regards to women, so without hesitation, he sent for her and committed adultery with her, and she became pregnant.  

          To make matters worse, when David found out about her pregnancy, he tried to cover it up.  He sent for Uriah to return so that it might appear that Bathsheba was pregnant by him.  But David underestimated Uriah. Uriah was extremely loyal to David and to his fellow soldiers and refused to go to his house and enjoy the company of his wife.  He argued that since his men could not go to their wives since they were in battle, neither would he. This was David’s own usual standards,
          "David answered the priest and said to him, 'Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?"'  (I Samuel 21:5) 

          When David's men were in battle, they were supposed to abstain from their wives.

          A frustrated David decided to sustain his cover-up one step further in a horrible way:  he sent a message to Joab by the hand of Uriah demanding that he place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle knowing that by doing this he would die.  His evil strategy worked.  Uriah died, leaving behind his widow, Bathsheba. When Bathsheba heard the news, she mourned him.  After the mourning was over, David did not waste time. He married her immediately.  By the way, she becomes his favorite wife.  She bore him a son.
          "But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord"  (2 Samuel 11:27).

          When this sad and sorry story is over, David had to be rebuked by God when He sent His prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1-15).  The prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin, and his tortured guilty conscience. David, a man after God's own heart, thought himself above the Law of God, setting aside his principles of righteousness, scruples, and ethics to feed his selfish desire.  His biggest mistake was to look at a woman with lust in his heart, Bathsheba, while she was bathing.  Not only did he lust after her, but he brought her into his palace and began an adulterous affair with her.  When she got pregnant, he tried to cover up his sin by bringing Uriah home from battle, but Uriah, a godly man, refused to come home to his wife, so David ordered him to the front lines of the siege and the other soldiers secretly to withdraw so that he was struck down in the battle.

          According to God's faithfulness, God gave David enough time to acknowledge his sin and examine what he had done and to come to Him in full repentance.  Sadly, David, like so many, had closed his eyes to the evil he had committed and hardened his heart toward God.  You see, nine months had gone by, and it was time for David to face the Truth.  God sent Nathan to pierce David's heart with conviction and godly sorrow.  Nathan told the story that led David to conclude that his sin demanded punishment.  Nathan's story is one of the most impressive sermons!  Nathan's presentation portrays a rational understanding of rebellion and disobedience.  He speaks with smoothness and precision, and David cannot help but follow it to its conclusion.  But he found himself surrounded by a pronounced verdict.  The outcome was unavoidable.  So when David declared what must be done in this scenario of lawlessness, he looked up to see Nathan's finger pointing at his heart with the prophet announcing, “You are the man!”  God's heavy hand of Truth had fallen on David, so he had no place to hide or turn to but to repentance.  He had two choices to make:  harden his heart or humbly repent.  So David said, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Sam. 12:13a).  For a long time, he had tried to hide his sin. He had lied, had committed murder, but he could not escape this powerful sermon preached by Nathan.  Full repentance requires hearing, understanding, judgment, personal application, and turning.

          Notice that David had all the wives he needed or wanted, but Uriah had only one.  This portrays a David not content or satisfied with all of God's blessings toward him.  He had God's protection and a great abundance of possessions.  Instead of being grateful for what he had, he behaved as an ungodly man taking from Uriah, a godly man, the one thing he had, his wife, Bathsheba.  How sad that David had fallen so low just to please the desires of his flesh!  

          The guilt of sin weighs heavily on the heart, soul, and mind of man.  Some sins bring a heavier weight to the soul than others.  It is a deep pain that almost everyone has felt in his life as he tries to serve God faithfully.  After David had heard the sentence for his sins, he repented admitting his sins before His God.  Here, we see a broken David who had truly repented.  David confronted his own sin giving no excuses and no lies. He realized that according to the Law, there was no sacrifice that he could offer for his sins; only the penalty of death, Leviticus 20:1024:17, Deut. 22:22.  In Psalm 51, David expresses his deep sorrow and his tortured conscience because of his actions. He teaches us how we ought to deal with our sins.  David acknowledged his sins and his deep need for forgiveness.  His plea is based on God's mercy, unfailing love, and compassion.  He does not rely on self and his past service to God, or how good he was as a king but instead with devastation and brokenness of heart and soul.  And though David had failed God through sin, God did not fail but continues with mercy, love, and compassion upon him and those who rely on Him.  David recognized his spiritual condition before an all righteous God.  So he cries out to God for His mercy, for he has lived in the dark prison of guilt. He needed restoration and reconciliation from God to be whole again.  Without God, we are lost, lonely, hopeless, guilty, and have no purpose in life.

          God's restoration is forgiveness, a clean heart, fellowship with Him, joy, the recovery of godly influence, and, most of all, a life that God approves.  After David had admitted his sins, Nathan gave him the final sentence of God's judgment because of his transgressions saying,
          "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."   

          Because of this transgression, David's family was going to be shaken to the core.  The son of Bathsheba would die, and David’s other sons would pay bitterly for his transgression.  Even his own wives were going to be harmed.  David felt so broken by his transgression that he said,

          "For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise"  (Psalm 51-16-17).

          This is the very essence of what God wants.  God wants our hearts and not our sacrifices. That is, He wants our heart to be right more than He wants our sacrifices.  He wants contrite and sincere hearts that will listen to Him.  An honest heart seeks His approval, for he wants to do His will.   Such a heart is willing to surrender to God's will in full obedience. Such a heart will stay with God no matter what because he is willing to endure with faithfulness and determination.  Our worship to God is useless if our hearts are not broken over our short-comings, desiring to do right and be devoted to Him.  Our good works and our service to God are meaningless if we do not have a broken and contrite heart toward God.  All that we do in word and deed must come from the love of our hearts. Otherwise, it will be despised.  God will only delight in our worship when our heart is humble and devoted to Him.  Even under the Law of MosesGod demanded sacrifices that rise from hearts that were righteous and obedient to Him.  

          God wants a broken and contrite spirit.  He will welcome it and rejoice over it.  A man whose heart is broken surrenders and accepts responsibility for his sins. Such a heart destroys his strong will and allows God to rule in his heart.  It does not allow his heart to become calloused by sin.  A broken heart admits the errors and sins and is sorrowful, desiring to make changes and move forward in a true relationship with God.  A broken heart does not allow guilt to eat him away but longs to do God's will. The broken heart accepts accountability for the guilt of his sins, for it has godly sorrow.  A broken heart submits to God and His rule, walking the straight path of righteousness.  Therefore, our hearts must break with sorrow for our sins to receive forgiveness.  God will respond to our brokenness with grace when we humbly confess our sins and surrender to Him and His will.  A contrite heart accepts that change must happen, sincere repentance, to dwell with God.  He wants to obey God's lawsGod will only give salvation and grace to the brokenhearted and poor in spirit.

          Sadly, even though God had forgiven David, he still had to pay the terrible consequences for his sin. His son died seven days later, despite his fervent prayers.  A broken David did not get angry with God when his son died but rather worshiped Him.  What a different David!  His brokenness had molded him into a much greater man!

          David and Bathsheba had a second son who, in fact, received two names:  Solomon, meaning "His Peace" and Jedidiah meaning "loved by God."   Something that caught my attention is that the dead son was unnamed, while the second son was blessed receiving two names.  Interesting!

          After this tragic episode, David returned to doing what a king must do.  He led Israel against the Ammonites. Unfortunately, some of his sons were now old enough to start causing serious trouble for him.


          CONCLUSION:

          In reading and studying about King David, I learned that men must lead with integrity and keep their hearts pure before the Lord.  The reigns of David and his son Solomon were two of the greatest in all of Israel's history. We can learn from their lives the difference that it can make to be a man after God's own heart. Such a heart makes a big difference in our own lives. The measure of a man's greatness is the measure of his heart.  God does not value a man's heart according to his riches, status, stunning deeds of valor and glory, but according to the attitude of a man's heart toward Him. From the historical record of these two kings, we can fully understand the difference that it makes.

          The guilt of sin weighs heavily on the heart, soul, and mind of man.  Some sins bring a heavier weight to the soul than others.  Sin in our life is the transgression of God's will, rebellion against Him, and iniquity. Sin reduces man to a puppet in the hands of Satan and unrighteousness.  It crushes those who indulge in it.  Brokenness of sin accepts personal responsibility for what we have done.  Sinners must come to the point of having a broken heart over their sins with a heart that grieves for hurting God. Every time we sin, we need to make things right with those we have sinned against, but especially before our Father in heaven!  Isn't that the breach that must be healed at all costs?  Isn't that what our God wants from us, a deep cleansing, purging, and discipline of our inner heart?

          Since God is righteous and holy, any sin is against Him.  My sins not only hurt God, but they also hurt others and, of course, myself.  My sins separate me from God and corrupt my relationship with those around me.  My sins cannot be excused, rationalized, or blamed on others or circumstances.  Since no one can forgive himself of sin's stain and guilt, God has to do it.  So we must approach Him on His own terms to find forgiveness or pardon.  Sin must be dealt with God's ways for true peace and reconciliation to happen.  It is then that we can sing again because of God's way of salvation.  We must face our sinfulness with brokenness and lay our sins at God's feet.  Remember, sin stands between God and us, between our joy, and our righteousness.  Nothing can remove our sins except God's grace, the precious blood of His Son.  Only when we bring our brokenness and transgression to God, do we find the forgiveness that our hearts are craving for.

          Though the heart can be mended and forgiven, God will not allow anyone to mock Him, and there will be drastic consequences for those who keep practicing unrighteousness, lawlessness (Gal. 6:7).  He is a God of justice who demands righteousness and sanctification in our lives!  There is no other way with God!  Even though He is a merciful God who forgives us, there are many scars and consequences caused by our sins.  When a man turns his heart away from God, the cost he has to pay is enormous!  When David found himself judged by God because of his sin and while God heard his crying voice of repentance, God nonetheless judged him for his sin, requiring the life of his son.  The end result of David's sin was God's condemnation and a season of strife among his royal family.  

          The Lord exalts the one who keeps his heart pure with all diligence in a meek and lowly manner.  David wrote, 
          "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?  He who has cleaned hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully"  Psalm 24:3-4.

          The effort of a man can be hindered by one moral failure of the heart.  David is an example of someone who lost the ability to rule with authority when he fell into sin. His strength and effectiveness both as a father and as a king were fundamentally compromised.  He lost the respect of his people and children.  It is sad to see David once as a man full of discernment between right and wrong, and willing to confront evil, turn into a man who had no judgment or insight about right and wrong! David became a compromiser when his closest friends and family committed the most unspeakable crimes.  David never got beyond the shadow of his ill committed sin with Bathsheba.

          One sin that is committed and not repented of usually leads to more sins, making us a slave to sin.  This was David's case, for his slavery of sin finally crushed him when he was confronted.  Until then, David failed to have the courage to confess his sin and be broken with godly sorrow.  Nathan looked David straight in the eye and said to him, “You are the man!”  Nathan had to confront him with his sin to make David aware that God knew what he had done; he had sinned against Him.  Though the heart can be mended and forgiven, there will be drastic consequences for life.  Thus we must guard and keep our hearts pure against sin.  

          A man whose heart is hypocritical will destroy the honor and respect of his children and those around him. David's biggest heartache was felt in the lives of his sons and daughter. The relationship between Absalom and Amnon became malignant when Amnon practiced treachery similar to that which his father committed against Uriah the Hittite.  On the other hand, we see Solomon, who offered pearls of wisdom on the importance of guarding the heart, yet he himself lived a life of lies and lost the hearts of those whom he sought to win for the Lord. When a man calls for purity in the lives of his children and those around him, he must model it in his own life!

          Guarding the heart is a life-long commitment. We must never stop purifying our hearts.  God demands that we walk in righteousness and sanctification.  Let us not end up like David and Solomon. Although they were known as men with faithful hearts, each failed during critical moments during their reign, changing the course of history forever because of their duplicity. Therefore, we must heed the charge that both men put into words.
           "Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life"  (Proverbs 4:23).  

          Let us always remember David's cry as part of our walk with God.
          "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139:23-24)

          May our Lord help us to guard and keep our hearts pure with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.

          Luci

          Wednesday, March 4, 2020

          WALKING BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT

           "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  
          2 Corinthians 5:7



          The Lord’s coming will be like a thief in the night. It will be a total surprise for those who do not watch for Him. Even when we are watching, we are sometimes caught off guard by unexpected mishaps. It will often be a moment of “glory,” but it might be when we are tired or weak. They are humbling experiences, but they test the metal of our character.

          God is glorified in our weaknesses, and His joy is our strength.  There are days, moments, and seasons in our lives when God takes us by surprise.  This surprise may feel like a big blow to our dreams, hopes, and expectations.  We may not even be conscious of it at that moment, but often those big surprises require us to lay ourselves at His feet and surrender to Him and the unknown.  At times, I just have to smile and shake my head!  Of course, this is God's plan and purpose for my days. It is then that I become aware that I must remove my thoughts of fear and trust Him, knowing in my heart without any hesitation, that this is His plan and the path that He has placed before me.  I must conclude that God has different plans for us as the years unfold.  This demands a lot of faith!  Faith not in ourselves and our abilities, but faith in our Jesus who loves us and walks with us in the path of life, a path filled with His Grace.

          Christians make a life-changing commitment to love and follow Christ, but often fail to live in the fullness that God has purposed for them.  On such occasions, we must recommit our faith.  We must never forget that the only thing that is worth holding on to in our lives is our faith.  We must choose to put our faith in Christ throughout our lives, trusting that He is the Author of good things and the Giver of life even when our lives are not going the way we have planned.

          In Hebrews 11:1 we read,
          "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  

          There are times in our lives when things don't look encouraging, when life is full and chaotic. We feel inadequate!  But it is at this moment that we know and must be conscious that our faith is being put to the test even though we cannot see the purpose.  It is hard to be confident in God while our path unfolds before us, and the circumstance or perhaps our mental state is bigger than we can imagine.

          When the storms of life hit us, they almost always appear to be stronger to us than God's Word.  We cannot afford for a moment to allow our perceptions to control us!  This can be very deceptive and damaging! So, my question is, what are we going to do when circumstances strike us putting fear in our hearts?   Where is our faith?  God wants us to trust Him with all of our mind, soul, and heart without hesitation.  It is here that we must be of good courage, knowing that we must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  This pleases our Father in heaven.

          I find myself often asking God for the faith that I will need to trust Him in my life.  And then I realize I must live in a state of humility amid my humanity.  This is powerful!  God intends for us to live in fellowship with Him.  He wants me to trust His Grace because His Grace is sufficient for all I am lacking.
          "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me'" (2 Corinthians 12:9).  

          Walking by faith is not the easiest road to take.  It may not seem to be a road that makes any sense from the outside, but there are so many blessings filled with God's presence and faithfulness, building our faith stronger and stronger as we draw nearer and walk closer to Him, the Author of all good things.

          As we walk this path of life, we must turn our hearts and fix our eyes on Him, even as we face the unseen, walking by faith alone.  If we walk not by sight, our vision becomes much more focused.
          "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him"  (Hebrews 11:6).  

          Is God asking you to trust Him perhaps today, with the assurance of things unseen?  Remember, God gave His only begotten Son so that we may boldly live our lives, trusting Him instead of what is right in front of us.

          May our Lord help us to walk our path of life by faith, trusting in His goodness and His Grace with that assurance of things unseen, believing that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

          Luci

          Tuesday, March 3, 2020

          ACCEPTABLE IN HIS SIGHT

          "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.  13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.  14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."
          Psalm 19:12-14


          How does God persuade a fleshly, sin enslaved people to look up and see the glory of righteousness? Once upon a time, He thundered on the mountain, then set it on fire and sounded a supernatural trumpet so loud that they could not help but tremble and fall on their faces in His presence. In a peaceful way, Psalm 19 reaches out to us by displaying the glory of God's Laws, which lead us into righteous living.

          The Word of God, the Words of Christ, can save us from our sins.  But we must obey all things (Matt. 28:18-20), honor His authority over us (Matt. 28:18), love Him, and fear Him with all reverence and show others the way to heaven through His Word and our godly example (Matt. 5:16).  Jesus came as the ultimate expression of God's Word so that now we are without excuse. Let us marvel at His majestic Word and tremble in His presence.


          I.  GOD'S REVELATION THROUGH HIS WORD (LAW) DEMANDS A RESPONSE:

          • Response to God's Revelation:   (Psalm 19:12-14)

            • "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults" (Verse 12).  

          Psalm 19:12-14 is a prayer for forgiveness, with the confession of sins.  Here David is asking for the forgiveness of his sins.  Indeed, David acknowledges he has committed sins, many faults, and that he has made many errors in his life.  He admits to his faults, flaws, and shortcomings, and so must we.  David needs God's forgiveness.  Moreover, David is not just concerned about those sins he is aware of but asks God to cleanse him from his hidden faults and sins.  We need to have David's heart and ask God humbly to point out to us not only those flaws, faults, shortcomings, and sins in our life that we are aware of but all those things that in our day to day walk, we fail to acknowledge as sin (hidden faults).  How often do we fall short of loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?!  How often do we fail God because we don't love our neighbor as ourselves?!  How often do we fall short when we fail to show the love of Christ with compassion to the lost, helpless, and hopeless?!  How often do we fall short when we mistreat others?!  It is easy to ignore how we treat others.  It is easy for us to offend others without even acknowledging that we have done something wrong.  

          David is clearly aware that he has fallen short, even in ways that he is not aware of.  For all those times, he humbly asks forgiveness, and so must we!  We must examine our hearts and purge all such terrible attitudes from our hearts before our Almighty God.  And though we might not lie, steal, curse or lust, we're still falling short when we fail to love God and our neighbor completely. Why?  Because our attitude of heart does not reflect Christ living in us.  And since we all have hidden faults, we are constantly in need of God's forgiveness.
          "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

            • "Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression" (Verse 13). 

          In verse 13, David is praying for God's deliverance from future sins.  He is asking God's help to give him victory over sin.  He likewise is asking God to keep him from sinning and rebelling against God. We all need to humbly approach God's throne for strength to overcome the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life.  David's words, "Let them not rule over me," are the appropriate response to God's revelation.  Paul also said,
          "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace"  (Romans 6:14).  

          Therefore, sin must not be our master, for sin must not rule over us with its sinful desires.  We must not surrender to our weaknesses!  Just as David prayed to God in his own life to help him overcome sin, we should pray to God the same way. Under no circumstances must we let sin rule over us and be our master.  Since God has delivered us from the slavery of sin, let us not turn back to it.  Who are we going to allow to rule our lives and our hearts?  God or Satan?  We must be wise to make the righteous choice.  David acknowledged he was God's servant, and therefore he asks God to help him from turning aside that he might be blameless and innocent of many transgressions.


            • "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer"  (Verse 14).  

          In verse 14, David is praying to be acceptable and pleasing to God with his mouth and heart.  God judges our actions and motives.  He also searches our hearts to see if our motives and attitudes are in harmony with His righteous will.  He demands that our hearts be clean in His sight.  A heart without actions is worthless, as is our faith without works.  No sacrifices are greater than our heart's obedience to God.  We must examine and judge the motives and intentions of our hearts, for God is judging our hearts.  God not only demands a good heart but a heart that bears good fruit to His glory.  Remember, Uzzah had the right motive when he reached out and touched the Ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6, but God struck him dead for violating His Law.  Do not forget that we are accountable to God for our actions.  Therefore, we must examine our actions, our deeds, to make sure we're walking the path of righteousness in the sight of God.  Let our prayer be three things:  
          1. Forgiveness of past sins.
          2. Deliverance from future sins and 
          3. The cleansing, transformation of our hearts and tongues, that we might be acceptable and pleasing to God.  
          God has already revealed His will, glory, power, and laws to us that we may walk the straight path of righteousness in complete obedience to Him.


          CONCLUSION:

          The more we understand God's Word, the more our sins will be manifested.  God's Word will show us our faults, shortcomings, sins, and everything that is against God's righteousness.  God's Word can cleanse us from the filth of sin and restrain us from committing sin.  It is through the Word of God that we can be blameless (our words and thoughts) and be acceptable to God.  It is in the understanding of the Word of God that His Precepts are right.  His Word is never wrong.  It is our everlasting foundation where our hearts can stand firm for eternity.  The Bible, His Word, His Law, is infinite and boundless.  It never fails us.  It is perfectly suitable for every good work.

          "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for TRAINING in RIGHTEOUSNESS; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work"  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

          May we hear and heed the words of Christ on how to be saved from our sins, deny our self daily, serve and love others, and endure to the end. May we confess our sins in prayer and ask God to help us overcome and have victory over sin.  And may we have a desire to please God with our mouth and heart that we might be acceptable in His sight.

          Luci

          Monday, March 2, 2020

          WALKING IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE LORD

          “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  
          Colossians 1:10


          The reality of walking with Jesus is that when our Lord pardons our faults, He gives us the hope that tomorrow will be better and more fruitful.  And yet, maybe we don't aim high enough to soar to the heights of God.  All Christians must hold fast, walk worthy of their calling and of the Lord, that is, walking in righteousness, and obeying the Gospel of Christ faithfully (1 Cor. 15:1-2).

          We Christians have been called to live in a manner that is godly and holy, for our purpose on this earth is to show God’s glory and wisdom.  Why?  Because we have been chosen, redeemed, predestined, adopted, and we are heirs, saved, and reconciled to God to show His wisdom and glory.  God is glorified through us, the church, and through Jesus throughout all generations.  Paul urges Christians to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Eph. 4:1).  We choose to walk worthy because of all that God has done for us. He has redeemed us.  We must refuse to walk as we please, for we have been bought for a very high price, the blood of our Lord and Savior.  

          So we must walk in a manner worthy of Christ, reflecting our new identity!  We are not walking in a worthy manner of our calling when we walk the world’s unrighteous path, the way of Satan, the desires of our flesh, body, and mind.  We must not continue walking in our former way of life, the old man full of corruption!  We must choose to walk the path of righteousness.  We must choose to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.  But walking in a manner worthy is costly, for the world will reject us!  Walking in a manner worthy of our calling is counter-cultural! 


          I.   WALKING IN A MANNER WORTHY OF GOD:  (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
          "For you yourselves know, brothers,that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

          Paul’s central message in the book of Thessalonians is how to live godly and holy in view of eternity.  The Thessalonian brethren had an amazing faith despite their great affliction and hardship.  They had an amazing faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope, for they placed their eyes on eternity, waiting for Christ to return (1 Thess. 1:3, 10).  You see, when we fix our eyes on Christ and His kingdom of heaven, our lives change and are transformed into the likeness of our Lord.  It gives us hope, courage, and strength to face whatever difficulties we may have because we love our Lord and His kingdom.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Paul is urging us to walk in a manner worthy of God who called us into His kingdom and glory, for this must be our purpose in life.  We must embrace this newness of life!  

          So what does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of God?  We have the answers in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  To walk in a manner worthy of God, one must have boldness (2:1-2).  In Acts 16:19, 23, the crowd seized and dragged Paul and Silas before the rulers, attacked them and beat them with rods, throwing them in prison.  And though they had been severely and shamefully treated, they still had the boldness to declare the Gospel amid so much turmoil.  It got so bad that the Jews attacked Jason’s house since they wanted Paul and Silas

          You see, walking in a manner worthy of God is to have boldness in the face of much opposition, affliction, and difficulties as did these Thessalonian brethren.  We have been warned by God that we will experience persecution and difficulties because of our faith (1 Peter 4:12-14).  We Christians must not be surprised when facing trials and afflictions that test our faith when we suffer because of Jesus.  Instead, we must rejoice that we were counted worthy to partake in Jesus’ sufferings.  Our eternal view helps us to rejoice in our sufferings and various trials.  But we must remain bold to continue proclaiming God’s Word, the Gospel even in the face of opposition and persecution (2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 10:33; Lk. 12:9).  Isn’t it true that we are most likely to be tempted to deny Jesus when facing opposition and resistance?  Jesus commands us to remain bold and steadfast in God!

          To walk in a manner worthy of God, one must be pure as he presents the Gospel (1 Thess. 2:3-6).  God stresses the concept of purity a lot throughout the Scriptures.  Walking in a manner worthy of God demands pure hearts and pure motives.  And this is precisely what Paul demonstrated to the Thessalonians as he walked with God proclaiming the Gospel.  Paul exhibited purity in his walk with the Lord, and we see this in chapter 4.  Paul and Silas walked in a manner worthy of God because they had pure hearts and pure motives.  They spoke boldly to please God rather than men, for God tests our hearts

          Those who walk in purity of heart do not please men, for they’re concerned with pleasing God.  God will know when we are trying to please Him rather than other people, for He knows our hearts!  We are meant to live a life that pleases God, a life that is worthy of Him.  By doing this, we can rest assured that our motives will be pure, knowing that our God tests our hearts.  Moreover, we walk in a manner worthy of God when we love others.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul speaks of his love for these brethren as a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  Indeed, this is true gentleness and compassion.  Walking in a manner worthy of God is caring genuinely for one another, for God cares a lot about our relationship with one another (1 Thess. 2:8).

          Not only did Paul share the Gospel with them, but was willing to love them with all of his heart!  He gave himself entirely to his brethren.  Do you suppose that when we choose to be aloof from one another, refuse to open up to one another, set walls up, refusing to let anyone in, it is walking in a manner worthy of God?  Were Paul and Silas afraid to open up to the Thessalonians after what they had experienced in Philippi?  It is amazing to me to see Paul’s love and care for these brethren to the point of sharing the Gospel, and his life with them like a nursing mother would care for her own children after being only there for three weeks, not months or years! 

          Paul’s motives were pure, holy, righteous, and blameless, for he was not there for their money, or to take advantage of them or to be a burden to them (2:10).  Paul taught them as a father would teach his children: without hostility or intimidation, but rather with gentleness and love.  And though teaching must be firm, it must be done with love and gentleness.


          Paul lived his life with boldness as he proclaimed God’s Message.  He likewise showed a life of purity as he sought God’s approval.  He showed his love to the brethren as he shared his life with them.  Thus we must live our lives in a manner worthy of our calling, God’s kingdom, and glory (Romans 5:1-2; 8:18).  Our hope in God’s kingdom and glory is what must motivate us to live in purity, love one another, and be bold in persecution and suffering.


           II.   WALKING IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL:  (Philippians 1:27-2:2)
           "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ."  (Phil. 1:27

          Paul’s joy in suffering came from knowing that the Gospel was advancing and that his faith was strengthened to reach his goal, to serve Christ, and be with Him in eternity.  He knew very well what it means to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ as a citizen in God’s kingdom of righteousness.  Paul stresses the need to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel in Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12.  The Gospel teaches us a way of living that is worthy of God.  We must live in such a godly and holy way so that others may know what it is like to live for Christ and the Gospel!

          Walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel is to stand firm in one Spirit, striving for the faith of the Gospel, that is, unity.  This is parallel with Ephesians 4, where the Lord demands that we walk in a manner worthy of the calling to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Hence, to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel is to stand firm side by side together with the same mind, for we are under Satan’s attack and under attack from the world, not from each other.  We are not walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel when we fight and devour one another.  We must learn to fight together for Christ, for the faith and His kingdom of righteousness!  We must be united in our thinking, perspective, goals, and hearts! 

          Our lives must be centered on the Gospel of our Lord and Savior and the furthering of His Gospel.  But we must work together in harmony and fellowship for the faith of the Gospel.  A divided church stops focusing on the Gospel and our participation in it.  When we are working side by side for the faith of the Gospel in harmony, we’re willing to overlook our differences and personal conflicts.  We are eager to work together to share the Gospel within our community, build up one another in the faith, and strengthen each other during difficult times.  There is no room to focus on ourselves and our problems!  Why not use them for the furthering of the Gospel?  We must refuse to be self-centered, wasting our time away from the fight that is set before us!  We must stand firm together side by side with eyes fixed on Jesus and His Gospel! 

          We must not be frightened or intimidated by our opponents (1:28).  There is no room for quitting!  We must continue holding on to Christ with fearless faith.  We must suffer for Christ (1:29-30)!  God is granting us a gift in suffering when we live in a manner worthy of the Gospel.  There is no better honor than to suffer for Christ and for the sake of the Gospel!  It is a sign of salvation!  God, in the end, will decree salvation to those who live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.  So we must be united, of the same mind, of the same love, and walking in full accord (Philippians 2:1-2).   The same purpose, goal, love, and agreement toward one another.  We walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel when we stand together in the Spirit of Christ, making the Gospel glorious!


          CONCLUSION:

          Living in a world that is not accustomed to teaching and practicing a lifestyle worthy of what Christ expects of them, Christians look like aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11).  Someone might say, "Of course, I'm a Christian; I read my Bible; I go to church on Sundays... " Of course, but let me tell you, that those who profess our Lord Jesus and have put Him on, walk in a manner worthy of Christ. Being a Christian is much more than calling yourself a Christian, assembling, and reading the Bible whenever you think it is convenient in your life. Being a Christian is a matter of the heart, the mind, and the soul. To measure up to the stature of Christ is to show it in our faith, convictions, and beliefs. We must set aside everything else until we cannot help but to base everything that we do and say on the will of God! 

          First, we must start examining our way of living, our decisions, and our way of thinkingWe have Christ as our example who by the sword of the Spirit breaks down all the walls of our thoughts, piercing our soul and spirit and discerning the intentions of our hearts. He builds new thoughts for us. He pours out light where there is darkness by showing us through His Word how to make those changes that are vital, that we may be transformed into His image. God wants us to shine His light in all areas of our lives: our homes, our work, our school, our minds, our hobbies, etc. They must be in harmony with our faith.  But sadly, our faith is often separated from all these things!

          Let's never forget that our Lord is life.  So why do we want to separate Him from every area of our lives? So often, God is allowed into only certain parts of our lives. We allow Him only a little bit into our churches, into our hearts, into our everyday walk. We barely allow Him into our decisions, our beliefs, our speech, our homes, the why of our daily activities, goals, and everything that we engage in. As Christians who desire to live "godly," and in a manner worthy of God,  we must start examining our minds, our hearts, and our souls. We must start spending more time in prayer, asking our LORD to help us do His will in every area of our lives, and that includes our homes and families. We need to learn that He is not a cookie-cutter God, but holy!

          We must allow God to shine His beauty in every compartment of our lives. His Grace and Light must be seen in every area of our lives. Our lives will look very different if we only allow Him, through faith, to make us live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Everyone will see God in us, and they will see the Light shining in a world full of darkness, a light that is so much different from the world's darkness.  Let us start behaving in a way that glorifies our Lord, living lives that are unblemished and are living sacrifices, well-pleasing to Him. And let us be renewed in our spirits and minds by putting on God in righteousness and in the holiness of the Truth. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2).

          Therefore, let us use our time well and not allow anything or anyone to distract us from serving our Lord, walking in a manner worthy in our homes, our calling, of God, and the Gospel. God demands that we put Him first and put self to death, take up our cross, and follow Him and His example.  We must strive to live for Christ and not self!  (Gal. 2:20)

          May we as Christians live in a manner worthy of God, God’s kingdom of righteousness, and the Gospel.  May we examine our hearts so that we may bring honor to our Lord and glorify Him.  May our Lord help us to walk and live in a manner worthy of Him and His Gospel, walking in righteousness and living our lives as a sacrifice well-pleasing to Him.

          Luci