Idolatry: Divided hearts

What is idolatry other than to divide the world up into parts and rather than worship and service the one true God who made the Heavens and earth, who is Lord over all, then to set our hearts on individual objects of desire and serve them for our own gain and pleasure? Let me explain.

The Bible declares that there is one God who is maker and sustainer of all things. As His creation, we are called to love and obey Him above all. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul” Matt 22:37). I heard one preacher say in response to the question “What is the greatest sin?” His reply was “I suppose the greatest sin is to break the greatest commandment”. Well I am not going to debate that, but only say if that’s the case, than everyone is the greatest sinner there is. How could everyone be the greatest sinner? You say, but that’s just it, there is no greater or lesser sinner. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. James writes “Whoever shall keep the whole law and stumble at one point, is guilty of all” (James 2:10) In other words if you break just one command, you are a law breaker and subject to punishment as if you broke all the commandments. SO whether it is stealing, or lying, or not honoring your parents, or looking with lust which Jesus said is to commit adultery in our hearts, all can be placed under breaking just one commandment and that is failing to love God with all our heart, mind and soul.

Many world religions are in idolatry for serving gods that represent different objects such as the sun, moon and stars, to animals, ext. Each god promises something different to its worshippers such as rain or good crops or success. Some demand the most strictest and cruel subjection such as self mutilation or even child sacrifice. This is how we know they are nothing but demons posing as gods. Other than the fact that we, as Christians, believe there is only one true God according to scripture.

But what of the people who do not practice such forms of worship and believe there are many gods? What about more modern nations such as Europe, and America? What seems to be the driving force behind individuals in a modern society that does not manifest its self in idol worship and lifestyles of worshipping many different false deities? Well not much is different. Rather than serve God, the modern man has opted to serve the creation rather than the creator just like foreign religions. Instead of serve God who gives us food, clothes, and or the things we need, he has given his heart and strength to serve and obtain things. This is seen in the obvious obsession and accumulation of wealth to such a degree that it reeks of material worship and excess. Drugs are sold, people are robbed, and lives are lost for the pursuit of material things. This is the length people are willing to go for such gain. Others put more of a sophisticated, self justifying mask on it, but still rather than serving God, they serve money, saying it is good stewardship or an honorable pursuit of comfort for their families. The end is only comfort and pleasure rather than the glory of God.

So the question I ask myself, and you reader, is your heart divided? Is your pursuit to have a whole heart dedicated to service and worship the one true God over all, or is there others things you desire, equal or greater than Him? (Not to say there is anything equal or greater than God, but is your desire of things equal or greater than your desire for Him) The truth is none of us have ever loved God the way He deserves. We have not worshipped Him completely without self getting in the way. That is why I phrased it the way I did. “Is it your (pursuit) to have a whole heart dedicated” Too pursue something is to have an object or goal in mind and to set our efforts and desires to obtain that end. It is a progress, not yet arriving. How do we know this is our one true goal? It is evidenced in our daily conformity to God’s word. Every day we have before us the will of God written in the Bible. Do you seek to know it and walk in it for his glory or is your day consisting in pursuit of selfish gain, not having God or His ways in your mind at all?

Flee idolatry. It will find its way into every part of your life because there are many things in this world to desire. Satan and the world have many substitutes for Christ. They all fail in ability to truly comfort fulfill the believers heart. Always remember our comfort and satisfaction does not come in our ability to obey God, but in His already accomplished obedience on our behalf, and through His cross and resurrection we have life.

Let us serve the one true God through Jesus Christ his one and only begotten son with all our hearts and life. Christianity is a full on pursuit of the glory of the one true God who made the entire universe and is in control of all! It’s not just a part of many religions in the world, but the one true religion handed to us on earth from Heaven to know and to love the God over all.

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Believe not Satan’s lies against Christ

It is Satan’s design to corrupt the image of Christ to the believer when they sin. While the guilt is fresh in the mind and upon the conscience, Satan tries to hinder us from approaching the Jesus of scripture, presented to us as receiving of sinners. Our view of Him as the king of mercy becomes a king of judgment, poised and ready to execute justice the moment we fail. All this to destroy our confidence before the throne of grace, where we are invited to come and find mercy. Dear believer when did you ever read of Christ turning away those who came to Him? Rather we have His very own words in Matthew 11:28 which are ‘Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. The bruised reed will say, “yes, Christ says “come” but surly I am exempt because I have sinned much more than others and even against the light of knowledge” Look again oh weary believer, Jesus says “come unto me ALL…” This includes you! All are welcomed to Him for rest from sin and the pointless effort of trying to gain Him by your own righteousness. Yet Satan will lie and say you are a “Judas” set aside for perdition. That you among all others were appointed to fall and the scriptures that speak of falling away and it being impossible to renew unto repentance speak of you. Are you yet sorrowful for your sin? Have you sought to be cleansed by Christ blood and with Peter honestly say “Lord, where can we turn? You alone have the words of eternal life”. Then recognize this to be God’s continued mercy in you. Jesus says in John 6:44 “No man can come to me unless the father draws him” and that all the father gives Him, He will in no way cast out! If you are coming to Him, though stumbling along the way, be sure He is drawing you. No sinner would desire Christ apart from His drawing of them to Himself.

We have this hope, that God gives us a sure word which Paul expressed to Timothy saying “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ came into the world to save sinner, of whom I am chief” (1 Tim 1:15) If you are not a sinner, than you do not qualify for His salvation. Have you ever considered that? Not to say “let us sin that grace may abound” but salvation is for sinners who look to Christ for their hope. That is why there is a qualifying statement in Jesus’ invitation for “ALL” who are weary and heavy laden. In other words only those who fit the description of weary and heavy laden are welcome, contrary to those who are not burden by their sin and efforts at saving themselves. So the very sin you battle and fear will be the cause of His departing from you is the sin He welcomes you away from and offers freedom and rest from its ravaging effect. His very life and death are witnesses to His grand desire to save you from that sin your battle! Trust in Him ALL of you who strive against sin and seek rest. You will not find it in your own righteousness. Only in the true righteousness of Christ given to all who come to Him by faith receive rest. Trust in Gods supreme wisdom by which He demonstrated in the cross where His holy justice and holy mercy met! Justice against your sin, in punishing Christ the substitute, and mercy toward you by placing your sin on Him who knew no sin that you may be made the righteousness of God! A grand exchange took place there on Calvary! This is our hope dear, weary Christian! Jesus Christ crucified for ALL who trust Him!

The God of all comfort

“What is your only comfort in life and death?”

This question is the first of the Heidelberg catechism penned in 1576 Heidelberg Germany by Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus. It was written in a time that comfort was sought out in the mist of tyranny and confusion. The Roman Catholic Church did much damage trying to stomp out the light of the reformation. There was confusion about the new found faith of the reformation and the quest for comfort was the force behind this catechism. Fredrick III was the man who employed the two men previously mentioned to write out the confession desiring something for Christians everywhere, young and old, to help them understand just what the Bible taught concerning their salvation.

The answer to this first question is…

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.

While it is natural and not unrighteous to seek comfort, we must know from where true comfort comes. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says 3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” Here Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directs us too our true source of comfort, namely God.

What areas do we most need comfort? Let’s look at just two that I think are over arching areas, covering our lots of ground.

1. The first area and most important is the area of our sin:

For the believer, there is seemly nothing more grievous to our own souls than the sin we battle. What once was our delight, and the thing we actively or passively sought after for comfort before we were in Christ, has now become the scourge of our existence. With redeemed eyes, we now see that sin is the cause of all the worlds’ miseries, and even now as believers it is the cause of all our setbacks and sorrows.

Yet our comfort, indentified in this passage, is God, who Paul writes is the ‘Father of mercies’. For all our sins, there is a multitude of mercies in God. Being the father of mercies, all mercy is thus from Him. In the battle against our sin we can find refuge in His mercy. There is no temptation we come under that Christ Himself was not tempted in, yet without sin, He is able to supply sufficient mercy for every single case. Whether we seek Him for deliverance from temptation or forgiveness for having fallen to temptation, mercy is there in abundance, from the father of mercies.

As Christians who know the battle scars of sin, we find our only comfort in the mercy of God provided through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Christ we have all mercy afforded to us. Christ did not sin once, and His perfect righteousness is accredited to us through faith. Christ shed His blood and washed away every sin we have, or will ever commit. Not one sin is left uncovered by His cleansing blood. In Christ’s resurrection we find our new life. Because He is alive we find comfort that our sins truly have been forgiven, for Paul write about those who denied the resurrection of the dead saying “If the dead raise not, than Christ is not raised and you are still in your sins”. Yet Christ is raised, and this for us is the proclamation of a full and complete redemption.

Let this comfort you as you battle sin. “Dealing with sin is the Christians way of life”. (Paul Steward). We are to believe and fight, but drawing all our strength to fight from the truth that Christ has already won the victory over sin for us. Let that be your comfort as you deal with your sin. Dear Christian, don’t believe the lie that the thing for which Christ died, is the thing that will hinder His love for you. How could the love of God be blocked from you because of your weakness and failings in sin when it was because of your sin He came to die and rescue you?

2. We seek comfort in our trials:

While our battle with sin comes from within, trails come from without. Whether it is persecutions or the trials of life such as sickness, poverty, or whatever trials you can come under, these are the tribulations we go through. Even though we are united to Christ, we are still in a fallen world that has been corrupted by sin. We are affected by this. Trials such as sickness or persecution and broken relationships are all because of sins affect upon this world. Though we have trials in this life, God is not unaware or unaffected by them. We are encouraged to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us.(1 Peter 5:7) God draws near to the broken hearted.(Psalms 34:18) As a good father, God tends to our needs and is especially careful with the bruised and weak among us. I like what R.C. Sproul says “There is no maverick molecule” meaning there is nothing God is not actively or passively sovereign over. This includes our trials, which have a design to try our faith and produce patients which James tells us, “Let patients has its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”. This beloved of God is comfort in the midst of trials.

Yet our comfort in tribulation is not the end….Our comfort has a purpose other than our own happiness for we see from verse 4 which says 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”

We are comforted in all our trials, THAT WE MAY also be able to comfort others with the same comfort we received from God, who is the God of all comfort. We waste our trails when we seek to flee them without understanding why God has allowed them into our lives, Or by not taking what we have learned and comfort those who are undergoing the same things.

Recognizing that we are a body is the key to ministering one to another. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12. When I hurt my hand, it is the other hand than tends to the wound. The strength and tender mercies we receive from God should in return be poured out on our suffering brother or sister in the Lord. Jesus said “you will have tribulations in this world” and then He comforts them by adding “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.

Let us be reminded that God alone is the source of all our comfort and the same source of comfort for all who put their faith in Him. Whether our trials or suffering be from within or from without, we have a sure word that God is who we can turn to and find comfort. He is not the God of “some” comfort; He is the God of ALL comfort.

Too look outside of God for comfort in this life is nothing short of idolatry. In essence idolatry is to divide the world up into parts and serve each individual part to the end of our own happiness. Many religions do this by worshiping many different gods according to their own respected objective desire. They have a god for the Sun, the moon, trees, and animals, each false god promising something different in return for the worshipper’s service.

To more modern nations the pursuit of happiness comes from serving the god of self; seeking to find comfort in things such money, houses, cars, and they give their whole lives over to that individual desire.

Yet we are to worship the one true God, who has made all things and is Lord over all. Too have a Christian world view is to view the whole world as Gods and His alone to judge or to redeem.

The pursuit of comfort by its self again is not wrong, it is only wrong when sought from individual things.

King Solomon was the one man who could honestly says “been there, done that” having all the wisdom and wealth to pursue whatever His heart desired and after all his pursuits of pleasure under the sun, he tells in Ecc 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear God and keep His commandment; for this is the whole duty of man”. And yet, we don’t do this to well, do we? So again I remind you, Because of the cross of Jesus Christ we find sufficient mercies from our father, and this is our comfort and joy.

Let us find comfort at all times in the God of all comfort. Whether this season brings bliss or trials, look to Christ who gives us the promised Holy Spirit who is the comforter from God and helps us in all our weaknesses (Romans 8:26).

This Thanksgiving…

This Thanksgiving it would be beneficial to recall why we celebrate. What do we Americans celebrate thanksgiving for? For most it seems to be an excuse to eat more than normal. For some it’s all about great food and football. And some having more noble reasons such as a chance to see family they haven’t seen all year. While each person has their own reason for why they enjoy Thanksgiving, I wish to write a bit about its history to recall for us the “true meaning” of thanksgiving if you will.

Thanksgiving has never held that much significance, at least not in my life time.  What I mean is it seems to be that holiday that comes and goes without any particular attachment like a “reason for the season” and decorations like Christmas or Halloween, unless you grew up in a home that put up pictures of Turkeys and Pilgrims in the window. It comes and goes and for the most part it’s just a mile stone before the “real” and more festive Christmas season. So why do we celebrate thanksgiving?

Everyone knows the story of the Pilgrims coming to the “New World” arriving in 1620 upon the ship Mayflower. We have heard the stories of the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together over a feast that the Indians helped the Pilgrims plant and grow. Most thanksgiving pictures are of this scene. A table filled with good food surrounded with the two groups enjoying all they have before them. Quite a modern picture as well. But why the journey; Why did the Pilgrims risk so much in traveling across the Atlantic to this land of ours?

Also known as English dissenters, these Pilgrims fled to America to escape religious persecutions in England.  The very same religious freedoms we have today are a result of the courage and faith of this small number of men, women, and children who faced many hardships to find and provide a new and free way of life.  God is to be praised for result of this dangerous, yet successful journey! It was by grace they landed upon these shores and this we look back upon and give thanks to God for the freedom we share.

Why celebrate thanksgiving? It is plain. We celebrate thanksgiving because it represents every good and just thing we enjoy every day. Every day we enjoy the fruits of the labors from those before us. From the crew of 102 on the May Flower to those who have fought and died to retain our freedom, it is these and many more who laid a foundation for us to call home.

Most of all we are to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ! He has sovereignty and providentially led these faithful few in search for a land they could serve the Lord Jesus Christ and raise their children by His word without the threat of persecution. Too many years have gone by for us to remember the frightful dealings the enemies of the cross inflicted upon our forefathers. Too many generations have gone by. We have seemed to lose touch with the part of the church that still suffers for Christ. When you gather around the table this year retell the old story of grace and providence God bestowed upon those few who ventured out across the Atlantic for the sake of the gospel and their families. But most of all retell the even older story of the one who ventured from Heaven to this earth to secure an eternal home for all who look to Jesus Christ by faith. This thanksgiving let us remember. Let us remember how we got here, who went before us, and most of all, who is responsible for all we have to be thankful for. Too God alone be all the thanks!

God’s will?

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

If you are a young or new believer or perhaps you have been in the Church for many years and are still struggling with finding the will of God for your life then you’re right where I was and many others who have been in that struggle. You want to know what God wants you to do. You feel that if you were smack dab in the middle of God’s will, you would be truly happy and satisfied. If you are anything like me, then it even frustrates you when you hear others so flippantly say they know what Gods will is for them. Why? Because you sincerely want to do Gods will and please Him for all He has done for you. Perhaps you feel stuck. Either in a secular job or just plain stagnate in your walk with the Lord.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God…

While it is true that the secret things belong to the Lord, things like the future and plans He may have for your life like ministry and relationships, and I assure you He has those plans, but these are the things that seem to mean the most to us. Why? Probably because it is those secret things we feel we have so little control over. Perhaps this is why we spend so much time concerned about the secret things; the things not revealed to us and pay very little attention to that which is revealed?

We must learn to trust the Lord with these secret things, the future and all that is unknown to us.  Proverbs 16:9 says “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” God is sovereign even over our steps.

But the things revealed belong to us…

You say you want to know what the will of God is for your life, right? So I ask, what is your life?

In other words, what does your life consist of? If you’re like me or any other human being for that matter your life consists of many things. It consist of time, days, months, and years and those times consist of things such as decisions, relationships, work, family, marriage, sin, thoughts and dreams, etc.

All I have just described is dealt with in the Bible!

If that is true and if you believe that than you know what Gods will is everyday of your life. Everyday! You see every day I wake up I know it’s Gods will for me to study His word and pray.(1Thes5:17) I know it’s Gods will that I love my wife as Christ loved the Church(Eph5:25) I know it is Gods will that I share my faith(2Tim4:2) I know it’s Gods will that I find and commit myself to a good local Church(Heb10:25) I know it’s Gods will that I believe the gospel and repent of sin(Acts17:30) and on and on I could write about everything that we face in our life. God has revealed to us concerning each and every thing we face. Sure there are those unknown things, but trust in the Lord and cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you. If God has cared so much to preserves His word for you to have and know what He wills for you, than trust His is sovereign grace to lead you through the unknown areas as well.

When it comes to hard decisions I would say that if you are living by faith in Christ and there isn’t any un-confessed sin in your life, than whatever decision you are trying to make, just make it and trust that God will either bless it or direct your heart in another direction.

The fact that we have the Bible to go to everyday and discover what almighty God has spoken to us should thrill the soul of every believer who is concerned about doing what God wants. He has revealed it to us and expects us to do it. No I am not talking about law(works righteousness) but doing God’s will and that is walking according to His word. As a justified believer in Christ this should be the most important thing in your life.  So I encourage you who have struggle with the idea of God’s will to get to know His revealed will for your life and rest in the truth that He will be guiding your steps all the way.

And to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

This verse tells us that not only do we have the revealed will of God, but our children do as well. We are responsible to raise our children in the word of God and more specifically; we are to raise them in the gospel.  The word of God will do the work of revealing sin and paving the way of grace for their hearts. They will learn from us parents what God requires everyday and when they sin and fall short, which they will, everyday; we should be there with the gospel ready time and time again pointing to the all sufficient grace of God in Jesus Christ.

In the Bible God has given us all we need to live and to lead our families in this fallen world. If you are relying on another source to direct your life, you are working with a broken compass.  Our own hearts are not sufficient to guide us, we need wisdom from above and God has given us that wisdom in the holy inspired Bible.

Get to know your Bibles dear Christians. Its Gods revealed will for your life.

Assurance

Jesus Christ died for me

This is everything to me; that Jesus died for me

How secure this is to know that Jesus died for me.

My hope is set on this. My life is aimed at this.

My worship is to Him for this, oh that Jesus died for me.

My sins are forever gone and now to Him I belong.

What a focused truth this is.

All life has direction when I come to know that Jesus died for me.

After so many years of doubt and fear, my Lord has made it clear, that He died for me.

“The mountain top experience”

No doubt you have heard or even said these words in reference to a time in your life when you were feeling closer to God than you have in awhile. You were at peace with all around you and have more spiritual strength than in previous days, months, or even years.
This “mountain top experience” is usually the exact opposite of the “valley experience” where people tend to feel far away from God and nothing seems to be going right. It could be our financial situation or relationships, or even a struggle with a certain besetting sin. Whatever the case may be, we are struggling, and it is here we all can agree that we don’t want to be. It is at this point that we start to labor the most in prayer and Bible study. We labor, but it seems that we labor not at growing in faith and love, or in knowledge of Christ and His will for us; no we seem to labor the most to only get out of the valley and back to the mountain top.
What is wrong with that you may be asking? Well, instead of asking what is wrong with wanting peace and closeness to God and strength for each day maybe we should be asking the question “Is the mountain top my final destination?”
What I seen in my own life and I know in others as well is a time of labor in prayer and in Bibles study and searching out Biblical counseling all in times of valley experiences and when we finally climb out of that valley and reach our mountain top, it is there we rest. We stop laboring in prayer and we stop searching the scriptures diligently and seeking out Biblical counseling, and just rest. As if this is our goal in life, to not have any trouble or be bothered with anything.
My point is not that we should resist peace or that closeness with God we all desire, but only that it should be in these times that we have strength allotted to us and peace with God in order for us to advance all the more. Sailors do not cast anchor in the day time when the sky is blue and the wind is at their backs. They cast anchor at night or in a storm when they lose their bearings and need to stay put until the storm passes.
If our goal is to grow in grace and faith and not just to be happy, then we should be taking every opportunity for that advancement. Should we pray hard in dark times? Yes. Should we desire to be strong in faith? Yes. What I am suggesting is to go into the valley praying and studying and come out of the valley praying and studying. If the only times you are pressing in are the times of trouble, and all this to just get out of trouble and distress, than I would only assume that peace and happiness are your greatest goals and not to grow in your knowledge of God and His word.
The Puritan writer Richard Sibbes in his book The Bruised Reed writes these words “Resting in a good condition is contrary to grace, which cannot but promote itself to a further measure” Being in a good condition “our mountain top experience” is not a bad thing, it is resting here that I am concerned about. None of us have or will on this side of glory arrive and should all the more labor not to get to the mountain top, but to grow in our knowledge and faith, and this in all times.
Rest is good, but not if it turns into laziness. Working out is good for the body, but who works out when they’re tired? When you find your self in the valley, than cast anchor and hold firm to Christ. Rest in Him and His promises. Seek Him for answers for why you’re experiencing this time, but when He brings you out as He has so faithfully done in the past, then continue to pray and seek Him and grow in faith and love. Take advantage of this time to not rest, but to press in and labor for that which is most important, not happiness, but growing close to God and serving Him in faith and love which will be for you, true happiness.