Burdened, Not Amused

The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9

Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).

If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,

The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!

If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.

I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!

Warped Living (2)

What in the world is that? Well, Isaiah 47:10 gives us a good picture:

For you have trusted in your wickedness;
You have said, ‘No one sees me’;
Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
And you have said in your heart,
‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’

As we saw in last week’s post, warped living is characterized five ways in this passage:

  1. Trusting in your own wickedness.
  2. Thinking that no one sees your sin.
  3. Listening to yourself and to others who agree with you, then applying what you have come to believe and what your peers are saying.
  4. Following your heart.
  5. Controlling your life as if God didn’t exist.

So, what are the manifestations of a warped life? (Connect with the five characteristics above.)

  1. Living in the destructive unbelief of worry, anxiety, fear, dread and making excuses. Tim Keller said, “Worry is a frustrated aspiration to omniscience. Worry is saying “I know and I’m concerned God won’t get it right.” Hebrews 11:6, But 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 diligently seek Him.
  2. Disregarding the holy, omnipresent, omniscient eye of God who sees your cheating, your speeding, your porn, your over-eating, your laziness, your refusal to own your sin and then repent of it because you like it too much! Proverbs 15:3, The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. (By the way, your children are watching, too!)
  3. Placing the human wisdom of man that imprisons us above the truth of God’s Word that sets us free. Example—When someone shares a troubling Facebook post about a death or illness, note all the humanistic statements.
  4. To follow your heart is make how you feel about something, what you really want, what will make you happy, to be the litmus test for your life’s decisions. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Proverbs 3:5-7 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Psalm 37:4 is crucial in this regard, Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  5. This is living with your mate before marriage; sex outside of marriage; making choices that do not match with the Word of God; no time for prayer; etc.

Living a warped life is to be deluded and led astray from God and His Word. Whatever choices you are making that are currently leading you away from God, please reject them, repent of them, and replace them with that which does not take the place of God. Please meditate on the following:

Fools mock at sin,
But among the upright there is favor
.

10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.

11 The house of the wicked will be overthrown,
But the tent of the upright will flourish.

1There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
(Proverbs 14:9-12)

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore
. (Psalm 16:11)

(Picture – The Crooked House, Sopot, Poland, eurolink.co)

Warped Living

Sitting in my study chair reading Isaiah 47, the following arrested my attention.

For you have trusted in your wickedness;
You have said, ‘No one sees me’;
Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
And you have said in your heart,
‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, is describing the fall of the Babylonian empire due to her (47:1-3) pride and wickedness. In doing so, He uses this descriptive phrase: Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you.

To be warped is to be led astray; to be deluded; to be perverted. How does this happen in an individual’s life, especially a believer’s life?

You are warped when . . .

1. You trust in your wickedness. In other words, you live in the land of your own human viewpoint rather than absolute truth, divine viewpoint. A slow, meditative walk through Proverbs 10 will describe the difference between wicked (human, selfish) and righteous (divine, godly) living.

2. You say, No one sees me. How easy it is to think that you sin alone; no one sees you. Then as you continue to accept your sin, to justify your choices, and brush over the wickedness, even calling it acceptable names, you have already gone far down the road of believing that anyone sees. I assure you, God does, your friends do, and if you are a parent, your children do. Warning: more is caught than taught.

3. You listen to yourself and to others who agree with you, then you apply what you have come to believe and what your peers are saying . . . Your wisdom and knowledge have warped you. There was a day in your life when you knew what God said was right or wrong, but over time, you have come to accept and gloss over sin.

4. You follow your heart . . . and you have said in your heart. The warning of Jeremiah 17:5-10 should get everyone’s attention, especially verse 9.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

5. You control your life as if God did not exist . . .I am, and there is no one else beside me. Peruse through Isaiah 45, and you will see that only God alone has the right to say, I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me (45:5). When we live by our own expectations, our own desires, our own thoughts, for our own happiness, and leave God out of the picture, we are living a warped life.

What are the manifestations of warped living? That will be the topic of our next post. In the meantime, read Isaiah 45-47, and the words above. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you are living a warped life. He will guide you and show you the Truth. As He does, confess your sin, repent and follow God and His Word.

I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right (45:19) . . . not warped.

(Photo by Nicholas Kennedy Sitton)

21 Days of Prayer (Day #12)

Understanding fully that Daniel 9:3-19 is dealing with Israel, there is a much-too-close parallel to our country, the United States of America.  For every believer across this land, Daniel’s prayer needs to be the attitude and action of our prayers today and tomorrow for us and our country.

America is not equal with Israel in the eyes of Jehovah, but the same sinful, unbelieving heart that caused God to turn from Israel is the same deceitful heart that has brought such shame to our land; a nation that once was greatly used to declare the gospel at home and around the world as well as stand for the righteousness.  Now, look at us!

Believers in every town and city, we need to fall to our knees, repent and cry out to God!  Set aside your personal worldly pursuits. Put entertainment, ballgames, and Facebook to death for now.  Churches, forego those programs that you think are so important (Prayer is the only thing that gives power to ministry programs anyway!)  There needs to be prayer meetings before and after school, throughout the day in our homes, in our small groups, at the office, in our commute to and from work, on our lunch breaks, on the street corner, at family gatherings, etc.  Prayer is the declaration of your need and dependence upon God.  Prayer is one of the means of appropriating all we have in Christ Jesus. We are in a desperate time of need that ONLY the Throne of Grace can provide (Hebrews 4:16)!!!

The last great spiritual awakening in America occurred in the 1850’s. The first occurred near the time of the birth of our country. Our land and our churches, for the glory of God, must have a sweeping move of the Spirit that brings conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8) that leads to biblical repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10). We must have an awakening of genuine faith, repentance and reception of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior whereby we die to self and live to Christ (Romans 6).

People of God, WE MUST PRAY, AND I MEAN PRAY!!  Let Daniel 9 be your guide.  You see, no matter who is seated in the White House, they cannot correct our nation’s sinful pattern of guilt and destruction! Only the Gospel changes everything (Colossians 1:13-14)!!!! 

See you at the Throne of Grace today!

The worst sin is prayerlessness. (P.T. Forsyth)

God is more willing to be prayed to, and more ready to hear prayer, than we are to pray. (Matthew Henry)

What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more. (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)

Daniel 9:3-19     Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.

13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

Yesterday

Heartbroken. Grieved. Hopeful. Concerned. Saddened. Not surprised. Confident. Driven to prayer.

These and other emotions filled my mind and heart yesterday in reference to the events in Washington, D.C. And, there will be more to come, I’m sure. Nevertheless, along with many, many others who will offer their thoughts via social media, blogs, podcasts, etc., I share these with all sincerity of heart and for God’s glory.

  1. I was born on January 22, 1959 in Marietta, Ohio, at which time I became a citizen of the United States of America. My parents raised me to love and honor our nation, and I do so to this day. While as a five-year-old living in Marietta, I knelt down beside our living room couch at our home located on 318 Sixth Street and received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior (John 1:14; 3:16; Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:1-10). At that moment, I became a citizen of two worlds, the USA and Heaven! The first one is temporal and the other eternal. The first one is made by man and sought to be governed by man and therefore has many flaws. The eternal one is the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). I say all of that to say this, although I am grieved by the display of sinful men’s hearts yesterday, I am not shaken because my citizenship in Heaven is eternal, righteous and secure in Christ and governs my citizenship here. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21). I’m not home yet!
  2. Life has been this way since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3-4; Romans 1:16-32). There is ONLY ONE remedy and that’s the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As has been well said for a while now, “The Gospel changes everything.” Life transforming change cannot occur through governmental laws, reform, or programs. They have a degree of moral effect for a period of time but until man’s heart is transformed, laws will change and be added and more programs will be created to address man’s temporal needs. (Here’s a good read on government) That being said, the need of the hour is not reformation but transformation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 precisely spells it out, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. A good example of transformational change is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10, For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Lives changed by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) for eternity is the change that is needed.
  3. What I am about to say here is with the deepest of sadness. I am not without fault here but let me bear my soul. While I have called our church family to prayer this week and have noticed that others churches have done the same, I am a bit chagrined and distressed by this call to prayer which is accompanied by a “Really????” in my own heart. As a man and a pastor looking back over almost 62 years, I wish I had given my life much more to a life of prayer (John 15:4-5). Furthermore, one of the greatest disappointments of my life as a pastor is having to beg believers to pray, to attend prayer meetings. We are where we are today because, as a point of reference, the mid-week prayer meetings are the least attended gatherings of the week in a church’s ministry or have been completely done away with. Call for a prayer meeting and a few might show up, and lovingly may I say that when the meeting convenes, seldom is there heart-crying out prayers of repentance, reconciliation and renewal! This link will help us if we will follow Christ and the early church in prayer (Hebrews 5:7; Matthew 14:23; Acts 4:23-31). Prayer is the declaration of our dependence upon God as we understand our desperate condition without Him and without His omnipotent, omniscient work. We as a church are where we are because we have traded the prayer meeting for other religious activities that we must keep propped up by our our wisdom and strength and that meet our felt needs. Suffice it to say, we must begin today to live out 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalms 4, 40, 42, 86, 102, 142; Jeremiah 33:3; James 5:16-18.

May God help us! May God have mercy upon us!

Listening for the shout, the voice and the trump today (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)!

Sincerely, today, from a pastor’s heart.

Let’s Celebrate Sin!

celebration

Two promising, young lives are traveling together down an interstate and are hit head-on by a drunk driver almost snuffing out both of their lives.  Due to this man’s inebriated state, he could not command a car, comprehend reality, or respond quickly to his error.  He was controlled by his alcohol which depending on what brand he drank was at some point celebrated via commercials, billboards, friends, and sadly even city/county commissioners who most likely voted for establishments like this to operate in their town.  The commissioners probably even congratulated this new store owner and wished him good success.

Friends, there is nothing to celebrate concerning alcohol!  There is no virtue in alcohol. Drunkenness is sin (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18a).  How sad that anyone thinks they have to have some form of alcohol to have a good time, to have a celebration!

Not only do I have a disdain for any form of alcohol because of the warnings of Scripture, but also because those two young folks are my daughter and son-in-law.  They were hit head on by a drunk driver going the wrong way on Interstate 26 near Asheville, NC.  By his choice, he chose to idolize moonshine which took total control of him. This was his third offense, and he only received 45 days in jail!

I live in a town that glories in its craft beers, alcohol-laden festivals, and even has a city commission that gets more excited over a new beer establishment than they do standing to pledge to the American flag.

You want to celebrate sin?

A young couple chooses to have sex outside of marriage, and the young girl ends up pregnant.  How shameful, how sad . . . at least it used to be. Because they could not wait and because they believed the lies of the devil and their flesh, they’re now bringing into this world a child in a way that God never intended.

There are many passages of Scripture declaring sex before marriage to be sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). Yes, God demands complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).

Yet, how grieved to see announcements posted on social media as if it is a blessing from God!  I understand that 1 John 1:9 and Romans 5:20 are still in the Bible, but when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin and sin when it is finished brings forth death (James 1:16) . . . and we celebrate it!  Why when such sin is announced, born again believers who know the Word express notes of joy as if it is wonderful!  Please, do not misunderstand, I believe we should love this couple and their child back to the Lord, but my point is, how can sin be celebrated in any way shape or form?

You want to celebrate sin?

Ask Adam and Eve what they think about sin?  Ask Cain what he thinks about sin?  Ask Samson his perspective on sin? Ask King David what he thinks about sin?  And the list could go on.  Especially ask the Lord Jesus Christ Who bore the sins of the whole world, past, present and future in utmost agony, sorrow, and pain (Matthew 27:45-46; 2 Corinthians 5:21) while hanging on the cross.

You want to celebrate sin?

There are a host of other scenarios I could mention, but in closing, consider the following passages:

Sin is a reproach to anybody (Proverbs 14:26b).

By transgression an evil man is snared, but the righteous sings and rejoices (Proverbs 29:6).