Thursday, January 26, 2017

I Corinthians 9:24-27

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it a slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." I Corinthians 9:24-27

In our race of life we must be passionate about our desire to live for the glory of the Lord.  In our race of life we must be passionate about living holy lives for the Lord.  As children of God we are no longer subject to the consequences of hell for our sins.  Jesus has paid the punishment of our sins on the cross.  The Lord has also lived a perfect life for us that we could not live.  We are now in a positional state of holiness before God.  It must also be our passion, however, to demonstrate practical holiness and to reflect the Lord Jesus in all areas of our lives.  Romans 6:13 tells us that we must not offer our bodies as "instruments of  wickedness."  We must instead offer ourselves to the Lord as "instruments of righteousness" and holiness.

Before we became children of God we had no choice but to sin.  We were not capable of refraining from sin in our lives.  As children of God we once again have the capability to choose not to sin.  We have the capability to choose to be "instruments of righteousness" and holiness for the Lord.  We often still fail and sin, but we now have the desire and power and capability to choose to obey the Lord.  This desire and power comes from the Holy Spirit now living in us.

As redeemed children of God we are now free from the penalty and power of sin, but sin is still present in our lives.  Our minds and hearts desire to obey God, but the sin still remaining in us wishes to take dominance.  So as children of God we are in a spiritual warfare or battle against sin until the day we die or until Jesus returns.

We must not think that practical holiness and victory over sin will come instantly or easily.  I Timothy 4:7 says that in our spiritual warfare against sin we must train ourselves to be godly.  In the days of the ancient Olympics the runners who competed in the races would undergo "strict training" (I Corinthians 9:25).  This is true of our daily struggle and victory over sin also.  Psalm 119:11 reminds us that one way we train ourselves to be godly and holy is by hiding God's Word in our heart.  We must have a disciplined approach to hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing God's Word.

We must also take time to meditate on God's Word.  We must think about God's Word and strive to apply its truths to our individual life's situations and to every area of our lives.  We must strive to bring even our bodies and our physical appetites under the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I Corinthians 9:27 tells us that we must make our bodies "slaves" for God and not slaves of our passions, desires, and weaknesses.

In our attempt at disciplined application of God's Word to our lives we will fail many times.  In spite of this the Lord wants us to keep persevering in our struggles against sin no matter how many times we fail.  In spite of sin and failure I Corinthians 9:25 says that the Lord wants us to run our race of life "in such a way as to get the prize."  Our eternal lives are already secure in Christ.  We must run life's race, however, in a way that it demonstrates that we are truly children of God.  May this be our passion and desire!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Psalm 32

Praise God for His awesome gift of salvation!  Psalm 32:1-2 says, Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit there is no deceit."  Blessed means happy or joyful.  Joyful is the individual whose sins have been forgiven by the Lord!

Experiencing the joy of God's forgiveness, however, depends on us first acknowledging and confessing our sins.  We need to run to the Lord in sorrowful repentance, and then we need to allow His Holy Spirit to shape our lives into something beautiful for God.  When we stubbornly refuse to acknowledge our sins, however, we will suffer consequences.  David was a child of God, but for a time in his life he stubbornly refused to acknowledge a serious sin in his life. Hence, David suffered spiritually, psychologically, and even physically.  David prayed to God in Psalm 32:3-4, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." We as children of God must be careful that we do not persist in deliberate sin and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge sin in our lives.

When we acknowledge our sins, the Lord receives us with open arms of forgiveness.  David prayed in Psalm 32:5, "Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,'- and you forgave the guilt of my sin."  When we acknowledge our sins the Lord forgives our sins.  He also promises to be with us every step of our lives!  The Lord directs our steps during both the pleasant and difficult circumstances of life.

When David finally acknowledged his sin he once again experienced the Lord's blessings on his life. David prayed in Psalm 32:6-7, "Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."

We must acknowledge our sins, and we must also seek the Lord.  Then we will experience the Lord's favor and blessing on our lives. A God who is willing to forgive our sins is also a God whom we can trust.  He is a God to whom we can devote our entire lives.  When "the mighty waters" of chaotic and difficult circumstances arise in our lives we can trust in the Lord's protection and provision for us. He is our "hiding place" and protection.  The Christian goes from victory to victory in his or her life. A Christian in thankfulness can then sing "songs of deliverance."

Experiencing God's victories in our lives is dependent on following God's will for our lives.  God said to David in Psalm 32:8 and says to us today. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."  God instructs us through His Holy Word, and we must immerse ourselves in His Holy Word every day.  God also directs us through the circumstances that He allows in our lives.  God is slowly shaping us into the people He wants us to become.  He is slowly instructing and teaching us in the way He wants us to go.

We must be submissive and not rebellious to the Lord's leading in our lives, however.  We must be careful that we are not "like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you." (Psalm 32:9)  Only in total submission to God's will do we experience the Lord's blessing and joy.  Psalm 32:10 says, "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him."  Let us daily examine our lives for any unconfessed sins.  Let us confess those sins, and turn to the Lord in repentance.  Let us submit to God's will for our lives and experience His protection, blessing, joy, and "unfailing love."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Psalm 27

Psalm 27 was a prayer of David in a time of crisis.  It was a confident assertion that the Lord would help him against his enemies.  It was also a confident prayer to God for help.  King David was secure in the Lord.  We also can be confident in the Lord.  When we face difficult or seemingly insurmountable problems we can run to the Lord.  We can say with David of old, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord is our light or our sense of well-being.  He is the One that guides, directs, and protects. The Lord is our source of all the blessings in our lives.  We need not fear anything or anyone, because the Lord is our stronghold.  Even when chaos and all kinds of fearful events seem to be breaking out all around us, we can be confident in the Lord.

The Lord must not only be our soul's confidence, but He must also be our soul's desire.  David said in Psalm 27:4. "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple."  It should be our consuming passion to grow in our love relationship with the Lord and to grow in our sense of the Lord's presence in our lives.  It should be our consuming passion that we grow in our perception of the Lord's beauty.  It should be our passion to meditate on His Word and to spend time in prayer.  It should be our passion to then enter the world carrying the fragrance of Jesus, because we have spent time lingering in the Lord's presence.

Psalm 27:5 reminds us that if we are lingering in the Lord's presence we will then experience His peace and safety "in the day of trouble."  In those days of trouble the Lord will hide us in His protection and will set us "high upon a rock."  That rock is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!  We as His children will go from victory to victory, and we will be filled with His praises!

The Lord is our light and soul's confidence.  He must further be our soul's desire.  The Lord is also our soul's prayer.  We must always seek the face of our Lord in prayer, because He alone is our helper.  We can not face one day without Him.  The Lord has promised to always be with us. Even if all others would reject us, the Lord will never reject His own.  His arms are always open wide to His children.  We are eternally secure in the Lord!

There is much turmoil in this world.  There is much we could fear, but a child of God need not fear. God's children can experience the Lord's peace.  We experience this peace by asking the Lord to teach us His ways and by walking in the Lord's paths.  Only those who know and seek to obey the Lord can experience His answers to prayer and His victories and peace in their loves.

We also experience the Lord's peace by trusting the Lord and resting our lives in Him.  We experience the Lord's peace by taking our eyes off our problems and the condition in which we find the world and by directing our eyes on the Lord.  We experience the Lord's peace by knowing that the Lord is in control and by waiting on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 reads, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."  Waiting on the Lord involves not running ahead of the Lord.  It involves not forcing doors open before the Lord's perfect timing.  It involves seeking the Lord's direction, guidance, and help. Waiting on the Lord is a sure confidence that the Lord has every detail of our lives planned, so we need not panic in times of crisis or trial.  Waiting on the Lord means we are resting in the Lord for working out the details of our lives.  Waiting on the Lord means we are concentrating on our love relationship with the Lord and not on our problems.  Waiting on the Lord is being quiet long enough to hear His voice in His Holy Word and in our hearts.  Because Psalm 27:1 assures us that the Lord is our "light" and "salvation," we need to fear nothing.  He is our peace and strength.  Wait on the Lord!