Small Things

Small Things

“Who despises the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10

Life is filled with a series of small things that can amount to something big. Have you ever considered why the God of the universe came to earth and spent 33 years identifying with mankind through work? Jesus grew up as a carpenter’s son and, no doubt, learned the trade from His daily routine of helping His father. For 30 years He worked. When it was time for Him to begin to fulfill His purpose for mankind, He told countless stories of people and their work. He told stories of landowners, farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, and so on. He related to the everyday man because He Himself was one. This is why it was important for Him to have some personal work experience.

Life is filled with daily routines. Every now and then, God takes us to the mountaintop to experience His presence in a dramatic way. This is not the norm. It was not the norm for those in the Bible either. Moses spent 40 years in preparation. Paul spent a great deal of his life working toward the wrong purpose until a dramatic event changed his life. Jacob spent 20 years working for Laban.

God uses work to develop character qualities that He plans to use at the appropriate time. In the small things we develop trustworthiness with God. The day-in and day-out grind of working life molds us and makes us into what God desires. God may still be preparing you for something in His service for a future time. For now, however, you are learning the daily lessons of small things. Pray that you will be faithful.

Presumption Versus Faith

Presumption Versus Faith

“The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” 1 Chronicles 13:10

A life of faith often requires us to leave God’s work alone. Responding to a need out of a desire to help move a vision along can be the greatest challenge for a Christian entrepreneur. There is a fine line between presumption and faith.

Uzzah learned that presumption could cost him his life. He was part of the crew that was to move the ark with the help of a team of oxen. When the way became rough, Uzzah responded in a natural way. He grabbed the ark to steady it. When he did, he was immediately struck down. God said it was forbidden to touch the ark. King David mourned the death of his servant and argued with God about this loss. Walking with God in the workplace requires sensitivity to balancing our God-given talents and operating in the power of the Holy Spirit in and through our work life. A mentor once told me, “You almost have to hold back your natural gifting to ensure that God is the one who is guiding you. If not, you will not know if it is through your skill versus His hand that you are accomplishing the work.” I find this the most challenging aspect of a walk with God in the workplace.

You can only grow in your understanding of this balance by being accountable to others in the process. By having other committed Christians walking close to you, they become the safety net to keep you from presumption and the deceit of the heart. God also gives godly spouses to help many in this area.

Changing Lives: An Examination of Romans 6-8, 7:7-12.

 

Who You Married To?

Preached @ Anchor Community Church on July 27th 2014

Intro

The Big Picture: The Law makes a beautiful guide, but a horrible spouse; Part 2

Last week we Paul used an analogy to make it clear that the solution for sin was not the law, but grace. Being “Married” to the law is like being married to the wrong spouse, because that spouse is only demanding, but never helpful. You will never be good enough to appease that spouse. But since we are dead in Christ, and no longer “Under law” (Romans 6), should we obey the law at all? Paul’s answer of course is yes, as our guide to truth and life, but not as our covenanted “Husband.”

Basically, our Sin is rooted deep inside us, and I believe that all of chapter seven is dealing specifically with sin and our struggle with sin as we begin to understand the holiness and God and the depth of our own sin. It’s easy to follow man-made rules if we have enough will power, but being like God is not in our realm.

Our passage today parallels Israel who was given the Law, but who are also in Adam. Many people feel that Paul is using the first person, because he is identifying with Israel, but he is not necessarily talking about himself. I don’t believe that, and feel that even though there are many great minds saying that Paul is not speaking about his own struggles with sin, in Romans seven, I believe they are wrong for theological, contextual and experiential reasons.

Last week he showed us an analogy describing how we are “Dead” to the law, and alive in Christ. This week, he is using an analogy to show us that even Israel (God’s People) were sinful, and I believe that Romans 7:13-25 gives us a personal application in regard to sin.

Today there we see 2 Truths of the Christian’s Relation to the Law

From the Head…    

The Law Makes A Beautiful Guide (Romans 7:7, 12)

It is clear from verse 7 and 12 that the Law id Holy and Good. Law is our guide to His will (Galatians 3:24), and when we live it perfectly it will bring life as Leviticus 18:5 reminds us, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD” (See too, Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

God’s Law is objective because of God’s unchanging nature, but is also relentless. The law is hard on us, and unchanging. Consequences have changed because of Christ who paid the penalty, so some of the Old Testament punishments and ceremonial and dietary aspects have changed, but the moral law is not only binding, but it is equally unrelenting, therefore never intended to save, only point.

Our problem with the law is our inability to completely keep it. Galatians 3:10-12 reminds us that,

“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”‘ Simply, because of our sin, we can’t keep God’s law no matter how “Good” we think we are, which leads to our second “Truth.”

The Law Makes A Horrible Spouse (Romans 7:8-11)

Paul may be thinking backward to Romans 5:13 when he penned this analogy. “…For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”

As I said before, many struggle with the passages relevancy, because they can’t see the connection from Israel to us today, because they do not believe Paul is speaking about himself as a mature believer, but I believe he is, and just like God’s people (Israel) struggled with sin, so do His people today.

Paul keeps driving home the point that, the Law is NOT a solution for sin, only grace is. While many can take advantage of grace and move toward antinomian position, there are still many that see the law as the solution to antinomianism. BOTH are wrong in Paul’s eyes. Being “married” to law is not the answer to sin, only God’s grace is.

The law doesn’t make us sin, since it is God’s holy and righteous law, it just exposes the sin that is in our own heart! The law didn’t make us sin, it exposed our sin (Galatians 3:24). The word Paul uses is παιδαγωγός (Paidagogos) meaning “Tutor/Guardian.” The word was used in Jesus’ time for trusted slaves that were called to mentored young boys in the realm of ethics and morality. That’s what the law’s role is according to Galatians 3:24), it’s not intended to save anyone, because of the deep sin that rules in our hearts. Many of us judge ourselves as being “Not bad,” but the law helps us realize that deep down in our heart, we are more sinful than we can ever imagine, but the gospel reminds us that we are more loved than we can ever know. Whereas religion sees sin as something that is “Out there” and to be avoided, while our solution remains inside us, the gospel shows us that the problem (Sin) is inside us, and the only solution is out there (Jesus). Meditation, religion, hedonism; none of them defeat sin and death as the gospel does.

…to the Heart

When we begin to really understand God’s holiness, we will really begin to understand our own sin and our deep need for Jesus. Sin is deceptive and deludes us into thinking we are ok, and all we need is a little meditation, therapy, good feelings, etc. Our problem is much deeper, and we need a real physician in Christ to extricate the deepness of our sin, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill our heart with His love and desire to please God so we can live by His will, and not my own.

Questions For Study

1. What is the law?

2. What does it have to do with a believer?

3. Does the law cause us to sin?

4. In what way does law produce death?

 

Books For Further Study

NT Commentary on Romans, William Hendricksen

John MacArthur NT Commentary, Romans 1-8, John MacArthur

Encountering the NT Series: Romans Doug Moo

Romans, Martin Luther

Romans: God’s Good News For the World, John Stott

Romans, R.C. Sproul

Romans, John Calvin

St. Paul For Everyone: Romans, N.T. Wright

The Painter Did It

The Painter Did It

By faith Moses… refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.
Hebrews 11:24-25

Recommended Reading – Hebrews 11:23-29

During a hotel stay in France, the founder of Greater Europe Mission, Robert Evans, determined to share his faith with the staff he encountered there. He quickly discovered that many of them were familiar with Gospel, and some had already come to faith in Christ. Evans was interested in how they came to know about Christ and found that it was one of the workers — the hotel painter — who had shared his faith. “Almost everything here gets constant painting,” explained the man. “My work gets me into every department of the building, I know everybody and everybody knows me. Of course, I tell them about my Lord.”

This is a great reminder that our mission field is wherever we are. For Moses, it was the desert. He did his greatest work for the Lord in the hardest locations. Sometimes our situations are difficult and challenging, but having a Moses-like faith can help us see beyond the temporal and into the eternal. Don’t be frustrated if you’re tending sheep in the desert or painting a wall somewhere. God has a wonderful way of using us to reach people wherever we are.

“A sage seeks opportunities in difficulties, and a fool finds difficulties in opportunities.” We are born to overcome difficulties through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Christiana Tsai, Chinese heroine

Trust in God and Do Right

Trust in God and Do the Right

Trust in the LORD, and do good. Psalm 37:3

Recommended Reading – Psalm 37:1-6

It took some courage, but a Texas Girl Scout Troop helped nab a shoplifter while they were selling cookies at a Houston supermarket. From their table near the entrance, they watched a suspicious man wheel his shopping cart out the door and toward the curb. The girls were suspicious because none of the items were in bags and the man looked as if he were trying to sneak out. They alerted authorities who found $2000 in stolen merchandise in the man’s possession — not just groceries but small appliances and alcohol as well. “He was stealing a lot of stuff,” said one girl. “We caught a bad guy.”

Sometimes while minding our own business throughout the course of a day, we’re confronted with a challenge — a wrong to right, a correction to make, a task to finish, or a soul to influence. Most people look the other way, apathetic or frightened. But remember that the word “bold” is a New Testament adjective for God’s people; and the Lord expects us to be of “good courage.”

Having faith will give us courage even when the challenge seems intimidating or the task seems impossible. We must always trust God and do what’s right.

Some will hate thee, some will love thee, some will flatter, some will slight; turn from man, and look above thee; trust in God and do the right.
Norman Macleod, Scottish poet

A Faithful Man

A Faithful Man

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20

There is a distinct difference between the workplace believer who operates based on living in the Promised Land versus the one who operates in Egypt. In Egypt, the workplace believer sweats and toils to generate an outcome. The final objective is foremost in their mind. Outcome is everything.

In the Promised Land, we learn that obedience is the only thing that matters. We are called to execute, and leave outcome to God. Sometimes that outcome is very positive, yielding a return. In other cases, we may not yield a corresponding return. We may even get a negative outcome. The difference is that we know that we have been faithful to what God has called us to and we yield results to God. God often blesses obedience beyond what we deserve. If God brings wealth to your life, it should come as a by-product of obedience, not an end in itself.

God may call each of us to be obedient to situations that may not yield immediate, positive results. It is in these times that our faith must be obedience-based versus outcome-based. What if Jesus had considered the immediate ramifications of whether he would go to the cross? Based on the immediate outcome, the decision would have been an easy one. Who wants to die on a cross? However, for Him there was a higher purpose in that obedience. We are called to this same kind of obedience. This means putting our own flesh on the line daily, dying to our own self-will.

This is what it means to be a faithful man. Pray that God will make you a faithful man today.

Future Focus

Future Focus

For [Abraham] waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Hebrews 11:10

Recommended Reading – Hebrews 11:13-16

Parents are sometimes heard telling their young adult children, “You need to stop dreaming about the future and get a job today!” Some adults can’t stop thinking that their true destination in life is just around the corner. Instead of sowing seeds today, they dream only of a harvest (Proverbs 12:11).

Just the opposite is true of some Christians. Instead of keeping our eyes focused on our eternal calling, we become enamored with “today” — the things of this world that are only temporal (1 John 2:17). The writer to the Hebrews singled out Abraham and Moses as examples of those who lived their lives by faith in the future. Abraham might have been travelling to Canaan, but he knew he was destined for an eternal city. And Moses didn’t mind giving up the riches of Egypt because “he looked to the reward” God had planned for him in eternity (Hebrews 11:26).

Both the present and the future are important, but only one will last forever. In fact, our present life is to be lived with our eternal life in mind (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Whatever your plans are for today, fulfill them for eternal reasons.

Too often we concentrate only on the things we can see now; but our focus should be on that place we can only envision, but will enjoy for all eternity.
David Jeremiah