Friday, April 20, 2012

Truly Blessed

Truly Blessed

Romans 4:7–8 (NKJV)
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”

We use the word blessed quite often to refer to our good temporal circumstances. Sometimes we use the term to convey well wishes on friends and family as we bid them a “blessed day.” In Romans 4 Paul uses the term to describe someone who is eternally blessed. Those who are truly blessed have their sin forgiven, their guilt removed, and will never receive the just consequences of their rebellion.

At first glance this sounds unfair or unjust. How could a righteous God allow unrighteous people to be forgiven? Where is the justice for those who were victims of criminal acts? In fact this text in Romans is a quotation from Psalm 32 in which David is repenting of his forceful adultery with Bathsheba and the scandalous cover up. His sin did find him out, and David repented and cherished the glorious thought of the blessing of God’s forgiveness. But that still does not answer the question of how a man who commits a heinous act can be a blessed man and God still retain righteous justice. Paul gives a full treatment over the next few chapters in Romans, but let us consider just a taste of it in the next chapter.

Romans 5:6–11 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Are your lawless deeds forgiven? Are you truly blessed? You are the blessed one if you have been reconciled to God by Christ Jesus who bore the guilt of your sin on His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

What an incredible blessing for the one who has faith in Christ. It is this blessing that will triumph in the face of tragedy and be hopeful in times of disappointment.

Romans 5:1–5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What to Wear

What to Wear

9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9–10 (NKJV)

Does it matter what I wear to church? The first church I attended placed a strong emphasis on clothing and hair style. It was 1975 and the counter cultural movement was in full swing. Many in the culture were showing their anti establishment attitudes by the clothes they wore and the hair styles they adopted. At the church the attire was expected to be semi-formal and grooming was expected to be conservative. These were unwritten rules that everyone in the congregation seemed to understand. Thirty years later it appears that the standards have relaxed considerably. But the question still remains, does it matter what I wear to church?

In our text Paul addresses this issue with his protégé Timothy. In the culture of the first century women would often display their wealth by their wardrobe. They would braid their hair with the “family jewels” and wear expensive clothing which was also considered a sign of great wealth. The purpose for this display seems to be pride, they wanted to get noticed. You could imagine in the first century church how disruptive this action could be. Ostentatious displays of wealth would create unnecessary divisions between the haves and the have nots.

What really is really at issue here is the heart of the worshipper. Paul is concerned more with the adornment of the heart than the head. He is concerned with the internal motivation for external behavior. So, he calls for godly women to dress modestly and adorn themselves in a way that does not distract from their inward godliness which is displayed in good works.

Does this text have any relevance for us today? Yes. Christians are called to adorn themselves in such a way that we do not become a distraction from the gospel. We are to adorn ourselves in such a way that we are able to serve others in humility. Christians adorn themselves in such a way that we do not become a stumbling block, but rather a stepping stone to faith. So does it matter what I wear to church? Yes.

1 Peter 3:3–4 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Job 23:12
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.

Job experienced a tremendous time of testing. He essentially lost everything near and dear to him. He lost his wealth, his family, and his health. His response is quite unexpected. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15a).

What forged that iron will in Job to trust God in the midst of tragedy? What helped Job to continue to believe in the goodness of God when his entire world was falling apart? I believe that he valued God and His Word more than those things that he lost.

Note in Job 23:12 our text states that Job “treasured” God’s Word. The Hebrew word for treasure means to hide or store up. Job had filled his heart with treasure that could not be lost, stolen, or destroyed. The same Hebrew word for “treasured” is translated “hidden” in Psalm 119:11. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”

Job also indicates that this treasuring or hiding of God’s Word was a daily priority. He states that he treasured God’s Word more than his necessary food. I do not miss many meals unless I am sick or purposely fasting. Most days I will eat at least twice and with snacks three or four times more. If you do not feast on God’s Word daily it may indicate an unhealthy spiritual appetite. When the winds of adversity blow you need the strength to trust God. That spiritual strength is built up by the daily nourishment of His Word.

Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.