Apr 28, 2010

Sinners

Sinners; there are sinners and there are sinners. In the gospels, there are found three situations wherein sinners are expanded on by the Lord Himself. It is humbling to revisit these, lest we find ourselves not afar from where we would least imagine ourselves to be.

With the adulterous woman arrested and cast down before the Lord; the many were challenging and instigating for a verdict, of stoning as demanded by the Law of Moses. Here was a sinner in the midst of sinners, yet the crowd not only did not see themselves worthy of being stoned, but considered themselves morally qualified to demand and execute judgment by stoning another. They were not caught in any act requiring the mandatory sentence of stoning till dead, seemingly guiltless of such indiscretions. Still, a sinner is a sinner, and in the presence of a thrice holy God, is there therefore any virtue, in “lesser” sins? Is it not strange; that one sinner could pursue the punishment of another for his sin? It is easy to collect the innumerable stones or projectiles we would keep in our pockets, ever ready to be cast at the so many we have marked out, when given opportunity or provocation. We may not have launched the stones physically even, but in our hearts, they really have been landed long ago. Let us be wary less we develop enough sophistry to assemble and maintain stockpiles thereby securing a d├ętente; the munitions to dissuade each the other from launching any missiles. All in all, we are still not exempt from the perennial scuds coming in from who knows where! It is not unknown, that we can even pride ourselves in our arsenals. What accomplished sinners we are.

With the Pharisee and the Publican, the pharisee was insolent in his regard of the publican. To think, he could voice his despise to the LORD, in prayer, in expectancy of favor? When we would think of ourselves more circumspect, more respectable, less sinful, less depraved when we compare ourselves with our contemporaries, who are we really? It may be true, that we do not “gamble, smoke or chew”. We may not be promiscuous and jurisprudently refrain from “fooling” around. But the moment, we would think ourselves of purer kilt; we fit the errant Pharisee’s refrain. We forget that, except for the grace of God, we would not have been so preserved. Should we think ourselves so pious or strong? Dare we forget about asking the LORD to keep us safe from evil? Would we think that we are beyond being “sifted like wheat”? And when we see others, especially those from within the Church, ensnared, fallen or crushed, consider how our hearts respond; in godly sorrow for the fallen? Or in strong language castigating our disappointments? Or in grateful thankfulness that we have not been so tested or suffering ruin? With love awaiting to, at a proper time, mend and pick up the pieces or with cold distance, having found another’s feet of clay? Would we hear the gloating “Aha” and will a brother lament, that “he that ate at my table, has lifted his heel against me?” “God, I thank You that I am not like…..whom?” A broken and contrite heart; He will not despise. We really need not be broke, to understand that we are broken.

With Simon the Pharisee and the alabaster woman, the Lord had much to ask of Simon. Circumstances persuade those who keep the law diligently, live decent, circumspect, and respectable lives, to imagine themselves to be not too delinquent. Would that Simon ask in his heart; “does not the Prophet know, who and what sort of person this is, who is touching Him? For she is a sinner”. Is Simon really clean, even in his own eyes? Did he consider himself a righteous person? And the Lord’s address to Simon unveils a greater grotesque. Simon’s lack, in the provision of water, a welcome kiss and oil, was a reflection of Simon’s true depreciation of the person of the Lord. Simon had started questioning the integrity of just another teacher. The question and answer over indebtedness is not, the more urgent focus. Would that we differ from Simon? When was it last, that we had a tear to shed, for the sins we have committed not regarding them as trite? How does our lack evidence itself? We like Simon, may invite the Lord into our homes, but then, to what end? Is He the useful Guest that we can parade to our friends and neighbors, as a reflection of how important or well-connected we really are? It will be a cold day, if all this posturing and bluster serves only to buttress a feint of God-fearing religiosity. Does the Lord find His welcome and devotion in our homes and spaces? Would we hear, for ourselves, from Him, “your sins are forgiven.”? The tone and language in Luke could suggest that Simon was not prescribed such assurance. The texts could well have been a summary judgment. Take a moment, does the Lord’s prognosis fit, not only Simon?

There are sinners and there are sinners; to which do we belong?

God bless.




/ckh

Apr 23, 2010

Matthew16:24-26

"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."














"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Jesus Christ, ≈0030 A.D.)


--Uploaded by Greg--
"Nobless Oblige"

Apr 20, 2010

Worship

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce;(Pro 3:9)

Worship is the act of returning to the LORD, what He first gave us. There is the old adage that all that we would present, must not be blemished or defective, lame or blind, deformed or impotent. The Leviticus requirements are quite explicit. Of particular edict were the unction on first fruits and first-born. Whilst all these Old Testament standards were satisfied by the supreme sacrifice of the Lamb, fulfilling every requirement of the Law, is it not strange that in our “sacrifice” and worship of today, how far we have strayed? Has the Law been annulled absolutely? Do not, the principles still hold? Or have we dulled our senses with compromise?

Consider even the superficiality of the ceremonies? Whilst we may avoid, shun or even deride ostentatious displays, could it not also be derived, that our superfluity may be indicative of the nature of our appreciation,our dedications and devotions? Evaluate our preparedness, urgency, the timeliness and ardor of our worship. Not infrequently, we emulate the behavior of a submarine sonar; it take so long to hear the rebounding “ping”; because we ply in depths so deep, the depth pulse takes that long to reach the bottom and back ! So much have been dispersed, when we reflect on the quality of our praise in dedication, prayer and song. Some respond only as resounding boards, otherwise mute. Did the LORD not watch over each and every one of us? Do our hearts, really have nothing to say in response?

There is a slippery path we all travel. It begins initially when we are lackadaisical in being thankful. We excuse ourselves by thinking that the LORD knows and understands, what we find difficult to verbalize or articulate; afterall we do not at every juncture express thanksgiving or so we would think. The situation deteriorates further when we find our thankfulness and appreciation waning especially when we have been blessed with fair weather. Our silence accelerates in tandem with our slothful lack of thankfulness. Left unimpeded, we slip from silence to a lack of honoring; we will fail to honor the LORD for all His goodness and provisions, but more so, for Himself. Ironically, His gracious providence deforms to become our God-given right??? How many thump, when dark clouds appear? We writhe and whine, accosting the heavens in demand for explications.

Thankfulness and gratitude are directly proportional to an appreciation of the magnitude of the gratia. Consider the currency of our praise for the Man of the cross; whilst man’s praise will never reach such heights, does it warrant such careless repose? The LORD does have a very specific requirement for His old feasts.

"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.(Deut 16:16)


Would our worship do honor to the LORD? He does not need our substance, praise or worship or service or lives even. He did not demand in stricture that men should worship Him, but He did mandate, on how, should men find it in themselves, that they should. There is a connectivity in our hearts between grace, knowledge, thankfulness and praise leading to worship. May we constantly reassess our worship for the One, we call, our LORD. May we know Him more daily and find in our hearts, the warrant and place of worship.

God bless.



/ckh

Apr 14, 2010

Something to Ponder about.

The Christian accepts the truth of the existence of God by faith. But this faith is not a blind faith, but a faith that is based on evidence, and the evidence is found primarily in Scripture as the inspired Word of God, and secondarily in God's revelation in nature. Scripture proof on this point does not come to us in the form of an explicit declaration, and much less in the form of a logical argument. In that sense the Bible does not prove the existence of God. (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 21)

--Greg--

Apr 12, 2010

Death

When we are young, it is infrequently that we deliberate on the subject of death. For not so many, the subject is revolting taboo. Who would in his proper youthful frame of mind wish to be so sordid as to consider death? We may be reminded of the fragility of human life from time to time, but surely, it is not a subject we would consider impacting us on a daily basis. But is it not?

For the wages of sin is death, (Roms 6:23)

For a fact, no one of us would dispute that we fall into sin on a daily basis. Our hearts have been deceived; each time there is sin, something truly dies. We do not always realize that, when there is sin, we break things; trust, confidences, reliability, duty, hearts and people, friendships and relationships, especially those we claim to love. Whilst it may be true that someone did not keel over, it does not mean that there was no dying. We bruise, we scar and we tear up, in the extreme, we actually kill. When people are hurt or driven to tears and despair, did not something die? And it is not limited to the other parties alone. Frequently unawares, we do it also to ourselves; our consciences, our integrity, our honor, our selves; we sear and harden our own hearts. For those still living, some wounds never heal, others leave ugly crippling scars; and did not some things die?

We sometimes trump the perception that the LORD will, one day, come in judgment, to punish all sin; this ironically is also warped.

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Eze 18:23)

The LORD has mercifully provided redemption at the highest cost of His Son. His blood avails for all. There is forgiveness of sin, with the LORD. We actually choose death for ourselves by trampling underfoot His provision. And we do not see that there is no forgiveness of sin, from sin. We do not always realize that sin extracts immediate judgment and punishment. Sin breaks and kills with immediate effect. We do not have to wait till Judgment Day to get our just desserts.

Perchance, the reality of sin and death would bring us quickly back to the cross. It is no small thing to cause death. And we do, when we willfully sin. His grace and mercy is sufficient for us.

God bless.



/ckh

Apr 2, 2010

Lord,Lord.

It was sometime ago that my brother asserted that people do not always come to the Lord with ‘noble’ intent. Well it has been said, that people go to church to search! Not infrequently we hear the charge that people flock to church for food, for fellowship, for welfare. For the destitute, a warm meal, a roof over one’s head and a clean bed in exchange for simulated prayer and devotion? Not exactly a high price to pay, considering the alternative, if any.

But are we any different? If it is salvation we seek, or forgiveness from above, or eternal life per se. Many desire blessing, purpose and power in this life or a future in heaven. There will always be seekers. There are those who seek fame or notoriety, the gift, prestige and pinnacle of oratory; the ability to move man through depths and up heights of ecstasy, to make a man move his being with one’s words. To influence other men; to speak as it were, with the voice of an angel, with authority and power. To perform mighty deeds, perchance miracles!

We would not forthrightly admit to Jesus Christ being our insurance underwriter. We want the salvation He provides, we want the blessings He showers. So like the destitute, what is so onerous about doing church? He is our savior but not our Lord, though we unashamedly would so call Him. He is good only until His blessing seems amiss in the midst of troubles. We may want a place in heaven, but not with Him around us all the time, less He would cramp our space or style. We may want a lot of what He can provide but not quite Himself. Does it not seem most awkward, to be wanted only for what we can provide and in the name of love?

Trouble tends to turn our eyes unto the Lord. In such circumstance, we are prone to cry out, pray, fast, weep, and like David, lie in the dust. We oft make promises we do not even remember, so what is there left to keep? When the storms subside, like the darks clouds, we too, fly away.

It is immensely difficult to keep our eyes upon the Lord. Earthly, temporal fascinations glimmer away our attention. It is no exaggeration that where the eyes lead, our hearts follow. Troubles are often good for our souls yet we will bemoan their advent. Humility is not quite our forte.

The LORD is gracious and remembers that we are, but dust. Still, it is good to remember that we are bought with a price; that we are not our own. Paul reminds us to strenuously work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

We are reminded also, that the Lord did ask “Why call Me Lord, Lord?”

God bless.




/ckh