Psalm 119:9

Psalm 119:9 - How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 14:14

"The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways."

All of us sinners know about this already, don't we? It's the simple, steadfast rule of the universe, put in place
by God, that conformity to His character brings life, and the lack thereof, death. This echoes my Prov. 21:21
post, but I want to concentrate further on this concept here.
  Randy Alcorn, in his book, The Purity Principle (which I highly recommend), Says this:

"A holy God made the universe in such a way that actions true to
His character, and the laws derived from His character, are always rewarded.
Actions that violate His character, however, are always punished.
He rewards every act of justice; He punishes every act of injustice.
That doesn't mean God always intervenes directly. This moral law is like the
law of gravity. God has set it in place. When a careless driver speeds on an icy
mountain pass, loses control, and plunges his car off a cliff,
God doesn't suddenly invent gravity to punish the driver's carelessness.
Gravity is already in place."

In this morning's sermon, Pastor Philip taught from Ephesians 2, which talks about the fact we, unregenerate,
are dead in our sins. He then went on to point out that this "death" is not physical, but spiritual. He went to the
account of the fall in Genesis 3, adding that the death that came from Adam and Eve's disobedience was, in
essence, the severing of their relationship with God.
  In picking this verse, I particularly noticed the use of the words "fruit" and "will" in each sentence. Fruit
implying something that comes out of another, that is inseparable from that thing. The fruit of a tree is part of
that tree, and a healthy tree will bear its fruit in season. This flows into the next word, "will". It is a promise,
that whenever actions, good or bad, are performed, the fruit comes, whether we like it or not. Of course, in
reference to this, a certain portion of scripture may come to mind...

"But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully
grown brings forth death." - James 1:14-15 

In addition to all this, though, we remember that, in spite of the residual effects of our sin, we have the ultimate
victory and assurance of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, who "redeemed us from the curse of the law by
becoming a curse for us (Gal 3:13)".  

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Make-Up Monday" - 2 Timothy 1:7 (Part 2)

And now, we come to part two of my attempted exegesis of, well, this verse. I will be focusing on the latter
part, namely, "...but of power and love and self-control."

We learn next that this is a Spirit of power (Acts 1:8; Is 40:28-31; Rom 15:13). This sort of ties in with the previous point I made, for if we fear the Lord and, having His Spirit in us, do His will, we have nothing to fear,
which is power indeed (Prov 16:7). Another facet of this is the power of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, and
then to enable us to walk in holiness (Gal 5:16).
  Thirdly, it is a Spirit of love. Through the Holy Spirit, God has given us the ability to love Him (1 Jhn 4:19), and
others (1 Jhn 4:7-8), with a true and selfless love. Remember that, apart from God, we humans are dead in our
sin, unable to love the One who made us (Eph 2:3). Though fallen man can and does love family, friends, and
others, Jesus showed us a different kind of love:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you,
what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" - Matt 5:43-47

This is a completely foreign concept to our sin nature, one that goes against everything our self-obsessed flesh
demands. Another good portion of scripture pertaining to this is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

  Finally and fourthly, this Holy Spirit is a Spirit of self-control. As I mentioned in passing earlier, one of the 
core ministries of the Holy Spirit is to guide our steps, to show us the right way to go (Is 30:21), and to teach
us self-control, among other things (Titus 2:11-12). While we, as fallen creatures, have to learn, re-learn, and
keep learning self-control, I want to point something out here. This power of self-control is built into, it is one
of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). We do not work to acquire that power, only to apply it. In other words,
the tool is there for us to use. For any of us that struggle with sin, seeming to find victory far away, we need
not fear nor despair, for Christ has already won that battle. Through His death, all those who believe die to
sin (1 Pt 2:24), and by His resurrection, they are raised to new life, to that which is above (1 Pt 1:3-5). Satan
is defeated, but he still tries to deceive us into thinking that he's in control. Yet, "he who is in you is greater
than he who is in the world". This Holy Spirit is indeed God Himself, living in our hearts, and has this power
and these attributes because He is God, infinite and eternal (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Jhn 3:24; 1 Pt 4:14). Let us never
forget this, nor "neglect such a great salvation (Heb 2:3)" but "offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence
and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:28-29)".  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scripture Sunday - Whoops!

Well, I missed the deadline, but I'll be posting tomorrow, so keep yer shirts on, everybody! In the meantime,
here's a very edifying cartoon, and a not-as-edifying-but-funny video from Tim Hawkins, my favorite funny man.

Remember, people, "Love is patient and kind..." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Scripture Sunday - 2 Timothy 1:7 (Part 1)

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

Notice the first several words in this text, "for God gave us a spirit". This is not any man's doing. It is a miracle
of God, for only He can take out the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh. Also, this spirit is a gift that is not
only free, but is given freely to all who repent and believe. God is merciful, "not wishing that any should perish,
but that all should reach repentance (2Pt 3:9)", and indeed He says, "whoever comes to Me I will never cast
out (Jn 6:37)".
  But what is this spirit which the father so freely gives? What does it look like? First of all, it is not a spirit of
fear. (Ps 27:1; Rom 8:31; Is 41:10,13-14) We must recognize, though, that there is a different sort of fear, one
that "is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10). A healthy fear of God does not mean that we dread Him, or run
away from Him because He is some horrible tyrant. Rather, it is like something C.S. Lewis wrote about Aslan,
the great lion. " 'Course He's not safe. But He's good". In much the same way, although "our God is a consuming
fire (Heb 12:29)", He is not like some terrible beast that knows only vengeance and wrath, but is, again, merciful
and willing to receive any that call out to Him. Therefore, we fear, or revere, Him because He is so holy, and we
are so unholy. Because He is so infinite, and we are so finite. Because He is God and we are not.
(Prov 19:23, 28:14; Josh 24:14; Eccl 12:13-14; Heb 12:28-29)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We're Back...With Puppies And Music

Yes, we have returned from Florida! And a belated happy Resurrection Sunday to all you internet people, too. (He Is Risen!) There will most likely be a post about our trip on the family blog sometime, but suffice it to say
that we had a very good visit, and a well-needed one at that, as my uncle and two aunts are scattered from
Florida to Washington! B) And of course, we picked up a new puppy on Monday, he's a Golden Retriever/White
English Retriever mix named Titus:

He's settled in quite well here, but he and my dog Adrian still have to get used to each other...

By the way, here are some more songs we recorded before I left:

And now, a special Resurrection Sunday song performed by Blane Jr.

Anyway, I'll be getting back into the swing of things by this Sunday, so tune in for the next Scripture Sunday!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Quick Update, Plus a Treat

I know, I have no "Scripture Sunday" today. Well, the reason is that we're leaving for Tampa in the morning for
a rare get-together with my Dad's family, and so we've been kind've busy today... We'll be getting back late on
Resurrection Sunday, and we don't have a laptop, so I probably won't get any posts up during the week.

And now for the treat: A new recording by your favorite band...

Thanks to Spencer for letting us record this great arrangement!