Verse of the Day – 02/07/19

Psalm 97:10

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (NIV)

You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (NKJV)

I thought our Verse of the Day had some great key points for us to consider … and embrace.  As disciples of Christ Jesus, we have been called to love Him and to keep His commands.  We have been chosen by God to receive salvation through His Son.  He has promised us the inheritance of eternal life.  He has empowered us to walk in step with His indwelling Holy Spirit.  And God has enjoined us to love one another just as He in Christ demonstrated His loved toward us.  Wow! And yet, here we have another response to the love of God to consider: HATE EVIL. Look at the text.  If you love the Lord … you will HATE evil!  This is very strong language….

Now, perhaps we think that the “ability” to hate evil should be inherent in the hearts and lives of those who have received Jesus as Lord and been born again of the Spirit.  Yet, how many of us as Christians continue to struggle with temptation and fall short … fail … sin?  The Apostles James and John both addressed this spiritual challenge:

James 1:12-16 (ESV)

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my dear friends. 

John 1:5-10 (ESV)

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

So my thought is that our “struggle” becomes complicated because we simply do not HATE evil.  We still allow evil thoughts within our hearts (Cf.  Genesis 6:5) to drive the desires and behaviors that lead us into sin….  The Psalmist indicates that if you love God … you should HATE evil.  But he states that the Lord “guards” the lives (souls) of His faithful ones (saints) and delivers them from evil.  Likewise, James assures us that God will bless those who remain steadfast (faithful) under temptation with the “crown of life” which He has promised to give those who love Him.   And John advises us that if we walk in darkness … we cannot have fellowship with God.  But praise God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we CONFESS our sins to Him….

Yes, we need to recognize and realize that evil is ever present around us.  It is hostile to our souls whether inflicted from within or experienced from without.  Oh, we readily hate the sins of others and the evil their sin inflicts upon us and others.  But do we truly hate our own sin … in all of its variant forms, subtleties, and deception?  Jesus warned us to examine ourselves – to see if we sincerely hate all evil:

Matthew 23:25-28 (ESV)

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

I gather from the tone of this passage, Jesus was quite passionate in His delivery of this message to the religious hypocrites.  The deception of hypocrisy is that it is truly darkness. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  So it is with hidden sin(s) … which is not ever hidden from God.  We are all exposed before Him … and He knows the truth.  He knows whether we truly hate evil … or if we are merely pretending … especially in front of others.

But I would like to revisit the assurance found in our Verse of the Day that I believe we need to embrace: “He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”  This message reminded me of another verse we have studied that offers a similar message of hope:

1 Corinthians 10:12-14 (ESV)

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (what you can bear), but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

Well, I hope this Verse will challenge each of us to sincerely examine ourselves … our inner thoughts and convictions … to determine if we truly HATE evil in every form of darkness it manifests itself.  You who love the Lord – hate evil!  It is something that you must expressly and intently do in your thought life before it will ever manifest in your personal conduct or manner of life. Remember, God sees and knows the truth.  But know this: God is for us on this one!  He will guard our souls and delivers us from the evil one…. What a wonderful promise for those who love Him! Amen.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 01/21/19

Galatians 6:7-8

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

This Verse of the Day is connected with the last few we have studied.  To me, the Spirit is trying to focus us on sincerity of heart … the genuineness of our faith. We will all stand before our Holy Father … at the judgment seat of Christ, and the truth of our lives (which have always been known by God) will require an account. His Light will expose every hidden thought and act of darkness within us on the Day!  What we often fail to remember is that “Day” will be the day of our passing or the day of our resurrection. And we do not know the day nor the hour when that will occur….(Cf. Matthew 25:13)

Therefore, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to consider our manner of life … what we do; how we interact with others; and to not deceive ourselves by comparing our hearts and lives with others.  As Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Paul is telling the Galatian Church (and us) to not deceive ourselves.  God sees and knows everything about us … what we say and what we do every moment we are breathing.  We are foolish if we think that He does see:

Genesis 16:13 (NIV)
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Job 11:11 (NIV)
Surely, He recognizes deceivers; and when He sees evil, does He not take note?

Job 31:4 (NIV)
Does He not see my ways and count my every step?

Psalm 33:13-15 (NIV)
The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

Psalm 94:7-11 (NIV)
They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does He who fashioned the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see? 10 Does He who disciplines nations not punish? Does He who teaches mankind lack knowledge? 11 The Lord knows all human plans; He knows that they are futile.

1 John 1:5-10 (NIV)
This is the message we have heard from Him (Jesus) and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.

And so the main point here is about self-deception.  We need to be honest.  We need to be transparent before both God and man.  God sees us even if we are able to hide the truth from others.  God knows us even if we are able to hide our actions from others. Paul warns us that whatever we sow … we will reap – both physically and spiritually.  That is the bottom line.  Everything we say or do has an effect on ourselves and most likely on those around us.  And God sees it all!  But I want to put our Verse of the Day into context so we can view it in a different light….

I think most of us read this verse and only look at its implications for ourselves.  For example, if I smoke (in order to please my flesh), I will reap the physical toll it does to my body.  Similarly, if I eat like a glutton or make poor food choices (in order to please my flesh), I might become overweight and reap the physical toll it does to my body. What about addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography or sexual desires? There are consequences to our bodies; and our souls are highjacked and return to bondage in the process. However, I wonder if Paul meant for us to more intentionally look at the impact of our conduct on the well-being of others when he states: “God cannot be mocked and that we will reap what we sow.”  When we are focused on “pleasing ourselves” do we consider the selfishness of what we sow to indulge our flesh?

Galatians 6:1-10 (NIV)

1Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

When I looked at our verse in its surrounding context, I began to see something different – something that I had not really considered before regarding sowing and reaping.  Most of the time I’ve only considered the outcome of what sowing to my own flesh would produce … how it would please me or the potential consequences which I would choose to dismiss. I might consider its impact on my own soul; but I did not think about the impact of what I sowed to my own flesh (sinful nature) on others.  For example, if I were to judge and broadcast the sins of another person, not only do I harm them emotionally and spiritually, I am reaping destruction within my own soul. Why? Because I am not loving that other person as Christ Jesus has loved me.  We are to comfort each other and edify (encourage) one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We are to carry each other’s burdens. To do otherwise is to disregard the command of Christ to love one another … and to be filled with sanctimonious pride … and we know that God will oppose the proud. (Cf. James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) I started to think about what Paul said about us judging others of their sin:

Romans 2:1-4 (NIV)
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things (see Romans 1:18-32) is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

When we sow to the flesh (our sinful nature), the consequences impact not only ourselves but those around us … often in ways we might not see … or deliberately or blindly ignore.  It is a road that leads to destruction and we are urged to forego the temptation.  Then notice that Paul asserts there is an alternative and that we need to “sow to please the Spirit”.  He suggests that our conduct … our thoughts and deeds … should be cultivated in a manner to please the Holy Spirit.  When we sow to please the Spirit, our objective is to bear the fruit of the Spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Cf. Galatians 5:22-23) But here is the catch. Do you realize that this fruit is the product (outcome) of what we sow into the lives of other people?  Look at each of the nine fruits listed.  Every one of them is RELATIONAL! Of what value is the fruit or its harvest if there is no meaningful context for its manifestation! Love requires an object of affection. Joy and peace are to be shared. Kindness, goodness, and gentleness has no impact if these are not extended to another human soul….  I truly think Paul was writing with this in mind when discussing the concept of reaping and sowing.  Doing good … sowing the seeds of spiritual fruit into the lives of others is the harvest that the Lord is seeking from us.  In this way we fulfill what Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15) In this way we fulfill the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:8)

I pray each of us will thoughtfully consider what sowing to our own flesh really entails … and who it ultimately impacts.  Sin only diminishes your walk with Christ Jesus and it discredits your testimony with others … which ultimately dishonors the Savior who redeemed us and purchased us with His own blood.  Again, we have been called to holiness. We are called to be conformed to His image. (Cf. Romans 8:29) “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) And Paul has warned us not to be deceived or to deceive ourselves … or somehow be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3) So I pray each of us will get serious … reset our mindset … and sow to please the Spirit so that our lives in Christ Jesus will bear the fruit of the Spirit for the benefit of one another and those around us.  In this way, we will reap eternal life….  Amen.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!