Watching For Spiritual Drift

We all know sin doesn’t just walk up to us and say, “Hello! I’m going to take you down.” Sin comes subtly and with stealth. It’s like a boat that drifts off course. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, and then, well…it’s too late, and you miss the target. Don’t think it can happen? Talk to King David about it. If you think the reason he stayed home from war was to get some rest. Think again. I’m convinced David knew when Bathsheba bathed and chose his fate. It was potentially a slow, day by day deal. Drift.

Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” KILL IT! You don’t play around with sin. Sin is active when it seems to be the most quiet. See the full context of the verse:

Colossians 3:5-10

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

That’s a lot of death and blood you just read about. Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! Put it away!!! No more!!!

Think about it: Every unclean thought would be adultery if it could. Every doubt would be atheism if it could. Every simple pleasure would turn to lust, or greed, or envy if it could.

Are you drifting? You’re reading a devotion, so how is that possible? It’s possible, believe me. David went to worship while he was living in denial of his sin. The prophet Nathan finally revealed, “You’re the man.” You can be in church and drift just as easily as you can on a bar stool. Sin’s advance is like the stealthy, quiet march of an army under the cover of night, and then the first shot is fired, and it’s too late because we’ve been asleep. Truly, any of us could easily be in danger of a fall if we aren’t consistently killing the sin in our lives.

So, what’s likely to trip you up? What causes you to stumble the most? How are you killing it? Huh? How are you killing it? What have you done lately to identify the spiritual drift in your life? Where do you sense Satan is creeping in. Check the compass. Where is true north? How far off course are you? Are you in free-fall drift?

John Owen said: Sin is a cloud that spreads over the face of the soul, and intercepts beams of God’s love and favor. It takes away all sense of the privilege of our adoption. The weeds of lust and sin must be daily rooted up, and then there will be room for grace to thrive and flourish…

Sin want to keep you and me from a healthy spiritual life. When David harbored that lust, it broke all of his bones (spiritually) and left him no spiritual strength. He said:

Psalm 32:3-4

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away  through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Listen, sin that we don’t kill and deal with daily WILL drink up our strength. It will take all the vigor and true satisfaction from our lives. It will divert our attention to our lust and not our Lord. We’ve got to deliver lethal blows to the sin in our lives daily. If we don’t, sin will gain the upper hand. Remember, sin seldom hits us overnight. It usually takes time. Satan is patient. But, you can get back on course immediately. You identify the drift, reset the coordinates and head back in the right direction.

Are you drifting? Go to the Lord and ask Him. Really ask Him. He’ll show you. And whatever sin He shows you, KILL IT, and be renewed in the knowledge of your Creator!

Kevin

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Sin Sick

It’s that time of year.  Yep, it’s that time when folks start calling in to work because they’re sick or they have a sick kid.  Then, of course, there are the incredibly “thoughtful” folks who send their sick kid to school anyway because their paychecks are worth more than the wellbeing of the other children and their parents.  I hope you’re not one of those folks.  There’s a devotion in there about loving others above ourselves, but we’ll save that for another day…

I HATE it when my kids get sick.  They’re miserable.  My wife and I can take them to the urgent care and give them medicine, but, in the end, they must ride it out.  They just have to struggle.  And moms and dads worry.  Meanwhile, family members stay just out of reach so as not to “get it” themselves, all the while wanting to scoop of the ailing child and comfort them.

I confess that I personally struggle with getting close to my kids when they’re sick.  I’m happy to stay home and take care of them—give them popsicles when they have a fever or sore throat, give them their medicine, take their meals to them, and set them up with something fun and distracting like a DVD or a game while they’re quarantined in their rooms.  I WANT to be close to them, but I just have a hard time making myself be close to them when they’re contagious.  But in a lot of ways, I feel like it’s how God the Father views us and our inherent sin.  He wants us to be with Him.  He loves us!  But He hates our sin.  Our sin is repulsive—like a booger that’s run out of our child’s nose, past their lips, and is in the process of being licked into their mouths.  Barf!  And that doesn’t even do justice to how nasty our sin is to a perfectly holy God!  But, oh, how He loves.  Through His Son, He stooped down to nasty humanity, sick and riddled with sin, and by His death on the cross, He scooped us up, bringing us close enough to feel His beard and breath on our face and neck.  

Isaiah 53:5 

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

He SAVED US from the sin that was destroying us!  He literally heaped all that nastiness upon Himself when He BECAME sin on the cross!  He COMFORTED US in the aftermath of the destruction sin had wrecked in our lives.  And He does it still.  Are you letting Him continue to heal you?  Are you letting Him bring repentance in your life?  Remember, repentance is a change of mind wherein we realize our need for Him; it’s what caused us to call out to Him in faith to save us from our sin, and His Holy Spirit brings that same repentance to believers as He sanctifies us, showing us more and more disobedient areas of our lives needing to be brought into submission to Him.

Luke 5:31-32

31 And Jesus answered them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Are you “well?”  Is everything perfect in your life?  Or are there still areas in your life in which you need repentance, that change of mind that causes you to see your need for Him yet again, and you give Him permission to change you?  I know I still have those areas, and I will have them until I get my glorified body in the Rapture.  Until then, I’m going to keep letting Him change me because I’m sick of sin.

And what about the sin-sick around us?  Perhaps we avoid them like someone with the flu.  Perhaps their sinful influence is lost on us, and we embrace everything about them, potentially inviting their sin to take hold in our lives.  Neither position is the biblical one.  Jude says…

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

So I’ll ask the Lord to keep me well, and I’ll get close to my kids in their physical sickness because I can’t help them or comfort them from a distance.  And I’ll ask Him for strength, and grace, and love to love the lost like He did on the cross, despising their sin, yet desiring to snatch them out of it, the pain it currently causes, and the judgment it will ultimately bring.

Everyone has some sin-sickness in their lives.  I hope you’ll let Him continue healing you as a believer, and that you’ll let Him use you to bring the sin-sick lost to Him for healing as well.

Be well.  Love you!

Matthew

Strong Faith

How is your faith?

Strong? Weak? Just okay? Maybe not being tested right now?

As Christians we’ve got to have faith to survive. A Christian with weak faith is about as useful as a broom with no handle. Very little will be accomplished. Here’s the thing, we have faith, we just have to use it. Faith is described as a shield.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

For many of us, it’s so easy to get into the habit of trying to live our lives with our shield of faith lying on the ground. That leaves us unprotected for the darts of doubt from Satan.

Are you having doubts? The cure? Don’t dwell on the doubts. Yes, you read that right. Don’t dwell on the doubts. That’s what Satan wants. He wants us to get our eyes off of Jesus and our confidence and faith in Him and His Word. He’ll pound and pound with doubt and try to shake you.

  • You’ll never get better…
  • You’ll be like this the rest of your life…
  • There’s no hope for you…
  • You’re too weak…dumb…ugly…fat…short…average…
  • You fill in the blank________.

O how faith can crush Satan’s doubts if we’ll pick up that shield. Hide behind it! For, you see, shields in the first-century were about 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall. They had spikes on the bottom of them and you could drive them in the ground and literally hide behind them. When a storm comes in your life, pick up that shield, slam it in the ground and quote the Word of God. Recall to your mind the faithfulness of the Father.

Think about it…small boats can do well in a calm breeze, and ordinary men and women can stand when the troubles are light, but when the hurricane blows and waves are crashing against your life, and your spirit wants to give up, that’s when you must rely on faith. You rely on faith, not yourself. You say, “Great.  I know all of that, but why do I struggle so much?”

Well, here’s the problem. When troubles come we are slow to find our shield because we don’t remember where we left it, and when we finally pick it up, it’s not prepared. In the first century, enemies shot arrows or darts that were on fire. Therefore, soldiers would wrap their shields in leather and soak them in water to extinguish those fiery darts.

Folks, here’s the analogy: we cannot be inconsistent soldiers. We cannot be inconsistent in our preparation and we can’t be lazy, because if we are, we’ll fail.

So how’s your faith? Do you know where that shield of faith is? Is it wet with the Word of God? If it’s not…find it…pick it up…wet it, and hide behind it, and watch the Lord smash the enemy.

Kevin

The King’s Friend

It’s been aptly said that the Chronicles are to Samuel and Kings what John is to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The Gospels give accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection from different perspectives, each clarifying the other; however, John sheds light on the other three.  In the same way, the Chronicles shed light on Samuel and Kings.  As you read through 1 Chronicles 27, you’re acquainted with the various royal offices and the individuals who filled them as part of David’s reign.  Then, in the midst of all these important positions, you read these words…

1 Chronicles 27:33b

and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend.

What a way to be remembered, huh?!  Hushai must’ve been some friend to have been remembered as that above any other position!  It made me wonder, what made this guy such a great friend?

2 Samuel 15:32-37

32 While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant, then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35 Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son, and by them you shall send to me everything you hear. 37 So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

Absalom had just stolen the kingdom from David, and David was now instructing Hushai to infiltrate Absalom’s inner circle, spying for David and thwarting the counsel of Absalom’s advisor.  What a crazy mission!  Then it hit me:  to unwary observers, Hushai was now a bad guy!  The most effective position from which he could help David was beside David’s enemy, and, because of his actions, people would believe Hushai had betrayed David.  

2 Samuel 16:16

16 And when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, Long live the king! Long live the king! 17 And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend? 18 And Hushai said to Absalom, No, for whom the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain.

“Is this your loyalty to your friend?”  You can just hear Absalom’s dripping sarcasm mingled with his disgust.  But scripture affirms that Hushai truly was David’s friend over and over again.  For his friend, Hushai would become the bad guy.  How would history have remembered him had the scriptures not emphatically stated that Hushai was the friend of David?  His sacrifice, the risking of his life behind enemy lines, might have been forgotten.  Hushai never wavered, though.  He put himself in harm’s way for David.

I think of Jesus when I see this.  He too ventured behind enemy line, putting Himself in harm’s way for fallen man; however, harm severely found Him.  He also became worse than the bad guy; He became the bad guy’s sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Hushai’s reward for his efforts was rejoining King David after the enemy, David’s son, Absalom, had been defeated.  Jesus’ reward for His effort was resurrection, rejoining His Father on the throne of heaven, and a Bride chosen before the foundation of the world after defeating the grave.  What a Friend!

John 15:13 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 

King David was blessed by the friendship of Hushai, and we can revel in our friendship with our Savior, King Jesus.  He laid down His life for us, but He lives forevermore—a Friend closer than a brother, a Friend who will never leave nor forsake us—and as we walk with Him in faithful obedience to His Word, we become the King’s friends.  I hope you’ll intentionally cultivate that friendship today.

Matthew

What Will It Profit a Man?

I love history, and I am convinced not only is the Bible the Word of God, the Bible is also history. Read it and you’ll see people repeating the same problems over and over again. Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Throughout my 51 years on this earth I’ve watched humankind wrestle with life and how they’re going to live it.

A while back, I read about WWII and the Pacific theater. As everyone knows, that piece of the war was finally won by the Allies by the dropping of two atomic bombs. As I have studied the history of WWII, I’ve been intrigued by the decision-making of people in power. And I’ve been reminded once again of Jesus’ words:

Matthew 16:26

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? 

Think about those words. What does it mean to “gain the whole world?” Well, what means the world to you? For many of the decision-makers in WWII they were literally dealing with the world and millions of lives.

I was struck by this man.

1024px-robert_oppenheimer_1946

That’s J. Robert Oppenheimer. He is considered to be the genius and mastermind of the Atomic Bomb. He was hired by the US Government to design the bomb and ultimately it was tested on July 16, 1945 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The project was called the Manhattan Project and Oppenheimer called the testing of the bomb the “Trinity.” Are you thinking: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” Don’t. Oppenheimer was a fan of Hinduism and the “Trinity” were the three major gods of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He would quote a verse from the Hindu Vedas, Bhagavad Gita over and over during the development of the bomb.

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.”

Years later he would explain that another verse had also entered his head at that time: namely, the famous verse: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Interestingly during the development of the bomb, Oppenheimer would have an affair with a lady who would ultimately commit suicide after swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. His wife would eventually leave him and return to her parent’s home in Pittsburg. Ultimately, Oppenheimer would seldom eat, and even though he was 6 feet tall, he would lose down to 115 pounds and his teeth were rotting out. It’s also reported that he lived off of five packs of Chesterfield cigarettes per day, and tons of gin and coffee.

Yet, this was one of the smartest men who ever lived. He is said to have been equal to Einstein, pictured together here:

einstein_oppenheimer

Yet, Oppenheimer died at the early age of 62 after complications and a subsequent coma from throat cancer. One of the smartest men who ever lived, yet his life was a colossal train wreck. A man of intellectual brilliance, who rejected Christianity because he was heard to say it was “unintellectual.” He was cremated and his ashes were dropped off the coast of a small island he bought in the Virgin Islands.

Matthew 16:26

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? 

If someone were to write a description of your life today, what would they write? What are you living for? What motivates you? Think about it today. What’s going to matter in eternity?

The Apostle Paul got it right…

Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

What’s J. Robert Oppenheimer doing right now? What will he be doing 100 billion years from now? Do you think he regrets his rejection of Christ and his teachings as “unintellectual?” Do you think Brahma, and Vishnu, and Shiva are helping him now? Of course not! They don’t even exist!

I’m sobered by Oppenheimer’s life. Make your life count for Christ, Kevin! That’s all I can think of! Make your life count for eternity. Live for Jesus…the one who died for you! Live for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for there is purpose and meaning in that.

Kevin

Back to Back

1 Chronicles 19:10-13

10 When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the best men of Israel and arrayed them against the Syrians. 11 The rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and they were arrayed against the Ammonites. 12 And he said, If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13 Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.

I love this picture!  The Israelites were facing numerous armies at once, so Joab divided his forces and put some in charge of his brother, Abishai.  In my mind’s eye, I see these brothers standing back to back, fighting off their own opponents while being prepared to fight off each other’s opponents if it came to that.  Whether you realize it or not, this is a picture of how our relationships with fellow believers are meant to be.

Do you have an Abishai in your life?  Are you someone’s Joab?  No, I’m not talking about being a person who acts rashly per Joab’s norm.  I’m asking, do you have someone who has your back in life, and do you have anyone else’s back?

Notice that each man had his own challenge.  Joab was facing off against the Syrians, and Abishai was on guard against the Ammonites.  They each had their responsibility, and neither expected the other to carry the entire fight.  You know what fact that reminds me of?

WE EACH HAVE OUR OWN LIVES!

Can I be blunt?  All too often, we think and act like our own individual life is THE MAIN SHOW being played out on this earth, and everyone else is an actor in OUR STORY.  To put it in individual terms, my life is all important, and everyone else should recognize that.  We easily expect others to have the same amount of concern for our lives as we have for it, even when we don’t show that kind of concern for theirs.  We should be concerned for others around us, but we should also have reasonable expectations.  Truly, everyone has a lot going on.  The devil has organized the world systems to keep us scrambling, distracted, and divided.  Joab was focused on the Syrians.  Abishai was focused on the Ammonites.  However, these warriors made the commitment to do more…

12 And he said, If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you.  13 Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.

There they were.  Sweaty, dirty, tired, weapons drawn, muscles tense, eyes attentively darting across the battlefield, bracing for the enemy.  These men were more than natural brothers, they were spiritual brothers following the God of Israel, and they were brothers in arms.  As such, they were COMMITTED to one another.  As believers, we are family too.  We are brothers and sisters of one another.  You may have someone you talk to about life, but are they a follower of Jesus?  Too many believers seek counsel from nonspiritual people, and all they end up doing is making a situation more convoluted because their hearts and minds aren’t oriented in the same God-ward direction as ours.  Joab didn’t place his forces under the command of someone with zero combat instinct.  He didn’t entrust his safety to a someone in the enemy’s army!  HE GOT BACK-TO-BACK WITH A FELLOW WARRIOR FIGHTING FOR THE SAME CAUSE!  When we draw up in formation with fellow believers, life’s battle changes.  Now we’re fighting along someone who knows the spiritual battle were up against.  Now we’re challenged to fight the battle accordingly.  Will we always have help with everything?  From the Lord?  Absolutely.  From others?  Not always.  Sometimes we have to be the ones helping.  Sometimes my brother’s battlefield will be raging out of control more than mine, so I join him and fight alongside him.  And when I’m weak and being overwhelmed, he comes alongside me.

That’s how I find that it works with my wife and me.  The Lord works in us differently because we’re different people, and therefore, our relationships with Him differ from one another’s.  As such, I find that when I’m struggling and feeling beat down, she’s there to life me up and balance by low outlook.  Other times, the roles are reversed.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, like Joab and Abishai were fellow believers, when we come alongside each other in the spiritual warfare of this life, we become more than the sum of our parts.  The Lord is in the midst, and He will do what seems good to him.

When you’re low, and things are rough, tell a believing friend.  This requires more vulnerability than our social media driven society is comfortable with, but it’s vital.  We’re meant to do this together.  We’re meant to push each other, to challenge each other, to comfort each other, and to fight for each other BACK-TO-BACK in the Lord.

Matthew

Good Intentions Rewarded

How good is our God?  He’s so good that He even rewards good intentions!  Check it out…

1 Chronicles 17:4-5, 10b-12

4 Go and tell my servant David, Thus says the Lord: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in. 5 For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling. 

10b Moreover, I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house. 11 When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 

David felt wrong for living in a grand house while the Ark of the Covenant rested in a tent.  He wanted to build the Lord a house—the Temple.  The Lord told David, “You won’t build Me a house; you’re not the man for the job.  However, I’ll build you a house, and you’ll have a son on the throne forever.”  WOW!  Such a promise from God would have been mind-blowing even if He had required some great deed or sacrifice from David!  But God did this for him for just wanting to honor Him!

Now, I hear you.  “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and other such maxims decrying the worthlessness of intentions alone.  I get that, and I would agree in regards to the whimsical, noncommittal daydreams of a would-be lover of God.  However, this was more than intention on David’s part.  Check out 1 Chronicles 22; even after being told by God that he wasn’t the man for the job, David did all he could do to help without actually doing the job of building the Temple because of how badly he wanted to be a part of it.

What did God put you on this earth to do?  What are you attempting for Him?  Does it feel bigger than what you could ever accomplish?  That’s a good place to be!  Go for it all the more!  God is honored in the effort!  What’s more, your prayer life will grow and your walk with Him will deepen because you’ll be forced to lean into Him all the more.

“What if I’m seeking to honor God, but the means by which I’m trying to honor Him doesn’t seem to be how He wants me to honor Him?”  If you’re truly seeking to honor Him, you’ll be sensitive to His leading, and if you’re heading in the wrong direction, He’ll do with you like He did with David and correct you.  David wanted to do something BIG for the God who had done so much for Him, and when you sense a prompting to honor God in similar fashion, don’t hold back!  He knows you’re heart; He knows if you’re sincere in your desire to honor Him, and He will direct you, and, I believe, reward you accordingly!  That’s how GOOD our God is!

Matthew