Saturday, June 27, 2009

"That Ain't What I Said!"

Hebrews 4: 13 “And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and laid bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

We have all heard about the dumb criminal who robbed the convenience store after filling out an application for employment and turning it in with his real name and phone number on it. The police simply read the application and went to his home and arrested him. Here are a few other situations illustrating the truth that “all things are open and laid bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."

The men in the police line-up stood stood facing a mirror on the wall. Behind it was the victim who was about to identify the one who had stolen her purse. The men were being told to repeat the same sentence the thief had said to the woman when he robbed her. The officer addressed the first man, “Suspect number one, step forward, hold out your hand and say, ‘Give me all your money.’” The man complied. The officer then gave the same instructions to the second man who then stepped forward and said, “Give me all your money.” But the third man, after receiving the same instructions, became irritated and looked up at the glass and said, “That ain’t what I said!”

Here is a true story from a courtroom trial. The prosecuting attorney was questioning a witness who had seen two men running out of a convenience store after they had robbed it. The attorney said, “Now you say that you met two men running out of the store as you were walking into the store? You say each had a gun in his hand, and one was carrying a bag.” The prosecutor then began to turn slowly toward the couroom as he continued to query the witness,“Now, are these two men in the courtroom today?" But before the witness could respond, everyone, including the jury, noticed that the two defendants had raised their hands.

I bought a bottle of cologne that I had never tried before. It smelled pretty good, at least on everyone else. I splashed some on my face, and then walked out to the car. I sat in the driver’s seat waiting for my mother to get in. She opened the door, sat down, tilted her head up, and began sniffing the air. She then looked down at the bottoms of her feet as she said to me, “Billy, check the bottom of your shoes and see if you stepped in any dog poop before you got in the car.” I knew it was the cologne, but said nothing about it. I just went through the motions of checking my shoe soles. I did not use that cologne any more after that.

Years ago I was babysitting my 4 or 5 year old sister Kay and her cousin Ginger who had come to visit and spend the night with her. They were playing hide and go seek, and Kay had gone into the bed room and was hiding behind the bed. Ginger entered the room smiling and laughing and began searching behind the doors and in the closet trying to find her. So as Ginger was standing beside me and searching the room, I called out to Kay, “Kay, be very quite. Don’t make a sound. Don’t say a word.” Immediately from behind the bed, a little voice called out, “I not!” Ginger looked at me with a big smile and then ran straight to the hiding place.

Numbers 32:23 “Be sure, your sins will find you out.”

The lesson in these unrelated stories illustrate the utter foolishness of our attempting to hide who we are. It is not only impossible to hide from God, but neither can we hide from those around us. Who we really are is ultimately revealed in our words, our countenance, and our behavior. The smell of our “bad cologne” will expose us. And if we are good at hiding it, we must remember the old proverbs that tell us the “walls have ears” and “the little birdie” will tell someone. We are like the goldfish in the bowl. We cannot run away from home and there is nowhere to hide. So it is best to have an honest heart before the Lord, for He loves us and will give grace for reality if we will face it. He does not give grace for pretend. The apostle John said that if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SURRENDERING TO GOD'S DISCIPLINE




"When with rebukes you correct man for iniquity, you make his beauty melt away like a moth," Psalm 39:11



Discipline is often painful but is not harmful unless it is stubbornly resisted, despised, and rejected. Discipline has a positive purpose. Discipline is God's love providing us with incentive to obey, working to help free us from disobedience and harmful ways, and attempting to bring us closer to Him. Surrendering to God’s discipline results in strength, righteousness, peace, maturity, wholeness, and holiness (Hebrews 12: 12-17), but stubborn refusal to break leaves us stripped, bruised, and spiritually disabled (Isaiah 1:5-6; Psalm 38:1-5).

David is a wonderful example of how to respond to God’s discipline. He was quick to humble himself with a broken and contrite spirit before God. He acknowledged his sin and attempted no excuses or self-justification. His prayer was, “Have mercy upon me…for I acknowledge my transgression.” (Psalm 51).


Psalm 31: 9-10 "Because of my iniquity"

When David was confronted with his sin, he did not pretend to be innocent and allow God to be blamed or charged with injustice. How many times have we gotten what we deserved while letting God be blamed for allowing the "sweet thing" to suffer? If a man's secret sin causes him to fail and lose everything, while he "goes down" blaming Satan and people, others will look at him and say, "How could God let this happen to such a good man?" If he does not admit his own responsibility, his children and those who observe his life will have nagging fears that God was either helpless or unfaithful. They will accuse God of evil instead of recognizing the man has reaped what he sowed.

2 Samuel 15: 24-26 "But if He says thus: 'I have no delight in you,' here am I,let Him do to me as seems good to Him."

In this verse we see David "leaning over" and submitting obediently to the rod of discipline. Submitting to God’s discipline does not mean you are a bad person. To the contrary, it is a wonderful expression of humility, character, and faith. Allowing God to "take you in hand" (2 Samuel 23: 5-6) produces security. Rebellion and resistance produce insecurity, grasping, manipulation etc. (James 4: 6).
David had faith under discipline and trusted in the Sovereign, Almighty God. He was willing to forfeit his throne if God required it, and he would not grasp in the flesh to save it as Saul had done. In attaining the throne, David had not reached forth with rebellious hands to seize and grasp it as Absalom was attempting to do; and as king he would not reach forth with rebellious and unbelieving hands to keep it. He had trusted God to procure it and he would now trust God to secure it. He refused to grasp in the flesh against the will of God. He submitted to God's discipline even to the point of laying down his place, his throne, and his ministry. Many of God's servants have failed under discipline because they were unwilling to forfeit what God was asking them to lay down. As in David's case, we may not actually lose it, but we must be willing, if God asks us.
The way of the cross is the path to take when under discipline. During these times a person must have faith in God. He must be willing to surrender everything to God, including his position. David, by his surrender to God's discipline, stands in sharp contrast to Saul and Jeroboam who resisted God's discipline by selfishly grasping to hold what God was taking from them. They had forfeited the throne and, in their rebellion, could not see the futility and foolishness of their carnal manipulation. We must always beware of the grasping attitude.

1 Peter 2:19-20
If we are expected to endure grief when suffering wrongfully, how much more then when we suffer for our faults! For example, if a man has given himself to pornography and immorality, what should be his response when he discovers his wife has had an affair? Of course, she needs to turn from her transgression, but he should be on his face in repentance realizing that his own sin helped bring on the situation. He should fall before God with a broken and contrite heart rather than venting anger and looking for revenge.

Psalm 39: 9-11 "because it was you..."

David recognized his predicament was God's hand being laid upon him as result of his own disobedience and need for discipline. David knew it was from the Lord because Nathan had told him by prophetic utterance what the consequences would be. Therefore, he did not blame others. A rebellious heart will often fail to associate the rod of discipline with the sin that precipitated it. For instance, while a man may be falsely accused of some immorality that he did not do and suffer unjustly because of it, he may, in reality, be under God's discipline for arrogance or some other sin completely unknown even to his detractors. The adversary may be completely wrong in his charge and may be accusing falsely, but God may still be using him as the rod of correction. Shemei and Absalom in their rebellion accused David falsely. David was innocent of their charges against him, but he was not innocent before God.
A rebellious heart will make the presumption that "Since I am innocent of these false charges, I am therefore innocent, period." Consequently, this person will resist God's discipline instead of surrendering before God and committing himself into the hands of God who is not only a merciful Father but also the Righteous Judge. We must be careful lest in fighting “Shemei” we find ourselves fighting God.

Revelation 16: 5; 1 Peter 2: 23 “He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Rebellious men in this age often surrender in the face of great power simply because of having been overcome by the sheer force of power they cannot resist. This is an outward surrender but with inner defiance. But when men stand before the God of the universe in that great day of the Lord, they will not only yield outwardly, but will face the clear, absolute, and incontrovertible truth that God is right and has always been right. Before God in that day, everyone will realize the utter and total foolishness of his own ways and will be compelled by the sheer force of truth to admit that God is righteous and that rebellious man was in error. There will be no lie or deception in the presence of God. There will be no pretending, no games, no manipulation, no false accusations, no specious finagling, no devious twists of facts, no spurious arguments, no perversion of truth, no legal technicalities to obstruct justice. God will judge righteously according to absolute truth. Man will be absolutely naked except for those, who in repentance and obedience, have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ and clothed with his righteousness.
Meanwhile, let us surrender to the loving hand of our Heavenly Father and trust completely in His love and purpose in our lives. His discipline is not bad. He disciplines those He loves.