Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, February 24-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 15-16, Psalm 39, Mark 11
Today's scripture focus is Titus 3:3-7

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The first thing that jumped out for me from today's verses was: "were once". For we ourselves were once foolish, [were once] disobedient, [were once] led astray, [were once] slaves to various passions and pleasures, [were once] passing our days in malice and envy, [were once] hated by others and [were once] hating one another. 

Were. Once. really? Most days in my life seem more like "are always" than "were once". However, we are reminded that each day is a new start... a new chance to say that we "were once" behaving in a way that is counter to what God desires. 

Lamentations 3:22-24

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

I just will remind you of the general tone in which we approach these particular verses. New Testament churches were small islands in a sea of paganism. You see, they existed in an absolutely pagan culture. The Gentile world knew nothing about the Bible. It knew nothing about biblical morality. It knew nothing about Christian values. It knew nothing about a godly sense of mercy or justice. It knew nothing about a proper understanding of freedom within the framework of moral code. It was purely and totally and comprehensively and utterly pagan. These churches were born them in a culture with no Christian influence. There was no cultural Christianity. There was no Christian influence on social behavior or on the belief systems. The Gentile world was literally engulfed in idolatry, all of it designed by Satan. Their cultures were totally controlled by a Satanic agenda worked out through utterly and totally depraved human beings involved in worshiping demons.
So the churches then were in direct opposition and contrast to everything within the framework of cultural life. Given that obvious understanding, we might assume if we listen to Christians today in America that the early church should have made its primary agenda to impact culture, to try to get the various nations into which the church had been born adopt some kind of politically Christian agenda. Somehow the early church, some would seemingly want to tell us, should have put together some kind of biblical morality, some kind of biblical value system and worked very hard to get the nations to adopt that biblical moral code. However, the early church never did that. It had nothing to do with that. It did not concern itself with whatever the moral code of the nation was. It was not concerned about social behavior. It was not trying to influence culture politically or judicially or legislatively. The early church existed to do one thing and that was to reach lost people with the gospel. That was the beginning and the end of their purpose and that is still the church's purpose, that is still our only purpose, that is why we are in the world.

We are all sinners. We "were once" sinners. Through Christ we are redeemed and it is through Him alone that we can be "were once" sinners. We are all the same. All sinners. All foolish. All disobedient. All led astray. All slaves and passing our days in malice and envy. 

This reminded me of some of the lyrics to a casting crown song "Jesus, friend of Sinners"
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

"The world is on their way to You, but they're tripping over me". What I choose to do and say affects the people around me--who are actually just like me-- sinners. However, each day I have the grace of God to become more like Him and less like me.

John MacArthur ends his message so eloquently:
That's not how it's done, folks. You might get a crowd and you might even preach the gospel and have some people saved, but you're going to have immature carnal ignorant believers whose lives are not going to demonstrate to the culture the transforming saving power of God. When the church comes together, it comes together to be spoken to with boldness and called to holy living and out of the Word of God because those who take the Word of God seriously are going to engage in the good deeds that are going to become good and profitable for the watching world. That's the mandate. We can't just be sad. We can't certainly be hostile. We've got to pray for those in our culture and our society who are lost. We've got to pity them and love them with the love of God and show them Christ's saving power in our lives. The church does not need now to become more like the world, it needs to become utterly and distinctively the church so that there is such an obvious difference that the world can see it clearly. We're doing exactly the opposite and that's the tragedy. For us here we have a mandate, we can't fix everything but we can be what God wants us to be here. And God will in His grace use us to bring many to righteousness.
Father, we thank You again this morning for Your Word. We are a people who can say we believe You. If You speak we listen. We take Your Word seriously and we want, Lord, to live the kind of lives that You want us to live so that we can demonstrate a transformed person is like. And then they'll know You have transforming power. Help us to live holy lives, lives of compassion and love, lives of grace and kindness and mercy that they might see in us the first born of heaven, even Jesus Christ and His love and compassion and pity and His virtue. And seeing what we are might conclude their God is a saving God and come themselves for salvation. To this end we pray for Christ's sake. Amen.

Tomorrow's scripture focusTitus 3:8-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 17-18, Psalm 40, Mark 12


Miriam said...

Hmmm, very good points here. Thanks, I have some things to think about.

TammyIsBlessed said...

This passage sure is a lesson in humility and thankfulness as we remember what God has done for s.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Love how this passage gives all the glory to God for our salvation - it was HIS love, His kindness, He is Saviour, His mercy, His cleaning, His renewal, He poured out the Spirit on us, He made us heirs, He gave us the hope of eternal life. We didn't do a thing. All glory to Him!