Christianity 201

November 13, 2017

Your Sin: Your Enemies’ Opportunity

NIV Ps. 38.4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.

All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
    even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
    my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
    those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
    all day long they scheme and lie.

13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
    like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
    whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
    or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”

17 For I am about to fall,
    and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin…

Today for the sixth time, we return to Mike Leake at the website Borrowed Light. Click the title below to read this at source.

What to Do When Your Sin Makes Your Enemies Pounce

“It is a marvel that any man escapes ruin, the dangers which beset even the best being many and terrible.” –W.S. Plumer

Have you noticed 90% of news stories necessitate a person being ruined? Occasionally the ruin is not a result of a bone-headed decision or immoral choice. But more often than not, it is because sin has caught up with someone. And if you and I are being honest we’d have to admit that our absence from the front page isn’t for lack of opportunity but rather because of grace.

Psalm 38 is a painful Psalm. David is the guy on the front page whose life is ruined because of a personal transgression. And his whole world is coming apart. His relationship with God feels strained, his friends are keeping him at a distance, and his enemies are using this as an opportunity to pounce. The worst part is that David isn’t an innocent victim, he’s a guilty sinner. His conscience is not on his side.

Thankfully, I have not had an experience which totally fits King David’s scenario. I have said and done things which are dumb and/or sinful. I have had to endure consequences of my mistakes, but I do not believe I have experienced fully what David is going through in Psalm 38, at least not to this depth. And I hope I never do.

Of the many lessons we could learn from Psalm 38, one I’d like to consider is what to do when you’ve legitimately blown it as a leader and now your enemies are using this to pounce on you. This could be applied when you’ve front-page-of-the-paper blown it and when you’ve messed up and you’ve given those who are enemies a bit of fodder for their cannons. I see at least five things to take from this passage on that topic:

  1. Don’t try to spin your sin, own it. David’s response in verses 13-14 is the correct posture for being in this position. He doesn’t give excuses. He doesn’t, at least at this stage, try to plead his cause against those who “seek his heart” and “speak of ruin”. He doesn’t attempt to save face or launch a PR campaign. He becomes as one who is mute, even while his enemies are laying snares for him.
  2. Repent where necessary. Not all the accusations the enemy threw at David had merit. But some of them did. Where he was actually guilty David pleaded with God for mercy. He confessed his sin (v18). It’s tempting when folks are lying about us to move from the position of sinner to that of victim and ignore our very real guilt and sin. Let the Lord deal with the lies and repent of the truth in their fodder.
  3. Acknowledge you are overwhelmed and cannot get yourself out. David’s sin was over his head. His friends weren’t able to help, and his enemies certainly weren’t going to be there for him. Dealing with actual sin is difficult enough, when those who are against you pile on unreasonable accusations, and often with violence, it becomes too much to bear. David became as a “deaf and mute man”. He was so overwhelmed that words escaped him, so he turned to prayer. When you’ve dug a hole you cannot get yourself out of it’s time to cry out for a hand of rescue.
  4. Wait upon the Lord to vindicate you. It’s generally a good principle to let the Lord plead your cause. How much more is this the case when your sin has brought reproach upon you? You’ll sound like a real schmuck if you say, “I’m guilty of this, but I’m hurt that you’d accuse me of that”. Pray that God will allow the full truth to come out.
  5. Rest in God’s character. In verse 9, David takes great comfort in the fact that God knows every bit of his crying. Though God also knows the depth of his sin, David is comforted by the truth of God’s omniscience. It also helps to know that God is merciful. As one has said, “It is both an affliction and a comfort to a good man to see the hand of God in all his troubles—an affliction, inasmuch as it shows us how vile we must be to need such sore corrections from the loving One:—a comfort, because we may be assured that mercy shall order everything.

I pray that I’m never in the depth of a Psalm 38 situation, but I know I’m not above it. Though our situation might not rise to the magnitude of Psalm 38 we can find help for our lesser trials. Because of the gospel we know that even if our sin puts us on the front page, the greater news story is that Jesus washes us clean.

March 24, 2014

The Modern Equivalent of the Bible-Times Tax Collector

Today we introduce you to Bryan Lowe, and when I say introduce, this time around, I want you to take a few minutes to read his story

…Wow! Now that we’re back, we introduce you to his blog Broken Believers (the title makes sense now, doesn’t it) where you’ll find today’s post, The Modern Tax Collector. (Emphasized sections in original post.)

Luke 18:9-14, ESV

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Essentially it would seem, that there are only two kinds of people, (which simplifies things.)  On the right stands the religious man, who has confided  in a level of righteousness that he deems adequate.  But his sin is multi-faceted.  A big chunk has to do with how he perceives others in comparison to himself.  He often despises those who are failures, losers, and criminals.  He points to them only to bolster his own standing. It generates his own feelings of religiousness.

Too many churches have become places were Pharisees come together to congratulate themselves.  These men and women do not operate from brokenness and humility.  They know nothing of tears over their sin.  But they pat themselves on their back because of their progress in the ways of God.  Life seems so wonderful in our churches.  We leave the service comfortably encouraged in our self-righteousness.

The tax-collectors of this world are its drunks, addicts, mentally ill, and the losers.  They stand afar off. And they don’t even have the energy or confidence to turn to God.  They know exactly what they have done, and understand perfectly that they are less then zero.  There is such a gap between these two men, and it has only deepened to this present situation.

Where are the bipolar, the schizophrenic, the person with OCD in our churches?  For that matter, where has is the unwed mother, the crack addict, and the homosexual gone?  I will tell you where, they are “standing afar off”.  People with ugly secrets and intense issues are often scared to death by religious people.

Please be aware. I didn’t intend for this to be a hard word.  But many of the “rascals” of the Church have gone missing!  We must seek them out and bring them home.  The sinner very often needs our encouragement to “come and dine” with Jesus. The last verse of Jesus’ parable sums up the lesson–

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

August 29, 2013

In Awe of God

I love the name of this blog: Warning! Sleep Talking Zone.  This is a recent post by Christy that appeared there titled God Astounds Me.  I encourage you to visit around this blog; what I’ve seen makes me want to read more of this writer.

Psalm 51 is a beautiful picture of God’s mercy, love and grace.  The entire chapter is a prayer of confession and repentance.  It is a reminder that even the mightiest of us can fall into sin.  However, when we humble ourselves, confess our sins and repent, we find compassion, forgiveness… mercy.

David was confronted by Nathan, a prophet of God, about the adultery he had committed with Bathsheba.  If you are familiar with the biblical account, then you know David was also guilty of murder, for he had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover up the adultery.  David was God’s chosen, God’s anointed.  At some point in his relationship with God, God called David a “man after My heart”, and yet we read in Psalm 51 the way David had grieved his God through sinful acts.

Each time I read this psalm, I am moved by the brokenness, the sincerity and even the confidence with which David approaches God.  How could he go before a holy God with such confidence after sinning?  It’s because he knew his God.  He knew that God is a loving God, slow to anger and not willing that any should perish.  He knew that God desired their relationship to be restored.  David had seen God’s faithfulness time and time again throughout his life.  He knew that this breach in his relationship with God was because of his own actions, not because of any unfaithfulness on God’s part.  He knew that if he was willing to humble himself and pray, and seek God’s face that God would be faithful yet again and forgive him!  Does this not cause you to be in awe of God?  Just think – a holy, righteous God willing to forgive our sins each and every time we are willing to submit to Him!  God astounds me!

There are many people who consider God to be a bully.  They think that He is an arrogant tyrant who smugly demands dominance over us.  This mindset stems from a rebellious spirit and a prideful mind!  God IS God.  He IS holy.  He IS the ruler of the heaven and earth.  And yes, every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that He IS LORD (Romans 14:11).  BUT – as I stated above, He is a compassionate God, slow to anger and not willing that anyone should perish.  He has gone above and beyond to prove His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  I know I frequently site that verse, but it is because it is the clearest, simplest way to share the gospel.

My prayer is for those who are lost – meaning those who have not called on the name of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:13) – to realize that the love of God is extended to them, and for them to humbly accept it.  My prayer is also for followers of Christ to remember that when we fall back into sin, God is still faithful to forgive us if we confess and repent (1 John 1:9).  A relationship with God is a daily, deliberate choice.  It’s not a one-time decision.  It is something that we must continually choose (I’m talking about the relationship, NOT salvation. I don’t believe we can lose our salvation, but that’s for another post).   “Submit yourselves, then, to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Below is a beautiful musical rendition of Psalm 51 by one of my favorite groups, Sons of Korah. I pray that today Psalm 51 will be your prayer, as it is mine.