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Choosing the Godly Response to Circumstances

In our journey through the Word (I’ve been preaching through the entire Bible on Sundays), we’ve come up to the book of Ruth – one of my own favorites in the Old Testament. Ruth’s story takes place during one of the darker ages of the history of the Israelites. It’s a dark time in her nation, her life, and her family, yet Ruth manages to make some pretty great decisions along the way.

ONE GREAT TRUTH: Life presents a series of circumstances to us that are really opportunities for us to make a godly choice.

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Rejoice In the Lord… Always, Again I say Rejoice

One of my favorite daily news feeds comes from The Daily Spurgeon. Today’s thought addressed something that Christians struggle with often. But usually, when someone comes to me with this question, they’re already on the right track. It is “Can I enjoy the world around me, though it is perishing?”

The Bible tells us to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world (1 John 2:16-17), but the “world” in view here is not the planet which God made to be good (according to Genesis). Rather it’s the demonically-managed system of false philosophies that dominates a sin-ridden society. So can we enjoy the world? Arts? Nature? Music? Things which God inspired? Yes. Spurgeon writes…

The Christian has joy as other men have in the common mercies of life. For him there are charms in music, excellence in painting, and beauty in sculpture; for him the hills have sermons of majesty, the rocks hymns of sublimity, and the valleys lessons of love. He can look upon all things with an eye as clear and joyous as another man’s; he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works. He is not dead to the happiness of the household: around his hearth he finds
happy associations, without which life were drear indeed. His children fill his home with glee, his wife is his solace and delight, his friends are his comfort and refreshment. He accepts the comforts which soul and body can yield him according as God seeth it wise to afford them unto him; but he will tell you that in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as he doth in the person of his Lord Jesus. Brethren, there is a wine which no vineyard on earth ever yielded; there is a bread which even the corn-fields of Egypt could never bring forth. You and I have said, when we have beheld others finding their god in earthly comforts, “You may boast in gold, and silver, and raiment, but I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

Yes, we can rejoice “in the Lord.” Always. Even on vacation! But our rejoicing is ultimately rooted in a secure knowledge of Jesus Christ. So it’s a joy that those outside the faith can never fully understand. If joy is rooted in appreciation, then God’s children find joy in everything for which they can appreciate the Creator’s touch. So rejoice today! Again I say, rejoice!

Whom Do You Love?

“Love not the world… for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world, and the world passeth away…” -1 John 2:15-17

Remember Louis Armstrong’s great What A Wonderful World? Angie and I had that song played at our wedding. This truly is a wonderful world in many respects. It’s the place where we view the glory of God in creation. This world is where Jesus came to minister and to give His life a ransom for many. This world is where Jesus found me and saved me and is now using believers across the world to extend His Kingdom. But this world is not everything. In fact, it isn’t even permanent.

John and other New Testament writers often used the word “world” (kosmos) to refer, not to the physical creation (though that was the literal meaning of kosmos), but to what we might call today, secularism. The “world” of which John spoke was the human realm of thinking, devoid of God. It’s the realm in which Satan attempts to pull us away from God through his three primary tempting agents: the lust of the flesh (that which feels good to our body), the lust of the eyes (that which appeals to our sight), and the pride of life (that which fills us with a false sense of fulfillment or self-achievement).

Preachers used to speak of “worldliness” more in churches, but it was usually in reference to cultural stigmas such as going to dances or movies or having the wrong haircut. Worldliness is much broader than these or any other simple actions. Worldliness is thinking in temporal terms, living for the here and now with total disregard to eternity. We’ll either live in fear of an eternal God or we’ll be left to our own devices (i.e. worldliness).

When left with the choice between living in godless humanism or godly cosecration, let us remember the words of Peter Marshall, “It is Christ or chaos!” Are your everyday decisions informed by Scripture or society? Do you think in spiritual terms or cultural tones? Does Christ have all of you or do you have one foot in the church and the other in the world?

Soul-Padding

Jesus: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (one)… Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” –John 17:15, 17

The church is a movement started by Jesus consisting of people who are “called out” together into one body in a single locality charged with the assignment of bringing the glory of God to all peoples in their community and in their world. Elsewhere the Bible calls God’s people “peculiar,” signifying that we are God’s alone and therefore are to be different and distinct in some way from the world.

There are basically three strategies when it comes to living up to our role as a “called out” people. One is isolation whereby we disconnect ourselves from the world around us and move into a spiritual ivory tower. We do this when we establish rules of righteousness that we can easily live by and use to assign others to a notch lower than ourselves.

The second strategy is imitation whereby we become like the world in order to reach the world. This seems to be a very popular approach today and it certainly builds large churches, but it fails to enable us to live up to the full potential of our calling as separate and distinct from the world.

The third strategy is insulation and infiltration in which we insulate ourselves with the truth of God’s Word and then carry that truth into the world with us. God calls very few into full-time ministry. He leaves the rest in their lives as His newly-called missionaries. Your workplace is a mission field, as well as your family and your neighborhood. If you isolate yourself from the world, you’ll never reach it. If you imitate the world, you might “reach” some but you’ll never bear lasting fruit. But if you insulate your life with God’s Word, then infiltrate the world with that truth, God will receive the glory!