Sin & Forgiveness – Part 4

Now let’s look at 1 John 1 and then we’ll sum up this study. In 1 John 1:7 John says that if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ continuously cleanses us from all sin. This is a description of believers. John had earlier said in verse 3 that our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul asks what fellowship righteousness and unrighteousness can have with one another. The implication from the passage is that they cannot. But here John is saying we have fellowship with both God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. If we are to have fellowship with God or better if God is to have fellowship with us, we can’t be unrighteous. But why aren’t we unrighteous? Because we have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and our sins have been removed from us and the cleansing is ongoing and continuous.

So 1 John 1:7 is speaking of believers. If on the other hand, we walk in darkness, or deny that we sin, or deny that we have a sin nature, we are lost (1 John 1:6, 8, 10). So we’re not talking about two kinds of Christians here but the difference between believers and unbelievers.

In the middle of these verses we come to 1 John 1:9 which most of us are familiar with. In my opinion, this verse is primarily a verse contrasting believers with the unbeliever mentality mentioned in verses 6, 8, and 10. It is not primarily a verse about daily confession of particular sins. Please don’t read this statement as though I am saying we don’t need to confess sins. I’m not saying that. But this verse is primarily a verse that tells us the contrast between an unbeliever who doesn’t admit he is a sinner and the believer who confesses that he is a sinner.

If we walk with God in humility, acknowledging our situation as sinners, God is faithful and just to continuously forgive us of our sins and to continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Notice the word “all”.  His forgiveness and cleansing are continuous. It doesn’t get applied to each particular sin but His blood stands as the continuous cleansing agent for all of our sins, past, present and future, recognized and unrecognized, thoughts, attitudes and actions. We walk in the blaze of his all-seeing holiness and we have fellowship with him because our sins have been removed from us.

Sir Robert Anderson said, “It is not in order that it may thus cleanse him that the believer confesses his sin; his only right to the place he holds, even as he confesses, depends on the fact that it does thus cleanse him.”

Jesus Christ is our advocate or attorney pleading our case continually because his blood is the propitiation (continual satisfaction before God) for our sins (1 John 2:1-2).

So we can see from Scripture that God has provided for every aspect of our sin problem. He accepts Christ as our head and sees us as saints rather than sinners. He resurrects our dead spirit and provides the motivation to follow him. And finally he completely and totally forgives and removes all of our sins on a continual basis based on the sacrifice and continuing advocacy of his Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Spurgeon writes:

“According to this gracious covenant (the new covenant of Hebrews) the Lord treats His people as if they had never sinned. Practically, He forgets all their trespasses. Sins of all kinds He treats as if they had never been; as if they were quite erased from His memory. O miracle of grace! God here does that which in certain aspects is impossible to Him. His mercy works miracles which far transcend all other miracles. Our God ignores our sin now that the sacrifice of Jesus has ratified the covenant. We may rejoice in Him without fear that He will be provoked to anger against us because of our iniquities. See ! He puts us among the children; He accepts us as righteous; He takes delight in us as if we were perfectly holy. He even puts us into places of trust; makes us guardians of His honor, trustees of the crown jewels, stewards of the Gospel. He counts us worthy, and gives us a ministry; this is the highest and most special proof that He does not remember our sins. Even when we forgive an enemy, we are very slow to trust him; we judge it to be imprudent to do so. But the Lord forgets our sins, and treats us as if we had never erred. O my soul, what a promise is this! Believe it and be happy.”

 

You may be thinking, “Yes, that’s all well and good but we do sin. How do we overcome this sinful tendency?” That’s a topic for another day. But the short answer is that as we live by faith in the truth of Scripture, and meditate on his Word, God’s Spirit will gradually make us more like Christ:

 

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Sanctification — growing in Christlikeness, including the desire for such growth are all part of what Christ purchased for us on the cross and provided in the New Covenant. He gives the new life and the desire to grow.

 

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33

 

I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:27

 

for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

 

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—  1 Corinthians 1:30 (Christ is our righteousness and our sanctification.)

 

Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  Galatians 3:3 (The question expects an answer of “No”.)

 

You can download this and other documents from list of documents found here.

Sin & Forgiveness – Part 3

Finally we want to look at God’s solution to the sinning problem. We have looked at how God has solved our guilt in Adam and how he has changed our hearts so that we don’t have that old dead, fallen nature any more. But what to do about sins we commit. That is the problem we want to look at next.

First of all we have to believe God when he says that we have forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7), and that he has forgiven all our trespasses (Col 2:13). The Psalmist reminds us that as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). Notice the word “from”. Our sins are removed from us. Mary’s baby was to be called Jesus because he would save his people from (there it is again) their sins. I think we have a huge problem believing what God is saying about our sins. I’m not speaking to the world here; I’m speaking to those who have trusted Christ as savior, those whom the Holy Spirit as regenerated through the Gospel. So I would like to look at this subject through some important teaching found in Hebrews 9-10 and then in 1 John 1. So first, Hebrews 9-10

The author of Hebrews tells us that the old sacrificial system, the Old Covenant could not make a person perfect with respect to conscience (Heb 9:9, 10:1). Now as we’ll see, the implication of his teaching is that what the Old Covenant could not do, Christ and the New Covenant could and would do. Therefore I conclude that there should be cleansing with respect to the conscience through the New Covenant.

Next the author tells us that Christ obtained eternal redemption for us through his sacrifice once for all (Heb 9:12). That means it was sufficient and does not need to be repeated. He goes on to say in verse 14 that his blood cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Dead works are those we try to do to make ourselves acceptable to God or to win his approval. In chapter 6 of Hebrews, the author had connected this with elementary teaching. Elemental principles are those of basic religion where people try to make God happy with them through endless human effort, ceremonies, rituals and penance. Even Christians do this. When they confess their sins, people sometimes don’t believe that God forgives them and so they try to do things to prove they are really, really sorry. If they can cry they will do that. They may put extra money in the offering or do extra works of penance so that God knows they really, really, really mean it. They may abstain from certain pleasures that aren’t sinful in themselves, but somehow it makes them feel as though they are proving a point to God. Paul, at the end of Colossians 2 tells us that these efforts don’t work in stifling our fleshly tendencies or in approving us to God. So the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences from the need to perform these sorts of deeds.

Hebrews 9:26 tells us that he came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. We need to understand that Jesus put away sin. He removed it. He even says of the people in the world, “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). We need to remember that the whole point is for him to solve the sin question. He put way sin by the sacrifice of himself.

The author goes on in Hebrews 10 to tell us that if the old system had made the worshippers perfect, two things would have happened:  the sacrifices would have ceased (10:2), and  the consciousness of sin would have been removed (10:2).  But as it was, those sacrifices didn’t stop, and instead of solving the conscience problem, they actually made it worse by reminding people day after day that they were sinners because new sacrifices were required all of the time. And so the author concludes that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin (10:4).

But in contrast to that, the sacrifice of Christ has sanctified forever (10:10), and those who are sanctified have been perfected forever (10:14). So what the Old Covenant could not do, the New Covenant has accomplished. In fact he quotes from the New Covenant passages we studied earlier. And he summarizes with this amazing statement, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).

I take all of this to mean that if we keep resurrecting our sins in a way that is reminiscent of the Old Covenant we are acting in disbelief of what God has promised us in Christ. He put away sins by the sacrifice of himself and separated them from us and refuses to remember them or impute them to us (Romans 4:8).

You can find this article among others for download here.

Sin & Forgiveness – Part 2

So what is God’s answer to the three-fold aspect of our sin and guilt? First we’ll look at the guilt we have because we sinned in Adam. Those who are in Adam (i.e. those who have been born human) are sinners, guilty and condemned because of the decision of their head, Adam (Romans 5:18). But, those who are in Christ (i.e. those who have been born again of the Spirit of God) are saints, righteous and alive because of the actions of their head, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:19 says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Just as Adam’s sin makes us a sinner, Christ’s righteous obedience makes us a saint! How much of a sinner did Adam make you by his disobedience? Then more so Christ makes you a saint by his obedience. Don’t minimize this truth! Read the verses in the previous paragraph again. By one man came sin and death. By the other man came life. It just depends on who is your representative head. If Christ is your head then His vote to obey God counts for you. Thus God has dealt with the first aspect of our sin problem.

What is God’s solution to the perverseness and wickedness of our hearts? The question of being sinners is more related to the sin issue rather than the sins issue. First we find out in 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21 that we have been made new creatures in Christ. The old has passed away and all things have become new. We also learn that Christ became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Note that in this verse he doesn’t say Christ took our sins upon himself. It says that he became sin. In doing so it allows us to be the righteousness of God in him.

Since our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), they need to be completely replaced with a righteousness from outside of ourselves. Paul’s request is that he might be found in Christ not having a righteousness of his own, but a righteousness from God (Phil 3:9). The Bible teaches us that God’s righteousness is imputed, or placed on the record of those who believe God (Romans 4:5-8, 22-25). That means if we believe the record that God has given of his son, our filthy rags righteousness is replaced by the righteousness of God and credited to us as though we had been the one who actually obeyed perfectly.

We also learn in Scripture that Christ himself is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). God doesn’t add to your righteousness to bring you up to the level required. Your righteousness, no matter what it is, is wiped out and replaced with Christ’s righteousness. That means some good deed you did for someone today is wiped out because it was probably tainted with some amount of selfishness or pride and is replaced with Christ’s perfection. In the end God is going to present us to himself as holy, blameless and above reproach in his sight! (Colossians 1:22)

Finally in this part of the discussion of what God has done to fix our sinful heart, we learn that God has done an amazing thing as part of his promise in the New Covenant. At the last supper, Jesus said that this cup was the New Testament in his blood. In other words he was initiating the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant. If we look back at Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 we can summarize the promises this way. He has promised to (1) remove our old stoney heart, (2) replace it with a new heart, (3) give us a new spirit, (4) give us his Holy Spirit, and (5) motivate us to follow God and his ways. This completely reverses what happened to our spirit in the fall. This is what we mean by the new birth.

But, the problem is that we have the remnants of what the Bible calls the flesh or the “old man” within us. There is a battle that needs to be fought to tame and keep in subjection those old habits and tendencies that still stay with us. But we should not think of ourselves as though we were still under the bondage of the old fallen self. God has provided all we need for a life of godliness. Old things are passed away and all things have become new.

 

The entirety of this article for download can be found among other documents here.

Sin & Forgiveness – Part 1

When Eve took of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and gave to her husband, the human race fell and sin and death entered the world. As Romans 5:12 explains it: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

There are three basic ways we can look at the effect of sin entering the world. The solution that God provides speaks to each one of these facets.  First, Adam was our representative and therefore when he sinned, we were all counted guilty in him and therefore we were born sinners. We are not speaking here of our propensity to sin, but the fact that we already were guilty at conception. Adam’s decision was counted as if it had been our own. Romans 5 explains this when it says that sin is not imputed when there is no law and yet the people between Adam and Moses died even though there was no law for them to violate. No sin was imputed to them and yet they died. They, and all of us, were guilty of Adam’s sin.

Second, we inherit a sin nature. Our hearts are evil at the core. The Bible says that every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). There is none righteous, none who understands, none who seeks for God. All have turned aside (Romans 3:10-18).

Third, we also commit sins either by doing what is forbidden by God or by omitting what he commands. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

So what is God’s solution to these three facets of our sin problem? One of the things we usually do is focus on the confession aspect of particular sins. Confession of identified sins is important, but there are also some dangers if we don’t face the entirety of the problem I outlined above. For example, at the end of our day we may list a few specific sins and confess them to God. We may even list 10-15 specific sins. We may have been upset with a store clerk, frustrated with a waitress, impatient with traffic, angry with our spouse, excessively demanding of our children, etc. We may list all of these and confess them to God with the biblical knowledge that if we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive them.

The problem comes in if we think that we have now cleared the deck of today’s sins. We found fifteen sins and confessed them. We don’t realize that underneath and along side these were countless more. During how many minutes of the day did we come short of loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? During which hours of the day did we fall short of loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves? In how many ways did we fail to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness? In what ways may we have been impatient, worried, lusted, coveted, or been insensitive to someone elses needs? Is it possible to recognize all of these and list them?  I don’t think so.

So one possibility is that we trivialize our sinfulness by listing a few sins we can remember. We don’t mean to do this, but we do. We end up thinking pretty good thoughts about ourselves, because, after all, our sin problem is manageable. On the other hand, if we do recognize the almost limitless number of ways we have sinned in any given day and the impossibility of listing them all, we may be driven to despair over our wretched lack of achievement when it comes to behaving in a godly way.

What we need to do is be prepared to deal with our sin problem on the basis of truth. So many times we face life letting our feelings and emotions lead the way. Feelings and emotions are real, but they should not be the determiner of truth. We may feel like something has been resolved when it really hasn’t been and we may feel as though God hates us when he may not, depending on our relationship with him. The truth should lead the way, with faith believing the truth and then let feelings follow along and adjust themselves to the first two.

The entire document of this study can be found as a download here. Scroll down through the documents until you find the one titled “Forgiveness.”

Discipleship – Our Purpose

Discipleship is probably the most important task that we as Christians have. I suspect that we don’t emphasize it as much as we should. The commission God has given us is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). He also tells us to teach “them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20). Faithful men are to commit what they have learned from others to other faithful men who will then, in turn, be able to teach others (2 Tim 2:2). It’s to be an ongoing chain of teaching that each of us is to be a part of.

 

With that in mind, I noticed this verse in my reading in Colossians:

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 1:28, NKJV)

 

The goal is to present every man perfect in Christ. Perfect doesn’t mean sinless. It means complete and mature. God has given each of us other people with whom we have an influence. I’m thinking especially of our wife and children to whom God has given us responsibility for ministry. God may have placed others in your life as well with whom you’ve been able to teach the things of Christ. Our goal is to be of spiritual help to these folks so that they become mature in Christ. That should be our conscious and intentional goal. When Paul observed that departing and being with Christ would be a great thing, he went on to say, ““And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,” (Philippians 1:25, NKJV).

 

As long as he was here on earth, he saw his role as helping others in their progress and joy of faith. That should be our aim as well.

 

Importance of Creating Encouraging Memories

Life is interesting in a number of ways. There are twists and turns that we never expect and yet we continue day by day as God provides each new day for us. I used to tell my kids, “today is one of the days of your life.” Sometimes we think that our real life, the one biographers will write about, will start sometime in the future. But today is one of those days. If there ever is to be a biography it may include the events of today.

               This brings us to reflect on another interesting thing about life. The vast majority of our life is in the past and the future. There is only a small miniscule portion of life that represents the present moment. If you are reading this in the afternoon, your breakfast and all your morning activities are only memories. Nothing about them can be changed. Your evening activities are still only an anticipation. They don’t exist yet. They are not a reality yet.

               This brings me to the theme of this article. We are writing especially to parents and grandparents. Since only the present moment exists and quickly turns into a memory, our opinion is that we should plan the present moment and future moments so that we personally, but especially so that our children and grandchildren will have the kind of memories we want them to have. We’re not speaking here of special memories such as a trip to a museum or amusement park. We’re referring to day-to-day memories of events and conversations in the normal course of life. Do you want them to remember a high priority on spiritual growth or remember that all you cared about was getting ahead and having fun? What they remember from their childhood is probably where they will put the priorities for living their lives and the training of their own children.

You only have one opportunity each moment to provide the memories. Once your children are out of your home, those memories are fixed and there is no way to go back and change them. So it seems to us that it’s important to think ahead. Now it’s impossible to plan perfectly and you can drive yourself crazy wondering if today’s memories will be the kind you want your kids to remember. However, it seems to us that very few people give this any thought at all.  Deuteronomy 6 speaks of this concept: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6–9, NKJV).

Notice that the writer speaks of “teaching diligently”, talking about spiritual truth while you sit in the house, while you are out walking, at bedtime and first thing in the morning. He says we should have signs and symbols around the house that speak of the kind of life God wants us to be living. All of these things will provide memories of a pattern and atmosphere that permeated your home. Grandparents, you can do the same thing. When your grandchildren are with you, you can speak of things related to God, His creation, His wisdom, His faithfulness to you in the past, etc.

Many times our focus as parents and maybe especially grandparents is what stuff we can give to our children. Stuff wears out and breaks, but the memories our children and grandchildren take with them cannot be destroyed. That’s both a good and bad thing depending on what those memories are like.

As we go through life, it is impossible to do everything. There is not enough time to provide every opportunity and experience for our family. Therefore, we must pick and choose what we will do and what we will provide. The Bible says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent…” (Philippians 1:9–10, NKJV).

We are called upon to be discerning, to evaluate and then to approve the excellent. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV).

God would have us evaluate everything and then approve and hold fast to what is good and excellent. We are to redeem the time (Colossians 4:5). The reason for these admonitions is because everything we do, we are to do for the glory of God. And since we cannot do everything there is to do, even among the things that aren’t sinful, we are to choose the best and wisest course every single day. In so doing, we will be providing our children and grandchildren with those experiences that will be worth remembering and will build them up in their faith.

So what kind of memories do you want your children or grandchildren to remember? Order or chaos? A quiet and calming environment or a loud and boisterous atmosphere. A soft answer that turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), or loud and angry correction (James 1:20)? Will you help your family seek first the kingdom of God so that all of the other things will be provided for them (Matthew 6:33)?

What kind of memories are you creating for yourself and your family? If you’ve been on the wrong course, you may not be able to repair the memories already there, but with God’s help you can change direction and begin providing new memories that will redound to the glory of God.

Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians – Part 2

The second thing Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18, is that the eyes of the understanding would be enlightened. In this passage it is hard to know if this is a thought to connect to what he was just asking about or whether it is explained in the next clauses. It could be either or both. So right now, let’s connect it to the previous section. He had just prayed that they would have a spirit of wisdom in the knowledge of God. We mentioned last time that this requires time in prayer and in the word, but it obviously requires that eyes will be opened to understand and gain the wisdom God has provided through His Word. So when we pray this for someone or for ourselves, we are praying that not only will they be spending the time needed to gain that wisdom, but that their eyes will be open to the truth that is there. By nature our eyes are blinded, but even after being born again, there is a haziness that settles over our spiritual lives if we are not actively engaged in healthy spiritual disciplines. So let me encourage you to pray not only for others, but for yourself as well that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened that we might gain the wisdom that comes from knowing God.

Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians Part 1

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:17

I’m impressed by Paul’s prayers in his letters to the churches. Right now I’m thinking about his prayer in Ephesians 1. Let’s take a few minutes to look at how he prays for others and perhaps that can help us in our own prayer life. We’re beginning in verse 15. The first thing he asks God the father of grant is “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” How many times have you ever asked this for someone you love or are praying for? I will be the first to admit that I don’t know what “revelation” means in this context and so rather than speculate, I’m going to skip over it for now. But certainly a spirit of wisdom is something we can understand. And Paul relates this spirit of wisdom to the knowledge of God. So what I’m going to conclude from this is that it is a good thing to pray for ourselves and others that our knowledge of God would increase resulting in increased wisdom. One of the things Paul explicitly asks for in Colossians 1:10 is that the Colossians would be increasing in their knowledge of God.

               Whether ourselves or others, the only way to increase in the knowledge of God is to spend time with Him in prayer and meditating on His Word. This is what we are asking for when we pray that someone would have a spirit of wisdom in the knowledge of God.

Attempting to Stay Organized

We live in a complicated, busy world. Our lives have appointments, deadlines, tasks to be accomplished, and so on. As Christian men, we have not only the normal routines of a busy life, we have the privilege and responsibility of living lives that are disciplined in the spiritual realm of things. We have to make good use of the opportunities for daily prayer, Bible reading, meditation and study. It’s not always easy to keep track of everything and to fit everything in.

We are all different and so the techniques one person uses to organize his life may be quite a bit different from what another person finds helpful. I thought I would take a few minutes and share some tools I use to keep my life as organized as possible. These tools involve the use of technology so if you’re doing just fine with paper lists and a paper calendar, that’s great. You may not find what I’m about to share helpful. But on the other hand, if you are a technology user with a computer, smartphone or tablet, maybe some of this will give you ideas you can work with.

I have an iPad mini, an android phone and a computer that need to stay in sync in whatever I do, so here’s my approach.

To-Do List  For my to-do list, I use the website Toodledo. There is a free version, but I’ve chosen the paid version that allows me to have sub-tasks. There is a Toodledo app for the iPad and/or the iPhone and it works very well along with the Toodledo website. I found an app for my android called DGT GTD. It has a sync function with Toodledo and to tell you the truth, I like this app better than the Toodledo app and it works very well for me on the phone.

These tools allow me to enter a task, create a due date and time, assign a priority and create a context as well as some additional features. For the context I can assign categories such as “church”, “home”, “outside projects”, “home repairs”, etc. There’s also a repeat function that allows for a task to show up each week or each month. With the paid version I can create a project with a due date and then create all of the subtasks that need to be accomplished to complete the project.

All of this synchronizes among all three devices so that I have my upcoming tasks available no matter which device I am working with at the time. In addition, on my computer, the task list is synchronized with Outlook so that when I have my Outlook page open, the tasks show up in a window at the side of my screen. On any of the devices I can mark the task as completed and everything synchronizes accordingly. I’ve finally done away with my paper lists! In order to keep Outlook in sync with everything else I found an app called gSyncit. This pulls my data in from Google and Toodledo and synchronizes in both directions.

Calendar For my calendar I use Outlook on my computer, the Apple calendar on the iPad and Google calendar on the phone.  All three of these synchronize with each other and so I have all of my calendars available on any of my devices.

Notes: I don’t know if any of you have ever worked with Evernote, but I have come to really appreciate this app. It too is available on all my devices. Evernote is a way of keeping track of pieces of information that tend to get lost in the shuffle of the electronic life. In Evernote you can create notebooks for yourself. Items in the notebooks can be tagged with categories to help you find things easily.

If I’m on a website that has some information that I want to keep track of, I simply click the Evernote icon on the web page or if I’m on mobile, I can choose to share the page with Evernote. I can clip either the URL or the entire article and save it to a particular notebook in my Evernote account. If I receive an email I want to keep track of, I can forward it to Evernote and provide the notebook name and tag(s) on the subject line. The next time I open Evernote, that email is right where it is supposed to be and I can find it later by searching the topic or tag. When someone sends me a link they think I’d be interested in, I simply copy that link as a note with the appropriate tag and it’s there when I need it.

I’ve used this for making small lists such as part numbers for some appliance, clipping web articles I wanted to keep track of, storing emails with important links in them, etc. If I think of something while I’m working, I can open an email and send a quick note to myself with the appropriate subject line and the message becomes a note in the appropriate notebook. This is a very big help for those of us who are inundated with electronic communications.

Hopefully there have been some topics here that have been helpful in some way. As Christian men, we need to use our time wisely and these tools have helped me do that in a more faithful way.

Is There Not a Lie in My Right Hand?

Much has been said and written about modern logic from the Enlightenment forward and how ancient peoples, including those in the Bible, were superstitious and illogical. However, the God of the Bible is revealed as a logical being and those who spoke for this true God spoke with incredible logic.

I was reading from Isaiah 44 this morning. Isaiah lived and wrote about 700 BC which is nearly 3000 years ago. In this passage he is discussing the foolishness of idolatry and he write about the insanity of a person cutting a log from the forest and using half of it to have a fire for cooking and warming himself and using the other half to make an idol to worship. In verse 10 he asks this question, “Who would form a god or mold an image That profits him nothing?” (Isaiah 44:10, NKJV).

Here is the way Isaiah explains the situation beginning in verse 14:

He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, For he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, And their hearts, so that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”” (Isaiah 44:14–20, NKJV)

As a modern twenty-first century man, I am astounded by the logic of this ancient writing! The author is incredulous that someone would take a piece of wood and see plainly that it is consumable in a fire and with the other half make himself a “god” that he prays to and from whom he asks deliverance. He rightly asks the question, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

In our modern world we are not likely to carve and image and expect it to help us with our problems. But don’t we do the same thing when we trust in our stuff, our material possessions, to provide us with fulfillment, the esteem of others, and general well-being in life? Aren’t we doing the same thing when we do not give God praise and thanks for the air we breathe and the water we drink or when we do not acknowledge that every good thing we have is due to God’s grace and generosity?

Many are in the position of spending millions of dollars and countless hours of research to produce better cameras for our phones and at the same time argue that our eyes are the result of time and chance. Shouldn’t we as modern people be asking ourselves, “Am I believing and living a lie?  Am I as deceived as this ancient man?”