Singing Lies in Church

Aiden W. Tozer once said, “Christians don’t tell lies–they just go to church and sing them!” This is one of those quotes that jolts us to the core once it is properly understood. Without context, however, many people misunderstand what he is saying because they immediately begin to think of hymns and worship songs with bad theology, and there are plenty of song lyrics we sing that should cause us to scratch our heads, such as:

“Like a rose, trampled on the ground, you took the fall and THOUGHT OF ME ABOVE ALL.”

“So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”

“And in His presence, our problems disappear.”

These types of lyrics certainly deserve closer scrutiny, but what Tozer was really getting at is the fact that we often sing songs that do not coincide with our true spiritual state. We often sing:

“I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy”.

When, in fact, our hearts are hard and unmoved by the cross as we sing. Or we will sing:

“Where You go, I’ll go
Where You stay, I’ll stay
When You move, I’ll move
I will follow… “

when we plan on going out to live like the world on Monday. We could go on and on exposing lyrics we regularly sing, that we often have no intention of living out in our actual lives or are contrary to the state of our hearts.

This is no small matter in the eyes of the Lord. He desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6). There should be integrity and sincerity in all that we do and say, especially when it comes to worshipping the King of Kings. Jesus pointed this out when he said:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. -Matthew 23:27-27.

If you read this article and think, “I’m glad I don’t do that,” as if you somehow escape unscathed, you have completely missed the point. We are all guilty of this. We all fall short, and none us can worship God properly in our own strength.

It is important that the Christian life be one of constant repentance. This should also remind us that it is usually better, in our worship, to sing about God and what he has done instead of singing about ourselves, but that alone would portray a truncated picture, for as Michael Horton says,

“The Gospel is not about you, but it is for you.”

Our songs should exhibit this fact as well. The Gospel does impact us and changes our hearts, but we should never forget the fact that even our worship is tinged with sinfulness. This recognition of our sinfulness should direct us even more resolutely to praise Jesus, who offers us forgiveness and continues to beckon our sinful selves to approach the throne of grace with confidence. However, as we approach Him, we must always remember that the “throne of grace,” leads us to three important truths.

  1. It is a throne, so we should not approach it flippantly or without sincerity.
  2. It is a throne of grace in the sense that we do not deserve to approach it at all. None of us are worthy and we must approach it in repentance.
  3. It is a throne of grace in the sense that, though we are unworthy to approach His throne, that is the very reason we need to draw near. It is here we find the forgiveness we need and the underserved favor we so desperately desire.

If we would prepare our hearts by remembering each of these points before we begin to sing to the Lord, it may just help us all to sing fewer lies in our times of worship.

-D. Eaton

When God Disappoints

Men are so ignorant of their own hearts that they are incapable of determining what is best for them. Even regenerate men are but partially sanctified and enlightened. But God searches the heart. He understands our whole case. He knows what is most for our good. He sees our strong corruptions and sad deficiencies. When, in mercy to His child, He comes to heal his spiritual maladies, He does not take counsel with human reasoning or desires. It is right, it is best that He should act according to the wisdom which is infallible. He employs the requisite remedies. Often they are distasteful to flesh and blood. Sometimes they are frightful to contemplate, and terrible to endure.

Then man, in his ignorance, too often says, “If God loved me—He would not give me so bitter a cup to drink!” But this is man’s folly. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Shall human weakness control divine power? Shall finite knowledge prescribe to omniscience? It is the height of wickedness for a worm of the dust—to revise the decisions, or pre-judge the justice of the Almighty. We would expect that God would deal with us in an incomprehensible way—if we did but remember how base, sordid, and narrow are our views and plans; and how holy, glorious, and eternal are His purposes and designs.

We are quite prone to magnify both the good and evil things of time—to the disparagement of those of eternity. But when God thwarts, afflicts, and mortifies us—He makes us look at the things which are unseen and eternal. If He racks this body with pain—it is that we may think of our house, not made with hands, eternal, and in the heavens. The shaking of this clay tabernacle forces upon us the recollection that this present world is not our rest—and that we ought to be seeking a heavenly country. If the godliest man on earth had his own way without divine guidance—he would soon be in full march towards destruction!

How kind is God in wisely and mercifully deciding so many things for us! God very mercifully marks out our course for us. God is governor. We are servants. To us belong obedience, submission, acquiescence. It is not ours . . .
to guide,
to decide what is best,
to rule the world,
to shape the course of events.

“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say
to him who formed it—Why did you make me like this?”
– Romans 9:20

-William S. Plummer

7 Lessons When Prayer Seems Unanswered

Sovereign Lord, what I most desired you have denied, yet I praise you! On what account, I know not, yet I praise you. You have done it; that silences me. Your will makes it indisputable, and renders it my indispensable duty to your wise determinations. Hitherto I have had no complaint on the conduct of providence; nor shall I complain until all the mazes are explained. Do, then, all your counsel, though all my counsels should come to nothing. Can a person expect favors from God–who will not wait for God’s way and time?

But what does it matter how the affairs of a present world go, if the interests of the next world are secured? The weather-vane is whirled about with every blast, but the iron spire is still at rest, because it cannot be displaced. So, what does it matter though the outward man decays–if the inner man grows? What does it matter though the temporal condition be perplexed–if the conscience is possessed of spiritual peace? I praise you that you interpose your providence, even in disappointing my dearest plans; and do not give me up to the blind desires of my own heart, and to wander at random in counsels of mine own. I can resolve the present case into nothing but your will; yet I rejoice more to resign to your will, and to be submissive to your disposal, than to have my will in every point performed. This is the only way in my private capacity that I can glorify you.

If all things went as I would have them, I could not positively learn the care of God. But when providence, beyond all human probability, twists enterprises out of my hands, and well-resolved designs out of my heart–this clearly shows to me your condescending concern about my lot and life. Thus you take the wise in their own craftiness; for when all my schemes were so well laid, that human policy approved of, and wit itself commended; yet, when you did blow upon them, how did they like rainbows painted on the watery clouds, when thunders break, or boisterous winds attack–scatter into disappointments and pain!

Hence, in the school of providence I am taught some lessons.

  1. Not to look to the appearance of things, but to the power of God, who brings light out of darkness, and calls the things that are not, as though they were.
  2. That from probabilities, impossibilities may spring; while apparent impossibilities dissolve into easy escapes. As for the first, it was very probable that the Egyptians might overtake and put Israel to the sword, yet it became impossible for them to do it. And as for the second it seemed impossible that Israel could escape ruin, when enclosed with insurmountable hills, and swelling seas, and pursued by enraged foes; yet, in what an easy way did they walk to their deliverance!
  3. I am taught to believe, and to give glory to the almighty power of God, when impossibilities throng thick before me.
  4. To see my own finite wisdom to be but folly, that I can neither prevent nor foresee those events which I do not desire.
  5. To hold all my mercies, all my privileges from God, and not from the certainty in which they seem to stand.
  6. Not to think that things are lost, when so they seem to be. When I think I am most sure of some things, they are all on a sudden taken from me; so when lost, they can all of a sudden be restored.
  7. And, lastly, to see the mutable and fickle state of temporal things, and therefore to hold a loose grip on the creature, however dear, however near–and to set my affections on things that are above.

-James Meikle, 1730-1799

What Can Illness Do To Us? – A Meditation

ESo we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. – Psalm 118:6

Is it not in the sovereign hands of the Lord? Every pain and every distress is under the supreme authority of our God. Even if Satan and his legions are involved, they are only permitted to go as far as His hand allows, and He could reverse their work in an instant if he decided. Even if the illness is due to sinful choices, is not Jesus the forgiver of sins and restorer.

If we face any illness, no matter the cause, God does not cease to be in control. Did He know this was coming? Does He have the power to stop it? Most certainly. The logic that flows from these two truths is that God is the final decision-maker for everything that comes against us.

What, then, can illness do to us if it is under the providence of God? It can afflict, but not crush. It can perplex, but cannot drive us to despair. It can even strike down, but it cannot destroy.

On the contrary, sickness, sovereignly wielded like a scalpel in the hand of our good God, can only heal. For all things work together for the those that love Him (Rom. 8:28), and disease certainly does not fall outside the category of “all things.” By it, He weans us from the passing treasure of this world, and He teaches us to redeem the time. In all of it, He is spurring us on to holiness, and holiness is where true happiness is found.

Lord we resign ourselves to your perfect will. We will fight for our health as your word calls us to since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who destroys the temple will also be destroyed (1 Cor. 3:16-17). However, we leave the results of our fight in your hands because we know that even if the outward man is wasting away, the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).

We will not look on the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen (2 Cor. 4:18). In this way, we will find peace in the pain, deliverance in the distress, and healing in the hurt.

We love you, Jesus.

Boasting of Weakness

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Boast of my Weaknesses? If you want to turn the wisdom of the world on its head completely, this is it. Weakness is the last thing in which we would ever boast. Instead, we boast of accomplishments, skills, talents, and abilities, but biblical wisdom says if we do that, we have it wrong.

Weaknesses, we all have them. From illnesses to physical handicaps. From weak minds to weak knees. Some have speech impediments, anxiety disorders, melancholy, and poverty. There is not a single believer who does not deal with something, but when was the last time we boasted in it?

Chronic illness, you continuously bring me low, but I have seen the Lord work through you to draw me close to His side. Some days, I have been so weak that I trembled as I stood to handle my responsibilities, and I have seen greater success in those moments than in my health as the Lord gave me strength. Anxiety, you plague me every time I try to speak for Christ, but the Lord has used you to make my voice tremble into the hearts of the hearers.

Jacob limped for the rest of his life after meeting with God at the Jabbock, and that limp signified the power of God for generations to come. Therefore, I will boast of my weaknesses because God makes no mistakes in His providences. Many a Christian has been able to speak life into the soul of the hurting because they too have felt a similar pain, and in that pain have been comforted by the power of God.

Thank you, Lord, for the sovereignly designed weaknesses in my life. Not one of them is a mistake. It is in these fissures and cracks in this jar of clay that the treasure within begins to be seen by the world. Help me to see them as your gifts.

3 Signs We Are Not Spiritually-Minded

“Even now you are not ready.” These are the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:5. There is more nourishment in the word of God for us to take in and enjoy, but too often we are not spiritually-minded enough to receive it. Too often we are spiritually immature.

How would we know if we are spiritually immature when one of the symptoms of being earthly-minded is being blinded to our own condition? Much like losing your appetite can be a symptom of being malnourished. The following phrases from scripture could possibly wake us up, if we are, in fact, earthly-minded.

1. Are we living in a way that is destroying our bodies? When it comes to drunkenness, drugs, or any other dependence that is damaging our health, Paul says,

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” – I Cor. 3:16-17

If we are involved in any of these activities, we are not spiritually-minded, no matter how much theology we know. How can we have spiritual understanding if we don’t even understand how our bodies relate to honoring God.

2. Are we involved in sexual immorality? If so, we are not ready for the deep things of God. We are earthly-minded. Paul is so bold as to say, if we were living this way, we should be removed from the church until we repent.

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” – 1 Cor. 5:11

If we are involved in any of these things, we are not spiritually-minded. We are spiritually immature, if we are Christians at all.

3. Are we willing to be fools for Christ? This world sees the truth of Jesus as foolishness, and if we’re not willing to be seen as foolish for Jesus, it is because we are not spiritually-minded. For those who are, we will know that bearing the reproach of the world is worth it if we receive the riches of Christ Jesus. Paul says,

“We [Paul and the apostles] are fools for Christ’s sake,” and shortly after that he says, “Be imitators of me.” – 1 Cor. 4:10,16

If we are not willing to give up comfort, and the approval for this world, for the kingdom of God, then we do not understand the passing nature of this world and the eternality of all that has been born of God.

I do not write this to be judgmental. The word of God judges me as much as it does anyone else, and there are areas in my life that need improvement too. I write this so that all of us, the children of God, can grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ by being reminded how serious sin actually is. It impacts us much more than we think it does. May we discern our condition by the word of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, for “if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” – I Cor. 11:31

If anything in the short devotion exposed sinfulness in your life, run to Christ where forgiveness is freely offered, and sanctification can be found. Finally, remember the words of Psalm 97:10-11:

“O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.”

Today, If You Hear His Voice

Today

The Lord is always speaking through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. He does so through His word, through the law written on our hearts, and through His providences. For the spiritually-minded believer, He is always there showing us the futility of the things of the world. It is all passing away, we are weak and broken, and He is eternally glorious. The problem is, we are often blinded by pride; our sinful nature is always at work.

Sin often makes us feel like we are the exception. Has the Lord prospered us? We look at our riches and take the credit, and if we were able to accomplish this, we will always be able to do so.  Do you have good health? Undoubtedly, if we keep doing what we have always done, it will continue. Right? Isn’t our destiny is in our hands?

Yet, day after day the Lord is reminding us of the futility of it all. From the calamities we see on the news, to the thorns we experience in our work, to something even as small as a broken shoelace, He is telling us that it is unreliable and our only hope and surety is Him. On the contrary, the world is always trying to tell us something different. The Prince and the Power of the Air has blinded millions to believe this world is the source of their joy and the place of their hope.

If you have heard these voices today, make sure you can tell the truth from the lies. Providences, and even the law written on our heart can be easily misinterpreted, we must have the Word of God dwelling in us richly. His word is truth.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 15-17

If the Holy Spirit has illuminated your heart to the truth of His word today, and He has reminded you of the futility of the world, do not harden your heart. Do not continue in its ways: earthly-minded. Draw closer to your Savior, and He will draw near to you. Be spiritually-minded. Be ready to give it all away, for only then, when it is all taken, for it will all be gone someday, your heart will not break as you stand upon your true Rock.

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, – Psalm 95: 7-8

Jesus in the Days of Our Youth

 

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Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” – Ecclesiastes 12:1

The older I get, the more the wisdom in this passage resonates. I continue to enjoy my years, but when trouble hits, I am glad I have known Jesus since I was young. In these moments, I can look back and see how faithful he has been, and I know He always will be trustworthy.

There is great joy looking back on the springtime of my life when everything was fresh and new, and I recall walking with Jesus. So often, the hymns and songs of my younger days fill my heart with joy. Not because the contemporary Christian music from the 80’s and 90’s was so wonderful (most people question my music choices when I turn it on), but because I can see my younger self, and remember who I am and, most importantly, I remember my Savior.

It is easy to lose yourself in this world, even as a believer, but in the words of Andrew Peterson, when you get lost, stick to the old roads, and they will lead you home. This is a blessing only those who have walked with Jesus for many years will understand. I know the Lord has other benefits for those called later in life, but those who experience the wisdom of this verse, rejoice.

Lord, Thank you for calling me early in the day. When the days are evil, I will look to you and remember the long road we have traveled, and I know you will always be faithful. If there is anyone still in their younger days reading this, may your Spirit move them to heed this passage, even if they do not yet fully comprehend its importance.

A Sobering Reminder

 

sign slippery wet caution

So Saul died for his breach of faith. – 1 Chronicles 10:13

These are sobering words. A man who was anointed as king by the Holy Spirit did not follow the ways of the Lord and died because of it. We must be careful, for our enemy is seeking whom he may devour.

Are we vigilant in the things of God, paying attention to the snares around us? Too often we are not as diligent as we should be. We expose ourselves to many dangers, and there are genuine and dire consequences that can come from it. Take heed lest you fall.

Lord, You are our only hope: our Strength, our Shield, our Rock, and most importantly our Righteousness. Keep us when we cannot keep ourselves. Protect us when we are blind to the dangers that surround us, and especially those that we see not see, yet, in our sinfulness, are still drawn to them. 

Father, be glorified in us today in the work we have to do, in our family lives and relationships, and in our ministry to others. For you are worthy. We love you, Jesus.

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Leanness of Soul

thanksgivingOh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! Psalm 106:1

We often talk about the benefits of being thankful this time of year, but it is also important to look at what can happen to us if we are not. Psalm 106 begins by calling the people of God to praise and thanksgiving. The following 12 verses continue by reminding them of God’s great and merciful works. How He showed His power and set them free from the slavery in Egypt, parted the Red Sea to get them to safety, and covered their enemies with water. As they remember God’s goodness toward them, we see thanksgiving flowing from grateful hearts as they recognize the Lord and His mighty works.

Then, a few verses later, we find a drastic change as we are told how they soon forgot His works and did not seek His counsel. Later, when they were in the wilderness, they began to lust for the pots of meat they had in Egypt and began to test God in the desert. As they started to demand meat, as if the Lord had not given them something they deserved, we find this in verse 15, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness of into their soul.

The Lord had granted them their fleshly desires, which was meat in the form of quail, but the meat did not satisfy them. The more they ate, the more it left them empty, and for some it even caused disease. Ingratitude works much the same way. When we think that we need something more than what God has already given us or has promised to provide, we tend to find that when we get what we desired, our longings had deceived us. The reason for this is because we should be feasting upon God, through His word, in remembrance of all He has done on our behalf. When we begin to forget God, and ingratitude begins to set in, it doesn’t matter what we receive, we will still want more. If God and His great mercy are not enough to fill our hearts with gratitude, nothing will.

Gratitude flows freely from a heart that is full of God, mindful of His great works, and aware of His grace to such unworthy and sinful creatures. The sinner, who hungers and thirsts after righteousness and has been filled by the justifying work of Christ, can find themselves in any harsh situation that this life has to offer and still have hearts that rejoice and are full. However, the one who forgets God’s great works toward them and begins to think they deserve something more can be in the most pleasant of all earthy positions but will live with souls which are lean.

The same Gospel that saves us from our wretched condition is the same Gospel that will fill our souls with joy for all eternity. We are never to forget how great His love is for us, that we should be called sons and daughters of God. To go about our lives without this at the center of who we are, will bring a leanness to our souls that will never be satisfied by anything else we try to put in its place.

This Thanksgiving, if your heart has been forgetful of God’s great love and works toward you, or if you find yourself unsatisfied with what the Lord had done for you, it is time to seek His face and remember His goodness. Do not let one more day go by without spending time in His word and calling out to Him in prayer. The most excellent holiday meals will not cure the leanness of soul which accompanies ingratitude toward God, and if you have remembered your God and your heart is full of Him, then any lack you face this holiday will not be able to empty the joy and gratitude which fills your soul. Godliness with contentment is great gain.

May all our hearts burst forth with gratitude toward our great God this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving,

D. Eaton

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100