Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Survey

Here is the results from my previous survey:

How would you best describe yourself?

I am a Christian: 27 (79%)
I am some other religion: 3 (8%)
I am not a believer: 1 (2%)
I am not sure what I am: 3 (8%)

Be sure to check out the new survey question. Enjoy!
David Robison

Overcoming Sin: Dt 7:12-26

"If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?'" (Deuteronomy 7:17)
Sometimes, when faced with my sins, the task of overcoming them seems too daunting to even attempt. My sins seem too large and my will power and moral strength too small. I want to overcome my sin, but I'm not sure if I can. I easily identify with want Jesus said, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ." (Mark 14:38) Fortunately, God has not left us to ourselves in our fight against sin. Not only has God given us the power of His Holy Spirit, but He has also given us a plan to overcome sin. Here, in part, is God's plan for us.
"you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid." (Deuteronomy 7:18-19)
When facing sin, we must first learn not to be afraid of sin or its hold on our life. We must remember that we have been saved, that we are no longer orphans, and that we are now children of God. We must remember what Paul said, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) God did not save us to leave us to our own devices. Salvation was merely a first step; our reconciliation with God. Now that we have been saved, God has freely given is all things "pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) and is now at work in our lives giving us the motivation and strength to overcome sin. Paul reminds us, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37) The truth is that we are overcomers, we are able to overcome sin, and we have all we need to be victorious, not in our selves but because of the one who now lives is us. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)
"Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God." (Deuteronomy 7:20-21)
At times, I find myself willing to live "at peace" with my sin. As long as I can hide it and as long as it stays in the shadows and doesn't bother me too much, I am willing to let "sleeping sins" lie. However, God is not content with my hidden sin. Even when I am not committed to the eradication of my sins, God is, and it is for this very purpose that He as called me and made me His son. "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (2 Thessalonian 2:13) God is committed to our sanctification, even more so than we are. One of God's strategies in our sanctification is to employ His "hornets". God has a way of bring our hidden sins to the surface, of flushing them out of their hiding places so we can deal with them and be free of them. I had a friend who, every time we went out to eat, his order was always messed up, and every time he got very upset. After a while I suggested to him that maybe it wasn't the waiters and waitresses, but maybe it was the Lord. Maybe it was the Lord sending His hornets to get at an area of his life. God is faithful to bring our sins to the surface and, when He sends in His hornets, we must be faithful to deal with what He brings to the surface.
"The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed." (Deuteronomy 7:22-23)
Our perfection and our sanctification does not happen overnight, nor is it imparted to us immediately and completely upon our being born again, rather it is a process that starts with our salvation and continues until we finally stand before the Lord; completed in His presence. Paul reminds us that, "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) If God were to show us the sum total of our sin, we would be overwhelmed. This is why Jesus told His disciples, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." (John 16:12) God does not expect us to become perfect all at once but rather little-by-little, one sin at a time. This is the great difference between the enemy's condemnation and God's conviction. The enemy wants to show us all our faults and convince us that we are hopeless causes, while Jesus shows us a specific sin, asks us to repent, and then gives us the power to overcome the sin. As we deal with each sin in its turn, we enter into a process of sanctification that takes us "from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18) and from righteousness to righteousness.
"He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them. The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned." (Deuteronomy 7:24-8:1)
Sin must be dealt with. It is not enough to learn to "cope" or "coexist" with our sin, we must defeat it and overcome it. The world does not understand such a radical commitment against sin. Peter, speaking of those who knew us before we gave our hearts to Jesus, says "In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you." (1 Peter 4:4) But even if the world should malign us, the price of sin is too great, and its ruin and destruction can last a life time, and even an eternity. Jesus spoke of how we should be radically committed to purging sin in our lives. "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell." (Matthew 18:8-9) We were made for glory, we were made for the presence of God, but sin separates us from our eternal purpose in God. As we commit our selves to God's process of sanctification, we open ourselves up to our true calling and purpose in God and, as Paul reminds us, "we derive our benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." (Romans 6:22)

David Robison

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Make no Covenant with Sin: Dt 7:1-11

"When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 7:1-6)
While there is grace when we sin, there is not grace for sin. God has extended His grace to us to forgive us when we sin against Him, but He does not want is to remain in our sin. The grace of God has not appeared to excuse us of our sins but rather to teach us how to walk free from our sins. "For the grace of God has appeared , bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12)

God warned Israel that they were not to make covenants with the enemies of God; those who sought to inhabit the land that God was giving to them. Instead, they were to embark on a systematic campaign to eradicate the enemies of God from the land and to destroy the remembrance of them and their sinful ways from the face of the earth. In order to live holy in the Promised Land, they could not afford to live with mixture; part holy and part sinful.

The same is true for us with regards to our sin. We cannot afford to tolerate or excuse our sin. Our sin is not to be coddled or indulged rather it is to be overcome and defeated. There is no truce or detente with sin, there is only victory or defeat. We cannot wink at our sin, we must be serious about removing it from our lives. In Romans 8:13 Paul tells us to "put to death the deeds of the flesh." This is the attitude we must have. At times it may even mean destroying our idols; the places and ways we make room for sin in our lives.

Sin is not our friend, it is not a welcomed companion, rather it is the source of many of our hurts and broken relationships. Only by confessing our sin can we receive forgiveness for our sin, and only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we walk free from our sin. Let us choose to walk free.
"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Romans 13:14)
David Robison

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Doomed from the Start: Dt 6 (Part 2)

The second reason I believe that the Old Covenant was doomed from the start is because it depended upon the people of Israel remembering someone with whom they had no relationship.
"Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
It was inevitable that they would grow distant and drift away from God. While in the wilderness they daily saw God's presence: a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They also daily experienced God's miraculous provision for their lives: fresh manna each morning and their clothes never wearing out. However, as they entered the Promised Land, things would change in two very specific ways. First, as they took possession of the land, they were dispersed far from the presence of God. Except for those who lived near where God chose to place His presence, they no longer saw or experienced His presence on a daily basis. Yes, they were to appear before God at the regular feasts, but on a day-by-day basis, they did not "know" God in any intimate way. Secondly, as the generations passed, many of the new generation had no first hand knowledge of the miracles and power of God. They had never seen the miracle of the manna, they had never seen any miraculous healings, nor had they seen the power of God expressed though His judgments. They heard stories but they lacked their own first hand account of these events. In the end, without a personal relationship with God, they drifted farther and farther, and eventually "forgot" God.

Thirdly, as the years passed, their faith with God became more cultural than experiential.
"When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?' then you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers. So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.'" (Deuteronomy 6:20-24)
While the Israelites were very good at passing down their national history, they failed to instill their faith in God from generation to generation. They had a cultural awareness of God and His work in the forming of their nation, but they lacked the present day faith and vital relationship with God that He seeks with all His people. Knowledge and history of God is not enough, we need faith and a relationship with God. Without such a relationship, any covenant with God is doomed to failure, even from the start.

David Robison