Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Only Two Days That Matter

Worry is a very natural part of the human experience. We worry about our health, kids, jobs, and future. We rationalize it in all kinds of ways. “I’m not worried; I’m just concerned.” “It’s natural for me to worry because I care.” But none of these excuses change the fact that we often worry about things we cannot control, and we do so in disobedience to the word of God.
Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34 NASB). It is appropriate for us to be concerned about those that we love (2Cor. 11:28) and to plan for the future (Prov. 24:27). But when we worry we say with our hearts, even if not with our mouths, that we do not trust God to handle it. We may claim we believe in Christ, but worry says we do not have confidence in Him.
There really are only two days that should preoccupy us, two days that matter enough to dominate our thinking and concern: today and that day. Today is the only day we know we have (Jas. 4:13-17. Our lives are frail and fleeting; none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Our primary concern should be to live for Christ today, to be faithful on this day, and leave worries about tomorrow to God. The second day that should preoccupy us, that day, is the day we see Jesus and stand before Him to give account of our lives here (2Cor. 5:10). The hope of being with Him one day and seeing Him “as He is” will inspire greater holiness and consecration (1John 3:2-3). Today is important because it is the only day I know I will have an opportunity to serve and glorify God, and that day is most important – I should live today so as to be prepared for that day, whenever it comes.
Many Christians are paralyzed by regrets about yesterday and fears about tomorrow. But I cannot do anything about yesterday. My sins and the shame of what was then are covered by Christ’s blood. I cannot be certain of tomorrow, and Jesus forbids me to worry about it. But I have today, and to the best of my ability, with the help of God’s Spirit and the power of His grace, I must live my life today as one who is living for that day. O Lord come! -JME

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Gospel in Romans: Romans 5:12-21 (Part One)

Anchor Your Heart to God's Word

The human heart is deceitful and easily deceived (Jer. 17:9). The writer of Proverbs twice said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). None of us should trust our hearts. We should not rely on our wisdom or our sense of what is right and good. Our moral conscience, the inner sense of right and wrong, is a wonderful thing. But it can be misinformed (Acts 23:1; cf. 1Tim. 1:13) or misled (1Cor. 4:4; Tit. 3:3). Trusting our hearts is merely a subtle, sinful way of trusting in ourselves.

Society preaches loudly and persistently that we should follow our heart, trust our gut, do what feels good, and live in whatever way seems best. Are we surprised that fallen, prideful, selfish beings would trust their own wisdom instead of trusting God? But sadly, many professing believers have embraced society’s message and adopted the doctrine of trusting in the heart instead of in the trustworthy God. The error is subtle and easily overlooked. “You have to learn to follow your heart,” writes Joel Osteen. “Believe in yourself,” urges Joyce Meyer. But what do the Proverbs say? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (3:5). “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” (20:9). The implication is: no one. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart” (21:2). “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge” (23:12).

Our instincts will often mislead us. We cannot trust our inner perception of what is true. We need God to guide us, and He has revealed His will infallibly and authoritatively in the Bible (2Tim. 3:16-17). When someone says, “I think God…” we need to ask, “What did God say?” Our hearts are fickle. Unrestrained they will lead us to the depths of despair or to the ecstasy of false assurance. Anchor your heart to God’s word (Heb. 6:17-19). What He says is always right (Prov. 30:5) and always for our good (Deut. 6:24). God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6). Who He is will never change. What He says will never change. His promises will never fail. Trust Him. Bury yourself in His word. And do not be misled by your own deceptive heart. -JME