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FOCUS! Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted World (Part 6)

THREE DISTRACTIONS: As we saw in our last post on FOCUS, there are distractions that get our eyes off Jesus. One distraction of THE WORLD is entertainment.

Let’s think about the second of three distractions this morning. We know from Scripture that our three enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil. How does our flesh distract us from focusing on the Lord Jesus?

The second distraction is . . . ourselves! Sometimes the expression “the flesh” refers to our physical bodies. But often Scripture uses that expression to refer to our sinful nature, our desires that run counter to the Word of God.

After conversion, we learn that our own internal desires often distract us from focusing on the Lord Jesus. So, are we to become passionless, desire-free, Zen-like monks who have no desires? Absolutely not! We read the following about our desires:

BEFORE CONVERSION:

Prior to conversion, we are described as —
>> “the unfaithful who are trapped by evil desires” (Prov. 11:6).
>> those who allow “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mk. 4:19).
>> the natural man is described as those whom “God gave over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Rom. 1:24).
>> We as believers are charged by Paul — “therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Rom. 6:12).
>> We learn that we live by choice. We read, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Rom. 8:5).
>> We read in 1 Peter 2:11 we are to “abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”
>> We also learn in 2 Peter 1:4 that there is a “corruption in the world [that is] caused by evil desires.”

How do we choose not to follow our sinful desires? Romans 13:14 says, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Similarly we are told in Galatians 5:16-17 that we are to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

>> Prior to our conversion we are described as follows: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)

Ephesians 4:22 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . .”

The believer is to be engaged in the execution business, for we read in Galatians 5:24 – “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Colossians 3:5 commands the believer: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

But what about AFTER CONVERSION?

We read in Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” In Psalm 103:5 we learn of the Lord “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” And we are reminded in Psalm 145:19 that “He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” 1 John 2:17 tells us that “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Here are several specific steps we can take to develop and pursue godly desires:

1. We can run! We read in 2 Timothy 2:22 that we are to “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

2. We can choose not to conform: 1 Peter 1:14 tells us, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”

3. We can decide to live for the will of God: 1 Peter 4:2 says, “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2020 in desires

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 22

ת Taw

169 May my cry come before you, Lord;screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-6-12-08-am
    give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you;
    deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
    for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
    for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me,
    for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, Lord,
    and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
    and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in desires

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 106)

Psalm 106

Praise the Lord.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-7-28-50-am

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord
    or fully declare his praise?
Blessed are those who act justly,
    who always do what is right.

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people,
    come to my aid when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones,
    that I may share in the joy of your nation
    and join your inheritance in giving praise.

We have sinned, even as our ancestors did;
    we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
When our ancestors were in Egypt,
    they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
    and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
    to make his mighty power known.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
    he led them through the depths as through a desert.
10 He saved them from the hand of the foe;
    from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.
11 The waters covered their adversaries;
    not one of them survived.
12 Then they believed his promises
    and sang his praise.

13 But they soon forgot what he had done
    and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
    in the wilderness they put God to the test.
15 So he gave them what they asked for,
    but sent a wasting disease among them.

16 In the camp they grew envious of Moses
    and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord.
17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan;
    it buried the company of Abiram.
18 Fire blazed among their followers;
    a flame consumed the wicked.
19 At Horeb they made a calf
    and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
20 They exchanged their glorious God
    for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
21 They forgot the God who saved them,
    who had done great things in Egypt,
22 miracles in the land of Ham
    and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 So he said he would destroy them—
    had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
    to keep his wrath from destroying them.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
    they did not believe his promise.
25 They grumbled in their tents
    and did not obey the Lord.
26 So he swore to them with uplifted hand
    that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
27 make their descendants fall among the nations
    and scatter them throughout the lands.

28 They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
    and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;
29 they aroused the Lord’s anger by their wicked deeds,
    and a plague broke out among them.
30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
    and the plague was checked.
31 This was credited to him as righteousness
    for endless generations to come.
32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord,
    and trouble came to Moses because of them;
33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God,
    and rash words came from Moses’ lips.

34 They did not destroy the peoples
    as the Lord had commanded them,
35 but they mingled with the nations
    and adopted their customs.
36 They worshiped their idols,
    which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
    and their daughters to false gods.
38 They shed innocent blood,
    the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
    and the land was desecrated by their blood.
39 They defiled themselves by what they did;
    by their deeds they prostituted themselves.

40 Therefore the Lord was angry with his people
    and abhorred his inheritance.
41 He gave them into the hands of the nations,
    and their foes ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them
    and subjected them to their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
    but they were bent on rebellion
    and they wasted away in their sin.
44 Yet he took note of their distress
    when he heard their cry;
45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
    and out of his great love he relented.
46 He caused all who held them captive
    to show them mercy.

47 Save us, Lord our God,
    and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.

48 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.

Let all the people say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in God's anger, sin

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 84)

Psalm 84

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

How lovely is your dwelling place,screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-5-06-37-am
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in seeking God

 

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Back to Basics (A Study of Titus 2): Part 4

We’ve been studying the Apostle Paul’s Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.15.29 AMparagraph on the Christian life found in Titus 2.  There we read:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

God’s grace is not only a SALVATION-OFFERING grace, but also a TEACHING grace.  It is a grace that FORMS OUR TASTES for the things of God.  God’s grace teaches us from two perspectives how to live the Christian life.  First, we see that His grace teaches us to DENY.  We are to deny UNGODLINESS.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 7.44.18 AMSecond, we are to deny WORLDLY PASSIONS!  The word κοσμικός has the meaning “of or belonging to the world.”  It can be used to mean “relating to the universe” or “earthly” or “worldly” (having the character of this present corrupt age).  The Latin Vulgate translates the world as saecularis (= secular).  The word ἐπιθυμία is used frequently in the New Testament and is variously translated “desires,” “lusts,” “impulses,” or even “concupiscence” in Colossians 3:5 (KJV) (I’m sure you use the word “concupiscence” often in your daily conversation!).

God does not want us to be passionless people!  But the same word for “desires” can be translated “lusts” (depending on the context).  Paul is admonishing Christians to deny “the worldly lusts.”  What are “the worldly lusts” in our culture which secularize the believer in Jesus?

What can  you put your finger on?

What can you put your finger on?

We are to deny, to turn away from, ungodliness and the worldly passions.  Some “worldly passions” that occur to me are:

(1) a sense of entitlement:  The world owes me a living, good fortune, relaxation, comfort.

(2) an attitude of ownership:  My life is my own; I can choose to do what I wish with my time, my money, my desires.

(3) a spirit of minimalism:  I will do only what is expected or required of me, especially in spiritual matters (church involvement, witnessing, social concern).

What worldly passions occur to you?  Can you put your finger on a specific one from which you need to turn away? (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Titus 2

 

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