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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #16)

BLESSING #16: The Blessing of a Reason to Sing

“I always try to cheer myself up by singing when I get sad. Most of the time, it turns out that my voice is worse than my problems.” (anonymous)

Almost each Saturday I’m given a “honey-do” list. These are jobs my wife of 50 years wants me to complete. Lists are important, aren’t they? If you had to make a list of the blessings you have as a believer, what would your list look like? Would it be just a few items? Or would you need a second or a third page?

My friend Mike — who has not yet trusted Christ as his Savior — enjoys many of the common grace blessings of a providential God, but is missing out on so many benefits of being in the family of God. I’ve recently been listening to some powerful Christian music (I’m a Lauren Daigle fan) and it dawned on me that those who belong to the Lord —

16. WE HAVE A REASON TO SING!

Of course, those who don’t know Christ have their music. The outright skeptic Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Some of the world’s music is quite good. But heart-felt praise to God for all He has done for them? That’s a tune they have yet to learn.

THE BIBLE I love the quote which says, “Singing in the shower is all fun and games until you get shampoo in your mouth. Then it becomes a soap opera!” Music, singing, dancing are very important in the Scriptures.

Psalm 96 says,
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. …”
2 Samuel 22 says, “Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” (v. 50). I Chronicles challenges the believer to “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” (16:9). And the writer gets even more specific about the theme of our singing later in the same chapter: “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.” (v. 23).

You see, the problem with my friend is that he hasn’t become convinced that he is in grave danger without Christ. The Psalmist hits this note when he writes, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (5:11).

This same idea of finding refuge in the Lord is reiterated in Psalm 59: “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (v. 16).

The believer in Christ recognizes the many blessings of being “in Him”: “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Ps. 13:6). And the Psalmist invites us to “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (Ps. 33:3).

ACTION STEPS 1. Someone has said that music is “unfrozen theology.” That is, we sing what we believe. Take a few minutes this week and analyze one of the songs you sang in church on Sunday. What theology (doctrine) did it celebrate?
2. The Psalms were written to be sung. In fact, some of them have at the beginning words like “to be sung to the tune of . . .” Select one Psalm each day this week and experiment by singing each to the Lord with your own tune!
3. Read over Matthew 26:20-30 each day this week. Notice that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn together (v. 30). We don’t know what that hymn was, but imagine you were with the Lord. What might you have heard?
PRAYER 4. So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? First of all, he needs to hear me sing (figuratively if not literally)! He needs to see a tangible joy in my life that can’t keep me from bursting in song. And, second, I need to pray that God the Holy Spirit would bring that new song to his heart.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #15)

 BLESSING #15: The Blessing of a Godly Hatred
“I will tell you what to hate. Hate hypocrisy, hate can’t, hate indolence, oppression, injustice; hate Pharisaism; hate them as Christ hated them — with a deep, living, Godlike hatred.” (Frederick William Robertson)

We believers in Jesus are so blessed! Do we realize all the benefits of being saved, being made right with the Lord? My unsaved friend Mike doesn’t. Yet. So I’m counting some of my blessings as I think about what Mike doesn’t have as an unbeliever.

One of the most surprising truths about biblical Christianity is the fact that there is both godly and ungodly jealously, godly and ungodly pride, and godly and ungodly hatred. Really!

Our culture so emphasizes love that it doesn’t realize there is a place for biblical hatred! For believers it might be said that —
15. WE POSSESS A GODLY HATRED!



THE BLESSING We should hate hypocrisy, despise pedophilia, abhor child abuse, absolutely renounce racism, right? There is both godly and ungodly hatred. The actor Will Smith once said, “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” The challenge is to turn away from ungodly hatred and to embrace a godly revulsion toward those things He hates.

THE BIBLE It is quite surprising to see what the Bible has to say about God hating and also how believers are to hate. Here are some representative verses of God hating:
1. “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong.” (Ps. 5:5).
2. “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.” (Ps. 11:5).
3. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him . . .” (Prov. 6:16).
4. “Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being.” (Is. 1:14).
5. “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there.” (Hos. 9:15).
6. “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” (Amos 5:21).
7. “‘Do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this, declares the Lord.” (Zech. 8:17).
8. “. . . I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated” (Mal. 1:2-3).

One might make the point that a few of these texts sound like hyperbole, but not all of them. What verses do we have that say the child of God is to hate?
1. We read that there is “a time to love and a time to hate” (Ecc. 3:8).
2. The Psalmist says, “I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 31:6).
3. Psalm 97 commands, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil” (v. 10).
4. The Psalmist asks a critical question in Psalm 139, “Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?” (v. 21).
5. Amos 5:15 issues the challenge: “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
6. Jesus speaks about hatred in both Luke 14:26 and John 12:25 where we read, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple.” John 12:25 says, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
7. The Apostle Paul uses strong language as he thinks about his behavior as a believer: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15).
8. Paul seems to be referring back to the Amos passage when he says in Romans 12, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (v. 9).
9. The Apostle John quotes the Lord in Revelation 2 saying of the Ephesian church, “You have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (v. 6).
We might not like what the Bible says in those verses, but there it is. There are several levels of our hatred as we reject evil in our world — and in ourselves. Believers must define and defend biblical hatred even as they love those for whom Christ died.

ACTION STEPS 1. Imagine that your unsaved friend says to you, “I hear that Christians are to hate? That can’t be right!” How would you answer your friend using some of the verses above?
2. Think about Proverbs 6:16 (“There are six things the Lord hates . . .”) and list one practical way every day this week how you can show your hatred of the things God hates.
3. Read Tim Challies’ article on God’s hatred (found at: https://www.challies.com/articles/hate-what-god-hates/) and answer the question, “Why does God hate idolatry so much?”
PRAYER 4. So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly life that I am grieved and angered at the effects of evil in our world and seek to do whatever I can to be salt and light in my culture. And I pray for my lost friend that he would experience a proper self-hatred that drives him to the Savior.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #14)

BLESSING #14: The Blessing of a Balanced Emotional Life
This quotes bears repeating: “The mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!” (Dr. Willard S. Krabill)

I believe we should rejoice in the many blessings we have as followers of Jesus. And, conversely, I think we should grieve for those we love who don’t yet know Christ — and, therefore, don’t have these blessings. Grieving and rejoicing are emotions — and emotions are critical for human life.

However, what emotions mark the follower of Jesus? Sometimes I get really happy about things that don’t really matter. I also find that a lot of times I’m not concerned about the things that really count. The emotional life of the believer is critical. God made us with emotions, but, like the other aspects of our personality, our emotions are fallen, twisted, out of balance, sometimes inappropriate. So I would suggest that one of our blessings in being saved is —

14. WE CAN HAVE BALANCED EMOTIONS!

THE BLESSING “Balanced” might not be the right word. But I believe that knowing Christ fundamentally renews and re-orients all that we are (intellect, will, and emotions). I need to weep over what grieves the heart of God and rejoice in those truths that He has graciously given in His Word and in His world.

THE BIBLE Jesus was not just a man of sorrows. He was also a man of JOY. He says to His disciples in John 15, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (v. 11). One of the most important things a Christian can do is to study the emotional life of the Lord Jesus. What brought Him sadness? Disappointment? Excitement? Regret? Joy?

The Bible puts a premium on our proper emotions. Psalm 126 refers to “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (v.6) And the believer is clearly commanded in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

ACTION STEPS 1. Someone has said that the only thing Job’s friends did that was right was that they sat with him on the ground silent for seven days and seven nights, weeping. This week find someone who is weeping and weep with them. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice. Find someone this week who is rejoicing — and join them!
2. The Lord Jesus is to be our model in all aspects of life. This week read through one of the gospels and underline every emotion you see in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. What are some practical lessons you are learning as you do that study?
3. You might consider reading the classic book by James Dobson entitled Emotions: Can You Trust Them? Discuss the book with a friend.
PRAYER 4. So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly emotions both appropriate joy and grief in life. And I pray for my friend that the Holy Spirit would give him a longing to know God personally and rejoice eternally in Him!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 14)

We believers in Jesus are so blessed! Do we realize all the benefits of being saved, made right with the Lord? My unsaved friend Mike doesn’t. Yet. So I’m counting some of my blessings as I think about what Mike doesn’t have as an unbeliever.

One of the most surprising truths about biblical Christianity is the fact that there is both godly and ungodly jealously, godly and ungodly pride, and godly and ungodly hatred. Really!

Our culture so emphasizes love that it doesn’t realize there is a place for biblical hatred! So, my unsaved friends, it could be said,

14. THEY DON’T POSSESS A GODLY HATRED!

The godly person is one “who despises a vile person
, but honors those who fear the Lord.” (Ps. 15:4). We should hate hypocrisy, despise pedophilia, abhor child abuse, absolutely renounce racism, right?

It is quite surprising to see what the Bible has to say about God hating and also how believers are to hate. Here are some representative verses:

We might not like what the Bible says in those verses, but there it is. There are several levels of our hatred as we reject evil in our world — and in ourselves. Believers must define and defend biblical hatred even as they love those for whom Christ died.

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly life that I am grieved and angered at the effects of evil in our world and seek to do whatever I can to be salt and light in my culture. And I pray for my lost friend that he would experience a proper self-hatred that drives him to the Savior. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 13)

“Count your blessings — Name them one by one . . . “🎶 I sang this song as a young Christian. I’ve been counting some of my blessings as I think about what my lost friend Mike doesn’t have as an unbeliever.

I believe we should rejoice in the many blessings we have as followers of Jesus. And, conversely, I think we should grieve for those we love who don’t yet know Christ — and, therefore, don’t have these blessings. Grieving and rejoicing are emotions — and emotions are critical for human life.

However, what emotions mark the follower of Jesus? Sometimes I get really happy about things that don’t really matter. I also find that a lot of times I’m not concerned about the things that really count. The emotional life of the believer is critical. God made us with emotions, but, like the other aspects of our personality, our emotions are fallen, twisted, out of balance, sometimes inappropriate. So I would suggest that my lost friends —

13. THEY DON’T HAVE BALANCED EMOTIONS!

“Balanced” might not be the right word. But I believe that knowing Christ fundamentally renews and re-orients all that we are (intellect, will, and emotions). I need to weep over what grieves the heart of God and rejoice in those truths that He has graciously given in His Word and in His world.

Jesus was not just a man of sorrows. He was also a man of JOY. He says to His disciples in John 15, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (v. 11). One of the most important things a Christian can do is to study the emotional life of the Lord Jesus. What brought Him sadness? Disappointment? Excitement? Regret? Joy?

The Bible puts a premium on our proper emotions. Psalm 126 refers to “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (v.6) And the believer is clearly commanded in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I show by my godly emotions both appropriate joy and grief in life. And I pray for my friend that the Holy Spirit would give him a longing to know God personally and rejoice eternally in Him! (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #44 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 16

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, and to bless those who persecute them.

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 15.

The sixteenth critical imperative is —

16. Believers are to USE THEIR EMOTIONS FOR THE LORD . . . AND FOR EACH OTHER (v. 16)!

“Feelings, nothing  more than feelings . . .” A popular song reminds us that we are often victims of our own emotions. “You can’t help how you feel!”, I’ve heard Christians say. No? We can’t?

The emotional life of the believer is very important. The Lord Jesus displayed various emotions in His earthly life — and we are to model every aspect of our lives after Him. Perhaps we can’t help our initial emotional response to something, but we are to have control over continuing emotions.  And we can choose to identify with other believers in their joy and sorrow. This assumes that we are attentive to their emotional state and that we want to encourage them in their circumstance, whether that circumstance is joyful or mournful.

What control do we have over our emotions? From this critical imperative we must conclude that we can identify with those who are rejoicing — and join them in their pleasure. We can empathize with those who are grieving — and join them in their sorrow.

Today’s Challenge: Think of a specific believer that you know right now who is going through either joy or sorrow. How might you express your identification with that person?

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! GET BUSY GETTING GODLY! (Part 2)

In Colossians 3 we read about how we should get busy getting godly. Let’s look at the first two challenges in this passage:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We are commanded in verse 1 to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is.” And in verse 2 we are again told to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Setting your heart and setting your mind are not automatic choices the believer makes. We need to be challenged to emotionally and intellectually focus on things eternal.

Why should we “set our hearts on things above”? Because that is “where Christ is.” Now, I don’t understand God’s omnipresence (as one theologian put it, “Wherever there is a where, God is there”), but the divine Son of God can be (and is) both in the believer and at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. But we are not commanded to set our hearts on the Jesus who lives within us, are we? The emphasis is on His location — “seated at the right hand of God.” His atoning work was accepted by the Father and His glory and honor (veiled during His incarnation) are fully restored or made manifest.

Why should we “set our minds on things above”? Because we naturally give our best attention to “earthly things.” But we have died to this world and its “things.” Our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God.”

This does not mean we are to hate this world. This is, after all, “our Father’s world.” But our primary attention — both emotionally and intellectually — is not to be given to the finite, fallen, fractured system which so easily distracts us from our new status in Christ. Choose to set your hearts and your minds today!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2019 in focus

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 38)

Isn’t it just like the Lord to provide comfort for His people, even when His people are angry and anxious for God’s judgment — on others?  Jonah has settled into his shelter, enjoying its shade, waiting for God’s wrath to fall on Nineveh.

We read:  “Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort”! (v. 6).

God provides an additional level of comfort for Jonah beyond his self-made shelter.  God cares about His servant’s discomfort.  How ironic that the Lord would do such a thing for rebellious, unforgiving Jonah.

Then we read, “and Jonah was very happy about the plant” (v. 6).  An interesting study of this book would be the emotional life of Jonah.  What made him angry?  What brought him happiness?

But there he is.  In his double-shade, half provided by his own hands; the other half providentially provided by God the farmer.  But Jonah’s comfort, as he will see, is far from being a permanent condition.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon: Men and Their Emotions!

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in emotions

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! (apathy)

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Our church just held our missions conference with the title “WHO REALLY CARES?” In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, a visiting missionary to France challenged us to genuinely care about world missions.

But apathy seems to be our default setting in spiritual matters, doesn’t it? Our affections Screenshot 2015-11-16 05.58.26are all messed up. We care deeply about things that don’t matter and little about things that are eternal.

I recently unit-read the book of 2 Corinthians and was impressed by the statement in chapter 10 verse 5- “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Screenshot 2015-11-16 05.57.08God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Might we paraphrase this verse for today as “We demolish apathy and every emotion that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every feeling to make it obedient to Christ”?

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in apathy

 

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