by pastor david
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If there is a watchword that describes the Western mind-set today, it is the word tolerance. Many folk, in the Western world, worship at the shrine of tolerance. In the shaping of public opinion and the forging of national policy, many esteem a broadmindedness, which says any values, if sincerely held, are equally valid. There seem to be no absolutes today. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. In our day, people tolerate everything except intolerance.
Webster defines the word tolerance like this: “The allowable deviation from a standard, sympathy, or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing or conflicting with one's own."
That, in a nutshell, is the Western world. There is an openness that embraces almost anything morally, politically, or educationally.
George Gallop, America's pollster, says that 67% of Americans today believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
In other words, right and wrong vary from situation to situation. It may be wrong for me, but right for you. For instance, they say if homosexuality is right for you, then that’s fine. If it is not right for you, well, that is fine, too. Whatever works for you is right for you. If it feels good, do it. However, the consequences of that way of thinking are terrifying.
Like ancient Israel, we have become a people who have forgotten how to blush. Nothing shocks us anymore. Tragically, we have become desensitized to sin. In the name of tolerance, we have now opened the floodgates to embrace every form of wickedness. An absolute standard of right and wrong is becoming a dusty page of ancient history. Who is to say which abnormal perversion will be accepted next? Will it be polygamy? What "alternative lifestyle” will be next to be embraced?
As the church, we are beginning to feel the tightening noose of the world around us. If we are not careful, we will soon be choked to death by public consensus. Yet, Paul warns us, "Be not conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2)
I am certain you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer! A thermostat regulates the temperature while a thermometer simply registers the temperature. If given the choice, a wise person would always choose a thermostat over a thermometer. A thermostat is much more valuable than a thermometer because of its power to bring about change.
It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to begin to transform the world around us rather than allowing the world to conform us.
"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” (Romans 12:2 - The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips)
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
The words of Isaiah in this text have an immense prophetic interpretation for a future day. However, these Holy Spirit inspired words also have an intense personal application for today. Three questions are addressed in this brief declaration.
1. What Promise has been Expressed to the Christian? "You will keep him in perfect peace"
The Lord gave Isaiah a similar promise in (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV), where we read, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Jesus reiterated this promise to His disciples in (John 14:27 NKJV), "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
The peace offered here is "perfect peace". Implicit in these words are . . .
Keep in mind that this peace is conditioned upon our faith in and our focus upon the Lord. Therefore, consider the second question addressed here.
2. What Priority must be Established by the Christian? "Whose mind is stayed on You"
Upon what is your mind focused?
May I ask another question? Upon what should your mind be focused? When preparing to build the magnificent Temple for the worship of Jehovah, David challenged his son Solomon and the leaders of Israel with these words, "Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your God." (I Chronicles 22:1-19)
The Apostle Paul's simple and succinct injunction is, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2 NKJV)
In this hectic and hurried world, it is very difficult to make the time to quiet ourselves alone with the Lord and truly focus on Him and all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do for us in the future. Despite how tenaciously the devil opposes our time alone with the Lord and clamors for our attention, we must set aside a specific time and a special place to commune each day with our Supreme Love, the Lord Jesus. We must speak to Him in prayer and allow Him to speak to us through His Word.
A final question deserves consideration as well.
3. What Principle will be Embraced by the Christian? "Because he trusts in You"
It is often easier to trust Christ with our eternal souls that to trust Him with our temporal circumstances. It is very hard to hear the "still small voice" of God when inauspicious circumstances are screaming in our ears. This is the point at which it is essential that we set aside a daily time to meet quietly with our Lord in prayer and the study of His Word.
Pray the Psalmist's prayer found in Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law."
King David's prayer in Psalm 141:8 is appropriate for anyone at anytime; "But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; In You I take refuge."
When our focus is on the right object, our faith will be in the right object. Our faith always follows our focus.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
Lord let the light of your Truth penetrate the darkness that engulfs me just now. Even when Your radiance surrounds me, I can only see far enough to take one step at a time. Please guide each small step I take today. Theses things I pray in the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'. So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
Several years ago, I preached a series of sermons about various Bible characters that I called, "Lonely People". Little did I know that there would be many days when I would be one of those lonely people. There have been numerous times, even when a crowd of people surrounded me, that I felt dreadfully lonely.
Did you ever feel like this? As his UCLA football team suffered through a poor season in the early 1970s, head coach Pepper Rodgers came under intense criticism and pressure from alumni and fans. Things got so bad, he remembers with a smile, that friends became hard to find. “My dog was my only true friend,” Rodgers says of that year. “I told my wife that every man needs at least two good friends—and she bought me another dog.”
Loneliness is a growing problem in our society. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the loneliest group of people in America is college students. Is that surprising? Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly.
Yet, I realize Jesus Christ understands exactly what we are experiencing at times like these. There was a time in Christ's earthly ministry when . . .
How wonderfully comforting it is to know that Christ understands exactly how we feel when that tormenting loneliness engulfs us like a dense fog on a rainy night.
What is a believer to do when he feels lonely, even though he knows he is not alone? The Bible teaches that there are three tremendous truths upon which we should meditate during these times of emotional despair.
1. There is a person to whom we can retreat when we are lonely.
(13:5a) "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
The One who gives us this encouraging pledge is the Lord Himself.
This assurance comes from the God Who, according to (Titus 1:2), cannot lie. This guarantee comes to us from the God who is immutable (never changing). We are talking about a God from whose love neither you nor I can ever be separated (Rom. 8:38-39)!
Every believer can rely upon these words today, even though they were originally spoken to Joshua (Josh. 1:5). Notice in our text the personal relationship God has with us, implied in the words "I" and "you". God says to us today, "I want to be near you! I will always be near you. All you have to do is call out to Me and you will know I am near!" Jesus said, "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (John 6:37 NKJV)
2. There is a promise upon which we can rely when we are lonely.
(13:5b) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
The word "leave" translates the Greek word, "aniemi", which means "to send back, to relax, to loosen, not to uphold, to let sink". Two negatives in the Greek text precede it, which in English make a positive, but, in Greek only serve to strengthen the negative. It is literally, "I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you."
The word translated "forsake" is a compound of three Greek words which, when put together mean, "to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave destitute, leave in the lurch, let one down." There are three negatives before this word, making the promise one of triple assurance. It is, "I will not, I will not, I will not let you down, leave you in the lurch, leave you destitute, leave you in straits and helpless, abandon you."
All of this means that when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, God will come to our rescue!
(13:6) "So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
What a powerful testimony this is. Not only does the writer know these truths but also exuberantly proclaims them to all who will listen.
Make note of . . .
To point out how lonely people can be, Charles Swindoll mentioned an ad in a Kansas newspaper. It read, “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00”. Swindoll said, “Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving ten to twenty calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship”.
Please join me in this prayer.
Lord, thank You for this wonderful promise. It is so encouraging to me today. I have always known that You would never leave me - especially when I am going through difficult times, but today my heart rejoices because I feel Your presence so intensely. Help me to be always conscious of Your presence in my life. Help me to let You live Your life through me today. Empty me of myself and fill me with Your Spirit. Amen.
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'".
Moses first uttered this wonderful promise, "He will never leave you nor forsake you", to Joshua, as recorded in (Deut. 31:6). As his 120 year-old mentor, Moses was preparing Joshua for the enormous task that lie ahead - the task of leading the people of Israel into the Promise Land.
God Himself repeated this promise to Joshua after the death of Moses, just prior to leading the Israelites into Canaan. In (Joshua 1:5), God said to this new leader, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you".
This was such a significant promise that the inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quoted it in his words of edification and encouragement. (Heb. 13:5) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Most of us, who read the Bible with any frequency, are somewhat familiar with this promise but I wonder how many of us actually take this promise seriously and honestly apply it to our own personal lives.
If we do, then, why are we so often lonely? I realize that many who are reading this feel like you are alone.
However, you are not truly alone, if you are a child of God. When you acknowledged Christ as your Lord, He immediately took up permanent residence within you. He is there with you every moment of every day. You may be alone from a human perspective, but in reality, Child of God, you are never alone!
Stop reading for a moment and let that truth sink deeply into your soul. You are not alone!
Therefore, you never again need to be lonely. That sense of loneliness that you feel at times is God's way of drawing and driving you to greater dependence upon Him.
Hear His words in (Matthew 11:28): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is calling you to His side. Turn to Him in prayer. Open His Word and read what He wants to say to you today. "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12).
Christianity is all about a relationship with the living God through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. When you have that relationship, you are never alone and never need to feel lonely. Let that loneliness drive you to the right hand of God to commune and communicate with the Lord of universe. He is calling out your name. He wants to hear from you today. He wants to know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Go to Him. Go now! You are not alone!
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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