With the coming of each New Year, we are reminded of the quickly passing time and shortness of the physical life that we possess.
For some, the concept of a short lifespan on earth is a thing of dread and fear. They possess dread because they know that the pleasures, possessions and relationships of this world will quickly pass away; and fear, due to confusion and uncertainty about, and an unpreparedness for, a coming afterlife.
However, in comparison, there are those who recognize that life is only temporal and will be followed by an eternal existence that will offer a much better existence. These have prepared for its coming and joyously await its arrival.
As we come face to face with another New Year, I just wanted to take a few moments to review the Biblical teachings on the temporal nature of life on earth and the great need to prepare for a coming afterlife while the opportunity still exists for each one of us.
(For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:) (Job 8:9 KJV)
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14 KJV)
Job, in our text, describes the quickness of the passing of our life as “we are but of yesterday”. In other words, Job is simply saying that, as we look back to the past events of our life, from birth onward, they seem to have just taken place “yesterday”. How very true this is!
On this New Year’s Day, stop and think about the past events of the previous year. For most of us, these events seem like they took place just yesterday.
Now, stop and think about some of your major life events that have taken place throughout your lifetime: births and deaths; sicknesses; new jobs and residences; anniversaries and graduations; and, for the Christian, the moment the Lord brought you unto Himself, trusting in Him for salvation. As you think about all these events, do they not seem to have taken place just a short while ago? For many of us, even the events of life that took place 30, 40, or even 50 years ago, now seem to be fresh in our minds and hearts, as if only a few days have passed.
Job even goes further in emphasizing the brevity of life when he says… “our days upon earth are a shadow”. See also: (Job 7:6, 9:25, 14:2; Psa 78:39, 89:47, 102:11; Isa 40:6).
Understanding the two basic characteristics of a shadow help us to understand what Job was trying to teach us. First of all, a shadow lasts only a short period of time, much like our life in comparison with the eternity that is to follow. Secondly, a shadow is constantly changing (due to movement of the person casting the shadow and the orbiting of the sun)… this pictures for us our temporal life and the many changes that take place on a day by day basis.
Job is bringing to our minds a very basic principle of living that we experience with every new day… Because our lives are uncertain and experience changes every single day, we do not know what each new day will hold for us. James even implies that because our lives are brief, uncertain, and changing, we cannot be sure if we will live yet another day…
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14 KJV) see also (Proverbs 27:1, 1 Sam 20:3)
Folks, looking back over this last year, we all know people who have passed on unexpectedly. Whether it be by accident, sickness, or the actions of another, every day people pass on before us suddenly with absolutely no prior warning. Perhaps, they expected to celebrate the coming of this New Year along with us but, sadly, they are no longer with us. In this fallen, sinful world unexpected deaths are a very common occurrence.
With the passing of this, and every New Year, we are reminded of the changing, fleeting nature of our lives. The most important aspect of these life principles is the need to take advantage of the time we have been given on earth and use it wisely.
What is the wisest possible use of our time? It is living our lives in preparation for the eternity that is to come. Because our physical lives and the world in which we live are temporal in nature, only that which is done for eternity’s sake will be of lasting value…
“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1Jn 2:17 KJV)
So how do we live for eternity? For the lost it means by coming to an understanding of the true God, our condition before Him, and our need of faith in Him, and the eternal blessings that await the people of God:
1. The Lord Jehovah is the true God over all men. God the Son, Jesus, is the only One through whom we can gain access to God the Father. (Psa 83:18, John 14:6; 1 John 5:20)
2. All men have committed sin and stand before God as guilty, unable to save themselves through their works of righteousness. (Rom 3:23, Rom 3:19, Titus 3:5)
3. It is by grace through the God-given gifts of repentance and faith that a sinful man can receive forgiveness and salvation from the punishment of their sins (Acts 3:19, Acts 11:18, Eph 2:5-8. 1 Thess 1:10).
4. The newly forgiven individual is adopted into God’s family, made a citizen of the eternal, spiritual nation of Israel, and made heirs of an eternal existence with God. This forgiveness, and the blessings that accompany forgiveness, are eternal in nature, can never be lost, based upon the completed work of Christ on the cross (Gals 4:5, Eph 2:19, Roms 8:16-17, Heb 10:10).
For the saved, it means to take advantage of the opportunities we have to show Christ to others around us, by living a Christ-like life through our words, actions, and lifestyles. (Roms 8:28-30, Eph 1:4)
Today is the 5th anniversary of Settled In Heaven Ministries. Tomorrow, SIH will begin its 6th year of service to Christ, ministering Him to others. Looking back over the past 5 years, I can see the grace of God being shown to the ministry every step of the way.
The desire of my heart is to praise and honor my Lord Jesus Christ for the many gracious blessings He has shown to my family, SIH, and myself, throughout the years. Truly without Christ, SIH would not, and could not, bring praise to Christ in any way.
Anything that has been accomplished through the ministry of SIH is entirely of His grace, for which He deserves all the glory. I am pointing out this anniversary to simply declare how good and wonderful the Lord has been to me, my wonderful wife and the ministry here. I am blessed being imagination.
Now that a milestone in time has been reached, my tendency is to begin looking ahead and planning new outreach ministries for SIH. Planning for the future and preparing for the times ahead, in and of itself, can be a very wise course of action for us all. However, the act of planning ahead can also lead to pitfalls and shipwreck in our service to Him.
In this lesson I would like to remind myself, and perhaps you as well, of the importance of relying upon the leadership and the gracious intervention of Christ in our lives to enable us to face, and successfully plan for, the times which lie ahead…
Jas 4:13-17 KJV –
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Jas 4:13-17 KJV
Go to now,
First, James calls his listeners to “take action” on what he is about to say. He is telling them to “Go do as I say!”
Why does James do this? It is because he knows how important this issue is for our lives. Making future plans without the consideration of the Lord, our need of Him, and His desires for our lives, will cause many, many Christians to fall by the wayside and become shipwrecked in our service to Him. This is why James emphasizes the need to take action on this subject.
ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
James now identifies to whom he is speaking. He is speaking to Christians who are making future plans for their lives in the following areas:
1. “we will go into such a city” – the places they will enter into, the areas their lives will touch
(where they would live, work, worship and minister for Christ, vacation etc )
2. “we will continue there a year” – the time frame of their actions and accomplishments
(when and how long they would do a specific act)
3. “we will buy and sell and get gain” – the activities of their lives
(ministry for Christ, vocation, marriage, children, education, shopping, house work, etc)
As we look at this list, we can see that this basic list covers almost every aspect of our lives.
These Christians were trying to plan ahead and be prepared for the future, however, they had forgotten one the most important aspect of their plans… the sovereignty and will of God….
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.
Why is planning for the future a vain pursuit when the Lord is left out of the plans? The Lord alone knows what tomorrow will bring for us. All the planning in the world can be undone in one fleeting instant when an unplanned event enters into our lives. A car accident, sickness, death, loss of employment, natural disaster or other tragedy can quickly unravel all of our plans for the future.
How foolish it is for us to plan for the future without recognizing the Lord is in control of our future.
For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
James, now directs our attention to one example of an area of life that is under the Lord’s control… the length of our lives. Stop and think about it. Out life is just like a vapor that appears and then very quickly vanishes away, many times without any prior notice.
How can anyone be so prideful as to make plans for the future when they cannot know for certain that they will even be alive tomorrow? This is the point that James is making for us all.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
However, we must include the Lord’s will into our plans, and submit to Him as the Ultimate Controller of the events of our lives (past, present, and future). When we make our future plans we make them with an attitude that recognizes that our plans can change at any moment based upon the Lord’s workings in our lives.
So, it is just as James tells us… “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that“
But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Instead of planning their futures by possessing humble spirits of reliance upon the Lord in the midst of the planning process, these Christians were making plans with an attitude of self-importance. They were thinking their plans will most certainly take place, because they are in control of the future events of their lives, or wise enough to think of every possible event that would take place in the days to come.
This was a lack of faith, clearly boasting of pride, self-importance, and superiority. In other words, it was attitude that was wicked in the eyes of God, basically placing their selves in God’s place and becoming guilty of idolatry. How can this be idolatry? They became their own idols as they attributed to themselves abilities that only belonged to their God.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
These Christians had now been taught the truth and given a grave responsibility… make all their future plans humbly with attention given to the sovereignty of God and His future will for their lives.
Prior to this, being ignorant of their sin, they were not convicted by their conscience nor the Holy Spirit. Although they were committing sin it was being done in ignorance with no conviction or discipline being handed down by the Lord.
But now, they were now aware of the evil attitude in their lives. To them, their attitudes were now had become sinful. In other words…
“to him (the Christian with sinful attitudes) it (the prideful attitude) is (now recognized as) sin.
“him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not”…
They had been warned. If they chose to ignore this warning, and continue on this path, they would now be left to the work of their conscience and the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
They would now become increasingly aware of their sinful attitudes and bear a growing burden for their willful rebellion against God. They could expect their guilt to only intensify and God’s chastening hand to be active upon them.
Folks, may we all make the Lord the center of all our future plans. He is the Only One who knows what tomorrow holds. He is the Only One that is control of every situation that comes our way. Understanding this, how can we begin to ignore Him and keep Him out of our plans?
Pro 3:5-8 KJV
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”
May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.
I would just like to thank all of you who have so faithfully taken part in the ministries here at SIH…. Thanks to the followers, commenters, likers, visitors, readers, rebloggers and social site sharers. Believe me, you all have been a great human encouragement as we have sought to faithfully post on a daily basis.
Also, please be in prayer for the ministries here at SIH. By God’s grace, over the years we have tried to be constantly adding to our ministries in an attempt to reach the most number of people with His Word.
Also, you can follow SIH on the following social sites:
Lord willing, within the next year, SIH will be greatly expanding our ministries on:
“Fighting is good for your marriage, it helps to get everything out of your system”…
“Fighting in a marriage is a sign of a very strong, healthy, and passionate love for one another”…
“All couples fight… if they tell you otherwise, they are lying”…
“We fight a lot because making up is so much fun.”
All of these statements are made by those who desire to justify anger and fighting in the marriage relationship… but can anger and fighting in a marriage really be justified?
Is fighting in a marriage a good thing? Is fighting a sign of a true deep passionate love for one another? Is fighting a “normal” activity in a marriage? Does a great makeup session justify getting angry at one another?
In this Valentine’s Day devotional, we will be looking at the interrelationship of self-sacrificial love, and anger within the marital union, but first, we will look at how each should manifest itself within the marital union…
Psa 97:10 KJV – Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
1Co 13:4-7 KJV – Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Jas 4:1-3 KJV – From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Before we begin our study I would like to include a very important definition. For today’s devotional “fighting” does not mean “disagreeing”…
Disagreements in marriage are inevitable due to our sinful natures. None of us perfectly understand God’s Word, therefore none of us perfectly understand His will for our lives. Because of this, there are times that couples will disagree on the issues of life. These disagreements should be resolved through self-sacrificial spirits and/or compromise.
By “fighting” we mean to become angry at our spouse, to hit our spouse, to yell at our spouse, to call our spouse names, to say hurtful things to our spouse, to speak ill of our spouse to others, to give our spouse the silent treatment, etc etc etc.
We all understand the difference. Please keep this in mind as we proceed with our study.
How love should manifest itself within the marital union…
1Co 13:4-7 KJV
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Here, we find how love exhibits itself. Some of the most basic ways that a Godly love is shown to others are in acts of patience, kindness, humility and a self-sacrificial desire for the good of the one that is loved.
No place in this list do we find anger, selfishness, nor fighting on the list; nor is it implied. As a matter of fact, the root cause for fighting is actually rejected. Folks, when we love others we will not seek our own but give sacrificially for the good of others. It will result in us acting kindly, with a spirit willing to give for the other, not being easily provoked nor behaving ourselves in ugly, distasteful ways that will take place during fights.
The Bible is clear, based upon this passage and many others, fighting should have no place among those who love one another. Period.
So why do we fight?…
Jas 4:1-3 KJV
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Just as the Bible is clear that fighting has no place in the marital union, so too, it speaks clearly about why fighting takes place. Here, we are told that the root of all fighting is the selfish lusts that lie within us. Instead of working through our disagreements in a spirit of love, compromise and self-sacrifice, many times we allow our selfishness to rule over us. This results in us doing “whatever is necessary” to “win” the argument, “the gloves come off” and the “games begin”! All because we want to selfishly get our way and, in effect, force our spouse to fulfill our desires and submit to our wishes.
So what about the title of this devotional “If you love, you will hate”?
This is the key principle that lies behind all that we are looking at in this devotional. If we love our spouse, we will hate anything that harms or wrongs them. Please note this verse…
Psa 97:10 KJV
Ye that love the LORD, hate evil:…
Here, we see that if we love the Lord, we are to hate evil… Why?
We hate evil because it harms our Lord, it displeases Him, it hurts Him to see us commit it, it takes away from His glory, He suffered because of it on the cross, it opposes His work etc. etc.
In other words, if we love the Lord, we will not want to see Him abused, mistreated, blasphemed, or opposed in any way. When we sin, or are accepting of the sin around us, we are doing all this to Him and more. This is why when we love our Lord we will hate sin and its effects on Him.
This same attitude should hold true in our marital relationship. If we love our spouse as we should, we would never want to see our spouse hurt, abused, harmed or saddened in any way. Sadly some, if not all, of these things are normal results of fighting and conflict in our home.
Truly “if you love, you will hate” anything that harms or saddens the one you love.. this includes fighting with them.
Folks, when we see ourselves fighting with our spouse, it is a clear indication that our love is not what it should be. Something is wrong.
Sadly, for there to be peace in the family it takes two. If only one spouse is committed to loving in a Biblical way, the other spouse can take advantage of them, selfishly abuse them, and always get “their way”. In these cases, the abused, unloved spouse many times will enter into arguments out of desperation, simply wanting the abuse and mistreatment to stop.
The spouse who is not committed to loving as Christ loved His church, clearly carries the greater load of guilt, knowingly disobeying their Lord. They will give an account to God for their lack of love and selfish abuse of their loved one suffering great loss of reward. Not only are they committing sin by not loving their spouse as they should, but they are also a contributing factor in the sinful actions of their spouse. Their actions are practically begging their spouse to sinfully rise up against them in desperation and self-defense. They are laying a stumbling block which causes their spouse to fall. These are serious issues indeed.
If both spouses are committed to loving one another with a Biblical love, it is very easy to live in peace. Both spouses work for the good of the other and place their spouse’s needs above their own. When they do this, it makes disagreements in the decision making very easy to reconcile. When both are committed to this, they will not allow themselves to take advantage and selfishly gain from their spouse’s desire for peace.
Can living in peace really be accomplished ? Absolutely, I saw this attitude in my parent’s marriage, I lived at home for 20+ years, and I can truly say I cannot remember ever seeing them fight. They did disagree at times, but they always worked it out through unselfish compromise seeking the good of the other and the family as a whole. It is one of the many things that I have learned to appreciate about my parents and the living example they had so graciously set for me.
I can say the same for myself and Eva. During our 15 years of marriage, we have rarely disagreed, but when we do, we simply put the other first and work things out. We have never fought.
Eva’s saying is “We have only been given a fixed amount of time to be together here on earth, we don’t have the time to waste fighting”. All I can say is “AMEN” to that.
(I know this may seem to be a very unusual, and perhaps inappropriate, subject to be addressed in a Valentine’s Day devotional. And I admit it may be. However, I truly believe this is a greatly needed devotional. For those who are struggling with this issue in their marriage, by faithfully applying the principles of God’s Word that have been presented, our marriages will never be the same. And this will become the most precious Valentine’s Day that we have ever experienced. )
May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.
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the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this final lesson of our study let’s quickly review all that we have looked at and attempt to apply these truths to our lives in a practical way.
Here is a listing of all the main truths we have learned in this study on the Lord’s local assemblies…
1. The Nature Of The Assembly
a. The Local, Visible, Called Out Assembly
b. The Benefits Of The Assembly
c. The Existence Of The Assembly
d. The Foundation Of The Assembly
2. The Mission Of The Assembly
a. The Great Commission
b. Evangelizing The Lost
c. Baptizing The New Believer
d. Instructing The Membership
3. The Other Truths About The Assembly
a. The Blessings Of The Assembly
b. The Accrediting Of The Assembly
c. The Attendance Of The Assembly
d. The Metaphors Of The Assembly
In all of these areas one basic principle was seen repeatedly… The local assembly of the Lord, His church, is THE distinctive assembly that was created and authorized to bring honor and glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ…
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Even beyond that, our study has shown us that, due to the unique nature and authority of the Lord’s assembly, it enjoys a very special, intimate relationship with Christ…
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
What a wonderful promise the Lord gives to those who are members of His assembly. It doesn’t matter how large or small the assembly, when God’s people gather to worship Him in spirit and in truth, He promises to meet with them in a very special, intimate way. He does this in the person of the Holy Spirit that not only indwells the body of the individual believer, but also indwells the assembly as the body of Christ.
It is very important to notice three basic principles in this text:
1. First of all, this is describing those who are “gathered together”. If we study this phrase, we find it is translated from a Greek word that means “to be led, or brought, together”. This isn’t simply a group of Christians that are meeting together. It is clearly saying that these Christians are led, or drawn, by the leadership of the Spirit to this meeting.
2. Secondly, when it speaks of the Lord being in “the midst” of them. This phrase is teaching us that, when God’s people are led by the Holy Spirit to meet together, He will be “right in the middle of things”. He will be actively involved in all that is taking place, working in a way that supercedes His normal workings in the world around us.
3. Thirdly, this gathering is in “the name” of Christ. This phrase is speaking to us about the motivation behind this assembly. These saints, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, are meeting in alignment with Christ’s will with a desire to honor, glorify, and worship God. It is not to promote nor exalt themselves, nor their assembly, but it is a meeting that is centered on bringing to God all the glory, honor and praise.
One more important point that is normally missed concerns the nature of the assembly that is being described. Normally, we have a tendency to apply this text to all believers who meet together to worship or serve Him in any way. In the mind of many, this is not limited to a local church assembly of members.
Please keep in mind:
1. first of all, we have already seen that this gathering must take place as the result of following the leading of the Holy Spirit of God, motivated to glorify God alone. It is not just a random assemblage of Christians.
2. more importantly, we must note the context of this passage to properly understand the assembly of which this speaks.
In the context (Matt 18:15-17) the subject of local church discipline is being addressed. It speaks of two disagreeing individuals, who are both under the authority of the local church. This text is explaining the process where their differences are to be resolved, or if not resolved, the local church discipline that should be enacted….
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican…
In the very near context the authority of the local assembly is affirmed. Not only does the local church have the authority to discipline its members, but also to discern the will of God and powerfully intercede according to His will, is confirmed in (Matt 18:18-19)…
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
Then, the source of the great authority of the local church assembly is described as the special presence of the Lord. As the Lord uniquely meets with His people, they are enabled to perceive His will as an assembly, and then act according to that will in worship, prayer and at times, unfortunately, the exercise of disciplinary proceedings (Matthew 18:20)…
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
In this 13 part study, we have attempted to look at a few of the reasons why a Christian should seek out and join an assembly of the Lord when it is possible to do so. In the midst of all the previous reasons we have listed, the greatest reason of all is found in our study today…
We, as Christians, are to join and actively support the ministry of the local church of the Lord because of the church’s ONE OF A KIND, intimate relationship with its Founder, Sustainer and Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere else on earth can this profound connection with Jesus Christ be found…
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. DRAW NIGH TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW NIGH TO YOU.” (James 4:7-8)
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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