Prayer and the Holiness of God

In my previous post, I reflected on how God’s forgiveness and discipline intertwined in our lives, gleaning principles from Psalm 99 and Hebrews 12. Psalm 99 also teaches some powerful truths about holiness and the sovereignty of God in connection with prayer by heroes of faith. Psalm 99 has universal perspective: People from every nation (and even the earth itself!) should tremble at the realization that God rules. While, especially in Western society, people cherish autonomy, Psalm 99 reminds us that even rulers, priests, and prophets are accountable to God. The psalm mentions Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these three had a connection with priesthood; Moses and Samuel also functioned as rulers and prophets in Israel. The role of prayer in the ministry of all three is noted when the psalm’s writer observes about Samuel, “…Samuel also was among those who called on his name,” in a literary structure that equates the service of Aaron and Moses with that of Samuel. While all three were spiritual leaders of the people of God, Moses and Aaron especially were held accountable for sins committed in the course of leading Israel. Even Samuel had to answer for the unethical behavior of his sons after he delegated some of his responsibilities and authority to them.

Psalm 99 emphasizes the holiness of God in its call to worship him: “Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!”(verse 5) and “Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy” (verse 9). We know the LORD is holy because he is a “lover of justice” and has “executed justice and righteousness”(verse 4). In regard to the prayers of Aaron, Moses, and Samuel, verse 8 observes, “O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.” The psalmist also notes that this trio of faith heroes “kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.”

God’s holiness is to be reflected in the lives of his worshipers; passages like James 3 underline that teachers and leaders of worship especially should live holy lives. The lives of the three leaders named above reveal that even flawed leaders can lead God’s people well, but that there is a personal cost for their sins. Psalm 99 applies this truth to leaders, but also to all in our world who call on God’s name in prayer. Prayer is not a glib conversation with a friend, but a dialogue with the holy Creator of life and our world. As Hebrews 12:28 states, “Therefore, since wee are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.” When we “call for fire” in prayer, we must pray with awareness of the power of the One to whom we cry.

#accountability, #discipleship, #holiness, #prayer

The Record Is Always On

There are times when cultural “stars” of varying levels want to speak to reporters but they want to speak “off the record”. The idea is that they want their words to be heard, but they don’t want to be seen as the source. They want to get people talking, but they want people talking about them.

There are several reasons why someone living in the cultural arena would want their words to remain anonymous. One is that they do not want to deal with the negative effect of the repercussions, and another is that they may want to benefit from positive effect of the repercussions without it being obvious. Regardless of the situation the “stars” of the world find themselves in, the “stars” of the church must remember that there is never a time when people speak off the record.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:3)

#accountability, #christianity, #life, #record, #the-tongue, #words

The right attitude toward personal responsibility

Note: As the world grows in rejecting responsibility for one’s actions, more articles, lessons, and sermons like this below by Charles Box are needed.

Accepting personal responsibility is the right thing for every Christian. Members of the church of Christ, in the United States during the 21st century, have truly been blessed. However, with each blessing comes great responsibility.

“The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” Luke 12:46-48.

Accepting personal responsibility for both your attitudes and your actions is a big thing to God. Once you know and are willing to accept personal responsibility you need to follow through on what is expected of you. Jesus wants us to understand our responsibility both to God and to man.

Christians are called by God to be responsible. God calls His people from all walks of life.

He forgives us when we obey the gospel. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38.

To please God, however, we must continue to listen to and follow His instructions concerning what is acceptable behavior.

We must live unto God. “For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him” Luke 20:38.

As we live this life responsibility is often seen everywhere.

  1. We see responsibility toward government. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” Romans 13:1.
  2. There is responsibility toward parents. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” Ephesians 6:1, and
  3. There is responsibility toward elders in the church. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” Hebrews 13:17

Fulfilling responsibility is not a burden, but rather a source of joy. “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” Romans 14:7. God has blessed you with certain abilities. Happiness comes as you use those abilities in His service.

This was the case of the men who had received the talents, Matthew 25. Out of those involved in this lesson, which person was filled with joy? “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” Matthew 25:21. The use of our talents brings “the joy of the Lord.”

It is only right that we do our part in life. It is right to Continue reading

#accountability, #charles-box, #judgment, #personal-responsibility

Responsibility: Galatians 6.5

Answering the nudge about a verse on responsibility, here’s my choice. The God’s Word version gets to the point of Galatians 6:5: “Assume your own responsibility.” Similar to it is the NLT: “For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” The ESV and other versions sound more like we’re used to hearing: “For each will have to bear his own load.”

Fewer and fewer in this world are willing to heed this truth. Many even in the church are ready to let others take responsibility, pushing their work off on to preachers, elders, and deacons.

Reminds me of a preacher who directed a youth camp and purposefully broke the rules. Later, he told the board of directors, “I assume responsibility,” but the phrase was more of a scapegoat than a statement of submission. He does his own thing and rules to him are an inconvenience. Including the Lord’s rules.

#accountability, #galatians, #responsibility