Saturday, June 29, 2013

Five Kinds of Hearers of God's Word

By Pastor Brian G. Najapfour
Brian G. Najapfour is Pastor at Dutton United Reformed Church, author, and PhD student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
For a brief bio on Brian see:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:22-25)  

1.    Mr. Blind. He is blind and thus unable to see the spots on his face in a mirror. Others see his flaws but, he cannot see them because of his spiritual blindness. He is so blind that he calls evil good and good evil. He is living in sin and is not bothered by his sinful life.

2.    Mr. Afraid. He knows that he has some spots on his face but is afraid to look at them in a mirror. He is like a person who knows that he has a health problem but is afraid to see a doctor for a checkup. Mr. Afraid cannot accept reality; he tries to avoid the truth. He does not want to be confronted by God’s Word.
3.    Mr. Self-righteous. He looks at his face in a mirror and notices some spots, but he does not do anything about his face. He is self-deceived. He deceives himself by thinking that he is good when, in fact, he is bad. He thinks that he is good enough to go to heaven. When corrected to change his wicked behavior, he reasons, “I don’t need to change. My neighbor does, but not me.”

4.    Mr. Pessimistic. He looks at his face in a mirror and sees his blemishes and thinks that they are too great to be washed. Mr. Pessimistic knows that he is a sinner, but he thinks that his sins are too great to be forgiven. He dwells on his misery. He despairs, saying, “I am too sinful to be saved.” Mr. Pessimistic needs to learn from the German reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546):

“Because you say I am a sinner, I will be righteous and saved....I fly to Christ who has given himself for my sins. Therefore, Satan, you will not prevail against me when you try to terrify me by telling me how great my sins are....On the contrary, when you say I am a sinner, you give me armor and a weapon against yourself...for Christ died for sinners....You do not terrify me but comfort me immeasurably.”

The Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) beautifully states, “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.”

5.    Mr. Wise. He looks at his face and sees his spots in a mirror and cleanses his face. That is, upon noticing his sins through God’s Word, he comes to God for forgiveness in Christ. He prays with the tax collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” James says that this kind of person will be blessed (v. 25).

Which kind of hearer are you?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Greatest Enemy

By: Adam McClendon

How do spiritual disciplines help the spiritual life?  Up front, it must be admitted that in today’s society anything with the word “discipline” in it sounds unappealing.  Nevertheless, historically, spiritual disciplines (such as reading the Bible, prayer, fasting, worship, etc.) have been practiced by the church as a means to reveal sin and grow in godliness. 

This post is not about five profound and practical points pontificating the poignant purpose spiritual disciplines serve in proliferating godliness in the believer’s life.  Okay, that was ridiculous.  No, this post is just an honest assessment of how I’m so easily drawn into sin, my daily struggle against my sinful tendencies, and how basic personal spiritual disciplines help me walk in greater faithfulness and experience greater intimacy with God.  So, here goes…

I am my biggest enemy.  No really.  Day to day, my biggest struggle lies within.  Emotions of complacency flow to internal explosions of anger, laziness, lust, impatience, worry, and frustration.  Throw in a little envy in and voilĂ , a perfect dish of self-pity, self-justification, and self-condemnation all rolled up in one. 

As a believer, I still live within a fallen context, and so long as I live in this world, I will have desires that battle for my attention and affection.  These desires seek to lure me, like a bass chasing a spinner bait, right into self-fulfilling sin (James 1:14).  Sinful thoughts will invade my mind and desires will bring shock and awe to my heart: not because I am inherently evil as a believer, but because I am inherently human and live in a fallen world (that sentence really deserves another post by itself). 

The Bible warns that these sinful thoughts and desires will come.  2 Corinthians 10:5 states that I am to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” and Galatians 5:16 commands me as a believer to “walk in the Spirit,” so that I “will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  The implication is that ungodly thoughts and desires will bombard me.  These desires in and of themselves are not sin; rather, it is the engagement of these thoughts and desires that results in sin. 

As a believer when emotions seek to burst forth unrestrained, when sinful thoughts come calling, when fleshly desires dangle their lures, I am to bring them in submission to the will of the Spirit (Gal 5:16).  I am to submit to him.  This act of the will is critical in walking in obedience.

Unfortunately, too often, I don’t recognize the will of the Spirit and the attacks of the enemy until it is too late.  That’s where certainly spiritual disciplines help me.  Reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture, prayer, confession, fasting, etc. all work together to continue to reveal areas in which I need to live in greater submission to the Spirit.  The Lord faithfully uses these disciplines and others to constantly show me a distinction between fleshly desires and godly ones, his will versus competing ones.  Thus, I find that God is so faithful in bring passages to mind, fanning the affections of my heart, and guiding my soul to him in the midst of the chaos of life through these basic disciplines. 

So, that’s my encouragement and reminder.  I don’t “have to” read my Bible every day, I need to.  I don’t have to pray, meditate on Scripture, fast, etc., but I need to.  I need to seek him and the spiritual disciplines are means by which God helps train his children to be godly (1 Tim 4:7).  Spiritual disciplines then are not something I do to check proudly off my list as if something has been accomplished.  No!  They are not a cure all.  They are not magic bullets, but they are tools that help bring perspective and balance to life.  They steady the ship so that the horizon can be seen and the course can be set.  They are means to draw me close to Christ so that I might be ready for the battle ahead and choose to serve him this day versus myself.  For, I am my greatest enemy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

High Places

By: Adam McClendon

2 Kings 12:2–3: And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.  Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.

From all accounts, Jehoash had a heart to serve the Lord.  The Bible declares that he did what was “right in the eyes of the Lord.”  Jehoash repaired the house of the Lord demonstrating his sincere desire to honor God, and yet, somehow, he missed the pagan high places.  These pagan high places were designed for the worship of false gods.  It is unclear why or how Jehoash missed these centers of pagan worship.  It could be that these high places were so entrenched in the culture that Jehoash did not even recognize them as wrong, maybe he had fond memories of visiting them earlier on in his childhood, maybe the priest who advised him told him that they were okay and he took the priest at his word without checking the records of the law for himself, but again, the text just doesn’t say.  What the text does clearly say is that although he did much that was right he never purged idolatry from the land as instructed.

So, all this makes me wonder.  If a king doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord could miss such blatant idolatry, couldn’t I?  What high places do I blindly tolerate or indulge?  What sinful areas of my life are so culturally accepted that I don’t even question their legitimacy?  What evidences of idolatry have been dismissed due to the inaccurate teachings of trusted men? 


The reality is that I’m sure they are there.  The real question is, “Am I willing to tear any pagan high places in my life and heart down despite the social implications and personal cost?”  If I am willing, then I can seek God and he will help reveal them to me and empower me to get rid of them.  God wants me to be holy (1 Pet 1:14-16).  So today, may God open my eyes to the high places of my life and heart, may he embolden me to seek them out, and empower me to tear them down walking in greater conformity to the image of his Son. 

Revealing God, today, would you help me to see any idolatrous areas of my life?  Open up my eyes to those missed high places, and humble me to the point of repentance.  Turn me from my ignorant sins and give me a greater understanding of what it means to walk in holiness today.  God thank you for giving me your word and help me to constantly turn to it as the ultimate guide for all matters of life and faith.