Brought Down or Rising Up?

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Proverbs 24:16 –  [F]or though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (NIV 1984)

Seven musings to inspire us to rise again and not be brought down.

Billy Graham – “Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.”
My Musing – The fact that we all make mistakes is not an excuse to repeat them or wallow in them.
Rick Warren – “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
My Musing – We are only prisoners if we choose to be, because Christ has set us free.
Colin Powell – “There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
My Musing – Like Paul, we need to press on.
Abraham Lincoln – “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
My Musing – What could be more dangerous than being content with our failures, with our life of sin?
Barack Obama – “The real test is not whether you avoid failure, because you won’t.  It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it.”
My Musing – We may not be able to avoid failure, but we can avoid situations that lead to failure.  If you don’t want to eat the apple, quit hanging around the tree.
C. S. Lewis – “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” — C. S. Lewis
My Musing – A steady upward progress is often difficult to measure except in retrospect,
Winston Churchill – “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
My Musing – Unfortunately we often keep going back to the same old tree.
My Advice – As Christians, our eraser (confession and repentance) that will always outlast the pencil (our sins).  But that does not give us license to sin.  And what a mess all those eraser crumbs can leave.  To obey is better than sacrifice (asking for forgiveness).

Hollow and Deceptive

Colossians 2:8, 20See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ…you died to the basic principles of this world, why as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch! (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Eve found out that even just a taste caused her, and all generations thereafter, to be slaves of sin. We’ve been set free by the blood of Christ, yet we continue to taste the world’s “pleasures.” Paul asks why, because we no longer have to submit to Satan’s deception.

My Advice – Sift carefully through the things that people try to get you to buy in to. They might sound good on the surface, but if they are inconsistent with the Word do not handle, taste or touch.

Foul Mouth

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Ephesians 5:4Nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Of course, we know that taking God’s name in vain is specifically forbidden. But beyond that, how do we know what language is improper? If it is considered vulgar or obscene by the world’s standards we should clearly avoid using the language. If we would be uncomfortable using the language around our parents or clergy, then it should also be avoided. If in doubt, use a different word.

My Advice – Watch your language. There is no need for obscene, profane or coarse language. Do not allow yourself to become de-sensitized by foul language just because it is common.

Not Everything

1 Corinthians 10:23“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive.  (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is true that we live by grace. But that does not give us a license to sin. There are still things that simply are neither beneficial nor constructive and we should avoid them.

My Advice – Do not buy into any claims that because of grace you should be allowed do anything you want. God’s moral laws are still His laws.

Lessons Learned, Pitfalls Avoided

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2 Samuel 11:1-4,14-15In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite? Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.  In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”  (NIV 1984)

2 Samuel 12:7-9Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.”  (NIV 1984)

2 Samuel 12:13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – David was not where he was supposed to be.  He was supposed to go off to war with his army, but he stayed at home.  In his idleness (boredom), he ended up being where he should not have been and seeing what he should not have seen, which led him to do what he should not have done.  One sin (adultery) led to another (murder).  Yet,  [God] testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22, NIV 1978)

How can this be?  Surely not because of his sins (they were horrible),  but because of how he responded when confronted.  No excuses, no shifting the blame and no denials.  Confession and repentance. Like David (maybe not as bad as David), we all make mistakes (sin).  Of course it is always better for us not to sin in the first place.  Often we can avoid sin by being where we should be and not where we should not be (if Eve did not want to eat the “apple,” why was she hanging around the tree?).  But when we do sin we need to respond like David.  There may be consequences (there were for David and Bathsheba – their child conceived in sin died), but our sins will be “taken away.”  For, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9, NIV 1984)

My Advice – We all heard the sage advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Prevention can mean avoiding idleness.  Making sure we are where God wants us to be.  When we know the “fruit” is forbidden (and we do), not hanging around it.  Nonetheless, whenever the inevitable sin occurs (and it does not “just” occur), recognize that we “are the man (or woman)” and respond appropriately.

License to Sin?

Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (NIV 1984)

My Musings – People will make any excuse to legitimize their sinful habits and desires. Even going to the extreme of perverting God’s grace.

My Advice – Do not let anyone convince you that grace gives you freedom to sin. It is not true. While God’s grace is bigger than any sin you could commit, it is not a license to continue in sin.

Yet In Distant Lands

Zechariah 10:6-10 – “I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them. Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return. I will bring them back.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Sometimes (often) we go our own way. We wander among the worldly (distant lands) and forget the ways of God. God will allow us this freedom, but He remains in our hearts (we survive). Eventually we remember Him and desire to leave our worldly lifestyle. Out of His great compassion He brings us back and restores us.

My Advice – There will likely be times when you wander in “distant lands” and do not walk with God. Always remember that you cannot wander so far that His arms cannot reach you to welcome you back. You will find that the first step of the return journey may be real hard. But once you take that first step, demonstrating your willingness to turn back, God will carry you the rest of the way.