Monthly Archives: December 2012

What do you see in the Mirror?

On at least two occasions in Scripture (1 Corinthians 13 and James 1) the analogy is used of someone looking in the mirror. The necessity of doing so is readily apparent to most people, hence the reason they are scattered throughout our homes and are found in almost every building one would enter. The individual who ignores their physical features in the mirror is often considered unkempt, sloppy, or lazy because of the apparent unwillingness to make oneself look “presentable.” Nevertheless, as much as this is true from the physical perspective, it is equally true spiritually.

Paul admonished the Corinthians to, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5 ESV). We are to be people who take the time to look in the spiritual mirror and examine who we are, as well as who we are trying to be. This should be done on a regular basis; but of far greater value than the looking is the recognition and response to what is seen.

Take a moment to look into the spiritual mirror of Scripture: what do you see? It does not matter what you see in everyone else, nor does it matter what you think other people see in you; what matters is what you and God see, for you are the only ones who fully and completely see the truth.

When you look into the mirror of the soul: do you see the reflection of God, or Satan? Paul emphasized that we are either servants of one or the other, and the one we choose to serve will be reflected in our lives and in what we see when we look in the mirror. He wrote, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).

The one who looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of God is the one practicing godliness (lit. “God-likeness). The principle of godliness is upholding the standards and teachings of God as the principles and practices of one’s life. It does not mean that one becomes as a god personally, but that one accepts and incorporates the teachings and principles of God into every aspect of life, shaping his life to God’s will. Paul put it this way: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). If I can honestly look in the mirror of God’s Word and see his reflection in the deeds, decisions, and principles of my life: there is safety and security to be found in what I see.

Alternately, if I live after my own ideals and practices, I will not see the reflection of God in the spiritual mirror, but Satan. Satan’s standard is to live life following whatever course you desire. Whatever gives you the most pleasure, the most physical fulfillment, and the greatest “high” is what you should follow (1 John 2:15-16). One will never look into the spiritual mirror and see God reflected in life while they are serving Satan. For one who is reflecting God in their life will not be one who lies, cheats, steals, or otherwise seeks to harm others (Rom. 12:10-18); nor will the servant of God be one who is found trying to explain away why certain principles of God’s Word do not apply in one instance or another. The servant of God will consistently be found upholding God’s standard, not man’s. Additionally, the one who reflects God will not constantly be worried about “what is in it for me,” but will instead be more concerned with whether or not it will benefit another (Phi. 2:3-4; 1 Tim. 6:6-11).

Nevertheless, of even greater importance than what you see in the mirror is what you do with what you see. James proclaimed: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jam. 1:22-25).

If you look in the mirror and see the reflection of Satan in your life and in your heart, will you change? The Scriptures are filled with examples of people who were willing to do just that when they “looked in the mirror.” You can too; but only if you are willing to not ignore what you see, instead focusing on fixing the problems. Otherwise, we find ourselves in danger of the judgment promised in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 for those that do not know God and obey the Gospel.

It may also be that one looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of God, but it is imperfect. No man is mistake free; we all have flaws and shortcomings. Therefore, there is the necessity to remember Paul’s lesson of continuing to press toward the mark (Phi. 3:13-14). We may be seeing the right reflection, but that does not mean there is no room for improvement to make the reflection sharper and clearer. Let us never be content with where we are in our service to God, but always striving to do better in our reflection of the standards of his will.

Have you looked in the mirror recently? What did you see? What will you do about it? I cannot answer any of these questions for you, just as you cannot do so for me; but they should ever be in our minds and a part of our decisions with each passing day. May you have a better reflection of God tomorrow than you had today.

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Poem: Battling the Foe

As the army continued to battle the foe, preparations were made for it was our time to go.
We put on our helmets, wore shields with great pride; and with swords in our hands we stood side by side.
This battle had been going on for some time, but we stood unconcerned, for it was our time.

As we entered the battle to face his fierce troops, I saw that the arrows of our enemies were loosed.
Then I looked over and to my great surprise, I saw a good friend fall with glazed over eyes.
He had not often polished his shield and when it was needed it failed in the field.

Then I saw another man turn tail and run, the battle was growing and he said he was done.
But just as he fled and ran from the fight, more arrows came at him from the left and the right.
They felled him quickly for as he made tracks, he failed to realize there is no armor for our backs.

Then on the other side someone fell to the rear, and started backstabbing our own men who were near.
He had made an agreement to fight with the foe, and sought to cause our side all kinds of woe.
We were forced to remove him and turn him aside, for we could not win the battle if we let him abide.

But those that remained pressed on in the fight; not turning our path to the left or the right.
We kept our focus on our king at the fore, who was ever encouraging and made our spirits soar.
We pressed on with the battle and prevailed o’er the foe, for the enemy could not stand before this army’s blows.

Dear friends understand there’s a battle being waged; it’s not just in books as you turn the page.
There is a constant battle between wrong and right, it’s constantly fought: both day and night.
The battle is not physical as some try to claim, it’s a spiritual fight and it isn’t a game.

As we strive to fight on the side of the Lord, we must always remember to carry his word.
Some will become fearful and run from the fight, but you never survive when you turn and take flight.
Others will fall from their own lack of skill; for instead of preparing, their time they did kill.
There will be others who will turn on their brother, having been snared by the wiles of another.
But in spite of the tempest, in the midst of the strife, do not turn aside nor give up your life.
Instead, keep your eyes on your Lord and king; for when the battle is won his praises you’ll sing.

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Understanding Your Role

In Second Chronicles 26 we read of a king by the name of Uzziah. Uzziah had the second longest reign of any Israelite king at 52 years. He was also one of the few good kings of Judah, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in doing what was right in the sight of God (2 Chr. 26:4). This king was a powerful king because God had been with him. He built up the defenses and army of Judah and recognition of his name spread around the world because of the power God had granted him (Vs. 15).

However, when Uzziah’s power was at its greatest we read these words: “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.’ Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense” (2 Chr. 26:16-19 ESV).

Uzziah began to think too much of his own power. He believed that because God had given him power in some things, he now had the ability to do anything. This attitude was his downfall and he lived the rest of his life with leprosy (26:21). Notice that the problem with Uzziah’s attempt to offer incense was not that he did not know what he was doing, was not intelligent enough to do the job, or that God thought him a lesser individual than the priests. The problem was he did not have the authority to perform this action in the house of God: only the priests were given that responsibility (Vs. 18; Exo. 30:7-8).

The attitude of Uzziah is seen in many people today as well. Though there are many corners of the religious world where women have been given leadership roles in the worship service or the congregation (female preachers, elders, deacons, prayer leaders, etc.), the Lord has given those responsibilities to men (1 Tim. 2:12-3:13). It does not mean God thinks less of women, that he considers them stupid or ignorant, or that he believes them unable to do the job; but just as in the case of Uzziah, God has given that responsibility to others and to try to take such power where God has not given it “will bring you no honor from the Lord God.”

Likewise a man may be a good man, well respected in the community, and a good steward yet still is unqualified to be an elder. It does not in any way mean God does not consider him a good and righteous man. However, if he persists in striving to take upon him a role God does not allow, he puts in jeopardy that righteousness to obtain a role that is not his.

We need to learn the lesson of Uzziah. First and foremost, we need to study God’s Word rationally and diligently to see what roles God has established for each individual: for everyone has a set of responsibilities. Then we must ensure that we do not overstep our boundaries and take upon ourselves roles that God has not authorized, lest we become an outcast from God and the church as Uzziah was from his people (Vs. 21).

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The Parable of the Railroad Crossing

Two vehicles came to a railroad crossing from opposite directions. As they approached, the warning signals at the intersection began to blare. The bells went off, the gates went down, and the lights flashed. The driver of one vehicle heeded the warning, brought his car to a stop and prepared to wait for the intersection to clear. The other driver was in a hurry and did not believe the danger was imminent; therefore, he swung his vehicle around the gate and prepared to cross the tracks and continue on his way. As he crossed the tracks the train hit his car and killed him.

Unfortunately, this particular event is not unknown or unheard in our day. We have all known of occasions where just this sort of action has occurred. Some will take to blaming the train operator; some will say that the warnings were not bold enough; some will argue that if the car had been faster it would not have been an issue. Nevertheless, all of these arguments miss the true source of the problem that caused the disaster. The driver ignored the warning. He received exactly the same warning that the first driver received; the only difference is that he did not heed the proffered warning, deciding he knew better.

With as many applications as this parable has for our physical lives, it has an equal impact in spiritual application. The Scriptures are filled with God’s warnings against ignoring his will, living for self, and following one’s own desires and directions. He has warned repeatedly that there is impending doom for those who will not heed the warning at the crossing. One such passage is 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, which clearly states: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

God is adamant that the unwillingness to heed his warnings and obey his commands will lead to destruction (Luke 16:29-31). Yet many people are in too much of a hurry. They state that they will stop at the next warning signal, but they are just too busy right now. Some do not really believe the “train” is coming; since they have not seen it and have never been hit by it previously, it must not actually be there. Others believe it to be fun to see just how close they can come to getting hit and still get through the intersection. All of these attitudes will eventually lead to the demise the second driver incurred.

As we come to the intersections of life and are presented with the warning signals of God, telling us of the dangers ahead, let us be wise and heed the warnings. They will assist us in our ability to live long and effective lives; as Solomon wrote: “The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Pro. 10:27) and, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Pro. 14:27). They will also save our souls, as Paul advocated to the Colossians when he wrote of the Lord: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28). We never know when the last warning will come or when the “train” will be too close to avoid again; the only safe choice is to listen to the commands of God and obey them; for therein we know we are safe.

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Slow Progress

Just a quick note to notify everyone that between the new baby and all of my weekly responsibilities with the congregation there may be some longer lapses than usual between article posts. I have not quit the blog site, nor do I have any intention of doing so; but there are a number of other things that require additional attention at the moment. Please bear with me through the delays and Lord willing the articles will be posting regularly again in the near future.

God bless.

Adam

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