Seeking Early

Location: Camden, Maine, United States

Monday, October 31, 2005

Give Thanks - He is Good!

For the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I am going to focus upon giving thanks. I really enjoy the holiday season. But have you noticed over the last few years how that Thanksgiving has been over looked? I was at our local Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago and saw Christmas decorations being stocked on the shelves.

Somehow we don’t like to say thank you. Saying thank you is something that parents teach their children early in their lives. We have all heard mother and dad say, "What do you say?" after someone has extended to us a mercy.

So why is it so hard to say "Thank You?" I think it is because giving thanks is primarily a humbling experience. It is somewhat embarrassing to say "Thank You," because it is not only a recognition of a grace or mercy that has been extended to us, it is also a recognition of being in a position to need grace or mercy.

Our society is anything but humble, or aware of needing grace and mercy. We are a very proud people; self-sufficient, self-confident, anything but self-abasing.

Believers should not be so. To fail to say thank you is to retain your pride and not humble yourself before your benefactor. the very fact we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is to recognize how insufficient self is, and to recognize how very indebted we are to grace.

To give thanks is to recognize you have been benefited by someone else. To give thanks is to appreciate someone who has done something for you. To give thanks is to exalt another person. To give thanks is to say I am insufficient and another person is far greater than I.

David wrote in Psalm 107:1 "O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever." It is the Lord who is greater than we are. It is the Lord who extends mercy. It is the Lord who does so because His very nature is good!

Consider this believer, if we do not give thanks to the Lord, who will? It is the believer who recognizes the benefits of God’s grace. It remains then for the believer to return to the Lord thanks for all He is and has done for us.

We have so much to be thankful for. But be focused in your thanksgiving. Realize you have been benefited. You needed His grace and mercy. Apart from Him there would be no reason to learn to give thanks.

"Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One, Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son."

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Monday, October 24, 2005

“Godliness - a Shroud, a Coffin, and a Grave”

1 Timothy 6:1-12 has 4 verses that use the word “godliness”. The context deals with attitudes. There is the attitude of the believer servant. He is to treat his master with respect whether he is an unsaved master or a master who knows the Lord, (verses 1-2).

There is the attitude of the teacher, (verses 3-5). The words that we teach are to be wholesome words, Christ‘s words, even doctrine according to godliness. Those words are sound words, healthy words, edifying words, words full of grace and absent of error. Paul calls them words characterized by godliness.

There is the attitude of motivation, (verses 4-5). If pride motivates us we become “doters,” sick in our minds. Our minds can become overwhelmed with self and our own advancement that our thoughts and words gender envy (words that lead away from soundness), strife (contention), railings (distracting slander), evil surmising (bad suppositions). This kind of thinking and speaking lead to (verse 5) perverse disputing. We rub people the wrong way, and become useless and empty in our dealings with one another. This attitude takes us away from true godliness, and brings us to an attitude that says if I play the godliness game I will be benefited by it. How sad is that!

Just think, we can be doing the church thing, or doing the service thing, but if our attitude causes others to exalt me, then it is perverse! Paul says separate from this kind of person.

He then goes on to tell us what our attitude should be -- “godliness with contentment.” That is what brings great gain or advancement. It isn’t the gain that we should seek, it is the godliness that should be our goal. With godliness comes great blessing - the blessing of contentment.

Do you ever find yourself wishing for more, more often than being thankful for what you have? We have all been there. These are the times when we lose our focus on what is of great value in God’s view. God says be content with what you have. Desiring the “stuff” that pride and the world offers, will bring with it traps to fall into, and ultimately cause us to stray away from the faith.

There is a very false philosophy at work in our world. You have all heard it, “Who ever has the most toys when he dies, wins!” That is the very attitude Paul is saying brings so much harm.

So what are we to do? Learn contentment. Be thankful for what the Lord has done in your life. If it all came from Him, then it all ultimately belongs to Him. We are just the stewards of what He gives to us. Be content with what He has given to you, to use it for His glory.

Paul finishes this paragraph by saying; “11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

Seek after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness; it brings blessings from God.

I conclude with Matthew Henry’s comment: “He that is godly, is sure to be happy in another world; and if contented with his condition in this world, he has enough; and all truly godly people are content. When brought into the greatest straits, we cannot be poorer than when we came into this world; a shroud, a coffin, and a grave, are all that the richest man in the world can have from all his wealth. If nature should be content with a little, grace should be content with less. The necessaries of life bound a true Christian's desires, and with these he will endeavour to be content."

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Godliness, Not Reformation"

In 1 Timothy 5:1-5 Paul sets the stage for what follows concerning godliness. Paul writes that the Spirit warns that in the last days there will be a departure from the faith because men will follow after false teaching. He sums up the false doctrine this way at verses 2-3: "Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, . . ."

He then makes commentary on the fact that the dietary law has been fulfilled. God gave "ever creature" for us to receive with thankfulness; "4 For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

The problem he addressed was two fold. One was asceticism, which as Naves defines is, "A philosophy that leads to severe austerities in subordinating the body to the control of the moral attributes of the mind." It became extreme in stoicism, when men "[inculcated] doctrines of severe morality, self-denials, and inconvenience" (Nave). This kind of thinking lead to a bondage of life style that cried out for rebellion against true doctrine, and lead to ever increasing expressions of Pharisaical fervor.

Jesus rebuked this kind of thinking by not only His words, but also by His practice. Matthew 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Paul also rebuked it. Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. That is pretty strong language. He calls this kind of practice a "show" of wisdom, and humility, not the genuine article!

The other problem area was celibacy. Paul rebukes this doctrine in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. He calls it "lies in hypocrisy" and a teaching that grows out of a seared conscience.

Asceticism, Stoicism, and celibacy, are attempts, by the strict law keeper, to appear "godly", without being godly! So, Paul starts to make his case for true, biblical godliness at verses 6 and following.
1 Timothy 4:6-16 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Godliness here is two fold. It is, first, a rejection of the profane and fabled,
"The foolish myths and legends of the heathen, and also the marvellous additions which Jewish rabbis had made to the OT." (Peoples N.T. Com.). And secondly, a learning and rehearsing (exercise) of words of faith and good doctrine that will nourish and build up the believer in a happy spiritual life.

Godliness is not following a rule book of "do’s" and "don’ts." It is following the teachings of the Word of God that says follow Christ. I honestly believe that if we will make a point of following biblical teaching we will get both the "do’s" and "don’ts" right! There is so much liberty in the Lord Jesus Christ. Liberty both to say "yes" and to say "no" to things.

We won’t be welcomed by the words we long to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant", by never eating meat, or just eating it on a certain day of the week, nor by a life of celibacy. Nor, do I dare, will we be more holy by keeping our hair at a certain length, or being clean shaven, or by wearing of clothes that are approved for style and length. Those are the external things by which we make our judgments (see "Godliness" Oct. 11, 2005).

But before you run out and just by the most rebellious expression of wardrobe you can find, remember 1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft , and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry." Saul’s rebellion came because he had (verse 24) rejected the word of the Lord.

Now our lesson. I am not at all saying that these few paragraphs answer completely the issues we have argued over all the years of fundamentalism. What I am wanting you to see is that godliness is a condition of the heart. It is not found in an appearance, or a certain sound, but it may be expressed that way. Godliness is found in a heart that is expressed in obedience to the Word of God. To put the emphasis upon the appearance or the sound, is to encourage reformation. To put the emphasis upon obedience to the Word of God is to encourage godliness.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


For much too long godliness has been defined, emotionally, by style and appearance. What comes to mind on this issue is Samuel’s interviews with Jesse’s sons. In 1 Samuel 16 after the prophet met Elias; God spoke at verse 7 “ . . . Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

Granted, we cannot look on the heart, so we must make some judgments based upon appearance. But to make a judgment of a person's relationship with the Lord, is to judge his heart without being able to see it! That is a very dangerous method of evaluation. Keep in mind what James wrote in chapter 2 of his epistle. 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Those are very serious words in verse 4, “. . . ye . . . are become judges of evil thoughts.”

I have often used this illustration. Suppose a man comes to church wearing scrubby old work clothes and another comes in a fine suit. We welcome the man in a fine suit and ignore the man in the old scrubby clothes. The problem is the man in the suit grew up going to church, he knows the language and the dress, but there is a problem; he has never trusted the Savior. The other man however was saved the night before and is a believer. If we are not careful of our evaluations, we essentially can welcome an unbeliever to become part of our assembly, and ignore a believer in Christ.

In the teaching of Paul and Peter on godliness, you will find a progression from it's concept to it's application for our lives. Godliness is a relationship of the heart of the believer with His Lord, which is demonstrated in His daily walk and talk. 2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

We have a wonderful blessing of not only our salvation, but the fact that as a child of God we have been given all that is necessary to live a godly life. Our Lord has not left us to struggle with how we should live. Living for Christ is not a matter of trying to please someone‘s taste or style. Living a godly life is a matter of obedience to our Lord. He has equipped the believer to live godly. We only need to follow Him and His Word.

Certainly there is much more to say about godliness and we will continue to work on this word. Consider this, for now, godliness is not a matter of appearance, it is a matter of the heart. But keep this in mind, what is in our hearts is reflected in our words and our walk. Make sure you heart is right before God, and then live as He would have you live.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful Lord, by Grace Alone!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Testimony or Praise?"

One of standards of worship in our circles is "Testimony Time." It is a great time of sharing by God's people for what the Lord has done.

In the Bible "Testimony Time" is called "Praise" and I wonder if we have lost a little bit in the translation. A testimony is something that someone gives based upon his experience. Praise is something that is given based upon God's involvement. Testimonies usually express an event that took place in one's life. Praise can express an event, but emphasis is placed upon the God. Praise also can be just words of exaltation to God without any event in view.

Praise is a wonderful privilege of the believer, and, a wonderful expression of worship conferred upon our God. "Praise" causes us to exalt God and reflect upon Him, often simply for Who and What He is.

I have been thinking about praise this morning because I have been studying about the name of our Lord, in preparation for this Lord's Day.

Nehemiah 9:5b says, ""Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! "Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! In the verses that follow it says, "You alone are the Lord (Jehovah)", "You are the Lord God." Then it lists several experiences for which they praise Him. "You made heaven, earth, and seas." You preserve all creatures." "The hosts of heaven worship You."

These statements are beautifully written in this passage of worship, read it, it will bless you.
Think of the testimony's you have heard that have thrilled you. Think of this; when the thunder rolls, and the lightening claps, it is creation lifting praise to it’s Creator.

The heavens and all that is them offer praise to God. Listen to what God says in Job 38 beginning at verse 4 and following. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Now that was some testimony time! When God rolled out His creation the stars He had just created sang, and the angels shouted! WOW!

But, of all the praise ever offered to God, Nehemiah 9:6 says, "Thy name is exalted above all blessing and praise." His NAME is great! One day every knee shall bow to it. One day every tongue shall confess it. And what is that name? LORD!

HE IS LORD. Our only response is "I surrender, be glorified!" May it be so in our lives today.

Have a wonderful day serving our Wonderful LORD, by Grace Alone!