Pray, Love, and Serve: Moses’ Example

Pray Love Serve Cross

How do you react when those in your church, family, circle of friends, or community act contrary to God’s Word? Do you throw up your hands and give up? Do you brow beat them? Or do you lovingly correct, pray for, and serve them?

Last night at Bible Study, we briefly discussed Deuteronomy 9. It is Moses’ reminder to the people why God is giving them the Promised Land. He wants to make it clear it is not because of their righteousness. Rather it is because the Lord wishes to drive the wickedness out of the land and honor His promise to their fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (4-6). To show the stubbornness of the people, Moses recounts the story of the Golden Calf and their failure to take the land.

The Golden Calf

After spending forty days and nights on the mountain with God receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses comes down to find the people worshipping an idol – a Golden Calf. The same people who just witnessed the great power of God in the Exodus. The same people the Lord just redeemed as His own possession. The same people who watched Moses ascend to the top of the mountain to commune with God. In just forty short days and nights, they forgot the Lord and turned to worship an idol.

The Failure to Take the Land

The second story Moses recounts is their failure to trust the Lord to give them the land. If you remember, they sent spies into the land. After gathering the requested items, they returned with a daunting report. Those in the land are giants and too numerous for us to overtake. Again, they forgot the power of their God, even as He was providing for them in the wilderness and telling them He would give them the land.

Moses’ Example

Talk about being frustrated. I am sure Moses was livid, in a righteous way of course. His actions though are surprising and act as an example for us. Yes, Moses corrected the people, but he also interceded for them and continued to serve them.

Why would he do a thing like that? Why intercede for them asking the Lord to preserve them when they were blatantly rebellious?

He did so because he loved and cared for them. Even though they were rebellious, he desired they experience the blessings of the Lord, worship the Lord, and glorify the Lord. For those reasons, Moses twice spent forty days and nights prostrate before the Lord in prayer, continually corrected and served them.

The Challenge

Do you love those in your church, family, circle of friends, or community enough to seek their welfare? Do you desire to reach out to them with the gospel? Do you desire to pray the Lord would not destroy them, but change their hearts and make them His? Do you serve them in a way that shows the love of Jesus? I know those are tough questions, but they are crucial questions.

If we find we do not love those around us in a way that causes us to reach out to them with the gospel, pray for them, and serve them, we need to get on our knees and ask that God would change our hearts.

Moses did not manufacture his love for the people. God changed his heart as he communed with Him. Likewise, as we commune with God through prayer and Bible study, He will change our heart.

So then, if you are having trouble loving, praying for, and serving those in your community, open His Word and seek His face in prayer, asking that He would change your heart.

Question for Reflection

  1. How could you motivate those in your church to reach out to, serve, and pray for those in your community?

Resource

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3 Marks of the Truly Convicted

Do you know what it means to be convicted of your sin? Do you really understand just how sinful you are and why you need a Savior?

I think there are many who do not understand the extent of their sinfulness and the separation that sin brings. This is particularly evident when people claim they are good people, when they believe they can approach God without first being redeemed by Christ, and when they see nothing wrong with the way they live.

The Bible however paints a different picture of mankind. Paul tells us in Romans that no one is righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). He goes on to tell us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The Psalmist agrees when he tells us that we are all sinners from our mother’s womb. Born utterly corrupt without a righteous bone in our body (Ps. 51:5).

In order to be saved from our sin, we must agree with Paul and the Psalmist. True conviction doesn’t and cannot occur until we do. Using Paul and the Psalmist as a launching pad, let me give you what I see as three necessary marks of the truly convicted.

3 Marks of the Truly Convicted

(1) The truly convicted are aware of a severed relationship with God

Sin hinders our relationship with God because a holy God cannot have a relationship with sinful man. Just like oil and water don’t mix, a holy God and sinful men can’t mix.

Those who are truly convicted of their sin understand their relationship with God is severed and hinders their fellowship.

(2) The truly convicted admit they are guilty of sin against God

Isaiah understood he was guilty because of his actions. In Isaiah 6:1-5, we read,

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

After coming face to face with the reality of God’s holiness, Isaiah pronounces a woe on himself, saying he is lost and a man of unclean lips. He understood his sinful actions against God where offensive and left him guilty.

Just like Isaiah, those who are convicted of their sins admit the same.

(3) The truly convicted admit their complete perversity and corruption

When we are convicted of our sin, we recognize we are wholly depraved and there is nothing good in us. Once we recognize our condition, we then seek cleansing from our guilt and defilement. Such was the attitude of the Psalmist.

In Psalm 51, he asks the Lord to have mercy on him and to wash him because he understood himself to be a sinner, who was evil in the Lord’s sight. Utter and complete corruption characterized his life of which he understood the implications, namely, a severed relationship with God, which would result in eternal damnation.

Those who are convicted of their sin, agree with the Psalmist and plead with God to cleanse them as well.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you willing to admit you are completely and utterly corrupt?
  2. Do you believe that you stand guilty before God because of your sin?
  3. Do you generally see yourself as a good person in God’s eyes? Or do you see yourself as a sinner in need of a Savior?
  4. Does the realization of your sinful drive you to plead with God to cleanse you?

Resources

Post adapted from Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J.I. Packer, 66-81.

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How the Gospel Deals with Conflict | Part 4

This last week, I have been discussing conflict. I have dealt with where conflict occurs (Part 1), why we need to get rid of conflict (Part 2), and I gave 8 ways to get rid of conflict (Part 3). In this last post, I want to provide you with encouragement.

Conflict Doesn’t Mean We Will Lose Our Salvation

We know that conflict is going to happen. We are sinners, who will disagree and argue with each other. Just because conflict is going to happen doesn’t mean that we should not deal with it. We have already seen that we should. Even though conflict is going to occur, it’s occurrence doesn’t mean we will lose our salvation.

In other words, we don’t have to be perfect. Notice at the end of in verse 3 Paul tells us that these two women’s names are in the book of life.

Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

What is the book of life, how do we get our names in it, and what does the existence of the book tell us?

First, what is the book of life?

You all have seen the cartoons where Peter is standing at the Pearly Gates as people come to enter heaven. What is normally before him is a book. In the cartoon, the book acts like a guest list to a party. If your name is on the list, then you are in. If it is not, well, you are excluded. While the cartoon’s depiction of Peter standing at the Pearly Gates checking to see if your name is in the book of life is probably not how it happens, the book of life is a reality.

Revelation 20:11-15 says,

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

From this text we learn that the book of life is a list of all those who will experience eternal life. If your name is in it, you will experience eternal life. If it is not, you will experience eternal damnation.

Second, how do we get our names in the book?

There are criteria that need to be met. We must believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

We must understand why Jesus came to die.

The reason He had to die is because we are all sinners. We all have rebelled against God. We have all turned our back on Him. None of us are righteous, not one of us. We can’t earn that righteousness. There are no amount of works that we can do to make ourselves righteous. The only way that we can be made righteous is through our belief in Jesus Christ.

We have to admit we are sinners, repent of our sins, and trust in Jesus Christ.

All those who believe that they are sinners and repent of that sin. All those who believe that Jesus by His sacrifice on the cross paid the price for our sins, and all those who confess that Jesus is their Savior, trusting that His sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to pay the price for their sins will be saved, their relationship with God will be restored, and they will experience eternal life.

All those who understand why Jesus came to die, admit they are sinners, repenting of that sin, and trust in Jesus Christ will have their names written in the book of life.

Third, what does the existence of the book tell us?

It tells us that once our name are written in the book of life, they are not removed. They are just as permanent as the words on the page in the Bible sitting on your shelf at home.

The permanence of our names is important to remember as we experience conflict with others, because conflict, or any other sin that we may commit as Christians, doesn’t remove our names from the Book of Life. God doesn’t have a cosmic eraser He takes to the page every time we mess up. In Christ our relationship is secure.

There are several reasons it is important for us to remember our names are permanently written in the book of life:

  1. It is important to remember so we don’t fall into a works based righteousness, thinking we have to do something to keep our names in the book.
  2. It is also important to remember so that we will not try to hide our conflict with others.
  3. Lastly, it is important to remember because this knowledge should free us up to admit our sin because we know that Christ has paid the price for our sins, and we know that our sins will not remove our names from the Book of Life.

So then the existence of the book creates a sense of permanence, which should keep us from acting self-righteously, and it should free us up to deal with our conflict head on.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe your name is written in ink in the Book of Life and cannot be removed?
  2. Have you ever thought conflict or other sins would remove your name from the book of life?
  3. Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior?
  4. Do you understand why He had to die in your place?

Resources

A helpful resource to consult would be: Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Conflicts by Robert Jones

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