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The kind of leaders God looks for

A sidelined shepherd

God called Moses to a very important task: to lead the nation of Israel out of bondage and slavery from the Egyptians. What better person to be Israel’s leader than someone who was an Israelite who had been raised in the palace as the prince of Pharaoh’s daughter to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses would have been taught the laws of Egypt, court etiquette, and given leadership skills. He would seem like the most likely person to call on…but as leaders go, he had more to learn.

Moses first tired to do it his own way which caused him to commit murder. He then had to flee and went from palace prince to sidelined shepherd. But there in the sidelines of the wilderness caring for smelly sheep, God was making a leader out Moses and Moses would go on to fulfill God’s purpose for his life.

God called Moses to free the Israelites. Moses 1st tried doing it his way and committed murder. He then had to flee and he went from palace prince to sidelined shepherd. But while on the sidelines, God was making a leader.

A wise father-in-law

After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and they had crossed the Red Sea, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came to visit and brought Moses’ wife and family to him. While his father-in-law was there he observed Moses acting as judge for the entire nation. So his father-in-law did pulled Moses aside for a little coaching session. He said, “Moses, this thing you are doing is not good. You’re going to wear yourself out. The people are too many. Here is what you should do.”

Jethro’s advice

Jethro advised Moses that he should be the one to instruct the people regarding God’s laws, but to judge the people, he said, “But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.”

With COVID and all the things happening in our world, these are the kinds of leaders we need in America today: God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes.

God-fearing leaders

A God-fearing leader will put God ahead of career. He or she will work to keep and pass laws that align with how God expects us to live. They will stand up for his faith and for God. He or she would openly display their faith and live their lives in a Christ-like manner that is clear for all to see. They would stand up for the unborn child and abolish abortion. They would right the wrong of a “redefined” marriage and re-establish God’s definition of marriage. Where are the God-fearing leaders?

Trustworthy leaders

I once heard a joke that said, “babies and politicians need to be changed often and for the same reason.” The truth is the majority of politicians can’t be trusted. They say whatever they think will get them the vote, but once in office, they follow their own agenda, constantly making their moves based on what they think will keep them in office. Where are the leaders who can be trusted to do what they say they will do? Where are the leaders that can be trusted to lobby for and enact laws that have been founded in Scripture?

Bribe-hating leaders

From recent headline news we find where some wealthy families paid large sums of money to get their children in a certain college and now those parents are facing jail time. If we actually knew about all the bribes that go on in politics, we’d probably never trust anyone leading this nation. The problem with bribes is when you give in to one bribe then your in that person pocket for the rest of your life or until you own up to the bribe. The moment you try to do something the person you accepted the bribe from doesn’t like they’ll threaten to expose you. So the leaders that God wants are those who will say “no” to bribes.

How different would America be today if its leaders were God-fearing, trustworthy, and bribe-haters?

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Be transformed, not conformed

Part 1
Part 2

Podcast Part 1: Make it personal

Read Romans 12:2, but personalize it as if Paul is writing to you: [YOUR NAME], do not be conformed to this world, but [YOUR NAME] be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Know the Terms: Conform, Set apart, transformed, renewing

We might know what these words mean in everyday conversation, but in the context of Scripture, what do they mean?

Conform

The word conform means that we will comply with the rules, standards, or laws in our world. That is conforming in a positive way. God expects us to obey the laws of our land, unless they go against His laws. God’s laws will always supersede any law man makes.

The word can also mean, “behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards”. This is the conforming we should not do. Remember when your mother used to say, “And if everyone else jumps off the bridge, will you jump with them”? If you did, you would be conforming to what everyone is doing, even if it is wrong. You would be conforming, even if it cost you your life.

Most of us would agree we would not jump off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it. But what about sex before marriage? Or what about homosexual marriage? What about alcohol, smoking, or abusing drugs? What about the way we dress or talk? How about the way we use technology? What about what we post and say on social media? Or what about what movies and TV shows we watch? And how about the way we view other people? Are we conforming to the world in these – or other – ways?

Set Apart

As Christians, we have been set apart from the world. We have been set apart for fellowship with God. We have been set apart to be holy, because God is holy. Therefore, you can’t be “Set apart from” and “conforming to” the world at the same time. God doesn’t want us to look like, smell like, act like, and talk like the world. Instead, He wants us to bear His image. God wants us to look like Him, smell like Him, act like Him, and talk like Him.

Both of my children look enough like me that you would know they belong to me. However, my daughter is a mini version of me. I have photos of us side by side at the same age and the only way those photos give away which one is me is the difference in the style of clothes from one era to the other. As a child of God, we should look so much like him that if you put your photo next to Him it would be hard to tell the two apart. We should be continually transforming into the glory of God. So how do we keep ourselves from conforming to the world while living in the world?

Transformed

From a Biblical standpoint, to be transformed requires a change or renewal from a life of sin marked by being conformed to the ways of the world to a Godly life that mirrors God’s image and therefore is pleasing to Him. Any time a spiritual transformation has taken place it will exhibit itself in our outward words and actions. Colossians 1:10 says that if we are going to live a life pleasing to God and worth of the Lord, then we must be fruitful in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. That’s being transformed. Ephesians 2:13 is another example of a person being transformed. This verse says: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Renewing

The Greek word for renewing is anakainosis and means renovation or to restore. So when the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Christ, He does a renovation within us. When something is renovated it is restored to either it’s former state or to a better state. As a Christian, we are not renovated to our former state, which is a sinner who is lost without Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work within us to renovate us to a better state – a holy state. He is transforming us from unrighteous to righteous.

Three ways to not conform to the world

We are a new creation

As a child of God, we became a new creation the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Before we were a Christian, we were ruled by the things of this world. And the ruler of this world is Satan. Jesus told us in John 8:44 who our father is when we conform to the world. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” So before salvation, our spiritual Father is Satan.

As a child of God, we are now heirs with Christ and we are ruled by our Heavenly Father, God. That makes us different than the world. We no longer “fit in” because we have been “set apart” from the world.

Set apart for a reason

God set us apart from the world for a reason. He expects us to be Light bearers. Since the Light of the World lives in us, we should shine His light into the darkness of the world. We should serves as a beacon to draw others to Him. But if we keep His Light hidden and we chose to live as the world, then the world sees nothing different about us. So if we are not going to conform to this world, we need to remember that we are a new creation in Christ. We no longer fit in with the world. Instead, we are set apart as heirs with Christ and bear His Light throughout the world.

Feast on the Word of God

There is a reason Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. Bread was a staple in the diets of Bible day people. It filled them up and kept them from feeling hungry. It gave them physical life. Jesus gives us eternal life but He also keeps our spiritual selves satisfied and filled. If we are not going to feel hungry, we have to keep feeding ourselves. The same is true for our spiritual selves. In John 6, Jesus said, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”. 

Are you still filling up on milk or are you enjoying solid food?

In Hebrews 5:12, Paul told the Christians, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food”. We learn the basic principles by reading and studying God’s Word, meditating on it, asking the Holy Spirit how we need to apply it, and then being obedient and living it out. The only way to fill ourselves spiritually so that we are not spiritually starving is to feast on the Word of God. If we are not filling up with His Word, we will turn to the world and fill up on the things of this world.

If you are like me when the big family and holiday dinners come around, you look eagerly at the desserts and plan which ones you’ll sample. But after you eat the meal and your belly is full, the desserts don’t have quite as much appeal. They are less of a temptation as then did were before you filled up on the healthier items. The same is true with spiritual hunger. If we fill up on the Word of God the temptations of the world don’t hold the same appeal. So feat on the Word of God to keep form conforming to the world.

Just say, “No!” – it doesn’t really work

Some years ago an anti-drug campaign ran the slogan of “Just say no”. It makes it sound quite simple, doesn’t it? We could run the same campaign for anti-world-conforming. But it isn’t always easy to “just say no.” Why? Satan studies us. He knows us well. He knows what tempts us and what doesn’t. He’s not going to tempt us with things that we’ll easily say no to. He tempts us with the salted-caramel cheesecake (or whatever you’re likely to say yes to). If you know there is an area of temptation that you struggle with, it can be a good idea to avoid it all together. Maybe that means you have to go a few miles out of the way so you don’t pass the bakery on the way home. However, if what tempts you isn’t available easily, then it holds less power.

Make an exchange

Just saying no also doesn’t work when saying no to what tempts you isn’t replaced with saying yes to something that honors God. If you want to avoid conforming to this world, you have to replace the world’s way of life with God’s way of life. Removing something from our life creates a hole where that something used to be. So we have to fill that hole in with something else and that something should honor God. So I have to exchange my worldly habits with Godly disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, fellowship with other believers, listening to sermons, witnessing, loving others the way God loves them (including our enemies), and being salt and light to the world.

Resisting temptation to conform requires God’s strength and power

Just saying no sounds like a good idea but when we are saying no under our own strength and power, we’re likely to fail every time. But when we ask God to give us his strength and power, we are more likely to be victorious. Jesus understood this. When he was tempted, he defeated the temptations by quoting scripture. This is why it is so important to study and memorize God’s Word. It is the power we need to avoid conforming to the world.

World conforming vs. God conforming

Conforming to the world is so much easier than conforming to God. Why? Because we are born in sin. Our natural tendencies are to live like the world because Satan is our Father until we surrender our lives to Christ. Then God adopts us into His family and we have to then do what doesn’t come natural to us.

All of us want to fit in. We don’t really like sticking out in the crowd. We don’t like being made fun of or talked about. But when you stick out, that exactly what tends to happen. But as Jesus hung on the cross suspended between earth and heaven, He stuck out of the crowd for us even to the point of death. God calls us to be set apart for His service and the world that is lost and dying without Him is depending us not conforming to their way of life, but to bring the Light of the World and the Bread of Life to their spiritually starving souls.

Evidence that transformation is occurring

Spiritual transformation produces fruit that gives evidence that transformation is occurring. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we should demonstrate and increasing and growing reflection of the likeness of Christ and His glory. The more we grow to be like Him, the more we should exhibit His qualities and characteristics in our lives. These include: love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Each of these should show a steady and continuous growth and the more they are evident in our lives the more transformation has occurred. We should never cease being transformed until we reach heaven.

Where do we get the power for a transformed life?

When we become a child of God, the Holy Spirit moves in and takes up residence within us. Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit that works within us that is transforming us, growing us, and developing our image into the likeness of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no way we would have the power to transform ourselves. It is the work of the Holy Spirit within who transforms us. We are not capable of transforming ourselves.

When does transformation begin and end?

Our transformed lives begins with the hearing of the gospel which leads us to salvation. At the moment of salvation, we “put off our old, sinful self” and put on a new self that is created in the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:22-24). As we study God’s Word, allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, fellowship with other believers, attend church, pray, and apply God’s Word to our lives, we are being transformed more and more. James 1:22 says that we are to be “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only. You can’t be transformed just by reading or hearing the Word. You must allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in how to apply the Word to your life and do what it says. The doing is the transformation.

Peter’s Final Instructions

In 2 Peter 1:3-11, just before his death, Peter gave some last words about being transformed. He said, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. If we are to live out our transformed lives then we must give diligence to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Podcast Part 2: Spiritual transformation check

In part 1 of this podcast on Romans 12:2, we examined the words, conform, set apart, transformed and renewed. We learned that we are not to conform to this world because as a child of God we have been set apart from the world and the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image of God. He renews our hearts and minds from our old, sinful self into a holy, righteous child of God.

How much are you being transformed? To answer this question, let’s Look back through the fruit of the Spirit, which included: love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Then look back at Peter’s final words to us in 2 Peter 1:3-11 on living a transformed life. In these verses, we find the list that we must give diligence to, which included faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. How evident are these in your life? Which ones do you need to work on making more evident? Ask the Holy Spirit to transform you in each of these so that you may become more like the image of Christ. The more evident they are in your life and to the world, the more spiritual transformation has taken place.

The renewing of our minds

Why must our minds be renewed? Every word, emotion, attitude, or action begins in the mind. It’s no wonder, then, that its the mind the Holy Spirit transforms and renews. That means that the renovation process is internal. Certainly there is an external renovation too, but that is more of a by-product of the internal work the Holy Spirit is doing within our minds. As He renews and renovates our minds, our language changes, the way we dress changes, the way we treat others changes. However those are outward evidences of the internal renewal process and they will not present themselves without the internal renewing of our minds that is done through the work of the Holy Spirit.

What’s wrong with our minds?

The Bible has a far more profound analysis of the problem. In Ephesians 4:23 Paul uses a similar phrase. He says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” Now, what in the world is that? “The spirit of your mind.” It means at least this: the human mind is not a sophisticated computer managing data, which it then faithfully presents to the heart for appropriate emotional responses.

The mind has a “spirit.” In other words, our mind has what we call a “mindset.” It doesn’t just have a view, it has a viewpoint. It doesn’t just have the power to perceive and detect; it also has a posture, a demeanor, a bearing, an attitude, a bent. 

The problem with our minds is not merely that we are finite, and don’t have all the information. The problem is that our minds are fallen. They have a spirit, a bent, a mindset that is hostile to the absolute supremacy of God. Our minds are bent on not seeing God as infinitely more worthy of praise than we are, or the things we make or achieve.

Our minds have three problems: it has a hostile and fallen viewpoint, it is ignorant of God, and it is futile.

A Hostile, fallen viewpoint

We can have all the education in the world and more wisdom the Solomon, but our minds are still fallen. Even as wise as Solomon was, we find in 1 Kings 11:4, “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” Solomon started out well, but he allowed his many wives to turn his heart and mind away from God.

How does this happen? In it’s natural state, the mind has a spirit that is bent against the things of God. Our minds are naturally hostile to the sovereignty of God. Our mind’s chose to ignore the holiness of God and refuses to give Him the praise that is due Him. By nature, we do not have God-worshiping minds. We have self-worshiping minds. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.”

Debased, reprobate minds

Paul wrote in Romans 1:28, “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind.” Some translations use the word, “reprobate” rather than debased. The Greek word translated “reprobate” in the New Testament literally means, “unapproved, that is, rejected; by implication, worthless (literally or morally).”By nature, our minds are debased. They are unapproved by God and rejected. Because of sin, our minds are literally and morally worthless. So the Holy Spirit must transform and renew our mind.

Jannes and Jambres

Paul describes two men in 2 Timothy 3:8 as those who “resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” Here the reprobation is regarding the resistance to the truth because of corrupt minds. In Titus 1:16, Paul also refers to those whose works are reprobate: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Therefore, the reprobate mind is one that is corrupt and worthless.

A Debased, reprobate mind lives impure lives

People who are classified as having a reprobate mind have some knowledge of God and perhaps know of His commandments. However, they live impure lives and have very little desire to please God. Those who have reprobate minds live corrupt and selfish lives. Sin is justified and acceptable to them. The reprobates are those whom God has rejected and has left to their own devices.

We do not want to see God as worthy of knowing well and treasuring above all things. You know this is true about yourself because of how little effort you expend to know him, and because of how much effort it takes to make your mind spend any time getting to know God better.

The Bible says we have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man” (Romans 1:23). And the image in the mirror is the mortal image we worship most.

Can a Christian have a reprobate mind?

Someone who has sincerely accepted Jesus Christ by faith will not have this mindset because the old person with a reprobate mind has been recreated into a new creation: “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians are basically “new” people. We live differently and speak differently. Our world is centered on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and how we can serve Him. Also, if we are truly in the faith, we will have the Holy Spirit to help us live a God-honoring life (John 14:26). Those with reprobate minds do not have the Spirit and live only for themselves.

Ignorance of God

There is an ignorance of God — a willful suppression of the truth of God (Romans 1:18) — that makes us slaves to many passions and desires that would lose their power if we knew God as we ought (1 Thessalonians 4:5). “The passions of your former ignorance.” In Ephesians 4:22, Paul calls these passions, “deceitful desires.”

They are life-ruining, worship-destroying desires, and they get their life and their power from the deceit of our minds. There is a kind of knowledge of God — a renewal of mind — that transforms us because it liberates us from the deceit and the power of alien passions.

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:13-14, “Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.” Before the Holy Spirit begins transforming us and renewing our mind, there is an ignorance of God because we choose to suppress the truth of God. We’d rather live our way than God’s.

Ignorant or not, God still holds us accountable

If you have ever used the statement “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission” then you understand what Peter was talking about. We think that if we do something in ignorance we can get away with it, but if we ask for permission and are told no then there are higher consequences for our actions if we do it anyway. So we choose ignorance over truth. However, God will still hold us accountable and if we choose to stay ignorant, we will stay lost in our sin and spend eternity in hell. So the Holy Spirit transforms and renews our mind by shining God’s truths into our ignorance which breaks the power of the deceit of our minds.

Futility of the mind

Not only do our minds have a hostile, fallen viewpoint but they are also futile. In Ephesians 4:17-19 Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus: “you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” Futility of mind is when a person is forever and always trying to figure out how to be happy, while he is an enemy of God. Futility is the way of the world; they are full of thoughts that are empty, vain, and useless. Yet as Christians we are to put away futility of mind.

The Root Cause of a futile mind

Paul then goes on to explain the futile mind saying, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them.” Then Paul gives the root cause of a futile mind. He says, “due to their hardness of heart. Here is the deepest disease, infecting everything else. Our mental suppression of liberating truth is rooted in our hardness of heart. Our hard hearts will not submit to the supremacy of Christ, and therefore our blind minds cannot see the supremacy of Christ. Jesus said in John 7:17, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”

The result of a hardened heart

We find the result of a hardened heart in verse 19: “They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” A hardened heart will poison our minds against anything of God, creating a inner pandemic of infection called sin. The more we impose our will over God’s will the harder our heart will become and the more we will suppress the truth of God. A hardened heart refuses to submit to the will of God and therefore we become blind to the truth of God.

From Ephesians 4:17-19, we find a description of the person who is going to hell. This is the person without the Spirit, without salvation. This is person who is lost. And this is the how every person comes into this world. That’s how we were before we were saved. By nature, it is how man is. We all were children of wrath. We all were these unregenerate, without the Spirit, hell bound, without God, without hope kind of people. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10 tells us that there is none who are righteous.

Futile minds and hard hearts need the power of the Holy Spirit

Our minds are futile. Our hearts are hardened against God. And they need the power of the Holy Spirit to renew them. Our thinking must be changed (transformed) from old, ungodly ways of thinking into new, godly ways of thinking. What we know in our minds to be true forms a conviction in our hearts of that truth, and that conviction in our hearts translates into action. Therefore, we must first renew our minds.

How are our minds renewed?

First, before we can do anything, a double action of the Holy Spirit is required. And then we join him in these two actions. This word “renewal” in Romans 12:2 is only used one other place in all the Greek Bible, namely, Titus 3:5 where Paul says this: “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit renews the mind. It is first and decisively his work. We are radically dependent on him. Our efforts follow his initiatives and enablings.

The mind is renewed by steadfastly gazing at the glories of Christ for what they really are. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit must do a double work

Working outside in

But to enable us to do that, the Spirit must do a double work. He must work in two directions: from the outside in and from the inside out. He must work from the outside in by exposing the mind to Christ-exalting truth. That is, he must lead us to hear the gospel, to read the Bible, to study Christ-exalting writings of great, spiritual men, and to meditate on the perfections of Christ.

This is exactly what our great enemy does not want us to do according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Because to see that for what it really is, Paul says, will renew the mind and transform the life and produce unending worship.

Working inside out

The Spirit must also work from the inside out, breaking the hard heart that blinds and corrupts the mind. The Spirit must work from the outside in, through Christ-exalting truth, and from the inside out, through truth-embracing humility. If he only worked from the outside in, by presenting Christ-exalting truth to our minds but not breaking the hard heart and making it humble, then the truth would be despised and rejected. And if he only humbled the hard heart, but put no Christ-exalting truth before the mind, there would be no Christ to embrace and no worship would happen.

What is our part in renewing our minds?

What then do we do in obedience to Romans 12:2, “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind”? We join the Holy Spirit in his precious and all-important work. We pursue Christ-exalting truth and we pray for truth-embracing humility.

Read your Bible from cover to cover always in search of the revelation of the glory of Christ. Read and ponder the Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting writings of great, spiritual men and women. And form the habit of meditating on the perfections of Christ. And in it all pray, pray, pray that the Holy Spirit will renew your mind, that you may desire and approve the will of God, so that all of life will become worship to the glory of Christ.

  • If you long to break loose from conformity to the world,
  • If you long to be transformed and new from the inside out,
  • And if you long to be free from mere duty-driven Christianity,
  • If you long to offer up your body as a living sacrifice so that your whole life becomes a spiritual act of worship and displays the worth of Christ above the worth of the world,

then give yourself with all your might to pursuing this — the renewal of your mind. Because the Bible says, this is the key to transformation. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

By testing you may discern

Now, let us breakdown what Paul meant when he wrote “that by testing you may discern.” What are we to test and how does testing help us discern? Let’s first look at “testing.”

Testing

Personally, for me the word, “test” should fall into the “Four-letter word” category – you know – those words we aren’t supposed to say. I’m not a good test taker. Test anxiety is a real thing and while I have a mild version of it, I’ve seen people who really get hung up over taking tests. But that’s not what’s meant here, so if you get test anxiety, go ahead and relax.

There’s another idea about “testing.” It’s the idea of your kids testing your very last nerve to see what they can get away with. We all, at times, want to test out our boundaries, but that isn’t the idea here either.

Where the English Standard Version (ESV) uses the words, “testing” and “discern,” the King James Bible uses the word “prove.” So when I looked the word up in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, to find the Greek word used, I looked under the word “prove.” The Greek word is dokimazo and means to allow, discern, examine. It is a verb that means we are to scrutinize to see whether something is genuine or not and only after examination is it approved and deemed worthy. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Discern

The Greek word for “discern,” is diakrisis. It means to separate thoroughly. If we are going to discern the things of God, then our minds must be transformed and renewed. Without the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we would still be discerning according to the world standards. But God want us to be thoroughly separated from the world’s view.

Two ways to discern

This word gives the idea that we are to discriminate against the world’s way of life and prefer God’s way of life. We are to determine and judge what is good, acceptable and perfect will of God. There are two ways this can occur. One is through Bible study. God wants us to know what is acceptable to Him. He wants us to know His perfect will. So He gave us the Bible and within its pages is everything God wanted us to know about Him and how He wants us to live.

The second way we can discern what is good, acceptable and perfect will of God is through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. It is His job to reveal to us what God’s will is. It is also his job to convict us when we step outside of God’s will. So when we listen for the still, small voice of His prompting, He will guide to as we discern what is good and acceptable.

The world will always steer us in the wrong direction because the world is ruled by Satan. So don’t allow the world to conform you to it’s patterns and ways of life. Instead allow the Holy Spirit to transform you by renovating your mind to be more like the mind of Christ. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

click here to listen to our daily devotions on Spotify and be sure to follow us.

Do you have an event on the calendar and need a speaker?

We’re offering 15% off our speaker fees if you book by July 31, 2021. Call today and use the discount code: SUMMER2021.

We’re excited to be a part of your ministry and can’t wait to see you – no matter what size your event.

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Your contribution is appreciated and will help us grow and expand our ministry. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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Our Newest Download! The Path to Sin Worksheet

Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

[Download not found]

Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

[Download not found]

Download our Free 2021 Bible Memory Verse Plan

We’ve put together 52 memory verses for you to hide God’s Word in your heart! You can download the full document for free and then print a new verse each week and as many copies as you’d like. Each verse prints four times on a page so that you can then cut them into index size cards and place them in prominent places where you will see them frequently throughout the day to help you remember to memorize them. Just because you visited our site, they’re yours for free! Download today.

[Download not found]
Bible Reading Plan Download

Download our Free 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan

With just 30-40 minutes per day, you can read the entire Bible in one year. The One-Year Bible Reading Plan consists of both Old Testament and New Testament readings for each day of the year. The Bible is God’s personal Word to you. What is He saying to you today? Open your Bible and find out!

[Download not found]

Download our Free Self-Care Wheel

The Self-Care Wheel provides ideas for practicing self-care in six dimensions of yourself: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Sensory, and Social. NOTE: You will need 11X14 paper to print the wheel.

Want to know more about self-care? Our Self-Care blog series targets people who serve in any ministry position and takes a Biblical approach to self-care.

[Download not found]

<<<NEW>>> In the Spreadshop Store:

Choose Joy

Whether it’s a chaotic Monday or a day when everything goes wrong, we all have some days where we just have to choose joy — and we can because we have the joy, joy, joy down in our heart.

Choose Joy

The slide show below highlights some of our favorite Christian Tees designs available in our Spreadshop and Teespring stores.

  • Revive Us Again, Lord

See our Canvase prints in the Teespring Store: All Things New

All Things New

We’ve added a new canvas print to the Teespring Store. These prints make great gifts or for decor in your home.

When we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He takes our old, sinful self and makes us new in Him. This beautiful canvas is a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

To see the collection of Canvas and Poster Prints


Need some music to get you through the day? Check out one of our Playlists on YouTube

Click here for the Contemporary Christian Playlist
Click here for the Southern Gospel Playlist
Or Click here for the Hymns Playlist

You can also watch our animated devotionals on the YouTube Channel


God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

WestBow Press logo

Bible Studies, Bibles, Books & More

Christianbook Distributors logo
Everything Christian for less!

Looking for a Bible Study, Bible, book or Christian gift? We are an affiliate with Christianbook Distributors and receive an 8% commission on any item purchased through one of our links. However, the commission never increases your cost of any item. View some of our favorite items by clicking on the logo and thank you for supporting our ministry.

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Wellspring Christian Ministries receives an 8% commission on any purchased made from Christian Book Distributors through any affiliate link on this site. Your price for any item is the same as purchasing from CBD directly.


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Devoted in Love

What does God have to say about love?

For some “love” might feel more like one of those four-letter words we aren’t supposed to say. For others it might feel more like the Disney concept of singing forest animals and “happily ever after.” The truth is we can swing from one end of the spectrum to the other based on what is going on in our lives and marriages. Some might be grateful just to land somewhere in the middle. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to settle for somewhere in the middle. I want my husband to be devoted in love. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” I want God’s best for my marriage! So let us look at six things God has to say about being devoted in love.

Love is….being devoted

First, We love something or someone when we are devoted to one another in love. How do we do that? The second part of the verse tells us: “Honor one another above yourselves.” Philippians 2:5 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” What was the mind of Christ? To follow God’s will and plan for his earthly life and sacrifice His life in our place. There is no more devotion to our good or well-being than that! God set aside His own Son so that we can have eternal life for no other reason than because He loves us. True love sacrifices for the one who is loved. Having the mind of Christ includes loving like Christ — sacrificially. This is what it means to honor one another above yourself.

We can be devoted to God, our “neighbor,” our job, our children, a hobby, our finances, or our spouse.  I have heard friends say they love their spouse but yet they spend more time involved with friends, or hobbies or their job and their spouse gets whatever they have left over to give. Sweet friends, your spouse should get your best (after God!) not your left overs. You can’t be devoted to his or her good or well-being when all you give them is the left overs. Your left overs are the moments when you’re too tired to give anything more or the moments when the “goodbye kiss” is more ritual than an act of love.

Being devoted demonstrates care and concern

So what actually qualifies under “devoted to my spouses well-being?” Anything we do to show our care and concern. It includes those “expected” duties such as doing the laundry, keeping a clean house, and being financially responsible, but it is also the things that we go out of way to do or they unexpected things we do.

When my husband asks me, “How was your day?” Its because he truly wants to know. He doesn’t ask and then tune me out as I start telling him the difficult or exciting parts of what I do at work. He genuinely wants to know. I always say, “If you’re not really interested in hearing about someone’s day, then don’t ask.” People know when you tune them out! When you tune them out, then you eventually will get the response of “fine” and everyone moves on. Your spouse knows if you really want to know or not.

Being devoted provides support and encouragement

Another example of being devoted to your spouse’s well-being might be calling them in the middle of the day just to say, “I love you” or when you know they have a particular challenging day or important meeting or interview. You should be the one person who your spouse turns to as a source of support and encouragement.  However, there is an element of your spouse needing to be able to trust you with what’s important to him or her. If you belittle the things that are important to your spouse, don’t expect them to talk about those things with you.

It comes down to what’s import to his or her well-being is what’s important to his or her heart. It isn’t about what you think about those things. Because the issue is important to your spouse it should be important to you because your spouse should be important to you.

Overall, I think Ephesians 4:32 sums up what it means to be devoted to your spouse. In this verse, we read, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Devoted Love involves empathy

Second, love involves empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is different than sympathy. Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another. Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus showing great empathy and sympathy for the sick, deaf, blind, the hungry and more. The Bible is full of instructions on how we are to humble ourselves and look to the interests of others. Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.” When you take the time to put yourself in the shoes of your spouse you are more likely to understand where they are coming from or why something is important to them.

Devoted Love involves respect

Third, love involves respect. You cannot respect your spouse if you put them down, make fun of them or abuse them in any capacity. Respecting your spouse is treating them as you would want them to treat you. The Bible says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31). When you respect your spouse, you acknowledge their value and worth. Respecting your spouse means not manipulating to get your way or take advantage of him/her. Respect involves allowing your spouse to be who they are rather than attempting to conform them into some image you have for him/her.  It includes listening when they talk to you. Not just going through the motions of listening, but really hearing what they have to say.

You can also demonstrate respect by acknowledging their opinions and ideas and giving true consideration to them. Another area of respect involves allowing your spouse some private time. Yes, as a couple we should be one, but we all also need time to ourselves or time to enjoy a hobby or craft without being made to feel guilty for it. However, as a couple, you should also have things that you enjoy doing together as a couple. Your individual endeavors should never overshadow and be more important than what you do as a couple.

You can also demonstrate respect by being mindful of your words. Words are incredibly powerful. They can build up, encourage, and motivate. Words can also tear down, hurt, and cause horrible scars. Words can hurt…sometime unintentionally and other times intentionally. The Bible reminds us that “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (HCSB). So, choose your words carefully, especially in heated moments. Once they leave your lips, you can never put them back in again.

Devoted Love is selfless

Love is also selfless. The Bible says in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Our world has become so self-centered. The average mentality is: “It’s all about me.” If you want a guarantee that your marriage will fail, then this is the mentality you should have. But if you want a Godly marriage, than your mentality needs to be “It’s all about you.” Granted, both the husband and wife need to have this mentality. Otherwise it will not take long for the one demonstrating this trait to feel taken advantage of and used.

1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” Marriage is not the Disney idea of singing forest creatures and happily ever after. It is work! It is a constant act of sacrificing self so that you can be devoted to your spouse’s well-being. It’s a servant’s heart.

One way to begin to grow and develop this in your marriage is to start out each day asking your spouse, “What is one thing I can do for you today?” Look for ways to step in without being asked and help your spouse with daily chores. Maybe take the time while your spouse is away to do a chore that you know they do not enjoy doing or one that you know is on his or her “to do” list for the day. Just remember that doing these things is not for the purpose of “ok, I did this for you, now what are you going to do for me.” Do it out of love…without expecting anything in return. Only then is the act selfless love for your spouse.

Devoted Love involves trust

Fifth, love involves trust. Your spouse should not doubt your loyalty to him or her in anyway. But trust just isn’t about loyalty. Your spouse should be able to trust you with the VISA card or bank account. He or she should trust you with his or her emotions. There should be trust when your spouse shares a confidentiality. Your spouse should be able to trust you with their body and not fear you in any way. And there should be trust in the bedroom.

Your spouse is the person you live with day in and day out. Its the person that sits at the dinner table with you and shares a bed with you. The Song of Solomon is an entire book of the Bible that talks about the marriage relationship. In Chapter 2, verse 15, we read “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” That might sound like an odd verse, but if the fox (secrets, lies, deceit, other people, etc) creep in and spoil the vineyard (your marriage), you risk losing the entire garden. If your spouse cannot trust you, there are serious problems that need to be dealt with!

Devoted Love involves compassion

Lastly, love involves compassion. I think one of the first people we think of when we hear the word compassion is Mother Theresa. Certainly Jesus is the greatest demonstrator of compassion. The Bible says that Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38).  Galatians 6:9-10 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” 

How would you define a person with compassion? Take a moment and think about the characteristics that person of compassion would have. Make a quick list of those. Now go back circle the characteristics you demonstrate to your spouse. Now go back through the list once more and draw a square around the ones that you feel would be important for your spouse to demonstrated to you. Take a few moments and compare your list with your spouse, if you are reading this together. If not, just begin to work on the areas you feel you need to improve or grow in so that you are a compassionate spouse.

An Example of Devoted Love

What is devoted love? There is no better example than the love Christ demonstrated to us even while we were sinners. He expects us to follow his example. John 13: 34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” What is His love like? It’s unconditional. It does not depend on what I do or don’t do. He offers His love freely, even when I don’t deserve it. There will be times when your spouse will not deserve your love. In those moments, remember that you do not deserve Christ’s love…yet he gave it freely. Go and do likewise to your spouse.

click here to listen to our daily devotions on Spotify and be sure to follow us.

Do you have an event on the calendar and need a speaker?

We’re offering 15% off our speaker fees if you book by July 31, 2021. Call today and use the discount code: SUMMER2021.

We’re excited to be a part of your ministry and can’t wait to see you – no matter what size your event.

904.239.8937

Help support our ministry:

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated and will help us grow and expand our ministry. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Our Newest Download! The Path to Sin Worksheet

Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

[Download not found]

Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

[Download not found]

Download our Free 2021 Bible Memory Verse Plan

We’ve put together 52 memory verses for you to hide God’s Word in your heart! You can download the full document for free and then print a new verse each week and as many copies as you’d like. Each verse prints four times on a page so that you can then cut them into index size cards and place them in prominent places where you will see them frequently throughout the day to help you remember to memorize them. Just because you visited our site, they’re yours for free! Download today.

[Download not found]
Bible Reading Plan Download

Download our Free 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan

With just 30-40 minutes per day, you can read the entire Bible in one year. The One-Year Bible Reading Plan consists of both Old Testament and New Testament readings for each day of the year. The Bible is God’s personal Word to you. What is He saying to you today? Open your Bible and find out!

[Download not found]

Download our Free Self-Care Wheel

The Self-Care Wheel provides ideas for practicing self-care in six dimensions of yourself: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Sensory, and Social. NOTE: You will need 11X14 paper to print the wheel.

Want to know more about self-care? Our Self-Care blog series targets people who serve in any ministry position and takes a Biblical approach to self-care.

[Download not found]

<<<NEW>>> In the Spreadshop Store:

Choose Joy

Whether it’s a chaotic Monday or a day when everything goes wrong, we all have some days where we just have to choose joy — and we can because we have the joy, joy, joy down in our heart.

Choose Joy

The slide show below highlights some of our favorite Christian Tees designs available in our Spreadshop and Teespring stores.

  • Revive Us Again, Lord

See our Canvase prints in the Teespring Store: All Things New

All Things New

We’ve added a new canvas print to the Teespring Store. These prints make great gifts or for decor in your home.

When we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He takes our old, sinful self and makes us new in Him. This beautiful canvas is a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

To see the collection of Canvas and Poster Prints


Need some music to get you through the day? Check out one of our Playlists on YouTube

Click here for the Contemporary Christian Playlist
Click here for the Southern Gospel Playlist
Or Click here for the Hymns Playlist

You can also watch our animated devotionals on the YouTube Channel


God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

WestBow Press logo

Bible Studies, Bibles, Books & More

Christianbook Distributors logo
Everything Christian for less!

Looking for a Bible Study, Bible, book or Christian gift? We are an affiliate with Christianbook Distributors and receive an 8% commission on any item purchased through one of our links. However, the commission never increases your cost of any item. View some of our favorite items by clicking on the logo and thank you for supporting our ministry.

Christianbook Distributors Search:
Christianbook.com

Wellspring Christian Ministries receives an 8% commission on any purchased made from Christian Book Distributors through any affiliate link on this site. Your price for any item is the same as purchasing from CBD directly.


Here’s some of our recent posts.

904.239.8937
A non-profit ministry located in Jacksonville, FL 

Follow us on:

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When We Forget God

God’s Warning

In Psalm 105, the psalmist writes of God’s warning against forgetting Who He is and what He has done. The Psalmist uses his own nation of Israel during the wilderness wanderings as an example. Even after witnessing all that God did in Egypt to bring them out of slavery and then parting the Red Sea and saving them from Pharaoh’s army, they quickly forgot all God did for them and chose to murmur, complain, and they did not trust God. What is the warning? The Psalmist writes in verses 13:15, “But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them.

Be careful what you wish for

“We want what we want; and we want it when we want it.” This seems to be the mantra of modernity. Tragically, such attitudes permeate even the Christian life. We imagine that we know what we want, but never pause to consider that He who gives us our being knows what we need and provides for us in abundance out of his goodness. Focused on our immediate desires, few of us can say what we actually need. We might even pray, “Your will be done,” but we don’t mean it.

When you don’t get what you wish for

When God does not grant what you desire, how do you typically react and behave towards God? Do you fume, pout, get angry with God and blame Him? Or do you trust God and know that if He did not provide what you desire He has a reason for it. Perhaps He has something even better or maybe He just knows that what you think you desire right now is really something you’ll regret asking for later.

If God doesn’t grant what you desire, will you still love Him? Are you able to say with the Psalmist in Psalm 18:1-3, “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.”

Do you feel that God is still worthy to be praised when He does not grant your desires?

Recalling God’s Goodness

When we recall God’s goodness, we will almost always be satisfied, even when that thing we think we desire is not granted. When we consider the fact that God is ever with those who love Him, we will rejoice. And when we think about the blessings God showers on us each day, we will praise the Lord our God.

However, when we begin to compare ourselves to others, we will inevitably begin to feel cheated. When we focus on what we don’t have, we will soon begin to grumble about how unfair life can be.

It’s all about where we choose to focus – on our circumstances or on God’s goodness.

Focusing on God’s Goodness so we don’t forget God

Focusing on God’s Character

The first twelve verses of this Psalm speak of God’s rich blessings to Israel during the wilderness journey. The first several verses speak in general of God’s goodness, encouraging those who know God to reflect His character. In verses 1-3, we read, “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!”

In difficult times, we can loose focus on God’s goodness and it becomes hard to praise Him. However, we can always praise Him for His steadfast love that endures forever. Sometimes, when we utter that first statement of praise, our minds will begin to remember all the goodness of the Lord and that one statement turns into numerous accounts of God’s goodness. A beautiful sunrise. A gentle rain. A good night’s sleep. Enough food to eat. A safe drive to the office. A gentle breeze. The ability to pay the bills. God’s goodness isn’t just in the miraculous and unexpected. See His goodness in the everyday, ordinary things of life.

Asking God to show His goodness again

Verses 4-5 are a petition addressed to the LORD, pleading with Him to again show goodness as He has in the past. “Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them, that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.”

Many of the Psalms are prayers and in this Psalm, the writer makes his request in full confidence that God will hear what he asks. He is not simply tossing out a plea in some vague hope that God might do something; he asks, confident that God does hear and that God will act in order to glorify His Name.

They Soon Forget

When we forget God, we fall into the trap of sin

Whenever we forget God, we fall into the trap of sin. And this is what we find throughout Psalm 106. Israel committed sin against God both in the Promised Land and during the wilderness wanderings. In the Promised Land, Israel accommodated the ways of the Canaanites. In Exodus 34:11-14, they were warned not to adopt the ways of the people when they at last entered into their inheritance. God had specifically warned, “Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst”. Instead of obeying God, we learn, “They mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.” [PSALM 106:35] In verses 36-37, we find that Israel went so far as serving their idols and “sacrificing their sons and their daughters to the demons”.

Just as guilty as Israel

I’m certain that each Christian would say, “We would never do such a thing!” I’m certain that any of us today would say that we are horrified at the thought that God’s people would ever do such things. However, I wonder if we don’t act just as Israel acted. How many professed Christians sacrifice their children by pushing them into a worldly environment so that they can gain a better place in the world? We fail to equip our children to face the evil of this world by neglecting to instruct them in the Word of God, through failure to invest time in prayer with them.

If we do not have times of regular Bible reading and teaching them to hide God’s Word in their hearts, we are failing in our responsibility to our own children. If we do not spend time in prayer with each child, teaching them that God both hears and answers prayer, we are failing in our responsibility to our children. We cannot anticipate that the world will teach them to honor the Lord; we cannot anticipate that the world will teach them that God hears prayer.

How many Christian parents accommodate the morality of the world, just so they can get ahead? Then, when their children make the same choices, these same parents justify what is done because it is, after all, their child whom they know so well! Let me caution you that if you worship any of the gods of this dying world—power, prosperity, possessions, position—they will become a snare to you. If you are not careful, you will sacrifice your own standing with the Master, just as you will sacrifice your own children—and you will justify doing so.

Seven Sins from the Wilderness Wanderings

Sin #1: Rebellion against God

In PSALM 106:32-33 we find the people rebelled against God. This is in reference to the insurrection at Kadesh when the people had no water [see NUMBERS 20:2-13]. This terrible sin even led Moses to disobey the LORD as result of his frustration with the people and as a result, God would not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land.

Sin #2: Apostasy

In PSALM 106:28-31 we find that Israel was guilty of apostasy. We are told about this sin in NUMBERS 25:1-18, when the people of Israel entered into cultic immorality, attracted by the promise of sex without guilt. In this respect, it was not unlike the ubiquitous sexuality that contaminates modern life, drawing church members and even pastors into the morass through what we justify as innocuous entertainment.

Sin #3: Unbelief

The Psalmist identified the sin of unbelief in PSALM 106:24-27. Despite God’s mercies, despite God’s provision, the people did not believe. We see the impact of their unbelief when we read of their refusal to enter into the Promised Land after the spies had gone throughout the land [see NUMBERS 13:1-14:45]. You will recall that when it became apparent that God would not accommodate their unbelief, they acted presumptuously. It is a sad reminder that unbelief almost always leads to presumption.

Sin #4: Idolatry & child sacrifice

In verses 19-23, the Psalmist focused attention on the sin of idolatry. This sin is described in EXODUS 32:1-35, describing how the people made a calf of gold. Had you asked any of the people whether the calf was their god, they would have no doubt been horrified that such a suggestion could even be made. In fact, they would be insulted that anyone would even think such a thing. They would have argued that the calf only represented the Living God. They would have insisted that they knew it wasn’t a god. However, they began to think as idolaters always think: “God doesn’t see me. He’s somewhere else. I can do what I want. Since I made him, I can ignore him.” Their disobedience quickly led them into gross immorality. There is always a correlation between idolatry and immorality.

Immoral people are idolaters

Immoral people are idolaters—they have begun to worship their own pleasure! They fall into the ghastly trap described in the opening verses of Romans. “What can be known about God is plain to [wicked mankind], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

The result of pursuing our own fallen desires

People who pursued gratification of their own fallen desires at the expense of righteousness, were given over to fulfilling their own passions. Therefore, Paul says, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Understand what Paul has just stated, idolatry led to immorality. He is teaching those who are willing to receive the truth to recognize the correlation between idolatry and immorality. Just as idolatry leads to immorality, immorality leads to idolatry. This is the natural progression of giving free rein to unnatural passion!

The downward progression of society

Paul concludes by exposing the downward progression once a society, or an individual for that matter, surrenders to idolatry/immorality. “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. And they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” [ROMANS 1:18-32].

Sin #4: Lack of Faith that led to Disobedience

In verses 24-27, we find the sin of disobedience. The Psalmist explains, “Then they despise the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord.” Recounting from Numbers 13:32-14:38, we find that after the 12 spies returned from their mission to scout out the land that God had promised, ten of them gave a bad report, which led Israel to give in to fear. As a result, they refused God’s command to enter the land to conquer it. As a result, God made the Israelites fall in the wilderness and their offspring would fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands.

Sin #6: Jealousy

In verses 16-18, the Psalmist exposes the sin of jealousy resident within Israel. The reference is to the incident recorded in NUMBERS 16:1-50, which detailed Korah’s rebellion. Though Moses did not specifically state that Korah was motivated by jealousy, the Psalmist is certain that jealousy was the reason for this rebellion. Verse 16 reads, “Men in the camp were jealous of Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD.”

The account in Numbers speaks of how widespread the action was when it informs us, “Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD’” [NUMBERS 16:1-3]?

Sin #7: Discontent, murmuring, and complaining

Whenever we are discontent in life, it will always lead us to murmuring and complaining. Numbers 14:1-3 tells us: “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?'”

In Psalm 106:25, the word “murmuring” is used. To murmur means to grumble or whine. Over and over again Israel would murmur, grumble, whine, and complain to Moses. They complained about a lack or water, a lack of food, and the report of the spies who scouted out the Promised land.

Sin of murmuring in the New Testament

There are several examples of the sin of murmuring in the New Testament, like the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16). They murmured because they had worked all day while others who had worked for a much shorter period received the same wages. They had received their just due but they still murmured.

The scribes and Pharisees murmured against the disciples of Jesus because they ate and drank with publicans and sinners but they were really striking out at Jesus (Luke 5:29-32). They did not care that the publicans and sinners needed Jesus. They were only concerned with their personal agenda.

The Jews murmured about Jesus because He said He was the bread of life (John 6:41). Instead of investigating His claim in an effort to know the truth, they murmured.

Christians who murmur and complain

Sadly, many Christians are murmurers and complainers. In the home, on the job and in the local church they grumble, murmur and complain. They pastor’s sermon is too long. The seats are uncomfortable. It’s too hot or too cold. This or that politician is at fault for all that’s wrong in our world (and never acknowledge the sin of their own heart). They can see nothing good. To them, everything is bad—their life is miserable and they want to make it that way for everyone else.

Murmuring IS a sin

Make no mistake, murmuring is sin. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15). “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:9). It causes one to perish (1 Cor. 10:10).

Sadly, murmuring is one of the most prevalent sins among some brethren. Those who would never think of committing adultery or murder are guilty of this sin. Some who have the highest morals, adhere most closely to doctrine and are most liberal in their giving negate all the good things they do by whining.

What causes murmuring?

Discontent causes murmuring. Christians are taught to be content with necessities (1 Tim. 6:7-8); what they have (Heb. 13:5); their lot (Phil. 4:11); and God’s way (Luke 5:5).

Selfishness is the second cause of murmuring (Phil. 2:4; Rom. 15:2). Selfish people want their way and do not like it one bit if they do not get it, therefore, they murmur.

Being discontent and selfish, one murmurs and whines and thus sins bringing condemnation to himself. Another product of his actions, though, is division among God’s people for that is what the murmurer is trying to do—get people to become sympathetic to his point of view and antagonistic toward the other point of view. The Proverbist tells us that one of the seven things God hates is “one who sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:19).

Confession of Sin

In verses 6-12, on behalf of his people, the Psalmist confesses their awful sin of forgetting God’s goodness to the nation. He writes, “Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. So, he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.”

Let’s think through what the Psalmist has written. God’s people did not think about God’s wondrous works when they were enslaved. They didn’t give thought to God’s power and might. In effect, they differed little from the Egyptians. Perhaps the sole difference was that the Egyptians worshipped various gods that had no real power; but what difference does it make whether people worship false gods or worship no gods? Israel was virtually indistinguishable from the Egyptians in that they had no god to whom they looked.

What about you, dear Christian? Is your life indistinguishable from the lost people around you? What about the religious practices that identify you as “Christian?” Are those practices a mere performance without any real impact in your life?

How soon do your forget God’s works in your life?

After all God had done to bring the nation of Israel out of Egypt, after parting the Red Sea and saving them Pharaoh’s army, we find in the verse 12 that “they believed his words; they sang his praise.” But then we come to verses 13-14. “But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness and put God to the test in the desert.”

It is easy to give God praise when He does something big and miraculous in our lives. It’s easy to praise Him when we see Him do the impossible. It’s easy to praise Him when He answers our prayers. But do you still praise Him when you do not see Him at work? Do you still praise Him when it seems like He is silent? Psalm 71:14-15 says, “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.”

How do we still hope and praise when life is hard? By remembering God’s goodness and rich blessings in the past. If you begin to list and count your blessings, naming them one by one, you will find, like the psalmist, that their number will be past your knowledge.

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