Friday, December 27, 2013

Where Are We Standing?

Left? Right? Turn back?
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2 KJV)

Too often, we’re not ready for that walk. We’re standing. I’ve read a quote attributed to St. Augustine, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” He was too involved with the pleasures the world has to offer – a child out of wedlock part of the sensual pleasures. Yet, he changed and we remember him today as a man who sought and held a relationship with God. What kept him from it for so long? Perhaps his Confessions gives a clue:
For I disobeyed, not from a better choice, but from love of play, loving the pride of victory in my contests, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables,
He was having a good time not delighting in the law of the Lord, nor did he meditate on it – until later, when he listened to God’s voice telling him to “take up and read.” When he did, the scripture before him was:

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:13-14 KJV)

Reading this gave new meaning to a phrase in that first Psalm:

standeth in the way of sinners

Oh, I do believe David meant that we were not to be standing with sinners – but it can also mean not to stand in their way and keep them from coming to God. Not to quench the work of the Holy Spirit. James Hudson Taylor in his “A Ribband of Blue and Other Bible Studies,” wrote:
Alas, the counsel of worldly-minded Christians does far more harm than that of the openly wicked.
Peter discovered this:

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:22-23 KJV)

Peter simply voiced the same temptation Satan did:

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:8-10 KJV)

The temptation was to forgo the pain of the cross, the plan God laid out, and accept all the kingdoms of this world. Thwarting God’s way, however, ends in death. Solomon understood this early in his life and shared what he learned:

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)

As Christians, are we spending more time on worldly matters? Shouldn’t we follow the advice given to St. Augustine – take up the scriptures, read them. He did and it changed his life. Will we heed God’s call for His work in our lives? We have excellent examples in those who have done so.

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