The Weekly PowerBreak – Keep The List Short”

When it comes to confessing your sin to God, it’s best to keep the list short; otherwise you bring great sorrow on yourself as you give God the cold shoulder. Just ask David how keeping silent about sin worked out in his life.

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

The Bible is clear that even on our best days we mess up and need to confess our sins to God. Confessing sin is not a sign of failure as much as a sign we are walking with God, so we are becoming more and more aware of sin.

1 John 1:5–10 (ESV) — 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Walking with God on a daily basis means taking in His word, which as David declared in Psalm 19 is a means to uncover hidden faults which are not hidden to God but to David (us), and by which God keeps us from being presumptuous about sin.

Psalm 19:12–13 (ESV) — 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Now let’s look at David’s “cold shoulder” experience with God in Psalm 32. It’s interesting how before David confesses his faulty action, he rehearses the Gospel of God’s grace in the forgiveness of sin in verses 1 and 2, the very verses quoted by Paul in Romans 4:5-8 as he teaches on justification by faith alone which not only brings a declaration of righteousness as seen in the life of Abraham, but a full and complete forgiveness of sin as seen in the life of David.

Psalm 32:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Just notice how sin is described and how God deals with sin – transgression is forgiven, sin is covered, the Lord does not count iniquity which means He has counted it to someone else (Christ Jesus), and He gives a spirit of openness, for the guile of deceit about sin. In other words, as God brings all these benefits, He makes it known that there is no need to hide your sin or pretend it’s not there because His remedy is complete.

So, what did David do? He tried to pretend he didn’t sin and in doing so actually sinned more in giving God the cold shoulder by not speaking to Him.

Psalm 32:3–4 (ESV) — 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

Stop and think about it. The Holy Spirit prompts you as you read God’s word or hear it preached or taught which reveals sin in your life.  Sin of commission (something you’ve done) or sin of omission (something you didn’t do but should have). Instead of confessing it as a failure before God, you hide from it or try to find an excuse to satisfy your mind, so you can move on.

The problem is: “if we say we have not sinned God’s truth is not in us and we are calling God a liar.” Whoa! That does not make for effective communication with God, which means that when we go to God in prayer about matters for which we are looking for help, we feel He’s not listening, and there’s a good reason for Him not listening:

Psalm 66:18 (ESV) — 18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

Isaiah 59:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Now your prayer life is spiraling downward as bitterness sets in because you feel God is not listening to your prayers. With that bitterness comes a sense that life is drying up before your eyes. Or as David put it in Psalm 32:3–4, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”

Do you want to feel like that? I don’t think so which is why David gave us the solution in verses 5.

Psalm 32:5 (ESV) — 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

In other words, “keep the list of sins short” by confessing sin whenever prompted by the Holy Spirit. Take the time to admit your guilt and agree with God that He is right, and you are not. It’s not like He doesn’t know about it. And it’s not like He’s going to let you have it when you expose your sin. It is a fact that He brings the fullness of forgiveness and fellowship as you reveal the list of sins to Him. Notice the words of David, “and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Wow!

Keep the list short and avoid giving God the silent treatment of a cold shoulder and you’ll be glad you did.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

 

The Weekly Powerbreak – “Content But Not Complacent”

We’ve had the privilege over the past year of getting to know a young professional baseball player. Being drafted right out of high school and sent to our town to train, his parents made sure he was established with a local church. It’s been great for the church and for my wife and me to connect with the young man in all his glory and his struggles. Needless to say, his going from high school to the professional ranks has been quite an adjustment but he is working hard and doing very well. One of the struggles that he is facing, which is really a magnified snapshot of what we all face in life, is the struggle of being content with his grasp of where he is in the professional ranks of baseball yet avoiding the complacency of not presenting a quality effort in seeking to advance.

Too many times we go from one ditch to the other on this subject. On one hand we express discontentment with our job, our lifestyle, or a myriad of other things; yet on the other hand when we know what to do to improve or change the situation we are content with doing nothing. That’s complacency!

Look what the Bible say.  On one hand Paul expressed his gratitude to the church at Philippi for sharing in his needs but wanted them to know that he had learned contentment in whatever state he found himself. (Important point! Contentment is something that is learned.)

Philippians 4:10–13 (ESV) — 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

As contentment is a learning process of realizing we are not in control of everything in life, so we must understand that God is in control and we must rely upon Him to strengthen us to be content, otherwise we’ll be discontent no matter what. Like our young baseball player having to be reminded daily that he is making progress and it will take some time to learn the game before he can take on a “major league” role. No wonder we are reminded that godliness is the important key and combine that with contentment, there is great gain in life, relying upon the strength and help from the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 6:6 (ESV) — 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,

Hebrews 13:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

On the other hand, our young baseball player is given instruction and motivation to make sure he does not just sit back on his laurels, but continue to strive for excellence and improvement. Those who don’t follow such a course, rather a course of complacency, the Bible calls “sluggards.”

Proverbs 24:30–34 (ESV) — 30 I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, 31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 32 Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 6:6–11 (ESV) — 6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 10:26 (ESV) — 26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.

Proverbs 13:4 (ESV) — 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 20:4 (ESV) — 4 The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

Proverbs 26:16 (ESV) — 16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Complacency is not contentment and should not be mistaken for it, although some people excuse their laziness under the banner of “learning to be content.” You can be content or be learning contentment where you are while continuing to do what needs to be done to improve yourself and your situation. The difference is the approach. If you focus on results which are out of your control, then you’ll be disappointed often. If you focus on improvement and doing your best as you rely upon God, His word, and the strength and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you’ll have a reason to be content. If you are lazy and basically doing nothing but complaining about your situation, then you’ll never find contentment.

Which of the two is demonstrated by your life – contentment or complacency?

Our young baseball player keeps saying he never wants to be satisfied but to strive for excellence, to which his very wise coaches and mentors keep reminding him that having a high standard is fine, but to also focus on areas where he has improved and succeeded. Likewise, a Christian should have very high standards and realize whatever he/she does is for the glory of God, and He is not glorified with a half-hearted effort. However, the Christian should also realize that relying upon the promises of God and finding strength in His presence will produce a sense of contentment not matter what the outcome.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Cowardly Communication”

If you ride a bicycle, you’ve no doubt experienced the guy in the car who passes while yelling obscenities and other verbiage to let you know how he feels about your riding on his road and causing him to slow down.  If you get on Facebook, you can’t help but notice how many people are just vomiting dislike for one thing after another.  An easy elevator discussion started is to rail on the weather.

The easy “pot shots” do no good for anyone.  It doesn’t help the person spewing and it certainly doesn’t help the person who hears the attack.  Nor does it make any difference in the condition of things in the long run.

When you think about it, this type of action is quite cowardly.  It takes no backbone to yell out the window at someone.  You aren’t so brave when you post critiques of the government or someone on Facebook.  You certainly don’t show any courage when you complain about the weather.

So what are we to do to avoid this “cowardly communication?”  Follow the dictates of Holy Scripture.

Colossians 4:6 (ESV) — 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Now there is an act of valor.  When you give some thought to your words and seek to be gracious to others and when you understand that your speech, verbal or written, is to be seasoned with the salt of God’s grace, you take a stand for good and it will require courage and thought to do so.

Think about it this way.  When you criticize the government and those in authority be it government officials or leaders in the church, you are really speaking out against God.

John 19:8–11 (ESV) — 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

If those in authority have been placed in that position by God for His purpose, what are we to do?  Pray for them.

1 Timothy 2:1–4 (ESV) — 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The next time you hear someone expressing cowardly communication in spewing about the government, ask them to take a moment and lead in prayer for the officials.  That’s the directive from God and we know as we seek to be like Christ in every matter of life, we are assured of His help.  Notice the following:

1 Peter 2:13–25 (ESV) — 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Whether you like the weather or not, whether someone has done you wrong – even if they have caused you to slow down, or if you are unhappy with the political realm, it’s not time to sling out discharges verbally or written, it’s time to pray and ask God for the grace to respond with grace and to help you be what you need to be in that moment.  Think of what a different world it would be if people focused on positive communication that is meant to change, rather than cowardly communication that is just vomit.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “An Observation Of Faithfulness”

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV) — 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

The Bible is clear that God brings us salvation not so we have a ticket punched for heaven and our place in life is to just sit back and await that day when we are taken home to glory, rather we are saved to serve as God has both gifted each one of us for works of service and He has ordained the place and opportunity to serve in His church and throughout life. Not only that but God considers each of us a steward of the blessings He has brought to our lives and the opportunities which He sets before us. Stewards are held accountable and in the case of serving the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, what He is looking for in particular from each of us is FAITHFULNESS.

1 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV) — 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

It seems pretty clear cut from the verse above but let’s break down this Faithfulness and see if we can notice some trends.

The first thing we observe is faithfulness is a refection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself who is called, “the faithful and true witness” and even called, “Faithful and True.”

Revelation 3:14 (ESV) — 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

Revelation 19:11 (ESV) — 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

What if He weren’t faithful and true or put it another way, what if His faithfulness was like our faithfulness which often has a bunch of holes in it. The words below wouldn’t mean much if God were unfaithful to His word would it? His promises would be void but the testimony of God in His word and throughout history is that His faithfulness is, as the Psalmist says, “extended to the heavens and to clouds above.” We have hope of eternal life because God cannot lie, and we have reason to go to Him in prayer because He is faithful to His word. We sing about it, we rehearse it when we go to God in prayer, and we have reason to expect great things from Him because the Triune God is faithful. What an attribute!

Deuteronomy 7:9–10 (ESV) — 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.

Psalm 36:5 (ESV) — 5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalm 89:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”

Psalm 119:75 (ESV) — 75 I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Psalm 143:1 (ESV) — 1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) — 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV) — 3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

Hebrews 2:17 (ESV) — 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1 John 1:9 (ESV) — 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We learn about faithfulness by observing God and particularly the Lord Jesus Christ, then applying what we learn about faithfulness to every aspect of serving God. Jesus had this to say about faithfulness:

Luke 16:10–11 (ESV) — 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

In other words, no job is too small to avoid giving our undivided attention and effort. Other scriptures give us comparisons to help us understand the value of being faithful.

Proverbs 13:17 (ESV) — 17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing.

Proverbs 14:5 (ESV) — 5 A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.

Proverbs 20:6 (ESV) — 6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?

Proverbs 25:13 (ESV) — 13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.

Proverbs 27:6 (ESV) — 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 28:20 (ESV) — 20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 25:19 (ESV) — 19 Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.

We are then told the place of being faithful in the church as faithful learners or disciples that not only have a teachable spirit but also take what is learned to disciple others. That is God’s system of personal growth and maturity – to learn from someone and then take what you learn and teach someone. Too often people are trained or taught, as one old preacher said, “far beyond their service.” In other words, they have learned much but have been UNFAITHFUL when it comes to teaching others.

2 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV) — 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

What about you? Are you a faithful steward of the grace of God that He has bestowed upon you, with the gifts He has given you, and the opportunities He has placed before you? He is looking for faithfulness, something that you never get away from His expectation. He says He is looking for true followers to be faithful right unto death itself.

Revelation 2:10 (ESV) — 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Can faithfulness be observed in your life?

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Divine Gentleness”

When you think of the Sovereign God who created the heavens and the earth and Who rules all things by His power and for His glory, you may not be prone to think of His gentleness. His gentle side, however, points to a source of great blessing for us and a mark to which He is both developing in us in our sanctification and to which we should aim in our daily lives.

Psalm 18:35 (ESV) — 35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.

Isaiah 40:11 (ESV) — 11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

When David considered the way that God has delivered him from his enemies and the way God has dealt with him spiritually, notice how he gives glory to God in focusing on God as a shield, a support, and His gentleness.  You would think that David the mighty warrior would bring up the great deliverances of God in seeing God step in when things looked impossible.  All he had to do was recall how God delivered him from Goliath and countless enemies since.  Or even as he recounted the experiences of being confronted by a lion and a bear, but God the mighty deliverer was a shield for David from his enemies.

Not only that, but David also considered the mighty support he received from God continually as God provided for him, gave him strength, and even brought help around him.  As David was fleeing from the hand of Saul, God supported him with mighty men.  David would struggle to count all of the ways God had supported him, but made it pretty clear that he knew his support came from the right hand of God.

Psalm 103:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

But consider the blessing of God’s gentleness that David listed as he said, “Your gentleness has made me great.”  It was God’s gentleness that really moved David.  It was God reaching down in tenderness as described in Isaiah that He would be as One who is mindful of our weaknesses.

Psalm 103:13–14 (ESV) — 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Or as the writer of Hebrews describes the Lord Jesus Christ as our high priest.

Hebrews 4:14–16 (ESV) — 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV) — 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

But notice that David says the gentleness of God has made him great.  The very tenderness of God has reached down and brought him out of the pit and cared for his needs and set him in an exalted place.

Psalm 18:16–19 (ESV) — 16 He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. 17 He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

The greatness is not his accomplishments, or any accolades given to David, rather the place to which God had taken him from the tender mercy of God that reached out to David.  Wow!  That is a picture of the way God tenderly reaches to sinners.

Ephesians 2:1–7 (ESV) — 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

So the gentleness of God has made you great, now what?

God is working in you to bring out the fruit of the Spirit, or His qualities, even gentleness.

Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And we are reminded that we are to be gentle with each other and with those with whom we are sharing the Gospel.

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) — 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker