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The Failings of a Good Man

All of us have blind spots. And even those who honestly try to follow God can fall into them. Jehoshaphat was a good king (2 Chronicles 17:3-6; 19:3; 1 Kings 22:43). He sent officials to teach the people the Law of God and judge disputes (2 Chronicles 17:7-9; 19:4-11). He trusted God in times of trouble (2 Chronicles 20:5-25; 18:31; 2 Kings 3:11-20). But he allied with King Ahab, and he married his son to Ahab’s and Jezebel’s daughter (2 Chronicles 18:1; 19:2; 1 Kings 22:44). He joined Ahab and his sons in many questionable ventures (2 Chronicles 18:2,3; 20:35-37; 2 Kings 3:7). This resulted in great evil for the kingdom of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:4-7; 22:1-4; 2 Kings 11:1-3). How then do we avoid our blind spots?


Change from the Heart

What’s in your heart? Sometimes we can look good on the outside, but the inside is something else. The Pharisees were experts at this, polishing up the outside to hide the inside (Mark 12:41-44; Matthew 23:23-28; 6:1-18). In the final analysis, though, I suppose I am also good at this, and I suspect most of us are. But God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 2:16; Hebrews 4:12,13). And what is naturally inside us is sin (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 7:14; Isaiah 64:6). The problem is, it is not easy to change the heart. Simply gritting one’s teeth and trying harder does not work. A detailed knowledge of the rules does not do it. Self-help schemes fail. And just faking it is not good enough. We need the gospel.


Centrality of Resurrection

How should we look at death? It is the universal fact. And it is a fact we continually deny. Why? There is a modern tendency to try to persuade ourselves that death is normal. Then why do we not feel like it? If death is natural, why do we see it as an intruder, an enemy? Why has the vast majority of the human race believed in some form or another of life beyond death? And why do we find, in culture after culture, the grand theme of the great god or hero who seeks to conquer death? Sometimes the hero succeeds. Sometimes the hero tries and looks back the last minute and fails. These are set in different times and different places. They have little in common but the basic theme. And they all are set long ago and far away and in some mythical country unconnected to the real world. Except one.

Treasure in Heaven

There is no such thing as enough money. The pursuit of money is like running around on a giant hamster wheel. You run round and round, and never get anywhere. But we need money to pay the bills. And it helps us to do the things we really want to do. But it also can put us on the edge of our chair as to where it is going to come from. And if we let it, the pursuit of money and the things it can buy will take over our whole life and run it for us. But if we try to just ignore it and not keep track of it, it will come back to haunt us. So how do we deal with it?


Grace and Legalism

A common objection to salvation by grace through faith is that it will cause people to go out and sin. And the final answer is that this is what God’s Word teaches, and I am in no position to advise God how to save people (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). But there is more that can be said. Scripture makes it clear that one of the results of genuine salvation is a changed life (James 2:18-24; Matthew 7:15-20; Hebrews 12:14). But we are also told that some whose lifestyles are sorely lacking, like Lot, Samson, and Rahab, are genuine believers (2 Peter 2:7,8; Hebrews 11:32; James 2:25,26). How then are we to understand this issue?


Bearing Burdens, Lifting Loads

Christians are not expected to live the Christian life alone. Rather, we are to live it in community. This is meant to be an aid for growing in Christ. But there are many hindrances in the way of living in Christian community. Now living in community will never be perfect as long as we are sinful people living in a sinful world. But it helps to have guidelines.


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