A Short Post on Compassion

Help!

I originally wrote this as an assignment for a Reformer’s Unanimous challenge. It is quite short, but I thought y’all might like something more quick and to the point for a change. 🙂

2 Chronicles 28:1-15
1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father:
2 For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.
3 Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
4 He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
5 Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.
6 For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.
7 And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king’s son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king.
8 And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.
9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven.
10 And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God?
11 Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.
12 Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war,
13 And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, andthere is fierce wrath against Israel.
14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.
15 And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.

The reign of Ahaz in Judah was marked by great sins and rebellions against God. And as with the other kings, and as with every other nation that has ever existed before God’s just throne, he was duly punished – and also in typical fashion, by another unrighteous kingdom: Israel.

Israel did not ever have a single king that walked wholly before God, and yet time and again God used them to deal justice upon Judah. How powerful of an illustration this is for us! We, who are rebellious and despicable in nature, are still used of God to bring others to the right. Not just in our example, showing them what to avoid, but also in teaching, God still uses us.

But in this particular instance, Israel went far beyond God’s intended judgment: they extended themselves beyond His justice and worked for their own pride and well-being. They took Judah captive. This was not in God’s will, and He told them so.

He told them that they did not themselves hold the law in their hands: they were merely executing it. He did this by pointing out their own failures to keep the law. They were unworthy to take justice into their own hands, although their hands could still be used to execute God’s justice.

In like manner, we are often put into positions in which it is our God-given duty to train, rebuke, challenge, and punish others. Whether in the family, in the church, or in the government, we must bear in mind that we do not master the law: the law is our master. And we must show compassion to those under our jurisdiction by following God’s justice rather than our own.

4 Appetites that Change Your Life

Doesn't that make you hungry?I have been thinking about appetites lately. It started back when I listened to the Reformer’s Unanimous message on Principle # 4 again: “You cannot satisfy a fleshly appetite by indulging in it,” a couple weeks or so ago.

It is really a very good principle. There is a lot of truth packed into it.

Let me unwrap a little bit of it for you. It is what I have been pondering on, and putting into practice for the last couple weeks, and I am really excited about it.

There are a few different kinds of appetites, and you can classify them in a few different ways.

If you classify them by the object of desire, for example, you have basically two kinds: good and bad. An example of a good appetite would be reading God’s Word, or righteousness. God clearly commands us to desire and hunger after these things over and over in the Bible. And example of a bad appetite would be sinful sexual lust, drugs, and stuff like that.

Those are obvious examples, but it gets harder to categorize things when you start trying to classify things like healthy food. Is that a fleshly appetite? Is that a godly appetite? Is that an appetite that could grow to be a consuming appetite? It is actually all of those, which makes it tough to see whether it is good or bad. I mean, think about it. If it is kept under control, and it doesn’t become an idol (that is, your appetite for it becomes overwhelming), it is good and right, and should be encouraged. So it seems almost like….

A gradient! Oh no!

You have black (bad appetites) and white (good appetites) and gray (appetites that are… um middly). Gray areas are not good, are they? They just smell of compromise and wishy-washy-ness and relative morality and… bleagch.

So that is why I was thinking about this, and I discovered another way to categorize appetites: by the nature of the appetite.

Let’s illustrate with food, because it is near to our hearts and easy to apply.

Did you know that if you consistently eat food that satisfies your nutritional needs (yes, that is what food is for), you won’t fill your stomach up? It actually isn’t good for you to eat until your stomach is full: you are supposed to eat until your nutritional requirements are met for that meal. If you do it right, your appetite actually turns off and you can’t eat another bite.

Of course if you aren’t eating food that satisfies those needs, you won’t have that effect, and the only way you can feel sort of ‘satisfied’ is to eat until your stomach is full of food. The problem with that is that your stomach isn’t really made to handle that, and it will expand and stretch to hold it all. And your appetite will grow with it. So you will gradually eat more and more at each meal.

What happens then is that you start to eat to satisfy your mouth. You eat because it tastes good going through your mouth, and you keep on sending food through until either your mouth says it is enough, or your stomach begins to complain that it is overloaded, and you stop because you don’t want to face the consequences of overeating.

Unfortunately if you keep going in that direction you will get to the point where it doesn’t matter any more. You begin to despise your food, and your body is screaming in misery at you because it is being abused, but you can’t stop eating. You are eating to satisfy, not your needs, not your stomach, not your mouth, but your appetite itself. You are a slave to your … addiction.

So we have four kinds of appetites there, and the progression between them. Notice that you don’t start down this slippery slope unless you change your intake to something that doesn’t have safeguards to protect you from abusing it.

Here is where it gets exciting.

Our spiritual life has this same division of appetites!

When you are doing something for God, something that God wants you to do, by definition it won’t take control of your life. That is how it is designed to work. You can’t spend too much time reading God’s Word, if you are doing it for the right reasons, because it will drive you to get out and take action on what it is talking about. The same thing goes for prayer or any other spiritual discipline. This also applies to things that God calls you to do, like spending time with your family, having a successful job, resting, or recreation. Each of these things, when done with the right motivation, will fall into place in God’s big picture of your life and will never take over more room than they need.

But if you start focusing on anything for its own sake, it starts to grow, and you begin to toe the line of it beginning to encroach on your other tasks and duties in life. The problem with toeing the line, though, is that it moves. It moves farther and farther out (in your eyes, not in God’s), until you are far away from where God wants you to be, and that thing has become a stronghold in your life.

When that happens you start doing it just for the pleasure of doing it. Pleasure is not a bad thing: God designed many of things purely for our pleasure with no ‘practical’ benefits other than just that. But when the pleasure becomes centered on our flesh, rather than on God, bad things begin to happen. You do it as much as possible, and only stop when you fear the consequences. You sleep until you fear losing your job. You work until you fear losing your sleep or your family. You read your Bible (as a self-righteous hypocrite) until you fear losing other things that might be important to you.

But living like that is like playing Russian Roulette. Every day you take a shot at your head, and the cylinder moves the bullet one place closer to you. You don’t know when the day of reckoning will come, but be assured that it will if you don’t change your course. The closer you get the less and less you care about consequences, and you begin to recklessly throw yourself into it. You begin to hate your life; you hate your passion; you hate your appetite; and you hate everything that tries to drag you from it.

You become like Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

And at the end of that road is death. No hope or way of escape is in that direction.

You have to turn around and run for God, casting out all things that feed the wrong appetites: the ones that are not for His glory. You need to seek out those things that satisfy your righteous appetites: the ones that bring God glory. You need to starve those appetites which are displeasing to God.

And if you don’t.

Hell awaits you.

Principle Ten

Felicitous greetings and salutations,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program dedicated to helping those bound by the shackles of sin to find liberty through Christ. They have assisted me greatly in the time that I have spent in their program and in the study of their materials. They have shown great wisdom in their understanding of the problems that beset us in our struggles in the process of sanctification. One of the bits of wisdom that Steve Currington, its founder and president, has propagated is the Ten Principles of RU. These ten principles are founded in Scripture, and are true and helpful to every Christian who is wanting to find Christ’s victory over sin in his life. Therefore, I am expounding these ten principles in a series of posts spread out over this month. This is the tenth.

GOD BALANCES GUILT WITH BLAME. ACCEPT THE BLAME FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND GOD WILL REMOVE THE GUILT.

There is a very important purpose to guilt: to bring you to brokenness at the feet of God. But most people will not want to do that. They want to get rid of that guilt and retain their pride. The only way they can do that is to pass the blame off on other people or circumstances. But this only masks the guilt for a short time: it does not remove it. And in the end, it only adds to it: for you are merely lying to yourself and others, which causes more guilt. Life becomes miserable.

Until you submit to God, accept the blame, bow at His feet, and humbly admit your wrongs.

Then God will remove the guilt, and you will be free. Only until you accept that you are the one responsible for your sins, will you be able to find liberty from guilt.

Contriteness is a good thing: you should be seeking it out, praying for it, desperately pleading God to lead you to repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Principle Nine

Felicitous greetings and salutations,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program dedicated to helping those bound by the shackles of sin to find liberty through Christ. They have assisted me greatly in the time that I have spent in their program and in the study of their materials. They have shown great wisdom in their understanding of the problems that beset us in our struggles in the process of sanctification. One of the bits of wisdom that Steve Currington, its founder and president, has propagated is the Ten Principles of RU. These ten principles are founded in Scripture, and are true and helpful to every Christian who is wanting to find Christ’s victory over sin in his life. Therefore, I am expounding these ten principles in a series of posts spread out over this month. This is the ninth.

WE LOSE OUR FREEDOM TO CHOOSE WHEN WE GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION. OUR CONSEQUENCES ARE INEVITABLE, INCALCULABLE, AND UP TO GOD.

I understand that once you hit a ball in baseball, you can’t control it anymore. Once it goes thwack, it is gone and you have no more influence over it than if you had never seen it. Of course, I have never really played sports, so I might be wrong (maybe).

But I know that this principle holds true in the spiritual world, in your walk with God, and in life in general.

Sin has consequences. Period. Full-stop. You can’t get around it. It is as inevitable as gravity. God’s mercy can and will alleviate it, and help you through it, and teach you by it, and turn it aside, but there are consequences to every action.

We have no control over them. When you sin, you are casting yourself onto the mercy of God, and you have no idea what He might do. He will always do the best thing, but that best thing might be very painful for you to endure. Rely on ‘getting out of things’ and you will find yourself in a place that you cannot get out of.

The only way to make sure that you will not incur the wrath of God, is to avoid sinning. Yield to His grace, and to His will. Yield to Him before you sin, and it will be easier.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Principle Eight

Felicitous greetings and salutations,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program dedicated to helping those bound by the shackles of sin to find liberty through Christ. They have assisted me greatly in the time that I have spent in their program and in the study of their materials. They have shown great wisdom in their understanding of the problems that beset us in our struggles in the process of sanctification. One of the bits of wisdom that Steve Currington, its founder and president, has propagated is the Ten Principles of RU. These ten principles are founded in Scripture, and are true and helpful to every Christian who is wanting to find Christ’s victory over sin in his life. Therefore, I am expounding these ten principles in a series of posts spread out over this month. This is the eighth.

IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO FIGHT A FLESHLY TEMPTATION WITH FLESHLY WEAPONS.

First off, let us define some terms.

A temptation (in this context) is pressure from the world, your flesh, or the devil on you, trying to get you to go against what God wants you to do. When the world tempts you, it always appeals to your flesh in some way or other, and the devil does the same thing. Therefore, all these temptations are fleshly.

But what is a fleshly weapon? A fleshly weapon is anything that you use to combat those temptations that is not what God wants you to use. You are deciding, in your flesh, to do what God wants, but not in the way that God wants.

So this principle is simply stating that the only way to live life God’s way in the face of temptation, is to combat that temptation God’s way, and not your way. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

So why do we forget it?

Because we don’t want to remember it.

We don’t want to be humbled, we don’t want to have to give up and give it to God, we don’t want to admit that we can’t do it, we don’t want to let go of our pride.

We want to win.

But when we win, we are actually losing. We are giving up the ground to the enemy. Even if we do not do what the temptation told us to, we yielded to another temptation, and we made the stronghold of pride yet stronger. And it is from that stronghold that all the armies of hell march.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Principle Seven

Felicitous greetings and salutations,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program dedicated to helping those bound by the shackles of sin to find liberty through Christ. They have assisted me greatly in the time that I have spent in their program and in the study of their materials. They have shown great wisdom in their understanding of the problems that beset us in our struggles in the process of sanctification. One of the bits of wisdom that Steve Currington, its founder and president, has propagated is the Ten Principles of RU. These ten principles are founded in Scripture, and are true and helpful to every Christian who is wanting to find Christ’s victory over sin in his life. Therefore, I am expounding these ten principles in a series of posts spread out over this month. This is the seventh.

OUR SINFUL HABITS CAN HURT THOSE WHO FOLLOW US.

We always tend to think in terms of ourself, naturally. We look at what we do in private, and say that our sins can only hurt us. After all, “What they don’t know won’t hurt ’em,” right?

Wrong.

There are several reasons why this is wrong, but I will focus on two.

Firstly, we cannot compartmentalize our sin. If we yield to the flesh and the devil in one area, we are not walking in the Spirit. We are yielding our members to sin. Our whole walk with God is dramatically altered for the worse, and we do not have access to the life-giving and life strengthening presence of His Holy Spirit (at least not as much as before).

That means that sin will spread to every other area of our life. If we lust, our tongues will soon become bitter and angry. If we refuse to forgive, our hearts will start to envy. Etc. We cannot escape it.

Galatians 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Secondly, we cannot guarantee that others will remain unknowing of our sin. God does punish willful sin, and He sometimes does so in ways that are public (many times He does so). We cannot control our consequences, only our actions and choices. The only way to keep other people from finding out about your sin, is to not do it.

Luke 12:2-3 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.


With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Principle six

Felicitous greetings and salutations,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program dedicated to helping those bound by the shackles of sin to find liberty through Christ. They have assisted me greatly in the time that I have spent in their program and in the study of their materials. They have shown great wisdom in their understanding of the problems that beset us in our struggles in the process of sanctification. One of the bits of wisdom that Steve Currington, its founder and president, has propagated is the Ten Principles of RU. These ten principles are founded in Scripture, and are true and helpful to every Christian who is wanting to find Christ’s victory over sin in his life. Therefore, I am expounding these ten principles in a series of posts spread out over this month. This is the sixth.

THOSE WHO DO NOT LOVE THE LORD WILL NOT HELP US SERVE THE LORD.

This is a subject that is fraught with mistakes, misunderstandings, and misapplications (to alliterate). People get very uptight about some interpretations of this, leading to outright rebellion against it, or to prudish, puritanical, and Pharisaical self-righteousness (another alliteration). So listen closely and pay attention to the semantics. They are important.

Realize that there is a profound difference between fellowship and mingling. This is exemplified in the phrase “In the world, but not of it,” which came from Jesus’ statement in John 17:11-18:

John 17:11-18 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are.]
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.


By living, you are mingling. You do so when you go shopping, when you go into the city, when you do anything with anyone. Some people avoid mingling, and they live in perpetual hermitage, but I am sure that I need not attempt to dissuade you from that notion.

Fellowship is, in essence, drawing pleasure and strength from the company of someone or something. It is a partnership. It is intimate. (There are of course other meanings that are used with impunity in other contexts.) We are commanded to walk in fellowship with God and His church. We are also commanded to not walk in fellowship with the world.

Remember that mingling and fellowship are two different things. You can witness to people, help people, teach people, learn from people, and work with people, and not fellowship with them (in this sense of the word). You cannot really fellowship with people and not mingle with them in some way, however. That is because fellowshipping is a deeper and more intimate level of mingling. It is a mingling of souls, a trust, a mutual giving and partaking.

We must mingle with the world, but we cannot fellowship with the world, then. So what does that mean in our life?

Well, what do you do to rest? What can you relax doing? What motivates you and gets you going again. TV? Sports? Video games? ?

Bible reading? Godly music? Praying? ?

Think about it. Study it. Pray to God to help you discern what you are fellowshipping with. And keep this principle in mind:

THOSE WHO DO NOT LOVE THE LORD WILL NOT HELP US SERVE THE LORD.