James 2:18—But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (ESV)
The faith versus deeds debate is a wrestle that transcends generations. Even so, I believe that in the wrestle of today’s culture, these verses could be reapplied as so: “But someone will say, “You have grace and I have holiness.” Show me your grace apart from your holiness, and I will show you my grace by my holiness.”
Psalm 85:15--But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth
1 Peter 1:14,15—As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
Do you ever wonder why is it so hard to be holy? Why is it so difficult to abstain from sin? The Holy Spirit brought to mind something that was instantly convicting. I sin because I am not focused on honoring God’s will and reputation.
A friend of mine who is part of an international Christian organization shared with me that when a survey was taken with one of their ministries, 100% of the respondents admitted problems with sexual purity. Struggles ranged from marital infidelity to widespread use of pornography. The ease with which people have access to pornography on the internet is creating a crisis throughout the worldwide community of those who follow Jesus.
When God chose to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, out of love for Abraham and Lot, He sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. After literally pulling, Lot, his wife and two daughters out of Sodom, the angels told them, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” (19:17) But Lot was too afraid to flee to the mountains so he begged that the angels permit him to reach the small town of Bela. His rescuers agreed to his request and Bela became known as Zoar which means “small place.”
Addicere has serious problems. She is obsessed with pornography and she dares not take even a sip of alcohol or she will soon be drunk. This young woman is amazingly talented and comes from a home with loving parents who raised her with strong moral values. Yet despite their good example, their daughter is on a road that will end in tragedy if she does not come to a crucial spiritual understanding.
Last week I stayed at the Crown Astor in New Orleans for a military conference. On Friday night I got almost no sleep. On the fifth floor near my room was a group of visiting university students. Evidently, the guys partnered with girls to drink and engage in loud and vulgar revelry. It saddened me to think how many parents don’t care or have no idea what their children are doing.
Nahum 3:3,5,6—Charging horseman, flashing sword, shining spear; heaps of slain, mounds of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over their dead . . . I am against you. This is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts. I will lift your skirts over your face and display your nakedness to nations, your shame to kingdoms. I will throw filth on you and treat you with contempt; I will make a spectacle of you.
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
My sinuses filled and it became ridiculous trying to breathe at night. Slowly I found my energy ebbing while my frustration grew at constantly being stuffed. Most of the summer was like this. I went to the doctor and she prescribed medication. It did not help. I went back and she gave me a stronger prescription which worked wonderfully until it ran out. Again my head felt like a piñata. I’ve never had allergies and I didn’t think I was allergic to Wisconsin but something clearly was wrong.
I can imagine what happened. She had lived there too long. Over time, she grew increasingly used to the sleaze to the point where the vices probably no longer shocked her. No doubt she and her friends gossiped about the bizarre and strange conduct of the city’s inhabitants. Perhaps she was close to the two men soon to marry her daughters. Even her husband hesitated—unsure about leaving. In the end when the persistent angels grabbed their hands and pulled the four of them outside the city warning them to run and not look back, she didn’t get far before she turned away just once to see what should not be seen. That turning away made her a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19)