What Have You Accomplished?

“LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” – Isaiah 26:12 (NIV)

I like accomplishments. I like reading biographies of people who have accomplished great things. I enjoy sifting through news articles to find the ones about people who have done something amazing. The Guinness Book of World Records fascinates me. It amazes me to read about the man who typed the most books backward, or about the woman with the longest hair in the world. And I like accomplishing things, and getting things done. It feels good to finish reading a book, or finish my college education, or finish running a 10k race. Spiritual accomplishments feel even better. It’s deeply satisfying to memorize a long passage of scripture, or read the entire Bible in a year, or share the gospel with a non-Christian.

But there’s a unique temptation that comes with accomplishing something. I’m tempted to be proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved. I want to say, “Hey, look over here! We’ve got something pretty significant going on. I just shared the gospel. Feel free to call me The Apostle, or Mr. Graham. Yes, I know, I’m gifted. What can I say?” After every accomplishment, pride whispers words of self-adoration in my ear.

Scripture however, takes a different view of our achievements. We’re told very clearly that all we’ve accomplished is from the Lord. Wow, that puts a bit of a damper on my enthusiastic self- worship. All that I’ve accomplished comes from the Lord. My accomplishments at work? From God. My spiritual successes? They are the result of God at work in my life. My athletic ability? That too is from God. Anything good or noble that I’ve accomplished is the result of God’s unmerited kindness. To be proud over my accomplishments is to rob God of the glory that belongs to Him alone. It makes me a glory thief.

Friend, what have you accomplished? Are you tempted to be proud at your recent successes? Are you tempted to boast of what you’ve done and glory in what you’ve achieved? If so, take time to meditate on this passage and to remember where all success comes from.

The Secret of Success

“And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him.” – 1 Samuel 18:14

Our culture loves to celebrate success and to honor those that are successful. If you’re a successful businessman and make billion of dollars, you get a TV show where you get to say, “You’re fired!” If you have a sweet singing voice, you’ve got a shot to be the next American (or Canadian, or French, or British) Idol. If you can throw a baseball upwards of 90 m.p.h. you can make seven figures playing a game. It seems that everybody has a chance of succeeding and of being somebody great. And those that do succeed have the right to boast about it, or so our culture says.

But scripture gives us a different perspective on success. Success isn’t ultimately the result of working 70 hours a week or spending countless hours in the weight room. Success isn’t purely the product of intelligence, or business smarts, or beauty, or money. In scripture we see that success ultimately comes from the Lord. Why was David such a powerful warrior? Why did he always end up on the winning side? How did an insignificant shepherd boy become the greatest king in the history of Israel? How was a sheep farmer transformed into a giant-killer? The answer is clear. David’s success was from the Lord.

This has massive implications for our jobs, ministries, hobbies, relationships, athletic endeavors, and creative pursuits. Any success that we experience comes from the Lord as a gift. Christian, are you experiencing success at work? That is from the Lord. Are you performing well on your basketball team? That too is from the Lord. Are you in the midst of particular spiritual blessing at your church? God has been kind to you. Any and all success you are currently experiencing is because of God’s unmerited blessing.

Don’t let another day go by without stopping to thank the Lord for your success. All that you have accomplished God has done for you. And as you experience success, honor God by continuing to express your dependence on Him.

What Happening In The World?

I always knew cats were evil. This article proves it.

World’s tallest man meets world’s shortest man. Read it here.

EHow demonstrates how to give a good back massage. Husbands, this is for you!

Josh Harris posts a wonderful quote by Charles Spurgeon as an encouragement to those who are suffering.

Sovereign Grace Ministries gave me and my dad the chance to do our own album together. It has finally arrived!

Our Ultimate Hope

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

This is a sobering, frightening, soul-gripping text. I confess that as I think about the possibility of becoming hardened by my sin, I am tempted to be afraid. After all, I know the depths of my own depravity. I’m wicked and ungodly, often straying, and with a heart that quickly loves other things. How am I to be sure that I won’t stray from God or let my heart become deceived by sin? How will I ever make it to the end?

Then I remember glorious passages such as Jude 1:24, which says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” Oh what sweet words these are! My confidence does not ultimately lie in my ability to fight sin or the spiritual insight of those in my accountability group. My confidence is in our great and glorious Savior, who promised that He would never lose me or leave me or let me go. My confidence is firmly placed in the one who hung upon the cross and died in my place. My hope for heaven is in the One who purchased heaven for me. Christ, and Christ alone is my hope.

Take time today to thank Christ that He is the One who sustains you and keeps you. Thank Him that He will never let you go, and that nothing can snatch you from His hand. You are His forever, purchased by blood and sealed by the Spirit. That is our confidence.

Who Do You Need?

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

This passage highlights two questions that we should ask of ourselves:

1) Who do we need to invite into our life? The sad fact is, we won’t accurately see and understand our sin apart from the input and correction of others. God has created us in such a way that we need others, and He has ordained that the Christian life be lived out within a community of other Christians. Those who seek to follow God without the help of others are fools, setting themselves up to deceived and hardened by sin. God speaks to us through the insight and wisdom of other believers.

And yet many times we don’t invite other Christians into our lives. We don’t want their correction and don’t desire their help. In fact, when someone brings correction or rebuke, we act offended, irritated that they had the audacity to tell us where we are failing. In our pride we end up being fools. We’re like a blind man with a fly swatter. We know sin is there, and we can hear it buzzing around, but we can never quite seem to hit it.

Who do you need to invite into your life today? Are you asking for correction and rebuke from those near to you? Are you aware of your blindness and asking others to help you see?

2) Who do we need to initiate with? Most of us don’t like correcting people. It feels awkward, and people don’t always respond well. And most of the time we’re not even sure if someone is really sinning. We just have some vague thoughts about something that might be sin. I can’t count the number of times I have neglected to correct someone because I was afraid of what they might think of me.

But the truth is, scripture calls us to correct others in love. If we truly care about someone and are truly concerned for their soul, we will help them see their sin. If we are passionate about the glory of God, we must initiate correction and rebuke with those around us. It is terribly unloving to leave someone blinded by their sin. And our correction should be marked by humility and gentleness, and always done with the motive of helping someone draw near to the Savior.

So who do you need to initiate correction with today? Who do you need to admonish and encourage today? Who do you need to exhort? If we are to please God, we must invite correction and initiate correction.

Exhortation and Insight

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Heb 3:12-13

How do we fight against spiritual hardness of heart? How do we avoid being deceived by our sin? In His wonderful kindness, God has provided the answer. He is passionate that we grow in godliness, and has graciously instructed us how we might do so. The solution is clear, and because of the gospel we have much hope for growth.

In this passage we are charged to exhort one another as a means of guarding against the deceitfulness of sin. We are called to exhort, encourage, and challenge one another for the purpose of helping them grow in godliness. And by the same token, we are desperately in need of exhortation and encouragement from other Christians. The fact is, without the involvement of others, we will not grow as God intends and we are in danger of being hardened and deceived by sin. We have pockets of sin that we are blind to, and without the insight of others we simply won’t see them. As Paul Tripp puts it, “Personal insight is the result of community.”

The solution is obvious but not always easy. We must involve others in our spiritual lives. It’s crucial for us to be surrounded by people who know us well, who can identify our spiritual blind spots, and who can graciously correct us. And we should make it easy for these people to correct us. We should beg them for correction, and plead with them to point out our sin. Most people are reluctant to point out areas of sin and we should do everything possible to make it a pleasant experience for them. Take notes, ask questions, whatever it takes.

Do you have a few, well-trusted individuals in your life who will correct you, challenge you, and encourage you? Do you make it easy for them to correct you? Are you grateful for their correction? Husbands, do you ask your wife for correction on a regular basis? Do you humbly and gratefully respond when she brings correction? We are blind to sin, and we desperately need the help of others. If you don’t have someone in your life who serves this role, get someone…soon.

Fight The Hardening

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to take care of a paintbrush. My dad, who was an art major in college, was very careful to teach us the proper procedures for cleaning out a paintbrush after a painting session. Why? Because if you don’t take proper care of your paintbrushes, they become hard and unusable, and must be thrown away.

Our hearts are like paintbrushes. Without diligent care, they can become hard to spiritual things and the flame of our love for God can dwindle to just a flicker.

But how does this happen? Is it an overnight thing, kind of like the twenty-four hour flu? Do we go to bed with a passion for God burning in our hearts and then wake up the next morning as apostates? No, scripture tells us that hardness of heart is the result of being deceived by sin.

Sin is deceptive, isn’t it? It doesn’t come right out and say, “Hey, I’m sin, and I’m here to hurt you.” No sin looks attractive and enticing. It lies to us, telling us that it won’t matter if we give in just this once. It tells us that one lustful glance never hurt anybody, that one little lie isn’t a big deal, that just a little discontentment is normal. Sin promises happiness, satisfaction, and long-lasting pleasure. But it lies. Never once has it made good on its promises. It deceives us.

Believing the lies of sin leads to a gradual hardening of the heart. The heart doesn’t become hardened all at once as a result of some massive sin. No, it’s a gradual, subtle, and yet deadly process. Often it begins in the mind when sinful, ungodly thoughts are left unchecked. Thoughts then turn to small sinful actions, such as a short lustful look or a quick outburst of anger. If these sins are not cut off quickly they will grow. And all the while the heart grows progressively harder. Sin is subtle, and its effect is gradual.

Friends, we must fight against this hardening process! As I mediated on this passage I was made aware of an area where I had failed to fight against sin. I don’t want my heart to grow hard, and by God’s all-powerful grace, I will fight my sin. I would appeal to you to do the same.

Caretakers of the Heart

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

I take care of my car. I get the oil changed every three-thousand miles and make sure the tires are in tip-top shape. I attack the carpets with a vacuum, the outside with soap and water, and the dashboard with some sort of cleaner that leaves a greasy film . When I hear strange, moaning noises coming from within, I take it to the mechanic. Every six months I receive a new shiny plastic card informing me that I am a privileged member of Automotive Association of America (AAA). I keep diligent watch over my car. Yet as I read this passage of scripture, I’m forced to ask myself, “Do I watch over my heart with the same diligence?”

In these verses we hear God Himself exhorting us to “take care” of our hearts. Why? Because dwelling within each of us is an enemy of our souls. Sin lurks within our hearts, always watching and waiting for an opportunity to ensnare us. Our battle with sin doesn’t end at the moment of our conversion. The power of sin has been broken, yes, but the presence of sin remains entrenched in our hearts. And sin hates God, and it hates us. It is always seeking to tempt us and to lead us away from God. It doesn’t sleep, doesn’t rest, is always seeking to harden and deceive us. Sin doesn’t take breaks.

Therefore we cannot rest in the battle of sin! We would be wise to heed the words of Proverbs 4:23, which says, ” Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” The very springs of spiritual life flow within our hearts, and we are called to guard those springs passionately.

Christian, are you taking care to guard your heart? Are you a scholar of your heart, taking time to study it carefully that you might know its sinful tendencies? Sin is deceitful and it has a distinctly hardening effect. Are there any areas where you are not carefully guarding your heart? Television? Relationships with the opposite sex? Work?

Christ is supremely glorious and worthy of our deepest affections. Let us guard our hearts against anything that might steal those affections.