Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blameless Life - Psalm 15:1

Take a moment to pray before we begin. Ask God to help you absorb His desire to be with you like a thirsty sponge today. Ask to grow in relationship with Him. Ask Him to teach you, today, and to mold and change your heart.

A well-known phrase says, “home is where the heart is.” This is not far from the truth. You can always tell what is important to someone by how they assign priorities in their life. What is important to you? Would others who observe your behavior agree with that? Now let’s examine what is important to God. Read Mark 12:28-31. Jesus told the teachers of the law what the most important commandment is.

Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? That’s a lot of loving! Maybe it’s easier to love your neighbor as yourself? I think not. Love isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s a mark of godly character. It is evidence of God’s presence in your life. In fact, love is the first fruit of the Spirit quality named in Galatians 5:22-23.

These nine traits are evidence of a Christian’s maturity, just as the appearance of fruit on a plant is evidence of that plant’s maturity. But developing fruit takes effort. The plant must be fed and watered and pruned to be productive. We must undergo the same laborious processes as God’s children.

The House That Jesus Built

Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us. Isn’t that exciting? I can almost see Him in His tool belt using hammer, saw and sander. A true Master Carpenter is personally creating our dwelling in paradise. WOW! I am always blown away when I think about this. Personally, I don’t care if my heavenly dwelling is a shack as long as I’m in His presence.

There is comfort, belonging and dependence, and God is both at home and on the road with each of us. Look up the following list of scriptures. Make note of some of the benefits of dwelling with our Heavenly Father. Exodus 29:46, Psalm 23:6, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 61:4, Psalm 78:69, Psalm 91:1.

Here’s another mind-blower! Ephesians 2 says that we, the Body of Christ, are God’s dwelling place. We are all being built into one “sanctuary” with Jesus as the cornerstone! Sit quietly and let that sink in for a minute.

It Doesn’t Have To Be A Mansion

God’s first sanctuary, His tabernacle, His “home,” His holy dwelling place was a tent! The King of the Universe doesn’t need much, does He? God truly knows how to enjoy the little things. In fact, it is written that our bodies are “tents” and His Spirit lives in us. (Check out 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 2 Peter 1:13.) But we’re not just tents anymore.

It’s true, dear family, the King of the Universe doesn’t need much, but He wants us! Are you part of God’s family? Have you allowed Him to adopt you? If you have, praise Him for it! If you haven’t but want to be a part of the family, pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I confess to You today that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sin, and I want You to teach me how to live a blameless life. Thank You for dying for me on the cross. I invite You to come and live in my heart right now. Thank You for washing away my sin and entering my life. I pray this in Your marvelous name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

If you’d like a challenge, I suggest you memorize Psalm 15:1.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Living the Blameless Life - Introduction

Before we begin, take a moment to pray. Ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you as you study today. Ask God to clear your heart and mind of anything unworthy of Him and to fill that space with His love and wisdom and discernment.

I believe that the Lord led you to this study for a reason. Does the idea of living a blameless life appeal to you? Does this type of life even seem possible? Read Psalm 119:1. I pray that this verse is an encouragement to you and that you’re ready to get started. So, let’s dive right in. First of all, we’ll set the scene. According to The Complete Word Study Old Testament, King David wrote Psalm 15 on the occasion of moving the ark of the covenant to Mount Zion. This story is recorded for us in 2 Samuel 6:12-19. Take a few minutes to read this passage and get a better idea of what King David may have been thinking and feeling when he penned this psalm.

Here are a few of my thoughts: Sacrificing the bulls and calves were acts of worship. Dancing was an expression of joy. In fact, this whole procession was one big party. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine “the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” Wow! That’s a lot of joyful, noisy people celebrating the homecoming of the ark of the covenant! God Himself is moving back into the neighborhood! David pitches the tent and the ark is placed inside. Then the party continues with sacrifices, fellowship offerings, blessings and refreshments.

Now that you know the background, read Psalm 15. It’s only five verses, but they certainly pack a powerful punch! What are your initial reactions to the Psalm? Does anything about it inspire you? Encourage you? Confuse you? Make you want to know more? Pull out a dictionary (another valuable Bible study tool) and look up any words that are unfamiliar to you.

The Blameless Top Ten List

Psalm 15 spells out ten very specific things that we must do – and not do – to live a blameless life.

Do what is righteous.
Speak the truth from your heart.
Do not slander.
Do not do wrong to your neighbor.
Do not cast a slur on your fellow man.
Despise a vile man.
Honor those who fear the Lord.
Keep your oaths, even when it hurts.
Lend your money without usury.
Don’t accept a bribe against the innocent.

After reading this list, do you feel a bit inadequate? Can you point to one or more items above and say, “I can’t do it”? I certainly feel that way. Usually because I have sinned in one or more of the areas listed. Is there anything you need to confess today? Have a quiet moment with the Lord and ask Him what areas of your life need repentance.

So, are you ready to commit to improving yourself in the area of blameless living? Excellent! Me, too. But, does blameless living seem to be beyond your grasp? Don’t be discouraged. You may recall that David was called a man after God’s own heart. That did not mean that he was perfect! It means that he was honest with God. He was always in communication with God. He confessed sin and weakness and fear to God.

It is in our weakness that God’s strength is revealed. This is a truth we must embrace or pride may get the best of us! Look up the following scriptures and reflect on what each teaches you about weakness: Romans 8:26, 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4.

Because of our pride, we find it difficult to boast about our weaknesses. But this is how we glorify God. If we can do it on our own, what do we need Him for? But if the task is beyond our ability, it can only be accomplished with His help. To glorify God, we must give Him the credit He deserves by admitting where we fall short.

When we do this, we make ourselves vulnerable to criticism. Ouch. People can be very cruel. They gossip, they offer promotions and recognition to someone else, they don’t let you join in the reindeer games. But we need to turn our focus to God. WE ARE NOT HERE TO IMPRESS PEOPLE!!! Can you say that out loud with me? When you are tempted to fall into this trap, remember that Isaiah 55:8 and 9 says that God’s ways are not our ways.

People can be superficial and selfish, but God looks at what is really important and He wants what is best for us. So who do you want to impress? If you are reading this right now, I am willing to go out on a limb and say that you want to impress God. But how can we do that? God is more concerned with your character than your clothes. Read 1 Samuel 16:7b.

Examine your own heart in light of the Blameless Top Ten List above. What areas of blameless living do you already practice but want to improve? Where do you feel you fail miserably and need God’s grace to get it right? Pray for Him to teach you how to be blameless and be sure to thank Him for the areas in which He’s already taught you to excel.

Discussion: What do you see as the pros and cons of blameless living? Is it worth it to pursue a blameless life? Is the pursuit enough or do we need to achieve blameless living?

Next Time: We’ll share thoughts on Psalm 15 verse 1.