It was a blessing to listen to Special Guest speaker, Scott Brown, at my parents’ church last Sunday. He did a wonderful job explaining the significance of the Jewish Passover and how it relates to the New Covenant with Jesus being our sacrificial lamb.
Scott Brown is a Jewish believer in Jesus who has been sharing the Good News of the Messiah with Jewish people since coming to faith in 1981. Raised in a traditional Jewish home in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Scott began his spiritual journey by moving into the woods and living a solitary life. It was there that a co-worker gave Scott a pocket New Testament. That little Bible launched a crisis of faith which eventuated in Scott’s salvation seven years later. Today, Scott and his wife, Marjorie, serve with Chosen People Ministries in New Zealand. They share the Gospel with Jewish people all around the world. You may check out their ministry here: Chosen People.
You will be directed to the beginning of Scott’s message if you scroll to the 25:30 mark on the bottom of the following video. . . . Shalom!
Has the American church lost its focus? Continuing with “The Essentials of the Faith” series, Pastor Cliff Purcell shares another relevant message: The Imperfect Church, (August 5, 2018).
At a distance, it blends nicely, adding pizazz to my garden. But on closer inspection, this blossoming spindly “flower” is overtaking my other precious flowers and vegetables, not to mention our yard! So I am changing the name “Morning Glory” to “Morning Unglory”. (Okay, I realize “unglory” isn’t an official word. But I think it should be added to Urban Dictionary, which operates under the motto: “Define Your World.”)
God often has a unique way of grabbing my attention when I’m outside in His creation. Recently His Spirit prompted me with this question: What is charming and enticing like Morning Glory, at first anyway, but if left unchecked will completely invade your life?
If your answer is “sin”, congratulations! When once asked, ‘What is the definition of sin?’ Billy Graham gave the following answer (What Is Sin?): “A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.”
We learn from the Old Testament books of the law, Genesis-Deuteronomy, that the Israelites’ indifference to sin eventually ruined them.
I realize analogies often fall short, but staying true to my title, here are some facts and analogies about my Morning (Un)glory and sin:
- There are over 1,000 types of Morning Glory flowers, from colorful climbers to subtle ground covers. . . . In searching for a biblical list, or types, of sins, I came across an interesting article: “The entire books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are devoted to revealing to the Israelites God’s laws. Jewish rabbis say that there are 613 laws in the Torah (Books of Moses). Of those, 365 are in the “thou shalt not…” category. . . . When we try to compile a list of sins, we find ourselves buried under the guilt of our own failures because we discover that we have sinned far more than we realized. The Law of God, or the lists of sins that we find in the Bible, serve as a tutor to ‘lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith’ (Galatians 3:24),” (see Got Questions: Is There a Biblical List of Sins? and Billy Graham’s article above.)
- Growing Morning Glories is easy. In fact, once established they require little attention. (Surprise! Surprise!) Growing the “sin vine” is also easy. It has been established in our world since Adam and Eve’s disobedience. We are all impacted with this sin nature. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53:6). Even great Bible heroes failed God and disobeyed.
- Morning Glory flowers are one of the best flowers to decorate our fences and walls. However, it grows with an uncanny speed and can be very invasive and difficult to remove. Likewise, sin appears harmless at first. But it tempts us to fulfill a desire in the wrong way. It easily decorates one’s mind with charming and deceptive rationales. If it is not completely uprooted, this fast growing vine will invade one’s life, wrapping itself around the heart, slowly squeezing and killing one’s joy and spiritual life.
- Morning Glory is known for their tolerance to poor, dry soils. In fact, the plant can easily establish itself in any slightly disturbed area, including garden edges, fence rows and roadsides where the vine is commonly seen growing. Similarly, sin flourishes when the heart becomes hard and dry from neglecting time with God in prayer, reading His Word, and disobedience. Sin not only impedes reception of the Word, but also disrupts our fellowship with God. Only through confession to God of our sins and repentance (turning away) can we truly flourish and experience abundant living.
- Controlling Morning Glory will take several seasons. As I’m learning with a lawn that used to be a pasture, persistent seeds in the soil can sprout years later. (Did I mention Morning Glories are excellent reseeders?!) Completely removing the plants can be frustrating with many years long in the task. . . . As Christians, we know that “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53:6) so “that in Him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Thank God! Only through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, can we be forgiven and reconciled to our holy God. But how do we get rid of those stubborn invasive sin seeds that persistently sprout and entangle?
I found the following article helpful: How Can I Overcome Sin in My Christian Life? In summary: “In this lifetime, we will never be perfectly victorious over sin (1 John 1:8), but that should still be our goal. With God’s help, and by following the principles of His Word, we can progressively overcome sin and become more and more like Christ.” Applying these disciplines will help nix stubborn sin habits: 1) The filling of the Holy Spirit; 2) Daily Bible reading/study; 3) Prayer; 4) Church – fellowship with other believers.
Living God’s way, empowered by His Holy Spirit, makes life productive and fulfilling. But it requires discipline and being intentional.
Have a great week!