The Sinful Heart

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 7:23–29 (ESV)
23 All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me.
24 That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?
25 I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness.
26 And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her.
27 Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things—
28 which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found.
29 See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Solomon starts these verses by saying, “All this I have tested by wisdom.” He is referring to all he has said previously. He has tried to understand life and its meaning and purpose. He has especially tried to reconcile the meaning of life with the reality of death. He tells us that he is unable to understand these things even though he has sought to do so. The answers are far from him and too deep to find.

After this opening statement Solomon goes on to tell us what he has learned about mankind. People are sinful. Our lives are filled with wickedness and foolishness. He speaks of women whose hearts are snares and nets. Before you think Solomon is anti-woman, he tells us that men are no better. He sought out to find an upright man and found only one in one thousand. Solomon’s point is that such a person is rare. God created mankind upright, but we have sought out many schemes. We have gone our own way and we are sinful.

Solomon’s observation about the sinfulness of mankind is echoed throughout Scripture. We are told that every one of us is a sinner and separated from God because of our sin. Our sin deserves punishment and condemnation, but God, who is merciful, has given his Son as a sacrifice for our sin. All who trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be saved and inherit eternal life. It is an amazing thing to look out at the world and see the evil of the hearts of mankind and then realize that God is at work to save us from our sin. That is the wisdom that we need and it comes through the message of the gospel.


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Restoration

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain. You can read more about Robert after the article below.

Psalm 126:1–6 (ESV)
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.


We need God to restore our fortunes. We might be materially rich in the West, but we’re spiritually poor. If God is to grant us the kingdom of heaven, it would be like a dream come true.

We would be filled with rejoicing and laughter. We’d tell the world that the Lord has done great things for us. He has done great things for us, we’re glad that Jesus gave Himself for us and rose again victorious over death.

God needs to bring us low before He can raise us up. If we think we’re self sufficient, and trusting in our material wealth, we’re not likely to be blessed spiritually as we like. The church in the West is like the Laodicean church, thinking we have it all together when we’re spiritually bankrupt.

We need God to restore our fortunes spiritually. If I understand correctly, streams in the Negeb are desert streams. They are seasonal. In the dry season they dry up, but in the rainy season they turn the wilderness into meadows.

I think sowing in tears and reaping with shouts of joy isn’t just beautiful poetry, but also very insightful as to how we are to be revived. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. If we weep for our own spiritual states and the spiritual state of the lost, we will in due time see a harvest.

If we don’t weep for the lost, they’re not going to get saved. The reason that we get saved is because God cares for us. If we don’t care for others, we’re not going to tell them how they can get saved. If we do, however, and God blesses us with fruit for our labours, we will reap with shouts of joy.

When we weepingly tell the good news of salvation in Christ, we will rejoicing reap a harvest. The prospect of a lost eternity for unbelievers should spur us on to tell them the gospel. We will reap a harvest if we work in harmony with God’s loving Spirit.

“Lord, may we have Your heart for the lost, and rejoice when we see them come to faith. For the honour of Your name, amen.”


About the author: Robert is a child of God, the husband of Joy, and the father of Grace. He’s from “God’s own county” of Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. Writing in earnest began for Robert when a friend prophetically told him that he should write. Although he isn’t currently publishing himself on WordPress, you can read the archives at www.roberlain.wordpress.com and a few other blogs linked from there. You can also find his up-to-date notes on the YouVersion Bible App. Also, The Believer’s Post is a WhatsApp platform for Christian bloggers which you can request him to join.

Email Robert at bobjc88 @ gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

The Chief of Sinners

1 Timothy 115 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Timothy 1:12–15 (ESV)

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The writings of Paul seem to dominate the New Testament. It is through his letters that we truly gain our understanding of most of our foundational Christian doctrines. God certainly used Paul in a great way. As Paul reflected on this truth, he did so with humility. Paul understood that it was only by God’s grace that he had been able to do anything at all for the Lord. After all, he was a “blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” of God and God’s people, but God had saved Paul and chose to use him.

 Paul knew that his salvation was fully by grace. He was the “foremost” sinner. He was not in any way deserving of salvation. It was only through Jesus Christ, the one who came into this world to save sinners, that he was saved. Paul never forgot this truth and we must not forget it either. We owe everything to God’s grace. It does not matter how much we may accomplish for the Lord in this life. We may accomplish great things or remain unknown. Regardless, all that we are and all that we are able to do are only because of what God has done for us. Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners and use them for his glory. Let us praise his name!

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God Is Our Salvation

Psalm 625 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 62:5–8 (ESV)

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live at a time in history when technology and scientific advancement seem to be exploding. We have cars and airplanes, computers and smartphones, satellites and rocket ships, as well as medicines and surgical procedures for our illnesses and injuries. It may seem like we have the answer to almost every question. With all of our advances and knowledge, we may be tempted to think that mankind has the ability to solve every problem and do not need help.

It does not take much to remind us that we are still finite beings with much that we still do not understand and that we are powerless to control. Just look at any natural disaster for an example. Look at the current Covid-19 pandemic. The whole world has been thrown into turmoil and many lives have been lost. The whole world is working to understand the virus and to find a vaccine to stop it. And there are still many questions that simply do not have answers. But believers know where our hope rests. It is not in the power of mankind. Let this time be a reminder to us that, as the psalmist says, “On God rests my salvation and my glory.”

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The Folly of the Cross

1 Corinthians 118 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 1:18–25 (ESV)

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There really is no middle road when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person will either laugh at the foolishness of the message. After all, how does a man come back from the dead? Or a person will see the glorious hand of God and the power of God working through the events of the cross to bring salvation to all who will believe.

The message of the gospel is Jesus Christ crucified. The perfect, sinless Son of God was hung on a cross until he died. He was buried in a tomb. And later, he rose from the dead alive again. That is the message and it is through these events that God is saving mankind. This is the message that Christians are called to proclaim and it is the only message that can give life to a dying world. Many will laugh and consider it nonsense, but for those who believe, their is forgiveness and eternal life.

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You Must Be Born Again

John 33 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 3:1–8 (ESV)

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The Praise of a Multitude

Revelation 196 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 19:1–8 (ESV)

1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

3 Once more they cried out,

“Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.”

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What a scene that is presented to us in today’s reading! The people of God gathered together with the heavenly host and praising the Lord as one. They praise him for his righteous judgment on evil and they praise him for his salvation. Amazing!

Regardless what is going on in the world or in our personal lives, we can be sure that the Lord reigns. His plans and purposes are being fulfilled and one day the scene we read about in Revelation 19 will be the reality for the redeemed people of God. With each passing day, I long for that day more and more.

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Grace Carries Us Home

black home area rug

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Jude 24–25 (ESV)

24 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, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we preach the gospel of grace we often forget that it is grace from first to last. We could not save ourselves from sin, so God sent his Son to pay our debt and save us by going to the cross. We are saved by repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Yet, that is not all. We are also unable to continue to the finish line on our own. We not only need grace to save us, but to carry us home. And that is what God does for us. He gives us the grace we need. It is God who is “able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory.”

When Jude writes about the truths of God’s grace, he does so as he breaks into worship and praise. This should be our response as well. Our God is great! His grace is amazing! He saves us and takes us all the way home. It is all abut him, from first to last.

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Now Is the Day of Salvation

2 Corinthians 521 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 5:16–6:2 (ESV)

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Followers of Christ have been given the ministry of reconciliation (v. 18). This does not mean that we are able to bring someone into a right relationship with God based upon anything we have done. It does mean that we are given the message of salvation to tell to the world in order that others might hear it and be saved.

The Christian’s priority is to proclaim that reconciliation with God is possible because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 summarizes exactly what Jesus did. Though he was righteous, he took our sin upon himself so that we might receive his righteousness. There was a great exchange at the cross. Jesus took our sin and, in return, we received his righteousness. This wonderful gift is available to all who will repent of their sins and call out to Christ for forgiveness. Do not delay. Today is the day of salvation!

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All Have Sinned

Romans 323–24 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Romans 3:21–26 (ESV)

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.