Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.

If the Blindness Is Real

The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:20

Understanding our wretched condition apart from Christ is profoundly helpful for us as we pray for and long for unbelieving friends and relatives to come to Christ.

Think about a father and mother who have been grieving for many years for their daughter. She went into a deep rebellion in her early teens. She made life at home extremely difficult for both her parents, and when she left home she broke their hearts.

If you asked them, they would tell you that not only were they exasperated, but there were times when they were furious with her. Do you know what this is like? You are frustrated by the stubbornness of someone you love, and you know it isn’t getting you anywhere.

Think about this verse: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” If the blindness is real, this daughter really can’t see what her parents see in Christ. It’s not just that she doesn’t want to see. She really can’t see! This can help us. If you know that a person is blind, you don’t get angry with them, you have compassion for them.

Being angry with the unbelieving world doesn’t get you anywhere. You may say, “Didn’t Jesus drive out the money changers?” Yes, but he is the sinless Son of God. To us he says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Is there someone in your life that you realize is blind? Ask God to help you move from anger to compassion.

[Based on the sermon series "Regeneration: How Christ Changes Your Soul"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

  

The Knowledge You’re Working With

We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world.”  1 Corinthians 8:4 NIV

Remember, conscience functions according to knowledge, so what we know is important: “We know that ‘An idol is nothing at all… There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (8:4,6).

John goes to church in Corinth. He’s a Christian and he knows that an idol is nothing more than a creation and projection of man’s vain imagination; so he goes to the butcher, buys his meat, and eats it with a clear conscience. “We know that an idol is nothing at all… but not everyone knows this.” (1 Cor.8:7).

Conscience is the ability to act with knowledge. That means the way your conscience functions will depend on the knowledge it is working with. Some Christians are still so accustomed to idols that their conscience tells them it’s wrong to eat this meat.

Mary was brought up in a world of idols. She has horrible memories of idolatrous festivals and the things that happened there. Now she has become a Christian, she feels that it would be wrong for her to eat meat that was slaughtered after one of these idolatrous festivals. And so just to be sure, she has decided that she won’t eat any meat at all.

One evening Mary meets John and they go out to a restaurant. John orders a T-bone steak and Mary orders a salad. John says to Mary, “Why are you ordering a salad? I’m buying. Have a steak!” Mary says, “I don’t feel right about that.”

How do you think Mary and John ought to resolve this?  

[Based on the sermon series "Regeneration: How Christ Changes Your Soul"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

Your Personal Alarm Clock

I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.  Acts 24:16 NIV

Conscience gives you the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and desires. It gives you that capacity to discern what is right and wrong, and to distinguish between what is good and what is best.

Without conscience you would be like an animal, acting only on the basis of instinct. Conscience is a wonderful gift from God. It is to be trained, respected, and protected throughout your life.

The English word “conscience” joins “con” (meaning with) and “science” (meaning knowledge). Conscience is the ability to act with knowledge. The way your conscience functions depends on the knowledge that you are working with.

To help us get a handle on conscience and how it functions think about an alarm clock. A good alarm clock does two things: It stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up!

That’s how your conscience is supposed to work. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). When you are on the right path, a good conscience will be at peace. But when you are tempted toward the wrong path, a good conscience will sound the alarm.

The problem with conscience is that, like every other part of your soul, it has been disordered by sin. Similar to an alarm clock, your conscience can malfunction in two ways: It can make noise when it should be silent, or it can be silent when it should be making noise.

Can you think of any specific instances when your conscience has malfunctioned?

[Based on the sermon series "Regeneration: How Christ Changes Your Soul"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

How God Introduces Himself

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3

Notice what God says before he gives the 10 Commandments to his people on Mount Sinai. These commands are intensely personal. They arise directly out of a relationship with the God who gives them.

A different god would have given different commands, so it makes sense that before we get into the commands, we get to know the commander. Notice he doesn’t make his appeal on the basis of raw power. This is the appeal of a gracious God who is committed to the good of his people.

God could have said, “I am your Creator. I made the cosmos. I have more power than a million nuclear bombs, so knuckle under.” That’s true… but that is not what he says. 

Poverty, abuse and oppression in Egypt

The people were powerless in Egypt. They were trapped. There was no political process that gave them the hope of a better life. There was no education that could qualify them for better jobs. Then God stepped in and brought these desperate people out of Egypt. He rescued them and now he introduces himself to them…

“I am Yahweh. I am the One who brought you out of Egypt. I sent the plagues on your oppressors. I parted theRed Sea. I destroyed the armies of your enemies. When you cried out, nobody else was listening. But I did. Nobody else took notice of you, but I came down to help you. Nobody else saw a future for you, but I did.”

Yahweh has no obligations. He doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. What pleased him was to come down and set these hopeless people free. Now he says, “I am your God. You belong to me. You are mine.”

You will not embrace God fully until you’re convinced that he is good

We may submit to raw power, but we can never love raw power. That’s why it is so significant that God invites us into a relationship of love.

There is all the difference in the world between a kidnapper and a lover. A kidnapper may say, “You are mine,” on the basis of power. A lover says, “You are mine,” on the basis of affection.

The only reason anyone embraces him is because they see that he is God, and that he is good. We see his goodness even more clearly in that he took on flesh and came to us in the person of Jesus Christ:

“I am the God who has come down to set you free from the slavery of sin and death and hell. You had no way out. I have come to deliver you from a fate you cannot begin to imagine.” He holds out hands that are pierced with nails and he says, “Don’t put any other gods before Me.”

This LifeKey is based on a message called: “Your Struggle With God,” delivered on
September 12, 2004 by Pastor Colin S. Smith.

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

To receive the LifeKeys weekly eDevotional, scroll to the bottom of unlockingthebible.org and sign up.  You can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on facebook and twitter.

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago. Before coming to the United States in 1996, Colin served as Senior Pastor of the Enfield Evangelical Free Church in London for 16 years. He is heard daily on the radio broadcast Unlocking the Bible, speaks regularly at preaching conferences, and is the author of more than two dozen books and booklets. Follow Pastor Colin on Twitter @PastorColinS, and Unlocking the Bible @UnlckngtheBible.

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