Women's Corner

 

Post: 8/6/2020

Sometimes, we may look around us and wonder if we are making an impact for Christ. We may not have written a book or speak at conferences or have thousands of followers on Twitter. From our perspective, we may not see how the Lord is working, and how He can use us. But it is important to remember that the Lord has Sovereignly placed each of us in the exact place that He wants to work through our life to reach and serve those around us. He desires to use us exactly where we are at!

The Lord sees things differently than men. He looks at our hearts and our obedience to Him and willingness to be used by Him. It is not the scope of our influence for Him that He is concerned with, but it is our humble obedience to Him and availability to be used in any way He desires. The heart set on Him is what pleases Him. He works through those kinds of hearts wherever He has placed them!

Please take a few minutes and read this great essay by Elizabeth Prata that talks about this very subject!

 

Link

 


Post: 8/4/2020

 

As we wind down our discussion of James 1:2-4, we are going to briefly look at how we persevere through trials. We have discussed different truths about why the Lord allows trials in our lives, but let’s consider the question: How can we persevere in a Christ honoring way?

One of the ways we have already touched on.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when we encounter various trials. James 1:2

 

When we encounter trials in life (and we all know that we will), our attitude and response to a trial has a great deal of impact. If we are angry or grumbling, if we rebel, if we refuse to submit to the Lord’s work in trial then that can have a profound impact on our strength in enduring the trial, and the fruit the Lord works in our lives through it. It is a sad and heartbreaking reality if when we go through a trial, that the Lord has allowed for His purposes in it, that the purpose is not realized. The Lord does work ‘all things together for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

 

But just like other aspects of our sanctification, we have a part in that work. Our obedience to Him, our trust in Him even when we do not understand, and our submission to Him believing in faith that He has a purpose and is working through the difficulty are critical to our victory that is accomplished in that trial.

One quick caveat or reminder, James is talking to believers in this passage. Now, we have already discussed that one of the purposes in trials is to demonstrate the validity of our faith, so someone may encounter a trial in their life and realize they were not actually a Christian. But if someone is a genuine believer, their strength will not fail.

 

The Bible clearly teaches the perseverance of the saints. That means that those who belong to God will persevere to the end, and never lose faith. Their faith may be bent, stretched, and feeble at times, but it will not break. This is called the perseverance of the saints or the security of the believer. The Lord’s provision of security makes it possible for His people to persevere. Perseverance is man’s side working out his faith with fear and trembling, but the Lord Himself firmly hold and secures all believers with His strength and power.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

True and saving faith endures to the end. The ones whom the Lord transforms, translating them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His marvelous light, will not lose faith. Their faith will sustain them and demonstrate the reality of it. The Lord will enable them to endure and one whom He has saved He will not lose.

But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Matthew 24:13

"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. John 10:29

 

Yet, while a true believer will endure and not permanently walk away from their faith, they can grow bitter and angry or refuse to submit in the trial and the purpose for which the Lord allowed it may not be accomplished, which may yield more trials.

This verse says we will encounter various trials. The basic meaning of the word “Trials”, in this passage is trying, testing, assaying or proving. The meaning James has in mind is the idea of testing through trouble and it can be caused by any type of hardship, problem or difficulty.

 

But what about various? The literal meaning of “various” is: variegated, or multi-colored, and came to be used figuratively of things that are diverse or varied. James’s point is the trials we encounter will come in many shapes, shades, and degrees. It is not that every individual Christian will suffer every kind of trouble, but that Christians in general are subject to troubles of every kind from every possible source. Whatever their nature or severity, these various trials are meant to test a believer’s faith. MacArthur

 

One thing is for certain, believers will encounter trials. Really, if we are honest, so will every unbeliever. But the difference is that our trials are never in vain or outside of our Lord’s control. One day our faith shall be by sight, and we will see that the Lord lovingly walked beside us through these trials even when we couldn’t see.

 

Remember that sweet and profound poem, Footprints in the sand. Those times where there was only one set of prints, were the times that the Lord was carrying us. When we see our dear Lord face to face, we will know and see where He lovingly cared for us and sustained us even though we may have not understood it when we walked through the valleys. I have no doubt that we will praise Him throughout all eternity for who He is and His loving sustaining power for us in this life.

 

So, our attitude and submission to the Lord in our trials profoundly impacts the good work He is doing in us, and victoriously enduring the trial where it works the Lord’s purposes in us glorifies Him.

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

 

We can endure any trial victoriously and have the right attitude – an attitude of the will and submission to the Lord – because of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit – when we are controlled by Him – sustains, strengthens, and enables us to be joyful as well as manifesting the other fruit of the Spirit.

But another key point is that we must be walking in the Spirit – living in obedience to the truth of the Word of God – humbly yielded to Him, for it to be manifest. If we are rebelling – kicking and screaming – enduring, but not yielding to God’s purposes then it is highly unlikely that the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest through us and before others.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal.5:22-23

 

This is so important. During our entire Christian walk whether it is through trials or just walking every day through this sin-infested world, the Lord wants to reveal Himself to those around us. This brings glory to Him before men and angels; it can demonstrate to the lost world the power and grace of our Lord as we Christians endure hardship; and it can encourage other believers. So, we must, we must obey the Lord and yield to His Spirit as He works in us, and through our circumstances.

 

A right understanding or understanding mind is another way we endure and are victorious walking through trial.

 

“knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance James 1:3

 

The word knowing here carries the idea of full understanding of something that is beyond the merely factual and that often comes from personal experience.

 

Having a right attitude during our trials is critical. It can and will help us endure. We know from God’s Word, and even our own experiences that …..the testing of your faith produces endurance. As we come out on the other side of sufferings, afflictions, or testings, we discover that our faith is stronger, our trust in Him is stronger and our knowledge of Him is deeper.

 

May those who fear You see me and be glad, Because I wait for Your word. I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Psalm 119:74-75

 

You see this in Psalms 119:74-75. He was able to affirm after His trial God’s faithfulness to Him and His understanding had deepened. He also affirmed that others were impacted by his life as he walked through his affliction or trial.

 

I saw a testimony the other day by a woman that had battled breast cancer. She cited one of these Psalms affirming God’s goodness in her trial, in sustaining her and using the trial in our life for good. Have you heard others say this? I have. I have heard precious saints affirm this.

 

I may have mentioned before, but one of the most profound things I have ever seen by way of testimonies is that of a woman from Huntsville who appeared in the “American Gospel” movies. She shares how the Lord had brought her to faith through her trials, and how He had worked through them to strengthen her faith and deepen her walk with Him. This is a woman who is still suffering will terrible illness and has added other illness on top of the initial sickness.

 

She has had tumors removed, she almost died from internal blood loss, and because of problems with intestinal function she is fed by a stomach tube. Yet, this sweet saint who has a husband and two young children, this godly woman said very clearly in the documentary, that she would not go back to her life before. Does she still pray for healing? Yes, but in her words it is not a priority. She affirms that she would not go back to before because she was empty before. This amazing woman says that she would not trade what she has in Christ for anything.

 

Beloved sisters, this is what the Lord wants to do in all of our trials. It is not easy, and it is not for the faint of heart, and it is not for just the super saints like the apostle Paul. It is for every saint because the Lord wants to work in their life giving them endurance and strengthening them spiritually.

 

Runners – athletes – do not wake up one day and win the Olympics. If you read about them, most of them have trained since they were very young, and everything in their lives has been centered around their training. It did not happen overnight, it was a long and arduous task to train for endurance.

 

It is the same with spiritual endurance. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and strong saints do not learn endurance except through persevering through the hardships. When we patiently endure through our trials, trusting the Lord that He is working and leaning on His grace and strength, then endurance is built and it is a lasting quality. Endurance is a permanent inner strength and quality that occurs and even increases as we patiently submit and endure through the trials.

 

 

Lastly, let’s look at one more point. We are secure and we can endure because our Lord Himself is at the Father’s right hand praying for His children. This is a wonderful reality for the Christian.

 

Remember Peter, and what we talked about last time? The enemy wanted to sift Peter, but the Lord assured Peter that his faith would not fail because ‘I prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.’

 

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

 

Our Lord is praying for us at the right hand of the Father, just as He did with Peter. He is interceding on our behalf, so that we will not fail as we go through the trials.

 

The entire Trinity is involved and sustaining us when we go through our struggles and trials. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all working together to enable us to endure. How then can we fear? They secure every believer so not a single one will be lost. The Lord will protect and keep His own to the end.

 

Let us confidently then endure. Trials are hard and from a human perspective not necessarily in experience - joyful, yet we can be joyful in the fact that we know that our great Lord is working through them to build eternal virtue and character in us that cannot be lost.

 

For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

 

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:10-11

 

As we close, let’s take heart and remember that our trials are not in vain. The Lord is doing a great work in us that we cannot see. He is deepening our relationship with Him and our ability to serve Him, and He is building endurance. He is disciplining us for our own good and He is perfecting us for our spiritual good which is producing righteousness and holiness.

 

Oh my goodness, isn’t this the point of our walk here? To become righteous and holy in our daily living so that we look like our blessed Lord. Remember what the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3?,

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil.3:14)

 

The goal of the Christian life is to be growing in Christlikeness here, and the prize – oh the sweet prize – is Christlikeness in heaven when we go to be with Him forever.

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4)

 

Oh my sweet sisters, one day – that day – it will all be worth it when we see our dear Lord and see what is before us. When He will wipe away every tear, and their will be no more pain or crying, we will just reign with Him forever and ever.

 

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

(The Gettys – In Christ Alone)

 

 


 

Post 7/30/2020

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

As New Testament believers we have a clear and unobstructed view of Christ as we grow more and more in the knowledge of Him through the study of God's Word, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. As we gaze at His beauty - as we begin to understand in deeper ways His great love for us, His sacrifice for us on the Cross, His holiness and His other wonderful attributes we are conformed more and more into His image and His likeness.  

As we gaze at the glory of God - as we study and search the Word of God, the Spirit reveals more and more truth about our Lord. As we learn more of Him and yield to Him, we grow to be more like Him. This is the process of sanctification. The ultimate goal of every believer in our sanctification is Christlikeness. As we grow in our understanding of Christ and surrender to Him more fully as our Lord, He manifest Himself through our lives, and the more we are transformed into His image.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

When we are saved by God's precious grace and we confess faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are justified. As some have said, "It is just as if I never sinned." Through a forensic act by the Father, He places Christ righteousness on our behalf, and the Lord Jesus takes our sin upon Himself. 

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21 

This is justification. This is a one time act that happens at salvation. But sanctification is a different matter. Sanctification occurs throughout a believer's life until they go to be with Christ where they are glorified.

Sanctification is what the apostle Paul is speaking of here in Philippians 3:13-14. Paul reduced the entire process of sanctification to the simple and clear goal of one thing - pursuing Christlikeness. Paul pursued sanctification with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle to win the prize. Christ chose Paul, just as He chose each of us, to be conformed into His glorious image. 

the goal - Christlikeness here and now

the prize - Christlikeness in heaven

the upward call of God - The time when God calls each believer up to heaven and into His presence will be the moment of receiving the prize which had been an unattainable goal in our earthly life (John MacArthur)

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

One day our faith shall be sight. We will see our blessed Savior and we will be like Him. But until that day every Christian's goal - their supreme goal - is pursuing Christlikeness. We were saved to ultimately be conformed to Christ. And as we are conformed to His image, then those around us see that sweet fragrance of our Lord as He manifests His presence through us and our obedience. What a privilege and what a blessing! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and He is our dear Lord who loves us and gave Himself for us. O what a Savior!

The Valley of Vision

Let me learn by paradox

 that the way down is the way up,

 that to be low is to be high,

 that the broken heart is the healed heart,

 that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

 that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

 that to have nothin is to possess all,

 that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

 that to give is to receive,

 that the valley is the place of vision

Let me find thy light in my darkness,

 thy life in my death,

 thy joy in my sorrow,

 thy grace in my sin,

 thy riches in my poverty

 thy glory in my valley. 

 


Post 7/28/2020

We have looked at some of the work the Lord is doing as He allows trials in our lives in the past few posts, and it is safe to say that regardless of the particular trial, the ultimate reason is to strengthen our faith, turning our hearts to Him, and building/refining our faith.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

As difficult as it is as we have discussed before regarding this verse, the writer is instructing believers that the proper attitude or response as we go through trials is to understand that He has a purpose, and to respond with joy. Now wait a minute, joy? Listen, not joy in the circumstances of the heartache or trial, but the joy that comes from knowing that He is in control, and working through the trials to do a deep spiritual work that can not be done in any other way.

The writer here is “speaking of unique joy that the Lord graciously provides His children when they willingly and uncomplainingly endure troubles while trusting in Him. . . He will always use them for our benefit and for His own glory.” As we yield and submit to Him, even as we struggle to understand, then He enables us to have that joy. One caveat. If we shake our fists, if we are angry, or if we rebel against Him, then we are not going to experience that joy.

The joy comes as we commit our way to Him, and accept what He allows submitting to Him. This is not easy. But it is the right heart attitude. He never calls us to something that He will not enable us to do if we will trust and depend on Him. We can always trust “in the promise and goodness of our Lord, that we can look on trials as a welcome friend, knowing with Joseph that what may have been meant for evil against us, God means for good. (Gen.50:20) The evil one is always trying to cause us to stumble or incite us to question the Lord. Remember Job. The enemy was certain if the Lord removed His protection of Job that he would turn against Him. But the Lord not only revealed Himself in deeper ways to Job, but He also silenced the attack of the enemy.

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; Job 42:5

Job came to understand and actually repented in sackcloth and ashes that he would have had to audacity to question the Father’s methods or work in his life. He saw through his trials a glimpse of the magnificence and holiness of God’s person – just a tiny glimpse, but it was enough to show him that who was he a mere man to question Almighty God or any of His works. In talking with someone recently about trials and painful circumstances, they reminded me that we always must remember when someone goes through hard times, that not only is God in control, but that He ordained it. That can be a difficult pill to swallow for all of us, but it is completely true. He is Sovereign and nothing happens in this life that is beyond His control, or that He does not allow. That is why we can cling to Him in difficulty and heartache because we know that He is in control, and that He will sustain us and walk through it with us. This is why, we can have joy even in the middle of what is very painful and hard.

We have looked at a number of reasons the Lord allows trials in a believers life, but a couple of other reasons He may allow them is to demonstrate what we really love, and to teach us to appreciate His blessings.

We still are in a unique situation where the Covid-19 virus is spreading, and we are experiencing the repercussions of that. Public places require masks, schools and some businesses have not opened back up, and even in our churches the services are still limited.

It would be easy to grow discouraged, and for many the social limitations as well as some economic issues that are being felt can hit hard. The Lord can work through these things though. He also can remind us of His many blessings, sometimes very small ones that are very precious, but that we can often overlook through the business of life and through prosperous times.

In our humanity, we can all fall into the trap of primarily putting value on the tangible things of the world and the comforts it brings, rather than the greatest blessings the Lord gives which are spiritual. These blessings can never be taken away-they are eternal. Trials often help us to see those spiritual blessings more clearly.

“while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor.4:18

The heroes of the faith detailed in Hebrews 11 understood the value of spiritual blessings over temporal. They fixed their eyes on their heavenly hope, and that is where they placed their faith. Many of them were delivered in their trials, but others did not see the victory in this life. But they clung to the reality that God was in control, and whatever He allowed it was best, and that He had prepared for them their heavenly home which was worth everything to them.

Finally, the Lord also allows trials in our lives to strengthen us for greater usefulness as well as enabling us to better help others as they go through trials.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Not only do we grow stronger through our trials, but the Lord enables us through those trials to have the ability to encourage and help others. Someone that has not been through a circumstance, has a hard time relating to someone else when they experience it. Certainly there is general comfort and empathy we can share with those hurting, but I think most would affirm that the real comfort comes from someone that can walk with us through our difficulty or comfort us from their own like experience.

 

Let’s consider the apostle Simon Peter. According to Matthew 16:16-18, we see Peter making a tremendous declaration, and the Lord’s response.

 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are ]the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Peter made one of the most amazing declarations imaginable. He recognized that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. The Lord Himself affirmed what a wonderful statement it was. Not only was it true that the Lord Jesus was indeed God’s Son, but Peter would not have understood that unless God had revealed it to Him. Then the Lord went on to declare that on Peter’s confession-the truth that Christ was God’s Son, and through His life, death, and resurrection, He would redeem a body of people which would be the church. On this truth, Christ would establish and build His church.

But look just a few verses later in Matthew 16:23

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

The Lord had to correct Peter. Not only correct him, but He gave very strong correction. Why, because in verses 21-22, after the Lord had begun to explain to them the things He would suffer, and that would lead to His death, we find in verse 23, that Peter began to rebuke Christ. Wait a second, He began to rebuke the Lord. One minute, Peter was declaring an amazing truth revealed directly to Him by the Father, and the next minute the Lord Jesus is having to sternly correct Peter for being the mouthpiece of satan by trying to subvert God’s plan for Redemption.

This is the point. Our Lord knows what is deep in the recesses of our hearts. He knows what type of correction we need, and He knows what kind of trials we need to perfect us and conform us to Christlikeness. Peter loved the Lord. But Peter was also self-reliant, independent and brash, and he needed refinement to accomplish God’s purposes for Him, just like we all do.

Look what the Lord later went on to tell Him just a few chapters over in Matthew 26:31-35. The Lord told the disciples that they would fall away temporarily because of their fear at what was happening during His arrest. But what did Peter declare? He assured the Lord that he would not possibly do that. Everyone else might, but not him.

In Luke 22:31-32 we learn more of the story. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Actually, the Lord prayed not only for Peter, but all of them. Peter failed terribly, but guess what? His faith held through the battle. And the amazingly here is that the commentary explains that ‘sift you as wheat’ is suggesting that such trials while unsettling and undesirable, have a necessary and refining effect. (John MacArthur)

The Lord knows what we need, and He knows our strength. True faith will not fail that rests in God. We may feel like we fail, but true faith withstands the test even when we cannot see it. By that I mean, true faith-real saving faith-cannot be shattered. God is the One that keeps us in salvation, not us. We have to trust that. Remember at the beginning of these posts we discussed that. One of trials purposes is to reveal the validity of our faith. The reality of true faith is that it will not fail during a trial even though we may be bruised and battered. We can confidently rest in that truth.

You see, Peter would go on as we know to be a great stalwart of the faith because his faith was real. A great man of the faith that was essential to the establishment of the early church. His faith was bold, but through this trial of his faith, he was no longer impetuous-he was humbled. I am certain he came to understand that his faith and strength did not come from himself, but from God. The Lord through the trial changed Peter. He was a broken man after the sifting, and after his denial of Christ, but in John 21 we see where the Lord restored Peter and commissioned him for service.

We know from tradition that Peter and his wife were crucified for their faith. Sadly, Peter after watching his wife’s crucifixion, was also crucified. Tradition holds that he whispered to her as she endured, “Remember the Lord, remember the Lord.” Then, he was crucified, however, he was hung upside down on the cross because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. Do you see the transformation? Peter went from being a disciple that waivered and vacillated, to being incredibly strong and unwavering who even with faced with death did not blink.

What an amazing transformation! Peter, a formerly impulsive brash leader to who became a humble, submissive, strong leader. He wrote the words that he knew well,

“all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” 1 Peter 5:6b-7

Yes, the Lord allows trials in all of our lives, just like Peter, but it is always for a good purpose. It is to perfect us and to prepare us for greater usefulness. Peter wrote 1 & 2 Peter where he was writing to believers who were undergoing terrible persecution. Yet, the Lord used him to exhort and encourage these believers to persevere. He had been refined not only for greater usefulness, but also so that he could strengthen others. And this is true in every single one of our sufferings, trials and testings.

But we must stay the course. We must submit to the Lord. We must humble ourselves under the mighty Hand of God. This term means according to commentary that it is an “OT symbol of the power of God working in the experience of men, always accomplishing His sovereign purpose.” You see, Peter was able to encourage and exhort them with these words because he had experienced them firsthand.

Beloved sisters, if we sat down together and gave an account, I am certain that though they may vary greatly in extent and characteristics, we all could affirm that we have experienced trials – some of them very severe. Some of us may be going through them now. But we must hold firm, cling to and trust our Lord.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

The Lord will accomplish His purposes. But often the difficulty and the duration as well as the blessing, may be commiserate with our willingness to submit.

Paul knew as well as anyone what trials were about. We discussed before how his various trials impacted his life. He had complete confidence. Nothing could shake his confidence in the One who to him was everything. In fact, you couldn’t even threaten to kill Paul and unsettle him, because for him to die was gain. His complete identity was built in Jesus Christ who loved him and had given His life for him, and whether he lived or died, he didn’t care because he just wanted to know Christ in the deepest possible way.

I always think of 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, and the words he penned.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

He knew first of all that while the outward man may bear the marks of the trials and heartaches of this life, the inner man – that person deep inside-that person that the Lord does His amazing work of perfecting-is just getting stronger every day.

And even more. That person is being prepared to reign with Christ for all eternity, and the rewards that our faithfulness is building there will make the difficulties we endure here look like weightless trifles. This is not to minimize our pain, but it is to help us to endure because we can know that one day looking back we will see things through our true heavenly perspective.

So, until that sweet day when we get to be with Him, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . let us patiently endure, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heav'n's Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate'er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

  


 

Post 7/23/2020

Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord, Revive me according to Your judgments. Psalm 119:156

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 

Please click on the link below, and be encouraged as you read this post from Elizabeth Prata.

 

Wherever you are, Jesus hears you and knows you

 

 

 

 


 

(Please note updates will be made on Tuesday's and Thursday's for Women's Corner)

Post 7/21/2020

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace. . .

 

When the Lord saves us, we know that He works several important things in our lives at the very moment of salvation. There is a lot of theology here, and we won’t get technical, but when we are saved, we are translated from the kingdom of darkness and from being an enemy of holy God, to a child of God. We are justified which means that the Father accepts the Lord Jesus’ righteousness on our behalf, and the debt of our sin is no longer held against us.( 2 Cor. 5:21). We are also sanctified, growing in holiness and Christlikeness where God is constantly working through all things in our lives to perfect us, and conform us to Christ.(Rom.8:29) Because of this work in perfecting us, the Lord often allows trials in our lives as one of His choice tools in molding us, and bringing us along in our Christian walk. Let’s face it, when things are going smoothly, we don’t generally seek the Lord with the same desperation and fervency that we do when we are in trials. We have already discussed some of the various work He does in allowing trials, and some of them even overlap.

-To strengthen our faith

-To demonstrate the validity of our faith

-To humble us

-To wean us from material or temporal things

A fifth reason, the Lord allows trials is to turn our gaze heavenward and toward the eternal. This world is going downhill very quickly-almost exponentially it would seem. This is not our home, but sometimes Christians can act just as unbelievers do as if this world is all there is. We embrace it with all the gusto we can, and often have little view toward eternity. But this is the opposite of what God’s Word teaches us.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:2-3

One of the big reasons the Lord allows trials is to wean us from the things of this world, as well as to turn our minds to things above – to things eternal.

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

Eternal life is to know God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is not a far off distant reality, but it is happening right now. We have already begun in that relationship, and it will culminate when we leave this earth and go to be with Him forever.

Our life is hidden with Him right now in heaven. Those of us who have lost loved ones long for the day when we will see them again. Heaven takes on a whole new meaning when someone we love is there.

We need to remind ourselves, and the Lord often helps us with the task that He is there, and when we see Him no matter what we endured in this life will all be worth it when we look into the face of the One who we were created to worship. The One to whom we owe everything and the One to whom sacrificed everything so that we might not have to bear the punishment for our sin. Yet, while we as Christians would tend to agree that is ultimately our eternal home, there are many that would be fine, if they could have some more time here before going there. We have our families and loved ones here, and no one wants that separation. But we also must remember that our Lord is there, and He is our hope – our joy. This is why the Lord has to regularly reorient our thinking.

When we go through a deep trial as I know many of you have, the things of this world cannot offer much comfort. That assurance of God’s love for us, and His presence with us mean so much more than any temporal pleasure could ever bring.

But that understanding can be obscured at times because of all the clutter in the world. Let’s face it too, that we sometimes can forget where our real home is, and the Lord has to remind us. The harder and more difficult our trials, the more we long for our Lord, and we are reminded of the brokenness of the world we live in. When we see tragedy and heartache, when our hearts break over hurts, pain, and sin, we long for the One that will wipe away all our tears and sorrows.

Joni Ereckson Tada spoke of a terrible trial she went through. This beautiful saint has gone through so much since her diving accident. During her first bout with breast cancer, I remember her speaking about her struggle. She said in talking with her husband Ken that she was reminded of something. The sweet moments like a small child’s laugh, the flight of a tiny hummingbird, a lovely sunset or the joy of being loved are tiny splashes of heaven. They are little glimpses into the eternal joy that is to come that we will enjoy forever with our Lord as Christians.

The pain and suffering-the sorrow such as she was going through with her cancer are little ‘splashes’ of hell. They are reminders and small glimpses into what many will endure for eternity, but for a believer it is the very worst that happens here will be left behind forever when we go to be with the Lord. Sadly, it is just the beginning of torment for those who do not know Him.

Our loving Father allows pain to remind us of eternity and set our minds toward it and the joys awaiting us there. He reminds us so we will invest ourselves in eternal things-kingdom things. When we go through difficulty, we need to remind ourselves that for so many the pain here is nothing compared to the torment and agony that is waiting for them forever. When you think of evil men such as Hitler or others who are now in hell, they are not one step closer to the end of their torment than they were when they entered eternity.

When the Lord brings trials, it is to get us thinking about eternity. Listen, look around you. People are dying and going to hell. We live in a time of decadence and debauchery. I was reading something this morning about a Christian leader teacher discussing the clear fact that our nation is under judgment. Time may be short. We do not know how long we will be able to openly share the gospel and tell people about the hope in Christ. There are so many differences here that are dividing people. But one thing is certain. When we go into eternity, the only distinguisher will be whether or not, we are in Christ.

The Lord works in our trials reminding that we need to have a focus on eternity, and this needs to motivate us to share our faith. If you get the Voice of the Martyrs publication, you read all the time of those throughout the world that have lost everything for their faith, or live in constant fear or persecution. There are a lot of hurting and suffering people all around us. We have the answer. This life is short, but eternity is forever. If we do not share our faith now when there is very little, if any cost, what are we going to do when there comes a time when we cannot openly share.

As believers we must get serious about our faith. Remember the apostle Paul. Oh, I cannot wait to meet this dear hero of the faith that had such a love for Christ and a view for eternity. He wrote the prison epistles while he was imprisoned. Yet you would never know it. He seemed to not be worried in the least about his imprisonment or his release. As a matter of fact according to Commentary (and you can confirm this in reading it) that the primary or dominant tone of the letter is one of joy. Sisters, let us learn from the dear apostle.

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Phil.1:12-14

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. Phil.1:21-22

Now THIS is an eternal perspective. Can you imagine facing a trial this way? Everything in Paul’s life was Christ. Everything. Ladies, let’s meditate on that and ask ourselves where our hearts are, for that is our treasure.

Paul belonged completely to Christ, and consequently, Christ’s heart, was Paul’s heart. Remember the Lord’s mission - to seek and to save that which was lost. He wants us to have those kind of hearts as well.

We live in the South which is rife with tornadoes at certain times of the year. We do not play around with them. If we hear a warning, we seek shelter. Why? Because we know that they are destructive, and they can kill. We have seen many deadly storms devastate areas in our state and take lives. If we saw a sweet group of little children playing outside in the middle of a tornado warning, we would not dream of going inside and leaving them outside with a terrible storm coming. We would do everything we could to get these precious ones to safety.

Yet, we encounter many of God’s precious ones throughout our lives, and even some that are very close to us may come to mind when we consider the lost, yet we never warn them of what is to come and share the truth about our Lord. We do not plead with them urgently and beg them to come to safety. We know the answer to their well-being, and we must – we must share it. Pray and ask the Lord for a heart for the lost and to share the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation. How can we not share it?

Do you want arguments for soul winning? Look up to Heaven, and ask yourself how sinners can ever reach those harps of gold and learn their everlasting song, unless they have someone to tell them of Jesus, who is mighty to save. But the best argument of all is to be found in the wounds of Jesus. You want to honor Him, you desire to put many crowns upon His head, and this you can best do by winning souls for Him. These are the spoils that He covets, these are the trophies for which He fights, these are the jewels that shall be His best adornment. 

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Post 7/17/2020

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,

And His kingdom rules over all.  Psalm 103:19

We serve a Sovereign Lord that works everything in this world according to His divine plans and purpose. No matter how caught off guard we may be at times by some unexpected event, He never is surprised. Below is a link to a wonderful article and testimony about the Lord's providence in this writer's life. Please take a few minutes and read it, and consider how this same providence is working in each of our lives as He accomplishes His purposes and perfects us. 

"God in His majesty orchestrates all man’s activities for His holy purposes. History’s byways and paths might seem to us to be criss-crossing chaotically, but they each had a purpose in God’s hand. To Him, they were orderly and perfect and precise." (article)

 

The End Time

 

NOTE: On Tuesday's and Thursday's each week, the Women's Corner will be updated.

 

 


 

Post 7/11/2020

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

 

Last time, we began discussing why the Lord allows trials in our lives. The writer here in James suggests as we encounter them we should be joyful – even welcoming them as friends.

“It’s only in the cross that we can begin to harmonize the seeming contradiction between suffering and love. And we will never understand suffering unless we understand the love of God.’ (Elisabeth Elliot – Your suffering is Never for Nothing)

In reading an excerpt from ‘Your Suffering is Never for Nothing’, by Elisabeth Elliot, she explains that when she stood on the other side of the radio learning for certain that her beloved husband Jim had died, she was devastated.

“Five days later I knew that Jim was dead. And God’s presence with me was not Jim’s presence. That was a terrible fact.”

 

In our humanity, seldom do we welcome hardship, suffering, pain as blessings – friends. Yet, the writer of the book of James says that is what they are. Why? Because through these things – and it is often only possible through these type things – the Lord God does His deep work in the hearts of men and women. In the flesh, it is often incredibly painful, but as we walk through them strengthened through the Holy Spirit, and submitted to holy God, we can indeed ultimately experience joy.

 

“And I learned in that experience who God is in a way I could never have known otherwise. And so, I can say to you that suffering is an irreplaceable medium through which I learned an indispensable truth: God is God. Elisabeth Elliot

 

We can often be tempted in our humanity to see the Lord through the lens of our humanness. We can forget that He is the Sovereign God and His purposes are good and perfect, but they do not necessarily always align with ours.

 

We see things through our limited understanding. He guides everything according to His perfect will and purpose – to His glory, and He does not make mistakes. We also must understand that our real need is the atonement of our sins. He has Himself made provision for the forgiveness of our sins.

 

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil. 2:5-8

 

He has Himself dealt with our primary problem as people. That is our sin problem. If we belong to Him, then the rest of our life is conformity to Jesus Christ, and preparing us for eternity. We must understand and believe as we encounter trials and difficulty that the Lord never allows anything to touch His children that is not for their good and His glory. Even when sometimes we cannot see it.

 

We have already talked about one of the reasons for trials is for the testing of our faith. First, to see if it is genuine and true saving faith, but also to demonstrate the strength of our faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

 

If you have a minute sometime, a great use of a little time is to read Hebrews 11. It is a catalog of the heroes of the faith. If you look to the end of the chapter (verses 36-38), those people described never saw victory in this life, but they looked ahead knowing and believing that there would be victory when they were welcomed by their Lord.

Their information was limited compared to ours. They were looked ahead to when Christ – the Messiah – would come. But we have the benefit of looking back. Frankly, their inclusion blows the lid off the Health, wealth and prosperity gospel.

 

In James 1:2, the Greek wording here for trials suggests trouble or rather something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. The verb form means to put someone to the test , with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality.

God brings such tests to prove-and increase-the strength and quality of one’s faith and to demonstrate its validity. Every trial becomes a test of faith designed to strengthen; if the believer fails the test by wrongly responding then the trial becomes temptation – a solicitation to evil. (John MacArthur)

 

When we encounter a trial, we have a decision to make. We can fight the Lord kicking and screaming, becoming angered or rebellious, or we can submit to Him and lean on His strength, yielding to His work and believing Him that not only will He get us through it, but He has a good purpose in our trial – even though we may not see it. This is not easy. Sometimes, it may be very hard, but He is worthy of our trust. He has demonstrated that He is trustworthy. If we want to grow stronger as a believer, and be a useful tool in the Potter’s hands, then we must trust Him.

So, the Lord uses trials:

  • to strengthen our faith,
  • to demonstrate the validity of our faith,
  • and thirdly, He allows trials to humble us.

 

Our Lord was the ultimate example of humility. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:5

Our Lord set the greatest example of humility in all of mankind. He is God, yet He humbled Himself to come to this world ultimately to die on the cross for our sins. That is the pinnacle of humility because He is perfect and sinless, yet He deigned to yield Himself to the cross so that we might become children of God.

 

The Son of God became man that the children of men might become children of God. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

 

Going through trials and difficulty humble us. Trials remind us of how much we need God and how dependent we are on Him. That is humbling for those who are self-reliant and independent. If we lose a job, health or some other difficulty, it drives us to God like nothing else can. We can be reminded very quickly when something happens just how very fragile our control over our lives and those we love really is.

It is a mirage – a fallacy that we have control. We do not, right? Can I get an amen? We like to think we do sometimes, but we can be reminded very quickly they we do not. The Lord humbles us to reveal any pride in our hearts, and also to drive us to depend on Him. He is everything, and no matter what we have or have accomplished it is only because of His goodness and love.

Self-sufficiency is the opposite of dependence on God. When we are broken-hearted and struggling through a trial, we are reminded how desperately we need Him. It is sad if you think about it that it often takes that to remind us. Our Lord desires that we are dependent on Him.

 

I was reminded again just this last week of how good He is. But it was because I was reminded of a distant trial, and not only did He sustain me, but again I learned in retrospect some amazing good that came through it that I did not see until much later.

 

God humbles us through our trials by driving us to depend on Him. We have looked at three reasons that He allows trial which leads into the fourth, He allows trials in our lives to wean us from the world. There is nothing that can pry our fingers loose from clinging to the world than our trials. The world and the things in it are little comfort to a hurting Christian. The only thing that can meet our needs and sustain us is our loving Father. But we can easily forget that especially in America.

Perhaps one of the things we will be judged for as Christians, is our deep love for the things of this world that we are so blessed with here. If you go into third world countries, or read Voice of the Martyrs, you often see that we have blessings on blessings that often we take for granted.

 

Unpopular opinion. Far too often we may only use those blessings for ourselves and our enjoyment, and we forget that maybe the Lord has blessed us with so much so that we could use our resources for His glory and to further His kingdom. People are being martyred all over the world for their faith, and as believers we need to remember that to whom much is given then much is required. We need to prayerfully always be going to the Lord, being sensitive to His leading in our finances and material goods.

 

But even if we are being wise stewards, it still is very easy for any of us to put our trust and concern into material things. They can become everything to us, and many are consumed with acquiring them. Not only that the Lord wants us to remember that while there is nothing wrong with enjoying the temporal blessings He has given us, we must remember that ALL good things not only come from Him, but are just reminders of His goodness.

 

The Lord doesn’t want us to depend on our wealth or our material things, He wants us to depend on Him. When we go through difficulties, we are intensely reminded of how important our Lord is to us, and how much we need Him. The things of this world are fleeting and passing by, but the things of God are eternal. It takes strong faith to have this mindset when we go through pain.

 

The apostle Paul understood this because his entire life after he came to Christ, was one of difficulty and trial.

 

“in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.”

2 Corinthians 11:23-33

 

Just a brief insight in some of what he endured, yet, he did not despair. Rather he declared:

 

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves . . .Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

 

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

You see this is the key, and it is the reality of why the Lord allows difficulties and trials. No one is immune from them – Christian or non-Christian. But in a Christian’s life the Lord is using these things to build something in us that will last for all eternity. That is why the Lord stretches us – allows these things. He is working in us something far greater than we can imagine.

 

Momentary, light affliction – The Greek word for ‘light’ means ‘a weightless trifle’ and ‘affliction’ refers to intense pressure. From a human perspective, Paul’s own testimony lists a seemingly, unbearable litany of sufferings and persecutions he endured throughout his life, yet he viewed them as weightless and lasting for only a brief moment.

 

Eternal weight of glory – The Greek word for ‘weight’ refers to a heavy mass. For Paul, the future glory he would experience with the Lord far outweighed any suffering he experienced in this world. Paul understood that the greater the suffering, the greater would be the eternal reward. John MacArthur

 

We need trials as a test as much as we need divine truth as our food. A Christian cannot live without the manna nor without the rod. Sanctified tribulations work the proof of our faith, and this is more precious than that of gold which perisheth, though it be tried by fire. Charles Spurgeon

 

Trials perform an important work in our lives as believers because without them we will not understand the preciousness of Christ. They are working something so important in our walk with Him, and we will truly not fully understand the surpassing value until we go to be with Him. But whatever it is working, the beloved apostle caught a glimpse of it, and he was never the same.

 

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, Philippians 3:7-8

 

Let this be our hearts as well dear sisters. We are living in perilous times right now. The world is in a terrible uproar and in total chaos. There are divisions and problems in the evangelical church. But we do not have to be fearful or anxious. Our Sovereign Lord is in control. But we do need to be serious about our walk with the Him. He is our anchor.

 

We do not know what tomorrow will bring, and there are many who do not know Him and are experiencing hopelessness. They need the gospel. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through the hard things, to remind us of what is truly important and to reorient our priorities. Let that be our prayer this day that instead of worrying over the problems in this world, we will ask the Lord what He would have us to do, and how He would use us.

 

Dr. Julius Kim in the documentary American Gospel – Christ Alone said the following, and let us ponder these words as we close.

 

In our pursuit of all that this world has to offer, our hands are so full that we have no room now for the gospel. And so perhaps this is an opportunity for us to get rid of everything that’s covering up the gospel and capture again the gospel in all its purity and beauty.”

 

 

 


 

Post : 7/3/2020

 

“Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The shovel of trouble digs the reservoir of encouragement deeper and makes more room for comfort. God comes into our heart, he finds it full of earthly comforts and begins to break them, to make it empty, then there is more room for grace. The humbler a person is, the more comfort he will always have.” (Charles Spurgeon)

 

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

 

No one would argue that these past few months seem to get more difficult by the day in our country, and to varying degrees in most of our personal lives. Karl got word last week that a significant number of employees who were furloughed because of economic issues at his company during the pandemic, were permanently let go.

Many people are being impacted by a stalled economy while Covid-19 wreaks its influence and havoc. There are many who have been impacted by other sickness, death, or some other painful circumstance during these past months.

On top of those things, we are seeing a major upheaval and turmoil hitting our nation through rioting, violence, protests, and destruction of property. A reasonable person would say these are unusual and uncertain times. We know that as believers, the Lord allows trials – all shapes and varieties – to work in our lives, refine us and conform us to the image of Christ. Indeed, it is to this end that we were saved.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; Romans 8:29

 

Over the next few weeks and posts, we are going to look at some of the reasons the Lord may allow trials in our lives, purposes He may be working, and truths that help us endure while glorifying Him. Obviously, we live in a fallen world. There is corruption, trouble and sin throughout every aspect of our society, which impacts both believers and unbelievers.

For man is born for trouble, As sparks fly upward. Job 5:7

As believers we know that our Lord promised that in the world we all face difficulty, but thankfully He is with us, and has overcome the world. He enables us to endure no matter what difficulty we face if we look to Him in those difficulties, rely on His strength and trust Him to work through the adversity.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

 

Christians can also expect to endure hardship, trouble and persecution specifically because of their faith.

‘If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you;’ John 15:20

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Tim. 3:12

 

Some believe that it is possible and perhaps probable that in the days to come persecution may become more prevalent because of the fractures we see in our society now especially over social issues, and even in the visible church.

 

So, as people – and even on a further level as Christians – as a basic principle we can say we will face difficulties in life. No way around it. But as Christians we also can take great comfort in knowing and understanding that the Lord is using it for good in our lives. Indeed. . .

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

 

No matter what happens to us we can always rest in the assurance that our Lord is Sovereign and is working everything to our good and His glory.

 

The primary emphasis in the entire book of James and in this text is establishing the genuineness of a person’s faith. Particularly, in this text the focus is on testing whether a person’s faith is genuine which may be seen in their approach to trouble, and their ability to endure it.

“genuine faith will prove itself during times of trouble, whatever the nature or source of the trouble may be. For that reason, this epistle is valuable for unbelievers as well as believers. That is especially true for unbelievers who consider themselves to be Christians and need to recognize that faith that is reliable only when things are going well is not saving faith and is worth nothing.” (John MacArthur)

 

This is not to say that believers cannot and will not go through intense pain, struggle and even doubt during their trials. Some trials can be almost debilitating, but this is the point – and this is a very, very important point that we need to consider. A true believer will not walk away permanently from God in their trouble and trial. They may struggle in their trial and question. They may even stumble briefly. But they will NOT walk away entirely.

The Bible is very clear about a principle called the perseverance of the saints. One of the marks of a true believer which is clearly taught in Scripture is that they will persevere in their faith. They may be devasted, they may be broken, they may not have any idea how they will face tomorrow, they may have to crawl to the finish line, but at the end of the day they will ultimately persevere.

This may be a hard truth to believe, but what we must understand is this. We are human beings, and no doubt we are frail. But just as it is that God saved us through His work and power; He also keeps us through His work and power.

 

Commentator John Gill says this of the trials described in James 1:2-3:

That the trying of your faith worketh patience: two things afflictions do when sanctified; one is, they try faith, the truth of it, and make it appear to be true, genuine, and precious, like gold tried in the fire; and the other is, that they produce patience: saints being inured to afflictions, become by degrees more patient under them.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter. 1:6-7

 

In our flesh, we are susceptible to failure and discouragement, as well as weakness when we encounter the hard things in life. But in Christ we are strong; in fact, we know that the Lord tells us His power is perfected in our weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

 

But that’s the point right? He demonstrates His power through our weakness. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Rom.8:37

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

 

We have the Holy Spirit living in us. The Lord promised He would send the Helper, and when we become a believer, His Spirit is placed within each one of us. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, strengthens us and enables us to persevere no matter what we face. With His strength, not ours, we can and will continue to the end through His power. We may not feel like it, and we may not necessarily feel strong, but His power will enable us to endure.

 

Real, true biblical, saving faith may lead to earnest wrestling with the Lord during the hardship, but that faith will ultimately be strengthened and grow stronger through the pain. Dead faith, not so. It will be burned up by the trouble, and its shallowness revealed.

 

Some might find this troubling, but it is clearly taught in Scripture. I will never forget many years ago, going through a very heart-wrenching trial. It was one of those kinds of trials that was so real and painful, and there was much uncertainty. But God is faithful – He is so faithful – and He sustained. But one of the things that He revealed during that time was a reminder of His great mercy. Obviously, His peace and comfort as the trial raged was the greatest of blessings.

 

But there was another. In studying and listening to messages, I began to understand the truth that when we walk through the fire, that He will reveal the validity of our faith. Would it be merciful to get to the end of life or be faced with sudden death only to discover that our faith was never real?

 

We serve a merciful and loving Father who will reveal to us through His word and through difficulty that our faith is real. Assurance of our faith is a wonderful blessing. Remarkably, one thing that came out of that same trial was I saw someone else come to faith that before the trial, they believed they were a Christian, but there was little fruit.

 

The Lord revealed to them through their pain that they did not have a saving relationship with Him, and praise our dear Lord’s precious name, they were saved. This change was evident, and it was obvious they had passed from death unto life, and they still walk faithfully before the Lord, where before there was little evidence of salvation.

 

That good work came out of the trial. The shallowness of their faith was revealed to not be true faith, and when they saw the emptiness of a former profession that had no power to sustain or change them, they turned to God in saving faith and were forever changed. It took the testing of their faith to demonstrate that it was not real.

 

God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2 Chr.32:31) This is speaking of Hezekiah. Obviously, our sovereign God knows what is in man’s heart, but He was revealing to Hezekiah what was in his heart. As we go through deep trials, the Lord also reveals what is deep in the recesses of our hearts that only as we are squeezed and pressed through the trial we can see.

 

The Believers Bible Commentary says this:

“God is trying to produce Christlikeness in each of His children. This process necessarily involves suffering, frustration, and perplexity. The fruit of the Spirit cannot be produced when all is sunshine; there must be rain and dark clouds.

Trials never seem pleasant; they seem very difficult and disagreeable. But afterwards they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by them.” (Heb.12:11)

 

James speaks of the testing of your faith. He pictures faith as a precious metal which is being tried by the Assayer (God) to see if it is genuine. The metal is subjected to the fires of persecution, sickness, suffering, or sorrow. Without problems, we would never develop endurance.

 

We serve a faithful and loving God. He does not allow anything to touch us without His approval. He does not randomly inflict hurt or hardship. There is always, always a purpose. He is conforming us to Christ, and in our trials He is working out Christian virtue and character, as well as demonstrating the validity of our faith.

The Lord wants us to grow in our faith. While in this life He is conforming us to the image of Christ, He is also preparing us for eternity. Too, He wants us to have the peace and assurance that our faith is real, so we can rest in His grace and mercy, knowing that we belong to Him, and understand that He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us.

 

So, in conclusion. As we face the coming days. As one writer said, if you are not going through a trial, you will likely find yourself going through one soon. Trials are part of life. But we can be joyous through them.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6

 

Remember as you go through a trial, the Lord promises us that if we ask Him for wisdom that He will give it generously and without reproach. But the caveat is that we must ask in faith. We must believe and trust that as we go through trials, that the Lord will give us the wisdom to navigate them, and for His purpose in them to be achieved, but we must seek Him earnestly anticipating that He will give us that wisdom. It may be in hindsight, or it may be day to day, but regardless, He will give us that wisdom if we ask Him and believe Him to do it.

 

Listen, let’s be clear here. This is not saying that Christians will not suffer and struggle as they go through trials. I have been through trials just as all of you have, that I didn’t see the end of the tunnel and was heartbroken and distraught. God is working in our trials to demonstrate and strengthen our faith. It is not that we may not struggle with understanding or be disappointed or confused, but the principle is that no Christian will ultimately walk away permanently from the faith. If that were to happen to a person, then they were never truly saved.

 

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19

 

Again, let’s be clear, these people permanently went away and demonstrated they really were not believers. That is the same point here in James. Just because a believer struggles during a trial that does not mean they are not necessarily a believer. But he is making a point in James that a true believer is kept by God and the Lord will not allow a true believer’s faith to be destroyed. He keeps those who are His to the end, and enables them to continue in their faith – to persevere.

 

We do not know what tomorrow will bring. None of us do. But we can face tomorrow because He knows what tomorrow will bring, and He will keep us.

 

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 2 Tim.4:17-18

 

I know of someone who went through an intense trial with their health. When they first told me, I was so upset and crying. I will never forget their saying to me in my despair that it would be okay, and to please pray for them that their faith would be strong, that they wouldn’t be blindsided by something, and not keep the faith.

 

I can honestly say that their faith did prevail, and the Lord strengthened their faith and others through their trial. Paul had entrusted Himself and His faith to His Lord as well. The Lord did not let him down, and he kept his faith until the Lord took him home. As we know, the apostle endured so much in his walk with the Lord, even being basically alone at the end of his life. Yet he affirmed that his dear Lord was faithful! He stood with him through the trial!

 

Can you look back and see God’s faithfulness dear sisters when you have gone through heartache and pain in trial? It may have been down the road in retrospect, or it may have been the day to day strength that He provided you to continue through the hardship and suffering, but can’t you see His grace and strength that sustained you because you were His.

 

Paul found that, and I saw this is my dear one’s life that when we go through difficulty we want to know our faith will hold. Paul attested to that. Some commentators suggest that the ‘lion’s mouth here was Satan. Perhaps Satan was trying to discourage him or get him to doubt, or maybe it was just assaulting him with everything in his arsenal.

Whatever Satan threw at him, Paul attested to the fact that the Lord did not leave him or forsake him, and He enabled him to endure. Paul ultimately died for his faith. His imprisonment resulted in that. But he never lost his faith. His faith was real and even though it was tested with fire, it remained strong. Every step of Paul’s converted life, the Lord stood with Him, and he demonstrated time and time again, that his faith was indeed real.

 

“We have a choice when we go through trials. We can trust the Lord, leaning on Him knowing He is in control. We can say, in effect, ‘God has allowed this trial to come to me. He has some good purpose in it for me. I don't know what that purpose is, but I'll try to find out. I want His purposes to be worked out in my life.’ This is what James advocates: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.’

 

Don't rebel! Don't faint! Rejoice! These problems are not enemies, bent on destroying you. They are friends which have come to aid you to develop Christian character. (Believers Bible Comm.)

 

As we encounter trials, let us remember the God we serve and lean on Him – trusting Him. Let us remember that the very same God that rescued Paul from the ‘mouth of the lion’ will take care of us as well.

 

I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He has made known,

Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own.

 

But “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able

To keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

 

 

 


 

Post 6/24/2020

 

Ladies, please read these posts from Elizabeth Prata. She is an excellent writer, and her research is impeccable. She loves the Lord and she faithfully teaches His truth through her writing. She has the gift of discernment, and her posts can be trusted to shine the light on false teaching in the church today. She also has general posts on her blog that offer insight and are uplifting. This is a valuable resource for women.  Click on the link below for "The End Time" Ministry, to see the post.This essay is addressing Beth Moore's teaching, and looks over an early study of hers, exploring various problems with her writing. This is a particularly important post because of the popularity and influence of Beth Moore. As far as I know she is still one of Lifeway's most popular authors. 

"The End Time" - Elizabeth Prata

 

 


Post: 6/24/2020

 

Psalms 37:1-2 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.

 

Psalms 37:3-8 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

 

We talked about fretting – worrying in the last post. There is so much going on around us right now, that it would be easy to become overwhelmed, fret and wring our hands. I heard someone say the other day, “Why is the Lord allowing this, why is He not intervening?”

 

It is a reasonable question, but while it is easy if we look at the chaos and lawlessness, all the competing narratives, to think that evil is prevailing, that is not the case. Not in the least.

We serve the true and living God, and nothing, and I mean nada, not a single thing is outside of His control. He is completely in control.

 

Isaiah 43:13"Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?"

 

Before the first day of creation when time began and throughout all periods of history, God exists and manifest His will and purpose. . God’s actions are irreversible and can never end in frustration. (John MacArthur)

 

Psalms 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.

From everlasting to everlasting God has always ruled over all things. (John MacArthur)

We serve a Sovereign and Holy God. There is nothing that is happening now or anything that has ever happened that is not under His complete control. He has allowed the evil one to roam free and sow his mischief, but nothing he does can be done without the Sovereign Lord allowing it.

This world is on an established trajectory. From a temporal perspective, it is not a good one. Things are going to get worse and worse before the end of time as we know it. This is all part of God’s plan.

 

In Psalm 37:1-8, what is the admonishment in its simplest? Trust, delight, commit, rest and cease.

Trust in the Lord and do good. .

Delight yourself in the Lord. .

Commit your way to the Lord. .

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. .

Cease from anger and forsake wrath. .

 

This is a great prescription to help us in our efforts at resisting worry or fretting. Wouldn’t you say? Consider these and apply them.

Trust (We must comment to trusting our Lord, making a conscious and deliberate effort to center our hearts on Him knowing that He is trustworthy)

Delight (Immerse yourselves in God’s word and seek Him regularly in prayer)

Commit (Resolve to be committed to Him and His ways no matter the opposition)

Rest (Do not fret, but rest in the knowledge that HE IS in control and there is no reason to fear because He will not leave us or forsake us)

Cease from anger (We cannot allow ourselves to get angry, frustrated and even bitter when we see what is going on around us, rather we have to reject those attitudes, obey God, submit to Him as He produces the fruit of the spirit in our lives.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. Avoid such men as this. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Sisters, would you say this is happening? I mean, just turn on the television. I saw three interesting things today. One, which is kind of funny, but not really. The President of the United States was censured on Twitter.

Now we won’t waste time about debating the value of his or anyone else’s tweeting, but the point is, ladies, this is the leader of the free world basically – the leader of the most powerful superpower in the world, and he is being censured by a social media platform.

 

You know why he was censured, because he said that he was not going to allow any more destruction by the rioters in DC and he would use law enforcement to bring about that enforcement. Lawlessness abounds and wants no restraint!

 

Secondly, I saw someone talking about a book that is being bandied about right now which I won’t promote by saying the title, but they are saying it was a necessary handbook to keep with you, right up there with Mao’s little red book. Everyone knows who Mao is right? Mao Zedong – Mao Tse-Tung the largest mass murderer of the 20th century who according to ‘Heritage.org killed possibly 65 million Chinese (Dissenters, Famine (the Great Leap Forward), Labor Camps, etc.) while he was in the process of trying to establish a socialist – ultimately communist society.

 

We all keep this little red book in our pocket books right? Finally, I saw something else. In Ethiopia, Christians are having their homes burned down as well as their belongings. Such tragedy, such turmoil. A world in terrible chaos and unrest.

 

Dear sisters, these are perilous times. We cannot argue that. Yet, we need not fret or worry. Our beloved Father has everything under control. Our world for all its advancement is not getting better or more moral. Rather it is descending into disorder. Pretty rapidly. But God’s Word showed us this would happen.

So, this was supposed to be encouraging, right?

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

 

Ladies, this is a trial. We actually could say we have been in something of a trial since the first part of March when the Pandemic started. There has been economic turmoil and sickness and fear. It is continuing, but now we have added the civil unrest in our country.

But this writer says instead of being upset about this fact – rather than fretting and wailing – we can count it as joy. Some translations say we should welcome trials as friends. (Stay with me now!)

The Greek verb here for “consider” is an imperative. Anyone want to hazard a guess why it is an imperative? The reason is obvious because we know that joy is not the natural human response to trouble.

Christians are actually commanded to look at their trials as joy, but not just kind of joyful, but with all joy. The phrase is looked upon by commentators in various ways such as total or sheer joy, pure or unmixed joy or complete joy.

 

Now I am really encouraging you now, right?

In all seriousness, joy is not the natural reaction when we go through trials we know that. And when the writer says ‘joy’ it is not in the sense we may think. He is not suggesting that when we encounter a terrible painful trial such as sickness, loss or heartache that we are supposed to throw a party.

Rather, and this is very important, we are to understand that the Lord has a good purpose in the trial. He has an excellent purpose in it. He has a perfect purpose in it. And while it may be painful – it may hurt – there is good that will come from it, and we will not be the same as before.

 

We also must understand that this joy is not an exuberant feeling or happiness. It is not about feelings or emotions. It is about trust. Joy is produced by the Spirit of God in a person’s life. When we make a decision of the will that we believe our God – that we trust Him – even though we are hurting and struggling – even when we don’t understand, He will bring about this kind of joy in our lives.

 

There are a number of reasons God allows trials in our lives, but we will save an exhaustive discussion for another day.

Let us just understand this as one of the reasons. As hard as it is to acknowledge, we do not grow or learn about the deep things of God nearly in prosperity or ease as we do when we go through trial. It is a reality. The church has gone through a long period in America of prosperity in the temporal sense, but it has not made it stronger or our witness brighter.

The Lord may very well be using this time in our nation and in our lives to purify us as individuals and to purify us as the true church. That is not an easy thought. But the blessing is that purification will drive us to the heart of God. It will drive us there in a way that prosperity will never do.

Think about it. When you have gone through a trial or a hardship, where did you run? As Christians we should run to the very throne of God. Why? Because that is the only place that we can truly find help in our time of need.

 

I remember seeing in one of the videos we watched from Voice of the Martyrs about Sabina and Richard Wurmbrand in “Tortured for Christ”. These precious Christians did not endure their hardship and persecution because when it came the time, and they were faced with these things that in that moment they made a choice.

No, they endured and persevered through their hardship because they had prepared themselves and committed long before that moment that they were committed to their God and trusted Him no matter what was to come.

 

That is what we must do as we go through trials and uncertainty. We must commit ourselves to Him and His path before that time comes. We must walk with our Lord, study and apply ourselves to learning His Word, and know Him deeply before those hardships come. Then whatever bumps and turns we encounter along the way, we will have a firm foundation.

 

We have no idea what the future holds, but we know that whatever happens in our lives and in our world that we have a sure Anchor for our souls and He has numbered the very hairs of our heads. Nothing catches Him off guard, and we must commit ourselves to Him for safekeeping. Oh sisters, He is Lord and He is worthy.

 

Listen, the enemy may look like he is prevailing, but he is not. In his book, Before the Throne by Allen Nelson, which I will highly recommend, he says the following:

“Sometimes people have this misconception that God and Satan are playing some kind of a chess match over the world-two equals playing for the spoils. . .

So let me correct this that misconception right now. God and Satan are not equals. There is no comparison between the two. Satan is a created being.

The devil is a needy, dependent creature restrained by God’s leash. Satan himself has no power unless the Lord of hosts grants it. . .

Satan is like the big bully who puffs out his chest and makes a lot of noise about the damage he can do. But in fact, in the end, God defeats him with the mere breath of His mouth, One little word shall fell him. . This is not to understate Satan’s real and terrible power. But, it’s all under the sovereign reign of God.”

Men are running free right now doing the enemy’s bidding. For a season, the Lord is allowing it for His purposes. But make no mistake. The evil one’s days are numbered, and his power is really only perceived.

The wicked one likes to think he is in control, and for certain he is evil and wreaks havoc in the world, but he is on a tight leash, and believe me at the appointed time our powerful King is going to jerk Satan’s rusty chain into an eternity of fire.

 

So as we face tomorrow, we can do so without fretting. We can do so with confident trust.

 

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7

 

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

 

So, let us not fear when we see evil running rampant and the evildoers seeming to prosper. Our Lord is in control and we can put our trust completely in Him. He will never leave us or forsake us.

 

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear [e]involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:4;17-18

 

Friends, let us hold fast to our Lord’s own words to us. .

 

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? . . . But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 1:31-32; 37-39

 

To Him be the Glory – Amen (Sola Dei Gloria)

 

 


 

Post:  June 16, 2020

 

A brief look at Psalm 37:1-2

I read something the other day. I could tell the writer was troubled as they looked around uncertainly at the Tsunami of chaos all around them. It was a rather shaky lament that was meant to be an encouragement. This person said, “Remember God wins”. Amen. They are right. Our God wins-our King – our righteous and sovereign Lord prevails. No matter what court rulings happen that are dark and allow for societal sins to continue unimpeded, no matter the hate and lawlessness we see all around us, no matter the fear over what will happen to our country and society, whatever the concerns are, we know that what is happening is all consistent with our God’s plans, and nothing is outside of His control.

 

We can rest in that sweet truth. And as we rest in that confidence, we can persevere even experiencing victory in our day to day walk amidst the chaos and uncertainty. Psalm 37 brings a blueprint or a pattern we can embrace, that gives some principles we can hold to. We won’t look at the entire Psalm, but a few particular truths we can glean from it to encourage us. We will look today at verses one and two. And pick up on the others next time.

 

Psalm 37 is called a ‘wisdom psalm’, and has elements that are similar to Proverbs. It is addressed to man rather than God, and it considers that age old question, “Why do the ungodly prosper while the godly struggle through life?”

 

“It is a Psalm in which the Lord hushes most sweetly the too common repining’s of His people, and calms their minds as to His present dealings with His own chosen flock and the wolves by whom they are surrounded” Charles Spurgeon

 

Take a few minutes and read over the Psalm, and then let us consider it.

The first admonishment we are given by David, is in verse one.

Do not fret because of evildoers. . verse one

Spurgeon says: (WOW!!! This is timely)

“It is alas! too common for believers in their hours of adversity to think themselves harshly dealt with when they see persons utterly destitute of religion and honesty, rejoicing in abundant prosperity. . Evil men instead of being envied, are to be viewed with horror and aversion. Much needed is the command to not fret. . To fret is to worry, to have the heart burn, to fume, to become vexed.”

 

The command in this verse is to reject fretting. This Psalm reveals the alternative to fretting, and the remedy which we will look at next time.

The evil doers’ day is coming friend, and it is going to be a bad one. We are in the midst of a very dark time in our nation. It would be reasonable to look around and wonder what is going on, and why are the evil and lawless ones allowed to seemingly go unpunished. I saw a video clip this morning in a large city of a young man who walked nonchalantly by an elderly lady and reached out and pushed her in the head, causing her to fall and almost be seriously injured. She will recover, but it made my blood boil. Evil abounds, but we must not fret. Our God is Sovereign – He is in control even though the minions of hell are roaming about fomenting sin and wreaking their havoc.

Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Psalm 37:1-2

 

Now obviously we are not desiring or encouraging ourselves with the fact that they are going to meet a terrible end. That one day what goes around will come back around. Not at all. Certainly, we have righteous indignation, and want God’s justice. But as God’s people, we are to feel dreadfully sorry for this group of people because we know what their end will be if they do not repent and turn to God, and the Psalmist reminds us to not assume or believe that evil and injustice are prevailing. They only appear to be for the moment. We must also remember. They are not the enemy. The real enemy is Satan.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12

 

The enemy hates righteousness and he hates the God of all righteousness. He attacks in any way he can to sow discord and destroy men as well as their societies. But we can never forget though the evil is unbridled and running rampant, these lost men, women and even children need to the Lord. And if they do not meet Him, their destiny will be horrible beyond belief.

 

Grass dies and the green herbs wither quickly. I love to plant herbs. I planted a Basil plant recently and I am not sure what I did wrong, but it didn’t make it. I was looking at another plant and caring for it, and I was delighted to find another small Basil sprout coming up in it. I pulled it out, laid it aside then went on with a few other chores. I went back to pick it up just a short time later, and it was shriveled up and looked almost dead.

 

“The beauty of the herb dries up at once in the heat of the sun, and so all the glory of the wicked shall disappear at the hour of death. Death kills the ungodly man like grass, and wrath withers him like hay; he dies, and his name rots. How complete an end is made of the man whose boasts had no end!”

 

Again the point here is obvious. The Psalmist is lamenting the apparent success and blessing of the evil man, but the reality is regardless of what looks like blessing or prosperity in an earthly sense, is fleeting and obscures his tragic end where he will perish quickly and eternally under the holy gaze of Almighty God when he passes into the next life.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever
. Isaiah 40:7-8

 

For all men, believers and unbelievers, life is very transitory. Eternity is forever. There is a principle that we do not dare miss. This life IS fleeting, and the economy here as far as blessing or lack of it materially has no relevance to what will be realized in eternity. That is why many of the arguments and discussions going on now in society are insignificant as far as value or worth, because in eternity the only thing that will matter is whether a person is IN Christ or not. That is the distinction.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matt. 25:31-33

 

The sheep are believers, and the goats are unbelievers. The distinction rests on whether they are IN Christ, or they do not know Him.

 

The Psalmist laments the temporal in his fretting, but the reality is that the temporal in no way reflects the horrible reckoning of eternity.

 

This is one of the reasons as believers that we must be careful, because we can look at temporal prosperity, health, success, etc. as an indicator that a person is blessed. Surely, these things are blessings. But they are not necessarily a sign of God’s blessing. If we look at the rest of the world, and really the Bible, we see this is not true. Take a minute and read Hebrews 11 sometime, or study the end that most of the prophets met and the apostles.

 

The Lord has promised that in this world we will have tribulation. Many of the saints before us struggled, were persecuted, were destitute, were sick, etc. We live in a prosperous country. I have heard it said that in the United States even those who are poor and have very little materially, are much better off than most all in third world countries.

 

In the biblical times, material blessing did often look like spiritual blessing. It can look that way today and there are many false teachers that would say prosperity means blessing. Certainly on the surface it might appear that way, but it isn’t a sign of true blessing in light of eternity. Evil men and godly men prospered materially. And even though they may have had material prosperity that did not translate to lack of turmoil or suffering. Look at Job. He was a man that was blessed materially, but he suffered terribly personally.

 

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me Philippians 1:29-30

 

Paul actually explained to the Philippians that it had been granted them for Christ’s sake to suffer.

Commentary: They were experiencing ‘the same kind of suffering Paul was experiencing. The Greek verb translated ‘granted is from the noun for grace’ which brings power and eternal reward.’ He is telling these believers that God in His grace is actually allowing them to suffer because of the spiritual benefit it will bring.

 

When we as believers look around us, on the surface it may look like the evil one is in control. It may look like evil men are prospering. But that is only for a season, and it is in line with God’s sovereign purposes. And we need to understand and expect as Christians, this does not mean that God has abandoned us. God will never leave us or forsake us, but He never said that we would not go through difficulty.

 

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

 

We have got to wrap our heads around the fact that the purpose for our being here as believers and not being taken right up to heaven this minute is the fact that the Lord saved us in order to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Remember the words of the apostle Paul.

 

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil. 3:7-11

 

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13-14

 

Paul came to realize when He met the Savior on a dusty road to Damascus that everything in this life that he thought was so important and significant – the achievements that he had spent his entire life to that point accomplishing – meant nothing in light of eternity. He actually said they were garbage – refuse - manure. The only thing that was of true value was knowing Christ.

 

Sisters, we are here because the Lord is preparing us for eternity. He is making us like Christ. Everything in our lives is conforming us or perfecting us toward Christlikeness. That is the prize of the upward call. To be like Christ.

 

Someone asked John MacArthur what the thing he was most looking forward to in heaven was. The streets of gold, the beauty, the angels, etc. He looked at that person and said there will be no more sin. He looked forward to that wonderful day when he would no longer have to battle sin and engage in that struggle.

 

Friend, that is what we have to look forward to as believers. We will not be in the internal battle within ourselves fighting temptation, and we will not live among a society where sin runs rampant. The closer we get to the end, the more we will see sin flourish and practiced with abandonment. But we need not fear because that means we are just that much closer to our Lord’s return. And when we see His blessed face, everything else will fade away. But until that time we cannot fret. We cannot despair. We need to understand this is all part of a fallen world moving toward its end. This world is going to pass away one day soon. We are seeing those growing pains.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it,]in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:20-23

 

We feel the pain physically. We feel the pain spiritually. I grown every morning when I step out of bed in the morning from the decay and toll on my physical body. But spiritually I groan as well. Each morning when we get up, we go back into that battle. We groan and grieve in this spiritual battle with sin.

 

We are in a season where produce is growing and many of us have gardens. It is exhilarating and exciting to see those first fruit appear on the vines. Even better when we get to enjoy eating those fresh vegetables.

 

We have the Spirit living within us as Christians, and He is at work conforming us to Christ. He produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as we yield to Him, as we live in obedience to His Word. This is an evidence of God’s presence in us. It is that first fruit of salvation. Yet, one day the harvest will be complete, and we will be made completely new. We will be glorified – we will be redeemed out of this fallen body. What a glorious day that will be! But until then we must fight the good fight. We must not look around at the things we see and grow discouraged or distressed.

 

Our King is still on His throne. He WILL have victory, and He will give us victory.

 

In Isaiah 6 (1-8), the king of 52 years, King Uzziah had died. There must have been concern and trepidation in the uncertainty. But the Lord gave Isaiah a holy vision where he saw the Lord high and lifted up in the beauty of His holiness sitting on His throne, it changed him forever. He saw himself in light of perfect holiness, and it humbled him to his very core. He fell on his face before his God in repentance and devastation, and when the question was asked,

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!

 

After Isaiah ‘saw’ the Lord, in his majesty and holiness, when he saw himself in comparison to that, there was a humble willingness to serve Him. His response ‘evidenced the humble readiness of complete trust. Though profoundly aware of his sin, he was available.’ MacArthur

As we navigate through the darkness and the chaos, let us answer God’s call to us as Christians just as Isaiah did. Let us humbly walk before Him with complete trust. Let us see our Lord in the beauty of His holiness. And let us be aware here of what is at stake for the lost and dying of our world, and let us make ourselves available to proclaim the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation. Indeed, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
 

Let us not fret or worry. Let us not allow ourselves to seethe with anger when we see the injustice and sin running rampant. But rather let us remember that we know what happens in the end. We know the end of those who do not know God, and we need to share His message. We also though know what happens to those who belong to Him. Let us hold fast to that hope. Remember, God wins.

 

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-8

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
Twas Grace that brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home.

 

 

 


 

Below is a link to the-end-times.org blog. The lady that writes this does such a great job. She posts excellent, timely posts, but most of all she is biblical in all her writings. She has a heart that is centered on Christ. Highly recommend clicking on link and reading her post. You will be very glad you did. There are very few solid women's Bible teachers these days. Finding one that we can trust doctrinally is critical. Try out the end-times-org. You will be very glad that you did!

The End Times - Elizabeth Prata

 


 

Post June 7, 2020

 

Redeeming the time Wisely

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

 

Have you ever heard anyone say, “If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I would do things differently”?

 

We probably all have said that at one time or another. Life is funny that way. When we are going through the day to day responsibilities, we get caught up in the stress of the day, and often forget to take the time to ‘stop and smell the roses’ because we are busy doing life. Every person’s life comes with its own set of demands, expectations, problems, difficulties, etc. But regardless of what our own particular life looks like, we all if we are honest, might in retrospect look at things differently or slow it down and prioritize our time differently.

 

I was interacting the other day with a young mother, and she was complaining because her boys who were entertaining other boys at their home forgot to tell her that they had used vegetable oil on the slip and slide, and let’s just say she found out the ‘hard’ way. Once she managed to get herself up off the ground where she had landed quickly and unceremoniously, she gave them a piece of her mind.

I pointed out to her that they were making memories. She laughed and agreed. I wish I had thought of that when my kids forgot to ‘mention’ things like that when they were little. Like the time one of them (not going to mention names, but she is the youngest and she has a headful of curly hair), decided to help reduce the carpenter bee population at our house with her BB gun, and instead of hitting the bee, she shot out my Jeep window. Thankfully, we had glass coverage (no harm, no foul, right?). I am absolutely, certain at the time that I did not look at it as a sweet memory. I will admit though, it makes a great story in retrospect. I’m thankful for those memories.

But seriously, time, after it has been lived or we have the benefit of looking at the lives of those before us, often looks differently than it does when we are living it. Looking back at our choices we often understand after the fact just how significant or even insignificant they may be.

Looking back at child-rearing for instance. I see things so clearly that I made a big deal out of that really weren’t that important in the scheme of things. And things that I took for granted or even some of our decisions that were life-changing, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. Can you relate?

I was reading something this week that someone sent me from several godly men from the past. And the theme was Ephesians 5:15-16. Considering the last few months, and now another uncertain time we find ourselves in, the passage resonated with me. One thing I heard a young man, who along with his young wife will be moving soon to Uganda to teach and instruct pastors, said that if we have learned anything at all during this tumultuous week, it is that America needs the gospel. Amen? Seriously, we are not going to go off on a tangent, but when you look around you, not just this week or last week or the week before that, but for awhile now, isn’t it evident that our country desperately needs the gospel?

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that CAN change lives and it is the only hope for lost men. Preaching to the choir, right? We understand this as Christians, but the problem we have is this. And please understand, I have been very convicted over this and one of the reasons is because it hit me right between the eyes. As believers, we must get serious about sharing the gospel – the full and biblical gospel. The gospel message is what saves people, and sisters, wouldn’t you agree that much of our society desperately needs to hear the message of hope that believers have to offer.

 

Getting back to our passage in Ephesians 5:15-16.

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. NASB

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. KING JAMES

Can I please get an amen here? Can anyone deny that the days are evil? Incredibly evil! Would any of us be surprised if we heard that trumpet sound, and our Lord was here, coming back to get us? Can we also agree that life speeds by at a phenomenal speed, and we must be deliberate and focused, or we will one day wake up and realize we missed many opportunities. We can wake up and have deep regrets or look back realizing what was really important we missed.

 

I am being completely serious. Sisters, you know as much as I do. The days are so evil. Can they get much worse?

 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus Revelation 22:20

 

Let’s look at both translations as we consider the passage.

When the apostle Paul says here to walk carefully or circumspectly, he is admonishing them that their time – their opportunity is a valuable thing. It is a gift that God gives us, and it must be viewed that way. The duration of that gift varies for each person, and we do not know the extent of that gift. That is why it is critical that we see it for what it is.

 

One commentator says of our time: “‘Making the most of’ has the basic meaning of buying, especially of buying back or buying out. It was used of buying a slave in order to set him free; thus, the idea of redemption is implied in this verse. We are to redeem, buy up, all the time that we have and devote it to the Lord. The Greek is in the middle voice, indicating that we are to buy the time up for ourselves-not for our own use but for the Lord’s service.”

 

“Paul pleads for us to make the most of our time immediately after he pleads for us to walk wisely rather than foolishly. Outside of purposeful disobedience of God’s Word, the most spiritually foolish thing a Christian can do is to waste time and opportunity, to fritter away his life in trivia and in half-hearted service of the Lord.” -MacArthur Ephesians Commentary.

 

Another writer describes our time as “an opportunity that God gives us to be a light, to be an example for lost men. He draws the distinction between Christians and non-Christians. You see as he points out, Christians have the mind of Christ. We know what is coming. We know judgment is on the way, and we know that according to what we read in Romans 1:18-32, that it is already happening.

One day every person will give an account of his life. Christians see and know these things in a way that lost men do not. We understand that where a person spends all of eternity will be determined whether they are ‘in Christ’ whether they have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Every single person’s destiny will be defined that way.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the]only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

 

Those people who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior, will one day dwell with Him for all eternity. But those who rejected Him are already under condemnation and judgment, and they will be separated from Him, and dwell for an eternity in hell paying their sin debt.

 

Ladies, we have got to be serious about redeeming the time. Much, so very much is at stake.

 

How do we redeem the time wisely or circumspectly making the most of it? Remember, Paul is speaking to us as spiritual people here. He is reminding us that spiritual realities are at stake, and he is admonishing us that has to be our focus.

 

Dr. Lloyd-Jones said this about our time:

“The first thing, therefore, which we must emphasize is that he must indeed redeem the time. The meaning of the word redeem is that of buying up something, and especially the idea of buying it for ourselves. If you like, it is the picture of a man who is looking for a bargain. He wants to buy something for himself, and he is watching the goods on the stall or in the shop window. He is anxious to get that bargain, so he looks around and shows great keenness.

 

Now ladies, if we can ever wrap our heads around something, surely it is this. Do any of us not appreciate a bargain?

 

Look, what the apostle Paul is telling us here, is that basically we are looking – searching – watching – for opportunities to use our time. But not just any opportunity, we are looking for opportunities to live for God, to use our time as He would have us to.

To use our time for His glory! We understand that time really is short. Our lives are but a vapor. They will be gone before we know it and so will those around us. Our time that we have here is preparing us for eternity.

 

The apostle is saying to us walk wisely – he is pleading with us – use your time wisely not foolishly. Look, unbelievers are living this life for all they can get from it. This is their time - they do not grasp as believers do that this life is only a foretaste of the life to come. They don’t understand that eternity will be here soon, and if they go into it unprepared – unsaved – if they are not ‘in Christ’, then a horrible reality awaits them.

 

The sad thing is this. Believers live that way too, sometimes. We forget that we are not really citizens of this world. Our citizenship is in a place that we cannot begin to comprehend its splendor and glory. The best part is that the One who we were created for is there waiting on us. He is everything and when we finally meet Him we will understand just how little this world really has to offer. Yet, even as those that belong to Him, sometimes we get caught up in the same pursuits – the same value system – as the world. We live as if time is not short and that eternity is not forever.

 

“When we walk obediently in the narrow gospel, we walk carefully, making the most of our time. We take full advantage of every opportunity to shun sin and to follow righteousness. ‘So then, Paul said, ‘while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men. “

“Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen-minute period that is the crucial point. Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” MacArthur Ephesians Commentary

 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26

 

This is not speaking of salvation. It’s not talking about a works-based salvation. It is not talking about that we must run a certain way to obtain salvation. Rather it is talking about the importance of how we run the race as far as success or what we accomplish as a Christian for the Lord as we run our race. The Greek would hold festivals and the Isthmian athletes would train for ten months to participate. The last month they would have to stay in Corinth where their final training was very closely supervised. They were committed to the preparation for their races, and were disciplined exercising careful self-control as they trained.

Paul is speaking to Christians in his analogy because the context here is Christian liberty. As Christians the Lord gives us much grace and freedom in our liberty. One of the greatest freedoms we have is with our time, as well as our personal liberties in the things we choose to participate in. The believers in Corinth were hurting their testimonies because they would not limit their liberties, by refusing to give up their rights in choosing to exercise those liberties they offended many and therefore won few converts. Many times, we do the same things. We use these blessings for ourselves forgetting that as believers those blessings – those liberties – our time is not our own, but rather He blesses us so that we can live for Him.

 

We have a great responsibility as believers because we will give an account of how we spend our time. The Lord gives us freedom, but we will explain to Him and be held responsible for how we use that freedom including our time.

“The flesh, the world, everyday affairs, personal interests, and often simple laziness hinder spiritual growth and preparation for service.

Even good things can interfere with the best. Fulfillment of freedoms can interfere with fulfillment of love. Following our own ways can keep others from knowing the Way. Souls are won by those who are prepared to be used when the Spirit chooses to use them.” MacArthur

 

These Greek runners – the Isthmian runners - would receive a pine wreath when they won the races they participated in. As believers we too will receive a crown, but it will not be a perishable crown, but rather an imperishable crown.

 

We run our races looking forward to that day when our Lord – the righteous judge – will give us that beautiful crown of righteousness. 2 Timothy 4:8

 

Our positional righteousness has already been achieved by our Lord at Calvary, but if we are to be successful in honoring Him, and fulfilling His work through us, we must be committed, disciplined and deliberate.

 

It does not matter who we are, how old or young we are, what our abilities and gifts are. The Lord desires that we use our time wisely for Him. We have no excuse frankly for not doing so.

 

I think of Joni Ereckson Tada. This woman at the beginning of her life – healthy, athletic and physically fit – was tragically paralyzed in a diving accident. Yet, she has touched so many lives through her testimony and her faithfulness. She has encouraged so many disabled people and their families here in this country and across the world. She has redeemed her time wisely!

I remember a story she told of speaking to a young woman who had been diagnosed with a rapidly degenerative nerve disease. It was terminal and in a matter of a very few months she would pass. As her condition deteriorated, she would not be able to do anything but lay in her bed.

 

She was discouraged and wondered what she could do for the Lord in this condition. But Joni exhorted her – she encouraged her. This woman’s mind was sharp and committed to her Lord. She could pray for the saints; she had an opportunity. She had a unique opportunity that the Lord could use for His glory. This sweet and precious sister committed to do just that. And as far as I know that is exactly what she did until that day when she went to be with her dear Lord.

 

Ladies let us use our time for Him. The Lord has placed each one of us exactly where we are with the gifts, abilities and opportunities we need to reach those around us. Let us be serious about His mission. So much depends on it. One day we will see our dear Lord, and let our desire be that He will say to us, ‘Well-done’.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:6

The judgment day will come one day, and lost men will be held accountable for their deeds. The great white throne of judgment is not for believers, but it will be a horrific and terrifying day for the lost.

 

Dear sisters, let us walk circumspectly – let us redeem the time – for the days are surely evil. Let us commit ourselves to looking at our time as the precious gift it is, and understand that someone’s eternity may very well depend on how we invest it.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:2

Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not behold Him at a distance, but see Him face to face: when He shall not be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night, but shall eternally enfold us in the bosom of His glory. We shall not see Him for a little season, but:

"Millions of years our wondering eyes,
Shall o'er our Saviour's beauties rove;
And myriad ages we'll adore,
The wonders of His love."

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

 

 


 

Post May 30, 2020

 

Last week, Jonathan Steingard, lead singer for a popular and successful Christian band, declared that he no longer believes in God. Marty Sampson with Hillsong declared a few months back, at first, that he denounced his faith, then came back and clarified ‘he was struggling’ with his faith’. In this past year, popular author and former pastor Joshua Harris, writer of “I kissed dating goodbye” announced that he no longer believed in God and was getting a divorce from his wife because they had moved in different directions, and then proceeded to march in a ‘Gay Pride’ parade.

 

Now these are just a few prominent people who have denounced Christ recently, but surely we all can think of someone ourselves who maybe have not renounced the Lord, but who at one time were faithful and following Christ, but walked away from Him, and now live a life apart from Him.

 

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19

 

When we hear these things, we wonder and are perplexed. How can people who have been saved by God’s magnificent grace, who have ‘tasted and seen that the Lord is good’, just walk away? Well, the simplest answer is that the majority of people fall into the category outlined in 1 John 2:19. (“they went out from us because they never were of us….”)

 

It is not a very popular idea in the church today, but nevertheless, it is true in most cases. The truth is that the perseverance of the saints – the reality that a person who truly knows Christ will not walk away from the faith – is a doctrine that is taught throughout Scripture.

 

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30

 

Those whom God saves He justifies, and He keeps. Those whom God saves He enables to live for Him, and He perfects them – He sanctifies them. Those whom God saves He ultimately glorifies and takes them to be with Him.

 

The hard truth that we must understand is that many times when people walk away from the faith, it is because they never really knew God. Certainly, there are exceptions, but the primary reason people walk away is because they never knew God to begin with.

 

While the Bible does not teach that a true believer will abandon the faith completely or apostasize, there can be those believers that never grow in the faith – those who are not taught or are discipled, even those who may struggle deeply with sin, and for a season go away, but they are in a dangerous predicament.

 

If they are true believers and who is living in open sin and rebellion, then they will be chastened by our Lord (Hebrews 12:4-11). If they are simply weak in their faith or still a baby Christian, then older mature Christians have a responsibility to come along beside them and disciple them. Only God knows their hearts. But the Bible is clear, true believers are known by their fruits.

 

So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:20

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! 2 Corinthians 13:5a

 

A true believer will look like a true believer. There may be momentary lapses – there may be immaturity – but a believer is known by their fruits, and if there is no fruit, then a person must examine themselves to see if they really are a Christian. The fruit may be tiny and underdeveloped, or shriveled and difficult to see, but there will be fruit. And the Lord will constantly be pruning, and growing them, so the evidence of that fruit will grow.

 

So, there are those who walked away from the faith – who are not living a Christian life who while professing Christ, they do not know Him. There may be others – although we need to tread carefully here – that know Christ, but are wayward. Regardless, there is a problem. And we need to understand and acknowledge that there is a problem with Christians and there is a problem in the church.

 

Our messaging is flawed somehow. Otherwise, there would not be vast numbers coming and going in the church and in Christianity, and ultimately leaving the same way they came in. And there would not be others, who attend church even walking in the faith for years – even many years – and never grow or change or mature in their faith, and who often when trials come falter deeply and even walk away. When I say our messaging is flawed, I mean the gospel that we are proclaiming as well as what it means to follow Christ.

 

Thankfully, we attend a church who has a pastor who faithfully and consistently proclaims Christ and admonishes us to examine ourselves, but there are many churches that do not. We need to be very thankful that we have a solid and biblical church. But these are now few and far between, and many professing Christians as well as churches are worldly and no longer teach the true gospel. They proclaim a weakened shallow message that leads people further down the path of destruction rather than to Christ Jesus. This same thing happened in the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people.

 

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisternsbroken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13

 

I had never heard of a cistern before moving to our first house. But we learned that in our pantry off the kitchen in our home there had been a cistern. It actually was under the floor, and the pantry floor had been built over it. I wouldn’t recommend this for various reasons, but I digress.

 

A cistern is a structure that was used in the distant past to catch rainwater to supply the builders with water. Obviously if it were cracked or broken, it was not much use.

 

MacArthur Commentary says of this passage in Jeremiah: “First, Israel had abandoned the Lord, the source of spiritual salvation and sustenance. Second, Israel turned to idolatrous object of trust; Jeremiah compared these with underground water storage devices for rainwater, which were broken and let water seep out, thus proving useless.”

1) Israel had abandoned the Lord, the source of spiritual salvation and sustenance.

2) Israel turned to idolatrous object of trust (Sound familiar?)

 

We all know that Israel was a Theocracy – they were led directly by God. They were His chosen ones. Yet, through their entire history, they rebelled, and not only did they rebel, but they created idols for themselves by worshipping a false God of their own making. They looked at the world around them, and they created a God for themselves and put their trust in those things rather than the true and living God. When people worship anything, but the true God as defined and described by God’s Word then it is an idol of their own making.

 

Remember, when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the law. What happened while he was gone? The people convinced Aaron to make a golden calf. This calf didn’t represent an idol of the culture or world, like the pagans worshipped. Rather it was an idol that they made to worship, that represented the true God. The Lord was not pleased, and many were punished for their folly.

 

We do the same thing today. We may not construct golden calves, but we construct representations or pictures of the one true God. Any representation or picture we proclaim of God that falls short of who He really is or is an incomplete message, then that is proclaiming a false god.

 

We have a gospel problem in modern Christianity. It is a profound problem, and the consequences are devastating. The contemporary church has been hit on all sides through the years with false doctrine, with cultural/worldly methodologies, and we have gotten further and further from not only biblical Christianity, but from the true, biblical gospel. It has wreaked havoc on the church and as a result a lost world.

 

I saw someone ask a question the other day about what we look for in a church. Someone wisely said that they looked for a church that proclaimed the gospel. Yet someone else interjected, yes that is a good qualifier, but make sure what gospel they proclaim because Benny Hinn and Joel Olsteen say they proclaim the gospel. And even worse, it seems like almost every day we find another leader or church who has been compromised or no longer stands on the Word, even in our own denomination.

 

Look at what is going on right now in our world. Are we moving closer to God? Is the church a light in the darkness that the Lord is using to transform individual lives thus impacting the culture?

No, we see lawlessness and anger fomenting all around us. We see men turning on each other and their Creator in record numbers. We see rioting and unmitigated hatred. We see lives of innocent children who are created in the image of God sacrificed and murdered daily, and all sorts of aberrant behavior/immorality normalized in our culture.

 

We were a nation founded on Christian principles. The majority of our founders came here because they wanted religious freedom. We are a nation who has been tremendously blessed by God, but what have we done with that freedom? Have we used it to honor God, or used it for our own pleasure and enjoyment foolishly rejecting God and dishonoring Him.

 

People need Jesus. But they need the real Jesus, not one fashioned by their humanity and the lusts of the flesh. We see people turning away from the church in multitudes today because sadly, the God of the Bible who is Holy and Just – His Son, Who is the crucified and resurrected Christ - are no longer what we proclaim in much of Christianity. We have moved so far away from what it truly means to know God and walk with Him that in many corners He is hardly recognizable.

 

The God of the Bible is not a God that winks at sin, that makes no demands of us, that we can simply mentally acknowledge (even praying a short little prayer), and then go about living our lives with little or no concern for Him. Oh, we may sing in a ‘Christian’ band, or we may say we follow Him, but there is little evidence of that in our day to day living. Remember, even the demons believe, and tremble. James 2:19

 

And He was saying to them all, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:23-24

because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”1 Peter 1:16

 

Salvation is a divine work of holy God. When He saves a person, their lives are no longer the same. We are not talking a works-based salvation; we are talking about a divinely worked salvation. It is a salvation where we are completely transformed by the power of holy God through His Holy Spirit. We will not live perfectly because we still have our flesh, but we will live differently, and we will look different. If we do not, then there is a big problem.

 

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Matthew 5:13

 

Sisters, we live in dangerous times. The world around us is falling apart. We do not need to be fearful or even surprised because we know as Christians that this is what is going to happen before our Lord returns.

 

But what we must be is sober – vigilant. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

 

We have got to return to the truth that this world cannot fix problems and this world is not our home. This world cannot bring fulfillment, and in this world there will be tribulation, but we can be of good cheer, because Jesus said, “ I have overcome the world”.

 

It is imperative that we be salt and light before a lost and dying world. And we must share the true gospel of Christ. He is our only Hope. He is the greatest Hope. He is the One and only Answer. He is the only One who can fix brokenness, and He is he only One that can save.

 

The nation of Israel missed this truth. They left the God of true salvation, and turned to the fallen and lost world – broken, cracked cisterns – to build their lives on. Many of them perished because of this, and although one day the Lord will deal with them again, the Jewish nation still reject Christ Jesus today.

 

In many ways the church has done the same thing. Christians have left their first love, and others have put their trust in something other than the true God.

 

Let us ask God to search our hearts. Let us return to Him. Let us commit to bring light in the darkness, and bring the true message of hope to the lost.

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners . . 1 Timothy 1:15

 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the [b]only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Revelations 3:20

 

Sisters, this last verse is not a gospel invitation as is often preached, where Christ is ‘knocking on the door of the heart’. No, this is Christ, standing outside His church – knocking on the door – wanting to come inside. This was Christ seeking to enter His church because there were no believers inside. We must be vigilant.

 

We must be earnest. If not, there will come a day, when not only will people be falling away and leaving the church, many churches will not even be made up of Christians – in this verse, there were no Christians, not a single one, left in this church. Christ was on the outside knocking, saying that if just one person would turn – one person would believe – one person trust Him in salvation – then, He would come in. How tragic!

 

We know that our church loves Christ and desires to follow Him. Our pastor proclaims Christ and His Word every single Sunday. But are we committed fully to Christ? Are our lives centered on Him and His Word? Do we live out and look like Jesus Christ before our brothers and sisters as well as a dark sinful world? Do we proclaim the true gospel to the lost, praying that they will be saved?

 

Friends, we must proclaim the gospel to the lost and hurting. Christ is the only answer to the need of the human heart and soul. Our brokenness manifests itself in so many ways including the rampant anger and hatred we see in our society. We must make sure that our messaging points to a crucified and risen Redeemer and King. That true justice is found at the foot of the cross where our Lord paid it all.

Any message that does not share the sinfulness of all men, and the victory through forgiveness and surrender to the Savior, is merely a band-aid. Only the finished work of Christ Jesus our Lord can bring healing and newness of life to every man, woman and child.

Let us examine ourselves. And let us pray. Oh, let us pray. Let us pray for ourselves, our families, our church and our country. Let us pray for those who are lost that truly have no hope because this world is all there is. If ever we need to prayer, it is this day!

 

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Augustine

 

 

 


 

Post May 24, 2020

Tending Our Gardens

 

We decided this year to plant an above ground garden. We have planted a garden in the past, and sometimes they flourish, yielding produce, other times they produce little. I would have to say, that for the most part a lot has to do with the effort we put into it. Certainly, the rain, sunshine and condition of the soil have an impact, but our attention to it definitely contribute to the output. Gardens if they are good ones, take time and work. Our appreciation for them, and influence have a lot to do with how well they turn out. It can be frustrating work, sometimes thankless work, but when we see growth, even the tiniest little sprout that comes up, it is exciting. When we get those fresh vegetables, cook them, and get to enjoy them, it is very worthwhile.

 

As I garden, I think back to that very first garden. How lovely it must have been! It was perfect – no weeds, no decay – absolutely nothing that could interfere with its beauty. It must have been so lush and green. One of the wonderful aspects of it was it didn’t take toil and hard work to bring about the produce. It grew freely in this garden. It was a beautiful place to live and enjoy, but the best part was the fellowship. For in this garden, in the cool of the day, the Lord God moved through this garden. The man and the woman had complete and unimpeded fellowship with the Creator of everything - their Lord - because there was no sin, no fallenness, no brokenness, no sorrow, nothing to separate them from that perfect fellowship.

 

But all of that was before the enemy – the evil serpent – came in and wrought his destruction and wickedness. He found the woman in the garden, and he tempted her. He suggested that the Lord – even though He had given them perfection in every possible way – was withholding something good from them. The evil one – satan himself – came to her, and deceitfully suggested to her that God was unfairly restricting them in some way. He boldly and audaciously asked Eve that age old question, “Hast God said”.

 

That question attempted to malign, and undermine the very character of holy God. Their Creator and Provider, the One who embodied every hope and every dream – the One who represented and provided them with the truest and purest contentment and joy. Since the introduction of sin through the fall of mankind that has never been fully regained. He lied to Eve, and told her that by telling them not to eat from the Tree of Life, that God was trying to keep something from them that would make them happy – that He wanted something for them that wasn’t the best, The wicked one subtly and maniacally whispered that he could give Eve something that was better, and unfortunately she took the bait.

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:44

 

We all know what happened in the Garden that dreadful day. Eve believed the lies of the enemy, and she sinned. Not only did she sin, but she offered the fruit to her husband, and her influence resulted in the fall of mankind – sin came into the world and death was the result - spiritual death, but ultimately physical death. Adam was responsible for his sin. God had given him the commands, and he disobeyed. But Eve’s influence was critical in his disobedience, and humanity has suffered ever since.

 

As women our influence is one of our most precious gifts. God often uses our strengths to bring wisdom to those whom we love and care for - with those who we interact with. He uses those strengths to build up and encourage. But our influence as women can also be a tool that the enemy can use to do sow sin or discord, even rebellion. We can influence those around us in good ways, and we can influence in negative ways. Eve is a great example of a vulnerable woman – a woman who listened to the lies of the enemy– that was led very easily into temptation. That is the downside of our influence. While our influence can be positive, we like Eve can be mislead by our emotions. If we are not grounded in God's Word, controlled by His Spirit, prayerfully walking with Him, then we are susceptable to the enemy's deception and as a result we can negatively impact others-especially those who are close to us.

 

In our homes, families, and churches, we have an important role – a vital and crucial role. We are the hearts and often times, as we all have heard the saying “we are the glue that holds things together”. We can foster harmony, we can encourage, we can calm fears, and we can bring a sweet fragrance of love and joy into our places of influence that only we can bring. But rest assured, that the enemy would love nothing better than to use that influence to disrupt, and wreak havoc as well as turmoil.

 

We have all seen that right. A nagging and mean woman who snaps at everyone, complains and nitpicks. A woman who is not content with the life God has blessed her with, and she is always pushing for more, or she is angry because she is discontent. A woman that encourages others toward discontentment and foments discord. She may not only do this at her home, these same women can carry this type attitude into her church and other places. She is the one that whispers to the other women – and really anyone that will listen – of the latest gossip or just generally tears down her brothers and sisters in the Lord, and others. She may demand to lead or diminish the importance of others, or myriads of other negative attitudes or actions. There are many ways the evil one can use any of us if our hearts are not centered on our Lord and being guided by His influence.

 

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 4:29-5:2

 

Ladies, the Lord has given us the unique opportunity to influence the world around us. It is a tall order, and it is not an easy one. I was incredibly convicted as I wrote this because I see how I fail daily. But dear sisters, we need to apply ourselves because we can make all the difference in those areas that the Lord has specifically placed us. Those places that He wants to use our influence for good and His glory. Our sovereign God has work He wants to do through us to build up those in our homes, and He also wants to use us in our churches and others areas we have influence, to encourage and be vessels of grace to all of those arounds us. But we have to be deliberate and apply ourselves to these treasured roles.

 

And this is where a lot of the problem comes in. Remember our dear mother Eve? One of the primary things that motivated her was a lack of contentment and a lack of trust and belief in what God said and provided. He wasn’t trying to withhold something good from her. He wanted to give her the very best and the perfect. But instead of trusting Him for that, she listened to the enemy, and as we know the rest sadly, is our history.

Don’t ever be misguided or confused about the fact that satan attacks us the same way today. Perhaps women even more so than men. One of the primary ways he tempts us is the same way that he tempted Eve. He turns our attention to the world, its ways, its value system, and deters us from seeking to obey God's word and value His approval above everything else. The enemy causes us to doubt or undermine God and His word, insinuating and asking the very same question that he asked Eve, "Hast God said". He tempts us to seize control and take over the helm with our influence rather than submit to the roles that the Lord has called us. Eve stepped out of her role – she conversed with the enemy away from her husband, and she was vulnerable. Adam was responsible because he allowed the leadership role he had been given in the garden to be subverted, but Eve was the enemy's instrument.

 

As women we have many strengths and gifts. While we are created differently than men, we are just as gifted and valuable as men.  We are both of great value to the Lord, but He has different functions for us. It is critical and important that we live out those roles the way God has mandated. One of the huge problems in the church today and homes has come from women refusing to abide by the roles that the Lord ordained for them in His word, and it has sowed all kinds of chaos.

Godly contentment with the roles and our circumstances must be cultivated. Contentment where the Lord has placed us does not just come naturally, rather like any godly virtue, we must pursue it. But ‘godliness with contentment’ is a great and wonderful attitude that we need to strive for.

Our lives – our churches – are imperfect because they are made up of people. But they are huge blessings, and the Lord wants to use each of us to bring joy and grace to them. This life has heartache – this world is broken, but we all can be used by the Lord to bless others and He can work through our lives in so many ways to enrich the lives of those around us.

 

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

The Lord promised us that in this life, things will not be easy. In fact, as we all know they can often be very hard – heartbreakingly so. But we can prevail because our dear Lord has promised that He has overcome the world. But we must set our minds to it. And we can be the very tools He used to help others overcome and persevere. And as we do so we can experience a peace and contentment that transcends our circumstances.

 

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

The apostle Paul perhaps more than any other New Testament believer other than our Lord suffered incredible hardship and discouragement.

“but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing ]yet possessing all things. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

 

Yet, he affirmed that he had learned to be content in all his circumstances. He learned that when he was weak, indeed he was strong, because in his weakness, the Lord was His strength and enabled him to do what he was called to do.

 

Remember at the start when we were talking about gardening. There is something special and exciting about seeing things grow and flourish through the labors of our hands. We may plant physical gardens through which we derive enjoyment and fruit.

 

But sisters, the greatest ‘garden’ we have is that garden where we plant, feed and give of ourselves to those that the Lord Himself has given us responsibility for. We each have our own little gardens where He has given us sweet and valuable influence. They may look different, and the fruits will be unique to our gardens. Our Lord is very interested in our gardens. Indeed, He will hold us accountable for those gardens. He will work through us to bring the fruit and the increase, but we have a huge impact on that fruit. It will require much effort – much patience – much commitment. But it is in this gift of a garden, that we will find our greatest joy and happiness. It is in this garden, that we can flourish and that we can see true fruit from our labors. Let us find our contentment and our joy there. Let us pour ourselves into these labors, and look forward to that day when our Lord rewards us for a job well done in tending our precious ‘gardens’.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates
. Proverbs 31:30-31

 

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, But the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.” Elisabeth Elliot

 

 


 

Post 5/17/2020

Titus 2:3-5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

 

One of the consistent truths in God’s Word is that of the older modeling and instructing the younger. We see this truth lived out as Christians where we disciple and encourage younger believers in the faith. There is an established truth that we have a responsibility in the Lord’s patterning to pass on godly instruction to the younger – first by example, secondly by instruction. We are to model Christ to those newer in the faith by living out our faith before them. As for those who are physically younger, the older are to live out Christ in daily living as well as instructing them on spiritual things, and biblical roles in the home as well as the church.

 

We learn in 2 Peter 1:3, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

 

God has given us everything we need to live this Christian life. We must pass that on to younger believers, and help them to understand that God has given us all the resources we need to live the Christian life. We need to help them understand and instruct them that He and His word are sufficient for all things, and hold the keys to successful godly living.

 

So many even in the church, look to the world to solve problems or instruction for living, child-rearing, marital instruction as well as a multitude of other issues. Rather than going to the Lord and His word, many times people look to secular instruction or methodology for problem resolution. As Christians, this is a mistake. We serve a sovereign God and He has given us His Spirit to enable us to live victoriously. When we look to His word for strength and instruction, and obey Him, we will find peace and resolution even in the most difficult of situations.

 

As Christian women, we are to instruct the younger women in what it means to be a godly woman, a godly wife, and a godly mother. We are to teach them how to live out their biblical role in their families, and in the church. We are to remind them of the truths in God’s Word that teach women that they are to submit to their husbands in the home, and godly leaders in the church.

 

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:12

 

As godly older women, we must live out these truths ourselves, and teach them to the younger women. Feminism is alive and well in our society, and has even crept into the church. The enemy loves nothing better than to sow discord, and one of his chief goals is to destroy the foundations of the home as well as undermine God’s authority in the church. As godly women we have a huge responsibility to submit, and teach the younger women the same truth.

 

It has been said that a picture is worthy a thousand words, and we know this to be true. There is nothing more effective or powerful that when a women lives out the biblical role before her husband, children and before younger women.

 

In fact 1 Peter 3:1-4, we learn that lost husbands can even be influenced and won to Christ by the gentle and submissive spirit of a godly wife. We also learn that thatgentle and quiet spirit’ of a woman’s heart are ‘precious in the sight of God.

 

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

 

It is a wonderful blessing to have a Christian wife and mother who mirrors Christlikeness and loves her children and her husband.

 

I am so thankful for having such a mother in my own life. She lived out her faith before me, and she taught me what it meant to be a woman who followed Christ. She also selflessly gave herself to take care of her home and family. She yielded and submitted to her husband as she was directed to do in God’s word. She created a loving atmosphere in the home by loving her Lord, her husband and children with all of her heart. She raised her children in the admonition of the Lord. It had a tremendous impact on my thinking. She demonstrated to me through her example exactly what it meant to follow Christ as a woman.

As older women we too are called to do exactly that. For our own daughters, but also to instruct and teach the younger women in our churches. It is critical to the next generation and it also is commanded to us in Scripture. The following is an excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot from an article she wrote for Ligonier ministries. It is both instructive, and an example that we should not only take to heart, but seek to model in our own lives.

My own life has been blessed by having, first and foremost, a godly mother who was always there. She stayed home. She raised six children, and she set for us a holy example of femininity, self-discipline, discipline (An 18-inch switch lay on the lintel of the door of every room in the house.), humor, and love.

I have also been greatly blessed by spiritual mothers—older women who happened to be there geographically when my mother was not, women who had time for me. They would not have thought of themselves as spiritual mothers. They were simply being kind to a young woman who needed their example, their steadfastness, their godly counsel, their prayers.

It is doubtful that the apostle Paul had in mind Bible classes or seminars or books when he spoke of teaching younger women. He meant the simple things, the everyday example, the willingness to take time from one’s own concerns to pray with the anxious mother, to walk with her the way of the Cross with its tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness—and to show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart.

 

These lessons will come perhaps most convincingly through rocking a baby, doing some mending, cooking a super, or cleaning a refrigerator. Through such an example, one young woman—single or married, Christian or not—may catch a glimpse of the mystery of charity and the glory of womanhood, so perfectly exemplified in the response of a humble village girl of long ago when she said, ‘Behold the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it happen as You say.’

 

Elisabeth Elliot was a wise and godly woman. We can learn much from her words and example.

 

Another great example is the mother of Charles Spurgeon. If there is any question as to the tremendous influence of a godly mother, read the tribute he gave to his dear mother. He was a great man of God whose influence was massive and far-reaching. Indeed, he is called the Prince of Preachers. How remarkable to consider the remarkable influence he recognized that His dear mother had on his life and ministry. He went on to marry another godly woman – Susanna (Susie) Spurgeon.

 

Certainly he saw an example of a godly woman lived out before him in the home, and he undoubtedly looked for those same qualities in a wife which he found in Susie Spurgeon. She was a great help to helpmate to him not only in the home, but in his ministry.

 

 


 

Post: 5/11/2020

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

In our modern society, one of the great tragedies is the minimization or devaluing of motherhood. Children are looked at by some as a burden or inconvenience, rather than a precious gift. As Christian mothers we should never be guilty of minimizing the value of our families or our roles in the home, because we understand that the gift of family and motherhood is a precious one.

 

As mothers, the Lord gives us the blessing of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren or even great-great grandchildren. Mothers have the joy of impacting generations. There are others who are given the unique blessing of being spiritual mothers who mentor and pour themselves into those that the Lord has placed in their midst. And this role cannot be minimized because their impact for Christ can be far-reaching, and Christ can multiply disciples even through one single life. Then there are some that are both – physical mothers and spiritual mothers. What a blessing motherhood is! Wherever the Lord has gifted us and allowed us to ‘mother’ whether physical, spiritual or both, we must treasure this blessing with all our hearts. It is a unique and choice blessing. As women we were created to be nurturers. We are caretakers and we love those who have been entrusted to us with all our being, and the Lord will often use us in deep ways to influence and encourage those He puts in our lives.

 

In Matthew, at the very beginning of the New Testament we find the genealogy of Christ. My eyes generally start to cross and I get swimmy headed when I start reading biblical genealogies, but I have to be honest, in Matthew Chapter one, this genealogy is particularly touching to me. To know that the Lord includes the names of the women who are in His genealogy is a blessing, especially because typically women were not valued very highly.

 

It should be very meaningful to us as women because in this genealogy we see that our Lord loves women. He does not just love women, but He loves women of different stripes and circumstance, and He shows His love for them by honoring them by memorializing their names in the biblical record. He mentions certain women specifically – Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary. We know from the Bible, that each of these women have unique stories, and some are even sorted and sinful. It was considered unusual that women were named in a genealogy. They were not considered high in the social pecking order in biblical times, yet our Lord included them even though most of these women were flawed, sinful and broken from the world’s perspective. But we know that God sees the heart, and His specialty is saving and redeeming broken lives from their sins, and giving them new hearts and a new life.

 

Commentary says: ‘Each of these women is an object lesson about the workings of divine grace.” (MacArthur) Oh, amen. So, so thankful for God’s precious grace, and how He can redeem even the most sinful and unlovely.

 

And you see that is the point that is so significant. Our Lord loves! He loves us in spite of our flaws, in spite of our brokenness, in spite of what others may see as invaluable, unlovely or insignificant. He created us as unique beings and saved us by His grace, and works through us in many ways to be the caretakers of humanity. We have different backgrounds, different stories, different histories, and different testimonies. But the important thing is that we are precious works of His divine grace that He uniquely gifts to bless others, especially our families. Let us rejoice in that sweet truth today.

 

And let us remember as mothers – as women - that the Lord uses each one of us to fulfill His purposes in the lives of those around us, and He has placed us exactly where we are at in order to do that. Let us be content in that, and yield to Him understanding that we may be the very ones through whom He will work through to live out the gospel before them. Through the process He will also reveal Himself in the deepest of ways to us as we submit and humble ourselves before Him.

 

This is a quote from Elisabeth Eliott about being a physical mother.

 

“‘This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.’ —Elisabeth Elliot

 

Motherhood is not always glamorous. It is not always appreciated or even rewarded visibly at times. The mother in the home may often be the least appreciated. But let her get sick or need to be absent and very often she becomes appreciated very quickly. As a matter of fact, her stock may go up immediately. The mother is a critical part of every home.

 

Mrs. Elliot is reminding us here that when we humbly submit to the role the Lord has placed us in the home, it is an act of worship to our Lord. When we joyfully embrace the role that He has given us, we honor Him and bring glory to Him. We say to Him that we are thankful for His blessings, and we show Him our thankfulness by applying ourselves wholeheartedly to the task that He has given us. There are some that would complain or be ornery, and begrudge their work. That does not bless the heart of God, or make for a cheerful home. But when we happily go about our work, and look at it as a God-given ministry, then those around us see Him at work in our lives as well as in our homes.

 

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
Prov. 31:26-29

But look at something else, and read what was said by another that has a different perspective, but an important one.

Elisabeth Elliot was my spiritual mother.

I was raised by a wonderful earthly mother and father who were practical, down-to-earth, gracious, and hardworking. Sadly, my parents, by their own admission, were not born again. The things my parents taught me, though often right and important, were simply about developing character and strength, civility and manners, hard work and independence so that I would contribute positively to society. These lessons are good and right, and probably needed today more than ever, but after I was born again in 1982, I began to see that there was much more to learn about life and my place in it.

When I was awakened to new life in Jesus, I began to appreciate that my life was not simply about being the best person I could be or about building a happy life for myself. Quite simply, my life was not my own. It belonged to God, the one who created me and sent his Son to die for my sins so that I might have new life in him. I was to live for him — for his glory.”

 

This young woman found that while she had a physical mother, her mother was not a Christian. The Lord allowed another godly woman, Elisabeth Elliot, to help her to know and grow in Christ. This was a wonderful blessing in her life, and it is a role that a godly woman can fulfill that can often be overlooked or even minimized. Not only did Mrs. Elliot mentor this young woman spiritually, the fruit of that was likely passed on to the members of the young lady’s household. There is much honor for a godly woman in yielding to the Lord as He works through you to spiritually impact and mentor other women. Indeed Titus 2:3-5, talks about older women teaching the younger women what it means to be a godly young woman. Older women teach the younger women how to be homemakers, loving their husbands and children. But they are also to teach them how to follow the word of God and not dishonor Him.

 

“For a person to be convinced God can save from sin, one needs to see someone who lives a holy life. When Christians claim to believe God’s Word, but do not obey it, the Word is dishonored. Many have mocked God and His truth because of the sinful behavior of those who claim to be Christians.” MacArthur commentary

 

As women we have a responsibility to teach younger women what it means to follow God, obey Him, and reflect Him before the world. We must teach them how to reverence Him, conduct themselves chastely and modestly, and remind them of the biblical ways they are called to serve Him. They need godly role models in older women to live these things out before them.

 

Let us rejoice today as women that God has called us to bless those who we know and love, and let us be thankful for that great honor He has bestowed on us to be called His daughters. Let us remember that our Lord looks at the heart, and let our prayer be that we have hearts that are centered on Him, and that His love flows through us to touch the lives of those around us.

 

Your adornment must not be merely external . . . .but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4

 

 

 


 

Post: 5/8/2020

 

For any ladies that are interested, Michelle Lesley and Amy Spreeman are hosting a webinar on discernment. Both are excellent women's teachers, and this promises to be an important discussion.

"Are you a discerning woman? Whether you’re just starting to learn to discern or you’ve had your “powers of discernment trained by constant practice,” we think you’ll find this Zoom webinar edifying and informative. Join Amy Spreeman and Michelle Lesley as we examine the Scriptures that pertain to discernment, contemporary false teachings to watch out for, addressing false teaching with loved ones and leaders, and more!"

 

Date: Thursday, May 14

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. Central

Registration: To register, simply make a one time or monthly gift of $10 or more to A Word Fitly Spoken at PayPal or Patreon.

 

If you are interested, click on the link below to register for the webinar.

 

Discerning Women Learn to Discern Webinar

 


 

Post: 5/8/2020

Contentment

The quiet joy of the Christian’s heart

 

To see a wicked man merry, or a Christian sad, is alike uncomely. (William Gurnall)

When you look in your heart, those deep places and crevices where only the Lord sees, do you find contentment there? Joy? Peace?

 

“Contentment is a sweet inward heart thing, it is work of the Spirit ‘indoors’…...” (Jeremiah Burrows). This means it is a work by the Spirit that takes place deep within our hearts. It is not a superficial – external exercise.

Only He can truly produce: ‘joy, peace, love, longsuffering, gentleness, self-control.’

 

If a person is discontent, then those fruit will not be evident. For a Christian to be discontent means that their hearts are not centered on Christ – their hearts are not filled with Christ’s presence – they are not walking in the Spirit. One teacher said that a discontented Christian is an anomaly. It just cannot be, not if they are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

 

Why you may ask? It is a simple matter really. Most of it boils down to thankfulness. Do we understand that where we are and what our circumstances are, come from God? Are we a thankful people as Christians? Again, someone might ask, how can we be thankful in the middle of a pandemic? How can we be thankful when we may be struggling with sickness, financial, family trouble, disappointment, and many other difficulties that life presents? How can we be thankful when we cannot even be together in God’s house?

 

We CAN be thankful as Christians even through the incredibly hard things, because:

1) Our God is Sovereign, and He is in complete control. That means nothing touches us or our lives apart from Him.

2) Our God is not only Sovereign, but He died for our sins, and if you belong to Him that means you will live with Him for all eternity because your sins have been fully paid for.

 

Perfect love casts out fear, right? (1 John 4:17-18) Why is that? Because as Christians we live in the reality that we do not have to ever fear the wrath or judgment of God in this life or the life to come. We may experience chastisement because of sin, but never His wrath. Nor do we have to be uncertain about eternity because when we are “in Christ” our eternity is secure and when we leave this life we will go into the next life with Him where everything is perfect. It is a win-win, right? Sorry. . . I digress.

Now I know you know all these things. As Christians, we all understand these things, right? We cut our teeth on them in the church. But the reality is that many of us live as if we never heard them. It is essential if we are going to be victorious as believers and reflect Christ to the world, then we must consider these truths and they must be a reality in our lives. We live in uncertain and scary times. But we serve a God who is never caught off guard – who never slumbers or sleeps. I heard one leader on a recent podcast (Darryl Harrison-GTY) say, “that as Christians, unfortunately we are not averse to responding to difficulty just like the world, rather than the church.”

 

Read what Charles Spurgeon had to say about this matter of contentment:

 “Spurgeon knew that believers must make a conscious choice to be content. He encouraged them to “shake off the dust of discontentment and sorrow, and let us sing together unto God” because in him, “there are fathomless depths of infinite delight.” Spurgeon knew that “covetousness, discontent and murmuring, are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil.” In contrast, “contentment is one of the flowers of heaven.” Indeed, by being “specially careful and watchful” in discipline one can cultivate this God-given grace as contentment “will not grow in us by nature.” Spurgeon knew that “the new nature alone” could produce grace and contentment in the heart.”

 

Did you catch what he is saying? ‘Spurgeon knew that believers must make a conscious choice to be content.’ He knew that the natural tendency of men is to be discontent. But that does not mean that is acceptable. It is grievous to the heart of God. Christians more than anyone ought to have a spirit of thankfulness and be content. How offensive it must be to Him when we display these attitudes!

He who has blessed us with life. He who has blessed us with Himself. He to whom we completely owe our salvation. He who holds the whole of the universe in His hands and He who works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose is our dear Lord. How can we not be content?

Remember what the Lord said: "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

 

We are going to have problems, heartache and difficulty in this world. But we have our Lord’s word that He has overcome the world. We can be of good cheer – we can take courage – we can have peace - we can be content knowing He will take care of us.

 

“Ah, you will never have enough till you get Christ; but when you have Him, you will be full to the brim. Contentment is the peculiar jewel of the beloved of the Lord Jesus. (Spurgeon)

But we need to understand – and this is important – contentment is not something we can just work up on the outside and determine to have and put up a brave front to others. We don’t just pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and paste a smile on. No, contentment must come from within or it does not really mean anything, and it surely will not last. It must involve a right heart attitude, an attitude that the Spirit produces as we live in obedience to God’s Word.

“in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18)

 

That is not to say that we must not make a choice – a conscious choice – to be content. But external contentment is very closely tied to internal contentment.

 

“’My soul, wait thou only upon God.’ These words may also be translated as: ‘My soul, be silent to God. Hold peace, O my soul.’ Not only must the tongue hold its peace; the soul must be silent. Many, many sit silently, refraining from discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontent. . . Outwardly there may be great calmness and stillness, ye within amazing confusion, bitterness, disturbance and vexation. . .

Their spirits are like the raging sea, casting forth nothing but mire and dirt, and are troublesome not only to themselves but also to all with whom they live. Others, however, are able to restrain such disorders of the heart, as Judas did when he betrayed Christ with a kiss, but even so they boil inwardly and eat away like a canker. So David speaks of some whose words are sweeter than honey. . . and yet have war in their hearts. In another place he says, ‘While I kept silence my bones waxed old.’

Contentment is a soul business. First, it is inward; secondly, quiet; thirdly, it is a quiet frame of spirit. . . It is a grace that spreads itself through the whole soul.” (Jeremiah Burroughs)

 

When we allow discontentment and unthankfulness to sit in our hearts, then it can turn into all sorts of maladies of the soul. Bitterness, envy, jealousy, convetousness, anger, malice, etc. When this happens, guess what? We are NOT walking in the Spirit.

If we are not walking in the Spirit, then we will not have the joy, peace and other fruit, that the Spirit produces in our hearts as we walk with Christ. Yes, contentment is a soul business – it is a very serious business. And we must apply ourselves to it as with any other Christian virtue or attitude.

 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

 

It is a worthwhile endeavor and an important one! We impugn our Lord when we are discontent – restless souls wandering looking for joy and peace – when our Lord has given us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness.

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

 

Take some time today, and consider are you practicing contentment? If not, consider what may be keeping you from being content.

 

“’Nothing so hinders us,’ said St. Francis de Sales, ‘as to be longing after something else.’ And that longing, that discontent, can be a contagious disease.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

She also gives us another important insight into contentment.

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

 

A lack of contentment is not the result of our situation or circumstances. It is a lack of understanding that true contentment comes from Christ no matter the circumstance, and a failure to embrace our circumstances, accepting our situation and knowing that wherever we are at and whatever is going on, that Christ is with us and working through it.

 

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

 

You see a different set of circumstances cannot bring us contentment. Only Christ can. The apostle Paul understood that. Perhaps more than any servant of Christ, he endured terrible hardship for the sake of Christ. Yet he came to understand that it was not a change of circumstance he needed. It was an understanding of God and His provision.

 

Do you remember what he learned?

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

 

He asked the Lord to change his circumstances. He wanted the Lord to remove a very painful circumstance from him. But the Lord gave him something better. He showed Paul that through those difficult circumstances, He can manifest Himself in the greatest possible ways. That when we feel weak because of things that are happening to us and when life is spinning out of control, He will be strong. That is where our Lord’s power is most manifest and perfected in us. Just as it was with the apostle.

 

A different kind of life – different kinds of circumstances – a new job, a new house, a new car, health, prosperity, easy circumstances, nothing in this life can bring true contentment, only God can do that through His Spirit and our obedience. You see, we do not need our circumstances changed, we need our hearts changed! 

 

So how about it? Will you lean on your faithful Lord today? Will you submit to His Spirit, and obey Him today, in choosing to be content and thankful no matter where you find yourself, knowing that He loves you and can bring joy in the worst places of life.

 

If I become content by having my desire satisfied, that is only self-love; but when I am contented with the hand of God and am willing to be at His disposal, that comes from my love to God.”(Jeremiah Burroughs)

 

 


 

Post 5/2/2020

 

Psalm 103:13-14

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

 

I read the other day where someone asked, “what is your favorite attribute of God?”

 

There are so many – so many wonderful attributes that we can name about our God. His love, His holiness, His perfection, His power, His omnipresence, His omnipotence, and so many more. But for some reason, on that particular day the one that came to my mind immediately was His compassion.

 

Our God is loving, patient with us and compassionate. He knows or He remembers our frame, and He is mindful that we are dust. The Creator and King of kings and Lord of Lords condescends to love and care about us. He is so far – very far – above us, yet He doesn’t mock or disdain our frailty, He remembers and pitieth our weakness.

 

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

 

The other day I had sent a message, and looked back over it and found a silly typo. It really embarrassed me that I had not read more carefully before sending. An insignificant thing really, but it bothered me to no end. We all make little mistakes that in the grand scheme of things, other than irritating us, most of them really don’t matter.

 

But as I reflected on it, I thought of other mistakes – much bigger mistakes – sins I had committed. Times when I completely let my Father and others down, when I failed to love Him, and honor Him. But even worse when I offended His holiness, or deliberately rebelled in some area.

 

The wonder is that as His children, even when we fail, He is patient with those He loves. It doesn’t mean He just overlooks our sin. For He says, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

 

But it does mean that in Him, we will find a forgiving and loving Father. There may even be consequences because of our sin, but we can rest assured that He will walk with us through our failure, every step of the way.

 

What an amazing and loving Father that does not deal with us according to our failures, but is longsuffering with us!

 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious. Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. Psalm 103:8

 

But what about us when others fail, or even cause us pain through their failures or actions? Are we patient and longsuffering? Do we respond to them the way our gracious Father does with us?

 

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

 

At salvation, we know that we have been forgiven completely for every sin we have committed in the past, and for every sin we will ever commit in the future. Yet, from a practical perspective, the Lord expects us to confess our sin when we falter, and if we refuse to obey Him, then it impedes our fellowship until we deal with the sin and ask His forgiveness.

 

But this verse is very clear, while as believers our eternity is sealed, from a temporal perspective the Father will withhold practical forgiveness from us if we refuse to forgive others. Remember the story of the debtor. (Matt. 18:23-35)

The king gladly forgave his infinite debt that the servant could never have repaid. But when another servant wronged that very same man for a mild infraction, he refused to forgive.

 

The king said to the servant: I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you? (Matt. 18:32-33)

The Lord said of this story, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35)

 

As we begin a new week, let us take this to heart. Let us have thankful hearts, that our good Father is patient with us in our mistakes and weaknesses, and welcomes us back into fellowship when we confess them, and ask His forgiveness.

 

Let us show that very same mercy and compassion to those around us that may fail us or inadvertently offend or wrong us. We are all sinful and broken people that at one time or another needs forgiveness. Sometimes it is very hard to forgive when we have been wronged, particularly if it was deep hurt and wrong, but with the Lord’s help and strength, through His power and grace, we can forgive just as He forgives us.

 

One writer said this: “that we are never more like our Lord than when we forgive.”

 

Another said: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

 

Have a blessed week, and hopefully we are getting very close to the end of the Pandemic of COVID-19.

 

 


 

Post: 4/28/2020

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

Right now the vast majority of us are having to watch worship services online. And even though many of us miss fellowshiping with our brothers and sisters, we can get a little too used to the routine of sleeping a little later and plopping down on the couch with a good cup of coffee to watch church. We might even be tempted, once quarantine is over, to keep “going to church online.” Michelle and Amy discuss the importance of faithfully fellowshipping with the Body again once this is all over.

 

CHECK OUT this excellent podcast by Michelle Lesley and Amy Spreeman entitled:

Church was never meant to be remote: Reuniting after COVID-19

 

 


Post: 4/27/2020

From Charles Spurgeon (Morning and Evening) April 26

“It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb and have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, would forget their gracious Savior. Forget Him who never forgot us? Forget Him who poured His blood forth for our sins? Forget Him who loved us even to the death? Can it be possible?

Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us, that we allow Him to be as wayfaring man tarrying for a night. He whom we should make the abiding tenant of our memories is but a visitor.

The cross where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness.

Do you find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of Him. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily on the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things, which takes away the soul from Christ.

We must be determined that whatever else we let slip through our fingers and from our minds, we will hold fast to Jesus.”

 

As ladies it is so easy to get bogged down by the things going on around us. Even during this peculiar time – the pandemic – it seems like we are busier than ever, with many things pulling at us. But we cannot allow ourselves to get so distracted and busy – even in ministry – even in doing the good things, necessary things – that we forget the best thing – the most important thing.

 

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.”

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

 

Ladies, let us choose that very best part today. Let us seek our Lord while He may be found and worship His holy name this day.

 

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . .Hebrews 12:1-2a

 

 


 

Post: 4/18/2020

Good day ladies! Sorry gentlemen, just in case you are reading, remember we love you, but this is for ladies only! (1 Tim. 2:12)

 

Hope this finds everyone well. Still interesting and unusual times that we find ourselves in. This situation has affected us all in difference ways, and the repercussions will be likely felt for a long time.

 

Life goes on even in the middle of a pandemic, right? Sickness not even associated with Covid-19 happens. My mom had to go to the doctor the other day for a minor issue that had nothing to do with the virus. Everyday life goes on. Young moms still have their families and babies to care for, and us older moms/wives/women have those everyday stresses and responsibilities to care for our families or others around us. For many there are the things jobs require from them or their husbands. There is heartache, and for many there are financial or other stresses that weigh heavily on them – maybe now more than any other time recently.

 

I am reminded of the verse,

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3

 

During these days of uncertainty, this is a wonderful verse to remember. Thankfully when we go through difficulties of any kind in this life – no matter the nature or how deep, how painful – we can always turn to our Father. He loves us, and as we celebrated just last week, He gave everything for us in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will certainly not withhold any good thing from us.

 

Yes, we can call on Him, cry out to Him, and He listens.

One of the particularly hard things about the trials that we go through is trying to make sense of them. Trying to understand why? Why does a good Father allow pain – suffering? Why does He allow hardship and difficulty?

 

There are myriad reasons obviously. Sometimes it can be to correct disobedience. It can be open rebellion or sin, or it can be that we have just gotten a bit off track, and the Lord is reorienting us and turning us back to Him.

 

Hebrews 12:5-6 says this:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

 

But importantly, there does not have to be sin or disobedience in our life for us to experience pain and suffering.

 

A great example for us to consider is Job. His friends insisted to him in their counsel that there must be some sin or disobedience in his life that resulted in his terrible trial. But they were completely wrong, it was not true at all. At the end of the book, in Chapter 42 it says: indeed, the Lord rebukes them for their wrong assumptions about Him. (Job 42:7-8)

 

Job had no obvious sin or disobedience. In fact, we find in Job 1:1 that it says: “that man (Job) was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

 

We know all of us are frail and sinful, but Job as much as is possible for a human being, was upright and righteous. Job had put his trust in the Lord for redemption and lead a God-honoring life.

 

We find in Job 1:6-12, a conversation of which the outcome will rock Job’s world. It is a bit ominous and unnerving really. Beloved, we should take note because there is another realm – a spiritual realm where activity is regularly going on that we cannot see or hear, and based on this conversation it may at times concern us as humans.

 

Not getting too far into this tangent, but we do need to understand this. For instance, we see in Ephesians 3:10 that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in heavenly places.” The Lord is glorifying Himself in the heavenly realm through His wisdom and purposes in redeeming a people and establishing - maintaining His church. They are watching!

 

In Ephesians 6:12 it says this, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

 

This is what Job faced, this fight against the ruler of darkness. But the reality is that it was the Lord that initiated the dialogue. Now before we tread into heresy here, remember God is not the author of evil, and He does not tempt men to evil (James 1:13-14). Period.

 

The Lord was in control of the conversation, it is not as if Satan is calling the shots even though he would love to think that he was. The evil one is under the complete authority of God as is everything else in the universe. The enemy of our souls cannot touch us without the permission of the Father. So back to our story.

 

the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”

 

The commentary on this says ‘The angelic host came to God’s throne to render account of their ministry throughout the earth and heaven’ (Ex.1 Kings 22:19) The evil one joined them – ‘Like a Judas with the apostles, Satan was with the holy angels.’ He was maniacally ‘roaming about the earth’ prowling about like a ‘roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’, seeking to do mischief to those that the Lord loves.

 

As he approached the throne, you can imagine him with a swagger as if he is free to do what he pleases. HE IS NOT! He is completely under God’s control, and he may do only what the Lord allows for his purposes.

 

We see this very well in the conversation laid out in Scripture. The Lord asked Satan if he had considered Job? He was not really asking. He was telling. The Lord was in complete control of what Satan could do. The Lord God knew Job’s heart and his devotion. He knew his love for Him and his commitment to righteousness. He allowed this trial to reveal the strength of Job’s faith, and to not only strengthen it further, but to reveal Himself to Job in a deeper way.

 

What is the evil one’s response? He accused Job before God. He diabolically suggested that since the Lord had built a hedge of blessing around Job, that if He removed it Job would rebel. Of course, we know that this is not true in the least. Read carefully the commentary on this.

Satan asserted that true believers are only faithful as long as they prosper. Take away their prosperity, he claims, and they will reject God.”

 

Friends, are we ever like that? Are we guilty of basking in God’s blessings and peace, yet do we ever grow angry or dissatisfied if something goes wrong or we face difficulty? None of us like trials in our humanity, we reasonably recoil from pain. But that is not an excuse to sin. We may be like Job and not understand what is happening. It may be very painful. But as believers we must always cling to the knowledge that our God is faithful and good. And while the path is hard and difficult, we should never malign His character or question His goodness.

 

The Lord God allowed the enemy to sift Job because He knew it would perfect Job, not destroy him. Let our prayer be that He finds the same faith in us. We may not understand at times what our Lord is doing in our lives, but let us not be guilty of weak and shallow faith that only holds fast when life is easy.

 

Job was a strong and godly man. But he did get to a place in his trial where he became confused about what was going on and questioned the Lord. This can happen with any of us, and surely with everything Job went through, we understand that. He did not understand what was going on because it did not fit the narrative of what he thought he knew of God.

 

Do we not do this sometimes in our pain? We may think we have a firm grasp of how the Lord works, and even be tempted to think that temporal blessing or ease indicates favor. But this just is not true. Surely our God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17) But the visible and obviously good earthly things are not the only way He blesses.

 

Sometimes His blessings take the form of trials. Sometimes His blessings are severe mercies. Does anything in your life come to mind? I can immediately recall things that fit into that category in my life or someone close to me.

 

And we would be dishonest if we did not identify with Job here. Understanding that the Lord is doing a good work through our pain and difficulties is not always easy. While God loves Job and is merciful and good to him, the trial he is encountering could well be described as severe mercy.

 

He may allow these trials to reveal to us the reality or strength of our faith. It may be that He is going to use the suffering, so that we can understand and help someone else who is suffering. It may be to wean us off the things of the world that we clutch so tightly with our hands and hold onto. But it can also be because the Lord wants to draw us closer, and reveal Himself in deeper ways, and turn our hearts to Him.

 

We can read through the book of Job and see all the horrible and debilitating things that happened to him. We would have to agree that the man endured unbelievable suffering, and it is no wonder that at some point he began to question his understanding of the Lord. That does not necessarily make it right. His faith began to wobble a bit, but the beauty is that his God was more than able to handle it.

 

When we struggle under the weight of our heartache and pain, we can go to our Lord with our questions as we struggle and hurt. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14). He is patient with His children, and He welcomes us to come to Him.

 

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

 

But we need to understand, that we will not necessarily always find answers to those questions. But what we WILL always find is mercy and grace. We will find a sympathetic Father who will strengthen us, enable us to persevere, and bring good from those trials.

 

Look at what that great pastor and theologian R. C. Sproul had to say about this:  

“God answered Job’s questions not with words but with Himself. What is noteworthy in this drama, is that God never directly answers Job’s questions. He doesn’t say, ‘Job, the reason you have suffered is for this or for that.’ Rather, what God does in the mystery of the iniquity of such profound suffering, is that He answers Job with Himself. This is the wisdom that answers the question of suffering — not the answer to why I have to suffer in a particular way, in a particular time, and in a particular circumstance, but wherein does my hope rest in the midst of suffering.

 

The answer to that comes clearly from the wisdom of the book of Job that agrees with the other premises of the wisdom literature: the fear of the Lord, awe, and reverence before God, is the beginning of wisdom. And when we are befuddled and confused by things that we cannot understand in this world, we look not for specific answers always to specific questions, but we look to know God in His holiness, in His righteousness, in His justice, and in His mercy. Therein is the wisdom that is found in the book of Job.”

 

Remember what Job said at the end of the book. “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You (Job 42:5). Let us look for the Lord in our trials because surely just as with Job, we WILL find Him there.

 

 

Beloved friends. No matter what God’s purpose in our trial, one thing that is for certain, if we will stay the course – we may be clinging to Him with everything we have in us – but if we will stay the course He will reveal Himself to us. It will likely be in a way that we never understood or saw before. And just as with Job, we will glorify Him and honor Him among the heavenly hosts as we trust Him through our heartache and trial.

 

Our Lord loves us, and He is preparing us for eternity, to be with Him and reign with Him forever. In the meantime, He is perfecting and refining us. Let us close and ponder the words in 2 Corinthians chapter 4.

 

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

 

O Cross that liftest up my head,

I dare not ask to fly from thee;

I lay in dust life’s glory dead,

And from the ground there blossoms red

Life that shall endless be.

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

(George Matheson - This song was actually written during the writer’s experience of a severe trial)

 

 

 

 


 

Post: 4/18/2020

Ladies, good morning. We made it to the weekend! smileyPlease take time to listen to this podcast from Michelle Leslie and Amy Spreemen entitled: "Spurring on Each Other: Covid-19 Quarantine Encouragement. Very good, very encouraging. Click the link below to listen.

Spurring on Each Other: Covid-19 Quarantine Encouragement

 

 

 


 

 

Good morning. Ladies, can I share something this morning that I read? I was reading the supplemental Sunday School lesson for this week that was posted to the website, and I came across this.

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus *said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me." Matthew 28:8-10

 

This is what one writer said of the passage and about these faithful women.

 

“They threw themselves prostrate at his feet, in token of reverence and humility; and they laid hold of His feet, that they might know, and be assured that he was really risen, and that it was not a spirit, or a mere phantom and appearance; and they held him in affection to him, and as desirous of his continuance with them.”

 

These women immediately upon realizing that this was their Lord, fell at His feet and began to worship.

 

Ladies, do we do this? When we consider our risen Lord, Who loves us so much that He gave everything, do we worship Him like this? When we are confronted with a truth as we read His Word – during that daily time we set aside to seek Him, or maybe through a Bible reading or sermon reading – do we fall before Him and worship Him because of Who He is? Let our prayer be that this would be our response to the Lord when He reveals Himself to us. 

He is our Lord – He is the Lord. Let us remember.

 

The life of Christianity consists very much in our love to Christ.”

“Loving the Lord Jesus Christ is what the Christian life is all about. If you are a Christian, you love Christ. Unfortunately, your love is subject to fluctuation in its intensity. It takes a focused commitment on your part to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. – John MacArthur

 

 


 

Ladies, good Friday to you!

As we consider this solemn day when our Lord gave everything for us, let our hearts be thankful. He paid a debt that we know we could never pay. Yet, it was a debt that He did not owe. He was the sinless and perfect One - He WHO knew no sin became sin on our behalf. He went to that despised and shameful cross that was reserved for criminals, to suffer and die so that we may be forgiven.

 

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed. (Is. 53:5)

 

On this day as believers we can rejoice in John 3:16-17 because it holds the greatest of all truths for us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 

We rejoice in what this means to us as Christians, and surely we must bow today before our Lord, thanking Him and praising Him for His incredible love and sacrifice. Yet, it is a stark reminder that there are many who do not know Him, and are on the road to hell. His sacrifice means nothing to them because they have not believed in the only One that can save them.

 

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

 

 

It saddens me when I hear someone say that God is sending someone to hell because that is not true. Our sins separate us from the Father – our sins have already condemned us. A person without Christ is already condemned because of their sins. But they will be further condemned because of their rejection of Him – the refusal to believe in Him – the refusal to repent – the refusal to confess Him as Lord. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 tells us this.

2 Thessalonians 2:10……….for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

 

 

You see dear ones, the terrible reality – the heartbreaking reality – is that hell is the place where unsaved people will go to pay their sin debt. It is an unimaginable place of darkness and suffering. They will spend eternity there because their sin debt and ours is so vast. It is so great that it will take all of eternity and it still will not be paid. (ref. Matthew 18:21-35)

 

Our hearts should be broken over this. Remember what our Lord said when He looked out over Jerusalem and the people’s rejection of Him. How His heart broke for them.

 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matt. 23:37

 

As we consider the magnitude of what our dear Lord has done for us at Calvary. The sacrifice – the suffering – the weight of our sin – the wrath from His beloved Father. Let our hearts be full in gratitude and adoration for our King – our Lord. And let us be motivated to run and tell others.

 

No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy. Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace has dug a fountain which ever gushes with waters pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind.”(Spurgeon)

 

Let us worship our beloved Lord for what He has done for us.

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old Cross, where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

 

O’ that old rugged Cross, so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For twas on that old Cross, Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true
It's shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He'll call me some day, to my home far away
Where His glory forever I'll share.

 

(Chorus) So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

 

 


 

 

Hello friends. Let us remember to pray for one another, and encourage those around us. It is a solemn time in our country – in the church - that we begin the Passion week. There are so many around us and in our nation that are hurting and suffering. It may be through sickness – it may be economically. It is a difficult time for Christians because we cannot meet together in fellowship, hear our pastor proclaim God’s word, and lift our hearts/voices to our Lord in unison to offer our worship and our praise.

 

But sisters, while these may be difficult and stressful times, what better time to celebrate what our Lord has achieved for us as believers than this week that we celebrate His sacrifice and resurrection. To reflect on His enormous and selfless sacrifice, and the blessed hope we have because of what He has done for us. Surely as we reflect on this true hope, the cares of the world begin to fade. 

 

He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8

 

F. B. Meyer stated on this passage:

“From all eternity Christ was positionally equal with His Father, enjoying the glories of heaven. But He did not consider this position something that He had to hold on to at all costs. When a world of lost mankind needed to be redeemed, He was willing to relinquish His positional equality with God—the comforts and joys of heaven. He did not consider them something that He had to grasp forever and under all circumstances.

 

He humbled Himself.  There was no depth to which He would not stoop to save our guilty souls. Blessed be His glorious name forever!

 

Even the death of the cross. Death by crucifixion was the most shameful form of execution. It might be compared to the gallows, the electric chair, or the gas chamber—reserved only for murderers. And that was the form of death reserved for heaven's Best when He came into this world.”

 

One thing is clear. The first century executions were not like the modern ones, for they did not seek a quick, painless death nor the preservation of any measure of dignity for the criminal. On the contrary, they sought an agonizing torture which completely humiliated him. And it is important that we understand this, for it helps us realize the agony of Christ’s death.” MacArthur Comm.(E.P. Dutton)

 

Our Lord’s terrible death on the cross then, was not only physically painful and agonizing, but it was humiliating. Can you image the sovereign Lord – God Himself – stooping down to mankind from all the glories of heaven – and the heartache and shame that men levied against Him? He stooped so incredibly low, so that He might lift us up out of our sin and shame.

 

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:5

 

Christians in the early church were reported to have regularly begged God’s forgiveness for the incomprehensible sufferings that they caused their Lord to suffer. They knew that they could not fully realize the full extent of the pain that He endured at the hands of wicked men, but they understood that it was their sins that contributed to His being there. Just as it was ours.

 

Oh, how this knowledge should crush our hearts and grieve us as well because we are just as guilty!

 

May we see our sin for what it truly is, and consider it this week. It is the thing that killed our Lord. Just as surely as these early Christians grieved over the part their sin played in placing their Lord on the tree, so too should we.

 

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

 

Yet, for all our guilt – our shame – our sin, He willingly gave His life to pay for our sins even though He Himself was sinless.

 

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” 

Hebrews 5:7-9

 

Suffering is a very skilled teacher. Jesus had to learn certain things by suffering. Because He was God's Son, He was not exempt from suffering. As Christians, we do not need to be surprised by suffering. Just as our Lord was not exempt, we too may be called upon to suffer because that may be the tool that God uses to perfect, conform us to His image and draw us to Himself.

 

The Lord learned the full meaning of the cost of obedience, all the way to death, from the things which He suffered, and God therefore affirmed Him as a perfect High Priest. That is the kind of High Priest we need, one who knows and understands what we are going through.

 

"Christ did not need to suffer in order to conquer or correct any disobedience. In His deity (as the Son of God), He understood obedience completely. As the incarnate Lord, He humbled Himself to learn. He learned obedience for the same reasons, He bore temptation to confirm His humanity and experience its sufferings to the fullest. He perfectly fulfilled all obedience.

 

In Gethsemane before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed and agonized so intensely that He sweat great drops of blood. His heart was broken at the prospect of bearing sin. He felt the power of sin and temptation, but He did not yield.

He was not crying out against the physical suffering on the cross. He felt the horror in His humanity, and He felt the horror in sinless perfection that He would bear all the sin of the world. When He cried, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will", He was speaking of the cup of divine wrath against the sin He would bear.  He voluntarily surrendered His will to the Father's though, so there was no conflict between the divine will and His desires. 

 

This was the cup He submitted to. The one of divine wrath - divine fury - divine judgment for all the heinous and vile sin of all humanity. He knew very clearly in His omniscience what was to come, yet He yielded to His Father and perfectly fulfilled obedience. Yet, His cry of anguish as he hung on that cross reflected the terrible bitterness of the cup of wrath He was given.

 

We need to be very clear here. Our Lord was fully committed to the path to which He had been born. The path which He chose because of His great love for the Father – for us – that would achieve our redemption and bring the Father glory. He wasn’t trying to avoid that, but the Lord Jesus recoiled from and agonized over the terrible weight of our sin, that He would soon bear.

He made Him WHO knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.  

 

He would bear the wrath and punishment for OUR SIN and every other person. This is the sinless and perfect One, and He agonized over this truth. In that dark hour He would feel all of His beloved Father’s wrath - the divine fury for the sin of mankind - and in that dark moment, His Father would look away.

 

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

 

For the first time in all of eternity, there was a separation. It is the only time of which we have record that Jesus did not address God as Father. Because the Lord took on Himself OUR sin, the Father turned away. In some way which we cannot comprehend, the Father for a brief time looked away from His beloved Son.

 

As we begin this week, let us consider these things. Let us humble ourselves before our Lord, praising His holy name for His willingness to endure the shame, the sacrifice and the wrath for our sins.

 

Father, thank You for the glory of Christ that is manifest here. How He controlled every aspect of His life during the Passion Week. And, Lord, we pray that You will show every heart, every mind, every soul here the true Christ, the real Christ, not the Christ of our imagination. He’s not the Jesus some think they want, to make them healthy, wealthy, and prosperous; not the Jesus who many think is here to fulfill all their desires. But may we see the One who has come to confront  sin, confront false religion, confront hypocrisy, and then to die for those sins, to offer forgiveness through grace and eternal life. Reveal Christ to all of our hearts we pray, for your glory. Amen. (adapted from GTY)

 

Below is a link to a song by Krysten and Keith Getty, “In Christ Alone”. Consider listening as you reflect on our Lord, and the great thing He has done. Just click on the title.

 

In Christ Alone

 


 

 

Ladies, this is worth a listen. Michelle Lesley & Amy Spreeman are both solid ladies teachers!

 

Don't Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

It is not God’s will for us to worry. No matter how strangling our fear may feel, God wants us to trust Him in everything, from the most dire situation to the most mundane. But how can we do that? In this episode Michelle and Amy discuss some biblical and practical ways to stop worrying and start trusting God. (Click on link below to listen to the podcast)

 

Podcast: Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

 

 

 


 

 

 

Good day ladies. Hope you are all okay during these challenging days. The sunshine and springtime are a blessing, and are a great reminder of the beauty our Lord gives us through His creation. And it also encourages us as a vivid reminder that He is in complete control of our world, and nothing is spinning beyond His watchful eye. Here are a few thoughts today that our sweet Lord brought across my path.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." Romans 1:16-17

Sisters, we find ourselves in peculiar and uncertain times. In most of our lifetimes, we have not experienced a pandemic such as this, or the climate of national uncertainty. We have gone through wars, the 9-11 terrorist attack and others. But this particular situation is unique, even though those were of great concern. We have to my knowledge, not experienced the long duration in school closings, the sudden economic downturn and just the general foreboding or fear that has come about so quickly, quite like this.

This morning Karl received a call from a customer. It was regarding business, but in the call the person began to talk about fear and anxiety. This customer is still working because they are considered an essential business, so there is the stress of exposure possibly to Covid-19. He is also missing his family because of the separation/distancing, and he is worried about them. He has a grandchild due in July, and he’s fearful over their safe arrival. Certainly, we all are seeing these types of concerns all around us, and even may be experiencing many of these or others ourselves.

The woman he usually talks to retired last month. He barely knows this new person. Yet as they talked, an opportunity came up where they found that they both were believers, so they could talk together about their faith. They committed to one another that they would pray for each other and their families. They were able to encourage each other and exhort one another to continue trusting the Lord.

We have a unique chance right now. It is a hard time – even a severe mercy – but in the middle of the fear, worry, heartache, financial difficulty and sickness, we have an opportunity to seek the Lord maybe as never before. This also is a chance to pass that on to others through encouragement and share the gospel at any time that we see an opening.

BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

We can choose faith over our fear, and we can choose to be those vessels that the Lord uses to pour out His love and His message to the lost – to the hurting.

We came across this quote from Charles Spurgeon. Let it bless your heart as you consider and look for ways to share the gospel, and the hope that can only be found in Christ our Lord and Savior!

But how much happier will be the man, when he gets to heaven, who has it said of him, “He will shine like the stars forever and ever, because he was wise and turned many to righteousness.” It is always my greatest joy to believe, that if I should enter heaven before many of you, I will see heaven’s gates open, and you will fly by me, looking at me with a smile on your face, and proceed to God’s throne, where you will worship and adore him, before flying back to me, and though I do not know you, you will grab my hand, and if there were tears in heaven, I would surely weep, as you say to me:

“Brother, it was from your lips that I heard the gospel. It was your voice that first warned me about my sin. Here I am and you are the means God used to save me.” And as the gates open again and again, more will come in. Souls redeemed and more souls redeemed. And for each one of these a star, another gem in the crown of glory. Each one another honor and another note in the song of praise. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” “‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!

 

 


 

 

 

Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Do you ever feel yourself getting anxious? Do you fret and worry? Do you ever just feel overwhelmed by the cares of the world? If so, you are certainly not alone. At times peace can be very elusive, particularly if we are looking around us at a broken chaotic world that seems to be falling apart at the seams.

As women we can be particularly vulnerable to being anxious or worried. We are caretakers – we are homemakers – we are nurturers. When we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic or even some other stress that may threaten the harmony of our home, we can begin to feel the anxiety of the uncertainty.

But for us as Christians, our Lord tells us we do not have to be anxious - afraid. That may sound simplistic, but it is very true that if you are a believer you can go to Him, and find peace no matter the circumstance. (Matthew 6:33)

Look back to Philippians 4:5 and the end of the verse:The Lord is near;”

According to commentary this can mean nearness in space or time. But the context may suggest it is talking about space. Ever heard the saying “You are getting in my ‘space’”. Well this is the thing. The Lord is in our space – He is right beside us. We cannot move a muscle, that He is not right with us. What a comfort to undertand.

You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth. Psalm 119:151

But the LORD is near, and one with God is a majority. "No foe can harm us, no fear alarm us, on the victory side." God's word is true, and He will never forsake His own.

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him. “He does not leave praying men, and men who confess his name, to battle with the world alone, but he is ever at their side.”

Ladies, as women we are created as emotional creatures (Can anyone say hormones?) That is a huge blessing because if we weren’t that way we wouldn’t be those nurturers and those encouragers. But on the other side, the enemy can use this against us. We can be controlled by our emotions rather than our minds. It is with our minds that we understand God’s truths set forth in His word. And it is with our minds that we embrace those truths even when our feelings or emotions tell us otherwise.

One other side note is that in my opinion in talking with other women I know (remember, this is only an opinion) that because of the way we are geared, women tend to have the capacity to have strong deep faith. Faith combined with knowledge can be a wonderful tool, and it can be a formidable weapon when the enemy attacks!

The Lord tells us in each of these verses we have been looking at that He is near. That means He tells us unequivocally that He is with us – right in our sphere or space – and we do not have to be afraid. It is His promise.

We see in Philippians 4:6 something else that is valuable to consider. He tells us to ‘be anxious for nothing’.

‘Fret and worry indicate a lack of trust in God’s wisdom, sovereignty, or power. Delighting in the Lord and meditating on His Word is a great antidote for worry.” (MacArthur)

We have the Bible - God's Word - that contains all of His promises. We also have the blessing of prayer as Christians that God has given us. How we neglect this precious opportunity. Because of our Lord, we can always – any time day or night and at any place – go before the throne of grace and because we are His, receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We need to commit ourselves to spending time in His Word. Also, because of the blessing we find in prayer that we can go to our Lord confidently in knowing He hears us, can we do just that when we are worried? Can we take the time to go to Him with deep gratitude knowing that He cares about our concerns/fears. Indeed, we are told in Phil.4:6 ‘that in everything by prayer and thanksgiving we are to let your requests be made known to God.’

Gratitude to God accompanies all true prayer’. (MacArthur)

 

As we confidently rest in the truth that God is always near, be anxious for nothing, offering up our prayers with thanksgiving,  Guess what the result is: ‘And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’

‘This is an inner calm – tranquility that is promised to the believer who has a thankful attitude based on unwavering confidence that God is able and willing to do what is best for His children.

The word "guard" here is a military term which means ‘to keep watch over’. God’s peace guards a believer from anxiety, doubt, fear, and distress. Because of the believer’s union with Christ, He guards his inner being with His peace.’ (MacArthur)

 

Friend, this is truth. It does not come any more true than this. We don’t have to be anxious or fretful. God’s word promises us that if we will go to Him trusting Him with our concerns with thankful hearts - knowing that we can rest in the confidence that He is in control - that He loves us and will help us, we can experience His peace and joy.

But the choice is ours. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. He has given us His Spirit as well to help us. When our thinking is controlled by His Spirit, He produces in us: love, joy, peace, etc. (Gal.5:22-23) This peace is just like the joy. It is produced by the Spirit in our life, and has nothing at all to do with circumstances.

As we conclude, what say you? Are you going to be anxious, worried or fretful?  Or are you going to believe God and His Word, and choose to take your cares and concerns to the only One that can do anything about them -the King of Kings and Lord of all - Our good Father who sent His Son to die for us.

"Fear arises when we believe everything depends on us." (Elisabeth Elliot)

 

 

Comments

Judy Taylor on 04-06-2020 at 11:44 PM
So very good! That's so great, Carole--"God is our space!" An awesome promise that He is always near. Thanks for illuminating these often read verses with us. Blessings!
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