Women's Corner

January 18, 2021

"Suffering is the greatest tool in the life of the believer. It’s how the quality of our faith is tested and proven. It’s how we learn to rely on God’s strength instead of our own. It’s how the Lord displays His sufficiency and provision to the watching world. God has great purposes in our suffering. And as Peter reminds us, it’s temporary. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10). God is not unaware of or unmoved by our suffering—on the contrary, He’s working through it to sanctify us and grow us in the likeness of His Son." John MacArthur Blog post

There is something that I really began to reflect on this past year. We all are pretty familiar with Romans 8:28, right? A personal favorite and a verse that has helped me endure and navigate difficulty through the years.

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.

I love this verse because it holds a beautiful promise and assurance as well as a reminder that our Sovereign Lord is always in control of everything, and He is working all circumstances to our good. But as familiar as I was with this verse, I missed a little something in the verse that follows.

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;

When we go through heartache and suffering, it is very difficult to see how it is working to our good. We cling to God through faith in His goodness and promise, but in our humanity we still struggle with the reality of the pain of living in a sin-filled world.  As I have meditated on this verse, I have found it comforting to understand that God is working ALL things for our good and He is working ALL things to our good and using them to make us like Christ Jesus. 

The goal of God's predestined purpose for His own is that they would be made like Jesus Christ. John MacArthur

We have to understand as believers that the Father is working in each of our lives to build Christlike character in us - to make us like Christ. Do you remember what the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3?

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

You see, he reminds that the Christian is in a very real sense in a race. He uses that analogy here. We are running that race - pursuring and following Christ. Another way of describing this path that we are on is sanctification. That process which God is using to perfect us and make us like His Son. He is transforming us and renewing us and maturing us. The goal is Christlikeness right now. To pursue Christ Jesus with everything in us. To obey and submit to Him. To immerse ourselves in His Word where He instructs us, where we learn of Him and grow in grace and knowledge. As we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit as He reveals the truths and commands that we find in God's Word and obey, He strengthens and grows us to be more and more like our Lord Jesus. The prize is Christlikeness in heaven. The 'upward call of God' is that time when God calls each believer up to heaven and into His presence and will be the moment of receiving the prize which has been an unattainable goal in earthly life. That will be the prize at the end of our race.

But until that time the Lord is conforming us. We need to remember this as we understand Romans 8:28, and we need to remember during the difficult times when we struggle and suffer. The Father knows exactly what is going on, and He is using it all to refine and make us like Christ. It is hard at times, even heartbreaking. But we can cling to the hope and the knowledge that it is not for nothing. Our great God loves us beyond what our finite minds can understand and He will never allow us to suffer beyond what we can bear, and He will always use it in conjunction with His eternal plan.

We are facing much uncertainty in our country. The days ahead from a human perspective may be dark. Christians must prepare themselves as we embark on the coming days. We must gird up the loins of our minds and be sober, being vigilant and preparing for the future. Persecution may come to Christ's church, and we need to strengthen ourselves now. If we wait until that time, then we may be caught off guard. Whatever is to come, we must redeem the time wisely. We need to prayerfully ask our Lord to search our hearts, repent of any sin that He reveals to us, then commit ourselves to Him anew seeking Him through His Word, devoting ourselves to prayer, and sharing the gospel - the good news. 

Below is the link to another blog post by John MacArthur. These recent posts are dealing with the current events in our country, and give great insight as we face these tumultuous days. Please take some time and prayerfully read what Dr. MacArthur would share through his biblical wisdom for these times.

Life under the Sun

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


January 11, 2021

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
To give to each person according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds." 
Jeremiah 17:9-10

Below is a link from John MacArthur -Grace to You from a recent blog post. When we look around us, it is often hard to reconcile the depravity and lawlessness and wickedness that abounds. It is hard to understand what is going on. Dr. MacArthur brings wisdom in this post about the basis for much of the problems we are seeing, and we will follow up with another post that deals with the answers. Let us not grow discouraged, dear sisters at what is unfolding in our world. As our pastor, Brother Tim Thompson, pointed out this past Sunday, nothing is catching our Lord by surprise. He is sovereign, and He is in control. 

Take a few minutes and read this post from Dr. MacArthur. It is a great reminder of what is at the heart of much of what is going on all around us. 

The High Cost of Rejecting God

 

 

 


December 31, 2020

We are coming to the end of a year tonight, and will soon welcome in the new one. This past year has been fraught with much concern for all of us, and the new year does not have any promise that things will magically be much different. Hopefully and prayerfully, things will get better. Regardless, one certainty that we can hold on to is that our Lord is still on His throne. Christ is building His church, and nothing will hinder or interfere. No matter how dark or good these earthly days to come, as believers, we have placed our confidence in the One who never grows weary or changes. The One that is the Sovereign Lord of everything. The One that is the Alpha and the Omega and the One that will one day return and we will dwell with Him for all eternity. Until then, we must hold fast to Him, look to Him who will never leave us or forsake us, and the One who will strengthen and uphold us.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Let us prayerfully commit ourselves anew to Him, and seek Him with all our hearts while He may be found. I found this excerpt from Charles Spurgeon that shares some wonderful wisdom for us as we begin this new year. The enemy will do everything he can to discourage us and hinder us. He is always walking around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. He is the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. In our own strength, we can grow discouraged and defeated. But when we keep our eyes on our Lord, knowing it is in His strength and power that we persevere and serve Him, then we can always have victory and peace! 

Happy New Year, dear sisters!

“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, ‘Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.’ All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that ‘Christ is all in all.’

Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.

‘My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.’”

 

Charles Spurgeon


December 24, 2020

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

 

"For your sakes He became poor" (2 Corinthians 8:9)

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but 'though he was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.' The rich saint cannot be true in His communion with His poor brethren unless He gives His substance to minister to their necessities. Likewise, it is impossible that our divine Lord could have had fellowsip with us unless He had imparted to us of His own abounding wealth and had become poor to make us rich. Had He remained on His throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving His salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in agreement with Christ. It was necessary that the righteous Savior give to His sinning brethren of His own perfection and that we, the poor guilty, should receive of His fullness grace for grace. Thus in giving and receiving, the one might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments, or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory. He must wash them in His own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship. Believer, here is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus became poor, that He might life up into communion with Himself. Charles Spurgeon M&E

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 Corinthians 5:21

Merry Christmas, sweet sisters. Let us rejoice and celebrate the birth and life of our dear Savior. We were not redeemed with perishable things, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:19  The Lord gave everything, so we might have life. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

 

Posted below is a link to an article written by Michelle Lesley entitled "Elisabeth's Gift". Enjoy!

Elisabeth's Gift


 

December 15, 2020

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

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him2 Cor. 5:21

Yesterday, we celebrated the birth of a precious new child into our family. The Lord is so good to us. Luke and Laura welcomed a new little baby, Palmer Ellen, into their family. This sweet little girl reminds that amid all the chaos and darkness, there is still the goodness of God, and hope. A new innocent life unsoiled by the darkness of this sinful world brings such joy and reminds us of God's faithfulness. 

Another little baby was born into this world over 2000 years ago, and we are celebrating His birth this advent. The birth of the Christ child who would be the Savior of mankind represents the hope of all men. How good is our God to send His Son into the ugliness of this world of sin and rebellion, so that we as mere men - sinful men - could know Him and have eternal life with Him. 

This sweet little innocent baby that was held in the arms of Mary and Joseph so long ago, came into the world to die for us. That was always His purpose. 

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor, and was born in a stable, so that 30 years later he might hang on a cross.” J. I. Packer

As we celebrate Christmas, let us remember that hope came in the form of a tiny baby in Bethlehem, but that little baby was always destined for the Cross.


This child grew to a man that suffered not for His own sin, since He was sinless, but as the substitute for sinners. This man bore God's wrath in our place, so that we could be reconciled to the Father. He suffered the full chastisement of God, so that it would be possible for us to have peace with Him. God treated Him as if He had committed every single sin that was ever committed for every believer that would believe and put their trust in Him. 

He bore our wrath in full. And it costs Him terribly in that moment, but He was willing to pay the high price. The sinless Son of God not only gave Himself for our sins to purchase our redemption, He bore the full force of the wrath for that sin from His Father. We do not know what took place specifically within the holy Trinity, but something dreadful happened within that fellowship because the holy Father could not look on the darkness of sin that the Son bore on our behalf.

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.

Hebrews 5:7-9

In Gethsemane, Jesus agonized and wept, but committed Himself to do the Father's will in accepting the cup of suffering which would bring His death. Anticipating bearing the burden of judgment for sin, Jesus felt its fullest pain and grief. Though He bore the penalty in silence and did not seek to deliver Himself from it, He did cry out from the agony of the fury of God's wrath poured on His perfectly holy and obedient person. Our Lord did not weep because of the physical suffering that He would endure, even though in His omniscience He knew how gruesome it would be. He wept because He knew what the weight of the sins of the world would mean.

There is one thing that has always been remarkable to me in reflecting on the Crucifixion. The Lord endured unimaginable physical suffering on the Cross. We all familiar to some degree the truth that death on a cross was one of the most heinous and violent forms of execution imaginable. He was nailed to the cross with spikes in the centers of His precious hands, and through His feet. To breathe He would have to push Himself up somehow which is why ultimately victims of crucifixion die from suffocation because they cannot exhale. It is horror beyond imagination. Yet, the Lord never cried out in His physical suffering, even though it involved unbelievable agony. 

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? Matthew 27:46

He experienced in that moment the abandonment of His Father as He poured out the entirety of the wrath of all mankind. In our humanity, we cannot begin to understand what this means. But what we can understand at least to a degree is physical pain. The fact that the Lord endured all of the physical agony on the Cross, and never once cried out gives us perhaps a small insight into the horror of what happened when He did cry out and what He knew was to come. Whatever took place within the Trinity at that moment, we cannot know, but the reality is that the Son of God endured the worst imaginable suffering.

"When Christ was forsaken by the Father, their separation was not one of nature, essence, or substance. Christ did not in any sense or degree cease to exist as God or as a member of the Trinity. He did not cease to be the Son, any more than a child who sins severely against his human father ceases to be his child. But Jesus did for a while cease to know the intimacy of fellowship with His heavenly Father, just as a disobedient child ceases for a while to have intimate, normal, loving fellowship with his human father. . . the mystery of that separation is far too deep even for the most mature believer to fathom. But God has revealed the basic truth of it for us to accept and to understand to the limit of our ability under the illumination of His Spirit. And nowhere in Scripture can we behold the reality of Jesus' sacrificial death and the anguish of His separation from His Father more clearly and penetratingly that in His suffering on the cross because of sin. In the midst of being willingly engulfed in our sins and the sins of all men of all time, He writhed in anguish not from the lacerations on His back or the thorns that still pierced His head or the nails that held Him to the cross but from the incomparably painful loss of fellowship with His heavenly Father that His becoming sin for us had brought." -John MacArthur

I know this is typically an Easter discussion, but the reality of Christmas is that a sweet baby came to earth that would go to the Cross to pay the penalty for my sin and yours, so that we might become 'the righteousness of God'. God treated Him as if He committed believers' sins, and treats believers as if they did only the righteous deeds of the sinless Son of God.

Oh, dear ones, let us celebrate anew our blessed Lord's birth rejoicing in the eternal hope we have in Him because He was will to come and ultimately die to purchase our pardon.

Oh, what a Savior!

He left His Father's throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace!

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam's helpless race.

Amazing love! How can it be

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? (Charles Wesley)

 


December 9, 2020

Heaven is not here, it’s There.  If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next.  God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for. Elisabeth Elliot

I am posting a link today from someone who we recently saw a blog post from, Sharon Lareau.  I urge you to subscribe to her blog. It is difficult to find solid women's teachers, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her posts. This post is a reminder that while we walk through this life, our heavenly Father never promised us health, prosperity, ease, etc. It really is rather the opposite. Recall the Lord's own words.

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. Luke 9:23

If you look at the lives of the apostles, we can find good evidence, that we were never as believers promised a life of ease and blessing. Oh, certainly, there is joy unspeakable and blessings far too numerous to count in our walk with our Lord. The Lord's mercies and compassions fail not, and they are new every single morning. But His blessings do not always come in tangible, physical blessing. As a matter of fact, some of His very chief blessings transcend this life, and may be seen for instance, in something like the deep spiritual joy and peace that may come through some of the hardest trials imaginable. As they served Christ, they encountered difficulty, and persecution, but through His power and work in their lives, they followed Him faithfully and served Him with all their being.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

As Christ's followers, He has given us everything we need for godly living, perseverance, and spiritual growth. This growth though will only happen as we commit to studying and obeying His Word. We will find that the power of the Holy Spirit enables us not only to persevere through difficulty and trials, but also to lead a life that is pleasing to Him and that brings Him glory. Our message of the gospel is validated when we lead obedient and changed lives. The world can generally spot the true from the false. We can say we are Christ followers, but if our lives are no different than theirs, then they have little regard for the Truth when we try to witness to them. 

To lead victorious lives that reveal the reality of our Savior takes discipline and work. We must be committed to prayer and reading His Word. We also must be committed to obeying the Word. We will begin to grow in Christlikeness because as we pray, read God's Word and obey, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We are growing and maturing and people will see the reality of the power of God changing us and refining us. This also enables us to have that spiritual strength that holds fast to our Lord even as the winds and storms may be swirling around us. 

Let our prayer be that regardless of our earthly trials and troubles that we will hold fast to our Lord. That we will apply ourselves to doing those things that will help us to grow as His followers, and bear evidence of His work in our lives. We are going through a difficult time this year where there is still much uncertainty. Now more than ever Christians need for their lights to shine brightly. The world around us need to be reminded by our steadfastness and joy even in the uncertainty, that we serve a great God who we can trust and center our lives on. Living out that hope we have that this world is not our home, but a temporary passage to our real home where our dear Lord dwells.

Please take a few minutes and read Sharon's blogpost. She includes Scripture at the end that correspond to the truths that she discusses.

 

The Christian life is not always easy.

 


 

December 4, 2020

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

 

Ladies, 

Below is a link to a Paul Washer sermon entitled, "A Willing Sacrifice". It is an encouraging message. I urge you to take some time and watch it. It is a very timely message for these uncertain days. We do not know what the future holds, but our Lord does. We cannot control circumstances, but during this time, we can and must prepare our hearts and minds so that we can stand no matter what unfolds in the coming days.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:34-36

 

A Living Sacrifice


December 1, 2020

As we begin the month of December - the last month of 2020 - not so much has changed.  We are still in the midst of COVID-19 and all that entails, and we are still trying to process the election. There is much turmoil no doubt. In society in general, but perhaps personally as well. There may be sickness, family issues, finances, etc., that can be overwhelming especially in light of societal circumstances. But we need not fear because we know as believers that our hope is in Someone that transcends every single thing going on in this world, and He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is our Sovereign Lord, and He is working in all things. Nothing is beyond His control. But we must apply ourselves to trusting. Life can be uncertain and even unnerving at times, and if we are not careful, we can become anxioius and fearful. 

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I am going to post a link from someone that has recently been recommended from Michelle Lesley - a solid and excellent biblical teacher. Her name is Sharon Lareau, and I thought we would give this post a try.

It is entitled 'Trusting God with our Worries and Fears'! Enjoy!

 

Trusting God

 

 


November 21, 2020

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:10-11

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6

As we anticipate Thanksgiving, it is a great time to offer gratitude to our Lord for all He has done for us. What better time to catalog our blessings, and consider them. One of our blessings is our church, Glennwood Baptist. Many often comment on the loving fellowship we have at Glennwood and the love we carry outside our walls through missions and evangelism. We have a pastor who proclaims the truth of God's word both in season and out of season - when it is popular and when it is not popular. Both he and his precious wife, Traci, set an example for our church that we can follow and trust. All of this is a huge blessing, and we need to thank the Lord for this wonderful blessing. 

We need as members to pray for our pastor and leaders. We need to protect the fellowship of the body by striving to preserve the unity and peace. We need to love our brethren by word and deed as well as uphold one another in prayer. Ultimately, we are one body and one fellowship under Christ, and we should magnify His wonderful name by the unity that we display before the world. 

The validity of Scripture in the world’s view is determined by how it affects us. John MacArthur

The world is watching believers and our church to see if we really believe God's Word and live by it. That includes in our relationship first to Him, and then our interaction in our churches and our holiness.

Biblical unity is first of all always based on God's Word, and that includes doctrine. 

Unity in the church begins at the point of doctrine. John MacArthur

Listen, if we are going to be unified biblically, this unity must be centered on Truth. There are many calls for unity right now going on under the tent of Evangelicalism, and trust me, much of it is not based on doctrinal truth. 

There are people in the corporate visible church that hail unity and urge it, while all the while denying the truth of the gospel and central truths put forth in God's Word. They will urge tolerance of sins that are specifically condemned in God's Word - all for the sake of unity. Dear ones, this is not to be, and we must reject this, and be discerning. We are to be like those noble Bereans who searched Scriptures to make certain that what we believe and trust is prescribed in Scripture. 

That is another reason to be very thankful here at Glennwood. We have a pastor that is doctrinally sound and biblical. We can trust him to proclaim God's Word each week and the entire counsel of His word. That is becoming all too rare in the modern visible church.

Please take some time this week and thank the Lord for the blessing of our church and the people. Ask the Lord to help each of us to love one another and encourage one another. Let our hearts be burdened for those outside our doors who do not know Christ, and pray for opportunities to be salt and light.

Please take some time and read this link from our sweet friend, Elizabeth Prata. This is a wonderful little story, but it also has some wise truths imparted in it as well.

 

Blessings dear sisters.

 

Marooned with my husband

 


November 17, 2020

 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Next week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. There are so many that are hurting and discouraged. There is sickness and turmoil. There is much uncertainty about the future. But one thing as believers, we know for certain is that we can face tomorrow - no matter  what it brings - because HE LIVES. Because He lives then our future is secure. Let us truth in Him today, and begin early offering up thankful hearts. He is Lord over all, and He loves us. Nothing touches a hair on our hair - not a tear is shed - that He does not know it and His love for us is steady and sure, so we need never fear. 

I am posting a link from our sweet sister, Elizabeth Prata on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving only lasts one day but thankfulness is forever

 

 


November 13, 2020

 

We will return to the second half of the Lord’s prayer at another date, but let’s take a break from that for a bit, and then we will resume at some point in the future.

As believers, our love for the Lord Jesus is one of the defining marks of our walk with Christ. Indeed, love for Christ is a mark of every true believer. But our love has to be nourished and fed or it can grow cold. We can allow distance to develop between us and our Lord. The fire of our fervency can be diminished if we are not serious and deliberate in abiding in Christ Jesus.

The Church at Ephesus was a faithful church. They were committed to doctrine and as a result they would ferret out any false teachers and separate from their influence. They loved the Lord and were faithful in their commitment to Him. Yet, their love grew cold.

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and I will remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Rev.2:4-5

Listen to this from John MacArthur (Remember & Return)

“In spite of their success, they missed the most important thing-they left their first love. Their labor of passion and fervor became cold, orthodox, and mechanical. They left the heart out of their service - all their activity had become perfunctory.”

These people still did all the right things, but their hearts were not right. Listen, if it could happen to this church, it could happen to any of us. A church is made up of individual believers. We are the church. If we become stagnant and complacent or apathetic in our walk with Christ, then it will not only affect us, but others as well.

How does a Christian’s love for Christ grow cold?

And do not be conformed to this ]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

If believers are not consistently being transformed by the renewing of their minds, then their love can grow cold. They began to be preoccupied and consumed by the things of the world, and before long they start to be conformed to the world and its thinking.

The renewing of our minds takes a deliberate and conscious choice on the part of a believer and does not happen in a vacuum. We live in a sinful world. If we are not careful, we can be easily influenced by it. If we are not consistently seeking the Lord through His Word, and growing in grace and knowledge, then we can fall back. We can wake up one day, and wonder how in the world did we become so distant from our beloved Lord.

God has given believers every single resource we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:2-4) Yet in 2 Peter 1:5-9, we see the apostle instructing these believers that if they are not moving forward in their Christian walk diligently adding to their faith – moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love – then, they will be barren or blind. The wording indicates they will look like an unbeliever. They will have forgotten the great forgiveness they have been given. These virtues the apostle mentions here, look a lot like the fruit of the Spirit. If we are not walking under the control of the Holy Spirit, then these fruit will not be evidenced. But also, we must remember that while the Spirit works these things in us, it happens as we obey God’s Word. We must be diligent to obey the word of God and pursue these virtues, even as God’s Spirit produces fruit in our lives.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will follow My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. John 14:23

We demonstrate our love and grow in that love as we obey Christ. The Spirit works and enables that obedience and manifests fruit in our lives. The wording in this passage means that we when we are following our Lord closely and obeying Him, then He will manifest His presence in our lives. Our love for Him will be real and our relationship with Him will grow strong.

It is time for believers to examine themselves in these dark days. We must repent and return to our first Love.

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12

Our society is sinking fast. Certainly, if we are not under judgment (which many believe that we are and have been), then we are on our way. How can the Lord not judge America when we have rejected Him and His law as a society? When we sanction and legalize all sorts of debauchery including murdering innocent babies in the womb even up until birth, and even further, many even support laws denying care to those that survive the wicked and gruesome procedure.

We as believers have got to return to our Lord, and commit our lives to Him again. We must be that salt & light that He has commanded us. Our lives cannot be only lived for Him a few hours on Sunday. Our entire lives must be committed to His service and devotion to Him.

“We do not segment our lives, giving some time to God, some to our business or schooling, while keeping parts to ourselves. The idea is to live all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honor and glory of God. That is what the Christian life is all about.”

R. C. Sproul

 

Sisters, let renewal begin in our hearts. Let us return to our Lord, and offer ourselves once again to Him as living sacrifices – holy and acceptable to Him – which is our reasonable service.

The days are dark and time is running out.

Let us redeem the days for they are evil. Let us wholeheartedly return to our first Love. Our beloved – the Author and Finisher of our faith to whom we owe everything.

May His precious name be magnified and lifted High.

 


November 10, 2020

"Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” If we are to be women who build a house, then we need tools. God has given us a great amount of instruction, tools so that we might build well."

The following link is one I came across from Founders Ministry. It is an excellent outline of helpful tools or tenets involved in being a godly wife. But most of them apply to being a godly woman as well. 

I have mentioned maybe a few times how much I love Elisabeth Elliot. Elisabeth as most are familiar lost her husband Jim at a fairly young age, and was left widowed with a young daughter. The Lord blessed her with marriage two others times, and she actually became a widow again both times. If you read her writings, you find that her instuctions are not only for being a godly wife, which she has written in detail, but she also talks about being a godly woman. 

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

Elisabeth explains in her writings that because we are Christians we are different kinds of women. We are different because we are surrendered to Jesus Christ our Lord, and we obey Him. We humble ourselves before Him, and we follow the biblical description of a godly woman. Whether we are married or single, we still as Christian women should model biblical womanhood. As you read the article on this link, some of the tools she mentions may be specific to a wife, but many of them are specific in general to a godly woman as well. In a day where feminism is the mantra that is pushed by society, it is important that we as women resist the pull of the world. As biblical women, we are to reflect the beauty of our Creator in our creation, and honor Him by living the way He created us to be. Women and men are distinct.

“The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment. 'If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,' Jesus said, 'he will find his true self.' A Christian woman's true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate---humble obedience---but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested.” Elisabeth Elliot

Our differences as men and women are to be celebrated, not obscured. Men cannot be women and women cannot be men. We are distinct. There is beauty in those distinctions, and when we live as He called us to be, we bring Him honor and glory. If we are going to honor our Lord and reflect Him to the world, then we must apply ourselves to being those biblical women that our Lord called us to be. Let's apply ourselves with all our being to being those lovely godly women that our Lord created us to be! 

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

Characteristics or tools for a Godly wife


November 6, 2020

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17

It would be very easy right now with all that is going on in our country, to become very discouraged as we look around at what is going on.  But thankfully, this world is not our home. As difficult as it is to watch the rampant sin and turmoil in our society, thankfully we are not really citizens of this place. Our hope is far beyond the transitory chaos and the temporal world that we currently reside. 

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

This is not an easy proposition, right? We do live in this world, and what is going on right now, is beyond troubling. But as believers we must remind ourselves of these things. 

Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; Hebrews 10:23

I always think of the apostle Peter. Fox Book of Martyrs' depiction of what happened to Peter and his wife. They were both crucified for their faith. Peter was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die as did his Lord. But he also was forced to watch his wife die. Tradition has it that  he bade her, 'Remember the Lord.'

Can you imagine the heart and composure of this saint? That in the face of this terrible and unbelievable suffering and tragedy that he would have this presence of mind. Sisters, this is someone whose heart was not set on this world. This was a believer who knew His Lord, and whatever was required of Him, his blessed Lord enabled the victory. 

But 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 diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Sweet sisters, let our faith be strong. Let our hearts be centered on our Lord. Regardless of what happens today, tomorrow or anytime in the future.

Our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

No matter what we face - no matter how great a discouragement - no matter what happens in this world, His precious grace will be sufficient!

I am posting a wonderful link from Grace to You, to encourage us and remind us that this world is indeed not our home if we are a believer in the one true King and Lord of All, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

 

A heavenly worldview

 

 


November 3, 2020

 

Tonight, I am making this post at exactly 5:55, which I am fairly certain is just before the time that the polls will be closing on this election day.

 

Wow, hasn’t 2020, been a roller coaster? I mean, an asteroid whizzed just past us last night, and some even captured a picture of the ball of fire streaking through the night sky. Covid-19, Riots, Protests, a Presidential Election. The fun just keeps happening, right?

 

Seriously, it has been a difficult and unusual year. Hopefully, by this evening, we will hear the results of the Presidential elections, as well as the House/Senate and the local elections. But likely, it may be weeks before it is settled. There are rumors of bricks and other weaponry for rioting found in the cities. And we know that many businesses in large cities are boarded up and even the White House has had to put up barriers because of anticipated protesting.

 

Again, uncertainty. We have no idea what ultimately will happen. But what we do know is this. We serve a risen and sovereign king. He controls all things. Our Lord is merciful. He is our peace. We need not fear. I found the following writing on peace from a faithful theologian and spiritual father from the past, J. C. Ryle. Prayerfully consider and meditate on His words. No matter who wins this election – even though most of us have a preference – cannot bring us peace. The world is moving toward an end. If you read Romans 1, you will realize that much of it is being lived out before us including judgment. But we need not fear, and in fact, we can have perfect peace even in the midst of the turmoil.

 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

 

Let us look tonight as we watch for the returns to come in to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Christ Jesus, trusting Him with the future, and experience His wonderful peace that passes all understanding. Amen? Amen.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful encouragement from Brother J. C. Ryle.

 

“‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.’ Peace is Christ’s peculiar gift: not money, not worldly ease, not temporal prosperity. These are at best very questionable possessions. They often do more harm than good to the soul.


They act as clogs and weights to our spiritual life. Inward peace of conscience, arising from a sense of pardoned sin and reconciliation with God, is a far greater blessing. This peace is the property of all believers, whether high or low, rich or poor.

The peace which Christ gives He calls ‘My peace.’ It is specially His own to give, because He bought it by His own blood, purchased it by His own substitution, and is appointed by the Father to dispense it to a perishing world.

Just as Joseph was sealed and commissioned to give corn to the starving Egyptians, so is Christ specially commissioned, in the counsels of the Eternal Trinity, to give peace to mankind.

The peace that Christ gives is not given as the world gives. What He gives the world cannot give at all, and what He gives is given neither unwillingly, nor sparingly, nor for a little time. Christ is far more willing to give than the world is to receive.

What He gives He gives to all eternity, and never takes away. He is ready to give abundantly above all that we can ask or think. ‘Open thy mouth wide,’ He says, ‘and I will fill it.’ (
Psalm 81:10.)

Who can wonder that a legacy like this should be backed by the renewed emphatic charge, ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid?’ There is nothing lacking on Christ’s part for our comfort, if we will only come to Him, believe, and receive.

The chief of sinners has no cause to be afraid. If we will only look to the one true Saviour, there is medicine for every trouble of heart. Half our doubts and fears arise from dim perceptions of the real nature of Christ’s Gospel.”

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

 


October 30, 2020

 

God's supreme purpose for prayer, the purpose beyond all other purposes is to glorify Himself. Although nothing benefits a believer more than prayer, the purpose in praying must first of all be for the sake of God, not self. Prayer is, above all, an opportunity for God to manifest His goodness and glory. John MacArthur

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; Colossians 4:2

We have been considering over the past few weeks, the pattern the Lord gave to the disciples when they asked Him how to pray. The Lord’s prayer is perhaps the most often quoted prayer. Most can say by memory, but we must be careful in our familiarity with the model of prayer to lose the profundity of this pattern of prayer the Lord provided.

Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven,

 

We discussed a bit in our last post discussing the prayer, that we should pray for God’s will to be realized and accomplished in our lives. When we pray, we should pray with a desire for His will. As we walk through life, our desire should be that His will is accomplished in us, and that means or looks like that we are being more and more conformed to Christlikeness.

We also are to pray that God’s will be accomplished in our world and that His kingdom will come.

What does this mean? After all, God is sovereign. None of His purposes are thwarted, and His will is always ultimately accomplished. Even in the most powerful positions and leadership, His purposes will be accomplished. Kings, even presidents will be used by Him to accomplish His purposes. Nothing is outside of His sovereign control and will.

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1

That is comforting to me as we are coming to the conclusion of this election cycle. Every time I turn around there seems to be another poll or crisis. It is disconcerting if we allow ourselves to focus on this world and what is happening. I can fall back into this and become absorbed in what is going on, and forget that this world really is not my home. It is a struggle for me to not get anxious. This particular verse from Proverbs has brought me great comfort because it reminds me the Lord is in control even where leaders are concerned. It reminds me to set my mind on things above, not on this world, because my Lord has everything under control!

Praying for God’s will to be done should be an important part of our prayer life. One of the ways God’s kingdom comes in the here and now is through souls being converted and being placed in His kingdom. We are getting a taste in this life of what will ultimately come in heaven.

Secondly, God’s kingdom comes through the lives of Christians as they are committed to His rule in their lives. You know, in the modern and affluent visible church in America, there are many who no longer really long for Christ’s return. Certainly, they want to one day go to heaven to be with Him, but just not today. Yet, if you read stories from overseas like those in Voice of the Martyrs, the thing that gets them through each persecution riddled day is that one day they will be with their Lord. They know this is a temporal life, but one day they will be with Him for all of eternity, so they endure terrible hardship because of that wonderful promise.

This world has nothing to offer them. Most of them live with the threat of harm or mistreatment because of their faith. Many of them face the threat of death on a daily basis. They don’t care for the things of this world, but rather they long to be with their Lord. Shouldn’t that be all of our mindset, not just those who are experiencing persecution.

When we pray, we must pray that God’s kingdom come, and that He will work deeply in our hearts so that we long for the day when His kingdom is established, and this temporal world has passed away. On that day, every knee will bow to Him, and give Him the honor due His holy and blessed name.

David sang of the angels who did God’s will. ‘Bless the Lord, you His angels mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!’ (Psalm 103:20. That is the way God’s will is done in heaven, and that is the way believers are to pray for God’s will to be done of earth-unwaveringly, completely sincerely, willingly, fervently, readily, swiftly, and constantly. Our prayer should be that every person and thing on earth be brought into conformity with God’s perfect will. -John MacArthur

Part of our praying that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven is a commitment to God’s will and opposition to satan’s. It is to reject the world’s idea that sin is really no big deal – everyone does it after all – and we should be more tolerant. It is to reject the world’s ungodly system, principles, morals and priorities. When we fail to pray for God’s will and His kingdom to come, then we are in a sense abandoning the Christian’s worldview that desires His will be realized more than anything. Christians must be faithful to pray against the spirit of this age that rails against and maligns our holy God, and perpetrates all kinds of evil against all that is moral and decent.

When we read Romans 1:18-32, we see what Scripture says is to become of the world and the natural progression of wickedness taking place right before our eyes. Men failed to give God the glory due Him that was displayed in His creation, and they instead desired to exalt the creature. They pursued every evil form of sin, and have silenced and rejected God’s moral law that is written upon every single person’s heart.

Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, And let those who hate Him flee before Him. Psalm 68:1

When we pray for God’s will, it is to cry out as with David and the saints under God’s altar.

‘and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

Revelation 6:10

God is allowing sin to run its course right now. He is allowing the enemy to run around wreaking havoc. But he is only a tool, and satan’s days are numbered.

As Isaiah wrote, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand” (Is.14:24)

God’s supreme will and purpose will ultimately result in the end of this world, the Lord’s second coming, and the setting up of His earthly kingdom.

As believers, we must remember we are not citizens of this world. Our real home is in heaven with our Lord. We want His kingdom to come now in us, as well as His ultimate kingdom.

In the here and now, we must pray and desire that His will and purpose be accomplished in us and in this world, and that satan’s evil purposes be undone. We must pray for righteousness which is to pray against wickedness.

We must yield to His commands and obey His Word. Pride is the enemy of God’s will, being accomplished in us. God hates pride because it exalts itself above our Lord. The evil one fell because of pride and was cast out of heaven because He wanted to be like God. Praying for God’s will to be done in our lives and surrendering to that will is to give up control of our own lives and reject the self-centered mindset that would usurp His rightful place in our lives.

Self-will and pride must be rejected by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must live out Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

When we offer our prayers in faith, and with a desire to be conformed to God’s will, then His sanctifying grace works in a mighty way in our lives. When a Christian seeks to surrender Himself completely to the will of God, and obeys His word through the power of the Holy Spirit, then it is a powerful testimony before the lost and dying world to God and His faithfulness.

Listen, the believer’s call is to bring heaven to earth by hallowing the Lord’s name, letting His kingdom come, and seeking to do His will. John MacArthur

We do not know what the days ahead will look like. There is much uncertainty. But sweet sisters, if we surrender to the Lord, praying for His will and His kingdom to come, if we yield to His purposes no matter what they look like, then His peace will rule our hearts and lives. We have no need to fear, but we can confidently face the future. May His will and His kingdom come this day on earth as it is in heaven through every Christian and through His church.

An old Puritan prayer . . 

Help me to pray in faith and so find thy will,

   by leaning hard on thy rich free mercy,

   by believing thou wilt give what thou hast promised; 

Strengthen me to pray with the conviction, 

   that whatever I receive is thy gift,

   so that I may pray until prayer be granted; 

So shall I wait thy will, pray for it to be done,

   and by thy grace become fully obedient.

The Valley of Vision

 

 

 


ctober 28, 2020

 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

We often look at people, and we gauge them by externals. Appearance, affluence, personality and power can all influence the way we look at people if we are not careful. In James 2, the Bible warns against partiality or favoritism based on externals. 

Thankfully, our Lord looks at our hearts. It is a blessing because we are broken and sinful. He is longsuffering, and even though we fail, He knows when our hearts are centered on Him, and our desire is to please Him.  It is a caution as well that on the outside we can create a certain veneer, but God's gaze sees through the external and looks straight at our hearts - our motives, our thoughts, our intents. His word is quick to expose and cut to the bone any disobedience or wrong thinking and motivations.

For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The Lord called David a man after His own heart. There are few characters in Scripture that we can glean more encouragement from and through the Psalms we catch a glimpse of a heart that loved God and revered Him with all his being. Yet he failed, and he sinned. Yet our God is great and He is infinitely good, and even through our failures, He can bring restoration. There are consequences to our sin - just as there was with David - but there is also great forgiveness.

We are going to return to the Lord's prayer, but there have been several good articles I have wanted to share.

This is another great article by Elizabeth Prada. Please take some time to read. At the end of the article, she shares another link right before the Scripture picture, which is to an article by R.C. Sproul. I would encourage you to read it as well. 

A man after God's own heart

 


October 23, 2020

"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."

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16

What a year 2020 has been! Who would have ever dreamed when we started this year, that it would unfold in this way. From lockdowns, masks, elections, riots, protests and other bumps along the way, it has been eventful to say the least. I read the other day that there may be a small astroid that hits the earth about the same time as the election. How appropriate, right? Thankfully it is not supposed to do any damage, so I guess we at least dodged one bullet.

But seriously, it has been an unusual year, and it is not over, yet. We still are seeing the effects of Covid as we enter the seasonal flu season. And in a little over a week, our nation will hold a Presidential election which will likely have a monumental impact. 

First of all, as we consider these uncertainties, we need to remind ourselves of a great Psalm that I read just this morning.

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;

Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. . .

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:1-3;8-10

 

We need to step back and remind ourselves that our Lord is in control. Nothing is ever happening outside of His sovereign control. 

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1

Whoever wins this election, the Lord will accomplish His purposes through him.

This is hard for me because I get pretty exercised about the things going on in this country, and frankly, very troubled when I look at the radical platform of the Democratic party and their plans for our country. 

But we must remember, regardless of what is going on that the Lord is sovereign. That doesn't mean that we do not need to vote for our values and pray the Lord will work in our country. We should carefully consider how to cast our vote and choose the platform that most closely aligns with biblical values as well as our belief system as Christians. Our vote counts now maybe as never before.

But at the end of the day, we also must remember that it is God's hand that stays evil and restrains wicked men. It is God that is working in us to will and do of His good pleasure, and it is He that is working everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  And it is God that is bringing this world to His desired purpose where hopefully very soon He will take home His bride to be with Him, and will one day return to reign in His rightful place here on this earth as Lord. He IS Lord, but one day His rule will be fully established here, and every knee will bow, and acknowledge Him as Lord either in submission or in judgment.

We cannot get so caught up in the things going on around us that we forget that we are not citizens of this world, we are just visiting. This is NOT our real home. Our real home is with our Lord. So instead of focusing on the here and now, we must turn our thoughts heavenward.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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 3:1-3

I am posting a link from Grace to You - John MacArthur, that is very timely. It was a great reminder to me of where my hope lies, and what my priority must be as a Christian. It is a helpful reminder of how we as believers can navigate through a secular society. Please take a moment and read this very good and helpful blog post from Jeremiah Johnson at Grace to You.

How to live in a Pagan Culture

 


October 20, 2020

We have been looking at the Lord's prayer over the past few weeks. The Lord instructs us in this prayer to pray that. .  

"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." 

The Lord has outlined in His word what is His will. We must pray that His will be worked out in our lives. But we need to be careful, and not think of God's will as illusory or difficult to find. Actually, if we study His word, we will understand much of what is God's will for us as believers. For instance,

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." 

God's will is that we obey His commandments - that we obey His word. It is straightforward. If we love Christ, and have committed our lives to Him, then His will for us is to obey His commands.

Another great example:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

So right here we see two examples that clearly reveal God's will to us.

Verse 1: We are to offer our bodies - our complete selves - to God as living sacrifices which is our reasonable worship to live for Him and fulfill His purposes in obedience to Him.

Verse 2: We are to be immersed in His Word which is the renewing of our minds, and we are not to be conformed to this sinful world, and as we yield to His Word, and we are being more and more controlled by it, then the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is being lived out in our lives.

Another:

Rejoice always;  pray without ceasing;  in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess.5:16-18

We are to rejoice always; pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything. This is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.

I think you are getting the point. Many Christians run around frantically searching for God's will, when it really in many ways is right in front of us. When we pray for His will to be done, that means in our lives and in the world. We must seek Him through His Word, and we can find His will. But we must apply ourselves. 

The article link I am sharing is from a very solid women's Bible teacher, Michelle Lesley. She is responding to a question from a reader. She is specifically speaking to married women here, but married or single women can take away the truth from it that God will never lead us to do something, no matter how strong our feelings seem in a matter that would contradict His will. In this instance, she is talking about a wife submitting to her husband. It is an excellent point she makes. Whether married or single, feelings no matter how powerful they seem to be are an unreliable guide to the will of God. We must seek God's will through the parameters He has set forth in His Word because He will never lead someone to do something outside of that or that is contrary to His Word. We must trust God and His will. If we submit and obey His Word, then He will work out His purposes in our lives. He does not need our help to accomplish it! We may struggle with submitting to our husbands, or even the principles of God's Word, but if we do not submit to the Scripture which includes submission to the husband's headship, then we are not only being disobedient, but we are stepping outside of God's will.

Please take the time to read this very wise and insightful article.

Submitting to God's will and your husband

 


October 15, 2020

I am adding a link today that is from the Grace to you Blog. In this blog post, John MacArthur discusses the social justice gospel. In 2019, the SBC passed Resolution#9 which approved of the use of CRT/Intersectionality has analytical tools. John MacArthur warned at the time that this was a 'watershed' moment for the SBC. One of the primary issues critics of Res#9 have is that they are introducing worldly ideologies into the church. Most Christians subscribe to the belief that the Word of God is sufficient for every issue or problem faced in their own life, and in the life of the church; therefore, they are cautious or troubled by the introduction of any worldly philosophies into the Christ's church. Since the passing of Res#9, many are now more familiar with Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality and understand the dangers it poses. The blog link below is actually from 2018, but it outlines the problems and concerns with allowing these ideologies into the church. If you really begin to understand the tenets of the social justice gospel, you will understand that it is is not the biblical gospel, and it in fact points people away from the true gospel message. This gospel has made significant inroads into the church. It is critical that we understand the dangers it poses, and be informed about it's origins, and the ideology that it is centered on. Please take some time and read over this blogpost. It is not an exhaustive discussion, but it does provide helpful information on the important topic.

The injustice of social justice - John MacArthur

 

 


October 13, 2020

Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

 

‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

 

At the beginning of the prayer, the Lord gives a warning against prayer that is self-seeking. The prayer model that he gives begins with the Father, not with our needs. Perhaps, a good way to gauge our own prayers, would be to ask the question, “Do my prayers begin with calling out to our heavenly Father with first of all a recognition of His holy character and a desire to see His name ‘hallowed’?” or “Do my prayers jump right in with a list of our wants and needs?” Certainly, we are all guilty of this, but the Lord urges us in this model prayer, to look beyond ourselves to our Lord, and desire His exaltation in us, the church and the world around us. When we begin to seek and pray for that, then very often self starts to fade, and His presence – His glory become our priority.

The Lord invites us to come into His presence with our petitions. But often for many, that is all prayer is. It can be all about us and completely self-focused. We all can fall into this mindset in the flesh. But as believers, we really need to consider that as God’s children, we should desire His glory and His name to be honored even above our own needs or wants. That is not to say that the Lord does not want us to bring our troubles and our needs to Him. He welcomes us to do that, and come before His throne where we will always find help in time of need. But as His beloved children, we know what He has done for us. We know that only He is holy, and that He deserves our worship. He deserves all honor and glory, and we should pray that He is honored in the manner He deserves.

 

We should desire that His name be ‘hallowed’.

 

Hallowing God’s name, like every other manifestation of righteousness, begins in the heart. ‘Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,’ Peter tells us (1 Peter 3:15), using a form of the word that hallowed translates to. JMacArthur

 

When we sanctify Christ in our hearts, then we will sanctify Him in our lives. The Father’s name is most hallowed when His children conform to His will, and lead holy lives. When we live a life consecrated and set aside to Him, seeking to give Him glory in all that we do, then we hallow His name. When others see a deep commitment to Him and we have a walk that is centered on Him, it hallows His name.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

When we live as bright lights shining in the darkness of this sinful world, then our Father is glorified. His name is hallowed. As believers we should desire that our Father’s name be hallowed and we should also pray that His kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 

As His children, our greatest desire should be to see the Lord reign in His rightful place as King in His kingdom. It is so upsetting to hear people malign Him and take His name in ways that dishonor Him. Seeing sin and depravity characterizing much of society with no regard for Him and His honor and holiness makes us angry as Christians. But one day. . . every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Him as Lord.

You know, I think of the apostle Paul. He must have really frustrated those who tried to persecute him. I mean, for Paul declared – to live is Christ and to die is gain. How do you get to someone like that? I mean, Paul had such a deep love for His Lord, and such a spiritual perspective. His life here meant nothing to him. As a matter of fact, he was torn between staying here or going to be with His Lord.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake or going to be with the Lord.  Philippians 1:21-24

He loved his Lord so much, that He longed to go be with Him. 

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

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

You see, everything in Paul’s life was centered on knowing Christ and that would mean one day going to be with Him. He loved Christ, and truly understood what He had done for him. It colored everything in his world.

When Paul talked about the goal in Phil.3:13-14, he was talking about achieving Christlikeness in the here and now. Obviously while he was in this world, that would be done imperfectly. But then he goes on in verse 14, to talk about the prize. The prize is Christlikeness in heaven. His goal would fully be achieved when he went to be with his Lord.

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. 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 8:28-29

As we close, look at this for a minute with me. We all are pretty familiar with verse 28, but we can often overlook verse 29.

Listen, God is working all things together for our good, and he is doing that as He conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ. He is perfecting and refining us and preparing us to one day go and be with Him. He knows exactly what it takes to mold us and make us into conformity to Christ. It will not happen until glory, but this life is that process where He is doing that work.

 

Paul understood that. He pursued Christlikeness with everything in his being. And his desire was for God’s will to done in his life above any comfort or anything else - God's will in and through him. If that meant prison, fine. If that meant a painful thorn in the flesh, fine. If that meant beatings, shipwrecks, persecution, being maligned, whatever it included, he was fine with that. If it meant leaving this world and going to be with Christ, he was good with that. If it was better for him to stay here and do the work Christ had for him, he was good with that. Whatever Christ wanted to do in his life to conform him to his image, he was good with that because that is what he was committed to. Beloved sisters, can we say that? 

We will talk more about His kingdom and His will next time. But let’s leave with this thought. One of the priorities in our prayer life should always be to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives. Many times, I have heard people praying for God’s will, but it is that they might have particular insight or that His will be carried out in their lives. But often the things that they already know to be true of His will in their lives are not being lived out. Holiness, sanctification, forgiveness, and many other areas of obedience. When we pray we need to seek the Lord and pray in our own lives that His will is fulfilled in us, and that He will help us and enable us through His Spirit to obey Him and submit to Him. If we truly love Him, then we will obey His commands.

Again, I think we all would probably confess that our prayers are often self-centered. We focus on our needs, our wants, our problems, our goals, our dreams, etc. One writer said we can often be like tiny infants, who know no world but the world that consists of their wants and feelings. It is one of the greatest struggles of the Christian life, to die to self and our agenda/wants, and live to Christ. We all struggle with this.  As Christians, we have got to strive for the goal - Christlikeness. With God's strength, just as with Paul, we must understand the goal is conformity to Christ which is Christlikeness, and desire that above our own comfort or temporal wants.

It is a struggle because we live in this world. But we cannot just accept that. We must resist that. When we enter our prayer times, we need to ask God to search our hearts, and burden us for His will and agenda, not our own. We need to pray that whatever the process takes to conforming us to Christlikeness that it will be achieved, and that He will enable us to submit to Him. We do not want to see Him one day, and experience the realization that our lives were lived all for ourselves, and know that we gave Him very little in return for what He did for us. We all as believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Our sin has already been paid for. We will not be judged for that. But we will answer for our lives, and what we did with them in His name and for Him.

When people see Christ, they will understand in that moment who He is, and with that will come the realization that He is everything they ever wanted or needed. They will understand that He is the One that we were created to know and serve. His love will surpass our imagination. Let us be found faithful, dear sisters. Let our earnest prayer that He will be hallowed in our lives, and His will and purpose will be accomplished in us.

 

 

 

 


Post October 9, 2020

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet.5:8

The enemy of our Lord and of our souls is always on the prowl. He and his minions are always watching for an opportunity to strike. He is depicted as a ferocious lion here. Lions are powerful creatures. They are very quick and very strong. They can pounce on their prey without any notice.

I remember reading about a Japanese tourists that was taking photographs in the wild. She was perhaps a distance away, but she miscalculated how quick and powerful one of the lions in the lion pride she was photographing could move. Unbeknownst to her, he was watching her. Before she could react, he had covered the ground between the two of them and he killed her in an instant. It is very sad and tragic. This woman let her guard down for a moment, thinking she was in control of the situation. She was not, and she paid for her mistake with her life. She drastically underestimated her enemy.

I remember Karl explained an anology to me about hunting and how it reminded him of satan. He would rise early in the morning, or go into the woods before dark to get in his tree stand. He would always wash carefully in a soap to cover his scent. We washed his camouflage hunting clothes in special detergent so they would not have a smell that alerted the deer. He would even spray himself with a scent that smelled like dirt. After his careful preparation, he then climbed high into a tree. He would then sit very still, and wait for the deer to come in. They would often come into the woods, and stand underneath the tree he was in. He used a bow and arrow to hunt. He said one night when he was sitting in his stand, he saw a heard coming in.  He said as he watched them walk in nonchalantly to forage, that a thought occurred to him. As he sat in that tree, he had his bow drawn, and those deer were walking about completely oblivious to the danger that was right above them. An arrow was pointed in their direction, and they had no idea.

He said he realized as he sat there, that is exactly what happens to us with the enemy of our souls. He camouflages himself to hardly be noticeable at all, likely imperceptible. He probably blends in with our surroundings. He probably looks harmless. But we must make no mistake. His fiery arrows are ready at any moment to take a shot at us with the goal of destruction.

This enemy is just like that ferocious lion. He is always moving about - roaming - looking for his next victim. As Christians, we must be vigilant. He is our adversary. He can disguise himself as an angel of light, and so can his minions. There are teachers sprinkled all through evangelicalism even that some believe to be ministers of the gospel, who are really just pawns of satan. They spread his lies and mix in with just enough of God's truth to make it believable. 

If you have ever heard how the FBI trains its officers, you will know that they do not teach them how to recognize counterfeit money by showing it to them. Rather they show them real money, and get them to handle it and study it until they know exactly what its specific charactertistics look like.

Sisters, that is what we have to do if we are going to recognize the devil and his diabolical ways. We must know the truth. We must study the truth. We must immerse ourselves in it, so that when deception comes, we recognize it. There are many false teachers out there today spreading things that are not true about our faith and our Lord. They are cunning and deceptive. Some of them may not even realize what they are doing, but many of them know exactly what they are doing.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:15-17

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Matthew 10:10a

The devil attacks us in many ways as we all can attest to. Link to Stand firm, sistersHe wants to discourage us, hinder us, get our eyes off the Lord, and if he can, he wants to destroy us. We must be vigilant. 

I am going to share another link from Elizabeth Prata that continues to talk about this subject. Ladies, we are living in very dangerous days. In a few short weeks, we will hold perhaps the most important presidential election of our times, maybe ever. There is much discord and confusion. It is very easy to get discouraged. It is very easy to be lead astray. I urge you. Read the Word. Pray. Spend time seeking the Lord. That is our defense against the evil one. It will strengthen us and help us face the future strong and unwavering.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit,  Ephesians 10:10-18

Please take a few minutes, and click on this link to read an essay written by Elizabeth Prata on this subject.

 

Stand firm, sisters

 


Post October 6, 2020

Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9

 

We have been looking over the Lord’s Prayer in our little corner here. As we all know, prayer is a privilege of the believer and it is an essential part of our Christian walk. The late great theologian and teacher R. C. Sproul said the following regarding the Lord’s Prayer:

 

Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in this communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.”

 

Charles Spurgeon said of prayer:

“Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. Just as the leaf and the fruit will come out of the vine-branch without any conscious effort on the part of the branch, but simply because of its living union with the stem, so prayer buds, and blossoms, and fruits out of souls abiding in Jesus.”

 

The disciples would have observed the Lord regularly praying to His Father; therefore, they understood its importance, and they asked Him to instruct them in this matter of prayer.

We looked at last week the blessing that believers are given in being able to go to their Father in prayer. Unbelievers do not know this blessing. Only those who belong to Christ have the relationship on which basis they can call on God as their Father. Isn’t it a precious blessing to be able to call on the God of all creation that sustains all things in prayer and fellowship?

Again, there is no better example than our Lord Jesus Christ that we can look to on the issue of prayer. He knows the Father intimately, and even while He walked this earth, He spent much time in constant communion with Him. Not only can we learn from Him the pattern of prayer, but we should imitate the regularity and priority He gave to prayer.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35

 

We must ask ourselves, if the Son of God sought His Father so urgently in prayer, how much more should we as fallen and sinful vessels seek Him and His presence as well as help as we live in this world?

 

The Lord in the pattern for prayer instructed us to call on God as our Father, and we do so as acknowledgement and understanding that He is the One that gives us all things and makes provision for us.

“Prayer should always begin with the recognition that God is our Father, The One who gave us life and who loves, cares for, provides for, and protects us.

God is ‘our Father, who is in heaven.’ All the resources of heaven are available to us when we trust God. . He ‘has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Eph.1:3). . Whatever you seek, whether it’s peace, fellowship, knowledge, victory, or boldness, God has an abundant supply in the heavenlies. We need only ask our Father for it.” John MacArthur

Our gracious and loving Father desires that His children come to Him with their needs in dependance on Him, and He responds to an obedient heart that is centered on Him.

 

Secondly, the instruction our Lord gives in this prayer is, “Hallowed be Your name.”

Consider for a moment what that means.

The word hallow comes from an archaic English word used to translate a Greek word, which means ‘to make holy’. Some of the same words from this Greek word are sanctification, holy, saint.

To pray ‘hallowed be Your name’ is to acknowledge and attribute to God the holiness that is unique to Him and Him alone. When we hallow God’s name, we revere, honor and obey Him as well as demonstrate a desire that His name be glorified.

 

In Scripture, a person’s name represents their character, and is consistent with who they are.

I think of John 3:18 - 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.

When we pray that our Father’s name be hallowed, then we are praying that He would be recognized for all that He is and that all honor and glory be ascribed to Him as He deserves.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array. Psalm 29:2

Hallowing God’s name just like every other aspect of the Christian’s life begins in the heart. It must first start with a heart that reveres and loves Him, and that desires His name be exalted.

In our contemporary culture, many do not hallow God’s name even among Christians.

One way He is dishonored is through speech. In the world, many take His beloved name in vain through their speech and irreverence. Whether by profanity or slang, people dishonor His name.

I was reading something recently about a pastor from another place that was talking about something and in his message used profanity. His irreverent and profane speech dishonored God and failed to hallow His holy name. We would all agree this does not uphold the Lord’s name and honor it. But while we can easily identify the problem with this speech, sometimes we may be guilty of taking the Lord’s name in another way.

We can take God’s name in vain without opening our mouths. We can dishonor or take the Lord’s name in vain by the way we live our lives, and with our behavior.

One of those ways is through wrong beliefs. Believing wrongly about God can be a form of irreverence. Any belief, and there are many in the church today, which promotes or embraces wrong ideas about God dishonors Him. Reverence for God on the other hand recognizes His holiness, His perfection, His sinlessness, His omnipresence, His omniscience, His wisdom and His many other attributes. Praying for God’s name to be hallowed is acknowledging His attributes and greatness that deserve His honor, His worship and His praise. Meditating on those truths about Him honors Him and hallows His name.

The desire of every Christian should be that their beloved Lord’s name be hallowed before all men. One day it will be.

We should pray this way, and we should live this way.

When we think thoughts that are untrue about God, or doubt Him and His goodness, or disbelieve Him and question Him, we are in a sense taking His name in vain and dishonoring Him.

We are to live our lives every day with an attitude of awareness of Him, and conduct our lives in a way that exhibits this awareness.

Our Father’s name is hallowed when we live in accordance with His commands. When we obey Him, and live holy lives that reflect His holiness.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:14-16

We serve a holy God. In God’s Word (Isaiah 6:3) we find the seraphims calling out to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”

The attribute of God’s holiness is recognized three times in succession.

“This is important. The primary thrust of the 3-fold repetition of God’s holiness (called the trihagion) is to emphasize God’s separateness from and independence of His fall creation,” John MacArthur

 

“The significance of the word holy can be easily missed. It represents a peculiar literary device that is found in Hebrew forms of literature, especially in poetry. The repetition is a form of emphasis. . . On a handful of occasions the Bible repeats something to the third degree.

Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says God is holy, holy, holy.” R. C. Sproul

None of His other attributes are ever mentioned like this. This demonstrates the utmost seriousness and importance of His holiness.

In closing, we must understand that God’s holiness is a characteristic intrinsic only to Him. He is perfect and holy. No other being can say that. Even the seraphim (angelic beings) flying around His throne, must cover their eyes and feet as they proclaim He is holy.

This is the why we should pray with an understanding and mindset that is conscious of God’s holiness. That is why the Lord instructed us to pray that God’s name be hallowed. His is a holy name and it is to be lifted up and worshipped.

We are to live the kind of lives that influences others to desire to hallow His name. We are to live the kind of lives that hallow His beloved name. We should pray that His name be hallowed.

When we disobey God, we diminish our capacity to revere His name, and be those living expressions here in this world of His holiness. When we have right thoughts about Him, when we have right speech about Him, when we lead obedient lives this brings honor and glory to His name, and then our lives point others to Him as well.

Let our earnest prayer be as we call on our Father, that His sweet and holy name be hallowed in our lives and among men. He is worthy of all honor and glory; He and He alone is Holy.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

 


Post October 2, 2020

Ladies, fall is in the air! Isn't it wonderful? The leaves are turning, and the mornings are cool and crisp. We are entering October, and I have no idea where September has gone. I could say that about most of 2020. So many changes, so much afoot. 

This world is moving along to the Lord's desired end. Covid 19 or otherwise, life is still going on. We need to be busy about our Father's business because none of us know what the future holds. 

The link that I am posting is from our sister Elizabeth Prata. She is sharing Charles Spurgeon's testimony. I love it because we really see the sovereignty of God in the events leading to his salvation. But we also see the Lord's hand in using an ordinary vessel, just like any of us in sharing His truth. Certainly, we will never find ourselves in a pulpit, but we do find ourselves interacting with the world and our families generally on a daily basis. We must make staying in the Word a priority, and we must be mindful of opportunities to share. We have no idea what an impact that might have or how the Lord may use it. We do not have to be theologians or Bible scholars to be useful. Any vessel will be useful in the Father's hands when they are committed to Him, and faithful. We simply must be obedient to the task and make certain we are in His word, so we have something to share with others.

“Sisters, we never know which of the words we speak will do God’s best for the soul within earshot. The more we know His actual words, His scriptures to speak, the more He uses them for His glory.”

 

Charles Spurgeon - A testimony of how he came to faith

 


 

Post September 29, 2020

Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

 

We began talking about prayer a couple of posts back. Prayer is one of the most critical and precious blessings that believers have. It is good to periodically go back and look at the Lord’s instruction on prayer. Prayer is vital to every area of the Christian life, and it is a great exercise to consider it, as well as study the patterns of prayer in the Scripture.

 

All to often, when we speak of prayer, it is focused on physical or material blessing. But there is so much more to prayer. If you look at Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3, for those believers, he was asking his Father for spiritual blessings for these believers. How important is this? When our hearts are breaking over a loved one who is lost, we do not want a temporal or material blessing, rather we storm the throne room of heaven begging our Lord to show them mercy, and grant them repentance that leads to life. One day when we see our Lord, and look back over this world, surely we will realized the richest and most choice blessings imaginable were those spiritual blessings the Lord bestowed on us while we walked through this life.

 

Since the issue of prayer is such an important one, and we may not always have the wisdom to pray as we ought, God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us to pray.

 

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

 

These groanings are not some type of ecstatic speech or private prayer language, rather these are “divine articulations within the Trinity that cannot be expressed in words, but carry profound appeals for the welfare of every believer. This work of the Holy Spirit parallels the high priestly work of intercession by the Lord Jesus on behalf of believers.”

John MacArthur

 

but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save [a]forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:24-25

 

Not only does the Spirit enable us to pray, and even intercede for us before the Father, but our sweet Lord and Savior is also interceding for His beloved children.

As we consider the Lord’s prayer, the Lord guides us to call on our Father in heaven as we begin our prayer because all of our prayers are offered to the Father above, and we know that they are all contingent on His powerful hand moving in and for our behalf.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [a]shifting shadow. James 1:17

What a privilege and an honor to be able to call on holy God as our Father! God’s children can always call on Him at any time – day or night – without formality or qualification – we can merely cry out to Him as our beloved Father. We are truly blessed because only those who have been saved by His grace and translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His marvelous light – whose sins have been covered in Christ’s precious blood that He shed on Calvary have this sweet privilege to pray and call on God as their Father. He is our Abba – our Papa.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery [a]leading to fear again, but you have received [b]a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:15-16

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

God’s perfect love has cast out all fear. The child of God no longer fears wrath, but rather can come before his Father knowing he will find grace and help in time of need.

The Lord Jesus instructs us here to call on God as Father in the Lord’s prayer,

We can go before the Father knowing that if earthly Fathers love and care for their children, how much more so will our heavenly Father care for His own. Prayer is about God’s glory, and while the Father brings glory to Himself in many ways, He also has chosen to bring glory to Himself through the lives of His children and His work in their lives.

Oh, that believers could grasp what enormous blessing we have been given to be able to call on our Lord as our Father. Pagans cower in fear before their gods because they fear wrath and destruction. Yet, Christians have the blessing of knowing our God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and He stoops down to hear us and respond to our prayers.

Our loving Father is eager to lend His ear, His love, His power, and His eternal and even temporal blessing to the petitions of His children when it serves them best, and furthers His purposes and His glory.

We have such a good and faithful Father.

Do you remember the familiar story of the prodigal son?

So, he got up and came to this father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and [g]embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

You see this is the kind of Father we have. You see that father was watching for His son. He never gave up on him. No matter how wicked and unloving this son was, His father loved him and watched for his return. This father’s joy and eagerness for this son’s return was obvious. He was waiting to bring restoration and sit this son once again as his table. This is a beautiful and apt picture of God the Father.

This is the magnificent attribute of God that sets Him apart from all the false gods invented by men and demons. He is not indifferent or hostile, but a savior by nature, longing to see sinners repent and rejoicing when they do. From Genesis 3:8 to Revelation 22:17, from the fall to the consummation, God has been and will be seeking to save sinners, and rejoicing each time one repents and is converted

But there is something else here that is incredibly moving. This story read through the lens of our culture loses something if we do not study carefully. In the Middle Eastern culture, the Father did something here that would have been highly frowned upon and disdained. When the Father saw his beloved son from afar, “he felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. You see from their perspective, this son deserved shame not love, anger and reproach, not kisses and an embrace. But look at what else the father did. He would have been wearing a long robe, so he had to gather that robe up and gird it up to be able to run. His ankles or lower legs would have been exposed. This was the height of shame in that culture. The father would have been highly criticized and shamed in front of the leaders and the men in his village over such an action. He would have been ridiculed for such behavior. But this father willingly took on the shame of the son who he loved because his chief desire was that his son be returned and restored to his love.

Oh, dear sisters, does it bless your heart to see the love of our Father portrayed here. Each one of us before coming to Christ was perishing in our sin and shame. Yet, our Father sent His own Son to bear the shame and guilt of our sin. Our sin was so bad, that the Father could not even look at the Son as He shouldered every single sin of the world on His precious and sinless shoulders. Yet, He was willing to pay the price, to make a way for us to be restored to Him, and the power of the sin that separated us to be broken forever.

This is our beloved Father, who our Lord instructed us to call upon and cry out to in our prayer. This is the Father who loves us and welcomes us to come to Him in prayer.

Let us come boldly to that throne of grace where our loving Father awaits us, knowing that we will always find grace and mercy in our time of need.

Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render, O help us to see:
’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee.

 

 


Post September 25, 2020

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

"Our lives are filled with decisions-what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to say, what to buy, whom to marry, what career to follow, and on and on. Many decisions are trivial and insignificant, and some are essential and life-changing. The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom. That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny. It is that decision that Jesus here calls men to make.

The two gates lead to two ways. The gate that is wide leads to the way that is broad; and the narrow gate, which is small, leads to the way that is narrow. The narrow way is the way of the godly, and the broad way is the way of the ungodly-and those are the only two ways in which men can travel. The godly person delights "in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season,' whereas the ungodly "are like chaff which the wind drives away' (Ps.1:2-4)

The way that is broad is the easy, attractive, inclusive, indulgent, permissive, and self-oriented way of the world. There are few rules, few restrictions, and few requirements. All you need do is profess Jesus, or a least be religious, and you are readily accepted in that large and diverse group. Sin is tolerated, truth is moderated and humility is ignored, God's Word is praised but not studied, and His standards are admired but not followed. This way requires no spiritual maturity, no moral character, no commitment, and no sacrifice. It is the easy way of floating downstream, in 'the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience' (Eph.2:2). It is the tragic way 'which seems right to a man,' but whose 'end is the way of death' (Prov.14:21)

The way that is narrow, however is the hard way, the demanding way, the way of self-denial and the cross." John MacArthur-Matthew Commentary 

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

We must understand the way the Lord calls the Christian to is a narrow way and there are relatively few who find it. There are many who may have made a profession for Christ, prayed a short prayer once or walked an isle, but they never surrendered their life to Christ, and entered at the narrow way. There are those who while claiming the name of Christ, walk no differently than those who are on the broad road. A true believer displays the fruit of repentance, and the mark of the Holy Spirit in their lives. There will not be perfection, but there will be a love for Christ that characterizes their lives, and as well as obedience to His commands.

If we look around us today, most spiritual leaders would agree that our country and even parts of the visible church are under judgment. Read Romans 1, and it really becomes pretty clear.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil . . Isaiah 5:20a

I saw a video of some Christians getting arrested several days ago in Moscow, Idaho because they were in public singing the Psalms as a group.

Compromise now is everywhere. The world is under judgment and the times are growing darker.

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;  2 Timothy 3:1-5

We find ourselves in dangerous and troubling times. Our society is being torn apart, and in some ways, the same issues facing the society are driving wedges in the body of Christ, and we are starting to see a separation occur.

Now is the time to first of all, earnestly and honestly examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. This is not to make anyone doubt, or engage in morbid introspection, but rather to affirm our faith and belief in Christ. Do we see the fruit of righteousness being lived out in us, and do we love Christ with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind.’? Are we willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Christ no matter the cost? Do we confess Him as Lord, not only with our lips, but with lives characterized by a submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? 

“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. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  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.

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. . . So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16-18; 20

God's call on lives is one of surrender. 

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Being 'born again' means as we looked at in another post, that our hearts and lives have been transformed by the Spirit of God and we have been forgiven of our sins. It means that those who were formerly 'far away' have now been brought near. When Christ draws us to Himself, and we surrender to Him, trusting in Him, confessing and yielding to Him as Lord, we are transformed from death unto life. .

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor. 5:17

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 2 Peter 1:10

This passage is not speaking of a works based salvation. 2 Peter 1:5-9, rather is speaking of true believers that have not grown and matured in their faith, that are not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Their fruit is tiny and shriveled and hardly noticable. They have forgotten the greatness of their salvation, and may hardly look like a Christian at all. They will have little or no assurance that they actually belong to Christ. This is not speaking primarily of someone who has fallen into sin, but someone whose life is powerless, and reveals little evidence of Christlikeness. 

There are those in the church who have made professions of faith, and do not know Christ. There are others who never grew as Peter is talking about and as a result they have little spiritual evidence of their conversion. It is a dangerous place to be because there is no assurance that they do belong to Christ. There is no joy and no power that characterizes their walk. This is someone that struggles deeply with the assurance of their salvation. This one must go to the Lord, get in His Word, and even talk with a mature Christian and prayerfully search their hearts and the heart of God to see if they belong to Him. Then, if they do see evidence they truly belong to Christ, they must repent, get in the Word of God, and commit to walk faithfully before Him in the control of the Holy Spirit. They need to get serious about following Christ and growing in their faith.

 

Even if we are striving to be faithful Christians, and seeking to yield to Christ, serving Him, following Him daily, we also need to do some soul-searching and ask ourselves if we are standing boldly as Christians in our culture, and if people are seeing the difference in our lives from the world. Do we want the approval of men, or do we stand firm desiring the approval of God? This is the time for courage. This is not the time for compromise. The Bible is clear in its commands, and it is clear about what God calls sin. It is time for judgment to begin at the house of God, and for Christians to be serious about their faith. We have the answer to the world's ills - we have the answer to life. We need to live lives that point people to Christ, and we need to be serious about sharing the gospel.

I am going to share a link from the Grace to You blog. It briefly discusses the importance of standing on God's word. We cannot afford to compromise or equivocate. We must stand with the Lord before the lost, and what He says is sin, we must stand against. Souls hang in the balance, sisters.

 

The High Cost of Compromise


Post September 22, 2020

 

When one of the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, the pattern that our Lord gave is what we refer to as the Lord's prayer. Over the next few weeks, we will look at this prayer. Surely there are few spiritual disciplines more important than that of prayer. The Lord’s prayer is a wonderful pattern for us. Not as a meaningless repetition but rather as an example of where our hearts should be in our prayer, and the priorities our prayers should embody. If ever there was a time in our nation and the church that saints should be in prayer, it certainly is at this juncture.

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. . . .

 

Our Lord’s disciples certainly observed Him often in prayer, so they knew and understood the importance of prayer. It stands to reason that they would have sought to understand this very important activity they observed Him regularly engage.

A great pastor from the nineteenth century, E. M. Bounds, was known for his teaching on prayer. He said of prayer, “Prayer honors God, but dishonors self.”

The Pharisees and religious leaders never seemed to grasp this truth, and sadly, it may very well be that much of the contemporary church do not as well. When we pray the priority should be chiefly in seeking to honor, submit and glorify our Lord, rather than honoring and focusing on self.

Let’s be honest. If we look around in our world, we would have to say if anything characterizes our modern culture, it is self-indulgence and self-centeredness. Like petulant children we see people walking through life consumed by themselves and their wants. We are a materialistic society, and sadly this has crept into the church.  There are believers that make demands of God, and then if He doesn't answer their prayers in the manner they expect they get angry, rather than continuing to trust their loving Father that He knows what is best for them, as well as what brings Him glory. Do we want God's glory, or simply His divine hand to move on our behalf and fulfill our desires?

The charismatic movement which took evangelicalism by storm a number of years ago is driven by the prosperity gospel and the word faith movement. Why do you suppose that people fall so easily into that heretical theology? It is because it feeds their flesh, and it tells them that the Lord wants to give them everything they want. If you look at the prominent leaders of the movement, they live opulent and lavish lifestyles, all the while urging supporters to send them more money, dangling the promises of prosperity and healing to them if they do so.

You may have watched the video American Gospel – In Christ Alone. If you have not, I urge you to do so. It is very eye-opening about the prosperity gospel movement. So much good information is in the documentary with examples of these heretical teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyers, Benny Hinn, Todd White and others. Two things really stand out to me though as I think back over the film.

One is a testimony of Costi Hinn, Benny Hinn’s nephew. Costi is now a solid pastor who has left that movement and was saved. His testimony describes the lifestyle they lived at the expense of many, many hurting people coming to their crusades for healing, and his guilt over that.

One such person who was brought to a crusade by his parents was Justin Peters who suffers from Cerebral palsy. Justin has a ministry called Clouds without Water. He is a solid pastor who for a time was involved in the charismatic movement, but realizing the error, left it. He travels all over the world teaching sound doctrine, and teaching others about the heresy of the movement. Justin still suffers from the effects of Cerebral palsy. They pushed him aside at the crusade as they do others with severe sickness or handicaps because they know they do not have the ability to heal.

It is sad that these movements gain traction, but they appeal to a basic, but erroneous belief and mindset, that the Lord has somehow promised to meet not only all the needs of men, but also their wants including prosperity. That if we seek Him through prayer that He is somehow obligated and has committed to bring physical healing. This is not what the Bible teaches.

 

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.  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 8:28-29

Romans 29 has become one of my favorite verses because it is a great reminder of what God’s purpose for my life is as a believer. That purpose is to conform me to the image of His Son.

 

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

This is Paul here talking about the goal. It is Christlikeness. That is what the Bible means when it talks here in Romans 8:29 about God’s purpose being to conform us to Christ's image.

Everything in our life as a believer is for this purpose, and this runs counter to the error taught in the prosperity teaching. It is not that the Lord does not want to bless us. He wants to infinitely bless His children. But the problem we have is what does that blessing look like. We look at blessing from a human standpoint. This is a mistake. Blessing from the Lord’s perspective is altogether different. And I want to add. The Lord can do anything. He can heal physically if that is consistent with His purpose. He may bless us materially. But the point is that He wants to do much more than that in the lives of His children.

What did Paul say to this?

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 [d]knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [e]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 [f]the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7-11

 

Why was Paul willing to give up everything? “that I may know Him”.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. Philippians 1:21-22

The apostle Paul was one of the greatest examples of faithfulness and love for His Lord, Jesus Christ. His entire being was wrapped up in knowing His Lord and longing to one day be with Him where he would be free of sin forever. He longed to be with His Lord where He would dwell in His presence for all eternity. I mean, for Paul if he lived great because he could serve Christ, but if he died great because He could be with Christ. And remarkably, he was torn between the two.

Wow. Is this the common mindset we see of Christians today? I know that is not my mindset, and it is shameful. It tells me that I have a long way to go!

The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment.” John MacArthur

Listen, we have to understand getting back to prayer. The life of the Christian is not meant to be a life of ease. It is meant to be a life that glorifies God. We often look at prayer as merely making a difference in our circumstances rather than the difference it can make in us and for God’s glory. We also need to remember that the Lord is working in us in the here and now, until He takes us to be with Him in heaven to prepare us for an eternity with Him forever.

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 4:17-18

This is speaking of eternal reward. The Lord is preparing us here for that. Our outer person may be perishing, but the inner man - that spiritual part of us - is getting renewed and more like Christ every single day!

“Prayer begins and ends not with the needs of man but with the glory of God. It should be primarily concerned with who God is, what He wants, and how He can be glorified.” John MacArthur

This is the pattern the Lord teaches us in the “Lord’s prayer”. We are going to look further next week at the Lord’s prayer and His pattern. It does not mean that the Lord is unconcerned with our needs. He is concerned with everything concerning His beloved children, indeed He tells us to come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in need. But the point is that prayer is so much more than that. He wants to work in our lives, and teach us about Himself. He wants to glorify Himself through our prayers as we pray for ourselves and others. He wants to change us through our prayer life, and bring Him glory to those around us. Consider these things as you think of prayer and what your thoughts are about it. We will resume our discussion with the Lord's prayer next time.

 

“Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in this communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.” R. C. Sproul

 


Post September 17, 2020

 

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.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  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

 

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:3

 

As believers, we all understand basic truths about the gospel. We understand that "The wages of sin is death".Rom.6:23 We know that "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Rom.3:23

We understand that: 

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Eph.2:8

 

There are certain basic facts that we must understand and believe to become Christians. But sometimes while we believe these things, and maybe have heard them for years, it is still good to walk through them again. It is good to consider them afresh, and be able to articulate them and share those in evangelism.

Sometimes, in the church and even among believers, we can throw around terminology and while we may understand it, those who do not know the Lord in the world may have no idea what we are saying. So I think it is very helpful to study those things, even in review to keep them fresh in our understanding.

Elizabeth Prata has a great article on this. In her straight-forward and thorough way she explains man's sin problem and what it means to be 'born again', and put our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Please take a few minutes and click link below, and read this wonderful and helpful article.

 

You must be born again - E. Prata

 


Post September 15, 2020

 

In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed themGenesis 2:1-2a

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14

 

We discussed in a recent post, women’s roles particularly as they are related to missions. Since mission work is an extension of the local church, it needs to operate within the same boundaries and guidelines that Scripture sets forth for the pattern and function of the church.

 

As we all know from a societal view, gender roles have come under serious attack, but sadly these attacks have also made inroads into the church. The feminist philosophies have spread their beliefs into much of society, and whether we understand it or not, its pervasiveness is fostering disobedience and discontent in the body. It actually impacts both men and women.

 

In many ways, we have not as the old slogan said, “Come a long way, baby”. Why would I say that? Well, it is because rather than our society growing more in an awareness and appreciation for the design of women and her function, that design has been steadily diminished, maligned, attacked, challenged and scoffed at.

 

Let’s be honest here. God created woman for a specific function and role. In society – the home – and the church. Women are created to be wives and mothers. Some women may be single, but all women whether married or single were designed with specific purposes in mind. The same goes for men. If we are really honest with ourselves and each other, we see those unique qualities with which each gender has been endowed. In all my years – and they are piling up more quickly than I imagined – I have never seen a little child run up to a man, climb into his lap and stick their little finger that has a boo-boo up for him to kiss it to make it feel better. I know even as a Gigi, I have diffused many tense moments where a small injury was sustained with a box of cute band-aids and a hug. There may have been instances, but seriously most of the time when children are injured, sick or hurting they want their mommas or even another woman to comfort them. Technically don't you think women likely make the best nurses even in hospitals or doctor offices. That is not to say that men cannot fulfill the role of caretaker or health care worker. But women seem again to easily fit into those roles because of their makeup. 

Now little kids may run to their momma if they are hurt or sick, but let them get scared and think there is a boogeyman, and they run straight to daddy. Moms provide tenderness and care while dads provide protection and provision.

As women we have been created to nurture, to nurse (physically & medically), to bring a heart and emotion to our homes, as well as create a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere in the home. We can fill roles, that only we can fill as a woman. I still say one of my very favorite quotes from Elisabeth Elliot is “Let me be a woman”. I love that because it demonstrates a thankfulness for and a wholehearted embrace of womanhood. God created us in such a way, that only we as woman can fill this role in God’s creation. Just like only men can fill their role that God has called them to.

Yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are made uniquely and preciously. I do not understand why this is not a good thing, right? Other than the curse I guess. Then it makes sense. The enemy – that vile grifter – is always sowing discord without and within. He whispers the same old lies that are as old as dirt that breeds discontentment with the wonderful way we have been created. Personally, I think it is very disrespectful and thankless to our loving Father who carefully fashioned and made us exactly as we are as women. This should please us and make us joyful and grateful for the way in His wisdom that He chose to create us. We should happily embrace our womanhood. Why would we want to compete or usurp God’s Word by trying to hold authority that we were never sanctioned to have? That kind of rebellion will never complete us as women. Rather it will result in regret and lack of joy.

You are seeing it really both with men and women. In some sectors  in secular society – we now have effeminate men and masculine women. This is the fruit of feminism. Frankly, their philosophy that has permeated modern society has undermined and stolen from both genders.

“The effort to overthrow the design of God for men and women is not ultimately a human effort. It is the effort of the archenemy of God, Satan, who uses sinful human agents to attain his goals. That’s why the controversy over the role of women in the church is so tragic: the church is being deceived by the lies of Satan and is actually becoming a part of his attack. God has specific roles for men and women in society, the family, and the church that are clear in Scripture and we need to re-affirm them. . . the church, the bastion of God’s truth is falling fast to the feminist army.” John MacArthur

I want to veer off for a minute to make a point.

I doubt right now there is anyone in the free world who has not heard of the organization, BLM – Black Lives Matter. This is an organization, not a slogan to express concern for black lives. It is an organization that has a very anti-Christian value statement of beliefs and objectives. It is critical that people understand the platform and ideology that they promote. Their founders are three women – two identify as queer (this is the verbiage used in the sources I found) and one as a transnationalist feminist. If you read their platform, it is not only Marxist, but it also includes feminism, homosexuality and transgenderism. They promote and endorse deconstructing not only our society, but the traditional family. We should be very careful affirming their hashtag #Blacklivesmatter because again, it is not stating we value life, rather it shows solidarity with a very problematic Marxist organization. I would strongly encourage you to research all of those for yourself. The things I have researched provided this information and background.

The point I am making is this. Satan has been working in overdrive to destroy the most basic and foundational unit of the world. It is the nuclear family. He knows his days are numbered, but his mission is to destroy what God has created. Think about it. Same sex couples, abortion, transgenderism, LGBTQ+, divorce. He is actively trying to tear the home and church as well as society apart, and frankly we must be careful because if we reject our roles and fail to adhere to the manner that God has prescribed in His Word, then we can be complicit in the destruction as well as being disobedient to our Lord. For instance, by refusing to submit to God's authority in the function of His church by some women in teaching roles or the pastorate, it has caused disunity and problems. This is the way the enemy works to sow this discord and confusion. Not to mention to subvert God's plan.

Look at these quotes from a couple of prominent feminists that I found on a Christian blog.

“Feminist Linda Gordon, professor of history at New York University said:
"The nuclear [i.e. core structure of] family must be destroyed, and the people must find better ways of living together... Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process."

The truth is that the feminist movement is not about "human rights" and "health;" it's actually about hatred and destroying God's design of the family for mankind.

In case that quote wasn't clear enough, feminist author and activist Vivian Gornick, in a fundraising letter by a relief organization for Kosovo refugees, said:
‘Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession... The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn't be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that.’”

This is the point. The Lord created us as women with a specific skillset and purpose in His creation just as He did men. We must as Christian women whether single, married, homemakers, grandmothers, etc., adhere to and embrace the chosen roles that our Lord has designed us to fulfill.

In closing, I am going to reference a number of areas in missions from the past and currently that Heartcry Missionary Society lists that women are an intricate part.

Let us not be so foolish as women to believe the devil’s lies that only roles of leadership or those that the world says are worthwhile are meaningful. Let us remember that as those who have been created specifically by our Creator for those chosen roles that we must embrace and fulfill those roles. When we see our Lord face to face, the joy we see in His beloved face will be our reward. But if we otherwise pursue the ways and things of the world that say success, then we will have missed our calling indeed. We are the Imago Dei. We are our Creator God’s image-bearers. We bear His image and His design. Let us embrace that with all our hearts.

There are countless opportunities available to women to serve either at home or in missions. The ones listed below are specific to the mission field where the opportunity was provided, but we do not have to go to the mission field to serve. We must embrace the opportunities right before us and where we are to serve with all our hearts in the very place that God Himself has placed us.

Gladys Aylward, missionary to China, founded an inn to provide hospitality for travelers. She and her coworker, Jeannie Lawson, would share the gospel with those who lodged there. Gladys took in orphans and even adopted several. When the Japanese invaded the region in 1938, she led over one hundred to safety and many were converted to Christianity.

Amy Carmichael founded an orphanage in southern India and rescued children from forced prostitution in the Hindu temples.

Ann Judson (wife of Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary) helped translate the Bible into Burmese, and also opened a school for girls.

Conrad Mbewe’s wife, Felistas, and a group of women from their church currently minister to prostitutes in Lusaka, Zambia. They take diapers, toiletries, and other needed items to them. The gospel is shared as they try to get them off the streets, and then they seek to teach those who come to Christ an honorable trade.

Sometimes, we typically think of the word ‘missionary’ as being someone who answers God’s call and travels to foreign lands. And while that is correct, the word means more than this. We must be careful to not limit it to only meaning people that leave home and travel to other places. Every single Christian is invited to be involved in God’s work. He will lead them to fulfill that in the way He has planned for them if they are obedient, but it will never compromise His word, or be outside the boundaries that He has set forth.

As Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is a missionary or an imposter.” Some may be called to leave home and go. I think of those we have read about or contributed to who have gone out in the world to serve. It will be a blessing to get to heaven one day and see the many lives, I am certain they impacted. You may not be called to leave home and go to other parts of the country or world in missions like these other women we read about, but we are still called to serve. We can pray for our missionaries as Glennwood WOM encourage and guide us to do. We can contribute to and pack shoe boxes for little children all over the world and take them the gospel. We can bring specified goods and other things for the Caring Center to help people in need. We can contribute to George Nkala and other mission opportunities as they arise so that the gospel can be proclaimed. We are blessed at Glennwood to have ladies that are instrumental in leading us in these mission opportunities. There are so many opportunities, we just have to be alert and be willing..

Indeed, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. I am going to close with this final story from Heartcry.

 

“What a glorious privilege we have been given! We do not have to have a sensational conversion testimony like Saul of Tarsus in order to share it with others. We do not have to be married to Hudson Taylor to serve in ministry. We do not even need a seminary degree to be able to teach. Like the woman at the well in John 4, we simply need to go and tell others what great things the Lord has done for us and is able to do for them. May He be pleased to use each of His daughters to bring much glory to His name as we make His name great whether at home or abroad!”

Praise His holy and blessed Name that He would count us worthy to be involved in His work! Let us embrace these opportunities, and be found faithful right where we are, then we can look forward to the day when we can hear our dear Lord say, “Well done daughter”.


Post September 10, 2020

 

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

 

If we look around us, it is pretty clear that our country is in a mess right now. Things seem to be going from bad to worse. There is turmoil on every side. Because of Covid-19, in some places churches cannot meet which has further contributed to uncertainty and fear. Thankfully, we have been able to resume meeting. There is no substitute for joining together as the body of Christ worshipping Him and fellowshiping in His blessed name.

 

As believers, we need to be careful to not give in to fear or to become anxious when we look around us. Our God is Sovereign, and He is in control. Nothing is happening that is not within His Sovereign plan. But it is also important to make certain that we are informed and recognize the roots or the underlying cause of at least some of what is going on.

 

We know since the Garden at the Fall of mankind, when sin entered the world, the consequence was enmity between God and man, as well as enmity between men. Sin brought enmity. The fall of the human race resulted in this enmity. Remember, even in the first family, we saw this enmity displayed between Cain and Abel which manifested itself in a murderous rage where Cain killed his brother Abel. This enmity is still prevalent in society and that is what we see being played out in our country. There will always be enmity until Christ returns for His church. The only hope men have is still found in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace and forgiveness can only be found at the foot of the cross. 

 

Christians are to love God supremely. Secondly, we are love our neighbors as ourselves. But loving our neighbors is being defined in ways today that are not necessarily biblical. We must be careful as believers that our worldview always includes and centers on biblical truth in the way we respond to society. We must have this biblical worldview, otherwise the true gospel message may get lost in all the milieu. We must strive to keep the main thing, the main thing. We must hold fast to our mission which is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing else can be equated with that. We share nothing more, and we share nothing less. 

 

At the last Southern Baptist convention (May/June 2019), the SBC passed an amendment called RES#9. This amendment stated that Critical Race Theory (CRT)/Intersectionality will be used as a  “set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society.”  

As you may have read this last week, President Trump issued an order that Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality will no longer be allowed to be taught in government institutions. 

 

Below is a link from John MacArthur from September, 2018. This was before Res#9 was passed, and obviously it was well before society has begun on their current trajectory. Please take a few minutes and read what Dr. MacArthur has to say in this blog post regarding social justice and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

The injustice of social justice

 


Post September 8, 2020

 

“In many ways the root trouble, even among good Evangelicals, is our failure to heed the plain teachings of Scripture. We accept what Scripture teaches as far as our doctrine is concerned; but when it comes to practice, we very often fail to take the Scriptures as our only guide. When we come to the practical side we employ human tests instead of Scriptural ones. Instead of taking the plain teachings of the Bible, we argue with it. ‘Ah yes’, we say, ‘since the Scriptures were written times have changed’. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Efficaciousgrace.com blog-John Samson)

There was a recent post on Women’s Corner discussing several quotes by Elisabeth Elliot and women’s roles. Since we are women, I find them helpful to consider, and it is important to regularly contemplate because of the problems with this issue throughout the church and evangelicalism.

 

In our society, we know that gender roles are under attack in an unprecedented wave. Even in the church, where we would think they would be understood and accepted, we see them challenged. It is very sad really, and a sign of the times. Feminism and well as sin/confusion sown by the enemy of our souls has made significant inroads into the church and society.

 

“The church, the bastion of the truth of God, is falling fast to the march of the feminist army. The effort to overthrow the design of God for men and women is not ultimately a human effort. It is the effort of the archenemy of God, Satan, who uses sinful human agents to attain his goals. That’s why the controversy over the role of women in the church is so tragic: the church is being deceived by the lies of Satan and is actually becoming a part of his attack. God has specific roles for men and women in society, the family and the church that are clear in Scripture, and we need to re-affirm them”. (John MacArthur- God’s High Calling for Women)

 

Thankfully here at Glennwood Baptist Church we have strong leadership, and our Pastor proclaims and stands on God’s Word. But there are many sectors within the church that are no longer teaching the importance of the gender roles, and their specific roles as set forth in God’s Word. And there are women who are seizing control and usurping the man’s role, and there are men who are willingly acquiescing and failing to fulfill their leadership roles in both the church and the home.

 

We need to always keep in mind that the home is foundational to society and its stability. That is why the evil one does everything he can to disrupt, destroy and undermine the family unit. It is no accident that he attacked Adam and Eve – the man and the woman. The church is the earthly entity where God manifests Himself and that fulfills His mission on this earth. It consists of believers who make up the body of Christ and reflect the relationship between Him and His Father. He is the head of the church, and we are to yield to His leadership. The church joins together each week and worships our Lord, and brings Him glory here on earth.

 

The enemy of God wants to wreak havoc on both and undermine their effectiveness and weaken the unit of home and the church. When men and women refuse to submit to the authority of God’s Word, then the enemy is emboldened. As believers, we must be alert to this refusing to be misled into disobedience by him, rather seek to follow God’s Word, and submit to Him as He works through our designated roles.

 

One of the ways I have observed people specifically women trying to undermine their specified role is an effort to minimize or reject the teachings of the apostle Paul. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones observes, a great problem within the evangelical church is the negligence to take the straight up teaching of Scripture, and attempt to redefine it. Actually, a great deal of heresy and heretical movements have originated from taking truth or a portion of truth promoting it to mean something that it does not mean.

Remember what the apostle Paul told Timothy when exhorting him in the ministry:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Tim. 3:16

Commentary from J. MacArthur: “inspired by God” – Literally ‘breathed out by God’ or ‘God-breathed’. Sometimes God told the Bible writers the exact words to say, but more often He used their minds, vocabularies, and experiences to produce His own perfect infallible, inerrant Word. . . So identified is God with His Word that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.

 

Ladies, I cannot say this more emphatically. There are 66 books of the Bible, and when we read those words, it is as if God is speaking. Obviously, not an audible voice, but it is with the authority of Almighty God. Now to understand what Scripture is saying to us with the most accuracy, we need to apply proper hermeneutics as far as interpretation, but the point is the authority of all of Scripture. God’s Word is the method He uses to ‘speak’ to us.

 

Now you may be about now, asking yourself why I am making such an issue of this. Well, it is because there are those women including Beth Moore that have gone so far to say that since the Lord did not specifically address women as far as teaching or preaching in the gospels, that defiance of Paul’s teachings is acceptable because she follows Jesus, not Paul. Can I just say categorically that this is an absolutely ridiculous thing for a Christian to say? I mean seriously.

 

I know we all understand this, but I will go ahead anyway. Paul’s words ARE Jesus’s words, and Paul’s teachings ARE Jesus’s teachings. There are no disparities between the two. When Paul writes something, it is because God has inspired those writings. They are not Paul’s words, rather they are God’s words. The entire Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. That means that since we believe in the Trinity (God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and there is no division there, that ALL of God’s words proceed from that perspective.

 

I belabor this, but it is important. There are Christians for whatever reason that seek to be selective with what they want to take from Scripture or adhere to. They come up with all sorts of reasoning for doing so.

But the bottom line is that ALL Scripture is to be obeyed, and we are to fully submit to it. There is a problem when Christians pick and choose, and just want to take away what they want from the Bible, and then they put their own twist on it. Have you ever heard the question asked, “What does this verse mean to you?” Or “I know the Bible says this, but I don’t think that is really what it is saying.”

 

The reality is that the Lord has a specific meaning behind each and every verse of His Word. Our role in study is not to determine what it means to us, but rather what did God mean it to say. (Caveat: Speaking of interpretation, not application! Only one interpretation-could be multiple applications)

 

Likewise, He provided to us the entire counsel of His Word, so all of it is relevant. The Old Testament points to Christ, and the New Testament reveals the life of Christ and His ministry, His death and resurrection, and His instruction to the church. EVERY WORD is important.

 

Listen, I know I got a little loquacious with all of that, but it is important for us to understand that God’s Word is under attack, and as believers we cannot be led astray by those who refuse to submit to its authority. When we attempt to reject biblical teaching and its authority, we are actually rejecting God’s authority.

Heartcry Missionary Society as we have discussed before, is an excellent organization throughout the world as are the Southern Baptist mission organizations which we fund through the cooperative program dollars. In a recent publication, Heartcry touched on the issue of woman in missions. We talked briefly about it in the post on Elisabeth Elliot, but I wanted to go back to it for a moment in this post.

 

Women are no less important than men in the plan of God for reaching the world with the gospel; we simply have a different part to play than our male counterparts.”

This is important. Since missions is an extension of the local church, it is vital that they are conducted in the same framework or really the same constraints that are outlined in God’s Word even in gender roles. We have discussed how Elisabeth Elliot worked in the mission field and respected those guidelines.

Women are not allowed to have authority over men or be in roles/offices where they would have that authority. (1 Timothy 2:12)

 

This is in no way to discriminate or minimize the roles of women. It is just God’s design for the respective genders. Women can choose to focus on the few restrictions in the body or home that they are prohibited from, or they can joyfully see all the myriad opportunities that they can fill in God’s plan.

There is a beautiful story in Heartcry of a young woman named JoAnne who interacted with a man in the village who actually adopted her into his family. They would read the New Testament together as she translated it. One day they came to 1 Timothy. She explains what happened.

“I continued translating in Timothy with my ‘daddy’. And we came to the verse where Paul says to Timothy, ‘I don’t allow women to teach men’. . . That afternoon after we’d finished work, he said to me, ‘Now what is it that we’re going to study on Sunday?’ I thought he was just curious. . So, I told him. Sunday morning came, and before I could stand up to start, he stood up and said, ‘My daughter here knows more about this than I do, but we found in the Bible that women aren’t supposed to teach men. So, I guess I have to be the one. And that was the end of my career and the beginning of their teaching.”

“This true account is a beautiful picture of the proper response of both the man and the woman as they saw this principle from Scripture. Joanne’s ‘daddy’ did not make excuses for his inadequacy, and she did not demand that she be allowed to continue to teach simply because she was more learned than he. They both individually bowed to the authority of Scripture, and it was a key turning point in the establishing of a congregation with male leadership naturally taking place.

 

There may be situations in the home, church or mission field where men do not step up and fulfill their responsibilities, but when women assume those roles then that just compounds the problem. I think of 1 Peter 3 where we find that the chaste and respect heart of the wife are instrumental in leading her husband to Christ. She does not charge forth and take over the household and demonstrate dominance, rather she has that gentle and submissive spirit which the Lord uses to draw this man to Himself, and which is very precious in the sight of the Lord.

 

We will pick up a bit more on this subject in our next post. But let’s consider what we have read. I have seen bloggers who say at the beginning of their blogs that they would appreciate it if men would not read their blogs. Not because what they are writing is not very relevant, and edifying, but because they take very seriously the Lord’s instruction to them as far as their teaching and God’s authority. They love their Lord, and do not want to risk dishonoring Him or disobeying Him or bringing reproach upon His name. They also do not want to lead someone else into disobedience. This is the attitude that honors Christ.

The Christian life is one of submission to our Lord. As with all obedience, it is done in love to our Lord who gave everything for us. Let our hearts always be to humbly yield to Him. Let our primary desire and goal be to honor and lift up the name of Christ, and magnify Him before the world.

Let us adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect - “the supreme purpose of a virtuous life is to make attractive the teaching that God saves sinners.” (John MacArthur)

 

 

 


Post: September 3, 2020

 

I wanted to share a wonderful post from our friend Elizabeth Prata in response to a question that was asked from a listener on prophecy. She references the terms cessationists and continuationists. She defines them in her article, but since there is a lot of confusion and even disagreement on these two issues, I found this additional information that I thought would be helpful from Tom Pennington speaking at the Strange Fire Conference at Grace Community Church. (Pastor John MacArthur)

Elizabeth references this Conference and provides a link. It has a great deal of very helpful information. There is certainly more extensive information on this issue, but here are some brief explanations by Mr. Pennington excerpted from his message at the conference.

Before I began, I wanted to mention that our Statement of Faith at Glennwood Baptist holds the position that we believe the sign gifts have ceased and were given to authenticate and affirm the Apostles of Christ in the early church. These gifts authenticated the Apostles as revealers of Divine Truth (Scripture), and were never intended to be characteristic of the lives of believers. This belief is espoused and held by those referred to as cessationists.

Tom Pennington: 

“But the real problem the label cessationism is not that it is negative, but that it has easily caricatured as believing that the Spirit has essentially ceased His work. As a result of that, we are unfairly accused of putting the Spirit in a box, even of embracing an unbiblical, outdated, enlightenment world view. But those are caricatures, those are distortions. In fact, we believe that the Holy Spirit has not only continued His work, but He is displaying in and through us the power of the resurrected Christ. Nothing…nothing eternal happens in an individual believer or in a local church apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.

So, what is it that cessationists believe the Spirit has ceased. Let’s be very clear. We only believe He has ceased one function and that is He no longer gives believers today the miraculous spiritual gifts, gifts like speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing.

On the other hand, continuationists believe either that the miraculous gifts have continued unabated since Pentecost or other sects would say, no, they have waned through much of the church age but have now been restored. Although there are differences between the three branches of the Charismatic Movement, the Pentecostals, the Charismatics and the third wave, they are all inherently continuationists and they often use the same arguments in their writings and in their speaking to defend their shared continuationism.

I want us to consider the biblical case for cessationism. First of all, we need to make sure we’re talking about the same thing. We need to define it. Cessationism does not mean as our critics present it, that God no longer does anything miraculous. As a pastor, I get the joy of seeing the miraculous often because every time a spiritually dead sinner is brought to life, it is a miraculous work of divine grace. (Applause) The Apostle Paul says that the only way a blinded sinner can come to know the truth is if the God who said “Let there be light,” says, “Let there be light in that heart.” Every time someone is healed solely in answer to the prayers of God’s people in total contradiction to what the medical community has said, it’s a divine miracle, He has intervened.

So cessationism does not mean that God no longer does anything miraculous. Cessationism does not mean that the Spirit cannot if He were to choose give a miraculous ability to someone today. As God, He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. If He were to choose to do so, He could allow someone today to speak a language he never studied. It just wouldn’t be the New Testament gift because it wouldn’t be revelation from God as it was then.

So, what do we mean by cessationism? We mean that the Spirit no longer sovereignly gives individual believers the miraculous spiritual gifts that are listed in the Scripture and that were present in the first century church. It is neither the Spirit’s plan, nor His normal pattern to distribute miraculous spiritual gifts to Christians and churches today as He did in the times of the Apostles. Those gifts ceased as normative with the apostles.”

 

I thought this was a pretty good background from Mr. Pennington, and it segways nicely into what Elizabeth says in her article. She goes into this further as well as discusses some of it in relation to prophecy. Please click the link below to go to her article. Enjoy!

 

Elizabeth Prata - What about seeing visions and prophesying in the last days


Post: September 1, 2020

 

We discussed a couple of weeks ago, women's roles in the church and leadership. I read this article this past week written by an excellent women's teacher, Michelle Lesley. This is an extremely gifted and godly woman that teaches women. She writes articles and speaks upon invitation at conferences and to women's groups. As a matter of fact, it is a dream of mine to one day have a women's meeting at our church and invite her to speak. We no doubt would be greatly blessed if that came to fruition. But I digress. Please take a few minutes and prayerfully read over this article. She is responding to a question that someone had submitted to her. It discusses women in leadership and the fact of whether women who preach or pastor are defined as being in sin or if they would be referred to as a false teacher.

 

I recently read a great article from Elizabeth Prata referencing this very question regarding Beth Moore. Elizabeth Prata is another knowledgeable and gifted ladies' teacher, and I have shared articles of hers on Women's Corner. In Beth's case, she explains that she could be legitimately referred to as a false teacher, but Beth also rebels against Scripture by preaching and teaching men. She gives excellent support for her reasoning. Michelle has also written about problems with Beth Moore and others.This is nothing against Beth personally, but is addressing her teaching. I would recommend either Michelle Lesley or Elizabeth Prata because they both have written extensively on problematic or false women's teachers.

 

I generally will search through their information when checking out someone I am not familiar with because they provide cogent and well-researched information. I would also recommend following them on social media and their blogs. I know they are both on Twitter, and may be on Facebook as well. I have done searches on specific teachers in the past, and often articles came up by Michelle, and again, have been very helpful.

 

Michelle actually makes a significant point in her article about the fact that typically a woman that rebels against the authority of Scipture in pastoring or leading men generally always strays away from Scripture in their teaching. As ladies, we need to be aware of these problems facing the church and it is critical that we be discerning in the women we follow through their books, conferences or other media. Beth Moore is one of the most prominent women in modern evangelicalism today and the SBC. We have a responsibility to be careful exposing ourselves to anyone who a) refuses to submit to God's authority in His mandate in Scripture governing the church, b) understand that she has strayed in her teaching, and not expose ourselves to error. 

 

Please take some time and read this article. Feel free to email any questions (gigisewingroom1@gmail.com), and we can try to address in future posts.

 

Michelle Lesley - The Mailbag

 

 

 


Post: 8/29/2020

 

 Don’t we all appreciate it when someone shows us kindness? I mean, is there anyone who does not appreciate random and unexpected acts of kindness. It is heart-warming and so encouraging when someone reaches out even with a word, a text, a card, a phone call, and other acts of kindness. It can make the difference sometimes with people between discouragement and even hope. The harshness and hardness of this world can beat us down, and just a simple act of kindness can bring us joy and remind us of God’s goodness and love. I remember the nurses at Covenant where my Granny lived, and the gentle, gracious, loving care they took of her. They were just as kind to the family and always offered kind words and concern. It is remarkable how uplifting just a small word of encouragement can be.

I was listening to something just yesterday, and the ladies were talking about God’s providence. He provides for us in so many ways-our food, clothing, heath, family, and just so many other ways. And that isn’t even mentioning the most important way He provides which is our eternal hope in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

We often take these things for granted, forgetting that He is the One that provides through His providence for our needs. He provides all our physical needs. But in His sweet goodness, He also encourages us through others at times. I have been reminded of this just this past week.

My grandmother (Granny) passed away this past week. She was almost 97 years old. She lived a full life. It was a blessing to hear my brother, Danny, talk at her funeral of her early adult life and her sons with some of their adventures. They told one story of a big copperhead the boys spotted in the chicken house. They said she went and got a big shot gun and just started shooting. Another story involved her as a young woman with a little boy (my dad) getting on a train and heading to Omaha, Nebraska to see my grandfather, her husband because of war. So many precious stories.

Through the songs and service, I was reminded of the preciousness of Christ, and His great love for us.

At the beginning of the service, a former pastor from Wilsonville where my grandparents lived until my grandfather’s passing spoke of memories of them.

Ashlyn then sang in “Christ Alone”. The words of that sweet song are so powerful. It encompasses the entire gospel, and it is beyond encouraging.

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 final stanza)

When we know Christ, even in death there is no longer any need to fear. He has overcome that final enemy and He is victorious! Oh what a comfort in life or in death to have that great assurance.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Danny reminded us of our Lord’s own words:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

Our Lord has given us that great assurance as believers that He is waiting for us in glory, and He has prepared a place for us to meet Him one day. Oh, what a blessed hope!

He spoke of many glorious and wonderful truths about our Lord and the hope we have in Him.

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

He concluded his part of the service with a story from Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Keep in mind that this is an allegory, but we find much truth in this story.

Christian and his companion Hopeful after a long and arduous journey are approaching the Celestial city. They are met by two shining angelic beings. They are assisting them on the last leg of their pilgrimage. They come up to a large and dark river. Their companions explain that they must go through this river to reach the city.

"You must go through, or you cannot come at the gate." Is the water all of a depth? No, they are told, "you shall find it deeper or shallower, as you believe in the King of the place." Crossing the River of Death is a test of Faith. Apprehensively, the Pilgrims wade in and presently Christian cries out: "I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me. Selah . . . I shall not see the land that flows with milk and honey."

"Be of good cheer," Hopeful calls out, saying that he has found good footing and will help him. But Christian goes down in "a great darkness and horror" as he recalls all his sins "both since and before he began to be a Pilgrim." Somewhat losing his senses, he begins to see hobgoblins and evil spirits. Hopeful has all he can do "to keep his brother's head above water. Yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then ere a while he would rise up again, half dead." This goes on until Hopeful persuades him that he is not lost, that his faith in Christ will save him, which it does.

Reaching the far bank of the river, the wet and weary Pilgrims find Shining Ones waiting for them. The ascent to the Celestial City is steep, for it stands "on a mighty hill . . . higher than the clouds." But the ascent for them is easy because the Shining Ones, taking them by the arms, help them up and because "they had left their mortal garments behind them in the river." As they are climbing, a company of the Heavenly Host comes out to greet them, as well as several of the King's trumpeters, who make the Heavens ring "with melodious noises and loud."

Over the Celestial Gate is written in letters of gold: "Blessed are they that do his Commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life and may enter in through the gate into the city."

As Danny concluded, he reminded us of the precious truth that the enemy could not cross that river. Only those who belong to Christ. Christian could not take anything with him. “They had left their mortal garments behind then in the river”. We will leave all our earthly cares and possessions when we go there.  We will have no need for them in that beautiful heavenly city, and our cares will be a distant memory. The devil and his minions will be left behind as well as all our baggage and our sin. Indeed there will be no sin in the heavenly city. Nor will there be any sorrow.

He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8

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 21:4

The service concluded with Lyndley singing “Amazing Grace – My chains are gone”.

Where would we be without grace, sisters? Both in life and death, Grace is everything.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:16

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

The only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is the sovereign grace of God, which alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. That God gives “greater grace” shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (Rom.5:20). John MacArthur

The proud are the enemies of God and the humble encompass all believers.

Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:3-4)

Those who humble themselves before the Lord recognizing their spiritual poverty and sin, receive ‘grace upon grace’. First at salvation, then sustaining grace as well until they go to be with Him.

Amazing grace. . .

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:34-36

We have been freed from the chains of sin by His precious blood. He paid our debt and we have no longer to fear. In life or in death.

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 Corinthians 5:21

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23

 

As we close, I want to go back to the beginning on kindness. A man came up to my mom and me and we were talking about our churches. He asked the question, “Where would we be without our church family?”

My heart rejoiced with him, because where would we be indeed. Our church is family-our brothers and sisters in Christ. Kind words and prayers mean so very much, and it is a great reminder how important it is that we love and encourage one another.

 

and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, Hebrews 10:24

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9

On this note, I am posting a link to a wonderful and encouraging story by Elizabeth Prata about a random and profound act of kindness that meant so much to her.

 

Gratitude, generosity, and the tie of Jesus that binds

  

 


Post 8/25/2020

 

This little light of mine. . .

 

"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 underfoot by men.

 

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

(Matthew 5:13-16)

 

Do you remember the little child’s song, “This little light of mine”? Few things are more precious than a small child singing in their sweet voices a song about the Lord. This children’s song actually has a great truth in it when you consider it.

 

“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,”

(Colossians 1:12-13)

 

We have been “rescued” from the domain or kingdom of darkness, and been placed or transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son.

 

The Greek term means “to draw to oneself” or to deliver,” and refers to the believer’s spiritual liberation by God from Satan’s kingdom, which, in contrast to the realm of light with truth and purity, is the realm of darkness with only deception and wickedness. . . .The Father gave this kingdom to the Son He loves, as an expression of eternal love. That means that every person the Father calls and justifies is a love gift from Him to the Son. (John MacArthur)

 

Isn’t that an amazing thought? And isn’t it our blessed hope, sisters? I mean we have been ‘delivered’ from the kingdom of darkness – Satan’s realm where all wickedness and evil dwell. He no longer has any power over us. His power has been completely broken, and we need to always remember that truth.

Our blessed Savior has purchased our pardon and we will one day dwell with Him forever. Nothing can ever change that reality. When we belong to Christ – we are bought and paid for by His precious blood. The Father accepts His payment for our sins, and the church is the love gift of the Father to the Son. Oh, these are the deep, deep precious things of God that He has made it possible for us to know because we have been brought into the Light.

 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. . . .For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 4:3-4;6)

 

Believers, we have been given the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ!”

 

The same God who created physical light in the universe is the same God who must create supernatural light in the soul and usher believers from the kingdom of darkness to His kingdom of light.

(John MacArthur)

 

Christians are the light of the world. We are vessels that have had supernatural light poured into our souls and that light should shine through us to the glory of our Lord. It shouldn’t be something that we can hide or conceal. It should make us different than the world. When people see us or come in contact with us, spend time with us, they should feel the difference. In fact, I heard a teacher say that when someone is with us, it should be like they are spending time with Jesus because we are so much like Him.

 

A godly life gives convincing testimony of the saving power of God. That brings Him glory. John MacArthur

 

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

 

What a great and challenging thought for a Christian to ponder!

 

Do our lights so shine through our good works – our godly lives – that they bring our Lord glory and point others to Him because of the difference they see in us?

 

Do our lives look different from those who belong to the world so that people we encounter NOTICE something different about us? We cannot look just like the world or act just like the world and be lights in the darkness.

 

Are we the sweet fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing?(2 Cor.2:15) There are many all around us who are perishing. We must let our lights so shine before lost men, and the Lord will use our testimonies to draw them to Himself. He will also use our godly walk to encourage other Christians in their walk.

 

Let us ponder these thoughts this week sisters, and endeavor to let our lights shine brightly!

 

This light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine
. . . .

 

 


 

Post 8/20/20

 

“What sort of world might it have been if Eve had refused the Serpents offer and had said to him instead, ‘Let me not be like God. Let me be what I was made to be -- let me be a woman?’”

“so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts...”

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

 

These are all quotes from Elisabeth Elliot’s book, “Let Me Be a Woman”, which by the way I highly recommend! At least one of these quotes, I know I have shared before.

I love these quotes from Mrs. Elliot because there is so much wisdom to be gleaned from her.

At some point, feminism began to permeate our society and we have even seen it make inroads into the church. Elisabeth Elliot understood what it meant to be a woman, and she embraced true womanhood as a gift and blessing from God.

 

“What sort of world might it have been if Eve had refused the Serpents offer and had said to him instead, ‘Let me not be like God. Let me be what I was made to be -- let me be a woman?’”

 

I love what she says here. Why was Eve not content to be a woman as God had made her? Wow, what profundity! Think about it. God created man and woman uniquely and perfectly. Eve was created as the perfect complement to the man. Yet she was not content with what God had given her. She wanted more, and because of that she believed the enemy’s lie, and succumbed to temptation.

 

I wonder if the same question could be asked of many of us. Are we thankful to be women and thankful for the unique blessed way the Lord made us? Or are we like our mother Eve who was not content with what God had made, and wanted something outside of His plan and will?

 

Many women today are straying outside of God’s will and are in disobedience because they refuse to submit to the parameters set forth in Scripture for the role and function of women. As a result, they may be many of the blessings by not embracing and seeking to glorify Him in their womanhood.

 

I read a Pastor say that women must stop believing the enemy’s lie that the only type of esteemed service or valuable role is leadership. There are many women now who desire to lead in church even in the pulpit, although it is expressly prohibited in Scripture (1 Tim. 2:12).

 

Women are in no way less than or considered inferior because of this prohibition. Again, it is merely the divine order that reflects the relationship of Christ and His church. There are many, many gifted women that bring so much to the body of Christ, to their homes and to society. As a matter of fact, if you read Romans 1:18-32, commentators suggest that when the women who are described there as falling to debauchery and sin, this demonstrates the terrible decline of the society because women are the moral compass in the society. When they fall to sin, in a sense they are the last bastion, and the society falls to judgment.

Women are such a valuable part of God’s plan just as men are. They are equal in their essence and their spiritual value; they are equal in God’s sight. But each gender has different responsibilities and assignments within the home and church. It does not mean women are less important, rather their role in fulfilling God’s purpose in the church and the home as well as the mission field is different.

 

“so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts...”

 

Genesis 2:18 says: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Women were created in their essence or make up, to be a complement to the way men are created. That does not mean if someone is not married that they are wondering around missing their other half.

 

What it means is that the two genders are uniquely built so that their strengths balance and complete the picture. Look at the home for instance. The man is the head and the woman is the heart, right?

That doesn’t mean that they both do not work very hard to contribute to the functioning of the home, but that their different roles work together and complete it.

 

Ephesians 5:32-33 says: This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

This is a critical point men and women need to understand. The roles especially in the home are delineated here, but we must be cognizant of this as well when we consider creation of mankind in general. This is a precious truth that marriage is a sacred reflection of the magnificent and beautiful mystery of union between the Messiah and His church. (John MacArthur)

A husband’s love and care of his wife is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for the church. The church’s submission and love for Christ is pictured in a woman’s submission and respect for her husband. This is a general truth that is reflected in the way both genders were created. When either sex fails to reflect the uniqueness and specific traits associated with their manhood or womanhood, then it undermines the purpose for which they were created and foments chaos.

 

Mrs. Elliot is saying here that when we try to live outside of God’s design for us, then we will find strife and discontentment because it is not the way we are built. But conversely, when we live as we are created and focus on our strengths, when we embrace our gifts of womanhood, then there is tremendous freedom. Not only in the home and church, but in society as well.

Women throughout history have brought so much to society. Wives, Mothers, Single women on the mission field and other areas where the Lord is using them, Widows and older women mentoring younger women, just so many areas and functions that the Lord calls women to fill. Why would we not accept the preciousness of the roles that he has called us as women to fill?

 

Women have many strengths that the Lord ordained specific to their role, why would we minimize them to pursue something else? I think of Amy Carmichael, Florence Nightengale, Elisabeth Elliot, Susanna Wesley, Susie Spurgeon and so many others. These are strong and gifted women who have brought much to society, to families, and the church. They beautifully reflect God’s wise design for women. Let us affirm with Elisabeth Elliot, “LET ME BE A WOMAN”. It is truly such a blessed calling.

 

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

 

We have looked at this quote before and it is one of my very favorites from her. It is so true. There is no minimalization in women here rather an understanding that because we are Christian women we yield, submit and reflect our Lord’s wisdom and perfection in His design. This should be reflected in the home. It should be reflected in the church.

There is a battle continuing to rage in the church and that is in the roles of women. We see it in the local church and corporate church. There are women such as Beth Moore who regularly teach and even preach.

Sadly, she has been allowed to do this in the denomination and continues to be a leading voice in the SBC. This is sad and it compromises the function of the church. It also steals the glory of God. This may sound dramatic, but it is true.

 

Ephesians 3:10-12 says: so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

 

This is a great verse because it really gives us some insight into the purpose and importance of the church.

 

First of all, these rulers and the authorities in heavenly places’ are angels, and it is the holy as well as unholy angels.

God through the church manifests His glory to all the angels. The holy angels rejoice because they are involved with the church. Although they have no desire or capacity to praise God, even fallen angels see the glory of God in the salvation and preservation of the church.” John MacArthur

 

Secondly and paramount is the rest of the verse. “The supreme purpose of the church is to glorify God, which includes the displaying of His wisdom before the angels, who then honor Him with even greater praise.””

We forget sometimes that there is an entire realm all around us that is invisible to us, but powerful. I have heard people say before when going through difficulty, “I want God’s glory, but I don’t see how He can get glory through this situation.” That is so true, and I am sure all of us have experienced that.

 

Sometimes, we do later see the good things that come from trials and heartache, that magnifies God’s goodness and wisdom even in the hard things, and sometimes we do not. But the truth is that there is a massive body of created beings moving about in another realm and in the heavenlies that are carefully watching. They are watching us to see how we respond to God’s Word in obedience, and how we glorify Him in our lives.

We must remember this when we are tempted to disobey or question God’s purposes. His manifold wisdom is seen so greatly in the function and design of the church and through the home which points to the church.

 

As Mrs. Elliot so eloquently said, we are different kinds of people because we are Christians, and as a result we should be different kinds of women, in light of that.

 

The Heartcry Missionary Society speaks of this truth as it relates to missions in their last publication. Listen to this.

“Although male and female missionaries may have the same objectives in mind, they have different roles in fulfilling those purposes. . . After all biblical mission work should always be an extension of the local church. . There is a widespread movement aimed at erasing all gender distinctives. Therefore, it is imperative that we understand the gender-specific roles or ministry as presented in God’s Word.”

 

We will look at this a bit more in the next post. But let’s close with a quote from John MacArthur.

 

“Elisabeth Elliot, who most of us know as a marvelous instrument of God in the expansion of the Kingdom, the wonderful wife of the martyred Jim Elliot. After the massacre of her husband and the several other missionaries in Ecuador, she was the only biblically trained person left who could speak the Auca language, the only one left.

But so convinced was Elizabeth Elliot in her heart that she could not violate the Word of God that she took one of the Auca men and weekly taught that man a sermon so that he could preach it in the church on the Lord’s day.” John MacArthur-God’s High Calling for Women

 

Until next time dear sisters. Sola Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

 

 


Post 8/18/2020

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 

The gospel is offensive, right? It is beautiful and it is powerful, but the true gospel message offends because it confronts people with their sin. It confronts people with the reality that their righteousness is as filthy rags. The true gospel confronts a person with the fact that "the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matt.7:14  

But the true gospel is also the most wonderful and amazing hope that can ever be extended to a person because without it and its promise, we bear the consequences and penalty of sin, and are destined for an eternity separated from Holy God. The true gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.

But the true gospel is defined on God's terms, not ours. It is exclusive and we cannot re-define it to fit what we want it to be. That's what false teachers do. They water it down, and tell people there is an 'easier' and 'better' way than the true gospel. It is a lie from the pits of hell.

We are blessed at Glennwood to have Brother Tim Thompson as our Pastor. He teaches the truth of God's Word - the whole truth - and he proclaims the true gospel of Jesus Christ. 

In the following essay by Elizabeth Prata, she talks about the gospel, false teachers and she also mentions solid teachers that she listens to or reads in addition to her Pastor. You may already have teachers that you listen to or read, and they may even be some of the ones she mentions. It is important in the time we live in where there are so many false teachers who disguise themselves as angels of light and tickle the ears of their hearers to be discerning.  It is essential to choose wisely as students of the Word and followers of Jesus Christ. There is much error circulating around in evangelicalism and if we must be careful to mark/avoid false teachers.

Please click the link below and read this excellent essay by Elizabeth Prata.

LINK

 

 

 


Post 8/14/2020

 

“The headline of an article read “Tail Was Short. Snake was Not.” Needless to say, it caught my attention, and so I read the entire article.

It seems that there was a lady in South Africa who passed a haystack one day, and saw the tail of a snake. She took a stick to kill it and before she knew it, she was wrestling with a 17-foot python! Gratefully, a man quickly came along to kill the snake with a fence post; otherwise it would have crushed her to death.

You may think your sin is just a little sin, but I want to tell you that it is part of the same snake. Sin murdered Jesus, and sin will crush you.” (Adrian Rogers)

 

I read this the other day and thought it was striking. The lady saw a little tail, and she assumed it belonged to a little snake. She could not have been more wrong, and the result could have been deadly.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13

 

We must be very careful as believers. Sometimes we either categorize sin or we minimize it. We can make wrong assumptions about it, and expose ourselves to danger, just as this woman did about the snake. We must be careful with this thinking and understand that God is concerned with even the smallest sins or what we ‘think’ to be small sins in our lives, because any sin big or small is disobedience. It will hinder fellowship with Him and others, and impact our overall spiritual health. If we continue in sin, then we will experience chastening.

Sins of the heart can be just as deadly as what we think of as larger sins. Pride, jealousy, gossip, envy, covetousness, unforgiveness, anger……..additionally, others can defile us and foster other sins. They will hinder us from being controlled by the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. All sin is an offence to holy God, and grieves the Holy Spirit.

 

Another sad truth is these sins of the heart if left unchecked impact our attitudes, and spill over into our lives and relationships. These sins tear up families and churches. It isn’t always the ‘big’ sins that do the damage, but those little ‘sins’, the whispering behind people’s backs, selfishness, unforgiveness, anger and so many others can wreak terrible havoc and cause division, and destroy relationships.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."  (1Peter 1:14-16)

 

We serve a holy God. If you look at Isaiah 6, the seraphim – the angelic creatures that are flying around the very throne of God, must cover their faces and feet because they cannot even look at the brilliance of His holiness.

 

Remember Moses, when in Exodus 33:18 he asked, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord told him that he couldn’t live and see His glory. The Lord covered him as He passed and even a brief glimpse of His back caused Moses face to shine from God’s radiant and awesome glory.

 

We must remember that this is the God we serve, and He is holy. There has been a continued minimalization in evangelicalism in regard to the seriousness of sin. It has been renamed and nuanced to the point that professed believers have become comfortable and casual in their sinfulness.

 

You might be surprised to learn that there is a movement in the corporate church where homosexuality is minimized and called same-sex attraction. We now seldom hear sex outside of marriage referred to as fornication and breaking of marriage vows is no longer called adultery, but often referred to as an affair. We could go on and on. The reality is that we have become very good at renaming our sin, or minimizing its severity.

 

I saw an interview a young woman had with Elisabeth Elliot. Mrs. Elliot made some excellent points, but one in particular stood out.

We must quit bending the Word to suit our situation. It is we who must be bent to that Word, our necks that must bow under the yoke

 

Have you ever heard someone say, “Well I don’t think personally there is anything wrong with that” or “Well I know God’s Word says that, but I don’t think that’s what it means,” or countless other thoughts on how we as human beings define sin.

 

But sin is sin, whether we acknowledge it as sin or not and there are consequences to disobedience. The Lord is the righteous Judge, and He is the One who decides what is sin. He has carefully laid out in His Word what the standard is and what He sees as sin. We can ignore what the Word says about it, we can redefine it, we can nuance it, but it is still sin. God is the one who sets the bar.

 

The original sin that was committed in the garden might have seemed fairly innocuous in and of itself. Our first parents simply took a piece of fruit off a tree, and ate it. Right? Of course not. There action was the height of rebellion.

 

They listened to the cunning voice of the enemy with the promise that there was something more than the Lord was offering, and in doing so they disobeyed the Lord. They lived in perfect fellowship with their Creator, in the lush and beautiful Garden of Eden where there was no shame, sin or death. They forfeited all of it because they listened to the whispers of the enemy. Their sin was monumental, and brought sin and death into the entire human race. They disobeyed the Lord, and for the rest of their lives they lived under the struggle with sin, and its consequences.

 

When Eve listened to the voice of the evil one, she could not have possibly fathomed the magnitude of what she was about to do. Her actions and those of her husband brought catastrophe into not only their own lives, but the rest of the human race. One of their sons killed the other in jealousy and rage. One ‘little’ sin, yet the consequences were massive. The consequences did not just affect them, but their family and the rest of humanity.

 

Sometimes, we can easily forget how serious of a thing sin truly is. We can let it linger in our hearts and minds, we can entertain it and tolerate it. But no matter how small the sin may seem, all sin is disobedience and has the potential to destroy us or others, cause heartache and hurt our relationship with our Lord.

 

When a believer is saved, he becomes a new creation, right?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

He is given a new heart, and God places His Spirit (Holy Spirit) within us, and we have the capacity to live for Him.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27

 

But while our hearts have been redeemed, and the Holy Spirit lives within us, we still can fall into fleshly behavior. Our souls/spirits are redeemed, but unfortunately they still live in the old unredeemed flesh. Paul lists the sins of the flesh, and again, if a Christian is not growing in their sanctification – in holiness – if they are not walking in the control of the Holy Spirit, then they can fall to the flesh and manifest any of these sins.

 

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

The deeds of the flesh reflect the sinful desires of our unredeemed humanness which are in spiritual warfare against the desires of the Spirit. MacArthur

 

The Lord made clear that man’s problem is not what is outside of him, but what is inside in the deepest part of him because that is where sin originates.

And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23

 

I remember attending a Psychology class, and at the beginning of the class, the professor explained that there is a great debate among scientists, doctors, and I assume most of academia. It is that old debate of what is the primary influencer of a person, nature or nurture. I think we can pretty much answer that question here.

 

There are only two possible views of man’s nature: he is seen either as basically good or basically evil. The humanistic view is that he is born morally good, or at least morally neutral. The Bible, however, maintains the opposite, that man is inherently corrupt and depraved in every aspect of his being. Consequently, although man’s environment is never perfect and often has a detrimental effect on him, that is never his worst problem. It is primarily man who pollutes the environment, not the environment that pollutes him. MacArthur

 

As we discussed earlier, there are no small sins. All sin proceeds or results from the sinful desires of the flesh. An unredeemed person is at the mercy of their flesh. It doesn’t mean they might not be moral, and display any noticeable moral sin, but The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

 

Even Christians have to remember that while at salvation, regeneration brings a new heart with the capacity to follow Christ, that new heart resides in the nasty old flesh and because of that, the old heart encased in the flesh can rear its ugly head. But the beauty is – and it is a truth so beautiful – that does not have to characterize a Christian, and even though they may have momentary lapses, will not characterize a true believer.

 

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

This is the lovely fruit of the Spirit that He will manifest through us when we are controlled by Him. What a stark contrast – how clean and pure – in comparison to the deeds of the flesh.

MacArthur:

“Deeds of the flesh are done by a person’s own efforts, whether he is saved or unsaved. The fruit of the Spirit on the other hand, is produced by God’s own Spirit and only in the lives of those who belong to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.”

 

The impact of walking in the Spirit is the putting away of the fleshly desires and deeds of the flesh, and the manifestation of the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit.

Believers are known by their fruit (Matt.7:16) It may be a few shriveled grapes or some brown bananas, but there will be fruit. But a little bunch of hard to spot or old fruit is not what the Spirit seeks to produce. He wants to produce that fresh and tasteful fruit that is produced in abundance. But this kind of fruit that is seen in external good works, come from that attitude fruit that Paul is speaking of.

 

Please understand, there is no truly good fruit that does not come from the heart controlled by the Holy Spirit. But as we obey God’s Word, and submit, the Spirit will produce this fruit. And it is a great gauge to use for a heart check.

 

Sometimes, even believers can fall back into their old ways, or allow distance to develop in their relationship with the Lord. They can slip back into the flesh, and the heart attitudes we see are not those clean and sweet ones produced by the Spirit, but the ugly and sinful ones produced in the flesh. Even the good things that we strive to do are tainted by our fallenness if we are not walking in the Spirit.

 

The fruit of the Spirit is the outward manifestation or evidence of our salvation. Ironically, the fruit of the Spirit are all attitudes that are commanded of believers in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ is our supreme Example, and the Holy Spirit is the Source.

Since believers have a new life in Jesus Christ, then they should walk in this newness of life. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

 

Remember our story at the beginning. From the woman’s vantage point, she saw a tiny tail sticking out so it must have been a small snake, and she thought naively that she could just hit it with a stick and kill it. But it was a massive snake instead, and it almost killed her.

 

As believers we can be the same way. We may notice something amiss in our hearts – an unthankful attitude, a root of bitterness, a tendency to gossip, unforgiveness, a sharp tongue, a critical spirit, etc., and not pay too much attention. We make a huge mistake when we do so.

 

All of these wrong attitudes and many more can take over and lead to other sins, if we are not vigilant. They feed our fallen flesh, and if we are not careful, sin can get control, and that will be the fruit of our lives. The fruit of the Spirit which should characterize a Christian will barely be noticeable, if it can be seen at all.

 

Elisabeth Elliot said as we discussed earlier.

We must quit bending the Word to suit our situation. It is we who must be bent to that Word, our necks that must bow under the yoke

 

If we want to know what a Spirit filled – Spirit controlled life looks like, we can simply look at a passage in Colossians chapter 3 (we could look at many). These attitudes and this fruit will be produced by the Holy Spirit as we walk in the Spirit:

Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

 

Oh, that this would be the characteristics of our lives. God’s holiness is a serious reality. His children are to walk in holiness as well. Indeed, we are commanded to. Let us walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Let us be quick to deal with those wrong attitudes or actions quickly and decisively. Let us obey our Lord fully, and may our hearts be strengthened as we see the fruit of the Spirit manifest through our lives.

 

Let our prayer be as the Psalmist,

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me. . Psalm 51:10

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 

 


Post 8/11/2020

We have concluded our study of James 1:2-4 -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.  

We have looked over the weeks at various refining and purposes that the Lord does through the trials and suffering of believers. I thought it was fitting for us to read this interview of Elisabeth Elliot with Ligonier Ministries. Elisabeth Elliot learned much wisdom through the trials she endured. She learned much about her God through her trials. She learned as a young women how to endure loss and pain when she lost her husband Jim Elliot as he and others in Operation Auca sought to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. She was widowed with a small young daughter. Yet this woman has persevered. She went back to Ecuador where she lived for a time with her daughter and sought to minister. Elisabeth said, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” She lived that out throughout her life and in so many ways was the picture of a beautiful and faithful Christian woman.  Enjoy this interview which gives a little insight into this godly woman, and let us consider her example.

Link to Ligonier-Elisabeth Elliot interview


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!
Post a Comment


Contents © 2021 Glennwood Baptist Church • Church Website Builder by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy