Spiritual Plagiarism

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:14

When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.

We become familiar with God’s voice in much the same way. By reading what He has written, we learn who He is and how He expresses Himself. Satan, however, tries to make himself sound like God (2 Cor. 11:14). By using God’s words in a slightly altered fashion, he comes up with convincing arguments for things that are untrue. For example, by convincing people to do things that simulate godliness, such as trusting in an outward regimen of self-discipline rather than Christ’s death for salvation (Col. 2:23), Satan has led many astray.

God went to extremes to make sure we’d recognize His voice. He not only gave us His Word, He gave us the Word made flesh—Jesus (John 1:14)—so that we will not be easily deceived or misled. by Julie Ackerman Link

Instill within my heart, dear Lord,
A deep desire to know Your Word,
I want to learn to hear Your voice
That I may make Your will my choice. —D. DeHaan

Your Word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it. —Psalm 119:140

Developing Patience

Galatians 5:22-25

We have all kinds of excuses for why we are not patient: stress, ill health, other peoples’ mistakes, running late, or simply having a bad day. But impatience can cause us to make poor decisions, hurt others, or damage relationships.

God wants something far better for us. He knows that patience helps us to stay in His will—where His favor rests upon us. We achieve strong, loving, lasting relationships when we are willing to wait for others to change. In so doing, we also become happier ourselves.

How do we develop this attribute? First, we must view our lives as God does and recognize difficulties as disguised opportunities to learn patience. We must leave behind the mistaken assumption that success in the Christian life means an absence of problems. God’s purpose is not to provide us with ease, comfort, and pleasure but rather to grow us up into Christlikeness. Patience is one of those “grown-up” qualities we’re to have.

Second, we have a personal responsibility to pursue the quality of patience and train ourselves in it. We must learn to resist our bad habits, wrong thinking, and negative behavior patterns from the past. Practice responding with kindness and love, even if the other person is unjustly accusing you.

It takes time, energy, and effort to change our thinking and our responses. Fortunately, we don’t do this alone—the Holy Spirit is committed to producing this fruit in our lives with our cooperation. See difficulty as God does, and then respond patiently.

Creeping in Unawares

“For there are certain men crept in unawares . . . ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

The special word chosen by the Holy Spirit is most helpful in understanding this warning. The Greek term translated “crept in unawares” is pareisduno, a uniquely compounded word meaning to “sink down in alongside.” What could be more descriptive? These kinds of sneaky people have been written about before, Jude says, and are prime examples of those who transpose the grace of God into uncontrolled lust.

Paul uses a similar word in his letter to Timothy to warn him about the ungodly men of the last days who “creep into houses” and undermine the lifestyles of “silly women” (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The imagery implies the subtlety and cleverness of these “ungodly men,” but there is a horrible consequence of this replacement of God’s grace with “lasciviousness.”

Jude lists the terrible judgment on the people of Israel who refused to believe the good report of Joshua and Caleb when the 12 spies returned from the land of Canaan. God “destroyed” those who embraced the fearful and faithless report of the 10 (Numbers 14). Even the angels who led the world of Noah into corruption (Genesis 6:1-4) were chained in “darkness” for their disobedience (2 Peter 2:4).

Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, and Korah (Core) are all given as examples by Jude of God’s stern judgment on those who knew better but chose to lead a rebellion against the righteous lifestyles or leadership of God’s people. God does not take lightly the misuse of His instructions. Even the “least” of the commandments are important (Matthew 5:19). After all, “thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2). HMM III

The Lord and the prophet were bitterly disappointed because he had stopped half way

“Take the arrows…. Smite upon the ground. And he smote twice and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times.” (2 Kings 13:18, 19.)

HOW striking and eloquent the message of these words! Jehoash thought he had done very well when he duplicated and triplicated what to him was certainly an extraordinary act of faith. But the Lord and the prophet were bitterly disappointed because he had stopped half way.

He got something. He got much. He got exactly what he believed for in the final test, but he did not get all that the prophet meant and the Lord wanted to bestow. He missed much of the meaning of the promise and the fullness of the blessing. He got something better than the human, but he did not get God’s best.

Beloved, how solemn is the application! How heartsearching the message of God to us! How important that we should learn to pray through! Shall we claim all the fullness of the promise and all the possibilities of believing prayer? —A. B. Simpson.

“Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20.)

There is no other such piling up of words in Paul’s writings as these, “exceeding abundantly above all,” and each word is packed with infinite love and power to “do” for His praying saints.

There is one limitation, “according to the power that worketh in us.” He will do just as much for us as we let Him do in us. The power that saved us, washed us with His own blood, filled us with might by His Spirit, kept us in manifold temptations, will work for us, meeting every emergency, every crisis, every circumstance, and every adversary. —The Alliance.

I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy

“For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Romans 9:15

In these words the Lord in the plainest manner claims the right to give or to withhold His mercy according to His own sovereign will. As the prerogative of life and death is vested in the monarch, so the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty, as may seem best in His sight. Men by their sins have forfeited all claim upon God; they deserve to perish for their sins— and if they all do so, they have no ground for complaint. If the Lord steps in to save any, He may do so if the ends of justice are not thwarted; but if He judges it best to leave the condemned to suffer the righteous sentence, none may arraign Him at their bar.

Foolish and impudent are all those discourses about the rights of men to be all placed on the same footing; ignorant, if not worse, are those contentions against discriminating grace, which are but the rebellions of proud human nature against the crown and sceptre of Jehovah. When we are brought to see our own utter ruin and ill desert, and the justice of the divine verdict against sin, we no longer cavil at the truth that the Lord is not bound to save us; we do not murmur if He chooses to save others, as though He were doing us an injury, but feel that if He deigns to look upon us, it will be His own free act of undeserved goodness, for which we shall for ever bless His name.

How shall those who are the subjects of divine election sufficiently adore the grace of God? They have no room for boasting, for sovereignty most effectually excludes it. The Lord’s will alone is glorified, and the very notion of human merit is cast out to everlasting contempt. There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of election, none more promotive of gratitude, and, consequently, none more sanctifying. Believers should not be afraid of it, but adoringly rejoice in it.

Preach deliverance to the captives

“To preach deliverance to the captives.” Luke 4:18

None but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty cometh from Him only. It is a liberty righteously bestowed; for the Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to make men free. The saints honour the justice of God, which now secures their salvation. It is a liberty which has been dearly purchased. Christ speaks it by His power, but He bought it by His blood. He makes thee free, but it is by His own bonds. Thou goest clear, because He bare thy burden for thee: thou art set at liberty, because He has suffered in thy stead. But, though dearly purchased, He freely gives it. Jesus asks nothing of us as a preparation for this liberty.

He finds us sitting in sackcloth and ashes, and bids us put on the beautiful array of freedom; He saves us just as we are, and all without our help or merit. When Jesus sets free, the liberty is perpetually entailed; no chains can bind again. Let the Master say to me, “Captive, I have delivered thee,” and it is done for ever. Satan may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord be on our side, whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us, but mightier is He who is for us than all they who be against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us, but He who hath begun the good work in us will carry it on and perfect it to the end.

The foes of God and the enemies of man may gather their hosts together, and come with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquitteth, who is he that condemneth? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to his rocky eyrie, and afterwards outsoars the clouds, than the soul which Christ hath delivered. If we are no more under the law, but free from its curse, let our liberty be practically exhibited in our serving God with gratitude and delight. “I am Thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: Thou hast loosed my bonds.” “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”