Jul 29, 2014
Amy Shreve “Beautiful Scars” From the CD “The God of All Joy”
Jul 29, 2014
Amy Shreve “Beautiful Scars” From the CD “The God of All Joy”
I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. —Acts 26:19
If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible— not God. We lose the vision because of our own lack of spiritual growth. If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to “the heavenly vision” is to give our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision. But the acid test is obedience to the vision in the details of our everyday life— sixty seconds out of every minute, and sixty minutes out of every hour, not just during times of personal prayer or public meetings.
“Though it tarries, wait for it…” (Habakkuk 2:3). We cannot bring the vision to fulfillment through our own efforts, but must live under its inspiration until it fulfills itself. We try to be so practical that we forget the vision. At the very beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it. We rushed off to do our practical work, and once the vision was fulfilled we could no longer even see it. Waiting for a vision that “tarries” is the true test of our faithfulness to God. It is at the risk of our own soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical busy-work, only to miss the fulfillment of the vision.
Watch for the storms of God. The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside? That will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of the vision you have seen. Let God send you out through His storm, and don’t go until He does. If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you allow God to plant you, you will “bear much fruit” (John 15:8).
It is essential that we live and “walk in the light” of God’s vision for us (1 John 1:7).
When the problems of life seem overwhelming, we need someone to come alongside and help us to see our difficulties through the eyes of our sovereign God. Joseph is just such a person. Although he lived thousands of years ago, his story still speaks to us with great insight into the Lord’s purposes.
Joseph experienced a wide variety of trials—hatred, rejection, and betrayal by his brothers; loss of home, family, and freedom; false accusation and imprisonment; and the loneliness and disappointment of being forgotten. His life was a series of difficult and unfair situations, yet Scripture never records any bitterness or revenge in Joseph’s responses to all these circumstances.
Though outwardly it may have seemed as if God had abandoned the young man, He was doing some awesome work in Joseph’s heart. The Lord had big plans for him, and He knew that these trials would be the most effective tools in preparing His servant for the work that lay ahead.
As Joseph responded to each situation with faith in God and diligence in every task assigned to him, one fact became obvious to all who knew him: The Lord was with Joseph (Gen. 39:2, 21, 23).
We need to remember this when we are going through hard times: The Lord is with us even when our circumstances seem to shout that He has deserted us. We may have little control over the difficulties we face, but we each have a choice of how to respond. Joseph calls to us from out of the past, urging us to trust God.
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
The third verse of “I Am His, and He Is Mine” recalls former times of alarm, fear, and doubt, but testifies of the rest and peace in His love, cradled in the “everlasting arms” of the Savior.
Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, Pillowed on the loving breast!
O to lie forever here, Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear—I am His and He is mine.
This verse reminds us of the evening when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat and a violent storm arose. They awoke Jesus from His sleep and cried, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Of course Jesus cared, for He loved them. So “he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still” (v. 39). To His disciples, He said, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (v. 40). The time would come when they would need that faith and peace. They would learn to rest in His loving care.
The song also reminds us of the special loving relationship between Jesus and the disciple John. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). A deep intimacy with Him was John’s, and can be ours, if we will only pillow our head on Him. No passage expresses that intimacy as well as the Song of Solomon, using the analogy of husband and wife to reflect the self-sacrificing love between our Lord and His children. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). The affairs of this life interrupt our times of intimacy with Him, but there will be a day when we will “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). JDM
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. —2 Timothy 4:5
A number of factors contribute to bad spiritual leadership….
The economic squeeze. The Protestant ministry is notoriously underpaid and the pastor’s family is often large. Put these two facts together and you have a situation ready-made to bring trouble and temptation to the man of God. The ability of the congregation to turn off the flow of money to the church when the man in the pulpit gets on their toes is well known. The average pastor lives from year to year barely making ends meet. To give vigorous moral leadership to the church is often to invite economic strangulation, so such leadership is withheld. But the evil thing is that leadership withheld is in fact a kind of inverted leadership. The man who will not lead his flock up the mountainside leads it down without knowing it.
Lord, again I pray for any pastor who may be facing this “economic squeeze” today. Help him to be faithful and give strong leadership no matter the cost. Then, Lord, I pray that even today You would grant one of Your special, generous provisions as a powerful reminder of Your great faithfulness. Amen.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:16
We have come to a wretched emphasis in the Christian church, so that when we talk about the future we talk about “eschatology” instead of heaven!
We must confess that Christians are living too much in the “present now”—and the anticipation of better things to come has almost died out of the church of Christ.
We find ourselves so well-situated now, that we don’t really need any tomorrow’s heaven. We don’t need to hope—we have everything well enough now!
In this kind of emphasis, the fact remains that the true Christian is one who is kind of sick of this world. When God works a miracle within the human breast, heaven becomes the Christian’s home immediately, and he is drawn to it as the bird is drawn in the springtime to fly north.
The Christian does have a homeland, and the fact that we are not anticipating it and looking forward to it with any pleasure is a serious mark of something that is wrong with us.
When I find someone who is settled down too snugly into this world and its system, I am forced to doubt whether he has ever truly been born again.
Actually, it is true that all of the Christians I meet who really amount to something for God are those very much out of key with their age—very, very much out of tune with their generation! Remember, you are on earth and God is in heaven—so don’t be afraid to dream high spiritual dreams, believing what your Bible says.
When Jesus saw him… he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? JOHN 5:6
If you are a discouraged and defeated Christian believer, you may have accepted the rationalization that your condition is “normal for all Christians.”
You may now be content with the position that the progressive, victorious Christian life may be suitable for a few Christians—but not for you! You have been to Bible conferences; you have been to the altar—but the blessings are for someone else.
Now, that attitude on the part of Christian believers is neither modesty nor meekness. It is a chronic discouragement resulting from unbelief. It is rather like those who have been sick for so long that they no longer believe they can get well.
Jesus is still saying, as He said to the man lying by the gate at the Jerusalem pool, “Do you want to be made whole?” (see John 5:6). Jesus made him whole— because of his desire! His need was great, but he had never lapsed into that state of chronic discouragement.
Thank You, Lord, that a victorious Christian life can be the norm—even in the midst of this chaotic, malevolent world. Fill me anew with Your Spirit, and shine through me today.