This reminds me of the CS Lewis Screwtape Letters.
This reminds me of the CS Lewis Screwtape Letters.
Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. —2 Kings 5:15
Two small boys were playing a complicated game with sticks and string. After a few minutes the older boy turned to his friend and said crossly, “You’re not doing it properly. This is my game, and we play it my way. You can’t play anymore!” The desire to have things our own way starts young!
Naaman was a person who was accustomed to having things his way. He was commander of the army of the king of Syria. But Naaman also had an incurable disease. One day his wife’s servant girl, who had been captured from the land of Israel, suggested that he seek healing from Elisha, the prophet of God. Naaman was desperate enough to do this, but he wanted the prophet to come to him. He expected to be treated with great ceremony and respect. So when Elisha simply sent a message that he should bathe seven times in the Jordan River, Naaman was furious! He refused (2 Kings 5:10-12). Only when he finally humbled himself and did it God’s way was he cured (vv. 13-14).
We’ve probably all had times when we’ve said “I’ll do it my way” to God. But His way is always the best way. So let’s ask God to give us humble hearts that willingly choose His way, not our own.
Father, forgive me for my pride and for so often thinking I know best. Give me a humble heart that is willing to follow Your way in everything.
Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self. Charles Spurgeon
By Marion Stroud
The Mystery of Believing
He said, “Who are You, Lord?” —Acts 9:5
Through the miracle of redemption, Saul of Tarsus was instantly changed from a strong-willed and forceful Pharisee into a humble and devoted bondservant of the Lord Jesus.
There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.
Many people begin coming to God once they stop being religious, because there is only one master of the human heart— Jesus Christ, not religion. But “Woe is me” if after seeing Him I still will not obey (Isaiah 6:5 , also see Isaiah 6:1). Jesus will never insist that I obey, but if I don’t,I have already begun to sign the death certificate of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say, “I will not obey,” He will never insist. But when I do this, I am backing away from the recreating power of His redemption. It makes no difference to God’s grace what an abomination I am, if I will only come to the light. But “Woe is me” if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).
by Oswald Chambers
A Clear Path to God’s Plan for You, The Word
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening. Genesis 24:63
The Bible provides a clear pathway to God’s plan for our lives, and meditation is a key ingredient in finding that path. Some people shy away from talking about meditation because of the influences of Eastern mysticism. But biblical meditation is the art of mentally chewing on the passages of Scripture we’ve been studying until they become digested by the mind and assimilated into our personalities.
In his book about the Puritan practice of scripture meditation, David W. Saxton wrote, “Though God’s people should delight in meditation, the modern high-tech church has almost totally forgotten about this hidden jewel of spiritual strengthening.”1
To rediscover the art of Bible meditation, take a passage or verse you’ve been studying, become thoroughly acquainted with it, then spend time simply thinking about it—while you fall asleep at night, when you’re driving to work, during your daily walk. According to Psalm 1, when we meditate on God’s Word day and night, we’re like trees planted by rivers of water, fruitful and prosperous.
Meditation pulls the latch of the truth and looks into every closet, and every cupboard, and every angle of it… It labors to affect the heart. Puritan William Fenner, quoted by David W. Saxton
Recommended Reading: Psalm 1
When I tell people who have been ill-treated that full healing requires forgiving their abuser, many will argue, “You don’t understand the hurt I’ve endured.” They’re right. But a bitter spirit, like cancer, penetrates every part of our life. Anger and resentment are symptoms that cannot be pushed away and ignored. They spill out, harming relationships and leading to risky decisions.
Withholding forgiveness may feel as if we’re punishing the offender. But people cannot take revenge on one another without destroying themselves. That’s why the Lord calls us to follow His example of extending grace to all (Ephesians 4:32). Since God has pardoned us so generously, we shouldn’t withhold forgiveness from others. When someone hurts us, we may feel that person doesn’t deserve pardon, but neither are we deserving of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Crucifixion was slow and agonizing, but Jesus’ worst torment occurred when the sin of the world was laid on Him and His Father turned away (Matthew 27:46). Still, as the crowd cast lots for His garments, Jesus gave us the best possible example of forgiveness by saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). I may not know your pain, but I assure you that Jesus does. With His infinite love and gentleness, He’ll help you overcome hurt, anger, and bitterness.
Forgiveness is a choice—an act of service to the Lord, a witness to the person who inflicted our pain, and a necessary step in our healing. No matter how terrible the acts committed against us were, God requires that we show mercy. For our good and His glory, He wants us to give up the “right” to punish those who hurt us.
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
When the inspired writer of Proverbs testified here that God’s Word was “pure,” he did not use the usual word for, say, moral purity or metallic purity. Instead, he asserted in effect that every word of God had been refined and purified, as it were in a spiritual furnace, so that any and all contaminants had been purged out, leaving only the pure element.
The same truth is found in the great psalm of the Scriptures (Psalm 119). “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it” (Psalm 119:140). David used the same word in another psalm, where it is translated “tried” in the sense of “tested for purity.” “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30). The word for “buckler” in this verse is the same as for “shield” in our text. Thus, God equips with a perfect shield against the weapons of any foe, because “His way is perfect” and “every word” in Scripture has been made “pure” before the Spirit of God approved its use by the human writer.
This surely tells us that the human writer of Scripture (that is, Moses or David or John or whomever), with all his human proneness to mistakes or other inadequacies, was so controlled by the Holy Spirit that whatever he actually wrote had been purged of any such deficiencies. Thus, his final written text had been made perfectly “pure,” free from any defects. This control applies to “every word,” so that we can legitimately refer to the Scriptures as verbally inspired and inerrant throughout.
As the apostle Paul stressed, our spiritual armor in the battle against evil is “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:16-17). HMM
For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. —Psalm 89:6-7
Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God. And I insist upon this and I have said it many times, that the basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God. I talk with learned and godly people all over the country, and they’re all saying the same thing.
Unbelievers say, “Take your cowboy god and go home,” and we get angry and say, “They’re vile heathen.” No, they’re not vile heathen—or at least that’s not why they say that. They can’t respect our “cowboy god.” And since evangelicalism has gone overboard to “cowboy religion,” its conception of God is unworthy of Him. Our religion is little because our god is little…. We do not see God as He is….
A local church will only be as great as its conception of God. An individual Christian will be a success or a failure depending upon what he or she thinks of God. It is critically important that we have a knowledge of the Holy One, that we know what God is like.
O God, help me to capture once again a realization of Your greatness. May the God I represent in my ministry be a God worthy of
lavish worship. Amen.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
The history of Israel and Judah points up a truth taught clearly enough by all history—that the masses are or soon will be what their leaders are. The kings set the moral pace for the people.
Israel sometimes rebelled against her leaders, it is true, but the rebellions were not spontaneous. The people merely switched to a new leader and followed him. The point is, they always had to have a leader.
Whatever sort of man the king turned out to be the people were soon following his leadership. They followed David in the worship of Jehovah, Solomon in the building of the Temple, Jeroboam in the making of a calf and Hezekiah in the restoration of the temple worship.
It is not complimentary to the masses that they are so easily led, but we are not interested in praising or blaming; we are concerned for truth, and the truth is that for better or for worse, religious people follow leaders. A good man may change the moral complexion of a whole nation; or a corrupt and worldly clergy may lead a nation into bondage. The transposed proverb, “Like priest, like people,” sums up in four words a truth taught plainly in the Scriptures and demonstrated again and again in religious history.
The rewards of godly leadership are so great and the responsibilities of the leader so heavy that no one can afford to take the matter lightly.
If any man be in Christ… old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
The New Testament is, among others things, a record of the struggle of twiceborn men and women to live in a world run by the once born! That should indicate that we are not being as helpful as we ought to be when we fail to instruct the new Christian, that one who is “a babe in Christ,” that our Lord told his earliest disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).
The Apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when he told Christian believers, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Take the example of a person recently converted to Christ. His inner witness is clear and up to the light he has; he is beginning to live as he believes a Christian should. But this new world is altogether different from the one he has just left. Standards, values, objectives, methods—all are different. Many solid pillars upon which he had previously leaned without question are now seen to be made of chalk and ready to crumble.
There will be tears, but there will be joy and peace with the continuing discovery that in Christ, indeed, “old things pass away and all things become new” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Lord, sometimes it’s convenient to hide my faith when I am in the company of non-Christians. Help me take a stand for Christ even if I’m in the midst of a hostile situation.