Read the Directions

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. Psalm 119:71

We have grown used to unboxing new digital appliances and using the “trial and error” method to discover how they work. Most of these tools and toys don’t even come with instruction booklets, opting instead for built-in “Help” menus. When we do eventually read the directions, we usually wish we had done so sooner.

Trials can drive us closer to God’s “instructions.” The psalmist learned that lesson, saying it was good to go through trials in order to learn more of God’s ways (Psalm 119:67, 71, 92). Throughout Scripture the same message is repeated: Trials build godly character (James 1:2-4), drive us to call on God for wisdom (James 1:5), build our faith (James 1:6), and give us the opportunity to display the character of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). For those reasons and more, we should “count it all joy when [we] fall into various trials” (James 1:2). But only if we want to discover more of God’s Word, will, and ways, and be conformed more to Christ’s image (Romans 8:28-29).

Don’t try to figure life’s trials out on your own. Read and follow life’s biblical instructions. You’ll be glad you did.

None of us can come to the highest maturity without enduring the summer heat of trials. Charles H. Spurgeon

Growing in Faith

Hebrews 5:12-14

Our Heavenly Father desires that we grow spiritually from infancy to maturity. Yesterday, we talked about the discipline of listening to God. Today, let’s look at several more practices necessary for living a life in Christ.

• The Lord desires that we obey Him. Some of His teachings are easy to follow, while others are difficult. Choosing our own way might feel good at first, but the end result is always regret. On the other hand, every act of obedience builds faith.

• God teaches us to depend upon Him. In fact, He sometimes calls us to action in areas that seem humanly impossible. For instance, to forgive an atrocious act may feel beyond our ability. But when we cannot achieve what He requires, we rely on His strength to enable us.

• Our Father wants us to wait upon Him. We, on the other hand, want everything to happen according to our preferences and timetable. So there’s a temptation to manipulate circumstances, which typically makes a mess. The Lord’s way is best, and He desires for us to trust and be patient.

• Scripture teaches us to confess sin, repent, and learn from missteps. God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does want to see a healthy response to shortcomings.

The Lord longs for His children to have abundant, meaningful lives. For this reason, He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell, equip, and empower believers to reach their God-given potential. We can choose to cooperate with this plan or to live independently of His best.

The Fossils’ Tale

“Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” (2 Peter 3:6)

Billions of dead creatures are entombed in cubic miles of water-deposited rock layers. The story they tell is hotly debated in our educational institutions. But one thing is very clear—sometime in our planet’s past “all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21-22).

If life sprang into being from non-life, and if that life, once generated, changed over time into more and more complex systems, then those events must have happened outside of our current environment. Since we do not find evidence of such large biological changes happening in the present, we must look to find it among the fossils preserved for us in the planet’s sedimentary deposits.

At first glance, all would agree that these enormous deposits speak of a vast water catastrophe that inundated the entire planet. The Bible tells us that such a planet-covering water catastrophe did take place (Genesis 7:11-12, 19).

Those who refuse to accept the biblical record must deny that such a flood ever took place. They must also attempt to tell a story (without God in the story) of processes and conditions that could produce the worldwide deposits of sedimentary rock and the billions of fossils they contain. Job understood that we should “speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?” (Job 12:8-9). HMM III

The Holy Spirit Can Be Grieved

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
—Ephesians 4:30

Because He is loving and kind and friendly, the Holy Spirit may be grieved…. He can be grieved because He is loving, and there must be love present before there can be grief.

Suppose you had a seventeen-year-old son who began to go bad. He rejected your counsel and wanted to take things into his own hands. Suppose that he joined up with a young stranger from another part of the city and they got into trouble.

You were called down to the police station. Your boy—and another boy whom you had never seen—sat there in handcuffs.

You know how you would feel about it. You would be sorry for the other boy—but you don’t love him because you don’t know him. With your own son, your grief would penetrate to your heart like a sword. Only love can grieve. If those two boys were sent off to prison, you might pity the boy you didn’t know, but you would grieve over the boy you knew and loved. A mother can grieve because she loves. If you don’t love, you can’t grieve.

When the Scripture says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30), it is telling us that He loves us so much that when we insult Him, He is grieved; when we ignore Him, He is grieved; when we resist Him, He is grieved; and when we doubt Him, He is grieved.

Lord, forgive me, for I have grieved Your Holy Spirit. Bathe me in His love, I pray. Amen.

Only God Would Stir Us

Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness. (Matthew 5:6)

There is no way that any of us can talk ourselves into getting a “longing for God.” Spiritual desire and hunger must come from God Himself! it cannot be whipped up.

As a grown boy, I tried selling peanuts, popcorn, chewing gum, candy and books on the old Vicksburg and Pacific railroad. I did not sell enough to become any great success, but I recall that we often tried to stir up some desire for our wares among the passengers. We would go through the coaches and give each person a few salted peanuts. No one seemed to want to buy on the first trip through, but when we came back, nearly everyone who had tasted was ready to buy. This was a common trick on the trains.

But it is a different story when we consider the spiritual life. No one but God through His Spirit is able to stir up spiritual desire among us. Those who have accepted a common state of spiritual living and have no deep desire for Him will never be stirred by human means.

Resting alone upon the invisible God

Doubtless the reader has been tried with the temptation to rely upon things which are seen, instead of resting alone upon the invisible God. Christians often look to man for help and counsel, and mar the noble simplicity of their reliance upon their God. Does this portion meet the eye of a child of God anxious about temporals, then would we reason with him a while. You trust in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for your salvation; then why are you troubled? “Because of my great care.” Is it not written, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord?” “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God.”