VIDEO Vision and Darkness

 

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light— that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Do I trust at all in the flesh? Or have I learned to go beyond all confidence in myself and other people of God? Do I trust in books and prayers or other joys in my life? Or have I placed my confidence in God Himself, not in His blessings? “I am Almighty God…”— El-Shaddai, the All-Powerful God (Genesis 17:1). The reason we are all being disciplined is that we will know God is real. As soon as God becomes real to us, people pale by comparison, becoming shadows of reality. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever upset the one who is built on God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

For the past three hundred years men have been pointing out how similar Jesus Christ’s teachings are to other good teachings. We have to remember that Christianity, if it is not a supernatural miracle, is a sham.  The Highest Good, 548 L

Two Traits

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

We have a flat tire on a dark rural road late at night; we can’t figure out how to shut the water off when a pipe is leaking; our spouse is out of town, we’re sick in bed, and we need help with meals and childcare; we need helpful advice in making a financial decision—and more. Those situations have the potential to leave us discouraged or in despair. But those feelings can change in a matter of minutes.

What can change them? A person(s) who possesses two qualities: knowledge and presence; skill and availability. A person who knows how to help us and is available when we need help can transform a discouraging moment in life. Guess who possesses both those traits: God Himself. He has the wisdom and knowledge, and He is always with us. He is just a prayer away. That’s why James wrote that if we lack wisdom when (not if; James 1:2, emphasis added) we need help we should “ask of God” and “it will be given.”

Do you need help today? Climb out of the well of discouragement by calling on God for His wisdom. He is able and available.

There is no situation in which we are placed, no demand that arises, for which Scripture as the deposit of the manifold wisdom of God is not adequate and sufficient. John Murray

Pitfalls in Seeking God’s Will

 

Psalm 25:4-5

As a pastor, I am frequently asked how to make the right decision in challenging circumstances. Sadly, I see many people make mistakes in this area.

For example, some people pray hastily for the Lord to lead them but do not listen for His answer. Instead, they make their own decision and trust that He will bless it. But expecting God to bless what is not of Him will lead to missing out on His best. To avoid disappointment, we must be aware of several pitfalls that interfere with hearing His direction accurately.

First, be mindful of fleshly desires. Wants are not necessarily wrong, but longings become unhealthy when they consume our thoughts. Eventually, we might believe that our desired outcome is God’s will, when in reality, we weren’t really listening to His voice.

Second, watch out for faulty advice. Even well-meaning Christian friends can lead us in the wrong direction. We should carefully seek counsel from those who walk closely with Jesus and are grounded in His Word.

Third, be careful when you are feeling impatient, doubtful, or pressured in any way. These emotions can lead you to make rash decisions apart from the Lord’s best for your life. Patience is hard, but His perfect will is always worth the wait.

Determine to follow God’s leading. Do this by cleansing your heart, asking for guidance, waiting, and listening. When you trusted Christ as Savior, His Holy Spirit came into your heart and sealed you as His child. He will teach you how to live a godly life—direction is yours if you ask and believe.

Jacob’s Plain Life

“Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.” (Genesis 25:27)

Jacob has often been given a bad reputation for his deception of Isaac. He is branded a liar and worse, while the Scriptures describe him very differently. To begin with, the Hebrew word translated “plain” in our text is tam, everywhere else rendered as “perfect” or “upright.”

The same word is used most often by God Himself of Job—a “perfect” and “upright” man (Job 1:8). All other references in the Bible where tam is used verify this upright and undefiled character. The deception is not rebuked by God, and Jacob is honored by God far more than Isaac. In fact, Jacob is renamed “Israel” by God—hardly a punishment for a bad life, but rather a recognition of a great life (Genesis 32:28).

The sin of Isaac and Esau is infinitely greater. Esau has “sold” and “despised” the birthright (Genesis 25:33-34). Isaac would have given that blessing to Esau (Genesis 27:1-4) in spite of God’s plan (Genesis 25:23). The intention of Jacob and Rebecca was to prevent a horrible disobedience and catastrophe.

Jacob’s action gave him no temporal advantage and was taken at great personal risk. Jacob spent 20 years in exile and servitude to his wicked uncle Laban, 14 of them for Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:20-29). While there, he endured the awful trickery of Laban, but God gave him 12 sons and one daughter (Genesis 29:31–30:24).

God’s intervention and Jacob’s careful attention to detail brought wealth and a growing confidence that God had turned his life around, providing the leadership his family needed to leave suddenly and go with confidence back to the land of Abraham (Genesis 31), having received personal assurance from God (Genesis 32:24-30).

May we all have the reputation of a “plain” life. HMM III

“Lie not one to another.”

Genesis 12:10-20

Genesis 12:13

To say that she was his sister was part of the truth, but the intention was to deceive. Whether what we say be true or not, if our object be to mislead others, we are guilty of falsehood. Let us pray for grace to be strictly truthful.

Genesis 12:16

Yet surely these gifts must have given Abram but little pleasure; he must have felt mean in spirit and sick at heart.

Genesis 12:19

It must have been very humbling to the man of God to be rebuked by a heathen. It is sad indeed when the worldling shames the believer; yet it is too often the case.

Genesis 12:20

From this Scripture we learn that the best of men, though in the path of duty, will nevertheless have their trials. It is Abram, he is a pilgrim according to God’s command, and yet he is afflicted by the famine which falls upon the land in which he dwells. Trials find out the weak places in good men, and even the holy patriarch had some blemishes. He went into Egypt, into a land where he had no right to be: he was out of the path of duty, and therefore out of the place of safety. On the devil’s ground he was in slippery places, and found it hard to maintain his uprightness. He equivocated, in order to save himself and Sarai; he deceived Pharaoh by telling him only half the truth, and he exposed his wife to great peril: all this arose out of the unbelief which marred even the mighty faith of the father of the faithful. The best of men are but men at the best, and this record suffices to show us that even the chief of the patriarchs was a man of like passions with ourselves. Why can we not have Abram’s faith, since Abram had our infirmities? The same Spirit can work in us also a majestic faith, and lead us to triumph by its power.

Genesis 13:1-4

Genesis 13:1

He did not feel safe till he had returned to his separated condition. Association with the world is not good for the believer’s soul. The more he is a sojourner with his God, and a separatist from sinners, the better.

Genesis 13:2-4

Doubtless he confessed his sinful weakness, and renewed the allegiance of his faith in God. If we have erred or backslidden, let us also return to our first love, to that Bethel where first we set up an altar unto the Lord.

 

Oh send thy Spirit down, to write

Thy law upon my heart!

Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,

Nor act the liar’s part.

 

Order my footsteps by thy word,

And make my heart sincere;

Let sin have no dominion, Lord,

But keep my conscience clear.

 

Comrades In the Lord Jesus Christ

1 Thessalonians 5:27

Throughout Paul’s writings in the New Testament, he uses the word “brethren” when he writes to the churches. This word comes from the Greek word adelphos, which is one of the oldest words in the New Testament. In the King James Version, it is usually translated as the word “brethren.” However, it actually has a much deeper meaning than this.

In its very oldest sense, the word adelphos (“brother”) was used by physicians in the medical world to describe two people who were born from the same womb. So when the early Greeks addressed each other as “brethren,” they meant to convey the idea: “You and I are brothers! We came out of the same womb of humanity. We have the same feelings; we have similar emotions; and we deal with the same problems in life. In every respect, we are truly brothers!”

In part, this was Paul’s thinking when he addressed his readers as “brethren.” By using this terminology, he brought himself right down to the level of his readers to identify with their position in life and with their personal struggles and victories. They were truly brothers—born from the womb of God, related by the blood of Jesus Christ, and members of the same spiritual family.

But the word “brethren” also had another very significant meaning during New Testament times, a meaning that it doesn’t have in our world today. It was used during the time of Alexander the Great to describe faithful soldiers. These fighting men were true brothers, comrades, and partners who were united to fight the same fight, handle the same weapons, and win the same wars!

From time to time, Alexander the Great would hold huge public ceremonies where he would give awards to soldiers who had gone the extra mile in battle. When the most coveted awards were given, Alexander the Great would beckon the most faithful soldiers on stage to stand next to him. Before an audience of adoring soldiers, Alexander would embrace each faithful soldier and publicly declare, “Alexander the Great is proud to be the brother of this soldier!”

That word “brother” was this same Greek word adelphos, but in this instance, it referred to military men who were brothers in battle. This was the highest and greatest compliment that could be given to a soldier during the time of Alexander the Great.

Thus, to be a “brother” meant that a person was a true comrade. Through the thick and thin of battle, these soldiers stood together, achieving a special level of brotherhood known only by those who stay united together in the heat of the fray. This was also part of what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Early Church.

 

When Paul called his fellow Christians “brothers,” he was telling them:

“In addition to being blood brothers, we are all in a similar fight, slugging it out against the same enemy—and this common fight makes us real comrades….”

I’m sure that Paul’s readers were probably struggling in their personal lives, just as we do today, but they hadn’t given up the fight. They were still on the front lines, slugging it out and plodding along, one step at a time. They were the kind of believers who are worth knowing and worthy to be called brothers because they possessed an ongoing commitment to stay faithful in the battle and committed to the cause.

No matter how well or how badly these believers were doing in the midst of their fight, at least they were still fighting! Others had given up, but they had not. As long as they remained faithful to the fight and refused to relinquish their stand of faith, Paul viewed them as exceptionally fine soldiers—the kind of soldiers anyone would be happy to associate with!

The word “brother” emphatically declares that it’s not really how well you fight in life that counts. What really counts is that you keep on fighting! So don’t give up on yourself, and don’t give up on those believers around you who seem to be struggling. As long as they keep on trying—as long as they stay in the battle—they’re worthy of your friendship! You should be proud to be associated with people of such a spiritual caliber!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You to help me see myself and other Christian brothers and sisters as soldiers in the army of God. Help me develop an attitude of determination that refuses to surrender to hardship or to throw in the towel in the face of difficulty. At the same time that this attitude is being developed inside me, use me to help fortify the same determined attitude in other Christian soldiers who face hostile forces that have come to steal their victory and joy.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that regardless of how much resistance the devil is trying to bring against my life, I will never surrender to defeat. Others may give up, but not I! As long as I am alive, I will stay in the fight. I refuse to relinquish my stand of faith. I am an exceptionally fine soldierexactly the kind other Christian soldiers should be happy to associate with—because I am committed and determined to fight until my victory is complete!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you name five people who have been real “comrades” in your life?
  2. In your mind, what qualifies a person to be a bona fide friend?
  3. What practical things can you do to become a better friend to those you love, and how can you start this process today?

 

Entanglement

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life.” (2 Timothy 2:4)

The picture here of ENTANGLEMENT is that of a soldier who goes to draw his sword but gets it caught in his robe.

QUESTION: “Are you a soldier of Christ who is available on His terms for spiritual battle?” Or are you ENTANGLED? Christ expects us to be INVOLVED in life’s affairs. Not ENTANGLED.

Writing in a Roman setting, Paul knew that all soldiers were characterized in two ways:

1. They were immediately available at the call of their commander.

  • If Christ called you today to move to Bolivia, would you be available to go?

– Are you debt free? Unentangled with contracts?

– Are you free enough emotionally to break the bonds and go?

  • If Christ called you today to drop what you were doing for a few hours to touch someone… would you be available?

Picture in your mind the contrast between:

  • Peter and the other fisherman who, upon Christ’s request immediately left their boats (business) and family members to follow Him. (See Matthew 4:19, 20)
  • The men in Luke 9 whom Christ called. They responded with a “Yes” all right, yet with this qualifier: “BUT FIRST LET US check out our investments and take care of family needs. (See Luke 9:57-62)

ENTANGLED!

2. They assumed they would suffer in the carrying out of their commander’s cause:

Suffer hardshipas a true soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3, asv, TCNT)

Tertullian, a Christian scholar of another age put it this way: “No soldier comes to the war surrounded by luxuries, nor goes into action from a comfortable bedroom, but from the makeshift and narrow tent, where every kind of hardness and severity and unpleasantness is to be found.

Are you involved, yet AVAILABLE… or are you unavailable because you are so ENTANGLED?

 

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