VIDEO Love’s Unfolding Dream

Aug 23, 2015

Signs of Life

 

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7

All over the world, in seemingly safe settings—fields, jungles, pastures, farmlands—there are signs posted: “DANGER: DO NOT PROCEED.” The signs also explain why. With words and dramatic graphics, they say, “LAND MINES.” There are millions of land mines buried in former war zones all over the world, never dug up following the cessation of hostilities. And those mines kill or maim thousands of innocent civilians each year in locations where no warning signs are posted.

Those warning signs are not intended to deprive anyone of the pleasure of enjoying the land. They are meant to save lives, to warn of danger, to encourage people to take a different path. The signs do what the Law of God does: It warns us of choices and behaviors that are offensive to a holy God. For instance, the apostle Paul said he would never have known that coveting was offensive to God unless the Law said, “You shall not covet.”

God’s laws are signs of His grace and love. They are there to lead us in the path of righteousness and life.

When the law of God is written on our hearts, our duty will be our delight.  Matthew Henry

Preparation Through Prayer

Acts 1:9-14

The book of Acts is an amazing record of how God worked in and through the early church, and one of their most important activities was prayer. While Jesus was with His disciples, little was recorded of them praying because they could talk directly to Christ. But after His ascension, they immediately gathered in the upper room and “devot[ed] themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14).

Talking to God was their means of preparing for the work He had for them. Jesus had told them the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13). Then after the resurrection, He instructed them to stay in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Without the Spirit, they were not adequate for the Great Commission even though they’d spent time with Jesus. And if they needed the Spirit’s power, so do we.

To the degree we’re willing to admit our absolute helplessness to do God’s work, the Holy Spirit will empower us as we pray. When we are devoted to prayer, the Lord begins to work in our heart, preparing us for service. He gives us the Spirit’s boldness to speak God’s Word (Acts 4:31) and the courage to face any persecutions that might result (Acts 4:29).

God is looking for believers who understand the importance of prayer and realize the only way to fulfill His calling for the church is through His supernatural power. Christ’s church is not grown through programs, seminars, and conferences, but through the humble prayers of saints who gather together in utter dependence upon Him. That’s when God’s power is released and His will is accomplished.

Beware of Balaam

“O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.” (Micah 6:5)

Three New Testament writers have left us sober warnings concerning Balaam. Peter warned against “the way of Balaam”; Jude against “the error of Balaam”; and John against “the doctrine of Balaam” (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14). God evidently considers these warnings necessary and appropriate for Christians even today. Yet Balaam, in his day, was a genuine prophet (note 2 Peter 2:16), possessed great knowledge concerning God, and even received direct revelations from God. What, therefore, were his way, his error, and his doctrine?

“The way of Balaam” was a readiness to prostitute his high spiritual gifts and privileges for “the wages of unrighteousness” (v. 15); being willing to preach something contrary to God’s Word for personal gain.

“The error of Balaam” was evidently his willingness to compromise his own standards of morality and truth in order “greedily” to accommodate those of his pagan patrons (Jude 1:11). Finally, “the doctrine of Balaam,” which even in John’s day was already infiltrating the church, was to use his own teaching authority to persuade God’s people that it was all right for them also to compromise their standards, even “to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14) with their idol-worshiping enemies.

The notoriously corrupt state of much that is counterfeiting true Christian ministry today is clear evidence that those warnings against “Balaam-ism” are still urgently needed. No wonder Micah (the faithful prophet) urged God’s people to “remember” Balaam and his tragic end (Numbers 31:8). HMM

“Thy dead men shall live.”

Job 14:1-13

As the last lesson brought us to Machpelah with the weeping train who buried Sarah, it may be a fitting season for a “meditation among the tombs.”

Job 14:1

Our life is not short and sweet, but brief and bitter. Its only fulness is fulness of trouble. Sin has done all this.

Job 14:2

The flower is not always allowed to flourish till it withers, but is cut down by the scythe while yet in its glory; and so is man full often taken away in the midst of his days.

Job 14:3

Job wonders that the Lord should think upon so frail a creature as mortal man.

Job 14:4

The length of our troubles and the shortness of our lives are both caused by the impurity of our nature; and that is a matter of inheritance, for from unclean flesh there cannot come a pure posterity. A poisonous plant bears poisonous seed. A fallen man becomes the father of fallen children.

Job 14:5-6

We have a day and a work appointed us, and we are immortal till these are ended.

Job 14:7-10

So far as this visible world is concerned, man at death is gone never to return. For him there is no second budding and sprouting into another mortal life. The ancients chose the cypress as the symbol of death, because when once cut down it puts forth no shoots, but dies altogether. As regards this earthly existence their choice was wise and instructive. Let us then live while we live.

Job 14:12

Job had seen lakes or inland seas evaporated, and torrent-beds left dry, and he compares them to man’s decay. But as rain from heaven can refill the pools and cause the torrents to rush with boundless strength, so will the Lord restore life to the dead. When the heavens are no more, but shall have passed away with a great noise, the graves shall yield up their charge, and men shall rise again.

Job 14:13

Hide me as a treasure, kept by its possessor

The sufferer begged for rest, he petitioned for pity, he prayed the Lord to remember him; but, indeed, the Lord never forgets his servants.

Job 14:15

When the waking morn shall come, the saints shall answer to their Creators resurrection-call, and rise to eternal life. In order to share in this blessedness we must have personal faith in the risen Saviour. Is this the case with all in our family? Is there an unsaved one among us? If so, since we may die to-day, may God arouse us that we may at once seek salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus, who is always ready to save.

 

God my Redeemer lives,

And often from the skies

Looks down, and watches all my dust,

Till he shall bid it rise.

 

Array’d in glorious grace

Shall these vile bodies shine:

And every shape and every face,

Look heavenly and divine.

 

These lively hopes we owe

To Jesus’ dying love:

We would adore his grace below,

And sing his power above.

 

What Does It Mean To Have a ‘Sound Mind’?

2 Timothy 1:7

In moments of stress, pressure, or fear or when you’re so exhausted you can’t think straight, have you ever been tempted to say, “Dear God, what is wrong with me? I feel like I’m losing my mind”?

If you’ve ever felt this way before or if you’re tempted to think like this right now, let me assure you: You’re not going crazy! God’s Word declares that you have been given a sound mind that works even in the craziest and most difficult situations!

Let me give you an example from the Bible. When Paul wrote the book of Second Timothy, it was a very difficult time for the Early Church. Due to Nero’s insanity, he was persecuting believers everywhere—and his methods of persecution were gruesome and cruel. At that time, Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. He knew that Nero’s secret police would take special pleasure in killing him in some barbaric way if they ever got their hands on him.

As Timothy considered the threat against his life, a spirit of fear tried to grab hold of him. That’s why Paul told Timothy in Second Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

I want to especially point your focus to the words “sound mind.” This phrase is taken from the Greek word sophroneo, which is a compound word combining sodzo and phroneo. The Greek word sodzo means to be saved or delivered. It suggests something that is delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, and protected and is now safe and secure. One expositor suggests that the word sodzo could actually depict a person who was on the verge of death but then was revived and resuscitated because new life was breathed into him.

The second part of the phrase “sound mind” comes from the Greek word phroneo, which carries the idea of a persons intelligence or total frame of thinking—including his rationale, logic, and emotions. The word phroneo refers to every part of the human mind, including all the processes that are engaged in making the mind function and come to conclusions.

When the words sodzo and phroneo are compounded into one word, they form the word sophroneo, which pictures a mind that has been delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, and protected and is now safe and secure. Thus, even if your mind is tempted to succumb to fear, as was the case with Timothy, you can allow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to work in you to deliver, rescue, revive, and salvage your mind. This means your rationale, logic, and emotions can be shielded from the illogically absurd, ridiculous, unfounded, and crazy thoughts that have tried to grip your mind in the past. All you have to do is grab hold of God’s Word and His Spirit.

 

The word sophroneo in Second Timothy 1:7 could be translated:

“God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love—He has given you a mind that has been delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, protected, and brought into a place of safety and security so that it is no longer affected by illogical, unfounded, and absurd thoughts.”

You see, when your mind is guarded by the Word of God, you think differently. When the Word of God is allowed to work in your mind, it safeguards your emotions; it defends your mind from demonic assault; and it shields you from arrows the enemy may try to shoot in your direction in order to arouse a spirit of fear inside you.

Why is it important for you to understand this? Because when you begin to live a life of faith—when you reach out to do the impossible—the enemy will try to assault you mentally and emotionally in an attempt to stop your progress. For instance, he may speak to your mind, saying things like, You can’t do this! This doesn’t make sense! Are you crazy?

So what do you do when the devil tries to convince you that you’re losing your mind? What do you do if you’re confused due to stressful situations and so tempted to fear that you can’t think straight? Go get alone with the Lord and give Him your concerns. As you focus on Jesus and release all those burdens, you’ll find that your mind is working fine! Second Timothy 1:7 promises you a sound mind; therefore, you have the right and privilege to tell the devil to shut up and then to declare by faith that your mind is sound, safe, and secure!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I thank You by faith that I am NOT going crazy and I am NOT losing my mind. The stress and pressure I’ve been facing is going to pass, and I know You will bring me through these challenging times. You promised me a sound mind, and that is exactly what You have given me. I can’t ever thank You enough or fully express my gratitude for the power, love, and sound mind You have given to me that will carry me safely through these times!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I declare that my mind is guarded by the Word of God. God’s Word works in my mind; safeguards my emotions; defends my mind from demonic assault; and shields me from the arrows the enemy tries to shoot in my direction in order to arouse a spirit of fear inside me. When the devil tries to convince me that I’m losing my mind or to confuse me with stressful situations, I get alone with the Lord and give my concerns to Him. As I focus on Jesus and release all those burdens, I find that my mind is working fine!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you ever had a moment in your life when you were tempted to think that you were going crazy or that you were losing your mind?
  2. What kind of circumstances were you facing in your life at that time?
  3. What actions did you take during that difficult time that helped bring you back in touch with the “sound mind” that rightfully belongs to you?

 

How Are You Going About The Work Of God?

By:

  • Hurried busy activity?
  • Inner striving for perfection?
  • Fastidious attention to standards of performance?

This is not God’s way:

 

DONT BE [MORBIDLY EXACTING AND EXTERNALLY] RIGHTEOUS OVERMUCH, neither strive to make yourself [pretentiously appear] overwise – why should you [get puffed up and] destroy yourself [with presumptuous self-sufficiency]?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16 – Amplified)

 

Someone has said, “Woe to the nervous activity of those of little faith.

 

Jesus’ life was characterized by restful determination in accomplishing the work of God. Never in a hurry, He was poised, natural… purposeful.

 

And so it should be with us: “There remainsarest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

 

The real work of God is done behind the scenes during private times of reflection upon His Word, worship, intercession, and pondering His eternal purposes. Then, sensing and moving with the inner prompting of the Spirit.

 

Gutzon Borglum commented, “When I carve a statue, it is very simple. I merely cut away the pieces that dont belong there and the statue itself presently comes into view. It was there all the time.

 

The life of Jesus Christ waits within us to find full expression through us in accomplishing His work. We can nervously hammer away at getting Him out… or we can rest as He cuts “away the pieces that dont belong there.”

 

For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 – Phillips Translation)