On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany which began the Protestant Reformation.
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany which began the Protestant Reformation.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
The morning after our son, Allen, was born, the doctor sat down in a chair near the foot of my bed and said, “Something’s wrong.” Our son, so perfect on the outside, had a life-threatening birth defect and needed to be flown to a hospital 700 miles away for immediate surgery.
When the doctor tells you something is wrong with your child, your life changes. Fear of what lies ahead can crush your spirit and you stumble along, desperate for a God who will strengthen you so you can support your child.
Would a loving God allow this? you wonder. Does He care about my child? Is He there? These and other thoughts shook my faith that morning.
Then my husband, Hiram, arrived and heard the news. After the doctor left, Hiram said, “Jolene, let’s pray.” I nodded and he took my hand. “Thank You, Father, for giving Allen to us. He’s Yours, God, not ours. You loved him before we knew him, and he belongs to You. Be with him when we can’t. Amen.”
Hiram has always been a man of few words. He struggles to speak his thoughts and often doesn’t try, knowing that I have enough words to fill any silence. But on a day when my heart was broken, my spirit crushed, and my faith gone, God gave Hiram strength to speak the words I couldn’t say. And clinging to my husband’s hand, in deep silence and through many tears, I sensed that God was very near.
How has God used people to strengthen you when your spirit was crushed?
The best kind of friend is a praying friend.
1 Corinthians 2:10-16
The Lord has given you a conscience for your protection. To develop and trust this warning system, you must be committed to taking certain actions.
Apply the Word of God to daily living. As you put into practice “the perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25 NIV), your conscience will grow stronger because you know God’s heart better.
Arrive at decisions through prayer. Instead of choosing something merely because it looks, sounds, or feels good, bring every issue before the Lord in prayer.
Agree to obey God. When you strongly desire to function God’s way, you will consistently ask, What does He want me to do? This practice will enable you to discern and follow the Spirit’s lead.
Acquire a deeper sensitivity to the Spirit’s conviction. As believers, we are no longer condemned (Rom. 8:1), so we must recognize the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and condemnation from the enemy. The Spirit always shows us exactly what needs repentance—He doesn’t give us a sense of vague guilt. His conviction has the purpose of turning us back to Him.
Abandon yourself to the perfect will of God. If you recommit daily to be a “living sacrifice” for the Father alone, your inner compass will steer you closer to the Lord. Then, as you refuse to conform to this world’s pattern and instead renew your thinking according to the mind of Jesus Christ, you will be able to “test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:1-2 NIV).
“Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:14)
The familiar story of Naaman the Syrian was cited by the Lord Jesus as an example of God’s concern for people of all nations: “Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus [Elisha] the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27). It is also a striking picture of salvation.
Naaman was a great and highly acclaimed general but nevertheless was stricken with an incurable and loathsome disease. Similarly, any natural man, no matter how powerful, is afflicted with the lethal disease of sin. Before this proud official could be cured of his leprosy, he had to humble himself in several ways. First, he had to accept the advice of a slave girl from an enemy nation; then journey to that nation and its prophet, whose God his own nation had repudiated; travel still farther at the word of the prophet (who would not even come out to meet him); and, finally, immerse himself seven times in the despised river Jordan. Though he resented being so humiliated, his condition was hopeless otherwise, so he finally did all these things, and God marvelously healed him!
The leprous flesh became as the flesh of a little child again, but first he had to manifest the obedient faith of a little child. The same principle is true for every lost sinner. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). HMM
As our endeavour is to gather up the substance of the Scriptures during the reading of one year, we are unable to pause over each of the ten great plagues. We ought, each one of us, to read them for our own instruction. We have them for our family reading summed up in
The Lord is just as able to increase his church at this time, and he will do so in answer to prayer.
Persecution generally attends the prosperity of the church. Where God blesses, Satan is sure to stir up all his wrath to vex the church.
When evil days come, the Lord has deliverers provided, who shall appear at the exact moment when they are most required. Let us pray the Lord to raise up eminent ministers and evangelists at this time, for they are greatly needed.
This unusual darkness filled all hearts with horror, and the Egyptians were so cowed that they yielded for the time, but were hardened again when the plague was over.
Fish died, but frogs lived. God can with one hand kill our comforts, and with the other multiply our miseries. This time Pharaoh himself had to endure personal annoyance, for frogs swarmed upon the royal bed.
Here filthiness and venom were united; these little tormentors made the Egyptians feel the power of the great God. Often little plagues are the worst of plagues. From this visitation Pharaoh’s bodyguards could not defend his royal person. Such enemies laughed at sword and spear.
It is a judgment indeed when the fountains of blessing become the channels of wrath, and the very rain is fire. Let the enemies of God beware.
God’s blows are heavy, and they leave no place unbruised. Egypt must miss its wine and its pleasant fruits if it will not obey the Lord.
Locusts literally eat up every green thing, and there is no preserving anything from them. God has many ways of punishing men. In this case we wonder at the hardness of heart of those who stood out against such humbling judgments. He who can with a word bring up countless hosts of devourers is not a God to be trifled with.
This was the last and heaviest blow, and the proud king and nation staggered under it. When one arrow does not suffice, the Lord has others in his quiver, and one way or another he will hit the mark.
What a miracle that after all their toil and bondage they should all be in health. They were all called to go upon a long journey, and therefore the Lord prepared them for it.
Thus can providence so work that the stoutest opponents shall only be too glad to yield.
Let us beware of provoking this terrible God. Let us by faith enlist him upon our side: then we shall have no ground for fear, for all the creatures he has made will be our friends. Fire and water, locusts and flies, darkness and death, were all the allies of Israel. He who is at peace with God has the whole creation enlisted upon his side.
Thus shall the nations be destroy’d
That dare insult the saints;
God hath an arm t’avenge their wrongs,
An ear for their complaints.
Thine honours, O victorious king;
Thine own right hand shall raise,
While we thine awful vengeance sing,
And our Deliverer praise.
1 Timothy 1:6
Have you ever been in a situation where you found it hard to submit graciously to the orders of the person in authority over you? Maybe you thought that the orders were unfair or that you had a better idea. Or can you think of a moment when a fellow employee, staff member, or volunteer became so obstinate, disagreeable, or uncooperative that it made everyone else feel uneasy?
We’ve probably all had experiences in which one person’s belligerence caused us and those around us to feel ill at ease. This uneasy circumstance is particularly awkward when everyone else is in agreement and willing to do what is being asked, but one person decides to defy those in authority. Refusing to budge, unwilling to give an inch, this kind of person can put the entire group and project “on hold” because a stubborn, quarrelsome, provoking, “pig-headed” attitude stalemates everything!
Can you think of a person you know who acts like this? Have you ever been that person I’m describing? Can you remember an instance when you were the one who acted like a “bone out of joint” with the rest of the team?
Today I want us to look at the phrase “a bone out of joint” and see what it means. I’m taking this phrase from First Timothy 1:6, so let’s go there first to see how Paul used it and how it applies to you and me today.
When the book of First Timothy was written, young Timothy had only recently stepped into the position of senior pastor. In the early months of his pastoral ministry, he was simultaneously enjoying phenomenal successes and huge challenges. The successes had to do with the growth his church was experiencing. However, Timothy also had to deal with rebellious leaders who didn’t like him or who thought he was too young to be the pastor of such a large church. These leaders had no desire to submit to Timothy’s authority or follow his vision.
The attitudes of these argumentative leaders became so rank that Paul wrote to Timothy about this problem. Referring to the belligerent people under Timothy’s authority, Paul said, “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling” (1 Timothy 1:6).
I want you to especially pay close attention to the words “turned aside.” These words come from the Greek word ektrepo, which means to turn or to twist. This word was also a medical term used in the medical world to denote a bone that had slipped out of joint. So when Paul used this word to picture these argumentative and stubborn leaders, he was making a powerful statement about them and their bad attitudes. He was calling them “a bone out of joint”!
When a person has a bone that is out of joint, it’s a very difficult, painful experience. Although that bone is still located inside his body and isn’t broken, it isn’t properly connected. Therefore, it becomes a major source of pain and irritation, sending signals of pain throughout the entire body. If you’ve ever had an out-of-joint bone in your body, you know how excruciatingly painful it can be. Nearly every movement of the body is affected as that out-of-joint bone screams misery throughout your entire central nervous system!
This is exactly the image Paul had in mind when he used the word ektrepo to describe the unruly, difficult church members Timothy was trying to work with. Although these people were saved and valuable to God, they had become a source of pain and irritation to the pastor and ultimately to the entire church because of their rebellious attitude and refusal to cooperate. The strife they had caused in the church was a distraction that pulled Timothy from what he needed to be doing, constantly demanding that he try to bring peace. All these problems resulted from the rebellious attitudes of a few people who didn’t want to follow the senior leadership of the Ephesian church. In the end, they became “out of joint,” not only with their pastor but with the entire congregation.
Paul’s words in First Timothy 1:6 could be interpreted:
“Some among you have become like a bone out of joint—a source of real pain and irritation to the whole body.”
A sincere act of repentance can snap “out-of-joint” people back into their rightful place so they can begin to function properly and become productive members of the church. But no one can make them repent and get their attitude right. It’s a decision only they have the power to make. Once they make this decision, they can again become a benefit and a joy to everyone around them.
Do you know anyone who fits this “out-of-joint” description? Is it you? If it is you, it’s time for you to reevaluate your attitude and the issues you have allowed to become so divisive in your life. Are those issues really so important that you should let them make you a “thorn in the side” of everyone else in the group? Is it possible that you’ve allowed the enemy to use you to bring division? Have you become a source of distraction, pulling the group’s attention from where it ought to be?
If you’ve become a “bone out of joint” in your home, in the workplace, in your church, or in any other area of your life, do everything you can to snap yourself back into the godly attitude and behavior you ought to be displaying. Get back in place, for you have a divine call to fulfill! Your gifts and cooperation are needed by those who are running their spiritual race alongside you!
Lord, help me to never be viewed as an argumentative, belligerent, disagreeable person by those who know me—especially by those who are working with me toward a common goal. If I’ve done anything to be perceived this way, I am sincerely asking You to forgive me right now. But I know that I don’t just need Your forgiveness; I also need to ask for forgiveness from those who felt uncomfortable with my wrong behavior so my relationship with them can be made right. I need Your help to keep a right attitude, Lord, so I am asking You to help me to stay open-minded and correctable. Help me to always maintain a humble spirit and to strive to get along with the key people You have placed in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have a teachable, correctable spirit. People love to work with me because I strive to be cooperative and to show appreciation for those who are working with me toward a common goal. When an idea is presented that is new or different to me, I think carefully before I open my mouth to respond. Even if I disagree, I don’t show disrespect for anyone in the group. I realize that I am not always right and that others may be correct, so I make room for others to express themselves and to speak their hearts, and I honor their right to hold a position that is different from mine.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Recently, a friend called and asked me HOW TO GO ABOUT THIS BUSINESS OF DISCIPLESHIP.
Following are excerpts of my letter to him:
“Doug, it seems to me that the essence of discipleship is this:
(1) Select people to disciple who have F-A-A-T qualities: (Faithful, Available, Able [to teach others], Teachable.) (See Luke 6:12, 13; 2 Timothy 2:2). Understand that in shepherding all are included (See 1 Peter 5:2; Romans 15:1, 2). But here the discussion is discipling, and that involves selection.
(2) Spend quality time with these people:
(3) Help them rearrange their priorities in order to develop the discipline and desire for consistency in the quiet time, Scripture memory and Bible study. (See 1 Timothy 4:7)
(4) You can pretty well count on the fact that they have unresolved problems in at least one of the following areas which you will need to address with them:
(5) Keep in mind that behind everything we do must be Compassion and Intercession:
“Those who sow in tears will reap in joy. He who goes out weeping, and carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5, 6)
Oh yes… One more thing, Doug, Remember that God uses clean vessels:
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
So be sure to focus first on the quality of your walk with God. Then seek to help others!”