Oct 6, 2012
Dottie Peoples “He’s an On Time God”
Oct 6, 2012
Dottie Peoples “He’s an On Time God”
Those who work their land will have abundant food. Proverbs 12:11
Outside my office window, the squirrels are in a race against winter to bury their acorns in a safe, accessible place. Their commotion amuses me. An entire herd of deer can go through our back yard and not make a sound, but one squirrel sounds like an invasion.
The two creatures are different in another way as well. Deer do not prepare for winter. When the snow comes they eat whatever they can find along the way (including ornamental shrubs in our yard). But squirrels would starve if they followed that example. They would be unable to find suitable food.
The deer and the squirrel represent ways that God cares for us. He enables us to work and save for the future, and He meets our need when resources are scarce. As the wisdom literature teaches, God gives us seasons of plenty so that we can prepare for seasons of need (Prov. 12:11). And as Psalm 23 says, the Lord leads us through perilous places to pleasant pastures.
Another way that God provides is by instructing those with plenty to share with those in need (Deut. 24:19). So when it comes to provision, the message of the Bible is this: Work while we can, save what we can, share what we can, and trust God to meet our needs.
Thank You, Lord, for the promise that You will meet our needs. Help us not to fear or doubt. We’re grateful that You’re watching over us and that our cries for help reach Your ear.
Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.
How does God provide for us? What if the source of our help comes from someone of another religion or from someone who claims no belief in God? Is their kindness still from God? Think about the children of Israel. Who helped them in their escape from Egypt? Yes, it was God and Moses. But Moses tells us that the Spirit of God prompted the Egyptian neighbors to fill the arms of the Jewish slaves with gold, silver, and clothing for their journey (Ex. 12:35–36).
Looking back on that day of great escape, in Deuteronomy 24 God reminds His people of two things. To help them identify with those in need, He wanted Israel to remember that their ancestors were once impoverished slaves. The second reminder grew out of the first. The Lord reminded His people that just as they had been helped in their escape from bondage, now it was their turn. As God had met their needs through the hands of others, so it was their turn to help others in a way that gives hands and faces to the heart of our provider God.
Standing up and speaking out for the Lord can feel scary to a believer. Even if we desire to obey God’s call to “Go … and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19), we may wonder, What would I do? or What would I say? It can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating if we think we have to do it all on our own. But fortunately, we are not alone.
Look again at yesterday’s key verses, Matthew 28:18-20. Knowing He was issuing a potentially uncomfortable command, Christ was intentional in the way He framed it. Notice that this passage has essentially three components:
1. Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth.
2. We are to go and make disciples.
3. Jesus will be with us every step of the way.
This wording, combined with the promise of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8, reveals that the responsibility of making disciples was never intended to be a solo act. Jesus is not only present with us, but He is also pouring His power into us so that we may more effectively be His witnesses—His ambassadors—in the world. The work is His and the power is His; we’re just the instrument He’s chosen to use in carrying out His work.
God wants to use us, but He hasn’t left us to tackle the job on our own. The One who holds all the power and authority in the universe is with us step by step, and He has put that power within us through His Holy Spirit. Everything we need is at our fingertips. All that’s left is for us to follow the command to “Go!” Where will that lead you today?
“The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:16)
This is another clear, basic, often-repeated message of Scripture. Why is it that many of God’s people try to get around this fact? God does not tolerate evil. He does not approve or overlook the deeds of wickedness. Although God demonstrated His incomprehensible and gracious love for us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8), He is “not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:4-5).
We are never to think that God’s love for the world extends beyond His provision through Jesus Christ on the cross. Those who respond to His love are “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Jesus said that those who do not accept His atonement and do not believe His Word “shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
This is why the New Testament makes such a strong case for the change in the life of the believer. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) and are now a “new man” (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). We are set free from sin (Romans 6:6-7) and free from sin’s law in our body (Romans 8:2). Indeed, we are set at liberty not only from the control of sin in our lives, but set free to perform the righteous works that God has decreed that we should do (Galatians 5:1, 13; Ephesians 2:10). If we are God’s chosen, we will live like God’s chosen.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). HMM III
Adapted from Treasures in the Psalms, Henry M. Morris III, 351.
The first nine chapters are a kind of introduction to the Book of Proverbs; its short, pithy sentences commence at the tenth chapter.
This is the first of the proverbs, let each child take great notice of it. Who among us would wish to be a life-long grief to father and mother? Yet such will be the case if we live in sin, and despise the heavenly wisdom.
Judas gained his thirty pieces of silver, but what profit had he in them? Paul obtained the righteousness of Christ, and a crown of life was his portion.
The godly may hunger, but famish they shall not; the wicked may increase in wealth, but continue in prosperity they cannot.
No pains, no gains; no sweat, no sweet.
Neglect of timely industry leads into sin. Our idle days are Satan’s busy days. He who will not be thrifty while he may, will find that lost opportunities do not return.
Wise men hear more than they speak, and are willing to listen to practical instruction, but foolish persons talk on till they seal their own condemnation.
Proverbs 10:9, 10
Cowardly insinuations, which men dare not utter in words, but covertly express by signs, are the cause of much misery, and no true man will use them. Those who talk much, and are destitute of real religion, will soon make shipwreck of their profession.
sending forth refreshing and saving streams
Making them like closed wells, full of putrid water, deadly to others, and destructive to themselves.
Loving spirits will not take offence, but bear and forbear for Christ’s sake, but evil-disposed persons make the smallest matter a ground of offence, and are for ever fanning the fires of enmity. Let it not be so among us.
for they still feel their own want of it;
He thinks he knows all, and therefore will not learn, but talks himself to ruin.
Alas! how often is this the case, even in our own land. Poor men are despised, and few plead their cause. May the Lord send to us such a just spirit that we may always be ready to take the weaker side, and see that the poor man is not trampled upon. It is meanness itself to fawn upon the wealthy; true religion lifts us above such littleness.
Labour, not idleness, is the stamp of a servant of God. With the wicked, self is always their object and end, and therefore their actions are sinful in the sight of the Lord. O Lord, make thou us to work because of life within us, so that we may have life yet more abundantly.
To me, O Lord, be thou “The Way,”
To me be thou “The Truth;”
To me, my Saviour, be “The Life,”
Thou Guardian of my youth!
So shall that Way be my delight,
That Truth shall make me free;
That Life shall raise me from the dead,
And then I’ll live to thee.
2 Corinthians 11:26
Throughout the years I have lived and worked in the former Soviet Union, I’ve had numerous encounters with false brethren. When I say “false brethren,” I am not only referring to unbelievers who pretend to be believers, but also to real brothers who are “false” in the way they have projected themselves. They portrayed one image when, in fact, they had ulterior motives behind the mask they wore so professionally.
As a result, I have often pondered Paul’s words in Second Corinthians 11:26 when he wrote about “false brethren.” Let’s delve into the phrase “false brethren” today to see what it means.
In Perils Among False Brethren
For the eighth time in this chapter, the apostle Paul uses the word “perils” (the Greek word kindunos, meaning extremely dangerous). This time the danger he describes is connected with “false brethren.”
The Greek word for “false brethren” is pseudadelphos. The first part of the word is pseudes and carries the idea of something that is untrue. It could be translated pretend, phony, fake, or bogus. The second part of the word, adelphos, is simply the word for a brother. Compound these two words together, and they describe phony, fake, bogus, pretend brethren.
Paul remarks about these bogus believers in Galatians 2:4, 5: “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
These “false brethren” in Jerusalem were in fact genuine brothers who had deceptive motives in their dealings with Paul. They projected one impression, but in reality, their intentions were very different from what they projected. They were “false” because they pretended to be in agreement with Paul’s doctrine. In actuality, they wanted to take Paul’s converts and revert them back to legalism. Paul’s emphasis is not that they were unsaved, but that they were “false” with him.
It is heartbreaking to discover that someone you’ve trusted has been presenting a false image before you in order to gain some advantage over you. If this has happened to you, take heart, for it happened to Jesus too. Judas Iscariot claimed to be a disciple, but in reality, he had a secret agenda. Those who operate with secret agendas and undeclared motives are “false” in the sense that they are feigning to be something they are not. This would qualify them in a certain sense as “false brethren.”
But I want you to also notice the phrase “came in privily” in Galatians 2:4, because it describes how these bogus believers behave. It comes from the Greek word pareisago. This word is a triple compound, comprised of the words para, eis, and ago.
The word para means alongside. It denotes something that is very close, such as in the word parasite. The second part of the word—the word eis—means into and conveys the idea of penetration. Finally, the third part of this compound is the word ago. It simply means I lead.
When all these words are compounded together, the word pareisago (“came in privily”) conveys the idea of smuggling something in undercover. Literally, it is a picture of someone who is leading (ago) something into (eis) the Church alongside of themselves (para). It is the idea of covert activity.
The first part of this compound—the word para—indicates that the deceptive motives of these false brethren are held so secretly that they are able to sneak right into the midst of the Church undetected. By keeping their hidden agenda close to themselves, they are able to worm their way right into the Church leadership. Once they gain position inside a particular group, they start their destructive work from deep within the Church itself.
We know that Paul was constantly accosted by Judaizers, who came to spy out his light in Jesus Christ. It is also known that both the government and the religious leaders of the day would specially train and disguise agents to invade the Church. Using tactics similar to those used by the more recent Soviet KGB, these agents of biblical times would be so well camouflaged that they sounded like believers, looked like believers, and were often perceived to be true brethren in Christ. But in reality, these individuals were imposters who had been sent to discover the location of church meetings. They would inform the local authorities of the location; then the next time the church met, the police would arrest those who had gathered for worship.
Whoever these “false brethren” were, Paul said they were perilous to him. They created a situation that was extremely dangerous and highly volatile.
You can imagine how this situation could have driven Paul into a pattern of fear and suspicion. Paul knew that pretenders were out there, constantly trying to secretly hurt him and those he loved. But instead of becoming suspicious of everyone he met, Paul relied on the Holy Spirit to give him clear discernment so he could recognize who was real and who was not. In the example given in Galatians 2:4 and 5, Paul was able to recognize the deceptive motives of the false brethren and therefore didn’t even give them a single hour of his time.
Living in these types of stressful circumstances, Paul had a choice. He could either back up into insecurity, or he could take hold of the Holy Spirit’s help and press forward toward his goal.
Paul chose the latter. He refused to let these “false brethren” become a stumbling block in his life and ministry. He didn’t stop entering into new relationships just because some of the individuals he met might turn out to be “pretend brothers.” Instead, he trusted the Holy Spirit to help him make right choices. This impasse didn’t stop him from continuing to work closely with people, nor did it stop him from establishing the Church in various locations.
Likewise, you have to determine that regardless of whether people please you or disappoint you, they are not going to stop you from staying on track with the assignment God has given you. You are not going to allow Satan to knock you out of the race through the disappointments you experience with other people. If they prove to be false or you find that their motives were not what they portrayed them to be, you must learn to forgive them, let go of the offense, and turn your eyes to the future.
If you will listen to the Holy Spirit, He will help you develop a better sense of discernment about the people who are trying to get close to you. After all, there is nothing the Holy Spirit doesn’t know. So if you’ll allow Him to lead you in your relationships, you’ll find that your discernment about people will become more and more accurate as you grow in your walk with God.
If you’ve been disappointed and hurt by false brethren in the past, ask the Lord today to help you stop dwelling on it. Let the Lord heal your heart as you choose to forgive that person who deceived you and get back on the path toward God’s destiny for your life!
Lord, I admit that I’ve been misled by certain people on several occasions. It has shown me that I need a better sense of discernment about those I allow to get close to me. Yet at the same time, I don’t want to become hardhearted or callous because of what I’ve been through. So today I choose to turn from bitterness against those who have misled me. I make the decision to forgive them, to release them from the wrong they have done, and to turn my attention toward my future. Holy Spirit, I can only do this with Your help, so I am looking to You to empower me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that the Holy Spirit is helping me to develop a keener discernment about people. I am able to recognize those who are genuine, and I can detect those who have ulterior, undeclared motives for getting close to me. Because the Holy Spirit sees and knows everything, I rely entirely on Him to lead and direct me in my relationships. As a result of being Spirit-led, I am making fewer mistakes in whom I choose to be my friends and close associates.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Can you imagine wearing a miniature electric chair around your neck? Hardly. Yet, the cross was the electric chair of Jesus’ day.
The cross – a tool for killing undesirables, was taken from rough, unfinished trees. When they slammed your body up against it and nailed you there, the wood dug into your flesh. You got cut and bruised. The “electric chair” – that cross, was an object of certain death.
But the cross we wear around our neck these days is smooth. Comfortable. It glistens. Usually it’s made of 18 karat gold. An object of beauty. An ornament. Something “nice” to wear.
And the cross most “Christians” bear for Jesus also has a rather “nice,” ornamental quality about it. That’s because we reserve the “right” to choose it ourselves. So we ensure that in serving Him we do something that makes us feel good, and get lots of pats on the back. Nope, there’s nothing about our cross that has that nasty stench of dying flesh.
Many “Christians” today, like the smooth crosses they wear, are “nice” people. They pay their bills. They don’t chase loose women. They’re the kind of “nice” people you want living next door: Totally harmless in terms of being any threat to Satan’s domain.
By way of contrast, Jesus was not a gender-neutral, nonjudgmental, ecumenically-sensitive ‘nice’ fellow who set out to produce “nice” people. No, today, He develops radicals, and revolutionaries, who because of their beliefs and convictions are an affront to society. People who are no longer “in the loop“. People in the company who get transferred to Iceland. Or get murdered. (Remember: 10 out of the original 12 disciples were murdered.)
Thus, Christ forewarned his Twelve, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.‘ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… ” (John 15:18-20a)
So, if you are viewed around town as a “nice” person, is it possible you are not really all that godly? Because, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12b)
Jesus’ challenge remains, “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23, 24 – Phillips Translation)
The question also remains: Are you up to carrying His assigned cross? Certainly, the answer for each of us must be, “Yes, but only by His grace.”