Thursdays With Spurgeon—God’s Part, Our Part

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

God’s Part, Our Part

     The lesson is clear to all: The wind turns mills that men make. It fills sails that human hands have spread. And the Spirit blesses human effort, crowns with success our labors, establishes the work of our hands upon us, and teaches us all through that ‘the hand of the diligent makes rich’ (Proverbs 10:4). And ‘if anybody will not work, neither shall he eat’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10). … 

     Let us do our part faithfully, spread every sail, make all as perfect as human skill and wisdom can direct, and then in patient continuance in well-doing await the Spirit’s propitious gales, neither murmuring because He tarries nor being taken unawares when He comes upon us in His sovereign pleasure to do that which seems good in His sight.

From The Holy Spirit Compared To The Wind 

We cannot do what only God can do, and God will not do what we are supposed to do. It is the Holy Spirit who can help us keep those two thoughts clear. 

It’s wrong to say, “God only helps those who help themselves.” But it’s equally as wrong to say, “I don’t need to do anything except wait for God.” In example after example in the Bible we see people doing their part while at the same time believing for God to do something miraculous:

We don’t take matters into our own hands, but neither do we sit idle waiting for something miraculous to happen. We plant, and water, and tend, and then God brings the harvest.

Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

My t-shirt from To Write Love On Her Arms that says, “You make today better.”

Think on this: Am I being intentional about making other people’s today better? Am I expressing my gratitude to those who are making my today better?

Poetry Saturday—A Lost Opportunity

It came and went so quickly,
   My sluggish soul saw not
The Master stand and beckoning
   Toward one of humble lot.

And I rose not up to follow,
   So slow was I to see,
Till the help I might have given
   Forever fled from me.

And often I am grieving,
   And longing all in vain,
For a blessed opportunity
   That will not come again.

Dear Lord, give Thine anointing,
   And make mine eyes to see;
And make me swift in doing
   The work Thou givest to me. —L. Adda Nichols

Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

Do to others what you would like them to do to you. (Matthew 7:12)

Think on this: Do I apply the Golden Rule negatively (just trying to avoid offending)? Or do I apply it positively (creatively trying to find ways to help others)?

 

C’mon, Let’s Go!

In May 1917, the British war cabinet was divided. Some of the generals wanted to continue a combined assault on the German forces, but other generals saw the need to confront the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East. They selected General Edmund Allenby to lead the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force against the Turks.  

Allenby’s forces were able to quickly recapture Jerusalem, but the Turks had entrenched themselves at Micmash Megiddo, allowing them a place to launch counterattacks. As battle plans were being contemplated, Major Vivian Gilbert came to Allenby with an unorthodox solution. Major Gilbert was a student of history, and he remembered the name Micmash Megiddo from an ancient text. Reading in his tent by candlelight one night, he rediscovered the text. 

Gilbert brought his report to Allenby. To take advantage of this text, conventional battle plans would have to be scraped. Instead of attacking with overwhelming force, as was usually done, Allenby ordered one company out. This small force discovered just a few Turks whom they overpowered with hardly a sound. Then scaling the cliffs, the company took up their position just before daybreak. When dawn broke and the Turks saw Allenby’s men on the highest, most strategic point, they panicked, thinking they were nearly surrounded, and quickly retreated. 

In his journal, Major Gilbert wrote, “And so after thousands of years British troops successfully copied the tactics of Jonathan.” 

Who was this Jonathan that he referred to? He was the oldest son of Saul, king of Israel. 

Before his successful assault, Jonathan had another military campaign that ended poorly. The Philistines seized the high ground, the Israelite army was reduced to a fraction of its original size, and many of the Israelite soldiers who remained were defecting to the Philistines or deserting the army altogether. And if that weren’t bad enough, Israel had only two swords left: one for King Saul and one for Jonathan. 

Jonathan’s first military campaign had been with 1000 men. As he discovered, that was actually too many men! For his next assault on Micmash, Jonathan switched tactics: he alone would attack the enemy with only his armor bearer to assist him. 

Was Jonathan impetuous? reckless? a man with a death wish? No! He was a God-fearing initiator. He knew that God would fight for anyone who was fighting for God’s people. I think his inspiration came from this promise—Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as He has promised (Joshua 23:10). 

Knowing that God would help him, three times Jonathan implores his armor bearer, “C’mon, let’s go!” 

Jim Rohn noted, “The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn and shine with increasing clearness on your path.” 

Just look at the light that dawned with Jonathan’s c’mon-let’s-go initiative: 

  • his armor bearer said he was with Jonathan “heart and soul” even though he didn’t even have a sword!
  • God sent an earthquake that caused the Philistines to panic 
  • King Saul finally mobilized the remaining army that remained with him 
  • God so confused the Philistine that they turned and fought against each other
  • the Israelite deserters returned from Philistia 
  • the fearful soldiers that had deserted returned to their posts 

Could God have defeated the Philistines on His own? Of course He could have. But He was waiting for just one godly leader to say, “Enough is enough! C’mon, let’s go!” 

Godly men are never satisfied with maintaining the status quo. Godly men know that standing still is really moving backward. Godly men know that their initiative can start a momentum that liberates others. 

Fellas, your family needs you to initiate. Your Christian brothers and sisters need you to initiate. Your countrymen need you to initiate. 

Take the initiative for God’s glory, for your family’s protection, for your nation’s revival, for generations yet to be born. Let’s charge the enemy of our souls together—

C’mon, let’s go!  

10 Quotes From “Start With The Heart”

Kathy Koch has given parents, teachers, and anyone who works with younger children, and excellent resource to improve your relationship with your kiddos and empower them to greater success. Check out my full book review of Start With The Heart by clicking here. 

“For your children to want what you want for them, for changes to occur, and for improvements to remain, your hearts must be intertwined. Your motivational power and influence over their obedience comes out of the love you have for each other.” [see Proverbs 23:26] 

“Affirm your children when they do use the character qualities you’re emphasizing and correct them when they don’t. … Specifically, look for gratitude and joy. The lack of one or both of these emotions causes children (and adults) to use character qualities inconsistently.” 

“Here is my list of understandings that can secure children’s hearts and increase your influence so you’ll be able to motivate them to be responsible, brave, and so much more.

  • Parent by faith
  • Parent with grace and mercy
  • Forgive quickly and often
  • Ask to be forgiven quickly and often
  • Tell your children you are confident in God
  • Prioritize children, not their behavior
  • You can dislike what children do while you still like and love them
  • Be who you want your children to be
  • Raise the children you were given, not the children you wish you had
  • Remember needs and wants are different
  • Listen when children are little if you want them to talk with you when they’re older
  • When children have a problem, remember they are not the problem
  • Teach children to fail well
  • Prioritize progress, not perfection” 

“Children are even more susceptible to the influences around them. We should have and model solid character so our behavior, attitudes, and decisions glorify God. We should also prioritize our character so we don’t lead a child astray. Making every effort to use these qualities ourselves matters. And, of course, apologizing when we don’t is key to maintaining a positive relationship.” 

“The desire to develop self-control is birthed in self-respect. Self-control makes it possible to use other character qualities successfully.” 

“Do we choose to see our children’s circumstances and respond appropriately? Although consistency is usually appropriate when raising and motivating children, if we don’t have compassion and individualize our reactions and decisions when it’s appropriate, why would our children? Modeling this character quality matters tremendously.” 

“Initiative: Children may never develop this quality if you remind them of everything they must do. Rather, it’s birthed when you help them grow in appropriate independence. … Is it possible that your children may not be motivated as you’d like because you rescue them to early, too often? … I know you value the things you worked hard for. Don’t rob children of that same satisfaction. Allow them to persevere.” 

“Prayer is a powerful tool—use it! Your personal and specific prayers for your children communicate your deep love for them and your dependence on God. Your prayers are a significant way your children learn who you hope they’ll be and what you hope they’ll do. Pray they’ll develop a heart for Christ. Model and teach what they need for their heart to be transformed into His likeness. This will change their character and, therefore, their motivation and motives, too.” 

“Just making statements like these can be empowering:

  • I need to take off arguing and put on first-time obedience.
  • I need to take off bullying and put on kindness.
  • I need to take off distractions and put on focus.
  • I need to take off ‘I don’t want to’ and put on ‘do it anyway.’” 

“This might surprise you, but all children are motivated. … It doesn’t help to ask, ‘How do I get my kids motivated?’ Rather, we need to ask, ‘How can I redirect their motivation?’” 

Stay tuned: more quotes coming soon…

Appropriately Proactive

Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away… (1 Samuel 13:8).

The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead. 

Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Saul stayed … Saul waited … and as a result, Saul sinned.

Saul ended up being inappropriately reactive, and thus committing a sin. His reaction to his men slipping away, hiding, and defecting was to act in a way that was inappropriate for anyone but the priest.

It’s been said that action has killed its thousands, and reaction has killed its tens of thousands. But if only Saul would have proactively sought God, or proactively formed a battle strategy, or proactively spoke an encouraging word to his men, or proactively moved out with his troops—anything(!) but just sit still—perhaps his legacy as king wouldn’t have been so short lived.

When leaders aren’t appropriately proactive, they risk becoming inappropriately reactive.

A mark of a godly leader is one who is appropriately proactive.

This is part 20 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Take The Initiative

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Take The Initiative 

     In every place you are in, insist on taking the initiative for God.

     Looking for opportunities to serve God is an impertinence; every time and all the time is our opportunity of serving God.

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • Do I think I can only do big things for God in special moments?
  • Do I realize that I am always salt and light wherever I go and whatever I am doing?
  • Instead of looking for opportunities, am I seizing the opportunities God is continually giving me?

10 Quotes From “Cherish”

As I said in my book review of Gary Thomas’s Cherish, this is a must-read for married couples, those about to be married, and those who counsel married couples. Please check out my review, and then enjoy a few quotes from this book.

“Learning to truly cherish each other turns marriage from an obligation into a delight. It lifts marriage above a commitment to a precious priority.”

“In one sense, love is the nurturing aspect of marriage, while cherish is the ‘tasting’ aspect of marriage. Love meets the need; cherish tickles the tongue.”

“If you want to be fully satisfied in your marriage, if you want your wife to feel cherished, then mentally treat your wife like Eve. Let her be, in your mind, in that way, the only woman in the world. Say with King Solomon, ‘My dove, my perfect one, is the only one’ (Song of Songs 6:9 ESV).” 

“You’ve already made your choice. In your ideal world, you have no intention of ever starting over with someone else, so why not put your energy into and your focus on guarding that choice, building on the strengths of that choice, and making yourself ever more grateful that you made that choice?”

“At some point, if you want marital happiness, if you want to learn how to cherish a real man instead of longing for an imaginary composite, some ‘Frankenstein’ husband who somehow has it all, then you have to own your choice and even learn to cherish your choice. ‘My vineyard, my very own, is for myself’ (Song of Songs 8:12 NRSV).”

“The call to cherish isn’t to appreciate being pleasured by your spouse but to take pleasure in the pleasure of your spouse.”

“If we want to cherish our spouses, we must learn to take an active interest in what interests them.”

“Cherishing is expressed, or it’s not. Intimacy is built, or it is assaulted, even in the most mundane marital conversations.”

“The act of consistently noticing and honoring our spouses cultivates and maintains a certain kind of relationship, and it shapes our hearts. Noticing and honoring sustain the force and power of cherishing. When we stop noticing and stop honoring our spouses in the little things, the relationship starves.”

“Active cherishing—noticing and then expressing the excellence you see—is a way to shape our attitudes and to generate feelings of closeness and well-being. When we do what the Bible tells us to do, we will be doubly blessed—our spouses will be happier, increasing the joy in our marriages, and we’ll become happier psychologically as well. Cherishing our spouses literally makes us feel better. So cherishing means waging war on contempt and going on the offense with gratitude.”

I will be sharing more quotes from Cherish soon. If you’d like to be notified when these quotes are posted, simply enter your email address in the field in the right column and click “Sign me up!” You may also want to follow me on Twitter and Tumblr for other quality quotes I post every day.

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