This Is War!

light-and-truth-revelationIt is inner warfare—The 7th [chapter] of Romans is the description of this, the battle between faith and unbelief, between the spirit and the flesh. This war is private, solitary, with no eye upon the warrior; fought in the closet, on the knees, with the Bible as his weapon. …

It is outer warfare—The enemies are legion; the world, with all its enmities, snares, pomps, pleasures; satan, with his principalities and powers; both of these in combination hating, persecuting, attacking. This is ‘the great fight of afflictions’ (Hebrews 10:32). Thus it is so far public, before men; ‘we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.’ …

It is daily warfare—It is not one great battle, but a multitude of battles, constant warring: there is no intermission and no discharge in this war. The enemy wearies not, ceases not; nor must we. We wake to warfare each morning, and go out to warfare each day. Everywhere we find the enemy posted, sometimes openly, sometimes in ambush. The conflict is life-long, and it is daily.

It is warfare not fought with human arms—The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We do not war after the flesh. It is in divine strength; with the sword of the Spirit; clothed in the whole armor of God. …

It is warfare in which we are sharers with Christ—He first fought the good fight, as the Captain of our salvation, the Lord strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle. The inner warfare indeed was not His, but all the rest was. He fought, when here, the same battles as we; and it is into His warfare that we are called to enter.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth: Revelation

Thursdays With Oswald—A Biblical View Of Government

Oswald ChambersThis 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.

A Biblical View Of Government

     The Bible point of view about government is that God compels men to govern man for Him, whether he likes it or not. The ordinance of government, whether it is a bad or good government, does not lie with men, but is entirely in God’s hands; the king or the government will have to answer to God (cf. 1 Peter 2:13-14). … 

     In politics also it is difficult to steer a course; there is a complication of forces to be dealt with which most of us know nothing about. We have no affinity for this kind of thing, and it is easy to ignore the condition of the men who have to live there, and to pass condemnation on them. … It is easy to condemn a state of things we know nothing about while we make excuses for the condition of the things we ourselves live in. … 

     We say, “Why does God allow these things? Why does He allow a despot to rule?” In this dispensation it is the patient long-suffering of God that is being manifested. God allows men to say what they like and do what they like (see 2 Peter 3:14). Peter says that God is long-suffering, and He is giving us ample opportunity to try whatever line we like both in individual and national life. If God were to end this dispensation now, the human race would have a right to say, “You should have waited, there is a type of thing You never let us try.”

     God is leaving us to prove to the hilt that it cannot be done in any other way than Jesus Christ’s way, or the human race would not be satisfied.” 

From Shade Of His Hand

Oswald Chambers wrote these words during The Great War (what we now call World War I), when everyone was questioning how governments could do such horrendous things.

I think Chambers sums up how a Christian should respond to earthly governments:

  1. Remember they are placed in their positions by God, so treat them with respect (Romans 13:6-7).
  2. Don’t condemn government officials, but pray for them  (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. Clean up the areas where we can clean up, and let the politicians clean up their own areas.

Are You Wretched?

absolute-surrender“You will find that in this passage (Romans 7:6-25) the name of the Holy Spirit does not occur once, nor does the name of Christ occur. The man is wrestling and struggling to fulfill God’s law. Instead of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, the law is mentioned nearly twenty times. In this chapter, it shows a believer doing his very best to obey the law of God with his regenerate will. Not only this; but you will find the little words, I, me, my, occur more than forty times. This is the regenerate I in its impotence seeking to obey the law without being filled with the Spirit. This is the experience of almost every saint. …

“Blessed be God when a man learns to say: ‘O wretched man that I am!’ from the depth of his heart. He is on the way to the eighth chapter of Romans [Romans 8:1]. …

“God does not work by His spirit as He works by a blind force in nature. He leads His people as reasonable, intelligent beings, and therefore when He wants to give us that Holy Spirit Whom He has promised, He brings us first to the end of self, to the conviction that though we have been striving to obey the law, we have failed. When we come to the end of that, then He shows us that in the Holy Spirit we have the power of obedience, the power of victory, and the power of real holiness.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender

Thursdays With Oswald—What To Do With Spiritual Barriers

Oswald ChambersThis 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.

What To Do With Spiritual Barriers

     The inevitable barriers are there in every one of our lives. … The thing to do is to recognize that the barriers are inscrutable, that they are not by chance but entirely by God’s permission, and they should be faced and not ignored. … 

     The peril of the inevitable barriers is that if I have not faced the facts sufficiently, I am apt to blame God for them. There is one fact more that I do not know, and that fact lies entirely with God, not with me. It is no use to spend my time saying, I wish I was not like this, I am just like it. The practical point in Christianity is—Can Jesus Christ and His religion be of any use to me as I am, not as I am not? Can He deal with me where I am, in the condition I am in?

From Shade Of His Hand

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, Who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was giving me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, and hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. When I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

“The Bible point of view seems to cover most of the facts” (Oswald Chambers).

Thank God For The Hammers And Axes

romans-8-28“If you should get up some morning and hear men on your house tearing off the tiles and taking down the roof with hammers and axes, you might think a gang of vicious enemies had come to destroy your home. But as soon as you understand that these workmen have been sent by your father to mend your house, you gladly endure the noise and trouble. Indeed, you thank your father for his care and expense. The very hope of the advantage that will come from the repairs makes you willing to dwell awhile in the inconvenient rubble of the old house.

“The promise [in Romans 8:28] assures the believer that the Heavenly Father intends no harm, only good, as He rebuilds the ruined frame of your soul into a glorious temple. And afflictions have a hand in the work. This insight frees you to pray, ‘Lord, cut and shape me however You will, that at last I may be framed according to the pattern which Your love has drawn for me!’” —William Gurnall (emphasis added)

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

john-14-1That first Christmas was supposedly a silent night and a holy night. Maybe there was some singing angels involved, but at least their message was about “peace on earth.”

Sometimes that idea of “peace” at Christmas time can make us feel like hypocrites. Sometimes it seems as if there is more turmoil than peace, and more ill-will than goodwill.

Even Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem called I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day starts out in celebration, but then shifts to the dark words, “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.’”

If you have had a hard time finding peace this Christmas, this short message will bring you hope and encouragement, so that you can truly say, “Merry Christmas!”

The First Noël

romans-3-22When I worked in the business field, I was invited to be a teacher for a program called GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women), where I taught a class on marketing. Then later on, I served as a reviewer as the students turned in their marketing plans.

One of the main points I tried to drive home to my students is a basic Marketing 101 principle which says—you can’t be all things to all people. You have to pick a niche market and then try to dominate that market. There are two general ideas here: (1) Make your product or service pricey and therefore exclusive to a select group, or (2) Make your product or service affordable and accessible for the mass market.

The Incarnation of Jesus totally violates this Marketing 101 principle. (Which goes to show you that God knows more than all the world’s so-called “experts”!)

First, there was a marketing message to shepherds (see Luke 2:8-11). This would have been the “mass market” as shepherds represented the every-day, working-class man. The first two verses of The First Noël carol addresses these “certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay.”

But then there is this appearance of a very exclusive group of Magi (see Matthew 2:1-2, 11). These men were highly educated and had gained great influence and affluence. Verse 3 of The First Noël references these “wise men…from country far” who could present such lavish gifts to Jesus.

God did exactly what I told my GROW students they shouldn’t do if they wanted to be successful!

The Incarnation of Jesus is one of those rarest of rare things that actually can be all things to all people! Why? Because ALL people need what the Incarnation of Jesus brings. That’s why the final verse of The First Noël calls for ALL of us to join in singing our praise to God because of the salvation Jesus had purchased for ALL mankind.

Here’s the reason—

  • ALL we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)…
  •    …and the penalty for that straying from God is death for ALL sinners (Romans 6:23).
  • But Jesus came to ransom ALL from that penalty (Mark 10:45)…
  •    …so that ALL who believe in Him will be saved (Romans 3:22)!

“The coming of Jesus was a search-and-save mission. ‘The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.’ So Advent is a season for thinking about the mission of God to seek and to save lost people from the wrath to come. … ‘As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you’ (John 20:21). It’s the story of how the vertical Advent of God in the mission of Jesus bends out and becomes the horizontal Advent of Jesus in the mission of the church. In us.” —John Piper

You have been rescued, now go be a rescuer. Take this Noël message to ALL … young/old, rich/poor, Black/white, educated/illiterate, healthy/sick, friend/enemy…. the message in the First Noël and every Noël is for everyone! 

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