Four Years Ago – Christian, Don’t Wait Until November

Posted at: The Christian’s Report on July 9, 2016

Followers of Jesus Christ in the United States of America, in less than four months we will go to the polls and record our choice for those who will serve as our local, state, and federal elected officials.

Believers and unbelievers alike will approach that day with the hope that our lives, and the lives of our fellow countrymen and countrywomen, will be filled with hope for our future as a result of those who we elect.

Is this a child’s dream? A baseless desire?

Not according to God’s word it isn’t.

The God of Israel has spoken;
    the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
    ruling in the fear of God,
 he dawns on them like the morning light,
    like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
    like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

2 Samuel 23:3,4

Is it possible that we could find ourselves under the rule of men and women who would serve in such a manner that the promises in 2 Samuel 23 would be fulfilled?

Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testament expands on the joys of living under the rule of such a government:

These words are a further description of the king’s duty, which is not only to rule with justice and piety, but also with sweetness, and gentleness, and condescension to the infirmities of his people; to render his government as acceptable to them as is the sunshine in a clear morning, or the tender grass which springs out of the earth by the warm beams of the sun after the rain.

I realize that this nation is as far removed from these ideals as a horse’s tail is from its nose. But I ask myself why God would tell us of such a government if attaining the same was not possible?

I therefore must say that it is absolutely possible. But how?

Maybe we should approach our King, find his ear through our prayers, confess our sin, and beseech him that he would find favor on our nation.

Might we be able to find within God’s provisioning that single mustard seed worth of faith which would shake the upcoming elections at their very foundation?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:1

See here? Is it not God who put our current government in place? Can not the same God answer his people’s prayers and install a government that governs with “sweetness, and gentleness, and condescension to the infirmities of his people?”

Meet with your God each morning, noon, and night. Cry out to him the words which he gives us in 2 Samuel 23 and Romans 13.

Do this for your family, your church, your nation. But most of all do this that God might be glorified through the faith of his people working as salt and light in this darkened world.

God bless you all, my prayer for God’s strength in your prayers is ongoing.

Larry

 

Thoughts on this world

We are instructed by God to not love the things of this world. Over the past 20 years, but especially the last 3 weeks, He has been steadily working in my heart and mind to enable me to obey this command.

But as this process unfolds, a realization emerges that separates the things that we experience from what the world offers us. And chief among those experiences are the ones that involve relationships with people.

The people in our lives assemble a tapestry that will endure throughout eternity. Jesus tells us that we will remember the times when we assisted those who were in need.

This last three weeks has been a time of reflection for me. I have pondered with gratitude the unlikely reality that at a time when I was not seeking Him, God called me; and through His love He brought me out of a dark existence and delivered me into His amazing light.

Regardless of how one interprets the current situation viz. the “virus”, it would seem apparent that God has determined that this nation’s corruption, immorality, and denial of His sovereign and righteous reign have reached the point where He will not allow the situation to continue unabated.

When I consider all that is contained in the idea of being a witness to God’s judgement on our nation it is overwhelming. I’m sure that the last three weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride for most, if not all, people in this land. I’ve experienced fear, anger, and sadness in varying combinations and degrees.

Throughout, I never doubted that the God who was at work in this situation is a God who is faithful to His people. And so even when I was in the depths I knew that God had placed His care on those who fear Him.

If there are particularly difficult days in your life during this season I’m moved to remind you that God is already, through His Spirit, teaching you about the glory that will ultimately be revealed to you in its fullness.

For me, I am happy to report that I’ve made significant strides in letting go of the things of this world. It’s not a finished work but I thank God for the progress that I’ve seen. As for those things in this world that are lasting, and I’m speaking only of heart matters here, the music videos below captures a small bit of my past life and brings to mind some of the people that I’ve known.  And while no nation is without sin, I believe that for much or even most of our country’s history there was an abundance of goodness throughout this land.  It’s plainly apparent in my memory and I think also wonderfully so in the videos.

 

Our Faith Walk

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Cor. 5:7.

This walk of faith takes in all the minute circumstances of every day’s history; a walking every step by faith; a looking above trials, above necessities, above perplexities, above improbabilities and impossibilities, above all second causes; and, in the face of difficulties and discouragements, going forward, leaning upon God. If the Lord were to roll the Red Sea before us, and marshal the Egyptians behind us, and thus hemming us in on every side, should yet bid us advance, it would be the duty and the privilege of faith instantly to obey, believing that, before our feet touched the water, God, in our extremity, would divide the sea and take us dry-shod over it.

This is the only holy and happy life of a believer; if he for a moment leaves this path and attempts to walk by sight, difficulties will throng around him, troubles will multiply, the smallest trials will become heavy crosses, temptations to depart from the simple and uptight walk will increase in number and power, the heart will sicken at disappointment, the Holy Spirit will be grieved, and God will be dishonored. Let this precious truth ever be before the mind, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

Our Fiery Trials

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Evening Thought

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. 1 Peter 4:12, 13.

IF, dear reader, you are in possession of real faith, even in the smallest degree, expect its conflict and its trial. It is truly remarked by the holy Leighton, that God never had but one Son without sin, and never one without suffering. The existence of faith seems necessarily to imply the endurance of suffering—not because of any intrinsic defect in faith, but in consequence of the impurity of the heart in which that faith is lodged; its perpetual admixture with the alloy of a mind but partially renewed, its constant contact with the objects and scenes of sense and of earth, render trial as essential to the purification of faith, as the flail to the pure wheat, and as the crucible to the precious metal.

The trials and temptations, therefore, with which God visits His people, are designed as tests of faith. Without them we should lack some of the strongest evidences of experimental Christianity. Who would wish the stubble and the chaff to render doubtful the existence of the true grain, or the tin and the dross to obscure the luster of the fine gold? Welcome, then, every trial and test of your faith. Welcome whatever stamps its reality, increases its strength, and heightens its luster. Nor be surprised that this, above all the graces of the Holy Spirit, should be a mark for the great enemy of God.

As faith is the grace which most glorifies God, which brings the greatest degree of joy and peace into the soul, and which constitutes its mightiest shield in the conflict, it becomes an especial object of Satan’s malignant attack. The most Christ-exalting, God-honoring, and sanctifying of all the Spirit’s graces must not expect to escape his fearful assaults. If this “gold ” was “tried in the fire” in the sinless person of Jesus, is there not a greater necessity that in our fallen and corrupt nature it should be subjected to a second process of trial?

It was tried in the Head, to show that it was real gold; it is tried in the members, to separate it from the alloy with which t becomes mixed in its contact with our hearts. In the one case, the trial was to stamp its divine nature; in the other case, the trial is to purify it from the human nature. Thus are we honored to suffer, in some small degree, as our Lord and Master suffered. Therefore, beloved, “rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Our Witness To The Truth

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 3, 4

The truth was in Gaius—and Gaius walked in a the truth.

If the first had not been the case—the second could never have occurred. If the second could not be said of him—the first would have been a mere pretense. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it—or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of mere creed—are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the body. But doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body.

Truth must be a living force in us, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If truth is in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs—but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die—but he cannot deny the truth.

It is a rule of nature—that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the center of the lantern through the glass. When, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation.

It is said that the food of certain silkworms, colors the cocoons of silk which they spin—and just so the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives—gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him.

To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity—the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul—by their manifestation in the man’s life. Be it ours today, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by Your divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men.

Christ’s Presence Our Strength

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Put out into deep water—and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so—I will let down the nets.'” Luke 5:4,5

We learn from this narrative, the necessity of human agency. The catch of fish was miraculous—yet neither the fisherman nor his boat, nor his fishing tackle were ignored; but all were used to take the fishes. Just so in the saving of souls—God works by means; and while the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. When God works without instruments, doubtless He is glorified; but He has Himself selected the plan of instrumentality as being that by which He is most magnified in the earth.

Means of themselves, are utterly unavailing. “Master, we have toiled all night—and have caught nothing!” What was the reason of this? Were they not fishermen plying their special vocation? Truly, they were no novices; they understood the work. Had they gone about the toil unskillfully? No! Had they lacked industry? No—they had toiled. Had they lacked perseverance? No—they had toiled all night. Was there a deficiency of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in shoals! What, then, is the reason? Is it because there is no power in the means of themselves, apart from the presence of Jesus!

Without Him—we can do nothing.” But with Christ—we can do all things. Christ’s presence confers success! Jesus sat in Peter’s boat, and His will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in His Church, His presence is the Church’s power! “I, if I am lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” Let us go out this morning on our work of soul-fishing, looking up in faith, and around us in solemn concern. Let us toil until night comes, and we shall not labor in vain; for He who bids us let down the net—will fill it with fish!

Second Century Martyrdom

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

– Revelation 6:9-11

Excerpted from the book, Martyrs’ Mirror, by   Theileman J. van Braught

COMPILED FROM VARIOUS AUTHENTIC CHRONICLES, MEMORIALS, AND TESTIMONIES

Translated from the original Dutch or Holland Language from the Edition of 1660 BY JOSEPH F. SOHM

[The year was] 164 A. D.

Felicitas was a Christian widow at Rome, and had seven sons, whose names were Januarius, Felix, Philippus, Sylvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis. These lived together with their mother in one house, as an entire Christian church. Of the mother it is stated, that by her Christian communion, (conversation) which she had with the Roman women, she converted many to Christ. The sons, on their part, also acquitted themselves well by winning many men to Christ.

Now, when the heathen priests complained of this to Antonius, the Emperor – who had resumed the persecution which had begun with Trajan, but had subsided – saying, that there were not only men, but also women, who blasphemed the gods, despised their images, trampled under foot the Emperor’s worship of the gods, yea, turned away many from the old religion of the Romans; that this was principally done by a certain widow, named Felicitas, and her seven sons, and that, therefore, in order to prevent this, they must be compelled to give up Christ, and sacrifice to the gods, or, in case they should refuse to do so, be put to death, the Emperor, prompted or instigated hereby, gave to Publius, the provost, or chief magistrate of Rome, full authority over them.

Continue reading “Second Century Martyrdom”

Our Willing Savior

Excerpted from the book, Holiness, by J. C. Ryle

‘And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, “If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us.” But the other answering rebuked him, saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss.” And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise”—Luke 23:39-43

There are few passages in the New Testament which are more familiar to men’s ears than the verses which head this paper. They contain the well-known story of ‘the penitent thief’.

And it is right and good that these verses should be well known. They have comforted many troubled minds; they have brought peace to many uneasy consciences; they have been a healing balm to many wounded hearts; they have been a medicine to many sin-sick souls; they have smoothed down not a few dying pillows. Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, they will always be honoured, loved and had in remembrance.

…we are meant to learn from these verses Christ’s power and willingness to save sinners.

This is the main doctrine to be gathered from the history of the penitent thief. It teaches us that which ought to be music in the ears of all who hear it: it teaches us that Jesus Christ is ‘mighty to save’ (Isaiah 63:1).

I ask anyone to say whether a case could look more hopeless and desperate than that of this penitent thief once did. He was a wicked man, a malefactor, a thief, if not a murderer. We know this, for such only were crucified. He was suffering a just punishment for breaking the laws. And as he had lived wicked, so he seemed determined to die wicked, for at first, when he was crucified, he railed on our Lord. And he was a dying man. He hung there, nailed to a cross, from which he was never to come down alive. He had no longer power to stir hand or foot. His hours were numbered; the grave was ready for him.

There was but a step between him and death. If ever there was a soul hovering on the brink of hell, it was the soul of this thief. If ever there was a case that seemed lost, gone and past recovery, it was his. If ever there was a child of Adam whom the devil made sure of as his own, it was this man.

But see now what happened. He ceased to rail and blaspheme, as he had done at the first; he began to speak in another manner altogether. He turned to our blessed Lord in prayer. He prayed Jesus to ‘remember him when He came into His kingdom’. He asked that his soul might be cared for, his sins pardoned and himself thought of in another world. Truly this was a wonderful change!

And then mark what kind of answer he received. Some would have said he was too wicked a man to be saved; but it was not so. Some would have fancied it was too late, the door was shut, and there was no room for mercy; but it proved not too late at all. The Lord Jesus returned him an immediate answer, spoke kindly to him, assured him he should be with Him that day in paradise, pardoned him completely, cleansed him thoroughly from his sins, received him graciously, justified him freely, raised him from the gates of hell, gave him a title to glory. Of all the multitude of saved souls, none ever received so glorious an assurance of his own salvation as did this penitent thief. Go over the whole list, from Genesis to Revelation, and you will find none who had such words spoken to him as these: ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.’

I believe the Lord Jesus never gave so complete a proof of His power and will to save, as He did upon this occasion. In the day when He seemed most weak, He showed that He was a strong deliverer. In the hour when His body was racked with pain, He showed that He could feel tenderly for others. At the time when He Himself was dying, He conferred on a sinner eternal life.

Now, have I not a right to say, ‘Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him’? (Hebrews 7:25.) Behold the proof of it. If ever sinner was too far gone to be saved, it was this thief. Yet he was plucked as a brand from the fire.

Have I not a right to say, ‘Christ will receive any poor sinner who comes to Him with the prayer of faith, and cast out none’? Behold the proof of it. If ever there was one that seemed too bad to be received, this was the man. Yet the door of mercy was wide open even for him.

Have I not a right to say, ‘By grace ye may be saved through faith, not of works: fear not, only believe’? Behold the proof of it. This thief was never baptized; he belonged to no visible church; he never received the Lord’s Supper; he never did any work for Christ; he never gave money to Christ’s cause! But he had faith, and so he was saved.

Have I not a right to say, ‘The youngest faith will save a man’s soul, if it only be true’? Behold the proof of it. This man’s faith was only one day old; but it led him to Christ, and preserved him from hell.

Why then should any man or woman despair with such a passage as this in the Bible? Jesus is a Physician who can cure hopeless cases. He can quicken dead souls, and call the things which be not as though they were.

Never should any man or woman despair! Jesus is still the same now that He was eighteen hundred years ago. The keys of death and hell are in His hand. When He opens none can shut.

Footnote

‘O Saviour, what a precedent is this of Thy free and powerful grace! Where Thou wilt give, what unworthiness can bar us from Thy mercy? When Thou wilt give, what time can prejudice our vocation? Who can despair of Thy goodness, when he, that in the morning was posting to hell, is in the evening with Thee in Paradise?’ (Bishop Hall.)

Ryle, J. C.. Holiness (pp. 161-163). Heritage Bible Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

 

The Powerful Root of Practical Love

Devotional by John Piper

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)

So, love is the evidence that we are born again — that we are Christians, that we are saved.

Sometimes the Bible makes our holiness and our love for people the condition of our final salvation. In other words, if we are not holy and not loving, we will not be saved at the judgment day (e.g., Hebrews 12:14Galatians 5:211 Corinthians 6:10). This doesn’t mean that acts of love are how we get right with God. No, the Bible is clear again and again as Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” No, when the Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved, it means that faith in God’s promises must be so real that the love it produces proves the reality of the faith.

So, love for others is a condition of future grace in the sense that it confirms that the primary condition, faith, is genuine. We could call love for others a secondary condition, which confirms the authenticity of the primary and essential condition of faith which alone unites us to Christ, and receives his power.

Faith perceives the glory of God in the promises of future grace and embraces all that the promises reveal of what God is for us in Jesus. That spiritual sight of God’s glory, and our delight in it, is the self-authenticating evidence that God has called us to be a beneficiary of his grace. This evidence frees us to bank on God’s promise as our own. And this banking on the promise empowers us to love. Which in turn confirms that our faith is real.

The world is desperate for a faith that combines two things: awestruck sight of unshakable divine Truth, and utterly practical, round-the-clock power to make a liberating difference in life. That’s what I want too. Which is why I am a Christian.

There is a God of Grace who magnifies his own infinite beauty and self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook or cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.

 

Devotional is excerpted from Future Grace, pages 257-259
By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Source: desiringGod.org
Used with permission.

Listening to Faith

Faith told Moses that worldly pleasures were ‘pleasures of sin’. They were mingled with sin, they led on to sin, they were ruinous to the soul, and displeasing to God. It would be small comfort to have pleasure while God was against him. Better suffer and obey God, than be at ease and sin.

Faith told Moses that these pleasures after all were only for a ‘season’. They could not last; they were all short-lived; they would weary him soon; he must leave them all in a few years.

Faith told him that there was a reward in heaven for the believer far richer than the treasures in Egypt, durable riches, where rust could not corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. The crown there would be incorruptible; the weight of glory would be exceeding and eternal, and faith bade him look away to an unseen heaven if his eyes were dazzled with Egyptian gold.

Faith told Moses that affliction and suffering were not real evils. They were the school of God, in which He trains the children of grace for glory; the medicines which are needful to purify our corrupt wills; the furnace which must burn away our dross; the knife which must cut the ties that bind us to the world.

Ryle, J. C.. Holiness (p. 123). Heritage Bible Fellowship. Kindle Edition.