All posts by broboinhawaii

Bible believing christian worshiping God in Hawaii

September 16, 2010 – Stanley

A Lesson in Listening LUKE 6:46-49

Early in life, I learned to listen to the Lord, and this most important lesson is the foundation of my confidence in God. Moreover, because I pay attention to the Father, He has given me courage in my convictions, strength in times of trouble, and unspeakable joy.

I opened my spiritual ears because of my grandfather’s words to me. Oh, he didn’t say, “Now Charles, you’ve got to listen.” Instead, he described what the Lord was saying to him and how He was speaking. The powerful evidence of Grandfather’s faith gave me a burning desire to hear the Lord too.

No person can hear without actively listening. God taught me how, and it is this important lesson that I pass on to you. Heeding the Lord begins when I meditate upon His Word. I listen prayerfully for what He is saying to me through the passage, and I am expectant. The Lord is not secretive. He clarifies Scripture to those who desire to know its meaning and are willing to abide by it. Often I have to be patient. God reveals His truth when a believer is ready to hear. I continually return to a portion of the Bible until His message to me is clear. Sometimes that means going over the same passage for days at a time.

God will speak with clarity to anyone who listens prayerfully and submissively. He wants to speak to you! His great desire is for you to know Him as intimately as did Moses, David, Paul, and others like them. Dig into the Bible every day, and listen to the words the Lord impresses upon your heart.

September 16, 2010 – Begg

More Rebellious than the Sea

Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me?

Job 7:12

This was a strange question for Job to ask the Lord. He felt himself to be too insignificant to be so strictly watched and chastened, and he hoped that he was not so unruly as to need to be restrained. The inquiry was natural from one surrounded by such miseries, but after all, it is capable of a very humbling answer.

It is true that man is not the sea, but he is even more troublesome and unruly. The sea obediently respects its boundary, and it does not overleap the limit, even though it is just a belt of sand. Mighty as it is, it hears the divine “thus far,” and when raging with tempest it still respects the word. Self-willed man, however, defies heaven and oppresses earth, and there is no end to his rebellious rage. The sea, obedient to the moon, ebbs and flows with ceaseless regularity and so renders an active as well as a passive obedience; but man, restless beyond his sphere, sleeps within the lines of duty, lazy where he should be active. He neither comes nor goes at the divine command but sullenly prefers to do what he should not and to leave undone what is required of him. Every drop in the ocean, every beaded bubble, and every yeasty foam-flake, every shell and pebble, feel the power of law and yield or move at once.

If only our nature were but one thousandth as much conformed to the will of God! We call the sea fickle and false, but how constant it is! Since our fathers’ days, and even before, the sea is where it was, beating on the same cliffs to the same tune. We know where to find it; it never hides, and its ceaseless pounding never fades; but where is man, fickle man? Can the wise man guess by what folly he will next be seduced from his obedience? We need more watching than the billowy sea and are far more rebellious. Lord, rule us for Your own glory. Amen.

September 15, 2010 – Stanley

Listening to God JAMES 1:22-25

Learning to listen to God is an essential part of following His will. The Lord regularly speaks to His followers through four resources:

1. The Bible. Scripture is God’s guidebook to His thoughts and actions. It is the primary source for His followers to consult about everything in their life. This means that we ought to aim for more than just reading a bit every day. Our goal is to absorb the message—listening for God to offer instructions on how and where to apply His Word.

2. Prayer. Like all real friends, the Lord desires give and take in His relationships. Therefore, prayer is not complete when I’m done talking. I must quiet my mouth and thoughts so that my spiritual ears can open.

3. Circumstances. The Lord often revealed His ways to the biblical saints through their circumstances. He still works that way today. Situations differ but God does not. He uses everyday life to reveal errors in thinking, open or close doors of opportunity, and prove His promises true.

4. Others. Pastors, friends, and mentors can all speak truth into a person’s life. The Lord placed believers in community so they could be supported and helped by those nearby. He doesn’t hesitate to send a message from the mouth of someone we know.

God does not use just one or two of these methods to reach a believer. He speaks through all of them. We need to attune our spiritual ears, always remembering that a message from the Lord must agree with His holy Word. God is talking to you. Are you listening?

September 15, 2010 – Begg

Proximity to God

. . . For the people of Israel who are near to him.

Psalms 148:14

Distance and separation were marks of the old covenant. When God appeared even to His servant Moses, He said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet”;1 and when He revealed Himself on Mount Sinai to His own chosen and separated people, one of the first commands was, “You shall set limits for the people all around.”2 In the sacred worship of the tabernacle and the temple, the thought of distance was always prominent. The majority of the people did not even enter the outer court. Into the inner court none but the priests might dare to intrude, while into the innermost place, or the holy of holies, the high priest entered but only once in the year. It was as if the Lord in those early ages was teaching man that sin was so utterly loathsome to Him that He must treat men as lepers put outside the camp; and when He came closest to them, He still made them feel the extent of the separation between a holy God and an impure sinner.

When the Gospel came, we were placed on quite another footing. The word “Go” was replaced with “Come”; distance was replaced with nearness, and we who previously were far away were brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ. Incarnate Deity has no fire wall around it. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”3 is the joyful proclamation of God as He appears in human flesh. He no longer teaches the leper his leprosy by setting him at a distance, but by Himself suffering the penalty of the leper’s defilement.

What a state of safety and privilege is this proximity to God through Jesus! Do you know it by experience? If you know it, are you living in the power of it? This closeness is wonderful, and yet it is to be followed by a greater nearness still, when it shall be said, “The dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people.”4 Lord, haste the day!

1Exodus 3:5 2Exodus 19:12 3Matthew 11:28 4Revelation 21:3

September 14, 2010 – Stanley

The Abiding Life JOHN 15:1-5

Yesterday I shared with you about the time when God reminded me, “You are not the vine, Charles. I am the vine.” For years I tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus Christ wanted to achieve through me—in other words, I attempted to produce fruit by doing good works. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me to act like the branch that I am and just abide.

The Holy Spirit’s job is to live the life of Christ through us. This process is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these monikers describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” The apostle meant those words literally.

Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But don’t get the idea that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn’t sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ’s wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit does not pop out of believers through effort; Christians bear fruit through surrender. We “take root” in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That’s not passive living; it’s an abiding life.

September 14, 2010 – Begg

Grieving Sin

I acknowledged my sin unto you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalms 32:5

David’s grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible on his outward frame: His bones wasted away; his strength dried up like the drought of summer. He was unable to find a remedy until he made a full confession before the throne of heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silent, and his heart was filled with grief and his lips with groaning: Like a mountain stream that is blocked, his soul was swollen with torrents of sorrow. He created excuses, he tried to divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a festering sore his anguish gathered, and, unwilling to use the scalpel of confession, his spirit was tormented and knew no peace.

At last it came to this, that he must return to God in humble penitence or die outright; so he hurried to the mercy-seat and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities before the all-seeing God, acknowledging all the evil of his ways in the terms of the Fifty-first and other penitential Psalms. Having confessed, a task so simple and yet so hard for the proud, he immediately received the token of divine forgiveness; the bones that had been wasted were made to rejoice, and he emerged from his prayers to sing the joyful songs of the one whose transgression is forgiven.

Do you see the value of this grace-led confession of sin? It is to be prized above everything, for in every case where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given—not because the repentance and confession deserve mercy, but for Christ’s sake. May God be praised, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, O Lord, You are a God “ready to forgive.”1 Therefore will we humbly acknowledge our iniquities.

1Nehemiah 9:17

September 13, 2010 – Stanley

The Spirit-Filled Life 1 JOHN 2:3-6

There was a time when I was so disheartened that it made me wonder whether I should remain in the ministry. How could I tell people that Jesus would give them peace and joy when I felt discouraged by my own failure to be godly? I understood what “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23) meant but was never sure which of those qualities, if any, would be apparent in me from day to day.

God let me stew in my anxiety until I was fully committed to finding out if His Word was true or not. I encountered my answer in a biography of Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Missions. For a long time he, too, felt that his efforts fell short of the Lord’s expectations. Then Taylor discovered that God wanted believers to take His promises literally. So when Jesus said to abide in Him, He meant that His followers were to stop striving and struggling. Instead they were to trust Him to subdue their flesh.

As a child, I was taught that a person got saved and then went to work for God. You did the best you could to act godly, think right, and speak wisely. When your best wasn’t good enough, well, you tried harder. Such an impossible expectation was wearing me out. This idea of letting Jesus Christ work through me sounded both biblical and liberating.

A grape branch doesn’t bear fruit because of its determined efforts to get sunshine; rather, it simply abides in the vine, and fruit appears. The vine does all the work. In the same way, believers are to be in union with their Savior so that spiritual fruit can grow in their life.

September 13, 2010 – Begg

This Man

This man receives sinners.

Luke 15:2

Observe the condescension of this fact. Jesus, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, who towers above all other men—this Man receives sinners. This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces—this Man receives sinners. It requires an angel’s tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of us would be willing to reach the lost is nothing wonderful—they are, after all, our own race; but that He, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon Himself the form of a servant and bear the sin of many and be willing to receive the worst of sinners—this is marvelous.

“This man receives sinners”; not in order for them to remain sinners, but He receives them in order that He may pardon their sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by His purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and enable them to serve Him, show forth His praise, and have communion with Him. Into His heart’s love He receives sinners; He takes them from the refuse pile and wears them as jewels in His crown; He snatches them like branches from the fire and preserves them as costly monuments to His mercy. None are so precious in Jesus’ sight as the sinners for whom He died.

When Jesus receives sinners, He does not have an outdoor reception, no public square where He charitably entertains them in the way men treat passing beggars, but He opens the golden gates of His royal heart and receives the sinner right into Himself. He admits the humble penitent into personal union and makes Him a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. There was never such a reception as this! This fact is certain. Even this evening, He is still receiving sinners: It is our prayer that sinners will receive Him.

September 11, 2010 – Begg

Add No Stumbling Blocks

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies.

Psalms 5:8

The enmity of the world is bitter in its assault against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they will magnify the most trivial offense in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us make it work for us, and since so many are watching for our collapse, let it be a special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live carelessly, the watching world will soon see it, and multiple tongues will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander.

They will shout triumphantly, “See! See how these Christians act! They are hypocrites to everyone.” And so great damage will be done to the cause of Christ, and His name will be greatly maligned. The cross of Christ is in itself an offense to the world; let us take care that we add no offense of our own. It is “a stumbling block to Jews”1: Let us ensure that we put no stumbling blocks where there are enough already. “Folly to Gentiles”: let us not add our folly to give apparent reason for the scorn with which the worldly deride the Gospel. How concerned we should be with ourselves! How rigid with our consciences!

In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds and impugn our motives if they cannot censure our actions, we should be circumspect! Like pilgrims we travel under suspicion through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance, but there are more spies than we imagine, at home and at work. If we fall into the enemies’ hands, we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf or mercy from a fiend than anything like patience with our infirmities from those who spice their infidelity toward God with scandals against His people. Lord, lead us always; do not allow our enemies to trip us up!

11 Corinthians 1:23

September 10, 2010 – Stanley

Our Needs PHILIPPIANS 4:19

Jim saved for a long time to take an Alaskan cruise. At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases. The first evening, when he heard “Dinner is served” announced over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at the table in his small cabin. Every day at mealtime, he repeated the ritual. It wasn’t that Jim didn’t like the ship’s tasty banquets. He simply didn’t know that his meals were included in the price of the ticket. For two weeks he enjoyed beautiful scenery off the decks but ate dry, stale food in his cabin.

This sad story is a metaphor for how some believers live the Christian life. God has promised to meet every need of His children—His riches are included in the price Christ paid for their salvation (Eph. 1:18). Yet many folks are trying to live out of their own resources. They don’t know that the wealth of God’s love, power, and provision is on their menu.

A believer’s relationship with the Lord is one of complete unity. Jesus is our life. His Spirit lives through us. Therefore, everything that is available to Him is also available to the brothers and sisters in Christ—all power, strength, and endurance, as well as whatever is required to fulfill physical and emotional needs.

Jim didn’t know he had the right to satisfy his hunger in an extravagant way. Learn from this exaggerated example. Read your Bible to learn what riches you are entitled to through faith. God offers believers everything required for living well and wisely. Trust Him for all your needs.

September 10, 2010 – Begg

The Danger of the Evening Wolf

Evening wolves.

Habakkuk 1:8

While preparing the present volume, this particular expression recurred to me so frequently that in order to be rid of its constant demand I determined to give a page to it. The evening wolf, infuriated by a day of hunger, was fiercer and more ravenous than he would have been in the morning. This furious creature may promise a picture of our doubts and fears after a day of distraction of mind, losses in business, and perhaps ungenerous tauntings from our fellowmen.

How our thoughts howl in our ears: “Where is your God now?” How voracious and greedy they are, swallowing up all suggestions of comfort and remaining as hungry as ever. Great Shepherd, slay these evening wolves, and bid Your sheep lie down in green pastures, undisturbed by unbelief. The fiends of hell seen just like evening wolves, for when the flock of Christ are in a cloudy and dark day, and their sun seems to be going down, they arrive to tear and to devour. They will scarcely attack the Christian in the daylight of faith, but in the gloomy night of the soul they fall upon him. O Lord who laid down Your life for the sheep, preserve them from the fangs of the wolf.

False teachers who craftily and industriously hunt for precious life, devouring men by their falsehoods, are as dangerous and detestable as evening wolves. Darkness is their element; deceit is their character; destruction is their end. They pose the greatest threat to our safety when they wear the sheep’s skin. Blessed is he who is kept from them, for thousands become the prey of grievous wolves that enter within the fold of the church.

What a wonder of grace it is when fierce persecutors are converted, for then the wolf lives with the lamb, and men of cruel, ungovernable dispositions become gentle and teachable. O Lord, convert many like this: For this we will pray tonight

September 9, 2010 – Stanley

The Source of Our Strength TITUS 3:4-7

The Christian life is just that—a life, not a lifestyle. Sadly, a lot of churches preach Christianity as a list of dos and don’ts. Then faith looks like a formula: JESUS’ SAVING GRACE PLUS DOING GOOD THINGS MINUS DOING BAD THINGS = RIGHTEOUSNESS. Most of us have enough problems without worrying about whether we’re following the extra-biblical rules of one church.

A man-made formula for righteousness runs counter to scriptural teaching. In fact, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for such heavy-handed religion (Matt. 23:1-4). He, on the other hand, offered liberty through grace. Neither keeping God’s Law by self-effort nor adhering to extra rules makes a person free. Legalistic believers are in bondage and growing ever weaker.

When a person accepts the saving grace of Jesus, he or she receives a new life (Rom. 6:4). This is not an uptight lifestyle of doing good works. A believer is a changed person—same body but a transformed mind and heart. Christ lives through you. His Holy Spirit flows into your spirit as sap runs in a grapevine. It’s like getting a spiritual blood transfusion! Strength pumps into places where weakness once prevailed. Why rely upon your frail self when the courage and power to follow God’s will is available through Christ?

I know what it feels like to burn out from trying to do good in my own strength. My desire for you is that you’ll surrender to the Lord. Depend upon Him to change you from the inside out, and trust that He will. Jesus is your life. He will never get tired of transforming you.

September 9, 2010 – Begg

Near the Throne

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments.

Revelation 4:4

These representatives of the saints in heaven are said to be “around the throne.” In the passage in Solomon’s Song where he sings of the King sitting at his table, some render it “a round table.” From this, some expositors—I think, without straining the text—have said, “There is an equality among the saints.” That idea is conveyed by the equal nearness of the twenty-four elders.

The condition of glorified spirits in heaven is that of nearness to Christ, clear vision of His glory, constant access to His court, and familiar fellowship with His person. There is no difference in this respect between one saint and another, but all the people of God—apostles, martyrs, ministers, or private and obscure Christians—will all be seated near the throne, where they shall have a perfect view of their exalted Lord and be satisfied with His love. They will all be near Christ, all satisfied with His love, all eating and drinking at the same table with Him, all equally loved as His favorites and friends even if not all equally rewarded as His servants.

Believers on earth should imitate the saints in heaven in their nearness to Christ. We should be like the elders in heaven, sitting around the throne. Christ should be the object of our thoughts and the center of our lives. How can we endure to live at such a distance from Him? Lord Jesus, draw us nearer to Yourself. Say to us, “Abide in Me, and I in you”; and let us sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

O lift me higher, nearer Thee,
And as I rise more pure and fit,
O let my soul’s humility
Make me lie lower at Thy feet;
Less trusting self, the more I prove
The blessed comfort of Thy love

September 8th – Ravi

Blessing the Discontent

There is an uncomfortable line of thought within the Christian worldview, particularly for those who would choose a religion for the favorable qualities it offers.  That is, the life of a believer is not one which is void of disappointment.  The believer does not cease to live with discontent because he lives with Christ.  Though the sources of our disappointment will vary, it can play an important role in the journey of a believer.  In fact, the experiences of the earliest followers show that God makes good use of disappointment in the lives of those God loves.

In the Old Testament, God speaks of the disappointment in the hearts of the people of Israel as a signpost to truth.  When we have wandered away from our first love, when we have settled for something less than God’s promises, disappointment can show us the way back home.  God identified the dissatisfaction among the people of ancient Israel as an indicator that all things apart from his presence will always fall short of filling their hearts.  The second chapter of Jeremiah is filled with the imagery of inevitable disappointment for those who seek to supplement the love of God with other pursuits:

“Now why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Shihor?
And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the River?

Why do you go about so much,
changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
as you were by Assyria.

You will also leave that place
with your hands on your head,
for the LORD has rejected those you trust;
you will not be helped by them” (Jeremiah 2:18, 36-37).

When we face disappointment we are faced with a choice.  It can lead us further into futile pursuits for fulfillment or it can be the signpost that causes us to turn around and be welcomed back into the arms of the Father.  If we will allow Him, this is one way God can use disappointment in lives of believers.

But this type of disappointment is far different from what we might call holy discontent, the unsatisfied hunger that reminds us we have indeed been ushered in to a great banquet, but the feast has not fully been served.  In the hands of God, this can be an equally powerful signpost.

Saint Augustine is often quoted for his words about restlessness and dissatisfaction.  On the first page of his Confessions, Augustine summarizes the story of his life in a single confession to God: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”   So often this line is quoted as the quality that distinguishes the believer from the unbeliever, the rested from the restless.  But I don’t think this is what Augustine intended, nor do I think it is a helpful place to draw the line.  Those who confess Christ as Lord do not cease to confess disappointment.  Moreover, one cannot read Augustine’s Confessions without realizing that he saw himself as a restless soul!  He saw all of us this way, and for good reason.  As believers, we still struggle with sin and disappointment.  We are still restless, still longing, still hungry, and at times discontent.  Our thirst is partially satisfied now because we are partially sanctified.  We have, in the Spirit, a taste of what is to come.  But the table of God is not fully here yet, and at times we are filled with discontent at the thought of it.   With all of creation, I am still groaning for restoration, reconciliation, redemption—to sit at the table that has been prepared for me and recline with the one who’s prepared it.

I believe the rest that Augustine is talking about is eschatological rest—and we are not there yet.  Our way there is full of longing, filled with discontent that the world is not as it will be, marked by the difficulty of waiting, and the hunger for more than we now taste and see.  But how beautiful this longing is!  For our disappointment is a testimony to the promise that we will rest in God, and such a signpost is an unlikely blessing in the midst of our need.   I believe this is why Jesus declares throughout the beatitudes that those on the verge of disappointment, those in the grasp of pangs for something more—these are the blessed among us.   Blessed are the poor in spirit.   Blessed are those who mourn, and those who are meek.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Such hunger is a declaration that we are indeed on our way to a great banquet and God is truly reconciling all things so that we—and our enemies—have a place at the table.  Our restlessness can thus be deeply devotional, our discontent a constant confession that we anticipate nothing less than redemption and restoration, a place at the great table of God.   Blessed indeed are the hungry.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

September 8, 2010 – Begg

What Is This Power?

. . . And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.

Ephesians 1:19-20

The resurrection of Christ, and our salvation, was brought about by nothing less than divine power. What will we say of those who think that conversion is accomplished by the free will of man and is due to his own kindly disposition? When we begin to see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners turning to Christ by their own endeavors. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Spirit.

This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; death itself could not hold Jesus in its grip: Just as irresistible is the power displayed in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners on earth can resist the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, “You shall,” man will not say, “I shall not.” Notice that the power that raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honor upon God and caused dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner.

It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”1 So we, being raised from the dead, do not go back to our dead works or to our old corruptions, but we live to God. “Because I live, you also will live.”2 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”3 “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”4 Finally, in the text note the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power that raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

1Romans 6:9 2John 14:19 3Colossians 3:3 4Romans 6:4

September 7, 2010

The Blessings of Inadequacy 2 CORINTHIANS 3:4-6

Life is filled with struggles that reveal human inadequacy. Physical problems leave us weak and unable to cope, relational troubles bring confusion and stress, continual battles with bad habits and addictions make us feel defeated, and financial or job demands damage our self-worth. No one likes the frustration and fear of facing challenges which are too big to handle, but God can use them for our good.

Maybe you have never considered inadequacy a blessing. After all, it arouses all sorts of uncomfortable emotions that make us feel useless, insignificant, and weak. But God can turn all the negatives into blessings if we acknowledge our helplessness, depend on His strength, and step into our challenges with confidence in Him.

Inadequacy can be a blessing since it . . .
1. Drives us to God as we recognize our helplessness.
2. Relieves us of the burden of trying to do God’s will in our own strength.
3. Motivates us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. Provides the Lord an opportunity to demonstrate what He can do.
5. Increases our usefulness to God by humbling our pride.
6. Allows Christ to receive all the glory.
7. Gives peace as we rely on Him.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers have the ability to endure difficulty or accomplish whatever the Lord calls them to do. By claiming the adequacy of Christ, we can face every circumstance with a sense of awesome confidence, not in ourselves but in God, who is totally capable.

September 7, 2010 – Begg

Rough Seas

They are troubled like the sea that cannot be quiet.

Jeremiah 49:23

We are unaware of what sorrow may be upon the sea at this moment. We are safe in our quiet room, but far away out to sea the hurricane may be cruelly seeking the lives of men. Imagine the bitter winds howling through the rigging, the timbers heaving as the waves beat like battering rams upon the boat! God help you, poor drenched and wearied ones! I am praying to the great Lord of sea and land, that He will make the storm calm and bring you to your desired haven! I ought not simply to pray; I should try to help those brave men who risk their lives so constantly. Have I ever done anything for them? What can I do? How often does the boisterous sea swallow up the sailor!

Thousands have died where pearls lie deep. There is sorrow on the sea, which is echoed in the sad lament of widows and orphans. The salt of the sea is in the eyes of many mothers and wives. Relentless billows, you have devoured the love of women and the strength of households. What a resurrection there will be from the caverns of the deep when the sea gives up her dead!

Until then there will be sorrow on the sea. As if in sympathy with the woes of earth, the sea is always fretting along a thousand shores, wailing with a sorrowful cry, booming with a hollow crash of unrest, raving with uproarious discontent, chafing with hoarse rage, or jangling with the voices of ten thousand murmuring pebbles. The roar of the sea may be glorious to a rejoicing spirit, but to the son of sorrow, the wide, wide ocean is even more forlorn than the wide, wide world. This is not our comfort, and the restless billows tell us so. There is a land where there is no more sea—our faces are firmly set toward it; we are going to the place of which the Lord has spoken. Until then we cast our sorrows on the Lord who walked upon the sea of old and who makes a way for His people through the depths

September 6, 2010 – Stanley

The Burden of Inadequacy DEUTERONOMY 1:19-36

Standing on the edge of the Promised Land, the Israelites were overcome by fear. The size and strength of the enemy contrasted sharply with their own weakness and inability. Because we’re human, everyone at times will experience inadequacy and the uncomfortable feelings that accompany it. The issue you and I face is not whether we are sufficient for a task, but how we will respond when a challenge is beyond our capabilities.

Like the children of Israel, we can give in to fear and then focus on the expectation of certain failure. As the obstacle grows in our minds, our feet run in the opposite direction, away from the challenge and toward safety. However, turning away from the task that God has given us will lead us not to security but into bondage. By allowing fear to control our choices, we’ll become chained to feelings of inadequacy, which will shape our future decisions and, ultimately, our destinies.

As a result of their refusal to trust the Lord and move forward to conquer the land, the Israelites were consigned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. The men who did not believe God’s promise never saw the land that He wanted to give them. Opportunities are always lost when we let fear overrule our faith.

When God calls you to a task beyond your abilities, instead of giving in to your feelings, choose to rely on what you know about Him and His promises. By moving forward in faith despite your inadequacy, you will discover the Lord’s faithfulness. He always empowers us for the works He assigns.

September 6, 2010 – Begg

Ask the Right Questions

But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

The individual who looks at his character and position from a legal point of view will not only despair when he comes to the end of his reckoning, but if he is a wise man he will despair at the beginning; for if we are to be judged on the basis of the law, none of us will be justified. How blessed to know that we live in the realm of grace and not of law! When thinking of my standing before God, the question is not, “Am I perfect in myself before the law?” but “Am I perfect in Christ Jesus?” That is a very different matter. We need not ask ourselves, “Am I without sin naturally?” but “Have I been washed in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness?” It is not “Am I in myself well pleasing to God?” but “Am I accepted in the Beloved?”

When the Christian views his evidences from the top of Sinai, he grows alarmed about his salvation; it is far better for him to view his position in the light of Calvary. “Why,” he says, “my faith has unbelief in it; it is not able to save me.” Suppose he had considered the object of his faith instead of his faith. Then he would have said, “There is no failure in Him, and therefore I am safe.” He sighs over his hope: “My hope is spoiled and darkened by an anxious focusing on present things; how can I be accepted?”

If he had regarded the ground of his hope, he would have seen that the promise of God stands sure and that whatever our doubts may be, God’s oath and promise never fail. Believer, it is always safer for you to be led by the Spirit into gospel freedom than to wear legal fetters. Judge yourself on what Christ is rather than on what you are. Satan will try to spoil your peace by reminding you of your sinfulness and imperfections: You can only meet his accusations by faithfully holding to the Gospel and refusing to wear the yoke of slavery

September 4, 2010 – Stanley

God’s Clear Instructions JOSHUA 6:1-5

Joshua needed guidance as he faced one of the most crucial moments of his life. Because the Lord had promised him success in conquering Jericho, he knew the outcome of the battle, but as the day of combat approached, he needed a specific strategy for victory. What he heard the Lord say must have made his jaw drop.

Can you imagine the soldiers’ thoughts as they carried out this bizarre battle strategy? In confusing times like this, it’s good to remember three requirements for benefiting from God’s instructions. We need:

  • Faith to believe the Lord
  • Courage to obey Him
  • Patience to wait for His timing.

When God gives us clear instruction through His Word or His Spirit within us, our response shows how much we trust Him. If we truly believe Him and His promises, precise and complete obedience will follow. His victory in any area of struggle is available only to those who act upon His directions.

Submitting to the Lord’s timing is also an essential part of obedience. What would have happened if the army decided to bypass God’s plans for the first six days and skip straight to the seventh day’s march around Jericho? They would have missed the victory.

How often do we beg the Lord for guidance, yet hesitate to obey when He finally gives it? Living by faith can seem like a huge risk when His instructions make no sense or require a lengthy wait. But knowing His eternal perspective and unlimited power can strengthen our resolve to obey.