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Thursday, July 31, 2014

War In Your Heart # 16

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden (continued)

Black Week in Eden (continued)

"The Lord God commanded the man, saying." Let us get the issue clearly before us. The Lord God, absolute Sovereign, has spoken from His throne, not merely saying but commanding. The command was crystal clear. "Thou shalt not eat of it." God is testing that first man in regard to obedience to His will, which is the fundamental law of His kingdom. His will has been expressed in His Word. His Word is truth. To disregard God's Word and to disobey God's will would be lawlessness, and lawlessness is sin (1 John 3:4); and sin would incur the penalty of death. "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

The serpent said, thous shalt NOT surely die." "Shalt" - "shalt NOT". Both statements cannot be true. Either God or satan is a liar. God's Word stands or falls upon that one word "not." The authenticity, the authority, the integrity, of His Word stands at the bar of that one word "NOT." Who is the liar? Will you take the testimony of God's Son?

John 8:44: When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Will you take the testimony of God's Spirit as He speaks through the Word?

Numbers 23:1`9: God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Titus 1:2: God, that cannot lie.

Hebrews 6:18: Impossible for God to lie.

Will you take the testimony of the Word itself regarding the commandment of the Lord?

Psalm 12:6: The words of the Lord are pure words.

Psalm 19:*: The commandment of the Lord is pure.

If God had spoken a lie in the Garden of Eden it would have thrust Him out of His own heaven into hell, for He declares in Revelation 21:27:

There shall in no wise enter into it anything that maketh a lie.  

And in Revelation 21:8:

All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 17)

Following the Father's Example



Do you have a strong relationship with your children? The way we first think about God has much to do with how we were parented—especially by our father. What image of the Lord are you portraying?

Many men struggle in their role as dads because their own fathers were either absent—physically or emotionally— or poor examples. But regardless of what a person experienced in the past, the best thing any parent can do is imitate God the Father. But how do we know who He really is?

We get our best glimpse of what the heavenly Father is like by looking at His Son. Speaking with the disciples, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me . . .
He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:6, 9). Not only is Christ our path to relationship with God; He is also the way we come to know the Father’s true character.

When we look at Jesus’ life, what do we see? He was merciful, patient, gentle, compassionate, kind, and full of goodness toward all people (Matt. 9:10-13). The Savior healed the sick, provided for needs, and offered forgiveness—regardless of the offense (Matt. 14:14-21; Luke 23:34). But in love, He didn’t hesitate to discipline or correct others when required.

More than a solid education or material possessions, your child’s greatest need is a role model of devotion to God through prayer, Bible reading, and holy living. If you make knowing and following the heavenly Father your first priority, you won’t have to worry about what kind of parent you will be. 

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, July 27, 2014

War In Your Heart # 15

Black Week - in Eden (continued)

The Appeal

He would engage in a friendly conversation with her in which he would hide his diabolical motive behind the smoke screen of an apparently innocent question. He would aim his poisonous dart at the very heart of God Himself by a question that both garbles and scoffs at the truth of God's Word.

Genesis 3:1: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? That question! Oh, the immeasurable depths of its cunning! The subtlety of its psychology. Oh, the venom of his hate of God in the serpent's fang! "Hath God said?" Is it really true that God has given any such unreasonable, arbitrary command? Which in quoting he twists in such a manner as to exaggerate the one exception, and to minimize the gracious prodigality of His provision. God had said: "Of every tree freely eat." Of only one tree "thou shalt not eat." But he must go further and deeper. He must destroy confidence in God's goodness. So again he puts the question with a different emphasis.

"Hath God said?" An apostate is always a scoffer. Here the tempter turns scoffer. Is it possible that your God has placed such a restriction upon you? That He has denied you the right to self-expression? That He has put such a limitation upon your free will? That He would keep you from anything in a garden over which He has given your husband the dominion? Is such a God truly good? Is He worthy of your loyalty?

Oh, the implications of that question! The subtlety of that appeal! It is an out-and-out appeal to self-love; to self-pleasing, yes, the deadliest appeal of all - to self-pity. "The serpent was more subtle; the serpent beguiled me." He doesn't push the question nor force an answer. He has instilled doubt both as to the authenticity of God's Word and to the very character of God. He just lets it do its deadly work. He allows time for Eve to turn it over and over in her mind that the undermining of her confidence in God's Word and in God Himself may begin to work.

"And the woman said unto the serpent." Eve's first mistake was in ever listening to any word that in the slightest way discredited God's Word and cast a shadow of doubt upon God Himself. But her greatest and fatal mistake was in conversing with such a one. She should have treated his  question with abhorrence and in godly fear turned from such a tempter. Those who would be kept from harm must keep out of harm's way.

Proverbs 19:27: Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

The virus of the satanic poison has already begun its work in her mind, as is evidenced by three things in her reply. She, too, minimizes God's matchless grace in His prodigal provision for their every need, and the unlimited freedom given them within the circle of His Will, by her omission of the word "freely". She, too, exaggerates the one prohibition by adding words God never said: "Neither shall ye touch it." Then she said the most dangerous thing of all. She lessened and, by so doing, minimized the severity of God's penalty upon disobedience to His Word when she said: "Lest ye die." She wavered as to the actual fulfillment of such a penalty. This was doubt as to the integrity of His Word. That was bait for the devil's hook. It was precisely the advantage satan sought and he quickly and adroitly seized upon it by boldly and blatantly denying God's Word.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 16)

Standing Before God's Open Door



The apostle Paul had passion and vision to reach the world with the good news about salvation. As he followed the Spirit’s leading, his determination proved effective. There’s no telling how many lives the Lord transformed through this man. And his influence is still impacting people today.

Paul knew that Jesus had instructed His followers to “make disciples of all the nations,” teaching them to observe everything He had commanded (Matt. 28:19). God led and enabled the apostle to do his part in carrying out this divine mission.

But think about life back then—that was a big task for a time when there was no mass communication. Paul could only teach, write, or train others to share the truth. In spite of limited means, however, he obeyed fervently and effectively.

God’s command is still relevant for us today. He has given us the work of telling all nations about redemption through Christ’s blood and resurrection. Compared to Paul, we have an abundance of communication capabilities—including radio, television, Internet, and cell phones—which provide easy access into countries all over the world. We could make more disciples by better utilizing these technologies. But how tragic if we get busy and fail to obey God’s command.

We stand at a critical moment in history for the church. The door of opportunity is wide open for us to share the gospel through a variety of methods. As believers, we are obligated to carry out Christ’s Great Commission. Be careful that neither busyness nor apathy keeps you from obedience.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Drawing From the Source



For us as believers, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances. Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation--whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you--this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control. When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, "Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express." This decision is a matter of simple trust.
Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source. You'll be surprised at your own attitude: when you respond from within--rather than from the flesh--Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, July 25, 2014

War On Your Heart # 14

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden (continued)

Black Week - in Eden (continued)

satan, the Tempter

satan is in Eden with the deliberate, diabolical purpose of tempting Adam and Eve to do just what he himself had done - through an act of self-will to step outside the circle of God's will, to dethrone God by enthroning self. Thus he would gain recruits for his rebel ranks, for they would then become his subjects and his slaves to do his will and his work. Where and how would he begin?

The Approach

Genesis 3:1: Now the serpent was more subtle.

"The serpent" - the devil is primarily the deceiver, and he plays this role the first time we meet him on the page of the  divine revelation and in human history. He incarnates himself.

"More subtle" - satan's aim was to reach Adam, God's representative man in whom the whole race was latent and in whom God had vested administrative authority in governmental affairs. satan must gain control over the race and the earth. Nothing short of world dominion was his goal. His throne must rule over God's earthly creation, human and material. He is out for the reversal of everything that is according to the divine purpose and will. The command of God had been given to "the man" before "the woman" had been created by God to be his helpmate. Therefore the responsibility for obedience to it rested primarily upon "the man." Only as he disobeyed could the race be taken into sin and death (Romans 5:12-19).

"The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field." The fallen angel is still "full of wisdom" and knows he can never tempt Adam by a frontal attack. He must capture Adam without letting him know he was being captured; he would use the tactic of infiltration. He would reach Adam through Eve. He would not tempt him directly but would come up on his blind side and get him to hearken to Eve's voice rather than to God's. He has never since departed from this most subtle and successful tactic. This very day the great apostate is tempting countless persons to join his ranks by listening to some silver-tongued "minister of satan" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) in the pulpit or some "false teacher" in the theological seminary or professor's chair who "brings in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them" (2 Peter 2:1), instead of listening to God as He speaks through His inspired Word. satan even tried to tempt our Lord through the voice of Peter as he urged our Lord not to take the way of the Cross (Matthew 16:22, 23). He would take the line of least resistance and begin with the woman upon whom he would use "subtlety" to corrupt her mind regarding the truth and so turn her from the Lord Himself. She herself recognized this tactic of the devil, but too late.

2 Corinthians 11:3: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 

Genesis 3:13: The woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Was there a definite plan in his approach? Did the serpent choose just the right time and occasion? Did satan come when she was very near the forbidden tree so that she "saw" it, rather than the tree of life from which God would have her freely eat? Did he choose a time when Eve was specially susceptible because of some desire or ambition, altogether right and worthy in itself if kept wholly within the circle of God's will? Whatever the answer, fallen lucifer "who has lost all of his sanctity but none of his sagacity" knew exactly when and how to approach Eve. This "angel of light" knew also the exact mode of appeal to secure success. He kept ever before him his goal. He must get Eve to make a choice of SELF against GOD. To accomplish this he must destroy her confidence in God. How would he make the appeal to that end?

~Ruth Paxon~

(continued with # 15)

The Secret of Contentment



In today's reading, the apostle Paul says he has learned the secret of experiencing contentment in all circumstances, good or bad. Does it surprise you that he wrote this when he was in prison, unsure of his future?

We're often discontent even when all is going well. Consequently, we wonder how it's possible to be truly content during our most difficult trials, especially when there's no end in sight. So what is genuine contentment? Paul is speaking of a freedom from worry and frustration about everything in life--even unfulfilled desires.

It's usually when we cannot control or change our situation that we feel discontentment. As long as our satisfaction depends on whether certain things actually work out, we'll allow circumstances to cheat us out of peace. I'm not saying there's some spiritual stage where you will never again experience anxiety or frustration. But what matters is how we respond when those feelings grip us.

This is something that the apostle had to learn. Paul endured amazing suffering, from shipwrecks and hunger to unjust imprisonment and beatings (2 Cor. 11:24-30). He had gone through countless situations that were uncertain, extraordinarily painful, and seemingly hopeless. But he finally discovered that contentment could not be dependent upon his circumstances.

How do you respond when circumstances are out of your control? Do you get angry? Do you try to escape? Does despair make you want to give up? Paul chose to give his anxieties to Jesus in exchange for peace that "surpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7). That same peace is available to you!

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, July 24, 2014

War In Your Heart # 13

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden (continued)

God's First Man in Eden (continued)

The test involved not only his personal relationship to God but also his dominion over the earth. The forbidden tree was part of the earth which was under his dominion. Within the boundary of God's will he could do with God's creation as he chose. But of one specified tree he might not eat; a limitation was placed upon his dominion power. Would he willingly keep the position of a subordinate to the Sovereign? Or would he usurp dominion for self and act independently?

Humanity's Black Week

A few years ago Walter Lippmann in his column "Today and Tomorrow" wrote under the caption Black Week: "During this past week we have come to the point where it is no longer a theoretical possibility that we may fail to make peace. We are at the dividing line where it is easier to fail than it will be to succeed, where the chances of war are in sober truth greater than than the chances of peace. We are at that line in our relations with the Soviet Union where, though there is as yet no formal diplomatic rupture, the process of diplomatic negotiation is believed in less and less seriously. Among great powers this is a most critical point. We are at that line. We have not crossed it. But we are right at it. If we drift across it, or are pushed and pulled across it, we are on the downward slope where at the bottom is the world-wise international and civil war."

Black Week - In Eden

God gave the test. Adam stood at the dividing line in his relationship to God. It meant clear-cut subordination to God's authority and subjection to His will through obedience, or insubordination to God's sovereign will through disobedience. Adam was right at the dividing line. If he crossed it, he would be on the downward slope, where at the bottom would be hell, not only for himself but also for the whole human race latent in him. Adam crossed the dividing line. Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Adam disobeyed.

The Cause of the Defeat in Eden

To every thinking person there must come this question, "How could Adam ever have crossed that dividing line? With all his own personality and in his environment favoring complete and joyous obedience to and dependence upon God, from what source could temptation to self-will have come? If it did not come from within it must have come from without. From whence did it come?" Our Lord answers the question. "An enemy hath done this" (Matthew 13:28).

We have seen already that there was but one enemy in God's universe, satan, the devil.  We have also seen what he is as the archapostate and the archtraitor of the ages. In Eden we see him at work as the archtempter and the tactics he employs. The Word discloses clearly what they are: "wiles" (Ephesians 6:11); "snares" (2 Timothy 2:26); "devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11); "beguiling and subtlety" (2 Corinthians 11:3). In his attack upon Adam and Eve he used them all.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 14)

Let Him Take the Water of Life Freely

Revelation 22:17
Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
 
Jesus says, "take freely." He wants no payment or preparation. He seeks no recommendation from our virtuous emotions. If you have no good feelings, if you be but willing, you are invited; therefore come! You have no belief and no repentance,-come to Him, and He will give them to you. Come just as you are, and take "Freely," without money and without price. He gives Himself to needy ones. The drinking fountains at the corners of our streets are valuable institutions; and we can hardly imagine any one so foolish as to feel for his purse, when he stands before one of them, and to cry, "I cannot drink because I have not five pounds in my pocket." However poor the man is, there is the fountain, and just as he is he may drink of it. Thirsty passengers, as they go by, whether they are dressed in fustian or in broadcloth, do not look for any warrant for drinking; its being there is their warrant for taking its water freely. The liberality of some good friends has put the refreshing crystal there and we take it, and ask no questions. Perhaps the only persons who need go thirsty through the street where there is a drinking fountain, are the fine ladies and gentlemen who are in their carriages. They are very thirsty, but cannot think of being so vulgar as to get out to drink. It would demean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain: so they ride by with parched lips. Oh, how many there are who are rich in their own good works and cannot therefore come to Christ! "I will not be saved," they say, "in the same way as the harlot or the swearer." What! go to heaven in the same way as a chimney sweep. Is there no pathway to glory but the path which led the thief there? I will not be saved that way. Such proud boasters must remain without the living water; but, "WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY."

~Charies Spurgeon~

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

War In Your Heart # 12

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden (continued)

Adam was Put to a Test in His Relationship to God

The test involved his personal relationship to God as sovereign and his position as God's sub-sovereign over the earth. Let us repeat - God was the Creator; Adam was the creature. God was the Sovereign; Adam was the subject. This relationship inevitably and automatically set boundaries in the relationship between them. The sovereignty of God determined those boundaries. The will of God must be the center of Adam's life; the Word of God must be its circumference. His will, as revealed in His Word, must be the law of Adam's life. All within was to be in complete obedience to His will and in utter dependence upon His Word. Adam was to live and act wholly within the circle of God's will as revealed in God's Word.

Adam was created a responsible being. He was given the right of self-determination: he could choose the trend of his own life. He had the power to will to do God's will or to transgress - exactly as you and I have. Would he accept the limitation of God's authority and willingly choose to live a life in union with God, wholly subject to His will? Or would he exercise his will in a choice contrary to God's will and so cut himself off from access to and fellowship with God? There was but one way to know - the way of a test. There was but one test possible - that of obedience. The one fundamental law in God's kingdom was obedience to His will. So the only test Adam faced was this - would he obey God? God gave the test.

Genesis 2:16, 17: And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat it for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

"Of every tree thou mayest freely eat." Here was unlimited freedom of choice within the will of God, with the maximum of present and eternal blessedness - a life wholly obedient to and dependent upon God, with every need for time and eternity met.

"But" - here is the boundary line; here is the Great Divide between the will of God and the will of self. "Thou mayest eat." Would Adam stay within that boundary line?

Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it.

One limitation only upon Adam's freedom of choice: the determining limitation. "Thou shalt not." But one commandment was imposed. But one transgression was possible Obedience or disobedience? Dependence or independence? The issue was crystal clear God's will or self will? Adam was on trial.

God did everything both grace and love could do to help Adam to choose to stay within the boundary of God's sovereign will, for, in clear-cut language He stated the penalty for disobedience.

For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The God of infinite grace would be compelled to act in righteous judgment if Adam stepped over that dividing line. "The Lord God commanded the man." What would the man do? Would he obey or disobey the command>

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 13)

Becoming a Person of Mercy


Luke 6:38 tells us,

"Give, and it will be given to you:  good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

It is not unusual to hear this verse used in connection with giving money to the Lord's work.  And while there is a principle concerning money embedded in this verse, Jesus was not talking about giving an offering when He made this statement.  That was not the subject under discussion.

In order to understand what He was really talking about, you need to read verses 35-37,
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.  For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Jesus wanted to impress on us this truth:  If you give forgiveness, and you give love, and you give mercy, they come back to you in good measure, pressed down, shaken together. 
He wanted us to understand that by the same measure you and I give these things, it will come back to us.  But if you and I measure out judgment and condemnation, guess what gets measured back to us?

Make a commitment today to become a person of mercy, not seeking anything in return.  Become known as someone who reflects our God of mercy to a broken and needy world. 

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dying To Be A Servant: A Parable



Once upon a time there were two grains of wheat lying on the floor of a warm and cozy barn. But one day, the farmer came in and told them, "I want to take you out of this comfortable barn and plant you in the earth. I'm going to place you in the cold ground and cover you with soil. It will be dark, and you will die. But I promise that you will multiply and become very fruitful."

The first grain of wheat turned down the suggestion. "No way!" he said. "Count me out. I like my comfort, and I don't want to die." But the second one, after carefully considering the pain and discomfort of dying, decided the promise of a future harvest was worth the sacrifice. So the farmer took him outside and planted him in the ground, while allowing the first grain of wheat to remain inside the barn.

A few days later, a small green sprout appeared over where the seed had been planted. Then it grew and became a tall stalk of wheat that produced one hundred more grains. For the next forty years, the farmer planted all the seeds that had originated from that first grain of wheat, and year after year, the harvest multiplied. However, the grain of wheat that stayed in the barn remained there by itself, never multiplying--but he was very comfortable.

Which grain of wheat are you? Are you playing it safe, or have you let Christ plant you in the world? The only way you'll ever become useful and fruitful in God's kingdom is to abandon your own selfish desires, get out of your comfort zone, and serve the Lord by serving others.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, July 21, 2014

War In Your Heart # 11

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden (continued)

Adam was to Reign with God over All God's Earthly Creation

Genesis 1:26: And God said ... Have dominion ... over all the earth.

Genesis 1:28: And God said to them ... Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Adam, by God's own appointment, was the monarch over all living creatures of the sea, and the air, and the earth. All the lower orders of creation were under him direct sovereignty; they served and feared him. There was harmony between them and man. Adam as head over the cosmos creation was given the privilege and power to name every animal, and was set in supreme authority over them. Adam was God's vice-regent over all the earth. Within his sphere he was a sovereign, subordinate only to God.

Adam was a Representative Man: the Federal Head of the Human Race in Creation.

Bishop H. C. G. Moule says: "Adam was what only one other Being has ever been, the moral intelligent Head of a moral intelligent race; not only the first specimen of a newly created nature, but in such a sense the Spring of that nature to his afterkind, that in him not only the individual but the race could be dealt with." Adam, by God's appointment, was the father of all mankind. As God's representative man, he stood for the whole human race. What he was in his human life and nature God meant all men to be. "God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."

Adam was the federal head of the human race in creation. He not only stood for the race, but he acted for it, so any action on his part would vitally affect the posterity latent in him. Also the dominion vested in him would be carried on by them. Thus through Adam in creation God purposed to establish and maintain union with the whole human race.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 12 - "Adam Was Put to a Test in His Relationship to God")

The Requirements of Servanthood



When Jesus left His home in heaven, He didn't come to earth to be a superstar. He came to serve. As His disciples, we've been left here on earth to follow His example and serve a lost and hurting world. The story of Zacchaeus shows us some Christlike qualities that we need to develop in order to serve as the Lord did.

Awareness: Although surrounded by a crowd, Jesus stopped and took notice of one particular man perched in a tree. Zacchaeus was hated and rejected because he was a tax collector. Although he was rich, there was something missing in his life, and Christ recognized his need. There are people all around us "hanging in trees"--needy, empty, and searching for hope. But too often, we're preoccupied with our activities and don't even notice them.

Availability: Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to carry out the most important act in human history: our redemption. Yet He stopped to have a meal with a spiritually needy man. What could be so important that it keeps you too busy to give others what they need most--your time?

Acceptance: Although Zacchaeus was a notorious sinner, Jesus didn't say, "Clean up your act, and then I'll come to your house." We're called, not to fix people but to share the transforming gospel of Christ.

How are you doing at serving those around you? Maybe it's time to slow down and open your spiritual eyes to see all the needy people. God places opportunities all around us, but if we're not attentive, we'll miss them. Sometimes you just have to look up to see who’s in the tree.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, July 20, 2014

War In Your Heart # 10

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden (continued)

God had something more in store for Adam than what he possessed even in the sinlessness of his perfect, human life. There was "a tree of life" in Eden of which God desired Adam to eat with unlimited freedom. There must have been further special blessing in the fruit of that tree, for we see in Revelation 2:7 that to the overcomer will be given the privilege of eating of "the tree of life," and in Revelation 22 we find in the new earth "the tree of life" bearing all manner of fruit.

God created Adam with a perfect, sinless human life with the capacity for sonship and heirship. God made Adam with the possibility of receiving the uncreated, unlimited life of God if Adam chose to receive it and if he used his power of choice to that end.

Adam Was Placed in a Perfect Environment

God had completed His task of creation and as He looked out over it all He pronounced it "very good." The very perfection of beauty, order, harmony, majesty, and glory must have prevailed in every detail of God's creation, to have satisfied God Himself so completely.

Genesis 2:8: And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

A garden of God's own planting - oh, what a garden it must have been! A paradise designed and executed by the Divine Gardener! The finest gardens in earth today must be like a veritable wilderness by comparison. That Eden garden must have been the earth in its highest possible perfection and productivity. But why such prodigality in this garden spot? Because it was made specially for man, the crown of all God's creation. So He made a place in which there was the satisfaction for man's every desire and the sufficiency for man's every need. Thus God made provision in Adam's environment for everything needful to foster his perfect obedience to the will of God.

God Himself worked (Genesis 2:2). He knew there was great blessedness as well as joy in the satisfaction of work well done (Genesis 1:31). Idleness was outlawed in God's universe. "If any would not work neither should he eat" (2 Thess. 3?10). It was an unwritten law that every man should be happily and usefully employed. So God made provision for pleasurable, profitable work for Adam. He was to dress, and keep the garden from whose products he lived (Genesis 2:15).

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 11)

Invest Your Time - Don't Just Spend It



Time is a most valuable commodity. Since it’s irreversible and irreplaceable,we ought to give careful consideration to how we spend our days—and even our minutes. Time is a gift from God. That means we are not owners but stewards and will one day be held accountable for how we used what was entrusted to us. According to verse 15, there are only two possible ways to live: wisely or foolishly.

Let’s first consider what is involved in using our time wisely. Those who realize that their days belong to God are careful how they live. Their goal is to understand the Lord’s will and align their schedules

and activities with His purposes. As they seek guidance each day through intimate fellowship with Him in the Word and prayer, their spiritual eyes are opened to discern which opportunities are from the Father and which are not a part of His plans for them.

But those who are foolish do not give adequate thought to the way they live. Some become unproductive and lazy, living for their own pleasures while missing out on God’s purpose for their lives. However, others may be very busy and extremely successful by worldly standards, but if their days are occupied with activities that aren’t God’s will for them, they’re wasting their time.

To make the most of your opportunities, begin each day with the Lord, submitting to His will and asking that He direct your activities. After all, none of us want to get to heaven and discover that even though we’ve been busy spending our time,we have failed to invest it for eternity.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, July 19, 2014

War In Your Heart # 9

Defeat Through the First Man in Eden

The seed plot of the entire Bible is the third chapter of Genesis. Unless one accepts Genesis three as God's truth, he will not accept in full John 3, Romans 3, Colossians 3, Philippians 3, Ephesians 3, Galatians 3, 2 Timothy 3, 1 John 3, or Revelation 3.  The third chapter of Genesis is the most epochal chapter in the whole of Scripture. "There is no chapter that contains within itself the norm of so many great spiritual principles." Failure to understand what is here set forth, or unwillingness to accept it as exact truth, will result in complete blindness concerning God's eternal purpose in Christ and will lead to endless confusion.

God's First Man - In Eden

God's first man came directly from the mind and hand of God. He was the last of God's earthly creation and His master-piece, because he was created in the image of God with the special purpose of having fellowship with His Creator and living solely for His glory.

Let us state the clearly revealed facts regarding God's first man Adam, that we may have a scriptural background for his devastating defeat as recorded in Genesis 3.

"God created man." God belonged to eternity. He was "In the beginning," before there was a beginning. He always was. Man belongs to time. He came into being. God was the Creator; man was the created. God was the Life-giver; man was the life-receiver. God was Deity; man was human. So the plane of life of God and of man was totally different; one was as are above the other as heaven is above earth. One is the place of Deity; the other is the plane of humanity. Between what God is in His uncreated, essential Divine Being and what man is in his created, finite, human being there is an absolutely impassable gulf and immeasurable distance. Man can never become God.

"The Lord God Formed the Man"

The God who created is the Lord God who is the moral
Governor of His creation; who has the rightful authority to carry out in full His purpose in creation. So the position of God and of man was totally different. The Creator  is the Sovereign; the created is the subject. Their positions are as far apart as the heaven, where God sits upon His throne in absolute Sovereignty, and the earth, His footstool, where man bows before Him in absolute submission.

Adam Was Created in the Image of God

God's first man was made after a pattern. God was the pattern. "The root idea of the Hebrew word translated "image" is that of a shadow." God's first man, then, was God's shadow. He was like God. But in what respect? Genesis 1:1-25 reveals personality. God is a Person who thinks, loves, and wills. In what sense then did the created man resemble the uncreated God? It was in personality: Adam was a person as God is a person.

God's first man was created in God's image in the sense of having  a sinless personality patterned after God's in its power to think, to love, and to will. But with this difference: God thought, loved and willed on the plane of uncreated, eternal, divine life, whereas Adam thought, loved and willed on the plane of created, finite human life. The intellectual, emotional, volitional life of God's first man was perfect within a limited sphere. Above and beyond this was the perfection of God's personality within an unlimited sphere.

This resemblance which God's first man bore to his Creator established communion and fellowship between them. But the dissemblance between the plane on which each lived determined the basis of their relationship. Not arbitrarily but necessarily God was the Sovereign; Adam was the subject. Adam had unlimited liberty to think, love and will within a limited sphere, within the circle of God's will.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 10)

Things That Cannot Be Shaken



As a rule, people like security. We seek what is comfortable. Yet the reality of our world is that much instability exists. For example, finances, health, and even a country’s ability to survive are not guaranteed.

When our foundation is shaken, we often feel overwhelmed.  Sometimes
Satan causes the difficulty—with God’s permission, of course. At other times, challenging circumstances are brought about by the Lord’s hand. Regardless of the source, we have the promise in Romans 8:28 that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And in either case, the Almighty’s purpose remains: to glorify Himself in our world and in our lives.

There are different reasons the Lord permits turmoil, but for now, let’s focus on one: He won’t allow anything that enables man to seem self-sufficient in his own eyes. Therefore, God may lovingly allow enough trouble for us to realize our need of Him. Consider the trials the Israelites faced each time they turned away from Jehovah to worship other gods. In many ways, we do the same thing today. Individually, in our churches, and as a nation, we often glorify “gods” like money or status. But the One who created us will not tolerate this.

In our pride, we tend to think we’re able to manage without God. But out of love, He may stir up our lives to reveal our dependence upon Him. If you are basing your security on anything except Jesus Christ—even something as seemingly innocent as comfort—it will prove to be sinking sand.

Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, July 18, 2014

War In Your Heart # 8

Background of Victory (continued)

The Biblical Scope of Victory (continued)

Stop for a moment for one short look into your own soul, saved by His infinite grace. Then take a long look around the whole wide world and see the church spires in nearly every land; the Bible printed in more than a thousand tongues; the Christian institutions, the homes, the seminaries, the Bible schools and colleges making, training, and sending out Christian men and women into all walks of life, at home and to the ends of the earth. Then take an upward look to the innumerable company of the redeemed from every kindred and tongue and people and nations, and listen to their paean of victory. All this and infinitely more - the fruitage of one Man's one obedience!

Oh, dear reader, victory is not merely a personal thing! The victory in just one life  is immeasurable in its extent. Victory in your life today will be felt in the life of Christians in the islands of the sea. It will reverberate throughout the entire Church of Christ

A man who had been a Christian for twenty years was living in defeat. For seven years he had not been to his church. Over the radio he heard the announcement of a series of meetings to be held there. He was utterly miserable and under conviction, and the Spirit drew him to the meetings where he was brought into a marvelous personal victory. Was it his alone? No, indeed. Very shortly his wife and three children, his mother-in-law and aged father-in-law were saved. The Lord used him to bring one after another of his business associates to Christ and was laying upon him a great burden to carry the message of salvation and victory through Christ to the ends of the earth.

Are you convinced that personal defeat spells collective defeat, and that personal victory means collective victory? Then in which are you living: in defeat or in victory?

But we have not yet exhausted the scope of victory. God has not made this marvelous provision primarily for your sake or for the sake of others through you; but for the sake of His dear Son and for the glory of His name who, at such infinite cost, voluntarily  covered the black trail of sin with the red trail of His own precious blood, blazing the path to victory by way of the Cross. Your victory and mine is primarily for the Victor's sake. Through it God celebrates His victory over His enemies. Paul, who was one of the greatest enemies of Christ and the greatest opponent of His gospel, was now a captive by his own will, following in the train of His triumphal procession ( Corinthians 2:14). He was there as Christ's trophy, celebrating Christ's victory over satan, sin and self. Oh! What an incentive to live victoriously to know that every victory in one's life registers before a sinning, scoffing  world the victory of the Christ of Calvary!

Thirdly, the plan is to present victory, not as an experience in the Christian life which might be regarded as optional, but as the essence of the Christ life, and s something obligatory. It is to present victory, not as the specialty of the more spiritually minded of the Body of Christ, but as the very warp and woof of Christianity itself, so that one can scarcely merit the name of Christian - that name which stands for the great Overcomer (Phil. 2:9, 10) - who is living in continuous defeat. It is to present victory, not as an unattainable ideal but as a life based on the divine principle of obedience to and dependence upon God.

Lastly, the plan is to present the Lord Jesus Christ as the Victor, whose victory we share through our union with Him. In Him is both our provision and our pattern. In John 8 Jesus gave a second signpost on the pathway to victory. Truth merely as truth cannot set us free. Victory is not a creed, nor is it a special teaching, nor a pet doctrine of a few extremists and fanatics, nor is it a set of rules merely to guide one's conduct.

Victory is a Person. If you are in the Victor and the Victor is in you, then you have victory, and in no other way. Our Lord rang the liberty bell when He said:

John 8:36: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 9 - "Defeat Through the First man in Eden")

The Blessings of Inadequacy



Paul never claimed he was capable of accomplishing all that God called him to do. He simply learned to look beyond his own inadequacy to the sufficiency of Christ. If we'll adopt the same practice, we, too, can discover the blessings hidden in our own experiences of inadequacy.

Our insufficiency drives us to God. When we realize a situation is bigger than we can handle, we're quick to open the Bible and diligently pray for guidance and power.

Inadequacy relieves us of the burden of self-effort and self-reliance. The Lord has us right where He wants us--at the end of our rope with nothing left to give.

Inability motivates reliance on divine power. We'll never be adequate until we draw from the Holy Spirit's inexhaustible strength. He does in and through us what God never intended that we do on our own.

By using weak, inadequate people, God demonstrates what great things He can do. He actually delights in choosing unlikely individuals to carry out His purposes. There's no limit to what He can do through someone willing to give Him full control.

Inadequacy challenges our faith. Paul says, "Our adequacy is from God" (v. 5). Those who focus on the reliability of this promise and step out in obedience will grow in faith.

Why go through all the fear, pressure, and frustration that accompany feelings of inadequacy when there's an alternative? Let the Lord make you adequate: rely upon Him and allow Christ to live in and through you. He will replace your anxiety with a quiet spirit of contentment.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, July 17, 2014

War In Your Heart # 7

Background of Victory (continued)

The Background of Victory (continued)

Again, the scope of victory has been limited by thinking of it only in terms of personal victory, which one usually regards as optional, rather than grasping its tremendous collective significance - that the defeat or victory of on Christian spells to that degree the defeat or victory of the entire Church. To admit this as fact makes victory obligatory.

In reading through the Bible to trace the causes and consequences of defeat, I was terrified to see the relation between personal sin and collective defeat. Achan's sin of covetousness caused the humiliating defeat of all Israel, when the "wrath [of God] fell on all the congregation of Israel, and that man perished not alone in his iniquity" (Josh. 22:20). Miriam's sin of jealousy, with its consequent murmuring against her own brother Moses, held up the journeying of all Israel for a whole week.  The sin of unbelief and rebellion of the ten spies caused the Israel of that generation to wander forty years in the wilderness and die there. It is written of one king after another following the reign of Jeroboam that they "walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin (1 Kings 15:34). The greatest tragedy in human history was Adam's sin against humanity when by one sin of disobedience he took with him into sin and death the whole human race. Stop for one moment to look out over the present-day world strewn with human wreckage; then look back over the centuries, tracing that black trail of sin over human history to its origin in the garden of Eden, and contemplate the frightful, the ghastly harvest of one man's one disobedience. "No man liveth unto himself," and that is speaking of you and of me. Personal sin on the part of one Christian spells collective defeat for the whole Church.

A pastor was defending himself for being a movie fan on the ground that he went only to "good movies." When asked about his influence upon the young people in his church who had not such capacity for discrimination (?) and who went to "good" and bad alike, his reply was that he took no responsibility for his influence in such cases, for the mother was responsible for making such choices for her child. But God says that "no man liveth unto himself" and that at the judgment seat of Christ that pastor will be "judged" according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).

But I was thrilled beyond expression to see also  the relation between personal and collective victory. Caleb "wholly followed the Lord." With what result? Marvelous personal victory! Out of Israel's hundreds of thousands, he was one of the two who survived the wilderness, entered Canaan and possessed his inheritance there. Was it is personal victory only? Oh, no! At eighty-five years of age he conquered the toughest crowd in Canaan - those giants, the sons of Anak who terrified and overwhelmed the younger men forty years before. He took the walled cities and gained a magnificent collective victory for all Israel. Is that all? No, he secured the possession of the land for his seed. His victory brought blessing to his children and his children's children. Joshua, the other of the two overcomers in the wilderness, also came into Canaan as a conqueror, to conquer thirty-five kings: to take the whole land and give it for an inheritance unto Israel. Of several kings who came after David it was said: "And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the ways of David his father." Paul, imprisoned, beaten, bruised, and with his feet in the stocks, at midnight sang the song of victory and of praise to the Lord. Personal victory of the most glorious caliber! What a trail of victories followed the salvation of the jailer and his household - the founding of the Church at Philippi! The greatest triumph of history was Christ's sacrifice for all humanity when by one act of obedience He purchased salvation for the whole human race and provided the way of deliverance from the bondslavery of satan and sin.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 8)

Overcoming the Barrier of Inadequacy



No one likes feelings of inadequacy, but they are something we must learn to handle, as none of us can avoid them permanently. Tragically, though, many people live with a cloud over their head because in their thinking, they never measure up. For some, this may be due to childhood experiences that negatively affected their self-image. For others, the problem stems from a lack of success related to work, relationships, marriage, parenting, or any number of things.

The area Paul deals with in today's passage is our Christian life. He asks a question that points to a common insecurity: "Who is adequate for these things?" (v. 16). Have you ever avoided serving the Lord in ways that challenge your comfort zone? If so, you've probably missed a tremendous opportunity to overcome feelings of inadequacy. He's promised to lead us "in triumph in Christ," (v. 14) but unless we believe Him and step out in faith, we'll never experience the life He has planned for us.

Feeling inadequate is not a sin, but using it as an excuse is. When the Lord challenges you to do something that you feel is beyond your abilities, you have two options. You can focus on Christ and proceed in triumph or focus on yourself and withdraw in defeat.

It's really a matter of faith. God would never ask you to do something without empowering you to accomplish it. This doesn't necessarily mean you will do it perfectly, but each step of obedience is a victory. The alternative is to play it safe, but then you'll miss out on God's best for your life.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

War In The Heart # 6

Background of Victory (continued)

Signposts Along the Pathway of Victory (continued)

Hudson Taylor gave this testimony: "I have seen it long enough in the Bible. Now I believe it to be a living reality. God has made me a new man." Oh! dear reader, have you seen this truth in God's Word? Has it become a reality to you? Has God made you a new man? The one purpose of this book is to make known this truth that it may set free those in defeat. "Th Word of truth never leaves us where it finds us."

The Second Signpost: John 8:36: If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  If the Son ... shall make you "free."

Jesus had told them the truth regarding themselves as sinners, and of Himself as their Saviour. He had revealed fully their need for freedom and His ability and willingness to set them free.

The Plan

The plan of the book is fourfold:

First - The Background of Victory.
Second - the Biblical Scope of Victory
Third - Victory the Essence of the Christ-life.
Fourth - The Lord Jesus Christ the Victor

The Background of Victory

By knowing the cause and the consequences of defeat we shall better understand the necessity and the nature of victory. To do this we will face the fact of defeat, personal and collective, in and through the first Adam. Then we will face the fact of victory, personal and collective, in and through the Last Adam. Such a study will disclose the unchanging and unchangeable principles underlying defeat and victory all down through the ages.

The Biblical Scope of Victory

Because both the inworking and the outreach of victory in Christian experience have been so greatly limited, the teaching on this subject has failed to unveil its marvelous privileges and potentialities and so to incite desire for it. Such teaching has also failed to warn of the perils and losses of defeat, and so has robbed of incentive. The months spent on this study have given me a new revelation of the compass and comprehensiveness of this matchless truth, and a new conception of the primary place God has given to it in His plan of redemption

Too frequently the scope of victory has been limited by relating it only to the past tense of redemption, that of deliverance from the sphere over which satan is sovereign and in which sin rules. But victory has its past, present and future tense, even as salvation has (Titus 2:11-14). To truly apprehend this truth is one of the greatest incentives to live victoriously. May I state it scripturally - we are redeemed to reign. Redeemed - The past tense of victory - deliverance from the sphere of satan's dominion and bondslavery into the sphere of Christ's dominion and bondslavery.

Colossians 1:13, 14: Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption.

Redeemed to Reign in Life - The present tense of victory - deliverance from the bondage to sin and self into the glorious liberty of the Son through the Spirit.

Romans 5:17: Much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ.

Redeemed to Reign on Earth - The future tense of victory, the  overcomer receiving his regal reward, reigning with the Overcomer.

Revelation 5:9-10: For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy  blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: ans we shall reign on the earth.

Revelation 3:21: To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Oh! Doesn't it thrill you? Here and now are are a people in whom there is regal blood; sons of God, heirs to the throne; now sharing with the Son the throne of His Father; one day to sit with Him on His own throne. Oh! What an incentive to live as the Victor lives!

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 7)

Live Intentionally



Paul was a man who lived life to the full. His goals were to know Christ, abide in His power, fellowship in His suffering, and preach the gospel (Phil. 3:10; 1 Cor.1:17). In doing so, he aligned his aspirations with the Lord's, diligently worked to fulfill his calling, and persevered through opposition, persecution, and suffering. He could face the end of his life with confidence since he'd "fought the good fight," "finished the course," and "kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7).

We'd all like to be able to say the same at the end of our lives, but that means we have to follow Paul's example. How are you doing at setting goals for your life? Have you thought beyond the immediate and set some long-term objectives? Our culture is so fast-paced that few of us take the time to actually consider where we're going. But you don't want to finish your life and find out you were on a course other than God's, fighting the wrong fight, and struggling to keep the faith.
Why not set aside some time this week to get alone with the Lord. Then ask His help in setting goals that will take you where He wants you to go. Consider every area of your life--personal, relational, financial, and vocational--but make spiritual goals your primary emphasis. Then write them down.

If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting. Maybe it's time to get out of your rut and find a new path. God will help you change direction and accomplish new goals that align with His will. Don't settle for the mediocrity of an unplanned life. Start living intentionally.

~Dr. Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

War In Your Heart # 5

Background of Victory (continued)

Colossians 3:16, 17: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; ... and whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

John told us this:

3 John 3: For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

Peter told us this:

1 Peter 1:22: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.

When I was visiting a mission station in China for meetings in a girls school, one missionary told me not to expect her to do any personal work. Furthermore, she said she was soon going on furlough and would not return to China because her health. But she was honest enough to acknowledge that her real sickness was spiritual; she was living in absolute defeat. I quoted verses from Scripture on victory. She knew all of them and could quote them verbatim. She had received and read every book on victory she had heard of, and could teach others the Biblical way of victory; but she herself was living in such devastating defeat that it had wrecked her life, both spiritually and physically. She had become what Paul terms in 1 Corinthians 9:27 "a castaway," one disqualified and disapproved for service because she had failed to meet the requirements.

Even though the meetings were for girls in their teens, God had led me to make known the truth of freedom from bondage to sin through union with Christ in His death and resurrection. God purposed that message for that missionary. The truth she clearly apprehended was appropriated, applied, acted upon, and it made her gloriously free.

God purposed just that message for that classical teacher also. When asked why he had so long refused to accept Christ as Saviour, he said that for years he had believed Christ had come to be his Saviour and was able to save him from his sins, but he was a bondslave to unmentionable sin. Not until he heard that the Lord Jesus Christ was able to deliver one from the dominion of sin did he believe the Saviour was sufficient to meet his need. The saint and the sinner both need to know the truth that the Saviour is also Lord, and that He came not only to deliver from sin's penalty, but likewise from its power.

The present day Church is replete with "castaways." Even on the mission field there are those who with scrupulous fidelity go the round of the routine of duties, but with little dynamic power. Why is this so. Largely because the truth that sets free is so little known or apprehended, so feebly acted upon.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 6)