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Sunday, August 31, 2014

War In Your Heart # 44

Two Thrones At War (continued)

A Cataclysmic Change

Genesis 1:2: And the earth was [become] waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

Something terrible must have taken place that has plunged the earth into the condition here revealed as one of utter disorder and desolation. The God of order could not have planned such disorder. The God of light did not purpose such darkness. Both must be the result of a cataclysmic overthrow.

That between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 some universal catastrophe has taken place is certain from Isaiah 45:18, which expressly declares that the earth was not created in the condition described  in Genesis 1:2. What follows in Genesis 1:3-19 is the restoration of an earth in ruin. There is every evidence that something has taken place which has provoked God to anger, which was expressed in judgment (Jeremiah 4:23-26; Isaiah 24:1). Throughout Scripture there is one thing that ever called forth the anger of God in judgment. That thing is sin. God once brought a flood upon the whole earth because of sin. Is there any ground given in the Word for believing that the ruined earth of Genesis 1:2 was God's judgment upon some terrible sin?

Let us glance for a moment throughout the entire Bible. It is a book of warfare. Two thrones are at war. We discern rival sovereignties. We read of two kingdoms. We are everywhere conscious of a clash of wills. As a result we face throughout Scripture irreconcilable opposites: life and death; light and darkness; love and hate; godliness and godlessness; righteousness and sinfulness; holiness and iniquity; liberty and license; truth and lies; obedience and lawlessness; grace and judgment; heaven and hell.

The stage of battle is set in the first pages of Genesis and is the never ending theme until we reach the very last pages of Revelation. There we find a new heaven and a new earth wherein there is "no more curse ... no more death ... no more sorrow, crying or pain ... no night." There we find again as at the beginning "the throne of God" the very center of everything in heaven and upon earth.

In the light of such facts honesty compels us to face and answer this question. What caused this warfare in God's universe? Where, when, and how did it begin? But the question to be answered to too serious to permit any theorizing or speculation. We will get no convincing or conclusive answer except we find it in the Word of God. Do we find it there? Most assuredly. God who is Light would never leave us in darkness regarding something that imperiled His own relationship to His own creation and to the frustration of His own eternal purpose.

Genesis 3 clearly reveals the beginning of this warfare on earth. In the Garden of Eden there is an enemy of God, who impersonates himself in "the serpent." Who is, "the serpent"? The Word tells us, for it always interprets itself (Revelation 12:9).

We have seen that the universe as it came from the hand of God was perfect, and that in it there was but one will, the will of God. There was but one kingdom, the kingdom of God. There was but one King, whose rule over the whole universe was undivided and absolute. God had no rival. But our Lord speaks of a "kingdom of satan" in direct opposition to the "kingdom of God" (Matthew 12:25-28). He also speaks three times of one who is "prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) who is judged and cast out. He speaks of "the world" that "hates" Him and His (John 7:7; 15:18, 19) and is in direct opposition to Him.

It is evident that an enemy of God came upon the scene and that warfare ensued both in heaven and upon earth. In the parable of the tares among the wheat, Jesus Himself declares this "enemy" to be "the devil" (Matthew 13:25, 38, 39). But in God's original creation there was no devil. But from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 there is a devil in unceasing warfare against God. The greatest and the most irreconcilable of all opposites in the Bible is God and satan. God is the author and first  cause of all life, light, love, godliness, righteousness, holiness, liberty, truth, obedience, grace, and heaven. satan is the author and first cause of all death, darkness, hate, godlessness, sinfulness, iniquity, license, hies, lawlessness, judgment, and hell.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 45)

I Called Upon Him

I called upon him, but he gave me no answer (S. of Sol. 5:6).

The Lord, when He hath given great faith, hath been known to try it by long delayings. He has suffered His servants' voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained unmovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, "Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through."

Thus have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased Him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to His own pleasure. If it pleases Him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall He not do as He will with His own!
No prayer is lost. Praying breath was never spent in vain. There is no such thing as prayer unanswered or unnoticed by God, and some things that we count refusals or denials are simply delays.
--H. Bonar

Christ sometimes delays His help that He may try our faith and quicken our prayers. The boat may be covered with the waves, and He sleeps on; but He will wake up before it sinks. He sleeps, but He never oversleeps; and there are no "too lates" with Him.
--Alexander Maclaren

Be still, sad soul! lift thou no passionate cry,
But spread the desert of thy being bare
To the full searching of the All-seeing eye;
Wait! and through dark misgiving, black despair,
God will come down in pity, and fill the dry
Dead place with light, and life, and vernal air.

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, August 30, 2014

War In Your Heart # 43

Two Thrones At War - God's Original Creation  (continued)

What could reveal more clearly the supremacy of the uncreated God over all His creation: the sovereignty of the Creator over all created beings and things?

As the King and the Kingdom Are Eternal, So Is the Throne Eternal

The throne is an everlasting throne. It is God's, and His for ever and ever (Lamentations 5:19; Psalm 145:13).

There can be no rival to God's throne. It can never be transferred to another. From the eternity of the past to the eternity of the future, the throne belongs to God and to God alone. God's throne is a throne of glory (1 Samuel 2:8; Jeremiah 14:21).

Read Revelation 4:1-11 to get the full picture of the throne of His glory and the glorious One who sits upon it.

God's Throne is a Throne of Holiness (Psalm 47:8).

Thus we see the throne of the Most High is the highest thing in all God's universe. There is nothing higher; it is a throne of consummate power, and majesty and glory. The throne reveals the infinite distance between God and all else in His universe; it measures the impassable gulf between eternity and time; between the uncreated and the created; between the Sovereign and His subjects.

The throne of God recognizes but one will in all God's universe, the will of God. That will is to be done both in heaven and upon earth. The seat of God's government is His throne. From that throne God rules over all creatures and things, encompassing all within the circle of His will. No provision is made for even a thought, a desire, an attitude that is contrary to the will of God. Everything and everyone is in complete and joyous subjection to the will of God. The eternal King is to rule over His eternal kingdom from His eternal throne. Then everything would fulfill the purpose for which it was created - the glory of God.

But such a plan was not only for God's glory but for the creature's and creation's supreme good. For God's will is perfect. God Himself is the fountain of life (Ps. 36:9). God is light and God is love (1 John 1:5; 4:8). So all that emanated from Him through His holy will would produce fullness of  life, light, and love in heaven and upon earth. So there would be perfect harmony, peace, and joy and order.

There is therefore but one attitude toward the throne of God and the One who sits upon it. It is that of such pure and perfect humility that in worship, in adoration, in praise, in joyful submission, the Lord on high is exalted above all His creatures and His creation (Psalm 99:9; Psalm 103:22).

Such an attitude of humility expressed in unceasing exaltation of God is naturally followed by joyous submission to His sovereignty and loyal obedience to His will.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 44 - (A Cataclysmic Change)

The Trap of Discouragement

Do you feel stuck in discouragement? If so, you are not alone.

At some point everyone experiences dashed hopes. Disappointment—an emotional response to a failed expectation—is the normal initial reaction. But allowed to linger, it can turn into discouragement, which hovers like a dense cloud. When that’s the case, there is no sense of joy or contentment, no matter what you do.

The circumstances that trigger these emotions may be unavoidable, but the way we respond is a choice. We can either let sadness overwhelm our souls or face the situation with courage and bring it before the One who can help us.

Living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides our pain. Then as anger becomes habitual, we’ll look for someone to blame—whether God, people around us, or ourself.

Frustration that isn’t handled well may develop into depression, which in turn can estrange us from others—people do not enjoy the company of someone who’s bitter and defeated. This isolation leads to a low self-esteem. Finally, in a fog of discouragement, we can make poor decisions based on crushed emotions instead of truth. Obviously, choosing this self-destructive path is not God’s best for our lives.

Though we’ll all face disappointment from time to time, believers are not to wallow in it. Instead, God wants us to trust Him with everything—even our unmet expectations and deepest sadnesses. Remember, there is divine purpose for everything He allows to touch His children’s lives (Rom. 8:28). 

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, August 29, 2014

War In Your Heart # 42

Two Thrones At War (continued)

God is the Great King - a Universal Ruler

He is King in the realm of the spiritual 

Psalm 95:3: "For  the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods."

He is King in the realm of the earthly and temporal.

Psalm 47:2: For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

He is the King over all the earth.

He is the Universal King

Psalm 72:8: He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

There is no other than God, the Creator, who is or has the right to be King, for He is the King eternal.

Psalm 10:16: The Lord is King for ever and ever.

Psalm 29:10: The Lord sitteth King forever.

He is the King of Glory

Psalm 24:10: Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

The King Has a Kingdom

The King must have a sphere over which He rules with absolute authority. As God is the King, then the kingdom must be the kingdom of God. So naturally the kingdom would be the manifestation of the nature of the King. So Scripture with crystal clearness reveals it to be.

As the King Is Eternal, So Is the Kingdom.

Psalm 145:13: Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Daniel 4:34: Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.

As He Is the Universal King, so Is His Kingdom Universal

Psalm 103:19: His kingdom ruleth over all.

A King has a kingdom and a kingdom has a throne. The King's dominion and authority is to be manifested and exercised from His throne.

2 Samuel 7:13: I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever.

"The Throne" is the seat of the sovereign King. Only a King could have a throne; it is the symbol of kingship and of royalty.

1 Chronicles 29:23: Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king.

The throne is the symbol of Sovereignty.

The throne stands for regal authority and sovereign power, requiring both the homage and the obedience of all subjects.

1 Chronicles 29:23: And all Israel obeyed him. The throne stands for an established kingdom.

1 Kings 2:12: Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.

The throne stands for justice and judgment.

Psalm 89:14: Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.

Psalm 9:4: Thou satest in the throne judging right.

Justice in judgment is the basis of all God's proceedings. The government of His throne rests upon the stability of righteousness.

God, the great King, has a throne. Where? His seat of government must be where He is. God is in the highest heaven. So that is where His throne is.

Job 22:12: Is not God in the height of heaven?

Psalm 11:4: The Lord's throne is in heaven.

Psalm 103:19: The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens.

God is Sitting upon His Throne

Isaiah 6:1: I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.

Matthew 23:22: And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

What could reveal more clearly the supremacy of the uncreated God over all His creation: the sovereignty of the Creator over all created beings and things?

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 43)

Amos 5:4

(4) For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:
" Seek Me and live; 

  Amos 5:6

(6) Seek the LORD and live,
Lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
And devour it,
With no one to quench it in Bethel— 

  Amos 5:8

(8) He made the Pleiades and Orion;
He turns the shadow of death into morning
And makes the day dark as night;
He calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth;
The LORD is His name. 

  Amos 5:14

(14) Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the LORD God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
We are clearly commanded to seek God. "Seek," in this case, does not mean to search for something that is lost. We have already been invited into a relationship; we already know where God is. We do not have to search God out as if He is lost somewhere. Seek means, as the Expositor's Dictionary says, "to turn to Him in trust and confidence."

Barnes Notes comments: "It does not mean to seek to get something from Him, but rather to seek God for what He is in Himself." This hits the nail right on the head, because "what He is in Himself" is another way of describing "seeking to be in the image of God." Do this, and we will live forever, as He does.

When He says "live," He means " live abundantly" and "everlastingly." Regardless of how much we have in the way of material goods, we can still live abundantly, but this is directly tied to "seeking" Him. We seek Him to be like Him. We seek Him to build the relationship with Him.

The commentaries note that both "seek" and "live" are in the imperative. It is a command to be diligent, fervent, and persevering in following through in "seeking."

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Thursday, August 28, 2014

War In Your Heart # 41

Victory Through the Victor (continued)

Victory Through the Victor

God's time calendar has come to its end; the crisis and the climax hours are both over. The conflict of the ages between  the two thrones at was is finished. The victory has been won through the Victor. Now the Redeemer takes the redeemed with Him into the new  earth, to be eternally with Him where He is (Revelation 21: 1, 3, 5)

Oh! that all the redeemed of earth would unite in claiming His last promise and in uttering the last prayer in God's Word.

Revelation 22:20: He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Two Thrones At War - God's Original Creation

God - Creator and Sovereign in His Universe

Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

With this simple but sublime statement God opens the pages of revelation and states all that is known regarding the original creation of His universe. So no place is left for human speculation or reasoning but only for unquestioning faith in the absolute integrity of the Word of God.

"In the beginning." The dateless past, yet the beginning of time; the beginning of creation; the beginning of all that is known of material things.

"In the beginning God." The plural name of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who focuses thought upon Himself as the sole, supreme Creator of the created universe.

God - the Eternal

God, who was Himself before the beginning, hence that infinite Being who inhabits eternity: God, the eternal (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 40:28)

God - the Uncreated

God Himself was before the created, hence He is the uncreated God (Job 38:4; Psalm 36:9).

God is a personal Being. Himself eternal and uncreated.

God the Creator

God created the heaven and the earth, the universe. By His own Word He framed the universe out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3). By His infinite wisdom and power He made the earth and stretched out the heavens (Jeremiah 51:15).

All things in heaven and upon the earth were created by Him (Hebrews 1:2; 1:10; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).

The universe and all things therein, both material things which are seen, and spirit creatures which are unseen, were created by God. All things, material and spiritual, were created for Him, as His own possession. (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 2:10).

All things were created for His pleasure and His glory (Revelation 4:11).

God could never take pleasure in any wicked thing (Psalm 101:3) So God's primary creation was the perfect creation of a perfect God. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Proverbs 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:11).

All in heaven and upon earth must have been worthy of Himself and reflected the perfections of the Creator. God made heaven and earth in the beginning exactly as He wanted it to be, so that it was altogether pleasing to Him. So, the primary creation was perfect as it left the hand of God. In its workmanship all was unexcelled in the perfection of beauty, accuracy, power, order and harmony. All things worked together to satisfy the heart of the Maker, God, the great Originator and Builder of the universe.

God, the Creator, was Sovereign over His Creation

God was the Ruler over heaven and earth. He was the sole, supreme Governor of the universe. If Creator, then surely He was the sole Owner and Possessor of the heaven and earth and all therein. Then by inherent, incontestable right He was sovereign Lord. He had no rival. There was but One will in all he universe and that was the will of God. "The Lord reigneth" is declared over and over again (Psalm 93:1; 99:1; 97:1; 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12; Acts 17:24).

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 42)

The Pathway of Spiritual Growth

God predestined us to grow into His likeness, but this doesn't happen at the moment we are saved. While we are redeemed by the Savior's precious blood and immediately have a new heart, our transformation is a lifelong process.

The Holy Spirit enables this journey. Growth is impossible without Him, regardless of our efforts. Yet we can welcome or hinder His transforming hand.

One way we give God willing access to our lives is by obeying this mandate in Romans 12:2: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..."
Everyone chooses either a biblical or worldly philosophy as his or her source of truth--and that choice shapes the mind and spirit. Therefore, the Lord tells us to immerse our mind in Scripture, allowing Him to mold us into His beautiful image.

The Bible story about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness illustrates this principle. After saving them from Pharaoh's abuse, God did not bring them immediately to the Promised Land. The Lord knew doing so would bring sinful ways with them. Instead, He led them to the wilderness and gave the Ten Commandments. Only after they learned to obey and turn to almighty God were they ready for the next step.

The process of sanctification isn't always pleasant. In fact, it's often painful for us, just as it was for the Israelites. In God's amazing wisdom and love, however, He knows what we need to leave our old ways that lead to death. And He builds new character in us--full of life and joy.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

War In Your Heart # 40

Victory Through the Victor (continued)

The Hour of Climax

The Son was given for the purpose of reigning, and He knew it. As surely as He knew He was coming once to die, He knew that He was coming again to reign. Christ announced His personal return in a manifestation of power and great glory to establish the kingdom of God upon earth and to sit upon His own throne (Luke 21:25-27; Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31)

In His own words we have the stupendous claim that the Saviour was to be sovereign; that the Cross prepared for the crown: that the One who came the first time to die would come the second time to reign. Saviourhood implies sovereignty. The Cross is the way to the Throne.

In God's calendar there was a night and a day, and God called the darkness night the light  He called day. The night of a world lying in the evil one (1 John 5:19), subjects in the kingdom of darkness and ruled by "the powers of darkness" must sometime end. The day of deliverance must come; when He, who is the light of the world, would set up upon earth the kingdom of Light and Life and Liberty and would rule in righteousness and in peace. The midnight darkness that hung as a black cloud over the whole earth when the Son of Man died upon the Cross must be superseded by the midday glory that will be seen when that same Son of Man comes in clouds of great glory to sit upon the throne of glory.

The Day of the Lord

Many prophecies of the Old Testament speak of 'the day of the Lord"; sometimes called "that day"; again "the great day," all of which prophecies are still to be fulfilled. A study of these prophecies reveals with crystal clearness that in God's calendar there is an hour of climax when "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). This hour of climax has a beginning with the personal return of the Lord in glory. It has an ending when the Lord Jesus Christ through His personal reign on earth has won the final victory over every enemy; has put all things under His feet; has subdued all things unto Himself; and has restored to His Father absolute sovereignty over His universe and there is a new heaven and a new earth in which there is but one kingdom, one will, one throne. God is all and in all.

This hour of climax is the hour is sunrising which brings back to earth the Son of Man as Sovereign and begins "the day of the Lord" in which the following marvelous prophecies will be fulfilled.

His Universal Dominion (Psalm 72:8)

His Universal Lordship (Philippians 2:10, 11)

His Universal Kingship (Zechariah 14:9; Psalm 29:10; 1 Timothy 1:17)

What could show more clearly that in "the day of the Lord" there will be one Lord: One King: One only Potentate ruling over "one world." But the prophecies of Scripture reveal also that there will be but One Kingdom, the Kingdom of God (Daniel 2:44, 45; 7:26, 27).

The prophecies of Scripture reveal that there will be but One Throne, the Throne of God, and also what will be both the nature and the result of His reign (Lamentations 5:19; Hebrews 1:8).

He reigneth over the nations (Psalm 72:11)

He reigneth over the earth (Zachariah 149; Psalm 97:1, 4, 5)

He reigneth until all enemies are under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 10:13).

He reigneth until He has put down all rule of everyone and every kind that is in rebellion to the rule of the one Lord from the one throne (1 Corinthians 15:24)

He reigneth until every enemy has gone to the place prepared for the devil and his hosts, and all those who have chosen to give allegiance to his throne rather than God's, by rejecting the Saviour who went to the Cross of Calvary for their redemption (Revelation 20:10-15)

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 41 - (Victory Through the Victor)

The Holy Spirit's Dwelling Place

Every time the news programs report a story about vandalism at a church, believers cringe. It’s hard for us to bear the thought of anyone spray-painting graffiti on sanctuary walls or damaging the stained glass windows, let alone setting fire to a place of worship. It’s a desecration!
The church is a sacred place.

I’m saddened by the fact that many Christians don’t have the same qualms when it comes to harming the temple of the Holy Spirit—their own bodies. Some put junk into their stomachs, their veins, or their lungs. Others wear themselves down under a weight of stress or exhaustion. Some folks justify these abuses as their right: It’s my body, I can do what I want. But that isn’t true.

First Corinthians 6 says that believers are the Lord’s possession (v. 19). He has fashioned these earthen vessels to serve Him and carry out the work He’s planned for us to accomplish. God created us with a mind, body, and spirit—of the three aspects, the body is the one that allows us to interact with our environment. People cannot reach their full potential while neglecting the proper care of their bodies. What good are education, talent, and gifts if we’re too tired or sick to complete tasks well?

Here in the world, we can do nothing apart from our physical body. Since it is the only one we’ll have in this life, we should do our best to keep it in good condition. Believersshould also recognize their responsibility to treat the earthly frame like the sacred and special dwelling place that it is.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

War In Your Heart # 39

Victory Through the Victor (continued)

Two Hours in God's Calendar Crisis - Climax (continued)

From the birth of the Child Jesus there had been a supreme "must" in His life (Luke 2:49; John 3:14).

"This hour" was an eternal necessity in God's eternal purpose. Calvary was Christ's supreme "must": an inescapable "must," for otherwise He could never have prayed, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee," for He could not have said: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do" (John 17:1, 4). "For this cause came I unto this hour." But for what cause? He Himself tells us:

John 12:31-33: Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die.

"Now" is "the crisis" of this world. "Now" I will be lifted up out of the earth by crucifixion on the Cross. "Now" shall the prince of this world be cast out. "Now" the victory bells will ring throughout the whole world where both Jews and Gentiles live. For "now" the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" has fulfilled the eternal purpose of God. "Your hour" and "My hour" have met in "this hour."

The Crisis of the Cross

"This hour" - the hour of the "cosmic clash" between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, when one or the other must win out once for ail in an irrevocable, irreversible victory.

"This hour" of the double bruising on the Cross, where the Saviour will be crucified but satan will be cast out in utter defeat and destruction.

"This hour" - when God's atomic bomb, "the blood of the Lamb," struck the deathblow to this archenemy of God: to his "principalities and powers and to the world rulers of this darkness."

"This hour" - when the celestial Haman will be destroyed upon the gallows he plotted for the well-beloved Son.

"This hour" - when the Stronger Man bound the strong man and wrested from him every vestige of his right to domination and power over the earth and mankind.

"This hour" - when the VICTOR cried with a loud voice, "IT IS FINISHED." Man's redemption has been accomplished (Ephesians 1:6, 7).

Christ's overthrow of satan, the triumph over the principalities and powers, the destruction of satan's works have been accomplished. (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).

"This hour" - the sublimest hour in the history of Deity: the darkest hour in the kingdom of darkness, the crucial hour for the human race; the pivotal hour in the outworking of God's eternal purpose through His eternal Son; the decisive hour in the age-long conflict of the two thrones at war; the V-satan hour in heaven, upon earth and under the earth.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with 40 - (The Hour of Climax)


God separates the sin which He hates--from the soul which He loves! 

"Affliction does not come from the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground. Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." Job 5:6, 7

Man is born in sin, and therefore born to trouble. There is nothing in this world we are born to, and can truly call our own--butsin and trouble!

Actual transgressions are the sparks which fly out of the furnace of original corruption
Why then should we be surprised at our afflictions as strange, or object to them as severe--when they are the effects of sin, and under God's divine superintendence?

Afflictions are the common lot of man. "Man is born to trouble!" These afflictions are . . .
   and successive.

None are exempt from afflictions. For wherever there is sin, there is trouble. "Man is born to trouble!"
The poor endure it--the rich are not exempt.
To the pious, a bitter cup is assigned--and the wicked too have aching heads and hearts.
Grandeur, nobility, and royalty--are also associated with trouble.
The heart of the peasant, and that of the monarch--are alike smitten with anguish.
In youth, in middle age, in later life--there is trouble.
In health, in wealth, in honor, in elevation--there is trouble.
In successful enterprise,
in vast financial accumulation,
in places of nobility,
in beautiful mansions, and splendid palaces
--there is no exemption from trouble!
Go where you will, you will find trouble! Take the wings of the morning, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, and even there you will find it. Enter the deep shades of solitude, and it is there.
Crown yourselves with royalty;
take the exhilarating wine;
engage in the giddy dance;
listen to entrancing music and convivial songs;
visit the drama, and other theatric performances
--and you may for a season drown your sorrow.
But the clouds of trouble are sure to gather over your heads!
You are born to trouble.
It is your inevitable lot.
You will yet have to sicken, to suffer, and die!

Brethren, you know that, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33

Afflictions are designed for chastisement. Afflictions are designed to awaken--correct, reform, divert from sin and the world--and to transfer the affections to Heaven. They "are for our profit." Hebrews 12:10

By affliction, God separates the sin which He hates--from the soul which He loves!
Two things should comfort believers under afflictions:
  1. That what they suffer is not Hell.
  2. That it is all the Hell they shall suffer.
Our enjoyments are greater than our afflictions.
And our afflictions are much less than our sins.

The source of affliction is not chance or mere natural causes. "Affliction does not come from the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground." If afflictions came from chance, there would be nothing wise, intelligent, reasonable, or good, in them--they would be dark, confused, and miserable.

Afflictions are Divinely appointed.
Job could say, "He performs the thing that is appointed for me."
David rejoiced to say, "All my times are in Your hand."
And Paul comforted the Christians at Thessalonica by the doctrine of Divine appointment: "No man should be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." 1 Thessalonians 3:3.
That afflictions are appointed by God, is comforting, for it indicates that:

1. Our afflictions will be mingled with mercy. They are appointed by our gracious Father, who knows our frame, etc. They are sent by the God of love. To one who loves God, it is a great comfort to see His hand in everything that befalls us. It is enough, and ought to be enough, that it is the Lord's doing--let Him do what seems good unto Him. "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9
When Job was deprived of all his substance by the Chaldeans and Sabeans, he said, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised!" To have everything ordered and arranged by God, is all that we can desire!

2. Our afflictions are sent in wisdom. It is highly conciliating to view every separate event, as a part of God's one all-wise scheme; and to know that when our plans are frustrated, God's plans remain unalterably wise. He knows what is best for us, and His plans never fail!

3. Afflictions are designed to produce glorious results. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

All our present ills are the seeds of future bliss, and will be followed by a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the kingdom of God's dear Son.
When such sublime results shall be realized, we shall perceive that "Affliction does not come from the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground." Be submissive. God's design for afflictions is our sanctification, and eventual glorification. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:11
Afflictions are but blessings in disguise!

~William Nicholson

Monday, August 25, 2014

God Leads Me Into Hard Places

I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness…And I will give her her vineyards from thence (Hosea 2:14-15).

A strange place to find vineyards--in the wilderness! And can it be that the riches which a soul needs can be obtained in the wilderness, which stands for a lonely place, out of which you can seldom find your way? It would seem so, and not only that, but the "Valley of Achor," which means bitterness, is called a door of hope. And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth!
Yes, God knows our need of the wilderness experience. He knows where and how to bring out that which is enduring. The soul has been idolatrous, rebellious; has forgotten God, and with a perfect self-will has said, "I will follow after my lovers." But she did not overtake them. And, when she was hopeless and forsaken, God said, "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her."
What a loving God is ours!
We never know where God hides His pools. We see a rock, and we cannot guess it is the home of the spring. We see a flinty place, and we cannot tell it is the hiding place of a fountain. God leads me into the hard places, and then I find I have gone into the dwelling place of eternal springs.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, August 24, 2014

War In Your Heart # 38

Victory Through the Victor (continued)

Two Hours In God's Calendar Crisis - Climax (continued)

"This Hour"

John 12:27: "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour."

Certain Greeks, who were Gentiles, came to worship at the feast and said to Philip: "We would see Jesus." The Gentile world was reaching out to Him. Their request had a strange effect upon Jesus. The Gentiles were coming to Him, but for what? Would they say: "We know Thou art a great Teacher and Miracle-worker come from God, and we have come to worship and to follow Thee"? But had He come into the world as a teacher and a miracle-worker, whether that world were Jewish or Gentile? Or had He come to the world of men as a Saviour? Had He been born into this world to live or to die? It is not recorded that Jesus received the Greeks or made any reply to them. But their request to see Him was the Father's green light to His Son and He knew the crisis hour in God's calendar was at hand and with majestic calmness and assurance He said:

John 12:23: "The hour is come."

"The Hour" when the centuries-old prophecy-promise of Genesis 3:15 would be fulfilled had come at last, when the bruising of the heel of the woman's seed would take place; when "the child born" would die. "The hour" was the hour of the Cross; the noon hour not only of time but of eternity; the  pivotal hour in the life of both heaven and earth; the hour of the Saviourhood of the Son.

John 12:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

John 12:25, 26 throws a floodlight upon the words in Hebrews 12:2: Who for the joy that was set before him endured the Cross!

The joy of the "much fruit." Those redeemed by His precious blood "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation"; a people for His own possession, the Church His Body, who in union with Him in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension would be forever with the Bridegroom, the King, upon the throne on which He would reign! Yes, with what measure of joy the Son of Man could look forward to the Cross as the place of the redemption of man, even though the cost to Him would be so terrible!

But Jesus did not stop there. Let us read on:

John 12:27, 28: Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from This Hour: but for This cause came I unto This Hour. Father, glorify thy name.

"Now is my soul troubled." Why and over what? "Save me from this hour." Was that possible? No, because for "this cause" He had come unto "this hour"? Why could He not be saved from "this hour"? We are at rock bottom at this very point in the  teaching of the Word as to the deepest meaning of "the crisis hour of the Cross." "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" and know with deepest discernment the cost to that dear Son of that simple word of prayer, "Father, glorify thy name."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 39)

The Believer's Purpose

God has a purpose for your life. If that weren't true, He'd have taken you home to heaven at the moment of salvation. Do you ever wonder why He left you here?

The Lord intends to influence others through you. Our purpose is to be a vessel through which Christ overflows to others--touching those who hurt and desperately need a Savior. Once we are saved, Scripture teaches, our involvement is threefold.

First, we love others. Jesus clearly stated that this was one of the two greatest commandments (Matt. 22:38-39).

Second, we share the good news of salvation (Acts 1:8). Some travel across the world to spread the gospel, while others teach neighbors across the street. The Holy Spirit will direct us to the right people if we are willing to obey.

Third, we serve in a variety of ways, like helping those in need, sharing our resources, and lifting others in prayer. Jesus is our perfect example of all three. His entire life was marked by caring for people--both those who loved Him and those who did not. In fact, the Bible teaches that He humbled Himself and became like us, willing to give up His life for our redemption. There is no greater love; there is no greater act of service.

Scripture clearly defines the believer's purpose. Aligning ourselves with God's intentions for His children--loving others, witnessing, and serving-- bring us great satisfaction. In fact, we're still on earth not merely to hear more teaching but to act on it and share with others what we learn.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, August 23, 2014

War In Your Heart # 37

Victory Through the Victor (continued)

The Second Advent - The Sovereign Comes (continued)

With the first Advent, the coming of the Saviour to die on the Cross, the was with satan was won. From the vantage point of the Father's throne, satan is a defeated foe. But as yet there is no established peace on the earth nor will there be until the  Lord Jesus Christ comes again as the Prince of Peace to take the government upon His shoulders; to establish the kingdom of God openly on earth and to rule from His own Throne as King of kings and Lord of lords over the kingdoms of this world. There must be a second Advent - the coming of the Son to reign as Sovereign. This coming will be the coming of the King in great power and resplendent glory. (Matthew 24:27-30; 25:31; Revelation 11:15; 19:11, 16)

During the Millennium when the Son and Heir will have come into His inheritance, and will have been set upon the holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6), there will be but one throne and but one will in all God's universe. God's calendar has in it a V-S day. Where are we now in relationship to it?

Two Hours in God's Calendar Crisis - Climax

 In the working out of His eternal purpose through His eternal Son, God has two great glorious hours in His time calendar of events on earth. One is the hour of crisis; the other, the hour of climax.

The Hour of Crisis

Jesus was born into the world for the express purpose of dying and He knew it.

"My hour."  From the very beginning of His public ministry the Son of Man had a brooding anticipation of an "hour" that was to come; a crisis hour that would be the culmination of His ministry on earth when that which He came to do would be accomplished and there  could be written over His work on the earth the words, "It is finished."

In the gospel of John, were the conflict between light and darkness, life and death, love and hate is so vividly pictured, Christ spoke repeatedly of "my hour" or "my time" as a calendar day which had not yet come but which was certain to come.

John 2:4: Mine hour is not yet come.

But as he proclaimed His Messiahship and His Savourhood, the Jews were angered beyond measure and such bitter hatred filled their hearts that they sought to kill Him. Yet they could not for God's clock had not yet reached the Crisis hour.

John 7:8: My time is not yet full come.

How significant are those words "full come." The shadow of the hour of midnight darkness had fallen over His life. It was late twilight and from that time on He would walk in ever deepening darkness. At the feast of tabernacles Jesus was brought into open conflict with the Jews over the origin and authenticity of the truth which He proclaimed, and they made another attempt upon His life. But it was unavailing for God's clock had not struck "His hour."

John 7:30: Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

The truth regarding Himself as "The Son," the Messiah and the Saviour, was proclaimed even more boldly and His words were proved by His works. Light gained the victory over darkness when the man born blind was given sight. Life won the victory over death when Lazarus came forth from the tomb at Jesus' word of command. Liberty was winning the victory over bondage as many captives were being set free from satan's possession and control. Christ was being the Victor in battle after battle. This intensified the hatred of satan into fury which culminated in the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the human archtraitor of all time; and in the instigation of the demand of the chief priest and elders for Jesus' death. (Luke 22:52, 53).

"Your hour." Yes, this crisis hour was satan's hour as well as Jesus' hour. From the moment of the birth of "the child" satan had sought in every conceivable way to kill Him but had been foiled and defeated. Now the swelling rivulet of ill-will becomes an unfathomable ocean of hate.

"Your hour." The Pharisees and Sadducees, who were not even at peace with each other, united in their mutual hatred of the Son of Man to make the last attempt to put out this "Light of the world" (John 8:12); to put to death this "Prince of life' (Acts 3:15; to bind with the chains of death this Liberator of captives (Luke 4:18).

"Your hour and the power of darkness." By God's permission satan, the archtraitor, would be allowed to show to the world to what lengths those five openly declared "I wills" of Isaiah 14:13, 14 would take  him; to what height and depth of calumny he who was "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44) would go when self-will was unleashed to do all that it purposed to do. The crisis hour had come when satan would unify "the spiritual hosts of wickedness" in one terrific challenge of the Son and Heir of God, who had invaded his world domain in order to regain God's throne-right to sovereignty over the earth and mankind.

"Your hour and the power of darkness" when satan would stand unmasked; revealing himself for what he is; the very personification of the darkness of hate and of treachery; the devilish, diabolical instigator of the murder of all the ages - the murder of the seed of the woman, the Son of Man. The Cross of Calvary was satan's hour when he revealed himself, the exact opposite of God and the archenemy of God's Son.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 38

The Vital Sign of Pride

Pride and self-sufficiency are unmistakable signs of a heart that is in desperate need of reviving.  Isaiah 57:15 tells us,

For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:  "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

To have a contrite heart literally means you break easily.  Even at the thought of grieving God's Spirit you break and repent very quickly.  It means you walk softly in your heart before God. 
God says He will revive those with a humble spirit and a contrite heart.  But one of the great dangers among Christians today—especially for those living in the western world with all of its abundance—is a belief that we don't need anything.

More than ever we need to read the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:17,

"Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked."

How can you be miserable and naked and not know it?   It's obvious that Jesus is speaking of their inward, spiritual condition.  Apparently, their outward wealth blinded them to their inward poverty.   They fell into the trap of pride, which is one of the inherent dangers that comes with prosperity.  As Christians living in a very prosperous western world, we need to heed this word!
At Disneyland there is a ride with cool little cars.  I remember once seeing a little boy on the ride with his dad, and his feet didn't even reach the pedals!  But Junior thought he was driving, oblivious to the fact that Daddy was actually driving the car and making it go. 

We need to remember that our feet don't even reach the pedals, and that Daddy, our God, is the One who makes this thing go.  We need to maintain a humble heart.

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, August 22, 2014

War In Your Heart # 36

Victory Through the Victor (continued)

The Second Advent - The Sovereign Comes

The Father had promised His Son a throne of His own. Sitting at the right hand of the Father on His throne was the Father's reward to His Son for the blood-bought victory of the Cross. But it was also the earnest of the fulfillment of the Father's promise that one day the Son would sit upon His own throne.

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.

As Heir of God, the Son of God has an inherent right to the throne and to reign over the kingdoms of this world. Ex-king Michael of Romania was the rightful heir to the throne of Romania and ruled there as king. But according to his own statement an enemy dethroned him and took over the rule of his country and its people, and he was forced into exile. He expressed his hope of some day returning to Romania as king, to rule over his people. But he frankly stated that that hope would never be realized except there was a war in which the enemy would be defeated and put out of Romania.

Did lucifer, who once abode in the truth and was 'full of wisdom," know the Father's Son was also His heir, and did he covet this position for himself?  Could it have been such pride that in self-will he purposed to be on an equality with God, even as the Son was, and to have a throne of his own, even the throne of God Himself?

Anyhow, Scripture clearly reveals that an enemy of God appeared and set up a rival throne and through treachery and intrigue had gained dominion over the earth and mankind. "The kingdom of this world!" were his by cunning usurpation (Matthew 4:8, 9). They must be won back and restored to the rightful Ruler. But how? Only by a way in which the enemy would be defeated, dethroned and exiled forever in the lake of fire.

In Genesis 3:15 there is a crystal clear blending of the Cross with the throne. There is double bruising prophesied. Th Saviour's heel, the serpent's head. Let us note that "the Lord God" is speaking to "the serpent" and that He is speaking in judgment. There is not the slightest trace of grace manifested toward the archapostate and archtraitor. The hatred toward God revealed in his act of rebellion and in his revolt against God's throne was a fixed attitude. By a second deliberate act he had carried his revolt to earth to bring rebellion and anarchy there. His was an unchanged and unchangeable attitude - that of a traitor. God's throne is a throne of "holiness" which must act in grace toward all its subjects. But it is also a "throne of judgment" which must act in wrath toward one who continues in planned rebellion and open treachery.

In heaven and upon earth satan had begun "a cold war" against God. Now God brings it out into the open and declares a war to the finish with the serpent and his seed. God acknowledges "the power of satan" (Acts 26:18), but He proclaims the even greater power of the Cross which will bruise the serpent's head. God's blow will be a staggering one from which there can be no permanent recovery: a blow that will wrest from satan every vestige of right to dominion over the kingdoms of this world; a blow that will ultimately cast him into the lake of fire forever.

The die is cast. There is now no turning back. A warfare between two seed has begun and will continue until there is the utter defeat of the one and the ultimate victory of the Other. One of the most fascinating studies is to trace this warfare down through the centuries as recorded in the Word and observed in human history up to the very present moment as one reads the daily newspaper or listens on the radio. Such a study reveals unceasing warfare without one single armistice. Battles have been sometimes won on both sides. In all warfare, however, there must sometime be decisive battle. Some particular day will be V-day.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 37)