“Why does today’s Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him? Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another. We are as smart as our fathers, and any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort. The major cause of the decline in the quality of current Christian literature is not intellectual but spiritual. To enjoy a great religious book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have. The early Christian Fathers, the Mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamored can come…..One reason why people are unable to understand great Christian classics is that they are trying to understand without any intention of obeying them.”
From “The Size of the Soul: Principles of Revival and Spiritual Growth”
By A.W. Tozer, Harry Verploegh
Many are drawn to Christ not by the Holy Spirit I am afraid, but by being promised peace, joy, prosperity, immunity from sickness, disease and heartache. Thus the stage is set for a potentially disastrous letdown. The highway to the New Jerusalem is strewn with the wreckage of once happy travelers who have been blindsided by unexpected troubles and trials. Poor souls, some damaged beyond repair, asking the proverbial question of the ages…….why? Then the diatribe begins, what did I do to deserve this? After all I have sacrificed, after how I have faithfully served the Lord, as if to say they deserve better treatment than they have received. So God hasn’t paid you a fair wage for what you’ve done? Really. Are you really sure you want what you deserve? All we get from God is a gift not a wage for your performance.
By continuing to offer our hearers a smooth road and by making promises that are simply unbiblical, we are not only deceiving them, but we can be assured of a high causality rate among those that have responded to these false promises.
“But he who received the seed on stoney places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word immediately he stumbles.” Matt. 13:20-21
” In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Being deluged with bad news on a daily basis it is easy to become cynical and suspect of any reported good news. Against the dark backdrop of increasing trouble and evil, good news should be as a glass of ice tea on a sultry August day in Alabama.
The good news is that I can do absolutely nothing to make myself right with God who demands perfect holiness. I can no more satisfy the requirements of being holy than I can sprout wings and fly. Try as I may, I’ll never get off the ground. For many years I tried to live a life that pleased God, constantly failing and resolving to try harder. For me pleasing God meant praying three to four hours a day, fasting for long periods of time and reading the New Testament through once a month. Doing these things made me feel I was pleasing God but on the inside I knew better. To fail in any of these disciplines loaded me with guilt and a sense of God’s displeasure. You may be wondering how all this is good news. Let me assure you that the day you and I come to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous and that even the best that we can do falls utterly short of the required perfection. The process of brining us to this point is totally God’s design. The righteousness He requires is meant to frustrate our feeble and impotent flesh to the point of despair. In the light of His holiness we see our total sinfulness and our inability to change ourselves. O happy day! O glorious gospel of grace! Jesus Christ God’s on son came to earth to offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice for sin. To forgive our sins and to make us righteous. What must we do to receive this gift of grace? Repent and believe this gospel.
It is our belief that the evangelical movement will continue to drift farther and farther from the New Testament position unless it’s leadership passes from the modern religious star to the self-effacing saint who asks for no praise and seeks no place, happy only when the glory is attributed to God and himself forgotten…….. From A.W. Tozer
Often we say that God has answered our prayers, meaning that
He has given what we wanted and we are glad about it.
If we don’t receive what we ask for or if He gives something
totally different than what we’ve asked for, we conclude that
He has not answered our prayer.
This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything
according to His will, He hears us; and if we know that He hears us,
whatever we ask, we know that we will have the request that we ask from Him.
If we love Him, our most effective prayer is that His will be done.
We can be confidently assured that, ‘that’ prayer will be answered.
An abandoned love for God wants not our own will but His.
If we are afraid of trusting totally in the loving Father’s will for us,
we do not as yet know Him as we should. He is a good, kind and gentle
Father that has good things for HIs children.
Father do whatever would bring you most glory. Amen
Though I am thankful for the many blessings from the hand of God, I have come to believe over the past few years that the greatest of all His blessings is God Himself. My theoretical concepts about God have been severely tested and the reality of simple trust no matter what has emerged from the shakings. I have seen His faithfulness and I can confidently say, He is absolutely trustworthy no mater how the circumstances may look. He is indeed the sovereign ruler over all the earth and His ways are always just and right. Let all that hath breath praise His name!
Possibly the most awful example in the whole of human history of how good people can go off track can be found in the Pharisees of the scriptures. They were ardent followers of the letter of the Mosaic law; they were meticulous students of the Torah; they were morally upright in the sight of man and yet they went terribly wrong…. So can we.
Spiritual pride is one of satan’s most effective traps into which only those that are aiming high are prone to fall prey too. When one reaches a place of high moral character they often forget that such heights are only possible for those who live humbly on their knees. They often begin to think that they are the author of their virtues. A grave warning is in order for us all. Let us remember that unless the Holy Ghost controls our lives, we too are in jeopardy of falling into this trap as well.
May our internal alarm sound loudly when whenever the winsome life of the Lord Jesus is substituted by strict and absolute obedience to a moral code. Those whose word was all that was needed to seal a deal, those who were honest in all their dealings and those whose lives were above reproach all to often become a people lacking tenderness, kindness and gentleness which characterize the followers of Christ. We stand for righteousness, but when an unwed mother confesses, may we not reject her….but rather may we extend loving arms to her and guide her back to a merciful and forgiving heavenly Father. When a man ignores our good counsel and ends up becoming enslaved by that which we warned him about, do we gloat with an ‘I told you so’ attitude or do we lovingly seek to keep open the channels of communication so as to restore. The Pharisees exchanged tenderness and compassion for absolute moral correctness. Having the indwelling savior we will be more responsible than they because reconciliation and redemption are of the very nature of God.
He who is forgiven much loves much.
My wonderful little friend was taken suddenly by a stroke this weekend. We had been out of town for Thanksgiving and had left him at the animal hospital until we returned. We received the news Sunday morning that Herman had suffered a stroke and died. We were stunned, never dreaming that he would be gone so soon. Yes, Herman was a dog, but not just a dog. He was much more to us, especially to me. Through my illness and slow recovery, Herman sat day after day at my feet often looking at me as if somehow he knew what I was going through. The mentally fuzzy days after chemo therapy were made more tolerable by his visits to my chair where he rested is chin on the seat next to my leg and stared at me for several long minutes with his big compassionate brown eyes. He could always make me smile. Though we didn’t really choose to have Herman or any inside dog for that matter, we adopted him when his previous owner, our daughter, moved away and couldn’t have a dog in her new location. What a joy he turned out to be. Just a dog, I’m really scared of a person who speaks like that…..get a heart friend! Yes Herman was a lot of trouble and added expense but his benefits far exceeded his liabilities. He had become blind because of diabetes and required two insulin injections daily. Maybe he couldn’t see in his last days but he could sure sense pain and suffering and he knew better than most what to do to help and he did it well until the end. Good job Herman, you served your God given purpose and we were blessed. Thank you kind Father for giving good things to your children to enjoy.
It seems to me that Jesus didn’t constantly emphasize to His followers the importance of prayer in their daily lives, but He prayed constantly Himself. Those that were close to Him knew well that before morning dawned He would seek out a place to be alone with His Father. They were often sent to their homes, while He climbed up into the mountains to spend the night alone in prayer. Seeing the results of such a life, the glory of God on His face and the peaceful composure with which He passed through trying circumstances, they too sought to know the secret of prayer. May the value of a life that is truly devoted to Christ be made known once again through a people who are at rest and at peace come what may, because they have been with Him whom they have learned to be completely trustworthy. Then people will be attracted to prayer, by its fruit in our lives. Then they will say again, ‘teach us to pray.’
Often our prayers to our Father are conditional, whether spoken or not, the desire to make a deal with God is in our heart. Promises are made to God most fervently, as we seek His help. ‘God if you will do this, then I promise to do that.’
Suppose a young man has been seriously ill for four years. Before he fell ill, he loved backpacking in the mountains and long runs on a cool, crisp Autumn morning. Then suddenly, everything dramatically changed. He became so ill that he found himself without strength to do even the simplest things and having to spend much of his day resting in bed. Hope and despair became alternate emotions for him daily. Brief periods of sitting at his window and watching little birds at a feeder were always followed by longer periods of rest in bed. He prays to God and at times feels as though God ignores him.
As he prays and ponders his situation, the Lord tenderly shows him that his normal prayers are ‘unreal’. For the first time he begins to realize that there has always been a ‘big condition’ hidden beneath the surface of his prayers. He sees clearly that the only purpose for his prayers, even when he didn’t even mention his healing, was for health. Subconsciously he prayed ‘if you make me better, Lord…’ ‘If I can have my health again…’ ‘If I can be normal as other men…’ The Lord graciously helped him to see his flawed praying, which resulted in humble repentance before his merciful Father. He prayed: ‘ Lord I have always come to You with “ifs,” now I come to You with no “ifs” at all.’ He does not ‘suffer’ his illness now; he’ uses’ it. And God is marvelously using him as a powerful testimony of the all sufficient grace of God.