………..is the right way! It always has been, always will be and is now. So I must always know that. I must know that there is a way that is the Lord’s, whether I feel it or not. Such a way is always the best way to be on. I read these scriptures one morning some time ago:
1) Faith In The Lord.
Though the fig-tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Hab. 3:17-19)
This is a remarkably encouraging Word from the Lord to spur us on in the walk of faith. It reminds me that my faith is not feelings based or circumstances based, but the Lord based. And that is where faith is happy to place its true lot; with the Lord. That being so we can be happy to know that He enables me “to tread on the heights”. It is His ability and enabling that matters.
2) Money Cannot Buy You Life.
Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.’ (Zeph. 1:18a)
This scripture demolishes so much of the propaganda of this world. “Life is better the more you have” is a mantra which not only fails to match-up in this life, but most spectacularly fails in the next. Money can’t buy you God and it can’t buy you heaven. And it can’t buy you out of the grotesque onslaught of judgement in the Day of the Lord. People triumph by faith in the living and true God and not by money.
3) The World Is Set On Ruin.
This is the city of revelry
that lived in safety.
She said to herself,
‘I am the one! And there is none besides me.’
What a ruin she has become,
a lair for wild beasts!
All who pass by her scoff
and shake their fists. (Zeph. 2:15)
As a nation, although we go through terrorist attacks or other turmoil such as the Grenfell Tower fire, we soon return to our carefree, self-contented, arrogant and self-sufficient ways. But don’t forget Philip that the end of that is always ruin. So you must learn to focus on the better way which is in Christ.
These were three helpful scriptures graciously given by the Lord, to an unsteady saint so as to steady me in the course of grace. Thank you LORD.
A scripture that struck me forcibly recently was: Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting’. Anyone enquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp (Ex. 33:7). To enquire of the Lord required some effort to be put in. You had to go to “the tent of meeting” and that was some distance away.
Moses, of course, could have pitched it inside the camp or even close-by and thereby made it easy. But instead it was outside the camp and some distance away. In all this there was surely a test for the people. No-one could just halfheartedly stumble into the place where they could enquire of the Lord. Rather, they had to determine to go there. They had to put some effort in. The indolent, lackadaisical, casual and generally indifferent would not make it. Moreover, others would see you going to the tent and might even mock you for “taking religion too seriously.”
This leaves me to ponder upon how it seems that our churches are populated by a lot of people who are of the indolent, lackadaisical, causal and generally indifferent sort. I therefore raise the question are we making church too easy. Should we, as leaders and preachers, be pushing back more at people and challenging them as regards to whether they really do want to come outside the camp which is some distance away.
So what are some specific implications here:
- It just seems so many fall into the socially acceptable pattern that I go to church once on Sunday morning and that is it. But people don’t seem to register that it might be good to go at other times to church. Going a great distance to the tent of meeting seems far from people’s thoughts.
- We are so starved of people showing an interest in the faith that we “lay hold of people too quickly”. The Word corrects us here and says Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 5:22a).
- When people are showing interest push back at them to see if they are genuine. Ask them to buy a book or a Bible rather than giving them one for example. The Lord seems to have done this on occasion such as with the enquiring Syro-Phoenician woman (see Mark 7:24-30. In particular in v27 we read: ‘First let the children eat all they want,’ he told her, ‘for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’
- Easy converts generally are no converts of all because they have never seen the heart of the Christian message. This is expressed by the Lord: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Lk. 9:23).
Here is our church newsletter for September 2017. It contains an article on obesity.
I met a young man in Feltham town centre recently. I reported this to my wife and commented that “he’s still not broken.” There was the jauntiness of his step, that haughtiness in his look, that brazenness in his speech. All indicating that he was still not broken. He was still standing on his own and not on or with Christ. And his life is, thereby, still going the wrong way.
We are useless unless we are broken. When we are broken before God then we start to be useful Self-confidence and self-sufficiency are the death-knell of the soul. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Prov 11:2) says the wise man. The same man also observes that Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18). In his prayer to the Lord Nehemiah observes how they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands (Neh. 9:16). In such a state they were Israel was useless for God.
When we are humbled before God then we can anticipate that we can start to live. Usefulness starts when we are broken before God, finished with ourselves and presented to Him to be at His disposal. Useful men and women are broken men and women. If you look at three key figures in the New Testament you can see taht they all displayed brokenness.
- Peter: He saw the massive haul of fish through the Master’s work whereupon we read: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ (Luke 5:8). He was BROKEN
- Paul As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied (Acts 9:3-5). BROKEN
- John: When on Patmos upon seeing the glorious Lord Jesus we read: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead (Rev. 1:17a). BROKEN.
There is a common theme here. All saw the glory of Christ in His full magnificence and were humbled.
Perhaps my uselessness is because I am not continually being overwhelmed by the glory of Christ. More of such a revelation to my soul would mean more humbling, more brokenness. And when broken I am useful.
Our commitment levels to Jesus Christ our Lord through His church sometime alarms me. Let me observe some Sunday morning activities in the Feltham area?
- Jehovah’s Witnesses out on the streets before 8.45.am. to disseminate their poisonous teaching. But they are committed enough to be out there.
- The Car Boot sale at Hounslow Heath. People are out there selling their wares and looking for bargains. Stall holders allowed to set up from 6.30.am.
- The Indian cricketers out from 7.00.am. enjoying their game together in the park
Wow! Now there is commitment. Commitment to leisure, religion and materialism. The display of professing Christians is pitiful in comparison, I feel. For many Christians lots of things seem to take priority, on a Lord’s Day, over being with God’s people for the Worship of the God who is their Father and His beautiful Son. The “well-earned” lie-in, the playing of sports, the working to get some money and other intrusions all divert us from the priority of worship on the Lord’s Day.
Is it a problem with church? Well perhaps it is, and we need to think about this. Is church so dull and unappealing that people just don’t feel any interest in getting out to the services? If so we need to ponder upon what is happening in church and change as necessary.
Notwithstanding this I am still left feeling that Jesus Christ must be really unimpressive to most people who profess His name. And yet it all seems so wrong. He gave up everything for me, suffered at the hands of those He had created is really true and it is major. Surely I can sacrifice a bit of lie-in time or whatever. Surely I can put myself out so as to be praising Him with His people.
I finally note for our consideration the Word of the Lord
- to Eli concerning his family …Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained (1 Sam. 2:30b).
- to the self-protective Israelites through Malachi. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it (Mal. 3:10).
In both cases the Lord is urging His people to put Himself and His call first. And if they do He is promising blessing
At our recent “Men’s Breakfast”at Feltham Evangelical Church we thought about what it was to be a man of God. We focused on the following issues:
- Prayer. In 1 Timothy 2:8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. The man of God is to be a praying man. As men we are inclined to self-sufficiency. We want to do things ourselves. Prayer is an indication that we are relying on the power of another.
- Service. We thought about how we are called top serve. We are naturally inclined to having others serve us, but we are to be people who serve. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mk. 10:43b-45). We are called to service and in so doing we are called to follow a Master who served. In serving we should not be thinking specifically about what we can do for others, but how we can bless others. The two can be different. This requires us to be in prayer. We should never forget the great example of our Lord Jesus who washed His disciples feet and then said I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:15).
- Word of God. We are to be men of the Word. This took us to 2 Timothy 3 where we thought of the Word of God which needs to be learned, passed on and lived out. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We thought how we need to know the Word, but how knowing the Word is not enough . We need to live out that Word. We also need to know the Word so that we can help others.
- Spirit. We need to be men of the Spirit. We need to have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Our lives should continually be pushing back into God.
A scripture I have had difficulty in shaking from my mind recently is they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us (2 Cor 8:5b). Paul, here, is giving commendation of the Macedonian churches as he writes to the Corinthian Christians. He is writing about the self-sacrificial giving of the Macedonian churches. When he reaches v5b he reaches the heart of the matter as points to why the Macedonians gave with such devotion. It all emanated from a commitment to trusting in the Lord. The primary thing we see is that they gave themselves to the Lord.
This applies specifically in this instance to our giving to help alleviate the plight of other believers. However, it establishes a general principle for life and that is of giving ourselves to the Lord before everything. As we enter any situation in life we should be first giving ourselves to the Lord. It is only when this is the general tenor of our lives that we will find ourselves living effective lives.
We will only have lives that really count for God when we have lives which are always pushing back into God. This connects with this post which dwelt upon how we can be part of an effective kingdom.
So I am happily having difficulty shrugging off this scripture because it helpfully means I am prompted to implement this “giving oneself to the Lord first” strategy reletlessly in my life.