Friday, March 15, 2019

Sold out soldier



 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you…… For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:11,14)


  Major W. Ian Thomas of England was a soldier in all respects that you would think a soldier should be. He served in an infantry battalion in Belgium at the outset of World War II and took part in the evacuation at Dunkirk after the British, and French were soundly defeated by the Germans in 1940. He went on to serve with his unit in combat in France, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere during this long and bloody war. He found that the Lord Jesus was sufficient to carry him through many a difficult and arduous task during the conflict.

   Born into a middle class home he grew up in church and had a life changing experience as a 12-year old boy attending a Bible study offered by the Crusaders Union and he asked the Lord to save him. At the age of 15 he decided to give his life completely to the service of his Savior and he told God he would be a missionary. To fulfill this promise he enrolled in a college in London at the age of seventeen to become a doctor so that he could go and serve in Africa. 

  At college he became very active as a leader in Inter-Varsity Fellowship and spent every spare moment he could when he was not studying to be in a whirlwind of activity for the next two years. By the young age of 19 he was already burned out and was in a state of complete exhaustion spiritually. He went to the Lord in prayer one night and after hours of crying out and reading Scripture here is what Major Thomas says God told him:

   “It just came from every area of God’s Word, and very kindly and very lovingly the Lord seemed to make it plain to me that night, through my tears of bitterness: ‘You see, for seven years, with the utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you. I have been there the whole time. All the things you have been pleading for, all the things for which you have been asking, have been yours since the day seven years ago, at your request and invitation, that I came into your heart…: but you see, although you have given mutual assent to the truth that I have been in your heart, and have accepted it as theory, you have lived totally ignoring the fact. You have been busy trying to do for Me all that only I can do through you.’ (They Found the Secret by F. Raymond Edmond, pp167-168)

    That night Ian Thomas says that he discovered the secret of the adventurous life. “He said: With nothing to support the theory and without the testimony of any other known Christian to the facts, I simply said to the Lord Jesus Christ that night, ‘Well, it is that or nothing! If this is true, then I am going to thank Thee for it in sheer cold-blooded faith, with no other evidence to support it, and nothing but a history of failure behind me! I am going to thank Thee that if Thou art my life, and this is true, then Thou art my victory; Thou art my strength, Thou art my power, Thou art my future! Thou art the One Who is going to go out now, clothed in me to do all that I so hopelessly have been trying to do in the past seven years!’ Then I went to sleep!

   “I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years! I had had the Lord Jesus, equal to all my need in whom I had been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly things, for the whole of those seven years; but I stepped out on my way to the university that morning with a new song in my heart. I was saying, ‘Lord Jesus I thank Thee for the first time in my life, this is Thy day! I no longer have the burden of running my own life. At last I have a governor capable of governing!’” (Ibid, p171) 

    As he walked to class he thought about the boys Sunday School class he was to teach the next Sunday. “I said, ‘Well Lord, thou art going to speak to that boys class isn’t wonderful? Yesterday I thought I was going to, but Thou art going to now! I thank Thee dear Lord , for the boys that thou are going to save.’” (Ibid, pp. 171-172)

   That Sunday 90 boys showed up for his class. He invited any to come back in the afternoon if they would like to be saved after he had spoken very simply about the Lord Jesus Christ. 30 boys came back! It did not just happen once, God came through day after day after day! It seemed that every person he bumped into that week wanted to know about Jesus! He had been bumping into all the wrong people for 7 years. More were saved in next weeks Sunday School class also and he became a new man being used by God because he had finally learned to abide in Christ and let Him do all the work!

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)


PRAY

1.    Dear precious Jesus, thank You that You are the One who does it all. My job is just to abide in You and be obedient to go where You want me to go and do what You want me to do.
2.    Lord help me this day to remember first thing in the morning that this day belongs to You and my job is to allow you to use me for Your agenda.
Thank you Jesus for being my branch and keep me attached to you throughout this day and the next and the next so that Your name will be glorified and others will see that I belong to You.

Have you confessed?

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

  I know that you probably have read or heard these words preached on numerous occasions. If not, then I definitely encourage you to read on. But even if you have heard this Scripture before, but have never really acted on it, then now would be a really great time! Paul, in this letter to the church in Rome, lays the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, a disciple. But what exactly is Paul trying to tell us here?

   “In the Bible confession and testimony are put in a prominent place, and the test of a man’s moral caliber is the ‘say so.’ ‘Heart’ means all that is meant by ‘me.’ If I say with myself what I believe and confess it with my mouth, I am lifted into the domain of that thing. This is always the price of spiritual emancipation. If a child is to be taken out his sulky mood he has to go across the disinclination of his reserve and say something; and this is true of all moral and spiritual life. If I will not confess with my mouth what I believe in my heart, that particular phase of believing will never be mine actually. Assurance of faith is never gained by reserve but only by abandonment. In the matter of human love it is a great emancipation to have it expressed; there may be intuitions of love, but the realization of it is not ours until it is expressed. Morally and spiritually we live, as it were, in sections, and the door from one section to another is by means of words, and until we say the right words the door will not open. The right word is always based on the killing of the disinclination which belongs to a lower section (baser human nature).” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost Devotional Bible, p. 755)

  “For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved,’” (Romans 10: 11-13)

  I think the most important word in the commentary by Mr. Chambers above is this one: abandonment. Have you abandoned all that you thought important in this world to follow the only One who has the spiritual key to this life and key to eternal life? His name is Jesus! 

He is the One who died on that rugged cross and rose again on the third day to save us from our sins. His is the One we need to confess daily and proclaim to a lost and dying world so that they too can be saved and serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords!


PRAY

1.    Lord I confess that You are who You claim to be. You are the Alpha and Omega, You are my Savior, and my God. You are the Bright and Morning Star, the Son of God, and You are coming again to take us to the place You have prepared for us to spend eternity with You.
2.    Lord, help me this day to live it for You and to be obedient to the example You have given to me in Your Word.
3.    Holy Spirit, fill me now that I might reflect the love of God and Jesus in every thing I think, and in everything I say and do in the presence of those You put in my path today. 



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What is your priority?



   “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said: ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15)


   If you are a student of British history you have probably heard of one of the greatest Prime Ministers of all time in Great Britain. His name was William Gladstone and during the 19thcentury he was Prime Minister of Great Britain four different times (a feat which has not been repeated since) and was involved in politics for a total of 60 years. He was a man of integrity and courage and did his part to keep Britain the world power that it was in that century. He was popular with the working-class of England and was nicknamed “The People’s William” or sometimes the “Grand Old Man.”

   I was listening to Pastor John MacArthur on the radio the other day and learned something much more important about him than his political accomplishments: he was a man who had his priorities straight! One night before he was to make a very important speech to Parliament, he was working on his speech at two in the morning when someone knocked on his door. The housekeeper answered the door and there was a lady from the tenements nearby who told the housekeeper that her son was dying. She had heard that the Prime Minister would have something encouraging to say to her son and would he be willing to come and see her son? Mr. Gladstone stopped what he was doing and went with the lady and spent from 2am to 6am with the young man. During the length of time Mr. Gladstone was there he told the young man about what Jesus had done for all of us and led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!

  When he returned to his home he told his housekeeper that “today has been the best day of my life.” He gave his speech to Parliament that afternoon and some said it was the greatest speech he ever gave! 

   How busy is your life today? Do you have time to meet with a friend who is going through a rough spot in life or to listen to your little child who has been interrupting you while you try to relax when you came home from work? I remember once when my children were young and I had come home from work quite tired and had sat down in my chair to relax and read the paper. My wife came in and reminded me that I had two boys out in the back yard that were waiting for their dad to come out and play catch. My attitude wasn’t the greatest, I admit, but I went out and had a good time showing my sons that they were important to me and that I loved them more than the newspaper. 

 Who do you know that needs some time from you? Who is next door or down the street that needs a word of encouragement or needs to hear about the One who can save them from their sins? Pray about it, listen, look for the answer from Him and then go!

  “And whosoever gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)


PRAY

1.    Lord thank you that You are my master and my Lord. Thank you for loving me enough to adopt me as Your son or daughter.
2.    Help me be a blessing to someone today. Open the eyes of my heart and help me to see a child that needs someone to listen to them or an elderly neighbor who needs a shoulder to cry on and let me minister to them for You.

Fill me with Your Spirit and guide my footsteps to walk on the path You have prepared for me this day. Help me not to turn to the right or to the left but to walk straight to the place w

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Obedient, fervent Prayer


   “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:16-18)

    Five years after serving in World War I, V. Raymond Edmond had graduated from college, was recently married, and a new father, working as a missionary in the high Andes mountains of Ecuador. He had been trying to help the people of small aboriginal villages who were dying of some mysterious malady. He didn’t remember exactly what happened but he was told later that he had come down the mountain on horseback to the town of Riobamba, his home, been stricken with typhus fever, and had been taken by train, in a baggage car, in an all day trip to Guayaquil.

     He did not know that his wife had been told to die her wedding dress black, and  that his hosts had purchased a coffin to insure that he could be buried quickly after his death because that was the custom and necessity of living in the tropics. He does remember that as he lay in the hospital bed he recalled his mother telling him when he was young, that a person’s life passed before them prior to death, and that was exactly what was happening to him. Let us let him tell you, in his own words, what happened next:

   “As the flashback from memory’s chamber faded I felt all alone in a vast world. If there were other human beings in that quiet hospital room, I was not conscious of them. I was utterly alone and acutely aware that in the next instant or two I would be in eternity. 

   Then it was that I began to be cognizant of something strangely arresting in that place—an atmosphere, an influence, a Presence. It seemed to be on the floor but it covered the area of the room, and was slowly rising to the level of the bed. I could not turn my head to see if it was real or only imaginary; but I was sure it was now reaching me. In just another moment it began to surround me, to engulf and to cover me.

   Then I knew what it was, for in those moments I experienced a sweet sense of the love of God in Christ such as I had never known before in all the years of my life. So overwhelming and stupendous was that love that the Life Beyond became ineffably beautiful and infinitely better than any possible condition in this present existence. There followed moments of such sacred, intimate fellowship with Him that it is impossible to attempt to retell it. It is sufficient to say that I have no fear of dying. Heaven is home to the believer, to that one who has become a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

   After the day when I waded so far out into the River of Death that I was closer to the other side than to this, there were about two weeks of which I have no recollection and can give no account. As I began to be conscious of being in the Parker Clinic, of the Ecuadorian nurses who cared for me, of my wife and the eight-week-old son who had come into our home, that I was told the story back of my story. 

   Near Attleboro, Massachusetts, a rather small group had gathered in a Bible conference. In the course of their morning study, they were interrupted by the conference director, Rev. E. Joseph Evans of Newton, Massachusetts, who told of a deepening burden of concern that had come upon him for a missionary in Ecuador, and he requested that they share the prayer burden with him. It was during those hours that, unknown to them, Mrs. Edlam (my wife) had died her wedding dress black, and Mr. Reed had bought a native coffin for me.

    Since then I have met friends in New England who were present in that meeting. They have told me that if they should live to be a hundred years old they could never forget their knelling to pray and their agony of spirit in their intercession for me. In the urgency of their petitions they forgot the lunch hour; but by the middle of the afternoon they experienced, they said, a lifting of the spirit with the quiet assurance from heaven that their prayers for the desperate need thirty-five hundred miles away had been answered.” (They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman, pp 178-180)


   Who has God put on your heart to pray for today? Who are you gathering with on a regular basis to cry out to God? Be still for a few minutes and listen for Him to lead you, and give you the opportunity to be a part of what He is doing to heal the sick, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to save the lost. Start today!

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until the calamities have passed by. I will cry out to the God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.” (Psalms 57:1-2)
   

  PRAY

1.    O dear precious Lord, speak to me today! Give me Your ear and hear my cries for those who, I know, need you as Savior, those who are sick, those who are downcast, and those who need comforting from Your Holy Spirit.
2.    Forgive me of my laziness and help me to start a regular schedule to spend time in prayer for my family, my neighbors, my coworkers, my fellow students, my fellow soldiers, and for strangers you have put in my life.
       3.  Help me Lord to find others to gather with on a weekly basis to lift up the needs of our             
             church and a lost and dying world.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Prayers Answered!



“And Jesus spoke to them, saying,  ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18)


   V.  Raymond Edman is the author of one of the best books my wife and I have read for a while entitled “They Found the Secret.” It is a collection of stories about twenty men and women of God who learned how to “walk humbly with their God” and live extraordinary lives in the service of the Savior. In the epilogue the author also tells an awesome story of answered prayer in his life.

   Private Edman was a soldier in the 28thInfantry Regiment of the 1stInfantry Division during World War One. At the conclusion of the Armistice to end the war his division was ordered to march across the remainder of France, through Belgium and Luxembourg into the Rhineland of Germany to serve as an occupation force. It was many long days of marching in the snow, rain and mud to reach their objective in the state of Westphalia. Private Edman was totally exhausted and sick by the time his company, company B, arrived at an old run-down, unheated building, a former Russian POW facility, that would be their new home.  

   A few days before Christmas orders came down for his company to transfer five soldiers to C Company for an unknown reason. No one knew where C Company was and no one wanted to go and find out. Private Edman definitely did not want to go but, of course, his was the first name the First Sergeant called out and he was put in charge. Here is how he described what happened next:

   “While the others began to roll their few belongings into their packs, I slipped into an adjacent room, just a tiny little place that had been a sort of tavern when used by the Russians. There alone I knelt by one of the benches to pray, saying: ‘Lord, I cannot go. I am so ill, so worn, with such a sore throat and fever that I cannot go. And I do not know how far away C Company may be stationed!’

“Then for the first time in my Christian life, as a young believer in the Lord Jesus, I was aware of a Presence beside me; nothing I could see with the outer eye or touch with hand, and yet I knew He was there and that He said to me, ‘I will go with you.’

   “I arose and with the strength and indefinable calmness that had come with the Presence, I shouldered my pack, took my little detail, got directions to C Company from the Sergeant Major at battalion headquarters, and all that afternoon we trudged on through deep snow. By nightfall we were in the village of Boden, and billeted in a home, not a prison barracks. The good mother in the home noticed that I was ill and insisted that I sleep in a feather bed upstairs rather than in the unheated room assigned to us soldiers. A feather bed, and a mothers care, and most of all, the inward assurance that the Lord Jesus by His Spirit was with me!” (They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman, pp 177-178

    My son Adam had a very similar experience when attending the U.S. Army’s Ranger school in December 2003. It was two days prior to the end of the first phase of training at Ft. Benning, GA. He was exhausted at the end of a long day of walking through the wooded training area and his Achilles tendon of the right foot was in such pain that he could not walk. They had a short break in a patrol base before they were to move out on another mission. If he could not walk they would kick him out of the course or recycle him back to do the entire first phase again. Neither were options he liked. He knelt next to a tree and prayed for God to give him the strength to go on. A few minutes later the order was given to put on rucksacks and move out. Adam slowly got to his feet, adjusted his equipment load, and took the first step. Then he took another. There was no pain of any kind! He finished the phase and the next two phases and was in only 30% of the ranger class that finished the course and earned the coveted Ranger Tab. 

What about you? Who do you turn to when you don’t have the strength to carry on? There is really no one else who can help you to take the next step. He may have a nice heated room and a feather bed for you also!

Pray

1.    Lord You said that You would be with us until the end of the age and You have given us the Holy Spirit to walk with us each and every day. Thank You for giving us all that we need to make it in this life and in the one to come.  
2.    Thank You that You loved us enough to die on that cross for our sins and that Your Spirit lives within us if we have accepted You as our Lord and Savior.
3.    Help me to lean on You for all my needs because You alone know how lead me down the path I need to walk today.

  


  

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Obedience of Josiah



“Then Saphan the scribe told the king saying: ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read it before the king.  Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes.” (2 Chronicles 34:18-19)

  Josiah was eight years old when he became king. His grandfather had been Hezekiah and had been a great king in Judah ‘And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all his father David had done. (2 Chron. 29:2) But Josiah’s father was Manasseh ‘But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.’ (2 Chron. 33:2)

    Josiah had become king only one generation after the rule of a righteous king and now everything had changed because of the evil deeds of his own father. He and his people had no knowledge of what God had instructed the people of Israel through Moses when they had been led out of Egypt and entered the Promised Land they now occupied.  Now he was suddenly able to hear the Word of God as it had been written down and he knew that his nation was in sin and was not worshiping the God who was responsible for their very existence as a nation and as a called out people for God.

   He understood after hearing the Word of God that he and his people needed to change. So he commanded the high priest, Hilkiah: “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in the book.” (2 Chron. 34:21) And then Hilkiah went and sought out a prophetess named Huldah (yes there are women prophetess’s in the Bible!) and asked her to find out what God would say. She said that the Lord told her that there would be great calamity on the people because they had forsaken God and burned incense to false gods and that His wrath would not be quenched. 

  Then she related the following: “But as for the king of Judah….thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,’ says the LORD. (2 Chron. 34:26-27)

   God  promised to allow him to die before all of the dire prophecies concerning Judah and Israel would be accomplished. Then the king gathered the elders of Judah and Israel and they all went together to the house of the Lord. “And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant (First five books of the Bible) which had been found in the house of the LORD. Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statues with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.” (2 Chron. 34:30b-31)

What about you? Are you a faithful reader of God’s Holy Word, the Bible? And more importantly are you obeying those things that the Holy Spirit reveals to you when you do read or hear it preached in God’s house? Are you struck in the heart when God’s word convicts you of sin? Unlike Josiah, we have never been without God’s Word unless we grew up in another faith that did not allow us to read it or in a part of the world where it was banned. But that should not be a problem now! We all have God’s word available in hundreds of languages and dozens of different translations in English.

  Take time today to read something from the New Testament, something from the Old Testament, and something from the Psalms and Proverbs. See if God doesn’t speak to your heart and draw you closer to Him! (Then repeat the process daily for the rest of you life!)

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
“Thy word I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)
 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)


PRAY

1.    Lord help me to be faithful to read your Word everyday. Open the eyes of my heart to understand and to have a desire to obey whatever Your Word tells me.
2.    Thank You that there are so many ways I can gain access to Your words that have been written down for me and all who would be your disciples.
3.    We praise You for You  are always with us through good times and hard times and You always want what is best for us.