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About these articles:

Mervyn Paul was a well-respected Canadian preacher and teacher in the first half of the 20th century.  He wrote a series of articles about Christian life over a generation ago in the magazine Truth and Tidings ( )  While some language of the book may sound dated, the principles of using our time here as training time for the coming kingdom will never be out-of-date.

Shad Sluiter


THERE BEING A REASON for their character and content, the author hopes the following pages will not be compared critically with the literary, or sermonic style of writing used by most writers on spiritual themes. They were intended to be similar in form to letter writing, and so more easily read and understood.
When illness greatly limited his sphere of service, while the personal problems and troubles of the Lord’s people (particularly those of young Christians) began to compel a special interest, his reading took a completely new turn. No longer was there a need to get a general message for people gathered in a meeting, but to seek to hear His voice, in communion, through His Word, in order to learn His counsel (Psalm 25:9) for himself, and for each individual’s case. The personal problems recorded in the Bible, plus hitherto unnoticed principles therein, applied objectively rather than in the usual abstract way, were found to provide the needed answers from the Scriptures . . . Scriptures given, "That the man of God may be complete, tbroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:17, Newberry).
The actual details of the problems of those who have asked for help have been kept "strictly confidential"; nevertheless there have been many "angles" seldom, if ever, mentioned in public ministry. And since it is these forgotten features which have come most often to his desk, reflections of them will be found in these pages. May the reader hear the Good Shepherd’s voice somewhere in them; and may their basic principle be clearly discerned: that nothing matters - nothing whatever! - except the will of God (1 Peter 4: 1-2).

Mervyn Paul.


]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:25:49 +0000
Training for Reigning - 02 - Young Christian Your Future!

LIKELY ONE REASON we set our sights so low that only temporal creature-affairs seem of major importance is our failure to grasp how much "the hope of our calling" (Eph. 1: 18) actually en visions Yet its purposes cover at least four spheres: that of our little sojourn on earth; that of our Heavenly Home; from which we shall serve with Christ over His millenial kingdom; and after that (apparently) over His everlasting kingdom in the New Earth, "unto the ages of the ages" (Rev. 20: 6; 22: 3-5)
(See: "Bible Problems and Answers" page 36, and Hoste’s "Be k yond the Grave," Chap. 2, Sect. 4; also pages 33-35).

Now, young Christian, if we do any purposeful thinking at all, we must admit that’s a mind-staggering future - and all in association with our blessed Lord Jesus Christ! Surely only that nfinite Deity, who in inconceivable grace has brought us into relationship with Himself, through the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Word, could plan, and execute, such a programme. At once the question which strikes any heavenly-minded be lieve is bound to be: "How do I fit in with this plan? (Integration). What can it mean to me now?" For while all too many of us dream, chiefly, of some measure of success, or of love and happiness, surely some will have no desire to hide away our
Heavenly Nobleman’s entrusted pound - not even if it be rapped in a nice clean napkin. Surely some will wish to be obedient to His command, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13).
Turning back to the passage in Ephesians (Eph. 1: 15-20), we notice that vs. 16 tells of the Spirit-directed prayers of the Apostle for those Christians. He first asks that a gift shall be given to them - one which we need quite as much as any saints in Ephesus. The blessing sought was the full-knowledge of God
-the God of our Lord Jesus Christ - the Father of glory! This could be obtained only through His gift of the spirit of wisdom and revelation. Only then would the eyes of their understanding be enlightened sufficiently to enable them to know the three
things for which he further prayed: the hope of His Calling the riches of the glory of His inheritance . . . and the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe.
Now there can be no doubt that Paul had been given this great gift and greater blessing. And perhaps it was his possession of them which stimulated him in the yielding of himself wholly to the Lord, and then strengthened him to go forth under the Holy Spirit’s direction to do exploits (Daniel 11: 32b) in the power of the Lord . . . 0 young men! young women! do not the possibilities of such a life stir you to the very core?
Or can it be that "other things" (Mark 4: 19) are those which arouse a heartier response within us? We are so much given to dreaming; but what is the stuff of which our dreams are made? Is it lots of money? or an important job? A smart car? An attractive girl friend? Or for my sisters, is it fashionable clothes? A yen to be beautiful? An ideal boy friend, plus blissful (but fleeting!) romance and a nice home?
When we preach to sinners do we not warn them that earthly pleasures cannot satisfy, nor last? We assure them that only the joys found in Christ can meet the needs of our hearts, can endure. No we do not go to dance halls, theatres, sports, or other worldly pleasures; but we do like to dream about how marvelous it would be if we could be some very wonderful person, own a very smart car, have a million dollars or better still (forgetting Isa. 42: 8) be a great evangelist and see hundreds won to Christ . . . Well, is it true, or isn’t it? And if it is even partly true, does it not cry from the roof tops our great need of enlightenment for the eyes of our understanding?
Of course I do not forget the old saying, "All horses can’t jump." There are Christians who never will aspire to be more than "ordinary" ones. Nevertheless, don’t you think it likely that there would be some "ordinary" saints at Ephesus who would hear the Good Shepherd’s voice in this apostolic prayer? Hence my plea is being made to any of us who long, rather, to become, by His grace, "unusual" Christians. For I have proved that, as a rule, dreams of earthly bliss or glory serve only to pave Life’s highway to the disillusionment of Marah’s bitter waters (Exodus 15: 22-25). Just as certainly as for the unsaved sinner, it may turn out that someday some of us will mourn:
"I tried the broken cisterns, Lord,
But, ah! the waters failed!
E’en as I stooped to drink they fled,
And mocked me as I wailed."
- And all because, to return to our opening metaphor, we have set our sights far, far too low. Let us pray earnestly then, Beloved, for that enlightenment which will enable us to gain something of the full-knowledge of our Almighty God, and so to catch the vision of the great purposes behind the hope of His calling- purposes so high and vast that they must stagger the minds of any except those who can embrace them by faith.
It was a Spirit-revealed knowledge of God which Isaiah received that day described in Chapter 6. Let us go often and sit beside the prophet until the awful majesty and holiness of the Almighty is so borne in upon our souls that we shall sense the trembling of the door posts at the sound of the seraph’s voice. A deeply reverential self-humbling must be the result as the blazing purity of His holiness reveals to us our own utter worthlessness and uncleanness. Then will come afresh His forgiveness and cleansing (vv. 6-7; 1 John 1: 9) and His enlightenment; for then shall we be ready to have Him unveil to us something of HIS PLAN for our earthly lives, even as He did for Isaiah that day. And then something of the immensities of His purposes concerning us, when we shall be like Christ, and with Him, serving from our eternal home, in matters of His millennial kingdom, and then in His everlasting kingdom, shall commence to re-shape our thinking and our attitudes. And then shall Colossians 3: 1-4 take on a realistic meaning, while the truth of the parable of the pounds - Life-time is Training-time for Reigning-time (Luke 19: 11-27) - shall shed its light on many a strange experience, or perplexing problem, of our wilderness journey. O Beloved, how can any lesser matters be of absorbing interest to the twice born?

]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:24:24 +0000
Training for Reigning - 03 - The Grace of Acceptance THE GRACE OF ACCEPTANCE
You WON’T FIND THIS grace mentioned by that name in the Bible, but certainly you will recognize it in the lives of all those men and women who pleased God, and above and beyond all, in the life of the Man Christ Jesus. And in this much too fast age, when so many of the Lord’s people are beset with Nervous Tensions and Emotional Conflicts, by Frustrations, Fears, Resentments, or Habitual Worry . . . with unhappy aftermaths of mental confusion, or un-Christian conflict with others, quarreling in the home, separations (alas!) . . . numbers of which build-ups have ended in psycho-neuroses requiring treatment in mental hospitals (several such cases being known to the writer)
surely it will be of interest to not a few of our readers to learn that there is a way of peace for the people of God, while anything less must be displeasing to Him.
Martha Haskell Clark wrote:
"One at a time the waiting line lagged by,
Each with his tale of shattered nerves and life:
A house-hold servant worn with drudgery,
A school-girl over-taxed, an unloved wife,
A sullen, frightened youth with sin deified,
A fur-wrapped matron fumbling with her glove,
A sleepless mother mourning for her child,
A soul-starved spinster, hungering for love,
Pale wraiths of women, gaunt-eyed wrecks of men,
I saw them pause and gather heart again."
Her list is long; yet all of us who live close enough to the daily lives of the Lord’s people to be familiar with their struggles, stresses and strains, their heartaches, and seldom-disclosed concerns or secret fears, know that the record is very far too short. How many more might be added, such as:
- the young husband bitterly disappointed in his wife’s failure to become a good home-maker.
- meals never ready when he comes home; house always untidy;
- children unruly, yet she battles to shield them from his efforts to correct them.
-the young wife who feels that her husband neglects her, now that their first love has simmered down; who tires of her responsibilities as a wife and mother, becomes hysterical at times, and thinks a lot about running away.
- the ‘teen-ager who feels life is too hard; that he or she never can hope to measure up to its demands; who tries to escape from responsibility, lapses into periods of depression, plus much selfpity, but who finally "snaps out of it" or else begins the downhill retreat from reality, like Peter Pan, into "the never, never land."
- the business man, over-burdened, who faces a nervous breakdown mainly because situations are arising, constantly, that require immediate decisions, or action, which he is unprepared to attempt.
- the jilted lover, despondent, floundering in wonderings why it could have happened - why God allowed it - in fears and despondency.
- the brother who has always longed for attention, but, since he lives in a small town, has found no chance to be anything more than a labourer; who dreams of becoming a preacher (!), tries hard in various ways to gain recognition, but failing, becomes a victim of his resentments which, Cain-like, he takes out on others - mostly his own loved ones.
And so the story might be extended until this book should overflow. Psychologists and psychiatrists have been seeking solutions for all such behaviour problems. And they have learned many useful things. But save for such help as may be received from born-again psychiatrists, Christians seldom find their services of lasting value. How can such men know anything whatever of "the peace of God" that He has designed to "garrison" our hearts and minds? They declare that maladjusted people need "a renewed spiritual and moral integration" (to quote one authority’s recently-made statement, and to which many more such quotations could be added). But HIM they know not; neither can they understand aright the spiritual resources of His children.

Furthermore, when Christians suffer from so-called nervous upsets, tensions, emotional conflicts of every kind, there is usually a basic traumatic condition which these men cannot hope to deal with. Let me point out to you, beloved, the truth I have had to face, squarely, myself:
written: "As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come;" (Proverbs 26: 2). Moreover it is clear from Philippians 4: 6-7 that if we are be-fogged with anxieties it is because our hearts and minds are without a garrison.
In Isaiah 30: 15 the cause is stated inferentially. Israel lost her strength of quietness and confidence WHEN SHE REFUSED TO ACCEPT THE WILL OF GOD.
Other examples might be quoted from Scripture; but let me underline this truth by saying that (with respect to those of us who are saved) all forms of neurotic conditions, from bad tempers, or biting one’s finger nails, on down the list to actual psychotic states, indicate that there has been FAILURE, SOMEWHERE, TO RECOGNIZE, AND TO ACCEPT, THE WILL OF GOD IN OUR LIVES.
My space is at an end; but, in the will of the Lord, I shall hope to cite a few examples that will demonstrate the truth of this statement in our next chapter. So if you are one of those dear souls who are plagued with things "getting on your nerves," follow up this theme, won’t you? the principle of the Grace of Acceptance can mean a lot to you . . . can change your whole outlook on life!
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:23:50 +0000
Training for Reigning - 04 - The Grace of Acceptance pt2 THE GRACE OF ACCEPTANCE (Part 2)
IN THE PREVIOUS chapter it was stated that there is a cause (Proverbs 26: 2) for the mental disturbances, unrest, anxieties and tensions that overshadow the lives and break the communion of so many of the Lord’s people. It was noted, also, that such unrest, or distress, in the Christian’s life always indicates:
Now many earnest, honest saints will not be in agreement with that statement. There are always dear ones who find it hard to believe the last half of Amos 3: 6. There are the Euodiases, also, who think that it’s the Syntyches (Philippians 4: 2) that are the cause of much of their trouble . . . and vice versa. How many times some of us have said:
If he, or she, hadn’t said, or done, this or that
If they weren’t so unreasonable I’d be different
If I could only have
If the Lord would answer my prayers
If I had more courage, more talent
If things had not turned out so badly
If there isn’t some change soon I don’t know
If I could only be sure
If Christians only had more sense
If they would do or act as they ought to do
and in speaking in that way we have disclosed our dissatisfaction with things, or situations, THAT GOD HAS ALLOWED to come our way "doing despite" to Romans 8: 28! In other words, we have failed so often to recognize, and accept the will of God in our lives - perhaps because we have very wrong ideas of the sort of thing that constitutes a blessing. The young man who was trying to get established as a peach grower, who had worked for years to that end and had invested in it all he had, was fearfully upset and nearly swamped with doubts when the Lord allowed a severe frost to destroy his first good crop. It was hard for him - very hard - to take in his spiritual counsellor’s words: "God loves you better than He does your peaches. He knows that while peaches do better without frost, it is impossible to grow the best men without frost; and His object is to grow men, not peaches."
Clearly, he had failed to recognize, and accept, the will of the Lord that time. And what hosts of sorrows come to His people through such failures! Let me note (fully disguised) a few illustrative examples.
A brother becoming disgusted with his wife’s indolent ways, indifferent housekeeping, mis-management of their money and their children, undertook, as head of the house, to reform her. Results: many stormy sessions; frantic efforts to get meals on the table just before husband was due to arrive home; mounting failures and nervous tensions; finally, mental breakdown and emotional escape into insanity. The dear brother was now more than alarmed. Much heart-searching followed, and confession, and prayer that God would restore to him his wife. The Lord heard and answered his cries. Many years have passed since then without further trouble, for the Lord helped that brother to see that he must accept his poor wife for what she was rather than for what he had expected her to be. Life became tolerable because he learned to practice the Grace of Acceptance, while he wisely left her reformation to the Lord. (Case solved).
Agnes, saved early in life, found her girlish ideas frustrated at every turn because her parents expected the Lord to come soon. She was counselled not to do this or that, not to bother about new clothes, wallpaper on her bedroom, etc., etc., because the Lord might come and they would not be needed. Result: resentment against "an unkind God" (as she thought), refusals to bow to His Word, nervous tensions, depressions, finally the mental hospital. Psychiatric diagnosis was a psycho-neurosis (maniac depressive) caused by bad habits of thinking formed in early life. (Case not solved).
A saved teen-ager, highly musical, with a promising career a possibility. A long drawn-out conflict as he attempted a compromise between Ambition and Christian Conscience. Frustrations, resentment, tensions became a serious menace for a time. Finally, as a wise son, he realized his danger, yielded to his
Heavenly Father’s plan for his life, finding peace through the Grace of Acceptance. (Case solved).
Mrs. X, married to a travelling man, for years fought down her unwillingness to agree to acceptance of her husband’s absences as being the Lord’s will for her. In later years, feeling her loneliness after the family had grown up, she became very sorry for herself, brooded over her unhappiness, suffered a series of heart attacks, and went home to heaven - possibly before her time. Nervous tensions through failure to accept the Lord’s will for the pattern of her life caused it all. At length only the Lord could solve her problem . . . and He did.
And so we might go on and on, telling of the foolish battlings we Christians put up because we find ourselves thwarted, our objectives frustrated (Elder brethren, please note), of resentment, fears, that form of reasoning which goes goes ‘round and ‘round in circles (getting nowhere) called Worry, and all the long list of emotional conflicts commonly described as "things that get on your nerves" - some of them raging at this moment, some of them thankfully solved when the Grace of Acceptance has been applied.
How very different our experience becomes when we heed the Spirit’s teaching from the lips of the Lord Jesus! In Matthew 11:6, where we find the blessed whosoever of perplexity, the Lord stated the Principle of Acceptance. In vs. 26 (after He thanks His Father for the people that didn’t get savedi vs. 25) He gives us His own Example of Acceptance. Then in vs. 29-30 we have His Exhortation to Acceptance, to wear the yoke He wore while here on earth.
Blessed, precious Lord Jesus! What a halo of moral glory attended His walk down here! . . . And we are being called to "walk as He walked" (1 John 2:6) - had you remembered?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:22:08 +0000
Training for Reigning - 05 - The Grace of Acceptance pt3 THE GRACE OF ACCEPTANCE (Part 3)
CHANGED LIVES! Lives out of which have gone the complainings and habitual worryings, the stress and tensions, and all such emotional conflicts, because the Grace of Acceptance has taken their place! . . . And do not let Satan persuade you that such a hope is merely an impractical dream, or at least, an impossibility for you. For just as surely as Unbelief robs sinners of their soul’s salvation, just so surely will it rob you of the peace of God that has been designed to garrison your heart and mind; Phil 4: 7. Consider such passages as these: "Be careful (anxious) for nothing"; Philippians 4: 6. "Take no (anxious) thought for your life" - or for the necessities of life -  Matthew 6: 25, 28, 31, 34. "Neither be ye of doubtful mind"; Luke 12: 29. Newberry translates: "Live not in careful suspense." (Note also: Exodus 17: 1-7; Numbers 11: 18-20; Numbers 21:4-9).
Exhortations like these make it clear and definite that IT IS
NOT THE WILL OF GOD THAT WE SHOULD SPEND A LARGE PART OF OUR TIME OUT OF FELLOWSHIP WITH HIMSELF BECAUSE WE HAVE DEVELOPED THE BAD HABIT OF STEWING AND FRETTING, COMPLAINING AND WORRYING - while we comfort ourselves with the delusion that we can’t help it! Let it once be understood that over-anxieties, nervous tensions, and battlings because of resentment or frustration, ARE MAINLY THE DIRECT RESULT OF BAD HABITS OF THINKING, plus DISSATISFACTION WITH CIRCUMSTANCES THAT GOD HAS SEEN FIT TO ALLOW, then it will be beyond argument that our blessed Heavenly Father expects us to do something to correct matters.
Sometimes the question is asked, "But what about situations that we cannot believe are of God, but of the devil. How then can we accept it as from God?"
The answer is simple. In the Bible there are revealed two forms of the will of God - His directive will, and His permissive will. Job, for example, was not afflicted by Satan because the Lord directed the devil to distress him, but because He permitted His enemy to test His servant. (Note also, that at the first Job practiced the Grace of Acceptance; Job 1: 20-21; 2: 9-10). Balaam knew what God’s directive will was; "Thou shalt not go with them" (Numbers 22: 12); but the mad prophet had set his heart on Balak’s gold, hence, in His permissive will (vs. 20) the Lord allowed the hireling to proceed. Similarly, it was not His directive will that led men to crucify His Son. But because of His determinate cousel and foreknowledge, His permissive will allowed His enemies to do their utmost against the Lord Jesus in order that He might take their worst and turn it into Heaven’s most wondrous blessing. The Father’s permissive will allowed the Son to suffer at the hands of men. The Lord Jesus MEEKLY ACCEPTED IT AS SUCH; John 18: 11, and none of us would care to question His example.
Now do you understand? . . . A vast array of things can occur that Satan, in fact, may send our way. Yet they cannot happen UNLESS THE LORD, IN HIS PERMISSIVE WILL, ALLOWS THEM TO TAKE PLACE. So it is that we must find His will in everything that comes to us, and humbly say with our blessed Lord, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight." For that is the Grace of Acceptance.
Unhappily, however, some of the Lord’s dear people do not truly want to have their lives changed. One dear sister, when told that brother A. continued on good terms with brother B. because he continually prayed for grace to enable him to do so, exploded, "Why I wouldn’t even want to have grace toward a man like that!" Obviously Heb. 4: 16 was not of full value to her, while to say, "Even so Father" for such a brother was an intolerable proposition.
Again some folks are sorry for themselves and like to hide behind the excuse, "I guess I was born that way, and you can’t change the way you were born." They fail to realize that their condition is not because "they were born that way" so much as it is because THEY HAVE PRACTICED THEIR PARTICULAR RESPONSES TO THEIR FEELINGS FOR SO LONG A TIME THAT NOW THEY SEEM LIKE SECOND NATURE.
Oh no, beloved! The Lord did not save us merely to keep us out of hell, but also to save us from our un-Christ-like ways: the flesh. And the Spirit of God and the exhortations of His Word were given to us to change us into the image of His Son; 2 Corinthians 3: 18. Romans 12: 2 commands a transformation that is to grow out of the renewing of our minds . . . while verses 9-21 fairly bristle with the practical results of the Grace of Acceptance
which, let me repeat, is the response of our hearts no matter what God may allow to come our way, "EVEN SO FATHER: FOR SO IT SEEMED GOOD IN THY SIGHT"; Matthew 11:26.
Say those blessed words over and over every time anything that is hard to bear crosses your pathway.
Say them over and over; and the Complaining, the Anxious Thoughts, the Habitual Worry,Tears, the Feelings of Frustration, Resentment and Tension will be displaced by a quiet assurance that ALL MUST BE WELL, since it is written, "And we know that all things work together for good . . . " (Romans 8: 28). (-which is either truth or an outrageous lie!)
Say them over and over; and in time you will RE-ROUTE YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSES - your thinking - and so break the bad thinking habits that may have marred your communion with God, and spoiled your life, for so long.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:21:23 +0000
Training for Reigning - 06 - Getting ready for Canaan GETTING READY FOR CANAAN
HAVE YOU EVER FELT that life was useless, meaningless, and that nothing you could do was worthwhile? Some of us who have been "laid on the shelf" feel this way rather keenly at times.
Then, too, there are so many of the Lord’s people who are crying out of the depths of sorrow and perplexity, "Why, oh Lord? Oh, why did this have to happen to me?" Others seek to comfort themselves with the thought, "There must be some good reason."
If perchance the reader should be among the number who know what it means to be dismayed, frustrated, and discouraged, or grievously cast down, the message to the Hebrews of old found in Deuteronomy 8 should prove to be full of light and re-assurance, particularly v. 2; for the word in this verse might well be paraphrased:
"God has been at work in your lives."
God had wrought great things for His people in the wilderness, to which reference is made in vs. 4, 15, 16. Yet when He wishes to stress the evidence of His presence with them, and of His faithfulness and love, He calls on them to remember how He had led them:
"To humble thee, and
To prove thee,
To know what was in thine heart."
He humbled them to reduce dangerous pride - pride that could have caused them to forget God, to exalt self, to abandon dependence on Himself (vs. 11-18).
He proved them to reveal defects in their sin-spoiled characters. With such knowledge they would be enlightened in their struggle to become "overcomers." (Compare v. 5 with Hebrews 12: 10-11; Revelation 2: 1-7).
He sought also to know (to discover, to reveal) what was in their hearts. Other interests can crowd both Himself and His Word out of men’s lives. (Compare vs. 3, 11-13 with Mark 4:19; Luke 14:16-20; Luke 16:13).
Thus did the Lord show His hand at work in His people’s lives. And "why?" "To do thee good in thy latter end" (v. 16) was the answer to the riddle. In other words (vs. 7-9), He was
Getting Them Ready for Canaan
Turning now to the New Testament we learn that God is at work in our lives also (Philippians 2: 13; Hebrews 13: 21; Philippians 1: 6). That He is using similar methods is shown in many passages, e.g., Romans 5:3-5; Hebrews 12:3-11.
Why does He deal with us in such ways? Why must we be "dragged through the mill" so often? Why should He labour ceaselessly to teach us, "To will and to do of His good pleasure?"
"There must be some good reason."
Indeed, there are several good reasons. Let us recall some of them:
(1) Trials and alterations in the patterns of our lives are often a call to a higher level of trust, a more active faith in our God. In Heb. 11: 1 we learn that an active, Bible-warranted faith (1 John 5: 14, 15) in Himself:
(a) becomes our "title-deeds" to things hoped for:
(b) makes it possible for Him to give evidence that unseen things are real.
(2) He longs to have His people all to Himself (Jeremiah 2: 1-3). Therefore His child-training (chastisement) is corrective, designed to bring us into a closer Father-and-son fellowship. It is intended to exercise us to further over-coming so that we may be more fully set-apart for God (holiness). Hebrews 12: 10-11.
(3) "Rugged" experiences and "set-backs" are heaven-sent opportunities for us to get to know God better and to prove for ourselves that He is able to deliver us in unforeseeable ways, e.g., Acts 27: 21-26.
(4) To make it possible for us to know something of the power of Christ in our inner lives (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).
(5) Again, all things do "work together for good"; because God is at work in our lives seeking to conform us to the image of His Son - chiselling away at our unlikeness with His tools of trial and affliction, seeking to model our characters after the likeness of "Heaven’s Lovely Man" (Romans 5:3-5; 8:28, 29).
(6) But why should His child-training so often continue until the arrival of death? From Ephesians 2:4-7 we learn that God has had a great over-all purpose in His work for us and in us. And it has been, truly, something "to do us good in our latter end," for it finds its expression in "the ages to come." This great purpose behind your life and mine has been to "shew (to display, to manifest) the exceeding riches of His grace" - doubtless to the hosts of the universe. It will be seen "in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." In other words, in the coming ages we are to be on exhibition as examples of His amazing grace. Therefore we conclude that God is at work,
Getting Us Ready for the Ages to Come.
Then why should we grieve because "we do not seem to be getting anywhere", or mourn for days that are past, and, like Lot’s wife, be forever looking back? Or need we search any further for an answer to the why’s of life? The "ages to come" are just ahead of us. God is at work in our lives. Soon, very soon, we shall be on display as trophies of His grace. Surely such a prospect gilds the drabbest of lives with the very glory of Heaven Oh, beloved, what could we ever do for Him that could be so important as the work He is doing in us?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:20:29 +0000
Training for Reigning - 07 - In fellowship with God IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
"Do you THINK THESE things he talks and writes about really work for him?"
"Yes, I think so; in fact I know they do."
"They don’t work for me. Do they work for you?" "No, they don’t."
"I wonder why. Is it because we are all different?"
"It may be; I don’t know."
"Neither do I; but I wish I did."
Possibly some of our readers have had thoughts similar to those quoted above? If so, perhaps I should try to explain the reason. In reality it can be done quite simply. The answer to the problem is this: these things "work for us" only in the measure we are in fellowship with God. However, since lots of Christians, both old and young, do not know what that expression means, let us consider it awhile.
Most Christians think of fellowship with God (that is, on the rare occasions when it comes into their thoughts) as being that condition of soul existing when we have confessed our sins and so have "a clear sky overhead," are reading our Bibles and praying regularly, are going to meetings and are seeking to witness for Christ whenever we have opportunity, etc. . . . All of which truly can be done in fellowship with Himself, but also can be carried on in a going-through-the-motions condition of soul, alas!
Others would add, having communion with the Lord, the only trouble with the answer being that they have a very hazy idea of what communion really is. On the creature level most of us understand matters fairly well. But when it comes to those pertaining to the spiritual level we seem to carry on in something of a fog much of the time - even as I have done.
Again, not a few of the Lord’s dear people have concluded that these things on the spiritual level are "high ground." They are for preachers or people who haven’t anything else much to do. They consider that they just aren’t practical for really busy people. So you see, beloved, attitudes like these do not leave us much "ground" to work on. Even speaking about them by a preacher handicaps the subject badly under such circumstances. However, it is with thankfulness that I can protest that the groundwork for any little I may have learned was laid while I was working with my hands. Anyway, preaching is only something I do when under direction to do so, only one of my chores. So for the purposes of this chapter let’s rule out this consideration right away. After all, the Lord Jesus spent most of His sojourn among men working as a carpenter (Mark 6: 3); and if a more common-man example be desired, then let me ask you to read 1 Cor. 4: 9-13. For if the Apostles could maintain fellowship with God under those most difficult living conditions, then surely there isn’t much excuse for the rest of us!
But first of all we need to understand just what "fellowship" means. In Psalm 94: 20 the Hebrew word means "be joined," while the Greek word used in the new Testament passages (1 Corinthians 1: 9; Philippians 2: 1; 3: 10; 1 John 1:3, 6) means "to have, hold, or share in common." (Note Acts 2:44). So to have fellowship with God just means to have, or hold, or share His presence, the counsels of His Word and His purposes.
Offhand, this may seem simple enough. And so it would be if the major part of the lives of most of us were not ordered by Self- direction - that is, my acceptance of the daily rule of our own Self-counsels and Self-desires, which are those of the Flesh. For this reason, then, one of the things we must adopt right at the start is the NOT SELF, BUT CHRIST attitude of the Apostle Paul (Galatians 2: 20) . . . something which is very much easier once we learn to practice HUMBLING OURSELVES BEFORE GOD.
When I mention humbling ourselves before Him I do not mean trying to be humble in our lives. I tried for many years to get to be humble, but am no more humble now than before I began. My Self is proud - incurably proud. So I’ve quit trying to reform it. Neither is it wise to ask the Lord to humble us; because I asked Him to do so one time - and He did it! What His Word counsels us to do is to pray for grace (Hebews 4: 16) to humble ourselves. And this will be absolutely necessary if we hope to go in for having fellowship with Himself. Isaiah 57: 15 makes this clear. There we read: "For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity, Whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit . . ." And those words, beloved, describe what I understand by the expression, "In fellowship with God."
Just try to think as well as you can of the inconceivable greatness, the highness, of the Lofty One Who inhabits Eternity
Whose very name is Holy . . .. of the awesome majesty of Him Whose presence, counsels, and purposes, we (with our miserable, microscopic capacities!) are permitted to share - provided we can get ourselves down, down, down to our rightful position before such an august Being, bringing into His presence only a contrite and humble spirit.
When Daniel beheld the majestic Being of Daniel 10: 5-8, his comeliness was turned in him into corruption and he retained no strength. So, too, when John saw the glorified Lord, he "fell at His feet as dead" (Revelation 1: 17). Similarly the Self-humbling experiences of Abraham (Genesis 18: 27), of Job (42: 6), of Isaiah (6: 5) surely rebuke the easy familiarity in the presence of Deity so common with us. After all, is it not only because we are "Accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1: 6) that we dare to lift up our hearts and voices before the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity? Surely the exhortations of such verses as Hebrews 12: 28 and Psalm 89: 7 require a vastly deeper attitude of "reverence and godly fear" than most of us know anything about. Note Hebrews 12: 29.
It must be confessed that I am much ashamed when I realize how long it has taken me to understand this. But now I know that, except in emergencies, I need not expect to rush "into His presence," begin to pray and then find myself immediately in His realized presence. Genuine confession of sins, examination of my attitudes, desires and walk, come first, of course. But after "my sky" has been cleared there still must be the getting down, down, down in spirit before this High and Lofty One if the actual sharing with Him (fellowship) is to be possible.
Think all this over, won’t you? For learning to humble oneself before Almighty God, our Father, can provide the missing link between many Christians and "making things work for them" in the way which He desires. Only when we so exercise ourselves does that hidden path of fellowship with Himself (Job 28: 7-8) begin to open out, and to lead us into hitherto unknown fields in our getting to know something more of our limitless God.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:19:47 +0000
Training for Reigning - 08 - Good-bye doubts GOOD-BYE DOUBTS
I WISH I KNEW FOR SURE whether I am really saved or not," are the words some of us have heard many times: for a large number of truly born again persons continue to have doubts and fears. And so let me ask any reader who may be a doubter to be patient with me when I say right away that the majority of doubts are the result of muddled thinking
Of course, a few Christians are chronic doubters. They doubt almost everything, anyway, chiefly owing to bad habits of thinking. There are others who are left fearful because some preacher has over-stressed a demand for a vivid type of experience, such as he himself may have had. But apart from concerns like these, there is one very common reason for feelings of insecurity. Indeed, this single reason has been the trouble-maker in nearly all the cases of doubting which have come to my attention. It is FAILURE TO GET A CLEAR GRASP OF TWO BASIC DETAILS OF SALVATION. The doubter is not able to answer, intelligently, two of the simplest questions which can be asked. If you don’t believe me, try asking mature Christians these two:
1. What do you mean when you say you are saved?
2. Why will God not punish you for your sins?
Again and again I have asked older Christians, as well as young ones, these questions, only to receive such thoughtless answers as the following:
"To be saved means to be born again."
"It means to have everlasting life."
"It means to put your trust in the Lord."
"It means to accept Christ as your Saviour."
(By the way, what would be your answer?).
Alas! all such replies are wrong, dead wrong. They do describe the new condition of saved ones, or the act of faith through which they entered into salvation; but they give us no clue as to what is meant when we say we are saved . . . Muddled thinking!
Answers to the second question usually are similar - sometimes the very same:
"God will not punish me for my sins because I am saved;"
or -"because I believe His Word:"
or -"because I have accepted Christ:"
or -"because I have been born again," etc.
Once more such replies are hopeless; and wherever there is such crooked thinking, doubts and fears of all kinds are bound to set up other questions, such as these:
"I wonder if I believed right?"
"I wonder if I had enough conviction?"
"If I only knew the "time when" - would I be sure then?"
"If I am truly saved, why am I not a lot different?"
In circumstances like these we commonly prescribe the booklet, "Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment"- sometimes with happy results. But all too often, I have found, very little rest of soul has been gained. The reason? - Failure to grasp, clearly, the two simple truths behind the questions asked in the second paragraph.
Now let me answer them as they need to be understood. - What does it mean to be saved? . . . It means to be made safe from being punished for my sins - exactly that.
Why will God not punish me for my sins? . . . It is because He punished His Son in my place - and for no other reason, whatever.
Another question often is: "Then why am I saved, if it isn’t because I believe in Jesus?"
Well, if believing in Jesus could have made us safe then there was no sense in His leaving Heaven to go to the cross. All we should have required was an angel’s message telling us that Christ was up in Heaven, and to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" and be saved. That would be believing in Jesus, would it not?
But you can see at once that something more was needful. He must come to Earth, go to Calvary, suffer "the Just for the unjust," if we were to be brought to God: 1 Peter 3: 18. So it isn’t believing in Jesus that makes us safe from the wrath to come. Instead, it was His bearing "our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2: 24), and His enduring of all the punishment for our sins, that makes a believing sinner safe from hell and the lake of fire. There simply can be no other reason. And if you are a doubter, you had better try to get these simple facts fixed in your mind, once and for all. Muddled thinking is a very bad enemy, indeed.
"Well then, how is it that I had to believe to get saved?"
It was because Christ bore the sins of, and punishment for, BELIEVING SINNERS, only.
Truly, He died so that every sinner might be offered salvation:
1 John 2: 2. His finished work fully satisfied the claims of God so that none need perish. But to receive a gift you must accept it. Thus only believing sinners benefit from His cross-work; and when you believed you entered into the good of it, for that was when you accepted both Himself and His finished work. Right away you were made safe - as safe as God can make you. But it certainly wasn’t because you believed in Jesus that you were made safe. IT WAS BECAUSE HE DIED FOR YOU. . . and for that reason alone. All your believing did was to place you in the class - the limited class - of those for whom His cross-work is effective: that of trusters in Christ. When you believed you joined the class, so to speak.
Isaiah 53: 5 tells us this truth so simply that it is a wonder that we should get so fuddled about believing. (Alas! undoubtedly the chief cause is the ceaseless exhortation of preachers and Sunday School teachers "Only believe, only believe, and you’ll be saved," cried aloud to the point where many sinners work as hard at trying to believe as others labour to get to Heaven by trying to live a Christian life. This practice is greatly to be deplored. How much wiser it would be to stop this erroneous exhorting, and to emphasize, instead, the God-satisfying completeness of Christ’s finished work, stressing "Only believe" when a sinner actually is ready for that word).
But I started out to speak about Isaiah 53: 5. We learn from it that, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him."
Thus far we are reading of what Christ did for us on the cross. Then comes the final clause; but notice that it does not say, "And with our believing we are healed." Instead we read, "AND WITH HIS STRIPES we are healed"- saved. Surely now it is clear that if we are saved, it is not because we believed, but because HIS STRIPES have made us free from being punished for our sins. "Payment God will not twice demand, First at my bleeding Surety’s hand, and then again at mine." And since His Word declares it, most gladly do we believe it, and thus enter into the good of it . . . are made safe forever.
As a result of the Saviour’s finished work we now can say, I know that I am saved because for me there is:
NO judgment: John 5: 24 - because He bore my sentence:
1 Peter 3: 18.
NO wrath: Romans 5: 9 - because He bore the wrath: Psalm 88: 7, 16.
NO condemnation: Romans 8: 1 - because He bore it: Isaiah 53: 10. NO accusation: Romans 8: 33 - because He took it away: Colossians 2: 14.
NO separation: Romans 8: 25-39 - because He endured it:
Matthew 27: 46.
NO curse: Galatians 3: 13 - because He bore it.
NO remembrance of my sins: Hebrews 10: 17 - because by His one sacrifice for sins they were taken away: vs. 11-14.
So let us lift our harps from the willows and sing with all our hearts:
"Settled forever! sin’s tremendous claim;
Glory to Jesus, blessed be His name;
No part.way measures doth His grace provide,
Finished the work was when the Saviour died."
For if the Lord Jesus settled it all for me at Calvary, why then it must be all settled! And nothing that I do, or fail to do, ever can change it, therefore, henceforth and forever,
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:19:01 +0000
Training for Reigning - 09 - Back at school BACK AT SCHOOL
BACIC AT SCHOOL again? . . . or perhaps it’s the office, or store, or factory? . . . or ft may be that you are staying home for a while? In any case this chapter is meant for Christian ‘teenagers wherever they may be; because it’s more than likely that they - that you - will be faced with the same old problem once more, the fact that you are different from others, that you feel a constant restraint in their presence, and that you must be forever pulling yourself back from going along with the crowd. It just seems that you never can do the things, or go places, like other people; never can do what you want to do. No matter what comes along it’s always the same old story: "You can’t do that"; or, "You mustn’t go there!" It wouldn’t be so bad if only people could understand why things are so. But they don’t understand at all. They think you are queer, unreasonable, or crazy; while everything within you (almost . . . but not quite) yearns to have friends, be sociable and go places.
If every bit of your being had been born again it would have been different. But as it is, with the natural you, the self-life, the "flesh," just longing to be like, to act like, all the other "kids," while the weak little new-born part of you timidly wants to please the Lord Jesus . . . well, it surely isn’t going to be easy to be very happy in such circumstances, I admit. Yet there is one thing that I can tell you that may help a little: the most unhappy days of the I-wish-I-could-be-like-other-people period are likely to be just that, A STAGE THAT YOU ARE PASSING THROUGH . . . something like the time you cut your first teeth, or maybe had the measles. This experience is often divided into three periods:
I. The half-scared, half-sick stage.
2. The period when the gang has decided that you are hopeless and doesn’t bother with you any more.
3. The triumph, when, in some measure, you become A RADIANT CHRISTIAN, having not only lived through, but lived past the hurt of their taunts, to the happy discovery that your own unconcealed joy in your Lord far excels their soon-over good times . . . excels to the point where THEY WILL SECRETLY ADMIRE YOU and envy your quiet peace and satisfaction.
Oh, I know you don’t feel that you will ever be like that. I know too that the Devil will see to it that your own feelings will scream at you, "You’re a failure! You’re a failure! You’re no good; you never will be any good, and you know it . . what’s the use of it all?" (Between ourselves, some of us oldsters get that way betimes, when we get to "seeing giants" instead of "seeing God").
But God knew you would be like that before He saved you! He is determined (as you will realize when you are older) to make the most of your life in view of the fact that you are going to go on living for "ages to come" (Ephesians 2:7).
He gave you the Holy Spirit to dwell within you to spur up your desires to please your Lord (Galatians 5: 16-18).
His exhortations in the Bible, warning you to keep clear of worldly things, were not written just to make your life miserable, but to PROTECT YOU FROM HARM while you are making your way through this God-forgetting world.
Never forget that the life of every unconverted sinner, no matter how clever or seemingly successful, IS AN ENTIRE FAILURE; and apart from fulfilling a mere creature role, IS A DEAD LOSS TO GOD (Romans 3: 12). Since nothing of earth can last, their greatness is only for a few years at the most; while ahead of you there lie THE AGES TO COME with "possibilities" far beyond our imaginations (1 John 2: 17).
So, let’s pray for more courage, more grace, more strength - and go at it again. Let us "commit our works unto the Lord" (Proverbs 16:3) - hand over to Him our mistakes, blunders, and past failures, as well as the few weak efforts we have made to acknowledge Him to others (Proverbs 3: 6); for His promise assures us that this is the way to get our "thoughts (our purposes) established" . . . lasting success. And let’s have a marching song in our hearts.
 "O Christian awake! for the strife is at hand:
With helmet and shield, and a sword in thy hand,
To meet the bold tempter, go, fearlessly go,
And stand, like the brave, with thy face to the foe.
O stand like the brave, with thy face to the foe."
(Believers’ Hymn Book No. 177)
In furtherance of modern ideas of education and "social awareness," such school activities as folk-dancing, theatre-attendance in connection with language studies, etc., often place our children in most embarrassing situations; any pupil who refuses to participate must be considered uncooperative, and is likely to suffer needlessly, if left to battle out the issue alone. But there is no necessity for such useless, resentment-fostering conflicts. A note should be sent to the PRINCIPAL of the school (not to the teacher) and signed by the FATHER of the scholar stating the objections, and asking that the pupil be released from such duties. In most provinces, or states, the educational laws require that such petitions be respected, since they are based on conscientious grounds.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:18:14 +0000
Training for Reigning - 10 - What class are you in now? WHAT CLASS ARE YOU IN NOW?
IT WAS A GREAT moment - the greatest any of us have ever known - when we made Christ our choice. John and Andrew must have felt that way, too, that day at Jordan when the Baptist pointed to the approaching Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"; John 1: 29. Likely it was then that verses 12-13 were fulfilled in their lives, when they received Him, and were given "authority and ability to become sons of God in name and nature." Thus began an entirely new era in their earth-experience. New interests and desires, which were destined to push aside the usual run of men’s concerns, came into their hearts, reversing any former trends, launching them on a wholly different type of career - a career for which they had had little, if any, previous training. The bulk of their earlier ideas and values, of hopes and objectives, of beliefs and unbeliefs, had now to be discarded. They discovered they had to start all over again! So it was that Andrew and John (like ourselves), found themselves outside all their former lifetime pursuits, and ENROLLED IN A NEW SCHOOL. Afterwards John knew that it had been in the "little children’s" class; 1 John 2:13b.
But they were eager students and did not stay long in the New Believers’ grade. Indeed, it was only the next day - after the Baptist, looking upon the Saviour, once more had declared, "Behold the Lamb of God" (35-37)- that they left his side to become followers of the Lord. Yesterday, as loyal pupils of the wilderness preacher, they had called John their teacher, their "rabbi." But the new birth had broken all the old ties. They passed. From henceforth the Lamb of God would be their "Rabbi" (vs. 38) and they would learn of Him. Thus, although so newly won to Him, they advanced quickly, becoming the first students in the Disciples’ (learners’) class; John 2:2 . . . By the way, what class are you in now?
What a privilege to be a pupil in such a class! (Actually, discipleship is the very finest career that is open to the twice-born
- this side of Heaven, of course).
You will recall that Mary of Bethany (Luke 10: 38-42) was a scholar in this class. Her busy sister, Martha, simply didn’t have time for it. After all, we can’t live without eating; besides, was she not getting a meal ready for her Lord? She longed to set for Him the very best table she could provide. Surely nothing could be too good for her Master! But Mary . . . doubtless Martha thought her an indolent thing - just sitting there doing nothing - leaving her poor sister to do all the work alone! If only the Lord would tell Mary to get up and help her, she, too, might have time to sit and talk.
Dear Martha . . . unseeing Martha! It is not unlikely that her Lord’s rebuke hurt her sorely. It would seem to her so unappreciative - so unsympathetic, don’t you think? True, she was cumbered; but it was because she was trying to do her very best, to set before her Lord "many things" - meaning different sorts of food-dishes. It must have made her feel flat, after all her trouble, to be told that "only one thing" - only one sort of food - was needful. Yet in this way, alone, could her loving Lord (John 11: 5), in His unfailing faithfulness, teach her that there was a better part. Dear Martha! she just hadn’t accepted - yet - that poor way of doing things. Perhaps she got around to it later?
Mary’s attitude, of course, was altogether different. To her, any simple thing would do for a meal so long as she could sit in the Learner’s class, "at Jesus feet," and hear His Word. The meal that her sister prepared was very good, no doubt - while it lasted. But the lessons Mary learned that day are in her possession still. They "shall not be taken away from her." From this fact we judge that such instruction becomes the ages-enduring wealth of all who will do as Mary did. Many young believers read their Bible as a duty. A few, who are student- minded, read them to learn the principles and teachings found therein. But the true disciple cannot be satisfied with merely that. Such will take his, or her, Bible and read it as before the Lord, asking Him, not only to open it up to the understanding, but chiefly, asking Him to speak to him, or her, through His Word as it is being read . . . Ever do that? Actually, it is lesson I in the Disciples’ Class. Let me urge you to get the habit. For you simply must make some progress as one who learns from Him if you ever hope to make the next grade!
That John and Andrew, with the others, made such progress Is apparent from John 13: 12-17. They still were Believers and Disciples; but here the Lord advances them to the Servants’ Class. Likely they had been enrolled in this class for some time (Luke 9: 1-6), and had learned its earlier lessons. But in this passage one special lesson feature is emphasized. It is that he, or she, who would be a servant of the Lord must learn to follow the Perfect Servant’s example.
Class number 4 comes into view in John 15: 14-15. The Christian’s advance into the Friends’ Class is strictly conditional:
"If ye do whatsoever I command you." In this grade the Lordship of Christ and the guidance of His Word become the hourly concern of the student, with special revelations of God’s will as the reward (Psalm 25: 9, 14) and true fruit bearing.
The final grade mentioned in John’s Gospel is found in John 20: 17. Because of Calvary and His resurrection, we learn that His friends have advanced so far in intimacy with Himself that He speaks of them as "His Brethren." None of us would dare to refer to Him as "our Brother." Yet in those words He sets before us our union with Himself (Hebrews 2: 11); and in this class surely the possibilities and fruits of that union (already begun in the Friends’ grade: John 15: 4-8), will be entered into most fully. Of it I cannot pretend to speak from experience. But I feel pretty sure that the writer of 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 had been an honour student therein - indeed, was about to graduate, cum laude.
So, as these grades appear before us in John’s Gospel, I am suggesting 5 Classes in the Lord’s School. How are we getting along, you and I? How far have we advanced? Since Examination Day (2 Corinthains 5: 10) is just around the corner, let’s ask ourselves the important question: WHAT CLASS AM I IN NOW?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:17:16 +0000
Training for Reigning - 11 - When things get on your nerves WHEN THINGS GET ON YOUR NERVES
FORGIVE ME, ‘TEENAGERS, if I seem to pass you by in favour of the Young Mothers. But even so this message of help could be of service to you, too, particularly if you are beginning to use that title phrase more and more often. Nervous tensions are on the increase in this much-too-fast age in which our lot is cast. And even the eldest of us have reason to be grateful to God for the rest of spirit that He can, and does give. Moreover, should you be inclined to smile at people who allow things to "get on their nerves," let me suggest that you "salt away" these thoughts for future reference. The day of your need of them may be closer than you think.
Young mothers, the Lord has brought directly to my attention the trials some of you are facing these days - a proof that He not only sees and knows, but that He also cares. (Otherwise this chapter should never have been written). And for once I think myself entitled to claim some small understanding of your problems. Because there was a day in my story when I was left with four motherless little ones, when I had to rouse four sleepy, poky children from their beds at six a.m., supervise their washing and dressing, get breakfast over, pack lunches to take to school, see bairns over the highway, take the youngest to stay with a kind sister in the Lord, go on to my day’s work, come home at night and get together my little flock, prepare and cook our dinner, wash, iron, and mend clothes, clean house . . . while I wished with all the intensity of my being that we all could go away home to Heaven and be done with it! Things "got on my nerves" pretty badly for a while, I must confess - until I found out that Heb. 4: 16 could be applied quite realistically to my problem. (All this personal history being given to forestall that caustic remark, "What does he know about it, anyway?").
First of all, let me say, young mothers, that you have my truest sympathy, particularly those of you who are trying to make a home in two or three rooms. The Lord give you strength of body and spirit to carry on. To attain to rest of spirit amidst the hubbub of noisy children, or cross, crying, half-sick little ones, or when you have a baby under your feet - when your work is far behind and friend husband is apt to complain, or to be critical when meals are late, when you are not well yourself, and wonder whatever possessed you to get married anyway, etc., etc., - I say let me assure you that under such a handicap it is painfully clear you will never, never, never get rest of spirit by making up your mind you won’t let things worry you any more. (The writer tried hard enough, and prayerfully enough, but it didn’t work).
WHAT YOU NEED IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES IS GRACE . . . and you can’t develop It, or cultivate it. (I tried these also.) YOU MUST PRAY IT DOWN FROM HEAVEN (Hebrews 4: 16).
Now it must be admitted that there are adjustments which sometimes can be made in our ways of doing things that will reduce tensions. For instance a very particular housekeeper might consider whether the Lord would have her recognize that she is making an idol of her home and so should learn to eliminate all but necessary work . . . Or it might be some of our readers could help matters by re-arranging their routine. For example, some mothers find that giving their small children the evening meal early, and by themselves, is a means of avoiding some meal-time friction . . . Or if you are not well perhaps you should visit your doctor . . . Or if you are indolent, and waste time reading magazines, listening to the radio, or gossiping, you will need to pray for grace to break off these bad habits, reminding yourself often that, even in the most disagreeable jobs, your heavenly Father wants you to do them "heartily as to the Lord
for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).
But even if you could be unexcelled in all your duties as a mother you would still find THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PRAYED-DOWN GRACE. Many times I have had to cry, "Lord, give me some grace - and let me have it quick or I will lose my temper." Then, holding back the surgings of my spirit for a minute or so, and believing that God was giving me the grace I asked for, the quietness and calm of Heaven has come into my soul. It became a living reality back in those bitter days I referred to, and has never lost its power even in the hours of tedious illness.
But remember, like any other good recipe, IT WON’T DO
husband read this chapter too, won’t you? He may need its
message quite as much as I do)
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:16:40 +0000
Training for Reigning - 12 - The Last Word THE LAST WORD

THE above HEADING is capable of a double meaning intention- ally But primarily the reference is to the last word in Philippians 2:14 For although it is in the Bible, yet nobody seems to pay much attention to it, mainly, I suspect, because few people recognize it for what it really is.
Hoping that I will not be charged with writing in a frivolous manner, let me try to describe for you a typical form of conversation heard in many Christian homes. In so doing it may be that someone s sense of recognition may be aroused In this imaginary home let us suppose that there are Susie, Judy, Jim and Mother at home - all saved, of course - the three young people being students in the local high school. This particular morning Susie’s voice is heard above the battle of preparations to leave for school carrying an unmistakable note of irritation. She calls out an angry wish that Judy would leave her things alone! Judy - in innocent surprise - asks whatever ails her now Susie flashes back a list of Judy’s misdeeds
and a wordy battle begins that will fray four people’s tempers before it ends.
Jim relays to his mother the choice bit of information that "they are at it again." But mother, knowing her son’s ability "to keep things going," promptly silences him. Thus by the time several doors have been slammed, and the three young folks have departed, tensions are running in high gear which only the demands of countering interests will soothe and erase.
Now it may be that some of my readers will feel that it is improper to mention such things in a Christian book That the evil is common enough will be admitted; but then no one ever expects to do anything about it Others, like the young folk’s mother, will deplore the frequency of such "arguments," and inwardly grieve The girls, themselves, would insist there is no cause for alarm because they aren’t really quarrelling at such times. They are merely stating their opinions. "And," as Susie would be likely to express it, "it’s a pity if a person can’t say what she thinks sometimes." As for brother Jim, he considers them a harmless bit of sport - "sounding off" he calls it, with more accuracy than grace of expression. Secretly he greatly admires the person who can make "a snappy come back," as the fellows say. It really "goes over in a big way" with woridlings, too. Makes them respect you, he believes. As for father, he doesn’t witness many of these "arguments." Anyway they cause him little concern since "youth must have its fling." He doesn’t despise a certain amount of repartee. Moreover, he believes that as the young people grow older they will lose much of their combativeness. He feels he should keep his mind clear for more important concerns. So, as I have said, nobody thinks much about that last word in Philippians 2: 14, even though it is agreed that it has some bearing on verse 2 of chapter 4, and that it had something to do with the writing of the Epistle.
Why do I speak of this particular sin?
It is because they are evidences all around us of the damaging effects that have developed from the UNRECOGNIZED HABIT of home disputing. Some parents, often unconsciously, train their children to indulge in a battle of wits that widens out, later on, into the vigorous challenging of the ‘teenagers. BUT DOES IT END THERE? These young people marry; then they transplant into their own home life the same practices. Inevitably the thing shows itself in Assembly gatherings. But I must confess that not until recently have I realized that many Assembly troubles are directly traceable to disputing habits developed within the home circle. Yet if we become skilful in gaining the acceptance of our views through disputing in everyday surroundings are we not likely to carry this method with us into the local House of God? And how then shall we "Let this mind be in you" - the mind of Christ?
Another sobering thought is the fact that a growing proportion of the neuroses and stress diseases current among the Lord’s people actually originate in nervous tensions built up through the years by just such disputes as 1 have described, but on more adult lines. Were it necessary, a long list of cases of seriously unhappy home-life among the Christians could be cited, also.
But I write thus neither to amuse, to criticize, nor to condemn.
I, myself, have sinned too many times in this manner. All that is before me is a desire to depict my topic so clearly that disputing, of every form, may be recognized as disputing:
-not disregarded as being mere arguing, or repartee;
-as something to be overcome, not condoned;
-as a practice opposed to "the mind of Christ";
-as destructive of effective testimony;
-as a MENTAL HAZARD, the direct cause of the major part of the tensions that harass many otherwise worthy Christian homes. Have I succeeded?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:16:11 +0000
Training for Reigning - 13 - Resentments ABOUT OUR RESENTMENTS
WHEN YOU STOP TO think about it, would it not be most surprising if, when they spat in the Lord Jesus’ face, He had said, "I resent that"?
We read that His anger arose when grieved with the hardness of men’s hearts (Mark 3: 5). And He was moved with indignation when His disciples rebuked "the mothers of Salem" (Mark 10: 14). But when we review all the indignities He suffered while He dwelt among men, do we not find it impossible to think of a single instance where we could say that Resentment, (as we think of it) was in evidence? Yet what a lot of us there are who sincerely believe that not only is our Resentment nearly always justified, but also that it is some sort of a virtue to react that way!
In recent years the unhappy truth has been hammered into my consciousness that a truly vast area of basic Christian living, and spiritual growth, is being undermined, habitually, by failure to recognize the soul-damaging effects of Resentment, and its twin, Self-pity. . . IN MOST CASES, QUITE UNCONSCIOUSLY. Along with this situation often goes something that seems surprising - an ardent longing for a more spiritual life!
Now perhaps we should consider just what Resentment is, and what makes us feel that way. The authorities tell us that there are probably five basic patterns of Emotions: Lust, Fear, Anger, Elation and Grief. In addition there are many composites of these. (Love, Courtship and Marriage note: Young people should know that the delicious, romantic (erotic) love, which they so greatly worship, has its roots in what is now called "lust" - a stern lesson which Experience finally teaches us all, but which many find out too late).
To resume: Resentment, therefore, is something more than the sudden emotion of Anger. It is something that goes on to become an Attitude - a disposition toward feeling grieved because some- one hindered us, or went against what we regarded as our interests, or injured us, or our friends - either in fact, or in imagination.
Considered in the half-light of the half-truths of ordinary ideas of daily living, we find it quite reasonable to conclude that Re sentment is entirely justified under such circumstances. We suppose that anyone who has an ounce of "spunk" within him, or her, is bound to act that way . . . and we secretly admire him, her, for it. Yet even poor, unsaved psychologists can see more deeply than that. They diagnose Resentment, bluntly, as "an emotional attitude" arising from the "THWARTING OF SELF-ASSERTION BY PERSONS OR THINGS."
Hmm . . . Arising from the "thwarting of self-assertion by persons or things." Doesn’t sound so good, does it? In fact when we think of the ceaseless practice of the Grace of Acceptance by the Man, Christ Jesus, it sounds like the very opposite to His way of living, wouldn’t you say? Certainly He Who took the seven long steps of Self-humbling described in Philippians 2: 5-8 was not tainted with Self-assertion. That is something which characterizes you and me, and others like us. Moreover, the fact that we can feel resentful towards people or things shows up our hateful Self-life, the Flesh, as being the source of our Resentments. Failing to see ourselves as God sees us, we are ready, nearly always, to blame persons or things for our troubles, instead of judging our Feelings and Attitudes in the light of His Word . . . Right? (that’s the way it is with me, anyway - alas!).
The word "Resentment" is not found in our Bibles; but as an attitude of ill-feeling its existence plainly appears in the Divine records. The story of Cain’s self-will, rejection, anger, resentment and revenge (Genesis 4) needs only to be recalled to provide proof of its presence. Sarah’s resentment towards Ishmael was definite (Genesis 21: 9-10). Consider, also: Rachel versus Leah (Genesis 29: 30-32; 30: 1); Esau’s resentment over the stolen blessing (Genesis 27: 41); of Laban’s sons (Genesis 31: 1-2); of Jacob’s Sons re Dinah (Genesis 34: 7, 13, 25-31), and Joseph (Genesis 37: 4). Passing over those of Job, of certain complaints in the Psalms, of the "vexation of spirit" of the writer of Ecclesiastes, and going on into the New Testament, we find the resentments of the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees continually nagging at the Lord Jesus. Doubtless these "fiery darts of the Wicked One" were meant to try to turn Him aside from the Perfect Servant pathway; and failing in that, to discourage, hinder and defeat His ministry. And how dismally they failed! But there were other victims of it.
As one example written for our instruction, we read: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him. And they did not receive Him, because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But He turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village" (Luke 9: 51-56). Thus we see how disciple-resentment at the way He was treated was rebuked - not commended. Should we not have thought that, if ever Resentment was justifiable, it would have been on such an occasion?
Other instances come readily to mind; but since the above story deals with one example of disciple-resentment, let us look at it for our own benefit. It provides a good clear picture of the harm this graceless evil does to ourselves.
1. It put James and John completely out of line with the purposes of the Lord.
2. It made their flesh right ready to act "for His glory," as they evidently supposed. (Compare Peter’s zeal at Gethsemane:
Matthew 26: 51-54). They even had what they considered to be chapter and verse as a warrant for their fire-from-Heaven suggestion.
3. It only earned for them His rebuke - which, in turn, saved them from presumptuous sin.
4. Since they had hopes of seeing Him crowned as Israel’s conquering King, it demonstrated the truth afresh (so easily seen, also, in the other cases noted) that Resentment is an attitude which arises mostly when our self-assertion is thwarted, or our friends injured.
5. And unless His grace made them truly repentant, who knows but that they resented His attitude and His rebuke?
However, let us not forget that our Resentments do the very same kind of things to us. Perhaps you can recall remarks like these, all indications of Resentment either active or smouldering:
"Who does he think he is? He doesn’t need to think he can get away with that!"
"Well I like that! Did you hear what she just said to me?"
"He sure had it coming to him! He won’t get any sympathy from me. He treated my sister like dirt."
"Are my parents ever the old meanies! Just wait until
"Oh, everybody else can have friends, go places, and have things but not me!"
"Why can’t people mind their own business and leave me alone?"
"He really burns me up" (with Resentment, of course).
"Oh no, I never can do anything right to suit him."
The most grievous part of all this is that our Heavenly Father not only must listen to such things, and watch their outcome, but also must have patience with us when we actually suppose such attitudes to be commendable, while we count as "soft" those who seek grace to keep from indulging them.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:15:41 +0000
Training for Reigning - 14 - Resentments can be overcome RESENTMENTS CAN BE OVERCOME
AS NOTED IN THE LAST chapter, it is how we look at things that settles, every time, how we are going to react when "self-assertion is thwarted." Resentment may arise when our intentions are "frustrated," our ideas rejected; or because we feel slighted or rebuked; or possibly we, or our friends may have sustained an injury at the hands of others -"after all we have done for them." There are hosts of such possibilities; but whatever the cause, usually we feel sure we could be happy if only things would go the way we wish them to go. Therefore we generally think it to be no wonder that we are resentful so often . . . and sometimes indulge in self-pity.
Yet all such reactions were unknown to the Lord Jesus. That He was divine I do not forget when I say that one reason for this appears to be the way He was able to look at things - a way you and I can learn to use (in our measure) if we will take His yoke upon us and learn of Him (Matthew 11: 29). Here it is as best as I can describe it: Whenever anyone did Him a wrong, He saw in that wrong a sign that the guilty person had a great need in his life as a sin-sick sinner (Matt. 15: 18 with Luke 5: 30-32). When wronged, His understanding of men (John
2: 24-25) enabled Him to minister to that need according to grace and truth (John 1: 17), and often in great compassion. If these things be so, then all we need to do to find out why resentments are ruining the lives of some of us is to compare what we see in wrongs done to us with the Way He looked at wrongs done to Him.
Cain’s resentment, directed toward an unreachable God, was taken out on Abel - a common resentment reaction. "Frustrated," Johnny kicks the cat. The ‘teenager mutters and slams doors, inwardly vowing what he, she, will do when he, she, gains supposed freedom. The adult decides it will be a long, long time before he forgets what So-and-so said or did. He will forgive him - yes; but he won’t forget in a hurry. Thus the spirit of Cain still lives on.
We noticed, also, Sarah versus Ishmael (Genesis 21: 9-10). Said to have been about seventeen years old, Hagar’s son would be climbing "Fool’s Hill" about that time, hence probably was hard to endure. At any rate Sarah felt her little one was being wronged. Very far from showing an understanding of the sin-spoiled youth’s need, manifested in his disrespectful behaviour, she only could demand that both he and his mother should be cast out. Clearly, she had plans for Isaac’s life, and did not intend Ishmael to "thwart her self-assertion." Thus she stepped out of her usual exemplary position (1 Peter 3: 6). But I mention the incident only as an illustration of the common reactions to vexation of the natural man.
By-passing the Old Testament examples, let us "consider Him," as the Man, Christ Jesus. And in doing so may our hearts be warmed as well as instructed as we catch glimpses of the glories of His understanding of men and of his absolute unselfishness, and grace coupled with truth, always.
Of course there could be no such problem as the "thwarting of His self-assertion" (John 6: 38). But there was yet another angle: how He would react when people would seek to thwart His doing of the will of God. Would resentment be shown then?
At the time of the visit to the Temple (Luke 2: 41-52) He was just about to enter His ‘teens. His mother’s question and complaint (vs. 48) may have been tinged with resentment, especially since they did not understand His answer. Yet it is not so with Him. "He went down with them," uncomplainingly, even though it meant a return to evil Nazareth. And He, "was subject unto them." Thus even as a Lad He was making allowance for their limitations, as affecting persons who "understood not."
Luke 5: 20-24: the Scribes and Pharisees charged Him with speaking blasphemies a serious and most provocative accusation! But not for a moment does any resentment appear. Knowing their reasonings, yet seeing well below the surface of their words and actions, He saw their ignorance of His Divinity as its cause. Therefore, and in grace to them also, He manifested His power by healing the palsied man in order to supply their need for understanding the truth that "The Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins."
Mark 6: 31-34: We search this account in vain to find any complaint of having been "frustrated." No resentment is shown - only compassion for needy ones, who felt no concern for His need of rest!
Understanding and Compassion ever; Resentment never. For as the perfect Servant of Isaiah’s prophecies (let me repeat) the Lord sought to look beneath the surface of men’s evil attitudes toward Himself, seeing in them (in every form of wrong intended or done to Him) SOME KIND OF UNSATISFIED NEED, product of a sin-spoiled nature, as the true cause of it. Calmly, then, and devoid of selfish interest, He compassionately ministered in grace and truth to that need. This He did in every case, unless we except those whom He knew to be already "booked through for Hell" (Matthew 23: 13-33).
Luke 23: 34: In this case - the ultimate expression of guilty man’s rebellion and hatred - will He still search beneath the surface of their attitude toward Him to discover some unsatisfied need? or will He consign them all to the pit? Let His own words be the answer: "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." He has recognized theirdeepest need! It is deliverance from sin’s darkness, and forgiveness. Thus resentment found no place in His life.
What shall we say to these things? "Love taketh not account of evil" (1 Corinthians 13: 5, R.V. )-that is, it keeps no record of injuries received. Hence it becomes convincingly plain that the Lord Jesus’ word in Luke 6: 27-30 gives us the cure for resentment. Will you join me in prayer that we may learn to make use of it? For learning to see beneath the surface of men’s words and deeds (Mark 7: 20-23) appears to be the first step.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:15:04 +0000
Training for Reigning - 15 - Birds with broken pinions BIRDS WITH BROKEN PINIONS
"I walked through the woodland meadows ‘Where sweet the thrushes sing,
And found on a bed of mosses
A bird with a broken wing.
I bound up its wound, and each morning
It sang its old sweet strain;
But the bird with a broken pinion
Never soared so high again."

These pathetic lines belong to a by-gone generation which held pathos in quite as much esteem as present-hour Youth regards those fairytale yarns known as "Westerns." None the less, after a Christian has fallen into sin, and has had time to find out the problems which face a child of God who earnestly longs to "go back and begin again," if often happens that some self-righteous person will quote these old lines - old lines which will strike the one who has strayed like a knell of hopeless doom. Unhappily, all too often in history those seemingly prophetic words have come true! Yet it cannot be in the purposes of God that this always should happen. And so I write with the desire that a clearer understanding of matters and a re-kindling of hope, with fresh spiritual progress may be gained by any of us who may be "birds with broken pinions."
It was to broken-pinioned Israel, a nation seen by the Lord as "a marred vessel" that Jeremiah was sent with His question "0 house of Israel cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 18: 6). The prophet had seen the clay vessel on the potter’s wheel marred in the making. Yet the man did not cast away the clay as worthless. Instead, "he made it again, another vessel"- a parable of the Lord’s ways when He does not remove marred ones to Heaven at once.
"He made it again"! - Oh the goodness and grace of our God! Our Heavenly Potter does not angrily cast us away even when we have sinned grievously. Instead He begins to work on us again, this time to make us ANOTHER vessel. And likely it is for this very reason that the unseeing eyes of men so often have led them to say that fallen ones can never hope to rise again to former usefulness. For the above words do not promise that we shall become vessels restored to our former state, but rather that God will make us into another kind of vessel altogether. So it will be with Israel in a coming day; and so it has been with some whose records God has given us in His Word.
"As seemed good to the potter to make it." In these words the sovereign will of God appears, for while He may make a fallen Peter, or a troublesome John Mark into more prominent vessels than they had been before, yet we do not have any authority for expecting this to be the rule. The Sovereignty of God coupled with His Providence (i.e., His purposes) appear to be the deciding factors. He knows each one of us through and through. His testings have revealed weaknesses to us which have not stood the strain of His moulding. For back behind our fall there was a serious flaw in our character - one we neglected to correct or one we did not know was there. (Oh how constantly does our patient God listen to the cries of utter dismay, "Whatever made me do it? I never thought I could do such a thing! Oh why did He let me do it?" Then it is that an evil spirit is apt to suggest that if God really cared for us He could have stopped our evil course before it was too late. But He allowed us to go on - and get caught! Faith is sore put to it to believe Romans 8: 28 at such times; and the temptations to give it all up, to wish we were dead, or even to take our own life, are hard to overcome. Mostly we just go on living because we can’t help it, filling our days and nights with groans and tears, bitterly disappointed with ourselves, with the Lord - with everything).
But let me try to project a ray of light into all this depression and gloom. For, after all, God is not planning to let us wreck our lives; but rather seeks to get us to such an end of ourselves that we shall turn them over to Him to make the most of them.
Now, generally it is our pride that gets hurt most of all, not only in the fall itself, but also in the shame and humbling that must precede, and should follow, also, our restoration to God and to His Assembly. And here let us remind ourselves that God hates our pride and really desires to smash it to pieces. So that if we have been brought down very low before Him by our folly and sin, and if we have confessed and forsaken it according to
His Word. THEN WE AT LAST HAVE REACHED THE LEVEL ON WHICH HE CAN BEGIN TO FASHION US INTO ANOTHER VESSEL. Then it is that His other promise, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up" (James 4: 8-10) begins to become effective.
But right at this point is where some of us take the wrong turn. A brother, let us say, has been restored to Assembly fellowship. Regret for the past, plus a new zeal to be out and out for the Lord, fires him to try to make up for his lapse. So, instead of keeping to a humble, quiet walk before the saints until the Lord lifts him up, he becomes noticeably active in the meetings - to the disgust of his brethren and sisters, who feel that his repentance has not been very deep.
On the other hand, if only we will act out the requirements of James 4: 10, waiting for God to lift us up, we shall begin A NEW CHAPTER in our lives . . . a chapter in which not prominence, but lowliness, is to be the chief characteristic.
And when will God lift us up? that all depends on the recovery made. Isaiah 40: 27-31 provides the answer, I believe. You see, it is like this: When we sinned we lost most of our spiritual strength - and let us not forget that! And now we have to start to get it back. But how? Verse 31 is the answer. Those broken-pinioned Israelites (vs. 27) were not to be empowered to "mount up with wings as eagles" by a chance to get going again - mark well! There was waiting on God to be done, as well as a course to follow (Isa. 66: 2b); for our attitudes as well as our behaviour require to be corrected. We lost much spiritual strength when we sinned, and now it will take time to renew it. But the bird with the broken pinion CAN soar as high again - quite often higher than ever before. And where? Possibly not in prominence before men . . . but certainly in the vastly safer sphere of fellowship with the living God. WHAT A BLESSED ROLE TO BE FILLED BY A RE-MADE VESSEL! So let us read 2 Corinthians 12: 9a again, and dry our tears. It really can be "better than before!"
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:14:27 +0000
Training for Reigning - 16 - Garrisoned by His peace


"A mind at perfect peace with God,
O, what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood -
This, this indeed is peace."

Thank God, every true believer has peace WITH God (Romans 5: 1); but the peace OF GOD is something different. It is the peace, the eternal calm, unruffled by any circumstances which may arise in His inconceivably vast and complex realms, enjoyed by Himself. It surpasses all human understanding; yet the Lord would have it to "keep as with a garrison" our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) . . . something sadly needed by a host of His children, whose peace of mind is being disturbed, daily, by many things - older folks as well as young ones. For while verse 6 gives us the divine recipe for release from it, and Psalm 55: 22 reinforces it, yet, as one dear one explained, "I do cast my burdens on the Lord, but they always seem to come back with me." Well, before discussing another approach (but not actually different) to the problem, perhaps it will be well to outline what goes on in our minds, first.
Those whose business it is to treat so-called "nervous" reactions frankly admit that present-day "progress" is largely responsible for the great increase, since the times of our grandparents, in nervous tensions. ("Scientific advancement" - so wondrous in the eyes of youth as to be almost worshipped as a false god - always forces us to pay an increasingly high price for its acceptance (Ecclesiastes 7: 29). There can be no escape from it by ordinary means). Hence, it isn’t our nerves that bring about these conditions; but rather, the way we feel about things that lies at the bottom of the troubles which we suppose to be of nervous origin. Feeling unwilling, or inadequate to the demands which may be made of us, we begin to feel fearful, or resentful. Feelings of anxiety, or depression, or irritability, or worry, maybe with outbursts of anger, stimulate certain glands which then pour certain poisonous substances into the blood-stream, reacting at once on the nervous system. Thus, in this roundabout way, we may become nervous "jittery," high-tensioned . . . and all because of the way we feel about things - which the authorities call "emotional disturbances."
Clearly, then, what will be needed will be a new outlook on all these troublous matters - that new outlook which is possible only when our hearts and minds are garrisoned by God’s own peace. For the above picture is, in a general way, an outline of numerous situations that keep coming before me concerning both young people and older ones as well. Let me ask the reader to apply it to his own case if he considers himself to be of "the nervous type," subject to "nervous tension" . . . whether going to school, or living under trying circumstances at home, at work, or elsewhere.
The "Be careful (anxious) for nothing" formula of Phil. 4: 6 seems to fail in some people’s cases because their way of praying, and supplicating about everything, with thanksgiving, is incomplete. But there are three other passages of Scripture which have been a great help to me - even if they do "add up" to the same thing. I call them "The Big Three." If you are inclined to be "nervous" about things, to be depressed, or to worry, perhaps you may find the way to His peace through them. They are:

Commitment, Acceptance and Relaxation.

1. Commitment: in which we practice: (Psalm 37: 5) committing (handing over) to the Lord the way we are about to take; and - (Proverbs 16: 3) the works (the things said, or done) we already have done, whether good or bad, including failures or blunders.
2. The grace of acceptance (Matthew 11: 26; Luke 22: 24; Job 1:21) in which we practice the acceptance of all that may come our way as having been allowed of God. Job did not say, as a brother beloved pointed out recently, "The Lord gave, and the devil hath taken away." Even though Satan was the actual offender, Job recognized that "not a shaft can hit unless the God of Love sees fit" (Amos 3: 6b).
3. Relaxation: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46: 10). This command (as it is in Hebrew) can be well understood by our modern expression "Relax." Relaxation of the Soul (the seat of the emotions) can be assisted greatly, as many have found, by practicing relaxation of the Body as well. These be the Big Three, in so far as I have been able to learn the mind of the Spirit, as it is revealed in His Word. Add "thanksgiving," then you will have your guidance into His peace. You have fulfilled the conditions of Philippians 4: 6.
Now, by way of illustration, let us say that Jack has trouble with mathematics. When exams come around his fears result in a highly nervous state, which only serves to render him more liable to failure. His sister, Jean, isn’t up to the mark in some of her subjects, either. Besides, as a conscientious Christian, she has to take a lot of scoffing because she is "a square." Also, one of the teachers has the habit of "jumping on her"- all of which "gets on her nerves." Both of them pray earnestly for God’s help in these trials, YET NEITHER OF THEM PRACTICE TRUE COMMITMENT - the very thing we are counselled to do by Psalm 37: 5 and Proverbs 16: 3. Were they to humble themselves before the Lord, and instead of asking His help, were to hand over to Him their problems for solution, trusting also in Him for His over-control of themselves, as His children (NOT the exams., or the scholars, or the teacher) they would make it possible for God to fulfil His Word, and so to relieve them of anxious care. A literal translation reads: "Roll on the Lord thy way; and trust upon Him, and He worketh."
Space runs out; and further comments on Commitment of our works, and on the grace of acceptance perhaps will not be needed
- unless it be to remind ourselves that grace can be prayed down from heaven (Hebrews 4: 16).
Relaxation ("Be still") in Psalm 46: 10 just means stop fussing, and fidgeting and fretting. You are dealing with THE LIVING GOD! and if you have committed everything to Him, your only need is to relax in confidence in His all-sufficiency to over-rule where necessary, but particularly to manage you, yourself, in the fulfilment of His will. The results often are surprising! You will need to study, or to work, of course, as a matter of duty (Luke 17: 10), doing it, also, as unto the Lord (Colossians 3: 23-24)
- . . Make it your daily habit to follow the Big Three plus Thanksgiving, wherever you are, whoever you may be; then I can guarantee you will find your anxious care will disappear before the garrisoning peace of God.

]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:13:54 +0000
Training for Reigning - 17 - Counting the cost ABOUT COUNTING The cost
‘GIVE ME LIBERTY, or give me death," cried Patrick Henry, as he stormed against the Stamp Act, and sought to rouse the American colonists to fight for independence. And many young persons have echoed that cry within their own souls when, with unwelcome living conditions they have found themselves:
-Trapped by circumstances;
-Hedged in by compulsive duties;
-Thwarted, frustrated by this thing and that;
-Yet compelled to keep on going when they long to "fly away and be at rest" from it all (Psalm 55. 6). Many a Christian, I repeat, finds himself, herself, cornered in this way.
And many a proud spirit, striving to be self-sufficient, like Saul of Tarsus, continues "to kick against the goads" finding the effort painful, hard, and unrewarding except as this expression of their rebellion against circumstances may serve to keep their spirits from fainting in their adversities - . . an inward conviction advising them they simply must keep up the struggle at all costs, lest they sink down into hopelessness, despair. To these dear harassed Christians it seems certain that to give up the battle could be nothing less than fatal. The Voice that called in salvation’s day, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," seems much too impractical for all these forms of problems. And yet, THAT BLESSED VOICE IS CALLING STILL!
"‘Oh well, of course I do come to Him in prayer, and I do try to cast my burden on the Lord. But then, oh well you just wouldn’t understand."
I see . . . yet not too clearly because behaviour patterns and their resultant reactions are pretty much an open book these days. Moreover I suspect that I have come over about as many humps and hollows of emotional conflict as most ordinary folk. Still, even if it be true that I wouldn’t understand, there are three things of vastly more importance to consider. The first one is that, if there be such conflicts in your life, it is an absolute proof spiritually, and psychologically, that you do not understand yourself. The second is that there is One Who understands you through and through. And it is He Who calls you again to come to Him, to take His yoke upon you, and to learn of Him- that is, if you honestly do desire to find rest to your soul; Matthew 11: 28-29.
In those days when we were troubled about our sins it was none to easy to admit to ourselves that we were utterly bankrupt sinners. For some of us it was a hard fight to get ourselves down, down to the place of admitting that we were lost, undone -"to come to an end of ourselves." We feared to let go altogether, for then we felt we surely would be lost! And in a similar way it often proves every bit as much a battle for saved sinners to get down to the facts that, in ourselves, there is no sinlessness, Romans 7: 17; no goodness, verse 18; no power to live as we should, verse 19. These commonly are called "the three bitter lessons of Romans 7." They are necessary lessons for those of us who have not yet learned, in practice, our bankruptcy . . . that we died
- died - yes, DIED when Christ died on the cross: Romans 6: 3-9; 2 Corinthians 5: 14; Galatians 2: 20. For is it not a fact that most of our conflicts grow out of five things?
-We can’t have, or can’t get, what we want.
-We can’t do what we want to do.
-We can’t be what we want to be.
-We can’t go where we want to go.
-We can’t get clear of some person, or persons, who cause us trouble.
If you can agree that this is, then our third important consideration will have to be that you - or we - have not yet understood that people who have died do not have such concerns! Those Christians who have learned to "reckon" themselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 6:11) count that all such concerns stayed down there in the tomb when we died with Christ. Oh yes, I know that we rose again with Him; but that was to walk in newness of life - a new kind of life altogether - a kind of life where me and my desires do not matter at all, where nothing matters - nothing whatever - except the will of God. But please - oh please! - do not wring your hands and cry out in despair, "That’s far too high ground for me!"
Neither let yourself say, "I must count the cost! I know within myself I just never could pay the price!" Instead, ask yourself, "Was it too great a cost for me to step out of my sins into Christ, that day I was saved?" And tell me this: Would you care to go back (if you could) into your former "lost estate"? Did you find you had paid an intolerable price after the Holy Spirit had revealed to your troubled soul both a finished work, and a Saviour who had finished that work? If you did not, then can you suppose that to step out of your self-centred life into the life where Christ is truly Lord will cost you more?
Oh no, Beloved! It cannot be; for He Who paid the cost of our redemption by dying on the cross, now lives to save us by His life: Romans 5: 10. Just as the Good Samaritan, who first rescued the man on the Jericho road, afterwards assumed the full costs of his further care (Luke 10: 35) so, too, does the Lord Jesus make Himself responsible for those who obey the command in Romans 6: 13. For the word telling us "yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead" is a command, every bit as forceful as that relating to Baptism . . . even as is Romans 12: 1; which is exemplified in 2 Corinthians 8: 5, and is made good in our lives by daily renewal; 2 Corinthians 4: 16 - But what about counting the cost?
If you will read Luke 14: 25-33 you will have the Lord’s answer. In verses 25-27 He tells us bluntly that total abandonment to Himself is the threshold leading to Discipleship, even as in Rom. 6: 13. Then He gives us two illustrative parables re counting the cost.
-The man who is not able to finish his tower will surely hear Satan’s sneers and mockery; verse 30.
-The King who essays with a small army to make war on one twice its size, if he be not able to defeat it, surely will have to send an embassage to the enemy seeking conditions of peace . .
And are we not among the number, Beloved, who have heard those Satanic jeerings because we have had to see, so often, our hopes of living "all for Jesus" go glimmering? And how often, also, we have given up, and sought conditions of peace!
But for what reason?
Clearly the cause of such defeats is our failure to count the cost. But then, WHAT IS THE COST?
In both parables the men were not able. Their need was that there should be SOMEONE IN CHARGE WHO WAS ABLE. And this is the cost - the only cost. We, ourselves, are not able. But HE IS ABLE. And handing ourselves, and our all, over to Him we are abandoning our inabilities in order to avail ourselves of His infinite ability. Compare Joshua 5: 13. For not in independence, but in total dependence on the Lord, even as little children, do we begin to enter into the meaning of Matthew 11: 29. Was there ever one more wholly dependent on God than our Exemplar, the Lord Jesus, as a Man upon earth? And was His dependence "worth while"?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:13:03 +0000
Training for Reigning - 18 - A New Year's message for heavy hearts A NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE FOR HEAVY HEARTS
IT MAY BE YOU are an invalid. Or perhaps you have been crippled, disabled, or otherwise handicapped. Or it may be that your heart is bowed down from bereavement; or possibly you may be carrying a burden of anxiety, and grief bordering on despair, for an erring loved one. Or marriage may have passed you by. Whatever the burden may be, let me ask for you a Happy New Year - through a better understanding of "the reason why."
Be assured that you have our deepest sympathy. Yet I do not write to tell you of our sorrow for you; but, as the Lord may be able to express His thoughts through this chapter, to say to you that although life may have lost its pattern, IT CANNOT BE THAT IT HAS LOST ITS PURPOSE.
From some personal experience I know what it means to be "on the shelf" through illness. I know quite well how hopeless everything can seem - the wistful yearnings to be like other people; to be able to do something towards earning one’s living; the striving to keep up an interest in, and so to be a part of, the life that goes on around you and from which solicitous loved ones often try to shut one out. There are the hopes as well - those hopes which prove to be in vain so very often - and the final sinking down into the resignation of defeat. But perhaps the hardest to accept of all the frustratings of a normal human spirit (next to incessant pain) is the prospect of being useless .
What earnestness there is in the prayers for some measure of recovery. What clingings to promises, - as we judge them to be! What disappointments and silent grief; or it may be murmurings, or even loud complainings, - to be followed by an accusing conscience, tears, depression, and sometimes chilling doubt!
Yet again there are some of you who suffer in a similar manner as you walk in the darkness with a sorrow more bitter than death
- a sorrow for which so few are fitted to sympathize since they have never passed that way - grief for a straying loved one, or from the shame of your own sin, or from the blighting of your most cherished hopes.
For all of you dear ones, whether you are one of His "hidden ones," or are exposed to public gaze, life has lost its pattern. And with its loss there has come a confusion of thinking, and a bewildered seeking for the cause of it all. For doubtless your heart has sought some consolation from the oft-repeated, "there must be a reason for it all!"
Yes, Beloved, there is a purpose behind it all: Isaiah 48: 17. For if the pattern of our lives be lost, then it generally is so because it was ours - not that of our loving Father in Heaven. Sometimes its loss means only that He is changing our course. In any case, if it be changed, then surely the Lord has changed it, and all must be well.
But how shall we understand what it all means? Let me point out that we shall not have the slightest success in solving the riddle of the "Why?" so long as we shall seek to see things through the dust - the perplexities - of the daily struggle. Instead, like David in his rejection days, we must withdraw from the fighting, and CLIMB UP INTO OUR HIGH TOWER, UP ABOVE THE FOGS AND MISTS OF EARTH INTO THE PRESENCE OF OUR GOD, WHERE WE SHALL SEE THINGS IN THE CLEAR LIGHT OF HEAVEN. Only away up there, in communing with Himself, shall we get Light on the outworkings of His purposes for our lives (Psalm 18: 2; Philippians 2: 13; 1:6).
But do we do that, Beloved? Do we humble ourselves, and seek to lay ourselves out before Him that He may be able to reveal to us something of His mind concerning our lives? Or do we keep on asking Him to make us better, or to lighten the burdens so that we may be relieved of our troubles, or to stop him, her, in his, her, mad career, or to take us home to Heaven out of it all? For just so long as we keep up the battle to get OUR purposes to come to pass, then just that long are we hindering THE LORD’S purposes from coming to pass. For after all are not our own attitudes our greatest hindrances towards acceptance of an unwanted position in life? We need only to ask ourselves, "What is my attitude towards this burden?" to discover where all the dissatisfaction, the struggle to change things, comes from.
Oh, Beloved, surely it requires not great spirituality (only willingness) for us to "sink our will in His will"- to say with His beloved Son, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight" (Matthew 11: 26). Then a New Year can have a truly happy beginning if we will realize that:
(a) After some real honest heart-searching before the Lord;
(b) After the recognition of our fault, and a humble confession of our unwillingness to accept what He has allowed to come to us as our portion in life;
(c) WE CAN CHANGE OUR ATTITUDES by humbly accepting that which He has allowed, praying, "not my will, but Thine be done," and then asking for grace (Hebrews 4: 16) to really mean it, and to live it out - something that will not be nearly so hard as some of you will be imagining.
And then He will be able to begin to show you that all the while He has had in mind for you A PLANNED FUTURE (Job 23: 14 with James 5: 11).
Then all the struggling against the conditions which have been so hateful so utterly contrary to all that you have desired - will come to an end. In place of Frustration and Resentment there will be a growing sense of Restfulness and Fulfilment, since you will have made it possible at last for Him to widen out, and so to begin to reveal, the avenues of His purposes for you. For once our wills are broken He can start to lead us into His.
And so for you dear, heavily-burdened ones, I am asking a truly Happy New Year, in that it shall bring you into a consciousness of having entered into a God-planned life, which, if He be not come, He now shall be able to open up to you.
But remember, a sulky Resignation to His will is no substitute for a downright Acceptance of it!
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:12:23 +0000
Training for Reigning - 19 - Clouds can have two sides CLOUDS CAN HAVE TWO SIDES
NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS to all readers of this chapter! - But before beginning my subject, let me make humble apology to the numerous correspondents whose good letters I have been unable to answer. They have been cheering and encouraging, and for every one of them I would thank the writers most heartily. It just hasn’t been possible to keep pace with any but those which tell of pressing problems - all of which require to be set before the Lord, with a waiting upon Him for His solutions. This takes much more time than to write notes expressing my own opinions
- which could be of no value to anyone. So, dear reader, if you should be one of the neglected ones, may I ask for your forgiveness and indulgence?
Another New Year! And how much we should like to be able to peer into the months which (if the Lord be not come) may lie ahead, to see what they will bring us, especially for numbers who are out of work, or who may be ill. Will unemployed ones get their jobs back? Sick ones recover? Will there be joy and success-or sorrow and loss? Indeed, one of our hard-to-accept lessons is that a life without sorrows aplenty would be disastrous. So determined are some of us to try to make our pleasurable dreams come true that anyone who may mention sorrow’s possibility suffers immediate rejection as a joy-killer - a "sad sack," as the slangsters say. Nevertheless, as Mary Dana declared:
"Clouds and darkness oft distress me;
Great and many are my foes;
Anxious cares and thoughts oppress me;
But my Father knows."
So, since many dear ones are beginning 1959 with clouds of anxiety, depression or grief hanging over them, let us consider them for a while.
There are many kinds of clouds, of course. Some are occasioned by unconfessed sin, or by disappointment, worry or resentment. Persecution, or suffering and sorrow cause others to come; and sometimes the deepest, darkest of all are those of doubt, or unbelief. But whatever their origin may be, they often shut out Heaven’s light, so making us easy marks for the Powers of darkness. Wise it will be, then, to seek to understand as much as may be possible about them, especially since every cloud may become A CLOUD OF REVELATION. In illustration of this, consider the Pillar of Cloud which went from leading Israel to stand behind them, between their camp and that of the Egyptians. For it was "a cloud and darkness" to their enemies, but also an out-shining of blessed light during the dark hours of Israel’s Red-Sea experience (Exodus 14: 19-20). THAT CLOUD WAS TWO DIFFERENT THINGS TO TWO DIFFERENT LOTS OF PEOPLE, and at the same time. The reason was most important: God was in that cloud! To the God-ignoring Egyptians it meant only darkness, difficulty, confusion, and more perplexing problems. But to the God-fearing, redeemed ones of Israel it glowed as a revelation of the overshadowing presence and protection of the Almighty, requiring of them only their trust and obedience for the fulfilment of its promise.
Now let me digress to outline two or three common kinds of clouds experienced by young Christians. Many years ago Elsie’s girl friend, Helen, met a youth who was attracted to her and asked for a date. Fearful of confessing Christ, she made excuses for refusing him. However, he was persistent; so she compromised, accepting his date if he would promise to come to the Gospel meeting with her. He agreed. She did not enjoy her evening out, and had a bad conscience about it, but succeeded in convincing herself she had done it for his good, hoping he might get saved. Car rides and other dates followed, for Helen found it harder and harder to refuse him. Then one night he professed to get saved. Helen was overjoyed; but when, soon after, he started to get "serious" she realized she hadn’t counted on that, for she was still in high school. Of course she had been faithfully warned that her path had been taken in denial of the Lordship of Christ; but young people seldom respect the counsel of their elders. They usually feel that no one can understand their affairs so well as they, themselves. Well, Elsie, convinced that Helen had done well in getting the boy-friend out to meetings, followed her example. Didn’t the boy-friend profess salvation? And didn’t that show that the older Christians had been all wrong? So, completely forgetting 1 Samuel 2: 30, she began her own romancing. Results: Helen married the boy-friend (who promptly threw up his profession) finding out too late that she had earned herself a cloud which was destined to last until he died many years later. And fun-loving Elsie had to be "read out of the meeting," to carry her own special cloud for the rest of her days. Both of them found out that when God uttered the last half of 1 Samuel 2:30 He meant what He said!
Jim’s story was quite different. Before conversion he had been leader of his gang; but so soon as he sought to take his stand as a Christian, the fellows began to give him a hard time. Clouds of Reproach and Persecution darkened his life for many days. But little by little (Deuteronomy 7: 17-22) they withdrew from him; for not wanting Jim’s Saviour, neither did they desire the company of His child: Then one day his clouds lit up with the very light of Heaven. No longer dark and threatening, he read in them a glorious promise. Read Matthew 5: 11-12, and you will see why.
Elihu, you may remember, counselled Job to take a second look at his black clouds (Job 37: 21); for in spite of his youth, he had learned that the sun never ceases its shining. The clouds only make it appear to be so. This thought brings me to Bill’s case, who was out of work - again. By nature a chronic worrier, the Lord turned his attention to Colossians 3:24b: "Ye serve the Lord Christ." Taking it to himself literally, he realized he wasn’t out of work at all, since his Master was still in business. He then made it his practice to report to the Lord for work every morning. Having prayed, he would wait quietly before Him for instruction. Sometimes his thoughts were turned to tract distribution, as his job for that day. At times they were directed to the need for help at home, or for other people. But always His Heavenly Master (Matthew 23: 10) had work for him to do. And quite as realistically did Bill expect Him to supply his daily needs. And He did, never once failing him. True it is that for three days’ work he once was paid with a bag of woody turnips. Yet, since the Lord was his Master, this mattered little. It only meant the Lord would supply his needs in other ways - see what I mean? Thus Bill’s dark clouds became reflectors of Heavenly light when he believed, and dared to act upon, their revelation to him of Colossians 3: 24b.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:11:47 +0000
Training for Reigning - 20 - Your top interest is? YOUR TOP INTEREST IS...?
CAN YOU NAME rr without hesitation? In the ‘teen ages, interests often are unsettled. First, one will have the top spot in one’s thinking, then a new one will arise to push the earlier one down below. Usually, however, by the time the late ‘teens have been reached, and "Fool’s Hill" (which all must conquer!) have been passed, young people begin to move on out into the more settled levels of the beginner’s stage of adult life. So do not be perplexed, my ‘teener friends, if you should find yourselves "halting between two opinions" respecting what your chief interest may turn out, eventually, to be.
For the sake of our little talk this time let us consider the
following briefly noted groups of common interests:
(1) Academic: Books, School, College, or other study courses.
(2) Technical: Learning trades, or other skills, experimental or Scientific doings, Art, Music, Writing.
(3) Social: Home affairs, Entertainment, T.V., "Do’s," Novel Reading, Boy-meets-girl, Good times together, Courtship, Being in love.
(4) Motor Activity: Some form of work, Hobbies, Sports, Recreation, "Horse-play," Cars, and going places.
(5) Humorous: Telling yarns, or jokes, Smart slang or snappy retorts, "Being funny," or "acting crazy" - keeping them all laughing. Now, since we all know that everybody desires to out-shine his fellows in some one thing, let me suggest that you get a pencil and underline the interest, or interests, that appeal to most of you . . . not those you think you ought to be interested in, but only those you really feel keenest about. Then, if there are more than one, go over them and decide which item has the top-most place in your thoughts - your interest.
(6) Spiritual: the Word of God, prayer, and general interest in the things of God . . . (but not including your service for Him - which can be a satisfying activity outlet, in it- self, and apart from much fellowship with God) . . . Your comparison will give you an insight into the measure of worth-while-ness of your present way of living; because most of such interests as those of the first five groups either are passing things, or vary from time to time. Indeed, a few years from now, should the Lord leave us here that long, you are likely to find it hard to believe that they ever seemed of such great importance to you! For even the hot fires of a boy’s ambition, or the intensities of his being do not, cannot, last very long, you know . . or, did you know? Dis-illusionment commonly follows in the wake of the interests and dreams of late adolescence and early adult life. The time is bound to come when, as you review your once flaming pursuits, you will feel you definitely "missed the mark"- even as I did, myself.
What then . . . do I seek to dampen your ardour, or to put old heads on your shoulders? . . . I surely hope not! But since the getting clear of encumbering interests is a painful process, and the breaking of habits of thinking and acting formed in these years is difficult, let me make a simple suggestion. It is that, even now as you are reading this chapter, you will pause and listen intently for a certain "still, small voice". . . the voice of One Who (in human terms) was Himself a young Man
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me:" Matthew 11: 29.
"It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth," we learn from Lamentations 3: 27; while the contrasting details of Ecclesiastes 11: 9 are a record of "Youth’s Revolt"- fruitless revolt! against the wearing of any yoke contrary to its own inclinations, impulses and insufficient judgment. Perhaps somewhere above this low level, yet much below that of our Master’s call to us, we shall locate the plane of our own Christian walk after we have made notes of our chief interests. And perhaps, (Oh may it be so!) there may be aroused once more within us all a longing to be, truly, "All for Jesus! - all my being’s ransomed powers."
-"But, Mr. Paul, I don’t seem to be that way. I guess it’s the way I was born, or brought up, or something. But I can’t seem to want to be much different than I am. Yes, I’ve prayed lots about it, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. I know I’m not like what I ought to be; but I am what I am, and I can’t help it - nobody can!"
Hmmm. Sounds quite hopeless, doesn’t it? Yet surely it cannot be hopeless, else of what value are all the exhortations in the Word - such as 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15, for example? There we read, "For the love of Christ constraineth us . .
Without going further, let us notice the implications of that word "constraineth." It means (in the original) "to be held together"- or compressed . . . compressed into the single channel of living described in the next verse as living, not unto themselves, but "unto Him which died for them and rose again."
Did you ever see men digging in a sewer trench? Their entire field of activity is bounded by the trench walls. There is not much room to "cultivate wide interests" in such narrow confines! Their type of working exactly pictures for us ONE CHANNEL LIVING - the very idea behind the thought, "constrained by love . . . to live unto Him"- a single channel of living which we soon discover, however, to be as wide as the interests of the living God! To use the metaphors of Ezekiel 47: 1-5, the waters may seem but ankle depth at the start, but straight ahead lie waters which cannot be passed over -"waters to swim in."
But why do we find it such a hard matter to get started, and to work up an interest in, this love-constraining form of living?
These verses declare that the death of all for whom Christ died is counted as having taken place when He died on the cross, this truth reminds us at once of Rom. 6; and there, in verse 13, we discover the main factor in our failure to be constrained by the love of Christ into one-channel living. It is the failure to have yielded ourselves unto God. No wonder our interest wanes!
Now let me emphasize that the definite act of yielding oneself to God stands (as we professed in our baptism) as the starting point of a proper progress in the things of God. That the Holy Spirit intends us to understand that it is a definite, single act of yielding of which He is speaking is indicated by the aorist tense in the following clauses: Yield yourselves unto God; so now yield your members, vs. 13, 19; present your bodies, Romans 12: 1; first gave their own selves to the Lord, 2 Corinthians 8: 5. Grammarians tell us the aorist indicates "a completed action": (see Green’s Grammar, or the Newberry Bible).
But does the going to our knees to hand over, definitely, to the Lord "all we are and have" bring about some wonderful new "second blessing"? No, it does not! All that happens is the establishing within us of a NEW ATI’ITUDE TOWARDS OUR GOD. But it is this that makes it possible for Him to begin to work in us more fully "to will and to do of His good pleasure":
Phil. 2: 13. Then, each morning, we shall need to give it the daily support of daily renewal, in order that we shall faint not:
2 Cor. 4:16.
So you see your case Is not hopeless after all, my discouraged young friends! Let us be in a hurry to obey Rom. 6: 13, and so to rid ourselves of the old, hindering, self-pleasing attitude which denies that we died with Christ and rose again to walk in newness of life. Then His love-constraining one-channel living - unto Himself - will become our top interest.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:11:12 +0000
Training for Reigning - 21 - Opportunity for Advancement OPPORTUNITY FOR ADVANCEMENT
DON’T SELL YOUR "brains" completely!
Neither be content to reserve for your spiritual development the left-over minutes, and fagged attention, more or less exhausted by other interests. For certainly Earth’s mess-of -pottage, for one of Heaven’s own, may be a good position and a good income - with opportunity for advancement. It may smell most savoury to your progress-hungry soul but the blunt truth is that it won’t be worth a fig to you in the age-after-age eras of "the ages to come" that are just around the corner of your present occupations.
Moreover, if you should be called away from earth in possession of a poor, success-shriveled soul, remember you will have to live with a poor, little, success-shriveled soul for a long, long time - "unto the ages"- if I understand my Bible aright.
If the Personality that is You is destined to continue in eternity, your only chance of having it "grow up unto Christ" (Ephesians 4: 13, 15) is this present life-time opportunity. True enough, when we get to Heaven we shall be liberated from every form of hindrance. Our vessels, whether large or small, will be filled to over-flowing; and we shall bear all the weight of glory that our shoulders, broadened and firmed by earth-weights of "light affliction" (2 Corinthians 4: 17), are capable of sustaining. But all the Heavenly blessings described in the Word are related to what we are when we go to Heaven. Spiritual giants will be "like Christ" in the spiritual giant capacities. But spiritual dwarfs, as far as has been revealed, never can hope for anything more than to be like Him in their pitifully tiny capacities. So, if you don’t amount to much as a Christian down here . . . well, figure it out for yourself . . . and get your sights up! Colossians 3: 1-4.
My reason for writing in this manner is the observation that so many of our young people who have ability, or possess good educations, seem to be selling themselves, body, soul and spirit, to some Corporation, or Institution, or Position, which demands and absorbs every ounce of their thinking powers - initiative, inventiveness, energy and push, direction, and general application - and whose demands never grow less.
The Urge to Achieve, found in every one of us to some degree, receives a strong impetus every time some advance is made. But all too often the consequent increase in responsibility which must be assumed results in our being compelled to devote (!) every particle of our mental abilities and driving power to making good in the new position. Thus Satan, unable to swallow us up by means of worldly pleasures, etc., achieves his ends by a method far more compelling than earth’s tinsel and glitter. He contrives to bury us . . . - Heaven’s Own! . . . by degrees, and often completely, in the alternating earth-slides of Opportunity and Increased Responsibility. Proverbs 30: 15 provides us with a metaphor which seems peculiarly suitable at this point:
"The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, give, give."
True enough increased responsibility does develop and broaden one’s capacity. But of what consequence is a broadened capacity if a Filthy Lucre worshipper receives the maximum benefit there from, while God, and our own spiritual growth, must be content with any left-overs there may be of time, and of tired-out attention that our sense of duty may be able to drum up?
No, I’m not pleading for more Service, but for more Brain- space. After all, our mental equipment only has a limited capacity. And if every nook and cranny of it is crammed with earth interests . . . well, it will be rather inconsistent for us to belabour the hell-bound for "living for the present," don’t you think?
Here is one of several angles: if the Lord does not come, some of you young men are going to find yourselves required to take up the duties and responsibilities of overseers in the Assemblies of God. Are you permitting the Lord to fit you for this important work, if the need should arise? Read, for example, 2 Tim. 2: 2, and you will see that, while true spirituality appertains to that section of our thought-world designated in the Bible as "the heart," an understanding of "what Israel ought to do" is possible, only, to those wh reserve sufficient brain-space for storage with the -truths (plus chapter and verse) and principles of the Word of God . . . No earthly-minded Corporation, or Institution, or Position, ever can be so important as the Assemblies of the saints.
Another angle is, it seems to me, the need for Heaven-trained "mothers-in-Israel". . . sisters who have allowed the Holy Spirit, acting through the Word, to displace the false ideas, ideals, principles and rules of living, practiced by sin-darkened worldlings, with those of everlasting Truth and Righteousness, of Grace and Things-worthwhile.
For be it ever remembered that, (although the inexperience of youth often fails to see it - for a time) the wisdom of this world (i.e. its philosophies) is foolishness with God . . . the Living God, Who stretched out immeasurable space, flinging galaxies  
- or star dust - there into after the counsel of His will, Who buried the complexities of a solar system within the confines of an atom, Who led aright the thinking of His creatures in the days while they remained in their proper relationship to Himself, and Who seeks to do the same, nowadays, for His sons and daughters of the New Creation . . . "this God is our God forever and ever:" Psa. 48: 14. So let us make all possible room in our mental world for the counsels of His Word lest we be victimized by daughters of the business horseleach.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:10:32 +0000
Training for Reigning - 22 - Opportunity for Advancement pt2 OPPORTUNITY FOR ADVANCEMENT (Part 2)
IT HAS TO BE admitted - nay, emphasized! - that there are no opportunities for advancement (in the ordinary sense of the term) in the Assemblies of God. One day, just after leaving a Gospel Hall, I noticed a man several yards in front of me who was being greeted by one approaching him. The latter called out "Hello Bill!" slapped his friend on the back with, "Congratulations on getting the chair!" followed by other complimentary remarks. As I passed them I learned that the recipient of these greetings had been elected chairman of the Board of Management of the local denominational church. And then it came home to me as never before that it would be a very long time, indeed, before any brother in that local Assembly ever would achieve such a promotion - in the mercy of the Lord, never!
Musing on this feature of Assembly Life for some time thereafter, I saw with greater clearness that His Assemblies do not exist to provide opportunities for advancement for His people, but rather, so to speak, for Himself -"that in all things HE MIGHT HAVE THE PRE-EMINENCE"; Col. 1: 18. Furthermore, it was He, Himself, Who said, and provided the example, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant"
- your "doulos," meaning, "bond servant," "slave"; Matthew 20: 25-28. - Opportunity to develop humility.
And yet, again - in a very different sense - it is plain that there are opportunities for advancement that are quite contrary to those of normal human ambition, and that have values which one "can take with him."
(Hint: If you will begin to build into your thinking the practice of asking yourself, "Can I take this with me to Heaven?" you will save yourself losses untold in the ages to come. Once such thinking becomes a habit, you will realize the solid good sense behind Colossians 3: 1-4). have to advance in our knowledge of, and ability to apply to our lives, the age-enduring Scriptures of Truth. Timothy, you may recall, was urged "to meditate on these things," to "be In them" in order that his "advancement" might be "manifest to all"; 1 Timothy 4: 15, literal renderings.
Possibly the reader may be a professional person, or may be engaged in skilled technical work, or be in business. Let me ask, how far can you hope to progress in your chosen field. If you fold your mental arms, sit back, and complacently drift with the current of affairs? In these competitive days, to adopt such an attitude would be to court the possibility of losing your position. But if this be true in earthly matters, is there not a corresponding danger of positional loss in the business of Christian living, where competitive forces assail us from spiritual, as well as material, angles?
If you had a problem relating to your work you would not be worthy of your calling were you to pick up some recognized authority on the subject, glance at a paragraph or two, then hurry away to blunder through your day.
But you don’t do that. No opportunity for advancement can be expected by anyone who is indifferent to the possibilities inherent in the solving of such difficulties. That’s your job. You are expected to do something about it - and you do. The reason? - RECOGNIZED COMPULSION?
In the business of Christian living, however, there are few recognized compulsions:
-We can read our Bibles - or neglect them.
-We can pray - or, well, you know.
-We can set ourselves the task of finding out what God is saying to us in a certain portion of Scripture - or we can pick up any thought that seems obvious, and leave the rest to the elders and preachers.
-We can inconvenience ourselves to the extent of making notes of whatever we do learn from the Word - or we can depend on a memory that already is preoccupied with more immediate concerns.
What I refer to, in particular, is the opportunity each of us
-We can mark our Bibles, make notes in the margins, and so turn them into real serviceable tools - or we can keep them as clean and neat as if they were library novels.
But why bring up these things?
It is because, as I noted in the last chapter, so many seem to be devoting themselves body, soul and spirit to further some worldly ambitious project, while the opportunities for advancement in the things of God must go begging - yes, while the "hope-chests" for the ages to come are being stuffed to the lids with wood, hay and stubble. Their brain-space almost filled to capacity with earth interests, the things that are worthwhile, eternal, as it was with the Lord Jesus at Bethlehem’s inn, are crowded out.
And so I appeal again to you dear Christians: Don’t let soon- to-perish earth occupations cheat you out of your prospects of His approval! Martha’s all-absorbing too-much service reached the limit of its value when the dishes were washed and put away. Mary chose "that good part" which lasted until she went to Heaven, is hers still and shall be "unto the ages of the ages"; for "it shall not be taken away from her"; Luke 10: 42.
May the adverb "richly" in Col. 3: 16 be true of you and me
- and shall we say, soon?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:09:56 +0000
Training for Reigning - 23 - Why can't we go there? WHY CANT WE GO THERE?
NANCY IS A CLEVER Christian girl who has a problem that is bothering her a good deal. She has attended Assembly meetings all her life because her parents are in Assembly fellowship in their town. But Nancy has some friends in High School who have joined a certain church, lately. They like to tell her what a wonderful place their church is, and about all the things they do there that no one could do in the Gospel Hall. Besides, all the people in that church are saved. They have missionaries away in the foreign field telling out the Gospel. Their pastor preaches about the Second Coming of the Lord, too. And there are lots of young people there . . . and social gatherings for them also. Nancy can’t see a single thing the matter with them
Why, they even say they gather together in the Lord’s Name; and nobody can belong to their church who hasn’t been baptized;. . . and, well, WHY CAN’T WE GO THERE SOMETIMES? is one problem that perplexes her considerably these days. She feels no one ever seems to explain much about it.
Now it may be that some of our young readers have been wondering about the same things; and that they might be interested in knowing why it is that we must keep separate from the church fellowship of such dear Christian people - hence the following: the main reason is that God calls every child of His, wh9 is willing to own the Lordship of Christ, unto a fellowship that belongs to His Son. (See 1 Corinthians 1: 9, noting the Possessive Genitive Case; Gk. Likely the expression is inclusive, referring to every feature of the Son’s fellowship, therefore certainly including that of the local Assembly - the particular theme before the Apostle’s mind in that chapter).
Probably there were many fellowships in Corinth of one kind or another. But there was only one form of a material "fellowship of His Son,"- the Assembly of God.
Now, if an Assembly is to be a "fellowship of His Son," it will have to be like the fellowship described in Acts 2: 41-42. For it was the first such fellowship in the world, and was brought into being under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. He started it: He started it the way, and after the order, that God desired; and He has never changed His mind about its purpose, form, composition, or order since then. ("Selah"). Compare 2 John 6.
There are other passages, also, in the New Testament (in addition to Matt. 18: 20) that tell us more about what a fellowship has to be if it is to be a true fellowship of His Son. By making comparison, then, with that which is written, we soon discover that NO DENOMINATIONAL CHURCH EVER CAN BE A FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SON. To explain why this is so, let me tell you a bit about what such churches are.
1. (a) A "church" is a company of Christians gathered under, and distinguished by, a denominational name.
(b) The building In which they gather is usually called a "church," also.
2. Such a church is held together by:
(a) Agreement to a set of Bible teachings known as a "Creed";
(b) Membership in the church organization;
(c) Vows to abide faithfully by the rules of the church as outlined in its "constitution."
3. Such churches are presided over by a clergyman, who
(a) Is called "reverend";
(b) Presides over the worship;
(c) Administers the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper;
(d) Has sole rights in the pulpit;
(e) And is paid a salary for his services.
4. Thus these churches are divided into "clergy" and "laity."
And since there is usually only one man to serve as minister, he
becomes, in reality, a priest, acting as a go-between between
God and His people. (This is "one-man ministry").
5. Such churches are supported, financially, by an unrestricted collection plate, money being accepted from saved and unsaved, alike.
More might be mentioned; but if you are at all familiar with your Bible you will see at once that THERE IS NOT ONE SINGLE ITEM MENTIONED IN THAT LIST THAT IS NOT CONTRARY TO THE WORD OF GOD . . . No, not one!
And when you have thought about it, you will realize, also, that such a church could never be counted a fellowship of His Son. For the Son never could own a church, as a sharing-in- common, a partnership, belonging to Himself that completely sets aside the plain teachings of the Bible.
Moreover, you will understand, as well, that YOU MUST MAKE A CHOICE YOURSELF (something like the time when you were saved) respecting the question:
"Am I willing to accept the Word of God as my sole guide respecting my Assembly fellowship? Or, shall I refuse the Lord’s call ‘unto a fellowship of His Son,’ and join, instead, a company of Christians whose fellowship is organized under, and governed by, man-made rules and regulations?"
And while you are considering the matter, remember Hebrews 13: 13, won’t you? . . . then, in the next chapter, if the Lord will, we shall seek to learn "What saith the Scriptures?" re the five ideas about which you have just been reading.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:09:17 +0000
Training for Reigning - 24 - Why can't we go there? pt2 WHY CAN’T WE GO THERE? (Part 2)
B EFORE YOU START reading let me warn you that parts of this article may prove none too "interesting." But if ever you are likely to ask that ill-informed question, "Why can’t we all be one?" then you owe it to yourself to plow right through. Reading time is only seven minutes.
As we resume our study of the five groups of ideas, that as a rule, form the basic features of a denominational church, we need to remind ourselves that our sole concern must be, not to prove that we are right and that they are wrong, but to make certain that we shall identify ourselves only with a "fellowship of the Son"- the fellowship to which our faithful God has called us; I Cor. 1: 9.
At this point let me digress to make sure you understand the meaning of that word "fellowship."
When brethren remark that certain Christians cannot be received into Assembly fellowship because "we aren’t in fellowship with them," do you understand what is meant? Because many Christians have a very wrong idea of what those words imply. Let me emphasize once more, then, that
That suggests two things:
(a) When people have something they can share-in-common (share together) then to that extent they can be "in fellowship."
(b) And when they are united to share-in-common then they form "a fellowship."
I Cor. 1: 10 makes it clear that if Christians are to form a fellowship that belongs to the Son, they will have to have a common understanding of His mind concerning His Assemblies
- must all "speak the same thing." Unless this is so how can there be a sharing-in-common? There must be common agreement respecting the basic principles of God’s Word as it relates to His Assemblies - or else there are no Assembly truths that we can share-in-common. That just means that without such a common agreement, a basis for fellowship cannot exist, and divisions must form themselves automatically.
Now do you understand?
Let’s hope that you do for many well-intentioned Christians seem determined to ignore that fact! BUT YOU CAN’T STRADDLE TWO HORSES GOING IN DIFFERENT PATHS
- . . It’s to attempt to do so, figuratively, that is the direct cause of so much man-made confusion among His gathered people today . . . And now let’s get back to considering "What saith the Scriptures?" respecting those five groups of basic ideas around which denominational churches revolve:
(1) A denominational "church" is a company of Christians, gathered under, and distinguished by, a denominational name. Their building is usually called "a church" also.
Contra: All distinguishing (and so dividing) names, other than those given to Christians, generally in the Bible, are expressly forbidden: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13; 3:3-4.
Nowhere in Scripture is a meeting-place called "a church." Instead we read of several "churches" meeting in houses: Romans 16: 4-5; Colossians 4: 15.
All lexicons give the meaning for "ekklesia" (the word translated "church") the English word "assembly"- an assembly composed of people. An "assembly of God" is described as "a spiritual house" "builded together" of "living stones"; 1 Peter 2: 5; Ephesians 2: 22; 1 Timothy 3: 15.
(2) The denominational church is held together by agreement to a creed; membership in the church organization; vows to abide faithfully by the rules of the church as outlined in their "constitution."
Contra: Assemblies of God are held together by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 3: 16), acknowledgment of the Name and Lordship of Christ and obedience to His Word (Revelation 3: 8).
Christ never instructed His servants to draw up a creed. The so-called Apostles’ Creed was not prepared by the Apostles, but by men who sought to improve the means of imparting truth adopted by the Holy Spirit. If a creed had been needful, surely no man was better fitted to give one to us than the Apostle Paul. But it is noteworthy that in Acts 20: 32 he did not say to the Ephesian elders, "I commend you to God and the creed." He knew that nothing less than the whole Word of God would suffice to teach us His will for us.
Church organizations are wholly foreign to Scripture. Assembly fellowship, not membership, is what is set before us in the New Testament.
Church "constitutions," likewise, are completely man-made. So, too, is the practice of making vows required of those who would "join the church."
The Bible gives no hint that Christians should be required to formally "join" an Assembly of God. Instead, following the order instituted by the Holy Spirit Himself, a person who has "received the Word" unto Salvation, has been baptized as a believer, and who seeks to "continue stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" (which just means the teachings they gave us, by the Spirit, as recorded in the New Testament) can be "added" to "the fellowship" as simply now as then; Acts 2: 41-42.
But my space is at an end. Finish it up with me in the next chapter (if the Lord will) won’t you?. Meantime, how about making the last part of 1 Sam. 2: 30 your special guidance- text for this year.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:08:44 +0000
Training for Reigning - 25 - Why can't we go there? pt3 WHY CAN’T WE GO THERE? (Part 3)
NOW LET’S CONCLUDE the theme occasioned by Nancy’s question. When she came to understand how truly evangelical her high school friends’ church really was, she found it puzzling, you recall, to see why she couldn’t go there - sometimes, at least. Of course she had no thought of joining them. She merely wished to go there occasionally, and have her girl friends come with her to the Assembly meetings. Indeed, it seemed to her a bare possibility that they might see for themselves the more Scriptural order of a New Testament Assembly . . . but any way, SHE WANTED TO GO - so why couldn’t she?
That was why we were noting in earlier chapters the first part of the answer: our faithful God has called His children unto a fellowship, a sharing-in-common, that belongs to His Son: I Cor. 1: 9. With this in view we have been testing by His Word two of the five basic ideas of dnominational church practices - reaching the unhappy but inevitable conclusion that they were contrary to God’s mind as revealed in the Scriptures. So, also, shall we be forced to a similar sentence (alas!) respecting the other three.
(3) Denominational churches usually are presided over by a clergyman, styled "reverend," who presides over the worship, administers the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper, and who is paid a salary for his services, having sole rights in the pulpit.
Contra: Since Psalm 111: 9 declares that God’s name is reverend, surely the argument that the term can be used as a scholastic degree is in no sense sufficient to erase the crass effrontery necessary for even the best of sinners to assert that his name is reverend also!
In Philippians 1: 1 we learn that the Assembly there was composed of saints, oversees ("bishops") and ministers in the sense of servants ("deacons") - ALL IN THE PLURAL. Again the priesthood of ALL believers is distinctly taught (1 Peter 2: 5,9) as are the corresponding facts that no one man has all the gifts needed for Assembly ministry (1 Corinthians 12: 7-11; 28-30; Ephesians 4: 7), and that all gifts are needed; 1 Corinthians 12: 21-25. Sole rights in the pulpit is an idea contrary to 1 Corinthians 14: 29-31.
The Apostles (whose example we are told to follow: 2 Timothy 3: 10, 14; 1 Corinthians 11: 1; etc.) received general instruction re their support from the Lord, Himself. Often times they worked with their hands to earn their living (1 Cor. 4: 9, 12) but never were they paid a salary for their Labors for the Lord. See: Luke 9: 2-5; 10: 3-8; 22: 35; 1 Thessalonians 2: 9; 2 Thessalonians 3: 8; 1 Corinthians 4: 9-12; 9: 14 with Philippians 4: 14-18.
Sometimes folk offer the definitely figurative language of 2 Cor. 11: 8 as an excuse for paying salaries to their ministers. But if we were expected to understand that some Assemblies paid literal "wages" to Paul, then we shall be forced to admit, also, that he literaly "robbed" them when he accepted their money! But vs. 9 with Phil. 4: 14-18 tells the full, true story.
(4) Division of the people of God into "clergy" and "laity" is directly opposed to New Testament teaching. Christ established an equal and undivided brotherhood under His own direct Lordship; Matthew 23: 8-12. But scarcely had the apostles gone to Heaven before men rose up, assuming priestly authority, to fill the gaps (as they argued) left by the loss of His sent ones. Indeed, our teachers believe that John refers to these men when he speaks of the "Nicolaitanes"- a compound word meaning "Conquerors of the laity," the people. But notice the Lord’s words in Revelation 2: 6, 15: "which I also hate," "which thing I hate." Next, contrast the use of the word "kleeros" (from which "clergy" is derived) in 1 Peter 5: 2-3. There "the flock of God" is stated to be His "clergy"- His inheritance.
Furthermore (as has been noted earlier) we learn in 1 Peter 2:5, 9, about the priesthood of all believers - not just one man per church.
(5) And now in conclusion, with reference to the acceptance of money for the Lord’s work from unsaved people, read Proverbs 15:8a; 21:27; 3 John 7.
Much more might be added, I regret to say. But if you have followed these sketchy notes, surely you young people will realize that no denominational church ever can fill the requirements set forth in the Bible for a collective fellowship that belongs to the Son. Since the entire system of organization employed is opposed to His revealed mind, there just isn’t a Scriptural Assembly basis which we can share in common. Fellowship with them, therefore, is impossible.
But there is a second matter to consider. If you begin to go back and forward to such places you will soon become A NARROW CHRISTIAN! God does not want His children to be narrow - to be "straitened." HE WANTS THEM TO BE ENLARGED. That is why the Holy Spirit issues a second call to us: "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6: 11-13-18.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:07:59 +0000
Training for Reigning - 26 - Led by the Spirit LED BY THE SPIRIT
IF WE LIVE IN the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5: 25). Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (vs. 16). For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are (manifestly) the sons of God. (Romans 8: 14). Be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5: 18). Filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3: 19).
Ever wonder how you might know the constant leading of the Spirit, or longed for the blessing of His fulness? Have you ever tried and tried to "empty yourself" of everything, so that He might take full possession of you, only to end the experiment with a dismal sense of defeat?
Many Christians have had experiences of this sort and have given up their quest convinced that such a blessing was far beyond their reach. But when we remember that the "fulness of the Spirit" is meant to be the normal, habitual experience of every believer, it becomes apparent that there must be some misunderstanding somewhere. Let us review the basic teachings relating to this subject given us by the Holy Spirit Himself.
You will recall that in the early days of the church the disciples were led in thought, word and deed by the Spirit by means of recollections of our Lord’s teachings (John 14: 26), principles gleaned from the Old Testament, direct revelation and, at times, by indirect or "providential" occurrences. When we read of such manifestations of the Comforter’s presence and power in the Acts it is imperative that we remember that apart from such direction they had no means of knowing what the Lord would have them do in the new Dispensation of Grace. But all is changed now; for since the Holy Spirit led men to write the New Testament Scriptures we have been provided with a written record of the leadings of the Spirit.
This is a most important truth to realize, since it is at this very point so many of us miss the way.
In demonstration of the fact that for us the leadings of the Spirit are found in His written Word consider, for example, His exhortation in Eph. 4:20-32. When we read ". . . that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man . . . and that ye put on the new man . . . "we are being led by the Spirit to "put off" and to "putd on." These words (with all other of His exhortations in the Scriptures) give us His definite leading. They are "the mind of the Spirit": He is seeking by them to lead us; and it is our duty and privilege to follow His leading. And in the measure that we are obedient to such leadings, we are "led of the Spirit," and are "walking in the Spirit."
In so writing we are not unmindful of the truth that the Spirit of God is sovereign and may use any means whatsoever may please Him. Nevertheless, many who sing ardently, "Where He leads me I will follow," think only of a possible leading to go some place, and in their search for extra-scriptural leadings they seem to overlook the great and vastly important field of everyday living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, made possible by seeking to follow His leadings as He has recorded them in the Word. (Galatians 5:24-25).
One such passage (cutting squarely across the writer’s own path) is that of Galatians 5: 22-23 where we learn the character of the Fruit of the Spirit:
"Love, Joy, Peace,
Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness,
Faith, Meekness, Self-control."
These nine graces the Paraclete seeks to produce in our lives as His fruit. Yet, at the same time, they provide us with a standard, a rule of life, by which we can judge the character of our lives. Let us make no mistake in the matter: it is along these lines that the Spirit seeks to lead the Christian. Why not memorize them, so that we may be helped to keep them ever before us? Oh how different our lives will be when we shall have learned (when it becomes the habit of our lives) to "walk according to this rule"!
Gal. 5: 16 tells us the direct result of seeking to walk in the Spirit, that is, according to His leadings as they are found in His Word: victory over indwelling sin.
In principle it is something like a man who walks through a town at night. If he will be content to walk along the brightly lighted Main Street he will be in no danger of stumbling in the darkness of the back alleys (John 8: 12).
Moreover, to the extent that we follow His leadings in the Scriptures, walking in the Spirit, we make it possible for Him to give us deeper experiences of His ministry. Not only will we reflect the nine graces of His fruit, "walking worthy of our Lord unto all pleasing," but we shall enjoy the birthright of every child of God, the Fulness of the Spirit. (See Acts 6: 5; 7: 55; 11: 24). In these passages the "fulness" mentioned appears to have been a habitual condition, the result of allowing the Holy Spirit (through obedience to His Word) to take possession of His temple.
To this end may "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit" (the participation in what is derived from the Holy Spirit: Vine) be with us all. "Amen." (2 Corinthians 13: 14).
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:07:24 +0000
Training for Reigning - 27 - Coloured Thinking COLOURED Thinking
YOUNG CHRISTIAN, since you are in the process of building your thinking, it is most necessary that you shall get your thoughts "on straight"; for it is as true of you and me that as we think in our hearts, so ARE WE, as it is of the person indicated in Proverbs 23: 7. Therefore, "Where are my ideas coming from?" is a question each of us should consider seriously. Moreover, if the psychologist’s dictum is true, that a person is, at any given time, "the product of all that has gone before," you will come to see that true "independent thinking" is an impossible dream, variations in selection of matter, and direction, alone being possible.
Where do our ideas come from, anyway?
The answer might well be, "From all that our minds bump into every hour of every day." We are much like the chameleon which takes on the colour of its surroundings: or like Fido - nice, white Fido - who fell into a tub of purple dye, and became a purple dog for many days thereafter. Of course, if the pup had kept clear of the dye, he should not have taken on that strange hue. In other words, though side by side with a tubful of purple dye, he could have kept himself in other surroundings, and so have remained a white dog. Failing in this, he might have dipped in one paw, then an ear, then his tail, and so have become part white, part purple. Again, he could have exposed but one section of his anatomy to the dye over an extended period of time. Many possibilities occur to one’s mind; but always the end result would be the same: Fido would not be a pure white animal ever again unless he received some very thorough cleansing of some sort.
Now, young folks, the "purple dye" surrounds us on every side. For example: the thinking of your unsaved acquaintances is, in a general sense, all wrong since it is based on a way of life apart from God . . . (So, too, is the thinking of many Christians, and for the same reason). Indeed, unless we are wide awake to the need for entirely different ideals (young sisters, please note:), standards of values, aims in life and methods of getting them, we will surely adopt ideas, and adjust our lives to them, while scarcely aware that we are doing so. And in the slow-passing weeks, months, years, we are doing it, WE SHALL BE FORMING HABITS OF THINKINK AND ACTING that will govern our lives unconsciously, completely, unless . . . (to change the metaphor) God uses the flail of tribulation to pound them out of us, to separate the wheat from the chaff. (And this He is quite certain to do: Heb. 12: 6-10. His infinite love for us, and for that which is true, and enduring, will compel Him to do so).
Habits of thinking and acting . . . habits of thinking and acting . . . habits of thinking and acting - you have been building them up for a long time now, but have you ever thought about them before?
If you will mull over those words for a few days you will realize that your whole life follows a sort of pattern ("behaviour pattern," they call it) laid down in your early childhood, and which you have been adding to, reinforcing, ever since by acquiring habits of thinking and acting. Your thinking has been gathered bit by bit - from a thought that came to you from something someone said, an idea gleaned from a friend, or heard over the radio, or picked up from a newspaper, book, or (let’s hope!) from the Bible, or a ministry meeting, or a spiritually- minded Christian.
Do you see the point? If you do, you will understand why this chapter is captioned, "Coloured Thinking". . . and why it is so important to put up a battle to keep free from the purple dye of sin-spoiled men and women who fill their thought-tubs with the products of a sin-spoiled intelligence.
Now it is possible that some of our readers will not agree with what they have been reading . . . because the writer, himself, fought against these unpleasant-to-the-flesh facts for years. Indeed, ever since Father Adam said "I won’t" to the all-wise God and "I will" to the Deceiver, the sons of men have loved to consider themselves INDEPENDENT (I!!), to listen to everybody with "an open mind" about things in general, to believe what appeals to their reason and to act according to their own judgment and inclinations . . . and Satan has been delighted to have it so. And why not? Were not those objectives the very impulses that caused him to risk, and to lose, his former place in Heaven?
But the fish that "lives, moves, and has its being" in the seas existing therein, deriving from its waters oxygen and food, and every requisite of life, would be a fool where it to allow its "reason" to lure it into some other form of "independence." It just wasn’t built for anything else. And you and I were not built, either, for a life other than one of dependence on, and obedience to, the living God: Acts 17: 24-28. Adam and his descendants tried to escape from such a life; the Lord from Heaven has brought you and me back into it - praise His blessed Name! So may we understand at once the supreme wisdom of His word to us in Psa. 1: 1: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" - earth’s betraying purple dye!
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:06:43 +0000
Training for Reigning - 28 - Does His choice matter? DOES HIS CHOICE MATTER?
LET ME CALL HER "Mary." For this name, we are told, is a form of the Hebrew word "Marah," meaning "Bitterness," an expression that aptly fits this dear Christian now that her unhappiness seems complete.
Mary was a fine Christian girl, strong, healthy, sensible, but rather plain. Somehow, not many Christian young men cared to look her way. She sought to be friendly, and as interesting as she knew how, spent money she could ill afford, trying to dress attractively (as she hoped), and for becoming hair dos, "alluring" perfumes, etc. She prayed about the matter constantly, most earnestly, and talked about her problem with all her girl friends, hoping to gain some hint that would help her to correct matters. She listened intently to the ministry given in the meetings, feeling that perhaps her life was not pleasing to the Lord. But do what she might, nothing seemed to change. Finally she came to the grievous conclusion that there must be something wrong with her . . . an idea that gradually deepened into bitterness, when her girl friends teased her with the age-old tauntings: "Why can’t you get a boy friend, Mary? What’s the matter with you? Do you want to be an old maid?"
For a long time she bore it. At last, goaded into desperation by the laughter of her Christian sisters, she did what many another girl has done: she yielded to her fears, accepted a ring from an unsaved man, and married him. Never again would she be worried by their hated reproachings, hated because they made her feel afraid.
It wasn’t that Mary didn’t know what her Bible said. She just couldn’t stand the things the other girls said. Their words reached down deep into her heart, magnifying the short-comings of which she was so keenly aware, building up to an unbearable pressure her feeling of insecurity, distorting her spiritual vision, until there seemed to be only one possible solution. Many older Christians shook their heads, asking, "Why did she do it?" They didn’t seem to know the answer.
But . . . you know why.
Let me remind you, my sisters, that, while Mary must bear her own responsibility for her acts, yet I feel pretty sure that the girls who were so glib, so unfeeling, with their humorous insinuations will meet their words again at the Judgment Seat of Christ. And since they were suggestions that Satan was able to use to mar the entire life of one of God’s children, I judge they will be considered more serious than "idle words" (as we think of them) even though spoken in fun. "Selah."
Now let’s consider Mary’s problem.
First of all, why did God not grant Mary’s petitions?
The answer to that question is surely easy: it is impossible for God to become an instrument for fulfilling human will. Mary asked Him to do what she wanted, while God sought to show her the supreme wisdom of asking Him to carry out His will in th matter. (1 John 5: 14-15). Had she been able to reply to the thrusts of her foolish sisters in Christ, "I have left the question in my Lord’s hands. I do not expect ever to have a boy friend until He sends me one. Besides, I do not know that He wishes me to marry. Only His will matters to me"- then she would have been at rest in the Lord. Is it not written: "Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee:
because He trusteth in Thee"? (Isaiah 26:3). Her worst fears would have been but minor incidents, passing shadows, mere ripples in the calm of dependence on God.
But Mary hadn’t gone that far in her Christian experience.
And just because she hadn’t gone that far, her all-wise Heavenly Father knew that she wasn’t really ready for the daily burdens of married life. (Again let me ask you to "pause and ponder").
Like ever so many young Christians, her thinking was crammed with dreams of love and romance. Though a person as wise as Solomon had assured her that romance is but a brief ecstasy, quickly brushed aside by the stern business of living and making a living, Mary just would not have believed him. She was sure "her heart told her different from that." And as for waiting . . . well, hadn’t she waited long enough already? She was now in her middle twenties. She felt she didn’t have to wait any longer. (Didn’t dare to leave it all in God’s hands, that is).
The unsaved boy friend turned out to be a very fine man. He often went to meetings with her; talked about being saved. Mary now began to pray differently, asking God to save her man, or else to put something in the way to hinder if she shouldn’t marry him. (It’s such a HARD lesson to learn to say, "not my will, but Thine be done," isn’t it?).
Well, Mary’s friend didn’t get saved. And the Lord didn’t put anything in the way to stop their marriage (except His Word of course). But why bother telling the rest of it?
unless it be to add that Mary prays through her tears, "not my will, Lord! not my will ever again!"
There won’t be space to discuss what might have happened had she been able to risk trusting the Lord with her life, as she had trusted Him with her soul (Colossians 2: 6). But there Is one unqualified promise that fits into such circumstances: "they SHALL NOT be ashamed that wait for ME:" (Isaiah 29: 23b). Moreover, I have known a goodly number who have put God to the test, and have found His promise most blessedly true.
And now, as I close, let me urge you to ask yourself, "Does the Lord’s choice matter to me? Do I want His way, or my own? Shall I yield to Him the control of my life? (Romans 6: 13). Do I, or do I not, desire His choices, His plan for my life?"
Your decision can be as important for the rest of your sojourn on earth, and your status in the Ages to Come, as the one you made the day you trusted Christ (Luke 9:24, 25, 26).
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:06:08 +0000
Training for Reigning - 29 - Fruit in his season FRUIT IN HIS SEASON
THE "SEASON" WHICH I have in mind, when I quote the above words from Psa. 1:3, is the ‘teen age period, of course. And that there can can be abundant, acceptable fruit to our God in this season is beyond question, when we recall those years in the earth-life of the Lord Jesus (Luke 2:51, 52). Not only so, but the record of that period provides us with a pattern for the same years in our own lives, and a supreme encouragement, when we remember that it was partly with reference to those "hidden" (but not wasted) days that the Voice from heaven declared, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased," (Matt. 3:17).
"Fruit in his season," young people! That is what your Heavenly Father was-and still is-looking for. Oh, I know that there seem to be few ways in which you can do something for the Lord . . . That some of you feel so hedged-in, and frustrated, and misunderstood, that you are persuaded you can’t do anything worth while . . . While others of you feel that you just aren’t any good any way; and that Satan keeps informing you that you never will be any different . . . in fact, that it would have been a good thing had you never been born
But, I also know that the Lord Jesus said that Satan is a liar (John 8:44). Moreover, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all," (I John 1:5). Remember that fact, won’t you? It means that you can be certain that every particle of darkness that comes into your life comes from the devil C!) not from God. So, turn your eyes to the Light, and let us consider some of the ways we can bring forth fruit in this season of our lives, that will be fully acceptable to our God. But, let me warn you that, if you are willing to accept as your pattern the manner of life of the Lord Jesus, when He was your age, you may have to scrap some of your present ideas and ambjtions. For the exercises of His pre-service years might well be captioned:
Just as He did (as Son of Man), you began your journey over the long (tedious?), Adolescence Bridge, when you entered the ‘teens . . . a journey, if the Lord leaves you here, that will not be completed until you reach the early twenties. For you, therefore, as for Him, those intervening years have been designed by God for practicing years, in view of your adult life-to-be. And every detail of your practice-in-preparation gives you a chance to bear fruit in this season, even as did the Lord Jesus.
Do a lot of thinking and praying about that fact, won’t you? Because, if you forget it, fight against it, or ignore it, it won’t be long until you are complaining and groaning, sick of people, of everything, even of living, and maybe trying to find some way to escape. Attitudes like these make it easy for Satan to load us down with darkness, to tempt us into courses that end in grief.
But let us be constructive, and, "look upon Him as He walked," (John 1:36 with 1 John 2:6). Luke 2:51, 52: "And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them . . . and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." Surely here was "fruit in his season!"
When God sent children to our first parents, He had planned for them a youth-development-programme that was best in every possible way. Sin, however, marred it all. And not until the Lord Jesus came did the world ever see youth-development in the beauty of perfection that He originally had intended, as recorded in this passage.
There will not be space to examine His record in this present chapter. Perhaps it may be possible in the next. But, let me jot down the manner of His walk noted in those two verses. In them we are told the things that made up His life as He sought, always, to do the things that pleased His Father (John 8:29).
He went down WITH THEM. Notice that He does not keep aloof in any sense, although they were not able to rise to the level of His understanding (vs. 49, 50).
He came to NAZARETH. History cites it as a cesspool of iniquity. Notice John 1:46.
He was SUBJECT TO THEM-subjection to human parent- control, though far above them in every moral excellence.
He INCREASED IN WISDOM! Having voluntarily been "made like unto His brethren" (apart from sin), development of mental capacity was a necessary feature of His human life, even as it is of ours.
He INCREASED IN STATURE: Development of body.
He INCREASED IN FAVOUR WITH GOD: By this we understand that the manifestation of His Father’s favour rested increasingly upon Him.
He INCREASED IN FAVOUR WITH MAN, winning the people’s respect, and possibly a grudging approval, by the quiet, unassuming, God-honouring life He lived, as the Carpenter of Nazareth (Mark 6:3).

"Practicing in Preparation" is the somewhat cryptic title I have suggested for the eighteen years of making ready for the time when He should be called forth as God’s Perfect Servant. Only seven descriptive details have been given of His occupations
-and very limited in scope they seem to us who read them now.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:05:20 +0000
Training for Reigning - 30 - Fruit in his season pt2 MISSING PAGES 100-101

started to work in the carpenter shop, He recognized that He was serving His Father there. (Compare Col. 3:23, 24), and you simply cannot think of Him as complaining, or "lying down on the job."
Remember, also, that Nazareth was noted for its "tough guys." But we never read of Him fighting to "get His own back." Instead, we are certain that it was there that He got His earliest OPPORTUNITIES to practice Hebrews 12:3. No wonder that He "increased in wisdom . . . and in favour with God and man." Blessed Lord Jesus!
Again my space is at an end. But let me urge you young people to make a start in this way of living. Read Romans 12:2 again. You will make lots of mistakes, but YOU CANNOT LOSE by venturing to walk by faith in the path of obedience. And as to how you may know His will in every-day matters, I need only say that the promise of Psalm 25:9 covers everything. The "meek" are those who prefer Cod’s will to their own.
Try it, won’t you? Then there will be "fruit in his season!"
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:04:37 +0000
Training for Reigning - 31 - How long is long hair? LONG. . . YES, BUT HOW LONG?
POSSIBLY NEARLY A dozen times, since a small measure of health improvement has permitted me to venture abroad occasionally, have I been challenged by that question. Likely it was good for me, too; because it compelled me to undertake a closer study of "what saith the Lord?". . . And anything-anything at all- that does that to a Christian must be rated a blessing, indeed. I shall note farther on what I have learned; but, to begin with, let me acknowledge that I found out also, some things related to the sister’s viewpoint which were new to me.
In the kindness of the Lord, some of His people undertook to help me to become a trifle more up-to-date on these matters. It was ‘pointed out that the above question scarcely would have been asked not so many years ago. The reason this subject has become a live issue is found in the fact that style changes have created a real problem for many girls, particularly those engaged in business, where appearance is an important factor. I learned that some sisters have trudged from store to store trying to find a hat that would fit. (It seems, my brethren, that few hats are made big enough, nowadays, to accommodate a coil of hair. The short-hair fashion so thoroughly dominates the present scene that the majority of them are far too small for girls having much hair). So now I know that one reason some have shorn their tresses is that have grown weary of the struggle, and have shortened them in order to ease their hat-buying troubles. For my part, I certainly sympathize with you, my sisters.
It is evident, indeed, that Satan does not intend to allow you to have an easy time doing the job the Lord has assigned to you. Perhaps it is because our Lord’s return is so near at hand that His enemy seeks to increase your difficulties, hoping you will abandon the struggle to continue honouring Him. The truth is that things will get harder and harder as His coming draws nearer (2 Timothy 3:1). And, as we see so clearly in those countries controlled by the anti-God religion called "communism," Satan readily by-passes older folks in his determination to capture the young. We may expect, therefore, to see this tactic employed increasingly in our own lands, as well. We need not be surprised to find, then, that when he manipulates appearance-styles, he is most pleased if he can hit you in a spot where it will hurt you . . . hurt you in the estimation of others . . . hurt you in the eyes of employers, and so drive you, if possible, into doing what he wants you to do in this, as well as every other, department of your life.
Therefore, my sisters, let me remind you that your Lord will know how to assess your efforts to please Him. And the more you are content to "lose" for His sake, the more will be your gain in the ages to come. So let me urge you not to be upset when you have to plod, discouragingly, from store to store because a hat that will fit is hard to find. Every single step you take in your concern to be well-pleasing to Him will be recorded fully in Heaven, just as surely as if you sought to please Him by pointing some soul to Himself. Oh, do not let Satan make these trials seem so vexatious as hardly to be borne! Even if you have to buy a hat that your mirror tells you is years too old for you, you will look lovely in the eyes of the Lord Jesus. Every minute you must wear it, it will be before His eyes as if it bore the label, "For my Master’s sake". . . If you were a missionary in a foreign field would you not count it an honour to "endure hardness" for the cause of your Lord?
Now let me tell you what I learned about 1 Corinthians 11:14-15.
It seems quite clear to me now that our sisters in the Assembly at Corinth would not have had any reason to say: "I know it says ‘long hair.’ Yes, but how long?" because they attached a different shade of meaning to the term from that found in the corresponding English word. They had two words for "hair," their common word being employed throughout the New Testament, except in the solitary instance of these two verses. Here their special word occurs: the noun "komee" and the verb form "komao." Mr. Green in the vocabulary appended to his, "Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament," gives as the first meaning of the infinitive: "To nourish the hair," and as second:
"To wear the hair long." Evidently our sisters in the Lord in those days went in for nourishing their hair in order to make it grow long. As a result their word for "nourished hair" also meant "long hair." And their nourished hair became long hair that provided a covering, in their Lord’s eyes, becoming to their sex; while the second covering of the "veil" (or hat; vs. 5-13) was ordained as a voluntary sign of their recognition of the headship of the man . . . "on account of the angels," vs. 10.
Now I do not forget that some of you girls have never really cut your hair. It has not grown long because, since your childhood, you have kept clipping off the ragged ends. What would happen if you began to nourish it with a view to increasing its length?. . . Please don’t get angry and tell me (as I have been told) that it’s none of my business. Quite well do I know that it’s your responsibility, and not mine, to decide what should be done with it. But will you blame me for coveting for you the smile of the Lord Jesus in a day that is no longer far away? Or can you deny that I have a duty to perform in seeking to make plain His Word to you? Beyond that, the choice must be yours.
How long is long hair?
(a) Long hair is hair that has been nourished with a view to its growth.
(b) Its ultimate length will be determined by the length you are willing to go in acknowledging Christ as your Lord.
(Now don’t go asking me: "But what if my hair won’t grow long?". . . You know the answer: 2 Cor. 8:12).
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:03:49 +0000
Training for Reigning - 32 - How grown-up are you? HOW GROWN-UP ARE YOU?
"My FATHER SAYS I can’t.". . . Well, that’s not a bad answer to give those who try to coax you to do things, or go places that would not be pleasing to your Lord. After all, your father is responsible for you until you reach your late ‘teens. And the Word of God does require you to obey your parents. Likely, then, that reply will go to your credit in Heaven’s record books
- . and it often saves a lot of difficult explaining. Of course it can’t serve forever. After a while you certainly will have to assume full responsibility for your behaviour; but it may be some relief to feel that that time has not come yet. So, for the present, "My father says I can’t" does very well for a refusal answer.
But let’s be careful to see to it that this reply isn’t just a bit of play-acting.
The reason for saying this is that some young Christians like to hide behind their parents at convenient time, while at others they talk most resentfully about how they hold them down, won’t let them do this or that, make them do things they don’t want to
do. . . "TREAT THEM AS IF THEY WERE ONLY CHILDREN," etc., and finally conclude that they just don’t understand young people at all . . . Let’s talk about it, if you are interested.
So you feel grown-up . . . and that your parents ought to realize that fact!
All right then, you are grown-up. But let me ask: JUST HOW GROWN-UP ARE YOU?
That isn’t meant to be an awkward question. It should be a helpful, constructive query. Because it is not unlikely that you have entirely different ideas of this problem from those of your parents.
Now let’s be frank: just what do you have in mind when you think of being treated as a grown-up person? Is it anything like the following?
To be allowed to do what you want to do without being cross questioned.
More use of the family car.
To be able to go out with other young Christians feeling that you are quite able to take care of yourself.
To be free to come and go without getting a scolding if you aren’t in by ten o’clock.
The liberty of having friends of the opposite sex without having to explain about them for hours.
A bigger spending allowance.
Now, just in case you should be having trouble like the above, perhaps I ought to say that mature people usually do not regard such things as liberties, but as responsibilities . . . And if you do not see much point in that statement, then let me hint gently that maybe you aren’t nearly so grown up as you think. For it is my guess that your parents are patiently, hopefully waiting for clear evidences that you have gone past the stages of struggling to gain more freedom and have wakened up to the unwelcome truth that every activity of life is hedged about by responsibilities. Then, and then only, will they grant you recognition you desire. But that’s not what many young people want at all! they want liberties . . . while Dad and Mom take the responsibilities for them.
Honestly now: isn’t it the truth?
And if it is the truth, another fact stands out as clear as daylight: since your parents cannot accept such a proposition (they once were like that too, you know) it shows that your trouble is not that they don’t understand you, but that you don’t understand them. Since they are several rungs higher on the ladder of Experience than you are, it is obvious that they must be waiting for you to narrow the gap. But let me be constructive and suggest a few items that show when young people are growing up in reality:
1. Complete abandonment of the notion that the main thing in life is to be happy.
It must have been Satan who originated the idea. Perhaps it was an ingredient of Eden’s temptation? (Gen. 3:4-6).
2. PractIcal acceptance of the first importance of Duty, first to the Lord, then to parents, families, the assembly, teachers, employers, the powers that be, and all others having a just claim upon us.
In earlier times the calls of Duty were themes of much practical ministry. Today we rarely hear the word among us.
3. A fair measure of progress down the far side of "Fool’s Hill." I realize now that the ages 17-19 were most dangerous in my own life, even as they commonly are in other young lives. You see, when we reach "puberty" (about 12 or 13) we start to cross the long bridge of Adolescence. Some make the other side by the time they are twenty. Others take a few years longer. Want to know what this means? If you will keep on reading I shall tell you some things you may not have thought about before.
It is while we are crossing that long bridge from childhood to adulthood that the emotional part of our disposition, "is either born or is springing up into its most intense activity". . . therefore, we simply do not possess a good set of emotional control brakes until we get to the other side.
True enough, many people have a poor set all their lives. But poor brakes are usually better than none. For example: your parents, the elders in the assembly, know all about the wild passions that can overwhelm a young couple before they ever realize their danger, and land them in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 . . . And the are afraid, because their sons and daughters so often fool themselves by asserting, "Oh, I can take care of myself, thank you". . . never guessing that they are driving an emotional car that has no brakes, worthy of the name. To tell the truth, then, in a plain, unvarnished manner; no matter how intelligent you may be, until your emotional development is completed you simply won’t be "all there."
4. A fair measure of ability to accept-not merely the chance to do things, but responsibility in full for the doing and the consequences.
Here, then, is a sort of yardstick by which you may measure your advancement toward maturity. And if you find, when you have thought it all over, that you aren’t quite across the bridge yet, won’t you let me ask you to pray for grace to be patient a little longer with the restrictions that seemed designed only to dishearten you? Perhaps it will help you to remember that your Lord Jesus was 30 years old before He undertook the place of a man. And it is He who is allowing the hedge around your liberties to continue! . . . Remember Matthew 11:26, won’t you?
otherwise: Proverbs 30:171
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:02:58 +0000
Training for Reigning - 33 - Bert Rogers Chance BERT ROGERS CHANCE
To START WITH I should tell you that Bert’s father and mother were saved and "in the meeting." And since the assembly with which they were identified was located in an area where Mr. Alex. Marshall had once laboured, they were known in town as "Marshallites." Of course it was a term of reproach. Bert had borne it since his early boyhood. He, too, was saved: yet he had never ceased to feel that sting of the nick-name, often wishing with all his soul that he could escape from it-and be more like other boys. Of this fact Satan was fully aware. With much pleasure he laid his plans to give Bert his chance, beginning the little-by-little tactics for which he is well known (2 Corinthians 2:11), seeking to harm the lad in his testimony for his Saviour.
At the time I have in mind, Bert was a tenth-grader in the local high school. He had never been very sharp in sports, chiefly because his father had been most diligent in seeking to help him to keep his Christian feet out of the world’s snares. But the truth is, Bert couldn’t see much harm in sports. He knew a lot of good arguments in favour of their usefulness in developing a good sound body. Besides, what was the difference in playing ball in the school yard and playing a few games for the school team?
His father had tried to explain to him that play-unorganized play-was something that bore God’s approval (Zechariah 8:5); but that organized play was sport-a type of activity that required the players to join a team and place themselves under the control of the coach and other officials. For a saved boy that meant becoming a member of an unequal partnership (2 Cor. 6:11-18), and taking himself away from the control of the Lord-a very dangerous thing, indeed. But Bert didn’t want to . . . and so couldn’t because he didn’t want to . . . see that it was nearly so bad as his father "imagined."
Now, as I said before, Satan was working quietly behind the scenes. Unhappily he began with Bert’s mother. He led her to think that her husband was too hard on the boy; and so she undertook secretly, to help Bert to gain the "freedom" she thought he ought to have.
The boy had always been good at pitching a fast ball. Hence when one of the seniors showed him a sports magazine, one day, giving detailed instructions for pitchers, covering everything from wind-up to delivery, Bert was delighted. He borrowed it and f airly devoured every word. He practiced the new ideas every spare moment and thus attracted the attention of the coach. After school, one afternoon, he called the boy over to throw a few fast ones to his batters. Several work-outs followed; finally Bert was asked to join the team as a spare pitcher. He was so excited he could scarcely contain himself. He ran most of the way home.
come at last! Naturally, he told his mother of his good fortune (as he thought it to be) but was careful to say nothing about it to his father . . . much to Satan’s satisfaction.
Bert practiced regularly.; but it was some time before his services were needed. Then the great day came. The team was journeying to a neighbouring town for a scheduled game and Bert was asked to report for duty. He was a big lad although younger than his team-mates. But the really important fact was that he was a child of God over whom the Heavenly Father was watching.
The school team easily defeated their rivals-which meant that Bert had to sit out the game. Great was his disappointment; but there was more to follow. Several of the best players, whom he had fairly idolized, got drunk after the game. And the bus ride home, in a sickening fog of smoke, ribald songs, filthy jestings, wakened the half frightened, disillusioned boy to a realization of the gravity of his mistake. Huddled in a seat, he spent the long miles homeward, thinking as he had never thought before. There in that bus he saw clear as daylight, for the first time, that he was really born again; that no matter how good he might become at baseball, he could never, never belong to that crowd. Back at home, utterly miserable, thoroughly repentant, he went straight to his waiting father and poured out the whole story of his folly. Together they knelt while Bert told it over again, with many tears, making confession to the Lord.
 "I see it all now," he explained afterwards. "I thought it was such a grand chance; but now I know that Satan had me in his snare. I’m so thankful the Lord hindered me from playing in that game. It made it easier for me to tell the coach that I wouldn’t start again."
Well, that’s the story: a sort of a parable, partly true, but of necessity, much disguised, so that I might not embarrass a certain Christian boy.
My purpose in telling it was to help you young folk to understand a little about Satan’s snares. Snares are things we get into, little by little as a rule, whenever, like the young man in Eccl. 11:9, we rely on our own judgment alone and follow our inclinations. (Notice Jeremiah 10:23 and Proverbs 3:5).
Snares generally look quite harmless . . . which should enable you to see why your elder brethren are afraid when young Christians ask, "Well, what’s the harm in it?" Because Satan usually hides his snares that way.
Furthermore, they are notoriously hard to get out of; and the farther in you go, the more difficult it is to escape. They are always harmful to our souls, hence they are a grief to our God.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:02:15 +0000
Training for Reigning - 34 - Your enjoyment of Christ YOU, AND YOUR ENJOYMENT OF CHRIST
ONE THING NEEDFUL, if we are actually to enjoy adventuring with our Lord, is to catch a glimpse of His purposes for us, and to enter into their spirit whole-heartedly. That is why we read in Romans 6:13: "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." You can readily see that no one could fully enjoy a north country tour unless he stood right with his guide one hundred per cent; John 8:12; Rom. 6:22.
Another essential is proper food. For the soul of the young Christian can become every bit as hungry as that of any worldling. And people who are hungry always, are weak always, as well. After all, was it not soul-hunger (hunger for love) that led "Mary" to marry her unsaved boy-friend? Was it not soul- hunger for excitement that took "Bill" back to the Sports Arena? and soul-hunger for youthful friends that broke down "J.B.’s" resistance?
At the close of World War II, a party of U.S. troops noticed a group of men trying to make their way towards them down the slopes of a hill-stumbling, falling, picking themselves up, struggling on again. Fearing a ruse, the officer readied his men for an attack. Then from the stragglers on the slopes there broke out a tattered Stars and Stripes. Quickly the rifles were lowered, a rousing cheer of welcome was given, while a detail was ordered to the help of the slowly advancing men. Who were these men? They were U.S. soldiers who had escaped from enemy camps. They were as truly G.I.’s as those who awaited them. But why did they behave in such an unsoldierly manner? Why did they stumble and f all so often-no matter how hard they tried to do better? IT WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE STARVING!
And is it not because their souls are starving, their spirits (their "morale") slumping badly, that so many young Christians turn back to the soul-fare of Egypt? Then let me say it bluntly: no young Christian can expect to find his, her, journey through the wilderness anything but dull, dreary, lifeless, tiresome, discouraging, or fail to long for the "good times" of the hell-bound, IF
It is the souls of people that feed on human affection-of Christians as well as of the unsaved: that enjoy, that feed on, music, books, poetry, art productions, companionship, excitement, thrills, adventure, get-togethers of all sorts, social evenings, sports, fun and laughter, good times, etc., etc.
My friend Tommy, alleged athiest, was a mild race-track frequenter. To my question as to why he went there, he replied with some heat that it was because he found it a sort of hobby, a side interest that relieved the monotony of the daily struggle to exist. He observed that I was no different from him since I got my release through religion, going to meetings, and so on. Finally I asked if he went there for his stomach’s sake, or for the enjoyment of his body. His reply was most uncomplimentary. Then I explained that I had no intention of scolding him, but merely wished to help him to see that since his stomach gained no satisfaction from his pastime, while his body was more tired after the excitement than before, the only possible conclusion was that (since he admitted that he watched the ponies to "get a kick out of life"- as he had said) he went there to feed his soul
- a portion of his being whose existence he had denied emphatically hitherto. So that ended that. We do have souls -
and souls do get hungry . . . and are sure to feed on something!
How can we feed our souls on Christ? Since we shall have to do just what we do in acquiring other forms of soul-food, we shall need TO FILL OUR THINKING WITH HIMSELF by
"Looking upon Jesus as he walked" (John 1:36).
Listening to His voice (John 10:3-5; 27).
"Considering Him" (Heb. 12:3).
-His reactions to the many forms of opposition that crowded His pathway;
-watching from afar as the forty days and nights of the wilderness temptations bear down upon Him, but move Him not; (Blessed Lord Jesus!).
-standing beside Him while He meets, and cleanses, and touches, a lonely, unclean leper;
-adventuring in our own thoughts along with Him as He faced dangers, when they confronted Him, unhesitant;
-considering Him attentively as we note the more-than-human love that would cause Him to remain away until Lazarus had died; to sense the tenderness of the sympathy that could weep with the sisters in their temporary loss-all because of their greater need to learn that the Resurrection was not a mere event in the future, but rather He, Himself - . - and so to read of Him, to behold Him, to hear Him speaking, to think about Him, to associate ourselves with Him in His ways, His walk (in our thinking, as we often do on Lord’s Day mornings) that the woridlings’ soul-occupations begin to lose their flavour, their drawing power, and become as veritable dross. In such ways we shall feed our souls on "the finest of the wheat," and learn to find Christ in all the Scriptures.
And let none suppose these thoughts to be but fanciful imaginings, I Cor. 1:30 and 2 Cor. 3:18 may seem a bit obscure to the unthinking Christian. But let me assure you that, like God’s Salvation, their truths are joyously available to "whosoever will.,,  
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:01:38 +0000
Training for Reigning - 35 - Go to war soldier GO TO WAR, SOLDIER!
THAT WE CHRISTIANS are likened to soldiers is clear from 2 Tim. 2:3-4. But "war" is an ugly word since, in the physical realm, it calls to mind so many indescribable horrors. Thus it scarcely seems a suitable word to describe the conflicts of the human spirit. Nevertheless, to those who are in dead earnest about the business of conquering self, and bringing themselves into total subjection to the Lord, there is a genuine war going on, all right? Also, the effects of it will reach out into "the ages to come."
(Note: Possibly I should warn the reader that unless, he or she, is interested in this subject it might be well to turn over to some other chapter. I fear it won’t be found flattering to the ego. Besides, to any who are anxious to make the most of this world, and let "the ages to come" take care of themselves, the following paragraphs may turn out to be somewhat disturbing).
Perhaps it is because some of us sense the disruptions that will take place in our ways of thinking and acting, if we really should dare to "yield ourselves unto God" (Rom. 6:13), that we hesitate, and draw back from the conflict. ("Desiring conditions of peace," was the Lord Jesus’ estimate of the trouble. You will read about it in Luke 14:31-33). We tell ourselves that we are what we are, and we can’t help it. Certainly we are thankful we are saved from hell, and do find some satisfaction in doing service for the Lord. But this thing of yielding oneself to the Lord-well, we aren’t all made the same. It may be all right for preachers and missionaries; but for ordinary people to whom a sensible amount of self-pleasing appears reasonable, natural, comfortable, and, yes, a practical way of living, this yielding business seems rather visionary, somewhat risky-maybe even a bit fanatical?
The truth is, of course, human nature fears, as well as dislikes, alterations to its manner of life. It is opposed to change- "afraid of the unknown," the psychos tell us. And "human nature" may be considered for present purposes as the self-life; and the self-life is called in the Bible, the flesh.
Taking all things into account, then, we may safely point out that the flesh is the worst enemy we Christians have to face. It is the internal foe, the traitor inside the city, our spiritual "fifth column." For it is only as it provides the openings that the external enemies, the World, and the Devil, get opportunities to build in their ideas of what is most pleasurable, of what matters most. Hence it is of the greatest importance that we should understand as much as possible about this deceptive antagonist, and so be helped to "get on with the war."
"Now the works of the flesh are these," we read in Gal. 5:19. Then follows a black list of evil deeds. But the expression "and such like" (vs. 21) shows that the list is not complete. Following this we have the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit described; and at once it becomes evident by contrast that everything that is opposite to this nine-fold fruit must be recognized as fruit of the flesh. For verses 16, 17 make it clear that it’s one or the other! Thus we would have for flesh-works a list something like this:
-Not love, but lovelessness. Self-interest the chief consideration. "I . . . Me . . . My."
-Not joy, but joylessness in the Lord, in His Word, in doing His will. "Who wants to be obedient all the time?"
-Not peace, but a restless, dissatisfied spirit. "I can’t wait any longer. I want to see some action?"
-Not long-suffering, but an "I’m-not-going-to-take-that" spirit. "If they are asking for trouble they can have it."
-Not gentleness, but a "why-should-I-care?" attitude. "It’s their concern, not mine. They got themselves into this; let them get themselves out of it. Am I my brother’s keeper?"
-Not goodness, but: ‘Oh, they’re so pious!- so good you can hardly live with them. Well, at least, I’m no hypocrite."
-Not faith but: "Oh, I don’t know. People talk about getting answers to prayer, but I never seem to get anything I ask for. So I figure if the Lord wants me to have it, He’ll give it to me; and if He doesn’t what’s the use of asking for it?" (By the way, have you noticed 1 John 5:14-15?).
-Not meekness, but rebelliousness. "That’s not what I expected. It’s all right to talk about the Lord’s will for me. But if I can’t have what I want, then I don’t want anything. No one seems to care what I think about things, anyway."
-Not self-control, but acting as we feel like acting, regardless. "It’s no worse for me to do it than it is for some other I know."
My list is not pleasant reading, perhaps; but some of those attitudes do seem rather familiar, don’t you think? So let’s do some hard thinking about them. We really must recognize our enemies if we are to put up any sort of effective battle against them, you know. As for the counsels of the Lord, Eph. 4:17-32 might be a good portion to read at this point, while His promise found in Joshua 10:25 will "nerve our faint endeavour" and strengthen our spirits for the struggle. So relying on the power of His might, let us say to ourselves, you and me - and say it over and over:
"GO TO WAR, SOLDIER!.. . with yourself."
LET ME ASK you young people to ask yourselves this question in order that you may get your objectives set forth clearly before your minds. A good plan is to take a pencil and make a list of the things you feel you need to make life worth-while, more satisfying, more complete. When finished, cross off the less important items, one by one, until only one is left. If you do this, you will discover what you really want from life.
It may take you a while to decide the relative value of certain items; but in making the decisions you will be clarifying your thinking. Some will desire adventure, others, romance and a home. Some yearn for more happiness, more enjoyment of life, others for more education, or technical skill-more ability to earn a living. Not a few will long for deliverance from physical handicaps, or limitations imposed by circumstances that hinder their dreams from coming true.
I feel pretty sure a car would loom large in certain young persons’ Wants and Wishes column. Or could it be a pretty head, a good figure, smart clothes? (They do attract attention to one’s self, you know). Others might feel they could be satisfied had they a better job, "decent" wages, holidays, opportunities to go places and do things.
Young folks living on farms may try to visualize a well-equipped farm-modern implements, modern conveniences in the home; while others, their means of earning livelihood based on fisheries, forests, mines, or transportation systems, et al, will have ever present before their minds their own special angles of things desirable. But whatever your position in life may be, let me urge you to endeavour carefully, prayerfully, to find out what you want from life-even if it be a million dollars, or pounds! Make your list and check it off, as I have suggested. Then you will discover the real driving power behind your thinking, the compulsion that conditions your present way of life, perhaps quite unconsciously.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:00:56 +0000
Training for Reigning - 36 - What do you want from life? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM LIFE?
Sometimes, also, what other people are able to have, or to accomplish, will influence our ideas and desires greatly. ‘vVho can deny that thinking about such unfavourable contrasts often affect us very deeply, making us either to struggle harder to acquire more, or else to become discontended, discouraged, to complain, or to be jealous? Yet when we reflect that none of us have as little as had the Lord Jesus when He was on earth, we feel ashamed, rebuked. And remembering the unexampled grace, beauty and power of the life of Him Who became poor for our sakes (2 Cor. 8:9), Who fed multitudes but refused to turn stones into bread to satisfy His own hunger, we feel reproved and long to know the secret of His strength.
Yet we need not seek very far.
One outstanding factor in His unique outlook on what mattered in life was the fact that He was the Truth. The truth about everything was an open book to Him. So it is with joy that we remember, respecting our own outlook, that we, Mary- like, can sit at His feet and learn of Him. Several features of His altogether-different way of looking at things are easily within our grasp.
1. He related every situation He faced to the will of God. If, as a lad, He must be subject to such lowly persons as Joseph and Mary-and live in a place like Nazareth! He regarded such necessities as being His Father’s will. Thus He was able to rejoice in the limitations such an existence imposed upon Him, because they permitted Him to practise Submission and Obedience . . . and ultimately to win the unprecedented approval described in Matt. 3:17. See also: Heb. 5:8-10.
If sent into a barren wilderness to go foodless, friendless and faint for forty days, He does not fluster from fright and fears. He is The Truth. He knows the truth about everything. He knows that God does all things well; that distresses cannot become disasters to those who leave all the choices to God; that there will be a happy ending-if He passes the test-THAT THEY WILL MAKE POSSIBLE A MOST IMPORTANT END RESULT.
Well, did it work? Luke 4:14-15 tells the immediate result, but "the half hath not been told." And the principle will work for you and me, too-if we will dare to rely on God. Notice 2 Cor. 12:7-10 ourselves.
2. He Who is the Truth, Who knows all things, knows too, that a person’s life never is enriched by the abundance of things he, or she, may possess; Luke 12:15. To some this truth will seem a statement contrary to experience; yet it is all too true. Let me remind any who may be tempted to descant on the "pie in the sky" theme, that we may be certain that when the All-rich God chose for the Son of Man the pathway of poverty He saw advantages in such a way of life that would out-weigh by far any that might arise from a comfortable existence ("selah"). True the Lord does not always call His children to a life of hardship. But to any of us who may be so placed, let us remember that poverty is designed of Him TO BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET TO KNOW OUR GOD IN WAYS THE WELL-TO-DO CANNOT EXPERIENCE. Notice Deut. 8:2-4, and the last clause of vs. 16.
is the basic thought behind His parabolic word, "Occupy till I come"; Luke 19:13. Few young people . . . and a host of us older people . . . have not yet learned this important lesson. Even the great man Moses found it dreadfully hard to believe that HE DID NOT NEED SOMETHING MORE in order to be fitted to deal with the Hebrews in Egypt, and with Pharaoh. Ex. 4:1-18 tells the story of his "sense of inadequacy" (as the psycho’s phrase it) and of the Lord’s refusal to give him anything more than he already possessed.
"What is that in thine hand?" He asked.
It was a rod-only a piece of wood. BUT GOD INTENDED TO MAKE USE OF THAT WHICH HE HAD. . . and to provide him with nothing more! . . . And how God did use that rod throughout the rest of Moses’ life!
And so it was, also, in the life of the Man, Christ Jesus. He would feed 5,000, or 4,000; but there would be no scurrying around to find sufficient food for the multitudes. Instead, He would ask God to bless WHAT THEY HAD (what He had placed in their hands) and to make it enough . . . And He did, glorifying His Name by making much out of little.
But I must close this chapter. Tell me before you lay it down. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM LIFE? Do you long for material things that will make you and your life seem worthwhile to other people? Or do you want most of all, the Lord Himself, in order "that in all things He might have the pre-eminence"? Don’t forget: YOU. .. CAN’T. . . SEEK. . . BOTH! Luke 16:13.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:00:25 +0000
Training for Reigning - 37 - Your News Years Motto YOUR NEW YEARS MOTTO
MOST OF US TALK too much . . . and admit it. So, if you would like to get an idea of the huge amount of really idle words you may be indulging, try the following experiment. Make a bargain with yourself to the effect that for one single day you won’t start to talk about anything unnecessary. And when people talk to you, that you will say in reply whatever may be needful-but nothing more.
"Try it once," as some of my friends say; then, unless you are of the quiet kind, you will discover that you have undertaken a really tough assignment! Almost surely you will nearly burst from an innermost urge to tell someone something you heard, did, saw or read. And the strange feature of it will be that neither you nor the other person will be benefitted in any way by talking about the matter. Instead, the result may be that your attention shall be diverted from something of importance, causing you to make a mistake later on; or you may say something unintended, and so cause harm. "Try it once," as I have suggested-and as I myself have done-and see if what I have said is not true. The experiment is quite interesting.
"Oh, I’d go crazy if I had to keep quiet all the time," one lady told me. (Albeit, since she was an accomplished "chatter-box," I found it hard to imagine that any such disaster was likely to befall her on that account). However, no suggestion had been made that she should "keep quiet all the time"- merely that much of our talking was useless. She was on the defensive; and it was clear that what she really meant was that she would go crazy if she couldn’t keep talking all the time.
Now, why do we feel it needful to talk so much? It is because that, for many of us, talking is a real pleasure. We love to talk; for, quite apart from it being a communion between soul and soul, it has an entertainment value . . - particularly when spiced with a bit of the unexpected, or perhaps the scandalous? The blunt truth is that some of us, like Noah’s raven, seem to find a secret delight in feeding our souls on the carrion of sin- spoiled man’s disobedience, folly and shame. So, as I have said, talking, even when it be of trifling things, is one of man’s chiefest pleasures.
And the thing easily becomes a life-controlling, personality- changing habit. As a somewhat extreme example let me cite the case of a certain Christian woman and her son. The mother’s chief character-defect was a trend toward being suspicious of other Christians and their motives-which, to the best of her ability, she kept under continuous scrutiny. Most likely this faculty gave her something of the same satisfaction that some folks find in solving knotty problems. The problems present a sort of challenge to their thinking; and the finding of the answers gives them a boost in that they realize their brain-power was equal to the task. So it is that, like Alexander the Great, they figuratively set themselves down and sigh for more worlds to conquer when the problem-supply runs low.
In some such similar fashion this Christian mother and son sought to fathom what hidden meanings lay behind each look, gesture, or random word that came from this person or that. These deep mysteries were a constant challenge to their powers of detection. But now and then the supply dwindled, and they were reduced to rehashing the old occurences so that they might re-live their disgust with the cunning evils latent in the bosoms of their brethren and sisters. Naturally, in the re-telling of these stories a few fresh details crept in from time to time. Thus there seemed to be an ever-mounting sense of justification for their suspicions and motive-analyses; and, little by little, they walled themselves off from those who would have been their friends, fastening their criticisms and fears so securely to their warped lives that when their life-journeys were ended, they depart "unwept, unhonoured, and unsung." "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," said the Lord Jesus when He spoke concerning idle words: Matt. 12:33-37. Since they had kept their minds filled with their subjects it was inevitable that they should occupy a major place in their discussions. And while they talked chiefly only to one another, it was the talking that kept their thinking going, even as it was their thinking that altered their lives (Prov. 23:7)-a so-called "vicious circle," indeed.
We might go on to speak of such damaging things as slangy talk, or the telling of smutty stories. But the special angle that was brought to my attention lately was that of plain, unvarnished tale-bearing . . . where the telling was justified, it was thought, because the story was true. These dear ones would never stoop to tell anything about another person that wasn’t true. Never! But is that all that is needed in order to warrant our making a story of a Christian’s downfall the let-me-tell-it- first theme of our conversation?
Oh no, Beloved! "Tell it not in Gath," pleaded David, "lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph": 2 Sam. 1:20. And how often our irresponsible chatter-our eager, "Oh, did you hear about . . .
-has gladdened unchristian hearts through their discovery of some unwary saints’ mistake, folly or sin, and thus blighted the testimony of the Name of our Lord . . . just because the story was true.
Of course I’m not forgetting that some things require to be told to responsible persons, or to an assembly. This feature is not under discussion just now. Rather do I speak of that wholly unnecessary habit of talking about newsy items for no particular reason other than that we feel the urge to talk about something
-items that can be harmful to the affected person, or persons, even if true. At the same time I remind my own heart of Prov. 10:19. "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise"; and Prov. 17:28. "Even a fool when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise." Striking counsel from the Lord, indeed!
Perhaps, too, it might be a good thing if there were a revival of a custom practiced by some conscientious sisters of a past generation-the custom of having as a motto on their kitchen walls a text (sometimes crudely home-made) found in Lev. 19:16: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people."
So, what would you think of that as a New Year’s motto? Many a time that passage has silenced mercifully the tongue of the writer!
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:59:45 +0000
Training for Reigning - 38 - Directed or Permitted DIRECTED - OR, ONLY PERMITTED?
LET ME TALK to you a bit about the Directive will of God, and the Permissive will of God, both as ft may affect our daily lives and, also, the Assemblies of the saints. The reason? It is that I have found out that not a few young Christians have begun to look for guidance, in addition, as it were, to the counsel of the Lord, to a new false god. His name is, Is-there-anything-in-the- Bible-against-it? (Don’t forget that name, will you? You may hear it again some day).
Now, I feel quite certain that Is-there-anything-in-the-Bible- against-it? never could have arisen to such prominence were it not that so many older Christian have practiced most all their lives a form of self-direction that took them more or less outside of divine direction. It seemed the necessary thing to do since they had but a hazy idea of any other possibility. Moreover, Self-sufficiency and Self-reliance are recognized virtues among men . . . and-well, what else is there? Thus it has come about that Balaam’s Guidance has flourished in private life, while Is- there-anything-in-the-Bible-against-it? is fast becoming a standard reference in some Assemblies.
In Psalm 25:9 there is a marvellous promise, which, I fear, so far as it has been of use to lots of Christians, might as well never have been written, like the case of John 3:16, and other Gospel texts. Think of the multiudes who land in hell every day who might have been made safe from sin’s punishment had they heeded such never-perish promises! Similarly, think of the hosts of us Christians who land in perplexity and difficulty every day who might have known, instead, His guidance in judgment, the teaching of His way.
Perhaps I should point out that the new life in Christ Jesus means more than to have received the gift of eternal life. It is also a NEW WAY OF LIFE altogether . . . a life in which the progressive Christian comes to realize that he is privileged to live in constant relation to His Father, the living God . . . to live in an active, practical dependence on God, the All-sufficient.
Unfortunately, many dear people seem to consider that the Lord is sufficient-up to a point. Beyond that they must fend for themselves. Hence, in the business of solving their daily problems, they generally pray about them, then use their own judgment to the best of their ability, and finally ask God’s blessing on their undertakings. That is to say, they do not have His DIRECTION, but seek His PERMISSION to carry out whatever they have decided will be best. Since He does not often interfere to "block the way if it isn’t His will," they not infrequently experience the unhappy result described in Psalm 106:15. ("T. P.").
I have said that He seldom blocks the way if it isn’t His will for us to take a certain course. No; He desires to direct His children; and when they are acting in obedience to His direction there is no need for Him to block their way. We have no Scriptural authority for expecting Him to act as a rubber stamp either in approving, or in disapproving of our proposals. Do a little thinking and you will see that everything originates with, and is projected by, God is of God; all else is of the flesh-the human self-life. There can be no alternative; James 1:14-15.
What we have set before us in the Bible is God DIRECTING His people through His Word-a thoroughly practical and efficient Master-and-servant means of cooperation in a devil- blinded world-hard-headed business men to the contrary, notwithstanding . . . as well as dubious saints. (Again permit me to add, "T. P.").
In contrast, the Book of Numbers provides us with some examples of how things work out when His people figure out for themselves the solutions to their problems, and then get His PERMISSION to go ahead. - Israel, dissatisfied with God’s manna-provision (Num. 11:4-6) was permitted to have the flesh for which they had asked (vs. 18-20, 31, 32) . . . along with its attendant plague: vs. 33-34. Later, they received His permission to die in the wilderness, which they desired of Him, rather than to rely on Him for deliverance from the Canaanites; Num. 14:2 (last clause) with vs. 28.
Balaam, his heart set on obtaining Balak’s gold, received a plain statement of the DIRECTIVE WILL of God; Numbers 22:12.
Yet, apparently hopeful that God might change His mind he dared to ask Him about it a second time; vs. 19. Knowing full well Balaam’s unwillingness and his lust for reward (2 Pet. 2:15-16) the Lord gave him PERMISSION to go with the men. But since he no longer was under the DIRECTIVE WILL of God, Justice was free to "block his way"; vs. 22. Only limitless Mercy saved his life that day; vs. 23-33.
Prom these three examples of God’s PERMISSIVE WILL in actual try-outs we learn that if we take ourselves out from under the Lord’s DIRECTIVE WILL, we can have nothing more than His Permissive will. And if we have only His permission to go ahead, we shall be "on our own," and must expect to absorb whatever unforeseen consequences may accompany our self- directed course . . . Risky, Isn’t it?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:59:02 +0000
Training for Reigning - 39 - Confessing our Faults ABOUT CONFESSING OUR FAULTS
FOR MANY OF us it is hard-uncomfortably awkward-to have to tell someone that we were wrong in something we said, or did. Indeed, some young people pass through a stage in which they pride themselves in a determination never to apologize to any one! Such "weakness," they feel, is unworthy of them. It endangers their self-respect, causing them, as the Chinese say, "to lose face." Yet, if we are going to enjoy our relationship to the Living God, we simply must maintain cleared consciences. And one of the darkest clouds that can come between us and our Heavenly Father is built up by the inner knowledge that things have been done, or said, to others that ought to have been confessed to them, and put right-but weren’t. For let us not forget, that while 1 John 1:9 deals with confession to God, James 5:16 with Matt. 5:23-24 command confession of faults one to another
-for our own sakes, as well as for theirs.
Andy, (as I shall call him), saved early in life, was an "exercised" young man who had learned a little of the importance of prayer. In time his prayer-list grew so long that he decided to devote a set period of an hour, or more, each day to the presentation before the Lord of the needs of those for whom he was burdened. For a short time all went happily. But, starting each prayer-session with necessary confession, there began to come to his mind things long forgotten-words said to his stepmother, unseemly things done with boyhood companions, and, worse than all, those gin gersnaps.
It was quite useless, he found, to try to by-pass these matters. Confession of them in detail to the Lord did not clear his conscience. Every time he tried to pray they rose up as a cloud, filling his mind with confusion. At length, after a fierce struggle with his pride, he began the humiliating process of hunting up all those whom he had offended, of making confession to them, and of being forgiven. In most instances they had forgotten about the incidents. But the Holy Spirit had not forgotten that He had been grieved. And Andy’s conscience had to be cleared if he were to be acceptable in his priestly intercession.
It was a sorry process; for as soon as one lot of misdeeds had been attended to, another batch rose to memory’s surface, each one demanding a confession, until only one remained - those gin gersnapsl
One of school-boy Andy’s duties had been to go to a grocery store for the family supplies. And in that store, set out on the floor there used to be a large, uncovered barrel of hot little ginger- snaps. They rarely were seen in Andy’s home-and the boy "just loved them"! It was common for a customer to help himself to a couple of the cheap little cakes while the grocer filled his order. So the lad began to follow their example. No one said anything to him. So, as his boldness grew, he casually took a few more from time to time, and often left the store with a half dozen in his pockets.
Now that had happened years and years before Andy’s intercessions had begun. He had completely forgotten about these indulgences. But now, every time he sought the Lord’s presence, the whole record came surging back to hinder his praying. Laying it out before the Lord brought no relief. At last he wrote away for the old grocer’s addres, and, feeling like a whipped cur, he sent him a detailed confession, plus money to pay for the stolen cakes. He was certain the man would despise him utterly, for he had known that the lad professed to be saved. However, in due time, a most gracious reply came from him, expressing admiration for the young man’s courage and assuring him that his Christianity had never been doubted; but now that this confession had been received, he, the grocer, felt a still greater measure of respect for him as a Christian. Thus it seemed that the Lord had turned even this belated righting of matters into a testimony to Himself.
Of course it will be easy to argue one’s self into the belief that such "little" things are too trifling to bother with. Yet please observe, as I have said, that the Holy Spirit had not forgotten that he had been grieved. He was not ready to pass off these matters as long-forgotten trivialities, better off if kept buried. Notice, also, that the humiliating conscience-clearing WAS THE
a stern fact that cannot be laughed off!
And here let me rest my case. For be assured of this, my young companions in Christ, we can work like slaves in His service, and be most faithful in our assembly duties. And we can pray, earnestly, for many things. But it all will be as empty as the wind unless our souls are in communion-contact with our God.
From time to time, also, there is much concern about our powerlessness in testimony. Could it be possible that one cause of it is an unrecognized, yet broken, communion with the Source of Power because we are accustomed to think so lightly of the command to confess our faults one to another? . . . What do you think?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:58:31 +0000
Training for Reigning - 40 - Authority for Sunday Schools HAVE WE AUTHORITY FOR SUNDAY SCHOOLS?
You WILL NOT find the terms "Gospel Meeting," or "Sunday school," in the Bible. Consequently some of the Lord’s people like to argue that, since God has been pleased to make use of both forms of Gospel testimony, we do not require to look for direction from the Word respecting all our methods of proclaiming the Good News. They feel that, so long as any type of method may appear to be of use in reaching sinners, they should be at liberty to employ it-provided, of course, the Bible does not forbid it. In other words, "Is-there-anything-in-the-Bible- against-it?" is, to them, fully acceptable as a means of deciding for or against.
May I tell you why I so much fear this fast-developing trend? It is because I, myself, indulged in its use in earlier years. And now that my days are numbered, and more sober reflections have come to me, I realize most keenly the truth brought out in one of E. M. Bounds’ books. As I remember it, he wrote: "The Holy Ghost does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not come on methods but on men . . ."
(In the days of my youth sober-minded brethren sought to keep the brakes on "zeal without knowledge." But today we observe that, in some cases, it is the older brethren who are speeding up the pace. For myself, I am certain that large sections of my service will be burnt up at the Judgment Seat because, at those times, brain-waves directed my course . . . that is to say, the flesh was my prompter and guide. So now do you understand? I long with a very great longing that you young people may not make the blunders I have made, and so suffer the eternal losses that must be mine. I pray that, instead, you may learn early in your experience to turn away from self- direction and to rely, utterly, on the direction of the Holy Spirit through His Word. Am I wrong in coveting this for you?).
Authority for the Gospel-preaching meetings does not suffer serious question. We have several well-known examples that can be reckoned as guidance in the Acts. But the "Sunday School" is supposed to be in a different position. Moreover, some even say that the idea of Gospel-teaching classes originated in the movement begun by Robert Raikes in Gloucester, England, in 1780! (By the way, did you know that, "many Sunday schools anti-dated the Gloucester school, among them several in the United States originated as early as 1674, 1676 and 1680"?). But let me assure you that the example of the Raikes-stock school, no matter how estimable it may have been, never has been the authority for the building up of "Sunday school" work in the assemblies of God. Rather did it serve to stimulate the study of the Scriptures respecting the Lord’s mind relative to Gospel witness among the young.
There will be no need at this time to remind our readers of such Old Testament passages as Ex. 2:25-27; Deut. 6:7, 20-25; 11:18-19, etc., these commands were to be carried out, primarily, in the home; but they also serve to underline God’s interest in the children, plus His estimate of what they needed to be taught. We have, also, at least one clear instance of public teaching given to all who were able to understand: "Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding upon the first day of the seventh month"; Neh. 8:2-an Old Testament first-day (our Sunday) "open school," if you will.
In the Gospels we have a number of references to the Lord Jesus when He was teaching, publicly, groups of persons in the outer-temple (Newberry); John 8:12; 10:22-39; Luke 19:47, etc. On these occasions, as Edersheim notes, the people congregated in the shelters called "porches," and sat down on the pavement to listen to Him, or to discuss what He taught, or to ask questions. Luke 19:46-47 with Matt. 21:12-16 shows that children were among those He taught at such times.
After the Assembly had been planted in Jerusalem by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost there was great activity in spreading the Gospel. In Acts 5:42 we read: "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach (literally: ‘announcing the glad tiding’) Jesus Christ."
Here, then, we have notice of Gospel-teaching classes conducted in the Temple area (as did the Lord Jesus) and in "different houses" (Green’s Greek Grammar) that children as well as adults were present, we cannot doubt. The teaching sessions were every-day-in-the-week activities conducted by men from the local assembly in Jerusalem-the Apostles.
From Acts 3:1, and a knowledge of the requirements of the ritual, we recognize that only the intervals between services could be used for teaching at the Temple. That there would be certain times, only, in "the different houses" when the "announcing of the glad tidings" would be possible is obvious, also. The point here is that these teaching sessions were adjusted to the convenience of the listeners. Thus, in this example of Gospel witnessing, WE HAVE FULL SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY FOR CONDUCTING GOSPEL-TEACHING CLASSES. They
can be held every day of the week. Such public instruction in the Word may serve "all that can hear with understanding." And conditions of convenience can be respected.
This last feature is of some importance because the customs of modern Gentiles make 7-days-a-week Gospel teaching classes difficult to carry on. I have held a few series of them in homes; but speaking generally, the holding of such gatherings is well nigh impossible for most witnesses. An effort in this direction, for them, must be limited to a certain time on Lord’s days. Shall we abandon all effort because we cannot keep at it every day in the week? Or would the Lord have us to refuse to teach children because we cannot induce older people to let us teach them, also? Several principles from the Word might be cited at this point; but the Lord’s commendation of Mary may be sufficient just now. "She hath done what she could," was what He said concerning her; Mark 14:8.
So it is that we insist that authority for conducting Gospel- Teaching classes is found in the Word, and not in Robert Raikes’ example. True enough, the expression "Sunday school" is not found in the Bible. Abandon it if you so desire. But Gospel- teaching classes have Scriptural sanction-and most of the common "Sunday school" usages, I believe, as well. Let us be careful, then, not to acecpt statements to the contrary, especially if they should come from Christians who desire to bolster up their reliance for Authority to act on the question, "Is-there-anything-in-the-Bible-against-it? Everyone is agreed that Judges 21:25 is one of the saddest verses found in the Word of God.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:57:49 +0000
Training for Reigning - 41 - Power from the Word POWER FROM THE WORD

PERHAPS NOT TOO many of us have realized the possibilities of God’s Word as a source of energy, power, for our daily lives. We recognize that the Bible should be a power over our lives; but the idea of gaining imparted strength from it is foreign to the thinking of most Christians, alas! Nevertheless, it cannot be stressed too strongly that, being an instrument of the Holy Spirit, POWER IS RESIDENT IN THE GOD-BREATHED WORD. (Cf.-Psa. 119:50, 93, where "Chayah" indicates to give vital power, anima, life: Heb. Lex. See also Heb. 4:12).
The writer of Heb. 4:12 understood that the Word of God is active, energetic. And even the youngest of us will recall that the Gospel of Christ "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth"; Rom. 1:16. We all recognize, too, that its promises do give us comfort, courage and stimulus in times of stress. Yet there are the continuing every-day needs for Spirit-begotten energy which seem so very often to go unnoticed and un-met . . . perhaps because we do not understand that, through the Spirit, the Words of God are repositories of power. Let me tell you a few stories, disguised, but true, to explain what I mean; and to show you how literal strength-of-spirit can be derived from this great power-house.
Jack, out of work, was a timid sort of fellow who, through a series of failures had come to think that he was no good, that life was too hard, that it were better had he not been born. Yet, since it was a case of work or starve, he simply had to find himself a job somehow. He prayed frantically about it; but his fears so dominated his thoughts that the best he could do was to go to possible places of employment . . . and then walk past them without venturing even to ask for work. Then, when his fears really were getting him down, someone told him about Phil. 4:13, urging him to say it over-and-over to himself, whether or not he believed it, and a hundred times a day if possible, until the power of the Word gripped his soul. It seemed hardly sensible, yet he tried it. His confidence in the Lord stimulated, he got himself a good job, and continued to keep going on the strength he received from the living and powerful Word.
Mac’s story was different. He didn’t like his work. It bored him frightfully, and he sought for excuses to give it up. He had "several good reasons," however, for keeping at it, so continued with his disheartening service. One day the last clause of Col. 3:24 laid hold of him. It seemed to repeat itself over and over in his mind for several days. At last he yielded to its claim, went at his work with fresh vigour, and actual joy-sawing off boards for no less a Master than the One Who had redeemed him. For he had discovered in the Words of God a hidden source of energy and gladness. And these, plus the Grace of Acceptance (Matt. 11:26) transformed him and his disagreeable employnient . . . Yes, the Word is both living and powerful!
But knowing the Word is not enough. IT MUST GET HOLD OF US if we are to experience its energetic power. And since its ultimate value to us lies in the re-routing of our thinking, the over-and-over repetition helps to push us past the earthly- mindedness that keeps us existing, so much of the time, on the levels of the woridlings all around us.
"A certain woman" lost her position; then, to top it all, her doctor ordered her into hospital for an operation. To her original dismay was added, now, fear-fear of the operation itself, fear of what the surgeon’s scalpel might discover. In her distress she was directed to Psa. 23:1. Over-and-over, over-and-over, she repeated the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." As she did so their power took possession of her soul, enabling her to go calmly to the operating table-and afterwards to praise Him for the deeper realization that had come to her of Himself as her own all-wise, tender, never-failing Shepherd.
Truly, Beloved, there is power in the Words of our GOd!
More examples might be cited, but let me make a few suggestions, instead.
Some of you young people will be returning to school, or college-if the Lord wills it so. Hence it may be that they (or you) will be thinking about (and dreading) renewed contest with the worldlings when you seek to carry with you your separation unto the Lord. You may feel so weak and unequal to the task, and may wish with all your soul there was some way out of it. But let me hurry to your aid with the suggestion that you read 1 Cor. 6:19-20; and then, for ease of application, begin to recite to yourself, over and over:
"Ye are bought with a price."
"Ye are not your own."
If you wish you may add Psa. 27:1, or Heb. 13:6, or any other positive statement in the Bible that may suit your wilting spirit. This exercise may not seem of much value at first; but keep it up, and before long the Spirit’s Word will be at work within you pushing out the weakness of your resolve, altering your attitudes, relating-by-faith your daily life more fully to the Living God, and His infinite resources.
Possibly someone who reads these pages may be laid aside with illness or an accident, or some disability. In Isa. 26:3 we read, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee." How then, shall we go about it to stay our minds on the Lord? Isa. 40:28-31 tells us that strength to overcome faintness comes from waiting on Him. Many Christians see in these words only an exhortation to prayer. But Prov. 8:34-35 shows us clearly that the soul which truly waits on the Lord Is the one who is listening for His voice. So, by all means let us seek His face in prayer; but let us not be content therewith. We simply must have His strengthening Word to empower us.
Unnumbered hosts of saints have found comfort in passages like Isa. 43:2, or Heb. 13:5. But when it is strength we are seeking we shall need to find positive statements in His Word that can be rightly applied to our condition. Consider such positive statements of the Word as the following-which turn our thoughts, in different circumstances, away from our helplessness to His all-sufficiency.
Psa. 25:15; Isa. 41-10, 14: Isa. 49:23, last clause; Isa. 50:10-il; Psa. 138:8, first clause, with Phil. 1:6. This brief list might be extended to cover every possible human contingency. For it is not our Heavenly Father’s will that we should stagger through the wilderness like weaklings; Eph. 6:10. Everything pertaining to life and godliness has been given to us We get into these resources through full knowledge of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ And the exceeding great and precious promises are the principal avenues thereto (2 Pet 1:2-5)
So if you are needing strength for the journey, or the service or the conflict, will you try out my suggestion? (But don’t bother NE SERIOUS PROBLEM that often faces young people when they if you don’t need it)
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:57:15 +0000
Training for Reigning - 42 - Standing at the crossroads STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS’

One serious problem that often faces young people when they are about to enter adulthood is that of attaining to ‘separate existence" - that is, to become responsible for their own lives independent of parental support and control. Some greatly fear to launch out into the workaday world "on their own," and do all they can as long as they can to avoid it. Others, while still in their teens, begin a battle for recognition as being grown up. They feel fully able to "stand on their own feet," and long for the chance (which they consider their parents deny them) to make their own decisions, to rely on their own tiny store of
experience-judgment acquisitions and abilities . . . with the proviso, that is, that home always will be available as a retreat, if necessary, and that father will foot any resultant bills.
Yet another class of young Christians would be content to continue with their home life, local assembly fellowship, and present employment, if their saved parents, or other relatives, were not constantly nagging at them about matters which, to them, are of small consequence, or even un-justified. One of the more common hindrances to home-life felicity is the well-meant, but often most injurious challenge, "If you were really saved you wouldn’t want to act that way."
From the standpoint of Immaturity such statements are apt to be regarded as "carping criticism" based on parental failure to understand, or else on their old-fashioned ideas. And the net result, generally, is a building-up in their children of a disheartening sense of frustration, plus many surgings of resentment. In a few cases that have come under my observation, a life-time hostility has been the tragic outcome; while in another instance, the effect was just the opposite. The young man in question decided that, if his parents were sure he was not saved, they must be right. He knew of no other way of being saved; and so at last gave up. He is now well on in life; but his lost confidence, destroyed by an over-anxious zeal, has never been recovered. These are serious effects, indeed

Now in beginning discussion of these matters, let me deal with the last-mentioned items first.
Why are we parents so much given to the use of restraints of this sort? Is it true that we desire to be critical? Do we unwittingly expect our children to be "tied to their mother’s apron strings" forever? Or have we no confidence in them at all that we worry ourselves - and them - with such persistence?
No, my young friends, such is not the case. We may rightly be considered to some extent, old-fashioned, and critical; and it may be, somewhat censorious. But there are deeper, almost unexplainable reasons behind our hard-to-understand attitudes, and continued worryings concerning you.
You see, we have been over the road, and know some of the pitfalls that you young folks just don’t know the first thing about
to name the most dangerous of them all! UNRECOGNIZED WEAKNESSES. As a matter of fact, a good many of us parents have missed disaster from that cause in our own lives by a narrow margin more than once. And our knowledge of these things, so very hard to explain to young people, makes us afraid for you - especially when some of you seem so loaded up with a foolish assurance that you can take care of yourselves . . . IF you really knew yourselves (Jer. 17:9) you would never allow yourselves to think so, much less say it! But try to remember that expression, won’t you: UNRECOGNIZED WEAKNESSES?
Now I’m not pretending that we, your elders, can be excused on this account from what may seem to you like everlasting faultfinding. But, since we usually are so very hard to change, do permit me to suggest that there is something you could do to help matters. You will recall that Heb. 4:16 assures us that we can pray down grace to help in time of need. (And I believe it, because I’ve made use of it for so many years). So my suggestion is that you start in to pray for grace - to enable you to be as patient under these trying circumstances as His grace can make you. It isn’t likely you can change the conditions themselves very much. But in this way you certainly can change your own attitude toward them. ("Pause and ponder.").
With reference to the struggle for more personal liberty, I may say that numbers of young Christians have told me of their conclusion that the only solution to their problems is to leave home and go to some other place where they will be "on their own," and be able to enjoy some peace of mind. They feel sure that the time has come "to make a break" in order to begin that "separate existence" required by every feature of normal human development. They judge that if they were to go away to some other place to live, they could make a fresh start, and so order matters more fully to their liking. However, having had personal experience of this "relief"- and of nearly foundering, morally, my first year away from home (it was another case of a series of Unrecognized Weaknesses) - I’m not willing to recommend ft without reservations. Furthermore, you will find you can’t run away from your troubles . . . not until you learn how to run away from yourself. But there is yet another factor of vital importance in your life. It is the question, TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THE LORD MANAGE YOUR PLANNING? For, like it or not, the principle of the first half of Psa. 127:1 always is operative in a Christian’s life, young or old. You would be wise to apply it this way: "Except the Lord directs my moves my expectations will be in vain."
This brings us to the consideration of the fact that "two roads before us lie"- hence my caption for this chapter, STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS? You can continue to push for, or to arrange for what you may judge would be a good change, then pray about your choice, and ask the Lord to bless it;
You can pray for grace to leave all the choices, and direction, to your Heavenly Father: Jer. 10:23; Prov. 19:21; 3:5-6. You can believe His Word that the Good Shepherd IS leading you; John 10:4, 27; Isa. 48:17; Psa. 32:8-9; and then depend on His promise that He surely will fulfil Psa. 25:9 in a manner of His own choosing.
These are the alternatives, Beloved. In the first you would make the decisions and arrangements as, and when, you saw fit asking the Lord (as a sort of rubber stamp!) to o.k. your plans. In effect you would be taking your problems out of His hands and into your own.
In the second you would be depending on Him to make the decisions to arrange for your separate existence problem, to direct you as to what you should do, if, as, and when He should see fit. Thus you would rely on His infinitely superior experience and judgment (so to speak) and be certain of being led in right paths. For it is written, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord"; Psa. 37:23. In contrast, the story of a man who relied on his own best judgment (in hope of God’s blessing) is found in Josh. 9. Note particularly verse 14 - So now, my young friends, now that you are in a position to consider both types of problem solution, may I ask you to try the second course - shall I say, for a change?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:56:36 +0000
Training for Reigning - 43 - Some Guidance Notes SOME GUIDANCE NOTES
IN THE LAST chapter two ways of solving problems were outlined, and it was suggested that you deliberately try giving the Lord His rightful place as counsellor of your life; Isa. 9:6. Only the problems of separate existence were considered at the time. But it should be understood that the principle of seeking to allow the Lord to direct our course applies to every possible problem we may face.
In those far off times when the people of Israel were migrants in the wilderness they were provided with three forms of guidance - three forms which picture for us our own resources, though so little understood.
1. The Pillar of Cloud, or of Fire: Num. 9:15-23. This sets before us guidance by the Holy Spirit.
2. The Two Silver Trumpets: Num. 10:1-10. They represent Old and New Testaments - God’s Word.
3. The Ark of the Covenant: Num. 10:33-36; Josh. 3:3-4. Being the symbol of God’s presence in the midst of His people, it is a particular type of the Lord Jesus. It was carried before them, covered but in full view, that they might follow it, reminding us that the Lord Jesus is the great Example for the following of His people; John 21:19-22.
Here then are the three major ways in which the Lord guided His people then, and will do so still - if we permit Him. Let me try to jot down, as simply as I can how a young Christian may learn God’s mind for him, or her.
For our purposes the example of the Lord Jesus and the teachings of the Word may be linked together. His example becomes our guidance in all details of our behaviour before God and men; 1 John 2:6. We cannot walk in His steps, but we are commanded to follow His steps; 1 Pet. 2:21. For instance, in this chapter the exhortations are modelled on His example with reference to God’s guidance for us: - when we have strong desires to do certain things - well, mainly because we want to do them: 2:11;
- when people talk about us, even saying things about us that aren’t true: 2:12; - when authorities make irksome regulations, such as those affecting our school life, or our employment, or riding a bicycle, or driving a car: 2:13-16; when we believe the Lord has given us a job, but later on we find that our employer is unreasonable, unjust, froward (perverse), buffeting us even for well-doing . . . and we feel like telling him (or her) off, or like quitting. Or when people may revile us, hurting our feelings, and even cause us to suffer - at such times the example of the Lord Jesus stands out in striking contrast to guide us away from the action our own sin-spoiled natures would prompt us to employ: 2:18-23.
Indeed, the whole Bible is crammed with guidance for right living. These counsels govern the major, well-defined problems of life. BUT THERE IS MUCH MORE! From Christ’s example, and from the Scriptures, generally, we may gather the Lord’s mind concerning most of the lesser details of daily living. Indeed, I believe that there is guidance given therein to cover every possible contingency of life - if we had eyes to see and hearts to understand. After all, the Bible is the living Word (Heb. 4:12) of the living God, capable, is it not, of completely equipping His children unto every good work? (2 Tim. 3:16-17). So let me note a few simple principles that even a very young Christian can make use of.
I. The first thing needed is the settled desire to have God’s will rather than our own; Psa. 25:9; Matt. 11:29-30; Rom. 12:2; Luke 22:42. For be it clearly understood, Beloved, that unless this is our earnest quest we might just as well give up seeking His direction; Isa. 50:10-11; 66:2. If what we desire, and what we think, and what we decide to do, are to be our guides, then we shall be taking matters into our own hands, and God will be shut out. In Psa. 106: 13 we read concerning Israel, "they waited not for His counsel"; and nearly all their wilderness blunders, including the golden calf episode, had this attitude of self-sufficiency as a leading cause. They considered they knew what to do in the circumstances . . . and they did it . . . and so blundered their way into sickening sin. The Bible records many instances of this kind of misguidance. Yet notice carefully that that verse does not say they didn’t pray about their problem. It says, "they waited not for His counsel." So the very first step is to desire His will rather than our own, and therefore to be determined to wait until we receive His counsel.
2. We should expect to receive it from His Word.
(a) He commonly seeks to give guidance in many daily affairs BY SPEAKING TO US THROUGH HIS WORD WHILE WE ARE READING.
Don’t just read your Bible as a religious duty. If you have a problem, tell it out in detail before the Lord. Then, pleading Psa. 25:9, ask Him to speak to you through His Word as you read it. As you read, something may attract your attention. Stop, then, and consider it; because the Lord may have your answer, or some detail of it right there. (Usually I jot it down on paper). It may not seem to have anything to do with your problem; but keep lifting up your heart to God to open your understanding. Look over the words and their connection, carefully. If some other passage comes to mind look it up and jot down whatever comes before you. If your time runs out, keep your notes and go back at it when next you are reading. For while He may give you your answer the first time you read, yet it may have a number of details that can be revealed to you only as you continue to read His Word for several days. Furthermore, He may desire to instruct you, also, re matters other than the one for which you may be seeking light.
I keep some scribblers in which are noted a good many of such searchings and their answers. Most of them are too long to describe here. But let me tell of one brief example. While having believers’ meetings one time I found the ministry trend to be leading me to a subject I much desired to avoid. So I sought the Lord’s mind as to whether or not to continue. I seemed unable to recall anything from the Word that would guide me; but was reading in Colossians, and so asked Him to speak to me from His Word and to reveal to me His mind. But nothing that was read seemed to give any light. Now it is only a little epistle, and doesn’t take long to read: so I decided to finish it. I began to wonder if the Lord did not intend to answer me that day. But He was true to His promise in Psa. 25:9. His answer was given plainly, even with definiteness - as it has been given so many other times and for all sorts of problems. And if you would care to read the second last verse of that epistle you will see for yourself what His answer was.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:55:52 +0000
Training for Reigning - 44 - Some Guidance Notes pt2 SOME GUIDANCE NOTES (Part 2)
Having SETTLED IN your mind, and before the Lord that, at all costs you desire the will of God rather than your own to be the solution of all your problems, you will find that you have placed yourself in a position of meekness where God will be able to make known His will to you. Let me describe it as a condition of "good reception" in replacement of one of "poor reception"
- which always is the chief hindrance to learning His will. Continuing from the last chapter:
(3) The Holy Spirit’s Signals for Action.
As a man upon earth, the Lord Jesus voluntarily chose to be guided by, and to perform His miracles through, the Holy Spirit:
Luke 4:18; Matt. 12:28; Acts 10:38. Several times we read of Him acting when He "perceived" something that indicated one of the Spirit’s signals for action. See for instance, John 6:15, where His perception of the people’s before-the-time intention became the signal to Him to withdraw Himself.
Now I do not forget that He was the Son of God, and that the Holy Spirit had not been given by measure unto Him. Nevertheless, Scripture charges us to follow (in our measure) His example, while Acts 14:8-10 is a later record of guidance recognized through perception.
Consider them:
(a) John 4:4: "And He must needs go through Samaria." We do not know specifically what the necessity was; but He recognized it as being the Spirit’s signal for action - and so He went through Samaria. That God intended to save a lot of Samaritans is evident from verses 39, 41, 42. But it was the necessity, whatever it was, which indicated that both the course, and the time to take that course, were before Him. (At least seven other such promptings of the Spirit are evident in this chapter).
Here then, is an important guidance factor. When we perceive that we must do a certain thing - having assured ourselves that such action cannot be contrary to any known teaching of the Word, and (after applying every test), that to delay any longer is not possible - we shall perceive in the Necessity the Spirit’s signal for action.
A certain brother, having a growing family with its many needs, and feeling it to be his duty to provide for them as well as possible, used to quit his job and take another whenever he saw a chance to earn more money. But more and more he became subject to layoffs and lost time for other reasons. Finally (in a time of distress) it was pointed out to him that his job-changing practice was displeasing to the Lord. There was no Necessity for his actions. Repeatedly he had told others of the Lord’s kindness in finding him work. Yet whenever what looked like a better opportunity came his way he would say (in effect) to the Lord: "Thanks for the job, Lord; but I know where I can get more money, so here it is back again." (H!).
Urged to stop this God-dishonouring practise, and to hang on to the next job the Lord gave him until the Lord took it from him, he consented to try out the plan . . . although somewhat alarmed to think that such a course might end in his having to be discharged before he might be free to leave it. Result: steady employment until nearing his home-call.
LEARN TO EXPECT AND WAIT FOR THE LORD TO PUSH YOU AROUND, if, for example, you have "prospects" for a better position; for gaining a boy or girl friend; for buying a car, a home - or more clothes; if exercised about the Lord’s work, or having a place in your mind for Gospel work, . . . or with respect to anything you can name: Psa. 25:9; 32:2-9; Isa. 64:4; 49:23 last clause; Psa. 34:22; 37:7. Remember, it is better to be a mile behind the Lord than to be one-hundredth of an inch ahead of Him! In the former He still is leading; in the latter we are completely without a guide, John 8:12.
(b) Prov. 4:11 assures us that when we are following "right paths" we shall find the various "steps" in the course do not become "straitened" (narrowed) to hinder our progress. Nor will the path we are following have stumbling blocks to trip us up. If then, we believe we have the Lord’s mind about something, we may take one step towards the doing of it. If the course remains clear, pleading Psa. 25:9, we may take a second step, and continue thus towards the objective; vs. 24-27. But if the path should become obstructed in any way, we do not ask the Lord "to open up the way" (lest Satan answer our prayer!) but come at once to a full stop. For, unless the condition be that described in (c), we are on a wrong track. Another translation renders the first half of verse 12 in these familiar words, "As thou goest, step by step, the way shall open up before thee."
(c) Josh. 3:15, last clause, shows that when we are following a course which we know to be of the Lord’s choosing, it is possible to find the pathway completely blocked ahead of us. At such times, contrary to the teachings of the worldly.minded, we are not to try to push past the obstacle, nor over it, nor through it. We are to stand still and WAIT FOR GOD TO ACT FIRST:
Josh. 3:3-4; Psa. 130:5-6; Acts 16:6-10; 2 Cor. 1:15-17.
(d) My space is over-run . . . and there is much more guidance teaching that should be noted. But let me close with a brief reference to some of "the mistakes of Moses" (and their corrections), recorded in Acts 7:22-24 . . . mistakes made by many of us repeatedly.
-Vs. 25: He had a call from God.
-Vs. 23: He had a right exercise.
-Vs. 24: There seemed to be a definite need for action.
-Vs. 23: By human standards he was old enough; hence if he ever intended to do anything, the time to do something to correct matters had come. And seemingly (since no one else did anything) "it was up to him."
-Vs. 25: He supposed his brethren would understand, and support him.
-Vs. 30: But, alas! he was FORTY YEARS TOO SOON! For neither he, his people, nor the Egyptian scene were ready for the out-working of God’s plans.
The lesson: Exercise alone is a dangerous guide. We must have not only a call from God, and an opening, but also GOD’S TIME TO ACT . . . which, as in every Scriptural example known to me, throws us right back on waiting for God to act first, and waiting for Him to push us around - the opposite attitude to self-direction. Respecting Moses, when God’s time for him to act had come, it would seem that He had to push him into doing everything! Read Ex. 4, and you will see what I mean. May the Lord give you dear young people, and the writer an understanding of His will in all things . . . and that right early.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:55:20 +0000
Training for Reigning - 45 - What if you were able WHAT IF YOU WERE ABLE!
YOUNG PEOPLE, SEEKING to find a niche in an adult world (which, as a whole, is callously indifferent to their existence or their fate) usually do plenty of dreaming and wishing. And frequently their urges begin to find expression in such terms as, "Oh, if I only could . . .
But yearnings like these are not limited to young Christians. What myriads of sighs, prefaced by those, or similar words have ascended into the ears of a mercifully understanding Heavenly Father (Psa. 103:13-14) from older believers as well! Indeed, man as a limited creature, dwelling within the boundaries of his limitations, and without hope of escape, ceases not to search for more power of different types, albeit they may threaten his earthly existence. In a more ordinary sense David, in the tragic days of Absalom’s rebellion, finding himself without power to curb the defection either of men of low degree, or men of high degree, was compelled to cry out, "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God"; Psa. 62:11. No doubt the king would have liked to have done important things in that crisis; but he wasn’t able.
IF ONLY WE HAD THE POWER what great things might we not attempt! And what escapes from responsibility, or boredom, or unpleasant tasks; from uncongenial people, or illness, or financial worries; from things as they are; from this impossible place to one wherü we could get a fresh start, etc.- what escapes, I say, would we not engineer!
Then, too, there is the felt need in Gospel efforts and testimony. We think of the power manifested in Apostles, and other chosen vessels, in the Church’s early days; and of some who in more recent times were used mightly of the Lord. But power belongeth unto God. We haven’t got it; few really know how to get it. Nor can I tell you the way to acquire it. But while reading, lately, about the Temptation in the wilderness of our blessed Lord Jesus (Matt. 3:1 6-4:11) I thought I caught a glimpse of some qualifying factors. Let me tell you about them.
In this passage the One Who "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3) is seen on earth as "the Man, Christ Jesus," previously having "emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, becoming in the likeness of men"; (Phil. 2:7: Vine). Baptized by John, and coming up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. Years later the Holy Spirit, through Peter, described it in these words: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power"; Acts 10:38.
Here, then, we have the Perfect Servant receiving the anointing that will equip Him for His public ministry. Now stop a moment and ask yourself what you would have done had you received (in your measure) such power. Likely most of us would consider that we ought to use it right and left - for the Lord’s work, of course, but for. all sorts of things as well . . . which surely must be a major reason why God cannot entrust us with it.
Before the Lord Jesus made any use of His anointing with the Holy Ghost and with power, He was led (and driven: Mark 1:12) by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted
tempted with respect to His readiness to act under the Spirit’s guidance, and to use His power as and when He was directed, only. Hence, from a natural standpoint, His reactions to Satan’s proposals seem altogether different from what might have been expected. Notice that in each case HE REFUSED TO USE HIS
Vss. 3-4: to supply His own temporal needs;
Vss. 5-7: to gain the acceptance of Himself by others;
Vss. 8-10: for personal advantage - to take a "short-cut" to His objective.
Now if this doesn’t strike you as remarkable, compare it with the common attitude of those of us who bear His name. Are not these the very things that many of us pray earnestly about, EXERTING EVERY SCRAP OF HUMAN POWER THAT WE POSSESS in order to gain them? He had power to turn stones into bread; but as the Dependent One He would, although an-hungered, await His Father’s provision for, or direction concerning, His needs for food . . . But as for ourselves, do we not feel justified in using all our little power to get better jobs, with better pay, better working conditions, so that we may have better cars, better homes, or a better standard of living? . . . our strivings eloquent of an attitude that cries to heaven, "Oh, if we only had MORE power!" . . . contrast: Acts 20:34; Eph. 4:28.
There are numerous instances recorded when He used His power to supply the temporal needs of others. But for Himself, His dependence on whatever His Father should provide was never to vary. No wonder angels came and ministered unto Him; vs. 11.
The second temptation was of such a character that possibly few of us should have recognized it as such. About to begin His earthly ministry, and unknown to the people, a public demonstration of Psa. 91:11-12 would serve to proclaim Him at once to the Jews as the long-awaited Messiah, especially if done before the eyes of priests and people at the Temple. But He refused to use His power of claim to that promise. Indeed, He would seek no such acceptance of Himself, nor of His ministry - no vindication except that received from His Father; John 5:41; 1 Pet. 2:23 . . . "Wonderful Man of Calvary!"
In contrast, how many of us dream of being, someday, a "big shot." Moreover, should we hear of something uncomplimentary having been said about us, we hurry away to get it "put straight," or to make the offender "take it back," lest our prestige should suffer. It would almost seem that some of us might be willing to accept a temple-jump-test . . . if we felt sure it would work. (What great publicity!).
Last of all came the temptation to avoid the waiting-time for the fulness of time . . . to take a "short cut" to the fulfilment of His objectives . . . to by-pass the sufferings of the cross and attain to earth’s kingdoms by using His personal power of choice. But there could be no response in Him to such a proposal. The power of choice would remain where it belonged - in His Father’s hands, even unto Gethsemane; Matt. 26:53-54. He would await His Father’s time to give Him the kingdom . . .and He is waiting for it still!
-But how many of us are willing for God to make all the choices? Psa. 47:4.
-And how many of us there are who chafe because God seems so slow in giving us what we want.
-And how few there be who are willing to WAIT for the out- working of His plan for our lives; James 5:11.
-And what a lot of us spend much time trying to figure out short-cuts - methods of by-passing times of trial, and suffering, and waiting for God’s time to act to come.
But likely some young folks will not have thought of these things before. However, now that we see a little more of the path that He trod, let us pray for grace (Heb. 4:16) to take up the cross (death to self) and to seek to follow Him; Mark 8:34 . . . Shall we?
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:54:46 +0000
Training for Reigning - 46 - How we take things ABOUT THE WAY WE TAKE THINGS
I GNORED . . . PUSHED OFF . . . Shoved aside . . . Shut out …Lonely . …Longing to fly away from it all! If the reader
should know of any Christian to whom these words might apply, then this message is for him, for her . . . of whatever age.
Very much I should like (were it possible) to begin by telling you a few real-life stories of some of the Lord’s dear ones who, even while you are reading this, are suffering from grievous frustration. In some cases these stories commenced in early childhood when there were unsatisfactory parents, children unwanted, poverty, hardship. From such beginnings they struggled on up into later youth; they got saved, then married, only to experience more poverty with its endless struggle to keep out of debt. But "hope springs eternal in the human breast." If Childhood, Youth, Married life have all been disappointments, perhaps (they reason) when the children have grown up, and have married, things will be different. So it is that when the family has grown up and married (and have things so very much nicer and easier than ever we could have 1), life’s cup of bitterness seems filled to over-flowing when the same old pattern emerges once more; Ignored . . . Pushed off . . . Shoved aside .
Shut out . . . and Lonely . . . and feeling a gnawing resentment.
But before I write another sentence, if the reader should know of any to whom these words might apply, whether in Youth’s unsatisfied days, or in Married Life’s disillusionment and endless demands, or in Later Life’s disappointments and unwantedness, let me ask you to tell them that there is a happy "way out."
If they will read Luke 2:10-12 they will realize that likely there were a number of babies wrapped in swaddling bands to be found in the great crowds gathered in Bethlehem at that time. But there was only One which would be found lying in a manger. This was to be their sign - surely a symbolic sign that, in full agreement with Isa. 53:3, was to be seen so often throughout His sojourn among men: Ignored . . . Pushed off . ..Shoved aside . . Shut out . . But NOT lonely, NOT frustrated, and without a particle of resentment!
Do we wonder - remembering the power of His Deity, and the greatness of His condescension when He "became in the likeness of men" in order to redeem us - do we wonder how He could take things as He did?
In John 4:34, speaking as Jehovah’s perfect Servant, He gives us the answer, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me"
the servant-attitude that made Him (and can make us, also) completely proof against such things as Frustration, Resentments, Conflicts, Depression, and resultant Nervous Tension.
Your attitudes, my attitudes, everybody’s attitudes - these are the things that condition our lives (including Temperament and Character) and so make or mar them. For example, suppose someone "snubs" or otherwise humiliates me. You will see at once that the effect on me will depend on how I take such treatment. If my attitude is one of "don’t care" my reaction will not be the same as if I should take the mental position, "Who does he think he is? I’ll show him he can’t do that to me!" It will be different, also, if I conclude, "Well, I deserved it"; and still more so if I shall take David’s attitude toward Shimei, "Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him!" 2 Sam. 16:11.
These four possible reactions resulting from differing attitudes should be enough, I hope, to help my readers to think still further about the very great importance of Attitudes in the business of Christian living. For it’s the way we take things that so often decides whether or not, we shall recognize our loving Heavenly Father’s hand in all our troubles . . . or shall tumble into one of Satan’s snares, such as the Frustrations - Boredom - Resentment triad, with spirits very, very low because we are Ignored
- . . Pushed off . . . Shoved aside . . . Shut out . . . Lonely.
Now, as I have said, there is possible a blessed release from such weariness. But I must warn our readers that it just isn’t likely to come the way so many of us think it ought to come - by a change in our circumstances! In fact when these continue to be what we consider unfavourable, unfair or unbearable, we can make up our minds that they are that way because God intends to make a change, NOT IN THEM, BUT IN US; Rev. 3:19 with Matt. 11:29-30.
To say it bluntly: He seeks to teach us by experience that the happy, easy life so many of us desire is not at all His will for us. Indeed, were we to achieve it, it would be but an empty shell. For release from frustration tensions cannot be wholly gained through the fulfillment of the wishes of our wills; Eccl 1:8. It does come, fully and blessedly, when we abandon the struggle to get what we want, and set ourselves to seek, unreservedly, to
Let me try once more to tell you, briefly, what can be done about it . . . and don’t forget Matt. 11:30.
(1) We can overcome Complaining by practising the Grace of Acceptance; Matt. 11:26.
(2) We can "set to our seal" that at all times, and in everything, "Ye serve the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:17, 23-24) . . . and so bring ourselves into the servant-attitude so blessedly seen in our Master . . . counting our entire lives as being lived unto Himself, no matter how disagreeable, or unjust, or hard-to-bear He may permit the conditions of such service to be. It would be wise to memorize Col. 3:17, 23-24, so that their counsel shall be available at all times.
(3) We should make it a habit to seek our Master’s face every morning (Prov. 8:34; Isa. 50:4-5) in order to learn from Him what He wishes us to do that day. When we have prayed, let us not jump up and run away, but stay on silently before Him (Psa. 46:10) and so give the Holy Spirit a chance to form in our minds His directions: Prov. 27:18; Psa. 73:24; Neh. 9 :20a.
He may bring before us some passage from the Word that will teach us His way. Or we may be reminded of some neglected duties; or He may set before us some particular need, or send us on an errand. To an invalid He may impart some of His thoughts to be passed on to others. It would be impossible to suggest all the possibilities. But in thus allowing Him to direct our everyday steps, our Attitude towards Himself changes into a servant-Master relationship in which He assumes all responsibility for the direction and management of our lives. And it is in this way, in which we are seeking to accept everything as from Himself, and are doing everything as unto Himself, that the old sense of being Ignored, Pushed off, Shoved aside, Shut out and Lonely, with all the Frustration-resentments, will fade away. Even hateful tasks, or weary waiting, will be replaced by a new realization of Purpose and Achievement. And "the reason why" all the unhappiness was permitted will be recognized as His method of altering our attitudes -"for the rest of the time."
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:54:17 +0000
Training for Reigning - 47 - A word to the bereaved A WORD TO THE BEREAVED
SOMETIMES WE WRITE letters to dear ones who have lost their mates. For our last enemy, Death, leaves us no respite from his heartless attacks; and so our "mourning with those who mourn" cannot end until the Lord comes. Writing as one who has passed this way, let me express deepest sympathy with all who have come to know the blackest of all Earth’s black days.
He, she, is gone . . . gone! . . . and won’t be coming back again. (Oh, the sickening finality of their departure!). Of the love, and the home-life you builded together, through sunshine and rain, nothing remains to you now but a heap of ashes. There are precious memories, of course; but, oh, how they hurt! For you have come to know the meaning of the word "desolate," now that your little world with its love and security has collapsed, and you must try, somehow, to carry on alone.
Likely you will be longing, intensely, to go straight home to Heaven to your loved one. Waiting for the coming of the Lord, or for death, will seem like a jail sentence. And perhaps there will be that inner wail, "Why, oh why did he, she, have to leave me like this? Oh, if only we both could have gone together." But to your questions there will be no answer. Death has robbed you of your beloved and will not be careful to reply. You must "serve your sentence," as it will seem to you, and stagger on along Life’s journey - alone.
Weep on, dear soul; and may none attempt to stop you. Did not the Lord Jesus weep with Martha and Mary that dark day? Many will try to comfort you but I shall not be of their number. They will mean well; but you will know so keenly that they do not understand. Every attempt they make will be only as a knife thrust opening up the wounds afresh. May you be given grace to bear with them. But the kind of comfort for which your soul will cry out will never come. True it is that we read of "the God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3). Yet, if you will notice the margins of the Newberry and Scofield Bibles, you will see that the word means "encouragement," whereas what you will crave will be an alleviation of your grief and pain - which we are not promised, alas! Bp. Renison once truly wrote: "In the Bible the word ‘comfort’ is a promise that God will stand by a man in the day of his need, and will brace his heart, and steel his arm that he may conquer his troubles." And so I proved it to be. It was six months before the keenness of my grief dulled a little; and it was two years before my life, and that of my little ones, moved on past our Black Day so far that it became difficult to keep looking back. For we found, even as you will find, that it is quite impossible to keep on living in the past.
There were other lessons to be learned. Let me tell you about two or three of them in the hope that you may get a little light on some of your perplexities. First of all, there was the ceaseless going over and over of all the details of the death and funeral scenes. It was like the constant playing of a record, starting automatically the moment I was awake and recurring every time my mind was not actively engaged. It nearly drove me out of my senses; and for the first time I realized why some bereaved men took to drink. After several weeks of it, I learned that it was caused, not by sorrow, but by shock. Some nerve pills brought me blessed relief from this disorder.
Next, I found that all I wanted to talk about was my little mate and how much she meant to me. But nobody wanted to listen. Some even began to avoid me - with a smile! It was then that I took to "telling it all to Jesus"- not as if in prayer, but rather as a lost, bewildered man might tell it to his friend. And so I discovered that in the Lover of Calvary I had "a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). Never once did He shun me, laugh at me, scold me, or turn a deaf ear. And in this new-to-me intimacy I have rejoiced ever since.
There were other lessons, but I must tell you the most important one of all. It was that, in dealing with us in this manner, God was not wrecking our lives - although it surely seemed as if they were ruined beyond repair. Instead, as it turned out, He was changing our course, leading us into another path; and all with the intention of making the most of our lives in view of the ages to come. Indeed, you will remember that Hannah’s song of rejoicing declares that while the Lord "killeth," He does so only in order to "make alive" (1 Sam. 2:6-7). The figurative killing is a promise of something better to come. The bringing down is in order that He may lift us up bye and bye.
So weep on, dear soul. Let no word of mine hinder you. But may the hand that was nailed to Golgotha’s tree tenderly wipe the tears away. And may the God of all encouragement "brace your heart and steel your arm" that you may become more than a conqueror. And as a softer, much more workable clay in the Heavenly Potter’s hands, may bitterness, resentment, and sorrow for yourself disappear; and may His re-modelling of your life receive your fullest acceptance, even if you cannot understand (John 13:7).
And now before I stop let me recall the time the God of all encouragement "comforted" His wishing-to-die servant, Elijah. The story is found in I Kings 19. How did He do it? The still small voice:
-told him to go right back to the country from which he sought to run away (vs. 15a);
-also that his idea of the hopelessness of everything was all wrong (vs. 14 with vs. 17).
-Then the Lord gave him MORE WORK TO DO - enough to keep him busy for about ten years! (Vs. lSb- 17).
And that little story, dear broken-hearted friend, was repeated in my own case, exactly. Yet in spite of all our tears and fears, I had to admit in a later day, "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37). May His faithfulness ever be your stay - Till He comes.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:53:42 +0000
Training for Reigning - 48 - You may have his judgment YOU MAY HAVE HIS JUDGMENT

NOW MY YOUNG friends, I hope you will forgive me for writing on a theme that will have a much wider field in view than your interests alone. For it is intended to be suggestive all the way from writing exam papers to the many kinds of daily problems not specifically dealt with in the Word, whether of young people, or of older folk. Nevertheless, the initial prompting for these lines came from a ‘teen-ager’s letter received some time ago. And there are also some present reasons. Hence I am hopeful that you will be sufficiently interested to keep on reading.
In Job 35:14 we read concerning the invisible God: ".
Judgment (the giving of decisions, or verdicts) is before Him; therefore trust thou in Him" . . . Isa. 26:8. And in that previous text, Psa. 25:9, we are promised, "the meek will He guide in judgment . . ."
Unfortunately most Christians think that this verse means that God will guide their judgment, just as they suppose that Jas. 1:5 is a promise to supply plenty of human wisdom to enable them to get by . . . forgetful that "the wisdom which is from above" (3:17) is Heavenly in character and content.
Oh no, Beloved! Rather is it that God’s decisions and His vastly superior wisdom are TO REPLACE our own sin-blighted judment and wisdom. See David’s prayer for Solomon (Psa. 72:1). If only we can get this truth firmly settled in our minds it will reveal to us blessed possibilities open, only, to the twice- born (Psa. 119:175).
Save as it is based on the Word, our judgment, at the best, always is faulty. Always there are too many factors which are hidden to our minds. Even when all details are known, we can do no more than estimate what the results will be from any action we may take. Hence not only are we prone to making mistakes in judgment, but our errors sometimes turn out to be major blunders. Thus it has been in my own story, at any rate.
This human weakness is recognized in the world of responsible business men, also. If it were not so, why does a large fraternal organization continue to ask in its ads., "Do You Laugh Your Greatest Powers Away?" followed by advice to join them and learn how to heed and harness our hunches? Books are being written (and hungrily devoured by some Christians) dealing with the sub-conscious mind, giving advice on how to use its experience-impression contents in solving our problems.
Now I do not write to challenge these teachings, simply because there is a basic element of truth in such metaphysical techniques. But having some knowledge of these matters, I do desire to "cry aloud" that for the child of the Living God there is "a more excellent way." "Judgment - infallible judgment - is before Him; therefore trust thou in Him." Unhappily, all too few of His people know how to avail themselves of this better
Without launching into a discussion on the sub-conscious mind (which I nearly did!) let me stress that Man never will discover any personality deeps for which God’s Word has not made allowance. In Psalm 119:11 the writer says, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." In these simple terms he suggests all the essential features of mental storage, and recall, that any ordinary Christian ever can use to advantage. These are:
-He has a "heart". . . the core of his being.
-It is capable of the storage of impressions.
-He can store it with God’s Word . . . His "sayings."
-These can be recalled to guide and guard His daily life.
Now please do not dismiss these reflections as being commonplace. For if you have not learned how to gain the judgment of your God concerning your personal problems it is clear that you have not yet realized the very great importance of the storage space your mind possesses - apart altogether from a good memory, or a bad one. But when you remember that it is in the realm of the mind that the Holy Spirit operates, chiefly, you should see that there may be possibilities here which have been overlooked.
In order that the mind-storehouse may become fruitful in the solving of our problems, let me note four requirements.
1. A Christian has no greater need (Job 23:12) than that his mind should be "filled to the brim" with the living Word of His God. For only to the extent that it is so filled will the Holy Spirit be able to teach, or lead him as He would desire. Compare John 14:26, 16:13. Since He is sovereign, we dare not say He cannol use other means, if He should choose to do so. But I am inclined to think that if we had our sub-conscious minds sufficiently charged with Bible principles, teachings and promises it would be rare that He should use other means. But if He cannot lead us by His Word, may it not be because we "know" so little of it?
2. However, He surely will make use of any little we may have hidden in our hearts. Therefore the second factor will be to do as did Hezekiah -"spread before the Lord" the details of the problem; 2 Kings 19:14-19.
To do this, since our conscious minds are so faulty, I find it good to write down on paper an outline of the problem (including those of my correspondents). Only in this way am I able to get a clear picture before my mind of the matters for which I seek the judgment (decisions, or verdicts) of the Lord.
-At the top of your paper write the problem.
-Below this, outline the details of it.
-At the bottom, note any Scriptures that have come before you.
3. This done, go to your knees and tell it all out before the Lord in prayer. Banish, completely, any ideas you may have as to what His answer will bel Hezekiah’s answer came through a prophet. But we have the completed canon of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit to teach us all things, AND TO BRING TO OUR REMEMBRANCE His Word out of the storage of our hearts, or to call our attention to something as we shall be reading the Bible.
Sometimes the verdict of His Word comes to us while we quiet ourselves before the Lord. At others, we may have to wait a while - nothing in storage. Like Elijah’s servant, we may need to "go again seven times." But in recent years it has been rare that He has kept me tarrying for long. (cf. the principle: Hebrews 2:3).
4. Finally, "Whatsover He saith unto you, do it" John 2:5. Do not allow yourself to bring the counsel of His Word before the bar of your own judgment! But if you are in any doubt about it, you are warranted to seek from Himself the "two or three witnesses" from His Word (2 Cor. 13:lb).
And so, once more, I am urging you dear young people TO FILL YOUR MINDS WITH THE WORD so that the Holy Spirit will have material on which to work. The sheep are to follow their Shepherd by hearing His voice . . . through the application of His Word to them by the Holy Spirit. And surely to follow Him in everyday affairs for which there may be no specific directions in the Bible, is quite as necessary as for acts of obedience laid down therein. The leading of the Spirit cannot be supposed to by-pass this large area of our lives. But "the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it." If you really would rather have the judgment of the Lord than your own, then may I ask that before you drop these suggestions you give them a serious trial?
However, should you feel you must square His decisions, His verdicts, with your own "common sense," or if you expect to measure the benefits obtained by the world’s standards, there will be little use in your seeking His counsel. Isa. 55:8-9, and Rout 8:13-14, make it very clear that such a system won’t work.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:52:00 +0000
Training for Reigning - 49 - Mothers in Israel ABOUT MOTHERS IN ISRAEL
I N OUR OCCASIONAL visits to Assemblies two evident needs thrust themselves forward continuously. These are the lack of under- shepherds who will EXPLAIN the Scriptures relating to the Local Assembly (not merely warn and condemn), and that of sisters who are ready (in their Scriptural sphere) to serve the saints as "Mothers in Israel."
This expression occurs only twice in the Bible, first with reference to Deborah (Judg. 5:7) then re the Wise Woman of Abel (2 Sam. 20:19). But in the New Testament Paul (by inspiration) tells us that Rufus’ mother was also a mother to himself (Rom. 16:13). Many times our teachers have pointed out the need for such mothers in the Assemblies - women who have the Lord’s interests at heart, after the counsel of His Word, in seeking, particularly, the welfare of younger Christians (Tit. 2:3-5). And I cannot help but feel that much of the confidential matter that comes my way does so because of the lamentable scarcity of mothers in Israel . . . because their elder sisters are failing in their duty!
In Rom. 16:1-2 we learn that Phoebe was "a succourer" (a helper and protectress: gk) "of many"- surely Mother-in-Israel characteristics. Likely Priscilla qualified for the title as well. Mary (vs. 6) and the three sisters of verse 12, are recorded for their "much (wearisome) labour," also. But since the two Old Testament women have been marked out by the Holy Spirit in clear outline, let us notice, brieffly, a few pertinent features of their walk and fitness.
(1) Judges 4:4-5: Deborah, a prophetess of the Lord, was first and foremost, a woman to whom the Lord could make known His mind . . . the supremely vital factor if one is to be a mouth-piece through which the Lord may pass along the counsel of His Word to others - something much less "impossible" than many Christians suppose, even though we are neither prophets nor sons of them.
Next, since the people "came up to her for judgment" (vs. 5) it would seem likely:
 (2) That she didn’t go around poking her nose into other people’s affairs, but waited for people to come to her with their troubles (Prov. 18:16; 20:3b; 25:9-10).
(3) That she knew how to keep her place, ministering privately whatever of His mind the Lord revealed to her.
(4) She could go with Barak to the battle courageously, in complete dependence on God.
(5) She did not go to direct Barak, but to pass on to him the encouragements the Lord gave to her (vs. 14).
In Chap. S we find that she is a praising woman (vs. 1-2); that God fitted her and called her forth to pass on His counsel to others, at a time when His people were in great distress (4:3; 5:6-7), and when departure from God, and great weakness, were general in Israel (5:8). Yet she could be appreciative of any who were willing to serve (5:9, 14, 18, 24), as well as declare God’s mind respecting those who made great resolutions, but did nothing (5:l5b; as per J. F. and B.) and the neutrals of Meroz (5:23). In the last glimpse we have of this noble mother in Israel she is seen praying, seeking only God’s glory (5:31). No wonder the closing sentence could say, "And the land had rest forty years."
2 Sam. 20:15-22. The Woman of Abel, we may notice briefly, was not officious (vs. 17); was both peaceable and faithful in Israel (vs. 19); while from certain of the expressions used one would gather that:
-she was no gossip, no spreader of scandal (Prov. 26:22).
-in speaking to Joab she did so wisely, making her appeal by means of a question (vs. l9b).
-she spoke to her people wisely, also (vs. 22), setting forth facts rather than scolding or making wild statements, one would think; neither would she try to get results by scheming. She could not have built a reputation for wisdom by using any such means, we may be sure. No true Mother in Israel must ever be suspected of craftiness - . - What a mercy it was that there was a Mother in Israel in that ancient city at that time.
But let us return to Deborah, and the basic point of her fitness as a Mother in Israel. She was a woman to whom the Lord could make known His mind in order to have it passed on to others. After all, Beloved, when we need counsel is it not the counsel of the Lord we require? Surely human experience cannot furnish such advice I "There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand" (Prov. 19:21). Moreover, the solemn lesson of Job 42:7-8 must ever be a warning to us if we would give advice on the basis of our own experience.
Now it is some years since John 10:27 persuaded me that I should seek to learn to listen for His voice from His Word, rather than to rely on intuitions, as many do. Let me give you a few thoughts from the little I have learned, hoping they may prove useful.
First, we’ve simply got to learn to humble ourselves, truly and DEEPLY, before the Lord if we are to be in any condition to hear His voice clearly, speaking by the Holy Spirit through His Word. (Note Psa. 138:6; 2 Kings 22:18-19; Isa. 6:5-8). If we are not willing to prepare our hearts to seek the Lord after this fashion there will be little use in our bothering about it. Time needs to be found, also, to get alone with God, if at all possible. Our minds need to be calmed and freed from the many demands of our creature existence if our spirits, led by His Spirit, are to get into His presence. David went in and sat before the Lord (2 Sam. 7:18) humbling himself, receiving God’s great kindnesses and promises, before his request was made (vs. 29), and we shall need to learn to do the same. Just to bow down, pray, jump up and go about my business has proved of but little value in my case. It is a bit like yelling a greeting to a neighbour as one goes hurrying past. It often takes half an hour, or more, of self-examination, confession, reviewing my own past disobedience, recalling His mercy and loving kindness to me, and going on to tell Him of the perfections of His Son, before communion is established and I am consciously in His presence - even as many others have found. And only when that moment comes is it time to lay before Him my burden, in detail, and to ask that His counsel be given to me through His Word.
Occasionally, His answers may be given quickly as I read through my Bible. More often they are gleaned a verse at a time over a period of days - or weeks. When nothing more is being received I seek His face afresh for understanding of the message, earnestly endeavouring to set aside my own ideas or desires. In this manner, during past years, He has been pleased to give me a great many answers to problems of His perplexed people. Therefore I make bold to say that, since I am only a very ordinary Christian, there is no reason at all why any spiritually minded elder sister might not prepare her heart to seek the Lord on behalf of any in the Assembly who might profit from the care of a Mother in Israel. Through the means just described she can learn whether or not to speak a word to a person; can receive counsel as to how to approach him, or her; can learn what is to be read, or spoken, or can be given His answers to their problems, or to her own.
May it please the Lord to raise up many badly needed Deb. orahs as Mothers in the assemblies of His people . . . if He be not come.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:51:18 +0000
Training for Reigning - 50 - When we feel like giving up WHEN WE FEEL LIKE GIVING UP
NEARLY EVERY CHRISTIAN feels that way at times. Still we must not even think of giving up the struggle to follow our Lord! Lifetime is Training-time for Reigning-time, you know: Luke 19:
11-27; 2 Tim. 2:12. Of course, to many of my young friends, Life seems terribly hard. But after all, we Christians do not expect to be "carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease." The Lord Jesus said: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it"; Luke 9:24. Nevertheless, to ever so many of us, to be asked to be willing, by His grace, to sacrifice our dreams . . . our plans
- . . our ideas . . . of what we want . . . our ambitions
our fierce desires to be independent and to live our lives in our own way - . . to let go every hindrance to the acceptance of God’s plan for our lives, seems too much altogether. Yet we must admit that Gal. 6:8 really is true. And the Rich Young Ruler lost out because he clung to his own ideas of financial security; Mark 10:24.
- Oh, certainly, it isn’t "natural"- even for Christians - to feel like that. The Self that is in us expects, demands, that we shall be "natural" in every way. And to be asked to deny all these "natural" inclinations - well, we know it to be necessary respecting things immoral, dishonest, or of evil report - but that is quite far enough for the Flesh to be willing to go. In addition, Reason (or, is it?) reminds us that, after all, we are only human, and can’t be expected to speak, act, and live as if we were perfect. Thus it comes to pass that, having quieted our consciences in this manner, we comfortably go on just as before. (We hadn’t intended to do anything else, any way). But then, one day, we bump into the startling truth of I John 2:6: "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself to walk even as He walked". . . and there it is - so plain! And the trouble is there just isn’t any way of talking around it. It means exactly what it says.
Right away after that, so often, there comes the reaction, "IT’S HOPELESS! I never can live up to that! And I don’t believe any Christian ever does, either . - . What about yourself, Mr. Paul? You are always preaching at us, but how well do you manage in walking as the Lord Jesus walked?"
Well now, supposing I were to tell you that I was getting along splendidly (which would not be true) would it help you, do you think?
Or if I told you that I’m having a daily battle to aim at it (which would be true) would that help you, do you suppose? Would not my confession be likely to encourage you to argue, "Well, if he finds it hard even to aim at such a walk, what can he expect of young Christians like us?" Or, it may be, you might say, "If he finds it hard there’s no use in my hoping to attain to
it. I might just as well give up."
Oh no, Beloved! Not one of us, young or old, ever must give upi What I seek to "put over" in this chapter is that we have to keep on fighting down ourselves, every day, every hour, in order to walk as He walked - in our measure. And for this struggle we can be, must be, effectively prepared by constant RENEWAL (2 Cor. 4:16) through the Word. Many Christians do not even pretend to equip themselves for the fray. Honour bright, now, is it not true our usual "preparations" consists of:-
-Hoping things may go better today than on bad days;
-Praying that we shall not have trouble today;
-Deciding to try to avoid all of it we can?
Queer isn’t it that a hopeful optimism, plus a reliance on meeting troubles, or temptations, as best we can whenever they may arise, should be about all the preparation for conflict that most of us ever think of having? This attitude seems somewhat similar to that of old-time Chinese soldiers who, we are told, sometimes marched to battle praying loudly, but armed onLy with fans!
-THE WORLD - with its allurements, its pleas to be one with it; to live, dress, think, talk and act like its own:
-THE FLESH - with its self-will, pride, ambitions, resentments, bad temper, fear of being considered different, or queer, its envyings, jealousies, evil-speakings, slangy talk, desires to have more (covetousness), spitefulness, sulky, irritable, or frivolous moods, its laziness or bossy-ness, and readiness to nurse a grudge, or hurt feeling and self-pity;
-THE DEVIL - so expert at making snares appear to be harmless little affairs, at framing excuses that really sound like valid reasons; at lulling consciences troubled about sins: who never helps us to read our Bibles, to pray, or to do good - but either will blister us for our failures, or else urge their unimportance lest we should try to mend our ways; who frightens us unreasonably when we even think of leaving all the choices with the Lord; who savours everything belonging to sin-spoiled mankind (Matt. 16:23) that he does all he can to keep our minds occupied with what PEOPLE are saying, or doing, in order to shut out of our interest, so far as possible, the things of God; and who so often visits us in the guise of an Angel bringing us Light;
-These enemies we are likely to meet, in differing forms every day we live! Then "how shall we do in the swelling of Jordan?" Note I Chron. 12:15.
Let us be certain in our minds that not only shall we need to pray for the faith which will produce a courage like that of David’s men, but we need the whole armour of God, also. No doubt you have listened to addresses on Eph. 6:10-18 - perhaps a number of times. But tell me this: Did they do you any particular good? For example, do you really believe the first eight words of verse 12? It tells us flatly that it is not other people who cause us our troubles.
-What would you say to that?
I won’t try to discuss the protective armour, but let me make one suggestion re the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God. It is that you TEACH YOURSELF to say over, and over, and over (until they grip your being and quicken your spirit) such "quick and powerful" words as the following:
Luke 9:62: When you feel like quitting.
Matt. 11:26: When tempted to kick about your circumstances.
Psa. 23:1: When you are worried. Also Psa. 138:8a.
Psa. 56:3: When you are afraid. Also Psa. 27:1.
Rom. 8:28: When you feel discouraged, or "let down."
Phil. 4:13: When tempted to hide behind "I can’t."
Lam. 3:26: When tired of waiting for God to act. Also Isa. 49:23b.
Heb. 13:5b: When feeling lonely.
Matt. 11:6: When He does not seem to heed your prayers.
These are but a few of many short passages of Scripture - easily memorized - which, if repeated over and over many times (a minor form of Meditation) will be proved to be Weapons for Overcoming charged with Holy Spirit power. They also supply strength in the battles to REPLACE the very bad habit of giving in to "our nature" (flesh) with the good habit of giving in to the Lord. Others are learning to make use of the energy-imparting Word . . . why not you? - But don’t waste time arguing about this suggestion. And don’t just read these verses. Make a note of them on a blank page in your Bible. Learn them by heart. Then you will have something stored away upon which the Spirit can draw whenever you are assailed . . . and give up - NEVERI
Philemon 25: When you are getting indignant, or angry.
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:50:47 +0000
Training for Reigning - 51 - Recovering our first love RECOVERING OUR FIRST LOVE
EVERYWHERE WE TURN these days we seem to find two large groups among the Lord’s people. They are those who feel they have left their first love, and those who never think anything about that solemn word in Rev. 2:4 Even the thought that all their disappointments and frustrations could have anything to do with the subject never enters their heads!
When some of us first were saved we were so filled with joy to know that the Lord Jesus had loved us "unto the death of the cross," paying our debt with His precious blood, that we felt we simply couldn’t help but love Him in return. It was easy, then, to sing, "All for Jesus, all my being’s ransomed powers." But things, it may be, are not the same now; yet we can hardly figure out why it should be so. And the fact that they are not the same has been troubling some dear ones, making them to wonder if they are really saved. For this reason it is well that we should understand, clearly, why things have changed.
Usually, we blame our many responsibilities and cares for it, or else, neglect of reading the Word and prayer. However, if I mistake not, such neglects are the fruit of yet another condition, rarely recognized. Let us consider the problem for a little while.
Before conversion we were in the world, and of the world - which means that our thinking, attitudes, interests and way of life belonged in every way to a natural pattern - one from which we now find it most difficult to break away. All our days we have been surrounded by the demands of creature needs. In addition, there have been the needs of our spirits and souls: we have needed to know many things relating to ourselves, to people, to our environment and times. We have needed the society of friends, to love and be loved, in order that our emotional being should not be starved or warped. Also, we have needed some measure of pleasurable experiences in order to retain emotional balance. Thus we have lived, and continue to live, in the surrounds of creature needs at all times . . . and may be in danger of regarding them as the chief requirements of life. (Contra Deut 8:3). Hence, it is in trying to strike a satisfactory balance between what we know ourselves to be, and to desire, and what we ought to be, and to desire, that CONFLICT (Gal. 5:16-18) begins to trouble us. Then, more often than not, we find we don’t know how to keep up that joyous state of soul some of us knew when we first trusted in Christ. Besides, we’ve gotten used to being saved. The frown and cold shoulder of the world have hurt and dismayed us. There just does not seem to be any impulse to feel excited about our salvation any more. Then, our enthusiasm having waned, all too often we begin to long for the flesh-pots of Egypt (Exodus 16:2-4) once more. When we turn to find our supply, or outlets in the Assembly, it is only to find, "There’s nothing in the Assemblies for the young people"- even as there is nothing in them for anybody else, that is nothing but Christ (Matt. 18:20; Heb. 13:13). Disappointed, counting the Heavenly Manna (John 6:48, 57) as somewhat "light bread" (Num. 21:5), and knowing only the former things to satisfy the strong desires (lusts of our creature level), we lean back in spirit toward the world and its ways - as Lot’s wife did toward doomed Sodom. For we expect them to supply us with the needed satisfaction, especially if we can argue that we "can’t see any harm in them."
That this is a very common picture I feel sure most of our readers will agree. It does seem to take some of us so very, very long to learn that not only have we been "spoiled for the world," but also how to go about it to enjoy - really - our portion in Christ. So, it is often for this very reason that God allows disappointments, frustrations and dismay to come into our lives. Because, before He can get us out of "the old man’s" way of living into enjoyment of "the new man’s" new "life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:4, 8:2; Gal. 2:20). He has to bring us to an end of ourselves all over again!
Now let me try to explain what lies back behind all this. The chief obstacle to our making progress in the new "life in Christ Jesus" seems to be the COLLECTION of ATTITUDES we have been building up all through the years, and to which we still cling. We believe this and feel that (Acts 26:9). We have our ideas about right and wrong; about what is important, or unimportant; what is needful for our welfare and happiness; what other people ought to be, to do - and many other such matters.
Therefore, because it is the way we think and feel that makes us what we are, governing how we act and react, it is necessary that our all-wise Heavenly Father shall allow us to eat the fruit of our "old-man" habits of thinking and feeling (ef. Isa 55:8; Prov. 1:13) in order to pry us loose from the former Pattern and into harmony with Himself, allowing our disappointments, frustrations and dismay to become our teachers. The great need, then, is that we shall give the hindering attitudes the place of death in order that restored Spirit-begotten ones can take their place. Only through these, renewed as when we first were saved, will the Lord be able to work in us freely "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13), thus enabling us, really, TO LIVE UNTO HIMSELF.
Now to get to the point before space runs out, Rom. 6 tells us how to get the restoration of this Spirit-begotten attitude. It comes through KNOWING (vs. 3), RECKONING (vs. 11), then YIELDING (vs. 13). In this latter verse we are commanded: ". . yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." This just means that we are going to our knees and hand ourselves over - all we are and have - unto Himself. (The aorist tense, repeated in vs. 19, as also Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 8:5, indicates a "once-for-all," "completed action," say the grammarians).
What will happen then? Shall we have some wonderful experience, or receive a great influx of spiritual power? NO, indeed! All that will happen will be a restbration of the first-love attitude toward the One Who bought us with His own blood (1 Cor. 6:20). Yet upon this basis it will be possible for God to restore unto us, progressively, an even greater measure of loving devotion to the Lord than we knew at the first - a love, which will find its expression not in mere sentimentality, but in "doing the first works" (Rev. 2:5), that is, in obedience to His Will (John 14:15). - And for all who will seek this renewal of their first love there is a blessed promise (Rev. 2:7).
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:49:35 +0000
Training for Reigning - 52 - Why be Obedient WHY BE OBEDIENT?
IF THERE is one word in the Bible which few Christians really love, I think it is the verb "obey." Personally, I never have cared for it; in fact I have given up all hope of ever acquiring a taste for it. Indeed, it is perfectly natural to feel rebellious toward the idea of obedience, and to expect, rather, to captain our own ship, to do as we wish, directing our courses according to our own inclinations and judgment - . . just as Eccl. 11:9 points out. And yet we find the principle of Obedience stressed on almost every page of God’s Word; while every commandment, every exhortation in the New Testament is a direct call to obey.
But why, oh why, should so much obedience be required of us? Is it because our God is an arbitrary Being Who thinks only of His own glory, and Who makes endless demands upon us just because He is all-powerful, supreme?
Now it must be admitted that none of us would care to, answer "yes" to that question. Yet is it not strange that Christians rarely bother to consider what the reasons for it actually are? We recognize that the Lord has a right to expect us to obey Him because we belong to Him. We know, too, that He is good, and doeth good. So it is that with many a sigh, grunt or groan we settle down to do our tiresome duty, considering ourselves remarkably virtuous for doing so.
After all, apart from our natural disinclinations, it isn’t always easy to obey. Other people’s ideas, purposes and plans may be affected by our obedience, requiring unpleasant adjustments in them. Besides, while we realize that we must accept a measure of obedience as our proper responsibility, yet who wants to keep on being obedient all the time? Other young people don’t do it.
We admit that the Lord Jesus was acting in obedience every minute of every day and night, and that 1 John 2:6 calls upon us to walk as He walked. But generally we are able to remind ourselves that He was perfect, and that we are not. Haying thus quietened our consciences, we find no trouble in turning to something less challenging, something more interesting - to be quite frank.
The answer comes easily; and in stating it a flood of light is let in on our natural reactions. It is that, since our natures have been spoiled by sin, THE MAKE-UP OF OUR PERSONALITIES IS LOADED WITH DEFECTS. Moreover, although we discern them without difficulty in others, we are largely unconscious of our own defects, alas? the bitter truth is that we, literally, are loaded down with personality blemishes, which our blessed God seeks to teach us to OVERCOME - in view of the ages to come. Commenting on the present tense aspect of Rom. 8:29, one has said: "When a man is born again the Holy Spirit begins to work in him, ‘both to will and to do of His good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13), and to conform him to the image of Christ. This work is progressive; it is salvation from the power of sin." Thus the first benefit of obedience is, that to the extent that we are learning "to will and to do of His good pleasure," to that extent we are becoming more like His Son, and are being delivered from the mastery of indwelling Sin.
Unhappily, not a few Christians see but little advantage in bothering too much about such conformity here in this life, except as a matter of rewards by and by. They argue like this:
"What’s the use of all this concern? We know we can’t be perfect down here anyway, but we will be up there." Thus the ages-to-come importance of it never enters their heads.
Since it is not easy to explain this feature in so many words, let me illustrate this way: A man is ordered to exhibit all the apples from a selected tree. He is not to discard a single apple; yet none is to be exhibited with a single defect, either! What is he to do? Placing his best fruit on the top rows, the less shapely ones below them, he solves the problem of the great number of blemished apples BY CUTI1NG OUT THE DEFECTS with his knife. Thus his lower rows will be filled with fruit fairly splotched with cut-out patches - a sorry sight to see? YET NOT AN APPLE WILL HAVE A SINGLE DEFECT. Moreover, all may receive the same careful polishing and be exhibited in the same place and style. But had the grower been able to OVERCOME THOSE BLEMISHES WHILE THE FRUIT WAS IN FOR MATION how different the display might have been? For the effects, the results of those defects, never could be effaced.
Yes, all the natural, but sin-spoiled, counsels of our hearts will be removed at the Bema; 1 Cor. 4:5. And we shall appear "dressed in beauty not our own." Yet, if there shall be regrets in Heaven, surely they will be many when we realize - at last - what might have been! Then we shall see that obedience to the Lord in everything was His means of enabling us to overcome those defects while our lives were in formation.
So, those of us who display bad temper, or who go forth hastily to strive, or are discontented, jealous, selfish, conceited, indolent, spiteful, indifferent to the needs, or welfare of others, are given to levity, fault-finding, saying cutting things, getting even with others, to ostentatious living (1 John 2:16) and, or, other such evils resulting from the defective counsels of our hearts, HAVE OUR CHANCE TO ALTER THEM NOW. For obedience is the royal specific designed to enable us to overcome them "while there’s time and opportunity."
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:47:51 +0000
Training for Reigning - 53 - Why be Obedient (pt2) WHY BE OBEDIENT? (Part 2)
WHEN KING SAUL heard Samuel declare that, "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (I Sam. 15:22) it would appear that he was not impressed very much. He felt he had obeyed the Lord - as far as was necessary. True enough, he had spared Agag’s life. But Saul, himself, was a king, and knew how he would feel were their positions reversed. Moreover, would not the sight of Saul’s royal captive serve to silence those who had despised him? (1 Sam. 10:27). The best of the flocks and herds, and all that was good
- what was the sense in destroying such valuable things when many in Israel were poor? How was a king to win his people’s support, and to build up his own wealth, if not at the expense of their enemies? Anyway their booty could be used for sacrifices to the Lord . . . which ought to square everything. Thus it was that he had greeted the prophet with, "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord".
meaning of course, as he considered it should be carried out; vs. 20. Sacrifices and Services - what more could be asked of him?
After Samuel’s rebukes he confessed that he had sinned, excusing himself by laying the blame (like Cain) on others. Now if Samuel only would be reasonable, forgive him, and go along to worship with him (so all could see them together) everything would be fine once more. So I say, you wouldn’t think Saul was much impressed, would you?
Nevertheless, mark you, Saul went on reigning for another 23 years. So what did he lose after all? True enough, "an evil spirit from the Lord" plagued him all the time; but never did it cause him to give in and make an honest confession of his wilfulness. So let us see just what his losses were - if any - and whether or not they amounted to much.
First of all, it is clear that he lost the confidence and peace that is the portion of those whose lives are God-directed. Each of those twenty odd years, when through his stubborn self-will he had to carry on In his own strength, made him jealous, un reasonable irritable, vengeful, and subject to dark moods, to melancholia.
He lost, also the continuity of his kingdom. This meant that whatever he might accomplish would pass, at length, into the hands of his hated rival - for Saul, a very bitter reflection, indeed.
Finally, instead of a glorious reign, his fears proved to be a steady downward march, beset by fear - fears that eventually drove him, in shame and trembling, to consult the witch at Endor (1 Sam. 28), and thence to the miserable defeat, and death, along with his heir, plus the desecration of their remains, described in Chapter 31.
So, to the two benefits of obedience mentioned in the last chapter, viz.:
(1) A progressive work of conformity to Christ, and deliverance from the mastery of indwelling sin;
(2) The overcoming and modification of character defects so that throughout the ages to come we shall not bear the marks of their removal; let me add:
(3) A life of confidence in God, freed from fears, nervous tensions, frustrations, irritability - and all evil characteristics of a self-centred life - which can become the portion of those who will make it the objective of their lives "to will and to do of His good pleasure"; Phil. 2:13.
(4) A fourth point is that obedience to the Lord’s word, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13), is His method of fitting His children for "positions of authority and responsibility" in the coming kingdom age. See also: Rev. 5:
9-10; 20:6; 1 Cor. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:12; etc.
Yes, as most Christians know, the reigning time is coming by and by. Yet few take it seriously, much less do they realize that Life-time is Training-time for Reigning-time! - Rev. 2:26-27 along with 2 Tim. 2:12.
So get your sights up, young Christians! The ages to come are right ahead of you . . . and Obedience is the "open sesame" to the blessings you desire so greatly before long . . . fitnesses, and distinctions, and spheres, of heavenly service - FOR ETERNITY!
]]> (Super User) Training for Reigning Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:46:37 +0000