Friday, February 11, 2011

Getting Down To Worship



By Dr. Woodrow Kroll

Dull, dry, stale—do these words describe your worship? You need a fresh look at what worship is?

Are you looking for ways to revitalize your worship? Has your worship become routine, even boring? If anything has characterized the Church in the past two decades, it has been the call for revitalized worship—and rightly so. Worship has become a lost art for many Christians.

Dr. Wood
But some attempts at rejuvenation have led us even further from true worship. We have window-dressed when we should have examined the very core of our understanding of worship. The English word “worship” comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “worship.” Literally, worship means “to ascribe worth to.” It refers to an act of showing honor to some one, of declaring by deed and word the worth of one who deserves our honor. We worship in song (Ps. 66:4), in spirit (John 4:23,24) and in soul (Luke 1:46). But still our worship of God seems empty at times, void or real substance.

Perhaps the reinvigoration of our worship needs only a few fundamental changes. Perhaps instead of attending worship seminars or buying all those how-to books and tapes, we should simply pay closer attention to God’s Word. Let’s go back to the Bible to see what may be robbing us of true worship.

Getting Down to Basics

It’s possible that the value of our worship is diminished because we have failed the most basic prerequisite to worship—purity.

David asked, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol” (Ps. 24:3, 4 NKJV)

The reason for David’s concern is evident. We can never worship God with unclean hands or an impure heart. More important than the form or style of worship is conditions of the worshiper.

That’s why David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart;… and see if there is any wicked way in me” (139:23, 24). He was preparing for worship.
Before we get down to worship, we must get down to the basics of clean hands and a pure heart. Worship will be uninspiring and meaningless if these prerequisites are not met. Let’s begin at the beginning—with ourselves.

Getting Down to Focus

Another way to infuse new life into our worship is to become focused. Thank God for the gifted pastor, the megachurch, the inspiring missionary, the talented musician. Be thankful for them, yea but don’t worship them.

Worship becomes vital when it becomes exclusive. God alone is to be worshiped, for He alone is worthy to be praised.

The Lord reminded Moses, “You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14).

God’s servants sometimes mistakenly become our focus, and we channel our worship toward them. But it doesn’t work, for God won’t accept secondhand worship. No servant can accept the worship that belongs exclusively to God. If he does, he will not please his Lord.

Even the last chapter of the Bible records this problem. Revelation 22:8, 9 says, “And I, John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘Do not do that. For I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

For worship to be vital, it must be exclusive. God will not share worship with others. So let’s forget about ourselves, concentrate on Him and worship Him.

Getting Down to Worship

One final way to restore meaning to worship is to return to a practice that has virtually been abandoned—the practice of getting down to worship.
In the Old Testament one Hebrew word was used almost exclusively for worship—shachah.
This word means “to depress, to prostrate in homage, to fall down flat, to do reverence.” The corresponding New Testament word is proskuneo. The prefix pro gives us a clue to its meaning—“to prostrate, to do homage, to make obeisance.”

The lost practice of getting down before the Lord in worship may well have contributed to the loss of vitality in our worship. After all, it’s hard to fall down flat in reverence when we are standing or sitting.

Must we fall down before God to worship? That’s like asking if we must kneel to pray. No, but if your prayer life lacks some luster, that’s a good way to make it more meaningful. The same is true with worship.

When Joshua met the Commander of the Lord’s army before the battle of Jericho, “Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped” (Josh. 5:14).
Paul advocated the clear preaching of the Word because if an unbeliever comes into the assembly and hears the Word, he will fall “down on his face, he will worship God” (I Cor. 14:25).
“Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him” (Rev. 4:9,10).
Are you serious about putting new life into your worship of the Lord? If so, take a page from God’s Word instead of an idea from a worship manual.
Start with clean hands and a pure heart. Focus your attention on God alone. And if your knees still bend and you can get back up, fall on your face before God and worship Him.
Maybe if we worship in a more biblical way, the result won’t be rejuvenation—it will be revival.

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For He is our God, and are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (Ps. 95:6.7). CL

Confident Living Magazine, Secunderabad
Pic. Credit: Back to the Bible Intl.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Honoring God

By Woodrow Kroll


Eric Liddell, a young Scottish ministerial student, was the best sprinter in the British Empire. He was favored to win the 100 – meter race in the 1924 Paris Olympics. A few weeks before the Games, however, he learned that the preliminary 100-meter races were the scheduled for a Sunday afternoon. Liddell considered participating in Sunday sports dishonoring to the Lord. His friend then began to notice during the weeks prior to the Olympics that he excused himself after dinner each evening and would return home hours later, exhausted.

A few weeks later the whole world discovered his secret. He had spent those evening hours practicing for another event that was scheduled for a weekday but which required a different type of speed and endurance. On the closing day of the Olympics, he stood on the winner’ platform and received the Gold Medal as the 400- meter champion. By putting God’s honor first, Liddell himself received honor.

Daniel was faced with a similar choice. To him and his friends, partaking of the king’s refreshments would be shameful before the Lord. Bravely they shoes to honor God. When they did so, God honored them. After then days of eating only vegetables, they were in better conditions than those who had eaten of the king’s food.

The pressure to compromise is tremendous. Many people tell us that unless we choose to follow the world’s standards, we’ll never get ahead. If we don’t drink socially, we’ll never rub elbows with the influential people who can make our business a survives. If we aren’t willing to engage in premarital sex, we’ll never meet a potential marriage partner.

Obviously, Satan skews such thinking. If we choose to honor God with our lives, He will honor us by meeting our needs. Put God’s honor first and your honor will never suffer.

“Honor God and He will never dishonor you.”


‘Early Will I Seek Thee’

by Dr. Woodrow Kroll


O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is (Ps. 63:1).

How amazing it is that finite creatures such as you and I may have fellowship with the infinite God. Yet this is our privilege as Christians; it is our right. But rights always bring responsibilities.

Psalm 63 is a gem of a psalm. The eloquent preacher of the fourth century, Chrysostom, testified: “It was decreed and ordained by the primitive fathers, that no day should pass without the public singing of this psalm.”

It is easy to see why the early Christians sang this song aloud at the beginning of every day. They would start their son, “O God, thou art my God.” This is easy to say, but difficult to live. To say that God is our God conveys a great deal of benefit. Because He is our God, all that He has is ours as well. We are heirs of God and join-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17). Ours is not an empty relationship with God but one filled with great blessing, great benefit, and great privilege.
But all of us who claim the Lord as our God don’t just receive special favors from Him; we return special services to Him. This is why in Psalm 118:28 David says, “Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou are my God, I will exalt thee.” Because He is our God and because we have special rights, it is incumbent upon us to exercise certain responsibilities. This David recognizes when he says, “O God, thou art my God: early will I seek thee” (PS. 63:1).

While as servants of God we may claim interest in Him, we also must exhibit our duty towards Him. Before all things, at the dawn of every day, before we seek anyone else, before we have our breakfast, “Early will I seek thee.”
There seems to be a direct relationship between seeking God in the morning and success throughout the day. Dr. Andrew Bonar once wrote in his dairy: “Tonight I gave myself to a time of waiting upon the Lord. I had not been much in the spirit of prayer, but now several things have become clear t me. I realize I have not communed enough with the Lord, nor come to Him as often as I should. Little forethought has been given to the requests I’ve made. There has been much conversing and outward engagement with men, but I have not been occupied enough with God Himself. I also realize that a closeness to Him gives abundant strength and is like sunlight shining through the clouds on a gloomy day.”
Bonar recognized that had he sought the Lord early, at the beginning of his day, and walked with Him consistently throughout the day, his evening time of waiting on the Lord in prayer would have been much more productive. The same is true for each of us.

Satisfaction for the soul cannot be found apart from fellowship with the Lord. David the psalmist sought to maintain his companionship with God from early morning until late at night. He made a practice of being in the “presence” of God throughout the day by the blessed privilege of prayer.
When our souls thirst for the Lord as our parched tongues thirst for water, when our appetite for righteousness equals our appetite for food, then we will make it a habit of rising early in the morning to make our first appointment of the day an appointment with God. He will be the first one on our minds in the morning and the last one on our mind at night. END


Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Do You See Yourself?


Family and Home

By W E Miller

What can be done by a Christian who has a poor self-image?

  1. I am saved; and yet I have a poor self-image.  Shouldn’t a Christian who has a poor self-image?

 A self-image is the evaluation that a person makes of himself in comparison to some standard, or the way that he has come to think about himself habitually.

A person’s self-image may be good or bad.  In contrast, the theory of “self-love” teaches that a person should “accept himself,”  “feel good” about himself, or feel that he is a “significant” person, without regard to his behavior.
It is important to remember that the Scriptures do not teach that it is necessary to love oneself in order to love others.
Instead, the self-love that the world teaches as being necessary in order to love others in condemned by the Scriptures (see II Tim. 3:2).

Cannot Be Wrong

Some Christians, in combating the erroneous teachings of self-love.”  And in an attempt to help Christians, who have a poor self-image, teach that a Christian should not even have a self-image.  This idea comes from a misunderstanding of the command to deny oneself (see Mark 8:34).  Of course, to deny oneself means to deny self-will (the personal will that opposes God’s will).

If a Christian   is to have no self image, how can he evaluate his performance against God’s standard, and how will he know what to change in his life?

Some, who teach the “no self-image” doctrine, say that everything that believers do is totally of God, because we can do nothing without Him (see John 15:5)).

But the Apostle Paul had truth in balance when he acknowledged both the enabling power of God in his life and his own efforts (se 1 Cor.15:10).  He evaluated his work, gave credit to God, and gave himself a good grade too.  He had a good self-image (see II Tim. 4:7).

Jesus, the only perfect man had a self-image; so it cannot be wrong to have a self-image.  He evaluated His life; and He told others that He measured up to the perfect standard.  He said, “I do always those things that please Him.” (see John 8:29

God Has Given

Perhaps the most complete teaching on self-image is in Romans 12.  notice the order of the teaching:  1) Presenting (v.1) one’s body a living sacrifice. 2) developing (v. 2) a renewed mind that can determine the will of God, and 3) evaluating (v 3) personal performance in the light of the will of God (v.2) and individual talents or gifts (v.3).

Thus, the basis of the Christian’s self-image is a self-evaluation of personal performance in comparison to gifts of talents that God has given him (“according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”—Rom 12:3) and his knowledge of the will of God that comes with a renewed mind.

When a Christian has a poor self-image, it may be an accurate self-evaluation of his Christian walk, and it may be that God is working through his conscience to promote biblical changes God wants to say.  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” At the Judgment Seat of Christ.  So, in His goodness and love, God wants sinning Christians to hurt badly enough to change!

However, some Christians have a poor self-image that is not an accurate self-evaluation.  Often the primary reason for their poor self image is that they have a worldly value system by which they measure themselves.

The world says that you must be wealthy, powerful, beautiful, intelligent, an outstanding musician, a good athlete, some type of prominent person, or you just do not measure up.  After being raised in the influence of the world, which often includes large daily doses of TV, many Christians develop this same value system.  Their idea of importance (and consequently what is required for a good self image) is almost identical to that which the world reaches.

In addition, too often, individual Christians, parents, the church and Para church organizations unwittingly teach the same worldly value system.

Christian parents can help by modeling and teaching a biblical value system.  But if parents have a worldly value system, most likely their children will develop a worldly value system too.

The church and Para church organizations can help by 1) teaching a biblical value system. 2) deemphasizing (putting into biblical perspective)  things of the world (even sports), and 3) avoiding the trap of unintentionally teaching a worldly value system (for instance using people of worldly prominence, or using worldly programs as “bait” for accomplishing good goals).

 Another cause of a poor self-image in children, and later when they become adults, is no acceptance of their childhood accomplishments by their parents.  If parents are perfectionists and their child grows up not being able to please his parents, he may grow up thinking that he is inferior (a poor self-image).

The work of a child should be judged on the abilities of that child and his physical and mental development.  A child of five years should be expected to make his bed like a five year old makes a bed, not like an adult.

Many who have been raised without having their parents’ approval of their deed also have a problem in being able to believe that they can please God.

God does not expect a five-year old child to make a bed like an adult: and He does not expect babes in Christ to achieve perfection in their walk in a day.  Of course, this does not mean that He approves of a sinful behavior.  Instead, it means that He is pleased with progressive growth.  He is pleased every time that a Christian says “no” to temptation, and He is pleased when there is repentance and confession of sins.

One evening a teacher was teaching the two-and-three-year old children about Noah and the ark.  He gave the children crayons to color a picture of the ark and pictures of animals to stick on the picture.  The parents were pleased when they see the work of their toddlers, even though some of the elephants, giraffes and tigers were upside down in the air above the ark.  I believe that God was pleased with their work too!

If you have a poor (but accurate) self-image because your performance is poor in comparison to the opportunities and talents that God has given you, then make biblical changes.

If you have a poor (but inaccurate) self-image based on worldly standards, then develop your spiritual life (see Rom. 12:1),  let God transform your value system (see Rom. 12:2), and then rate yourself accurately (see Rom. 12:3).

Accept and develop the gifts that God has given you—it is not likely that God has gifted you to do all things well.  He wants to say “well done” as you develop your gifts to His glory.

Some who have not had parental approval have a problem of not approving of their worn work.  Remember, God is pleased if you did the job for Him, and if you did it in accordance with your abilities (whether or not you are pleased with the quality of your work).  And if He is pleased, you should be too.

Perhaps you do not “feel that you can  please God, or you do not “feel” that you do  please Him, even though you believe that your performance is relatively satisfactory in accordance with your abilities and opportunities.

If this is your problem, select one project each day (perhaps s simple duty that you do every day) and dedicate it to God.  Use these steps:

1)     Pray and dedicate the job to God
2)      Do the job with the speed, accuracy, etc. that would please God, and with the attitude that you are doing it to please Him (heartily as unto the Lord—see  Col 3:23,24); and
3)     Pray  and tell God that :
a)     you did it for Him.
b)     you did  a good job, and
c)     you know (intellectually) that He is pleased (see Micah 6:8).
Another source of problems with self-image is nothing more than self-image is nothing more than self-centeredness, including selfishness and pride.  As an antidote, love God (dedicate yourself to doing God’s will), and love your neighbor (dedicate yourself to doing good for your neighbor) in like manner as you are already looking out for your own interests (see Matt. 22:37-39).

Now, a word of warning about undue introspection.  Some Christians become too introspective.  Make those changes that God is urging you to make, concentrate on pleasing God and serving others, and have confidence in God’s promise that He is going to continue working in your life to bring you to spiritual maturity (see Phil. 1:6).  Live with confidence in Him!

If there are things in your life that displease God, then you should be displeased with that part of your life.  But, if God is pleased with your overall spiritual growth then you should be pleased with yourself (have a good self-image) as you strive to more perfectly do His will. END


John Bunyan On Prayer

John Bunyan wrote Prayer

I must remind you that Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.   Remember, your prayers must always sincerely pour out your heart or soul to God.  Sincerity is a grace that runs through all the graces of God in us.   Sincerity should control and run through all the actions of a Christian. If your actions are not sincere, then God will not approve your actions.  What must be true regarding sincere actions will be equally true of prayer.  David speaks of this when he mentions his own prayers: "I cried out to him," to the Lord, "with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer" (Psalm 66:17-19).

Sincerity is a crucial element in prayer.   Unless we are sincere, God will not look upon our words as prayer in the good sense.  I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."   As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.   I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips." (Psalm 16:1-4) And God also tells us, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12,13).   Tile Lord has rejected many prayers for their lack of sincerity. Through the prophets, God said, "They do not cry out to me from their hearts" that is, in sincerity, "but wail upon their beds" (Hosea 7:14). Their prayers were pretentious.   Their prayers were hypocritical, a mere show to be seen by others. They prayed to be applauded for their loud prayers.  Jesus Christ commended Nathanael for his sincerity, when he was seated under the fig tree.   We read: "When. Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here; is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false'" (John 1:47). I suppose this good man was pouring out his soul to God in prayer under the fig tree. Jesus knew he prayed  with a sincere and unfeigned spirit before the Lord. .Sincerity is one of the principal ingredients in prayer that influences God to hear and consider it. Thus, "The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him" (Proverbs 15:8).   Why must sincerity be an essential element of I acceptable prayer to God?  Because sincerity moves you in all simplicity to open your heart to God and to tell Him your case plainly and without equivocation.   Sincerity in prayer motivates your heart to condemn your sin plainly, without concealing the facts, intentions or feelings under false excuses and pretences. When we pray from the heart, we cry to God heartily without complimenting ourselves or praising our righteousness. The Lord declared to Jeremiah the prophet: "I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning: 'You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast.   I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.' (Jeremiah 31:18,19) Sincerity is always the same in a person, whether he is praying in a corner all alone or praying before the whole world. Sincerity does not know how to wear two different masks, one for an appearance before others and another for a short span in a corner before God. Sincere Christians must have God. They must be with Him in what they know as the pleasant duty of prayer from the heart.  Sincere prayer is not lip-labour, because God looks at the heart. Prayer from the heart looks at God. Prayer from the heart and soul which God regards is that prayer from His children which is accompanied with sincerity.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, my God, may I be found of You as Jesus found Nathanael along the way, in sincere and in utterly devoted prayer to You. I confess that some of my motives for prayer have been selfish and self-seeking. I confess that I have often not taken the time to examine my heart and open it completely before You in prayer. Instead, I have come asking only for the things that I want You to do for me. I bow before You now, O Lord, in humble submission, and I ask You to make in me a clean heart and put a right spirit within me. As I examine my own heart, I come to You in complete sincerity that I would be known of You and You would be known of me, that Your Son might commend me when we meet, that there would be nothing false in me, that I might also feel free to pray in the Name of the Saviour knowing that I am cleansed by His atoning blood. Amen.     --JOHN BUNYAN

Even In The Valley

By John G

Does God inhabit the valleys as well as the high places in our lives?

God inhibits strange places.  He shows His presence when many would expect Him to be absent.  Does our lofty God avoid the low?  The Syrians thought so.  Not only did they believe that the Israelites were unbeatable in the hills and vulnerable in the valleys.  But in the same breath they slurred Gods by saying, “The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys (I Kings 20:28) NASB

That view of God is amazingly close to our times.  Like the Syrians some restrict God to the hills, to the unusual and to the remote and deny Him sovereignty in hot plains, in dull surroundings and in vacant places. Like Elijah, we need to say God’s honor is defamed by that restriction.  And like Elijah we should believe God will intervene to restore the recognition of His ruler ship.  The Lord said through Elijah, “Therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord” (v.28).

The Syrians held gods to be localized operators.  IN their eyes each god oversaw a specific region.  They held the view that individual gods had fixed locations that they controlled.  The outcomes of a military conflict, the success of a harvest, even the health of a district were directly tied to the god who resided there.  The Syrians saw jahweb as god of the hills, and their go as god of the plains.

Some Jews halfway believed that themselves.  After all, Israel had lost famously in the valleys and they seemed unbeatable in the hills.  Hadn’t key events in Israel’s history taken place in mountains?  The Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai.  On Mount Carmel Elijah put the Baalite prophets to shame.

People still believe spiritual victories come easier in the mountains.  The original Americans, the Indians apparently believed this.  This Crow Indians (Absorokes) had a worship center.  “The Medicine Wheel,”  located in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming Historians say it was a pilgrimage point , a place for worshiping the Great Spirit (Wyoming Frontier State,  Velma Lindord.  The Old West Publishing CO, Denver . CO 1947, PP 44,19

Does going high help one get high? In many minds, God is not in the plains but only in the heights.

But the Old Testament consistently maintains that God inhabits, at once.  All parts of the  world.  It teaches that God is present everywhere (see I Kings 8:27); Ps 139:7-10)  for the apostles of the New Testament, God Works in those of menial circumstances and low standing (see I Cor. 1:27, 28).  In unpleasant surroundings , in hard times, in days of sadness, in moments of guilt, God reigns.  Even  when we are dismantled, underneath are the everlasting arms of our Heavenly Father.  We are like the Syrians if we think God is only in the beatific vision and not in the struggles of the valleys.

The Syrians felt themselves at a disadvantage to encage the Israelites in the mountains.  Their  military guideline was:  “Evade confrontations with the Jews in the mountains.  Attack them on the plains.”  This was their standing strategy, not only because they felt Jahweb was impotent on the plain, but also because any clash on the valley floor would allow them to use their swift chariots.  Valleys were ideal for wheeled vehicles, but Israel had none.

I admit we may find it easier to believe God’s mighty hand is exercised in mountain torrents and in majestic peaks that take our breath away.  Admittedly, it is harder to trace  His footprints in the dry creek best or to see His presence in the desolation of the arid plains.  But God reaches into every valley.  We should not run from trouble but face our troubles, knowing that the Lord is with us in the conflicts.

Life has  its low spots, its dry periods, its vulnerable times.  We seem to have a preponderance of  “downs”  and shortage of “ups”  But we are no better than the ancient Syrians if we believe that God is found only in the climatic highs and is absent in the dreadful lows.  We unwisely restrict God to the high points of life and fail to recognize that He is in our dips, our draws and ditches.  

God is God of the gullies.  He is with us over the long haul.  He is with us in the tedium of routines that stretch out like long ruts.  Don’t localize God’s activity to the spectacular He is with us when He gives and when He takes away.  He is with is when we feel at a tactical and technical disadvantage to cope with the stress of a new job and the pressure of a difficult marriage.  The Lord is nearer than breathing, closer than hands of feet.  Out Saviour is in the slumps to enable us to rise above them.

Christians often may appear to crumble even though they have the Lord in their lives.  They show signs of panic.  They display their weakness with depression and more tears.  Yet while the visual confidence seems to be lacking, they eventually feel the stability of Christ, the solid Rock.  In crossing the cold river death, like Christian of pilgrim’s  Progress,   they feel the ground beneath them and it is good.

Even in the low point of human loss, God is ready to step in to provide uncommon stamina and supernatural peace.  Paul found it true in his straits.  As he entered his ordeal, God told him.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”  (II Cor. 12: 9)

Admittedly, we look rather foolish when the infinite resources of the Lord are available and we fail to return to Him.  We are like the farmer of Titus ville, Pennsylvania, who hastily sold his farm in 1859.  For years he had eked out an existence in farming his spread.  His cousin from Canada coaxed him to read up on oil and head north to make a fortune.  So he sold his farm for $ 833 which even than was cheap. Dewin Drake bought it and drilled in that seemingly unproductive land and struck oil, beginning the first successful commercial oil well in the United States.

We  sell out too soon when we are.  We give up too easily in our discouraging circumstances.  God is as much in grueling tasks as in prestigious posts.  He is as much in the unacceptable near as He is in the distant far.  God can work through our modest talents just as much as He can effect His will through glittering personalities.  He delights to be glorified through the broken and the seemingly worthless in order to astonish the unbelieving and the egotistical.  The Lord is God in the valleys as well as God of the hills.

The ancient Syrians wrongly thought God was absent and powerless in the plains.  But God was as strong below as above, for no place is closed to Him, no person is unusable by Him.  He is in the flatlands and in the familiar.  He is with us when we are exhilarated and when we are exasperated.  He loves to use the young, and He equally delights to use the old.  Whether we are amateurs in the faith or seasonal professionals.  God’s greatest delight is to provide a witness among those and thorough those whom others despise and denigrate.

Have we given up on the plain?  God hasn’t!  I was reminded afresh of Elijah’s refusal to concede God was not in the valley by another real-life victory that came out of the Vietnam War.  Col. Howard Rutledge, who had been a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for seven years (most of those to solitary confinement), tells of how he felt forsaken and forgotten in the prison they called “Alcatraz.”   A Christian prisoner tapped out words in Morse code through the wall of his cell to Rutledge.  Though in poor Health himself, Ron Storz laboriously tapped out a message that clearly approximated what Elijah told Ahab to his face:  “Seek God here.  This is where you’ll find him.”  It is when we miss a human presence that the Lord’s presence sustains us. It is in the lulls and lows of life where God shows Himself glorious.  He is not only for the gaps, He is in the gaps….

An elevated position can be as lonely as a valley floor.  Jesus found this true when He was suspended above the ground on the cross.  Calvary was a hill physically, but psychologically, the hill was a valley.  Yet in the ordeal of death, when His strength was dried up like a potsherd, God showed His greatest power.  At the point of utmost rejection by men, He experienced God’s greatest acceptance.  When hate was strongest, the Father’s love was most real.

God is God both of the hills and of the valleys! CL


Don’t Seek It – Use It!

Non of us intentionally wants to harm a fellow believer, but we can do it by failing to exercise our spiritual gift.

There’s a great ball game on TV tonight, Dave,” yelled Bill across the fence. “Why don’t you come on over and watch it with me?  It’s the seventh deciding game.”

Bill certainly wanted to watch that game.  He even thought about staying home from church to see it.  The family would be together, and isn’t that important in these days of families splitting up?  Now Dave wanted him to watch it at his house. What should he do?  Should he miss church?

Christians face decisions like this all the time.  So many things pull at us to cause us to forget about serving God in order to satisfy ourselves.  For you it may not be a ball game—it may be something else that you enjoy.

We know that we should not miss church for entertainment and personal pleasure because God has instructed us to forsake not “the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Heb. 10:25).  Why is this so important?

There are a number of reasons why we should faithfully attend church.  We need to study God’s Word in order to grow, we need to pray for God’s help, and we need to worship and praise God as a congregation of believers.  There is another important reason however.

If we are going to be responsible Christians, we need to exercise the spiritual gift (or gifts) that God has given us.  And the primary place to do that is in the local church.  This reason for faithfulness to church that is often overlooked or downplayed.  Yet it is thoroughly discussed in the Word of God.

A spiritual gift is a supernatural enabling for service.  It is an ability that God gives to the Christian so he may both serve Him and edify the Body of Christ.

There is a debate today concerning the dispensation teaching about gifts.  Theologians differ about whether all of the gifts of the apostolic days are present today.  Some say that they are present and none were temporary.  Others say that all of the spiritual have ended, and none of them are in the church today. The final view is that some of the apostolic gifts have ceased, but that many others are still being given to the church today.

The third position is correct.
Some of the gifts were temporary according to I Corinthians 13:8: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away,”
The sign gifts—healing, tongues and knowledge (receiving special new revelation from God)—were given to the church in its infancy, but when the Bible was completed these gifts were unnecessary and were withdrawn.  The Greek word for “cease” in verse 8 means “cease once for all”  or permanently disappear.”

Any gift involving receiving new revelation from God, such as the office of prophet or apostle, or visions and the gift of knowledge (in the sense of extra-biblical knowledge) has ceased permanently.  If this were not the case, it would violate Revelation 22:18.
The other gifts, however, are still in the church today.
Paul made it clear that every Christian has received at least        one gift.  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Cor. 12:7).  Both 1 Corinthians 12:11 and 1 Peter 4:10 support this fact.

 It is proper to say that these gifts came from the Father (see James 1:17). And from the Son (see Eph. 4:8), and from the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:11).

There is no room for boasting about the use of these gifts as is so often done.  Paul asked,  “What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”  (I Cor. 4:7)

Without the gifts of the Spirit in our churches today, we would never be able to minister effectively.  Without these gifts the church would be confused.

                                                                                            by Ll
yod L S

A Holy Christian Is a Happy Christian

I we aim at happiness in this world, we will probably miss the mark of holiness.  But if we aim at holiness, we cannot fail to be happy.

A s we consider the subject of holiness, we must remember that it is God’s will that we be holy.  Paul wrote that in I Thessalonians 4:2,3.  being holy may seem theoretical and theological even irrelevant.  But being holy is extremely practical.

People who are truly holy are much easier to live with because certain things characterize their lives.  First, holy people are selfless.  They have not thought whatsoever of themselves.  Also, holy people are characterized by serenity.

The real definition of holiness  from the Old Testament is “set apart.”  The holy vessels of the tabernacle in the wilderness were not made of a different kind of gold than a king’s vessels or a different kind of brass than any common person would have in his house.  They might not even have been a different shape or design.  The vessels used in the tabernacle were holy because they were set apart for God from the ordinary.

Every Christian is meant to be a holy vessel, bearing the life and death of Jesus.  And the life and death of Jesus are not commodities assembled on an assembly line but a living work accomplished in personal sanctification.

Paul used the term “vessel,”  in one form or another, over and over in his epistles.  “We have this treasure in jars of clay,”  he said,  “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” )II Cor. 4:7).  If we call ourselves Christians, then we are saying that we are willing to identify ourselves totally with Christ’s death and resurrection—to come to the cross and to be crucified with Christ.  That is the prerequisite for being raised with Christ.  It is a living work accomplished daily and continuously in our personal sanctification.

The Apostle Peter begins,  “From Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ to those of God’s scattered people who lodge for a while in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia [he is writing to exiles]—chosen of old in the purpose of God the Father, hallowed to his service by the Spirit”  (I Pet. 1: 1,2. NEB).

We say the world “hallowed” when we say the Lord’s Prayer, but what does it mean?  The word “hallowed” means set apart or holy, Peter used the expression for these exiles  who were Christians.  If this applied to the exiles who were Christians.  If this applied to the exiles in Peter’s day, then it applies to all who have come to Christ in faith.

Peter went on to say, “The inheritance to which were are born is one that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.  It is kept for you in heaven, and you, because you put your faith in God, are under the protection of his power until salvation comes—the salvation which is even now in readiness will be revealed at the end of time” (v.4,5).

God has said that we were chosen to the holy, Notice that these verses do not say that we are chosen to be made happy, even though in God’s Book holiness is synonymous with happiness. We have to sort that out from our computed notions of happiness that the world gives us.

What does it mean to be holy?  In Ephesians 1:4 we read:  “In Christ he [God] chose us before the world was founded.”  We have been born again “into a living hope”  (I Pet. 1:3).  That tells us that our future is a perfect inheritance, which is being kept or guarded for us beyond the reach of change and decay.  And this means joy, for in verse six we read:  “This is cause for great joy, even though now you smart for a little while, if need be, under trials of many kinds.”

Are you smarting from trials of many kinds?  Almost every one of us is smarting at least a little from something somebody said to us yesterday, some rudeness, some lack of gratitude or appreciation.  It may be just a little thing, but it hurts or smarts.

Peter went on to say the this is no accident.  “Even gold passes through the assayer’s fir,  more precious than perishable gold is faith which has stood the test.  These trails come  so that your faith may prove itself worthy of all praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (v.7).

 Going through trials is cause of joy.  It is not for nothing that God has allowed that “smart.”  It is planned.  That gives us hope a

nd confidence.  So it is true that if we aim at happiness in this world, we are probably going to miss the mark of holiness.  But if we aim at holiness, we can’t fail to be happy.  One of my life verses is Psalm 119: “I have found more joy along the path of thy commandments than in any kind of wealth.”

Every experience in your life, if offered to Jesus, can be your gateway to joy.  It can also be the context in which God will bring you closed to the model of holiness set by His Son, Jesus Christ.  We don’t have to be perfect to be holy, even though perfection is our object and Jesus commanded us to be perfect.  But God begins by calling us apart,  separating us from the world , and then working in us as we respond to Him in faith to make us holy. 

                                                                             by Elisabeth Elliot

I Wish I’d Been There?

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be standing near David as he squared off against the taunting Goliath?  To see that giant soldier humbled before those whom he had just mocked would have astonished any of us.

And that is only one incident in the Bible.  There are hundreds of others that inspire, instruct and amaze us.

Some time ago, the editorial of Confident Living thought about the hundreds of life-changing events in the Bible and decided to ask several Christian leaders, this question.  Apart from the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, what biblical event would you most have wanted to witness, and why?  Here are their responses:

The feeding of the 5000 (see Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6: 32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14) is the event I would have liked to have witnessed.  First, because of the 35 miracles ascribed to Christ, this is the only one recorded by all four Gospel writers, possibly because is the most important.  Second, this wonderful miracle offers much insight concerning both the Person and ministry of our blessed Lord.  It shows Him to be a sensitive shepherd.  He knew the needs of the Twelve, as revealed in His words.  “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).  It shows Him to be a systematic   shepherd, for He seated the crowd in groups of hundreds and fifties (see vv 39, 40).  It shows Him to be a sovereign shepherd, for He fed 5000 hungry men plus their families with five loaves and two fishes (vv.41, 42).

—Jerry Falwell, Preacher and Author

I wish I had been there when Jesus blessed the little children (see Luke 18:15-17).  The story fascinates me, because it reveals the heart of Jesus toward mothers and children.  How special it would have been to see the faces of the principal characters.

I picture that the disciples are deep in a theological lesson with Jesus.  Suddenly they are distracted by the sound of women’s excited voices and a crowd of children—some calling out, some laughing, some little ones crying!  The disciples are annoyed:  “Don’t bother the Master with these trivial matters.”  But Jesus looks up, and I think He smiles.  He sees the hearts of the mothers, yearning for Jesus to bless their children.  He holds out His arms and says, “Let the little ones come to me.”  And they come.  Some hesitate a bit, hiding behind mothers’ skirts, some run headlong to Jesus.   He takes them all and touches them—He holds a baby close puts His hand on the head of an older lad, stretches His palms to the shy ones.  They know He loves them, and they feel accepted.  It is a moment they will treasure all their lives. 

Why do I love this event in Jesus’ life?  I was just a little girl when I came to Him very simply, and He took me.  Now I am the mother of three sons and three daughters.  I have three little grandbabies.   I often recall that scene when my “little ones” (even the married ones) are struggling and need a touch from God, I pray, “Here are our children, Lord, Please put your hand on their lives.”  I’m so glad Jesus still says, “Let the little ones come to me.”
—Joy R Martin, Business Manager, Joyful Woman Magazine.
The mountain-covering, worldwide, year-long deluge described in Genesis 6-9; Psalm 29:10; 104:6-9; Isaiah 54: 9 and in the New Testament by our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter is the event I would have loved to have witnessed.

This is the greatest demonstration of the holiness of God in terms of physical response to human depravity the world has ever seen.  It was the supreme demonstration and vindication of God’s sovereignty in a world of open rebellion against Him.  “The Lord sitteth King for ever” (Ps. 29:10).  The second Coming of Christ will be like this (see Matt. 24:37; II Pet. 3:3-6).

—John C Whitcomb, Professor, Grace Theological Seminary

I wish I had been there when unbelieving Thomas, upon seeing the risen Saviour with the scars in His hands and the wound in His side, became a believer and affirmed.  “My Lord and my God” (John 20:24-29).

I wish I had been there because of the joy it would have been to witness Thomas with, I imagine, a relieved look on his face and a conviction in his voice, as he recognized and acknowledged his Lord, truly risen from the dead.  A similar thrill can be ours today, whenever we lead an unbeliever to faith in Christ—to “confess… the Lord Jesus and believe …. That God hath raised Him from the dead” (Rom.10:9).—Richard DeHaan, Chairman, Radio Bible Class

I wish I had been there when Joshua received his commissioning after the death of Moses as recorded in Joshua 1:1-9.

The content of the commission as it speaks of fear and discouragement (see v9).  Indicates that Moses had been the giant.  Joshua serving in his shadow—similar to the death of Franklin D Roosevelt and the beginning days of Harry Truman.  I believe he grasped the meaning of “observe to do” (v.8) which has become a guideline to my own life-finding precepts and promises, and then implementing by faith, obedience and initiative.  To me, this drama is a landmark in the role of the Scriptures in human conduct—assuredly for my own life.
—Ken Anderson, President, Ken Anderson Films

I wish I had seen God create the world (see Gen. 1 & 2); to be there when He alone existed and then to see the universe created out of nothing—the sun, the moon, the starts, the skies dotted with birds, the seas swarming with life, the land masses with herds of animals and then the creation of man and woman.  I cannot imagine a more awe-inspiring experience.  It certainly would cause to worship Him as I should.
—Robert Gromacki, Author and Professor

I wish I would have  witnessed John’s Patmos vision (see Rev. 1:9-18).
The weary John and two fellow disciples had awakened on the mountain in time to catch glimpse of their transfigured Lord.  But that glorious experience seems to have had little effect on them compared to that one on the isle of Patmos that the aged John experienced alone.  The glories of what he saw defies description in any language john was never the same after that, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be either.
—Don Hillis Author, Retired Asst. Director of TEAM

The event that I would most want to have witnessed is Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet, as recorded in John 13:3-17, for servant hood, consistent and sincere, is one of sanctification’s greatest hurdles.  To listen to the disciples’ discussing who would be the greatest among them in the kingdom and then to have the Creator of the universe stand don the towel of a servant, and wash their feet would have been a dramatic and life-changing moment for disciples who struggled to serve.
—Joseph Stowell, Former President, Moody Bible Institute

According to Luke 24:13-30, Jesus, on the road to Emmaus on the day of His resurrection, discussed with the disciples the Old Testament teachings on His death and resurrection.  This account of the fulfillment of prophecy relating to His death and resurrection must have given the hearers tremendous insight as to why Christ died and why He rose from the dead.
—John Walvoord, Chancellor, Dallas Theological Seminary

Act 2, the descent of the Holy Spirit, stands high among the events I wish I had witnessed.  When the disciples could no longer see Jesus after the resurrection.  Peter had decided he would go fishing.  Others wanted to go along.  When Jesus appeared to them again, hope revived.

But think of the traumatic effect the Ascension must have had on them.  Jesus was not longer with them.  HE had gone back to heaven.  What doubts for the future must have troubled their minds!

They had seen Him enter the clouds.  Would they ever see Him again?  When informing them of His soon return to His Father, He had said.  “I will ask the father, and He will Give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever!”

From the Mount of Olive, they had dutifully returned to Jerusalem to wait for the fulfillment of His promise, probably with some skepticism.

When the sound “like a violent rushing wind” filled the upper room where they waited, the effect must have been electric!

Had I been there, I think I might have cried out—“He’s arrived!  Jesus is back with His Father!  His Word is truth!  The full circle of His redemptive plan is complete.”

And I would have that neither Peter… nor I, would have considered, henceforth, spending much time fishing on Lake Galilee! 
—Rober Bowman, President, Far East Broadcating Company, Inc, La Mirada Cali.