When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

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CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

It’s Always Paul and Somebody Else

SCRIPTURE READING IN PHILEMON 1:23-24

Philemon Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow labourers.

The Apostle Paul was a TEAM PLAYER.

I never read in Scripture where JUST Paul took trips to establish churches in the Roman Empire.  It was ALWAYS Paul and somebody else–Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas.  In addition, a number of people were with these headliner pairs, like John Mark, Luke, Timothy and Epaphras, and the valuable couple, Aquila, and Priscilla.

One of these helpers that traveled with Paul was a young man named DEMAS.

Notice in the Bible verse Demas is referred to as one of Paul;s “fellow laborers.”  At this point, Demas was valued enough to be mentioned as one of Paul’s fellow laborers, an honored designation.

But in Colossians 4:7-14what I found as notable and something interesting as well.  In Paul’s closing remarks and as was his custom, he mentions a list of servants by name.  Notice that Paul says some glowing things about several people in this passage:

Tychicus is a “much-loved brother and faithful ministering assistant and fellow servant”…verse 7

Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother…verse 9

Aristarchus a fellow prisoner along with Mark the relative of Barnabas…verse 10

Epaphras, a servant of Christ Jesus, a man of prayer and convictions…verse 12

Luke the beloved physician…verse 14

Great praise was given to these men.

Demas is also mentioned at the end of this passage, notice in Verse 14 and the only thing Paul says about him is “And Demas”.  Glowing remarks for all but one, Demas, and all he got was his name mentioned.

Was Demas being slighted here, demoted in Paul’s estimation somehow?  Hold that thought.

Now, let’s look at 2 Timothy 4:9-11 –

DEMAS has abandoned Paul’s team in this portion of Scripture while Paul while incarcerated in Rome. 

The phrase “deserted me”  in the Greek literally carries the idea of “abandonment in a time of need.” Today we might say, “He left me in the lurch”.

Ironically, Paul asks Timothy in verse 11 to bring with him Mark, who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15 but had later been restored to service.

[11] Only Luke is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  (NIV)

I find it ironical when Demas had deserted him, Paul sent the former quitter, John Mark, whom Paul now says it was helpful to him in the ministry.

Ah, reconciliation at play!

This is a reminder to all of us that no one is UNSALVAGEABLE to God.

John Mark, like Demas, had been a miserable failure earlier in life, but now he had become a “helpful” servant.

GETTING BACK TO DEMAS…

What happened to him?  He started off with great promise.

ONCE he’d been a valued co-laborer; NOW he’s a tragic failure.

I’m not a big fan of reading between the lines in Scripture, BUT…

I can think of several reasons DEMAS may have left his post.

FIRST, DEMAS MAY HAVE BECOME WORN OUT –

Perhaps he had not anticipated how tiring ministry really was.  No doubt, working with Paul involved many hours of tiresome labor to:

  • Witnessing the Gospel to many people…
  • Counseling sessions to attend…
  • Study time needed to be done for sermons…
  • Teaching responsibilities…
  • Meetings to attend.
  • Choir practices
  • Drama rehearsals.

Many times, undoubtedly, he may have been burning the candle at both ends.  And I can relate!

Past times in my serving in ministry…after working all day at a secular job, then at night, attending leadership meetings, evangelism outreach classes…And that’s okay, actually, because honestly…I LIVE for this kind of usefulness.

But I can see myself being in Demas’ shoes if I’m not careful; just getting WEARY of being tempted to quit if you caught me at the wrong time.

What Demas needed to hear is the same thing we need to hear when we get WEARY IN THE lORD’S WORK.

Paul said in Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Sometimes we need to get some rest…But don’t get weary in well-doing.

Sometimes we have to reprioritize to make sure the important things get done first, but don’t get WEARY in doing well!

Sometimes we may feel taken advantage of and unappreciated, but don’t be weary in well-doing–because we’re not doing our service for people anyway.

I want to share a couple of tips that I’ve learned over forty-five years in various ministries on how NOT to get or stay weary in well-doing:

  • First, when you can, SERVE in harmony with your spiritual gift.

We can’t always have that luxury to serve only where we’re GIFTED, but that’s where we should gravitate when possible.

When we minister in our giftedness, we may get tired, but we get tired because we’re doing too much of what we ENJOY and that’s a good kind of tired.

  • Second, find time for alone time with God where you can get recharged and encouraged in the Lord by His Spirit.

Just maybe, Demas needed to set aside some time with God and get STRENGTH from Him.

SECOND, DEMAS MAY HAVE BECOME UNHAPPY WITH HIS EFFECTIVENESS –

Maybe he tried to win his relatives to the Lord, and they wouldn’t listen.

Perhaps as he preached alongside Paul he became disappointed that he didn’t see the same results as Paul.

Possibly Demas found that PREACHING when most of his hearers didn’t want to hear what he had to say was more difficult than he anticipated.

And he just simply became discouraged in his doing, and he decided to throw in the towel and QUIT!

If true, then he would’ve been helped by Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, 1 Cor. 3:5-7:

Paul was saying that much of what we do when we SERVE GOD doesn’t result in immediate visible results.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it or that God isn’t blessing it.

Maybe Demas just needed to HEAR that we work for God, not for effectiveness and it won’t be until we get to HEAVEN to see the fruit of our labor.  Right now, we just need not be WEARY in well-doing.

THIRD, POSSIBLY DEMAS HAD BEEN DISAPPOINTED WITH THE FAILURES AND INCONSISTENCIES OF OTHERS –

Maybe some of the Christians he worked with were not all they were cracked up to be.  It’s hard to imagine that he could have found a more spiritual man to minister alongside than the Apostle Paul, but Paul certainly wasn’t perfect.

  • Maybe some of the other Christian leaders he worked with didn’t live up to the standards he thought Christians or ministers of the Gospel should have.
  • Maybe he started looking at others for inspiration instead of Jesus!
  • Maybe he was looking around instead of looking up!

Or maybe he struggled with a certain SIN in his life that caused him to begin to look at others with more critical eyes so that he wouldn’t feel so bad about his own sin.

OUCH!!!

We really don’t know for sure, but if that’s the case, the writer of Hebrews had the answers to Demas’ problem

HEBREWS 12:1-2 (AMP)

[1] THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth]. let us strip off and throw away every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which is so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,  [2] Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].  He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The writer says we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and not others as we run the race.

  • JESUS is the author and finisher of our FAITH, not those around us.
  • It was JESUS who endured the cross for us, not our co-workers in the Lord or our mentors, our fellow Christians.

I wish Demas had thoughts of that before he threw in the towel.

FOURTH, DEMAS MAY HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED WITH HIMSELF –

Perhaps he thought, once in the Lord’s service, somehow his struggles with sin, lust or fear, or covetousness, or anger from jealousy would disappear.

  • Maybe he forgot the importance of depending on the Holy Spirit.
  • Maybe, as he looked back over the last few years of serving in the ministry that he became disappointed he hadn’t come any further in the Christian life than he felt he should have.

As a young worker in God’s Vineyard, maybe he had been too idealistic–thought that people would flock to hear him teach and preach with multitudes being SAVED!

But things, well…they just didn’t turn out that way.

All anyone wanted to hear was that big-shot Paul!

Possibly, DEMAS struggled as many of us struggle and was disillusioned with his own wrong motives and lack of spiritual growth, especially when he compared himself with the great Apostle Paul, who seemed to always be “on target.”

FIFTH, IT’S ALSO POSSIBLE THAT HE HAD DEVELOPED A DIMINISHING OF SPONTANEOUS SERVICE FOR THE LORD –

  • I wonder if Demas was so involved with FIGHTING for the Word of God that he stopped FEASTING in the Word.
  • I wonder if he became so busy SERVING God, that he stopped SAVORING God.

If so, then most likely his spiritual life became forced, cold, mechanical, calculated, until he just didn’t bother taking time out to spend with the Lord anymore.

Maybe he became like Martha instead of Mary.  

MARTHA received a gentle rebuking from Jesus though she was busy serving, while MARY was commended because she took the time out to be with Jesus (Luke 10:41-42).

Maybe DEMAS wouldn’t have given up if he had been able to feed at the Lord’s table.

SIXTH, JUDGING FROM PAUL’S WORDS IN TIMOTHY 4, MOST LIKELY THE ATTRACTIONS OF THIS WORLD ALLURED DEMAS AWAY FROM GOD.

Paul said, “…because he loved this world, has deserted me and gone to Galatia…”  (2 Tim. 4:10).

That will rob you of your spiritual power and zeal like nothing else!

Jesus half-brother James (Mark 6:13) said in James 4:4

[4] “Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy?  So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God”  (AMP).

James uses mighty strong language here! 

A FRIEND of this world’s system is a spiritual adulterer or adulteress who, instead of loving God with ALL your heart, goes “a whoring” after the world, to use O.T. terminology.

How can one experience the JOY of walking with God if you’ve become His enemy?

No, the WORLD will not satisfy you; it will only pull you away from God and SERVICE to Him.

I’ve Given Some “Maybe’s”, the REASONS Demas Could Have Bailed Out On Paul.

But all is not lost in the case of DEMAS (3 John 1:12):

“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone–and even by the truth itself…”  (NIV)

It is said that this passage of Scripture was written about 90-95 AD.  Many Bible scholars believe that DEMETRIUS in this passage is the same DEMAS found Philemon 23-24.  

The name “Demas” was what is called a diminutive of the name Demetrius; in other words, kind of like shortened nickname of the name like Bob for Robert or Will for William.  

If this is the same DEMAS as the one Paul referred to, it proves again, as with John Mark, it’s never too late to recover, restore, reconcile those who have FAILED, failed miserably. And reconciliation IS the theme of Paul’s letter to Philemon.

Somewhere along the line, Demas got things straightened out in his life so that John could say,  “Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone…”

If you are in danger of becoming a DEMAS, or maybe you find yourself already a “Demas”, then it’s time to grab hold of God’s PROMISE found in 1 John 1:9:

[9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].  (Amplified Bible).

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CREDITS –

The Free Dictionary by Failex.

Bible Hub – 2 Timothy 4:10; Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers.

Ray Stedman, The End of the Road.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Settings Advance.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); except where noted in the text.

 

 

The Waiting Spiritual Farmer

James 5:7-12 (NAS Bible):

[7]  Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

[8]  You to be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

[9]  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

[10]  As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

[11]  Behold, we count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of Compassion and is merciful.

[12]  But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgement.

“DIGGING FOR RAIN” – A Story of a Farmer and his young son:  [See Footnotes [i] ]

One of my favorite authors, Don Nori, wrote a book that I just finished re-reading titled Secrets of the Most Holy Place – Volume Two.  Although, Mr. Nori’s intentions might not be directed towards PATIENCE and ENDURANCE, the Holy Spirit certainly spoke to my spirit in response to Verse 7 , James Chapter 5:

“Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it…”

PATIENCE WITH ANTICIPATION:

A FARMER and his young son were walking through the fields of corn they had planted just before the spring rains came.  They had thought this was going to be the best year ever.  The rains had been heavy for almost three weeks.  When the corn sprouted, it appeared as though it had leaped from the ground.

1196027736_d56d2432f2But that was all the rain that came.

Here is where I believe PATIENCE comes into play. The farmer and his son look towards the heavens daily as high thin clouds passed overhead and still no rain.

They walked together through the rows of stunted cornstalks while kicking up dust of the hardened earth covered their feet as they went.

One afternoon, the young boy mentioned to his father that the neighbors were calling a prayer meeting after supper.  The farmer kneeling beside a cornstalk acknowledged the prayer meeting by nodding, then saying, “The harvest rain will be too little and too late for this crop.”  He was hopeful, but his patience was wearing thin.

“We need water right now and we need the harvest rain too.  That would save this corn, maybe even make it a good year.”

At that point, the young boy thought his dad might not have heard his announcement of the evening prayer meeting asking the Lord for rain.

“Do you want to go? ‘Cause if you do, Mom and I will go too.”

The farmer smiled, nodding his head yes and saying “Yes, we will go to the prayer meeting tonight.”  As they walked back to the farmhouse, the farmer’s son, almost speaking to himself said, how cool it would be if the spring rain for the harvest could be saved.  Just in case the harvest rain wasn’t enough.  Although young in age, he believed in the Lord and knew He would not let them down.

The farmer stopped in his tracks, turning his attention to his son and asked him to repeat his last statement: “What’d you say, boy?”  His son immediately thought he was in trouble for his outspoken thoughts:  “I was just joking, Dad.  I said I wished there was a way to save the spring rain for the harvest.”

But the farmer wasn’t irritated, nor mad at all:  “Boy, I think I hear the Lord talking to me through your innocent little mouth.”

Never reaching the farmhouse and grabbing a pick and shovel laying in the dirt, began digging a hole in that spot.  But what about the prayer meeting they were all going to attend?  With the farmer’s actions, his anticipation of the results, he already knew the answer.  “The spring rain is right here in the dry creek bed at the edge of the cornfield.  Leastwise, it’s where it was the last time I saw it!”

Although Mr Nori’s story lingers on in detail, I wanted to skip over some parts [you can read it in detail by getting his book] and get to the conclusion of the story.

After digging through the night, while missing the prayer meeting, the farmer was strengthened by the prayers of his wife and the confidence of his son while he dug.  When the meeting at the church was over, his son stopped to see his dad’s progress.  There the farmer was still enthusiastically digging in a deep hole, so deep that a needed step-ladder was barely visible above the hole.  Getting his Dad’s permission, climbing into the hole, the young boy climbed down the ladder to help his dad search for the rain.

After some time, digging together by the light of a lantern, the water began to spring up like a geyser as they ran up the ladder as the hole quickly filled with water and began pouring into the field.

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Now, what does this story of a farmer and his son, digging for rain, have to do with James 5:7-12?  

I LOVE THE WORD OF GOD!

I can never say this too often, “I love the Word of God”.  I believe it to be  inspired and inerrant.  I believe the Word to be God’s revelation of Him self to man.  As someone once said, no matter whether I believe it or not, the bible is still God’s truth.

The BIBLE is our tool to gauge our life.  It addresses every topic you will ever face, and has every answer we need to live a righteous life.  I LOVE GOD’S WORD!

I do love some of its subjects and situations it deals with more than others such as HEAVEN!  But, I also have to deal with hell’s reality.

I love reading and receiving Holy Spirit’s insight and to God’s voice dealing with FORGIVENESS.  But at the same time, addressing the issue “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I do have to confess, I don’t enjoy some of the topics while reading, studying and teaching over the years in the Book of James.  I’ve had to examine certain sensitive areas and shortcomings of my own life, as we all should in reading God’s Word with application.

PATIENCE!!!

The “P” word…Now I would rather just skip over this.  The word James uses for PATIENCE and ENDURANCE in the original Greek implies for Christians “to stay put and stand fast when you would really like to run.”

James gives us 3 examples–

The Farmer (verses 7-9):

If you are an impatient person, then you shouldn’t be a farmer.  Like the story of The Farmer and His Son, although discouraged from lack of rain, he wasn’t impatient when awaiting God’s directions, then took action.

FARMERS MUST BE PATIENT!

They must be PATIENT with the SOIL.  The farmer must pain and toil preparing the soil to sow the seed.  Being an avid home gardener, my patience sometimes run thin:  I just added compost and fertilizer last year for the results.  Why do I go through this every year?   PATIENCE…

The Jewish farmer would do the sowing of the seed every year after the early rains.  They must be PATIENT with the seed after the soil is prepared and the seed is shown.  And, they must be patient, with the season.

Why does the farmer willingly wait so long?

VERSE 7:  Because the fruit is “precious”.

I don’t use the word “precious” in my conversation or writing.  Maybe it doesn’t seem manly.  After looking up the definition with the corresponding synonyms, PRECIOUS means “COSTLY”.  You and I, as children of God, are PRECIOUS in God’s eye.  Remember the song Jesus loves the little children…they are PRECIOUS in His sight.

THE HARVEST BRINGS REWARDS:

James is picturing the Christian here as the “spiritual farmer”…waiting for a spiritual harvest.

James reminds us, as Christians, the SECRET TO ENDURANCE is when the going gets tough, is that God is producing a HARVEST in our lives.  He desires the FRUIT of our spirit to grow.

We also must remember the farmer doesn’t stand around doing nothing.  As the farmer in the story tells, “he grabbed the pick and shovel and started digging.”  As James mentions, our faith without corresponding action (“works”) of obedience is dead (James 2:26 AMP).  

Then in James 5:9, James urges these believers NOT to “grumble (complain) against one another.”  Too many times in my own spiritual walk, I become IMPATIENT with other believers instead of letting God have His perfect timing.  He will complete in us what He desires.  In His time.

THE PROPHETS:

The early believers would have been familiar with this example of James of the Old Testament prophets.  When we read how these faithful servants suffered, it should offer us encouragement–ENCOURAGEMENT knowing God is in control, even if our five senses aren’t detecting it.

These prophets encourage us by showing they were in the will of God, yet they suffered proclaiming their message in “the name of the Lord.”

The prophets encourage us by reminding us that God cares for those who suffer for His sake.  Someone once said “the will of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”  As the apostle Paul said, “God’s grace is sufficient.”

JOB (James 5, verses 11-12):

 Job is the classic example of a man who PATIENTLY ENDURED suffering and was blessed by God for his persevering FAITH.

James reminds the believer there are BLESSINGS for those who PERSEVERE through it all.  Job lost all he had except…a nagging wife non understanding, and non supporting friends.  Job didn’t understand what the causes of his suffering were.  He didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes between God and Satan…yet Job endured!

VERSE 12 seems to be out-of-place with the context of James’ message.  Think for a moment, how often during trials and suffering, trying to deal or bargain with God in the process.  “If you will do this and that God, I’ll do this.”  That is an OATH–a promise.  An “OATH” is a verb indicating the action of “invoking a curse” and “binding oneself under an oath” (See Footnote [ii] ).

Waiting for the HARVEST
Waiting for the HARVEST

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Secrets of the Most Holy Place – Volume 2 by Don Nori – Copyright 2004.

[ii]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Photo Credits:  Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

“Through It All”–The Good News Revealed (PART 2)

Andrae Crouch  wrote a song I was familiar with during the 1970’s.  I sang it, church choirs sang it, radios played it, all during wars and “rumors of wars” of that era.  Here are a few of the lyrics and chorus:

I’ve had many tears and sorrows, I’ve had questions for tomorrow,

There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong;

But in every situation God gave blessed consolation That my trials come

to only make me strong.

Through it all,    Through it all,    I’ve learned to trust in

Jesus,  I’ve learned to trust in God;  Through it all,

Through it all,    I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

In PART 1, the emphasis was placed on The Bad News; lawlessness, iniquity in the world, the government, the church and society as a whole.  In PART 2, my intentions are placed on “The Good News Revealed” and getting “Through It All”.

GOOD NEWS FOUND IN GOD’S WORD

THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus christ (the Messiah, the anointed One).  Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.  Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles, and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving ENDURANCE.  And ENDURANCE (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity).  And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:1-5–Amplified Bible).

WOW!  When I read those five verses, I high-lighted some key words in my Bible regarding our pilgrimage in the “Through It All”:

–Justified through faith.

–Peace with God, through our Lord Jesus.

–Standing safely by His grace.

–Exult and triumph in the “Bad News”; our troubles.

–ENDURANCE

–Mature character.

–Confident hope.

–God’s LOVE has been poured out into our hearts.

–As believers, we have been given the Holy Spirit.

Let’s go back and look at what Jesus told His disciples and, to us too in Matthew 24:12, 13:

And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity”  (verse 12). 

THAT’S THE BAD NEWS!

“BUT he who ENDURES to the end will be saved”  (verse 13

I love the “BUTs” in Scripture. When you see the word, it means the previous statement is cancelled out!

THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS!  And that is why I capitalized the word ENDURANCE when I saw it in Romans 5:1-5.

SAVED FROM THE BAD NEWS BY ENDURANCE

According to the Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words, the word “endurance” in the Greek language is hypomeno; a variant form of meno, with the primary meanings “endure,” “bear patiently.”  References to the perseverance of believers who “stand firm (i.e. endure) to the end” are found in Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13.  See also Jas. 5:11.  The virtue of LOVE is said to “endure” all things in 1 Cor. 13:7.

Now if anyone could understand “endurance” through getting the bad news, it would be Jesus.  Christ Himself is said to “have endured” much persecution, including death on the cross.  Talk about bad news!  When Jesus was telling His disciples, how people would be saved in the midst of lawlessness and iniquity through endurance, He knew what was about to come; He knew that He would have to endure “Through It All”; shed His blood on the cross for all mankind to receive [SALVATION].

GOD’S WORD GIVES HOPE IN BAD NEWS

“But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) ENDURES (“stands firm”, “lasts”) forever.  And this Word is the GOOD NEWS which was preached to you”  (1 Peter 1:25).

Can I hear an AMEN to that verse?  That’s it in a nut shell.  God’s Word is your source for the Good News; when you were treated unfairly and you have convince yourself ‘no more church for me’.  Or, every time you talk about Jesus at work, you get ‘dirty looks’ or worse.  So you don’t want to be offended or offend someone else; you repel reading the Word and distrust and desert Him, Whom you ought to trust and obey (Matt. 24:10).  Because of your disobedience to His Word, you stumble and fall away, your love grows cold.

“WE ARE NOW GOD’S CHILDREN” THAT’S REALLY GOOD NEWS!

“Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.  And everyone…STOP!

The everyone isn’t everyone in the sense that everyone that is in the church on Sundays is automatically included.

“And everyone who has hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless)”  (1 John 3:2, 3–Amplified Bible).

The apostle continues addressing the everyone s in verse 4:

“Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will.”

“Wait a minute here, is John saying that when you become a Christian, a born-again believer in Jesus the Christ, you will never sin again?”  No, that’s not what is being said here.  John further explains the meaning of lawlessness or iniquity in verse 6. He changes our thoughts from everyone to no one:

“No one who abides in Him [who lives and remains in communion with and in obedience to Him–deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] commits (practices) sin.  No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance with Him].”

MORE “GOOD NEWS”!

In this mystery of lawlessness mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, there is a Light in the “through it all s” and John elaborates in 1 John 3:

No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born of God”  (verse 9–Amplified Bible).

After studying God’s Word in my Bible, looking at the headlines in the newspaper and on television has given me hope.  I am standing firm in endurance until God calls me home.  The mystery of lawlessness is no longer a mystery.  Because the Holy Spirit is holding back, restraining lawlessness until the church is raptured; or taken up.  With Holy Spirit’s residence residing in believers, He will be removed at the same instance as the church; no more restraint of lawlessness in the world.

My personal belief is for those that remain, that accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour during the tribulation, the Holy Spirit will be upon them, not in them. as He was in the Old Testament.

Jesus gives us this Good News in conclusion to His disciples–us too:

“And this GOOD NEWS of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end”  (Matthew 24:14).

“GOSPEL PREACHED”  (MATTHEW 24:14)

I found some interesting points to leave you with from the Christian Almanac for 1990 (the numbers have obviously changed):

–The Gospel has been preached to over four billion people.

–Christian churches now exist in 251 countries of the world.

–Every year about four billion Gospel tracts are distributed around the globe.

–The entire Bible, or portions of it have been translated into some 2,062 different languages.

–Bibles are available to around 98 percent of the world’s population.

–The Gospel is also preached in over 2000 radio and television stations and religious shows can be seen to many more thousand secular stations.

Never in the entire course of history has the Gospel been preached in all the world; to all nations as right now!  Every nation on the face of the earth today has heard the Gospel message as Jesus prophesied they would before the end comes.

HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS IN TIMES OF LAWLESSNESS

So if Jesus was right in His saying and the Bible is true, we are now living in the time of the End!  While we are enduring, Jesus tell us what we must do; even knowing the statistics contained in the Christian Almanac:

“WATCH therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming”  (Matthew 24:42).

“UNDERSTAND this: had the householder known in what [part of the night, whether in a night or a morning] WATCH the thief was coming, he would have WATCHED and would not have allowed his house to be undermined and broken into”  (Matthew 24:43).

“You also must BE READY therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at and hour when you do not expect Him”  (Matthew 24:44).

As the Gospel continues to be preached to all the nations as it should, Jesus doesn’t want us to put our hands behind our heads, take a deep sigh of relief, because we are at the End!

Jesus wants us to:  Watch, be active, understand, watch some more, and be ready!  As the expression says, It ain’t over until it’s over” and at the writing of this blog, it ain’t over yet!