Dealing With ‘SEESAW’ Christianity

SCRIPTURE STUDY: Philippians 2:12-18

Before we open our Bibles in the study, let me first give you definitions of the word SEESAW:

One of the most difficult things in life is to maintain and to keep all things where they are all supposed to be at all times.  It’s called BALANCE.

I remember going to elementary school way back when and riding a teeter-totter with my best friend and trying to keep all our feet off the ground in perfect balance.  It took a lot of our focus, many times finding ourselves up in the air or flat on the ground.

BALANCE IS CRITICAL IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

What has guided and given me direction and purpose in life are the words found in Luke 2:52.  This Bible verse follows the story when Jesus was lost or separated from Mary and Joseph for three days in the big city of Jerusalem.  When they finally located him, Jesus was in the Temple sitting among some of the greatest teachers of the day, asking questions.  And they were asking him questions as well.  And the Scripture says that the teachers were amazed by his understanding.  After all, he was only 12 years of age at the time.  The Bible is silent for about the next 18 years of his life.  We don’t know exactly what happened during those years but we do have this one verse as a summary of those years and it simply says…

...JESUS increased with wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

So what we know is that life should be filled with BALANCE:

  • He grew in wisdom…Intellectually.
  • He grew in stature…Physically.
  • He grew in favor with God…Spiritually.
  • He grew in favor with man…Socially.

And if we want to live as Jesus did, we need to learn to do the same.  Because, they all matter and when our life is in BALANCE, we’re happier.  And when we’re out of BALANCE, we’re miserable.  Balance is one of the most difficult things in life to maintain.

So the apostle Paul reminds us of three areas where we must maintain balance:

Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

[12]  Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  [13] for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

To understand what Paul is saying here we need to understand what he’s NOT saying.  This phrase “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is greatly misunderstood.  He’s not telling us that we have to work to be saved.  It was Paul who wrote to the church in Ephesus and said…

We cannot be SAVED by works.  In fact, Paul says it is NOT by works.

So to understand what Paul is saying here, you must bear in mind that he is writing to the CHURCH, to believers, so his words have nothing to do with how to come to Christ.  These people already knew Jesus!

So this phrase “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is referring to how we live out our faith.

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, “work out” in the Greek N.T. means “to work to full completion.”  It refers to working in a mine or in a field where you’re constantly digging and cultivating until that mine or garden reaches its full potential.

So here’s a question all of us must stop and ask ourselves at various places in life:  Am I reaching for my full potential in life or am I just settling for average?  What is my level of obedience to Christ Jesus?

Once we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that becomes our PURPOSE in life to OBEY Him in absolutely everything.

When we get sick and go to the doctor he diagnoses our condition and tells us what we need to do.  He hands us a small slip of paper where he’s written the correct prescription on.  We then take that slip of paper to the pharmacist who fills the prescription and gives us the medication.  Now up to that point, everything has been done for us.  A diagnosis…A prescription…We have received the medication.  Now it’s our responsibility to do something and here it is–follow the doctor’s orders.  Work out the process and if we do, we will recover.

This is also true on a spiritual level.

And here should be our goal.  Paul tells us in verse 13 that God works in us to fulfill His good purpose.  And he describes that PURPOSE as being good.

Whether we know it or not, God wants us to find happiness and contentment not only in the next life eternal but also in this one.  You see there won’t be anything to work out in the next life–it will all be taken care of, but in this one there is.  There are things to be worked out.

Someone has said there are three types of people in the world…

  • Those who make things happen
  • Those who sit and watch things happen
  • Those who wonder what’s happening

God wants us to be in the first group.

God is at work in us to do His good purpose.  This is a balance of power and purpose.  He pours His power into us, we do the things that bring Him pleasure.

Now Paul wants us to see something here.

  • It is His pleasure (not ours)
  • It is His will (not ours)
  • It is His glory (not ours)

This is what makes our lives meaningful.

But there’s a potential conflict right there since most of us prefer to have things go our way.  It’s our attitude.

So Paul tells us the second area where we need BALANCE.

There must be a balance of attitude and action.

To accomplish what Paul is saying here, he gives us a negative and a positive.  Because this is how we get BALANCE.

On the negative side here, Paul says to all of us–you need to watch your attitude.  There are two things Paul mentions here that shows our bad attitude:

  1. Are you a grumbler?  Boy, I’ve been here too many times in my life.  Grumbling is not usually loud.  Its low tone, negative complaining, whining, and one thing it will do for you is that it will steal your JOY!  And unfortunately, it just comes naturally for some of us.  We try to resist but we just pass it around,  Grumblers can find something wrong with everything at once and when they find it…that’s what they focus on.

BOUGAINVILLEA – 

 

I was born and raised in Southern California where the sun shines most of the year–a Mediterranean climate.  Certain plant species especially do well there and my parents loved colorful plants around their home.  We lived high above the street level, so mom and dad decided to plant Bougainvillea on the hillside to cover it with beautiful flowers.  It took several years to blanket the front of their home, but oh, how I remember the beauty that hillside was in full bloom.  Now each year you would find mom and dad crawling over the Bougainvillea to prune them and make them tidy.  The unfortunate undertaking was always a loud outburst by my dad while standing in the middle of the flora–“I hate these thorns!  Let’s pull them all out!”  All dad saw was the THORNS.  He couldn’t enjoy the flower.  The reason is perspective.  It’s an attitude.

Paul said that you and I as believers need to prove to be different by our actions.

He said to prove that you are a blameless and innocent child of God and in the midst of a very dark world, you and I are told to bring LIGHT to the situation.  We should brighten up the place.

Remember that little song we used to sing with our parents and then taught ut to our kids?  “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”  But we are not just “little lights” to the world.

Paul refers to us as stars…

These are no small stars!  The smallest star in our universe is basically the size of the planet Saturn,  The word here means luminous.  Luminaries are surrounded by darkness and that’s why they stand out.

Jesus told us, let your light shine so the people can see your good works and through that glory will be given to God the Father.  [Matthew 5:16 – ESV]

There’s no need to shout, stomp your feet, or scream.  No need for drama.

  • JUST SHINE!

The negative Paul gives us here–don’t grumble.  The positive–just shine!

Get your attitudes and actions in BALANCE.

Then Paul describes a third area we need to balance: There must be a BALANCE at being serious and being joyful.  (verses 17-18)

Reading these two verses gave me an amazing word picture worth looking closely at.  Paul says we are “being poured out as a drink offering.”  Unbelievers had a practice in that day before and after every meal to take 2 cups of wine–would pour one out on the ground before every meal, then eat–then pour another one out after every meal in honor of the god they worshipped.  The PURPOSE was to gain the favor of the gods.

Paul is speaking of the possibility of being poured out as a drink offering.  This has a very serious connotation here.  He’s saying, I may never get out of the situation alive.  Remember he is in prison and facing execution at any moment.  But even if I don’t make it out…it will be worth it!

If you have ever faced the possibility of your own death–it makes you think really serious thoughts.  Paul was imagining that he might be living his final days, the single most serious thought a person can have and yet he was still able to REJOICE.  He refused to FOCUS on the dark side.  He refused to let even the possibility of his immediate death and steal his JOY.

Then he says to us–you need to REJOICE in the same way.

Paul’s words have encouraged me every day after reading his thoughts through in study.  To find something during my last days; finding something to be continually happy about, something to laugh about, to take a day off from writing, to take a walk around the block with my dog, to watch a movie, to work out in the garden, to do something that can take you away from all the seriousness of life.  Give yourself permission to enjoy each and every day.

Karl Wallenda, of the Flying Wallendas, perhaps the greatest group of tight wire walkers in the world, had the amazing ability to keep his focus; to concentrate and keep his balance.  But one night in Puerto Rico, he fell to his death while up on the wire.  Later his wife said that for as long as she had known him he always focused walking the tight rope, but on that given night for some reason, he kept focussing on the possibility of falling.

Often the difference in our success and failure is losing one’s balance and looking in the wrong direction.  The Scripture tells us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Solomon says, don’t look to the left or right, just keep your eyes on the heavenly Father (Proverbs 4:25-27).

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CREDITS:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

The Interlinear Bible

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); English Standard Version (ESV); New King James Version (NKJV).

Is Church the Safest Place to Be?

In my studies this week, I ran across a report on what to avoid in life to keep us safe.  Let me share some interesting statistics:

AVOID riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents.  Don’t stay at home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home.  AVOID walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians.  AVOID traveling by air, rail or water, for 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation.  Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in hospitals.  So, above all else, AVOID hospitals.

However, you will be pleased to learn that only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services at church and these occurrences are usually attributed to previous physical disorders.  

Therefore, logic tells us that the SAFEST place for you and I to be at any given time is at CHURCH…or Bible study, which is even less.  So for your own safety, attend church and read your Bible.

Now as much as most Pastors today would like for people to come to church in order to avoid accidents, unfortunately, what often happens is that the CHURCH gets too safe–tamed.

We throw away our rebellious side.  I don’t mean just REBELLION against God.  I mean, we just stop rebelling against the culture, too.  We try to fit in…play nice; get along with everybody because that’s what Christians should do.

This brings us to the Bible passage found in JOSHUA 17:11-18 which describes the condition of the tribe of Manasseh.

[11] Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements…  [12] Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region.  [13] However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.  [14] The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance?  We are numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly.”

[15] “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

[16] The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

[17] But Joshua said to the house of Joseph–to Ephraim and Manasseh– “You are numerous and very powerful.  You will have not only one allotment [18] but the forested hill country as well.  Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

(New International VersionNIV)

MANASSEH had already claimed some land east of the Jordan River before Joshua had started to lead his people to conquer the land of Canaan, which lay west of the Jordan.

But apparently, Manasseh, because it was a large tribe, was to get some land west as well.  VERSE 11 gives what towns could be found in that land:

[11] Also Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher  [these six towns], their inhabitants and their villages:  Beth-shean, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo.  (Amplified Bible)

 

The Whinners, Grumblers, and Complainers Become Front and Center –

So you see the PROBLEM…

The people of Manasseh had these six towns in their land, given to them by God, but… they couldn’t drive the people out who lived there.  After all, the residents had iron chariots which seemed pretty scary to fight in battle (verse 16).

So they came to Joshua looking for MORE LAND, in lieu of fighting the dreadful charioteers.

At first glance, the request seems reasonable enough.  But JOSHUA knew what they were asking and it wasn’t more land because they needed it…it was more land so they wouldn’t have to take any chances fighting the enemy.  You see, they were whiny.  They were grumblers and complainers.  They had so much, they still weren’t happy.  Never mind that they had more land than any of the other tribes.  No, they wanted MORE!

That sounds like us, actually.

We have so much.  We have PHYSICAL BLESSINGS:

  • Like health, strength, food on our tables, shoes on our feet, roofs over our heads.

Plus, as Christians, we have all those SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS:

  • Like forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, love, patience, self-control, and answered prayers.

And what He’s done for us:

  • ADOPTED us, REDEEMED us, JUSTIFIED us, PURIFIED us, and CLEANSED us, to name just a few.

Ephesians 1:3 says…

 

And yet, knowing GOD’S WORD…

We still want to WHINE about all the shortages in life–in our paychecks, our casual times:

We WHINE about gas prices.  

We WHINE about grocery bills.  

We WHINE about how hot or how cold it is.  

We WHINE about what sinners do.  

We WHINE about what Christians do.  

We WHINE about our church, our pastor, our teachers, our family, our friends (or shortage thereof!)…GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!

“WE JUST WANT MORE!” Is an all together cry today, even in television commercials:

And I wonder, if because we think life is so bad, that we must think that God isn’t doing a good enough job to make us happy.

COMPLAINING about everything, eventually, shows that we are complaining about how good of a job God is doing on earth.

Of course, the people of Manasseh whined and complained.  They had reached a level in their lives and didn’t know how to get past it.  It seemed as though they saw what COULD happen, but too afraid to MAKE it happen.  So, instead of moving forward, they stay put.

It’s like trying to keep a two-year-old still for any length of time–they easily get bored and perhaps…unpleasable, maybe?

It’s the same for the children of God.

We were meant to move on and press forward!  (Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 12:1-2).  So if at some point we stop in our spiritual walk with Christ because we are afraid of what might happen, then we’ll get bored, restless, whiny, and unpleasable.

So what you have to do is move on and get out of your COMFORT ZONE every once in a while.

Early in my Christian life at the church, I was saved at, our pastor invited a few good men, including all the men on the Deacon board, to commit to an Advanced Discipleship Training class for six weeks.  In this training, we were to meet in groups of five (there were 15 men in total) at different homes, review and discuss the previous lesson, then meet back together at church for prayer for the following week.

One week, the LESSON was on Evangelism in our neighborhoods and the discussion entailed sharing Christ to a total stranger.  Wait…it gets scarier!

We were to open up a city telephone directory, randomly pick a name, call the phone number and introduce the person on the other end of the line to Christ, reading from a prepared script.  We all practiced for about ten minutes, and then it was time to ‘move forward.’

“Who wants to be first?” the group leader asked.  “Uh, I’ll go first,” I said with eyes closed.  Was I afraid?  No, of course not.  I was scared to death!  But I pressed on.

Yes, I had several people I called hang up the phone.  But as time came to the end, the last call…“Would you like to receive Christ as your Savior?”  He said, “YES, I WOULD.”  My reaction to the stranger’s answer…”You would?”  I was as surprised as everyone else in the room, as they silently moved their lips with AMEN and PRAISE GOD!

FEAR disappeared and FAITH took over.

There are too few people who are willing to give of themselves.  Too many people, too many Christians are afraid.

Moving From Living by FAITH to Living In FEAR.

Maybe it’s age.

Maybe too much head knowledge, I don’t know, but it seems that people become more and more AFRAID OF LOSING…losing their reputations, losing their pensions, losing their health, losing their lives, the longer they live.

PEOPLE CRAVE WHAT MAKES THEM COMFORTABLE.

But, just as the tribe of Manasseh learned, COMFORT doesn’t bring satisfaction.  They knew the LORD had BLESSED them with so much, and yet, they still wanted MORE!

They whined about not having enough–“MORE IS BETTER”–because they just weren’t happy.  But they weren’t willing to go out on a limb and trust God with their challenges.

If you don’t every once in a while, put your FAITH to the test and step out a little, you’ll never be content.

Someone once said, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb.  That’s where the fruit is.”

James Bryant Conant, an American Chemist, and educator once wrote:  “Behold the turtle.  He makes progress only when he sticks out his neck”  [See footnote [i].]

That’s why there are so few men and teens in church.  We make this place we call our church home so safe, so secure, never going out on a limb for anything, that there’s no element of risk or danger.  Which of course…fuels men and teens.

Sometime COURAGE means letting go of what you’ve always had.

SOMETIMES COURAGE means stepping out into uncharted territory.

SOMETIMES COURAGE means going to someone and say you’re sorry.

I don’t know what you’d love to do, but you’ve been too afraid to do it.  I don’t know what COURAGE means for you.  All I know is that too few of us are too afraid to do what God is calling us to do, and we have missed out on God’s BEST for us because of it.

There’s a story in Luke 13 I want to share with you–  Luke 13:22-25 (MSG)

[22] He (Jesus) went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.

[23-25]  A bystander said,  “Master, will only a few saved?”  He said,  “Whether few or many is none of your business.  Put your mind on your life with God.  The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires your total attention.  A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on the guest list’.”

JESUS wasn’t saying that you could ever work your way to heaven.  What He was saying “Trust in God’s mercy but work with all your might!”

He said that the VICTORY’S have been promised to us, but don’t be lazy about it.

I know it’s hard to risk ridicule from people, non-believers, and believers too.

I know it’s hard to have people disagree with you on biblical principles.

But sometimes, as we go about life’s many turns and detours, we find situations, where to do the RIGHT THING, means to step out in FAITH & COURAGE…AND it’s hard!

BUT DO IT ANYWAY!!

As a Christian, there’s no condemnation for you.

As a Christian, you’ve been forgiven.

If you fail, you always have a safety net–His name is JESUS.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i] :  Britannica.com James B. Conant, American educator and scientist.

“WE WANT MORE” – Youtube.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advance search setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Versions (NIV), Amplified (AMP), except where noted.

 

“Is it really you?”

redeeming-ruth-1-ptr-henry-brown-400pm-afternoon-service-56-638

 

I want to begin this blog-POST with a story of a businessman and attorney by the name of H.G. Spafford.  He was a wealthy lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife and four daughters and a son.  He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures [a man after my own heart].

At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Ana, suffered a tragic loss of their son.  Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Mr. Spafford had.

In 1873, Horatio scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much-needed vacation and time to recover from the family tragedy.

He also decided to join Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England.  So he sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago, taking care of some unexpected last-minute business.

Several days later he received notice that his family’s boat had encountered a collision.  The note read, “SAVED ALONE.”  All four of his daughters drowned, only his wife had survived.

The H.G. Spafford’s story, I believe, parallels the story in Scripture; the story of NAOMI found in the Book of Ruth.

Naomi was a pleasant woman.  In fact, that was the meaning of her name.

She was well-loved, and a woman who other women admired.  She was well-known in her community, and recognizable by her cheerful attitude.

But a FAMINE came upon the land.

Her husband, feeling the responsibility for his family’s welfare, decided to uproot them and move them to a more prosperous location instead of depending on God to see them through.

Sometimes, we husband’s have found ourselves in a “FAMINE” of a different sort. A reduction  in income, an unexpected loss of employment [been there] and we decide to figure it all out by ourselves!  [done that before!]

So Naomi said her goodbyes to her BFF’s (best friends forever) and, along with her 2 sons, did what wives do today [my wife can testify to this], followed her husband to a far and distant land [In my case, from San Diego, California to the State of Washington.]  In this case, it was Moab.

Wives, have you ever found yourselves in a MOAB destination?  Well, maybe not Moab.

Her husband’s choice of location was not soundly made.www-St-Takla-org--Bible-Slides-ruth-687  

MOAB was a land settled by the descendants of Lot.  Although relatives of Abraham, they were not part of the “promised people” of God, the Israelites.

Moab was to be placed under a CURSE for their idol worship.

Isaiah 25:10 Amplified Bible (AMP):

For the hand of the Lord shall rest on this Mount [Zion], and Moab shall be threshed and trodden down in his place as straw is trodden down in the [filthy] water of a [primitive] cesspit.

Elimelech had left the land of BLESSING for the land that would be trampled on.

After some time there, he died and Naomi was left with her 2 sons and later, married Moabite women, which was not acceptable to God.

Deuteronomy 23:3 (AMP):

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation their descendants shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord forever.

After 10 years both her sons died, leaving her with 2 daughter-in-laws.  She must have felt alone.

Then the GOOD NEWS reached Naomi–the FAMINE had ended!

So, Naomi and her 2 daughter-in-laws packed to leave and to return to her homeland.  But as they traveled toward Judah (some 40-50 miles), she decided to send them back.  She thanked them for their loving kindness, she blessed them, she kissed them goodbye, and she wept with them.

At first, they both refused, but after some sound discussion…she convinced one to leave.  The other clung tightly to her.  This one was RUTH.

When Naomi saw Ruth’s determination she allowed her to go.

The Homecoming!

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I love Homecomings;  School Homecomings, Family Homecomings, past-attended Churches’ Homecomings!

Ruth 1:19-20 The Message (MSG):

[19] When they arrived in Bethlehem the whole town was soon buzzing: “Is this really our Naomi? And after all this time!”

[20] But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow.”

I find it somewhat interesting in this story that the entire town is excited about Naomi’s return.  It had been more than 10 years since she left, but that pleasant, cheerful, smiling woman was not forgotten.

Now here she is and they can’t believe it.  “Is it really you?”

But maybe they ask because there’s something different about her.  Maybe the smile has been replaced with a frown.  Maybe they sense a coldness in her they have never seen before.  The circumstances and the years have changed her–she has become “bitter.”

What lead her to this noticeable place of bitterness?  At certain times in our lives, how can we arrive at the same destination?

Personally, and unfortunately at times, I have found myself alone on the Island of Bitterness.

The symptoms may not be obvious at first, but they are there.  Withdrawing from those around you.  Becoming indifferent to the problems of others.  Thinking of only yourself.

Naomi only concentrated on her loss.  She gave no thought to Ruth who had loss of her husband to death with no children to comfort her.

Naomi blamed God for the acts of her husband.

She in her faithfulness, followed her husband to a foreign land:  “God made me bitter.  God brought me home empty.  God caused me to suffer.  God has sent tragedy on me.”  (v. 21)

But it wasn’t God who sent her to a land where she would lose everything, where she would suffer, where tragedy would strike.  It was the CIRCUMSTANCES of Life that did so.  What she didn’t give credence to was her statement she made,  “but the LORD has brought me home.”

God’s GRACE in our lives is such a blessing in the midst of our CIRCUMSTANCES.

Jesus’ half-brother James writes “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations”  (James 1:2 AMP).   

Note, he doesn’t say be “wholly joyful FOR, but “wholly joyful IN” your circumstances.  That’s God’s GRACE at work in your life through your spirit.

Jesus said “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world…”  (John 16:33).

Through His GRACE He has given us the COMFORT OF KNOWING in all trials and sorrows that we will become VICTORS.

God protected Naomi by giving her a loving companion in the form of RUTH.  But in her bitterness she rejected His GRACE.

In doing so, she also rejected His PEACE.  She couldn’t see beyond her BITTERNESS to the possibilities of God’s plan for her life.

During my detective investigation into God’s word, I couldn’t help think of the words of Job in Scripture:

“Whereas another man dies in bitterness of soul and never tastes of pleasure or good fortune”  (Job 21:25).

BITTERNESS erases all the good times that you had in your life.  

NAOMI had forgotten her friends’ loyalty and love, although, they in turn had clung to those wonderful memories of past years that God had so richly BLESSED.

She couldn’t remember the dedication of a daughter-in-law that wouldn’t let her suffer alone.  All she focused on was her “bitter poverty.”

Naomi could have been siting and questioning God right alongside of Job when he said  “I AM weary of my life and loathe it!  I will give free expression to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul”  (Job 10:1).

She wasn’t REJOICING in her returning home.  

Others were happy to see her, but she was disgusted with her life and felt like it was her duty to COMPLAIN.

Did you know that God is in the name changing business?  That’s what “Whitestone” ministry is founded on– “helping others discover their victory and true identity in Jesus”.

God changed ABRAM (high father) to ABRAHAM (the father of many nations).  He changed JACOB (the deceiver) to ISRAEL (God contended) and SIMON (God heard) to PETER (rock).

But here, we find a person changing who God has called them to be, to a name reflecting their own self-pity; from”pleasant” to “bitter”.

H. G. Spafford could have gone down the path of bitterness.

He could have been bitter in losing his wealth and his daughters.  He could have tried to get even with the owners of the French steamer by filing a lawsuit.  He could have got mad at God and shook his fist at Him in defiance and all of the above, together!

Instead, at the very place where he lost his daughters on the open sea, Mr. Spafford wrote a song.  The words are as follows:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way;

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot,  Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul.

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

 

 


CREDITS:

H. G. Spafford Story:  Share faith – It Is Well With My Soul, the Song and the Story.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Commentary:  Jesus plus nothing,  A Bible Study:  Book of Ruth Chapter 1 “Counting the Cost{” by I. Gordon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep On, Going On to the Well

WELLS OF LIFE

TEXT:  ISAIAH 12:1-6 AMP:

[1]  AND IN that day you will say, I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for though You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away, and You comfort me.    [2]  Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song; yes, He has become my salvation. [3]  Therefore with JOY will I draw water from the WELLS OF SALVATION. [4]  And in that day you will say, Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name [in solemn entreaty]; declare and make known His deeds among the peoples of the earth, proclaim that His name is exalted! [5]  Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent things [gloriously]; let this be made known to all the earth. [6]  Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

LIVING WATER FROM THE WELL:

(John 4:10-14 AMP ):

[10]  Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you LIVING WATER. [11]  She said to Him, Sir, You having nothing to draw with [no drawing bucket] and THE WELL IS DEEP; how then can You provide LIVING WATER? [Where do You get Your living water?]. [12]  Are you greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also? [13]  Jesus answered her, All who drink of THIS WATER will be thirsty again. [14]  But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall NEVER, NO NEVER, BE THIRSTY ANY MORE.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life.

DRAWING WATER FROM THE WELLS:

We often take for granted the availability of water when we are thirsty and it is relatively easy for us to take care of our thirst.  We go to the sink and get a glass of water; to the fridge to get a glass and just like that–we have something to drink!  Even when traveling around, going into stores, we can buy water if we’re thirsty.

My purpose is for drawing your attention to THE THIRST that we all have.

I am sure that if in the place where we live, the neighborhoods we find ourselves in, drawing water from a well into 5-gallon plastic containers probably isn’t something most of us would look forward to doing once or twice a day.  But in some areas of the world, it is an everyday occurrence [photo courtesy of Mercy-USA for Aid and Development showing water gathering at a well in Mogadishu].  I want to direct you to how the Lord quenches that thirst and to examine the JOY of God’s Word brings refreshment to our lives.

The Lord Gives Us the Water of Life Without Cost:

One lesson that we should all know as Christians is that God sent His Son to be our Savior.  Even Mosses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so people could be saved.

To this SALVATION the Lord Jesus invites us with His personal invitation:

And let everyone come who is thirsty [who painfully conscious

of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported

and strengthened];

and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate,

and drink the water of Life without cost.

(REVELATION 22:17 AMPLIFIED Bible)

When our soul is parched and dry, it will… [not maybe], be refreshed by God’s LIVING WATER.

“JOY” Found Deep In The Well (Isaiah 12:3):

Isaiah, right in the middle of the referenced Bible verse says,  “with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation.”  That verse in Isaiah 12, becomes our theme for this Blog.

DRAWING WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION–

1.  Constantly.

2.  Thankfully.

CONSTANTLY–

You have probably noticed in your reading of The Book of Isaiah in the past and already know how happy Isaiah was.  He could hardly contain himself!

Why was he so Happy?  If you glance back for a moment at Chapter 11, Isaiah talks to the people about the Savior.  He says the Redeemer (the Messiah) is going to come.  Isaiah describes all the things that His people will benefit from and after listing all those things in Chapter 11, we pick it up in Chapter 12, verse one:

“AND IN that day you will say, I will give thanks to You, O Lord”

And then he tells the people why:

“…for though You were angry with me, (referring to the Lord)…Your anger has turned away, and You comfort me.”

Grumbling and Complaining About ‘STUFF’.

The children of Israel had seen and experienced God’s anger; they kept on sinning; turning against Him and then finally turning back:

–The snakes came and after….they were grumbling and complaining.

–They were grumbling and complaining after God had delivered them from slavery from their Egyptian employers.

–They were grumbling and complaining while God gave them food to eat…every day!

Here Isaiah says the Lord WAS ANGRY but the anger of God had been turned away and the people are now comforted and they have forgiveness:

“Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid”  (verse 2).

I have found myself like the children of Israel wandering through the desert with grumbling and complaining.  I almost seem to enjoy telling the world how miserable I am.  It somehow seems more self-satisfying than quote from memory: “Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid.”

Isaiah goes on to say from there…

“Lord God is my strength and song; Yes, He has become my salvation.

The people in Isaiah’s time were beginning to see here hopefully, (as we are too) his reference to the Lord as SALVATION; where they will be able to draw their strength, where the time of rejoicing and joy is going to come from.  It is where they are going to find the DEEP WELL.

Isaiah wants the people to come back repeatedly to the WELL OF SALVATION to find Him, their salvation, to see Him in their  forgiveness.

We might ask ourselves, ‘Where do we find joy in life?  What do we find satisfaction in this world around us?’  Sometimes we find JOY and SATISFACTION in OUR FAMILY, OUR FRIENDS, OUR WORK.  This is just part of God’s JOY isn’t it…a part of a satisfaction that the Lord wants to give to us?

Deuteronomy tells us:  Deut. 17:19 ~…And he shall keep it (God’s Word) with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life…” 

He says that the WORD be a part of our everyday life because then, we are going to find the JOY in our salvation where we will find the true JOY for our living.

The CHILDREN of ISRAEL’S Example for the rest of us to take note:

Yes, the Lord gets angry with us; we sin by missing the mark in our daily lives.  But then His anger is turned away and He comforts us instead with His forgiveness.  What JOY is ours!  Then we agree the Lord becomes our strength in our JOY.

IT TAKES PRACTICE AND TIME TO GO TO THE WELL–The WELL of His Word in finding the JOY:

The Psalm writer reminds us in Psalm 36:8, 9:

[8] They relish and feast on the abundance of Your house; and You cause them to drink of the stream of your pleasures.  [9] For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light.”

The writer of the Psalm not only talks about the water of life, the fountain of life, but he talks about LIGHT.

God’s Encouragement:

Today, God encourages us to draw from the well of Salvation…turning to the Lord and His Word to find in it our JOY and satisfaction.  If I am sounding a bit repetitive…it’s for a reason.

One description that Peter gives to us in 1 Peter 2:2, 3:

Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation.  Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord.

Tasting that the Lord is good:

A lot of believers have already got a taste that He gives us with heaven instead of hell; gives us forgiveness instead of punishment.  And because of that taste, we should desire and crave to learn more about the Lord.  We want to draw water from the wells of salvation and when we do this constantly, we do it in thanksgiving.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the “tasting” this way:

[4] For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit,  [5] And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come. ~ Hebrews 6:4, 5 AMP.

BEING THANKFUL– (Isaiah 12:3, 4):

Being thankful is how Isaiah continues on in verse 3:  “Therefore with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation.”

It probably sounded pretty strange to the children of Israel when they first heard Isaiah’s words.  Getting water was quite a task.  Not only did they have to dig the well, they had to go to the well daily; draw the water out of the well, put the water in jugs, and then carry the containers back to the house.  And I fuss when we have to drive in a car one mile into town, walk 20-feet into a filtered-water supply store,  fill up three 3-gallon plastic containers, and drive back home every two weeks or so?

In Biblical times, sometimes the well was outside the city gates where women would have to travel out there day in and day out.  Hopefully, once a day, sometimes twice a day, no matter if the weather was cold or hot; quiet or windy, every day!  They didn’t find much JOY there.

Now the Lord says to them ‘with joy will you do that?’  Isaiah refers not just to earthly water, but water from the wells of salvation:

(verse 4)  “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name.”

When the people see and understand the Lord’s deliverance, they will thank Him.  More than that, others around them will see and thank the Lord.

He says, ‘make known His deeds among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.’  He goes on saying,

(verse 5)  “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent things;

let this be made known to all the nations.” 

Again, time and again, the children of Israel saw glorious things the Lord had done.  Despite their grumbling and complaining God had provided manna every day.  They had enough to eat so they didn’t have to worry about planting and harvesting, just gathering and eating.  Because of that, they could say to the LORD, they could give thanks to Him.

Isaiah sums it all up in the last verse by saying,

[6] “Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion,

for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

–GOD WAS WITH THEM,

–HE WAS IN THEIR MIDST,

–HE HAD NOT  FORSAKEN THEM,

–HE WOULD NOT FORSAKE THEM.

The LORD’S REMINDER FOR US TODAY:

–He is among us.

–He is in our midst.

–everyday.

Today we don’t see Him in a pillar of smoke or in a cloud of fire at night.  But we do see Him in the day-to-day blessings that He provides for each one of us.

We see Him in His Word which is the well of our salvation.  The LORD says, ‘don’t be far from God’s Word and you won’t be far from God Himself.’

In Colossians we read:  “Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16 AMP).

Turning back now to the Old Testament and reading the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

“Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord of hosts”  (Jeremiah 15:16).

As we keep on going on to the well to draw water we realize that the refreshing Word of God becomes our joy and our delight.

“But I Don’t Feel Like Crying out and Shouting for Joy.”

Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel”  (Isa. 12:6).

Although “feelings” are a part of who we are…Jesus had feelings and showed them in the Bible.  But when FEELINGS are in control of your spirit, a stronghold can be established.  “We don’t cry out and shout in the Baptist church,” or “Shouting and crying are only done in the Pentecostal churches.”  If those are your “feelings”, then you need to “keep on, going on to the well.”  Your throats must be parched and thirsty!

To “Cry Aloud and Shout for Joy”-

TO CRY OUT:

This word is usually applied in Scripture to the neighing of a horse (Jeremiah 5:8; 8:16).  But it is also used to express JOY, pleasing exultation by a “clear and loud sound of the voice (Isaiah 10:30; 14:14; 54:1).

Also to “cry out” is synonymous with numerous passages in Psalms:  Psalm 47:1; 148:1-4; 149:1-9; where people are called on to exult and shout, to make noise as an expression of their JOY!

The Shouting Side Is The Winning Side!

Football games in America, Soccer in other parts of the world, fans recognize the side that has the upper hand through the surrounding atmosphere.  The side that is doing well has the exuberant supporters; jumping up and down, shouting until they lose their voices, even dancing and singing!

The other side–that’s another story: glum expressions, dim faces and not likely to be dancing.  They could sing, but their songs would most likely be asking for God’s intervention.  I don’t know about you, but since I’m a child of the King and accept what He did for me on the Cross of Salvation by His blood, I’ll never be on the loosing side again!  I’m a winner!!  Do I hear a SHOUT?

“But I’m Too Conservative, Shy to Cry Out and Shout For Joy.”

If that is what you’re thinking, then you need a NEW EXPERIENCE; perhaps another visit to the well of salvation.

EXPERIENCE PRAISE AT THE WELL:

O SING to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have wrought salvation for Him.  The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of nations.  He has [earnestly] remembered His mercy and loving kindness, His truth and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have witnessed the salvation of our God.  Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yeas, sing praise ~ Psalm 98:1-4.

EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE AT THE WELL:

“…I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age” ~ Matt. 28:20 AMP.

“Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they will comfort me” ~ Psalm 23:4 AMP.

Are you saved?

Can you sing this song, God is my salvation?  If your answer is yes, it’s time to go to the well once more!