Returning to One’s Own Vomit [Part Two]


I proposed a question for the readers at the close of Part One:

“Could enlightenment, tasting the heavenly gift, sharing in the Holy Spirit, tasting the goodness of God’s Word, and the powers of the coming age…could they be true of a person who has not received Christ as Savior?”

Well, in seeking to interpret this with the view of the Bible as a whole, it’s challenging to understand this as a Christian who LOST their salvation.

Look again of the context of the Letter to the Hebrews that helps us to possibly understand this meaning differently.

Overall, the Letter is saying that Jesus is Greater and the message is greater to persevere through challenges.

Additionally, the immediate context of this passage leading up to our verses in Chapter 6, focused on The Word of God being able to hear it, speak it and digest it and growing in our understanding and knowledge of it and living it out.

So, could these verses, instead of being about a person who is truly saved, be about a person who has heard the word, seen the truth of it and its power, but…has not yet truly TRUSTED & RECEIVED Christ Jesus?

So with the rules–the PRINCIPLES– of the interpretation given and set in place in Part One of the studies, let’s take a look and see if things begin to fit and make sense that another Scripture supports.

Hebrews 6:4 (a) (NIV)

“It is impossible for those who have been enlightened…”

What does “been enlightened” mean?

Does it mean to be a Christian or something else?

“the giving of spiritual light to the soul” – Grk.photizo  [*See footnote]

Enlightenment in this sense, in the context of my previous comments, is the Word of God.

Other Scriptures seem to confirm this.  Ephesians 1:18 (AMP) reads “By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light [“enlightened”], so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones).”

We are enlightened to the HOPE we find in the gospel message,  We respond to that by receiving Christ. That happens before we receive Christ and is necessary to be able to respond and receive.

We need ENLIGHTENMENT so we can come to receive Jesus!

Also, 2 Peter 1:19 says,  “And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still.  You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts.” [AMP]

It’s saying to pay close attention to God’s word through the prophets of old because in doing so, it will give you LIGHT (enlighten you) to see and understand.

And Paul tells Timothy something similar about God’s Word:  2 Timothy 3:15 says, “from infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”  (NIV).

So these other Scriptures should give us confirmation of our understanding of being enlightened.  This enlightenment–this understanding of the Truth of God’s Word and the hope found within it must be before SALVATION, because it’s this “enlightenment” that makes SALVATION even possible!

If you don’t know the message of HOPE found in God’s Word and BELIEVE it, you’ll never be saved!

WHAT’S NEXT?

“TASTING THE HEAVENLY GIFT” — What does it mean?  [vs. 4-6].

[4] It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,  [5] who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age.”

How this ENLIGHTENMENT works.

So what does it mean to have “tasted the heavenly gift”?

It means having read the word of God, is like tasting a new food item on a restaurant’s menu. But, because it seems foreign to your taste buds, you just can’t swallow it and spit it out in your napkin.

Scripture talks about the word being a treasure given to us in 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NIV).

Verse 6,  For God, who said, “Let the light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,”

And Verse 7,

THE WORD OF GOD IS A TREASURE…

A GIFT from heaven to us, to tell us of the HOPE that’s available through Christ Jesus.

“Shared in the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 6:4)

The meaning here is that the Spirit has revealed truth and drawn you to the Lord.

It doesn’t mean they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them as some think.  But the teaching of the rest of the Bible disputes that idea and it can just mean that you have been on the receiving end and the Holy Spirit’s work is revealing the truth of God’s word to you and His work has drawn you to the Lord.

Let’s remember what the author of Hebrews doesn’t say here.

He hasn’t said, “The Spirit of Truth lives with you and will be in you” – John 14:17

He hasn’t said, you are a temple “of the Holy Spirit, who is in you” –  1 Corinthians 6:19

He hasn’t said, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 4:30

Here the author says “Shared in the Holy Spirit”.  It’s a recognition that this person has been a participant in the work of the Holy Spirit which as Jesus says in John 16:13, “guide you into all truth”.

“TASTED THE GOODNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD”  (vs. 5)

I didn’t find this particular phrase as difficult to understand as the others and pretty self-explanatory in that a person knows God’s word is “good” and true.  You have seen the WORD working in people’s lives and know its goodness and truth.

What does “tasted the powers of the coming age” mean?

You’ve seen miracles that have been performed among you that have been used to confirm the message of the gospel.

Looking back at the author’s words in Hebrews 2 about the message of SALVATION.

Hebrews 2:3-4 (NIV)

[3] how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?  This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

[4] God also testified to it by signs, wonders, and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

The person being spoken about has been enlightened by the work of the Holy Spirit to the truth of God’s word, the Gospel.  It’s not a person that’s already in Christ but a person that has all they need to know to become a Christian.

This person has seen it all and knows the truth of it since the Spirit has shown them these things and drawn them to Lord Jesus, but they haven’t yet truly believed in and received Christ Jesus and if after all of that, they turn away from the Lord’s calling and the Truth set forth by the gospel; there’s no hope for them of ever coming back to this point again.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

How can someone, a friend, a neighbor, a family member be enlightened and fall away?

The answer is “I don’t know.”

But we see the truth of it in Scripture who’ve seen all of what the author talks about and yet fall away.

What is described in Hebrews 6:4-6 are the people who the Apostle John refers to in 1 John 2:19 –

This here is one of 2 things that confirm the reality of our salvation.

THE REALITY OF OUR SALVATION IS CONFIRMED BY OUR PERSEVERANCE.

The importance is, it’s not required that you persevere in order to be SAVED.  It’s truly the saved who will persevere!

Your perseverance shows the reality of your salvation.

If you are saved you’ll not fall away.  You’ll persevere.

When it becomes hard to be a “Christian,” or to act like one anyway, those who aren’t really Christians, either turn to Christ in reality or fall away, showing that they were never really Christians, to begin with.

This is why the author of Hebrews warns his readers and us.  If you have seen the truth and goodness of the word of God and the Spirit of God have demonstrated the truth of it all, enlightening you to its truth as He is drawing you to Jesus, you have got a choice to make.

Will, you receive Christ and truly be SAVED, guaranteeing your salvation by the indwelling presence of the Spirit?

Or, will you not receive Christ truly, but simply go along until it gets hard and then have the reality of your salvation shown for what it is – not real – and that reality will be determined by your falling away and turning from Christianity?

Hard and challenging times await us all, Christians and non-Christians.

Christians will be encouraged in their faith as they persevere and see the reality of their own faith.

We also see that the reality of our Salvation is confirmed by Producing Fruit (Hebrews 6:7-8).

[7] For the soil which has drunk the rain that repeatedly falls upon it and produces vegetation useful to those for whose benefit it is cultivated partakes of a blessing from God.

[8] But if [that same soil] persistently bears thorns and thistles, it is considered worthless and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.  [AMP]

FRUIT is an essential element of salvation.

Again, it doesn’t earn you salvation, it’s evidence of your salvation  [see Matthew 7:17-20, 13:22-23].

A true believer produces good fruit.

There will be differences in the amounts and kinds of fruit produced, but a true Christian will produce fruit!

So what’s all this mean?

There are times when we need to test the reality of our salvation.  2 Corinthians 13:5 says it best:  Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?

We need to stop and examine ourselves in testing the reality of our salvation.

And while the author of Hebrews warns some who have yet to truly TRUST in and receive Christ, he also wants to encourage the majority who are facing hard times and circumstances that their perseverance and fruit are clear and present to others.

Hebrews 6:9-12

Encouragement and help come to the forefront in encouraging themselves and to see their perseverance and fruit.

The text of testing ourselves is not designed to make us constantly question if we are saved, or not.  No, for the truly saved, we should be encouraged to look at the whole of life we’ve been living and know that we have salvation because of the perseverance we’ve had in difficult times and the fruit that is being produced in our lives.

And in this realization, it should be an encouragement to keep on, keeping on, because the author tells us in the closing verses that God’s promises are sure and they should be “an anchor for the soul”  (Hebrews 6:19).

But it’s to those who examine themselves, who don’t see perseverance or fruit, that’s the warning and should be the wake-up call to some.

Don’t think that just knowing about the Bible and all its stories is enough! 

You need to enter into a knowing relationship with Christ Jesus by receiving Him as your Savior, recognizing the REALITY of Who He is and What He has done, FULLY believing in Him!

So if today you’ve examined your life and don’t see fruit or perseverance, and not concerned about your salvation, don’t harden your heart, but turn to Him confessing TRUE BELIEF and follow after Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you do see fruit and perseverance in your life, be encouraged and continue to be strengthened to follow Him.

May God be a blessing in your life!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES FOR PART TWO ~

Footnote:  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia/Bible Hub Link.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings, advance

Note:  Applied credits and footnotes from Part One of this blog-study can also apply to Part Two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Doubt and Unbelief Factor In Christianity

JAMES 1:22-25 The MESSAGE Bible (MSG):

22-24  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  Act on what you hear!  Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25  But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God–the free life!–even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action.  That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

UNBELIEF –

DoubtFactor

Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. Also, during World War II, he worked for the British government as a soldier and spy.

Here is one of his noteworthy quotes I found at BrainyQuote–Malcolm Muggeridge:

“One of the peculiar sins of the 20th Century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity.  It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing.  The truth is much worse:  they believe in anything.”

I.  UNBELIEF –

Before giving a good working definition for UNBELIEF, let me give you a dictionary definition (any dictionary) of the word BELIEF:

An opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded.

So Biblical Unbelief can be defined as “believing and acting based on my and the world’s lies instead of God’s Truth in His Word.”  [*See Footnote (i) ]

There Are Different Forms of UNBELIEF –

—  NOT believing God.

—  NOT believing God’s Word (the Bible).

—  NOT believing God’s way is the best way.

II.  UNBELIEF IS RELATED TO DOUBT:

DOUBT dwelt on, not confronted and challenged as displayed in 2 Corinthians 10:5,  will lead us into DOUBT:

5 “[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought captive and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.”

Unanswered questions–doubt which not dealt with… can and will lead to unbelief.  

JAMES 1:8 calls it “double mindedness” which signals emotional and spiritual immaturity:

8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

III.  UNBELIEF Affects Our Stability –

JAMES 1:6 (NIV):  But when he asks, he must BELIEVE and not DOUBT, because he who doubts is like a wave at sea, blown, and tossed by the wind.

Instability in the Christian life results in…

– Miss purpose.

– Don’t take risks and miss adventure.

– Miss seeing God work and grow closer to Him in relationship.

And at a bigger level, eternity and others lose –

Romans 10:13-14 (AMP):

[13] For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord]  will be saved.  [14] But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]?  And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard  And how are they to hear without a preacher? 

That said, there are QUESTIONS that arise in “double mindedness”–instability:

How can they call on the One they’ve not believed on?

How can they believe in the One Whom they’ve not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Ultimately, God loses (Really)!!!

IV.  UNBELIEF hardened God’s work –

“And He [Jesus] did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief  (their lack of faith in the divine mission of Jesus)”  (Matthew 13:58).

Where DOUBT comes from –

ULTIMATELY:  Satan; the devil.  John 8:44 says, Satan is the father of lies.

PRACTICALLY:  The World – 1 John 2:15-17 – My Heart – Jeremiah 1:22.

FUNDAMENTALLY:  Not applying God’s Word in my life – James 1:22

* WEED ANALOGY – Destroying UNBELIEF and not letting it grow back! 

I use the term “weed analogy”, because of my enjoyment of working in the garden and fighting the constant invasion of WEEDS.  An enjoyment?  Yes, because I know if I stay at it, diligent in the doing, there will be a harvest of righteousness.

1.  PERSEVERE THROUGH IT!

Learn to recognize it–Get in the Word (your bible) daily!

Walk by FAITH applying God’s Word!!!  (Remember James 1:22).

Remember in your Christian pilgrimage to build up your FAITH – “…in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”  (Romans 12:3).

FAITH grows – “Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow…”  (2 Corinthians 10:15).

James 2:22 – FAITH made complete.

Luke 16:10 – Faithful with little–faithful with more.

“MUSTARD SEED FAITH”Matthew 17:20

mustard_seedHe said to them [insert your name in place of “them”–“you”],  Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust].  For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, MOVE from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

2.  PRAY GOD WILL HELP YOU GROW –

In Mark 9:17-27, we see a desperate father of a demon possessed boy who asks Jesus,  “If you can do anything, do have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus replies,  “If You can do anything?”  “All things can be possible to him who believes.”

The father then replies,  “Lord I believe!  Help my weakness of faith!

3.  HOLY SPIRIT POWER –

The HOLY SPIRIT empowers me to radically believe and obey my heavenly Father.  I don’t have to let UNBELIEF kill me–what lies am I believing?

If I will “radically” believe–go out on a limb with trust–anything is possible what God can do!

Victory Over Sin–No More Bondage –

Romans 6:18, 22:

18  And having been set free from sin, you have become servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action).  

22  But now since you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.

4.  WORD AND PRAYER –

“Those who do not believe do not pray. This is a good functional definition of FAITH:  Faith prays, unbelief doesn’t.”

God is so HUGE!!!

We are TEMPTED when we are in trouble.

Let’s live our lives trusting Him to do HUGE things!  You might have to climb out on a limb of FAITH to see the results of your faithfulness.

Tozer said, “Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust not in the living God but in dying men.”

Acting on our faith –

"Be an active doer"
“Be an active doer”

To act on what we hear, is not simply to try harder not to say, not complain or be anxious.

JAMES isn’t encouraging his readers to simply try harder to live right.

He is encouraging them [US] to do whatever they [WE] need to do in order to feed their [OUR] faith in their heavenly Father.

“But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience)”  ~ James 1:25

So we turn our ANXIETY over to JESUS Himself–our desire to grumble and complain (Boy, do I need to do more weeding in this area).

We hand over each day, our relationships, thoughts, and questions to God, moment by moment, allowing our FAITH in Him to become a living thing.


CREDITS, FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]: By Nate Herbst.

Photo Credits: “Mustard Seed” photo Escape to Reality.org and the balance of photos taken from Google Images.

Bible Translations: Amplified Bible except where noted.

 

 

 

 

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.

3393017119_841f9602f4

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.

 

 

 

 

“Why bother, I’ll Just GIVE UP and QUIT!”

A Study in Philippians 1:12-20 –So grab your Bible.

I have taught a class for many years.

Borne many burdens, toiled with tears;

But folks don’t notice me a bit.

I’m so discouraged

I’ll just quit.

 

Sometime ago I joined the choir

That souls I might inspire;

But folks don’t seem moved a bit,

So why bother to sing?

I’ll just quit.

 

Christ’s cause is hindered everywhere,

And folks are dying in despair.

The reason why?

Just list a bit;

The church is full of folks who quit.  

[See Footnotes [i] ]

Giving up is always a temptation when there is a lack of visible results…

Some of the REASONS WE WANT TO GIVE UP AND QUIT can vary:

1.  FEAR OF FAILURE.

2.  SKEPTICISM I’M NOT THE ONE.

3.  I’M NOT TRAINED ENOUGH.

4.  SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO IT BETTER.

5.  I DON’T WANT TO BE THE FIRST, LET SOMEONE DO IT AND THEN I WILL FOLLOW.

6.  I HAD A BITTER EXPERIENCE.

7.  THIS IS NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

8.  I DON’T WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED.

9.  I’M JUST TOO SENSITIVE TO HANDLE FAILURES.

10.  MY SUPPORT SYSTEM IS POOR.

11.  I DON’T PREFER TO TAKE THIS RISK WHEN ALL IS FINE.

12.  WHY GET IN A MESS?

Some of the reasons I listed are overlapping, but still this is how we can feel and reason out…whether to QUIT & REMAIN A BIT SATISFIED…even though we know we can do it more than we’ve ever tried.

Marilyn von Savant once said,  “being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.”

Thomas Edison –  “many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up and quit.”

King Solomon –  “for an upright man after failing seven times, will get up again”  (Proverbs 24:16).

“THE LITTLE SATELLITE THAT COULD”–

In 1972, NASA launched an exploratory space probe named the PIONEER 10.  The primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph its moons, and beam data it collected back to earth.

This was a bold plan.  Up until then, no satellites had gone beyond Mars and scientist feared the asteroid belt would destroy PIONEER 10 before it would ever get to the planet Jupiter.

But the “little satellite” accomplished its mission, and much more!  Flying past Jupiter in 1973, PIONEER 10 continued on its journey to the edge of our solar system.  It passed Saturn, flashed by Uranus, past Neptune and then Pluto, some four billion miles from the Sun.  And it’s still going!  Now, over 8 Billion miles from the Sun, it keeps sending signals.  Despite the distance, PIONEER 10 continues on to beam back signals to Earth.

Commenting on the “little satellite” in Time Magazine, Leon Jaroff says,

“Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that those signals

emanate from a eight-watt transmitter, which radiates about 

as much power as a bedroom night-light, 

and takes more than nine hours to reach earth.”

“The Little Satellite That Could” Wasn’t Even Qualified…

Yes, according to the scientists, to do what it accomplished it wasn’t qualified.  But it kept on going and going.  By simple longevity, its tiny eight-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone ever expected.

So it is when we offer ourselves to SERVE the LORD in any activity, no matter how large or how small the mission seems to be.  God can work even through someone with only “eight-watt” abilities.  [See Footnote [ii] ]

God cannot work, however, through someone who GIVES UP and QUITS. 

Many times we are too quick to blame others, even blame God for our personal decisions.  Many times our personal decisions are based on success or more specifically the lack thereof!

Paul's Stairway to Imprisonment
Paul’s Stairway to Imprisonment

You would think BEING CHAINED to a guard in a Roman prison might make one question if  “God was telling Paul to quit?”  That thought never crossed the apostle Paul’s mind.

What did he do?  He used it as an opportunity to witness to others, to share the gospel with the guards and even took the time to write a letter [today, we would probably TEXT instead of write a personal letter], to the believers at Philippi.

The Christian Life Today…

Though we may never be thrown in prison for our faith in Christ Jesus, there are times in our walk that may resemble imprisonment:

— Those times of difficulty…

— Times of struggle…

— Times of adversity…

— Times of discouragement, disillusionment, and depression.

I’ve been there!  And in those times…I JUST WANTED TO QUIT…to throw in the towel and GIVE UP on my church I was attending, the people who made the decisions, and so on!

FINDING ENCOURAGEMENT:

In reading Paul’s story while writing this letter to the church, Paul says,

“Everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Gospel.”

Here is the Apostle, bound in chains for his preaching and he is REJOICING because the palace guard knows that he is in chains because of Christ.

He goes on to tell his readers that “because of his imprisonment, many other believers have gained CONFIDENCE and boldly speak God’s message without fear.”

Perseverance Prevents Giving Up and Quitting…

Roget’s Thesaurus says to PERSEVERE is to “persist, die-hard (STUBBORNNESS).”  References in our bibles to the perseverance of believers who “stand firm (i.e. endure) to the end”,  [Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13].

There’s a REASON for where we find ourselves in a given situation:  failures in ministry, a dysfunctional family, ‘stuck’ in your job, etc.

For PAUL….we find the REASON for his imprisonment–

[12] Now I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  [13] As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

News Travels Fast…

It was no different in Paul’s time.  Just imagine for a moment the talk of the Imperial guard and those who were present when Paul made his defense for himself known to all  (let me tell what that crazy prisoner just said to the Governor!).

Paul knew, that because of his imprisonment, JESUS was being MAGNIFIED and he was delighted in knowing this!

What if you were put in prison for a crime you had not committed?  Would you be a WITNESS for Christ or would you wallow in self-pity? Whatever your PRISON might be, the principle still applies.

Paul understands the reason for his own predicament he is facing…BUT he also sees in his spirit, the RESULT of this particular situation.

OTHERS WERE ENCOURAGED – v. 14

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

The BRETHREN that had knowledge of Paul’s imprisonment were ENCOURAGED by his boldness and stand; his not giving up regardless of the ‘stuff’ he was going through.

Our CONFIDENCE can bring about changes…

PAUL was confident – v. 19

“For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

The Jews had denounced Paul as an enemy of Caesar.   And yet, he was CONFIDENT that when the fullness of the GOSPEL was known, he would be released.

In their PRAYERS – through your prayer…

Paul knew that they were genuine followers of Jesus and their constant prayers were being lifted up to God for him which in turn…gave him the CONFIDENCE to “stand firm”, “endure to the end,” not to give up and quit!

In 1999, I faced the difficult situation when facing open heart surgery.  I knew before going into the operating room that PRAYERS from all over the country were being lifted up in faith on my behalf.

I can give personal testimony to a JOYFUL CONFIDENCE I received before being rolled down to surgery…GOD WAS IN CONTROL!  And in recovery from the successful 7-way Bypass Surgery, I gave testimony of God’s hand to all who would listen…or not!

In Christ’s Provision…

And the Spirit of Jesus Christ SUPPLIED…furnishing whatever is necessary.

Paul knew that JESUS would supply his needs:  “And my God will liberally supply  (fill to the full)  your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19 AMP).

BEING COURAGEOUS IN DIFFICULT PLACES– V. 20

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Earnest Anticipation…{G} (Apokaradokia) (ap-ok-ar-ad-ok-ee’-ah) – intense anticipation or expectation.

This idea that Paul presents is, there is the idea of WATCHING FOR SOMETHING.  Paul wasn’t ashamed and he was bold in his defense of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Paul didn’t care about the CONSEQUENCES.

His GOAL in the midst of his difficulties was to MAGNIFY JESUS, even if it cost him his life.  It is never a SACRIFICE unless it will cost you something (Hebrews 13:15).

COMPLACENCY IN THE ASSEMBLY HAS ITS DANGERS:

Paul’s Counsel from his Jail Cell–

” [13] Brothers [sisters], I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  [14] I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  [15] All of us who are mature should take that such view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  [16] Only let us live up to what we have already attained”  (Philippians 3:13-16).

Paul’s Advice and God’s Promises if…

“…for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap…if we do not give up”  (Galatians 6:9).

I hope you get some understanding from God’s Word–through the apostle Paul’s prison letters.  GIVING UP and QUITTING isn’t an option!

WHY?  Jesus anticipates that question with His answer in Galatians 6:10:

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].”

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Footnotes:  [i] Eldorado Evangel – Sermon Illustrations.com  [ii] Craig Brian Larson, Pastoral Grit: The Strength to Stand and to Stay; Bethany House, 1998.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, NIV

Photos:  Photo Pin.

Nehemiah: Healing Brokenness–Never Give Up!

Never Giving Up!

Nehemiah 4:14-23  (NIV Translation):

After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.  The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall.  Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.  But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!”

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.  At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.”  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Samuel Smiles was a political advocate in Scotland in 1837.  As my investigation began this week, I ran across the following quotation of Doctor Smiles:

“The battle of life is, in most cases fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor.  If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to achieve.”

Looking back over my life, I have been in certain circumstances (uphill battles)–reaching a point where I was ready to throw in the towel and give up.  We sometimes become so tired and frustrated in ‘fighting the battle’, we get exhausted and feel like there’s no use in continuing to even try.

Whether it’s a job, a relationship, health related problems, school, trying to lose weight, etc…we sometimes just don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  We would rather just quit the whole process–the FIGHT.  Have you been there before?

And then someone comes up to you, who doesn’t know where you’ve been or what you are going through and asks:  “How have things been going with you and your family lately?”

And you answer, “Well, it’s been an uphill battle of late.  How about you?”

Their answer is often the same as yours, “an uphill battle” or they don’t realize in the slightest that you are going through stress and pain; they smile and say something like  “Well, nice seeing you again.  Say hello to your wife/husband for me.”

WHAT ARE THE “BATTLES” WE FACE?

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people,  “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes”  (Nehemiah 4:14).

1.  WE BATTLE FEAR AND ANXIETY:

Remember the Lord and focus our thoughts on Him in our circumstances no matter what they are:

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him”  (Nahum 1:7).

The presence and peace of God comes when we put Him in the middle of our circumstances and issues of life.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:6-7).

When my wife went through breast cancer several years ago, we of course were both anxious in the outcome of surgery and radiation.  We both used the above verse in our quiet times and confessed the words verbally to one another.  Did anxiety completely disappear?  No, it didn’t but…the peace of God, which transcends–goes beyond understanding, gave us PEACE; guarded our hearts, minds and soul.  We were that confident because God said so; His Word promises that our hearts and minds will be guarded against the attacks of anxiousness, fear, and doubt.

ANXIETY and FEAR causes us to ignore the God of possibilities or potential:

FEAR can force believers into re-activity, disastrous and concrete thinking:

*  Pushes us from God.

*  Injures our trust in God’s deliverance.

*  Avoids healthy spiritual disciplines.

*  Distracts us from our faith.

*  Chooses circumstance-centerness.

There is an answer…but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving.

2.  WE BATTLE ISOLATION:

“From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.  The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall.  Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,”  (Nehemiah 4:16-17).

I LOVE THIS!  Each builder had a TROWEL in one hand in which to build, the other hand carried a sword to defend himself.  These two weapons or instruments should be in the hands of believers today, and carried always.  There is nothing like preparedness before we are faced with difficult circumstances that will come our way.  And yes, they will come your way!

The Trowel–

The TROWEL represents the fact that believers should build themselves up in the FAITH.  I disagree with folks who say that when a person is first saved (“born again”), they should immediately jump in the body and start serving.  I don’t think new converts to Christianity should be used to quickly in the ministry.

THE FIRST NEED is to learn by experience that Jesus saves and keeps and satisfies.  It’s wonderful to hear So-and-So was saved Sunday morning or last week; but let us hear from that person a year or two from today to see if they have been BUILT UP in THE FAITH (“discipleship”).

The Sword–

We need to hold the SWORD of the Spirit: the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God where we defend ourselves.  We need the TROWEL in one hand and the SWORD in the other.

3.  WE BATTLE INDEPENDENCE:

I Thessalonians 5:11:

“THEREFORE encourage one another and build each other up…”

Standing there at the wall with a trowel full of mortar is going to BUILD UP anything that is broken.  You have to work at it and not all by yourself!

4.  WE BATTLE IGNORANCE OF GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 119:19:

“I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So, how then are we going to WIN THE BATTLE?

BY FIGHTING WITH OUR GOD–remember that our God fights for us:

Romans 8:31:

“If God is for us, who [can be] against us?  [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]”  (Amplified Bible).

Joshua 23:10-11:

“One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord you God fights for you, just as He promised.  So be very careful to love the Lord your God”  (NIV Bible).

2 Timothy 1:7:

“God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible”  (The Message Bible).

WE HAVE POWER: (dunamus)-

“DUNAMUS”, the Greek word for power can be translated into the English language as “dynamite; explosive power”–strength, power, ability–

–  power for performing miracles.

–  power for maintaining purity.

–  power and resources to use in the Assembly (the Church).

–  power to overcome in anything we face in life!

John 14:27:

“Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”  (NIV Bible).

Isaiah 43:1-2:

But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

What I like to do when I’m going through trials–passing through, deep waters, passing through rivers of life and even walking through the fire…I like to read out loud a certain Bible verse such as Isaiah 43:1-2 and make it personal.  *[use a concordance for help]

Every time I see the word “you”, I replace it with Mel: He created Mel, He formed me in my mothers womb; He has summoned me by my name, “Mel”–Mel you are mine.  I think you get my drift.

We Fight With PERSEVERANCE!

Nehemiah 4:21-23 NIV Bible:

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.  At that time I also said to the people,  “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve as guards by night and workmen by day.”  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went into the water.

Being clothed today–

–  They had a mind-set to work,  v. 6

–  They had a heart to pray,  v. 9

–  They had an eye to watch,  v. 9 [seeing the spirit world]

–  They had an ear to hear,  v. 20.

Nehemiah says, “of course when we took a bath we took of our clothes”  (You see, there is HUMOR in the Bible.  Even in a crisis like this, the Lord inserted a little humor.)

Otherwise, they never removed their clothes–day or night in their struggles.  They were on guard all the time.

Oh, to be so clothed today with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18).

ALWAYS BE PREPARED AHEAD OF TIME; grab your trowel and your sword and start patching and building up the ‘holes’ in your life today, never giving up!