The Christian in Complete Armour (16)

 

Gurnall here expounds on a principle in life: because it is so hard a work, to recover the activity once lost, and to revive a duty in disuse. ‘I have put off my coat,’ saith the spouse, Song 5:3. She had given way to a lazy distemper, was laid upon her bed of sloth, and how hard is it to raise her! Her Beloved is at the door, beseeching her by all the names of love that she would open to him but she had given way to her sloth, and now she knows not how to shake it off; she should have been glad to have her Beloved’s company, if himself would have opened the door; and he desired as much hers, if she would rise to let him in but they part. The longer a soul hath neglected a duty, the more ado there is to get it taken up;  It requires more time and pains for him to tune his instrument, than for another to play the lesson. Likewise fitness lost is harder to regain and excess weight gained by indulgence over many years much harder to get rid of! Hence the need to keep our graces in exercise and without a break use the means of grace-JK

By the way here are the so-called SEVEN DEADLY SINS:

Seven Deadly Sins (all sin is deadly!)

 

Liberty

Sin destroys man’s liberty, for it prevents him prosecuting his chief end, which is to glorify God; as it equally hinders him from attaining his highest good, which is to be holy and happy.

Licence is not liberty, for true liberty is not the opportunity to do what we want, but the power to do what we ought. Freedom of heart lies in a course of obedience to God, for their is no satisfaction to the heart until it finds its satisfaction in the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2). The difference between the license of the natural man and the liberty of the spiritual man is that of being a bond-slave to sin and “the Lord’s freeman.” (I Cor.7:22), and that is determined by the chains of darkness being displaced by the cords of liberty, the fetters of sin by the yoke of Christ. And Christ’s yoke is “easy” (Matt.11:30), for it is lined with love. God’s commandments “are not grievous” (I John 5:3), for they are dictated by infinite wisdom and are designed for our highest good. Loving, pleasing, enjoying, praising God is the only real freedom and blessedness. God’s precepts must be sought-desired and attended to-if we are to “walk at liberty”.

Arthur Pink

Studies in the Scriptures  December 1946

Thoughts on turning 67 years of age.

 

Parkrun/walk Sept.14th 2019 and cross country training group.

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”Isaiah 40:6-8

My thoughts on reaching the age of 67 centre on an increasing awareness of physical frailty. My worn and weak right knee won’t allow running on roads only soft cross country yet I am glad I can do that however slowly. My non-impact indoor rowing is still of a high standard but I have to watch and not cause  repetitive strains. Recently I have greatly enjoyed two new hobbies both of which are outdoor-sailing and fishing and we have both sea and fresh water nearby. Spinning for brown trout in a local reservoir has especially given me a big kick!

 

Hope

HOPE


HOPE OUR ANCHOR
A short but fairly comprehensive word study:

⦁ The godless majority of people in this world are without hope (Eph.2:12, I Thess.4:13) and even believers for a time may feel hopeless (Job 7:6, 19:10) but Job saw in the illustration of a tree cut down, that for him “hope springs eternal!” (Job 14:7). He saw that God purposely destroys the false hopes of the godless (Job 14:19, 27:8, 31:24-28). Job also knew about the three great spiritual graces, faith, hope and love (I Cor.13:13) and that hope ceases to exist after death (Job 17:15). Why? Because hope means the certain expectation of future good at the hands of God and it only pertains to this life. Its source is God himself (Rom.15:13, II Thess.2:16) and it is ours as we believe his word (Psalm 119:81, 114, 130:5). Specifically hope concerns our resurrection from the dead and our glorification in the new heavens and earth (Psalm 16:9, Prov.14:32, Acts 24:15, I Cor.15:19, Col.1:5,27, Titus 1:2) it, like faith, believes in something unseen (Rom.8:24,25). This hope come to fruition at the return of Christ (Titus 2:13). The basis for this hope is our regeneration or the dwelling of Christ in us and us in him (I Tim.1:1, I Peter 1:3). Since he has gone before us, we are bound to follow (Heb. 6:18-20).
⦁ Abraham, the archetypical Old Testament saint and father of us all, exhibited hope in God’s covenant promise (Rom.4:18).
⦁ King David speaks much of his hope and often prophetically speaks for Christ his Lord (Psalm 16:9, Acts 2:26, Psalms 39:7, 22:9, 71:5, 119:116, 146:5), his was  a hope he even had as an infant showing how even the very young can be regenerate. He exhorts us and Israel to have hope (Psalms 42:5,11, 43:5, 130:7. 131:3).
⦁ Jeremiah also confessed his hope (Jer.17:7,17) and that of the people of Israel (Jer.14:8, 17:13) as did Joel (Joel 3:16) and even Paul (Acts 28:20).
⦁ Paul probably writes more about it than anyone and he rejoiced in it (Rom.5:2, 8:24, 12:12, 15:4, Eph.1:18, 4:4) and also spoke of his hope in fellow believers (II Cor.1:7, I Thess.2:19).
⦁ Our hope is a witness (I Peter 3:15) and a great motivation to lead a holy life (I John 3:3), it is something we must, and will, by God’s grace, maintain to the end of our lives (I Peter 1:13). Hope is a vital helmet of defence against Satan’s temptations to fear and have  foreboding about our future (I Thess.5:8). As with all of our salvation, our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Advice for Christians on the Internet

I found this helpful:

Truth Cloud whatsoever things are true

7 Scriptural Checks for Christians on Social Media

Pearls before swine.

That’s what comes to mind at times (all the time), when I survey my corner of the social media circus. Lions and Tigers and Christians, oh my!

Being misrepresented by others feels icky. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. It happens to everyone & try as we might, we can’t control it. But one thing that we CAN control, is how we represent OURSELVES.

And so the siren call of social media beckons; your red carpet of self representation unfurled before you in irresistible splendor. The sky’s the limit & you’re ready to “soar to high heights;” borne onward & upward by the social media machine. Successful self expression is just a click away. Or is it?

You probably have at least one online social interaction in mind at this point.

Turns out, without [SELF CONTROL], self expression can quickly turn into a crash & burn situation.

When our online alter ego takes over, common sense switches to auto pilot and the rule book gets tossed out the window without a parachute. Now would be a good time to shout mayday, but we’re blissfully enjoying the ride, buzzing on an endorphin high from those five likes and one share from Mom (Thanks, Mom). All the while, the world zips by in social feed form, as we spew & sputter out status updates in a blaze of pop culture- colored glory. “The captain always goes down with the ship” seems to exquisitely apply.

Social blunders aside, we think the wreckage is worth salvaging. With our aim at winning the world, social media provides a powerful vehicle to connect us to that world. The social fields are “white toward harvest,” if only we can fine tune our approach. If you share our sentiment, Check out these 7 scriptural checks for Christians on social media:

  1. HELLO MY NAME IS [X] & I APPROVE THIS POST: Does what I’m sharing reflect the Christ-like life I’m seeking to lead?

Not all posts are created equal. And as a Christian, not all content is worth sharing. What you post/like/share/follow, you’re endorsing. Who have you aligned yourself with online and does that put you OUT of alignment with scripture?

Filter your posts AND shares through this scriptural principle found in Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things of A GOOD REPORT; if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think [POST] on these things.

Consider filtering those you follow through this criteria as well.

If it’s not good or lovely or pure don’t post it. If you’re not sure if its true, don’t share it. (FACT CHECKING IS A REAL THING.) If the content is vulgar or explicit, don’t engage and for heaven’s sake don’t share it on our feeds and force us to engage with it.

  1. INSPIRATION OVERBOARD: Is what I’m sharing in alignment with God’s word?

Stay humble. Be true to your self and your Lord.

The internet is a wellspring of inspiration, ranging from empowering, to humorous, to just plain BAD advice. It’s important to stay rooted in the Word. Choose to be inspired by things that align with scripture & remember not every preacher or quote creator is motivated by the same Spirit you are. Don’t cherry pick spiritual advice from random internet memes. God will more likely impart spiritual guidance and direction through your leaders and time of personal devotion than when you’re trolling memes on Facebook (So true-JK)

When in doubt, ask your pastor and remember this sciptural principle from Ephesians 4:14

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning crafiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

  1. OVERSHARING OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS: Am I sharing too much personal information?

The internet drives “celebrity” culture. As a result, some social feeds resemble a personally crafted autobiographical tabloid. Even your post-sharing Momma wishes you’d spare us all some of those details.

When setting your personal guidelines for appropriate amount and nature of your content, first counsel with your leadership, then consider these scriptural principles:

Ecclesiastes 10:14 says a fool’s mouth is full of words & 10:12 says, “The lips of a fool will swallow up himself.” Proverbs 21:23 says “whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue kept his soul from troubles.”

Ultimately the decision of what to make public or keep private should be guided by wisdom. The book of Proverbs is a great place to start if you want more practical wisdom for Christian living. Sharing testimonies and life experiences (that glorify God) is a great use of your social platform! Proceed with wisdom and maximize the positive impact of your platform.

  1. THE ELUSIVE SEARCH FOR SELF WORTH: Does my time on social media cause me to be discontent with who I am and what I have?

Life was simpler when all you had to worry about was keeping up with the Jones’. Now your life, ministry, family, wardrobe, and even your coffee mug is cast in comparison against the entire world.

One teen interviewed on the subject described it like this. He said that likes and follows were real-time, MEASUREABLE statistics of how your life measures up to your peers. Or more accurately, doesn’t measure up. It’s no wonder culture hangs desperately on every like and comment as they arbitrarily raise our lower our imaginary social value and carefully calculated self worth.

If you are logged in to ANY platform the temptation of comparison is ever present, and if we’re not vigilant, a disastrously dangerous device in the enemy’s arsenal. Paul sets a precedent with this principle to combat a mindset of comparison:

Hewbrews 13:5 says, “Let Your conversation [not just speech, but all social interactions] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee or forsake thee.”

According to Romans 3:23 every human on the planet falls short of the only true standard of perfection, God. Don’t buy the lies. No matter how flawless their feed, they are fallible and fragile and fighting to feel worthy just like you.

It’s a fallacy to think you can ever be “enough” on Your own. God has called you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Fitly framed with the body of believers. It’s time to kill comparison and measuring self-worth by anything on the net, particularly FB likes. Your worth is solely based on your sovereign election and Christ’s death for you. Get connected to the body of Christ.

  1. FOR THE GRAM OR FOR HIS GLORY: Is what I’m posting promoting me or glorifying God?

The desire to go viral is intoxicating & will pollute any acts of devotion we don’t guard.

Ephesians 6:6-8 says our actions should not be “with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.”

PERSONAL prayer, praise, ministry, devotion & sacrifice was never meant to be publicly celebrated; but simply lived out. If you didn’t post about it did it even happen? YES! It’s the unposted and unpublished acts of devotion that God desires. The ones that are just for Him. A few likes are a cheap substitute for God’s approval and anointing.

Do your public professions of faith match your private acts devotion? When the live feed ends are you still living what you preach? Are you still witnessing when your phone is dead and your paparazzi peers have the day off? Motivation matters.

We desperately need discernment when it comes to distinguishing between posting to GET praise & posting to GIVE the praise to God.

Resist the urge to market your ministry. Online platforms are easy doors for us to open for ourselves. We can waste a lot of energy fine-tuning ourselves for public platforms, and neglect the private devotion necessary for God to trust us with doors he’s prepared for us.

“Before posting ask yourself: am I building the kingdom or my ministry? I believe if we take care of His kingdom, He will take care of our ministry.”

Above all, GET WISDOM. And while you’re at it, get you a pastor/spouse/friend that loves you enough to call you out when you cross the Gram/Glory line. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the approval of “followers” can be fatally deceitful.

  1. Trending Talk is Cheap…Is what I’m posting culture centered or Christ centered?

Romans 12:22 says “be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Don’t cave to the pressure to post pop-culture content. It’s ok to break the mold. It’s still right to exercise holiness and separation in our online habits. Who cares what the world is doing? The church is called to create it’s own transformed, counter-culture through Christ. If you MUST jump on a bandwagon, let it be the church’s. That one is headed somewhere worth while.

  1. The Pitfall of Political Posts & Endless Debates: Is what I’m posting best said from this platform?

1 Peter 3:15 Tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Beating people down in debates is not conversation that becomes the gospel of Christ. The people you’re beating down are the very ones God called us to seek out with hope and love. Approach people in such a way that they ask YOU what you’re all about. Then answer them with empathy and respect.

“Posting so much political opinion that you almost ruin your witness. I’ve felt strongly about certain issues pushed by liberals, but I have to remember that I am living in a very multicultural town. Politics run deep in the South, and I can destroy influence with people I’ve been trying to win for months. I’m not saying to constantly be silent, but I would rather get them through the doors of the church and let them be in an environment of the power of the Holy Ghost where they hear our heartbeat for God before certain subjects get too intense. All of these are guided by our pastor, who uses much wisdom in these areas. There’s a time to speak, and a time to refrain”

It’s not our job to change people’s minds. It’s our job to GO OUT & compel them to COME into His house. Get them to church and allow God to transform their heart & their mind through the power of the Holy Ghost. Preaching, not politics, is still God’s preferred message to turn the hearts of man.

We can’t remain silent on the moral and social issues of our day, to be sure. But if the Sword of the Spirit had two edges, the sword of political opinion almost certainly has only one. One brings a wound unto life. The other a wound unto death. Choose your weapon wisely.

We don’t put on armor to fight people [2 Corinthians 4:12], but to push back the powers of darkness FOR PEOPLE. That’s an image of the church, putting on the armor of light and shining the truth IN LOVE by means of a radically transformed life. This is true social reform. The stuff politicians can only dream of.

Adapted from Truth Cloud

The Steady Eye

The Steady Eye

Brian D. Dykstra

“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee” (Prov. 4:25).

God warns us many times in Proverbs about disobedience. In this section of Proverbs, however, we are told how to obey Him, how to keep the heart for out of it are the issues of life. God just commanded us to put away a froward mouth. He now gives us direction regarding our eyes.

Our five senses connect us physically to creation. They are also inlets to our souls. How we observe and interact with the creation influences our spiritual life. This is especially true for our eyes. Christ warns us, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matt. 6:22). Jesus also warns us about the evil eye and the resulting spiritual darkness (v. 23).

Knowing that our eyes exert a powerful influence in our lives, Solomon instructs us how to use our eyes properly. We are to “look right on.” Satan knows how powerful temptations presented through our eyes can be. The things on which we fix our eyes will direct the soul. The inspired apostle Peter knew this as well. He wrote of those who departed from the truth, “Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children” (II Pet. 2:14). This is clear to us in today’s entertainment. The music, dancing and various forms of video presentations display to our eyes a world full of adultery which cannot satisfy its depraved desire for sin. The world’s lack of moderation in its use of alcohol fuels the raging fire of hedonistic passion.

Eyes have often led people into sin. Lot’s wife did not keep her eyes straight ahead. She turned to see the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, evidently desiring the life she had enjoyed there, and was turned to a pillar of salt. During the destruction of Jericho, Achan saw among the spoils some treasures which he desired. He coveted, took the accursed thing and all Israel suffered the consequences in a humiliating defeat. Then there is David. Instead of keeping his eyes fixed on the enemy on the battlefield, he stayed in Jerusalem where his wandering eye saw Bathsheba. His life would never be the same.

There are examples of eyes which are looking straight at a goal. The idea is someone who looks steadily at a mark in order to walk a straight path. When I mow my lawn in a diagonal pattern, I do not have the edge of the driveway or side of the road to keep the mower lines nice and straight. I must pick a spot where the grass meets the road on the opposite side of the lawn, stare at it and walk as straight as I can toward it. When I’m successful, the result is a nice, straight pattern.

Job directed his eyes this way. He did not want adulterous thoughts to enter his heart, so he says, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). He would not allow his eyes to wander so as to arouse sinful desires. He would be careful with his eyes. Joseph did this, though Potiphar’s wife certainly did not keep her eyes fixed on godliness. We read, “his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Gen. 39:7). With her eyes, she recognized Joseph to be attractive and desired to satisfy her sinful passion. Joseph, however, guarded his eyes. In fact, Joseph would not even allow himself to be in the same room as she, so his eyes could not fall upon her and lead him into temptation.

We must keep our eyes straight before us, on the single goal of glorifying God. Our eyes must be on the path God sets before us by His Word. Keeping our eyes fixed shows our gratitude for all the blessings He has given to us in Christ. The pleasures of sin do not lie in the path of God’s law. Distractions to a thankful life lie to the right and left. If we allow our eyes to wander from the single purpose of living a thankful life, we expose ourselves to myriad temptations. Were we to follow our eyes, seek the things of this world and satisfy the desires of the old man of sin, we would lose the feeling of God’s favour. We would no longer feel the spiritual warmth of God’s gracious countenance which is more than life to us.

This brings us to eyelids: “Let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” None of the commentaries on my bookshelf mentioned the significance of why Solomon switches from “eyes” to “eyelids.” However, there must be more to the divine inspiration of Scripture than allowing writers literary discretion to avoid dull repetition of terms.

Here is my attempt in dealing with “eyelids.” When I walk a pathway which is smooth and has nothing which would cause me to stumble, I can keep my eyes up to see distant things. However, when the path has many obstacles and I must place each step carefully, my eyes are down. This is when someone coming from the opposite direction sees my eyelids, not my eyes. In the next verse, Solomon writes, “Ponder the path of thy feet,” which has the idea of having to walk carefully. We must have our eyelids straight before us when the path of life becomes more difficult or presents more dangers.

We must take this admonition seriously. Living a Christian life is no joke. This world is not a place of amusement for us. God does not call us to serve ourselves. We may not live a frivolous life. We are engaged in a serious spiritual battle. The stakes are high. Satan is as a lion seeking his prey so we had better be alert, keeping our eyes fixed straight before us and not allowing our eyes to see the sinful distractions which the world offers. If we cannot control our eyes, if we realize they constantly lead us into sin, Christ instructs us, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29). It is that serious.

Being careful about the use of our eyes is an aspect of keeping our hearts. We must protect our spiritual eyes at all times. We want to enjoy fellowship with God through grateful living. This is the true life of our hearts. May God help us and our children to have our eyes look right on and let our eyelids look straight before us.

Chance? Luck? Providence!

 

Ecclesiastes 9:11 states, “but time and chance happeneth to them all; to the swift and strong, the wise, understanding, and skillful; or to the swift and slow, to the strong and weak, to the wise and unwise; everything befalls them (and us-JK) just as it is ordered by divine Providence; for there is a certain “time” fixed by the Lord for every event; and whatever seems casual and contingent to man, and which he is ready to call “chance,” is nothing but “decree” with God, firm and unalterable.” John Gill

 

New Testament Priests (16)

New Testament Priesthood

Sung Psalm 141|:1-5 (note refs to incense)

Reading I Peter 2:1-10 (note esp.vv5,9)

We have incontrovertible Scriptural evidence that all believers in the New Testament age are priests.

What was the work of Old Testament priests? What is the New Testament equivalent?

  1. Offered sacrifices……we offer ourselves, praise, thank, do good works, share (Heb.13:15).
  2. Offered incense……we pray for ourselves and others.
  3. Light the lamp………walk in the Spirit.
  4. Prepare the showbread and eat it……we partake of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.
  5. Teach………we teach one another.
  6. Pronounce clean/unclean……we discern between good and evil.
  7. Judge……we judge all things.

Hebrews 10:19-25 is the most extended teaching on our New Testament priesthood, full of typology now realised in us.

The major prophets clearly allude to the end of ceremonial law and the New Testament age, see Isaiah 61:6 where true believers who are in Christ (vv1-3) are made priests and this includes Gentiles (Is.66:21).

Malachi 3:3 speaks of Christ purifying a priesthood which must be his church and I John 2:2 and 20 show that our anointing as priests is lifelong.

The permanent offices in the New Testament church all include elements of priesthood-pastors teach (office of prophet), elders rule (office of king) and deacons (office of priest who mercifully dispense aid), (Heb. 2:17, Acts 6)

Pursuit of Glory (9)

We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.

Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.

Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!

Pursuit of Glory (8)

Holiness

 

Do we not all want to be good? I think not! We all want to please ourselves and  naturally despise God’s authority. The nature of sin is such that it leads to more sin and the conscience gets weaker. God punishes sin with more sin. Religious cloaks cover much evil and actually perpetuate it-think of suicide bombers who believe murdering infidels will bring them to their idea of heaven. We naturally love to sin.  We do self-righteous acts in an attempt to counterbalance the evil. No act is good unless the motive is to plaese God, it is done in faith, in obedience and for his glory. Unregenerate peoplecannot please God (Rom.8:8)-all is selfish. They sin because the come short of God’s glory (Rom.3:23). “Our thoughts, affections and deeds are all tainted by sin.” Only the Spirit resident in believers enables us to return love to God, bear fruit and have pure motives.(to be continued)