Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spiritual Pruning - Part 3

But oh, the pain of that pruning process!  Yet the hardness is softened as we concentrate on the truth the Lord has given us:

     "If you dwell in me and my words dwell in you, ask what you will, and you shall have it.  this is my Father's glory, that you may bear fruit in plenty and so be my disciples...If you heed my commands, you will dwell in my love, as I have heeded my Father's commands and dwell in his love."  

Pruning leads to joy.  "I have spoiken thus to you, so that my joy may be in you, and your joy complete" (John 15:7-11).

To "abide in the Vine" is to live our lives in Christ, living each event as Christ lived, in the peace of the Father's will.  There is nothing by which death can hold any of His faithful servants, either.  Settle it, once for all --we can never lose what we have offered to Christ.  We live and die in Him, and there is always the resurrection.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
I highly recommend this book!  Get it today and finish this wonderful study!

Spiritual Pruning - Part 2

Vines must be pruned. This looks like a cruel business.  Perfectly good branches have to be lopped off in order for better branches to develop.  It is a necessary business, for only the well-pruned vine bears the best fruit.  The life of the vine is strengthened in one part by another part's being cut away.  The rank growth has to go and then the sun reaches places it could not reach before.  Pruning increases yield. 

When we ask for the correction of our thoughts, and all the rest, we are asking that the life of the Lord Jesus flow freely in us and develop His graces in us.  When it happens, we need to submit humbly, trusting the skill of the Gardener who prunes us with tenderness.

When a man or woman belong to God it is the hand of God at work when the pruning comes.  A life's work --what to us is a perfectly good branch, perhaps the only "important" branch --may be cut off.  The loss seems a terrible thing, a useless waste.  But whose work was it?   Jesus said God is the Gardener, the One who takes care of the vines.  The hand of the Gardener holds the knife.  It is His glory that is at stake when the best grapes are produced, so we need not think he has something personal against us, or has left us wholly to the mercy of His enemy Satan.  He is always and forever for us.

So we let go our hold of things we held very dear.  things that once were counted as gain we now count as loss, and out of what seems emptiness come beauty and richness.  "Those who receive...God's grace, and his gift of righteousness, live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).  The branches "live and reign" through the Vine.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
I highly recommend this book!  Get it today and finish this wonderful study!

Spiritual Pruning - Part 1

In God's management of the affairs of men suffering is never senseless.  We can find plenty of good sense in the metaphor of pruning found in the Gospel of John.

When Jesus was about to say farewell to His disciples, He was straightforward with them about what they should expect when He was gone.  They would face much suffering.  They would be hated as He has been.  they would be persecuted.  People would follow their teaching as little as they had followed His.  They would be banned from the synagogues and even killed by those who believed that killing them was a special service to God.

It was for them to continue to work, represent Him on earth, be the very bearers of the divine life when the Word Himself was taken away.  And how would they do this?  They would have to dwell in Him-- abide, remain, make their him in, stay --sharing His life, drawing His strength.  Their relationship to Him was that of branches to a vine.  The life of the vine is the life of the branch.  It has no other life.  As long as the branch remains in the vine it is nourished.  Cut off, it dies.

"Apart from Me you can do nothing."  In the spiritual realm there is no other life but Christ's.  In Him we live.  Without Him we die.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
I highly recommend this book!  Get it today and finish this wonderful study!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The New Leaf

Pride is at the root of all sins, and it is pride that often keeps us from carrying things to God in prayer.  We imagine we can handle things quite well on our own, or we fear that God is likely to tell us to do something we don't want to do.  The whole Christian life is a process of bringing the self-life down to death in order that the life of Jesus may be manifest in us. "As he grows greater, I must grow less, "said John the Baptist (John 3:30).

"Let us remember that it is not God who makes many of the crosses that we find in our way, such as we commonly call 'crosses.'  Our Heavenly Father makes 'straight paths for our feet,' ...But when the path that God points out goes north and south, and our stubborn wills lead us east and west, the consequences is a 'cross' --a cross of our own making, not that which our Master bids us 'take up and carry after Him,' and of which it has been well said, 'He always carries the heaviest end Himself'" (Annie Webb-Peploe, quoted in Mary Tileston:  Joy and Strength, World Wide Publications, Minneapolis 1986, p. 354).

To a heart willing to be shown, God will reveal the self-inflicted causes of trouble.  There are many examples given in Scripture, such as receiving the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Cor 11:27-30), persistence in sin (1 Pt 4:17), and --this is the reason for prolonged and terrible miseries-- a refusal to forgive (Mt 18:34-35).

In a wrong-filled world we suffer (and cause) many a wrong.  God is there to heal and comfort and forgive.  "It was not you who sent me here but God, "Joseph said to the brothers who had meant to get rid of him altogether.  "You meant to do me harm, but God meant to bring good out of it" (Gn 45:8; 50:20).  Here is consolation for us when someone sins against us:  God sent it, and God meant it --for good.

When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread,"  an angry retort from someone may be part of the answer, for it may furnish just the occasion we need in which to learn not only longsuffering and forgiveness, but meekness, gentleness, fruits not born in us but borne only by the Spirit in us.  Amy Carmichael wrote, "A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred."

All this is part of the process of separating us form the old life and forming in us the new.  Painful it must be, of course, but look to the purpose!  Look to the glory God has in mind, accept it, and say with the psalmist, "I, thy servant, will study thy statutes.  Thy instruction is my continual delight; I turn to it for counsel....I will run the course set out in thy commandments" (Ps 119:23-24, 32).

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Clean Severance - Part 2

From earliest memory I understood that everybody ought to love Jesus.  Then I began to hear that everybody ought to "receive the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior."  To the best of my understanding that is what i wanted to do, so I did it -- I asked Him to come into my heart, as I was instructed to do.  It was a once-for-all decision, and I believe He accepted the invitation and came in.  So far so good.  I was told that I was now "saved," saved by grace.  That was a gift, a free gift, from God.  Amazing.  Simply amazing that the Lord of the Universe, the One who is "the ruler over all authorities and the supreme head over all powers" (Col. 2:10), "the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master of all masters, the only source of immortality, the One who lives in unapproachable light, the One whom no mortal eye has ever seen or ever can see" (1 Tim 6:15-16) --amazing that the same One bends His ear to the prayer of a child or of a sinner of any age and, if asked, comes in and makes His home with us.  For His name is Immanuel, God with us.

How shall He be at home with us unless our lives are in harmony with His holy life?  Unless He lives His very life in us and we live our lives "in company with Him"?  Salvation means rescue fromt he pit of destruction, from the miry clay of ourselves.

So my decision to receive Him, although made only once, I must affirm in thousands of ways, through thousands of choices, for the rest of my life -- my will or His, my life (the old one) or His (the new one).  It is no to myself and yes to Him.  This continual affirmation is usually made in small things, inconveniences, unselfish giving up of preferences, yielding gracefully to the wishes of others without playing the martyr, learning to close doors quietly.  We may think of them as little "deaths."

Sin no longer holds authority, "exacting obedience to the body's desires.  You must no longer put its several parts at sin's disposal, as implements for doing wrong.  No:  put yourselves at the disposal of God as dead men raised to life; yield your bodes to him as implements for doing right; for sin shall no longer be your master, because you are no longer under law, but under the grace of God" ( Romans 6:12-14).

The further we travel on this pathway to the glory the more glorious it becomes, because we are given to understand that every glad surrender of self is merely a little death.

A Path of Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Clean Severance - Part 1

In Old Testament Times suffering was seen as evil.  In the New Testament, suffering and evil are no longer identical.  Think of the shock the crowds must have felt when Jesus said that those who mourn, those who are poor and persecuted and have nothing are happy!  How could he say such things?  Only in light of another kingdom, another world, another way of seeing this world.  He came to bring life-- another kind of life altogether.  And it is in terms of that life that we must learn to look at our sufferings.  I have found it possible, when I see suffering from that perspective, wholeheartedly to accept it.  But it takes a steady fixing of my gaze on the cross.

If the cross is the place where the worst thing that could happen happened, it is also the place where the best thing that could happen happened.  Ultimate hatred and ultimate love met on those two crosspieces of wood.  Suffering and love were brought into harmony.

It was while we were still powerless to help ourselves that Jesus died for us.  It is a rare thing, as Paul points out, for anybody to die even for a good man, "but Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that is God's own proof of his love towards us.  And so, since we have now been justified by Christ's sacrificial death, we shall all the more certainly be saved through him from final retribution" (Romans 5:89).

To be "saved" requires a severance from the former life as clean and sharp as though made by a knife.  There must be a wall of separation between the old life and the new, a radical break.  That means death -- death to the old life, in order for the new to begin.  "We know that the man we once were has been crucified with Christ, for the destruction of the sinful self, so that we may no longer be the slaves of sin, since a dead man is no longer answerable for his sin" (Romans 6:6-7).

This wall of separation, this barrier, is the cross.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Discipline of Darkness, Part 2

Here's part 2 of that wonderful sermon I heard that Adrian Rogers spoke.  These are the words that spoke to me.....

Sometimes in life we come to a time of darkness when the lights go out and nothing seems to make sense. Job was so perplexed, he demanded, “God, you owe me some answers!” Although God never specifically answered Job’s questions, Job came to learn something critically important: that God alone was enough — even without the answers.

Sometimes God may put us into darkness so we’ll learn that even without the answers, He is enough. We may not be able to say that and mean it until He is all that we have.

#3: Some Things Are Seen in the Dark That Cannot Be Seen in the Light
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” Isaiah 45:3

Sometimes the greatest treasures are discovered in the darkness. Darkness is not always the work of the evil one. It’s also one of God’s ways to teach.
Sometimes on the darkest night, the stars seem brightest. In the daylight, we may think the brightest thoughts, but at night we think the deepest thoughts.
#4: It Is Better to Lean on God in Darkness Than to Stand Alone in Man-Made Light
Isaiah 50:11 warns about lighting our own fire.  Man-made enlightenment can be deceptive.

 If we light our own fires and walk in that light, we’ll ultimately lie down in sorrow.
Abraham kindled his own fire after receiving God’s promise of a son. Tired of waiting, he produced Ishmael. Today the children of Abraham are still lying down in sorrow because of their conflict with Ishmael.
Moses received God’s promise but took things into his own hands. He became a murderer and set God’s work back forty years. Moses knew for forty years what it was to lie down in sorrow.
Simon Peter boasted that he would follow Jesus even to death. Then came dark Gethsemane. Peter did not understand and tried to light his own fire, cutting off the high priest’s servant’s ear. What an embarrassment to the cause of Christ! Peterwould lie down in sorrow that terrible night.
In a time of darkness, don’t create you own man-made light.

Adrian Rogers really has shown me how the most learned men of God can so easily fall.  I see that we can be so excited about what the Lord has taught us and shown us that we walk right into our own man-made light.  We must watch out for this and realize that all we have and know is from the Lord....without HIM we have nothing.

#5: If Your Sun Has Set, Be Sure Morning Will Come
Your dark night will come to an end. God will turn every hurt to a hallelujah, every tear into a pearl. Your Calvary will one day be an Easter.

It was a dark night for the disciples when Jesus was nailed to the cross and hung there, three hours of it literal darkness. It all seemed so inky black. His kingdom had shrunk to the narrow dimensions of a grave. But then came that glorious morning.

God sees through the dark.  His eyes are upon you in your darkness.

A little girl’s mother had died. Her first night apart from her mother, she felt alone in the darkness of her bedroom and left it to sleep with her daddy. They tried to sleep, but unable to see her father’s face, the little girl said, “Daddy, it is so dark. Is your face toward me?”

“Yes, darling, my face is toward you.”
“Daddy, you love me through the dark, don’t you?”
“Yes, sweetheart, Daddy loves you through the dark.” The little girl drifted off to sleep.
That strong man slipped out of bed, fell on his knees and prayed, “Heavenly Father, it is so dark. Is Your face toward me?”
The answer came from heaven, “Yes, My child, My face is toward you.” “Father, do You love me through the dark?”
“Yes, My child, I love you through the darkest night.” The father joined his precious daughter in much-needed sleep.
An unknown poet has written:
So I go on, not knowing;
I would not know if I might.
I would rather walk with Christ in the dark
Than to walk alone in the light.

Click Below to Listen!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Discipline of Darkness, Part 1

Thank you for joining me this wonderful Sunday morning!  I listened to a wonderful sermon...  Adrian Rogers, now with His Lord, gave this awesome sermon which reminded me of the importance of suffering.  I hope you will take the time to check it out Part 1 and Part 2!

Here are some important points that really spoke to me and I hope they will speak to you during your time of need or maybe during someone else in your lives that may be of need.

#1: Those of Greatest Devotion May Know the Deepest Darkness
“Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:10)

Darkness is not unusual for God’s choicest saints. No matter how close we walk to God, it’s not always sweetness and light. Who ever came up with the distorted idea that if we give our lives to Jesus, all will be joy and rose petals?

Job was a saint who went through much suffering.  Remember what he said.....
Job, godly man, wrote, “He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and He hath set darkness in my paths” (Job 19:8).

Paul, the great apostle, said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

So if you’re in darkness, you’re in good company.
Notice that Isaiah describes the person in darkness as one who “fears Him and obeys the voice of His servant.” Darkness, therefore, does not mean we have sinned or are out the will of God.

# 2: The Faith That Is Born in the Light Often Grows in the Dark
“We should never doubt in the dark what God has shown us in the light.”

I like this...really let this sink in.  I had not stopped to think about this in this manner.  It seems that at times when we are in suffering its hard for us to really grasp what is going on because we are focused on just surviving...when if we would focus on God...there would be no need for us to do anything.  God has done it all for us!

It is in darkness that we have to trust the Lord and “stay” upon Him. Think carefully: when have you grown the most? In sunny days when everything seemed perfect? Or at midnight when you cried out to God? It was in the darkness that you grew, wasn’t it?

 God wants us to develop a faith that goes beyond our understanding and experience. How you act in the dark is the real test of your character

I like what Adrian Rogers concludes in his sermon....  It makes a lot of sense.

What should you do when the lights suddenly go out in your life?
·  First, look to the Lord. Isaiah 50:10 says “trust in Him.” Just because things don’t make sense to you doesn’t mean they don’t make sense. And just because they don’t make sense now, doesn’t mean they won’t make sense some day. If it doesn’t make sense, nonetheless trust the Lord.

·  Not only trust, but also obey. Don’t stop praying for an unsaved spouse, even if they seem to get worse. Don’t stop giving in a financial reverse. Don’t stop witnessing, even if no one seems to respond. Don’t stop praising, even if you don’t feel like praising.

·  Lean upon the Lord. “Stay” comes from the word for “staff.” Just as a shepherd leans on his staff, lean upon the Lord. David said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thouart with me.” (Psalm 23:4) It’s better to be in a dark valley, leaning on Jesus, than on a sunlit mountain without Him.

We may not understand, but relationship is really more important than reason. It may be that we do not know Why in order that we may know Who. In the dark valley, David no longer talks about the Lord (“the Lord is my shepherd”), he now talks to the Lord (“Thou are with me”).

However dark life becomes, you will find Jesus standing somewhere in the shadows.

Awesome!  Jesus is always with us!!!

By Adrian Rogers

Click Below to Read Adrian Rogers' Article:

Click Below to Listen!