The events of the last several weeks have reminded us that we live in an increasingly unstable and insecure world. Humanity can become very fearful, very fast. The fact is humans living in fear are apt to produce damaging and dangerous events. I want to encourage all who read this blog particularly Christ followers to practice peace not panic. Our Lord purchased peace for us on the cross, Ephesians 2:13-14, Colossians 1:19-20. The way to overcome panic is to appropriate the peace our Lord offers. Yesterday's morning message was entitled, PANIC OR PEACE? If you would like to listen again or the first time, you may do so at www.libertyfamily.org, Liberty's facebook page or our podcast. The following is some final points given at the end of the message. Hope these help us each to practice Peace and not Panic!
1. BE MINDFUL.
Remember we have always lived in an unstable world but our confidence and trust is only found in the sovereignty of God. God reigns over everything and has predetermined that which is good for all His kingdom. Romans 8:28-32
2. BE PEACEFUL.
For those of you who may be anxious because current events, remember the words of Isaiah 26:3- 4 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever.”
Live in the facts of the truth of God’s Word. Live in the fullness of the Spirit. Feed yourself less of the worlds wisdom and more of God’s wisdom. Live in peace of God. Colossians 3:15, Philippians 7:7
3. BE CAREFUL.
Watch out for yourself and your families physical health. But don’t fail to care for emotional, mental, and spiritual sides of heath as well. Be discerning that in that in attempting to solve one problem we can create many others. Lead your your family and friends to real solutions that will help. Calmness leads to answers. Panic to additional problems.
4. BE SHAREFUL.
Share truth with others. Share the reason for the hope and peace that is within you. Help other Christians with the truths that are giving you peace and above all else look for divine opportunities to share the gospel. This are difficult days for every citizen on this earth. The Lord is using these events to draw untold numbers of people to Himself. Look around and don’t miss divine your opportunities.
5. BE HELPFUL.
Serve others don’t just serve yourself. When people panic they become self focused and look to take care of themselves and their own. There is wisdom in taking precautions but at the same time believers are called to risk our lives for others. JEUS DID ! Don’t take the last loaf of bread if you really don’t need it. Think of others. Those who live in peace won’t panic and become selfish. They remain calm and make good decisions for themselves and others. Martin Luther stayed in his city while many others left because of the Bubonic Plague. He calmly risked his life for the good of others. Be led of the Spirit of God.
6. BE FAITHFUL.
In times of tremendous danger and difficulties we must remember we are always taking a test and being tempted. Tested by our Lord and tempted by the Satan. Tested to live by faith or by fear. Will we be faithful to the Lord at these times or will we fall to temptation and obey our emotions .
7. BE WATCHFUL.
Luke 21:28 “ When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh”. II Timothy 3:1-13 tells us that in the Last Days perilous times will come. What we are witnessing could very well be connected to what is to happen on this earth just before the rapture of the church ad the beginning of the Tribulation Period on this earth. We very well could be witnessing “ Birth Pangs” of the earth, Matthew 24:28. Our Lord is gracious and merciful as He warns this world of coming judgement and gives time to run to His mercy found in Jesus. For the unbeliever we pray they will come to the Lord Jesus Christ and for those of us who are already followers of Jesus this should be a time of drawing closer.
8. BE PRAYERFUL.
Pray for ourselves and our families. Pray for your Christian brothers and sisters in your church and around the world. Pray for missionaries who are facing their own unique set of trials because of world events. Pray for our world, national, and local leaders. Pray for the health officials and all who are helping in the medical arenas. Pray for all the caregivers and sick around the world. Pray for the Pastors and other spiritual leaders as to attempt to lead God’s people into the way the Lord would want his people to go. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!
9. BE GRACEFUL.
In all you do be gracious to others in this hour. Everyone is under stress and heavy burden. As we sprinkle doses of grace along the way it will be refreshing for all who receive actions and attitudes of grace. Slow down, Be kind and considerate of others. Speak words that are positive, truthful and filled with hope. Talk about JESUS.
10. BE GRATEFUL.
What a great time to worship the True and Living God. Praise Him for all He has done, is doing and will do throughout eternity. Jesus never receives the praise He is due. Praise Him in the midst of these days and as the song says “ Things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glorious grace “.
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS
O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are
And turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
His word shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell
And turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
3 Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
3 But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
4 I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
I LOVE THIS PSALM! Verse 2 is the voices of our enemies. The devil, people the devil uses to lie to us and ourselves. But the last 6 verses are the voice of God and His truths. Truly the Lord is our Shield, our Glory and the Lifter of our head. How many times in the darkness has our Lord taken His almighty hand and lifted up our chin and urged us to look at Him instead of the affliction, the oppression and all the troubles? Let's listen to the words of God not the words of the enemy!
One thing for sure is that we each live in a very stressful and dangerous world. Even more so for the followers of Christ. As soon as we wake in the morning till we retire for the evening there is continual opposition. In fact as we sleep there can rise up within us opposition to the purposes and plans our Lord has for our lives. Opposition is a reality of life and it can be used of the enemy to cause us to quit or we can use the opposition to aid us to persevere.
The Apostle Paul and his team of believers who served with him on his third missionary journey throughout Asia, Macedonia and Achaia were well acquainted with opposition. For 5 years everywhere they went winning souls, planting churches and training new believers they met those who opposed there work of love. During these years there were great opportunities and after a while great opposition arose. This was Paul's testimony of ministry found in II Corinthians 11:26-28. Yet he and his companions never quit on the "Heavenly Mission". They persevered onward into God's purpose for their life and calling. Acts 20 tells us the the last 3 months of this five year effort was opposed as never before.
As Paul readied himself to head back to Israel with the love offerings he and his team had collected for the suffering saints in Jerusalem he was hit with another opposition. It came to his attention that some of the Jews on the ship heading to Passover were planning to take his life once he was onboard the ship. So the plans of Paul were interrupted as he chose not to take the easiest and most direct route to Israel. But he would not quit on the God given goal, he would simply take more time to get there, take another way and he would miss Jerusalem by Passover and now hope to be there by Pentecost. But they would persevere.
I. They Persevered With The Aid Of Opposition! Acts 20:3
Opposition can tempt us to fail persevering or it can aid us to persevere. Sensing opposition from his own countrymen Paul chose to make opposition his aid not his enabler. So he and the others with him changed their plans and headed to Jerusalem taking another direction. The opposition was simply being used to give them more zeal to reach the final destination. They don't quit the mission they change the method to reach the same mission. The plot to kill Paul and keep him from going to Jerusalem and being used by the Lord to minister to thousands was delayed. It deprived them of a direct route, and additional miles and effort but it also granted them many more opportunities along the way to minister to thousands more.
II. They Persevered By The Knowledge Of God's Sovereignty. Acts 20:: 3
I like Paul have found that God often tells me the destination in advance but the details to get there come partially as I proceed toward the destination. Have you ever " Missed a Flight"? The best thing we can do at that time is stop and remember our Lord is sovereign and He just overruled our plans. That is what Paul does when he missed his boat ride. He looked around and said now what Lord. Which way do you want me to take and who do you want me to talk with. And I am sure as they proceeded on in their journey they were thanking the Lord. Thinking thought like maybe the ship was going to sink, or the Lord just kept us from some tragic event. And as they spoke one with another they were looking for the DIVINE APPOINTMENTS their ALL KNOWING LORD had planned for them.
They Persevered by making the choice to see opposition as their aid and by remembering their Lord was sovereign and in charge.
III. They Persevered With The Help Of A Team. Acts 20:4-6
Everything in the Bible is there on purpose. Every word and every name. The Holy Spirit wants us to see that when we isolate ourselves a Christians and try to do the work of the Lord by ourselves it is the sure way to end up quitting and finding we have become shipwrecked and castaways.
Sopater from Berea
Representing his home church in carrying the offering with Paul. A man from a church that are great students of God's Word, Acts 17:10. A Gentile Christian only a few years old in Christ but along side the Apostle Paul, He has sacrificially left the comforts of his home and church to serve his Lord and help hurting Christians across the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
Aristacharus and Scondous of Thessolonica
Aristacharus - a prominent and wealthy man of status. A Macedonian who has only known the Lord a short time. A nobleman of high status who is mentioned several times of being with the Apostle Paul in serious efforts to reach the lost.
Secundous - a name only given to slaves who a second in slave rank in a household.
Both of these are from the same church . Both poor and rich in need of a Savior. Both have found forgiveness of sin and have taken their places in the church. Both have found that " All ground is level at the foot of the cross". And now both serve the Lord together and count all things common as they now are both slaves to Christ serving his church.
Gaius of Derbe
A Man who has residences in Derbe and Corinth. He has often hosted Paul in his homes . In his home in Corinth Paul wrote the book of Romans. Baptized by the Apostle Paul himself as few were , we find him serving alongside Paul in may places. His name means HAPPY, and isn't it wonderful to serve along side one who is filled with satisfaction and joy?
Timothy from Lystra
One who is a very young man. Paul is his father in the faith. He will soon Pastor the church at Ephesus and the be responsible for many of the church plants from that great church. He is still young and much to learn but we notice that the best teams are made up of YOUNG and OLD and everything between. Men and Women. Young and Old. Rich and Poor. Jew and Gentile.
Tychicus of Asia
In Acts, Ephesians, Colossians, Titus and II Timothy Paul calls him beloved, brother, faithful minister, fellow servant of the Lord. He commends the Colossians to let him comfort them. He is a christian who loves and serves others and is willing to help wherever he can.
Trophimus of Asia
Representing the church at Ephesus, ( Ephesians 21:29). There is reason to believe that he was the unnamed man who helped Titus carry the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, (II Corinthians 8:16-17). A humble man desiring no recognition.
Representing the church at Philippi. A loyal and loving servant of Christ. A doctor by trade who now is a full time minister of Jesus Christ.
Represents the church at Corinth, II Corinthians 8:16-17. A man who has spent the full five years of this missionary Journey serving alongside all the others in this world and life changing mission.
The Holy Spirit has placed these names here to encourage us to understand the need to be partners together in our Christian lives a well as our ministries. Together we persevere and alone we often find defeat in our oppositions.
May these words of truth encourage you to never quit on your heavenly assignments. I know they have for me.
In my personal study to prepare my heart for Christmas 2019 I ran across this message by Charles Spurgeon which he preached on December 21, 1862 ( 157 years ago ). I found it very helpful, challenging and as relevant today as it was 157 years ago. I think it will only take 15 minutes to read and I encourage you to spend a little quiet time reading in your preparation for Christmas Day - 2019.
MERRY CHRISTMAS - 2019
Pastor Terry Bishir
No Room for Christ in the Inn
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon Dec 21, 1862
Scripture: Luke 2:7
Sermon No. 485
From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 8
No Room for Christ in the Inn
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” — Luke 2:7.
IT was needful that it should be distinctly proven, beyond all dispute, that our Lord sprang out of Judah. It was necessary, also, that he should be born in Bethlehem-Ephratah, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by his servant Micah. But how could a public recognition of the lineage of an obscure carpenter and an unknown maiden be procured? What interest could the keepers of registers be supposed to take in two such humble persons? As for the second matter, Mary lived at Nazareth in Galilee, and there seemed every probability that the birth would take place there; indeed, the period of her delivery was so near that, unless absolutely compelled, she would not be likely to undertake a long and tedious journey to the southern province of Judea. How are these two matters to be arranged? Can one turn of the wheel effect two purposes? It can be done! It shall be done! The official stamp of the Roman empire shall be affixed to the pedigree of the coming Son of David, and Bethlehem shall behold his nativity. A little tyrant, Herod, by some show of independent spirit, offends the greater tyrant, Augustus. Augustus informs him that he shall no longer treat him as a friend, but as a vassal; and albeit Herod makes the most abject submission, and his friends at the Roman court intercede for him, yet Augustus, to show his displeasure, orders a census to be taken of all the Jewish people, in readiness for a contemplated taxation, which, however, was not carried out till some ten years after. Even the winds and waves are not more fickle than a tyrant’s will; but the Ruler of tempests knoweth how to rule the perverse spirits of princes. The Lord our God has a bit for the wildest war horse, and a hook for the most terrible leviathan. Autocratical Caesars are but puppets moved with invisible strings, mere drudges to the King of kings. Augustus must be made offended with Herod; he is constrained to tax the people; it is imperative that a census be taken ; nay, it is of necessity that inconvenient, harsh, and tyrannical regulations should be published, and every person must repair to the town to which he was reputed to belong; thus, Mary is brought to Bethlehem, Jesus Christ is born as appointed, and, moreover, he is recognised officially as being descended from David by the fact that his mother came to Bethlehem as being of that lineage, remained there, and returned to Galilee without having her claims questioned, although the jealousy of all the women of the clan would have been aroused had an intruder ventured to claim a place among the few females to whom the birth of Messias was now by express prophecies confined. Remark here the wisdom of a God of providence, and believe that all things are ordered well. When all persons of the house of David were thus driven to Bethlehem, the scanty accommodation of the little town would soon be exhausted. Doubtless friends entertained their friends till their houses were all full, but Joseph had no such willing kinsmen in the town. There was the caravanserai, which was provided in every village, where free accommodation was given to travellers; this, too, was full, for coming from a distance, and compelled to travel slowly, the humble couple had arrived late in the day. The rooms within the great brick square were already occupied with families; there remained no better lodging, even for a woman in travail, than one of the meaner spaces appropriated to beasts of burden. The stall of the ass was the only place where the child could be born. By hanging a curtain at its front, and perhaps tethering the animal on the outer side to block the paassge, the needed seclusion could be obtained, and here, in the stable, was the King of Glory born, and in the manger was he laid. My business this morning is to lead your meditations to the stable at Bethlehem, that you may see this great sight — the Saviour in the manger, and think over the reason for this lowly couch — “because there was no room for them in the inn.”
I. I shall commence by remarking that THERE WERE OTHER REASONS WHY CHRIST SHOULD BE LAID IN THE MANGER.
1. I think it was intended thus to show forth his humiliation. He came, according to prophecy, to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” he was to be “without form or comeliness,” “a root out of a dry ground.” Would it have been fitting that the man who was to die naked on the cross should be robed in purple at his birth? Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb should be born anywhere but in the humblest shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner? The manger and the cross standing at the two extremities of the Saviour’s earthly life seem most fit and congruous the one to the other, lie is to wear through life a peasant’s garb; he is to associate with fishermen; the lowly are to be his disciples; the cold mountains are often to be his only bed; he is to say, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head;” nothing, therefore, could be more fitting than that in his season of humiliation, when he laid aside all his glory, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and condescended even to the meanest estate, he should be laid in a manger.
2. By being in a manger he was declared to be the king of the poor. They, doubtless, were at once able to recognise his relationship to them, from the position in which they found him. I believe it excited feelings of the tenderest brotherly kindness in the minds of the shepherds, when the angel said — “This shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling-clothes and lying in a manger.” In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, but a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. With what pertinacity will workingmen cleave to a leader of their own order, believing in him because he knows their toils, sympathizes in their sorrows, and feels an interest in all their concerns. Great commanders have readily won the hearts of their soldiers by sharing their hardships and roughing it as if they belonged to the ranks. The King of Men who was born in Bethlehem, was not exempted in his infancy from the common calamities of the poor, nay, his lot was even worse than theirs. I think I hear the shepherds comment on the manger-birth, “Ah!” said one to his fellow, “then he will not be like Herod the tyrant; he will remember the manger and feel for the poor; poor helpless infant, I feel a love for him even now, what miserable accommodation this cold world yields its Saviour; it is not a Caesar that is born to-day; he will never trample down our fields with his armies, or slaughter our flocks for his courtiers, he will be the poor man’s friend, the people’s monarch ; according to the words of our shepherd-king, he shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy.” Surely the shepherds, and such as they — the poor of the earth, perceived at once that here was the plebeian king; noble in descent, but still as the Lord hath called him, “one chosen out of the people.” Great Prince of Peace! the manger was thy royal cradle! Therein wast thou presented to all nations as Prince of our race, before whose presence there is neither barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but thou art Lord of all. Kings, your gold and silver would have been lavished on him if ye had known the Lord of Glory, but inasmuch as ye knew him not he was declared with demonstration to be a leader and a witness to the people. The things which are not, under him shall bring to nought the things that are, and the things that are despised which God hath chosen, shall under his leadership break in pieces the might, and pride, and majesty of human grandeur.
3. Further, in thus being laid in a manger, he did, as it were, give an invitation to the most humble to come to him. “We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. Had we seen the Master at first riding in state through the streets of Jerusalem with garments laid in the way, and the palm-branches strewed, and the people crying, “Hosanna!” we might have thought, though even the thought would have been wrong, that he was not approachable. Even there, riding upon a colt the foal of an ass, he was so meek and lowly, that the young children clustered about him with their boyish “Hosanna!” Never could there be a being more approachable than Christ. No rough guards pushed poor petitioners away; no array of officious friends were allowed to keep off the importunate widow or the man who clamoured that his son might be made whole; the hem of his garment was always trailing where sick folk could reach it, and he himself had a hand always ready to touch the disease, an ear to catch the faintest accents of misery, a soul going forth everywhere in rays of mercy, even as the light of the sun streams on every side beyond that orb itself. By being laid in a manger he proved himself a priest taken from among men, one who has suffered like his brethren, and therefore can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Of him it was said “He doth eat and drink with publicans and sinners;” “this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinner’s friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Saviour, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you, but the manger of the Son of David must invite you.
4. Methinks there was yet another mystery. You remember, brethren, that this place was free to all; it was an inn, and please to remember the inn in this case was not like our hotels, where accommodation and provision must be paid for. In the early and simple ages of the world every man considered it an honour to entertain a stranger; afterwards, as travelling became more common, many desired to shift the honour and pleasure upon their neighbours; wherefore should they engross all the dignity of hospitality? Further on still, some one person was appointed in each town and village, and was expected to entertain strangers in the name of the rest ; but, as the ages grew less simple, and the pristine glow of brotherly love cooled down, the only provision made was the erection of a huge square block, arranged in rooms for the travellers, and with lower stages for the beasts, and here, with a certain provision of water and in some cases chopped straw for the cattle, the traveller must make himself as comfortable as he could. He had not to purchase admittance to the caravanserai, for it was free to all, and the stable especially so. Now, beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ was born in the stable of the inn to show how free he his to all comers. The Gospel is preached to every creature and shuts out none. We may say of the invitations of Holy Scripture,
“None are excluded hence but those
Who do themselves exclude;
Welcome the learned and polite,
The ignorant and rude.
Though Jesus’ grace can save the prince,
The poor may take their share;
No mortal has a just pretence
To perish in despair.”
Class exclusions are unknown here, and the prerogatives of caste are not acknowledged. No forms of etiquette are required in entering a stable; it cannot be an offence to enter the stable of a public caravanserai. So, if you desire to come to Christ you may come to him just as you are; you may come now. Whosoever among you hath the desire in his heart to trust Christ is free to do it. Jesus is free to you; lie will receive you; he will welcome you with gladness, and to show this, I think, the young child was cradled in a manger. We know that sinners often imagine that they are shut out. Oftentimes the convicted conscience will write bitter things against itself and deny its part and lot in mercy’s stores. Brother, if God hath not shut thee out, do not shut thyself out. Until thou canst find it written in the Book that thou mayest not trust Christ; till thou canst quote a positive passage in which it is written that he is not able to save thee, I pray thee take that other word wherein it is written — “He is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him.” “Venture on that promise: come to Christ in the strength and faith of it, and thou shalt find him free to all comers.
5. We have not yet exhausted the reasons why the Son of Man was laid in a manger. It was at the manger that the beasts were fed; and does the Saviour lie where weary beasts receive their provender, and shall there not be a mystery here? Alas, there are some men who have become so brutal through sin, so utterly depraved by their lusts, that to their own consciences every thing manlike has departed, but even to such the remedies of Jesus, the Great Physician, will apply. We are constantly reading in our papers of men who are called incorrigible, and it is fashionable just now to demand ferociously, that these men should be treated with unmingled severity. Some few years ago all the world went mad with a spurious humanity, crying out that gentleness would reform the brutal thief whom harsh punishments would harden hopelessly; now the current has turned, and everybody is demanding the abandonment of the present system. I am no advocate for treating criminals daintily; let their sin bring them a fair share of smart; but if by any means they can be reformed, pray let the means be tried. The day will come when the paroxysm of this garrotting fever is over, we shall blush to think that we were frightened by silly fears into a dangerous interference with a great and good work which hitherto has been successfully carried on. It is a fact that under the present system, which (abating some faults that it may be well to cure) is an admirable one, crime is growing less frequent, and the class of gross offenders has been materially lessened. Whereas in 1844 18,490 convicts were transported, in 1860 the corresponding number was 11,533, and that notwithstanding the increase of the population. The ticket-of-leave system, when the public would employ the convicts and so give them a chance of gaining a new character, worked so well that little more than one per cent, in a year were re-convicted, and even now only five per cent, per annum are found returning to crime and to prison. Well, now, if the five per cent, receive no good, or even become worse, ought we not to consider the other ninety-five, and pause awhile before we give loose to our vengeance and exchange a Christian system of hopeful mercy for the old barbarous rule of unmitigated severity. Beware, fellowcitizens, beware of restoring the old idea that men can sin beyond hope of reformation, or you will generate criminals worse than those which now trouble us. The laws of Draco must ever be failures, but fear not for the ultimate triumph of plans which a Christian spirit has suggested. I have wandered from the subject, — I thought I might save some from the crime of opposing true philanthropy on account of a sudden panic; but I will return at once to the manger and the babe. I believe our Lord was laid in the manger where the beasts were fed, to show that even least-like men may come to him and live. No creature can be so degraded that Christ cannot lift it up. Fall it may, and seem to fall most certainly to hell, but the long and strong arm of Christ can reach it even in its most desperate degradation; he can bring it up from apparently hopeless ruin. If there be one who has in here this morning whom society abhors, and who abhors himself, my Master in the stable with the beasts presents himself as able to save the vilest of the vile, and to accept the worst of the worst even now. Believe on him and he will make thee a new creature. 6. But as Christ was laid where beasts were fed, you will please to recollect that after he was gone leasts fed there again. It was only his presence which could glorify the manger, and here we learn that if Christ were taken away the world would go lack to its former heathen darkness. Civilisation itself would die out, at least that part of it which really civilises man, if the religion of Jesus could be extinguished. If Christ were taken away from the human heart, the most holy would become debased again, and those who claim kinship with angels would soon prove that they have relationship to devils. The manger, I say, would be a manger for beasts still, if the Lord of Glory were withdrawn, and we should go back to our sins and our lusts if Christ should once take away his grace and leave us to ourselves. For these reasons which I have mentioned, methinks, Christ was laid in a manger.
II. But still the text says that he was laid in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn, and this leads us to the second remark, THAT THERE WERE OTHER PLACES BESIDES THE INN WHICH HAD NO ROOM FOR CHRIST.
The palaces of emperors and the halls of kings afforded the royal stranger no refuge? Alas! my brethren, seldom is there room for Christ in palaces! How could the kings of earth receive the Lord? He is the Prince of Peace, and they delight in war! He breaks their bows and cuts their spears in sunder; he burneth their war-chariots in the fire. How could kings accept the humble Saviour? They love grandeur and pomp, and he is all simplicity and meekness. He is a carpenter’s son, and the fisherman’s companion. How can princes find room for the new-born monarch? Why he teaches us to do to others as we would that they should do to us, and this is a thing which kings would find very hard to reconcile with the knavish tricks of politics and the grasping designs of ambition. O great ones of the earth, I am but little astonished that amid your glories, and pleasures, and wars, and councils, ye forget the Anointed, and cast out the Lord of All. There is no room for Christ with the kings. Look throughout the kingdoms of the earth now, and with here and there an exception it is still true — “The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.” In heaven we shall see here and there a monarch; but ah! how few; indeed a child might write them. “Hot many great men after the flesh, not many mighty are chosen.” State-chambers, cabinets, throne-rooms, and royal palaces, are about as little frequented by Christ as the jungles and swamps of India by the cautious traveller. He frequents cottages far more often than regal residences, for there is no room for Jesus Christ in regal halls.
“When the Eternal bows the skies
To visit earthly things,
With scorn divine he turns his eyes
From towers of haughty kings.
He bids his awful chariot roll
Far downward from the skies,
To visit every humble soul
With pleasure in his eyes.”
But there were senators, there were forums of political discussion, there were the places where the representatives of the people make the laws, was there no room for Christ there? Alas! my brethren, none, and to this day there is very little room for Christ in parliaments. How seldom is religion recognised by politicians! Of course a State-religion, if it will consent to be a poor, tame, powerless thing, a lion with its teeth all drawn, its mane all shaven off, and its claws all trimmed — yes, that may be recognised; but the true Christ and they that follow him and dare to obey his laws in an evil generation, what room is there for such? Christ and his gospel — oh! this is sectarianism, and. is scarcely worthy of the notice of contempt. Who pleads for Jesus in the senate? Is not his religion, under the name of sectarianism, the great terror of all parties? Who quotes his golden rule as a direction for prime ministers, or preaches Christ-like forgiveness as a rule for national policy? One or two will give him a good word, but if it be put to the vote whether the Lord Jesus should be obeyed or no, it will be many a day before the ayes have it. Parties, policies, place-hunters, and pleasure-seekers exclude the Representative of Heaven from a place among representatives of Earth. Might there not be found some room for Christ in what is called good society? Were there not in Bethlehem some people that were very respectable, who kept themselves aloof from the common multitude; persons of reputation and standing — could not they find room for Christ? Ah! dear friends, it is too much the case that there is no room for Him in what is called good society. There is room for all the silly little forms by which men choose to trammel themselves; room for the vain niceties of etiquette; room for frivolous conversation; room for the adoration of the body; there is room for the setting up of this and that as the idol of the hour, but there is too little room for Christ, and it is far from fashionable to follow the Lord fully. The advent of Christ would be the last thing which gay society would desire; the very mention of his name by the lips of love would cause a strange sensation. Should you begin to talk about the things of Christ in many a circle, you would be tabooed at once. “I will never ask that man to my house again,” so-and-so would say — “if he must bring his religion with him.” Folly and finery, rank and honour, jewels and glitter, frivolity and fashion, all report that there is no room for Jesus in their abodes.
But is there not room for him on the exchange? Cannot he be taken to the marts of commerce? Here are the shop-keepers of a shop-keeping nation — is there not room for Christ here? Ah! dear friends, how little of the spirit, and life, and doctrine of Christ can be found here! The trader finds it inconvenient to be too scrupulous; the merchant often discovers that if he is to make a fortune he must break his conscience. How many there are – well, I will not say they tell lies directly, but still, still, – I had better say it plainly – they do lie indirectly with a vengeance. Who does not know as he rides along that there must be many liars abroad? For almost every house you see is “The cheapest house in London,” which can hardly be; full sure they cannot all be cheapest! What sharp practice some indulge in! What puffery and falsehood! What cunning and sleight of hand! What woes would my Master pronounce on some of you if he looked into your shopwindows, or stood behind your counters. Brankruptcies, swindlings, frauds are so abundant that in hosts of cases there is no room for Jesus in the mart or the shop.
Then there are the schools of the philosophers, surely they will entertain him. The wise men will find in him incarnate wisdom; he, who as a youth is to become the teacher of doctors, who will sit down and ask them questions and receive their answers, surely he will find room at
once among the Grecian sages, and men of sense and wit will honour him. “Room for him, Socrates and Plato! Stoics and Epicurians give ye way; and you, ye teachers of Israel, vacate your seats; if there is no room for this child without your going, go; we must have him in the schools of philosophy if we put you all forth.” No, dear friends, but it is not so; there is very little room for Christ in colleges and universities, very little room for him in the seats of learning. How often learning helps men to raise objections to Christ! Too often learning is the forge where the nails are made for Christ’s crucifixion; too often human wit has become the artificer who has pointed the spear and made the shaft with which his heart should be pierced. We must say it, that philosophy, falsely so called, (for true philosophy, if it were handled aright, must ever be Christ’s friend) philosophy, falsely so called, hath done mischief to Christ, but seldom hath it served his cause. A few with splendid talents, a few of the erudite and profound have bowed like children at the feet of the Babe of Bethlehem, and have been honoured in bowing there, but too many, conscious of their knowledge, stiff and stern in their conceit of wisdom, have said, — “Who is Christ, that we should acknowledge him?” They found no room for him in the schools.
But there was surely one place where he could go — it was the Sanhedrim, where the elders sit. Or could he not be housed in the priestly chamber where the priests assemble with the Levites. Was there not room for him in the temple or the synagogue? No, he found no shelter there; it was there, his whole life long, that he found his most ferocious enemies. Not the common multitude, but the priests were the instigators of his death; the priests moved the people to say “Not this man, but Barabbas.” The priests paid out their shekels to bribe the popular voice, and then Christ was hounded to his death. Surely there ought to have been room for him in the Church of his own people; but there was not. Too often in the priestly church, when once it becomes recognised and mounts to dignity, there is no room for Christ. I allude not now to any one denomination, but take the whole sweep of Christendom, and it is strange that when the Lord comes to his own his own receives him not. The most accursed enemies of true religion have been the men who pretended to be its advocates. It is little marvel when bishops undermine the popular faith in revelation; this is neither their first nor last offence. Who burned the martyrs, and made Smithfield a field of blood, a burning fiery furnace, a great altar for the Most High God? Why, those who professed to be anointed of the Lord, whose shaven crowns had received episcopal benediction. Who put John Bunyan in prison? Who chased such men as Owen and the Puritans from their pulpits? Who harried the Covenanters upon the mountains? Who, Sirs, but the professed messengers of heaven and priests of God? Who have hunted the baptized saints in every land, and hunt them still in many a Continental state? The priests ever; the priests ever; there is no room for Christ with the prophets of Baal, the servants of Babylon. The false hirelings that are not Christ’s shepherds, and love not his sheep, have ever been the most ferocious enemies of our God and of his Christ. There is no room for him where his name is chanted in solemn hymns and his image lifted up amid smoke of incense. Go where ye will, and there is no space for the Prince of peace but with the humble and contrite spirits which by grace he prepares to yield him shelter.
III. But now for our third remark, THE INN ITSELF HAD NO ROOM FOR HIM; and this was the main reason why he must be laid in a manger.
What can we find in modem times which stands in the place of the inn? Well, there is public sentiment free to all. In this free land, men speak of what they like, and there is a public opinion upon every subject; and you know there is free toleration in this country to everything — permit me to say, toleration to everything but Christ. You will discover that the persecuting-spirit is now as much abroad as ever. There are still men at whom it is most fashionable to sneer. We never scoff at Christians now-a-days; we do not sneer at that respectable title, lest we should lose our own honour; we do not now-a-days, talk against the followers of Jesus under that name. No; but we have found out a way of doing it more safely. There is a pretty word of modem invention — a very pretty word — the word “Sectarian.” Do you know what it means? A sectarian means a true Christian; a man who can afford to keep a conscience, and does not mind suffering for it; a man who, whatever he finds to be in that old Book, believes it, and acts upon it, and is zealous for it. I believe that the men aimed at under the term, “sectarians,” are the true followers of Christ, and that the sneers and jeers, and all the nonsense that you are always reading and hearing, is really aimed at the Christian, the true Christian, only he is disguised and nick-named by the word sectarian. I would give not a farthing for your religion, nay, not even the turn of a rusty nail, unless you will sometimes win that title. If God's Word be true, every atom of it, then we should act upon it; and whatsoever the Lord commandeth, we should diligently keep and obey, remembering that our Master tells us if we break one of the least of his commandments, and teach men so, we shall be least in his kingdom. We ought to be very jealous, very precise, very anxious, that even in the minutise of our Saviour’s laws, we may obey, having our eyes up to him as the eyes of servants are to their mistresses. But if you do this, you will find you are not tolerated, and you will get the cold shoulder in society. A zealous Christian will find as truly a cross to carry now-a-days, as in the days of Simon the Cyrenian. If you will hold your tongue, if you will leave sinners to perish, if you will never endeavour to propagate your faith, if you will silence all witnessing for truth, if, in fact, you will renounce all the attributes of a Christian, if you will cease to be what a Christian must be, then the world will say, “Ah! that is right; this is the religion we like.” But if you will believe, believe firmly, and if you let your belief actuate your life, and if your belief is so precious that you feel compelled to spread it, then at once you will find that there is no room for Christ even in the inn of public sentiment, where everything else is received. Be an infidel, and none will therefore treat you contemptuously; but be a Christian, and many will despise you. “There was no room for him in the inn.” How little room is there for Christ, too, in general conversation, which is also like an inn. We talk about many things; a man may now-adays talk of any subject he pleases; no one can stop him and say, “There is a spy catching your words; he will report you to some central authority.” Speech is very free in this land; but, ah! how little room is there for Christ in general talk! Even on Sunday afternoon how little room there is for Christ in some professed Christian’s houses. They will talk about ministers, tell queer anecdotes about them — perhaps invent a few, or, at least, garnish the old ones, and add to them, and make them a little more brilliant; they will talk about the Sunday school, or the various agencies in connection with the Church, but how little they say about Christ! And if some one should in conversation make this remark, “Could we not speak upon the Godhead and manhood, the finished work and righteousness the ascension, or the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ,” why we should see many, who even profess to be followers of Christ, who would hold up their heads and say, “Why, dear, that man is quite a fanatic, or else he would not think of introducing such a subject as that into general conversation.” No, there is no room for him in the inn; to this day he can find but little access there. I address many who are working-men. You are employed among a great many artisans day after day; do you not find, brethren — I know you do — that there is very little room for Christ in the workshop? There is room there for everything else; there is room for swearing; there is room for drunkenness; there is room for lewd conversation; there is room for politics, slanders, or infidelities; but there is no room for Christ. Too many of our working men think religion would be an incumbrance, a chain, a miserable prison to them. They can frequent the theatre, or listen in a lecture-hall, but the house of God is too dreary for them. I wish I were not compelled to say so, but truly in our factories, workshops, and foundries, there is no room for Christ. The world is elbowing and pushing for more room, till there is scarce a comer left where the Babe of Bethlehem can be laid. As for the inns of modern times — who would think of finding Christ there? Putting out of our catalogue those hotels and roadside houses which are needed for the accommodation of travellers, what greater curse have we than our taverns and pot-houses? What wider gates of hell? Who would ever resort to such places as we have flaring with gas light at the comers of all our streets to find Christ there? As well might we expect to find him in the bottomless pit! We should be just as likely to look for angels in hell, as to look for Christ in a gin palace! He who is separate from sinners, finds no fit society in the reeking temple of Bacchus. There is no room for Jesus in the inn. I think I would rather rot or feed the crows, than earn my daily bread by the pence of fools, the hard-earnings of the poor man, stolen from his ragged children, and his emaciated wife. What do many publicans fatten upon but the flesh, and bones, and blood, and souls of men. He who grows rich on the fruits of vice is a beast preparing for the slaughter. Truly, there is no room for Christ among the drunkards of Ephraim. They who have anything to do with Christ should hear him say — “Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate; touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” There is no room for Christ now-a-days even in the places of public resort.
IV. This brings me to my fourth head, which is the most pertinent, and the most necessary to dwell upon for a moment. HAVE YOU ROOM FOR CHRIST? HAVE YOU ROOM FOR CHRIST?
As the palace, and the forum, and the inn, have no room for Christ, and as the places of public resort have none, have you room for Christ? “Well,” says one, “I have room for him, but I am not worthy that he should come to me.” Ah! I did not ask about worthiness; have you room for him? “Oh,” says one, “I have an empty void the world can never fill!” Ah! I see you have room for him. “Oh! but the room I have in my heart is so base!” So was the manger. “But it is so despicable!” So was the manger a thing to be despised. “Ah! but my heart is so foul!” So, perhaps, the manger may have been. “Oh! but I feel it is a place not at all fit for Christ!” Nor was the manger a place fit for him, and yet there was he laid. “Oh! but I have been such a sinner; I feel as if my heart had been a den of beasts and devils!” Well, the manger had been a place where beasts had fed. Have you room for him? Never mind what the past has been; he can forget and forgive. It mattereth not what even the present state may be if thou mournest it. If thou hast but room for Christ he will come and be thy guest. Do not say, I pray you, “I hope I shall have room for him the time is come that he shall be born; Mary cannot wait months and years. Oh! sinner, if thou hast room for him let him be born in thy soul to-day. “To day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts as in the provocation.” “To-day is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation.” Room for Jesus! Room for Jesus now! “Oh!” saith one, “I have room for him, but will he come?” Will he come indeed! Do you but set the door of your heart open, do but say, “Jesus, Master, all unworthy and unclean I look to thee; come, lodge within my heart,” and he will come to thee, and he will cleanse the manger of thy heart, nay, will transform it into a golden throne, and there he will sit and reign for ever and for ever. Oh! I have such a free Christ to preach this morning! I would I could preach him better. I have such a precious loving Jesus to preach, he is willing to find a home in humble hearts. What! are there no hearts here this morning that will take him in? Must my eye glance round these galleries and look at many of you who are still without him, and are there none who will say, “Come in, come in?” Oh! it shall be a happy day for you if you shall be enabled to take him in your arms and receive him as the consolation of Israel! You may then look forward even to death with joy, and say with Simeon — “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” My Master wants room! Room for him! Room for him! I, his herald, cry aloud, Room for the Saviour! Room! Here is my royal Master — have you room for him? Here is the Son of God made flesh — have you room for him? Here is he who can forgive all sin— have you room for him? Here is he who can take you up out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay— have you room for him? Here is he who when he cometh in will never go out again, but abide with you for ever to make your heart a heaven of joy and bliss for you — have you room for him? ’Tis all I ask. Your emptiness, your nothingness, your want of feeling, your want of goodness, your want of grace — all these will be but room for him. Have you room for him? Oh! Spirit of God, lead many to say, “Yes, my heart is ready.” Ah! then he will come and dwell with you.
“Joy to the world the Saviour comes,
The Saviour promised long;
Let every heart prepare a throne
And every voice a song.”
V. I conclude with the remark, that if you have room for Christ, then from this day forth remember THE WORLD HAS NO ROOM FOR YOU; for the text says not only that there was no room for him, but look — “There was no room for them,” — no room for Joseph, nor for Mary, any more than for the babe. Who are his father, and mother, and sister, and brother, but those that receive his word and keep it? So, as there was no room for the blessed Virgin, nor for the reputed father, remember henceforth there is no room in this world for any true follower of Christ. There is no room for you to take your ease; no, you are to be a soldier of the cross, and you will find no ease in all your life-warfare. There is no room for you to sit down contented with your own attainments, for you are a traveller, and you are to forget the things that are behind, and press forward to that which is before; no room for you to hide your treasure in, for here the moth and rust doth corrupt; no room for you to put your confidence, for “Cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” From this day there will be no room for you in the world's Id’ good opinion — they will count you to be an offscouring; no room for you in the world’s polite society — you must go without the camp, bearing his reproach. From this time forth, I say, if you have room for Christ, the world will hardly find room of sufferance for you ; t you must expect now to be laughed at; now you must wear the fool’s cap in men’s esteem; and your song must be at the very beginning of your pilgrimage.
“Jesus, I thy cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.”
There is no room for you in the worldling’s love. If you expect that everybody will praise you, and that your good actions will all be applauded, you will quite be mistaken. The world, I say, has no room for the man who has room for Christ. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.” “Ye are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world.” Thank God, you need not ask the world’s hospitality. If it will give you but a stage for action, and lend you for an hour a grave to sleep in, ’tis all you need; you will require no permanent dwelling-place here, since you seek a city that is to come, which hath foundations; whose builder and maker is God. You are hurrying through this world as a stranger through a foreign land, and you rejoice to know that though you are an alien and a foreigner here, yet you are a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household to God.
What say you, young soldier, will you enlist on such terms as these? Will you give room for Christ when there is to be henceforth no room for you — when you are to be separated for ever, cut off from among the world’s kith and kin mayhap — cut off from carnal confidence for ever? Are you willing, notwithstanding all this, to receive the traveller in? The Lord help you to do so, and to him shall be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Many believe that drinking alcoholic beverage is acceptable for the believer if it is not done in excess. My personal view is that alcoholic beverages of any kind should be avoided because of Biblical teaching ( both old/new testament) and it is always the wise thing to do. So many use the passage in John 2 in attempting to prove that Jesus give permission to drink fermented drink. But the exact opposite is the true Biblical truth. I ran across the following article and would like to share it with the Bishirblog readers in hopes to give us another reason to avoid that which contains such enslaving substance to our bodies and souls.
The following is an excerpt from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on John 2.
Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (2:6–10)The stone waterpots were, as John explained for the benefit of his Gentile readers, used for the Jewish custom of purification. Ceremonial washings were an integral part of first-century Judaism: The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots. (Mark 7:3–4)The Jews used stone waterpots to hold the water used for ritual purification because they believed that, unlike earthenware pots (Lev. 11:33), they did not become unclean. Unlike the smaller one used by the Samaritan woman to draw water from a well (4:28), these were large pots, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Such a large amount of water was needed not only to accommodate the guests, but also because the cooking and eating utensils had to be washed (Mark 7:4).
Mary’s faith and confidence in her Son were not misplaced. As she had foreseen, He responded by commanding the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” In response, they filled them up to the brim, either by topping them off, or by emptying and refilling them. This seemingly insignificant detail, that the water was up to the very top, shows that nothing was added to the water, and that what followed was indeed a transformation miracle. By ordering the jars to be completely filled before He transformed the water in them into wine, Jesus also displayed His magnanimous grace (cf. 1:14, 16–17). Such a large amount of wine (120 to 180 gallons) was more than enough to last for the rest of the celebration. Jesus not only rescued the bride and groom from an embarrassing situation, but the leftover wine also provided them with a generous wedding present.
After the pots were filled, Jesus instructed the servants to draw some out and take the instantly created wine to the headwaiter. Jewish sources do not make clear whether this individual was the head servant, or a guest chosen to preside over the banquet. That he summoned the groom and spoke to him as at least his equal (vv. 9–10) suggests the latter. In either case, he served as the master of ceremonies at the feast. Since he was responsible for making sure that the guests were supplied with food and drink, the servants took the wine to him.
To make sure it was acceptable, the headwaiter sampled the food and drink before it was served to the guests. Therefore after the servants brought it to him, he tasted the water which had become wine. Though he did not know where it came from (though of course the servants who had drawn the water did), he was astonished at the high quality of this new batch of wine. He called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine.” There is some historical evidence that most hosts did, as the headwaiter suggested, serve the best wine first (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991], 174). In any case, it was only common sense to serve the good wine first and save the poorer wine for later when the people had drunk freely. The verb methusko (drunk freely) literally means “to become drunk,” and is so translated in its only other appearances in the New Testament (Luke 12:45; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:7; Rev. 17:2). That does not mean, however, that this particular banquet had become a drunken orgy; the headwaiter was speaking from his own experience. But much to his surprise (and no doubt the groom’s as well), it seemed that the groom had kept the good wine until the last. Surely it was the sweetest, freshest wine ever tasted. This wine did not come from the normal process of fermentation, from grapes, vines, the earth and the sun. The Lord brought it into existence from nothing. Truly this was evidence that He is the Creator (John 1:1–4).
Currently we are in a preaching series entitled, “People and Places of the Bible.” One message I preached was entitled, “King David on His Palace Roof Near the Temple Mount.” One of my favorite people in the Bible is David. What a great man of God. The Bible says he had a heart for God. Just read the Psalms and see how greatly he desired to honor the name of the Lord. See him take on Goliath the Giant because he wanted to defend the great name of God Almighty. Watch him take the city of Jerusalem for the Lord and make it the capital of the Jewish people and see his burning desire to build the Temple of the Lord on Mt. Moriah. In fact, look at the place he built his own palace and the seat of government. Was it not just a short walk to the Temple Mount where Abraham had, centuries before, been willing to offer up his only son Isaac? Was it not just a few minutes from where the Heavenly Father would have His Only Begotten Son offered up on the cross to die for the sins of the world? Yes, David the Man of God and King of Israel loved his Lord sincerely and supremely!
Yet from this very place which was just a stone’s throw from this most holy place, he sinned grievously. Within the very sight of the place which pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Having stayed home from the battle, sending others instead, he had set himself up for a fall to become easy prey for the tempter. He walked out on his roof, and instead of facing north, he faced southeast. Instead of looking toward the Lord, he looked toward the way of the woman Bathsheba. For most of us, we know the story that followed and the destruction that was a result – the covering of sin, lies, deceit, murder, shame, loss and the death of a seven-day-old baby boy, and the years of pain that would follow.
And all of this happening to a man who LOVED the LORD! Yes, it is possible and very probable that if we make the same mistakes of David, the results will be the same. He failed to set measures of prevention in his life. Each of us, like David, have sinful natures that are drawn away by lusts. But for the born again Christian, we have been quickened and now have a new nature. But our old natures are still present in our lives, and those old natures are still as depraved as the day we were born. They are prone to reject the ways of the Lord and to sin. Romans 6-8 teaches us these principles. But thank the Lord that the New Testament believer has so much more God-given abilities than David had to overcome the temptations of our flesh when the devil comes to tempt.
We need to use these abilities to be ready to overcome the temptation to sin against the ONE WE LOVE. We need to set measures of prevention into our lives before the tempter comes to lead our eyes away from the beauty of our Lord unto the beauty of the world.
Let me suggest a few lessons we learn from King David’s failure in order to save ourselves the shame and destruction that are the results of sin.
1. Stay in the battle and resist the temptation of staying out of the battle.
2. Guard your eyes. (Seems like David may have known what he would see if he went out on the roof and looked in that direction.)
3. Practice the emptying of ourselves instead of overindulgence and seeking of ease.
4. Spend time praying in the Temple (Today our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.) and less time gazing at the beauties of the world.
5. Live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and overcome the power of sin. (David did not have such spiritual privilege as the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.)
6. Stay in the Scriptures. Fill your thoughts with purity.
7. Remain satisfied with your own husband or wife and seek to please one another for God’s glory.
8. Study the life of David and remember the cost of unconfessed sin. See how sin grows into deeper and more costly sins.
These and many other lessons are learned in 2 Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 51. May I encourage you to study this text this week and ask the Lord to teach you from this passage. Ask the Lord to show you practical ways to avoid such sin that can come into the life of ONE WHO LOVES THE LORD!
But above all else, see the grace of God that David found even in his sin. He was sought out by the Lord. He was confronted by Nathan, the Lord’s prophet. David confessed his sins and found gracious forgiveness. The Lord would still use David in spite of the consequences. Yet one day at the Second Coming of our Lord, David will sit on his governmental throne and rule the Jewish redeemed for 1,000 years from the very place David’s sin took place. And Jesus will rule the entire world during His Millennial Kingdom on earth just a short distance from where David will rule. And this very same place is where Jesus paid for the sins of the world giving Him the just right to show grace to all who would receive Him as Lord and Savior.
So we must remember it is possible to sin at any moment; thus, we must be prepared to withstand the tempter. We need to remember that when we sin, we should not run from God, but run unto God. Not to cover our sins, but confess them immediately and be cleansed from sin. Always trusting in the GRACE OF GOD and looking forward to the day when we will be set free from the very presence of sin!
The more stressful my life becomes I find a greater desire to be alone with God. As we study the life of our Lord while here on this earth He made it a priority of the day to seek spending time with the Heavenly Father. Time alone, time in solitude. I heard the saying years ago, “ We need to come apart so we will not come apart” , so true!
Yet in society today it seems like the value of solitude is failing as we have so much vying for our attention. The fact is that most people are just “to busy” that we have little time to sit down, be alone, let our hearts and minds just take a rest in the presence of the Lord as He comforts and restores our inner and outer man!
I ran across a great footnote in a Bible concerning this topic. I want to share it today with all the Bishirblog readers. May we do more than just Read it may we Heed it! Hope it helps to exhort each of us to build into our daily, weekly and yearly lives time for physical and spiritual solitude. I am sure it will be less expensive then a visit to the doctor and more productive for the soul!
[Please continue to read the following article]
I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact,” wrote philosopher Blaise Pascal, “in that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”1 Pascal wrote those words in 1670, but they are even more applicable today. We fill our lives with distractions — social media, television, games — and assume we are trying to avoid boredom. But often our diversions are rooted in a fear of solitude.
By avoiding solitude, though, we are missing out on opportunities for deeper communion with God. Solitude is the discipline that calls us to consciously pull away from everything else in our lives, including the company of other people, for the purpose of giving our full and undivided attention to God.²
Almost every significant figure in the Bible — from Jacob to Elijah, Moses to Paul — spent time practicing the discipline of solitude. The Gospels frequently mention how Jesus “went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). In Luke 6:12 he “went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
Throughout his life Moses would often set himself apart to be alone with God, often for extended periods of time. In Deuteronomy 9:18, Moses reminds the Israelites that he practiced solitude and fasting “before the LORD for forty days and forty nights” on their behalf. Such passages can make us uncomfortable and despairing of our own lack of discipline: Moses could spend 40 days in solitude while we struggle to spend 40 minutes alone with God! But with effort, we, too, can practice the discipline of solitude.
Three things to consider when practicing solitude:
1. Solitude doesn’t require silence
Silence and solitude are complementary disciplines that aid our communion with God. But while silence almost always requires solitude, solitude does not necessarily require silence. We can use our time of solitude for prayer, verbal meditation on Scripture, singing psalms or hymns of praise or any other form of “noisy” activity. Solitude doesn’t require either silence or a hushed solemnity.
2. Solitude requires planning
Our lives tend to be filled with people and events, making it unlikely we’ll accidentally stumble into solitude. Being alone with God requires planning. Choose a place where you can be intimate with God and free from distractions. This “special place” doesn’t need to be special — it just needs to be a place where you can remove yourself from the world for as much time as needed.
3. Solitude requires time
On most days the best we can do is to get away alone for a few minutes, or even an hour. We should cherish these times and guard them carefully. Yet while these solitary moments are necessary, they’re hardly sufficient to meet our need for closeness with our Creator. Commit to finding creative ways to be alone with God for extended periods of solitude, ranging from a few hours to a few days.
Three reasons solitude is necessary for spiritual formation
1. Solitude amplifies other disciplines
We can carry out almost every other discipline in the company of others. We can pray, meditate and worship almost anytime and in any place. But practicing those disciplines in the context of solitude helps us achieve a greater focus and augments our efforts.
2. Solitude is not about being alone
Normally when we use the term solitude, we’re referring to the state of being alone. But solitude also has the meaning of “absence of human activity.” This is what we mean when we refer to the discipline; the purpose is not to be alone but to experience the absence of human activity so that we can more fully experience the presence of God.
3. Solitude exposes our idols
We might tell ourselves we prefer God’s company to that of any other person or thing in the world. Solitude puts that claim to the test. By being alone with God we get a clearer view of the idols of our heart, and we are presented with an opportunity to repent.
Put it into practice
Consider setting aside a block of at least 2 hours to be alone with God this coming month.
MANAGING OUR FAMILIES BY MANAGING OUR MONEY
Today’s culture has brought with it some destructive pressures to the American family. One such pressure point is money pressure, specifically financial debt. Seems like “ Till death do us part” is being replaced with “Till debt do us part”. The money problems is listed in the top reasons for marriage stress and often breakup.
The Lord has a lot to say about money and it can be applied to our family life. Managing marriage and money go hand in hand. The Christian family dedicated to living life by the principles of the Bible has a certain advantage in having a healthy marriage. If we come to the Bible and obey its principles we shall live more abundantly.
The Bible is full of instruction from the Lord concerning money management. Proverbs, 1st Corinthians 16, and 2nd Corinthians 9 just to mention a few places. From 2nd Corinthians 9 I would like to share a few guidelines on managing money that apply to everyone who is a believer whether single or married. I will not go into depth concerning this passage but hopefully will help you to glean a few helpful truths. Perhaps these thoughts will encourage you to make some adjustments and dig deeper into God’s Word to seek advice in how to manage your money before it manages you and brings destruction to your family.
2nd Corinthians 9:
I. Keep In Mind The Source. (v 8)
In verse 8, Paul said, “ God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”. In this brief statement the Lord wants us to keep in our mind that He is generous and will supply all the resources we need to live . So whatever resources we have as a single or a couple we need to recognize it is all from God. Our Lord will give all we need as we exercise His principles of work and good stewardship which He provides for us in His Word. As we live out His principles the Lord will supply all we need to live and all we need to give! Healthy Families Trust!
II. Keep Our Desires Under Restraint.
We must continually keep our lustful desires from controlling us. Each of us has real need's and perceived greed's. I am thankful the Lord gives us over our needs but He promises to meet our needs not our greed's. Unwise spending based on impulse shopping and being lured into meeting a greed is one of Satan's cleverest temptations. Many individuals and families seem to feed their covetousness instead of focusing on their contentment. As we focus on Christ and what He provides it will lead us to thanking Him for His sovereign provisions. Hebrews 13:5.
Healthy Families Restrain!
III. Keep As Priority God’s Glory. (v13)
Be determined that the whole purpose of life is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. Paul told the Corinthians that their financial gift to the Jerusalem church would cause those believers to glorify God. And the reason they would glorify God was because of the Corinthians were giving because of the great work of God in their lives. Healthy families are those who learn to look at finances as one way to worship the Lord. Healthy Families Give!
Healthy Families Glorify God!
IV. Keep Partnership At All Times.
As we study this passage we are reminded that Paul was writing to a group of people. The entire church at Corinth. In the same way our marriage and family must work together in the managing of money. Everyone should attempt to help provide, and use the resources wisely. My and mine is replaced with our and others especially in the matter of money. Thus couples need to communicate and agree on money matters.
Healthy Families Partner Together.
V. Keep Planning The Work and Working The Plan. (v6)
“ He which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully”. This verse is in reference of farming. The successful farmer plans when they will plant, cultivate and harvest. Successful families do the same with their financial endeavors. They use budgets and keep good records. They “ Plan the Work and Work the Plan”. That sounds pretty simple but it is amazingly profound and productive. Organization seems like it is a lot of work but in reality it simplifies life and relives a ton of pressure.
Healthy Families Plan Together!
VI. Keep Making, Spending, Saving And Sharing Financially. (v7)
“ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God liveth a cheerful giver”. Day by day, week by week we must continue to work as we provide more resources for ourselves, our family and others in need. As we gain resources we must be good stewards in spending those resources. And we must practice saving some of all we make. We can learn so much from the little ANT in the book of proverbs. But with all we make, all we spend, all we save we are instructed by our Lord that we are to take a planed amount and give to Gods work and others in need. And as we do we are to be cheerful knowing that our Lord is well pleased and will bless those who become givers and not takers.
Giving should be done purposefully, joyfully, expectantly. Sharing wealth does not impoverish a Christian - it is the refusal to share that brings poverty of soul and finances to people , particularly God’s children. Proverbs 22:9; Acts 20:35.
Healthy Families Share Together.
May our families live by faith in all areas including money bringing glory to God and good to our marriages!
The following sermon was preached by D.L. Moody in the late 1800's. I found it helpful reading and wanted to share it for your reading. Hope it helps you in finding or being reminded of the security of the believer.
Assurance of Salvation
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. —1 John 5:13
There are two classes who ought not to have assurance. First: Those who are in the church but who are not converted, having never been born of the Spirit. Second: Those not willing to do God’s will; who are not ready to take the place that God has mapped out for them, but want to fill some other place.
Have All God’s People Assurance?
Someone will ask: “Have all God’s people assurance?” No; I think a good many of God’s dear people have no assurance; but it is the privilege of every child of God to have beyond a doubt a knowledge of his own salvation. No man is fit for God’s service who is filled with doubts. If a man is not sure of his own salvation, how can he help anyone else into the kingdom of God? If I seem in danger of drowning and do not know whether I shall ever reach the shore, I cannot assist another. I must first get on the solid rock myself; and then I can lend my brother a helping hand. If being myself blind I were to tell another blind man how to get sight, he might reply: “First get healed yourself, and then you can tell me.” I recently met with a young man who was a Christian, but he had not attained to victory over sin. He was in terrible darkness. Such an one is not fit to work for God, because he has besetting sins; and he has not the victory over his doubts, because he has not the victory over his sins.
None will have time or heart to work for God, who are not assured as to their own salvation. They have as much as they can attend to; and being themselves burdened with doubts, they cannot help others to carry their burdens. There is no rest, joy, or peace—no liberty, nor power—where doubts and uncertainty exist.
Now it seems as if there are three wiles of Satan against which we ought to be on our guard. In the first place, he moves all his kingdom to keep us away from Christ; then he devotes himself to get us into “Doubting Castle”; but if we have, in spite of him, a clear ringing witness for the Son of God, he will do all he can to blacken our characters and belie our testimony.
Some seem to think that it is presumption not to have doubts; but doubt is very dishonoring to God.
If any one were to say that they had known a person for thirty years and yet doubted him, it would not be very creditable; and when we have known God for ten, twenty or thirty years, does it not reflect on His veracity to doubt Him?
Could Paul and the early Christians and martyrs have gone through what they did if they had been filled with doubts, and had not known whether they were going to heaven or to perdition after they had been burned at the stake? They must have had assurance.
What John Tells Us
Now let us come to the Word. John tells us in his Gospel what Christ did for us on Earth. In his epistle, He tells us what He is doing for us in heaven as our Advocate. In his [John’s] Gospel, there are only two chapters in which the word “believe” does not occur. With these two exceptions, every chapter in John is “Believe! Believe!! BELIEVE!!!” He tells us in 20:31: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” That is the purpose for which he wrote the Gospel—“that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through His name” (John 20:31).
Turn to 1 John 5:13. There he tells us why he wrote this epistle. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” Notice to whom he writes it: “You that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” There are only five short chapters in this first epistle, and the word “know” occurs over forty times. It is “Know! Know!! KNOW!!!” The key to it is Know! And all through the epistle there rings out the refrain “That we might know that we have eternal life.”
Five Things Worth Knowing
In the third chapter of John’s first epistle there are five things worth knowing.
In the fifth verse we read the first: “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” Not what I have done, but what He has done. Has He failed in His mission? Is He not able to do what He came for? Did ever any heaven-sent man fail yet? And could God’s own Son fail? He was MANIFESTED TO TAKE AWAY OUR SINS.
Again, in the nineteenth verse, the second thing worth knowing: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” WE KNOW that we are of THE TRUTH. And if the truth make us free, we shall be free indeed. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
The third thing worth knowing is in the fourteenth verse: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” The natural man does not like godly people, nor does he care to be in their company. “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” He has no spiritual life.
The fourth thing worth knowing we find in verse twenty-four: “And he that keepth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” We can tell what kind of Spirit we have if we possess the Spirit of Christ—a Christ-like spirit—not the same in degree, but the same in kind. If I am meek, gentle, and forgiving; if I have a spirit filled with peace and joy; if I am long-suffering and gentle, like the Son of God—that is a test; and in that way we are to tell whether we have eternal life or not.
The fifth thing worth knowing, and the best of all, is: “Beloved, now.” Notice the word “now.” It does not say when you come to die. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (v. 2).
Will The Christian Sin?
But some will say: “Well, I believe all that; but then I have sinned since I became a Christian.” Is there a man or a woman on the face of the Earth who has not sinned since becoming a Christian? Not one! There never has been, and never will be, a soul on this Earth who has not sinned, or who will not sin, at some time of their Christian experience. But God has made provision for believers’ sins. We are not to make provision for them; but God has. Bear that in mind.
The Past Sins Of Christians Are All Forgiven
As soon as they are confessed, they are never to be mentioned. That is a question which is not to be opened up again. If our sins have been put away, that is the end of them. They are not to be remembered, and God will not mention them any more. This is very plain. Suppose I have a son who, while I am from home, does wrong. When I go home he throws his arms around my neck, and says: “Papa, I did what you told me not to do. I am very sorry. Do forgive me.” I say: “Yes, my son,” and kiss him. He wipes away his tears, and goes off rejoicing.
But the next day he says: “Papa, I wish you would forgive me for the wrong I did yesterday.” I should say: “Why, my son, that thing is settled; and I don’t want it mentioned again.” “But I wish you would forgive me; it would help me to hear you say, ‘I forgive you.’” Would that be honoring me? Would it not grieve me to have my boy doubt me? But to gratify him I say again, “I forgive you, my son.”
And if, the next day, he were again to bring up that old sin, and ask forgiveness, would not that grieve me to the heart? And so, my dear reader, if God has forgiven us, never let us mention the past. Let us forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those which are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let the sins of the past go; for “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
How To Tell If You Are A Child Of God
Again in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Now examine yourselves. Try your religion. Put it to the test. Can you forgive an enemy? That is a good way to know if you are a child of God. Can you forgive an injury, or take an affront, as Christ did? Can you be censured for doing well, and not murmur? Can you be misjudged and misrepresented, and yet keep a Christ-like spirit?
Another good test is to read Galatians 5, and notice the fruits of the Spirit, and see if you have them. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” If I have the fruits of the Spirit I must have the Spirit. I could not have the fruits without the Spirit any more than there could be an orange without the tree. And Christ says: “Ye shall know them by their fruits;” “For the tree is known by his fruits.” Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. The only way to get the fruit is to have the Spirit. That is the way to examine ourselves whether we are the children of God.
Then there is another very striking passage. In Romans 8:9, Paul says: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” That ought to settle the question, even though one may have gone through all the external forms that are considered necessary by some to constitute a member of a church. Read Paul’s life, and put yours alongside of it. If your life resembles his, it is a proof that you are born again—that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Growing In Grace
But although you may be born again it will require time to become a full-grown Christian. Justification is instantaneous; but sanctification is a lifework. We are to grow in wisdom. Peter says: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18); and in the first chapter of his second epistle “Add to your faith virtue; add to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So that we are to add grace to grace. A tree may be perfect in its first year of growth; but it does not attain its maturity. So with the Christian; he may be a true child of God, but not a matured Christian. The eighth of Romans is very important, and we should be very familiar with it. In the fourteenth verse the apostle says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Just as the soldier is led by his captain, the pupil by his teacher, or the traveler by his guide; so the Holy Spirit will be the guide of every true child of God.
Paul’s Teaching On Assurance
Then let me call your attention to another fact. All Paul’s teaching in nearly every epistle rings out the doctrine of assurance. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” He had a title to the mansions above, and he says--I know it. He was not living in uncertainty. He said: “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23); and if he had been uncertain he would not have said that. Then in Colossians 3:4, he says: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” I am told that Dr. Watts’ tombstone bears this same passage of Scripture. There is no doubt there.
Then turn to Colossians 1:12: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which HATH made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
Three haths:“HATH made us meet”; “HATH delivered us”; and “HATH translated us.” It does not say that He is going to make us meet; that He is going to deliver; that He is going to translate.
Then again in verse 14: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” We are either forgiven or we are not, we should not give ourselves any rest until we get into the kingdom of God; nor until we can each look up and say, “I know that if my earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Assurance May Be A Certainty
There is assurance for you. “I KNOW.” Do you think that the God who has justified me will condemn me? That is quite an absurdity. God is going to save us, so that neither men, angels, nor devils can bring any charge against us or Him. He will have the work complete.
Job lived in a darker day than we do; but we read in Job 19:25: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth.”
The same confidence breathes through Paul’s last words to Timothy: “For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” It is not a matter of doubt, but of knowledge. “I know.” “I am persuaded.” The word “hope” is not used in the Scripture to express doubt. It is used in regard to the second coming of Christ, or to the resurrection of the body. We do not say that we “hope” we are Christians. I do not say that I “hope” I am an American, or that I “hope” I am a married man. These are settled things. I may say that I “hope” to go back to my home, or I hope to attend such a meeting. I do not say that I “hope” to come to this country, for I am here. And so, if we are born of God we know it; and He will not leave us in darkness if we search the Scriptures.
Christ taught this doctrine to His seventy disciples when they returned elated with their success, saying: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” The Lord seemed to check them, and said that He would give them something to rejoice in. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
It is the privilege of every one of us to know, beyond a doubt, that our salvation is sure.
Then we can work for others. But if we are doubtful of our own salvation, we are not fit for the service of God.
Another passage is John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment” (the Revised Version has it so); “but is passed from death unto life.”
Some people say that you never can tell till you are before the great white throne of judgment whether you are saved or not. Why, my dear friend, if your life is hid with Christ in God, you are not coming into judgment for your sins. We may come into judgment for reward. This is clearly taught where the lord reckoned with the servant to whom five talents had been given, and who brought other five talents, saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.” His lord said unto him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:20, 21). We shall be judged for our stewardship. That is one thing, but salvation—eternal life—is another.
Will God demand payment twice of the debt which Christ has paid for us? If Christ bore my sins in His own body on the tree, am I to answer for them as well?
Isaiah tells us that, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” In Romans 4:25, we read: He “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Let us believe, and get the benefit of His finished work.
Looking for a Life
Now, a great many people want some token outside of God’s Word. That habit always brings doubt. If I made a promise to meet a man at a certain hour and place tomorrow, and he were to ask me for my watch as a token of my sincerity, it would be a slur on my truthfulness. We must not question what God has said: He has made statement after statement, and multiplied figure upon figure. Christ says: “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.” “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” “I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “I am the truth”; receive Me, and you will have the truth; for I am the embodiment of truth. Do you want to know the way? “I am the way”; follow Me, and I will lead you into the kingdom. Are you hungering after righteousness? “I am the Bread of life”; if you eat of Me you shall never hunger. “I am the Water of life”; if you drink of this water it shall be within you “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26).
Let me remind you where our doubts come from. A good many of God’s dear people never get beyond knowing themselves servants. He calls us “friends.” If you go into a house you will soon see the difference between the servant and the son. The son walks at perfect liberty all over the house; he is at home. But the servant takes a subordinate place. What we want is to get beyond servants. We ought to realize our standing with God as sons and daughters. He will not “un-child” His children. God has not only adopted us, but we are His by birth; we have been born into His kingdom. My little boy was as much mine when he was a day old as now that he is fourteen. He was my son; although it did not appear what he would be when he attained manhood. He is mine; although he may have to undergo probation under tutors and governors. The children of God are not perfect; but we are perfectly His children.
Another origin of doubts is looking at ourselves. If you want to be wretched and miserable, filled with doubts from morning till night, look at yourself. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Many of God’s dear children are robbed of joy because they keep looking at themselves.
Three Ways to Look
Someone has said: “There are three ways to look. If you want to be wretched, look within; if you wish to be distracted, look around; but if you would have peace, look up.” Peter looked away from Christ, and he immediately began to sink. The Master said to him: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). He had God’s eternal word, which was sure footing, and better than either marble, granite or iron; but the moment he took his eyes off Christ down he went. Those who look around cannot see how unstable and dishonoring is their walk. We want to look straight at the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”
“What Is Faith?”
Bishop Ryle has strikingly said: “Faith is the root, and assurance the flower. Doubtless you can never have the flower without the root; but it is no less certain you may have the root, and not the flower.
“Faith is that poor, trembling woman who came behind Jesus in the press, and touched the hem of His garment (Mark 5:27). Assurance is Stephen standing calmly in the midst of his murderers, and saying, ‘I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:56).
“Faith is the penitent thief, crying, ‘Lord, remember me’ (Luke 23:42). Assurance is Job sitting in the dust, covered with sores, and saying, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’; ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him’ (Job 19:25; 13:15).
“Faith is Peter’s drowning cry, as he began to sink, ‘Lord, save me!’ (Matthew 24:30). Assurance is that same Peter declaring before the council, in after-times, ‘This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:11, 12).
“Faith is the anxious, trembling voice, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). Assurance is the confident challenge, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who is he that condemneth?’ (Romans 8:33, 34).
“Faith is Saul praying in the house of Judas at Damascus, sorrowful, blind and alone (Acts 9:11). Assurance is Paul, the aged prisoner, looking calmly into the grave, and saying, ‘I know whom I have believed.’ ‘There is a crown laid up for me’ (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:8).
“Faith is LIFE. How great the blessing! Who can tell the gulf between life and death? And yet life may be weak, sickly, unhealthy, painful, trying, anxious, worn, burdensome, joyless, smileless, to the very end.
“Assurance is more than life.It is health, strength, power, vigor, activity, energy, manliness, beauty.”
Another writer says: “I have seen shrubs and trees grow out of the rocks, and overhang fearful precipices, roaring cataracts, and deep running waters; but they maintained their position, and threw out their foliage and branches as much as if they had been in the midst of a dense forest.” It was their hold on the rock that made them secure; and the influences of nature that sustained their life. So believers are oftentimes exposed to the most horrible dangers in their journey to heaven; but, so long as they are “rooted and grounded” in the Rock of Ages, they are perfectly secure. Their hold of Him is their guarantee; and the blessings of His grace give them life and sustain them in life. And as the tree must die, or the rock fall, before a dissolution can be effected between them, so either the believer must lose his spiritual life, or the Rock must crumble, ere their union can be dissolved.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.