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Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

Acts 19:24-27. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen.  He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade.  Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.  So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”

I get the sense that Demetrius was not so much a religious man as a greedy man, as he makes several appeals to the financial benefit that Diana worship brings to men of the city of Ephesus.  Surely such a businessman had the intelligence to realize that Paul was correct…a man cannot make a god with his hands. However that was not a profitable stance for him to take and not one that he would lend any credence to. So he appeals to the men on the basis of what he worships (money), and then on the basis of the dangers to their religious culture and warned that Diana’s magnificence would be destroyed by what Paul was teaching.  This is the “greatness” of a man made God- it is ever subject to being demolished and dismantled by truth. Whatever magnificence Diana had was a magnificence imputed by men and could thus be taken away by men. But the magnificence of the true God cannot be touched or diminished.  No man gave it to Him and no man can take it from Him.  The magnificence of Jesus was revealed in greater glory and power after they attempted to destroy Him by crucifixion. Though He is rejected by men still, His magnificence is untouched.  He remains as glorious as He has always been in eternity past and will be in eternity future.  He doesn’t need us to protect His splendor….only to reveal it. Let the world in its vanity scoff and mock if they will.  He loses nothing by their disapproval and disdain. His remains an untouchable magnificence.

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Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

What a beautiful promise of deliverance this is for the child of God….one that many have clung to in the dark seasons of life. Deliverance.  An end to the trial. This is often our sole focus in time of trouble, trial and affliction….the end of it.  But what about the fruit of it?  What about the work of God through it?  That same verse tells us that afflictions WILL come. Many afflictions. It is an unavoidable part of life.  Can we believe there is purpose in it?

Acts 16 – Paul had been in Philippi for many days. He had been to Lydia’s house and to the river, but what about this jailer?  How would he hear the gospel?  The wisdom of God is to put His ministers in jail. Paul’s prison was for this man’s soul.

Paul probably didn’t know this when he was beaten and put in the stocks, but He trusted God enough to leave His suffering to God’s sovereign purpose. How else would he be able to worship in such a situation?

My suffering often benefits me when I allow myself to be instructed through it and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and the experience with God through it. But maybe….just maybe…my suffering is for someone else.  How easy to bear is a prison that brings forth a soul.

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This morning I got up early so I could spend some time seeking the Lord. I opened my Bible to read for a little while and ended in Acts 15 where Paul and Barnabas had an argument that ended their ministry together because Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark, who had earlier had a little fall from grace, with them in the ministry. But Paul didn’t want him involved. It says that Barnabas and Mark went on their way and Paul and Silas went on their way commended by the church. That little bit of scripture seemed important this morning so I just stop to meditate on it for a while. And as I was just thinking on it I saw how there’s great importance in who you partner with in life and ministry. It can change the course of everything. It seemed at first that Barnabas made the wrong choice and it brought the disapproval of the church. But as I looked into it more and thought on it in the Lord’s presence, the message of this verse became so beautiful to me….especially now. Earlier in the book of Acts Barnabas is called “Son of Encouragement”. He was the one who believed in Paul when everybody else was afraid of him. This same Barnabas was the one who wanted to see Mark restored when others were angry that he hadn’t been faithful. Barnabas’s ministry may not be praised through the generations like Paul’s is, but it didn’t end with his disagreement with Paul. He continued to be a faithful minister of the gospel, maybe just behind the scenes now. The testimony of Mark is that he remained a faithful and useful man. What would have happened to him if Barnabas had rejected him in order to keep Paul’s approval? Thankfully we will never know. What we do know is that it cost Barnabas his partnership with the illustrious apostle Paul to be faithful to his role as a son of encouragement. Yet now, thousands of years later on a cold January morning, he is still encouraging the brethren.

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I “met” Rob recently through some friends. In the last week we talked on the phone a couple of times and exchanged a few text messages. Rob had a history of addiction and described himself as an agnostic. I was planning to pick someone up for church this evening that was staying at his house and Rob actually invited himself to come to church with us. He talked a lot and he talked super fast so it was sometimes difficult to get a word in, but I was able to briefly share the gospel with Rob. Several times in the last week Rob let me know he was excited about coming to church and I sent him a text message this morning to let him know what time I would be there to pick them up. A little while later I got a phone call that Rob was dead…very possibly an overdose.

I never got to meet Rob in person, but his death has affected me.

We have recently experienced the deaths of several people in our church and although there was sadness, it was tempered with the joy of knowing they were with Jesus. There is nothing to lessen the sorrow of Rob’s death. There is no joy, there is no hope.

Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2

Take it to heart, you who live. For there are many who are dead while they live….dead in sin and separated from God. The gospel is their only hope. It is the only remedy. But the gospel is not good news to the man who dies without it. So preach it often. Preach it boldly. Preach it that all may live.

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(J.R. MacDuff, “Influence!“)

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.” Acts 13:36

In deducing from these words moral and spiritual lessons, I would observe generally, that each individual in this life has some great purpose to fulfill. “David served God’s purpose in his own generation.” He has left his indelible footprints on the sands of time!

Everything in the wide universe has its special mission. The flower fulfills its design by unfolding its colors or scattering its sweet fragrances wherever it blooms. As we see it dropping its decayed and withered leaves one by one, we feel its little destiny in its own little world has been attained. The lark as it mounts in the air, and chants its carol fulfills its mission by these tuneful melodies.

If we take a loftier survey, and ascend amid the glories of the firmament, we see the sun fulfilling his great appointment to give light to the system: coming forth “like a bridegroom from his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run his race.” Or the moon, that faithful sentinel, lavishing her nightly care on the earth — a majestic beacon-light to land and ocean.

Turn to whatever page we may in the vast volume of creation, we shall find in each, the record of some peculiar office and vocation. Mountains and seas, fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind — all fulfill the word and decree and design of God.

And is it different with man? Has he alone no momentous work to perform in the economy in which he is placed? Is our whole earthly destiny to eat and drink, and sleep and die? Are we to fritter away our brief hour on life’s stage; to be ushered in with a few rejoicings at our birth, followed by a few tears at our departure? And when our sun has gone down, when the grass of the grave covers our resting places — shall we be as if we never were?

How many there are who, to all appearance, think so! They have never yet awakened to a sense of their high destiny, as having a part to play, and a sphere to occupy. Their inward feeling seems to be that in this great world, with its teeming millions, that it signifies nothing how they live; they soon shall be as though they never existed; when they sink into the tomb — it will be like the vessel going down in mid-ocean. There will be a few plungings and heavings as it momentarily wrestles with the storm; but the tempest sweeps, the sea opens its yawning mouth, the waves close over it — and then resume their usual play! Not a trace or vestige remains; the place that once knew it, knows it no more!

My brethren, that solemn, that momentous reality they call life, is no plaything! It was given as the mightiest of possessions, and loaded with immeasurable responsibilities. The weighty saying, which many a tongue was taught earliest to lisp was this, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God!”

Oh, truly it is a solemn thought that each one of you is exercising some influence — either for good or for evil. If you are not serving your day and generation for the better — then you must be serving it for the worse. There can be no such thing as mere neutral influence. And if so, it well befits us individually to address to ourselves the personal question: “Am I fulfilling the great end and design of my being?”

Happy are those who have been led to regard life as a golden talent — who have realized its momentous requirements and stern responsibilities! Even the lowliest and humblest, can help directly or indirectly to untie the bandages from a sin-stricken, woe-worn world, and send it forth from its fevered couch, walking and leaping, and praising God.

Be it yours not only to serve your God, but so to live that the world may be the better because of you; and that when you die and your hand lies withering in the grave — the seed dropped by that hand, years on years before, may spring up bearing fruit to the glory of God!

 

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I have been reading the New Testament lately with special reference to the aggressive spirit of original Christianity. And as far as I can see, we come infinitely short by comparison. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Look at what is implied in this commission. I believe that no generation since that first century has yet fathomed the meaning of this divine commission. Look at it! Would it ever occur to you that it really meant, “Go and build chapels and churches, and invite the people to come in, but if they won’t – leave them alone”? “GO!” To whom? “To all creation.” Where am I to get at them? WHERE THEY ARE. “All creation.” This is the extent of your commission. Seek them out, run after them, wherever you can get at them. “All creation” – wherever you find a creature that has a soul – there go and preach the Gospel to him. If I understand it, that is the meaning and spirit of this commission.

In another commission to Paul, God says “…I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:17-18) They are asleep – go and wake them up. They do not see their danger. If they did, there would be no need for you to run after them. They are preoccupied. Open their eyes, and turn them around by your desperate earnestness, intense persuasion, and moral force. Oh! It makes me tremble when I think of how much one man can do for another! ‘”Turn from darkness to light, and from the dominion of Satan to God.” How did Paul understand this? He says, “We persuade men.”(II Cor.5:11) Do not be content with just putting it before them, giving them gentle invitations, and then leaving them alone. Paul ran after the poor souls, and pulled them out of the fire. Do the same! Take the blindfold off their eyes which Satan has bound them with; knock and hammer and burn your words into their poor, hardened, darkened hearts with the fire of the Holy Ghost, until they begin to realize that they are IN DANGER! Go after them. If I understand it, that is the spirit of the apostles and of the early Christians.

Sure it’s okay to build churches and chapels; we should invite the people to them. But do you think it is consistent with these commissions to rest only in this, when three-fourths of the population utterly ignore our invitations and take no notice whatsoever of our buildings and of our services? They will not come to us. That is an established fact. Jesus Christ says, “Go after them.” He says, “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23) I will have guests, and if you can’t get them in by nice, civil measures, use military measures. Go and compel them to come In.

Oh! People say you must be very cautious. You must not push religion down people’s throats. What! Should I wait until an unconverted, godless man wants to be saved before I try to save him? Am I to let my unconverted friends and acquaintances go quietly down to damnation, and never tell them about their souls until they ask, “If you please, I want you to preach to me!” Is this anything like the spirit of early Christianity? No! Therefore we must make them look, and if they run away from you in one place, meet them in another, and let them have no peace until they submit to God. This is what Christianity ought to be doing in this land, and there are plenty of Christians around to do it. Why, we might give the world such a time of it, that they would get saved in self-defense – if we were only aggressive enough and determined that they should have no peace in their sins.

Men are preoccupied with many things, and we need to bring this subject of salvation powerfully to their attention. There is some one soul that you have more influence with than any other person on earth. Are you doing all you can for their salvation? Take them lovingly aside and say, “My dear friend, I have never spoken to you closely, carefully, and prayerfully about your soul.” Let them see the tears in your eyes, or if you can’t weep, let them hear the tears in your voice. Let them realize that you feel their danger, and are in distress for them. Then God will give His Holy Spirit so they can be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army founder William Booth, travelled much due to their ministry. She heard some of the greatest preachers of her day and yet she still cried out, “Burning words! That’s what I’m looking for. I travel all around and I hear oratory; I hear clever preaching. But what I’m searching for is something that will burn my heart like the men on the road to Emmaus.”

Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

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I came across this picture today and I remembered Catherine Booth’s quote. And I realized that this picture illustrates the reality of what she was looking for….the burning words come from the burning heart of the captive made free.

Really, our hearts are filled with so many things….many things that compete with and quench our love for Jesus. And so our words have no fire because our hearts have no fire. And the cold, dark world around us remains cold and dark.

We need to hear the voice of Jesus just as the men on the road to Emmaus. We need Him to open the Scriptures to us and make these eternal things real to us again. We need to walk with Him and listen to Him and love Him….and burn for Him.

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him

We began by grace. We must continue by grace. We can burn for Him by grace. He is willing. Are we?

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