Tuesday, August 30, 2016

AND YOU THINK YOU HAVE PROBLEMS

AND YOU THINK YOU HAVE PROBLEMS

Job 1:21   
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.
            
The story of Job is one that touches so much in human life. Success as measured by this world had come to Job. Wealth and family had grown to such a measure that servants attended to his every need. He was well known in his community and well respected for his charity to the poor and fatherless. Job was a man of the century for his day and time. But, like many whom he helped, he fell into poverty and despair. How could such a reversal of fortune have occurred? Would such a fall be reversed? How could Job recover from such depths of grief and abandonment?

            We forget that our struggle in this world is not against mere humans and institutions created by men. Our battle goes beyond this world into the unseen and often misunderstood realm of spirits, powers and principalities beyond our senses. Satan is battling against God himself. In spite of the victory won by Christ, Satan continues to battle against the winners in heaven. Our struggles many times are the results of those battles and skirmishes in heaven. But we are never without help. God remains on our side and continues to defeat Satan at his every turn through God’s people.

            Job would not allow death, destruction, his wife or friends or his own painful situation to move him out of his faith into despair and cursing of God. Job battled the rational impulses that were ignited by Satan and fueled by his friends and wife. He refused to abandon the truth he knew of God’s goodness, providence and grace. Job refused to give into the temptation to curse God and die. That would have been the easy way out of his anguish and despair. But God had provided him sufficient faith for every event that occurred. God was true to his promise and Job knew it.

            When times are dark, painful and seemingly without hope, may the Holy Spirit support your faith and belief in God’s goodness and presence. May the darkness of despair never cause you to turn from you.

  

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2007.

Monday, August 29, 2016

REFUSING GOD’S HELP

REFUSING GOD’S HELP

John 3:18-19   
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
  
            To us, God may appear to be angry. He seems to be an unjust, harsh, and stern judge. But God is saying here, “Now then, I will cancel the charges against you. You will no longer have to mourn. To be sure, you have sinned and earned the judgment of God. But your sin will be pardoned. The death penalty will be removed. I will no longer remember the sinfulness of the world – the sin in which people were born and in which they lived. Everything is settled. I will no longer look at your sin. Simply believe in my Son.”

            What’s missing? Why does judgment still hang over us if the Son has removed our sins? This judgment remains because people reject Christ, the Son of God.

            Suppose a physician is treating a sick person whom he knows he definitely can help. Suppose he has promised to get rid of his patient’s pain. The physician suggests a remedy for his patient’s illness or an antidote to counteract the poison his patient has ingested. Suppose further that the sick person knows without a doubt that the physician is capable of helping. In spite of all this, the patient says, “Get out of here. I don’t need your advice. You’re not a physician. You’re a fraud. I’m not sick. I didn’t eat any poison. And besides, it probably won’t hurt me.” Then what if the patient tries to choke and even kill this doctor? Wouldn’t you say that person is not only sick but also stark raving mad? The spiritual madness of refusing the help of God’s Son wants to give us is ten times worse than this.

  
Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, By Martin Luther. March 3.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

THE HIDDENNESS OF THE DEVOUT LIFE

THE HIDDENNESS OF THE DEVOUT LIFE

Mathew 6:16-18   
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
  
            The real difference in the believer who follows Christ and has mortified his will and died after the old man in Christ, is that he is more clearly aware than other men of the rebelliousness and perennial pride of the flesh, he is conscious of his sloth and self-indulgence and knows that his arrogance must be eradicated. Hence there is a need for daily self-discipline. It is always true of the disciple that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and he must therefore “watch and pray.” The spirit knows the right way, and desires to follow it, but the flesh lacks courage and finds it too hard, too hazardous and wearisome, and so it stiles the voice of the spirit. The spirit assents when Jesus bids us love our enemies, but flesh and blood are too strong and prevent our carrying it out. Therefore we have to practice strictest daily discipline; only so can the flesh learn the painful lesson that it has no rights of its own. Regular daily prayer is a great help here and so is daily meditation on the Word of God, and every kind of bodily discipline and asceticism.

            The flesh resists this daily humiliation, first by a frontal attack, and later by hiding itself under the words of the spirit…we thus excuse our self-indulgence and irregularity in prayer, in meditation and in our bodily life. But the contrast between our behavior and the word of Jesus is all too painfully evident…When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh. How is it possible to live the life of faith when we grow weary of prayer, when we lose our taste for reading the Bible, and when sleep, food and sensuality deprive us of the joy of communion with God?




The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 189.

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