Turning Defeat Into Victory – 1

expository teaching header 1

Scripture Text – Joshua 8

The following quotation runs contrary to what most people today think about life, including people in the church. It was said in a sermon preached on August 12, 1849, by the famous British preacher F.W. Robertson.

Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who makes the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that; but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victories out of mistakes.

Henry Ford would have agreed with Robertson, because Ford defined a mistake as “an opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” Joshua would also have agreed, because he is about to “begin again, more intelligently” and organize a victory out of his mistakes.

A New Beginning

Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.” – Joshua 8:1-2.

Once the nation of Israel had judged the sin that had defiled their camp, God was free to speak to them in mercy and direct them in their conquest of the land. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” – Psalm 37:23-24. No matter what mistakes we may make, the worst mistake of all is not to try again; for “the victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings” (Alexander Whyte).

You start with the Word of God. We today don’t hear God’s audible voice as people often did in Bible times, but we have the Word of God before us and the Spirit of God within us; and God will direct us if we wait patiently before Him.

et bible - spirit

The word of encouragement (Joshua 8:1a). Discouragement over the past and fear of the future are the two reactions that often accompany failure. We look back and remember the mistakes that we made, and then we look ahead and wonder whether there’s any future for people who fail so foolishly.

The answer to our discouragement and fear is in hearing and believing God’s Word: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed.” I recommend that you take your Bible concordance and study the “fear not” statements of the Bible. Note that God spoke these words to different kinds of people in various circumstances, and His Word always met the need. God never discourages His people from making progress. As long as we obey His commandments, we have the privilege of claiming His promises. God delights “to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9.

The word of instruction (Joshua 8:1b–2). God always has a plan for His people to follow, and the only way for us to have victory is to obey God’s instructions. In his first attack on Ai Joshua followed the advice of his spies and used only part of the army; but God told him to take “all the people of war.” The Lord also told Joshua to use an ambush and take advantage of Ai’s self-confidence stemming from Israel’s first defeat (Joshua 7:1–5). Finally, God gave the soldiers the right to claim the spoils, but they were to burn the city. Had Achan waited only a few days, he could have picked up all the wealth that he wanted. God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. When we run ahead of the Lord, we usually rob ourselves and hurt others.

To Be Continued

rightly dividing footer

Adapted and modified excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong, “Be” Commentary Series.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Expository Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Said “No”

Monday 1-30-2023
Author Unknown

GOD SAID “NO”

I asked God to take away my pride, and God said “NO.”
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said “NO.”
He said her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary.

no bullet

I asked God to grant me patience, and God said “NO.”
He said that patience is a by-product of tribulation,
it isn’t granted, it’s earned.

I asked God to give me happiness, and God said “NO.”
He said He gives blessings, happiness is up to me.

no bullet

I asked God to spare me pain, and God said “NO.”
He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow, and He said “NO.”
He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful.

no bullet

I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me,
And God said “Ah, finally you have the idea!”

~Author Unknown~

This was saved in my collection from past Email & Internet Circulations
Posted in Poetic Praise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patriotic Quote 1/30/2023

patriotism - faith header 2

061 james a. baldwin 30

Posted in Patriotism & Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food For Thought 1/30/2023

food for thought header 2

Higher Income Means Lower Giving

The Russell Sage Foundation several years ago published the results of a survey. In the United States, families with a net income of less than $3,000 a year gave more than 60% of all the money donated to charity; families whose income was less than $5,000 donated 82% of the total; families with an income between $10,000 and $20,000 a year gave only 1.9% of their income!

According to an Internal Revenue Service analysis, Americans who itemize their deductions give less than 3% of their adjusted gross incomes to church and charity.

food for thought footer

Posted in Food For Thought | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christian Quote 1/30/2023

christian quotes header

260 vance havner 30

Posted in Christian Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The First Step Down

thought of day header

Monday January 30, 2023

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church
by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards declines along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.

Before the Christian Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” and goes from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her.

thought of the day footer 2

Tozer on the Almighty God : A 366-Day Devotional (WingSpread, 2004)
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Inspirational Thought of The Day | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflecting With God 1/30/2023

reflecting with God header
Thinking, praying, reading, studying the Bible – when we do these things, we are reflecting on the Word of God. To reflect is to contemplate and/or consider, and God wants us to deeply reflect on His Word so that we can better understand Him.

Monday Reflecting

Today, if you will hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts.” – Psalm 95:7-8.

On a winter evening, when the frost is setting in with growing intensity, and when the sun is now far past the meridian, and gradually sinking in the western sky, there is a double reason why the ground grows every moment harder and more impenetrable to the plough. On the one hand, the frost of evening, with ever increasing intensity, is indurating the stiffening clods: on the other hand, the genial rays which alone can soften them are every moment withdrawing and losing their enlivening power. Take heed that it be not so with you. As long as you are unconverted, you are under a double process of hardening. The frosts of an eternal night are settling down upon your souls; and the Sun of Righteousness, with westering wheel, is hastening to set upon you forevermore. If, then, the plough of grace cannot force its way into your ice-bound heart to-day, what likelihood is there that it will enter to-morrow?
~ M’CHEYNE

reflecting with God footer 2

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Reflecting With God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illustrated Message 1/30/2023

wp 1-30

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Suitable in its time The Hebrew word used here, yapheh, is often translated “beautiful,” but it can also be understood as “appropriate” or “good.”

Past People have a desire to understand how they fit into the plan of life—which the author attempts to explain in this book (Ecclesiastes 1:13; 8:16–17).

No one can grasp what God does While God has set the appropriate time for everything, He has not revealed this to humanity.


Faithlife Verse of the Day Art, © 2023, Faithlife / Logos Bible Software.
Commentary from Faithlife Study Bible © 2012,2016 by Lexham Press
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Illustrated Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daily Prayer & Praise 1/30/2023

prayer and praise header 4
Lord, hear our prayer:

Lord, we do not come into your presence to worship you because we must, but because we long to. We do not come because we are worthy, but to give you glory. We do not come for our own benefit, or to receive a blessing, but because you are worthy of all our thanks and praise. We have begun an act of praise and adoration that will never end. We have drawn closer to you our God who will never leave us. We have opened our hearts to your Spirit, who will hold us forever.

Amen.

prayer footer 2

Some minor adaptation on some prayers.
David Clowes, 500 Prayers For All Occasions © 2003 by David C Cook Publishing
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Prayer and Praise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bible Verse of The Day 1/30/2023

bible verse header 2
INTRODUCTION TO 1 PETER:
First Peter is about maintaining hope in the midst of suffering. Because Jesus Himself suffered, and because God can be trusted to put all things right, Peter counsels believers to maintain their faith in Jesus. Believers should do so even when they are being persecuted, mocked, and misunderstood; they should also imitate Jesus by enduring unjust suffering with grace. Hardships are bound to come in this life, but they do not have the last word.

Taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation for ease of reading:

bv 1-30-23

Posted in Bible Verse of the Day | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace In a World of War – 1

prophetic words header wp

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

Peace! What a strange ironic ring that word has in these days in which we live! The world is plunged in a bitter war of hate and greed. Peace, the dream of men in all ages, like a puff of smoke, beckons now here and now there, only to vanish in the clouds of evaporating mist. Able men, wise men, great men are confessing that they are at a loss to know what the outcome will be of the present strife. There is only one answer given in all the world, however, and that answer is given by God in His precious and infallible Word.

It is not our purpose to discuss the problems of diplomacy among the nations, nor to enter into the national and international methods employed to secure a man-made peace. That is the business of those who are ordained of God to govern and rule during the absence of the final Governor and Ruler of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. The business of any minister of the Gospel is only to preach the “thus saith the Lord” and to expound the Word of God in regard to the things which have to do with everlasting peace.

In these messages we shall discuss peace as prophesied and developed in the Word of God. We shall first present Him who is our peace and the Prince of Peace. Then we shall see that this Prince of Peace can give peace to everyone who trusts in His blood. We shall see that there can be peace only where He is, and where He is not there can be no peace; and finally we shall look to the grand, consummated, glorious peace on earth when He shall come to rule and reign in righteousness.

The Prince of Peace as Our Offerings

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. In Scripture He is offered as the only hope for peace, whether in the life of the individual or in the life of nations and the world. Where He is rejected there can be no peace. In the first five chapters of the book of Leviticus we have five offerings in their order as follows:

  1.   The Whole Burnt Offering—Leviticus 1.
  2.   The Meal Offering—Leviticus 2.
  3.   The Peace Offering—Leviticus 3.
  4.   The Sin Offering—Leviticus 4.
  5.   The Trespass Offering—Leviticus 5.

pw levitical offerings

In these five offerings we have in type the complete and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners. The number “five” is the number of the grace of God. In these five ceremonial offerings of Israel we have the typical revelation of God’s complete and finished provision for the sin of mankind, and the only key to peace in the heart, as well as peace on earth. These five offerings are divided into three parts. The first two offerings represent God’s provision in the Person of Christ for the sin question and have to do with the life and death of Jesus Christ to save sinners. The result of this is “peace with God.” The last two offerings (the sin and the trespass offerings) have nothing to do with the sinner but, rather, with the saint. They are God’s provision for the “sins of the saints”; those who were sinners but have been saved by the provision for salvation in the burnt and meal offerings. In other words, the first two offerings are for the sin of the sinner, whereas the last two are God’s provision for the sins of the saints (saved sinners). These two groups are united by the peace offering. The appropriation of the first two results in “peace with God” and brings justification for the sinner. The appropriation of the last two results in the “peace of God” and produces sanctification. Bearing this division in mind, let us examine the five offerings briefly and see what Christ is to all them that believe.

The Whole Burnt Offering

Not only do we believe that the content of Scripture is divinely and inerrantly inspired, but we believe that the order in which the record is given and the events are recorded is inspired and has a deep and important teaching. Consider, for instance, the order of the five books of Moses. We believe the order of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, is a preview or revelation of the remainder of Scripture. Genesis records the fall of man. Exodus is the book of the redemption of man. Leviticus is the book of the worship of man. Numbers is the book of Israel’s walking in the wilderness, and Deuteronomy is the book of the second law, or works. Thus we have God’s complete plan of redemption.

First, we have man in sin; second, God’s plan of redemption; third, redeemed man’s first duty, namely, worship; fourth, our walk in the wilderness of this world. Until we have learned to worship, our walk will never be what it ought to be; and fifth is the book of work, and in the same way our work will amount to nothing until our walk is what it should be. The greatest obstacle we meet in trying to win others to Christ is the objection of the unbeliever, namely, there are many professing Christians who profess to be working for God but their walk is inconsistent with their testimony. Do not try to walk until you have learned to worship, and do not try to work until your walk is clean. That is God’s order. Martha’s service was rebuked by Jesus, not because He did not want her to serve, but because service without worship is barren (Luke 10:38-42). God is more interested in our worship than in our service. He knows that true worship will result in service, but service without worship is vain and void. How many Christians run around trying to serve, flying about “like chickens with their heads cut off,” only to become more of a reproach than a testimony. In their zeal they do not realize that we can do more by prayer and worship in one hour than in a year of effort in the energy of the flesh.

To Be Continued

prophetic words footer 2

Adaptation of excerpts from M. R. De Haan, The Second Coming of Jesus.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Prophetic Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mystery of Christ

pastor's desk header
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. – Ephesians 3:1-6

That the Gentiles could be included in God’s grace the Apostle Paul called a mystery. This “mystery” was a plan at one time hidden but now revealed (see Ephesians 1:9). The mystery was hidden, not because only a few could understand it, but because it was hidden until Christ came. God had made this mystery known to Paul by revelation. As many of you reading this know, a “revelation” is a direct communication from God. Remember, Paul had refused to believe in Christ and had persecuted anyone who did (Acts 9:1–2). God got hold of Paul and made known to him, through personal revelation, that Jesus Christ truly was the promised Messiah of the Jews and the light to the Gentiles, too. Both Jews and Gentiles would be included in the church.

When a church received a letter from Paul or one of the other apostles (such as the letters from Peter, James, and Jude), a church leader would read the letter aloud to the assembled congregation. Paul wrote to this leader and to the congregation, explaining that in reading (or hearing) the letter, they would be able to understand his insight into the mystery of Christ. Why did Paul have such insight into this mystery of Christ, and how could he explain it so clearly? Because it had been revealed to him by God himself!

The “mystery of Christ” means “the mystery about Christ” or “the mystery, the substance of which is Christ.” In Colossians, Paul wrote that the mystery is the indwelling Christ, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:27. In Ephesians 1:9, the mystery refers to God’s plan to unite all creation in Christ. Here in Ephesians 3:6, the mystery refers to the fact that Jews and Gentiles who believe are united in Christ.

God’s method of communicating with the Israelites was to reveal his words to and through a chosen prophet, who would in turn teach the people. The other ages mentioned refers to the time of the Old Testament prophets when they did not clearly understand the mystery which has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. God’s plan was hidden from previous generations, the NIV translates it “former generations,” not because God wanted to keep something from his people, but because he would reveal it to everyone in his perfect timing (see Colossians 1:25–26).

pd spirit teaches

God planned to have Jews and Gentiles comprise one body, the Church. These “prophets” are New Testament prophets (see also Ephesians 2:20; 4:11). The phrase “by the Spirit” focuses on divine revelation and inspiration. The revealing of this mystery to His holy apostles is recorded in Acts 10. Peter received a dream making clear to him that the gospel message was meant not for the Jews alone but also for Gentiles. Peter followed God’s guidance, so Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and his household became believers, received the Holy Spirit, and were baptized. Likewise Paul had received a message:

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” – Acts 23:11.

In case anyone missed his point, Paul explained exactly what that mystery entailed. While the early prophets had written of the inclusion of Gentiles with Jews (see, for example, Isaiah 49:6; 56:6–7; ), their writings were interpreted that the Gentiles could become proselytes, converting to Judaism. The extent of this inclusion and the radical change, the Jews and Gentiles becoming one body under Christ’s headship, was not even considered. No one ever knew this until God revealed it to Paul and the other New Testament apostles and prophets. This inclusion of Gentiles with Jews is described in three terms:

  1. Fellow heirs—As “heirs” together, Jews and Gentiles are adopted into the same family, thus becoming brothers and sisters. Gentiles are fellow heirs of salvation and share equally with the Jews (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; 4:7).
  1. Of the same Body—The NIV says, “members . . . of one body,” they are united into one unit under Christ, the Head. Paul used the word sus-soma (cobody). This was never used in Greek literature before Paul.
  1. Partakers—Again the NIV says, “sharers . . . in the promise,” they will be fellow partakers and copartners in receiving the coming blessings promised in God’s kingdom (2 Timothy 1:1).

Because of God’s promises and His perfect plan, we are included in those blessings. To us today, it isn’t a mystery, but rather a fulfillment of God’s promises that extend to all men no matter their ethnicity or background. We truly are, one Body in Christ Jesus.

A quote from the famous and great theologian and minister, Matthew Henry, is appropriate here:

When we take God for our God, we take His people for our people.

pastor's desk footer

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Where noted, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV © 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Pastor's Desk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Himself

classic poetry header
*Pastor’s Note: A.B. Simpson was a very well respected Canadian preacher, theologian and author who lived from December 15, 1843 to October 29, 1919. My prayer is that you will be blessed and inspired by his poetry as much as I am.


HIMSELF

Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gifts I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.

anchor icon

Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.

anchor icon

Once ’twas busy planning,
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once ’twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.

anchor icon

Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me;
Once the power I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
Now for Him alone.

anchor icon

Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited,
Now His coming hail,
And my hopes are anchored,
Safe within the vail.

classic poetry footer

From Songs of the Spirit: Poetry by A. B. Simpson. Public Domain
Posted in Classic Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Example Set Us By The Holy Fathers – 1

devotionals header

CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were the trials they suffered—the Apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might have life in eternity.

How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered! How often were they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed! How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection! How brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What pure and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day they labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their time profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their bodily needs.

To Be Continued Next Week


The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, is a Christian devotional book first composed in Medieval Latin as De Imitatione Christi (c. 1418–1427). The devotional text is divided into four books of detailed spiritual instructions. The devotional approach of The Imitation of Christ emphasizes the interior life and withdrawal from the mundanities of the world, as opposed to the active imitation of Christ practiced by other friars. The Imitation is perhaps the most widely read Christian devotional work after the Bible, and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic. The book was written anonymously in Latin in the Netherlands c. 1418–1427. Its popularity was immediate, and after the first printed edition in 1471-72, it was printed in 745 editions before 1650. Apart from the Bible, no book had been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ at the time.

devotionals footer

Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ. Public Domain
Posted in Classic Devotionals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gideon, An Unlikely Hero – 14

great sermons header

gs - c.h. mackintosh

Charles Henry Mackintosh (October 1820 – November 2, 1896) was a nineteenth-century Christian preacher, dispensationalist, writer of Bible commentaries, magazine editor and member of the Plymouth Brethren. In 1843, Mackintosh wrote his first tract entitled Peace with God. When he was 24, he opened a private school where he developed a special method of teaching classical languages. Mackintosh went around preaching the gospel to the poor during school holidays. He wrote to John Nelson Darby on August 31, 1853 that the Lord had “called me into larger service than ever,” and he soon concluded that he must give himself entirely to preaching, writing, and public speaking.

Gideon, An Unlikely Hero Part 14

From last lesson: There is a vast difference between following in the wake of some devoted man of God, and walking with God ourselves, being propped up and led on by the faith and energy of another, and leaning upon God in the power of individual faith for ourselves.

This is a serious consideration for all of us. There is always great danger of our being mere imitators of other people’s faith; of copying their example without their spiritual power; of adopting their peculiar line of things without their personal communion. All this must be carefully guarded against. We specially warn the young Christian reader against it. Let us be simple, and humble, and real. We may be very small, our sphere very narrow, our path very retired; but it does not matter in the least, provided we are precisely what grace has made us, and occupying the sphere in which our blessed Master has set us, and treading the path which He has opened before us. It is by no means absolutely necessary that we should be great, or prominent, or showy, or noisy in the world; but it is absolutely necessary that we should be real and humble, obedient and dependent. Thus our God can use us, without fear of our vaunting ourselves; and then, too, we are safe, peaceful, and happy. There is nothing more delightful to the true Christian, the genuine servant of Christ, than to find himself in that quiet, humble, shady path where self is lost sight of, and the precious light of God’s countenance enjoyed, where the thoughts of men are of small account, and the sweet approval of Christ is everything to the soul.

Flesh cannot be trusted. It will turn the very service of Christ into an occasion of self-exaltation. It will use the very name of Him who made Himself nothing in order to make itself something. It will build up its own reputation by seeming to further the cause of Him who made Himself of none. Such is flesh! Such are we in ourselves! Silly, self-exalting creatures, ever ready to vaunt ourselves, while professing to be nothing in ourselves, and to deserve nothing but the flames of an everlasting hell.

Need we marvel at the testing and proving of Gideon’s companions? All must be tested and proved. The service of Christ is a very solemn and a very holy thing; and all who take part therein must be self-judged, self-distrusting, and self-emptied; and not only so, but they must lean, with unshaken confidence, upon the living God. These are the grand qualities that go to make up the character of the true servant of Christ, and they are strikingly illustrated on the page of inspiration which now lies open before us.

Let us proceed with the narrative:

“The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands . . . Now, therefore, go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.”

Here the first grand test is applied to Gideon’s host, a test designed to bring out the measure of the heart’s simple confidence in Jehovah. A coward heart will not do for the day of battle; a doubting spirit will not stand in conflict. The same principle is set forth in Deuteronomy 20:8: “And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.”

Faint-heartedness is terribly contagious. It spreads rapidly. It withers the arm that should bear the shield, and paralyses the hand that should wield the sword. The only cure for this malady is simple confidence in God, a firm grasp of His faithfulness, a child-like trust in His word, true personal acquaintance with Himself. We must know God for ourselves, in such a way that His word is everything to us, and that we can walk alone with Him, and stand alone with Him in the darkest hour.

Reader, is it so with you? Do you have this blessed confidence in God, this solid hold of His word? Do you, deep down in your heart, such an experiential knowledge of God and His Christ as shall sustain you even though you don’t have the support or sympathy of another believer under the sun? Are you prepared to walk alone in the world?

These are weighty questions, and we feel the need of pressing them upon the Church of God at the present moment. There is a wide diffusion of the precious truth of God, and numbers are getting hold of it. Like the blast of Gideon’s trumpet, so the clear testimony which has widely gone forth of late years has attracted many; and while we quite feel that there is real ground for thankfulness in this, we also feel that there is ground for very serious reflection indeed. Truth is a most precious thing, if it be truthfully found and truthfully held.

To Be Continued

gs gideon unlikely hero

Minor adaptation of excerpts from C. H Mackintosh, Gideon and His Companions. Public Domain.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV) Public Domain.
Posted in Great Sermons From The Past | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advancing The Cause

thought of day header

For Saturday January 28, 2023

Mark 5:19
Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you.

The thirty-four-year-old general was striking and handsome, with blue eyes and reddish hair. Major General George McClellan gave the impression of strength and vigor, and as one historian said, “Dashing about on a magnificent horse, he seemed omnipresent” on the battlefield. He had a brilliant mind, and when Abraham Lincoln told him that the supreme command of the army was on his shoulders, he responded, “I can do it all.” But he actually did very little; for all his organization and personal charisma, he seemed unable to advance his forces or to attack. Finally Lincoln gave up on him, saying, “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a while.”

Many Christians are well equipped, well trained, and well financed. No generation of believers has ever been more affluent or had more tools, more plans, or more programs. But are we really attacking the enemy and advancing the cause? Are we winning our friends to Christ? Are we witnessing for Him?

God has placed us where we are in order to reach those around us and tell them what He has done in our lives.

I tell you when the Spirit of God is on us for service, resting upon us,
we are anointed, and then we can do great things.

D. L. MOODY

thought of the day footer 6

David Jeremiah, Turning Points with God: 365 Daily Devotions (Tyndale, 2014)
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Inspirational Thought of The Day | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thorns and Tears at Bochim

life in focus header

GOD commanded the Israelites to dispossess the Canaanites by taking over their cities, destroying their idols and altars, and refusing to enter into agreements with them. Apparently the citizens of Bochim failed to carry out those instructions. No one knows the exact circumstances, but the offenses were serious enough for the Angel of the Lord to come up from Gilgal to this village near Bethel and cry against it (Judges 2:1-2).

The timing of the sermon was important. The days of Israel’s conquest of Canaan were drawing to a close, yet many cities remained in the hands of, or at least were still influenced by, the Canaanites (Judges 1:27–35). Joshua’s life was over, and a new generation was coming into power (Judges 2:8-10). So Bochim’s spiritual failures were a serious matter. They set a dangerous precedent of idolatry that persisted from that day forward (Judges 2:3), as the Book of Judges shows. Apparently the people of Bochim tearfully repented of their wrongs and, in the presence of Joshua, offered a sacrifice to atone for their sins (Judges 2:5–6). But the pattern of spiritual adultery was established.

God’s people cannot worship whatever gods they will. Like Israel, believers today may need to limit their neighborliness if necessary to preserve their own faith and godliness. They must allow nothing to distract them from unswerving allegiance to the Lord, lest they unwittingly invite a host of thorny issues and a legacy of tears.

life in focus footer

Courtesy of Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Life In Focus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Regrettable Loss

anecdotal stories

A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. – Proverbs 11:18.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. – Romans 1:14.

A 1991 survey of American retailers revealed a dishonest streak as broad as Kansas. Twenty percent of job applicants admitted they would steal from their employers; 21 percent of all applicants flunked preemployment honesty tests and were rated as high risk. “Employee dishonesty is one of the major problems retailers face,” an industry specialist said. Retailers who participated in the annual Survey of Retail Loss Prevention Trends reported losses of $1.4 billion to employee theft in 1990—about two cents to every dollar of sales.

A Christian employee, obeying Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6:5–8, would be revolted by the very idea of theft, let alone the practice. The gospel engenders integrity in our personal relationships, honesty in all transactions, and responsible effort in any task. We obey human authority as an example of our obedience to Christ. We serve wholeheartedly in any endeavor as an extension of our spiritual commitment. We live without pretense, we behave with propriety, and we act responsibly. We want to please God in the highest cause, so we work hard and honestly in any lesser cause.

anecdotal story footer 3

Courtesy of Speaker’s Sourcebook of New Illustrations by Virgil Hurley © 1995 by Word, Incorporated.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV © 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Posted in Anecdotal Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Prayer & Praise 1/28/2023

prayer and praise header 3
Nathanael Vincent: Piercing Heaven – Puritan’s Prayers

You who commands and hears prayer! You who helps your people to pray!

Pour out the spirit of grace and supplication, that your throne of grace may be surrounded by supplicants, that there may be a great flocking to the mercy seat, and grace may be imparted abundantly to your own glory, through Jesus Christ the high priest, who is passed into the heavens, and is at your right hand forever.

Amen.

puritan prayers footer

Posted in Prayer and Praise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revelation 5:6

revelation verses header

*Pastor’s Note: I encourage everyone to read and study Revelation in the version of your choice. I offer them in the NLT strictly for ease of reading.

“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” – Revelation 1:3  NLT

revelation 5_6

Posted in Book of Revelation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment