G. Campbell Morgan Wasn’t Too Proud to S.W.I.M.

July 30, 2012 at 9:29 am | Posted in Quotes | 2 Comments
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Pride is hated alike by God and man. Then, let us read once again. “He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna.” God’s purpose is to produce the character which is the opposite of pride. All God’s methods tend toward humbling. His deliverance only comes to a man in extremis. It is when the strong and self-contained swimmer is about to sink for the third time that the mightier swimmer has the chance to save him.

G. Campbell Morgan, “Thou Shalt Remember”

And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Deuteronomy 8:3

Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;

Deuteronomy 8:16

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18

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Fresh, Frail, or Fruitful?

July 27, 2012 at 9:28 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 5 Comments
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Many Christians struggle with dissatisfaction – a lack of contentment. In some of the more Charismatic denominations this dissatisfaction manifests itself in the never-ending quest for “fresh anointings.” For others, it expresses itself in a desire for a new job, a new home, a new hobby, a new spouse, a new preacher, or a new church.

Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 6:9

Part of the problem is a lack of faithfulness. Most Christians dabble around the edges of faithfulness and never fully commit themselves to the Lord. If you are experiencing dissatisfaction, get involved in serving God on a higher, more challenging, more committed level. Take away some of your focus on work, fun, entertainment, food, clothes – and put that focus on God instead. He will not only increase your faithfulness as you start to serve – He will make your service and involvement more exciting and more satisfying. And beware of using the excuse that you are “too busy” to serve God more.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

Matthew 4:18

Do you think the Disciples and the Apostles weren’t busy before they met Jesus? That they had nothing “better” to do? Peter and Andrew, Philip, James, and John were all fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Matthew was a tax collector. Simon was a zealot and a rebel. Thomas was a servant. Judas was a bookkeeper or an accountant. Paul was a tent-maker. And of course, Jesus Himself, before He began His public ministry, was a carpenter. But they found far greater contentment in following the Lord.

Contentment is not just stewing in your own juices: “Well, this is all there is – nothing out there will make me happy, so I might as well get used to it.” No, contentment is not resigned acceptance. Contentment is carrying within you all the things you need to be satisfied. If something external comes along that adds to your happiness, great, but do not become dependent on it. If you have Jesus and the true peace that He brings already inside you, then you can be content even if you are like a seed planted in darkness, all alone. Because, even though seeds are tiny, they have tremendous power contained within them. It’s only after a seed has been growing into a plant for a while that it becomes beautiful and starts impacting the environment around it. Seeds turn into plants or trees that become beautiful and fruitful. If you are a Christian, you are like a seed planted by God. You must stay faithful and content long enough to grow. Then God will show you the beauty in your life and make you fruitful, which is even better.

That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.

Ecclesiastes 6:10

It’s no use arguing with God. The world places so much emphasis on propagating the idea that unless you are “creating a stir” to the point where you are consistently noticed by others for something provocative, then you are not really important. But causing a stir in this present vain world does not necessarily translate to anything of consequence in eternity.

A C.A.L.M. and Courteous Marriage

July 25, 2012 at 6:47 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 7 Comments
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Ideally, married couples should have a relationship that is both passionate and peaceful. No one wants to live in war zone – and that includes a “cold war” zone. So it is important that our marriages be C.A.L.M.

Christian love in marriage…

[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)

“Doth not behave itself unseemly” means that it is not rude. The opposite of being unseemly or rude is being polite or…

C.ourteous

Being courteous does not have to do with how you “feel.” Note that the verse says that Christian love does not “behave” itself unseemly. In public, most of us are conditioned to thinking one thing and doing another, at least much of the time. At home we tend to let our guard down. This results in the tragic consequence that we are often more polite to strangers than to our own spouses. You may have heard the joke about the wife who came back from her honeymoon and called her mother on the phone in a state of great distress. “Mom!” she wailed, “You won’t believe the way Bill has been talking to me ever since we came back home. He was as sweet as could be while we were traveling and relaxing, but now he has started using all these four-letter words!”

Her mother was shocked. “Honey,” she said, “that doesn’t sound like Bill at all! I don’t want to embarrass you, but can you give me some idea of the types of four-letter words he is using?”

“Okay, Mom,” said the new wife, “here goes, but brace yourself … He’s saying things like ‘cook’ and ‘dust’ and ‘iron’ and ‘wash.'”

That’s a silly joke, but the truth is there are serious and potentially controversial things that have to be discussed and worked out in a marriage. They are more serious than asking your waiter for the check “please.” But there is nothing so serious that it can’t be discussed with courtesy.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15:33-34

“Good manners” might sound like the kind of thing that is not super-spiritual, but apparently “good manners” are extremely important to God since they are directly contrasted with the type of communication that God calls “evil.” The Bible tells us to “awake” to righteousness, so we really have to shake ourselves if we are going to remember to be courteous to the people with whom we are the most familiar (the most obvious of whom is your spouse). They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and familiarity breeds contempt, and there is an element of truth to these proverbs, but, as Christians, we are to be yielded to the Holy Spirit, not to the “common sense wisdom” of the world around us. Courtesy is the first step in having a “calm” marriage, and, if you ask anyone who has had a tension-filled, drama-filled, or contention-filled marriage, they will tell you that you are definitely better off with a calm, peaceful marriage. We want passion in marriage, but we want it to be a loving mutual passion. If I could be a little blunt for moment, what we want is passion in the heart and passion in the loins – not passion upside the head.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

C.ourteous
A.ccommodating
L.ongsuffering
M.erciful

Give Good Advice: Content Yourself with God and His Plans

July 23, 2012 at 9:50 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

Someone comes to you for advice. “Should I do this or should I do that?” What you have to determine – and what this person has to determine – is this: Is the reason you are contemplating doing this thing because you are not content with what God has given you? Or not content with where He has placed you? Or not content with what He is doing with you? Or not content because of what He is not doing with you? Or not content with what He is allowing to be done to you?

If you believe that God is perfect, then you must also believe His will is perfect (Romans 12:2). Some of us need to stop trusting what everyone else is doing or what “common sense” says to do, and trust in the Lord. If you don’t have a Bible reason for doing what you are thinking about doing – then don’t do it. It might feel right or it might feel wrong, but:

“Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving.
Our warrant should be the Word of God.
Nothing else is worth believing.”

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.ow to be sincere with God
I.nquire of your own heart
C.ontent yourself with God and His plans
E.

Fathers and Daughters

July 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Parenting | 9 Comments
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I have three [edit: now four] daughters. My experience with boys is very limited, but from what I can tell there are some big differences between boys and girls. If you are reading this as a father of more than one daughter, you may be able to understand when I say that girls talk a LOT. Counting my wife, I live in a house with four girls and it is a place of NON-STOP talking. During one supper at my house there are probably more words said than I’ve said by myself in the last 25 years.

 

Another big difference is that girls seem to be a little more emotional than boys. It’s not that boys never cry. I mean, a typical boy might cry a little – if it’s something serious like a broken leg – but only after looking around to make sure no one is watching. But a girl can cry for an hour over losing a button off her dress. And if her big sister sticks her tongue out at her – look out. Your stock in Kleenex just went up thirty points.

Another difference is that girls tend to be more insecure than boys. Chances are, when you had a daughter, you had to learn to spend a lot of time saying things like, “It’s okay, there’s nothing bad in the attic,” or, “don’t worry if they laugh at your hair, I’ll sue everybody in that school.” It’s just a fact of life: Daughters need to be comforted by their fathers.

The Bible has some guidance for how fathers are supposed to love their daughters, and I’m glad Proverbs 22:6 doesn’t say, “Train up a son in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 20:7 doesn’t say, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his sons are blessed after him.” It says, “his children are blessed after him.”

God has given us a great gift in our daughters, and they are fun, but they are not just for our enjoyment. We have a responsibility to do what Proverbs says and train them properly.

Let me encourage you to make regular church attendance an important part of your daughter’s life. If your daughter sees that you make church a priority, she will do the same as she grows older, and the church is a great place for your daughter to experiment with different ways of serving the Lord, and find out which ways suit her best.

Training has to be more than just bringing our daughters to church, though. If we’re spending all our time serving at church ourselves, and just using the church to babysit for us while we do it, we’re making a big mistake. It is important for our daughters to know Bible stories, and the people in the Bible, and Bible verses, and it’s our responsibility as fathers to teach them those things. It’s not enough just to discuss these things at church. Train your daughters at home, too.

It’s hard to find time to spend with our family, period. We may as well admit it. Just earning money to pay for a home and food and clothes takes most of our time. But we have to somehow make the time, to make it a priority, or we’ll miss out on the best times of all. I’ve learned that – with daughters – the talking, the emotions, the insecurity, that’s where you’ll do most of your real training. If you can take the time to listen to all those “and I was like…and she was like… and then I was like…” in all that talking there is valuable information about what your daughter is really thinking. In all that crying and sighing and melodrama over “why do I have to get off the phone and clean my room,” there is something inside that big production that is a signal that will tell you what’s really on your daughter’s heart. Even in her insecurity there is a sign that she might be insecure because of something you’ve done to let her down.

But if we don’t have the patience or make the time to sit through all that and pay close attention, we’re not going to know what’s really on her mind, and in her heart, and what she needs you to do to help her. If we miss out on those things, we’re missing out on the best parts of having a daughter.

Before you can address anybody else’s insecurity, you’ve got to make sure that you are secure in your own heart. I would think that every decent father would want his daughter to be secure in the knowledge that she has a relationship with Jesus and that her place in Heaven is 100% guaranteed.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

There’s no way to have real security without faith in Jesus.

Standing before the Throne: Sin’s Repulsiveness

July 18, 2012 at 8:36 am | Posted in The Great White Throne | 2 Comments
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The Great White Throne shows:

I. God’s righteousness. All those who appear before God for judgment will be judged fairly.

Furthermore, the Throne shows:

II. Sin’s repulsiveness

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Revelation 20:11-13

Has Satan or the world talked you into believing that as long as you are pretty much like everyone else, you are going to be okay? That it is okay to be just be one of the crowd? This thought is intended primarily for people who do not have a real and a personal and an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, but Christians – you listen to this too. This world does not need another pale imitation of itself. Do not “go with the flow.” Any old dead fish can float downstream. Don’t play around with sin. God made you and He made this world and He has the right to make the rules. The attitude of the world is “no rules, just rights,” but you will not be the exception to God’s rules. If you break them, they will break you. There is a wage for sin, and the wage for sin is death. You can choose your actions today, but when you stand before the Throne of God, you will not be able to choose the consequences of your actions.

The Lord’s Laundry

July 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Psalm 51:9 (emphasis added)

When David pleaded for a “blotting out” he was asking the Lord for a miracle, because the Old Testament Law did not provide a sacrifice for the types of deliberate sins of which David was guilty. David appealed to God’s mercy and grace.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7 (emphasis added)

Under the Old Covenant, ceremonial cleansing would make a sinner safe for society and give others protection from the sinner’s defilement. “Wash me,” David prayed. I am the one in my household who does the laundry, so I know a couple of things about washing clothes. In fact, all that is required of the other members of my family is that they bring their dirty clothes to the hamper or the laundry room. There are certain kinds of stains that are tough to remove from garments – even for today’s high-tech washing machines. They require hot water, harsh detergent, and an agitation cycle. When we seek to be cleansed from our iniquities before the face of God, we need to be willing to submit to His chastening. For Christians, God is more than willing to wash our clothes, but we’ve got to be willing to bring them to laundry room.

David’s sins were against his family, his people, Bathsheba, and Uriah, but he also recognized that all sin is ultimately against God.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Psalm 51:4

The Holy Spirit used the poetry of Psalm 51 to inspire the revelation of the Gospel through the Apostle Paul.

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

When God truly cleanses, He also restores.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

51:10

A renewed heart must be created. It must come from God Himself. A tainted heart would continue to pump out iniquity, re-contaminating the whole body. David wanted to be cleansed and he wanted to be restored – so he could be used. He wanted to be an effective witness.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalm 51:13

David also wanted to be an effective worshiper.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Psalm 51:14-15

He wanted to be an effective builder.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 51:18-19

Those who have been broken and rebuilt by God can be used very effectively by God to help rebuild others.

Working for a Living

July 13, 2012 at 9:10 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 3 Comments
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In Chapters 4 and 5 of Ecclesiastes Solomon examined earthly institutions and came to the following conclusions:

The government: corrupt
The economy: unbalanced
Church: vain

We have a tendency to adopt a very worldly attitude about our labor. Even though we work for wages – even though we say that we “earn a living” – everything we have that’s any good is really a gift from God. It is important that we do not try to exclude God from certain areas of our lives. God demands faithfulness and His view of faithfulness is pretty extreme. Imagine a husband going away on a business trip and returning home to his wife. “Were you faithful while you were out of town, Dear?” she asks. “I sure was,” he replies. “I was 90% faithful!” I don’t think the wife would be too happy with that response. In God’s opinion, “faithful” means 100% faithful.

Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

Ecclesiastes 5:18

Enjoy what God has given you, but remember that God gave it to you.

Why is there such a thing as labor? Why do we “work?” God gave Adam work to do in the Garden of Eden even before sin entered the world, but labor can be frustrating. No matter how many dishes you do, there are always more dirty ones. No matter how many times you mow the grass, it always grows back.

All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.

Ecclesiastes 6:7

It can be dissatisfying, but our contentment, our satisfaction, will never come from without.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

We spend so much time planning and calculating and working and scheduling our time based on what we’re going to eat, what we’re going to wear, where we’re going to live. But Christ Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – and all those things will be taken care of by God. If I do what God says, then God will take care of me.

For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 6:12

King Solomon, writing in the Old Testament, asked these questions rhetorically. But, living on this side of the Cross – under the New Testament – we can answer these questions definitively. Who knows what’s good for us in this life? Jesus does. Who can tell us what’s going to happen to us after this life on earth is over? Jesus can.

We can answer these questions with our mouths. Now let’s answer them with our lives.

More Testing for Puffiness in Your Marriage

July 11, 2012 at 9:57 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 7 Comments
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Last time we looked at some tests to see if you are vaunting yourself or puffing yourself up in your marriage.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:4 (emphasis added)

Here is the second half of the ten tests:

Test Six: Do you insist on your spouse taking your side in every outside conflict?

Sometimes even the most prideful people will self-deprecatingly point out that they are not always right. But this is aiming too low. Being the “least sinful” person among a race of sinful people is like being the valedictorian of summer school.

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When I admit that I am “not always right,” but I still insist that my wife side with me unquestioningly in every conflict, I am guilty of using God’s daughter to help “puff myself up.”

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

II Samuel 7:18

When I believe that I have reached some exalted state because I somehow deserve it or because I have somehow earned it or because I have somehow been rewarded for being good, I am probably thinking like a vaunting puffer.

Tests Seven and Eight show some of the underlying thought patterns which cause problems in this area of marriage.

Test Seven: Do you need your spouse to acknowledge what you do – or else?

Test Eight: Do you think you shouldn’t have to wait your turn?

Few spouses want to admit to these types of attitudes, but some deeper probing may be in order:

a. Some spouses solve the abhorrence-of-waiting-their-turn problem by implementing a turn-taking system, but then they “over-enforce” the turn-taking.
b. Actions often speak louder than words. Some spouses say they don’t expect to be praised or acknowledged for every little thing they do for their spouses, or for every little sacrifice they make, but one spouse’s actions can show that he or she subconsciously thinks that he/she is the more important one.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.

Psalm 115:1

Marriage is not about getting recognition for ourselves or gratifying our desire for receiving the appreciation of another person. It’s more about glorifying God’s name, and reflecting the truth of Christ’s relationship to and with His Church.

Test Nine: Do you always have to win?

Most of us, if honest, would have to own up to a desire to be the winner in any type of contentious encounter. Some of us would possibly, at times, even acknowledge a temptation to act unfairly (to “cheat”) if it means the difference between being perceived as the “winner” instead of the “loser,” or being the one who is “right” instead of “wrong” in an argument.

It’s easier, in the cold analytical light of this test, to say, “Cheating or playing unfairly is wrong.” But in the heat of a disagreement, we need to be constantly reminding ourselves of Whose glory is at stake in this marriage. Who deserves the credit when I have a chance to succeed? Cheating may give me a victory, but (because it dishonors the name of God) cheating puts me in the horrifying position of appearing to get the “victory” over God.

And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.

Jeremiah 45:5

Test Ten: Are you ever dishonest with your spouse?

Real Christian love is always concerned with the Truth. Lack of truthfulness reveals pride when telling my spouse the truth would mean revealing something unfavorable about me. Dishonesty is a key symptom of vaunting ourselves and puffing ourselves up.

How did you do on the ten tests? Were you able to identify any “puffiness” in your marriage? God does not help the puffed up. You do not have to be a Bible scholar or read very far in the pages of Scripture at all to learn this very basic and fundamental fact: The loud and the boastful excite God’s wrath. The “deflated” (no longer vaunting or puffed up) are more empty of self and ready to be filled by God.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Luke 1:53

If your marriage is empty of pride and vanity, God will fill it with good things. If your marriage is puffy, He might have to deflate it.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

If you will “unvaunt” yourself in your marriage, God will lift it up. Then He will vaunt Himself through it, which is right and good.

Give Good Advice: Inquire of Your Own Heart

July 9, 2012 at 11:33 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

I’m not saying our hearts can be trusted to tell us what’s right – or even to lead us in the right direction. They surely can’t (Jeremiah 17:9). What I’m saying is: A person who is seeking advice must examine his or her own motives. When you lie in bed late at night, and it’s just you and your thoughts, do not leave God out of the conversation. But do not leave the deepest, most secret caverns of your heart out of it, either.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Don’t go easy on your own heart. Don’t question it lightly. Subject it to an intense, searching cross-examination:

Heart, why are you not satisfied with what God has given us?
Heart, why are you going in the same wrong direction over and over?
Heart, who is really seated on your throne? Is it me or is it our Lord?

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There is a heresy that says Christianity is “all about me.” That’s wrong. Christianity is about Christ and His Gospel. But there is also a heresy that says, “It’s not about me at all.” God so loved the world – people – that He gave His Son (John 3:16). He made your heart – and if you’ve been regenerated He made your new heart (Ezekiel 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17). He made it so that the issues of life flow out of it. Too many of us talk to God with the intellectual surface of our mind, and we too seldom really pour our heart out on the altar to be examined before God.

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.ow to be sincere with God
I.nquire of your own heart
C.
E.

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