En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for December, 2007

Trials and Pain…It Works! A. W. Tozer

Posted by Scott on December 10, 2007

Insight for Leaders

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Trials and Pain

by A. W. Tozer

The devil, things and people being what they are, it is necessary for God to use the hammer, the file and the furnace in His holy work of preparing a saint for true sainthood. It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

The Root of the Righteous, 157.


 

A. W. Tozer
Read about A. W. Tozer

December 9

Trials and Pain: It Works!

…Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Ten thousand enemies cannot stop a Christian, cannot even slow him down, if he meets them in an attitude of complete trust in God. They will become to him like the atmosphere that resists the airplane, but which because the plane’s designer knew how to take advantage of that resistance, actually lifts the plane aloft and holds it there for a journey of 2,000 miles. What would have been an enemy to the plane becomes a helpful servant to aid it on its way….

If this should seem like a bit of theorizing, remember that always the greatest Christians have come out of hard times and tough situations. Tribulations actually worked for their spiritual perfection in that they taught them to trust not in themselves but in the Lord who raised the dead. They learned that the enemy could not block their progress unless they surrendered to the urgings of the flesh and began to complain. And slowly, they learned to stop complaining and start praising. It is that simple–and it works! We Travel an Appointed Way, 32-33.

“Lord, I wish I could more readily ‘stop complaining and start praising.’ I pray for Your grace to work within me that I might allow the trials to lift me aloft rather than press me down. I’ll do it in Your strength today. Amen.”

-Scott Bailey 2007

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True but Wrong!

Posted by Scott on December 7, 2007

True But Wrong

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Job 8

Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers (Job 8:20).

When you read Bildad’s arguments, you have to ask, “What is wrong with this? It sounds so true and right.” It is an argument you hear repeated many times today. What Bildad says is true and logical and supported by plausible argument both from the experience of the past and from the testimony of much of Scripture as well. What, then, is wrong?

I see three things wrong with Job’s friends’ approaches. First, they answer Job’s words without trying to find out what produces those words. They are zeroing in on what he says without understanding his agony. Job himself has admitted that he speaks rashly, but he says it is because of the unceasing torment he is going through. Those of us who have gone through deep, unrelenting pain know how this can try the spirit to the utmost, and we become testy and sharp. And because Job says certain things that sound extreme, his friends leap upon his words and try to analyze them. They make no attempt to identify with Job’s hurt in their approaches to him.

The second thing is that these friends’ theology was right as far as it went, but it was very incomplete. They always spoke with the utmost confidence that what they were saying was the final word on the subject. There was no apparent understanding that perhaps there were aspects of God and dimensions to His Word that they had not yet seen. Their narrow, limited vision said that difficulties in a person’s life are always caused by sin. Many of the problems of life are caused by sin; therefore, it is impossible to say that these men are wrong. Nevertheless, they do not see that there are other reasons God brings us into suffering.

I am reminded of the famous story of the blind men and the elephant. They gather around this huge animal and by feeling it, try to identify what an elephant is like. One, grabbing the trunk, said an elephant is like a snake. Another, feeling the leg, said an elephant is like a tree. Still another, feeling the side of the animal, said that an elephant is like a wall. A fourth, grabbing the tail, said an elephant is like a rope. Thus they argued back and forth. All of them were right, and all of them were wrong, because they did not see the whole picture.

The third thing that is wrong with these friends is that they never seem to refer to God for help for themselves in understanding Job’s problem. They never pray with Job. They never ask God to open their minds and illuminate their understanding so that they can help their friend. The book of Job is filled with prayers, but they are all the prayers of Job crying out to God in the midst of his sufferings. His friends never seem to feel the need for further illumination on the subject. What a testimony to us for the need to speak cautiously when we deal with the deep hurts and problems of life.

Teach me to reach out to others who are suffering and pray with them in a spirit of compassion.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Folly of Platitudes” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad: Psalm 119:105-112 Statement!

Posted by Scott on December 7, 2007

“God’s word will light up the trail of thislife we are to follow.  For He is the light of the world.  God’s word is so great it draws us to His and makes it possible to obey His commands.  As Christian, we will suffer much in this life, but God is the great restorer of life.  We can count on Him to keep His promises.  God is the greatest of teachers and we are to be thankful even grateful for this.  Our lives are fragile and hangs by a thread at times, but we must not stop obeying His word.  Enemies are just a part of life we must learn to live with and allow God to work throug daily.  There is a great treasure of richness in God’s word we must not ignore.  God’s Spirit can give us great determination to keep His commands to the end.”

Based on Psalm 119:105-112

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-From A Dad: Short Stories on those Suffering For Their Faith!

Posted by Scott on December 6, 2007

Throughout the life of what we know as the church today many have suffered greatly for the cause of Christ.  Hundreds have been martyred for their faith in Christ.  Here are a few quick stories about some that have suffered for their faith at the hands of Islamic extremist.

Kamerino:  He left his village one morning with three friends looking for food.  After accidently running into Islamic soldiers, the four boys hid in a field of tall dry grass.  Islamic soldiers surrounded the field and set it on fire to drive out the childre.  Three of the boys were abducted while Kamerino was engulfed in the flames.  R+Though burned from head to toe, he miraculously managed to survive.

Damare:  He left the camels his Muslim owner had assigned to watchso he could go to church.  One of them escaped.  When the owner discovered Damare had gone to church and lost a camel, he nailed to boy’s legs to a board to punish him.  Then he left Damare to die.  Thankfully, a Christian man rescued him.

Abuk Ajing:  She was 14 years old when Islamic soldiers raided her village.  For refusing to convert to Islam, the soldiers beat her and mutilated her chest with a large knife.  Today, 10 years later, she still bars the scars of her faith, yet she knew that it was Jesus who gave her strength to endure the torture.

I ran across a ministry the other day called Voice of the Martyrs.  This ministry is to sustain to saints around the world.  Visit www.persecution.com to read more about how you can get involved in this vital minstry to those perseuted for their faith in Christ.  How many of us really could withstand such brutality?  In the world today there is probably more people suffering for Christ is very barbaric ways, however, they are taking the suffering painfully, but in full hope that Christ return will be soon.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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When Satan Hurts God’s People!

Posted by Scott on December 5, 2007

Reflections on Why Christians Suffer Losses


By John Piper


Revelation 2:10

When huge pain comes into your life—like divorce, or the loss of a precious family member, or the dream of wholeness shattered—it is good to have a few things settled with God ahead of time. The reason for this is not because it makes grieving easy, but because it gives focus and boundaries for the pain.

Being confident in God does not make the pain less deep, but less broad. If some things are settled with God, there are boundaries around the field of pain. In fact, by being focused and bounded, the pain of loss may go deeper—as a river with banks runs deeper than a flood plain. But with God in his firm and proper place, the pain need not spread out into the endless spaces of ultimate meaning. This is a great blessing, though at the time it may simply feel no more tender than a brick wall. But what a precious wall it is!

As a father, I want to help our twelve-year-old daughter Talitha settle some things with God now, so that when little or big losses come—and they will come—her pain will be bounded and will not carry her out, like a riptide, into the terrifying darkness of doubt about God. So as we read God’s word together twice a day, I point out the mysterious ways of God.

Two days ago, we read this from the lips of Jesus to the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2:10:

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

I asked Talitha, “Is Jesus stronger than the devil?” “Yes,” she said. Indeed, I added, ten million times stronger. It’s not even close. In fact, as Mark 1:27 says, “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” So all Jesus has to do is say to the devil, “You shall not throw my loved ones into prison,” and the devil will not be able to do it. Right, Talitha? Right.

So, Talitha, why does Jesus let the devil do this? Why does he let the devil throw his precious followers in jail and even kill some of them? She shook her head. I said, well, let’s read it again slowly, and you tell me the reason that the Bible gives. Slowly, “Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison . . . that . . . you . . . may . . . be . . . tested.” So why does Jesus let this happen, Talitha? “That they may be tested.” That’s right.

And what is being tested? The answer is given in the way Jesus describes what passing the test looks like. He says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Faithfulness to Jesus is being tested. Will his loved ones keep trusting him? Will they keep believing that he has their best interest at heart? That he is wise? That he is good? That he is stronger than all?

So, Talitha, there are a thousand things that God is doing every time something painful happens to you. Most of these you do not know or understand. Job, Joseph, and Esther did not know what God was doing in their losses. But there is always one thing you can know God is doing when pain comes into your life. This is something you can settle with God ahead of time. He is always testing you.

If the test leads to your death, as it did for some of the Christians in Smyrna, Jesus wants you to know something ahead of time. “You will receive the crown of life.” That means he will raise you from the dead and will crown you with the kind of everlasting joy in his presence that will make up for your loses ten-thousand-fold. “Crown” signifies majestic, royal restoration and exaltation.

James says the same thing:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Passing the test means loving God to the end.

So settle it, Talitha. Loss and pain are coming into your life, but Jesus is infinitely stronger than the devil. So even if the devil is causing it, as he did in Smyrna, Jesus is letting it happen. And he always has his reasons—more than we can know. One of those reasons is always testing, namely, the testing of our faith and our love for him.

We cannot answer every why question. But there is always this answer: My faith is being tested. And our Lord never wastes his tests. Whether we believe this truth is, in fact, part of the test. In the mind of Jesus, the promise that he would give them the crown of life was enough to sustain the Christians in Smyrna. I pray that it will be enough for Talitha—and for you.

Trusting the wisdom and goodness of Jesus in loss,

Pastor John


© Desiring God

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad: Psalm 119:97-104 Statement!

Posted by Scott on December 5, 2007

“God is the creator of us all.  He created in us the love for His commands.  The Lord keeps this on our minds constantly.  God is the commander of the wise and the constant guide for the weak.  God is the giver of great insight and wisdom.  The Lord has set His trails before us and He keeps us on that path by His holy plan.  Our heavenly Father is the One that gives His holy word the sweetness and richness that each of us enjoy.  By God’s word we have been given the ability to discern falsehoods and evil when they appear before me.”

We serve a magnificent God that has not only created us, but He created in us a love for his commands.  Everyday we must travel down trails of this life.  Some people travel down roads that are rough and bumpy while others it seems is made of pure gold.  With sweet and rich words that appear to be dripping with sweetness like honey our very lives are transformed in a vessel that God can use for His glory and honor.  Finally, to ensure that we will be able to stay away from the evil side of life God has instilled with us alarms called discernment.  Keep reading and searching, the Lord wants to know everything about each one of us even though He already know us.

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-From A Dad: Psalm 119:89-96 Statement

Posted by Scott on December 5, 2007

“God is forever, firm, faithful, enduring, creator of all, sovereign, all knowing, all being, everywhere, sustainer, commander and chief, my hero, rescuer, my deliverer, and the Word!”

These are the words to be found within this passage of scripture that describes some of what my God is.  These do not make a dent in the words to describe Him, but at the least the words from David are good start.  In my daily study of god’s word I have found that focusing on many of the meaty words is important to knowing who God really is…I like to call it “being a word hound”. 

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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Accepting What God Gives!

Posted by Scott on December 4, 2007

Accepting What God Gives

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Job 2:9-13

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said (Job 2:10).

Job’s rebuke is a very gentle one. He did not say, “You foolish woman!” He said, “You are talking like a foolish woman.” He is not attacking her; rather, he is suggesting that this is a temporary lapse of faith on her part and that, for the moment, she has begun to repeat the words of stupid, foolish women who have no knowledge of the grace and glory of God. In that gentle rebuke you can see something of the sturdiness and tenderness of Job’s faith. In this great sentence, he again reasserts the sovereignty of God: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job’s wife had the philosophy that life ought to be pleasant, and if it were not, there was no use living it.

That philosophy is widespread in our own day, and a mounting suicide rate testifies to the universal acceptance of it. But this book is given to show us that life is not to be lived on those terms. The reason we are here is not necessarily to have a good time. There are meaningful objectives to be attained in life, even when it all turns sour. When the pressure comes, when living is no longer fun, life is still worth living. A philosophy that wants to abandon everything as soon as things become unpleasant is a shallow, mistaken, distorted view of life. Job reaffirms that. “Shall we not take both good and evil from the hand of God?” We take His joy and His pleasure, the pleasant things of life, with gladness and gratitude. If God chooses to send something that is difficult, shall we then abandon that gratitude and begin to curse Him in protest because life is suddenly different than we thought it would be? The reason we are here is not merely that we might have a good time, and this is taught everywhere in the Scriptures. God, in His grace and glory, does give us many hours of joy and gladness and pleasure and delight, and it is right for us to give thanks. But do not abandon that when the time of pressure comes, because that is what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to begin to complain and protest to God; to get upset and angry and resentful; to stop going to church or to reading the Bible. That is what Satan’s whole attack on our lives is aimed at doing.

Father, strengthen my faith in You, that I can accept from Your hand both good and evil. Thank You that Your purposes for me, though sometimes painful, are always good.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Pressure of Pain” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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The Test!

Posted by Scott on December 3, 2007

The Test

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Job 1

But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face (Job 1:11).

This book will help us more than any other book in the Bible to catch a glimpse of the greatness and majesty of God. We will see what we desperately need to see—that God is not just another man, great in power and authority, whom we call, influence, and command. God is not a heavenly bellboy, ready to run at our command. No, God is in charge, and He will always be in charge. If we are going to deal realistically with life, this is the way we must see Him.

We sometimes hear that this book of Job is the record of a great battleground between God and Satan and that Job is caught in between. Though there are aspects of this in the book, is this not a strange war, in which one side must get permission from the other before it attacks? What kind of battle is that?

Can you imagine a German commander during World War II stepping up to General Patton, saluting him, and saying, “Here, General, we would like permission to bomb your troops, destroy your tanks, and wreck all your plans!” I’m sure General Patton’s reply would have been unprintable and unrepeatable!

And yet that is the situation in this book of Job. Satan comes to God and asks permission to do something against Job. Now that is not a battle; it is not warfare; it is a test. That is what we need to see. Job’s faith is the subject of a very rigorous test. Satan is the one who brings it about, but God permits it.

You may be thinking, “I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes about me? I wonder what Satan is saying about me now and if he’s asking permission to get me!” If that is what you are thinking, my advice is, “Do not worry; live one day at a time.” For the thing this book tells us is that if Satan had his way, every one of us would always be in this kind of difficulty. Satan would tear us apart all the time if he could–not because he is angry with us but because he wants to get at God, whom we serve. But God’s protecting hand has been over us. If we can sit here in any degree of peace and enjoyment, it is because the hand of God has been like a hedge about us, protecting us and giving us great and wonderful things. Therefore, the attitude of every human heart ought to be, “Thank God for what I’ve got! Thank God for where I am now. What the future may hold, only He knows.”

And if it holds some kind of testing like this, it is only because, as Paul has reminded us in 1 Corinthians, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

He knows what you can bear, and He will not put you to the test so severely that it will destroy your faith. But there are implications in every test that go far beyond the superficial aspects of the situation. That is what we need to remember. And as this remarkable book unfolds, we will see some of the things that God brought to the attention of Job.

Lord, thank You that You have placed a hedge about me and that with every test comes the strength to endure.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Test” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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A Case For Christ!

Posted by Scott on December 3, 2007

 Go to the website hear! The Case for Christ – The Hearing
Is there a case for Christ? If there were to be an arbitrary legal hearing – a court case to determine whether or not Jesus Christ is in fact the only begotten Son of God – would He be vindicated by the evidence, or exposed as a fraud?

The Case for Christ – The Prosecutor
Has anybody ever compiled the evidence to determine the case for Christ? As a matter of fact, Lee Strobel, an atheist at the time he undertook this endeavor, decided that he would prove Jesus Christ to be a fraud by the weight of the evidence. Strobel was certainly qualified to undertake such a task, compiling the case against Christ. He has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School and was an award-winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune. Strobel’s area of expertise was Courtroom Analyst and he rose to the rank of Legal Editor of the Chicago Tribune. Furthermore, Strobel was not biased towards defending Christ – he was an atheist!

The Case for Christ – The Findings
Strobel divides the case for Christ into three basic sections:

1. The Historical Record:

2. A Profile of Jesus Christ:

3. The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The Case for Christ – Examining the Evidence
In trying the case for Christ, Strobel cross-examined a number of experts and recognized authorities in their own fields of study. He conducted his examination with no religious bias, other than his predisposition to atheism. Remarkably, after compiling and critically examining the evidence for himself, Strobel became a Christian. Stunned by his findings, he organized the evidence into a book he entitled, The Case for Christ, which has won the Gold Medallion Book Award for excellence. Strobel asks one thing of each reader – remain unbiased in your examination of the evidence. In the end, judge the evidence for yourself, acting as the lone juror in the case for Christ.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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