En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘JOHN CALVIN’

“Whosoever will….”

Posted by Scott on June 11, 2008

Just a response to things I have heard for nearly 40 years in the church:

I have heard many pastors, teachers and evangelist make statements when asked about Election…”What do you do with ‘Whosoever will…’?”  The claim is that “Whosoever will…” is the balancing act of “You did not choose me, but I-God chose you”.  There is no balancing act in this…both of these are on the same side.  I have read and heard stated a comment C.H. Spurgeon made one time…it goes something like this and may be paraphrased:  “we enter heaven through a door that says “Whosoever will come..” then as we enter we look on the other side and above the door it says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…”  They ask this as though it is in conflict with Reformed Theology (Calvinism).  The fact is “Whosoever will come…and God chose us” is not in conflict with the Calvinist Theology at all…this is the same door, they are both on the same side, not some balancing act. 

As preachers, pastors, evangelist, and teachers we are to simply present the entire gospel truth found in God’s word to all.  The ears that hear and hearts that are regenerated (Born Again) is up to the Holy Spirit…whosoever hears the word of God and comes to God for salvation may come.  Where is the conflict there?  Fact is that the ears that hear and act upon what they have heard with a regenerated heart will come and those that act in this fashion are of the Elect (Chosen)!  Those that come with a repentant heart, given faith by the Lord, ready to believe, may come to God for salvation…whosoever!  I have never found the conflict that so many seem to have with John 3:16 and the Calvinist Theology….nothing in conflict at all.  The call goes out to all, but only those chosen will come.  It is a narrow way that leads to the narrow gate to access to our heavenly Father…this narrow gate is Jesus Christ alone taught by scripture alone!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“For God…” salvation starts with God.  God is the initiator of our salvation!  As sinful depraved men we will not come to God unless He starts the process first.  He will draw us to Himself.

“…so loved…” this was His design not mans.  This love is a special kind of love for a special kind of people…His chosen people from all parts of the world.  His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.  God designed this before the foundations of the Universe came into existence.

“…the world…” this was His design for His people from all over the world.  It was a call to all kinds of people…Jews and Gentiles alike.  This salvation message was not just for the Jews, but for all who hear His call to salvation.  His people are all over the world not just in Israel, Jerusalem, America, or any other part, but all over.

“…that He gave His only begotten Son…” this is Jesus Christ the only Son of God…not an adopted son or daughter as we are.  This was a special and most important distinction so that we would not confuse Christ sacrifice on the cross as being just anyone on the cross…it was the one and only Son of the living God…God the Son Himself on that cross!  This was also fulfillment of prophecy from the Old Testament.

“…that Whosoever believes in Him…” those that hear His calling and act in true belief will be saved.  This belief cannot occur without being Born Again (regenerated) first, repentance of sins, then faith and belief.  This is not the free will of man, but the Sovereign Will of a gracious God.  This is not a cheap statement…God’s grace shown in this simple verse is not cheap nor should we cheapen it by dumbing it down so that anyone who blurbs out a few words can think he is saved…the true believer’s life will change in the direction of God not man’s desires.  Not everyone will come to a true faith and belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Many will pray a prayer, walk an isle, get dunked ’til they bubble in some Baptistery, many will claim they are saved because their family was “Christian”, but they are just as lost as any atheist, agnostic, or skeptic.  Actually it is even worse to have come so close to Christ yet be so far from Him to not be known by Him though one may have went to church all their life, sung in the choir, taught Sunday School, prayed out loud in church, etc.  

“…shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  this is a promise.  As a chosen child of God we can rest upon this promise that if we sense the openness in our hearts to receive the Word of God, humbly come before an awesome God in true repentance at our sinful depraved life absolutely torn that we have acted this way before God, prayerfully ask for forgiveness of our sinful being, and believe in Jesus Christ that He is Who He says He is..this is a life changing belief that permeates our entire being, then we can live on that promise that we are saved…permanently saved!  We can live on the fact that we will not perish in hell, but will live on forever with God in heaven someday.  We can stand firm on this fact although millions will tell us we are stupid and uneducated to believe in such…count this as joy! 

To be chosen by God without any effort on my part is the most awesome fact in scripture.  This is true grace.  The fact that I was wondrously miserably going through life without God.  Yet, in God’s Sovereign plan I had been chosen before the beginning to be saved.  He knew that my depraved sinful evil wicked heart would not desire Him nor would it ever come to Him on its own…so, the Holy Spirit went to work on me years ago to regenerate my heart, so that at the proper time of His choosing and for His purposes I would receive the Word of God in my heart and accept the fact that I was and am a sinful person.  The fact that the only way out of such bondage was to ask for God to forgive me of this sinful state of being and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  Without God going to work on me first I would still be wondering aimlessly through life rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell.  You see, man loves his sin.  Think about it…before God radically saved you or someone you know, the love of this sinful life permeated every part of them or us.  Only God can changed that.  This was the life of being a dead man spiritually walking through life…a dead man cannot revive himself…God must grant the spark of spiritual regeneration. 

This is where people jump off the good ship….this spiritual regeneration will only be sparked in those to whom God has Elected!  We do not know who these people are, but God knows His own and He will not allow one of His chosen ones, His sheep to be lost.

“Election is the act of God whereby in eternity past He chose those who will be saved.  Election is unconditional, because it does not depend on anything outside of God, such as good works or foreseen faith (Romans 9:16).  This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the Bible, and is also demanded by our knowledge of God.”    John MacArthur “Considering Election”

Remember this, God will not give up His Sovereign Will at anytime in order to give way to man’s free will if He so intends to save a particular man.  If God gives man over to his own depraved free will that is tragic and means that the man is hell bound without hope.  Man’s free will is at war with God’s Sovereign Will, yet by the grace of God, man’s free will is beaten down in order for God to save His own. 

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

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Elected! John MacArthur

Posted by Scott on June 11, 2008

Considering Election (Not Politics)

John MacArthur
 

Election is the act of God whereby in eternity past He chose those who will be saved. Election is unconditional, because it does not depend on anything outside of God, such as good works or foreseen faith (Romans 9:16). This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the Bible, and is also demanded by our knowledge of God. To begin with, let’s look at the biblical evidence.

The Bible says prior to salvation, all people are dead in sin — spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). In this state of death, the sinner is utterly unable to respond to any spiritual stimulus and therefore unable to love God, obey Him, or please Him in any way. Scripture says the mind of every unbeliever “is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8, emphasis added). That describes a state of total hopelessness: spiritual death.

The effect of all this is that no sinner can ever make the first move in the salvation process. This is what Jesus meant in John 6:44, when He said, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” 

This is also why the Bible repeatedly stresses that salvation is wholly God’s work. In Acts 13:48 we read, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Acts 16 tells us that Lydia was saved when, “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”

Romans 8:29-30 states, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Ephesians 1:4-5,11 reads, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . . also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”

Ephesians 2:8 suggests that even our faith is a gift from God.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, the apostle Paul tells his readers, “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation.”

Second Timothy 1:9 informs us that God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

Occasionally someone will suggest that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge of certain events. This argument suggests that God simply looks into the future to see who will believe, and He chooses those whom He sees choosing Him. Notice that 1 Peter 1:2 says the elect are chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” and Romans 8:29 says, “whom He foreknew, He also predestined.” And if divine foreknowledge simply means God’s knowledge of what will happen in advance, then these arguments may appear to have some weight behind them.

But that is not the biblical meaning of “foreknowledge.” When the Bible speaks of God’s foreknowledge, it refers to God’s establishment of a love relationship with that person. The word “know,” in both the Old and New Testament, refers to much more than mere cognitive knowledge of a person. Such passages as Hosea 13:4-5; Amos 3:2 (KJV); and Romans 11:2 clearly indicate this. For example, 1 Peter 1:20 says Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world.” Surely this means more than that God the Father looked into the future to behold Christ! It means He had an eternal, loving relationship with Him. The same is true of the elect, whom we are told God “foreknew” (Romans 8:29). That means He knew them — He loved them — before the foundation of the world.

If God’s choice of the elect is unconditional, does this rule out human responsibility? Paul asks and answers that very question in Romans 9:19-20. He says God’s choice of the elect is an act of mercy. Left to themselves, even the elect would persist in sin and be lost, because they are taken from the same fallen lump of clay as the rest of humanity. God alone is responsible for their salvation, but that does not eradicate the responsibility of those who persist in sin and are lost — because they do it willfully, and not under compulsion. They are responsible for their sin, not God.

The Bible affirms human responsibility right alongside the doctrine of divine sovereignty. Moreover, the offer of mercy in the gospel is extended to all alike. Isaiah 55:1 and Revelation 22:17 call “whosoever will” to be saved. Isaiah 45:22 and Acts 17:30 command all men to turn to God, repent and be saved. First Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 tell us that God is not willing that any should perish, but desires that all should be saved. Finally, the Lord Jesus said that, “the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

In summary, we can say that God has had a special love relationship with the elect from all eternity, and on the basis of that love relationship chosen them for salvation. The ultimate question of why God chose some for salvation and left others in their sinful state is one that we, with our finite knowledge, cannot answer. We do know that God’s attributes always are in perfect harmony with each other, so that God’s sovereignty will always operate in perfect harmony with His goodness, love, wisdom, and justice.

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Is Open-Mindedness a Good Thing?

Posted by Scott on May 4, 2008

I was reading a brief article that brought up the subject of the saying from long ago that being “open-minded” is a good thing.  The enemy of our mortal souls would like nothing more than to make us believe for a moment first he is not real, but beyond that he has placed in the Christian and non-Christian minds the lie that being “open-minded” to anything is the way we should live.  Now I ask, should we be “open-minded” as Christians…let’s take a look at this further?

As Christians are we not suppose to be filling our minds with the word of God rather than the philosophy of men?  Refer to Phillipians 3:18-20.  We are not to be like the rest of the world, so why would we consider anything the world has to say that is apart from the word of God?  Colossians 3:3 tells us to set our minds on the things above not on earthly things.  Here again we are not to be bothered with earthly philosopshy…we are to be concentrating on the things of God.  If we have “open-minds” to everything we will become like Burk Parsons says:

 “We thus become headless and brainless philosophers who just want to get along.” 

 Personally, I could care less about being a philosopher…it is my goal to speak the word of God regardless of what I personally think.  The authentic Christian life has nothing to do with my philosophy, but everything to do with the gospel truth found in God’s word…the Bible!

As Burk Parsons further stated,

“the mantra of religious pluralists:  Liberate your mind, lose your faith, and feel the love.” 

Everyone wants to “feel the love”, yet, I would contend that dumping our minds to the thoughts and ideas of a world that is hell bound is not what I would consider spiritually intellectual,  spiritually using your brain, or even remotely spiritually desirable.  If “feeling the love” from this world is what it is all about I guess I am left out of that loop.  I would hope that most of us that consider ourselves evangelical reformers are not even close to being “evanjellyfish” as Burk puts it or “religious pluralist”.  I have not been accused very many times of being open-minded, but have been accused many times of being very narrow-minded and old fashioned. I take that as a great compliment to my life and faith.  I guess you could consider me a “decided closed-minded reformer” on anything that has nothing to do with biblical truth and would not further the kingdom of God. 

John Calvin once wrote, “Wherefore all theology, when separated from Christ, is not only vain and confused, but is also mad, deceitful, and spurious; for, though philosophers sometimes utter excellent sayings, yet they have nothing but what is short-lived and eve mixed up with wicked and erroneous sentiments.” 

As for me and my house, we are trying to be close-minded to the philosophies of this world…to the ideas and philosophies that are contrary to the word of God.  We strive to close our minds to any subject or idea that takes away from Christ…this however, does not mean perfection in this area, but it is our constant goal.  It is our desire to live and breathe the word of God.  It is our life to proclaim that Jesus Christ ALONE is the only way to the heavenly Father.  Yes, this is narrow-minded, but Christ said in Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate…but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”  Did you catch that last part…”only a few find it”?  So, if you find yourself in one mind with the world and its philosophies, you are travelling down the wide road that leads to destruction, you need to rethink the path you are travelling, repent, and get on the narrow path.  Our Lord was narrow-minded and we, as His followers, should be too.

John 14: 6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Join with Burk Parsons, other theologians, my family, and myself in closing the mind to this worlds philosophical lies and only opening it to the things of God spelled out for us in the Bible.  Allow the Holy Spirit to direct our paths not the philosophies of men.

-Scott Bailey 2008

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Be Godlike!

Posted by Scott on March 21, 2008

Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ephesians 5:1-2

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children… (Ephesians 5:1).

Paul puts it flatly, bluntly, openly: “Be imitators of God.” That is a great declaration. The word for imitators is the Greek word that means “to mimic.” Mimics are those who follow the pattern or the example of God. If you want to put it simply, you can say it this way: “Be godlike.” That is the goal of Christianity. It is to produce men and women, boys and girls, who are godlike in the midst of an ungodlike world. That is what it is all about.

Notice that it does not say, “Be gods.” That is the lie of the devil. He distorts the truth and makes it come out as a promise to us that if we follow our own desires, throw overboard all restrictions, cast aside the bonds of authority, and do what we want to do, we can be gods. For, after all, isn’t that what God does? He does what He wants; He is sovereign; He does what He likes. But that is a lie. This is not what the Christian faith says. It says rather, “be godlike,” meaning, “reflect the one true and holy God.” There is only one God. There can be only one God. By definition, God is a supreme being. How many supreme beings can you have? Only one.

Therefore, the Christian message is to be like the one true God. Reflect Him in your humanity. Be a godlike man. Be a godlike woman. From this we get our English word godly. After all, this word godly, which makes many of us cringe and feel uncomfortable, is simply a shortened from of the word godlike. It originally came from the word godlikeness. Godlikeness is godliness; godliness is godlikeness.

What will you be like if you are godlike? Will you be strong? Yes, of course. There is no strength like God’s strength. Will you be filled with power if you are godlike? Oh yes, but be careful. It is a different kind of power than the world desires. It is quieter, less apparent, but far mightier. Will you be happy if you are godlike? Oh yes, but a different kind of happiness than the world is seeking after. Will you be wise and kind? Of course, wiser and kinder than you have ever been before, because that is what God is.

We can sum all this up in two words. Despite all the works of God that are evident around us, both in the natural world and in the world of thought and ideas, there are really only two things that God ever does in human history: God creates and He redeems. Those are the two things. Everything in the whole universe gathers about these two. God creates and God redeems. God makes things live, and God heals that which is broken. It is because God is life and God is love. He is therefore our Maker and our Healer. And that is what you will be if you become godly. You will learn how to live to the fullest capacity of your humanity. And you will learn how to love and to heal, to restore and bring together instead of to scatter and fragment and break apart. For that is godlikeness. It is desirable, isn’t it? Who does not want to be like this?

Father, this is what I have always wanted to be like. Teach me to listen that there might break out in our lonely, bewildered, confused age the wonder of godlikeness.

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

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Out of the Darkness!

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ephesians 2:11-13

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13)

A South American Indian told the missionary who led him to Christ. “When I was living in the jungle, we never knew a day without fear. When we woke up in the morning, we were afraid. When we went out of our houses, we were afraid. When we walked along the river, we were afraid. We saw an evil spirit in every stone and tree and waterfall. And when night fell, fear came into our huts and slept with us all night long.” That is what paganism is. And this is what the world is returning to. All around us, as Christian truth begins to fade, this pagan darkness settles upon the land. How thankful it ought to make our hearts that God has called us out of such darkness!

Without the instruction of those who came to know God and then brought the message to us, we would have been nothing but pagans. Without any light in our darkness other than the natural light that came from our inner being, indicating that there is a God somewhere, we would be living like that still. But now, having once been far off, we have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

It isn’t merely the death of Christ. Paul says that it is the blood of Christ. It is significant that he uses that term. Death, of course, is not always bloody. You can die without losing your blood. The Scriptures sometimes speak of the death of Christ and more often of the cross of Christ. But still more often they speak of the blood of Christ. Many don’t like this today. They don’t like to think of the cross or of the death of Jesus as being bloody. But God emphasizes it because blood is always a sign of violence. You see, the death of Jesus was not just a simple passing away—dying of old age on a comfortable bed. No, it was a violent death, a bloody, gory, ugly, revolting scene—a man hanging torn and wretched upon a cross with blood streaming down His sides.

God wants us to remember that violent death, because violence is the ultimate result of paganism. It is the final expression of a godless society. Cruelty arises immediately when love and truth disappear from society. And God is reminding us that when humanity had done its worst, had sunk to its lowest, had vented its anger in the utter wretchedness and violence and blood of the cross, His love reached down to that very place and, utilizing that violent act, began to redeem, to call back those who were far off and bring them near—in the blood of Christ.

And in the blood of Jesus, all the advantages the Jews had were conferred upon the Gentiles. Ignorant, pagan, darkened, foolish, struggling, hopeless—nevertheless, they had just as much access to God in the blood of Christ as any Jew ever had with his temple, his law, his priesthood, and his sacrifice. By this the apostle is trying to emphasize to us the exceedingly amazing wonder of the grace of God, which laid all these liabilities aside and reached out to us and found us just as we were and brought us near by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. What a gift to give thanks for!

Father, I thank You that I have been delivered from the darkness and brought near to You by the precious blood of Your Son.

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

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On Display!

Posted by Scott on March 6, 2008

Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ephesians 2:7-10

For we are Gods workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Notice how carefully he puts “works” in the right place. You don’t obtain anything from God by working for it. You never deserve anything but judgment at His hand. If He gave us what we deserve, we would all end up in hell. No, we receive His grace, His mercy, His love. But these result in good works. That is the point. They are designed to produce good works. It is a marvelous manifestation of God’s ability.

The word workmanship is really the word poem. “We are his poem.” Perhaps it would be better rendered, “We are his masterpiece.” God is working out in our lives a tremendous exhibition of His wisdom, His power, His love, His life, His character, His peace, and His joy. He is teaching us, training us, bringing us along, applying the paint in exactly the right places, producing a marvelous masterpiece to be put on display. This is to result in good works: kindness, love, mercy, compassion, help to one another, meeting one another’s needs.

Paul says that God has prepared these works beforehand. I experienced an interesting illustration of this. One of our interns flew to Albuquerque with me. We decided, as the plane was landing, that we would have some prayer together. I hadn’t talked to him about this passage at all, but I was struck by the way he prayed. He said, “Father, thank You for the good works already prepared for us in Albuquerque, for the fact that they are waiting for us to step into them and experience them.” Sure enough, after we got to Albuquerque these began to unfold.

There was a missionary there from the Amazon region of South America who was discouraged and terribly upset, ready to quit the ministry. Through the ministry we had there he came alive and began to see again what God could do. He came to us with a light on his face and said, “I’m going back to my field completely revolutionized in my approach. Now I’ve learned how God operates.”

A young pastor was facing dissension in his church. He wanted some counsel on how to handle it. God enabled the Scriptures to speak to that situation and give him wisdom and guidance for it. All these good works had been prepared beforehand. All we did was step into them.

Do you have any idea how many good works God has prepared for you? They are waiting for you to enter into as you walk in faith and trust and dependence upon Christ. The situations are there, ready and waiting for you to step into. This is what God has called you to. As you do so, you become a vivid display of the greatness and the glory of God.

Thank You, Father, that You have prepared beforehand good works for me to walk in. Grant that I might see these opportunities and take full advantage of them in the power of your Spirit.

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

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Voice of the Martyrs Update!

Posted by Scott on February 28, 2008

VOM-USA News & Prayer Update Visit: Persecution.com

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.'” (Genesis 15:1)

Prayers for February 26, 2008
From The Voice of the Martyrs
Persecution.com
Pray for CHINA
CHINA 21 House Church Leaders Simultaneously Sentenced to Labor Camp – China Aid Association
China Aid Association (CAA) reports 21 senior house church leaders were recently simultaneously sentenced to a labor camp by the Linyi City Re-education Through Labor Commission. According to CAA, “The leaders were detained on December 7, 2007 when they gathered for leadership training with 249 other leaders in Hedong district, Linyi city, Shandong province. After paying fines and finishing detention ranging from a few days to a few weeks, 249 leaders were released. The 21 most senior leaders were sentenced to three years to one year and three months.” The Public Security Bureau has accused and labeled the house church leaders as “evil cult” members. Of the 21 leaders sent to the labor camp, 12 are men and four are women. Pray for these believers and their families during this difficult time. Ask God to protect and encourage them. Pray they will be a good witness of Christ’s love to other prisoners and their captors. Psalm 27:1

Pray for SRI LANKA
SRI LANKA Pastor Killed, Wife in Seriously Injured in Attack – National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka
On February 17, Pastor Neil Edirisinghe, of the House Church Foundation, was gunned down by two assailants outside his home in Ampara, Sri Lanka. According to a report by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), “Pastor Edirisinghe was engaged in the Lord’s ministry in Ampara for many years. The attackers also shot his wife in the stomach. At last report, she was in the hospital in critical condition. Their two-year-old son who received a minor injury in the attack is also suffering from trauma.” NCEASL added the motive for the attacks was believed to be in response to Pastor Edirisinghe’s ministry. The Voice of the Martyrs is assisting the family during this difficult time. Pray for peace and comfort for Pastor Edirisinghe’s family. Pray for a speedy recovery for his wife and child and for them to rely on the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 107:2

Pray for GAZA
GAZA YMCA Library Bombed – VOM Sources
On February 16, unidentified assailants bombed the library of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) compound in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza city. According to VOM sources, shortly after midnight, at least 12 gunmen entered the YMCA compound and kidnapped two guards at gunpoint after asking them why they worked for “infidels.” The men stormed the building and detonated two homemade explosive devices inside the library. All 8,000 books in the library were destroyed and the floor, walls and ceiling were damaged. The attackers stole computers and other equipment from other YMCA offices. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. . However, sources in Gaza reportedly believe that the perpetrators were Muslim militants acting in response to the reproduction of cartoons “ridiculing” Muhammad in a number of Danish newspapers last week. Praise God no one was injured in this attack. Ask God to protect and give wisdom to believers in Gaza. Pray the attackers will come into contact with the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Joshua 1:9

Pray for ETHIOPIA
ETHIOPIA Christian Couple Beaten and Chased From Mosque – VOM Sources
On February 10, Muslin Christian converts, Jemmal Abdo and his wife, were beaten and chased out from a mosque where they both worked in the capital city of Addis Ababa. According to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts, “Jemmal and his wife accepted Christ two months ago. Soon after their conversion Jemmal’s friend saw him talking with Christians and told the imam of the mosque. Jemmal and his wife were interrogated in the mosque during a meeting called by Muslim leaders in an attempt to persuade the couple to recant their faith. The couple refused to do so, even after the leaders offered them higher positions and salaries if they denied Christ. The couple was beaten and dragged out of the mosque.” Jemmal and his wife were able to flee to a new location for safety. Pray for the speedy recovery for Jemmal and his wife, who were injured in the attack. Ask God to strengthen them and provide for them as they stand strong in their new found faith in Jesus Christ. Isaiah 54:17

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The Need for the Truth!

Posted by Scott on February 28, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ecclesiastes 12:9-12

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd (Ecclesiastes 12:11).

Solomon describes the value of Scripture: it is like a “goad.” It makes you go where you would not ordinarily go; it delivers you by prodding you along.

I remember a man who was in the grip of a terrible depression for more than a year. But he was delivered by daily meditating on a simple statement he found in Scripture, the words of Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Meditating on that day after day goaded him and urged him to think about his life in those terms. He was brought out of his depression within a relatively short time and never returned to it again.

Scripture is also a “firmly embedded nail.” You can hang onto it in times of danger and temptation. Once in my own life when I was severely troubled of heart, one phrase from Jesus came into my mind again and again. It was where Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1a RSV). I was especially gripped by those two words, “Let not.” They said to me that a troubled heart in the believer is subject to the will of that believer. He can let his heart be troubled, or he can let it not be troubled. The ground for letting it not be troubled is in the words that immediately follow: Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:lb RSV). When the realization struck me that my living Lord was there, with wisdom and power to handle the situation, I felt the lifting of my heart’s load. That is the power of Scripture.

Why does it have this unique power? The reason, according to verse 11, is because “their collected sayings… [are] given by one Shepherd.” These are inspired, God-breathed words. The heart of God is the heart of a shepherd; He sees us as wandering sheep in need of a shepherd’s care. The fact that the Lord is our shepherd is probably the reason the shepherds of Bethlehem were chosen to be the first men to hear the wonderful words of the angels: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). But in the hope that was awakened on that Christmas morning, there was the realization that the One who was born in the manger was the One of whom it was said, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b).

“Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to [the words of the wise],” the Searcher says (Ecclesiastes 12:11). This is the word of wisdom to searchers for knowledge: “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It is right to read and search and know and learn. But beware of letting this take you beyond the simple fact that this book so clearly declares, that God is the answer to the reason for existence. Until we discover Him, study and books will never be of any continuing value to us.

Thank You for Your Word, dear Lord. May I allow it to function in my life as a goad that prods me towards You, as a firmly fixed nail I can hang onto, given by You, the Great Shepherd.

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

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The Dangers of Digging Pits!

Posted by Scott on February 23, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: Ecclesiastes 10:1-15

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them (Ecclesiastes 10:8-9).

In the next section, the Searcher returns to wisdom to describe the kinds of insights that wisdom will embrace. First, there is a section on avoiding dangers, understanding that certain situations have inherent dangers.

Few of us are ever going to be involved extensively in digging pits, breaking down walls, quarrying stones, or splitting logs. But Solomon is not talking only about actual physical situations; these are also descriptive, symbolic of the things we do to each other. Did you ever dig a pit for somebody, laying a trap to embarrass, injure, or make that person look bad in some way, only to find that you yourself were trapped by the situation you had designed? Wisdom understands that when you dig a pit, you too are in danger; you may fall into it yourself.

Wisdom understands that when you try to break down some wall of obstruction that keeps you from getting at someone or something, you are in danger, for hidden in that wall is a serpent that will bite you. Many have discovered that in heavy-handedly trying to break down somebody’s resistance, they have triggered a serpent within themselves that flashes up in anger and leads to hurtful, dangerous things. They themselves have been bitten.

“Whoever quarries stones,” who attempts to remove something of value, to dig out something that will be of great personal use and profit, has to remember that he or she can be hurt by that. Those who “quarry” may get what they want, but it will be the worst thing that could happen to them. Psalm 106 says of the Israelites in the wilderness, “He gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them” (Psalm 106:15). “Whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.” Here is the same principle. The idea is that care must be exercised in all these attempts to do things that may endanger you as well.

Then there are two verses on how wisdom enlists help in time: “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10). If you do not think through what you are going to do and sharpen the edge of your approaches, considering carefully how you are going to go about something, you will only expend a lot of effort and find yourself worn out in the process. But wise people, understanding the need for sharpness and clarity, will whet the edge of their thought before they attempt something, and thus succeed.

How many times, Father, have I tried to do something in my own strength and been injured in the process? In all my endeavors, may I rely on Your wisdom.

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

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Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life!

Posted by Scott on February 21, 2008

by Ray Stedman!

READ: Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:6

No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it (Ecclesiastes 8:17b).

The Searcher’s claim is quite clear: life is too complicated, too vast, too filled with conflicting elements for any one of us to figure out all the answers. Though we stay up all night and day, trying to think through and understand the complicated events that bring to pass the circumstances of our lives, we will never fully understand.

The Bible attaches no stigma to trying to understand life. Rather, the pursuit of knowledge is everywhere encouraged in Scripture. We must never adopt the attitude of anti-intellectualism that characterizes some segments of Christianity today. We are to reason and think about what God is doing and what life gives us. But we must always remember that no matter how much we try to think about life, mysteries will still remain. We do not have enough data, nor do we have enough ability to see life in its totality to answer all the questions. We must be content with some degree of mystery.

Though the wisest man of the ancient world wrote these words, he admits that humans cannot know all the answers. He even says that diligence in labor will not unravel life’s mysteries: “Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning.” We will still be left knitting our brows, scratching our heads, asking the eternal “Why?”

Even when people claim to know the answers behind what happens to us, they are really only deceiving themselves. Many people are unwilling to accept the truth of Scripture until they can understand everything in it. But if you are waiting for that, you will never make it. Although this book was written almost 2,500 years ago, it is still true, even in our age of advanced knowledge, that no one can find all the answers.

When you think about your own life, about how many of the things that have happened to you have been determined by events over which you had no control—events that had to fall together in a certain pattern before they could ever come to pass—you can see how true these words are. No one can find out all the answers. Luis Palau has often remarked about the many events that had to come together for him and me ever to have met in a city in northern Argentina. We met in a rather simple way, yet that event changed both of our lives. That meeting eventually launched him into a worldwide evangelistic ministry, and thousands upon thousands have come to Christ as a result of it. How could that happen? As far as Luis was concerned, it all hung upon a simple decision to go or not to go to a meeting one evening. How can we understand that strange merging of simplicity and complexity? The Searcher argues that life is too complicated for us ever to answer all the questions.

Lord, teach me to cry out with the apostle Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing (Romans 11:33)!

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

-Scott Bailey 2008

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