May 29, 2012
“When your body suffers, sin loses its power.” (1 Peter 4:1 LB)
As you and I grow closer to God, one of two things happens: God burns out of us everything contrary to the essence of His spiritual and holy nature, or our resistance to this process puts our relationship with God in a spiritual “deep freeze.”
Years ago I visited a man who had just experienced a five-artery bypass operation after suffering a massive heart attack. Involved in much sexual immorality before he became a follower of Christ, he had sought my counsel frequently regarding his continuous battle with a sexually impure thought-life. When I arrived at his room in the hospital, he extended his hand to me from his oxygen tent and said, “I haven’t had a sexual thought since I entered this hospital!”
What he said reminded me of that part of the verse quoted above by the Apostle Peter, which tells us that sin can sometimes lose its power when we are suffering. If people were transparent, many would acknowledge the reality that their loving heavenly Father has kept them from much sin by permitting many shades and grades of suffering and limitations. According to the book of Hebrews (12: 29), and the first letter of the Apostle Peter, God sometimes uses suffering to diminish sin and increase the share of His holy nature with His children.
If a large block of ice and a blowtorch came together slowly one of two things happens: the blowtorch can melt the ice or the ice can extinguish the blowtorch. God knows His business is to prepare us for heaven. He is a consuming fire that sometimes uses suffering to do that business.
May 22, 2012
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)
An attractive young lady was returning from a church meeting at a late hour. When she stopped at a traffic light, a large “eighteen-wheeler” truck was in the next lane. As the light changed and she pulled away, the large truck “tailgated” her car while blinking its lights and blowing its loud air horn.
She was very frightened and increased her speed as she drove out of the city limits toward the farmhouse where she lived with her parents. The huge truck followed her all the way, blinking its lights and blowing its horn. She turned into a long dirt road that led to her home. The truck followed her as she drove right up to the porch of the house. When she frantically popped open her door to run for the house, the back door of her car suddenly opened and a man with a large knife bolted for the woods.
When she stopped for that light, the truck driver saw the man crouching behind her front seat with a knife in his hand. Realizing that she was going to be attacked as soon as she drove into the country, the truck driver was determined to save her from that tragedy.
Sometimes, our suffering and limitations seem like that eighteen-wheeler bearing down on us. Actually, however, that suffering can be a vehicle of our loving God, purging out of our lives the evil one who is determined to ruin us. This is what our Lord was profiling when He instructed us in the disciple’s prayer to pray that we might be delivered from the evil one.
Can you meet yourself in this story?
Editor’s Note: Dick Woodward (my Papa) recently returned from a hospitalization & has recovered nicely (thanks be to God!!) He is now getting back into his normal schedule (blog writing inclusive.) We appreciate your continued prayers as we give thanks – Life is a Gift!!
May 4, 2012
“… your fellowship in the Gospel…” (Philippians 1:5)
When you read the first words of Paul’s letter to his favorite church they show you the passion of Paul and the heart of this church he loved. The bonds that made them so remarkably one in heart are expressed in the repetition of one word: “Gospel.” Paul writes that the things he has experienced have fallen out to the furtherance of the Gospel. And that he has them in his heart because in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel they all are partakers of God’s grace.
As Paul continues to repeat the word “Gospel” he expresses his heart’s passion when he describes what he calls “the faith of the Gospel.” He precedes that with the concept of behavior that becomes the Gospel. Paul is describing the purpose and function of a church when he calls their church “a fellowship of the Gospel.” The context in which the Gospel is to be believed is that fellowship of the Gospel.
Paul is in prison when he writes these words and he doesn’t know if he will be released. In verse 27 he writes his ideal for his ideal church. His great Gospel prescription is: “I want to hear that every member of your church is a Christian; every Christian is Christian and Christians are Christian together in a way that results in other people believing the Gospel!”
Paul’s plan for filling this prescription for his ideal spiritual community is to “Stand fast in one Spirit with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel!” (1:27) That Church in Philippi is to act as if they have one mind among them because in fact because they do.
It is the mind of Christ.