The God-centered life

Speaker:

                                The Self-Centered Life Fails without 

                                  the Remotest Chance of Success.

                                 The God-Centered Life Succeeds

                            without the Remotest Chance of Failure

                                                                        Ray Ortland

     G. Campbell Morgan, in The Westminster Pulpit defines the self-centered life as follows.  “It is the life irreligious, the life that has no vision of God, that never waits for His voice, has no sense of the eternal, no commerce with the spiritual, no traffic with the unseen, the life which Peter describes when he says ‘seeing only the things that are near.’”  Baker Book House 1954-55, Volume III, Page 242.  It is a life which equally may be condemned by the culture in which one lives, or it may be a life that is highly commended.  It may accomplish much by the world’s standards, but when examined in the light of eternity it will be of no consequence.  The Lord states to us in John 15:5  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  The life lived without dependence upon His person and His power achieves nothing of lasting value.  Our Lord relates to us that in living the self-centered life, we are losing a glorious life of fulfillment and joy which stretches into eternity, a full, abundant, rich meaningful life.  These words are recorded in John 12:25.  “The man who loves his life will lose it while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  The self-centered life fails, then, with not the remotest chance of success.  

     The God-centered life, on the other hand, succeeds without the remotest chance of failure.  This life is characterized by surrender to the Person of Christ.  It is described by G. Campbell Morgan in the following manner.  “‘I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.‘  I deliberately adopt the marginal reading there.  That is a wonderful verse.  Study its psychology.  ‘I beseech you.….to present your bodies.‘  Your body is not you.  The apostle is not dealing with the body, he is dealing with the essential man.  Or in the Corinthian epistle, ‘your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…..glorify God therefore in your body.‘  You glorify God in it:  you are not it:  you indwell it.  The body is the tabernacle, the tent of the man, not the man.  I pray you mark the significance of this, and see the reason for laying emphasis on these two passages.  What is surrender?  To give myself over to the Lord.  That is, all my spiritual life.  How am I to do that, or demonstrate that I have done it?  By presenting the body in which I dwell.  That is spiritual worship.  We thought spiritual worship consisted in singing hymns and praying.   All these things are spiritual, or should be, but spiritual worship is the body dedicated to the Lord.  

                                     Take my hands, and let them move                                                                               

                                          At the impulse of Thy love;   

                                         Take my feet and let them be 

                                         Swift and beautiful for Thee.

That is surrender.  That is not merely that my hands and feet are at His disposal, but that I am His, and that I indicate to Him and to the world my abandonment by putting the members of my body at His disposal and refusing to allow brain, or heart, or head, or hands, or feet to act save under His command and in His sacred service.  The intellect, emotion, will surrendered, and consequently the whole body acting under His direction.”

The Westminster Pulpit, Baker Book House, Volume III, pages 313-314.

     Having abandoned oneself to the Lord, then, the recognition offered by the world has no meaning.  The God-centered life finds its confidence in the assurance of                    I Corinthians 15:58.  “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  No effort or expenditure of time or resources is wasted.  All is remembered and rewarded, “even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.” (Matthew 10:42)  The God-centered life is one which “will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)  It succeeds without the remotest chance of failure.  

     In light of the above, then, the most pressing question to be asked is “How can I change the center of my life?”  This question is but to repeat in a different form the one asked of the Lord in John 6:28.  “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus’ answer to them, and likewise in answer to the question we pose is the same.  “The work of God is this:  to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)  This belief is described more fully by G. Campbell Morgan as follows.  “The faith that saves, faith in the initial stages of the Christian life and all the process of discipline of Christian life is not conviction merely; but yielding to, obedience to, abandonment to conviction.  Where conviction is answered by active obedience, there you have faith that brings into living contact with all the resources of power.  The faith that saves is not faith about, but faith into.  Belief is more than belief about.  Belief about is conviction.  Belief into is conviction compelling activity.  Belief about is conviction of the light.  Belief into is walking in the light.”  The Westminster Pulpit, Baker Book House, Volume III, Page 308. 

     God has come and lived among us (John 1:14) and has now by His death and Resurrection, made available to us His Life that we may live moment by moment in fellowship with Him.  It is by trusting Him fully to manifest His presence, His power and His purpose in and through your life that you may rest assured that your life is         God-centered.  He desires that you know this and assures you that such a life has not the remotest chance of failure.  

In Christ, Richard Spann 

     

God does not tell us to break habits

Speaker:

                                God Does Not Tell Us To Break Habits,

                                       He Tell Us To Replace Them.

                                                   Jay Adams

     Whether we realize it or not, our lives are based on habits.  These determine our morning activities, such as having a cup of coffee, and the first thing we read during the day.  Our habits determine how we relate to our employer and employees, to our families, and to our hobbies.  They influence, to a significant extent, how we spend discretionary time and finances.  Our thought life is additionally largely governed by our habits. 

     In the scriptures we read of the life of our Lord in regard to habits as they influenced His life.  “When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom (Luke 2:42).  “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.  And he stood up to read” (Luke 4:16).  We also see how habits (customs) influenced the life of the Apostle Paul.  “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the scriptures” (Acts 17:2).  

     Perhaps the clearest description of how to respond to our habits is found in Ephesians chapter four.  “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  ‘In your anger do not sin’:  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”  (Ephesians 4: 22-32).  

     In each of the examples given to us of the “old self,” we are told that it must be replaced by the “new self.”  The old habits are not merely to be broken; we are to establish new habits.  Jay Adams asks the following questions.  “When is a thief not a thief?  When he stops stealing?  No!  He is simply an unemployed thief!”  He is not a thief when he does something useful with his hands so that he may share with others in need.  Similarly, falsehood must be replaced by the truth.  Unwholesome talk must be replaced by speaking what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.  Bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander must be replaced with kindness, compassion and forgiveness.  If there is no replacement of the old with the new, we are like the man described in Matthew 12:43-45.  “When a evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.‘  When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.  And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.  That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”   Our “house” must be occupied by new habits, lest we return to the condition in which we lived in our “old self.”   

     Ephesians chapter four deals with habits that are immoral.  Many of our habits, however, are amoral, that is, not wrong in and of themselves.  Jay Adams makes this remark about those habits.  “Every habit in life needs to come under review.  Check your habits regularly.”  Some habits simply utilize time and resources.  Other habits, under the Lord’s direction, will redeem the time and make an eternal difference in our lives as well as the lives of others.  We are told the following in Ephesians 5:15-17.  “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  There are three verses in I Corinthians that are helpful in checking habits as recommended by Jay Adams.  They are as follows.  “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (I Corinthians 6:12).  “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall” (I Corinthians 8:13).  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31).  These verses frame four questions that are beneficial in review of our habits.  Are they beneficial?  Am I mastered by them?  How do they affect others?  Do they glorify God?  

     Most of us are familiar with the saying as follows.  “Sow a thought, reap an act.  Sow an act, reap a habit.  Sow a habit, reap a character.  Sow a character, reap a destiny.”  The above quote is often used to emphasize the importance of our thoughts.  It is also helpful to consider it in reference to our habits.  II Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  If this is true of our thoughts, it is likewise true of our habits.   

     Do we have any habits that need to be brought to the Lord?  Should some be replaced with other habits that redeem the time rather than simply use time?  To sow a habit means that we are reaping a character.  Are our current habits forming the character that the Lord desires for our lives?  It is my prayer that your habits would bring glory to Him as they increasingly reflect the character of our Lord.  

In Christ, Richard Spann           

            

      

If you don’t believe in sovereignty of God

Speaker:

                               If You Don’t Believe in the Sovereignty of God,

                                      the Only Alternative is Bitterness.

                                                                                        Skip Gray

     The seeds of bitterness are sown in the soil of self absorption.  We read in the first half of Psalm seventy seven about the bitterness of heart which Asaph experienced.  His self absorption is revealed with twenty two personal references to himself and only eleven words having reference to God.  When he sought the Lord (verse two) his soul refused to be comforted.  His remembrance of God caused him only to groan (verse three).  Verse four related that he was too troubled to speak or even sleep.  His questions of God in verses eight and nine are as follows.  Has your love vanished?  Has your promise failed?  Has mercy been forgotten?  Has your compassion been withheld?  Asaph is looking for answers in himself and finding only a spirit of bitterness.  

     In verse ten, we see the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in his heart.  He states “This is my infirmity” (KJV).  What does he mean by this?  He is relating that the condition of mind which causes him to have bitterness (expressed in verses 1-9) is his infirmity.  What is the answer? The answer is in remembering that these are “The years of the right hand of the Most High.” (KJV)  G. Campbell Morgan makes this comment regarding these years.  “They are the years of the right hand of the Most High, the years that are held within the hand of God, the years that are molded, conditioned, and made by that hand.  Nothing in the years of the Psalmist’s own life is outside the hand of God.  The right hand is a symbol peculiar to Hebrew thought and literature, and is used perpetually to mark some great fact in the character and person of God.  Law and righteousness (Psalm 48:10), salvation and strength (Psalm 17:7, 20:6), action and love (Psalm 118:16, Song of Solomon 2:6), and the deep, full satisfaction of every necessity of human life in pleasure forevermore (Psalm 16:11)-all these things, to the mind of the Hebrew, were wrapped up in that magnificent figure of the right hand of the Most High.  The years of my life, now says the Psalmist, are years conditioned in law and righteousness-years in which there is the perpetual outworking of salvation and the unceasing manifestation of strength; they are years in which God is active for me, years in which I am perpetually caressed by the love and tenderness of the Divine heart, years which, because they come from the hand of God, are years of the making of eternal and undying pleasure.”  The Westminster Pulpit, Volume III, Baker Book House 1954-55, Pages 14-15.

  

     What effect do these “Years of the right hand of the Most High” have on Asaph?  In the last half of the Psalm we find only three personal references and twenty four to God.  Self consciousness is absorbed by God consciousness and His sorrow is replaced by the Lord’s strength.  His bitterness vanishes and is replaced by praise and worship.  It is the revelation of the splendor and majesty of God that transforms the bitter self absorbed heart into a God conscious heart.  The consciousness of God’s sovereignty in all His dealings with the Psalmist has removed all bitterness.    

     The Glory and Might of God are similarly revealed to others in Scripture, declaring His Sovereign rule and removing bitterness.  In appealing to the bitterness of His servant Job, the Lord revealed the riches of His knowledge and power.  (Job Chapters 38-41)  It was this revelation that changed the self consciousness of Job into God consciousness which stated “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3) 

     Each of us has experienced, or will experience, years which Asaph describes in the first nine verses of Psalm seventy seven.  They may involve personal, family, church, or community issues.  Health concerns, financial struggles, job difficulties, loneliness or unresolved interpersonal conflicts are problems which are commonly encountered.  The last three years of our lives have been “Years of the right hand of the Most High.”  In the space of eighteen months, from June 2016 to January 2018, all four members of our family underwent major surgery.  In one of our daughters, it was to prevent the occurrence of cancer.  The other three of us had cancer which was not able to be entirely removed by surgical excision.  Months of chemotherapy followed for the three of us, with days of nausea, poor appetite, loss of taste and lack of sleep.  The chemotherapy has caused a continuing neuropathy in my wife. Thankfully, both my wife and I are in remission at the present time.  Our oldest daughter, however, is still dealing with the presence of cancer and requiring continuing treatments.  Many people have come to our support with their encouragement and prayers.  Through their continued ministry to us, we have remembered that our Sovereign Lord is in charge of each detail of our lives and that we can rest assured in His loving care.  The Lord has been faithful throughout our journey to enable us to remember that all these days are being held in His loving right hand.  When someone remarks, “You probably feel like the rug is pulled out from underneath you,” we can recall Deuteronomy 33:27.  “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  When the rug is pulled out and we hit the absolute bottom, there we find the everlasting arms!  These are the sovereign arms of our loving Lord wrapping around us in tenderness and assuring us that His infinite love and His unfathomable knowledge are in total control of our lives.  

      His might, His power, His splendor and His glory change all self consciousness to God consciousness.  It is the consciousness of God’s Sovereignty that will remove all bitterness from the hearts of those who are afflicted.  It is my prayer that when “The years of the right hand of the Most High” come into your life that you will remember that you are being held by the everlasting arms of our Sovereign Loving Lord.  

In Christ, Richard Spann

Deep Down in Your Soul

Speaker:

                If Deep Down In Your Soul You Do Not Believe That God Is Good,

                           Then Jesus Will Never Be Lord Of Your Life.

                                                   Jerry Bridges

     Walt Henrichsen, author of Disciples Are Made, Not Born, once stated that both God and man want the same thing.  They both desire what is best for mankind.  Their difference lies in the fact that mankind trusts in himself to achieve what is best, whereas God knows that only by trusting Him will mankind achieve that which is best.  Why does man trust himself rather than God?  The answer is found in Genesis chapter three.  The evil one posed a question to Eve.  “Did God really say ‘You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?’” (Genesis 3:1)  The evil one also said “You will not surely die,”  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)  G. Campbell Morgan states that the devil introduced three thoughts to mankind with his question and statements.  He deceived them by causing them to “question the goodness of God,” to “slander the motive of God,” and to “deny the severity of God.”  In its rebellion, mankind lost its conception of the true God and of goodness itself.  Yet, the cry of the human heart continually was to find goodness.  This was expressed by David in Psalm 4:6.  “Many are asking, ‘who can show us any good?’”  G. Campbell Morgan, in The Crises Of The Christ, Hardpress Publishing, Page 23 states the following.  “Man, having fallen, demanded a god, and having lost the knowledge of the true God, has projected into immensity the lines of his own personality, and thus has created as objects of worship the awful monsters, the service of which, in process of time, has resulted in the still deeper degradation of the worshipper.”     

     The cry for goodness proceeded over the centuries until we see it reflected in the question posed by Nathaniel in John 1:46.  “Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”  G. Campbell Morgan relates the following in The Crises Of The Christ, Hardpress Publishing, Page 65.  “Man’s ruin was so terrible, and so profound, as witness the darkened intelligence, the deadened emotion, and the degraded will, that there was but one alternative open to the Eternal God.  Either he must sweep out and destroy utterly the race, or else in infinite patience, and through long processes, lead it back to Himself.  He chose the pathway of reconciliation in His infinite grace, at what cost the story of the Christ alone perfectly reveals.”  

     Scripture records various reasons for the appearing of the Son of Man.  These include “To destroy the works of the devil,” (I John 3:8) “To take away sins,” (I John 3:5) and “To testify to the truth.” (John 18:37)  It also states that one purpose was to reveal the Father.  “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  The true picture of what God was like was seen in the person of Jesus Christ.  His Goodness was recorded in John chapter ten, where in two verses (eleven and fourteen)  he refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd.  In Mark 10:18 his question of the rich young ruler “Why do you call me good?”  and His statement  “No one is good-except God alone”  declare not only the character of God, but affirm His identity with the Father.   It is also recorded in Acts 10:38 that “He went around doing good.” Campbell Morgan again addresses this subject with the following comments.  “The God-man then is the gateway between God and man.  Through Him God has found His way back to man, from whom He had been excluded by his rebellion.  In Him man finds his way back to God from whom he had been alienated by the darkening of his intelligence, the death of his love, and the disobedience of his will.  God finds Himself in this person and is with men.  Man finds himself in this person, and is with God.  Through the God-man, Deity takes hold upon humanity.  Through the God-man, humanity takes hold upon Deity.”  The Crises Of The Christ, Hardpress Publishing, page 67. 

     Since Deity has taken hold of humanity, then, we can rest secure in the Lordship of Christ.  We can know and experience the truth of Romans 8:28.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  J. I. Packer makes the following comments about this verse in regard to His Lordship in our lives.  Knowing God, Intervarsity Press 1973, page 111.  

“Not just some things, note, but all things!  Every single thing that happens to him expresses God’s love to him, and comes to him for the furthering of God’s purpose for him.  Thus, so far as he is concerned, God is love to him-holy, omnipotent love-at every moment and in every event of every day’s life.  Even when he cannot see the why and the wherefore of God’s dealings, he knows that there is love in and behind them, and so he can rejoice always, even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong.  He knows that the true story of his life, when known, will prove to be, as the hymn says, ‘mercy from first to last’-and he is content.”  

     The Lord also assures us of His care as our Lord in Romans 8:32.  “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  J. I. Packer describes this verse as follows.  “The meaning of ‘He will give us all things’ can be put thus:  One day we shall see that nothing-literally nothing-which could have increased our eternal happiness has been denied us, and that nothing-literally nothing-that could have reduced that happiness has been left with us.  What higher assurance do we want than that?”  Knowing God Intervarsity Press, 1973, page 246.  

     When I was fourteen years of age, I was called into a room where my mother was lying in bed.  She was in the last stages of widespread cancer and had become so weak that she was no longer able to walk.  She looked at me and said “Richard, be good.”  Those were her last words to me.  Several days later she went to be with the Lord while in the hospital.  I think about those words occasionally and I wonder to myself what she  was really desiring to communicate.  Was I simply to stop doing bad things?  Did she want me to try to do good things?  Was her desire that which related to my conduct?  Was she, perhaps, referring to the formation of my character?  Since goodness is found in God alone, was she asking me to let Jesus be Lord of my life so that His Goodness would be made manifest?  As the Lord has said, there is only One who is Good.  This One is seen in the Trinitarian expression of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It is only in the measure that Christ Jesus is Lord of my life that I am able to enjoy His Goodness, praise Him for His Goodness, and and allow His Goodness to be made visible in my life.  God is infinitely Good beyond any capacity of mankind to measure.  As eternity unfolds before us, we will be led into untold riches of His Goodness which will be beyond our comprehension even at that time.  During this brief window of what we call “time,” however, we are given but a moment, which James calls “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)  It is to your eternal benefit and His eternal Glory that you use this moment to acknowledge Him as the Lord of your life.  May the Lord manifest His Goodness to you and through you so that His Lordship of your life is increasingly made manifest until the day of His coming.  

In Christ,  Richard Spann                    

Your Leadership is Not Determined

Speaker:

                      Your Leadership Is Not Determined By How Many People 

                            Serve You, But By How Many People You Serve. 

                                                       Lorne Sanny 

     Each one of us has been employed by others whom we have served.  We were required to be a part of the objective and goals of their company or corporation.  Our opinion was not solicited.  Our needs were immaterial to those in charge.  There was a daily expectation that we meet their demands for production, delivery or in other ways contribute to the success and benefit of those for whom we were working.  Our very livelihood depended upon our submission to whatever they asked us to do.  Many have felt like a cog in a wheel, looking at the paycheck as the only gratification of a job well done.  This type of leadership in which we were used, or, at times, abused, is described in Mark 10:42.  “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.’”  He was describing, in that verse, the condition mentioned initially by Lorne Sanny in his comment as quoted.  “Your leadership is not determined by how many people serve you.” 

     What was Jesus‘ definition of leadership?  He continues with the following statements in Mark 10:43-44.  “Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”  As Lorne Sanny has phrased it:  “Your leadership is determined by how many people you serve.”

     We are all given opportunities to demonstrate leadership by serving others.  This includes family relationships, communities, churches, our areas of employment, and in the case of some, national and international responsibilities.  In each of these we must choose to serve others primarily rather than require them to serve us.  Husbands must ask “How can I best serve my wife and my children?”  Employers must choose to address the needs of each employee.  “How can I best serve them to meet their physical and spiritual needs?”  Those in positions of power and authority in national and international spheres must choose, not the choices that will advance their careers or obtain re-election, but rather the actions and legislation that will further the spiritual development and meet the physical needs of those whom they represent.  What activities, then, may be required in such acts of service?  We see these portrayed most accurately in the life of Christ.  It is in His life that we see the God-man serve us.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be serve, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45)  

     On multiple occasions it was noted that our Lord was in prayer for those He came to serve.  (Luke 6:12, Luke 22:32, John 17)  As Jesus looked to His Father in prayers for us, we need to continually bring others before Him as well.  This is the most critical act of service that we can offer to them.  It is in remembering this, the most important way we serve, that we are reminded by our Lord to serve in other ways as well.  

     The Lord clearly indicated to us that He was the example for our lives in our service to others.  “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:13)  We serve others, likewise, by being an example for their lives.  We must be a model for others of what we want them to become.  Other than prayer, this is the most powerful way in which we serve others.  Paul saw the importance of this when he instructed Timothy in II Timothy 3:10-11.  “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings-what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.  Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.”  Those we serve in our families, our church, and in our business will become like us, not from what we tell them ultimately, but from our example to them.  

     Leadership requires careful instruction, (Luke 10:1-12) as well as correction.  (Mark 9:33-41)  Both are needed if we are to be a leader who serves others.  My first task after I joined the Air Force was at McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas.  I was given a job as an aircraft electrical mechanic and sent to repair a gun switch on an F-86 aircraft.  I discovered later that I had wired it backwards!  I was given neither instruction nor correction!  If we are to serve others by our leadership, we need to give clear instruction as well as follow up recommendations.  

     Jesus was an encourager!  We see this in His interaction with Peter in John 1:42, assuring him of what he, through God’s grace, was to become.  In John chapters thirteen through seventeen, the Lord gives continual encouragement to his disciples.  If our leadership truly serves others, we must learn to encourage others.  The world around us brings constant discouragement.  Words of encouragement from others are rare.  How many of us can remember the last time we heard a word of encouragement?  Hebrews 3:13 tells us that words of encouragement should be given to others daily so that “None of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  Proverbs 12:25 says that “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”  As a leader, then, we must develop the habit of speaking words of encouragement to those we serve.  

     The last activity to which we will bring reference in regard to serving others is that of making our lives available to them.  Jesus majored in making His life available to us.  In Mark 3:14 it is stated that “He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him…”   The Apostle John recalls the following in I John 1:1.  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the word of life.”  An absentee parent, employer or CEO cannot serve those whom he leads without being available to them.  You will not be able to lead and serve those you do not know.  

     As we seek to serve others whom we are given opportunity to lead, we must keep our eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is not a model which we are to emulate.  He is a gift we are to receive.  His Righteousness and Holiness are ours as a gift of His grace    (I Corinthians 1:30)  He is our life. (Colossians 3:4)  As we look to Him to serve those whom we lead, we may rest assured that His work will continue in their lives for His glory.  

In Christ, Richard Spann                                                                                               

Navigating Through the Grey Areas of Life

Speaker:

                              Navigating Through The Gray Areas Of Life

     II Timothy 3:16-17 is as follows.  “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  The scriptures speak quite clearly to us in many areas of our lives.  In equipping us for every good work, we are advised to not only avoid known acts of sin but are counseled by the following verse in James 4:17.  “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  In addition, we are told in Romans 14:23 that “..everything that does not come from faith is sin.”  If I have doubts about whether the Lord would want me to pursue an activity, then I had better avoid it altogether!  

     In pursuing the decisions of life, the Lord has not only given us His written word, but also guides us in several other ways.  One of these is by the peace which He gives us in our heart about decisions we must make.  Colossians 3:15 states, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”  Another method of instruction is found in Proverbs 15:22.  “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  The Holy Spirit also uses circumstances in our lives to direct our work for hIm.  It was an illness that brought the Apostle Paul to the European continent under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.”  (Galatians 4:13).

     Whenever the word of God, our inner peace, the counsel of others and circumstances line up together we may safely proceed.  If the other three line up and are opposed to the word of God, however, we can rest assured that we are going in the wrong direction, as was the case with Jonah!  In addition to the above, there are three other scriptures which have been found helpful in navigating the gray areas of life.  They are all found in I Corinthians, chapters six, eight, and ten.  

     The first of these is I Corinthians 6:12.  “‘Everything is permissible for me’-but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible for me’-but I will not be mastered by anything.”  Paul first states, and later repeats his statement, that “everything is permissible.”  But Paul recognizes that his body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  His body is not his own.  He is bought with a price.  Therefore, he must ask the following questions.  Will this activity, food, drink, hobby, relationship, etc, be beneficial to my spirit, my soul and my body?  Will this food, drink, activity, hobby, etc, bring me under its eventual control?  These are his questions and ours as well as we contemplate these areas in our life. 

     The second of these verses is found in I Corinthians 8:13.  “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”  This verse answers the question.  “How will my choice, my freedom to do, to eat, and to drink what I want effect others?  If they see me doing these things which I am free to do, will it weaken their faith?  Will my liberty become a stumbling block to others?  The consideration that is implied in this verse should govern our lives regardless of who we are with or wherever we go.  Our lives are an open book read by all.  By keeping this reminder before us, we are likely to successfully navigate through this gray area. 

     The third verse is I Corinthians 10:31.  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  To bring Him glory is to give an accurate appraisal of who He is.  It is to reflect His prestige, His honor, His eminence.  Whatever is done should increase His splendor, His magnificence, and His greatness.  It is a tremendous thought that God may even be glorified by such a simple matter as eating and drinking, if done with the intent of glorifying Him.  When Paul makes this comment, he deliberately begins with the very small things, which is where we must begin as well, if we are to do all for the glory of God.  Our lives proceed from the small things.  We cannot glorify Him in our business dealings if we do not glorify Him with all we do in our homes.  We will not be able to glorify Him in public unless we glorify Him in our private lives.  Paul says “do it all for the glory of God.”  In order to do this we must seek His will constantly, and trust Him to live His life through us (Galatians 2:20)

     II Timothy 3:17 assures us that His word is sufficient to thoroughly equip us for every good work.  It is my prayer that these verses in I Corinthians may be used by the Holy Spirit in your lives to the end that your good works will be manifested to Him and to others.            

In Christ,  Richard Spann

Store Up Treasures for Yourselves

Speaker:

                                      Store Up Treasures For Yourselves

     Most of us do not immediately think of our Lord in this respect, but in addition to all else He has done for us, He wants us to give heed to His words as our Investment Counselor.  He relates the following to us in Matthew 6:19-20.  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  Our Lord does not tell us to do this because His church needs the money for His enterprises!  He already owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine!  He, like any wise parent, wants to train His children.  Early in the lives of our children, we acquaint them with the need for saving resources, and then using them to prepare for their future.  Our Lord wants not only to prepare us for the future, but wants us to join Him in preparing our future with Him.

     Most investment counselors discuss the product they are selling in terms of two factors.  These are risk and reward.  What is the risk of an investment?  Is it secure?  What reward may be expected?  The risk in New Testament times was that of destruction by moth and rust as well as being subject to thievery.  Today the risk in many countries is an economic recession, market collapse, or destabilization of currency.   A great many factors beyond our control determine the degree of risk which may be sizable.  The reward of temporal investments usually provides benefit for its investors, but for only a few years and then is passed on to their heirs.   An investment stored up in heaven, however, has no risk.  Those doing so enjoy a return not just for a few years, but that which stretches into eternity!  This reward will far exceed the original investment!  

     Heaven will be a place of rejoicing!  Those who have stored up treasures in heaven will be permitted to see what the Lord has done through their gifts to Him and to his work.  Many will come from all parts of the earth, different tribes and tongues, those whose lives were ministered to and spared physically due to the provisions given them by means of your gifts to Him.  There will be those whose opportunity to come to know Christ personally and join the company of the redeemed was occasioned by the generosity of your gift for His kingdom work.  Some will declare that the only Bible they received was one given by a Bible society because of your faithful support.  Even the cup of cold water given to those who belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded.  If our Lord remembers the cup of water, He will certainly remember and reward you for every penny invested with Him.  The Lord himself tells us the following in Luke 16:9.  “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”   Each of us is given an opportunity to determine the size of our welcoming committee!  

     With the above promises in mind for our investment portfolio, we might ask the questions.  How much should I invest in kingdom work?  How much should I store up for myself?  II Corinthians 9:6-7 answers that question!  “Remember this:  Whosoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  The answer, then, is that you can give as much as you want.  There is no limit!  You are given the choice as to whether you desire to reap sparingly or to reap generously!  

     In addition to rejoicing, there will also be responsibilities given to those faithful in storing up treasures in heaven.  In Matthew 25:21,23 the Lord says the following to His servants.  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’”  The following is written concerning our Lord in Hebrews 12:2.  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  His death and resurrection to life destroyed the works of the devil, cancelled our sins and provided pardon, purity and power to those He redeemed.  Their entrance into Heaven as part of His glorified body was the joy set before Him.  Each of us is invited to invest our time, our talents and our treasure to the accomplishment of this, His declared purpose from the foundation of the world.  Is our ability to join Him in His joy enhanced by the realization that we were enabled to use earthly treasure to bring and influence others into His kingdom?  This is the happiness which our master invites us to share with him in Matthew 25:21, 23 when He states “Come and share your master’s happiness!”  Is it possible that our opportunity to share in His happiness is dependent, to some degree, upon the measure to which our treasure has contributed to His happiness?  Is our happiness due in some measure, to our contribution in adding a diadem to His crown as some have suggested?  

     Our Lord loves you with a measure so infinite that it cannot be understood by a finite mind.  This love desires that you be able to share as fully as possible in all His joy and happiness.  To that end, it is His desire that you prepare for this by laying up treasures for yourselves in heaven. 

In Christ,  Richard Spann                

Love the Lord Your God

Speaker:

                       Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all

                       your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.

                                                                                                Mark 12:30

           And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power,

           together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep

           is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that  

           you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 

                                                                                                Ephesians 3:17b-19 

     Our love for the Lord our God is to be expressed by these four means-with our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength.  Have you ever asked yourself “What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?”  Some answers to that question may be fairly obvious, while the understanding of others may be a little obscure.  Having been commanded to love the Lord by these means, however, it warrants a prayerful search as to their understanding.  It seems clear that to love Him with all our heart implies obedience.  “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”  (John 14:21a)  How does a person love with their soul?  Perhaps the closest answer from scripture is the thought expressed in Psalm 25:1.  “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.”  We come closest to the thought of loving Him with our soul when we trust Him fully.  And how do we love Him with our mind?  Several scriptures speak of the relationship of our mind to our Lord.  Ephesians 4:23 relates that we are “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.”  Likewise, Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Philippians 2:5 states “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  (KJV)  Is it not, then, in the constant renewing of our minds, appropriating by faith the attitude and thoughts of Christ, that we can love Him with our mind?  And finally, how do we love Him with our strength?  Perhaps Romans 12:1 captures this most clearly.  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”  If we are to love Him with all our strength then, we need to make our lives available to Him for His use.  

     In addition to speaking to us in regard to our love for Him, our Lord also speaks to us regarding His love for us.  He desires that we grasp the width, the length, the height and the depth of His love for us.  He then states that His love for us will surpass our understanding!  Have you ever taken the opportunity to consider the width of His love?  The Lord has created a universe for us to enjoy and in which to find wonder in all that He is and has done.  As Elizabeth Barrett Browning states in Aurora Leigh.  “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.  But only he who sees takes off his shoes.  The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”  The length of God’s love begins with Him, for He is love, and is expressed in Revelations 13:8.  “The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”  The length of His love continues into the infinite ages to come, as described in Ephesians 3:21.  “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations. for ever and ever.  There is no beginning and no end to the length of love that God has for us. 

     How can we best describe the height of His love?  Romans 8:16 says that “we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.”  We are told in II Timothy 2:13 that “if we endure, we will also reign with him.”  Ephesians 2:6-7 states “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness  to us in Christ Jesus.”  The heights, then, is expressed in reigning with Him in His glory, seated with Him, enjoying the incomparable riches of His grace.  The depth of His love for us is surely expressed in His cross, where alone, our Savior bore the penalty for our sin, destroyed the works of the devil and with His resurrection granted us pardon, purity and power to live a new life in dependence upon Him.  This is expressed in Colossians 1:22.  “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”  

     The above passages, Mark 12:30 and Ephesians 3:17-19, are usually studied separately.  Much can be learned, however, from merging the two in our thinking.  If our Lord desires us to know the width, the length, the height and the depth of His love for us, surely He is desirous that we show our love for Him in the width, the length, the height and the depth of our lives as well.  What would it look like, for example, to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength in the width of our lives?  Are we obedient in all situations in which we find ourselves?  Does our trust extend to full dependence upon Him to guide us wherever we go, regardless of who we are with and what we are doing?  Is our mind renewed and are His attitudes expressed in dealing with a wide variety of situations?  Are our lives made available to Him for His work in the lives of those we encounter during our travels?  If we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, his love and life will be made visible to those with whom we interact in the width of our lives.

     Consider also what it would mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength throughout the length of your life.  There would never be a time when disobedience would be an option.  Change occurs with aging and less areas of our lives are under our own control.  Do we love hIm by trusting Him to see us through these days?  Do we love Him with our minds by appropriating His attitudes in all our changing situations of life?  Do we continue to make our lives available to Him for His work, even in our declining years of health and activity?  It is during these years that we must “pay more careful attention therefore to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  (Hebrews 2:1)  If we steadfastly continue to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength we can say the following with Paul in II Timothy 4:7.  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 

     How can we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength in the height of our lives?  When everything seems to be going well for us, are we able to remain obedient in all His ways?  Are we still following Him closely, or have our eyes turned to the pleasurable activities of life?   Do we still maintain a trust in Him to guide all of our affairs, or have we subtly transferred our trust to ourselves?  Do we trust His perspective and attitude toward all we have and do, or are we occupied with thoughts and actions which are not derived from Him?  Do we remember to continually make our lives available to Him for His work when we are occupied with successfully achieving our material goals in life?  

     And finally we reach the depth of our lives, where health issues, financial challenges, work problems or relationships have become major problems in our lives.  Are we tempted to cut corners in obedience in some areas of our life?  Are we able to trust Him to see us through the dark days ahead?  Is our hope steadfast in Him?  Do we look to the renewal of our minds that comes from Him at these times?  Are we able to let our lives be used by Christ in these days to those around us?  

     To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is the primary duty of our lives.  It should be manifest in the width, length, height and depth of our lives.  This should be the response in our lives as we consider the width, the length, the height and the depth of His love for us.  It is this desire, and passion to show love for Him at all times, under any conditions, in everyplace we go that will bring Him glory honor and praise.  It is this love for Him that accomplishes His work in us and through us.  It is for this love that God is seeking.  May your hearts be so attuned to His love for you, that the love you have for him may glorify Him in the width, the depth, the height and the depth of your life. 

In Christ, Richard Spann                          

                   

           

Do Not Fret

Speaker:

                       Do Not Fret……….Do Not Fret……….Do Not Fret

                                                                         Psalm 37: 1,7,8.

     These three words occur repeatedly at the beginning of Psalm 37.  What does it mean, first of all, to “fret?”  Secondly, what reasons are given for this emphasis?  And lastly, what directions do these scriptures give to enable us to cease from fretting?  

     To fret is to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious.  Synonyms include to be distressed, to agonize, or to have anguish.  It may present itself as complaining, grumbling, whining, or brooding.  The factors mentioned in Psalm thirty seven that led to fretting then and still lead to fretting today are the presence of evil men (verse one), and their success in carrying out their wicked schemes. (verse seven)  Verse eight tells us that our fretting leads only to evil.  

     It does not take very long in many conversations before one notices fretting on the part of those participating in the discussion.  It is often perceived as one of the synonyms listed above, from grumbling and complaining all the way to anguish.  The concerns are in regard to local, national and international figures in the fields of business, politics, education or sports.  Evil progresses to accomplish its wicked schemes and fretting abounds.  There are many things which we can do, and are, in fact, instructed to do, such as prayer. (I Timothy 2:1-2)  In many countries, there is a right to vote, and to make one’s voice and opinion heard.  The one thing that this Psalm tells us not to do, however, is to fret.  Why?   Because it leads to evil (verse eight), and because evil men will be cut off (verse nine) and will soon wither and die away. (verse two) 

     Numerous areas of scripture use inverted parallelism to convey the central message.  This means that the thought on each end of the passage, (verses one to nine) is the same. (Do not fret)   The central portion of the scripture contains the bottom line or the take home point.  We do not learn to stop fretting by simply stopping to fret.  We are instructed in scripture to replace our thinking or behavior, not simply to stop a thinking pattern or activity.  This Psalm instructs us that fretting is only successfully dealt with when it is replaced by the instructions given in verses three through seven.  How do we succeed in ceasing to fret?  By doing the following four things. 

     -Trust in the LORD and do good. (verse three)

     -Delight yourself in the LORD. (verse four)  

     -Commit your way to the LORD. (verse five)

     -Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. (verse seven)

     In each of the above, our reference is to the LORD, the Becoming One, the One who will become all that we need.  We are instructed to trust in the LORD and to do good.  Trust is a confidence that will see us through the dark times of abounding evil around us.  It needs nor asks for any verification of God’s sovereignty in dealing with the deterioration in our society that results from the plans of evil men.  It is the trust that we see in Isaiah 50:10.  “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”  We, in addition to trust, are instructed to do good, as in the words of John Wesley.  “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”  

     Verse four directs us to “delight yourself in the LORD.”  The meaning of delight may be understood more completely by the use of words such as having great pleasure, elation, or enchantment.  Why are we to delight in the LORD?  Because He, and He alone meets all our needs.  He is our comfort, our assurance, our hope in the midst of surrounding evil.  It is only as we take delight in Him that we are released from fretting.  

     In the following verse (verse five) we are told to “Commit your way to the LORD.”  This implies a binding obligation to look to Him for our course of action.  It means entrusting our path to His direction and counsel.  He, as our Sovereign LORD, in the midst of the advance of evil surrounding us, will “make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (verse six)  

     Verse seven says the following.  “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”  To wait patiently requires an attentive spirit.  We must keep our eyes, our focus, our thoughts on Him.  To be still implies also that we are available and responsive to His revealed will.  Again, our spirit is waiting and at rest before the One who is always all that we need.  Even while waiting, His Spirit assures us that even now, in the midst of the prevailing advancing schemes of evil, He will meet every need. 

     Are you inclined to fret?  Are you distressed and uneasy as you behold and consider the evil schemes of those in the world?  The LORD has given us a remedy for the fretting due to the evil that surrounds us.  It is to trust in the LORD, delight yourself in the LORD, commit your way to the LORD and to be still before the LORD.  He is the becoming One who will moment by moment meet each need of our lives.  He is the LORD of your life and the LORD of all the earth.   There is not a single atom in the universe which is not under His control.  He has not abdicated His throne.  The LORD assures us of the following in the last two verses of Psalm thirty seven.  “The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in times of trouble.  The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”    

In Christ, Richard Spann    

However, when the Son of Man comes

Speaker:

                                  However, when the Son of Man comes,

                                        will he find faith on the earth?

                                                                             Luke 18:8b

     Our Lord did not intend this to be a rhetorical question!  He is serious in His desire that faith will be manifested when He returns.  It is in our faith that He finds His pleasure.  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)  Faith is not only the beginning of the Christian life, but it is necessary for each step of our path as we are reminded in Romans 1:17.  “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:  ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”  There are many aspects of our lives in which we have opportunities to exercise faith.  For the sake of our current discussion, however, it will be limited in its application to two considerations.  First, our Lord wants us to have faith in what He has done for us, and then, faith in what He desires to do through us. 

     There is no verse which can possibly contain all He has done for us.  II Corinthians 5:21 states some of His accomplishment with these words.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Scriptures elsewhere state that He came to manifest the Father, to destroy the works of the devil, and to prepare us for our eternal home.  I Corinthians 1:30 states that God has made Him unto us as our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  In Him we have pardon, purity and power,  We are born by His Spirit into His life which is communicated to us every second of every day.  We are now members of the race of the last Adam.  We are given “birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you.”  (I Peter 1:4-5)  He governs each day of our lives and prepares us to reign with Him as a part of His glorified body throughout endless ages to come!  The response of faith to the above must surely be that of His disciple Thomas, who declared to Him in John 20:28.  “My Lord and my God!”    

     And what is this faith like?  G. Campbell Morgan has these comments to say about faith.  “Faith is not merely intellectual apprehension and conviction of truth.  Faith is the assent of the will, and the yielding of the life, to the claim of the truth of which the mind is convinced.  Belief in its profoundest sense is not conviction merely but conduct proceeding out of conviction, and harmonizing with the conviction.”  The Westminster Pulpit, Baker Book House, Volume Five, 1954, Page 141.  The conviction of these truths should lead us, by faith, into the conduct described in Luke 9:23.  “Then he said to them all;  ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’”  This, then, represents a response of faith to what He has done for us that will bring Him pleasure on His return.   

      A person’s last words to us are important to them and to us.  They are well chosen and summarize what is uppermost in the mind of those who will soon depart.  This was  certainly true in the case of our Lord.  His last words to us characterize His purpose for His people until the day of His return.  Our faith is demonstrated by our response to what He says in Matthew 28:18-20.   “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  As we go about our daily lives, our faith in Him is manifested by developing relationships which will lead to opportunities to look at the scriptures with others.  The power and the presence of our Lord is assured to us as we trust Him to reveal Himself in increasing fullness to those for whom we pray and in whom we invest our lives.  He will lead them from their initial steps as a newborn Christian to an active disciple and follower of Christ and prepare them to invest their lives in others as well.  Whenever we open the scriptures to others, we do so in faith, depending upon His presence and His power to to accomplish His will in their lives. 

     This is the faith for which our Lord is seeking in regard to His purpose for us.  G. Campbell Morgan, again speaking on faith, describes it in this manner.  “What then is this pilgrimage, what is this warfare?  What is the consuming passion of the man of faith?  I answer that inquiry superlatively, that I may state it briefly.  He has gone to prepare a place for us beyond; our business is to prepare this place for Him.  The city which Abraham went to seek was not a city postponed beyond this world; but the city of God established on the earth; the city of God, the symbol of the whole wide world subdued to Kingdom of God.  Toward that the men of faith have ever moved.  Toward that the men of faith are moving still today.  The supreme passion of faith is not the selfish desire to win heaven, but the self-emptying desire and devotion to win the earth for God.”  The Westminster Pulpit, Baker Book House, 1954, Volume Five, pages 143-4.            Does our faith in His purpose reflect the above?  Will He find pleasure in our faith in His purpose when He returns?  

     There are many enemies in our world to the life of faith.  We are told, for example, that “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  (Mark 4:19)  I Peter 1:6 states that “now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”  The following verse (I Peter 1:7) tells us the reason for these trials.  “These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  Our Lord will rejoice in our faith on His return!  It is my prayer that your faith would grow and increase so that, when you stand before Him, you will receive praise, glory and honor from the hand of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

In Christ, Richard Spann