Monthly Archives: March 2012

On Sharing the Gospel


1. There is work to be done

Matthew 9:37-38
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

2. Jesus has commanded you to do it

Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

3. Success is guaranteed

John 10:16
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

 

 

4. Jesus is the only salvation

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

5. You were given the Holy Spirit for this purpose

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

6. People won’t be saved without hearing

Romans 10:11-15
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

7. Evangelism is necessary for your own growth in Christ

Philemon 6
And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

 

From Challies.com

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The Counsel of the Wicked


A.W. Pink

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.” But notice exactly how it is expressed—it is not “does not walk in the open wickedness” or even “the manifest folly,” but “does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.” How searching that is! How it narrows things down!

The ungodly are ever ready to “counsel” the believer, seeming to be very solicitous of his welfare. They will warn him against being too strict and extreme, advising him to be broad-minded and to “make the best of both worlds.” But the policy of the “ungodly”—that is, of those who leave God out of their lives, who have no “fear of God” before their eyes—is regulated by self-will and self-pleasing, and is dominated by what they call “common sense.” Alas, how many professing Christians regulate their lives by the advice and suggestions of ungodly friends and relatives—heeding such “counsel” in their business career, their social life, the furnishing and decorating of their homes, their dress and diet, and the choice of school or avocation for their children.

But not so with the “blessed man.” He “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” Rather is he afraid of it, no matter how plausible it sounds, or apparently good the intention of those who offer it. He shuns it, and says “Get behind me, Satan!” Why? Because Divine grace has taught him that he has something infinitely better to direct his steps. God has given him a Divine revelation, dictated by unerring wisdom, suited to his every need and circumstance, designed as a “lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path.” His desire and his determination is to walk by the wholesome counsel of God, and not by the corrupt counsel of the ungodly. Conversion is the soul’s surrender to and acceptance of God as Guide through this world of sin.

The “blessed” man’s separation from the world is given us in three details—

First he “does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly,” that is, according to the maxims of the world. Eve is a solemn example of one who walked in the counsel of the ungodly, as is also the daughter of Herodius. On the other hand, Joseph declining the wicked suggestion of Potiphar’s wife, David refusing to follow the counsel of Saul to meet Goliath in his armor, and Job’s refusal to heed his wife’s voice and “curse God,” are examples of those who did not do so.

Second “nor stands in the way of sinners.” Here we have the associations of the blessed man—he does not fellowship with sinners. No, rather does he seek communion with the righteous. Precious examples of this are found in Abram’s leaving Ur of the Chaldees, Moses turning his back on the honors and treasures of Egypt, Ruth’s forsaking Moab to accompany Naomi.

Third “nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” The “scornful” may here be regarded as the ones who despise and reject the true Rest-giver. “The seat” here speaks of relaxation and delectation—to not sit in the scorner’s seat, means that the blessed man does not take his ease, nor seek his joy—in the recreations of the world. No; he has something far better than “the pleasures of sin”, “in Your presence is fullness of joy”—as Mary found at the Lord’s feet.

“But his delight is in the Law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:2). Here we have the OCCUPATION of the blessed man. The opening “But” points a sharp contrast from the last clause of the previous verse, and serves to confirm our interpretation thereof. The worldling seeks his “delight” in the entertainment furnished by those who scorn spiritual and eternal things. Not so the “blessed” man—his “delight” is in something infinitely superior to what this perishing world can supply, namely, in the Divine Scriptures. “The Law of the Lord” seems to have been one of David’s favorite expressions for the Word—see Psalm 19 and 119. “The Law of the Lord” throws the emphasis upon its Divine authority, upon God’s will. This is a sure mark of those who have been born again. “The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God” (Romans 8:7). To “delight in the law of the Lord” is a sure proof that we have received of the Spirit of Christ, for He declared “I delight to do Your will, O My God” (Psalm 40:8).

God’s Word is the daily bread of the “blessed” man—is it so with you? The unregenerate delight in pleasing self—but the joy of the Christian lies in pleasing God. It is not simply that he is interested in “the Law of the Lord,” but he delights therein. There are thousands of people, like those in cults, and, we may add, in the more orthodox sections of Christendom, who are keen students of Scripture, who delight in its prophecies, types, and mysteries, and who eagerly grasp at its promises; yet are they far from delighting in the authority of its Author and in being subject to His revealed will.

The “blessed” man delights in the precepts of the Word. There is a “delight” —a peace, joy, and satisfaction of soul—pure and stable, to be found in subjection to God’s will, which is obtainable nowhere else. As John tells us “His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3), and as David declares “in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11).

“And in His Law, he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Thereby does he evidence his “delight” therein—where his treasure is, there is his heart also! Here, then, is the occupation of the “blessed” man. The voluptuary thinks only of satisfying his senses; the giddy youth is concerned only with sports and pleasures; the man of the world directs all his energies to the securing of wealth and honors; but the “blessed” man’s determination is to please God, and in order to obtain a better knowledge of His will, he meditates day and night in His holy Word. Thereby is light obtained, its sweetness extracted, and the soul nourished!

His “meditation” in the Word, is not occasional and spasmodic—but regular and persistent; not only in the “day” of prosperity—but also in the “night” of adversity; not only in the “day” of youth and strength—but in the “night” of old age and weakness.

“Your Words were found, and I ate them; and Your Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). What is meant by “ate them”? Appropriation, assimilation. Meditation stands to reading—as digestion does to eating. It is as God’s Word is pondered by the mind, turned over and over in the thoughts, and mixed with faith—that we assimilate it. That which most occupies the mind and most constantly engages our thoughts—is what we most “delight” in.

Here is a grand cure for loneliness (as the writer has many times proved)—to meditate on God’s Law day and night. But real “meditation” in God’s Law is an act of obedience, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” (Josh. 1:8).

The Psalmist could thus appeal to God—can you, “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my meditation” (Psalm 5:1).

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3). Here we have the “blessed” man’s FERTILIZATION. But notice very carefully, dear reader, what precedes this. There must be a complete break from the world—separating from its counsel or policy, from fellowshipping its votaries, and from its pleasures; and there must be a genuine subjection to God’s authority and a daily feeding upon His Word—before there can be any real fruitfulness unto Him.

“He shall be like a tree.” This figure is found in numerous passages, for there are many resemblances between a tree and a saint. He is not a “reed” moved about by every wind which blows, nor a creeper, trailing along the ground. A tree is upright, and grows heavenward. This tree is “planted”—many are not—but grow wild. A “planted” tree is under the care and cultivation of its owner. Thus, this metaphor assures us that those who delight in God’s Law are owned by God, cared for and pruned by Him!

“Planted by the rivers of water.” This is the place of refreshment—rivers of grace, or communion, of renewing. Probably the more specific allusion is unto “and a Man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:2). That refers to Christ, and tells us that just as a tree derives life and fruitfulness from the adjacent river—so the believer, by communion, draws from the fullness there is for him in Christ.

“Which yields its fruit in season.” This is an essential character of a gracious man, for there are no fruitless branches in the true Vine. “In season,” for all fruits do not appear in the same month, neither are all the graces of the Spirit produced simultaneously.

Times of trial—call for faith.

Times of suffering—call for patience.

Times of disappointment—call for meekness.

Times of danger—call for courage.

Times of blessings—call for thanksgiving.

Times of prosperity—call for joy.

This word “in season” is a timely one—we must not expect the fruits of maturity in those who are but babes.

“His leaf shall not wither.” This means that his Christian profession is a bright and living reality. He is not one who has a name to live—yet is dead. No, his works evidence his faith. That is why “his fruit” is mentioned before “his leaf.” Where there is no fruit to God’s glory—our profession is a mockery. Note how it is said of Christ that He was “mighty in deed and word” (Luke 24:19)—the same order is seen again in “that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).

“And whatever he does shall prosper.” This necessarily follows, though it is not always apparent to the eye of sense. Not even a cup of water given in the name of Christ, shall fail to receive its reward—if not here, certainly in the hereafter.

How far, dear reader, do you and I resemble this “blessed man”? Let us again press the order of these three verses. Just so far as we fall into the sins of verse 1—will our delight in God’s Law be dulled. And just so far as we are not in subjection to His will—shall we be fruitless. But a complete separation from the world, and wholehearted occupation with the Lord—will issue in fruit to His praise!

 

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Can We Learn to Be Contented?


 

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11)

J. R. Miller

Someone has said that if men were to be saved by contentment, instead of by faith in Christ, most people would be lost. Yet contentment is possible. There was one man at least who said, and said it very honestly, “I have learned in whatever state I am, therein to be content.” His words have special value, too, when we remember in what circumstances they were written. They were dated in a prison, when the writer was wearing a chain. It is easy enough to say such things in the summer days of prosperity—but to say them amid trials and adversities, requires a real experience of victorious living.

But just what did Paul mean when he said, “I am content”? The original word, scholars tell us, contains a fine sense which does not come out into the English translation. It means self-sufficing. Paul, as a Christian man, had in himself all that he needed to give him tranquility and peace. Therefore he was not dependent upon any external circumstances. Wherever he went, there was in himself a competence, a fountain of supply, a self-sufficing. This is the true secret of Christian contentment wherever it is found. We cannot keep sickness, pain, sorrow, and misfortune away from our lives—yet as Christians we are meant to live in any experience in unbroken peace, in sweet restfulness of soul.

How may this unbroken contentment be obtained? Paul’s description of his own life, gives us a hint as to the way he reached it. He says, “I have learned to be content.” It is no small comfort to us common people, to get this from such a man. It tells us that even with him, it was not always thus; that at first he probably chafed amid discomforts, and had to “learn” to be contented in trial. It did not come naturally to him, any more than it does to the rest of us, to have peace in the heart, in time of external strife. Nor did this beautiful way of living come to him at once as a divine gift when he became a Christian. He was not miraculously helped to acquire contentment. It was not a special power granted to him as an apostle.

He tells us plainly in his old age, that he has “learned” it. This means that he was not always able to say, “I am content in any state.” This was an attainment of his later years, and he reached it by struggle and by discipline, by learning in the school of Christ, just as all of us have to learn it if we ever do, and as any of us may learn it if we will.

Surely everyone who desires to grow into spiritual beauty, should seek to learn this lesson. Discontent is a miserable fault. It grieves God, for it springs from a lack of faith in him. It destroys one’s own heart-peace; discontented people are always unhappy. It disfigures beauty of character. It sours the temper, ruffles the calm of sweet life, and tarnishes the loveliness of the spirit. It even works out through the flesh, and spoils the beauty of the fairest face. To have a transfigured face, one must have heaven in one’s heart. Just in proportion as the lesson is learned, are the features brightened by the outshining of the indwelling peace. Besides all this, discontent casts shadows on the lives of others. One discontented person in a family, often makes a whole household wretched. If not for our own sake, then, we ought at least for the sake of our friends to learn to be contented. We have no right to cast shadows on other lives.

But how can we learn contentment? One step toward it is patient submission to unavoidable ills and hardships. No earthly lot is perfect. No mortal in this world, ever yet found a set of circumstances without some drawback. Sometimes it lies in our power to remove the discomfort. Much of our hardship is of our own making. Much of it would require but a little energy on our own part to cure. We surely are very foolish if we live on amid ills and frets, day after day, which we might change for comforts if we would. All removable troubles we ought, therefore, to remove. But there are trials which we cannot change into pleasures, burdens which we cannot lay off, crosses which we must continue to carry, and “thorns in the flesh” which must remain with their rankling. When we have such trials, why should we not sweetly accept them as part of God’s best way with us? Discontent never made a rough path smoother, a heavy burden lighter, a bitter cup less bitter, a dark way brighter, a sorrow less sore. It only makes matters worse. One who accepts with patience what he cannot change, has learned the secret of victorious living.

Another part of the lesson is that we moderate our desires. Paul says, “If we have food and clothing—we will be content with these.” 1 Timothy 6:8. Very much of our discontent arises from envy of those who seem to be more favored than ourselves. Many people lose most of the comfort out of their own lot, in coveting the finer things some neighbor has. Yet if they knew the whole story of the life they envy for its greater prosperity, they probably would not exchange for it their own lowlier life, with its homelier circumstances. Or if they could make the exchange, it is not likely they would find half so much real happiness in the other position, as they had enjoyed in their own. Contentment does not dwell so often in palaces—as in the homes of the humble. The tall peaks rise higher and are more conspicuous—but the winds smite them more fiercely than they do the quiet vales. And surely the lot in life which God makes for us—is always the very best that could be made for us for the time being. The cause of our discontent is not in our circumstances; if it were, a change might cure it. It is in ourselves; and, wherever we go, we shall carry it with us.

Envious desires for other people’s places which seem finer than ours, prevent our getting the best blessing and good out of our own. Trying to grasp the things which are beyond our reach, we leave unseen, unappreciated, untouched, and despised, the many sweet bits of happiness which lie close about us. Someone says: “Stretching out his hand to catch the stars, man forgets the flowers at his feet, so beautiful, so fragrant, so multitudinous, and so various.” A fine secret of contentment lies in finding and extracting all the pleasure we can get from the things we have, while we enter no mad, vain chase after impossible dreams. In whatever state we are, we may therein find enough for our need.

If we would learn the lesson of contentment, we must train ourselves to live for the higher things. One of the ancient wise men, having heard that a storm had destroyed his merchant ships, thus sweeping away all his fortune, said: “It is just as well, for now I can give up my mind more fully to study.” He had other and higher sources of enjoyment, than his merchandise, and felt the loss of his ships no more than manhood feels the loss of childhood’s toys. He was but a heathen philosopher; we are Christians. He had only his studies to occupy his thought when his property was gone; and we have all the blessed things of God’s love. No earthly misfortune can touch the wealth a Christian holds in the divine promises and hopes.

Just in the measure, therefore, in which we learn to live for spiritual and eternal realities—do we find contentment amid earth’s trials and losses. If we live to please God, to build up Christlike character in ourselves, and to lay up treasure in heaven—we shall not depend for happiness on the way things go with us here on earth, nor on the measure of temporal goods we have. The lower desires are crowded out by the higher. We can do without childhood’s toys when we have manhood’s better possessions; we need this world less as we get more of God and heaven into our hearts.

This was the secret of the contentment of the old prisoner whose immortal word is so well worth considering. He was content in any trial, because earth meant so little and Christ meant so much to him. He did not need the things he did not have; he was not made poor by the things he had lost; he was not vexed by the sufferings he had to endure, because the sources of his life were in heaven, and could not be touched by earthly experiences of pain or loss.

These are hints of the way we may learn in whatever state we are therein to be content. Surely the lesson is worth learning. One year of sweet content, amid earth’s troublous scenes, is better than a lifetime of vexed, restless discontent. The lesson can be learned, too, by anyone who truly is Christ’s disciple, for did not the Master say: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you”?

The artist painted life as a dark, storm-swept sea filled with wrecks. Then out on the wild sea-waves, he made a rock to arise, in a cleft of which, high up, amid herbage and flowers, he painted a dove sitting quietly on her nest. It is a picture of Christian peace in the midst of this world’s strifes and storms. In the cleft of the rock is the home of content.

He Hideth my Soul

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.

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